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Open Thread 60.75

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

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1,244 Responses to Open Thread 60.75

  1. Autolykos says:

    For rifles, it’s basically the same problem as with any other innovation we described here. The idea of rifling had been around for a long, long time before it was widely adopted by any army. All else being equal, it makes the weapons more expensive to build, slower to reload, more likely to malfunction and requiring more maintenance. Until manufacturing techniques were good enough to cancel these problems out, equipping the whole army with rifles was simply not a good idea, even if it was technically possible.
    Every army has the guns its industry can produce and supply.

    • Autolykos says:

      This was meant as a reply somewhere in the middle. It seems to forget the intent to reply if you use the “log in to reply” button. Please disregard this post.
      Also, where did the option to edit or delete posts go?

  2. TMB says:

    Refugee children.

    This really is getting ridiculous now. Someone was telling me yesterday how it was racist to insist on age checks for refugee ‘children’ escaping to the UK from France.

    What is going on?

    I’m inclined to think that intelligent people inclined to ‘open-borders’ are throwing up a sort of anti-aircraft barrage of crap in order to make target approach dangerous. And, the people running with the ‘racism’ stuff are being manipulated.

    Having said that, my motivation for opposing mass immigration is basically xenophobic – unknown outsiders may be damaging to society. I think there can be reasonable xenophobia (or caution), though.

    • X is racist against group Y if it results in people from group Y being excluded from our society, and X was done for the primary purpose of excluding people of group Y from our society. Laws are not to always be interpreted literally since they can’t anticipate every contingency and in many instances a literal interpretation would result in an absurd outcome so what matters is interpreting them in a way that makes society better off so it’s not a defense against racism that the law requires the state to do X.

      • TMB says:

        I would say that in order for X to be racist, Y has to be a race. I mean, it might be discriminatory to insist that children are actually children, but I don’t think it’s racist.

        And is it only racism if it results in exclusion from society?

        • “I would say that in order for X to be racist, Y has to be a race. Agreed.
          “And is it only racism if it results in exclusion from society?” Good point. I gave sufficient rather than necessary conditions.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Racism is a superweapon. If you can paint an argument as “racist”, you can prevent it from being considered even if it is correct. This means that if you want something accomplished, you need merely paint all arguments against it as “racist”. Then those arguments may not be made and if made, will not be considered, and the thing you want will carry without (or with very weak) opposition.

      It’s not just immigration; it’s everything.

      • Anonymous says:

        Work to end racism and you’ll defang the superweapon. (N.B. This strategy won’t be any help if racism is your terminal value.)

        • The Nybbler says:

          No, you won’t. Because racism will simply be redefined (as it has been redefined), and the thresholds for detecting it will be lowered to below the noise floor.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s still plenty of plain old racism. The microaggression types draw power from association with that deep wellspring of real injustice.

            You want to win your little mostly online mostly millennial culture “war” — take that wellspring away from them by getting rid of it.

            Or just post frog memes on 4chan, I’m sure that’ll be effective.

        • Sandy says:

          Strategy also likely won’t be any help if “ending racism” is a nebulous goal without a single concrete example to follow in all of human history.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well, as a start we can get a bipartisan consensus against importing dark triad racists from India, Peru, and Russia.

          • Sandy says:

            Sounds like one of those whaddayacallit, disparate impact situations. Sheer curiosity: is it that there’s no racism in, say, the Islamic world or that there’s no psychopathy or that there’s a consensus in favor of dark triad racists from the Islamic world?

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          @Blue Anonymous. We can NEVER end racism. People are visually oriented creatures and so we take note of visual clues. If someone if tall or fat or acne-covered or gorgeous or Black, we will notice. And it will affect us. We can do our best to ignore those visual differences when they are irrelevant, as I try to do. But it can’t be totally eliminated. If I am used to working with a bunch of White people, I will notice when a Black person shows up. That is simply human nature.

          Furthermore, “working to end racism” often has the opposite effect to what is intended. Most of those that spend a significant amount of their effort on this endeavor are usually pointing out to others all the disparities that arise between the different races, and how we need to pay more attention to these disparities. Well, the more attention we pay to different races, the more difficult is to ignore racial differences and treat folks the same. Working to end racism will work the best if we simply have a culture that mostly ignores race.

    • Sandy says:

      What is going on?

      They are aware that there are racists who oppose Muslim immigration. To avoid conflation with aforementioned racists, they will say such things.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      It’s arguments as soldiers, and soldiers in a war that, World War I-style, has long since detached from whatever goal it may have had when it was started.

      The goal is not to “end racism” or to help refugees; the goal is to stick it to the other side which has already been established to evil. If arguing something transparently idiotic like “it’s racist to insist that child refugees actually be children” helps the great task of opposing The Other, it will be argued.

  3. BBA says:

    The Cubs have won the pennant. These must be the end times.

  4. onyomi says:

    As medical technology continues to improve (and get more expensive, though that’s another issue…) we are increasingly faced with difficult choices like “should grandpa get this extremely expensive operation with a 40% chance of giving him another year of low-quality life?” “should we bring this baby to term though it will be born without a heart (but maybe that can be fixed by a transplant, hundreds of thousands of dollars, countless hours in the hospital with our young, healthy child, and the likely result is still death a few years in)?” “Do I get Fido the kidney transplant?” and so on.

    Do people have any thoughts on the ethics of such situations? As our ability to save people improves should our standard of what constitutes reasonable care continually rise (seems it should?)? At what point, if any, is it morally or personally justifiable to say “this just isn’t worth it?” In the future will refusal to buy great-great-grandpa a new cyborg body constitute elder abuse?

    • Deiseach says:

      (1) If grandpa’s quality of life is declining and the operation is more stressful than not, don’t. Some people gradually fade quietly towards death and it’s natural, you can see the decline in them mentally and physically and they’re ready to die. If grandpa desperately wants to live that extra year, it’s another thing.

      (2) Child born without a heart is likely to die anyway, if it’s that extreme. That being said, I would not take this as an excuse to terminate the pregnancy. Let them be born and die, even if they only have a few moments of life.

      (3) Fido’s kidney transplant I would say no, because a dog is not a human. Again, that being said, a lot of people do treat their pets like surrogate children. But putting yourself into thousands of dollars of death for a pet – unless you’re a billionaire and can afford to pay for thirty dogs to have kidney transplants out of your spare change – no, I wouldn’t do it.

      I suppose my principle is basically that people shouldn’t die purely for the sake of not being able to afford treatment that makes an appreciable difference. If poor Joe and rich Joseph each have the same basic quality of life, and poor Joe only dies while rich Joseph gets another ten years of life because Joseph can afford the operation/procedure that Joe can’t, that seems to me unethical.

      • IrishDude says:

        Money is a nice way to keep track of how many favors one person has given others. In general, the more you do for other people in the market, the more money you have. Given that, if Joseph becomes rich because he’s made many people better off, and he wants to cash that in to get a limited procedure that isn’t available to Joe who hasn’t done as much for others, that doesn’t seem wrong to me. On the other hand, if Joseph got rich by making others worse off then him getting the procedure over Joe seems unjust.

        • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

          That seems idealistic at best. CEOs famously earn massively more than the value that the produce for the company. I don’t think that money is evenly distributed with respect to value added to society.

          • IrishDude says:

            CEOs famously earn massively more than the value that the produce for the company.

            Some? Most? All? Citation needed.

            I don’t think that money is evenly distributed with respect to value added to society.

            Money is a good, but imperfect, proxy for value added. Did most of your money come from providing goods or services to others? The vast, vast majority of mine did.

      • Anonymous says:

        If poor Joe and rich Joseph each have the same basic quality of life, and poor Joe only dies while rich Joseph gets another ten years of life because Joseph can afford the operation/procedure that Joe can’t, that seems to me unethical.

        In that case, you’re in trouble. This will always happen, unless you socialize healthcare to the point of outlawing private pracice, and also close your borders so the wealthy sick have to die instead of go to Switzerland for a cure.

        When I was an exchange student in Sweden for awhile, a long time ago, a case hit the news there where the state healthcare was cutting off a guy’s medicine he needed to live. He was about 27, he’d been on this medicine for fifteen years after some terribly rare disease made itself known in early puberty, and the medicine cost, I forget if it was the equivalent of $200,000 or $2 million annually. (I can’t remember what the sum was in Swedish money anymore, nor the conversion rate) It wasn’t because of some Shkreliesque parasite, either; the hospital was getting the medicine — some enzyme that he didn’t naturally produce or whatever, I forget the details, and even if I’d hallucinated the whole thing this would still be a useful literary example, so whatever — at cost. They were synthesizing it themselves or one of the big Swedish research hospitals was doing it for them. It just had expensive ingredients, or an expensive process, and he needed several doses daily.

        Eventually, like I said, the local healthcare authority told him he couldn’t have it anymore. His parents were obviously upset and outraged, and it made the news, but nothing came of it. Why? Because the authority’s reasons were simple: it cost too much, in other human lives. Each year, the money spent on his medicine could save somewhere between ten and dozens of lives, permanently, or as permanently as it ever gets, while his life would be saved only to need saving again tomorrow. It was a matter of simple triage. They couldn’t defend letting hundreds of people die over the rest of his natural lifespan so that he could live. He and his parents would simply have to accept that he’d gotten fifteen years more than nature had allotted to him, and for that matter, fifteen years more than the hospital should have allotted to him.

        Now, obviously, if his parents were rich, they would have been well within their rights to spend their fortune buying him medicine; what better could they do with their money? It seems obvious that saving their son wouldn’t be immoral. But the healthcare provider’s choice doesn’t seem unethical either; in fact, it seems even more obvious to me that they did the right thing, and indeed the only possible right thing. So where’s the unethical part?

        It seems to me — maybe I’m off base, but it seems to me like any frustration here must basically be over the fact that money has value, and not just value for obtaining meaningless junk like curtains and prosciutto, but real value. People have been angry over this for a long time, but it’s like yelling at the rain.

        • TMB says:

          Because the authority’s reasons were simple: it cost too much, in other human lives. Each year, the money spent on his medicine could save somewhere between ten and dozens of lives, permanently, or as permanently as it ever gets, while his life would be saved only to need saving again tomorrow. It was a matter of simple triage. They couldn’t defend letting hundreds of people die over the rest of his natural lifespan so that he could live.

          In the most general sense – yes, there are circumstances where a treatment will consume limited resources that could be better used in different ways.
          But I think in this case, there isn’t any hard constraint preventing us from doing both – $2 million isn’t really a significant amount of money, and I think given how clear the benefits of the treatment are, quite cruel to end it.
          More of a political decision.
          If the health service has a moral obligation to remove treatment, wouldn’t the parents also have a moral obligation to spend their $2 million on whatever it is that would save many more lives?

          (I think that if we give an additional $2 million dollars to a health service, they’d probably be hard pressed to spend the money in a way that would guarantee an additional high quality year of young life.)

          Most of the cases like this I read about involve cancer drugs which are incredibly expensive and lead to an average of a few extra months of life. In that case, I think it’s reasonable not to pay for it.

        • The Nybbler says:

          maybe I’m off base, but it seems to me like any frustration here must basically be over the fact that money has value, and not just value for obtaining meaningless junk like curtains and prosciutto, but real value.

          Isn’t this basically what socialists (not Communists, but Bernie-style socialists) object to? Everyone should have as much food, shelter, healthcare, transportation, child care, and ‘dignity’ as they need merely because they exist, and any work they do should just be for upgrading the hamburger ration to steak — after, that is, enough has been taken to pay for their share of everyone else’s hamburger ration.

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          It seems to me — maybe I’m off base, but it seems to me like any frustration here must basically be over the fact that money has value, and not just value for obtaining meaningless junk like curtains and prosciutto, but real value. People have been angry over this for a long time, but it’s like yelling at the rain.

          From Lighting Up the Dark:

          “Look, you fucking worthless excuse for a ninja, you think you have sort of moral high ground for being on the defending team? Let’s be clear about this. Sooner or later, it’s going to be your mission to assassinate some poor sucker whose only fault is that he’s got enemies rich enough to afford ninja. Or maybe you’ll be stealing documents with trade secrets. Suddenly, poof! Some formerly-rich bastard’s out of business, and his employees don’t have jobs, and their families don’t have food on the table, and their children starve to death, and tears and drama all round, and you’re the guy who made it happen. Or maybe you could only take the missions that let you come out smelling of roses, and turn down the rest. Except do you know what they call guys who refuse to obey orders? ‘Traitors’. I’m sure you’ll be rushing to join the club for the sake of your precious morality now you know what that means.

          “This is your world. Are you with me? This is where you live. You took money to protect that bridge-builder guy. Why? Because your village wants money, because money is power, and power is survival. Jiriki and I took Gatō’s money to kill the same guy. Why? Because money is power, and power is survival. Gatō wanted him dead so he could keep squeezing money out of the people of Wave. Why? Go on, take a guess.

          “There’s only one thing anyone wants, in the end, and that’s to survive. Love? Ambition? Duty? Revenge? Good luck with those when you’re six feet under. Survival always comes first. And it never comes free. There’s a price to pay just for staying alive in this shithole of a world, and sooner or later you’ll have to make other people pay it for you before they do the same to you. And then you’ll want power like you’ve never wanted it before in your life. Those with power can bargain. They can choose what to give and what to take. Without power, you own nothing, you are nothing, because everything you have and everything you are can be taken away at another’s whim.”

        • Matt C says:

          > Eventually, like I said, the local healthcare authority told him he couldn’t have it anymore.

          For some reason people seem more willing to accept this if it comes from a government than from, say, a private insurance company.

          I am opposed to socialized medicine, but I think the U.S. would have been better off if we had adopted it a few decades ago, partly because people would have accepted there were limits on what medical care they could get for free that they’re unwilling to accept now.

          (Of course we’d have missed out on a lot of medical progress that way. Maybe that was worth the dreadful mess we’re in now. Might think so if I had a kid with cancer.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Matt C:

          Well, it’s the government’s job, in a welfare state with public medicine or public insurance, to provide for people. With a private insurance company, regardless of what actually happens to the money, most people are going to think “he’s getting cut off because it hurts their bottom line”.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          @TheNybbler

          Are you saying that given the choice between a society where everyone has necessities provided for them, and one where not everyone has necessities but some people have bigger swimming pools of money, you would pick the latter? That seems odd to me. I can understand objecting based on the idea that the former isn’t actually possible, would have negative side effects, or would be unethical in some way (violating rights etc.), but I don’t understand why you would consider the outcome less desirable.

        • The Nybbler says:

          @sweeneyrod

          I find it difficult to separate the outcome from the costs and side-effects. A world where everyone has all their necessities provided for at no cost to others is just a fairy-tale, not really worth consideration.

    • dndnrsn says:

      The conclusion my family seems to have come to regarding pets is “as long as their quality of life is still good”. Keeping an animal who doesn’t know what’s going on alive and suffering using heroic medicine seems quite cruel.

      And yet when I apply the same thinking to humans, my mind kind of rebels. I would rather be taken off life support then kept alive Golden Throne-style (and I mean, all those sacrificial psykers, that really runs up the costs) but I can’t bring myself to demand that of others.

    • John Schilling says:

      Do people have any thoughts on the ethics of such situations?

      If you have to ask, the answer is almost certainly “No”. Such decisions are generally based on either emotional procrastination or on signaling, at best resulting in grossly inefficient use of resources and at worst in paying for extra suffering.

      In the rare case where bignum health care dollars will actually result in many positive QALYs or whatnot, there won’t be any question about it being the right thing do do because you won’t be hedging the question with qualifiers about “low-quality life” and everybody around you will be posturing to show off their virtue by demanding you pay for someone else’s health care.

      See, e.g. Scott’s observation here that it isn’t the caregivers or close relatives of the severely ill who demand the expensive treatments, but the “family” members from 2000 miles away who haven’t spoken to Grandpa in years but need to be seen to Care Very Much now that people are paying attention.

    • keranih says:

      “should grandpa get this extremely expensive operation with a 40% chance of giving him another year of low-quality life?”

      If grandpa is mentally sound:
      – if it’s grandpa’s money, it’s grandpa’s choice.
      – if it’s the family money, it’s a family choice that grandpa gets to have an opinion on, and his wishes should be given extra weight. Maybe he wants to see his favorite grandkid graduate medical school. Maybe he wants to see one last spring with his wife. Maybe he’s tired of all the family bickering and of his hip hurting. Maybe he’d rather the money went to pay for favorite grandkid’s med school.
      – if it’s other people’s money, they get a say, too, unless they’ve deliberately gifted the money so that the recipient can use as if it were their own. Most tax-payer sourced money is not this (but maybe that is how we should think of it? Maybe not…)

      If grandpa is not of sound mind… If grandpa left express wishes, and has sufficient funds to pay for it, the wishes should be followed as best as can. If there are not sufficient funds, then those who would be paying for it get a say.

      “should we bring this baby to term though it will be born without a heart (but maybe that can be fixed by a transplant, hundreds of thousands of dollars, countless hours in the hospital with our young, healthy child, and the likely result is still death a few years in)?”

      This is how medical progress happens, by people with the funds to do so encouraging doctors to try their best, even if the prognosis is not great. (This applies to old folks, and not so old folks, as well.)

      However, the same idea – that if you have the money, you can dictate terms, and if you don’t, those who would provide the funds get a say – still apply.

      “Do I get Fido the kidney transplant?”

      And same-same again – if this is how you want to spend your money, then do so, but don’t expect (you can *ask*, but not *expect*) others to pay for this.

      And ending it here, with animals, helps to highlight what is, for me, the major ethical conflict – that of using euthanasia not because we have run out of other options, but because the benefits of euthanasia to the family are such that it becomes very, very attractive.

      It’s bad enough when Aunt Sally grows weary and depressed tending to grandpa, and puts a pillow over his head. Or when the caregiver for the vegitative child just lets the little one’s head slip under the bath water, because the child is never going to gain intelligence or bowel control. Or when Fido is blind and bites the hand (of the eight year old) that feeds him.

      But when the family would be $100k richer if grandpa died *before* the operation, or if Walkaway Joe doesn’t want to pay child support, and tells his babymomma to go ahead with the abortion, or if the horse will never race again even with the surgery…

      Then we get into what I consider very tricky ground.

      One way of looking at it is that struggling through is hard, and stopping is easy, and if the problem is insurmountable, society will condone stopping. So there is a temptation to tell society – and ones self – that the problem is actually insurmountable, so you don’t have to struggle any more.

      God knows this. And He knows, when we fail – not fail to win, but fail to struggle. One is tragedy, one is sin.

  5. Timothy says:

    Anyone else wish Freddie deBoer had come around to political nihilism (“for a long time I still believed in political progress. And one day not too long ago I woke up and realized I just don’t.”) but continued his internet writings? Guess it was necessary for him to stop, for himself, though…

    • BBA says:

      I thought he stopped writing because he got a job.

      Somehow I doubt his newfound nihilism would make him any less of a whipping boy for the rest of the internet left. LG&M still gives him shit for his comments on sports blogs, for crying out loud.

      • hlynkacg says:

        I used to be a regular reader of LG&M but now they just come across as belligerent toxoplasma-esque nonsense. Were they always like that?

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          I seem to recall that those guys were part of the first big blog explosion around 9/11. They weren’t crazy at all then, but like a lot of writers who became prominent in that era they gradually lost their minds over the ensuing years.

      • Nyx says:

        I thought he stopped writing because he went off his meds.

  6. Corey says:

    Related to voter fraud: I found a story of someone in my county a few years ago getting caught attempting to vote twice. But her incentives were a little different than most, she was on the ballot.
    She lost her seat (not a euphemism), the tentative-at-time-time-of-publication loss by 3 votes was certified as the final result.

  7. Have a scenario and theories about nice guys.

    I’m going to assume that the typical nice guy has been associating for years with a woman he finds attractive. He like her company, but he would like an actual intimate relationship with her. He’s afraid that if he makes this clear, he’ll lose her company and all chance of a relationship with her. Meanwhile, she keeps telling him about the horrible relationship problems she’s having with obnoxious men while not noticing that he would be a better choice.

    This dynamic is bad, though as things going wrong between people go, it’s only middling bad.

    It really goes sour when some men start complaining in public about how this proves there’s something wrong with women. Women have a lot of social pressure to be polite to men who want sex with them– I expect you guys have vivid memories of women who were *not* polite, but you’re less likely to notice women being patient and tactful.

    Imagine feeling strong internal pressure to be polite to spammers and telemarketers. It would be a strain.

    So you’ve got women blowing up about men who expect sex, and men who were in the scenerio I started with are saying, “What! I didn’t even ask, and now I’m being blamed!”

    Have some more theories– I think what sets up the scenario is that both of them came from families where the parents were problems. His mother was unhappy in her relationship, and he can’t imagine a woman actually liking him. Her father was a nasty person, and she can’t imagine that a man would be good to her.

    It’s not just simple status stuff, it’s people who can’t respond to good people who are attracted to them.

    • Wrong Species says:

      I’m not sure family problems has anything to do with it. If anything it seems to be the opposite where a normal boring guy with a perfectly average life can’t seem to excite women in the same way a “broken” guy can. And women have always seemed to have some kind of attraction to “bad boys”, even those that come from stable homes.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Again, “Radicalizing the Romanceless” and “I am a nicer guy than Henry.”

        https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/08/31/radicalizing-the-romanceless/

        • nimim. k.m. says:

          You know, it sort of saddens me that comment section of that post seems to have more variety (as in number of nicks participating in discussion presenting different but cogent arguments) than our current discussions.

          No, no statistics, just my gut feeling.

          • Deiseach says:

            that comment section of that post seems to have more variety (as in number of nicks participating in discussion presenting different but cogent arguments) than our current discussions

            We need new blood. Who’s got a big net and can dig traps? 🙂

          • hlynkacg says:

            I’ll grab a shovel if you get the net. Where are we headed?

          • M.C. Escherichia says:

            Are you comparing frontpage post to frontpage post, though, or frontpage post to super-secret hidden open-thread known-only-to-the-elect?

      • TMB says:

        a normal boring guy with a perfectly average life can’t seem to excite women in the same way a “broken” guy can. And women have always seemed to have some kind of attraction to “bad boys”

        Hmmmm… far too broad.

      • “I’m not sure family problems has anything to do with it. If anything it seems to be the opposite where a normal boring guy with a perfectly average life can’t seem to excite women in the same way a “broken” guy can. And women have always seemed to have some kind of attraction to “bad boys”, even those that come from stable homes.”

        “Normal boring guy with perfectly average life” might be depressed, which is not a plus. Is he enthusiastic about anything?

        “Stable home” isn’t the same thing as not having an asshole father.

        Also, I’m bewildered by this bad boy thing. I know enough married people to be pretty sure that a lot of the men aren’t especially bad. Perhaps this is a matter of lack of specificity.

        What proportion of women do you think are attracted to bad boys? For how much of the women’s lives? How bad do the bad boys need to be? Is it possible that a lot of men need to show a little badness (how much? what kind?) while courting, but it isn’t really their temperaments?

        • Wrong Species says:

          He’s not depressed because he grew up in a terrible household but because he can’t get a girlfriend. You have your causation backwards. And a woman can have the nicest father in the world and still be attracted to a guy that’s less than wholesome.

          As far as bad boys, just look at media. If women didn’t like them then why do they consume book and movies about guys that are terrible? At least one study has shown a third of women admitting to rape fantasies. Of course, they don’t usually want to marry these guys but the attraction is there. That attraction is not a sign of being psychologically broken. It’s just the way many women are.

          • I’m not saying that fellow is depressed because he grew up in a terrible household. I’m saying he sounds as though he might be depressed because you describe him as not having much going on in his life.

            I agree that he might be happier with a relationship.

            People do get attracted for some reason– is he fun to be around? Comforting?

            As for mass media, this is about fantasy. As far as I can tell, men like to watch contact sports a lot more than they want to play them.

          • Wrong Species says:

            You originally said:

            I think what sets up the scenario is that both of them came from families where the parents were problems. His mother was unhappy in her relationship, and he can’t imagine a woman actually liking him. Her father was a nasty person, and she can’t imagine that a man would be good to her.

            My main dispute is what you said there. There may be a hint of truth there regarding women but it’s certainly not the whole truth and with guys there doesn’t seem to be any truth to it.

          • Deiseach says:

            At least one study has shown a third of women admitting to rape fantasies.

            Fantasy is about fantasy, not reality. Rape fantasies are about transgression and the taboo, not about wanting to be raped. The whole point of a fantasy is that the interaction is scripted and shaped and goes along the way you want it to go, not how it would go in reality, and the moment it gets too much you can snap right out of it. We get told that sex is perfectly natural and normal and we shouldn’t think of it as dirty or something to be ashamed of, but libido is sometimes sparked by the dirty, the shameful, the sense of forbidden fruit, and that’s what fantasy is for.

            You need to read you some Nancy Friday, son (though her collections of women’s sexual fantasies are very much of the 70s/early 80s and time, and attitudes, have marched on since) 🙂

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Deisach

            I wasn’t trying to imply that one third of women want to be raped, just that one third of women probably did not have terrible fathers. I don’t think the correlation between wanting these guys and family problems is very strong, except maybe in cases where the women were actually sexually abused.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Also, I’m bewildered by this bad boy thing. I know enough married people to be pretty sure that a lot of the men aren’t especially bad. Perhaps this is a matter of lack of specificity.

          What proportion of women do you think are attracted to bad boys? For how much of the women’s lives? How bad do the bad boys need to be? Is it possible that a lot of men need to show a little badness (how much? what kind?) while courting, but it isn’t really their temperaments?

          I think you’re on to it in that second paragraph. They don’t need to be Christian Slater in _Heathers_ bad, I just mean did they have some sort of edge? Ride a motorcycle or drive a sports car? Participate in some sport with physical danger? Get into the occasional fistfight? Set off fireworks clandestinely? I think most women (at least most younger women) are looking for some sort of edge. And better (from the perspective of attracting women, though not many others) to overdo it than underdo it; even your total psycho has his hangers on, whereas your nebbish… doesn’t.

        • Gazeboist says:

          Also, I’m bewildered by this bad boy thing. I know enough married people to be pretty sure that a lot of the men aren’t especially bad. Perhaps this is a matter of lack of specificity.

          Many people are attracted to folks they can “fix” or “help” in some way. People like to feel needed, and the careerist who’s got his life together and is on his way to some grand success just doesn’t need you, or doesn’t appear to. It’s a bad dynamic, often for both parties, but it’s there and not terribly uncommon. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past.

          Of course there’s a sweet spot; excess need is actually unattractive, because people want to date someone who needs them, not someone who needs help but would take it from anyone.

    • I think we’re back to the idea of what is a nice guy?

      It really goes sour when some men start complaining in public about how this proves there’s something wrong with women.

      That’s not being a nice guy. That is totally unfair.

      So you’ve got women blowing up about men who expect sex, and men who were in the scenerio I started with are saying, “What! I didn’t even ask, and now I’m being blamed!”

      I am a bit confused about this. If the guy didn’t ask, how does the woman know the man expected sex? Maybe one blowhard does expect sex, but the guy who says nothing gets blamed? But does this really happen? IMO, if someone “expects sex because they are a nice guy,” they are really cads and not a nice guy. But does this actually happen when men and women are together, or is this in Internet conversation? Quite a bit different. I can imagine in my younger days complaining about the dis-interest of women on the Internet (if the Internet existed back then), but that would be my depression talking, not really blaming women.

      In my early twenties, I was really desperate for sex, or really just a friendly touch from women. I didn’t know how to achieve this. I never blamed women for this; but it was very depressing that none of them wanted me. As Wrong Species says above, one can’t really blame women for their desires, that’s just the way they are. Just like people shouldn’t blame men for desiring sex all the time and from multiple partners; that’s just the way are. At least the way I am (was).

      I am now 60, long married, and my hormonal balance has much changed, so my needs are quite a bit different today. But it was terrible at the time.

      • Gazeboist says:

        I am a bit confused about this. If the guy didn’t ask, how does the woman know the man expected sex?

        He might be signalling attraction without meaning to (or even wanting to, if he thinks it would be wrong to try to sleep with her). If she reads that correctly, she would have reason to be annoyed, especially if she expects him to ask at some point in the future.

        (ed – the gender-inverted version of this can also occur, with results that are usually different in kind but similarly bad)

        Then take into account the fact that she might misread something innocuous, and you have a recipe for stupid, destructive arguments.

    • cassander says:

      >Women have a lot of social pressure to be polite to men who want sex with them– I expect you guys have vivid memories of women who were *not* polite, but you’re less likely to notice women being patient and tactful.

      Do they? I ask this question sincerely. I’ve never seen a woman suffer social scorn for turning someone down, even in a public manner. The closest I’ve seen is some mutual badmouthing by the rejectee and his friends at some later date.

      • Maybe this is a generational thing, and the world has changed more than I realize.

        Would any younger women care to talk about how they feel they ought to treat men?

      • Gazeboist says:

        On the other hand, I’ve never seen (or heard of) a woman turn someone down in a rude way, except possibly when they were struggling to navigate a situation they didn’t know how to handle (and then it was mostly awkward silences and uncomfortable looks at others).

      • Urstoff says:

        People have a lot of social pressure to be polite in general.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      There’s really quite a lot of similarity between the situation you mention about overweight women upthread and nice guys here.

      Overweight women are typically not attractive enough that most men will commit to them as an exclusive partner. IME there’s little to no incentive to move past the hookup stage with a fat girl. As such, they are unable to to experience emotional intimacy with men.

      Square men are typically not attractive enough that most women will have sex with them. It seems as though here’s little to no incentive to move past the friend stage with a nice guy. As such, they are unable to experience physical intimacy with women.

      The solution for both is the same: self improvement to better match what the other side wants. Nice guys need to work out more, dress better and learn how to talk to women. Fat girls need to lose weight. It’s not easy, it sucks, but I know for a fact both are possible because I’ve done both.

      • Deiseach says:

        Thanks be to the universe I’m asexual. Otherwise, I’d have the choice between men not caring if I had the personality of a Barbie doll as long as I had big tits and a skinny waist, or being perfectly willing to fuck me until something better comes along.

        Of all the reasons to lose weight, “So I can be attractive to some lump who would stick his dick in a hole in the ground and thinks of me the same way – as physical relief – but would be persuaded to graciously deign to permit me to be in a ‘relationship’ with him as long as I met his arbitrary standards of ‘wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen with her in public in daylight'” has got to be the worst one. Pinning the tail of satisfaction of your emotional needs to the arse of a donkey who doesn’t give a flying fig about your emotional needs, just do you look acceptable as arm decoration so he can demonstrate his heterosexuality to the world (“look, I can get and keep a woman!”)? That’s going to end in tears and driving your sense of self-respect even lower than before, so all the weight will be regained, and then you’re going to feel even worse than you did at the start.

        Note: I am not saying weight doesn’t matter or that there aren’t conventional standards of attractiveness. I understand about if you’re not wiling to change to be more attractive (be that physically or personality) then you haven’t a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining “nobody likes me”.

        But if a guy isn’t attracted enough to a woman to even consider her as “potential relationship material”, then he shouldn’t take up with her at all (again, one-night stands and casual sex where both parties know that’s what it is and that’s all it is are different matters). Being “I wouldn’t date her but I’m happy to string her along when I’m horny and can’t find anyone more convenient to fuck, and I’ll drop her like a hot potato if I get a genuine hot chick interested in me” is shitty behaviour, and it says very little for the likelihood that the guy is going to be any better or more willing to be emotionally intimate in his ‘real’ relationship.

        • The Nybbler says:

          @Deiseach

          Your rant is rather akin to the stereotypical nice guys rant (the one that boils down to “chicks dig jerks”), in that you can complain all you want about how terrible the standards of the opposite sex are, and even be convincing about it, but at the end of the day they are what they are and there’s nothing you can do about it. If guys like thin women and you’re a fat woman, well, there’s a solution at hand. If chicks dig jerks and you’re a guy who is not a jerk… figure out what it is about the jerks the chicks dig and do that. Just hope like hell it isn’t something you can’t really change, like your height.

          • John Schilling says:

            but at the end of the day they are what they are and there’s nothing you can do about it.

            Citation needed. Taste and desire are not as immutable as you think they are, and at both the individual and societal level there are things that can be done about it.

            That you may not want people to do anything about it, is another matter entirely.

          • The Nybbler says:

            On an individual basis, you can change your own preferences, but you can’t change others’. On a societal basis… well, good luck with that. Even if you could do it (which would require more collaboration than the Hillary Clinton campaign has managed), it would probably take far longer than you would want to do any good for yourself.

        • Deiseach says:

          Nybbler, why would I want to waste my time on some jerk who’s too cheap to pay a sex worker and thinks he can get it for free from me because I’ll be soooo grateful a man bothered to look at me?

          Who needs that kind of denigration? “He’s only with you because you’re easy because you’re desperate”? Being alone is better in that instance. You can make yourself more attractive if that’s what you want, and find someone you like, rather than grabbing onto the first person who talks to you and is only taking advantage of you.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Deiseach

            You presumably wouldn’t; someone more desperate for sex (or perhaps better at fooling herself it’s more than that) would.

      • Gazeboist says:

        I agree that there’s similarity, but there are a lot more solutions than totally rebuilding your life and/or personality in order to share the same. Developing the skill of actually noticing when people are attracted to you can do pretty well. The two sets you mention have more trouble with this than most, due to both a reduced sample size and a culture constantly telling them they’re doomed to be Forever Alone (it usually takes an especially obvious suitor to get through to them that suitors exist, and that suitor has to be of sufficient “quality” that they can’t be dismissed out of hand), but the problem applies to a lot of people who for whatever reason think they can’t succeed at romance.

      • Anonymous says:

        Overweight women are typically not attractive enough that most men will commit to them as an exclusive partner.

        What about guys that claim they desperately want to get and stay married, and have lots of kids, but just can’t seem to accomplish that?

        Surely with such a strong goal would override other considerations?

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          In all likelihood they spend too much time responding to shitposters on SSC. Plays havoc with the social life as I’m sure you’re aware.

        • Deiseach says:

          What about guys that claim they desperately want to get and stay married, and have lots of kids, but just can’t seem to accomplish that?

          People have standards. Even fat women.

          Twenty to thirty years back, I was an overweight young woman (as distinct from being an overweight older woman as I am now), and I got hit on a few times by skeevy guys who plainly were operating under the assumption that, as a fat chick, I would be so desperate for male “company” I’d gladly open my legs for them just because they paid me some attention.

          Even though I was and am uninterested, that wasn’t the sole reason I rejected their advances – it was also because they were unattractive. They also plainly didn’t consider that they might be unappealing to women, as distinct from hitting on what they thought were easy targets, or that even fat and ugly women also have standards of who they find attractive and that they might not meet those standards.

          “Lower your standards” may be reasonable advice for the desperate, but if it’s a toss-up between “how desperate exactly are you?” and “so lowered as not to exclude a shaved Yeti”, you might decide “I’m desperate, but not that desperate”.

          (Some guys, I’d take the Yeti – and not because of looks, but because of their skeeviness).

          • Anonymous says:

            That’s fine. But high standards are a reason to be skeptical of people’s claims of desperation — whether that’s for sex, or companionship or white babies.

      • dndnrsn says:

        @Dr Dealgood:

        Overweight women are typically not attractive enough that most men will commit to them as an exclusive partner. IME there’s little to no incentive to move past the hookup stage with a fat girl. As such, they are unable to to experience emotional intimacy with men.

        There are plenty of fat guys who would be perfectly happy with equivalently fat women. If they think they are somehow deserving of a woman with a lower relative bodyfat % than them, well, that’s just gonna keep them lonely.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If they think they are somehow deserving of a woman with a lower relative bodyfat % than them, well, that’s just gonna keep them lonely.

          Indeed. But no one blames women for this, while they do blame guys for being so superficial as to not want to date fat women.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Some double standards cut one way, some cut the other. I’m sure there are forms of pickiness women get judged for that men don’t. And, even if they’re not judged for it socially, their pickiness still hurts them. That society is more sympathetic towards the woman in her 30s ranting about how shallow men are about age and now that she’s in her 30s where have all the men gone, than they are towards the man ranting that he did not get the hottie the movies promised him, doesn’t change that both are unlikely to escape their loneliness.

            In fact, the man might be more likely to do so, because if he makes himself more appealing and adjusts his expectations, he’ll be in a better position on the dating market in his 30s and 40s and so on than a woman of equivalent age. That society judges him perhaps more harshly, and certainly more openly, is in his favour, because he is more likely to get a message that is actually given to him.

            EDIT: By “society” above, of course, it varies from bubble to bubble. I know that in my social group, a guy who posted classic Nice Guy ranting on Facebook would be scorned, while plenty of women share articles that are one distaff equivalent or another, and nobody openly disapproves. That’s the only personally experienced frame of reference I have.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Some double standards cut one way, some cut the other. I’m sure there are forms of pickiness women get judged for that men don’t.

            Are there really, I wonder? What’s an example of one?

          • Anonymous says:

            Some double standards cut one way, some cut the other. I’m sure there are forms of pickiness women get judged for that men don’t.

            I’d also like to know what those forms are. Do you have a concrete example?

            doesn’t change that both are unlikely to escape their loneliness.

            And that in turn doesn’t change in the slightest that double standards are wrong. Are we equal or aren’t we? It’s disgusting and unacceptable that women should be judged more leniently than men, over anything, for any reason, if we’re to be equal (and let me point out, if the double standard went the other way, it would be loudly and justly decried; we both know that).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Thirteenthletter/Anonymous:

            Men with younger women usually seems to be presented more favourably, and as less of an oddity, than women with younger men, and a man in his late 30s who announces a preference for women in their 20s is probably going to be read as considerably more realistic than his distaff counterpart. Even in the social circles that are usually full of pushback against social norms, I’m not sure if I see much pushback against this.

            Again, it’s a question of social circles/bubbles. In the popular culture, I think that fat guys get a better rap than fat girls. There’s far more positive archetypes for fat men – funny guy, big ol’ party animal, etc than for fat women. There’s more work for fat actors. A man has to be considerably fatter (relatively speaking, considering that women will usually be carrying more fat without it making them look fatter, due to hormonal differences in fat distribution) than a woman before he starts getting shit for it.

            Of course, in the sorts of circles where body positivity and fat acceptance are a thing, because those things are a pushback, they’re aimed entirely at women. There’s very little “fat guys are hot and sexy” messaging. But that’s because there’s less “fat guys are repulsive” messaging in the culture at large.

            I don’t think that the body positivity messaging helps fat women get what they want, or at least, most of what they want, to be honest. A fat guy, not getting that “you’re great the way you are, and the onus is on society to change” message – which is completely bogus; if there’s more skinnier guy-fatter girl couples than the other way around, I chalk that up to the overweight and obese %s being higher among women – is more likely to clean up his diet and hit the gym. He’s more likely to end up with the sort of women he’s attracted to, than the hot guys are going to rewire what they find attractive to suit her. Tough love, or even just nastiness that spurs someone on, does actually work sometimes.

            Additionally, double standards are only wrong if the groups involved are identical. “It’s OK for secret service agents to tackle the president, but when I do it secret service agents tackle me?!?” is a double standard, but it’s completely acceptable.

          • TMB says:

            I think I might exist on a different plane to most of the ssc commentariat.

            High standards are bad. If you can enjoy cheap food as well as expensive, you’re better off.

            Bill Gates likes McDonalds. He also likes Melinda Gates. Mark Zuckerberg like Priscilla Chan.

            We should all be aiming to eat McDonalds, get married to a person of vaguely the same level of physical attractiveness as us, have a nice time, and stop worrying about being attractive.

            Nobody wants to hear people moaning about their sex life socially, but there are lots of things most people don’t want to hear about.
            Nobody wants to hear about my eccentric monetary theories, or my views on the simulation argument – or any of the other millions of things they aren’t interested in. That doesn’t mean that there must be a ban on amateur philosophical/economic rambling. It just means that you have to have a bit of a filter.

          • Anon for the self-evident reason says:

            Tough love, or even just nastiness that spurs someone on, does actually work sometimes.

            The Fat Hate threads on /fit/ seem to actually consist to a large part, maybe entirely, of fat or ex-fat guys motivating themselves by wallowing in how gross fat people are.

          • dndnrsn, I’ve seen a fair number of women say that their lives got better from giving up trying to lose weight. I’ve seen the same for women who decide to pursue their goals (romance, success) now instead of assuming they can’t get anything good unless they’re thin first.

            Either path takes more work (this may sound strange, but *not* dieting can take a surprising amount of effort in a strongly pro-diet culture) than just being on the receiving end of body positivity messages.

          • Gazeboist says:

            High standards are bad. If you can enjoy cheap food as well as expensive, you’re better off.

            Yeah, this strikes me as terrible reasoning. I hear you saying, “Your preferences are suboptimal, so you don’t deserve happiness.” Trying to define a “correct” set of preferences doesn’t even make sense to me. I started trying to explain why it doesn’t make sense, but it quickly became clear that that would take more time than I have right now.

            I’m pretty sure that the two of us, at least, have some very deep meta-ethical disagreements that make it hard to discuss this claim you’re making, and I’m having a lot of trouble framing just why I find it so crazy without writing an essay on fundamental philosophy. Every time I try to start the argument, I find some position or other that you might just not hold. I can usually start to frame an argument for that position, but that process rapidly grows out of the range of a reasonable response.

          • TMB says:

            “I’m pretty sure that the two of us, at least, have some very deep meta-ethical disagreements that make it hard to discuss this claim you’re making…”
            Maybe.
            Without getting too much into it, all I’m really saying is that if I have a preference for something cheaper, I am better off than if I have a preference for something expensive.
            Let’s say there is a large psychological component to my consumption and the story I tell myself is as important as any physical sensation – well, changing my story might make me better off.

            Same principle for ethical frameworks.

            And also, focus. We can choose which aspect of an experience to focus on.

          • Anonymous says:

            I hear you saying, “Your preferences are suboptimal, so you don’t deserve happiness.”

            If someone has preferences such that he will only be happy if he is a billionaire, does he deserve happiness?

            That kind of preference set means you don’t really want to be happy.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I was unclear, I think. TMB’s frame seems to forbid our would-be-billionaire from pursuing their billion dollars, regardless of what they think about the various tradeoffs that might be necessary to get them. “Change your preferences” seems like a pretty extreme response when the alternative is something like, “Given the state of the world, here are things you could do to satisfy your preferences; consider the tradeoffs and decide.”

            If they decide that other preferences are more important than their preference to have at least a billion dollars, that’s a perfectly fine decision. But so is the decision that the money really is that important, if that’s the one they want to make.

            @TMB:

            That’s true as far as it goes, but I don’t think it goes very far. There are a lot of different ways to change the story and still accord with the limited evidence you’ve got. Suppose you’re lactose intolerant. You can do all kinds of things in response to that: you can switch to rice or soy or almond milk, you can decide dairy products never tasted good anyway, you can become a vegan, you can take lactase supplements, …. The different options at your disposal can be easier or harder, but it’s not “worse” to spend more effort on the “hard way” because you’ve decided you prefer those results.

            All else being equal, it’s true that someone who likes cheap things is better off than someone who likes expensive things. But all else is not equal, and people are free to make whatever trades they want, even if you wouldn’t make those trades.

            (People aren’t generally free to make trades for *other* people, which is where the interesting parts of ethics come from)

          • dndnrsn says:

            @TMB: On the other hand, I would wager that everyone in those marriages thinks they have found someone their intellectual equal. If you’re brilliant but plain, or downright ugly, you would still have high standards if your major criterion is that prospective partners not be significantly less intelligent than you. I would rather be in a relationship with someone of similar intelligence and attractiveness to me than dumber and hotter. Doesn’t mean I’m being wise and lowering my standards, just means I’ve got standards that make sense – I wouldn’t appeal to someone dumber but hotter. My standards would be unrealistic if I wanted someone who was just better than me across the board – why would they be interested in me?

            @nancy lebovitz: oh, don’t get me wrong, dieting sucks, and it’s worse for women (who both get more fat hate and generally get worse dieting advice). But if somebody’s problem is that they’re fat and they’re attracted to slimmer people who are not attracted to them … “get slimmer” or “get attracted to people who are less slim” is more realistic advice than “somehow get the entire culture to shift”. And “I can’t do xyz until I’m thinner/stronger/whatever” is a bad way of thinking – I think it’s usually a way of putting something off or avoiding it, knowingly or unknowingly.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Well, if he’s attracted to her, but values the friendship to a degree that he’s willing to put up with hearing about her jerk boyfriend du jour, and never makes a move, that’s his choice. If he’s somehow hoping that she will fall into his arms without him having to make a move, uh, that’s kind of unrealistic. If he actually resents her for telling him about her jerk boyfriend du jour, and/or for not falling into his arms without him doing anything, then why doesn’t he shit or get off the pot? In some of these scenarios he’s more sympathetic. Resenting a woman for not reading his mind is not a good look. Meanwhile, either she’s thinking “boy I’ve got such a good friend!” or she kind of knows what is going on and knows that the possibility she might maybe fall into his arms, possibly, someday, keeps him around, and maybe even kind of enjoys making him jealous. Some people are like that. In the first scenario she’s more sympathetic.

      I think there is also a difference between “finds attractive” and “is attractive to”. Someone can find a person attractive without being attracted to them.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I think you’ve got the right schema for young, stereotypical Nice Guys, but I don’t see what exactly the theory is, and I don’t agree with the implication family life is to blame.

      Nice Guy personalities are over-run with meekness and submissiveness, whether by nature or nurture or both. For the most part they are deferential, comfort-zone addicted, and conflict-avoidant. This is the same in their interactions among young boys or with teachers or with bosses or with young girls.

      This “Nice Guy” is Midwestern Nice, the kind of reserved personality that huddles under a blanket and watches Netflix, or might like Danish hygee. It is not Southern Hospitality and it is not Mormon. I know Nice Guys among both THOSE cultures that do a damn fine job among women, because they have gregarious personalities.

      Another great-example is my Brother-In-Law, who is the human incarnation of a puppy dog. He loves everyone and everything and is excited by everyone and everything. He’s also genuinely nice, but not a Nice Guy.
      It also helps that he is built, has blue eyes and blond hair, and is 6’2.

      Most Nice Guys do not have personalities like that. They are quite timid and won’t really go after what they want. I imagine you could toss a naked Selena Gomez in many of their laps and many would be too afraid to even to speak to her.

      So this is really not a personality type that does well.

      But that’s a subset.

      IME, many, if not most guys present a reserved, boring personality that lacks “edge.” Any initial spark gets smothered beneath several layers of mulch. You have “talk about your job” mulch, “let’s meet for coffee” mulch, “slow moving dinner” mulch, and all this other degraded crap that I am sure was vital, vibrant conversation several years ago, but has degraded into something that could probably smother Hiroshima-level attraction.

      This happened a lot to my Architect Friend, who went on something like 60-70 first dates in a year, and only twice got a second date. He was ridiculously infatuated with one girl, the other he started dating, until she dumped him. Probably because he was too boring, she didn’t have much time, and what time she did have she wanted to spend being a young post-college grad in a hip part of the city.

      These guys don’t need to be objective jerks, but they could use a good edge, a more cocky personality. A motorcycle might help!

      This happened a lot to my close friend “Jenna,” who went on something like 80 Tinder dates in a single year. She had dated so many guys she was embarrassed to show her face in public (she kept running into guys she had dated).
      She came across one rather nice guy who has a bit of an edge. His personality is gregarious, he makes a lot of racist jokes, he drives a motorcycle, he is quite cocky.
      Actually, I’ll just say he maps closely to “Red Pill.” He works in IT and is a gun-toting libertarian and jokes about mansplaining and eats Paleo and has a Fight Club poster in his apartment and etc.
      My friend was immediately smitten. I rolled my eyes and told my Wife she better hope she lucked out with one of the nice Red Pill guys and not the suppressed crazies.

      Looks good for her so far.

  8. So: consequentialism.

    I find myself pretty much completely on board with consequentialism in an intellectual sense, and in fact most of my intuitions are pretty consequentalist to being with, so I don’t even have to do much in the way of mental gymnastics to maintain a consequentalist position in life.

    The one exception to this is certain kinds of dishonesty and deception.

    For example: say I have a partner who I’m completely and utterly in love with, and (for whatever reason) I want them to remain faithful to me. And say they cheat on me, but they’re very very good at cheating, and so I go to my grave not knowing that they cheated.

    For some reason this really really bothers me, and I’m not entirely sure I can call my reasoning consequentialist.

    I mean, okay: at some level, obviously I’m trying to imagine a situation where I don’t know that I’m being cheated on, but to concretely imagine the situation in the first place I of course have to “know” that the cheating is taking place. So I have to both “know” and “not know” that I’m being cheated on in the thought experiment, and that’s probably where some of the weirdness comes in.

    But still, argh. It’s like, no, I just don’t want to be cheated on, period. It doesn’t matter whether I know or not, it’s still bad. And this reasoning seems pretty non-consequentialist, at least superficially. I am my brain, and my brain obviously isn’t being affected by things it doesn’t know about. So where, specifically, is the harm in that case? What is the bad consequence, in terms of a sentient being being affected in a way they don’t want to be affected?

    You could take a few different routes here. One would be to say that by cheating on someone, even in the case where you know you won’t be found out, you’re making it plausible for a generic person to believe that they will be cheated on, even when they have no direct evidence that they are actually being cheated on. So you’re essentially eroding public trust, which is causing direct material harm to brains that actually exist, because those brains will be less likely to trust their partners who are in fact faithful.

    I’m not sure I buy this, though. For one it just seems too vague and nebulous. But more concretely: if I were in some post-apocalyptic scenario where only me and two other people were left alive, and I fell in love with one of those two people, but they cheated on me with the other person, would that suddenly make super-secretive cheating okay? There’s no more public trust left to erode, because there’s no public. But it still seems wrong to me, even if I’m not aware that I’m being cheated on.

    The other route you could take would be to say that I just have preferences over the state of the universe, period. And so I could prefer a universe where I’m not cheated on, even if I don’t actually know whether or not I’m being cheated on. This sort of works, I guess, but it still seems a bit non-consequentialist – again, how exactly am I being harmed if I don’t know about the cheating? My brain certainly isn’t affected by it.

    The other alternative, of course, would be to just accept that cheating is okay if you’re never found out. I don’t think I want to go down that road, but I can’t rule it out entirely.

    So what does everyone else think? Has anyone else struggled with these issues?

    • BeefSnakStikR says:

      I would say that (A) cheating on someone and (B) telling someone you’ve cheated on them are two separate actions. Let’s assume A is harmful. You can separately argue that B is more harmful or not harmful.

      I mean–is telling someone you’ve cheated on them *not* harmful because it gives you a chance to morally condemn the cheater, or is it *harmful* because the cheater rubs your broken trust in your face? If you can quantify that, then you can put a value on B without affecting your judgment of A.

      I see no reason why a utilitarian has to add A and B to a grand total. Utilitarians can judge actions individually.

    • Gazeboist says:

      The other route you could take would be to say that I just have preferences over the state of the universe, period. And so I could prefer a universe where I’m not cheated on, even if I don’t actually know whether or not I’m being cheated on. This sort of works, I guess, but it still seems a bit non-consequentialist – again, how exactly am I being harmed if I don’t know about the cheating? My brain certainly isn’t affected by it.

      I see nothing wrong with having not-being-cheated-on as a terminal value. You prefer all universes where you aren’t cheated on to all universes where you are (possibly modulo having a partner). That’s fine. Minimally, the consequences of your partner’s cheating on you is that they cheated on you. If you think that’s bad, you’re allowed to dislike it. It’s not particularly utilitarian, but consequentialism broadly speaking is not guaranteed to be utilitarian.

      The way I see it, consequentialism says, “You may judge an action based only on how it changes the universe, not on how it resembles other acts, or whether or not it falls into some arbitrary category.” Utilitarianism is a framework for consequentially judging actions, but it’s hardly the only one and it involves assumptions you don’t need to make to be consequentialist.

      • Yes I think this is the answer. I believe you don’t want to be cheated on because it has bad consequences, even if you don’t know about them. The relationship presumably wasn’t as good as it would have been it they hadn’t cheated.

        I am definitely a consequentialist, and I don’t believe you’ve found a flaw here.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          But what if their cheating makes the relationship better?

          Like, take it as a given for some hypothetical relationship, that cheating and not getting caught makes the overall relationship better. A consequentialist should have no problem with that relationship.

          I think consequentialism has a “Schrödinger’s cat” problem, personally. That the OKness of the cheating depends on whether it is observed is a flaw in the system, in my mind.

          • Gazeboist says:

            This gets into more complicated things, where kinds of consequentialism start to differentiate themselves. Actions are judged on effects, but what effects? Those that occur? That are intended? That were anticipated? That could (or maybe “should”, in some sense) have been anticipated?

            You can stipulate a scenario where cheating is ok under all of these measures, but at a certain point, that scenario is so ludicrous that, at least for me, pragmatism takes over and it’s no longer worth worrying about.

            It’s also possible to accept that moral luck is a thing, and say that deliberately relying on moral luck is bad.

          • If cheating made the relationship better, then the cheater was presumably doing the right thing. But the original poster does believe that cheating made the relationship worse, I think. Or at least I don’t see why he would have such a problem with it otherwise. Besides, it requires unusual circumstances or weird morality to believe that cheating makes a relationship better. So I think HBD’s comments are a red herring. Consequences are what matter.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Mark V Anderson:
            Many people need some space in a relationship. They might need some time in their man-cave or a vacation with their girlfriends. If their partner denies them this, it can cause significant relationship friction.

            Swingers and polyamorists take this even further, and many find this works for them.

            So it doesn’t strike me as at all implausible to posit a hypothetical relationship where, the infidelity being unknown, the relationship works better than it would otherwise. I’m not saying it’s common. I’m not even saying I predict we can find examples of it. It might be so rare as to be unknown.

            But, as a thought exercise, it provides issues for at least some forms of consequentilaism. That’s all I am claiming.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I would sign on to HBC’s statement (from 10:16 today), with the following caveats:

            – Instrumental deontology is often a useful tool, and may ban cheating without isolating the negative effects in the cheating itself.
            – You may value eg honesty over your partner’s not having sex with other people and still be a consistent consequentialist. (A polyamorous person is perfectly within their rights to be upset about a partner’s secret affair, for example, if openness about sexual partners was part of terms of their relationship)

    • Maybe consequentialism doesn’t capture the whole situation because we can’t just live by consequences. We also need to make choices before we know outcomes, so we need general priniciples which will improve the odds.

      Even if you didn’t find out about a cheating partner, they were still taking a risk the whole time that you would find out.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Object level, it’s possible that any children you have could end up not being yours. Even if it’s not obvious at first, genetic testing is becoming more and more popular so the chances of you not finding out seem less likely by the day. However, I’m assuming this is not what you’re talking about.

      I am not a fan of utilitarianism for the most part but I actually am perfectly ok with this. If someone told me they cheated on their spouse but didn’t want to tell them because they were worried that person would leave, I would tell them simply to go to their grave with that knowledge.* Divorce is a bad thing and honesty in this scenario is almost certainly more likely to lead that direction. This is going to be controversial but I think a society filled with secret adulterers is actually less bad than a society where they all get divorced because of “irreconcilable differences”. The family is the last refuge of close relationships we have in our society. It’s emotional devastation is something that should be avoided, especially as people get older and find it difficult to form new close relationships.

      *Of course this is not to say that cheating is acceptable or that I would blame someone for wanting to leave someone over the issue, especially if it was more than once.

    • dragnubbit says:

      One way to look at it is from lost opportunity. You made a commitment to devote your available romantic time and energies to her, and instead she gave some of hers to someone else. You were harmed by missing the love, affection and support that she instead gave to another even though she had agreed to support you. You may not have realized you were being harmed, but you were, similar to if someone had robbed you of monies due without your knowledge.

    • Alex S says:

      Why do you like consequentialism?

    • Philosophisticat says:

      As some others have pointed out, a consequentialist isn’t committed to thinking that an action has no bad consequences (or even doesn’t harm you) if you never find out about it. A life where you have a faithful relationship may be better than a life where your spouse regularly cheats on you and you never find out, even if they are subjectively the same.

      But I think examples of cheating still give us counterexamples to consequentialism, because it’s wrong to cheat even when doing so would prevent two other people from cheating. That is, you have reasons not to cheat that are centered on you, and not merely reasons to prevent cheatings from occurring.

  9. LPSP says:

    I was browsing the wikipedia page concerning the Rus tribe, a prominent Varangian group covered in the writings of Ibn-Fadlun and the namesake of the nation of Russia, when I came across a very interesting passage:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rus%27_people

    The four tribes who had been forced to pay tribute to the Varangians—Chuds, Slavs, Merians, and Krivichs—drove the Varangians back beyond the sea, refused to pay them further tribute, and set out to govern themselves. But there was no law among them, and tribe rose against tribe. Discord thus ensued among them, and they began to war one against the other. They said to themselves, “Let us seek a prince who may rule over us, and judge us according to custom”. Thus they went overseas to the Varangians, to the Rus. These particular Varangians were known as Rus, just as some are called Swedes, and others Normans and Angles, and still others Gutes, for they were thus named. The Chuds, the Slavs, the Krivichs and the Veps then said to the Rus, “Our land is great and rich, but there is no order in it. Come reign as princes, rule over us”. Three brothers, with their kinfolk, were selected. They brought with them all the Rus and migrated.
    — The Primary Chronicle[9]

    In all our talks of coordination problems, rogue externatilities and Moloch, here we have an account of several tribes who couldn’t stop squabbling *somehow* coming together, saying “we could all do better if we cooperate, but we can’t make our self cooperate, so let’s get someone stronger than us to be our masters and unite us” , went ahead and pulled just that off successfully. That must be a symbol of hope were there ever one.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      Not taking historical sources at face values is the first thing historians are taught not to do, right up there with not making value judgements about the past. Doing so isn’t going to do you much good, either.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ibn Fadlan says a lot of shit about the Rus, including that they’re the filthiest of God’s creatures, but also that they’re physically perfect (followed by a description by how Aryan they are, which is a bit unsettling).

      Oh yeah, and the king of the Rus sits on his throne with forty slave girls, has a basin brought so he can relieve himself without getting off the throne, has his horse brought up the dais so he can get directly on it from the throne, and when he returns, rides into the palace and up the steps so he can unseat himself directly onto it as well.

      Then again, he does mention that the Rus capital is named Kyawah and that another famous city is named Crsk.

    • Lumifer says:

      That must be a symbol of hope were there ever one

      It is… interesting that you consider willingness to abandon self-government and find oneself a master to be “a symbol of hope”.

  10. IrishDude says:

    Has anyone read the Problem of Political: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey, by Michael Huemer, and disagreed with the first half that argues that no one has political authority and that it’s a moral illusion? If so, what are your critiques? I’m convinced by his arguments that state agents don’t have political authority, that is, the right to coerce others in ways that would be considered wrong if done by a non-state agent.

    Full disclosure: I haven’t read the book but I read the Cato Unbound discussion and have watched multiple of his youtube videos where he explains most of his arguments, e.g. discussing the psychology of authority and giving a sketch of his views at a bar.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Rights in general are a moral illusion. If you don’t believe in political authority, you’re welcome to challenge the men with guns.

      • IrishDude says:

        Huemer uses common sense moral premises that the vast majority of people hold, like that it’s wrong to hold your neighbor at gun point to get him to pay for schooling for your kids and to cage him if he refuses. If you don’t think that’s wrong, because you don’t think right and wrong exist, you’re in the minority of people who feel that way and the book is not addressed to that subset of the population. It’s addressed to people who believe some actions are wrong, but hold state agents and non-state agents to different moral standards.

        It sounds like you don’t believe political authority exists in the way Huemer defines it, as he defines it as right to coerce and duty to obey. If rights don’t exist, then no right to coerce exists.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          The point is that from some perspectives, rights aren’t considered a useful moral tool. For instance, some people would say that the reason it is wrong to threaten your neighbour at gun point isn’t because he has a right not to be coerced (as rights “don’t exist”), but because doing so would have negative consequences. On that basis, it is OK for governments (or indeed anyone) to coerce because/if doing so has positive consequences.

          • IrishDude says:

            Consequential arguments are covered in the second half of the book after political authority is refuted in the first half. For this particular thread, I’m interested in discussing the argument that state agents have special moral status where they have the right to engage in actions that would be considered wrong if done by you or me. If you don’t think morals exist or you think that they do and state agents actions should be held to the same moral standard as non state agents, then you don’t believe in political authority.

            You can not believe in political authority and still attempt to justify government on consequentialist grounds, but I’m interested in discussing with those who believe in political authority for the moment.

    • onyomi says:

      I find Huemer’s to be the best ethical justification I’ve read for libertarianism because it rests on the most widely shared premises and also offers convincing evopsych-ish explanations for why so many people are nevertheless reluctant to accept the libertarian implications of those premises (Stanford Prison Experiment, etc.). This makes it superior, imo, to e. g. Rand, whose philosophy rests on less widely-held premises, and to the widely cited yet usually insufficiently justified “non-aggression principle.”

    • Wrong Species says:

      Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book but I used to be an anarcho-capitalist.

      He’s right that there is no such as thing a government that is objectively legitimate. But that’s like discovering money is valued subjectively and deciding the whole thing is useless. Political authority comes from perceived legitimacy, which comes from some mix of ideology and government effectiveness. In this sense, a government may be legitimate in one era while being illegitimate in another. The question we should be asking is simply whether there is a system of government that we will see as more legitimate in the future, in the same way that democracy superseded monarchy. Is anarchism going to achieve that? Maybe, but it’s certainly not something that can even happen right now. It could work, in the sense that society may not crash in to chaos but it would still have to face the fundamental challenge in convincing people to like it. Otherwise, it will never gain the legitimacy it needs to succeed.

      • onyomi says:

        He’s not arguing that some types of government are legitimate and others not. He’s arguing that the key feature distinguishing what we call “government” today from other entities is a feature called “political authority,” which, as the subtitle explains, means a right to coerce and a duty to obey, and that that feature is largely unjustifiable on ethical grounds.

        We feel governments have a right to coerce in cases when no other entity would, and that citizens have a duty to obey governments when they give orders one would otherwise not have a duty to obey. For example, most people would agree I have a right to coerce you at gunpoint if you have broken into my house, but that I wouldn’t have a right to do so if you refused to contribute to my bake sale. This is what distinguishes a government from a neighborhood association, a private defense company, a private arbitrator, etc. The government can have a “mandatory participation bake sale” and it’s seen as legitimate.

        The first half of Huemer’s book argues that there shouldn’t be such a thing as political authority: that there’s no good reason to think that e. g., a democratic election confers special rights on certain people and special duties on the rest of us. He argues that the only times government is justified in coercing are the times when anybody else would be justified in coercing and to the extent (but only to the extent) necessary to prevent horrific, Hobbesian consequences, assuming one believes that would be the result of no state authority whatsoever.

        The second half of the book is devoted to making an empirical case, essentially, that ancap could work without horrific, Hobbesian consequences, basically leaving one with the conclusion that political authority in general is unjustified.

        • dragnubbit says:

          I have not bothered to read the entire book, but I have read some of his essays and found them to contain the same types of hidden premises that most Libertarian arguments do. One of them is that there is some absolute moral standard that not only is required to confer legitimacy but that also the granter of that legitimacy conveniently thinks the same way as the author about morals (e.g. that avoiding any form of coercion – as narrowly defined by that author – is the meaning of life). Perhaps if we lived in Iain Banks Culture with infinite resources and superpowerful AIs then the only remaining source of progress and happiness would be the elimination of state force, but for now state force is about the only thing that can guarantee progress and happiness for 99.9% of people.

          And an argument that would conclude the same rights and obligations of people and society if it were pre-historic, pre-industrial, modern, or uplifted is one that has deliberately chosen to ignore the practical application of its principles. The death penalty was valid in earlier ages because society could not afford to imprison dangerous people who might kill again. Today it is immoral (though less problematic in certain cases where guilt is certain and more problematic in others).

        • Wrong Species says:

          I don’t think I’m making myself clear. I understand the argument and agree with 95% of it. The state is not based on the consent of the people. Democracy doesn’t turn coercion in to consent. There is no objective difference between a state and a mob that does state-like things. But the subjective difference is incredibly important. There are some things we don’t want everyone to be doing but still feel need to be done. Whether we “need” these things to be done is beside the point. Because of this, we give the state that political authority. Not by any formal process but through our lack of resistance.

          As far as political authority, you’re actually wrong on the forced bake sale. If the contract in my HOA said I needed to have a bake sale every week then I would need to do so. Yes, the rule is ultimately enforced by the state(in that they can kick you out with violence) but in an an ancap world, they would kick you out themselves or through help of a contractor. This gives them “Propertarian authority”. You can argue that we need property or else society would go to hell but then you’ve los the moral high ground.

          Also, Hobbesian war versus contemporary peace is not a dichotomy. We’re less violent than farmers who are less violent than hunter gatherers. If our society became as violent as farming societies I would still consider that a step back and I think most people would agree. The burden of proof is much higher than a step above a war on all against all.

          • onyomi says:

            “This gives them “Propertarian authority”.

            The “propertarian authority” you describe is different from the “political authority” Huemer describes. Part of Huemer’s definition of “political authority” is content independence: that is, whatever the state decides to pass as a law, it is de facto legitimate if it goes through e. g. the Supreme Court. When I sign up for a HOA, I am agreeing to the terms set out explicitly in that contract and nothing more. They can claim whatever power is stated therein to e. g. kick me out of my house for failure to comply, but they can’t just pass a “mandatory bake sale” law and expect me to follow it if no provisions for such were in the original contract.

            The US Constitution is arguably supposed to function like the HOA contract in that it specifies what sorts of laws the government can pass, but that would only be truly analogous if each individual citizen individually consented to the US Constitution. And if a team of experts chosen by the HOA itself were the only authority to which you could appeal in case of a dispute over the terms of the contract with the HOA.

            “If our society became as violent as farming societies I would still consider that a step back and I think most people would agree. The burden of proof is much higher than a step above a war on all against all.”

            Even with a higher burden of proof, 90% of what most government do today doesn’t qualify as “imminently necessary to prevent society being much more violent than it is now.” “Would make society a somewhat nicer place” (which I think is the tacit standard most people have for a law) clearly isn’t good enough to justify violent coercion, because no one would accept me, say, collecting “donations” at gunpoint for a community garden. Yet using taxes to pay for a library or park is seen as totally legitimate.

            Even “would make society somewhat less violent” isn’t good enough, because people wouldn’t tolerate me rounding up vagrants who might commit crimes and locking them in my basement (and charging my neighbors for the service).

            “Would make society a whole lot less violent” is arguably good enough justification for vigilantism and, therefore, for government coercive action, but I think most people have a really high bar for tolerance of violent vigilante justice, so they should have a really high bar for tolerance of government coercion. (Pace Scott’s “Be Nice Until You Can Coordinate Meanness,” coordination doesn’t make meanness less suspect, just scarier).

      • IrishDude says:

        Political authority comes from perceived legitimacy, which comes from some mix of ideology and government effectiveness.

        Psychology of the populace also affects perceived legitimacy. The youtube link I posted is a nice talk from Huemer about the psychology of authority. Social experiments conducted in the 60s, such as the Milgram experiment and the Stanford Prison experiment, show how people react and submit to authority given certain sets of conditions. There were variations in the Milgram experiment that illuminate how likely people are to comply to authority:

        * Having victims closer in physical proximity made it less likely for people to push the button that shocks them. So the further removed people are from coercion, the more likely they are to be okay with it.

        * Wearing a lab coat over normal clothes increased obedience, suggesting that symbols such as uniforms and badges can increase compliance.

        * Watching peers administer shocks increased compliance, suggesting conformity effects.

        Stockholm Syndrome, where the kidnapped begin to identify with the kidnappers, can also explain obedience to authority. There’s a cognitive dissonance when you’re doing things you don’t want to do, and if this persists, our brains are great at justifying our actions. Reframing kidnappers as the good guys is one way to reduce cognitive dissonance. Reframing taxes as ‘duty to our neighbors’ is another way to reframe something that might otherwise be seen as wrong.

  11. IrishDude says:

    Does anyone have good suggestions on how to start meditating? Given other life constraints, it would be nice to dedicate no more than 5 minutes to it (at least at first). Should I just focus on my thoughts in a detached way, noticing what comes in but trying not to get attached to the thought? Should I always focus on my breath? Should I sit in a quiet room? What do you think I should be getting out of meditation?

    What I think I want from it:
    * relaxation,
    * breaking the flow of my normal routine to reset the brain, and be able to see what’s going on in my life from a new perspective
    * to process any unhealthy feelings that might be a bit buried and not obvious to me in a conscious way
    * to become present and stop focusing on the past or future
    * to better understand the mind and consciousness

    Some of my goals seem to conflict, and I’m not sure if one form of meditation can address them all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Does anyone have good suggestions on how to start meditating? Given other life constraints, it would be nice to dedicate no more than 5 minutes to it (at least at first).

      Suggestion #1: accept as a hard constraint that you’ll have to dedicate at least 30 minutes to it to have any use of it or even actually meditate in any meaningful sense.
      Zen sitting would traditionally last as long as or longer than 24 hours. Meditation isn’t compatible with some sort of zippy modern tech lifestyle, you have to dedicate serious blocks of time to it. There’s a reason all those monks exist entirely outside normal society.

      • IrishDude says:

        Are there diminished benefits for those who can only dedicate 5 minutes a day? Or no benefits?

        I might be able to dedicate 30 minutes for a session once every week or two. Are there benefits to meditating if it’s that spread out?

        • Anonymous says:

          If you spend five minutes on it it has the effect of closing your eyes for five minutes, i.e. nothing.

          I don’t know whether there are benefits to very intermittent meditation, quite honestly. I’d expect anecdotally there are people who feel there are, but also that they’re very distinct in the relevant psychological ways from those who spend an hour sitting every evening (or morning, or afternoon, or whatever: having a daily routine for it is what I’m after), and even moreso from those whose main daily activity is meditation.

        • Skef says:

          There is definitely a gradation in benefits — it’s not like you need an hour before there is any effect. But five minutes may just be too short to constitute enough of a change from “background”.

          One of the things under-emphasized in popular descriptions of meditation is that frustration is part of the process, especially earlier on but also in an ongoing way (at least for non-adepts). You probably need to sit for long enough to at least find it difficult to keep doing.

          There is one sense in which your goals do seem to conflict. On the one hand you want to make progress on a bunch of fairly fundamental things. On the other your life leaves 5 minutes per day for that process. The “at first” is revealing.

          I would say 5 minutes isn’t enough but with 15-20 you’re likely to at least get the idea and probably have a more relaxed attitude towards stuff at other times.

          These folks are trying to build a “modular” system of different meditation techniques and some tools to help, forking off from the “Buddhist Geeks” group. Packaging like that might be convenient to your situation.

    • Matt C says:

      You might check out One Moment Meditation. There’s a little book that evangelizes this idea, my wife liked it enough to get it, and I’ve tried it out, setting a 60 second timer and trying to focus on my breathing for that time. I only do this occasionally. More often when I’m feeling stressed.

      I feel like it does some good. If nothing else, you are getting relaxation and you’re slowing your breathing down, which is supposed to be good for you (studies show! cough cough). I also (sometimes, often) get the “reset” feeling you’re talking about.

      Re your #3, I don’t find that it brings any unhappy feelings out, but sometimes I am surprised to find out how agitated my thoughts are. I often have to try 2 or 3 times to get a “good one” in, and sometimes I can’t do it at all.

    • onyomi says:

      My favorite resource is aypsite.org. It describes a wide range of practices. Ideally you’d do them all, but any one, two, or three of them will likely produce some improvement which may, in turn, be the positive feedback you need to devote a little more time. I imagine the author, if he could only get you to devote 5 mins. a day, would suggest you start with “deep meditation,” though you would get a lot more benefits if you could devote say, 15 mins. twice a day. In such a case you could do, say, 5 mins pranayama and 10 mins meditation twice a day. If you’re able to get in that habit you can add more, both in terms of time and complexity of practice.

      • IrishDude says:

        Do you meditate consistently? I have a hard time forming new habits and having a wife and a kid with one on the way makes it really hard to find much time during the week for just me.

        • onyomi says:

          I try to do it pretty consistently twice a day, though the amount of time I can devote to it each time varies depending on how busy I am and the consistency of the habit has also varied greatly over the several years I’ve been doing it.

          I find the biggest difficulty is not business per se, but having an irregular schedule. Assuming their schedule on e. g. weekdays tends to be roughly similar, most people can find two, or at least one 15-20 minute block to be left alone in quiet. But it’s harder to keep the habit up if your schedule varies a lot day to day, as mine sometimes does.

          Two patterns which have worked for me have been: post-breakfast (which for me is very light)-before-starting serious work and post-work-pre-dinner. Post morning work-pre-lunch and post-work-pre-dinner has also worked. Post-morning work-pre-lunch tends to be my most successful meditation because I’m fully awake but not yet too tired, though it also tends to be the hardest to fit into a busy day. Generally before, rather than after, a meal is better, though after morning tea/coffee may be better for alertness’s sake.

          At busier times, upon awaking but before doing anything else+right before bed can be easier to sneak in (because who knows you’re even up/not asleep yet?), though probably a little less effective in my experience (sleepy meditation with a tendency to turn into a nap/full night’s sleep is not as good as more focused meditation, but a lot better than nothing).

    • Corey says:

      On the banking-specific side: Postal banking 🙂

      Credit unions tend to be better about these sorts of things because they’re co-ops; shareholders and depositors are one and the same, so there’s no incentive to screw over the latter for benefit of the former. Maybe if they were allowed open membership (as opposed to the current requirement that there be some limit on who can join) they’d take over the retail banking world.

      • Alliteration says:

        Because shareholders and depositors are the same, Credit unions lack a motive to take over the retail world besides generosity, personal aggrandizement of the leader, and efficiencies of scale. All of which are limited.

      • BBA says:

        There are some credit unions with more-or-less open membership – Seattle-area BECU and Verity are both open to all Washington State residents, for instance. I was in Seattle last year and there were still plenty of commercial banks there.

        Above a certain size a co-op becomes too detached from its members and doesn’t offer any benefits over a shareholder-owned corporation. There are a few national-level mutual insurers (Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive) that are indistinguishable from their for-profit competitors (Allstate, Geico, State Farm), as shown by the fact that you probably didn’t notice I miscategorized two of them.

    • Corey says:

      On the generic management side: hard to say. Misaligned incentives are everywhere, and this is a classic case, where salesfolk were incentivized to do things clearly to the detriment of the company as a whole (even if WFC hadn’t gotten caught, most of these were just signup/cancellation churn, and waiving the fees, so it probably *cost* money overall). This sort of thing is common enough (think managerial empire building, “Battlin’ Business Units”, etc.) in any company big enough to have an HR department.

      Business ethics: Businesses *can* be “good” (in a colloquial sense; glossing over the intractability of metaethics) if so driven from the top. I used to think they were forbidden from morality, because I over-applied a model, seeing for-profit businesses as pure amoral profit maximizers. (And “amoral profit maximization” is a very good approximation to “evil”). But businesses are made of people, and people are basically good, so most businesses don’t even come close to approximating amoral profit maximizers.

      • LPSP says:

        “amoral profit maximization” is a very good approximation to “evil”

        This makes sense, as the best approximation would “endlessly grasping and obsessed with possession”.

        The wool tends to raise from people’s eyes when they see people having motives in business (at all levels) other than “get more stuff”.

    • Anon. says:

      I don’t think there’s any way to prevent this sort of thing, it just happens. Classic principal/agent situation + Goodhart’s law. There’s no easy solution to this stuff.

    • It occurs to me that people who were being pushed into aggressive upselling/creating illegitimate accounts should have gone public a lot earlier, anonymously if necessary.

  12. BeefSnakStikR says:

    I’ve spent the past year without Internet access at home. This is my must-have software for offline browsing:

    WikiTaxi with a Simple English Wikipedia dump.

    DownThemAll, for when I want to download a list of hyperlinks.

    iMacros for Firefox, for when I need to write a script to download pages in a complexly structured website.

    VideoDownloadHelper, for video download helping.

    Anything else I might find useful?

    (By the way, I can’t figure out how to use HTTrack to mirror a site for the life of me.)

  13. What happened to the new comments dropdown menu?

  14. Incurian says:

    Bluto:

    I finally got a chance to shoot my Scorpion (Klobberella). It was so much fun I had to make en effort to stop myself from giggling. Having never shot a sub-machinegun-style weapon I found myself surprised at how easy it was to make accurate follow-up shots. The balance and ergonomics (with one exception) are really great and it was a joy to shoot.

    I shot 50 rounds and had one issue, possibly a light primer strike (although possibly it was the cheap ammo). I need to put a lot more rounds downrange to assess reliability, but I feel comfortably attributing the problem to the ammo for now.

    The safeties were actually more annoying than I predicted, my index fingers still hurt. I planned to shoot a lot more than fifty rounds but the pain of the safeties outweighed the fun of the gun. I got the replacement safeties from PMM after I went to the range. They were fairly simple to install and they seem to solve the problem, although I have not shot it with them installed.

    The trigger was a bit heavy, but it didn’t impact accuracy at pistol ranges (I haven’t shot it at anything >20m). The head of the allen bolt that holds the trigger assembly got stripped to hell on my first attempt to replace the spring (I used the right size and everything!). The trigger isn’t so bad that I feel like dealing with getting the bolt out, but somewhere down the line I probably will.

    Easy to disassemble and clean.

    The split rails do not seem to have damaged my LaRue QD mount yet.

    I had always planned to get a stock/brace, but at any range where that becomes necessary for accuracy the effectiveness of 9mm is probably low. Might still get one down the line.

    • bluto says:

      The safeties were actually more annoying than I predicted, my index fingers still hurt.

      Cool! I’ve heard that complaints about the safety more than any other. Glad it was fun otherwise. Thanks for the info! There’s a pretty big CZ dealer that shows up at the local gun show, sounds like I may want to make an inquiry before the next show.

  15. Tibor says:

    Clickbait article title of the day:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37725327

    Russian warships pass through English Channel

    Sounds pretty scary. Then you open it and find out that they’re on their way to Syria.

    • bean says:

      The Russians always go through the English Channel when going from the Northern or Baltic fleets into the Med. Every time they do, the media starts screaming. Every time, the Russians don’t invade Scotland or whatever else the Daily Fail says they’re going to do.
      Oddly enough, everyone else goes around the UK. The Russians don’t because they’re afraid of breaking down. No, I’m not joking.

    • erenold says:

      The UK responded with a great, very British, response:

      https://twitter.com/MrTonyMan/status/788830620751364096

      • Tibor says:

        Yeah, I looked at that “armada”, or at least the part in the video. It is quite a sad sight. The BBC wrote about Putin demonstrating his military power…Well that diesel aircraft carrier looked like it might not make it to the Mediterranean. The chimney reminded me of 19th century ironclad warships. But maybe Putin is a fan of steampunk.

        • bean says:

          Well that diesel aircraft carrier looked like it might not make it to the Mediterranean.
          She’s not diesel, she’s pressure-fired steam. The pressure-fired part is important, because it means the boilers often don’t work. That’s why there’s a tug along.

          • Tibor says:

            Huh? I had no idea there were still steam ships in service nowadays. What engines do the US aircraft carriers have? Nuclear? Maybe it’s stupid but I somehow imagined all modern battleships to be powered by nuclear energy like the nuclear submarines.

            Thanks for the correction by the way.

          • John Schilling says:

            Most modern warships are powered by gas turbine engines, often combined with diesel engines for efficient long-range cruising. The largest submarines and aircraft carriers (including by now all the US ones) are nuclear-powered, but not smaller surface warships. Merchant ships are also typically diesel-powered, with a side order of gas turbines for fast merchant ships.

            Steam turbines went out of style in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly because they were too manpower-intensive to operate. There are, however, a lot of 1980s-vintage warships still in service, including Russia’s one fleet aircraft carrier. And their battlecruiser, of the same era, uses a hybrid nuclear- and oil-fired steam plant. The United States still has a few oil-fired steam turbines on amphibious-warfare vessels.

            The other niche for maritime steam turbines, and it may last a bit longer, is liquid natural gas carriers. In that application, you get free fuel in the form of unavoidable boiloff from the cargo, but you can’t (yet) run natural gas in a diesel engine. Steam boilers aren’t so picky.

          • bean says:

            John covered this pretty well, but because I’m a naval geek, I’m going to add more.

            Huh? I had no idea there were still steam ships in service nowadays.

            There aren’t many, outside of nuclear systems. The only US ones that I know of are on the first 7 Wasp-class LHDs. There’s probably a few auxiliaries, too, but not many.

            What engines do the US aircraft carriers have? Nuclear?

            Nuclear, but they use steam as an intermediary to turn the heat produced in the reactor into motion. That’s the primary use of steam at sea these days.

            Maybe it’s stupid but I somehow imagined all modern battleships to be powered by nuclear energy like the nuclear submarines.

            RRRRRR!
            THERE HAVE BEEN NO BATTLESHIPS BUILT SINCE WORLD WAR 2!
            Sorry. Force of habit. It’s not really your fault, because the media is really bad about identifying any ship with guns and without a flat top as a battleship, when none are worthy of the name. They lack big guns.
            Anyway, there have been a handful of nuclear-powered surface warships. I count about 10 for the US, and the Kirov-class for the Soviets. Most warships use gas turbines, because they’re light, low-maintenance, and don’t require lots of crew. They also give great acceleration.

            @John Schilling

            The other niche for maritime steam turbines, and it may last a bit longer, is liquid natural gas carriers. In that application, you get free fuel in the form of unavoidable boiloff from the cargo, but you can’t (yet) run natural gas in a diesel engine. Steam boilers aren’t so picky.

            I believe that they’ve mostly switched over to gas turbines, actually. Those will run on almost anything, too, and don’t cost nearly as much to run.

  16. Anon. says:

    Civ VI is out.

    Barbarians are wrecking my shit.

    • Sandy says:

      I played one domination-only game and I couldn’t make anyone happy except Gilgamesh, who’s really easy to befriend. Trajan hated me for not expanding like crazy, Philip hated me for being Protestant, Gorgo hated me for not warmongering like crazy, Barbarossa hated me for talking to city-states, Gandhi hated me for… peer pressure, I’m guessing.

      I don’t think diplomacy works like this

  17. TMB says:

    Nice guys and sex.

    First of all, sex.
    For most people, ethical sex is sex that facilitates human connection – love – and unethical sex does the opposite. Disagreements about sexual ethics normally involve disagreements on how a sexual act will promote or undermine love, for both the individuals involved, and society more generally.

    (People oppose sexual objectification because they feel it undermines our ability to have connected human relations with others. People who aren’t opposed to sexual objectification down-play its importance – “it’s just a bit of fun! It doesn’t undermine our ability to connect with others PLUS you get to have the fun sexual feelings.” Win-win.

    I don’t like polyamory because I feel it will lead to the replacement of deeply meaningful connected human relations, with, objectification at worst, friendship at best. I suppose proponents of polyamory believe that you can have the greater connectedness of more sexual relations with more people without endangering the most meaningful ones.

    If you could find someone who supported non-consensual sex, I imagine it would be because they didn’t view the victims as human – they simply don’t see the possibility of connection/love.)

    Nice guys.
    Nice guys are guys who want to be able to have sex (to a greater or lesser extent) as a reward for following the basic rules of society. Being a ‘nice guy’ does not necessarily involve being particularly nice to anyone – it’s often all these young men can do to refrain from killing people. They feel that a social system that does not reward them (in the only currency they value) for pro-social behaviour, is broken.

    People who hate nice guys, hate them because they think that the society they want is unethical. Either social pressure is inherently objectifying – you become a means to society’s end – or the society nice guys want, specifically, is unethical, in that the wishes of women are ignored in favour of promoting the desires of men who are inclined to sexual objectification.

    My opinion: I think that ethical sexual liberals, who believe that more sex with more people increases human connection and love, would definitely have sex with nice guys if only they didn’t think that doing so would promote objectification.
    So, what we need to do is reframe nice-guyness as non-objectifying (and there isn’t anything inherently objectifying about it – “I want to follow the rules of society and be given an opportunity to connect with more people”), to enable sex-positive (and libertine) feminists to have sex with nice guys, without any ethical qualms.

    And then, everyone will be happy.

    Or not.
    Are conservative sexual attitudes unethical? If I believe we should have strong social pressure towards lifelong monogamy – I don’t feel like that’s clearly saying anything about the level of ‘love’ in society. We can imagine those trapped in an unhappy marriage, but likewise, I can imagine those in a sexually liberal society trapped without the ability to make strong connections.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I think this analysis misses on most points.

      You never said the word consent and don’t seem to grok it. Much like rugby or football or many other martial sports can be very rewarding if everyone wants to play, sex can also be rewarding if everyone wants to play. But if you just up and tackle someone who doesn’t want to play and isn’t in the game, that’s assault for very obvious reasons.

      The problem with “nice guys” is that they aren’t succeeding at persuading people to agree to play the game with them. And frequently when they do persuade someone to play touch football, they start tackling them half-way through the game.

      And you have objectification completely wrong as well. The main objection to it has to do with the assumption that the objectified person is on the field of play 100% of the time, when they aren’t even in the stadium. Objectification doesn’t recognize a game clock or even boundary lines and assumes that certain people always and only are in the game, and nothing else, and worse that they are in the game the same way the ball is the game. An object to be played with.

      • TMB says:

        When I was at a school where rugby playing was encouraged, I played rugby. Not so much since.

        If we are discussing the social circumstances that inform people’s choices, it really isn’t good enough just to say “consent is enough”. It completely ignores the question, or otherwise assumes that culture only ever represses our natural (and good) instincts. The noble savage, innit.

        Anyway, we all agree – we shouldn’t try and start a maul in Sainsbury’s while doing our shopping on a Sunday afternoon.
        The question is, how are we to organise our games?
        So, you say, “we’re not at school any more, if you want to play rugby, you have to be up to a certain standard.” Well, why? Seems to me it’d be better to have some facility for interested but inept people to have a good game as well.
        It feels to me that a sexually liberal society where we base our decision of who to have sex with solely on attractiveness is objectifying and unethical. It makes our sexual partners solely a means to personal gratification.

        Free love vs. sex as a commodity vs. traditionalism.

        And, I don’t think objectification is about the timing or duration. It’s about the fact that you treat a person as if they are not a person, refuse to acknowledge your shared humanity.
        Not sure that what I’m saying about that is all that different to your point.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Because you seem to think that polyamorists and sexual libertines “should” want to have sex with “nice guys”.

          That’s not how consent works.

          • Randy M says:

            More like, that’s not how “want” works.

          • J Mann says:

            Is-ought problem – TMB said that they “would” want to have sex with nice guys if they knew it would not promote objectification. I think s/he’s mistaken, but it’s not the same thing as should.

            TMB – I’ll share some thoughts at the main level.

          • TMB says:

            I’m assuming that ethical people want to do whatever it is that they should do.

            But, yes. My sense is that people object to what “nice guys” are saying on an ethical level – I assume that’s part of the reason why people won’t have sex with them. Maybe not.

            Maybe two separate things.

            I’m 8 years old and there is a little boy who wants to come to my party, but he’s really horrible. I’m not space limited, but I refuse him entry.
            I think whether or not that is objectionable depends on how horrible he is. Does he just smell slightly funny? Have some mental disability? Throw all the plates up in the air? Bully?

            Whichever way, ideally you’d have some institution that would enable him to attend but keep his behaviour under control.

            It seems to me that “nice guys” are saying – door policy is too strict. And, other people are then saying “don’t let them in! They want to ruin the party!”, when what they’re actually saying is that they don’t own a suit.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randy M:

            More like, that’s not how “want” works.

            Eh. I understand what you are saying, but “want to” is wrapped up inside consent, for various meaning of “want to”. I agree that the “nice guy” has a problem inciting desire, but I frankly have no issue with the absence of amorous desire if the “want to” is strictly, say, economic.

            But there again, I consent to have a 30 minute sex session with you for economic recompense is just that, and not an agreement to have feelings for you.

            The stereotypical objectionable “nice guy” typically wants to “buy” that which is not being offered for sale.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @TMB:
            I don’t think the birthday party metaphor works well either. 8 is not 18 is not 28. No 8 year old is allowed full autonomy in decision making, because they are not equipped to do so. 8 years old is a learning process, and we still don’t expect the other 8 year olds to let the trouble maker open their presents or eat their cake and ice-cream just because s/he has decided that is what they want.

            If the 28 year old “nice guy” does not have the emotional and social skills to behave properly, it’s better for society to have available the means for them to continue to develop them, if possible. But at that point it becomes a professional question. There isn’t any requirement that polyamorists fulfill that role for free, as it doesn’t satisfy their desires.

          • Randy M says:

            I understand what you are saying,

            I knew if I posted enough, someone was bound to eventually 😉

            Anyway, point I was making I guess was that nice guys aren’t trying to get rewarded with sex for decent behavior, but rather that they are trying to woo, and failing due to either trying ineffectual strategies, or shooting above their equal in attractiveness.

          • Creutzer says:

            My sense is that people object to what “nice guys” are saying on an ethical level – I assume that’s part of the reason why people won’t have sex with them. Maybe not.

            I’d be very surprised if ethical arguments about things like consent and objectification played much of a subconscious role in generating desires. My bet is that the ethical arguments are cooked up after the fact to explain the pre-existing lack of inclination (if not outright revulsion).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randy M:
            “nice guys aren’t trying to get rewarded with sex for decent behavior”

            I agree that nice guys aren’t, but “nice guys”, I maintain, are.

            “Someone somewhere should be interested in me” is different than “You should be interested in me because I am nice to you (and other guys aren’t nice).”

          • Randy M says:

            I guess the question is, “Do they think niceness deserves to be rewarded by women, or that women are seduced by niceness?” Speaking as something of a former nice guy (but too shy to do much) I think it was the latter.

          • TMB says:

            I’d be very surprised if ethical arguments about things like consent and objectification played much of a subconscious role in generating desires. My bet is that the ethical arguments are cooked up after the fact to explain the pre-existing lack of inclination (if not outright revulsion).

            I agree that most people are not thinking ethically most of the time – but I don’t think that ethical arguments are always thought up as a kind of justification for existing inclinations (except to the extent that people have an inclination to treat each other well and are thinking about the best way of achieving this).
            Ethical thinking is very important, especially as a limiting force.

            It’s tempting to say that women castigating ‘nice guys’ are just telling a story based on their ‘tingles’, and that’s more often than not exactly what the nice guys themselves believe.

            But I think it’s possible that people who would otherwise be sympathetic to the ‘nice guys’ are just being put off because they create a link between what they are saying and male-dominated oppression and/or sexual objectification.

          • TMB says:

            I guess the question is, “Do they think niceness deserves to be rewarded by women, or that women are seduced by niceness?”

            I think that you need to reward prosocial behaviour if you want it to continue, and for young men (most likely to exhibit anti-social behaviour) the reward that matters most is sexual.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randy M:
            Thinking a woman is seduced by niceness isn’t the same thing as being a “nice guy.” There are many ways to seduce, and niceness definitely can be part of the seduction. Just being nice and polite won’t work, as you have a)signal interest, and b) have some chemistry, but that’s a different kind of mistake.

            A “nice guy” is someone who asks, with anger, “How can you go out with Mike, I’ve been so nice to you?” And then proceeds to call her a “slut” who is probably having sex with Mike.

          • Creutzer says:

            But I think it’s possible that people who would otherwise be sympathetic to the ‘nice guys’ are just being put off because they create a link between what they are saying and male-dominated oppression and/or sexual objectification.

            I find this extremely implausible. It would require a lot of awareness of cultural trends and/or a lot of modeling the mind of the nice guy along dimensions that we arguably do not instinctively track on the part of the woman before she would find him unattractive.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I think that you need to reward prosocial behaviour if you want it to continue, and for young men (most likely to exhibit anti-social behaviour) the reward that matters most is sexual.

            And young women don’t care about rewarding pro-social behavior, because they neither think of themselves as rewards (I assume) nor are they attempting operant conditioning on the young men. So rewarding prosocial behavior just isn’t on the table.

            Furthermore, “nice” doesn’t mean “prosocial”. It has congruence with “prosocial” but it also includes, for lack of a better word, comfort. And comfortable behavior is directly at odds with what you want for sexual attraction.

          • TMB says:

            And young women don’t care about rewarding pro-social behaviour… So rewarding prosocial behavior just isn’t on the table.

            To a great extent, young women will do as they are told to do. People do what they are supposed to do. We supposedly live in a culture where people are told it is foolish to have sex with stolid, timid bores. That could easily change if people decided it was worthwhile to change it.

            Furthermore, “nice” doesn’t mean “prosocial”. It has congruence with “prosocial” but it also includes, for lack of a better word, comfort. And comfortable behavior is directly at odds with what you want for sexual attraction.

            I agree – I think there are two different kinds of ‘nice guy’ – you have the individual nice guy, who throws his anorak over a puddle and then gets frustrated when a girl won’t give him a kiss, and the societal nice guy, who doesn’t really do anything in particular but acts like a normal person in his everyday life and wishes it was easier to get a girlfriend.

            I think the first is likely contained within the second – the reason the first can’t get a girlfriend is that they are deeply unfashionable. Neither is actually particularly “nice” with regards to being an easy companion.

          • LPSP says:

            To a great extent, young women will do as they are told to do.

            I’d condition that: young women will generally do as they believe they are expected to do. Peers, authorities, broader society, tradition, urgency, any contributing to a vague sense of propriety or normality.

            On that matter, I’ll note that I can’t find a good word to express this concept of “susceptible to expectations”, and reckon a new one may need cobbling together.

        • Deiseach says:

          It makes our sexual partners solely a means to personal gratification

          I am very strongly tempted here to say “Well, what the hell do you think modern sexual mores are about anyway? Of course it’s all about personal gratification – that’s part of the problem with putting all your emotional eggs into one basket, where your partner/spouse is meant to be best friend, lover, co-parent, colleague, primary emotional support and Uncle Tom Cobley and all!”

          • Wrong Species says:

            There seems to also be a lot of tension between “sexually liberate society” and “don’t objectify women”.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Picking up on another thread.

          If you want to play rugby past your school days, there may be options as recreational leagues do exist, if not for Rugby, for other sports.

          In the U.S., one of the most common team recreational sports is slow-pitch softball. Usually these are organized in such a way that people can form teams and slot themselves into a bracket based on their believed ability. Typically their A, B, C and D level leagues.

          Sometimes it strikes me that the “nice guy” has put themselves in the A league, has no desire to play in the D league and sneers at it and would not be happy playing against D league teams, and then is bitter about losing in 10-0 the first inning on technical superiority.

          Or, conversely, the team that shows up in pressed uniforms with $1000 bats and a ringer from the A league and wonder why no one is willing to have a beer with them after the league games.

          • TMB says:

            The thing that got me thinking about this was the top comment on this article:

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3844094/Tinder-messages-Gable-Tostee-sent-women-trial-tourist-Warriena-Wright.html

            Is that how to get women on tinder? Just be a very forward arrogant sleezebag. Why don’t women like nice guys? Clearly I’m doing something wrong.

            To me, a nice guy isn’t someone who is aiming out of his league, he’s someone who is frustrated with the culture. He doesn’t want to be Gable Tostee. He feels that behaviour is wrong – but he can’t see any other way to get a girlfriend.
            Or to put it another way, he’s aiming out of his league because of the culture, and therefore wants to change the culture. It’s like if you had a rule in softball that everyone had to close their right eye, but you are blind in your left.
            Not unreasonable to seek a change.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I can’t seem to get the comments to load, but I think that person isn’t using the phrase in the way it is meant when women talk about a “nice guy” (that they have a problem with).

            If that is the way you meant it originally, your talk about objectification threw we waaaayyyyyyy off. He doesn’t seem to be objectifying women in that comment.

            His is an age old lament about superficiality in judging mate attractiveness that cuts across gender lines. The universality of that complaint is what leads to “nice guy” complex.

            Polyamory might be help this person, but only if they happen to might one in a non-superficial way, allowing for attraction to develop. Then, of course, said nice guy needs to be amenable to polyamory.

    • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

      You have an interesting analysis, but I think it’s pushing the problem around rather than solving it.

      I think that ethical sexual liberals, who believe that more sex with more people increases human connection and love, would definitely have sex with nice guys if only they didn’t think that doing so would promote objectification.

      I disagree that there’s enough of a supply of ‘ethical sexual liberals’ willing to have sex with (reformed) nice guys. I think that ‘nice guys’ don’t have sex because they can’t market themselves as attractive sexual partners. It’s possible that an ethical sexual liberal would have pity sex with a nice guy, but I don’t think this would satisfy the need for closeness and love that the nice guy is looking for.

      Even granting this claim, however, ‘reframing nice-guyness as non-objectifying’ changes the statement of the problem rather than resolving it. There’s a couple of possibilities as to why the nice guy is a Nice Guy; he could be sexually unappealing and objectifying, or sexually unappealing and non-objectifying. The problem is that regardless of which category he’s in, he’ll be read as objectifying because sexual frustration is at the core of nice-guyness. The non-objectifying nice guy is sad that he can’t find a mate despite his pro-social behavior; even though he’s (in this hypothetical) non-objectifying and would treat his partner nicely, his admission that he wants sex with a woman but women do not want sex with him gets parsed as objectifying.

      Going further, even if the nice guy is sexless and looking primarily for human affection, his plea will be parsed as objectifying. The simple fact of his need combined with the lack of willing partners will lead to the charge of objectification. If the nice guy needs affection and doesn’t care who his girlfriend is, then he can be cast as wanting a trophy.

      In the case of the objectifying nice guy, teaching him not to objectify will move him into the non-objectifying nice guy category. In the case of the non-objectifying nice guy, the only thing that will help him achieve his goals is someone else wanting him. I don’t think that this will be achieved by the nice guy adopting feminist positions or signalling his non-objectifying-ness more strongly. It’s my observation that a large sub-population of nice guys profess feminist beliefs without achieving more intimacy than their non-feminist counterparts; these nice guys are colloquially referred to as ‘white knights’.

      The ‘reframe nice-guyness as non-objectifying’ solution doesn’t make the nice guy more desirable, and may not even prevent the nice guy from being branded an objectifier. It assumes that the main thing preventing nice guys from having sex is ‘ethical qualms’ in their prospective partners, even though nice guys are unattractive to feminists and antifeminists alike.

      • TMB says:

        “his admission that he wants sex with a woman but women do not want sex with him gets parsed as objectifying.”

        I don’t think that this has to be the case, though.

        “It assumes that the main thing preventing nice guys from having sex is ‘ethical qualms’ in their prospective partners, even though nice guys are unattractive to feminists and antifeminists alike.”

        I dunno – if it’s the case that sexual liberals of whichever political leaning believe that sex is a positive for both partners, believe that it doesn’t have wider social implications, why wouldn’t they have sex with a nice guy?

        • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

          I don’t think that this has to be the case, though.

          I’m sure it doesn’t have to. Getting it to the point where people interpret awkward peoples’ actions as they’re meant rather than as they seem on the face of things is a Hard Problem, though.

          if it’s the case that sexual liberals of whichever political leaning believe that sex is a positive for both partners, believe that it doesn’t have wider social implications, why wouldn’t they have sex with a nice guy?

          I don’t think that people actually believe that sex is a positive for both partners regardless of who the partner is. Sex with someone who’s bad at sex can be unpleasant, as can sex if you’re not in the mood, sex with someone you don’t particularly like, sex with someone who’s not hygienic, etc. There’s all sorts of hidden riders on the meaning when people say ‘free love’; it would be a mistake to take that sentiment as an indicator of blanket willingness to sleep with anyone.

          • LPSP says:

            Getting it to the point where people interpret awkward peoples’ actions as they’re meant rather than as they seem on the face of things is a Hard Problem

            Awkwardness itself is a reaction to a problem – it’s the instinctual sense that a social situation is blurring important lines and people’s peace and status is at risk. So what you say is correct, but sort-of tautological. The task is figuring out what the awkward person’s reacting to and clearing up the situation, establishing stable roles and boundaries so that people can work from there.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        his admission that he wants sex with a woman but women do not want sex with him gets parsed as objectifying.

        Obvious takeaway: we need to find the people who have caused this perfectly normal, natural, and unobjectionable admission to be seen by society as “objectifying,” and strand them on an ice floe somewhere.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I think you’re missing on all cylinders. I don’t think most people even think about “facilitating human connection” in the abstract when thinking about sex. They may be thinking about facilitating a connection with the person (or persons) they’re considering sex with, but with neither “casual sex” nor “hookup culture” being considered per-se unethical by most, even that is unnecessary.

      Sexual objectification, I think, is not actually opposed as a concept by most people. If it were, we wouldn’t celebrate our (celebrity) sex objects so much. People don’t like being seen as a sex object in the wrong context or by the wrong person, but that’s a different story.

      “Nice guys” cover multiple categories, and a lot of the hate towards them is a result of deliberately conflating them. On the one hand you have the douchebag who fakes being nice in order to get sexual access to a woman. On the other you have a person who is genuinely nice but not sexually attractive to the women he’s in contact with, and is frustrated by this. And on the third hand you have the ones who (erroneously) think being nice actually should make them sexually attractive to women. (and on the fourth hand you have those who are nice and have no particular issues, but they’re not very interesting). None of them (not even the third) thinks that sex is some sort of reward for being nice — but there was a whole post about this, “Radicalizing the Romanceless”. The people who hate “nice guys” of the second and third sorts are mostly bullies.

      • ““Nice guys” cover multiple categories, and a lot of the hate towards them is a result of deliberately conflating them”

        I think part of the problem was that “nice guy” was fairly tightly defined, but a good many men had the normal human reaction of worrying about whether they might be under attack, and expanded the definition.

        • The Nybbler says:

          My impression is that “nice guy” used to be mostly my second category — guys who were genuinely nice and genuinely confused (and frustrated) when the women they were nice to were not only not attracted to them, but attracted to men who were in no way nice. The fake-nice smarmy jerks were just smarmy jerks. And the third category itself seems fairly recent.

          I’m not sure who expanded the definition, but it’s certainly been expanded; you see screeds against your type-2 nice guy claiming they’re actually smarmy jerks.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t think you are taking the textbook definition seriously. The on where the “nice guy” shows that they think if they are nice, it is some formula or incantation they perform, and then the girl gives them what they want: a date, companionship, a relationship. Not sex as a one-night stand, that’s a cad or lothario, not a “nice guy.”

            There are definitely guys who fit the textbook definition. I’ve known some of them. Since I am a guy, I assume I have missed out on being the object of this behavior, and therefore would have known more of them were I a girl.

            Perhaps it’s not fair, as the Isla Vista killings were clearly by someone who had more profound issues, but that is the spectrum of behavior that “nice guy” is/was describing.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC

            Eliot Rodger thought he deserved sex but I don’t see any indication he was a “nice guy” of any sort. I am sure the feminist-textbook definition of a “nice guy” exists but I think they’re entirely non-central.

            Someone who acts nice until rejected might be this feminist-textbook nice guy, but IMO they’re more likely just the cad. You can tell the difference mostly because the cad will have a lot more success in the long term.

          • Wrong Species says:

            @HeelbearCub

            Did any of those guys tell you at any point that they deserved to have a relationship with these girls because of their niceness? As in they thought it was their right? Or are just assuming their motivations?

          • gbdub says:

            “Entitlement” is the part of the definition that bothers me. In my experience (as somewhat “nice guy adjacent” at one point) it’s more like “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing, but it’s not working, and people who are doing supposedly bad things are having success. I am lonely, this sucks”.

            This attitude gets turned into “oh, he just thinks women are objects that are supposed to vend sex when he inserts the right coin”. But that’s, I think, very rarely what it feels like from the inside.

            Certainly, some people can turn this into bitter or nasty behavior toward the people they are trying to woo, and that’s bad. But it’s hardly universal. Really, “entitlement” is just a bad word for it – ultimately you’re talking about someone who is sad because they are lonely and horny and don’t know how to fix it, and that deserves some sympathy rather than simply “oh you’re such an awful person for wanting really badly the thing that basically every part of society says is the most important wonderful thing in the world

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @gbdub:
            See my post below.

            There is a big difference between being frustrated that the “assholes” get the girls and you are lonely as a general statement, and engaging in a guilt-trip of someone because they aren’t into you.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            I refuse to say/write the name of the person, on grounds that it raises, however slightly, the probability of more events.

            From the Wikipedia article, his own words:

            You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Wrong Species:
            In one instance, two work acquaintances, one male and one female, and the female one was expressing frustration that the male was attempting to guilt trip her because she did not want to go out with him even though he was a nice-guy.

            In another situation, it was someone who was constantly being nice so as to get as close to, and cross, certain limits. Giving back massages to people who were uncomfortable receiving them, for example. The kind of interactions where you cringe when you see them because one person is clearly uncomfortable and the other one is not oblivious but just ignoring it.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’ve known guys who would give massages without asking. But they were cads (and yes, that worked for them. Perhaps because it is not nice).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            Oh, he asked. But in a situation that made it uncomfortable for the answer to be no. But he wasn’t a cad. He was an awkward guy who had little self-esteem and was therefore constantly boasting about this that or the other.

            We’ve all experienced this, I believe. You get asked something and you don’t feel you can politely say no. So you say yes when perhaps it would have been better to say no. And if it’s a sometimes thing, then it’s a “no harm no foul” kind of thing.

            But when you see it happen over and over? When it is a pattern of behavior?

            But when it happens over and over?

      • Wrong Species says:

        Who are these people who think being nice entitles them to sex with a certain woman? Yes, I’m sure there are some of them but the outrage is completely disproportionate to reality.

        • lvlln says:

          Yeah, this to me seems to be a conflating of categories, one that might not be deliberate, but also one that isn’t resisted in any way.

          For as long as I’ve known the term and observed it in reality, my perception of the typical “nice guy” was someone who was upset at himself for fooling himself into believing that hanging out and being nice to a girl would be enough to seduce her. There was disappointment and despair at not having his feelings reciprocated, but not a hint of anger or ill will directed at the object of his affections who, after all, is an independent human being who has every right to choose with whom she has relationships, for any reason or no reason at all based on her whims.

          Of course, I can’t deny that there exist men who do behave as if they believe they’re entitled to sex with a woman because they were nice to her – I’ve read at least 1 personal anecdote which seems credible to me, and that’s enough. But it certainly wouldn’t fit the definition of “nice guy” as I had been lead to believe. My own perceptions indicate that such guys are a tiny portion of the population compared to “nice guys.” Some people tell me, No, these guys are actually really common and a real problem that need to be addressed. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get accurate stats on something like this, so I don’t know whether that’s true, and furthermore efforts to solve the problem of these guys seem to be quite happy also harming “nice guys.” I’m not really into supporting things that hurt innocent bystanders justified by combating a harm for which there’s questionable evidence.

          • LPSP says:

            That’s pretty much my oberservation. I have seen a lot of guys in that mold turn to hardcore bitterness mind, but not of the “let’s all rape women” mold – just “fuck life, fuck everything, fuck this stuff in particular” cynicism.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Feel free to disregard my lack of charity, but I feel like the majority of women who complain “Nice Guys” are just using it as an excuse to complain about socially awkward guys.

        • John Schilling says:

          Who are these people who think being nice entitles them to sex with a certain woman?

          Who said anything about a certain woman? I didn’t see that in Nybbler’s post at least.

          There is a difference between, “I was nice to Alice, and Alice doesn’t want to have sex with me, what is wrong with her?”, and “I am nice to every woman I interact with, and none of them want to have sex with me, what is wrong with our society?”. The former is clearly unfounded, or at least absurdly narrowminded in that it reduces sexual attractiveness to the single variable of “niceness”. The latter is more plausibly a legitimate observation, particularly if the speaker is accurate in assessing his niceness.

          It is not helpful to confuse these two positions. And I’m with lvlln; I think the latter is far more common, and I’ve never seen the former in the wild.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s overlap. A non-trivial number of guys may well be generally upset with the society because no one wants to sleep with them, but after a while come to focus on one particular woman that doesn’t want to sleep with him.

            You can argue back and forth whether she is taking advantage of him or she is just treating him as the friend he holds himself out to want to be, but this is a real thing that happens.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @ John Schilling

            There is a difference between, “I was nice to Alice, and Alice doesn’t want to have sex with me, what is wrong with her?”, and “I am nice to every woman I interact with, and none of them want to have sex with me, what is wrong with our society?”.

            The latter is more plausibly a legitimate observation, particularly if the speaker is accurate in assessing his niceness.

            How does it go? If one person has a problem with you, they’re a jerk; if everyone has a problem with you, you’re the jerk. The second one has just as much misplaced blame as the first; if “every woman” you* encounter is uninterested in sex with you, that’s not on society, that’s entirely on you. Society is not to blame for you being unattractive.

            *generic “you”, not you, John, specifically.

          • TMB says:

            “If one person has a problem with you, they’re a jerk; if everyone has a problem with you, you’re the jerk.”

            But normally if someone is a jerk, there is a clear path to not being a jerk.

            i mean, if someone is just inherently jerkish – if they have some mental problem or something – we make an allowance for them. It might not be society’s fault that they are the way they are, but it is a question for society what we should do with them.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            How does it go? If one person has a problem with you, they’re a jerk; if everyone has a problem with you, you’re the jerk. The second one has just as much misplaced blame as the first; if “every woman” you* encounter is uninterested in sex with you, that’s not on society, that’s entirely on you. Society is not to blame for you being unattractive.

            If society has been giving you the message that acting nice is the way to find a partner (cf. that old movie cliché about the woman realising that the shy, awkward guy is her soulmate, not the arrogant jock), then I think it is somewhat to blame if you try following society’s advice and are unable to succeed romantically.

          • Anonymous says:

            It might not be society’s fault that they are the way they are, but it is a question for society what we should do with them.

            But society has resolved what to do about nebbish dinguses who can’t get any. You just don’t like the answer.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think it is somewhat to blame if you try following society’s advice and are unable to succeed

            It’s not advice, though, it’s a narrative convention, like the hero vanquishing the dragon. It’s as silly to follow it and expect good results as it is to expect that a sword could really kill a living tank. Hell, a sword couldn’t reliably kill another knight in armor, they used halberds and stuff for that. Or again, you watch a heist movie and figure that you can hit a casino if only you make a Rube Goldberg plan and learn to pick pockets. Who does that?

            Whenever somebody blames fiction like this, I feel like really they’re saying the troubled person’s real problem is much worse and deeper than it seems, namely that they think for some reason it’s a good idea to “learn” from make-believe; they can’t tell fact from fiction. That doesn’t really strike me as a defense.

          • TMB says:

            But society has resolved what to do about nebbish dinguses who can’t get any. You just don’t like the answer.

            Uh huh… but the point is that it is about ‘society’. And we’re allowed to discuss that, right? How society should be?

            Or has it all been decided?

          • Kevin C., I’m going to push back on that.

            While there are a lot of fat women in good relationships, it’s also true that there’s a lot of prejudice against fat women, and especially in regards to relationships. This is something wrong with society.

            I expect that some of you are thinking “but fat women really are disgusting!”. You were trained to think that. I’ve heard enough accounts from fat women about men who want sex with them but aren’t willing to be seen with them in public. I think that in a society which was sane on the subject, the strongest negative reaction would be “not to my taste”.

            I’ve read accounts by fat women in relationships with conventionally good-looking men, and the women get attacked (mostly?) verbally for it.

            On the male side, I’ve been told that in Latin American societies, a man being nervous doesn’t put women off. (Anyone have more information on the subject?) I was surprised at the idea, but I can imagine a woman thinking that the nervousness is a tribute, or that it’s just something that will wear off with time.

          • Creutzer says:

            On the male side, I’ve been told that in Latin American societies, a man being nervous doesn’t put women off.

            Interesting. If I can find a way to broach the topic, I’ll ask my Latin American friends about this.

            One thing that struck me at some point is that Latin American societies don’t seem to have this idea that women don’t like sex or like it less than men. Things do seem to work differently there.

          • Anonymous says:

            there’s a lot of prejudice against fat women, and especially in regards to relationships. This is something wrong with society.

            But when guys are unattractive, that’s on them, going by your other posts in this subthread?

            I feel like the ongoing double standard here proves my point pretty well.

          • Anonymous, could you be specific about what I said?

          • nimim. k.m. says:

            >It’s not advice, though, it’s a narrative convention, like the hero vanquishing the dragon.

            But huge amount of people follow the prevalent narrative convention of the romantic “having sex and getting married for falling in love” ideal. It’s been hugely popular and prominent model for Western romantic relationships about 150 years; I’d wager that’s the reason why there *is* an art period called ‘Romantic’ and then there’s the modern concept of ‘romantic fiction’.

            Narratives are also the only advice our society gives us on human relationships, aside from personal experience. And PUA-style self-help guides, I guess.

            Some guys are just particularly clueless about what to do when narratives don’t work and their failed attempts don’t provide enough meaningful feedback for learning from personal experience. And media does tell us that the certain behavior (stereotypical not-nice jock) is to be condemned as toxic masculinity, yet it looks like it works.

            But unlike picking up HEMA hobby if you really want to learn how to use swords for *real* (to possibly kill large mythological beasts), picking up PUA is generally condemned.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Nancy:
            I must confess that on closer inspection I seem to have confused or conflated you with some of the other posters; I freely admit fault on that point. Mea culpa. I shouldn’t have accused you of a double standard.

            Independently of that, though, I do think it’s preposterous to claim that men are just “trained to think fat women are disgusting”, and that men having physical standards of attractiveness for women is something that’s wrong with society. How can you possibly think that unattractiveness is socially constructed?! I have to confess that that blows my mind a bit.

            @Nimim:

            I’d wager that’s the reason why there *is* an art period called ‘Romantic’

            You would lose this wager. Voicing the idea that the Romantic movement in art had anything to do with what we call romantic love these days is a classic way to drive art teachers spare.

            They meant something more like “medievalism and idealizing nature and the emotions in general”, as in opposition to Classicism with its focus on Classical Antiquity, rationality, mind, transcendence of earthly things, and so on. The æsthetics of imperfection vs. those of perfection, one might perhaps say.

          • John Schilling says:

            How does it go? If one person has a problem with you, they’re a jerk; if everyone has a problem with you, you’re the jerk.

            “It” being one of the traditional excuses for people who want to behave like jerks en masse and blame it on their victims? Yes, that’s how it usually goes.

            It’s not just one guy who sees blacks as subhumans who need to be enslaved, it’s everyone. So the problem must be with the blacks. Or the Jews. Or, well, take your pick.

            And take it somewhere else, please.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @John Schilling

            There is clearly a difference between an entire society disliking a group of people, and a vastly smaller group of people disliking a single person. Pretending there isn’t is silly and uninteresting.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Anon:

            It’s not advice, though, it’s a narrative convention, like the hero vanquishing the dragon. It’s as silly to follow it and expect good results as it is to expect that a sword could really kill a living tank. Hell, a sword couldn’t reliably kill another knight in armor, they used halberds and stuff for that. Or again, you watch a heist movie and figure that you can hit a casino if only you make a Rube Goldberg plan and learn to pick pockets. Who does that?

            Whenever somebody blames fiction like this, I feel like really they’re saying the troubled person’s real problem is much worse and deeper than it seems, namely that they think for some reason it’s a good idea to “learn” from make-believe; they can’t tell fact from fiction. That doesn’t really strike me as a defense.

            People have been using stories to illustrate what is and isn’t proper behaviour since, well, pretty much the invention of stories.

        • dr fackoff says:

          You would deny lonely guys the right to imaginary brethren?

      • TMB says:

        I don’t think most people even think about “facilitating human connection” in the abstract when thinking about sex. They may be thinking about facilitating a connection with the person (or persons) they’re considering sex with, but with neither “casual sex” nor “hookup culture” being considered per-se unethical by most, even that is unnecessary.

        Perhaps most people aren’t ethical when it comes to their sex life – that doesn’t contradict my point about what we might mean by “ethical sex”.
        I would also say that where hookup culture is viewed as objectifying, it is normally criticised as unethical.

        Sexual objectification, I think, is not actually opposed as a concept by most people. If it were, we wouldn’t celebrate our (celebrity) sex objects so much

        That’s true – many people don’t think it is damaging.

        None of them (not even the third) thinks that sex is some sort of reward for being nice

        I think that sex should be a reward for being nice. (By which I mean that societies should go out of their way to ensure that people can have a satisfactory sex life, as long as those people aren’t terrible.)

        • The Nybbler says:

          I think that sex should be a reward for being nice. (By which I mean that societies should go out of their way to ensure that people can have a satisfactory sex life, as long as those people aren’t terrible.)

          You’re going to have to normalize prostitution for that. Not just make it legal, but make it socially acceptable without a hint of taint for a person to use a prostitute. (If it’s legal but sleazy, nice people won’t do it) That’s going to be tough. (Limiting it to the nice would be even tougher, but first things first)

          • TMB says:

            I don’t think it needs to be prostitution – you could have some sort of arranged marriage system, with a possibility of divorce, but pressure to remain together.

        • Creutzer says:

          I think that sex should be a reward for being nice. (By which I mean that societies should go out of their way to ensure that people can have a satisfactory sex life, as long as those people aren’t terrible.)

          I believe the standard prescription is to have a society with difficult-to-dissolve marriage, high status for married people, and a stigma against pre-marital sexual relations.

        • “I think that sex should be a reward for being nice. (By which I mean that societies should go out of their way to ensure that people can have a satisfactory sex life, as long as those people aren’t terrible.)”

          What would that look like in practice?

        • Deiseach says:

          I think that sex should be a reward for being nice.

          Why should “behaving to a minimal standard of decency” be something that entitles you to a reward? “I’m not an arsonist, somebody give me a medal!”

          See, that is the problem with The Nice Guy: treating women as vending machines – put in the “coin” of “I was nice”, out pops the candy bar of sex! You don’t get your candy bar because a human being is not a vending machine, you feel cheated. That’s not how it works.

          Look at it from the other side: would the lonely Nice Guy consider having sex/looking for a romantic relationship with a woman he doesn’t find attractive? No matter how nice and friendly she might be to him? If Nice Guy doesn’t feel obligated to “reward” nice women with sex simply for being nice, why should he feel that women owe him sex for not being an asshole?

          Though to be sympathetic, someone who is fed on the diet of romcoms etc where Nerdy Guy wins Object of His Affection by big romantic gestures and by being there as her ‘friend’ up until she realises Asshole Hunk really is an asshole (generally by him cheating on her and/or becoming violent), and that who she really wants is Nerdy But Nice Guy who has been there for her all along – that is very misleading and would genuinely fuel resentment on the level of “I did all the things I was supposed to do just like in the movies and on TV, and she didn’t fall into my arms telling me she realised I was the one for her all along! She’s supposed to like me now, why isn’t she playing the part like she’s supposed to do!”

          • suntzuanime says:

            I think you vastly underestimate the willingness of lonely men to have sex with unattractive but friendly women.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Look at it from the other side: would the lonely Nice Guy consider having sex/looking for a romantic relationship with a woman he doesn’t find attractive? No matter how nice and friendly she might be to him?

            I have actually done this before. It… didn’t turn out well and probably did as much as anything to correct some of my prior views about How Sex Should Work. I suspect that bad experience is more common among women.

          • TMB says:

            Why should “behaving to a minimal standard of decency” be something that entitles you to a reward? “I’m not an arsonist, somebody give me a medal!”

            It’s actively painful for young men to behave to a minimal standard of decency, which is why they might expect a reward for doing so.

            treating women as vending machines – put in the “coin” of “I was nice”, out pops the candy bar of sex! You don’t get your candy bar because a human being is not a vending machine

            In many areas of my life, I do things, and I expect people to behave in a certain way in response. It’s like, if my neighbour is playing really loud music, at night, and I ask him politely to turn it down, I expect him to do so. And if he doesn’t, I’m annoyed.

            Look at it from the other side: would the lonely Nice Guy consider having sex/looking for a romantic relationship with a woman he doesn’t find attractive?

            Maybe not, but do you think the world might be a happier place if he would consider doing so?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            It’s actively painful for young men to behave to a minimal standard of decency,

            Wait, what?

          • TMB says:

            @Anonymous Bosch

            Well, that was my personal experience… and the statement certainly isn’t contradicted by the statistics…

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            That wasn’t an attempt to argue with you, although it will probably become one. I honestly don’t know what you mean by “painful” or “behave to a minimal standard of decency.” Let alone whether it can be generalized to “young men” as a class.

          • gbdub says:

            Why should “behaving to a minimal standard of decency” be something that entitles you to a reward? “I’m not an arsonist, somebody give me a medal!”

            Men who are labeled “Nice Guys” frequently go way beyond “a minimal standard of decency” toward the person they are attracted to. And their frustration is usually that they see men who behave to a supposedly lower level of decency getting laid.

            See, that is the problem with The Nice Guy: treating women as vending machines – put in the “coin” of “I was nice”, out pops the candy bar of sex!

            You can’t possibly see how not being able to find love (or at least sex), and not knowing how to solve this problem, would make someone bitter and frustrated unless they literally believe that women are sex vending machines? I mean, I can be sad and frustrated and jealous that Jessica Alba is married to someone else without thinking she’s a literal object cosmically required to fuck me. I mean, yeah, if I take out my frustration by stalking her and yelling “slut” everytime I see her, that makes me a terrible person – but the problem is my response to feeling frustrated, not necessarily “entitlement” or “believing she’s an object not a person”.

            The other problem is gender roles – the big thing now is that we are supposed to believe that all women are beautiful, every shape and every size, they all deserve to be loved, yada yada yada. If a woman can’t get the men she wants it’s because “society has an unfair standard of beauty”. But if an unattractive guy gets frustrated by his lack of success, it’s his own damn fault and he’s “entitled”.

          • TMB says:

            Fair enough –
            Young men are far more likely to have a compulsion to act impulsively and violently, which can put them at odds with broader society.

            As a young man I felt physical pain at times from the compulsion to just *do* something – to avenge a slight, to show off, to win, to fight – and I never really engaged in anything particularly bad (though I can understand why someone would). Given the statistics, and the massive spike in violent crime at just about the time I started to feel this way, I assume that the majority of young men feel that same compulsion, but that most, like me, are able to control it (at some psychological cost).

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Why should “behaving to a minimal standard of decency” be something that entitles you to a reward? “I’m not an arsonist, somebody give me a medal!”

            Insofar as people like this do actually exist, I suspect part of the problem is that, if you’ve been raised in an environment where patriarchal oppression and that 1-in-5 rubbish are taken as facts, “behaving to a minimal standard of decency” towards women actually does seem like quite an achievement, and the sort of thing that would make you stand out from the herd. This would also explain why the people who complain about “nice guys” tend to be blue tribers.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      You, and by extension both Nice Guys and their feminist critics, are confused by framing this as a question of dessert.

      Prosocial behavior, being nice, is profoundly unattractive in our current environment. You can’t “solve” that by obligating women to have sex with men they aren’t attracted to. It’s neither ethical nor practical.

      But you can change yourself and become more attractive through self-improvement and learning Game. And you can change your environment into a more Traditional one through founding or joining conservative enclaves within the broader society.

      • TheWorst says:

        This is one of the two things I was going to chime in to say. Nice Guys seem pretty clearly to be a result of our culture framing the female libido as a morality-detector–telling everyone that being nice (and not objectifying women, and generally demonstrating social conformity) will get you laid, rather than that being attractive will get you laid–or, more precisely, lying about what attractiveness is. Some people, on being told this every day, made the mistake of believing it. And then got bitter when they saw that we were all lying to them in order to get them to choose “cooperate” while the rest of us choose “defect.”

        I don’t think they see it correctly–I think it’s more a matter of them asking what’s attractive, and being told what behavior women prefer from attractive men–but I don’t doubt them when they say that’s what they saw.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Nice Guys seem pretty clearly to be a result of our culture framing the female libido as a morality-detector–telling everyone that being nice (and not objectifying women, and generally demonstrating social conformity) will get you laid, rather than that being attractive will get you laid–or, more precisely, lying about what attractiveness is.

          This would be my third type of Nice Guy. I don’t understand them. It should be plainly obvious merely by observation that none of that is true.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The media probably accounts for a lot of that. On TV and in movies you see a lot more instances of a schlubby dude coupling with a starlet than the opposite.

          • Randy M says:

            Some people don’t have a lot of opportunity for observation, either of women in general or of who women hook up with.

            This was pretty much me in college, not so much looking to get laid, but looking for a girlfriend via romantic gestures, etc.
            I once (shudder) gave out roses to twenty girls on Valentines day. Anonymously. Ironically, or likely not, my current wife was not among them, though she was an acquaintance at the time.

          • TheWorst says:

            It should be plainly obvious merely by observation that none of that is true.

            Not everyone has normal-or-above levels of observational skills. Which is to say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an instance of your first or second types. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of one, either, not counting instances of bullies falsely accusing a Type-3 of being one of the other types.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Worst:
            I’m sure you’ve met Type-1. They are cads who lie, lie, lie to attain sexual conquest.

            But those aren’t actually what is ever referred to as “nice guy”.

          • TheWorst says:

            Yes. They aren’t on the receiving end of the massive public scorn for “nice guys.” It’s probably not a coincidence that they’re sexually successful, and therefore higher-status. There are a lot of criticisms of low-status people that never target higher-status people, even when it’s the higher-status people who actually engage in the behavior for which the low-status ones get criticized.

      • TMB says:

        Prosocial behavior, being nice, is profoundly unattractive in our current environment. You can’t “solve” that by obligating women to have sex with men they aren’t attracted to. It’s neither ethical nor practical.

        I don’t know, even if prosocial behaviour isn’t selected for on the memetic level, surely it will be selected for on the societal level? As for it not being practical or ethical – I disagree. There is nothing fundamentally unethical about saying that people have responsibilities with regards to sex.

        And you can change your environment into a more Traditional one through founding or joining conservative enclaves within the broader society.

        Maybe I can form a society filled with disgruntled but hard working bores and find some women for them. Gold mine.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          As for it not being practical or ethical – I disagree. There is nothing fundamentally unethical about saying that people have responsibilities with regards to sex.

          People also have responsibilities with regards to maintaining their neighborhoods. But that doesn’t mean you can press-gang random people into roadwork crews.

          It comes down to whether or not you see human nature as an obstacle to design or as a constraint on it. It’s obvious that “freeuse for the sake of incel nerds” is not a solution people will accept. You can either take that as a sign of the depravity of the public or as a sign that you’re approaching the problem the wrong way.

          Maybe I can form a society filled with disgruntled but hard working bores and find some women for them. Gold mine.

          No no, gold plate.

          That is, the plan you mock worked pretty well for the Mormons, Mennonites and Hutterites among others. I’d invest in a metal detector or possibly a dowsing stick.

          • TMB says:

            People also have responsibilities with regards to maintaining their neighborhoods. But that doesn’t mean you can press-gang random people into roadwork crews.

            We’ve got better ways of ensuring that people contribute – tax. We don’t press gang random people because it’s impractical, not unethical.

            It’s obvious that “freeuse for the sake of incel nerds” is not a solution people will accept.

            I think that’s because it sounds demeaning and objectifying. If we framed it as love or something, people would accept it. People can accept almost anything if they think something good will come of it. (Somebody) having sex with a somewhat unattractive man, doesn’t even register.

            (I wasn’t mocking!)

          • suntzuanime says:

            So what’s the sexual version of taxation? Sacred temple prostitutes?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Yeah, this is getting into the point I made above about human nature and social engineering.

            Nobody is going to subsidize prostitutes for the unattractive. It’s just not going to happen. And that goes triple for the marriage lottery idea.

            There are ways to change which traits are considered attractive in a culture. Within reasonable limits anyway: we’re living organisms, and most things aren’t socially constructed. Aiming for social change isn’t a crazy idea in itself but you need to meet people half way by keeping your aims realistic.

          • TMB says:

            Lower standards?

    • dndnrsn says:

      @TMB

      Nice guys are guys who want to be able to have sex (to a greater or lesser extent) as a reward for following the basic rules of society. Being a ‘nice guy’ does not necessarily involve being particularly nice to anyone – it’s often all these young men can do to refrain from killing people. They feel that a social system that does not reward them (in the only currency they value) for pro-social behaviour, is broken.

      One popular feminist criticism of fictional media is 100% percent correct – that a lot of stories present “winning the girl” as something accomplished by non-romantic means (eg, saving her life means she loves you now) and sometimes as a side-effect (eg, not even saving her life – she just falls in love with you because you saved the president’s life – consider all the movies where the male lead and female lead fall in love because They Are On A Mission Together).

      I think you are overthinking this. “Nice guys” are, at base, just guys who think that stupid trope reflects reality and are upset when it doesn’t. Not that they’re rescuing the object of their affections, or the president, but they think of romance as something achieved by non-romantic means. They believe that their story should have a default romance subplot, dammit! They don’t get that sexual and/or romantic attraction doesn’t work like that, and the stories that told them it was were lying, because books and TV and movies about fighting bad guys and saving the president are generally not going to simultaneously portray a realistic depiction of how attraction works.

      “Nice guys” might advance to thinking of it as you do – “society is unfair because it does not work the way I have been told it is/the way I want it to work!” but the core of it is that they believe society works that way, or should, because that’s what the movies told them. When they do advance a little further, it becomes the primary straight male variety of the classic “not being considered more attractive is a sign that society is horribly unfair” rant.

      • TheWorst says:

        It’s not just the movies; it’s everyone. Every time you see someone describe a despised enemy politician as unattractive, for example, they’re conflating morality with attractiveness. The idea that being a Good (i.e., inoffensive) Person is attractive, and being a Bad Person is unattractive, is essentially omnipresent. It’s wildly offensive to suggest that women are attracted to attractive people rather than to good people; that norm means it’s also compulsory to describe goodness as attractive.

        Outside of PUA circles, there basically aren’t places where it’s acceptable to talk about the reality of the situation. And those circles have their own issues, and they’re not exactly public knowledge.

        • It’s not just that. I think the culture is bad at conveying the idea that romantic attraction has a lot to do with idiosyncratic enthusisam, and that you need to look for a good fit, not just “meets standards of theoretical attractiveness”.

          • TheWorst says:

            More or less. It’s not a reward for anything. It seems like the culture pushes the idea that you attract women by deserving to be attractive, rather than by being attractive – the “women’s libido as morality detector” meme.

            The problem is that women have obvious incentives to push that meme, as do high-status men. Everyone wants low-status men to act nice, and the easiest way to get them to do that is to tell them it’ll get them what they value. Telling the guys on the bottom of the totem pole “Treat women as if they’re all higher-status than you, and eventually women will see you as high status” is useful, but it isn’t true.

            It shouldn’t surprise us so much when they get offended when they (eventually?) figure out that we were lying. It’s not that the culture is bad at accurately conveying what attraction is, so much as that basically no one has any incentive to do that.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @TheWorst:

            Is it intentional lying? The movies where the hero wins the love of the female lead by saving the president – did the director and producers and scriptwriter sit down and say “let’s snooker nebbish guys into saving the president by telling them they’ll win the girl”?

            Or is it just a narrative convention that has had the unfortunate effect of getting a lot of people to think things are other than they are?

            It’s not as though there aren’t narrative conventions that harm, say, women – the “there’s an awesome guy waiting for you! Just hold out!” thing you’ll see in some romcoms is perhaps the closest equivalent.

            EDIT: It occurs to me – is “Star Wars” one of the rare films of the action-adventure style that bucks this trope? The original films. Luke Skywalker is the “nice guy” compared to cocky jerk Han Solo, but he’s the one who gets Princess Leia. Can’t quite remember how that happens though. Haven’t seen them in ages.

          • nimim. k.m. says:

            >I think the culture is bad at conveying the idea that romantic attraction has a lot to do with idiosyncratic enthusisam, and that you need to look for a good fit, not just “meets standards of theoretical attractiveness”.

            Maybe an instruction manual on what to look for and how to achieve the good fit would be more useful to Nice Guys. That’s why PUA is popular among that crowd, it claims it has that manual.

          • anon says:

            Some women have tried to compile such manuals, too, but mostly they seem to be taking advantage of anyone foolish enough to believe them, or at least trying to convince them that they’re terrible so they can be taken advantage of by others. (“Read more literature by women!”)

          • Gazeboist says:

            More charitably, they’re generalizing more than they should. Advice manuals with things like “read more literature by women!” tell you how to become a member of a particular culture, not how to get dates with women who are part of your culture. If aimed at members of a culture that is short on women (or thought to be), there’s also usually an explicit “join a culture with more women in it” message, which is good advice, except that such messages usually tell you to join a specific women-heavy culture (which may be entirely unlike the one you come from), rather than identifying some that are similar to yours.

      • TMB says:

        Maybe. I think it’s more that they feel a visceral need that isn’t being satisfied, but I suppose it depends on the individual.

        If we were to design an ethical system of sexual relations, what would it look like?

        • dndnrsn says:

          An ethical system of sexual relations? Don’t have sex with anyone who isn’t consenting, do your best to minimize the risks you expose other people to, do your best to minimize the risks you are exposed to, and don’t abandon any children produced along the way.

          An ethical system of sexual attraction though I don’t think is possible. Attraction seems pretty amoral and I don’t know how you can change it.

          • TMB says:

            If sexual attraction is amoral, ethical sexual relations should probably not be based solely upon it.

          • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

            It depends. Some moral systems put high weight on freedom of choice. I believe that a system where people can choose their own sexual partners is ethically superior to a system where everyone has a sexual partner regardless of whether they’d choose to have sex with that partner on their own.

            Edit:
            Something that could bridge the middle ground between our goals and produce more people having sex while maintaining freedom of choice: a voluntary program wherein unattractive people agree to partner up and go on dates. Unfortunately, I don’t know how well that will do, given that ‘Date unattractive people!’ isn’t a great catchphrase for such a site.

    • Anonymous says:

      Son, I’m sorry nobody told you this before, but “Nice Guy” is just a euphemism for “uggo”.

      Well, “timid uggo”.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I was a scrawny, pimply faced, nerd with poor social skills in high-school.

        One day I asked one of the girls in my French class for her number. She gave it to me. I called her that night to ask her on a date.

        “I’m busy Friday”, she said. Saturday? Also busy. Next weekend? Busy. Weekend after?

        “I’m busy _every weekend_”, she said.

        “Oh, OK.” I answered, and hung up.

        Now, I was an uggo, as you say, but at no point would anyone have put me in the “nice guy” category.

        • gbdub says:

          I think the implication is, if you were not an “uggo” and behaved in ways that would get the “uggo” version of you labeled as a “nice guy”, you probably wouldn’t have been rejected.

          I think that’s probably true – behaviors that seem romantic or flattering from someone you are otherwise attracted to feel creepy from someone you’re disgusted by. Of course this is going to be frustrating to the “uggo” who does everything right except the things they can’t change. Up to that point, no one is wrong and nobody is really at fault. It’s only when the rejected starts being nasty to the rejecter (or ignoring the rejection) that they deserve criticism.

          • Anonymous says:

            Correct! It’s an irresoluble problem, like many of the ones that create long-term lasting emotional pain. And contrary to popular(?) belief, it’s far from restricted only to boys and men — “every woman is beautiful”, “I’m curvy”, and every other contortion fat girls go through to convince themselves they haven’t already lost the race before the starting gun, is a different kind of expression of the same exact problem, which is that you can be born a genetic loser, and nobody can fix that. You got one of the bum tickets, that sucks for you but somebody has to be the loser or the establishment can’t afford prizes. Nobody feels bad about it, please try again only you never get a second shot.

            Like you say, being nasty about it is superfluous and should be heavily discouraged, and maybe even sanctioned; and not only on the part of the rejected, for that matter. Calling unattractive men “creeps” for even taking a shot would be the classic example of something that just isn’t at all necessary on the part of the rejecter. But the actual “doing very badly because there’s something fundamentally wrong with you” is not superfluous and cannot be prevented with less than an omnicontrolling totalitarianism that tries to effectively thwart evolutionary selection — which, lest we forget, is heavily based on people dying childless or otherwise having fewer kids if they pulled one of the bum tickets.

          • Anonymous, I recommend Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion.

            In this culture, fat women are less likely to attract men, but there’s a lot of variation. The book has a wide range of experiences, from no men to lots of men, not to mention true love found early. As far as I can tell, the only absolute difference between the experiences of fat women and thin women is that thin women never run afoul of men who want sex with them but aren’t willing to be seen with them in public.

            Here’s a weird data point– I knew a fat woman who found that when she lost 60 pounds but was still fat, a lot fewer men were attracted to her. Was the heavier weight a sweet spot? Did she have a better idea of how to dress for the weight she was more accustomed to?

          • Anonymous says:

            Just in that title there are six words I’d consider buzzwords for trying to cringe oneself out of the hard facts. There’s a lot more evidence of the type “I lost weight and literally everyone treats me better and men look at me in a totally different way which infuriates me now because I would’ve killed for it as a fat girl”(??? I don’t get that last part at all, but I’ve seen it far more times than coincidence could explain).

            (I also note that it’s okay to be aware that nice guys are uggos, but not to defend them, whereas it’s not even okay to know that fat girls are uggos, because the expression of the problem is different.)

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m one of the people who can’t edit, so I’m going to have to throw this one in as a separate post: the mere fact that as that Amazon page shows there’s an entire industry of writing books to tell fat girls that there’s nothing wrong with being fat, that their observed reality totally isn’t reality and that they should cheer up and not feel bad in itself tells a much clearer story than anything actually contained in the book you recommended possibly could.

          • gbdub says:

            I think the relevant point for this discussion is that traditionally unattractive women who are frustrated by their lack of dating success are usually afforded greater sympathy / more positive advice (whole books of it!) than similarly placed men, who risk being labeled entitled objectifiers if they “expect” to be loved.

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s not really an unsoluable problem at all. Plenty of unattractive people getting laid right this second.

            The problem are people that have unrealistic expectations. For the men it often comes from knowing that money (status) can make up for attractiveness but wildly overestimating the conversion rate. A lot of men think because they make $200k/year they can date someone much more attractive than they are of the same social class. They are off by a lot.

            I don’t know exactly what drives the unrealistic expectations on the unattractive women side of things, but like the men you aren’t talking about a huge number of people.

            The best thing that society can do for these people is to help them understand and make peace with their actual choices.

          • gbdub, on the other hand, it’s women who are under so much social pressure that some of them get serious eating disorders.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            That’s true… and there’s a whole industry of medical professionals to help with eating disorders.

            What do dateless men get? Further abuse for being in that situation.

          • Gbdub says:

            Women certainly are more likely to have eating disorders, but it’s not unheard of for men – something like 5-15% of bulimia/anorexia patients are men, and certain male populations (gay men, military) have high prevalence of eating disorders.

            But there’s also male skewed body dysmorphia – how many women shoot up steroids and lift weights to the point of self abuse?

            Men are also more likely to kill themselves.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Women certainly are more likely to have eating disorders, but it’s not unheard of for men – something like 5-15% of bulimia/anorexia patients are men, and certain male populations (gay men, military) have high prevalence of eating disorders.

            But there’s also male skewed body dysmorphia – how many women shoot up steroids and lift weights to the point of self abuse?

            I have BED/bulimia, can confirm.

            I’m not sure your second example universally counts as male body dysmorphia, though. Steroids are actually one of the safer drugs in the sense that most users don’t “abuse” in the non-legal sense, i.e., they don’t use to the point of getting anything more than mild and tolerable side effects. I assume this is probably why shady T clinics don’t attract the same outrage as shady opioid mills.

            And they also make you feel good, so I don’t think you can attribute as much of the population to dysmorphia as you can with eating disorders because there’s also the simple pleasure feedback which I can tell you is not there retching over the toilet.

          • Gbdub, I don’t deny that male eating/body disorders exist, just that the gender skew suggests that women are under a good bit more pressure.

            It’s also true that men with those have much more trouble getting support. I’m not sure how much of that is pro-female prejudice and how much it is that if fewer people have a problem, it’s harder to organize resources.

          • Deiseach says:

            men look at me in a totally different way which infuriates me now because I would’ve killed for it as a fat girl”(??? I don’t get that last part at all, but I’ve seen it far more times than coincidence could explain).

            That’s because the unspoken or unwritten part is “I’m exactly the same person as I was before, only a few stone lighter. So that means the guys now approaching me for a date, and pretending they care about me as a person or that they think I’m funny or smart or good at my job, are all lying liars because all they really care about is my physical looks. I could be a blow-up doll for all the difference it makes as long as they get to have sex with me”.

            Very few people feel valued for themselves if they could be a Beanie Baby as long as they are thin with big boobs, as far as the person expressing interest in them is concerned, and that generates a certain amount of resentment – particularly if you don’t have a cynical view of men but would like to think they’re not as shallow as a rain puddle and can be led around by their dick. There’s also the fear that “If he’s only with me because I fit within the conventional parameters of attractiveness, no matter what he says (and I know he’s only with me because of that since he wouldn’t have looked twice at me when I was fat), then he’ll dump me if someone more attractive comes along”.

          • Anonymous says:

            So that means the guys now approaching me for a date, and pretending they care about me as a person or that they think I’m funny or smart or good at my job, are all lying liars because all they really care about is my physical looks.

            …Okay, I guess this is where the disconnect comes in. Why would anybody give a shit about your job? In fact, doesn’t that seem just as corrupt as hiring someone because they’re hot, instead of competent?

            And conversely, why would it be wrong, surprising or dishonest to care primarily or entirely about the physical appearance of someone as regards their suitability for a physical relationship? It seems to me that this and the (typically unknowable in advance, however) actual prowess of the other person in the sack are the only really honest and relevant parameters for whether you want to sleep with someone, especially over and over, forsaking all others, for the rest of your life. What in the deuce do humor or intelligence have to do with that, and why would I care about them? If someone’s just funny or smart, I can simply be friends with them; I don’t see why I’d want to go further than that, and moreover, it seems like insisting that I should want to go further is literally exactly the Nice Guy Problem except expressed by a woman.

          • Anonymous says:

            Good in the sack, I’ll give you, but good looking? Sure that matters now, but matter very little for over and over for the rest of your life.

            In tens, fifteen at the most, those looks are going to be gone.

          • Anonymous says:

            Sure that matters now, but matter very little for over and over for the rest of your life.

            In tens, fifteen at the most, those looks are going to be gone.

            Three things about that:
            I) Sure, most women peak in looks at age 22 (if I recall the stats correctly), but a hotter woman will still look better than a less hot woman at any given age, all else equal. If she values her looks it’s also reasonable to assume (although perhaps not true? I don’t know if facts bear it out) that she’ll be more diligent in keeping them up, as well.
            II) Fifteen years is a sizable portion of the rest of your life, and those particular fifteen are likely to be the ones in which you care the most.
            III) Your argument doesn’t really demonstrate that looks don’t matter; at most it can show that you should dump any given woman after fifteen years at most. I certainly wouldn’t go that far myself, I’m just saying: the fact that looks deteriorate doesn’t at all imply that they’re unimportant. In fact I believe the evolutionary argument is that looks matter because they imply youth (and thus reproductive health) among other things.

          • Anonymous says:

            Go talk to some old guys, I know several that regret marrying for looks.

            All you are saying, in a rather elaborate way, is that you have a high time preference.

          • I’ve seen a suggestion to be selective about voice– it changes less over time than looks do, and you’ll be hearing that voice a lot.

            This is interesting, not just because it’s possibly good advice, but because it has a different feel than choosing for looks. It doesn’t seem as tacky, but I’m not sure that distinction is logically defensible.

          • Anonymous says:

            Pop evo psych types don’t want hear it, but the old advice about personality and values and so on is actually quite good.

            You are (hopefully) going to be hearing their stories and their jokes for 40+ years. You are (probably) going to be taking on a task which will be extremely frustrating at times, one where there are no right answers and everyone in the world has strong opinions. Perhaps most importantly this person’s personality is going to change and mold your own, sometimes convergence and sometimes divergence but either way no long marriage leaves either party unscathed.

            If you look at what people do, as opposed to what they say, most everyone recognizes this stuff.

            Notwithstanding all the just so stories about the plains of Africa, very few men go for the very hottest woman they could conceivably marry. How many look abroad for example? Even domestically, how many look in significantly poorer economic circles than their own? Even huge age gaps aren’t all that common.

            The typical 33 year old ivy educated lawyer from a wealthy suburb wants to marry a 25 year old ivy educated woman from a wealthy suburb not a 19 year old girl from the trailer parks working as a waitress even if the latter is a flat out 10 in looks.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Anonymous, blue this time:

            The beauty of pop evo-psych just-so stories is that they can be used to justify anything.

            Placing character, sense of humour, agreeableness over sheer hotness? [Evopsych voice] “Well, obviously, a long-lasting marriage that stays together where both people like each other will on average do a better job of raising children, and probably more children, thus maximizing evolutionary fitness.

            33-year old well-off Ivy grad man wants to marry a 25-year old well-off Ivy grad woman instead of a 19-year old poor but very attractive woman? [Evopsych voice] “Well, clearly, he is seeking to have the most intelligent children possible. Further, he seeks to avoid potential resource losses, such as a younger bride who runs off on him, poor in-laws he must help support, or a divorce settlement for a wife with significantly fewer resources versus a wife with equivalent or nearly equivalent resources.

            Proposal: nature-style TV show that just shows footage of people dating while a guy with an educated but not too posh English accent explains everything via evo-psych.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      It strike me that one of the issue here is that women who have heard the phrase “But I’m a nice guy” from a certain kind of guy, and the kind of man who has though that phrase to themselves is necessarily describing two different sets of men.

      Most men who have ever thought the phrase to themselves haven’t said it out loud to the person they were interested in.

      • Pan Narrans says:

        That’s obviously it, isn’t it? The whole Nice Guy concept refers to men who say “why do you date those dashing but caddish chaps [apparently this post will be a period drama] when I’m right here and I’m such an upstanding fellow?” Guilt-tripping someone for not fancying you, in other words. Which is obviously a shitty thing to do, though I don’t think it’s proof of someone being a shitty person.

        If someone’s heard that enough times, then they’re understandably going to use that model when they hear a genuinely nice guy say of women in general: “I think I’m a good, respectful person but I still can’t get a date: what am I doing wrong?”

        And then everyone ends up being wrong on the internet.

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, it’s like the friendzone thing – and what’s wrong with being friends? If you’re hanging round a woman (or a man) acting as their friend, but your primary motive is wanting a romantic relationship with them, (1) you’re not really being a friend (2) unless you make it clear that you want something more than friendship, you can’t blame them for taking you at face-value as ‘friend’ and not ‘potential romantic partner’.

          It’s a big switch to make to go from thinking of someone as a friend to thinking of them as a lover, and simply expecting the ripe fruit to drop from the tree if you just stand there and wait long enough, as it were, is not going to get you anywhere. If you feel cheated, so does the other person; they thought you were a friend, they didn’t know the friendship was only cover for romantic interest. You’re upset because you think they’ve reneged on the bargain; they’re upset because they had no idea there was a bargain in the first place.

          (Starting off genuinely as friends and then slowly realising “Holy smokes, I feel something more for this person” is a different thing).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:
            “Friend-zoning” frequently (usually?) refers to what happens when you express in interest in romantic involvement, though. “I just want to be friends” being the standard friend zoning response to said expressed interest.

            Who is it “on” to prevent an unethical exploitation of the relationship?

            I do think it might be a worth while exercise to think of dating in the early years sort of like sparring in a martial arts studio. The more skilled contestant always has more responsibility to make sure injury does not happen, but it doesn’t absolve lower ranking student.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ HeelBearCub
            That is an excellent analogy.

          • John Schilling says:

            “I just want to be friends” being the standard friend zoning response to said expressed interest.

            That’s the optimistic response. The other one is “Wait, what? We are no longer friends!”. Though this is often implemented with a polite “I just want to be friends” followed by a lack of actual friendship, so it is hard to tell which version is most common.

          • Anonymous says:

            Though this is often implemented with a polite “I just want to be friends” followed by a lack of actual friendship, so it is hard to tell which version is most common.

            A variant is also classic in breakups, although there I believe it’s mostly used by the dumper to soften their guilty conscience at breaking the dumpee’s heart.

    • greentea says:

      It seems to me that in this context “nice guys” doesn’t mean what you think it does. I believe it’s often coopted as codeword for unattractive.

      “Nice” is almost semantically empty, quite nearly the least you can say about someone without it being negative (i.e. “well, he isn’t a terrible person”). It is a way for the female to salvage an otherwise awkward situation and save-face for all involved.

      Think of it: are archetypically attractive guys not nice? But, would anyone ever choose that adjective to describe them?

      > that facilitates human connection – love

      Though I strive for romance in my own life, love, at least for most people in most times, largely amounts a wallpapering over of the ugly facts of reality to create a narrative that is more palatable. In short: relationships are in fact transactional.

      So none of what you say matters. Nice guys are losers, and people tend to not want to transact with losers.

      • TMB says:

        You must come from a very harsh culture.

        I think we’re talking about unattractive guys who play by the rules of society. I mean, I agree – “nice”, used in active conversation is a real slimy slug of a word (I can’t stand “nice” people) – but the thing about nice guys is that they aren’t especially nice. These are people who don’t want to make especial effort to please others, or who are completely unable to do so. But, they make a minimum effort, and think that should be recognised.

        I’m not unsympathetic to that view.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the major disconnect is that being Nice(TM) is not supposed to be directed at the woman, but at her parents. It used to be that they decided whether a suitor would get to have sex with (marry) her, and being a suitably civilized gentleman was the way to go. It isn’t anymore, and that reproductive strategy has hit a snag.

  18. LPSP says:

    In irrelevant news, I have discovered that everyone’s gravatar appears as their old version if I use one particular laptop, but no others. Has anyone else discovered this?

  19. nimim. k.m. says:

    Interesting article from the subreddit: What If We Can’t Make Government Smaller?

    We would focus on figuring out the best ways to match receipts to outlays without getting distracted by half-baked ONE AMAZING TRICK strategies to downsize Leviathan. You start to think differently about cutting wasteful spending, consolidating redundant programs, and making the delivery of government services more efficient when you stop seeing it all as part of some master plan to drown the government in a bathtub. You start to accept that spending cuts are ultimately more about optimizing the composition and effectiveness of spending than about the overall level of spending or its rate of growth.

    As the “smaller government == good” (or rather the perverted version of it, downsizing government in the form “sell all the geese yhsy lay golden eggs to my dear friends and relatives”) has started to creep in to the mainstream right here in Europe, I’d welcome more of this kind of thinking.

    • Carinthium says:

      Nice article, very good arguments. That being said, I’ve checked out most of the content on the website and whilst I don’t dispute the quality oft heir capacity to argue I don’t think they have any right to call themselves libertarian when they say what they do about social justice.

    • blacktrance says:

      To copy a comment I made elsewhere on this:

      1. If we can’t shrink government, why do we think we can make it more efficient? The two share a lot of obstacles, and if you’ve convinced someone to seriously embrace efficiency, they’re 75% of the way to small government, anyway.

      2. The growth of government doesn’t imply that small-government efforts are ineffective. Maybe we’d have a much larger government if opposition to it were weaker. If so, switching from small government to efficiency would weaken the brakes on Leviathan.

    • Tekhno says:

      @Article

      Giving up on the quixotic quest to find the magic words or the magic policy lever that would finally and decisively falsify Wagner’s Law would also lead us to distinguish more clearly between the welfare state and the regulatory state, and to focus our energy on removing regulatory barriers to economic participation, innovation, and growth. We’ll see more clearly that a small government and a limited government that reliably protects rights and promotes freedom aren’t really the same thing.

      This part resonates with me. People don’t want to stop spending, as much as they want to cut taxes. Wagner’s Law is driven by the desire for services beating out the conservative ideological program to cut spending.

      Yet people still hate taxes. Probably in the long run, the best way to reduce taxes is to increase productivity and increase the automation of the economy. Costs for public administration will fall as costs for private business fall. In the future, less tax could be required to fund the welfare state because the price of goods and the cost of doing things is so low.

      Pragmatic libertarians should support (an eventual) Basic Income Guarantee, but also increased government funding into artificial intelligence and the subsidization of nanotechnology and additive manufacturing development.

      Mostly, it has fostered a divisive, racially-tinged “makers vs. takers” narrative while encouraging opposition to reform measures that might have made our safety net fairer, more efficient, and better at minimizing the economic anxieties that drive populist political sentiments fundamentally at odds with an open society of free markets, free trade, liberal migration, and peace.

      Yeah, no. You want libertarians to bend to the left and accept that people will always want free services. Fine. I’ve been saying this for a while, but I’ve also been saying something else.

      Now you need to bend to the right and accept that as of now, liberal migration means inviting the Third World, which means problems with cultural integration, which means crime and fears of replacement of liberalism, which means the rise of far-right parties, which is what we are actually observing in Europe.

      If the welfare state is inevitable, and it is, then strong borders are also inevitable. People respond to incentives and if they want free stuff here at home, foreign people with weak governments living with low GDP economies want in on it all the more so, and then trouble brews because those welfare states can’t support all the people who want in on them. Besides, people’s bigotries are as mathematically consistent as their desire for free stuff.

      Instead of only libertarians having to “accept things” and everything being all very convinient and concern trollish for left wingers, we should all take account of the necessity to appease the direction of the masses without appeasing the disfunctional extremist ideologies running in those directions.

      In a time of extreme political crisis to do with migration, you either have liberal or civic-nationalism and control inflows or you get ethno-nationalism and race based cleansing occurs.

      In a time of extreme political crisis to do with poverty, you either have social liberalism and redistribute some wealth or you get socialism and class based cleansing occurs.

      Welfare state, borders, and free competitive markets (governments should avoid nationalization, but not be too afraid to go trust busting) should be the new consensus. The era of “liberal migration” is coming to an end one way or another, so let’s make sure it comes to an end in as nice a way as possible.

    • AnonEEmous says:

      Honestly, that article has a few serious problems. Let’s go through them:

      For starters, they miss that lowering taxes, assuming that your government isn’t just taking out debt to do so, does lower spending in and of itself. Moreover, a supply-side surplus, or any boost to the economy theoretical or real, should reduce welfare and the need for welfare more generally (some % of people will independently find new jobs, and another % of people can be nudged or pushed into finding jobs because good jobs are so plentiful).

      Plus, every country that follows Wagner’s Law seems to follow a law of massive debt. Which is to say, there’s a natural end to the size of government. Their argument seems to be that the debt should be subverted via reducing government waste and bloat and inefficiency and so forth, but all government systems are purposely designed to produce those things, which is why it makes much more sense to cut them and try and make sure people can provide for themselves in other ways.

  20. Tekhno says:

    It’s the far future of space or whatever.

    Hell exists and it’s a massive computer that tortures quadrillions from across the Universe in a speeded up time simulation forever.

    The hero of the story is a moral activist who wants to rescue people from Hell because infinite punishment is infinitely more evil than any finite crimes. He ends up being able to rescue a few war criminals, mass murderers, and pedophiles from Hell and give them new bodies. One of them later takes part in a genocide as part of the rebellion against the current galactic government, and the hero of the story who is already hunted for the breakout, is charged for aiding in genocide by releasing the people responsible. At first he agonizes on this, but his fugitive status draws him into the rebellion where he eventually becomes a critical leader.

    The story ends with the hero and his war criminal psychopath rapist friends destroying the Galactic Regime, bringing an end to its religion, freeing everyone from Hell and destroying it for good. Everyone lives happily ever after.

    Has there ever been a story like this? It’s Star Wars meets…

    • Randy M says:

      Minority report?

    • Lumifer says:

      Iain M. Banks Surface Detail..?

    • Plagiarizing the Amish says:

      I don’t understand the premise. Or at least, I’m having trouble accepting the protagonist’s logic.

      1. Why should Hell be moral? Isn’t it run by the devil?

      2. If Hell isn’t run by the devil but by the Galactic Regime, why doesn’t the protagonist just make his case to them to shut down or reform Hell? Sounds easier and less risky. You don’t get to be a Galactic Regime by ignoring good ideas when they’re offered to you, right?

      3. The morality of punishment is measured on a different scale than the morality of crime. For example, if you assault me and break my arm, I would consider a fair punishment to be something far more severe than you having your arm broken. There might even be finite crimes for which infinite punishment is totally just. (I guess you’ll just write the Galactic Regime’s religion in a way that this isn’t the case…)

      4. I get why a moral activist might decide he needs to rescue evil people from infinite punishment, but I don’t get why a moral activist would then just let those evil people run amok. Putting the evil people into new bodies and then instantly executing those bodies seems like a much more moral idea.

      5. If the evil people all get freed from Hell and ransack the good and decent people of the Galactic Regime, why would I believe they’d ever live happily ever after? That doesn’t sound like an outcome even a moral activist would believe possible.

      I think it’s potentially a cool story though. Here’s how I’d tweak it so it makes more sense and is easier to relate to:

      1. The moral activist tries to get the Galactic Regime to reform Hell so it’s less inhumane. Due to his efforts, the evil people are freed by accident, without anyone being aware of it at first. Then there is a genocide—in one day almost an entire race is wiped out—and people start to figure out what happened.

      2. The moral activist realizes he is at fault and agonizes over it. Has he made the universe worse? Before he has time to decide, the Galactic Regime announces it plans to punish him, so he has to go on the run, just like the evil convicts he inadvertently freed from Hell.

      3. For a while, morality becomes unclear to the moral activist. The freed evil ones help him, in their own selfish way, to hide from the Galactic Regime, and he starts to sympathize with them more and more until he is almost tempted to become one of them—become their leader, even—and help them bring down all intergalactic civilization.

      4. But another evil guy (the antagonist of the story) is giving him a run for his money, and ultimately our hero realizes his true calling once again. He redeems himself by becoming an assassin, rounding up the evil people and executing them before they can destroy everything.

      • hlynkacg says:

        @ Plagiarizing the Amish

        I like your version (and your user name) but for extra moral conflict you should have the “villain” should be a lawful good type who’s trying to capture the fugitives / rebuild “hell”. Rich Burlew’s essay on heroes and villains would be relevant here but I can’t seem to find an online copy.

        • Plagiarizing the Amish says:

          I like that! One freed evil guy–the guy with the worst charges against him–argues very convincingly for his own innocence. The reader should be convinced too. Until he turns out to indeed be the most evil guy ever!

      • LPSP says:

        I honestly just assumed “being bonkers” was a major point of the story. The hero isn’t a hero, just the protagonist.

      • Tekhno says:

        @Plagiarizing the Amish
        1. The hero wants to destroy Hell but he fails.

        2. The idea would be that the GR is a dictatorship and most people willingly conform to its religion, except all the people who don’t and join the rebellion. This can be glossed over to focus on the important bit. It’s morally weird Star Wars.

        3. I don’t agree with this. The entire reason I thought of this concept was reading this short story and thinking that it was trying to be manipulative by having Jolonah’s infinite punishment be justified because he tried to get out of it by sending an alien child to infinite punishment instead. It made me want to read a story where you have a conventional schlocky simplistic heroes vs villains space opera, but you have the bad guys be people trying to sentence criminals to Hell and the good guys be people trying to stop them and destroy Hell. You could have the good guys just inadvertently release people or you could have some moral grayness by having them recruit the criminals on purpose because they believe that the charges against them are lies, which is what I was originally going for.

        4. Well, at first I was going for the idea that the hero doesn’t believe the charges against these people and thinks its all a lie because the hero is a naive zealot. You can also have it be instead that he’s trying to kill them and there’s some way he inadvertently releases them from confinement, and then later has to join forces with them, but you’d need to change parts of the setting. Maybe the computer idea needs to be altered.

        5. You’re looking at this backwards and from a realistic standpoint. The point of having everything be fine at the end is for the purpose of inducing cognitive dissonance. I need to think of a way to get to that conclusion. The psychopath war criminals shouldn’t be the ones who are in charge afterwards, as they were only military leaders.

        I can’t write fiction for shit, so I never intended to create this story just spitball with the idea of the story, based on the core concept. Still I want to read something like this where the heroic thing to do under the situation is to actually fight against the people trying to give genuinely evil people (they need to be really nasty for the right level of cognitive dissonance) infinite punishment and restore finite punishment. I don’t care how many children and puppies you’ve disemboweled, because it never adds up to infinity or makes Hell justified.

        If Hell exists it should be destroyed.

        @LPSP
        I want the protagonist to be portrayed as being “right” from the perspective of the story, so that makes him the hero going from the narrative.

        Maybe this is a story only I would want to read.

    • DrBeat says:

      If Hell is a computer, why would you only be able to “rescue” a few Bad People from it and give them new bodies? If it’s a computer, you don’t actually take the simulations out of it, you either copy them and delete the original, or copy them and don’t delete the original. No productive end is served in any case by making copies, and if you are doing things with the data, delete it.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      This “very bad people ally with the hero against even worse” is a pretty common trope, isn’t it? So, this particular story may not have been written, but I don’t think the setup is as outlandish as you think.

      Doesn’t ” Guardians of the Galaxy” have this kind of feel to it?

      • LPSP says:

        While pretty much everyone but the lead protag in GotG was a crim, Starlord or whatever he was called was at-harshest set-up as rogueish. It’s a sort of fit for the broader concept, but what Tekhno is outlining seems more hardcore villain-lead stuff.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          “The Dirty Dozen” is probably a better example. Those guys are set up to be fairly evil.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Some of them more than the others. The Telly Savalas character most of all, and his inability to keep himself from murdering a woman when the opportunity presents itself almost screws up the mission, IIRC.

    • Deiseach says:

      He ends up being able to rescue a few war criminals, mass murderers, and pedophiles from Hell and give them new bodies.

      Why would he do this? If they’re evil enough to warrant punishment in Hell (even a computer version), why would he set them free to continue murdering, raping, torturing, etc? Unless he tweaks their programming so that they no longer want to murder, rape, torture, he’s better off just to delete them anyway – the Annihilationist view.

      The story ends with the hero and his war criminal psychopath rapist friends destroying the Galactic Regime, bringing an end to its religion, freeing everyone from Hell and destroying it for good. Everyone lives happily ever after.

      Everyone? I imagine the victims of murder, rape, torture, survivors of war-torn planets and so forth don’t live “happily ever after”, just the evil-doers who face no limit on pursuing their own goals and certainly no punishment for hurting, stealing, or inflicting misery on others. Again, unless the evil-doers are reformed to some degree, it’s a better choice – if you really think eternal punishment is unethical, unjust and unwarranted – to simply delete the simulations for good. I mean – the hero releases Jack the Ripper from computer Hell, Saucy Jack starts in on his funny little games again, I’m sure the sex workers’ guild would say “fix him so he stops doing this, send him back to Hell, or delete him”. Letting him run around slicing up women would not, in their view, be “everyone lives happily ever after”.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      I have to agree with everyone else who is confused as to why the hero would choose freeing war criminal psychopath rapists from CyberHell over the “just kill them” option.

      I also feel like the scale undermines the dilemma you want to pose. You say that there are quadrillions of people in CyberHell, and when the hero frees “a few” people out of those quadrillions they are all war criminal psychopath rapists. So either he went out of his way to free the worst of the lot or you have E15 (or E24 if you’re British…) villains bottled up in there.

      If it’s the former, the hero would seem to have inverted values. He’d be saving the least deserving first and letting the innocent burn in the meantime. If the latter, it makes CyberHell seem like a necessary evil if the alternative is unleashing a quadrillions-strong demonic army.

      • Tekhno says:

        @Dr Dealgood

        I have to agree with everyone else who is confused as to why the hero would choose freeing war criminal psychopath rapists from CyberHell over the “just kill them” option.

        There are two available options.

        1: He’s a zealot who disbelieves in the government’s charges and is driven by his hatred of Hell. He releases the war criminal psychopaths who he believes to be innocent, only later realizing his mistake, but resigning himself to fighting the regime and restoring a Hell free system anyway. This one is interesting because even in this case, no matter how many horrible things they do in fighting the regime, it’s still less immoral than infinite torture. Moral grayness is encapsulated in moral righteousness leading to cognitive dissonance.

        2: He inadvertently releases them.

    • Pan Narrans says:

      “It’s the far future of space or whatever.”

      This needs to be the opening line of a film called Scott Pilgrim Strikes Back.

  21. AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

    Question

    I always like to read “Best of” works from peoples most favorite intellectuals, or figures.

    So what are yours? Think a collection of essays from Bertrand Russell, and similar works.

    Or, even a personal “Best Of” list of figures to read is fine, with a *slight* emphasis on more modern figures.

  22. Deiseach says:

    Okay, I haven’t watched any of your presidential debates and I’m only getting news at second- and third-hand, but any opinions on this pearl-clutching about (now let me get this right, quotes and all) “Trump’s ‘horrifying’ refusal to say he’ll accept the election’s outcome”. Apparently journalists across the spectrum responded in horror.

    Because didn’t you do this dance already? Back in 2000 with the hanging chads and Florida and going to court to demand recounts? And nobody seemed to think Gore was indulging in a horrifying refusal that was the end of democracy, sunshine and everything good in the universe when he was fighting tooth and nail to the last gasp refusing to give in or acknowledge the election result?

    I think Trump’s a dreadful blowhard, but honestly, the amount of fits of the vapours people are having makes me half-wish he’d win, simply to see the death toll of people expiring from apoplexy.

    • Randy M says:

      I’d have to see an exact quote to know if Trump said something good, bad, or good badly. That it upset someone with some ink to spill (or airtime to fill) doesn’t really provide Beyesian evidence either way.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Because didn’t you do this dance already? Back in 2000 with the hanging chads and Florida and going to court to demand recounts? And nobody seemed to think Gore was indulging in a horrifying refusal that was the end of democracy, sunshine and everything good in the universe when he was fighting tooth and nail to the last gasp refusing to give in or acknowledge the election result?

      Nobody thought Gore was indulging in a refusal to acknowledge the democratic system because the candidate is legally entitled to a recount below a certain margin of victory. This is rather different from a bald, evidence-free assertion of large-scale rigging in advance of the actual election (one which you can comfortably predict will continue even if Trump loses beyond the margin of a single state’s recount).

      I too think the pearl-clutching is overblown, but I also don’t think Trump’s behavior maps onto Gore’s. It might map onto some of the more fringe lefty theories going around at the time about Diebold machines, but I don’t think those were ever encouraged by Gore himself.

    • brad says:

      No one expects Trump to agree that if there’s a tie he’ll concede. The people trying to spin the question that way are just making excuses for him.

      That’s what happened with Al Gore, there was a tie. Of course you keep going when there is still a chance to win. But when the Supreme Court made its ruling, he conceded and accepted the outcome. While there were plenty of other people marching around during the GWB era saying that the Supreme Court stole the election, Al Gore was never one of them.

      That’s exactly what Chris Wallace (Fox News employee) was asking Trump to commit to. That after all is said and done, if there’s a clear winner, and it isn’t him, that he accept the result as legitimate. Not go on and on for the next four years about how how he didn’t actually lose, that Clinton isn’t the real president, and that the election was stolen. And he refused to commit to that.

      • gbdub says:

        Transcript via LA Times:

        WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I want to ask you about one last question in this topic. You have been warning at rallies recently that this election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton is in the process of trying to steal it from you.

        Your running mate, Governor Pence, pledged on Sunday that he and you — his words — “will absolutely accept the result of this election.” Today your daughter, Ivanka, said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely — sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

        TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time.

        What I’ve seen — what I’ve seen is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt, and the pile-on is so amazing. The New York Times actually wrote an article about it, but they don’t even care. It’s so dishonest. And they’ve poisoned the mind of the voters.

        But unfortunately for them, I think the voters are seeing through it. I think they’re going to see through it. We’ll find out on November 8th. But I think they’re going to see through it.

        You’ve added a lot of context compared to what Wallace initially asked. And for that, Trump’s response seems reasonable – “I’ll look at it at the time”, i.e. he can’t precommit to knowing that he won’t challenge the result if it looks rigged. The rest of it is just a restatement of his charges against Hillary, the media, and voters that shouldn’t be registered. Spinning that as “Trump definitely won’t concede, even if the result is obvious” is taking it a lot farther Trump’s actual response.

        There was a follow-up where Wallace says something closer to your last paragraph (but again, it was a follow-up, not his initial question):

        WALLACE: But, sir, there is a tradition in this country — in fact, one of the prides of this country — is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?

        TRUMP: What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?

        That sounds more like a guy promising to keep his options open rather than a commitment to not accept the results, which is how it’s getting spun. I guess you can focus on “keep you in suspense,” but that comes off as a snark. Because come on, you know the spin, if the result is close, would be how Trump is reneging on his promise to concede if he’d given a flat commitment to “absolutely” accept the results, as he was initially asked to do.

        • brad says:

          Because come on, you know the spin, if the result is close, would be how Trump is reneging on his promise to concede if he’d given a flat commitment to “absolutely” accept the results, as he was initially asked to do.

          No, I don’t know that at all. If there’s another 2000 situation where the overall outcome depends on a single state, and that state is within the automatic recount or even the permissible recount, I wouldn’t expect any claims of reneging.

          Also you seem to be ignoring the most troubling thing about his statements — the references to the media. What exactly does he need to look at it at the time to determine whether or not alleged media bias is going lead him to not accepting the result of the election? He is seemingly already convinced that they are totally biased against him — is or is that not sufficient for him to reject the outcome of the election? Why does he need to wait to answer that question?

          The bottom line is that if you agree with Trump that there is a real possibility that the election will be “stolen” then fine, nothing wrong with what he said. But if you don’t think so, then there is plenty to object to.

          • gbdub says:

            You’re parsing Trump much more harshly than Wallace. Remember, the initial question was if Trump would “absolutely accept” the result. Which, yeah, it’s a restatement of a quote from Pence. Still, I think Trump is wary of being tied down to an absolute (and to some extent I think he’s right to, that’s a common “gotcha” approach in a hostile interview, and Trump certainly considers any interview to be hostile).

            You find his reference to the media “troubling” – to me it looks like Trump saw a chance to vaguely connect to one of his talking points (the media is biased, the voters see through this) and harp on it. Politicians do this all the damn time in debates. Heck, one of his follow-ups was that Hillary “shouldn’t even be in the race” due to her (in Trump’s opinion) serious crimes – that’s less an argument about the vote itself being rigged than about the justice system giving Hillary a pass. That’s another nearly-non-sequitur, except that again it’s standard debate practice.

            The bottom line is that if you agree with Trump that there is a real possibility that the election will be “stolen” then fine, nothing wrong with what he said. But if you don’t think so, then there is plenty to object to.

            I don’t think the vote will be stolen, but I do think the media is generally pro-Clinton, and I do think Hillary got off more easily than she should have in the FBI investigation. “There are lots of potential flaws in the voter registration system” is also accurate, though I don’t agree that there’s widespread fraud. That’s mostly what Trump covered in his statement.

            And yeah, it’s certainly possible to object to any and all of that. But to spin it as the least-charitable-possible simplification “Trump rejects democracy! HE’S DANGEROUS AND HORRIFYING!” is exaggeration, and that weakens Hillary’s case in my mind. Clearly YMMV.

          • Aegeus says:

            Oh, sure, when Trump is speaking, the refrain is “Take him seriously, not literally!” But when Wallace is speaking, you need to parse him down to the last syllable in case he’s laying a rhetorical trap for you?

            To put that less angrily, the obvious intent of that question was “Are you going to concede gracefully if you lose, or spend the next four years banging on about how the election was stolen?” And, as you noted above, Wallace provided a follow-up to make it really clear that this is a softball question where you can talk about how much you love democracy.

            The fact that Trump had to hedge and keep his options open like that, on a softball that any other politician in the country could have answered in his sleep, shows either he’s just completely inept at reading people’s expectations, or that he’s already planning to spend the next four years banging on about election fraud. Neither reflects well on him.

            (Also, if the election is actually stolen, and Trump actually has convincing evidence of that, that’s a scandal about seventy billion times bigger than Trump backtracking on one of his statements. Nobody will care whether or not Trump said “absolutely” or not.)

          • hlynkacg says:

            Also, if the election is actually stolen, and Trump actually has convincing evidence of that, that’s a scandal about seventy billion times bigger than Trump backtracking on one of his statements. Nobody will care whether or not Trump said “absolutely” or not

            Am I horribly cynical to doubt this?

            The way I see it, pretty much all the major networks with the exception of Fox are solidly “in the tank” for Clinton. I don’t think they would treat rigging an election as any more scandalous than mishandling classified material.

          • Jiro says:

            Oh, sure, when Trump is speaking, the refrain is “Take him seriously, not literally!” But when Wallace is speaking, you need to parse him down to the last syllable in case he’s laying a rhetorical trap for you?

            Trump can’t lay down working rhetorical traps, because he doesn’t have the media on his side. Wallace can and does.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            You find his reference to the media “troubling” – to me it looks like Trump saw a chance to vaguely connect to one of his talking points (the media is biased, the voters see through this) and harp on it. Politicians do this all the damn time in debates.

            Don’t they ever…

          • Aegeus says:

            @Jiro: So, only Trump gets the privilege of having his statements read charitably? Everyone in the media has to speak with the precision of a lawyer? I don’t think that’s how it works.

            I wasn’t arguing that Wallace’s words couldn’t be read as a trap. Every question is a trap if you’re paranoid enough. My point was that, since he basically waved a neon sign saying “POLITICIANS ARE SUPPOSED TO SAY THEY RESPECT THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS,” it would be very uncharitable to read it as a trap instead of a softball question.

            Indeed, if I believe gbdub’s analysis, this is exactly why the question hurt him. Trump saw a trap where there wasn’t one, and ended up hedging where he shouldn’t have.

          • gbdub says:

            Wallace’s question was scripted, Trump’s response was not. I think it’s perfectly fair to consider that “absolutely” was chosen / included by Wallace carefully – and that’s the extent to which I’m parsing it. I don’t think that’s particularly uncharitable, and I certainly don’t think it was crazy for Trump to read the question that way.

            But even taking Trump absolutely literally, all he said was “we’ll see” and then rattled off his key talking points: media is biased, Hillary is a criminal, and Dems are shady (and illegal immigrants might be voting).

            There was one other key thing: that his supporters will “see through” the media bias and win.

            I’ve said before, this is a turnout election. Trump is basically making the case to his supporters not to give up even though he’s down in the polls. “Hey, everyone is down on me, but you see through that! Show up and keep it close, we have to work harder than those people against us – I’m not giving up and neither should you!” Saying you’ll “absolutely accept” the results does sound like you’re pre-capitulating, and isn’t something that is going to fire up your base.

            Anyway really all I’m objecting to is the characterization that Trump’s statement clearly means that he “rejects” the “democratic process”. Far from it – he’s claiming that his opponent has damaged the democratic process, and that he will not precommit to accepting a result obtained unfairly, and reserves the right to challenge any shenanigans that might come up before he accepts defeat. In his mind, he’s defending the democratic process from “rigging”. It’s fair and valid to attack his belief in the “rigging”, but it’s uncharitable to go further than that and say that he rejects democracy / the will of the voters.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Gdub

            I agree but as you say, this is a turnout election, and telling everyone that Trump is an evil fascist who rejects the democratic process is how the Democrats their supporters to show up and vote despite Clinton being fucking terrible.

      • cassander says:

        >No one expects Trump to agree that if there’s a tie he’ll concede. The people trying to spin the question that way are just making excuses for him.

        I guarantee you that if he legally contests the election, people will bring this up, regardless of the merits of his case.

    • Noth'el says:

      I read it as a “go fuck yourself.”

    • gbdub says:

      Yeah this one annoys me, especially when it gets spun as “Trump says he’ll reject the will of the voters!” No, Trump says he doesn’t trust that the reported results will actually reflect the will of the voters. And yeah, as you mention, this argument requires ignoring for the moment that the same / similar claims were made by Bernie supporters in this election and Dems in general (including Hillary and DWS!) after the 2000 election (“Selected not elected!”).

      “Trump says the system is rigged!” Well, given the chance to expand, Trump seems to be mostly claiming that there is a lot of voter fraud and that the media is heavily biased in favor of Hillary. There’s also charges of collusion between Hillary and various groups from the Wikileaks stuff. But of course rather than addressing those charges (which have plenty of reasonable arguments to be made against them without resorting to effectively name calling), it’s straight to “oh what a sore loser, that’s what every loser says! He saying he won’t accept the vote!”

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Trump is ridiculous enough without exaggerating, hyperbolizing, and least-charitable-interpreting the crap he says. Please stop doing that, because it’s giving me sympathy for him I’d rather not have.

      • hlynkacg says:

        agreed

      • brad says:

        “Trump says the system is rigged!” Well, given the chance to expand, Trump seems to be mostly claiming that there is a lot of voter fraud and that the media is heavily biased in favor of Hillary. There’s also charges of collusion between Hillary and various groups from the Wikileaks stuff. But of course rather than addressing those charges (which have plenty of reasonable arguments to be made against them without resorting to effectively name calling), it’s straight to “oh what a sore loser, that’s what every loser says! He saying he won’t accept the vote!”

        Why should he get calm, detailed refutations of his “charges”? What has he done or said to deserve any benefit of the doubt whatsoever?

        He is reaping what he has sowed.

        • gbdub says:

          Why should he get calm, detailed refutations of his “charges”? What has he done or said to deserve any benefit of the doubt whatsoever?

          He is reaping what he has sowed.

          Because don’t claim you’re better and then do exactly what you accuse Trump of doing? “Reaping what you sowed” is exactly the charge Trump supporters are making against Democrats: “You’ve treated all our candidates like racist Nazis, so why should we listen to you now?”

          Because Trump’s claims, no matter how badly he states them, do deserve some credence? Mainstream journalists are overwhelmingly in favor of Clinton. Voter registration rolls do have a lot of errors. Hillary Clinton was “extremely careless” with her email in ways that look criminal to a lot of people. None of these mean the system is “rigged” or illegitimate. But if the best you can respond with is “Nothing to see here, you’re just paranoid, shut up!”… that’s not exactly going to build confidence in the system not being rigged for anyone on the fence.

          Hillary’s claim is that she’s the cool, rational, experienced choice against the blowhard, hysterical, aggressive, know-nothing Trump. Overreacting to Trump destroys her credibility there. “Well, the Hillary supporters keep saying how awful Trump is, but every time I listen to him, he’s not nearly that bad…” hurts the core message. “Hillary is the only adult in the room” is less convincing if your argument is “well it’s okay, he started it!”

          In some sense it doesn’t matter, this is a turnout election and Trump-bashing, no matter how over the top or uncharitable, fires up the Hillary crowd.

          But like I said, it makes me have more sympathy for Trump than I want to.

          • brad says:

            Because don’t claim you’re better and then do exactly what you accuse Trump of doing? “Reaping what you sowed” is exactly the charge Trump supporters are making against Democrats: “You’ve treated all our candidates like racist Nazis, so why should we listen to you now?”

            Okay but the thing is when talk about “Democrats”, “liberals”, or even “the media” as if they were a single thing it’s a metaphor. Useful in many ways, but still a metaphor and these particular ones are pretty fuzzy.

            Donald Trump is a flesh and blood human being with an actual history. He was a birther until, what, two months ago? Last I heard he still thinks the central park five are guilty.

            I don’t see any good reason to give any credence whatsoever to any claims he makes. If that makes you have more sympathy for him, well I don’t love that fact, but it’s ultimately up to you not me.

          • gbdub says:

            I don’t see any good reason to give any credence whatsoever to any claims he makes.

            Fine, but a fact doesn’t become a falsehood just because Trump said it. I have no problem if you don’t believe / agree with Trump – that’s not what gives me sympathy. What gives me (unwanted) sympathy is when Trump says something and people attack the worst dubiously possible interpretation / extrapolation of what he said rather than making an effort to address his actual argument.

      • DavidS says:

        To be honest, I think ‘ability to have elections and thus clear/peaceful transition of power’ is more important than having a perfect will of the people reflected. And of course the electoral college doesn’t perfectly reflect the will of the people anyway. I’d be incredibly worried if a party said ‘if we get more of the popular vote but they get more electoral college votes, we will refuse to accept the results’.

        The serious prospect of powerful figures refusing to accept the outcome of the (imperfect) election process is very worrying and undermines a lot of the benefit of the system

        • gbdub says:

          ‘if we get more of the popular vote but they get more electoral college votes, we will refuse to accept the results’

          That argument was definitely made post 2000, and there was a sudden interest in reforming the electoral college. Certainly the lack of “acceptance” didn’t turn into civil war or anything, but it’s not like Trump is saying he’s going to set up a shadow government either.

          • Anonymous says:

            That argument was definitely made post 2000, and there was a sudden interest in reforming the electoral college.

            Very similarly, fears within Labour in the UK that they’re currently unelectable have lead to increased talk about reforming the electoral system entirely to be proportional representation, with the hope of permanently fragmenting the vote and creating a permanent left wing coalition.

            Of course, since Labour are unelectable it’s not really like they can make any reforms happen.

          • DavidS says:

            I think there’s a big difference for ‘this result demonstrates why we need to reform the system’ and ‘I don’t acknowledge the result of this election’.

            It’s really important that people accept where political legitimacy lies. This is one of the things that democracy does well (especially it’s good at doing this while also having transfer of power) and casually undermining it is irresponsible.

            I have no idea what Trump means. I don’t expect civil war or anything, but this combined with some bits of Tea Party stuff and other things like his ‘second amendment people’ comment does’t add up to a great prospect for argument, anger and desire for change being channelled into political outlets.

          • suntzuanime says:

            “Where political legitimacy lies” sounds like a nice slogan for democracy.

          • gbdub says:

            ‘I don’t acknowledge the result of this election’.

            Lots of people made this and similar statements regarding GWB. “Selected not elected”, “Not my president”, “The election was stolen”, “Bush has no mandate” etc. They mostly didn’t act in a meaningfully damaging way on that sentiment, but it was certainly there. Again, at this point re: Trump all we’re dealing with is rhetoric and implication.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      In addition to what has been said, I think it would be perfectly reasonable for Trump to complain a lot if he lost by a similar margin to Gore (and thus possibly despite winning the popular vote). My concern would be that he would complain a lot even if he lost by a good few percent (although on the list of things about Trump that concern me, that comes pretty low).

      • DavidS says:

        I don’t care about complaining, whatever. It’s basically saying ‘this is not a legitimate result, this person is not the legitimate President’ that worries me more. Appealing within the constituional systems is different.

        Given Trump in the debate was saying that the race was rigged simply because Hilary was allowed to run (as she should be in prison etc.) this doesn’t bode well. I would be willing to bet that he doesn’t accept the results of the election whatever the %.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Yes, and I’m not sure why he didn’t bring up Gore in the debate. It doesn’t matter what Trump says. If he loses the election he has exactly the same options as Gore, and he’ll acquiesce to it in the end like it or not. It’s not required that he simply accept an election that he feels has been stolen; there are in fact remedies within the system for that. Our media (aside from Fox and Breitbart and other openly conservative sources) are basically pulling for Clinton, so acting like Trump has said something horrible is just part of the act.

      • dragnubbit says:

        The act is Republicans pretending that the rigging rhetoric and Trump being coy about accepting election results before the election is conducted is normal US politics. It is an attack on the ability of the US to conduct a fair election.

        • suntzuanime says:

          What ability of the US to conduct a fair election?

          • dragnubbit says:

            The burden of proof for that one is on the accuser, perhaps to at least cite some academic or peer-reviewed publications that buttress their claims or at least show us all where their motte and where their bailey is to save some time.

          • dr fackoff says:

            what brings this vile p.o.s. out its viper hole?

        • anon says:

          Last cycle we wouldn’t let UN observers into some of our polling places and ballot-counting stations. No one seems to think this is cause for concern.

          I am really not sure we actually conduct fair elections.

          • Anonymous says:

            Paranoids gonna paranoid.

            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Corey says:

            You could volunteer, and see how it’s done from the inside! Too late this cycle, but it’d be better to start with a slow off-year election anyway. Or, if you’re registered with a political party, ask them to send you to a polling place to observe. You’ll have to have some training (in NC it’s “don’t interact with the voters”, your State may vary, and the deadline may have passed).

            You may also be able to observe part of the process. AFAIK everywhere only election officials and voters in the act of voting may be in the polling place, but in NC, after the last voter has left, anyone may observe the reconciliation / results-sending / packing-up process, where everything’s cross-checked, sealed, signed off on by 3 judges representing at least 2 parties, etc.

    • Corey says:

      In total isolation it’s reasonable if you squint right. After his stint of fanning the flames of voter fraud fears, though, he can fuck right off. Those of us who run polling places are going to have to deal with the fallout. I’ve only had one wingnut incident before, and it was resolved peacefully. I’m not looking forward to whatever escalation this cycle brings.

      • anon says:

        Well gosh, I guess it’s OK if no one raises the alarm about voter fraud so long as you don’t have to personally “deal with the fallout.”

        • HeelBearCub says:

          “Voter fraud” is a myth. Their are exceptions, but they prove the rule in their absence of frequency.

          • gbdub says:

            “Voter fraud” may be a myth, but “serious potential weaknesses in the voter registration / validation process” isn’t.

            I mean, it would appear to be really easy to:
            1) Vote in multiple states if you live in both part of the year
            2) Send in someone else’s absentee ballot
            3) Claim you are a legal resident and cast a ballot even if you aren’t

            Not to mention all the potential mistakes like “crossed off a name close to yours instead of yours” and “forgot to purge all the dead people and felons (or re-add the non-felons) from the list” etc.

            Basically the only defense we have against these is the voter’s sense of propriety and the fact that single votes are rarely enough to be worth the effort, and a confidence that we’d detect a major concerted effort.

            When the response to someone saying, “Maybe we ought to have a more positive way of validating voter eligibility” is “Don’t worry, we haven’t found many people abusing this system so far and if you want to change it it’s because you’re a racist”… well, it might be a little paranoid to just assume that races are being decided by fraud, but not insane

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @gbdub:
            “confidence that we’d detect a major concerted effort.”

            Well, that is the big key. Much like allowing a small amount of insect parts or mouse droppings in a ton of flour, the dose is the poison.

            It’s important to distinguish between registration fraud, in person voting fraud, and absentee ballot fraud.

            The HAVA act, passed after the debacle in 2000, requires either a state drivers license number or the last four digits of an SSN be provided when registering to vote. That ID number is then required to be verified with the state or federal government. If no ID is provided at registration, or verification fails, the voter will be required to provide ID when they first vote.

            So voter registration fraud is already prevented to the extent that ID requirements can do so. In-person fraud is very hard to commit without detection. Absentee ballots also require providing ID in order to receive the ballot.

            In the cases where people are caught for substantial voter fraud, it’s usually the absentee ballot process, not in-person. This, uncoincidentally, has received the least amount of attention from Republicans, as the absentee process usually favors Republicans.

          • Corey says:

            all the potential mistakes like “crossed off a name close to yours instead of yours” and “forgot to purge all the dead people and felons (or re-add the non-felons) from the list” etc.

            If I’m ever elected king I’ll outlaw Jr/Sr-s from living at the same address. Want to live with your parents? Fine, but one of you has to change your name 🙂

            I mean, it would appear to be really easy to:
            1) Vote in multiple states if you live in both part of the year
            2) Send in someone else’s absentee ballot
            3) Claim you are a legal resident and cast a ballot even if you aren’t

            #1 and #2 are indeed easy. Though the only office voting in multiple States affects is the President – all other elected offices are single-State or smaller. (Though those local offices gain one extra voter in the “second” jurisdiction).

            There’s a philosophical problem in that legal residence (not immigration status, but “where do you live”) is kind of fuzzy. In NC if you’ve lived somewhere less than 30 days, the offices at your “new” address don’t represent you yet, you have to vote using your “old” address. But what’s the exact move date? When you closed/signed a lease? Started sleeping there? etc. Neither statute, regulation, nor case law is particularly helpful on that point so I basically have to shrug at voters when they ask for such clarification and say “move date’s up to you to define”.

            For #3, as HBC points out, HAVA has beefed up requirements on registrations, and some States are probably doing that stuff and more. Registrations are public record (except for a very few cases, like Witness Protection Program) and so they can be audited by third parties also.

            A national registry of every US citizen along with a One Canonical Address for each of them would solve this problem, but such things are unpopular.

      • gbdub says:

        So honest question for former / current poll workers: Most of the “fears” about voter fraud basically revolve around people who aren’t eligible voters being able to register / vote.

        And at least from the outside, it doesn’t look like the information you are required to provide to register and vote in most places is sufficient to actually verify your eligibility (or in some cases even your identity). Yet we’ve got poll workers here insisting that no, no way is anyone fraudulently voting, and we can’t find any cases of it… But how would you even detect ineligible voters voting, unless you get a duplicate? Aren’t you just going to see that they have something (not a photo ID necessarily) that matches a name on the registration list?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I worked at a State Board of Elections for five years, doing system engineer work for their computerized registration system.

          The number of fraudulent votes cast in order to sway an election would lead to many instances of voters attempting to vote when the impersonator had already cast their ballot. In addition, the number of people required to carry out this in-person fraud would be massive. Somebody would squeal at the point they were being recruited for the effort.

          It’s not that it doesn’t happen on an individual level. It does. There are a handful of prosecutions, fines or plea bargains for voter fraud on a regular basis.

          They just aren’t consequential.

          Edit:
          The one case of a serious effort to sway an election I can recall was the owner of a strip club, IIRC, in a dry country submitting absent ballot requests for all their employees. And then filling them out and returning them. The vote was a referendum on allowing liquor-by-the-drink in a dry county. Usually those referenda are set in an off year, sometimes even as a completely separate vote, as a means of preventing the general electorate from actually having their say on the matter.

          This means only a few voters actually cast ballots, meaning that a few 100 fraudulent absentee ballots actually can sway the election.

          • gbdub says:

            It’s not that it doesn’t happen on an individual level. It does. There are a handful of prosecutions, fines or plea bargains for voter fraud on a regular basis.

            They just aren’t consequential.

            I think the issue is confidence in the system. I’m not saying your argument is bad – it’s probably correct. But you’re basically acknowledging that individual scale fraud is somewhat common and hard to detect. It would be relatively straightforward to make the system somewhat more secure with e.g. voter ID (as many countries do) – and would certainly boost confidence in the system even if it didn’t actually change any outcomes.

            So it’s basically a values argument – do you care more about making it as difficult as possible to vote fraudulently, or making it as convenient as possible to vote validly. I just don’t think coming down on either side is all that unreasonable.

          • suntzuanime says:

            “Every vote counts! It’s so important that you go and vote!”

            “No a mere few dozen instances of voter fraud don’t matter, what are you some sort of racist?”

            I’m certainly open to the idea that democracy is a big joke and it’s not worth worrying about, but it bugs me when people claim to take it seriously but get all offended at the idea of basic steps to keep it honest.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            You know what else ruins confidence in the system? Doing everything possible to reduce the minority vote in order to favor your party, and admitting that you do not want blacks to vote because they vote Democratic. (Yes, that is actually the legal argument.)

            Voter ID laws are just one example.

            Reduction in the number of polling places.

            Adoption of electronic voting machines and then failing to provide an adequate number of machines to polling places with higher population causing wait times of six hours or more to vote.

            Removal of early voting days utilized most heavily by black voters.

            Illegal purging of voter roles based on inadequate evidence.

            Unless you are worked up about those kinds of issues, this is an isolated demand for rigor because you aren’t affected. You have an ID so you care not at all for those who would be disenfranchised and have no sense of why or how this might affect them. Your polling place has no wait time. You won’t be fired for taking time off to vote. You aren’t 90 and without the ability to secure your birth certificate.

            Far more legal voters would be disenfranchised than fraudulent votes prevented. This is hardly just.

            Edit to add:
            And again, if you were actually concerned about voter fraud, you would be targeting absentree ballots far more than in-person fraud. Those dead people don’t vote by showing up at the polls. They vote absentee. The fact that this is not the primary concern of the reforms gives the game away completely.

          • suntzuanime says:

            When have I ever advocated for any of this stuff? Rounding sane ideas off to evil because the nasty nasty Republicans support them and so anyone who supports them must be nasty nasty is a really typical obnoxious lefty thing to do.

            And you’re making a lot of assumptions about my personal situation which aren’t justified, btw.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Pardon me for assuming that someone going by the moniker suntzuanime on a message board is not a 90 year old black woman birthed at home in the rural south.

            So, even though you were just a little child, tell me about your memories of The Great Depression? 😉

          • Corey says:

            @suntzuanime: Nobody ever implements voter ID to increase security, it’s always part of a package to reduce turnout for partisan advantage. If we ever see a State implement, say, automatic registration along with an ID requirement, then you’ll see less pushback.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Hey, fuck you.

            At HBC, not you Corey, although I think you miss the point that what I am advocating is voter ID to increase security, which is why I’m pissed at HBC for saying I’m trying to reduce turnout for partisan advantage. Although I’m more pissed at HBC assuming I just got a free cushy job and state ID in my white privilege packet in the mail.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @suntzuanime:
            There is a form of rhetoric where the word “you” is used much in the way “one” would be.

            Clearly, you, suntzuanime aren’t making legal arguments in court defending state voter ID laws. Clearly, you, suntzuanime, aren’t making policy on polling places and “you” aren’t passing legislation to reduce early voting hours.

            So, you might want to read what I said with an eye towards the idea that it is an argument about the actual policies, and the intent and effect behind them, not a screed impugning the honor of your avatar.

            I thought a little lite banter would do it, but apparently not.

            Nonetheless, the point of my actual argument stands.

            Now, I will again say, if you, suntzuanime, aren’t worked up about the other threats to the faith in our system I mentioned, you, suntzuanime, are engaging in something like selective rigor or concern trolling. That does not constitute an argument that you have argued in favor of these other policies, but rather an argument that your concern that an absence of ID requirements for in-person voting represents a unique threat holds no water.

            I’m ignoring the uncivil words, as I doubt getting in a flame war would be productive.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Oh, so when you tried to shut down the conversation with that “you aren’t affected so you can’t talk” you meant that as the general you? Nobody’s affected? Seems kind of moot in that case.

            Uncivil words are exactly the appropriate response for your sort of smarmy bullshit, because you’ll pull any sort of dishonesty you can get away with, and if people are civil towards you you’ll get away with way too much.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ gbdub
            So it’s basically a values argument – do you care more about making it as difficult as possible to vote fraudulently, or making it as convenient as possible to vote validly. I just don’t think coming down on either side is all that unreasonable.

            There is a third way(tm): increase security in ways that do not burden or turn away the innocent voters. If Imposture is a serious problem, treat it as a serious crime. There’s a public record that each vote leaves. Run some checks; when you find a dead person has voted, track down the Imposter who did it, find out who organized the gang, punish them all very publically. Start an awareness campaign: “If you see something suspicious, report it.” Make the risks of Imposter Fraud greater than the pay-off, and the chance of getting caught very large.

          • Would leaving a fingerprint at the voting site compromise other values? It would be a way to catch people who vote more than once, though not necessarily people who substitute themselves for non-voters.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            One method to prevent double voting in Iraq, at least in the first election post Saddam, was finger staining.

            No one, to my knowledge, has proposed this as legislation in the U.S.

          • dr fackoff says:

            “Uncivil words are exactly the appropriate response for your sort of smarmy bullshit, because you’ll pull any sort of dishonesty you can get away with, and if people are civil towards you you’ll get away with way too much”

            He embarrassed you; caught you special pleading for one (republican advancing) policy reform and no other.

            That makes you furious.

            And you deny you’re a couch republican.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HeelBearCub
            One method to prevent double voting in Iraq, at least in the first election post Saddam, was finger staining.

            Heh. I’d thought of saying, if you’re briefing an Imposter to visit several polling places, tell him to remember to take off the “I voted” sticker in between.

            Actually, finger staining sounds like a good idea. It would fit right in with leaving your fingerprint on the ballot, or the list of voters, when you vote. Ftm, with more white space on the list, a fingerprint of record could be pre-printed right there on the list, with a space to try to match it at voting time.

            Of course we wouldn’t ask the poll volunteers to judge the fingerprint. But later, when the government computers have their big reunion, the Imposter’s fingerprint will match with his fingerprint on something that has his name and address; then the police can find him.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ houseboatonstyxb

            I agree,

            I’d be a little worried about specific fingerprints getting matched to specific votes, defeating the purpose of having a secret ballot, but I think that’s reasonably solvable by storing the prints and actual ballots separately.

            IE when voting in person, you’d put your thumbprint in a ledger to get your ballot, if the number of ballots for a given polling station doesn’t match the number of prints in it’s ledger, or a print shows up in multiple times / ledgers you know something’s fishy.

            Absentee voting would still be an issue, but I’d be willing to trade-off the secret ballot issue in that case to ensure “legitimacy”. You want to vote from outside your district, you need to send your thumbprint in with your ballot.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            You want to vote from outside your district, you need to send your thumbprint in with your ballot.

            I filled out my Vote By Mail ballot yesterday. Somewhere in the packet is a sleeve you sign; the ballot itself remains anonymous. The fingerprint could go with the signature.

            I suppose the organizer of the fraud could make rubber stamps of the recorded fingerprints of the registered voters. But that would add expense. As David Friedman mentioned, at some point the organizer really should compare the cost of all this overhead, with the price of legitimate advertising.

          • Jiro says:

            Nobody ever implements voter ID to increase security, it’s always part of a package to reduce turnout for partisan advantage.

            If you believe the other side is engaging in fraud, demanding voter ID can simultaneously be for partisan advantage and genuinely for reduction in fraud.

        • Corey says:

          The list of who (people said they were when they) voted is public record. If an eligible voter was impersonated, they’ll be on the list despite not having voted in that election. (Assuming they didn’t get turned away because the real voter already voted, etc.) If an ineligible person registered and voted, they’ll be on the list. Highly motivated people (e.g. losing candidates) have attempted to find this and come up approximately empty-handed.

          Requiring ID for voting would be a fine idea in a vacuum, but in practice, aside from the racial and anti-democratic (small and big D) problems, it’s creating a bigger problem than it’s solving.

    • cassander says:

      >I think Trump’s a dreadful blowhard, but honestly, the amount of fits of the vapours people are having makes me half-wish he’d win, simply to see the death toll of people expiring from apoplexy.

      I feel precisely the same way, and it annoys me because of how much I dislike Trump. I do not want him to win, but god do I want her to lose.

    • Chalid says:

      It may not be obvious if you get your US politics news from reading SSC comments, but it’s almost universally accepted among elites, media, politicians not named Trump, etc. that there is currently no such thing as large-scale US voter fraud of the sort that could tip a presidential election.

      Trump has been implying that if he loses it’s because the system is rigged and no election that he loses should be seen as legitimate. This is pretty outrageous if you accept the consensus that there is very little voter fraud (as the people writing the outraged op-eds generally do). If you *do* believe in large-scale fraud, as various commenters seem to, then “we’ll wait and see” becomes a sensible thing to say.

      The analogy to Gore makes no sense as many people have pointed out. The fight in 2000 was mainly about the technicalities of determining voter intent from a perhaps-flawed physical ballot (e.g. is a hanging chad sufficient evidence of intent) not about intentional fraud.

      • Iain says:

        Yeah. The big difference between Trump and Gore is a demonstration of respect for the rule of law.

        In 2000, the vote in Florida was close enough to legally mandate a recount, and the laws were messy enough that the courts had to get involved. Bush and Gore both started playing the legal game; Bush played it slightly better; as soon as the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bush, Gore delivered a gracious concession speech in which he repeatedly and explicitly acknowledged the legitimacy of the process and his willingness to abide by the Court’s decision.

        Trump, meanwhile, has been going around for weeks complaining that the entire system is rigged against him, and casting aspersions on the legitimacy of the process. The concern is that, after he inevitably loses the election, Trump will continue to spew claims that the result is illegitimate, working his voters into a frenzy and potentially leading to violence. Democracy is a more robust model for the peaceful transfer of power than anything else we’ve tried, but there’s no need to experiment with how well it stands up to one candidate’s deliberate sabotage.

        The pearl-clutching might make more sense if you see this as part of an ongoing dialogue between the Trump campaign and the rest of the political system. Trump came into the debate making ambiguous claims that can be interpreted as an intent to try to take the system down with him if he loses. Wallace, speaking on behalf of the system, gave Trump the opportunity to disavow that interpretation of his remarks. Trump refused to do so.

        • Randy M says:

          Bush played it slightly better

          And most of the recounts came out in his favor, iirc.

          • Iain says:

            Some of them definitely did. I know there were at least a few estimates that came out in Gore’s favour. This WSJ article cites Richard Posner as conceding “that more Florida voters probably set out to support Al Gore than George W. Bush, and that the wider availability of user-friendly voting technology would very likely have sent the Democratic candidate to the White House” (before going on to argue that from a procedural standpoint Bush v Gore was nevertheless correctly decided). There were enough recounts available that either side had a plausible claim to win. My point is simply that after the Supreme Court adjudicated those claims, Gore unambiguously accepted the decision without casting aspersions on the legitimacy of the election or the Court. That’s the standard that Trump was asked to abide by, and rejected.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Randy M
            And most of the recounts came out in [Bush’s] favor, iirc.

            You mean when the media got all the ballots and did several counts using different standards about the hanging chads etc? They did ~8 counts and ~5 favored Gore, iirc.

          • Lumifer says:

            They did ~8 counts and ~5 favored Gore, iirc.

            You recall incorrectly.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Lumifer

            Or perhaps my memory was of an incorrect or incomplete source.

            Thank you for the link to the Wikipedia page. The information near the bottom about ‘over-votes’ was all news to me.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Claiming that the system is rigged is totally unprecedented.

      • Deiseach says:

        So what about the opposite side of the fence? I’ve just seen a warning about alleged online disinformation telling people they can vote online. This is presented as a deliberate campaign to make younger voters waste or lose their vote. This particular version didn’t come out and say it, but there are enough warnings floating around about Republicans deliberately making it harder or even impossible for [name your chosen minority] to vote because they know they’d vote for the Democrat candidate.

        Is this true or not? If widescale voter fraud is exaggerated, how about vote-rigging on the “prevent the other side’s voters from voting” scale? Is that factual or fanciful?

        As for Gore, do you mean you saw nothing of conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines, duplicate ballots, and deliberately making it so the chads wouldn’t be punched properly? Because I may be decrepit and failing of memory, but back in 2000, and revisited over the intervening decade or two, there was plenty of hysteria in certain quarters about Bush stealing the election – the same quarters that are now frothing over Trump’s “horrific” declaration that maybe he won’t accept a result that goes against him.

        I’ve also seen some wistful fantasising from those same quarters about how if Obama simply refused to yield the presidency, just at the end of this term said “No, I’m not giving this up” and instead continues to act as president, wouldn’t that be marvellous, I wish it would happen.

        Hurrah for democracy, eh?

        • Iain says:

          There are certainly cases where the Republicans have attempted to reduce voting in Democratic-leaning demographics. I’m not aware of any examples in the opposite direction, although that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

          Various people did make claims that Bush stole the election. Gore, however, was not one of them. That’s important. You’re always going to have hotheads on either side. The question is whether their political leaders will calm them down or rile them up.

          • ReluctantEngineer says:

            examples in the opposite direction

            Allegations of Democrats suppressing votes from Republican-leaning demographics usually revolve around military absentee voting, and they show up every few years. It was an issue in the 2000 election, for example. From the article:

            As [Democratic lawyer] Mr. Herron’s memorandum made clear, the Gore campaign sought to disqualify as many overseas ballots as possible, knowing that the state’s complement of military voters overseas had regularly voted Republican in other elections. They pushed county election officials to apply the strictest interpretation of the rules.

            Edit to add that I never closely examined these allegations, and they may well be overblown, but I do remember it being talked about.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Reluctant Engineer:
            That’s a post hoc “given the election is within 100s of votes” fight using existing rules.

            This is very different than an ante hoc attempt to change the rules to discourage and make difficult voting.

          • Iain says:

            Thanks for the example. I hadn’t seen it before. It’s the best example I’ve seen so far, although I think it still falls short.

            First, quibbling about which ballots to include in the context of a recount is different from the kinds of pre-election vote suppression measures that (for example) North Carolina tried to put in place. I’m sure Bush did his best to rule out ballots from pro-Gore counties too.

            Second, as far as I can tell, the Democrats backed down on this issue and the ballots ended up being counted. You can’t really accuse them of organized suppression of the military vote, if only because they were so clearly disorganized on this issue.

            Third, this doesn’t appear to be part of a larger pattern. Based on a quick Google search, although there have been other accusations of suppressing the military vote, none of them seem to have any basis. (See Snopes here and here.)

            That doesn’t surprise me. Attacks against the Democrats for suppressing military votes seem like they would be politically effective, if they could be substantiated. The fact that they aren’t being made seems like good evidence that it’s not happening.

        • Chalid says:

          there are enough warnings floating around about Republicans deliberately making it harder or even impossible for [name your chosen minority] to vote because they know they’d vote for the Democrat candidate.
          Is this true or not?

          Well, making it harder for certain populations to vote, e.g. by introducing additional inconveniences to the voting candidate, really does happen. And it is generally legal (unless it is taken too far), and therefore it is not generally called fraud.

          Look, randos on the internet will come up with conspiracy theories about anything. The rigged voting machines stories were *absolutely* rejected by the “establishment” on both sides. The partisan Democratic argument is and has always been “reasonable-sounding standard A (which just *happened* to favor Gore) for ballot counting is what we should have used, not reasonable-sounding standard B (which just *happened* favor Bush).”

          and just to emphasize:

          the same quarters that are now frothing over Trump’s “horrific” declaration that maybe he won’t accept a result that goes against him.

          There is NO WAY that people talking about rigged voting machines are the “same quarters” as those outraged now. Maybe it looks that way from across the ocean but it is really, really not.

        • Corey says:

          Is this true or not? If widescale voter fraud is exaggerated, how about vote-rigging on the “prevent the other side’s voters from voting” scale? Is that factual or fanciful?

          There are always some shenanigans here and there, e.g. flyers in the “hood” telling people if they have outstanding warrants they’ll be arrested when they show up to vote. As far as I can tell it’s not widespread, and probably doesn’t work well, since when that kind of stuff is found local media tends to jump on it quickly to debunk it.

        • Anonymous says:

          The voter suppression that bothers me the most is that poll machines and precinct locations are often underfunded, resulting in massive lines in densely populated areas that take hours, while in rural precincts voting is often a 10-minute process.

          In North Carolina as another example, in order to discourage early voting which favors Democrats they reduced the hours and also only set up only 1 location in some high-population counties, resulting in ridiculous lines.

          To me any wait of longer than 1 hour that is not due to emergency circumstances is a de facto suppression (whether done with malicious intent or not). Election officials can predict turnout and states can afford to deploy extra machines and locations if they really cared about voters waiting for hours. Sure is a strange coincidence that nearly all those long lines are full of black people.

          • gbdub says:

            In North Carolina as another example, in order to discourage early voting which favors Democrats they reduced the hours and also only set up only 1 location in some high-population counties, resulting in ridiculous lines.

            There seems to be an unfounded assumption of intent here. You (and Chalid earlier) say “this made voting less convenient” and then jumping to the implication that the inconvenience and suppression was the intended result. As opposed to “well, we’ve only got enough money for X polling stations, early voting is a convenience item less critical than day-of-election polling, so we’re going to pull more funding from that bucket” which is another plausible explanation.

          • brad says:

            It’s not unfounded.

            Look at the Fourth Circuit’s decision regarding this law. The three judge panel was made up of a Clinton, a GWB, and an Obama appointee. The section I quote below and the pages I reference come from the unanimous part of the decision.
            http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/161468.P.pdf

            After years of preclearance and expansion of voting access, by 2013 African American registration and turnout rates had finally reached near-parity with white registration and turnout rates. African Americans were poised to act as a major electoral force. But, on the day after the Supreme Court issued Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013), eliminating preclearance obligations, a leader of the party that newly dominated the legislature (and the party that rarely enjoyed African American support) announced an intention to enact what he characterized as an “omnibus” election law. Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.

            In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications. Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist. Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation. “In essence,” as in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (LULAC), 548 U.S. 399, 440 (2006), “the State took away [minority voters’] opportunity because [they] were about to exercise it.” As in LULAC, “[t]his bears the mark of intentional discrimination.” Id. Faced with this record, we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the district court to the contrary and remand with instructions to enjoin the challenged provisions of the law.

            The full discussion is on pages 13-19.

          • gbdub says:

            Mea culpa for not remembering that particular one had been adjudicated.

          • dragnubbit says:

            @gbdub

            I was the Anonymous there (forgot to log in).

            The intent of Republicans in this instance merely provides a focus for any anger I hold over disenfranchisement, it does not make long lines acceptable if the intent was instead to save a few thousand dollars. And as you admitted, in this particular case the intent has been proven in court.

    • onyomi says:

      I think what Trump said can be interpreted in two different ways, with the NYTimes et al predictably interpreting it in the more crazy, catastrophic way (though maybe not entirely without reason):

      1. “I expect the election to be stolen from me by widespread voter fraud and will demand recounts/investigations if it seems like this may be the case.” (That is, “I will use any legal means available to investigate any possibility of explicit fraud”).

      or

      2. “This election is already rigged against me by e. g. the biased media, and I may not accept the outcome if I lose even if there’s no clear evidence of explicit voter fraud.” (That is, “if I lose, it will be because the whole system was rigged against me, and I won’t accept the legitimacy of my opponent’s administration even if I exhaust all legal means to challenge it”)

      1. would be a fairly natural thing and similar to Gore’s claims about 2000. 2. would, in fact, be pretty unprecedented, with the fear, I imagine, being of something like Trump’s attempting to lead a “government in exile,” provoking a secession crisis, or, in an extreme case a civil war.

      Even if Trump means 2, of course, I don’t think any of those outcomes is likely. He has a lot of enthusiastic supporters, and a lot of people will be pissed about President Hillary, but I don’t think either of these sentiments is wide or deep enough (yet?) to provoke such a crisis.

      Perhaps more realistically, I think the punditry is worried that Trump, by being a sore loser, will further undermine trust in the government and the media, as well as hamper HRC’s ability to govern by trying to make her seem somehow illegitimate (as he did with Obama, in fact). Moreover, it could weaken the “gentlemen’s agreement,” that, at the end of the day, the two political factions are supposed to be on the same team, work together, etc.

      As someone who doesn’t think government is legitimate, any undermining of that perception is fine and dandy by me, though I could understand why this might worry those who want to preserve its air of legitimacy to rule not just 50% of the people, but 100% of the people.

      At risk of bringing up the Scott Adams “Trump is secret persuasion genius” meme again, this statement does seem very similar to the game he played during the primaries: subtly implying maybe he’d screw things up for the GOP by running third party if they didn’t nominate him. This fear may have motivated some GOP primary voters to pick him.

      Though it’s a different game to play in the general, one could argue he’s making a similar, subtle threat: “elect me or I’m going to undermine the presidency of the person you do elect.”

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        but I don’t think either of these sentiments is wide or deep enough (yet?)

        Growth mindset!

      • Anonymous says:

        Though it’s a different game to play in the general, one could argue he’s making a similar, subtle threat: “elect me or I’m going to undermine the presidency of the person you do elect.”

        We obviously have very different political positions, but I honestly can’t think of any outcome of this election that would be better than Trump losing but then completely undermining Hillary’s ability to do a damn thing.

        (Well, maybe the other way around would be better, it would still irk me if Hillary got to be the first female president like she always wanted. She’s awful enough that she doesn’t deserve any concessions, no more than Trump does.)

        • gbdub says:

          Eh, Hillary would be fairly well hamstrung by keeping Congress Republican, which has any benefits of the “Hillary can’t do a thing” scenario without the absurdisms of Trump.

          • Evan Þ says:

            I seriously doubt that. I think the (solidly Democratic) executive bureaucracy has at least as much power to hamstring any President as Congress has.

      • DavidS says:

        Well, he made two specific claims about why it was rigged

        “Excuse me, Chris, if you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people registered to vote. This isn’t coming from me, from fury report and other places. Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.

        So let me just give you one other thing as I talk about the corrupt media. I talk about the millions of people. I tell you one other thing. She shouldn’t be allowed to run. She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged”

        First that “millions of people” are registered to vote who can’t shouldn’t be and second that it’s rigged because Hilary’s allowed to run against him (though the latter is a bit confused: is he saying she’s the most threatening candidate to him and so people are allowing her to stop him despite the fact she deserves jail , or just that the fact that she’s allowed shows bias/corruption. I assume the latter, though it means ‘rigged’ makes less sense.)

    • foo bar baz says:

      I’m honestly surprised at the other responses here, given the SSC readership. To me it seems somewhat obvious that this is largely about game theory. Since the end of the Civil War, every election in America has been followed by a peaceful transition of power. If you read history, this is really uncommon. Whether it’s the emperor’s sons, different noble families, various tribes within a kingdom, or different branches of the military, the transition of power is often followed by violence. This happens despite the fact that violence is horrible, and it happens because for each actor individually, it makes sense to to resort to violence. Basically, it’s an example of the prisoner’s dilemma.

      One solution to the prisoner’s dilemma is to develop a culture or a set of traditions that discourages defecting, which is basically what we have in the US. It may be personally beneficial for whoever loses an election to take control of the army and march on Washington, but it’s not done due to tradition. Part of that tradition is that all actors publicly agree to accept the election results. It’s true that Al Gore fought for a recount or whatever in the courts, but he never went around the country publicly telling people the whole thing was rigged and that the election results were illegitimate.

      Basically, a lot of intelligent people who are horrified by Trump aren’t thinking, “oh my, he said nasty words about Mexicans what ever am I to do?” They’re horrified because he’s publicly defecting in several prisoner’s dilemmas, weakening the system that keeps us all from murdering each other. Trump’s rhetoric is (probably) not going to cause a civil war, but Trump’s rhetoric weakens our cultural defenses against civil wars. I also think it’s important to note that political and social systems are never as strong as they seem before collapsing.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Every election has been followed by a peaceful transition of power, and so will this one. And Trump has not said otherwise. He’s simply failed to concede the fairness of the election ahead of time (and such fairness has been contested before, in a Presidential election most recently by Al Gore in Florida in 2000). The idea that claiming the system is rigged is somehow an attack on democracy is just fake shock on the part of the (mostly Clinton-supporting) media. There are allegations of rigging and fraud all the time.

        If Hillary wins, Trump will complain about rigging; he may sue. But he won’t march an army to Washington. If Trump wins, the Democrats may complain about rigging (I expect not Hillary personally), there may be lawsuits. And there likely will be an army of protestors (totally grassroots and not at all coordinated with the Democratic Party of course) causing trouble at his inauguration, but either way there will be a reasonably peaceful transition of power.

  23. AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

    A few questions, though somewhat free flow thought.

    1. What does free trade mean today? A lot of convincing arguments were made in the 1800’s against absurdities like the trade deficit, and how silly it is to place restrictions of trade due to nationalism. Is all that happens in today’s world is that some giant multinational simply moves to an area that won’t enforce environment and labor laws, as I hear? Where does Malthusian logic play into this?

    2. How is the world going to deal with the fact that precise replicas of someones voice and image can be created by CGI quite quickly? Entire crimes can now be placed on someones laptop, starring the voice and image of the person themselves.

    3.States rights vs federal laws. The drug wars opened up new questions to me on the legalization of drugs. I view myself (vaguely) as a social experimentalist,that tries to hold how societies develop through watching. I don’t like a drug policy that legalizes drugs XYZ throughout the nation, but I also dislike policies that ban them throughout the nation. Perhaps legalizing drugs,easy divorce and prostitution leads to a largely lower crime rate with less powerful gangs, or contributes to simply the town being full of drug addicts no better off with lots of 1 parent households. That leads to questions about state vs federal rights, I suppose.

    • Randy M says:

      2. How is the world going to deal with the fact that precise replicas of someones voice and image can be created by CGI quite quickly? Entire crimes can now be placed on someones laptop, starring the voice and image of the person themselves.

      That’s an interesting thought. I don’t think we’re there yet, but probably will be within a decade or so. Is someone’s image copyright? Can it be? What about voice?
      I think ultimately this kind of evidence will come to be about as reliable as handwriting analysis–experts on digital recording will testify if something was altered, psychologists will discuss if the body language matches yours down to personal tics, etc.
      I think what might save us is some kind of biometric security on smart phones along with gps creating equally compelling alibis. “This video has to be fake, as the defendant accessed his phone 100 miles away at 9:03 PM.”
      Of course the rabbit hole doesn’t really end with technology, does it? That kind of thing can always be hacked as well. Ultimately it will fall down to the trustworthiness of eyewitness testimony! 😉

      • Acedia says:

        That’s an interesting thought. I don’t think we’re there yet, but probably will be within a decade or so.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmajJTcpNk

        • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

          Ah, mimiking the voice and exact image of people after about a quarter of a second delay to account for personal differences in how people move, is the near(and probably now) future.

          I mean are people actually worried about this? Well we live in the day and age where its possible for person X to think they are hearing the voice and image of important person Y without any such thing happening….and it can’t be explained away by mental illness.

          It does add some evidence that this is all a simulation of history, but meh.

    • dragnubbit says:

      Photographic manipulation has a long history, and forensics has already developed a lot of techniques to detect all but the most sophisticated forgers, and that is in a single still frame that is often fuzzy or even monochrome. Anything done purely in existing modern CGI would almost certainly have tons of artifacts at the pixel level that would be telltales of a generated vs. recorded image. The state of the art in CGI is to simulate an effect that from typical viewing distances does not overly disrupt your willingness to suspend disbelief. The viewer is generous and wants to be fooled and is not looking at the individual pixels. Blending techniques (mixing elements from different footage into a single scene) would make it easier, but as someone with a background in signal and image processing, I can say it is a lot harder than it sounds to simulate a photograph in a computer that would fool a trained and motivated analyst with his own computers into concluding it was real. The battle is conducted at a much lower level than fooling the naked eye.

      Creating fake audio (especially if done from true samples that were all recorded in a consistent session) would be technically easier and certain channels are so corrupted and noisy (say cell-phone audio) that dropouts and static bursts can be employed to disguise some seams. If there start to be problems, it will show up first in corrupted audio-only evidence.

      • John Schilling says:

        This. Part of my work involves looking at North Korean propaganda imagery and figuring out which parts are real, which are photoshopped. I leave the image analysis to the professionals, but I get to look over their shoulders and their tools and techniques are very good.

        At this point, most of what you see in the media is manipulated in some respect, but most of the manipulation is harmless aesthetics on the level of making someone’s campaign photo op retroactively happen on a sunny day with just a few poofy white clouds. If someone tries to manipulate the important bits, like putting a rival politician’s face on that stunt double raping a child, that will be discovered and proven in short order.

        It is possible that at some point in the future the balance of power in this arms race will shift in favor of the fakers, but that’s not where the current trend is pointing.

  24. Alex B says:

    Has anybody here looked into the debate around global-greening-vs-global-warming? I just came across this for the first time and it was the most interesting new thing I’ve learned about climate change in the past few years: http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/global-greening-versus-global-warming/.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Ridley is neither a climate scientist nor an economist, and in general, I don’t find him to be a credible secondary source. He’s very prone to cherry-picking and weak-manning (his articles are thick with vague references to what “greens” believe and very little actual quotes) when it accords with his views (being a libertarian whose family made its fortune on coal mining, they aren’t hard to guess).

      I found this BBC interview with Richard Tol very revealing. Tol is an economist, and works in the same skeptic think tank (the GWPF) as Ridley, but he’s a bit more intellectually honest when pressed. It’s a very long interview, but I’ll quote one part specifically because it speaks directly to the argument Ridley makes.

      RH: OK. So one specific thing that there’s been controversy about has been your calculations of the benefit of CO2 in terms of fertilising forests and improving agriculture. Can you tell me a bit about your calculations on that?

      RT: I don’t think there’s a controversy there. I mean the academic literature is actually pretty unanimous on this stuff. So there’s a couple of benefits of climate change: one is a reduction in cold in winter, which would lead to a reduction in heating costs unambiguously. It would also lead to a reduction in cold-related morbidity and mortality, people getting sick and dying.

      RH: Yeah, it might do. Somewhere I read a paper recently that suggested that most winter deaths are not actually to do with cold, they’re to do with the fact that there’s more influenza and bugs prevalent in the winter, rather than the cold itself.

      RT: Yeah, yeah. No, but there’s more influenza in winter because it’s cold outside and therefore we huddle inside and we’re in closer contact with other people. So if winters become shorter or less cold, we would do less of that and it would actually also stop the spread of influenza, to a degree. So there’s those two factors, which are undisputed in the literature and both are of course unambiguous benefits. And they fall primarily on rich countries and cold countries. But of course CO2 is a fertiliser for plants; I mean CO2 is the basis of photosynthesis. If there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere then plants simply grow faster and this is particularly true for plants that are under water stress. So this is a particular boon for agriculture in arid and semi-arid areas, many parts of which are actually fairly poor. So that’s another unambiguous boon and people disagree about the size of the effects but not about the sign or that the effect is not there at all. So these things are actually uncontroversial. Now there’s also many negative impacts of climate change; of course when you have positives and negatives and you start adding them up, you may end up with a net positive or a net negative. And the literature is divided on that one: if you add up all these things, is it positive or negative? Most people would argue that slight warming is probably beneficial for human welfare on net, if you measure it in dollars, but more pronounced warming is probably a net negative.

      RH: And where do you put the boundary line between those two?

      RT: According to my latest calculations, it’s sort of around 1.1 degrees of warming relative to pre-industrial, so that’s …

      RH: OK so we’re almost there already.

      RT: We’re almost there, yes.

      RH: We’re almost at the point where the benefits start to get outweighed by the consequences.

      RT: Yes. So in academic circles, this is actually an uncontroversial finding. The …

      RH: I mean I’m intrigued on this because other contrarians are talking about, ‘Oh well, we’ll have benefits up to two Celsius.’ Matt Ridley, for instance, says, ‘Oh, anything up to two Celsius of warming, the earth will probably benefit.’ Do you disagree with that? [CB: Matt Ridley and Richard Tol are both advisors to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate skeptic lobby group based in the UK]

      RT: I think that’s a bit too optimistic, yes.

      I find this admission crucial because Tol is the economic expert most frequently cited by Ridley and other lay journalists who want to make the contrarian case of “actually, AGW is good.” Amusingly, I’ve seen David Friedman cite to his meta-analysis as proof that the cost-benefit sign of AGW is unknown. I suspect DF did not bother to read the paper, as it explicitly deprecates FIG. 1 (which he cites as the updated figure) in favor of FIG. 2 (the actual updated figure), admitting the following:

      First, unlike the original curve (Tol 2009, Figure 1) in which there were net benefits of climate change associated with warming below about 2°C, in the corrected and updated curve (Figure 2), impacts are always negative, at least in expectation.

      In fact, in the meta-analysis, Tol’s own study was the only one showing a positive benefit, and even taking Tol’s study as gospel over all the others, 2016 will likely end up 1.1°C above pre-industrial so those initial benefits have already peaked.

      Despite the controversy over his meta-analysis having to be revised several times, I find Tol himself to be credible, not least because he actually made the revisions instead of digging in and carping about the grand CAGW conspiracy as skeptic authors often do.

      But he’s a good example of how the most intellectually honest and qualified skeptics (e.g., lukewarmers) just end up mostly admitting that the preferred climate policies of Nordhaus, Hansen, etc., (an escalating carbon tax) are correct. This meeting in the middle is then promptly ignored due to tribalism. Tol, an honest economist, gets cited incorrectly by Ridley, a slightly-less-honest journalist, who will get hastily read by not-at-all-honest Politician X, and Politician X then distorts the meme further to his electoral base until Tol’s original position becomes “actually, AGW will probably be good! CO2 is plant food and who doesn’t enjoy a balmy winter?!”

      • dragnubbit says:

        Thank you for quoting that interview. I actually agreed with many of the broader strokes of Ridley’s arguments in the Rational Optimist regarding how the worst case scenarios also involved a world GDP that was fantastic and would be able to cope with population and food production shifts that today’s economy might not. I have not seen a good rebuttal to this point of his yet. But he does seem to be veering towards denialism though by recently selectively megaphoning certain findings, so he is losing credibility with me.

      • Wander says:

        This is an interesting concept, about advantages and disadvantages that balance back and forth. It reminds me about the current bleaching disaster in the Great Barrier Reef. Apparently, when ocean levels rise the increased temperature will level back down at that depth and keep the reef relatively intact overall.

      • Anonymous says:

        Reminder of my complaint concerning timescales. At best, all of the estimates in those papers are static estimates, holding all politics/economics/ecology constant, changing temperature instantaneously, and computing a damage estimate. From a theoretical perspective on dynamical systems theory, this is the wrong way round.

        If fact, if we assume that the fast system is performing some optimization, then we would expect to see this type of analysis produce the same result at every timestep! To continue my aircraft analogy, the idea is that the pilot chooses the optimum altitude at each time to maximize efficiency. So if we look forward and say, “But later in the flight, we’ll have less fuel, and that means we won’t be at the optimum point anymore,” it’s the type of trivially true that is extremely boring. We could also look backward and say, “But earlier in the flight, we had more fuel, which means we couldn’t have been at the optimum altitude.” That’s obviously ridiculous, because we can simply go back to the flight data and see that the pilot chose a different altitude at that time… one that maximized the efficiency of the fast system given the state of the slow system!

        The only way we can make meaningful predictions of the difference between intervention and non-intervention in this extremely slow-timescale process is to have a useful model of the fast political/economic/ecological system that is valid at every time step. Unfortunately, I don’t have a link to an interview of Tol being posed this question… but having a terminal degree in dynamics/control theory and having run this reasoning by many of my peers, I can’t imagine anyone with serious credibility on the matter claiming otherwise.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          At best, all of the estimates in those papers are static estimates, holding all politics/economics/ecology constant, changing temperature instantaneously, and computing a damage estimate.

          The only model I’m familiar with in that group is Nordhaus’ DICE, but this definitely isn’t true of that, and the fact that you blandly asserted this of all the dozen-plus papers Tol cited makes me question the rest of your post. I also don’t accept your linked reply’s dichotomy between “slow system” and “fast system.” Both economics and climate have both slow and fast components. Price signals are fast. Human migration is slow. CO2 fertilization is fast. Sea level rise is slow.

          The internet has no shortage of people with terminal degrees in engineering saying very wrong things about AGW. I respect your terminal degree, but I’m not bound to respect it over the opinions of all the hundreds of other people who have terminal degrees and whose papers I’m reading on the subject. My opinions don’t spring forth ex cathedra, they’re a product of keeping up with the literature.

      • glenra says:

        @ Anonymous Bosch:

        [Tol is] a good example of how the most intellectually honest and qualified skeptics (e.g., lukewarmers) just end up mostly admitting that the preferred climate policies of Nordhaus, Hansen, etc., (an escalating carbon tax) are correct.

        Hang on, how did you get from the implied claim:

        Unchecked AGW (though currently perhaps beneficial) would be likely to eventually cause some net harm to humanity

        to:

        …[and therefore] an escalating carbon tax [is] correct
        ?

        There are a LOT of missing steps between those and most of the missing steps are in the realm of economics, not climate. Yes, too much CO2 is harmful, but so is too much global taxation and regulation. Yes, escalating CO2 levels are dangerous, but so are escalating taxation and regulation [and corruption] levels.

        A carbon tax might well be the least bad policy option under serious consideration, but that doesn’t make it a good idea, much less correct.

        For it to be a good idea, it seems like you would need to assume among other things:
        (a) a very low discount rate
        (b) a very low chance of humanity collectively continuing to move to lower-carbon energy sources without additional monetary incentive
        (c) the existence of incorruptible Bureaucrat-Gods to implement the tax without screwing it up (rather than having the nitwits we’ve actually got write and enforce the relevant regulations).

        Loosen any of those assumptions and we’ve got a problem, no?

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          …[and therefore] an escalating carbon tax [is] correct

          It’s elsewhere in the interview I linked. Tol talks about how he originally set out to disprove Nordhaus and was unable to do so.

          • glenra says:

            Hmm. How about Hansen? Hansen has advocated a LOT of crazy shit in the way of climate policy. Has his opinion recently moderated to where it’s now similar enough to Nordhaus to justify your grouping their views together as one?

            In this interview, Tol advocates “a carbon tax and a carbon tax only”. At least as of 2008 Hansen seemed to be calling for (largeish) carbon taxes that essentially fund a Basic Income…and he also wanted national building codes (to mandate efficiency) and probably dozens of other fine-tuning sort of policies. Just a tax, or a tax that starts out really small to minimize the harm done by the transition, doesn’t really seem like Hansen’s style.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            From an AGW standpoint, the disposition of carbon tax revenues is mostly irrelevant. It would be a minor double benefit to use them to fund things like research into sequestration or a French-style crash build of nuclear reactors.

            But you could also use them to cut other taxes, or add them to general social welfare programs, or basically anything (except channeling them 100% back into fossil fuel subsidies, I guess). That’s a question of politics and expediency; the presence of a price signal is the important thing. A carbon tax is preferable because it’s a keyhole solution that tells the market what is bad, but lets the market figure out on its own what the next-best solution is. As opposed to cap-and-trade, which requires a far larger bureaucracy and is prone to regulatory capture, or subsidies, which would be rife with Solyndra boondoggles.

            Hansen’s loudest and most recent advocacy has been for a fee-and-dividend carbon tax. To the extent he’s also stated that Obama should consider other regulations like boosting efficiency reqs and a coal moratorium, I suspect this is coming from someone who has had enough experience in the US government to know that a carbon tax is a tough sell and doesn’t mind second-best or third-best solutions.

          • glenra says:

            @Anonymous Bosch:
            I think what got my hackles up was the tone more than the content. One can easily imagine reversing the polarity to cast snide negative implications at the other side than the one you picked.

            Ross McKitrick (of McIntyre/Mckitrick fame) has been advocating some form of carbon tax for 20 years. My favorite feature of his proposal is the idea that the tax rate should be tied to actual measured warming. But most climate activists who have come around to something resembling his approach (as opposed to the more command-and-control notion of outlawing some technologies, mandating or subsidizing others and issuing tradable permits for whatever we can’t yet ban) still don’t seem to grok that a carbon tax has to be a replacement for other taxes and other policies. If you just add an additional carbon tax on top of the mass of existing taxes and climate regulations (as Hansen clearly wants), you miss the whole point and might well worsen economic efficiency compared to not having the tax.

            There has been some gradual convergence of views. It’s not all one-sided. It’s not “the alarmists were completely right all along and skeptics have grudgingly admitted it” nor is it “the skeptics were completely right all along and alarmists have grudgingly admitted it”. Picking one of those frames is emotionally satisfying but doesn’t help figure out what’s true.

            More than that, we probably want to encourage both testing claims and agreeing with people “on the other side”. If every time somebody says “you know, I think you guys are right about X” we call that out as an example of one of the few “intelligent and honest” people on that side “admitting” something, that would seem to encourage others (who we’ve just implied are less intelligent and honest than those who agree with us) to remain intransigent.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Ross McKitrick (of McIntyre/Mckitrick fame) has been advocating some form of carbon tax for 20 years. But most climate activists who have come around to something resembling his approach (as opposed to the more command-and-control notion of outlawing some technologies, mandating or subsidizing others and issuing tradable permits for whatever we can’t yet ban) still don’t seem to grok that a carbon tax has to be a replacement for other taxes and other policies.

            “Has to be” is a political opinion, not an physical or even an economic one. Economically, it would certainly be a good idea for us to repeal other, more inefficient regulations concurrently with a carbon tax. And it would sweeten the political pot to offset the revenue with tax cuts elsewhere. I myself would prefer these approaches. But to pretend they’re mandatory? Sweden implemented an additive carbon tax and has cut its emissions while experiencing plenty of growth. Carbon taxes, like any policy, have perfect and less-perfect versions.

            But I think you’re giving skeptics too much credit here because a lot of their carbon tax advocacy is cynical, and I think you’d have to be blind not to spot the obvious enthusiasm gap between people like Hansen and people who come to a carbon tax from the skeptic side.

            Let me explain what I mean by “cynical.” Hansen really wants a carbon tax. He doesn’t shut up about it. He lobbies politicians. He writes op-eds. He publishes papers. You can find many many many videos of him singing praises for it to anyone who will listen. He will gladly criticize putative ideological allies who have irrational fears of things like nuclear power and has expressed a desire to work with conservatives.

            Who are the skeptics trying to get something done? Is the GWPF lobbying for a carbon tax? Did this McKitrick paper get bullhorned in a dozen British tabloids and WUWT? Has McKitrick himself ever even spoken about it or given a presentation on it to a skeptic audience, or to politicians?

            Let’s return momentarily to Tol. Does he go out of his way to correct Ridley? This is the only on-record instance I can find of him gainsaying his ideological ally; and he spends most of his time on Twitter defending his awful op-eds while beating down weak men and engaging in fairy-on-pin debates about whether the “consensus” is “97%” or “the high nineties” rather than talking actual policy.

            As far as I can tell the lukewarmers “advocate” a carbon tax in the same sense that Exxon and other oil majors do. If you go looking on certain websites, you’ll find some anodyne statement about how they believe a carbon price is the best policy. But they won’t call attention to it, they won’t lift a finger to implement it, and they’re happy to let their audiences (who for the most part believe rabidly that C(A(GW)) is utterly fraudulent) ignore it. In their world, it exists exclusively as a hypothetical alternative with which to reject second-best solutions.

          • glenra says:

            That the carbon tax should be an instead of rather than an in addition to factor is a purely economic opinion, not a political one. I’m claiming that without clearing away the underbrush we can’t reliably say that, say, Hansen’s version of a carbon tax would substantially improve economic efficiency.

            If the reasons for that aren’t clear, I’ll have to either make a more detailed argument or find some links to others doing so later – I’m in a rush at the moment.

            Did this McKitrick paper get bullhorned in a dozen British tabloids and WUWT? Has McKitrick himself ever even spoken about it or given a presentation on it to a skeptic audience, or to politicians?

            GWPF has certainly tried to interest the press but they can’t control what British tabloids find newsworthy. I don’t really follow WUWT so I don’t know their take, but McKitrick-style tax ideas make regular appearances on places like climateaudit and climate-skeptic (eg, here). One refinement of the idea was branded a “T3 Tax” – the T is for Tropical Troposphere Temperature.

            Regarding McKitrick speaking about it to politicians, let me quote the GWPF press release:

            Note for Editors: Professor McKitrick will present his new paper at a public event this afternoon (5pm) in the House of Lords, Committee Room 4a.

            So, yes. 🙂

      • Sorry for not responding to this earlier–I’ve been traveling and wanted to wait until I had a little more time to look at what I had posted in the past.

        My blog post was discussing Tol’s JEP article as evidence against the idea that there was a scientific consensus on the catastrophic effect of global warming. Figure 1, which I showed, was the result of Tol’s meta-analysis of work that had been done at the time that article was published. Tol had corrected it because he discovered some mistakes in his calculations so I showed the figure with the original and corrected graphs.

        Figure 2 shows the same calculations done later with additional data, most of which was not available when the original article was published. As you say, it shows a somewhat more negative effect–the upper end of the range goes negative just below two degrees. I probably should have mentioned that, but either one was consistent with my conclusion:

        “Which I think is an adequate response to people who tell me that to deny catastrophic effects of warming is to ignore the scientific consensus.”

        What I usually cite in more recent arguments is Figure 10-1 from the current IPCC report, which I believe corresponds to the point estimates on Figure 2 of the updated Tol article. For warming of up to 3°C, it shows an effect equivalent to a reduction in world income of zero to three percent (with one positive estimate below one degree). There is one estimate of about 12% for warming slightly above 3° and one at about 6% for warming of about 5.5°. Compare that to the popular claim that anything above two degrees (in some versions three) is catastrophe and must be stopped.

        To put that in scale, the most pessimistic point on the figure is about 12% at about 3.2°. If we interpret that as the result of a century of warming–roughly three times the warming of the past century–it corresponds to a reduction in the rate of growth of world GNP of about a hundredth of a percentage point.

  25. Pik says:

    I recently came across a video that I think is very interesting. I don’t know if anyone here has heard of Jordan Peterson but this is him talking on a variety of subjects, especially religion from a Darwinian perspective. His discussion of gods reminds me of Meditations on Moloch in an extended sense. Would anybody be interested in discussing this? It is a long video and is splayed out on a lot of different subjects so it might be hard to focus.

    Link

  26. Sophie Grouchy says:

    I would buy multiple copies of a book of the best posts of SSC and Jackdaws Ate…

    I would help work to make this happen.

    Has there been any discussion on this? Is there a reason Scott would be uninterested if other people did the work? (Maybe it would be more likely to have fallback on his irl identity)

  27. Tibor says:

    Does it make sense to write stories in a different language than your mother tongue?

    I used to write a bit as a kid, won some writing competition when I was 14 or so and I rather enjoy doing it. I am probably no Hemingway but I think I do have some basic talent and with some practice it could get relatively good. So I’ve been thinking about picking it up again, this time with a little more focus.

    One thing I am not sure about is what language to use. There are only two sensible options for me – Czech or English. Czech has an obvious advantage in that it is my native language and I’ve read most fiction books in Czech (I think that does not hold for non-fiction books any more). The downside is that there are not all that many people who understand Czech.

    Now, I have no grandiose aspirations to world fame – to the contrary, my ambition is just to eventually write relatively decent stuff and publish it online. And since the English speaking readership outnumbers the Czech speaking one by a factor of 100, it means that I’d get more people to read what I write and they could then give me useful feedback to help me improve. On the other hand, talking to people or writing a maths dissertation in English is one thing, writing short stories or even novels is another.

    Does anyone here have experience with writing in a language that is not native to him but which he speaks fairly well? Is the result a lot worse than when you write in you mother tongue? Are there any other advantages or disadvantages of writing in one language or the other than I’m missing?

    I think one can probably say a lot about the character of each language. English feels different from Czech and both have a different feeling than German or Spanish. Even bilingual (in the strict sense of learning two languages from early childhood and being equally fluent in both) people would write a little differently in each language. But that does not bother me particularly since I think that one has to be a really skilled writer to really put the differences in how the languages feel to a good use.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Well, Joseph Conrad wrote in his third language- he was a native Polish speaker, and had also learned French before learning English.

      • Tibor says:

        I know that Milan Kundera has been writing in French for some time, although it is also possible he is more fluent in French by now than he is in Czech.

        • AlphaGamma says:

          Conrad may well have been more fluent in English than he was in Polish by the time he started writing- or at least more fluent in the colloquial English spoken by sailors than in its Polish equivalent, having lived outside Poland for a long time, much of which he spent as a seaman and officer on British merchant ships.

          Note that he translated other writers’ work from Polish to English but not the other way- though his Polish was good enough to complain about the poor quality of the Polish translations of his work that appeared in his lifetime.

          [On the tangent of English translations of writers of Polish origin: Adrian Czajkowski was born in England, writes in English and as far as I know speaks little or no Polish. He spells his name Tchaikovsky on the covers of his books to make it easier for English-speaking readers to remember. While he wanted to use Czajkowski on the Polish translations, they ended up being published under Tchaikovsky.]

          • Tibor says:

            But that’s the point. My English fluency is still not on the level of my Czech fluency,* hence I wonder whether it is not completely stupid to write in English.

            *Actually, it is complicated. I have forgotten most non-basic (let’s say new than 1930s) terms in maths in Czech and nowadays there are often no equivalents for the English terms in other languages, since English dominates the academia, or at least the maths and sciences. In fact, it is easier for me to talk about maths in English than it is in Czech. There might be a few other areas where my fluency is better in English than in Czech or where they are about the same. But literary language is almost definitely not one of them. I also still make minor errors in English from time to time, although I think can notice almost all of them if I re-read what I write.

    • youzicha says:

      In addition to Joseph Conrad, some other famous examples are Vladimir Nabokov and Samuel Beckett. Interestingly, Beckett claimed that writing in French was an advantage because it was less fluid and resonant to him, whereas in English “you couldn’t help writing poetry in it”.

      more and more my own language appears to me like a veil that must be torn apart in order to get at the things (or the Nothingness) behind it. Grammar and Style. To me they seem to have become as irrelevant as a Victorian bathing suit or the imperturbability of a true gentleman. A mask. Let us hope the time will come, thank God that in certain circles it has already come, when language is most efficiently used where it is being most efficiently misused.

      • Tibor says:

        I guess I might give it a try and then decide based on the result. For example I could write a short story in English, translate it to Czech and if it turns out the English version is about equally good then it probably makes sense.

        Beckett’s point is quite interesting. If you want to learn to write simply and to the point (which usually works better) then it might be a good idea to start writing in a language in which you don’t know as many fancy literary words.

    • It worked for Ayn Rand.

    • AoxyMouseOnArgo says:

      It probably depends on how smart you are, how fluently you can interact with (trusted) people of the other tongue you are in, and how well read you are in that other language.

      Basic question, basic answer.

    • Creutzer says:

      Another well-known example is Emil Cioran. But note that all these writers lived in countries where the target language was the language of everyday life, for most of their lives. (Oscar Wilde wrote a little bit in French, but didn’t live in France, and his French works are considered stylistically vastly inferior to his English ones.)

      If you’re aiming at artistic value, of which style is an important part, I’d basically say forget it (it being English), given that you live in Germany and have read most of your fiction in Czech. If you want to write something less artistically serious, or in a genre were style is considered to be of subordinate importance (is that true in SF?), then the larger readership you get from English is probably the bigger factor.

      For example I could write a short story in English, translate it to Czech and if it turns out the English version is about equally good then it probably makes sense.

      Keep in mind, though, that a translated Czech version is most likely going to be inferior to what the story would have been like, had you written the original in Czech.

      • Tibor says:

        Good point (with the translation).

        I am not sure if living in a country helps as much. Everyday conversation tends to be very simple and repetitive. Reading a lot of novels in English would probably be necessary though.

    • rsaarelm says:

      Hannu Rajaniemi is a native Finnish speaker and writes in English, seems to have worked out for him.

    • Tibor — you seem to write pretty good English to me. Perhaps full stories in English would inevitably include a few clunky spots because it isn’t your first language, but you just need a good editor for that. I would think the much vaster audience in English would be a slam dunk, unless you wanted to be read more in your home country.

      • Tibor says:

        Actually, I’m mostly thinking about my “first readers”. Almost all of my Czech friends speak English, none of my foreign friends do (although for most of them English is a second language). All of those people can provide a lot of valuable comments to help me improve and if I write in Czech some of them won’t understand what I write.

        Since I generally find extremely poetic language in prose annoying, not knowing fancy literary words is probably such a big deal. On the other hand, you ideally want each character to be recognizable by the way she speaks. It helps to know a lot of idioms and colloquialisms to do that.

        One example is the Good soldier Švejk. Švejk uses a lot of very specific words, a lot of which are not used in Czech anymore, most of which have an origin in the Austrian military of the early 20th century – words like officer’s batman in the thread above. Actually, it is worse than that since the proper words were in German and are not that uncommon but the Czech soldiers would use a “czechized” versions of those words in their banter (marškumpanie, feldkurát, óbrlajtnant,…all of those are basically German words with a Czech spelling). Even a modern Czech reader has to look some of the words up.

        I guess Švejk is a very specific example and if I wanted to write something like that, I’d probably have to do some vocabulary research even if I decided to write in Czech. But I think it would still be easier for me to differentiate characters by the way they speak in Czech than in English. Well, I guess the best way to find out is really to try to write something (short) and see if it works.

        • I have a notion that authors who are good at differentiating characters by the way they talk start by listening attentively to the way people talk. They don’t just listen for meaning (translate what they hear into their own words, which I suspect is what I do), they hear the actual words– the rhythm and the vocabulary choices and probably other things I’m not thinking of.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Nancy
            They don’t just listen for meaning (translate what they hear into their own words, which I suspect is what I do), they hear the actual words– the rhythm and the vocabulary choices and probably other things I’m not thinking of.

            This doesn’t require actual people’s talk to listen to, which is full of ‘er’s and ‘um’s and starting over and talking over each other, etc. Trained speakers or film characters speak more clearly — perhaps unrealistically so. I’d suggest reading aloud some current fiction that has the same target audience you want, to get the swing of how it’s done with nothing but words on paper.

          • Tibor says:

            @Nancy, houseboat:

            Good points, thanks. I think that Nancy was mostly talking about the different styles of speech. Those are distinct even if everyone adds the “ums”. I remember one professor from my bachelor who would almost always finish his statements with “pretty please”. He would say it a few dozen times each lecture. Of course, this was so overt (and rather strange) that it was really easy to spot it. But by being more attentive to how people speak, you can probably dig up a lot more.

            One thing I just remembered about my English – I have a very vague idea about where to write commas, English seems to have a lot less clear rules in this respect than Czech or German (where the rules are pretty much the same). But I guess it this is not a huge obstacle as it should be quite easy to learn the rules (I haven’t bothered to do that so far…actually I am not 100% sure about all punctuation rules in Czech either)

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Tibor
            I have a very vague idea about where to write commas, English seems to have a lot less clear rules

            I don’t remember the terms well, but there are two basic approaches to punctuation in English.

            One is sound and breath. Our ‘period’, aka ‘full stop’, was a pause long enough to take a full breath. The other marks were mostly pauses of one length or another. Commas were sometimes also used for switch in melodic pitch; used by a Sri Lankan language, some British dialects, and US announcers on classical music FM stations in Mid-Twentieth century). Rand did this a lot (so reading aloud a passage from Atlas in my US Southern drawl was … not successful).

            The other approach is textbook rules of grammar, based on the meaning of the words, or their structural placement, in each particular sentence.

            Hopefully both approaches will agree on whether, and where, to put the commas in what you’re writing. The textbook grammar rules are disputed, contradictory, and full of epicycles. For some people, sound/rhythm is pretty clear, once you start listening for it in other people’s speech.

            For practice in an election year, you might choose a politician whose speech and wriing stye you’d like to learn. Find a transcript of one of zis speeches, in a publication that will do a high qualiry transcription. Play the sound while reading along in the transcript, and notice how the punctuation marks correlate with the pauses and/or pitch changes.

            Fwiw, my advice is to omit most commas that don’t have a clear reason. An unnecessary comma slows reading, distracts, and can look gratingly illiterate. (I use too many.) Lack of a comma just looks like a typo.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Though beware: lack of commas (or other punctuation) can result in a long sentence speeding past the reader before they can figure out what it says.

  28. TMB says:

    Watched the debate last night – I felt that Trump didn’t really get his points across, and that Clinton’s ‘laugh it off’ strategy seemed pretty effective. I mean, I kind of vaguely know about the scandals surrounding Clinton, and as such felt her strategy of shifting the blame onto Trump and Putin were slightly mad (“It doesn’t matter if I did these things, what matters is how I got found out”)but I’m pretty sure that if I were just a little less informed, or more plugged into the “Trump as devil” meme, I would have thought that Trump was just a complete conspiracy theory nut.

    Even beyond that, Trump didn’t come across well to me, someone who tentatively supports many of his policies, especially when he was speaking at length about those policies.

    Anyway, it got me thinking – George W Bush became President. And when I watched him speak it always provoked an intense feeling of rage within me. (I think it was the pace at which he spoke, seemingly designed for maximum irritation.)
    So, perhaps my sense of what is a good speech or argument is out of tune with many people? Is Trump’s speaking style aimed at the George W Bush contingent? Did some people think it was good?

    • Zombielicious says:

      Speaking of irritation at someone’s speaking style, that’s the same feeling I got listening to Pence during the VP debate. There was something about that guy’s tone and style that came off as unusually sleezy and inauthentic, even more so than usual for “politician I don’t like.” Optimized for maximum irritation would be a good descriptor for it.

      • Corey says:

        I had that reaction to John Edwards, both locally as a Senator and as a Presidential & VP candidate, back in the day, despite largely agreeing with him on policy grounds.

      • LPSP says:

        Now I’m trying to think who it was I listened to recently on youtube that struck me as having an ill-optimised speech pattern. They rush and murmur through what needs emphasis and elaboration, and loudly, clearly punctuate irrelevancies. I’ve had this where I’ve agreed with everything on paper prior, and still felt they fudged it.

  29. Alex S says:

    Nuclear weapons came up at the debate. Maybe it’s just motivated reasoning but the more I think about it, the more I think Trump is actually the safer candidate on foreign policy. Yes, he is proposing a radical departure from the status quo but the status quo seems irrational. We’re agreeing to launch nuclear weapons to defend countries and maybe get blown up ourselves. Why? What is worth that risk? Trump has also identified the most dangerous threat to the United States, which is Russia. A more Russia-friendly policy sounds smart. Liberal commentators say ambiguity about the Baltic states is bad, but there’s ambiguity about the ambiguity. A more charitable interpretation is Trump would just kick the Baltic states out of NATO. I don’t understand what’s coming out of some of these Democratic-leaning think tanks, either. Supposedly, it’s more dangerous if, say, Japan gets nuclear weapons. I don’t see why. The UK has nuclear weapons. That doesn’t mean the UK is going to attack America. Japan using nukes on another country would be awful, but the US agreeing to potentially launch them to defend Japan is also risky. It’s not clear why one is worse than the other. Nuclear proliferation is bad in general but that’s because it’s a proxy for the real problem, the risk of using the nuclear weapons.

    • jsmith says:

      I agree with you.

      I actually agree with Trump pretty strongly on lots of issues but he has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth and making reasonable stuff sound unreasonable. (This debate was a big example of that.) The media doesn’t help either.

      An example: Everyone is kvetching about his “we’ll see” answer about accepting the election results. If he reframed his answer in terms of the 2000 election, I think a lot less people (media excluded) would be angry.

      If I was running I would’ve framed my response along the lines of: “The integrity of the electoral process is very important, and when people lose faith in their electoral process, it should be taken very seriously. In 2000, we saw an election won by a very narrow margin, and the Gore campaign rightly raised the issue of the legitimacy of the election. With that in mind, we should take issues of voter fraud very seriously.”

      But of course, he answered in a way that could be interpreted as anything from revolution to ignoring his voters.

    • Sandy says:

      I don’t think it’s “dangerous” if Japan gets nuclear weapons because I think Japanese leadership is fairly stable, unlike say Pakistan. However it’s likely unhelpful and would aggravate tensions with China and South Korea for no good reason. Perhaps a nuke-sharing agreement like the US has with the EU and Turkey would be somewhat better (but probably not).

      • Wrong Species says:

        And what about Saudi Arabia getting nukes? Most people would be terrified. Trump says “absolutely”.

        • Alex S says:

          And Kerry says maybe we’ll give them a nuclear umbrella.

          • Wrong Species says:

            From what I can tell, nuclear umbrella just means a nuclear country using it’s military to protect a non-nuclear state. Provocative to some degree but certainly not outside the status quo and not alarming enough compared to Saudi Arabia actually having nukes. This whole thing where Trump supporters tell me about how much more peaceful Trump is going to be than Clinton is probably the most bizarre aspect of this race.

          • youzicha says:

            The point of the nuclear umbrella is to encourage states to not develop nuclear weapons. Extending it to Saudi Arabia is an anti-proliferation move.

        • Deiseach says:

          How would you stop Saudi Arabia getting nuclear weapons of its own? What pressure could you exert on them? If they said they felt their security depended on it, what could the USA realistically do about it – and what about “we’ll send our troops/drones in if you choose to do this”, is that a possible threat?

          I absolutely do not want Saudi Arabia to get nukes, I absolutely think IF Trump is thinking of helping them or not standing in their way it’s a dreadful idea*, but how are you going to stop them, given that American policy to date has been to try every avenue to keep them as an ally? Perhaps what Trump meant was “If they go ahead and get their own nukes, at least if we help them, we’ll have some input and some control over it rather than letting them do it on their own”.

          *I’m not at all sure what exactly he meant by the answer to those questions in that interview; it sounded more like he was saying “Yeah, if they get nukes, why not?” rather than “I’m going to give them nukes when I’m president”.

          • Anonymous says:

            Saudi Arabia isn’t Japan, Germany, or South Korea. Those countries just need to decide they want to build one and having done so it would be near trivial given their scientific, technological, and scientific capacities.

            The Saudis are in a position more like Iran where they’d have to import a great deal of the know-how and fiddly parts. That importation process is something that can be slowed down by external powers if probably not stopped altogether.

          • Deiseach says:

            That importation process is something that can be slowed down by external powers if probably not stopped altogether.

            But Saudi Arabia is a Western ally, not a presumed hostile state like Iran. How are you going to meddle in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation that is an ally, by stopping them importing know-how and parts?

            That’s where the nitty-gritty of the matter lies, and where things start to unravel: either it’s made explicit that the West sucks up to the Saudis because of oil, influence in the region, and not wanting to piss them off and drive them to something more extreme than merely tolerating and promoting Wahhabism, or the gloves come off and Saudi Arabia is now an enemy or presumed hostile state and sanctions are imposed – have fun with that, the London property market won’t be very happy!

          • John Schilling says:

            But Saudi Arabia is a Western ally, not a presumed hostile state like Iran. How are you going to meddle in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation that is an ally,

            By ending the alliance, among other things. My own expertise is in East Asian nonproliferation rather than Middle Eastern, but it seems to be universally understood that the US alliance with South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan is contingent on their not attempting to build nuclear weapons of their own and vanishes immediately if they do. I cannot imagine that, particularly in this post-frakking world, our alliance with the House of Saud is stronger than that with Japan.

            Most nations seem to believe that a strong alliance with the United States is a better defense than whatever sort of nuclear arsenal they can cobble together in isolation.

          • bean says:

            Most nations seem to believe that a strong alliance with the United States is a better defense than whatever sort of nuclear arsenal they can cobble together in isolation.

            This is actually really important. There’s a lot more to a nuclear deterrent than just the devices themselves, and to some extent, they are the easy part. The hard part is maintaining security and control when you have them dispersed and ready to respond. Outsourcing that to the US is really sensible, if you can trust the US to respond. Our current administration has damaged that trust badly.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ John Schilling

            Most nations seem to believe that a strong alliance with the United States is a better defense than whatever sort of nuclear arsenal they can cobble together in isolation.

            Israel certainly doesn’t.

            South Korea and Taiwan both have a particular situation where they may be subject to an overwhelming conventional attack and the US (conventional) firepower is a better bet than a suicidal nuking.

            Japan has a certain history with nuclear weapons.

            UK and France have nuclear arsenals, Germany doesn’t for obvious reasons, and there doesn’t seem to be any point for other Western European countries to have them.

            As to the strong alliance with the US, well, Philippines just told the US that it doesn’t need it any more : -/

          • sweeneyrod says:

            “Our current administration has damaged that trust badly.”
            How so?

          • bean says:

            @sweeneyrod

            How so?

            Their constant bungling in Syria springs to mind. The fact that they let the Russians move in and run the show despite talking a lot, and specifically the ‘red lines’ on chemical weapon use that didn’t actually get enforced.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @bean
            OK, I agree, I thought you were talking specifically about nukes.

          • John Schilling says:

            Israel certainly doesn’t.

            Israel got a unique deal where they can have an alliance with the United States and a nuclear arsenal, so long as they never openly test a nuclear weapon.

            Britain and France owe their thermonuclear arsenals, at least, to deliberate US assistance as a way of establishing a sort of political triad – even if e.g. the Russians can neutralize the US government by putting a Russian mole in the White House, there are three independent western leaders who can turn any Russian bid for world conquest into a game of Global Thermonuclear War.

            Pretty much everybody else signed the nonproliferation treaty, which rules out that sort of favoritism unless the US is willing to see the entire nonproliferation regime collapse.

          • bean says:

            Britain and France owe their thermonuclear arsenals, at least, to deliberate US assistance as a way of establishing a sort of political triad – even if e.g. the Russians can neutralize the US government by putting a Russian mole in the White House, there are three independent western leaders who can turn any Russian bid for world conquest into a game of Global Thermonuclear War.

            Even then, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for them. During McNamara’s tenure at the DoD, he tried to put together the MLF as a political weapon against those forces, because he was concerned that they might fly off the handle and start a nuclear war by themselves. (That makes little sense, I know. Welcome to McNamara’s DoD.)

        • The Nybbler says:

          We’ve been through this. Trump did not say Saudi Arabia should have nuclear weapons. He was asked two questions (one about Saudi Arabia and one about nuclear weapons) in a kind of an interview shorthand, and answered the one about Saudi Arabia with “absolutely”:

          http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2016/03/29/full-rush-transcript-donald-trump-cnn-milwaukee-republican-presidential-town-hall/

          TRUMP: At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself, we have…

          COOPER: Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?

          TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

          COOPER: You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?

          TRUMP: No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us.

          • Wrong Species says:

            Yes, I’m aware that in the previous conversation there was the strange interpretation that the moderator was asking two questions on whether Saudi Arabia should be allowed to protect itself and whether it should have nukes. But since no one is saying Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be able to use conventional military means to protect itself it’s obvious the question was about nukes in particular. The fact that Trump contradicts himself two sentences later isn’t any less terrifying. If you watch the interview it’s obvious Cooper wasn’t asking a new question but restating the previous question. Combine that with his statement about the inevitability of Saudi nukes and it takes a significant contortion of logic to suggest any other interpretation.

          • Aapje says:

            This seems more like miscommunication than Trump contradicting himself. “Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?” is not even a proper sentence.

        • bean says:

          There are persistent rumors among those who follow such things that the Saudis bankrolled Pakistan’s nukes, and that if the Saudis want them, they just have to call. It saves them the bother of having their own nuclear program, and keeps the political heat off. And that would make a lot of sense of their ballistic missile program, too. The recent announcement that they’re going for their own nukes is probably a reaction to the global breakdown of the NPT.

          • Deiseach says:

            Hm – I was thinking “You can’t really stop the Saudis from getting their hands on the tech, after all, they can always call up Pakistan as a fellow Muslim nation for aid”. I hadn’t heard rumours of paying for Pakistan’s programme and that seems a little conspiracy theory to me, but then again, everything we’re hearing sounds like conspiracy theory.

      • Alex S says:

        I don’t understand why where the nuclear weapons are matters. Right now, Japan is under the US umbrella, so if Japan gets attacked there is a prospect of the US launching nukes. Does this also aggravate tensions?

        • Montfort says:

          The difference is who is deciding whether to launch the nukes. There is a world of difference between how Korea and China see Japan and how they see America, as evidenced by the continuous tensions over WWII memory.

          Similarly, imagine the US announcing it would retaliate on Croatia’s behalf if nuclear weapons were used against it, versus giving Croatia a few nukes to hang on to. Which scenario worries Serbia more?

          (Another difference can be how secure the country is perceived to be – e.g. the worries about theft of nuclear materials in ex-Soviet countries. This applies less to Japan, probably).

        • sweeneyrod says:

          Additionally, on a scale from no provocation to Chinese boots on the ground in Tokyo, Japan launch a nuclear attack before the US do. And given the potentially very high numbers of deaths from nuclear war, even a very small increase in its probability is worth worrying about.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I mean, who cares if Cuba has nukes.

        • John Schilling says:

          I don’t understand why where the nuclear weapons are matters. Right now, Japan is under the US umbrella, so if Japan gets attacked there is a prospect of the US launching nukes. Does this also aggravate tensions?

          Right now, the expectation is that if Japan gets attacked with nuclear weapons, there is the prospect of the US launching nukes.

          If Japan has nuclear weapons, the expectation is that if Japan gets attacked with nuclear weapons, or if Japan gets attacked with conventional weapons, or if Japan decides to recreated the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, there is the prospect of Japan launching nukes. And no matter how silly you might think the prospect of a renewed Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity sphere might be, there are plenty of people in East Asia who take it seriously – some of whom already have nuclear weapons, others who will acquire them in response to such a threat.

          This greatly increases the number of potential misunderstandings that could lead someone with a nuclear arsenal to believe “Well, OK, nuclear war is now inevitable, and our last, best hope is to get there first”. So, yes, greatly aggravated tensions.

          • Alex S says:

            I admit you folks are right.

            That being said, I no longer feel like alliances are the main issue. I don’t get the feeling alliances are the big determinants of whether a nuclear war happens. The main reasons many countries haven’t gotten nuclear weapons are that they’re expensive and we haven’t had much war so they haven’t felt threatened enough to spend the money.

            Steven Pinker says war has declined, not because of nuclear deterrence but because of democracy, trade and international organizations. It’s clear Trump is more against those than Clinton, so I concede Trump’s policies would more likely lead to wars.

          • On the other hand …

            Whatever the U.S. might promise, if the Russians were seriously considering an invasion of Germany they might reasonably doubt whether the U.S. would risk nuclear destruction by intervening. They would have less doubt as to whether the Germans, if German was a nuclear power, would.

            Also, it’s worth noting that there is, has been for quite a long time, a pair of nuclear armed countries that are enemies of each other outside the U.S./Russian conflict. Neither India nor Pakistan has used nuclear weapons nor, so far as one can tell, threatened to use them.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            I would think that it’s much harder for Germany to have a credible MAD deterrent to a Russian first strike than the US.

            From that standpoint it’s best to have the bulk of the nukes very spread out and far way from each other.

          • bean says:

            Steven Pinker says war has declined, not because of nuclear deterrence but because of democracy, trade and international organizations.

            This was a very common sentiment 103 years ago, too. We all know how that worked out.

          • Alex S says:

            @bean There were many alliances before WWI also. Obviously it didn’t prevent, and probably it provoked, the war. We haven’t had many wars lately. What’s your theory for why?

          • Anonymous says:

            What’s your theory for why?

            Considering the Pinker quote he responded to, presumably his theory is that it’s because of nuclear deterrence.

          • bean says:

            @AlexS
            There were many alliances before WWI also. Obviously it didn’t prevent, and probably it provoked, the war. We haven’t had many wars lately. What’s your theory for why?
            Anonymous nailed it. Nuclear weapons raised the cost of war too high for anyone to be willing to pay it. Alliances just meant that a lot of people didn’t have to pay for their own weapons programs. (In the grand scheme of things, this is probably a good thing. The US is really, really good at building and deploying nuclear weapons. Others aren’t, which means they’re more likely to use them.)

          • dragnubbit says:

            It is not just the nuclear deterrent that distinguishes the modern pax from the conditions prior to WWI. Political boundaries are now treated as sacrosanct by the international community, even if it is some backwater African nation. Freezing the borders, and de-legitimizing any conquest of land (including colonization) have eliminated much of the appeal of war. Something like France seizing the Ruhr for debt reparations would be unthinkable today, even though it was condoned between the World Wars.

            That is why Russia annexing territory, and Israel forcefully annexing the West Bank, are so unconscionable. If those types of actions are normalized again it undermines peace for everyone. Toppling a country’s leaders and installing a puppet government would be better for international order than brazenly stealing 10% of their territory. The former can be repaired once a legitimate government comes to power. The latter will create feuds that could last for several generations if not centuries.

          • Alex S says:

            @bean Maybe Pinker is wrong and nuclear weapons have deterred war but Trump’s foreign policy is more hawkish than Clinton’s, except for Russia policy and maybe alliances. The effect of alliances now seems less important to me. By itself, Russia policy does not seem enough to tip the balance. Trump is the more warlike candidate.

          • “This was a very common sentiment 103 years ago, too.”

            Indeed, Kipling wrote an excellent poem on that theme.

    • Wrong Species says:

      The status quo has kept us alive for over 50 years. Everyone knows the rules. It would be foolish and arrogant to disrupt that equilibrium without expecting negative consequences.

      • Levantine says:

        The status quo: it _would_ be foolish to disrupt that equilibrium?

        India, Pakistan and Israel posses nuclear weapons.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_states_with_nuclear_weapons

        Israel has 200 nuclear weapons “all targeted on Tehran,” so Iran would not dare use a bomb even if it could make one, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a 2015 email, which has surfaced as part of a hacking scandal.

        https://www.rt.com/usa/359609-israel-nukes-powell-state/

        I’m sceptical about N. Korea having real atomic weapons, because my friend a nuclear physicist is very sceptical of it.

        • Sfoil says:

          Why is your friend skeptical? Nuclear explosives are a 70+ year old technology, and the DPRK has been operating nuclear reactors since the 1960s, so they’re not exactly coming at a nuclear weapons program from complete scratch.

        • bean says:

          I’m sceptical about N. Korea having real atomic weapons, because my friend a nuclear physicist is very sceptical of it.

          What grounds does he have for skepticism? I will agree that the Norks have exaggerated their progress (they had a couple of fizzles that they claimed full yield on), but it’s hard to sustain the claim that they don’t have a bomb.

        • John Schilling says:

          I’m sceptical about N. Korea having real atomic weapons, because my friend a nuclear physicist is very sceptical of it.

          Nuclear weapons are at this point an engineering problem; the physics is well understood and within reach of anyone who has either a breeder reactor or an enrichment cascade (the DPRK has both). And, since it seems to be very important to the North Korean government that the rest of the world understand that they have nuclear weapons, what would it take for them to convince you?

          They’ve done multiple underground tests whose seismic signatures indicate roughly Hiroshima-sized nuclear explosions. And they’ve openly tested rockets and missiles that could carry nuclear warheads anywhere from a few hundred to ten thousand kilometers. What more do they need to prove? Your position strikes me as roughly equivalent to saying, “I double-dog dare you to put a nuclear weapon onto a rocket and launch it somewhere! Until you do that, everyone will be laughing at you!”

          This strikes me as a very bad idea, and I’d rather not encourage it.

      • DavidS says:

        I basically agree with this. In a complex system, sudden major shifts are essentially by nature risky. I think you have to make a very strong argument about why the status quo is an active threat to take that sort of risk. And the virtue of charity is very helpful but doesn’t mean ‘give massive power to someone on a v optimistic reading of his statements’ (even if you think deserting the Balkan states is sensible/moral, and that doing so won’t shatter NATO)

        • Winter Shaker says:

          even if you think deserting the Balkan states is sensible

          Do you mean the Baltic states? Or is Putin now sabre-rattling in the direction of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria etc as well?

          • Deiseach says:

            Or is Putin now sabre-rattling in the direction of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria etc as well?

            I know that’s not seriously meant but oh lord, we don’t need the resurgence of Pan-Slavic Nationalism! This is how we got into trouble with the First World War! 🙁

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Not entirely meant unseriously – it’s entirely possible that there have been rumblings from the Kremlin in that direction and I just haven’t been watching the news.

            Though it might also be a good idea not to give this guy command of an army 🙂

          • Romanianon says:

            Can confirm for my country. It’s been all over the news recently. The Russian ambassador has been apparently pointlessly (!) antagonizing us every few weeks, there are reports that Crimea* is getting loaded full of armament in excess of what they would need for defense (including maybe stuff that can transport nuclear warheads, I don’t remember exactly), and we’ve been watching the US election like hawks, no pun intended; it always comes up in debates regarding foreign affairs with Russia. They’ve been making a lot of noise regarding our recent defense initiatives such as the Deveselu air base (defensive purpose – anti-missile), or military exercises in the Black Sea. The most chilling news title I’ve seen recently was, “The Romanian Army is recruiting.”

            * After annexation, Crimea is the closest Russian territory to us now, a mere 443 km from Constanta (an important port city) and 636 km from Bucharest. I don’t doubt that this particular perk has come up in the decision to invade it.

            Romania absolutely depends on its NATO membership for survival and the ability to conduct its own affairs. Our own armed forces are puny, obsolete, and desperately short on manpower. The closest nation that can reasonably count as an ally is Poland; the immediately adjacent nations are emphatically not friends, the least of all Hungary, with its recent hard-right, anti-Western turn. Ukraine is in the mess that we all know it is in. Moldova is, as our foreign policy experts recently claimed, basically a failed state rife with internal divisions and harboring a significant Russian or pro-Russian demographic. Romanian nationalists are clamoring for the reunification of Greater Romania (unification with Moldova), but that’s a whole bag of trouble and conflict with the Kremlin that I don’t think we can afford right now. Unsure about Serbia and Bulgaria, but some suspect they’d be quicker to align with Russia if pressed. Turkey is two national borders removed from us, but since it’s an important NATO southern front that has recently succumbed to dictatorship and a closer relationship with Russia (and an increasingly shaky one with NATO and the West), it comes up in our foreign policy concerns too. If NATO cannot count on the support of Turkey, its geostrategic role within NATO falls partially on us. I hear there’s been talk of moving the nukes from Incirlik on Romanian territory if the situation in Turkey worsens.

            If Trump wins and succeeds in his stated intention of withdrawing NATO support from Eastern European nations that Putin is eyeing, we’re over. I live in Bucharest and am reading the NWSS. Come November 9, in the event of a Trump win, I’m torn between fleeing the country and joining the army, so at least I don’t get caught in with the conscripts, if the policy is to be reintroduced, because you can damn well bet that the question of that will be raised. We’re fucking scared. Please don’t fuck us over and elect that imbecile.

            I get that people here speak with disdain of foreigners “intruding on our domestic affairs” and, moreover, that there are people here who would gleefully turn us into cannon fodder because we’re far away and don’t matter and anyway it’s to be expected in international relations for there to be losers. There are even folks who can justify that on utilitarian grounds; there are only ~18 million of us at risk of dying in a war or capitulating to a dictatorship, while there are many more tens of millions of Americans who want to put up their middle finger at the establishment. I don’t know what I can say to you. You fancy yourselves a smart and rational bunch and yet want to elect a total troll and buffoon to the highest office, whose foreign policy is just completely out of left field in a matter of life and death for rather reliable allies.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Romanianon,

            Non-rhetorical question:

            What do you think would be a better option?

            Right now, the West is looking at a slow death by immigration and suppressed native fertility. Clinton is the frog-boiling candidate, much like Merkel in Germany. And we’re approaching the point where the white vote doesn’t add up to enough to reverse that short of a full-blown civil war.

            If you’re right, then electing Trump is a fast death. Stopping Trump makes sense if you think his policies are apocalyptically dangerous (even if just for one mostly-Western nation). It doesn’t fix the underlying problem but it buys time for someone else to do it.

            But what do you want to do with that bought time? You don’t like Hungary’s answer, since it’s too far-right. And the mainstream sources don’t have an answer, since they’re actively in favor of the problem.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            is Putin now sabre-rattling in the direction of Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria etc as well?

            Bulgaria was let into the EU for the literal reason that people feared it drifting towards Russia too much, so it’s not even so much ‘now’ as it is ‘all the time’.

            Right now, the West is looking at a slow death by immigration and suppressed native fertility.

            Nonsense.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Right now, the West is looking at a slow death by immigration and suppressed native fertility.

            [citation needed]

          • Romanianon says:

            DrDealgood: Are you fucking kidding me?

            I interpret this just as though someone put a gun to my head, saying, well, death comes for all of us eventually, now’s a good a time as any to die.

            What the hell do you mean, what to do with that bought time? How about living, breathing, existing? I don’t care a fig for the white race when the sacrificial victims for its SUPPOSED rescue from the SUPPOSED danger it is in, are me and mine and our way of life. So excuse me if by recoiling from certain death and/or defeat I fail to do my part in securing the existence of [y]our people and a future for white children, although as far as I’m concerned I’m doing exactly that. By the way, not that it should matter, but apparently to you it does, so let me mention that Romania is an overwhelmingly white country (do you know how many black people are there in here? Hundreds of them! Hundreds! and upstanding citizens too) and no US election is able to change that. But look at all the good it does us, to be so white. Behold the grandeur of the master race, in the squalid villages and Molochian Soviet urban landscapes, in the national IQ average of 91 that the HBDer Lynn ascribed to us (you can do the statistical gymnastics yourself, to blame it all on the gypsy minority, go ahead).

            As such, in one of the possible Trumpian alternatives, we’d have an invasion war which may or may not involve a nuke over my city, I don’t know, we can’t retaliate, and then whoever will be left is going to be a very white populace in a satellite state ruled by a very white Kremlin, and the women will all be at home barefoot and pregnant with their 13th child by their 31st birthday like in Niger but of course with racially better progeny (if the fallout doesn’t get to them too much) (gotta keep those white birth rates up), and the journalists that badmouth the illiberal government get poisoned with radioactive material. Why on earth would I prefer that? Just how many people do you think my collectivist sensibilities span?

            You know, if you just said, “fuck you, it’s our election, you don’t matter, the US is the superpower and it rules as it pleases”, I could have understood that. But to tell me I shouldn’t be weighing my survival heavily in this because White Race is, frankly, bizarre and abhorrent.

            tl;dr your white nationalist pipe dream isn’t worth our lives, our nation, and our West-oriented liberalism

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Dr Dealgood

            Have you considered that trying to prevent immigration and increase native fertility might be a sucker’s game, and perhaps we should go back to our historical strength of _converting_ the immigrants to western ways?

            @Romanianon

            Seems to me that war between the US and Russia is a lot more likely (though extremely unlikely still) in a Hillary Clinton administration than a Donald Trump administration)

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The racial essentialist love affair with Russia has always mystified me. Western nations are labeled “culturally suicidal” for admitting immigrants based on a highly suspect chain of cause-and-effect that depends on extrapolating current demographic trends across multiple centuries and also assuming no assimilation takes place within that time.

            But Russia is committing cultural suicide right now. They have one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates outside of sub-Saharan Africa, suffer from rampant alcoholism, drug abuse, and violent crime, and their state is a paranoid, Chekist kleptocracy with a dwindling economy and no freedom of expression. And even if you want to ooga-booga about Muslims, they already have the same Muslim population (~10%) that Europe is projected to have by 2050.

            Seems to me that war between the US and Russia is a lot more likely (though extremely unlikely still) in a Hillary Clinton administration than a Donald Trump administration)

            Even assuming that’s true, it’s cold comfort for Romanianon if Russian tanks roll in and install another Ceaușescu because they are confident Trump won’t intervene.

          • bean says:

            The racial essentialist love affair with Russia has always mystified me.

            This applies to everything about Russia. After reading a book on the Russian Revolution, my comment was that God created Russia to keep political scientists humble. This can be generalized to other domains. Russia is a terrible place that should be a third-rate power and ignored by everyone, and yet it somehow continues to be a big deal. It makes a lot more sense if you just assume that Russia is for some reason contrarian-land.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Romanianon,

            While I think that Dealgood’s doom-saying is premature I honestly can’t tell if whether you are parodying fascist rhetoric or genuinely invoking it.

            @ everyone else

            I’m in general agreement with Nybbler, unfortunately I think that modern identity politics makes this effectively impossible so sooner or later something will have to give.

            Thinking of Russia as weird contrarian-land does indeed simplify things.

          • Romanianon says:

            TheNybbler: Yeah, but the thing is that the US actually has a chance of winning that one. One report said that there are more Russian tanks concentrated in the Donbass (I think) in Ukraine than all of Western Europe owns together, it utterly blows us out of the water. I’m kind of getting alt-history WWII vibes from this, “what if the US remained uninvolved?” scenario. Suppose America stands passive and lets Putin wave his dick all across Europe, and sure enough, it is itself at shelter from direct involvement in a war, but what does this entail? Does Trump imagine that International Relations are a Buddies4Lyfe kinda deal? Will the tempest not come knocking on America’s doorstep, instead of leaving you folks free to bomb ISIS into glass or whatever their military strategy elsewhere will be?

            Foreign and military policy is too high-stakes and complicated to be judged simply in terms of mere forecasts of warmongering, “mushroom cloudy with a 75% chance of missiles”, and sometimes not engaging in military action is worse than the alternative.

            hlynkacg: That’s the first time anyone has directed that accusation at me, and I’m sorry if it sounds overly aggressive, and I’m definitely sorry if it borders on fascist, but like I said. Fucking scared. High risk, nothing to do against it. Adrenaline up, hysterics up, rationality down.

            Can you tell me precisely how I should tone it down? The rhetoric, I mean. Not the rationality.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Romanianon

            You sound like you believe you have a right to be protected from the nasty Russian bear by the US power. Why?

            For most Americans who even heard of your country, it’s the place where the song Dragostea Din Tei and a lot malware comes from. Why should the US spend its political capital and potentially the lives of its soldiers to protect you?

          • Romanianon says:

            oh, here we go, this kind of snark did make a late arrival though Lumifer: Oh, well, I don’t know, alliances, treaties, stuff. I wouldn’t even be complaining on the internet if we weren’t in NATO, I’d just quietly pack my bags. How much is the American word worth?

          • Lumifer says:

            How much is the American word worth?

            Ask Ukraine.

            But the real point is that both NATO and Putin see you as a pawn in a geopolitical game. Your value is being a chunk of land of some strategic usefulness in the sumo wrestling of the giants. So the question is do you see yourself as having some other value to the West? In which way are you useful other than as some real estate to plop down a missile base on?

          • Romanianon says:

            Remind me again when was it that Ukraine became a full NATO member.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Romanianon

            If you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question : -P

            Ukraine, as you probably know, has been given certain “security assurances” when it agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR.

            And, of course, if you fully believe the NATO guarantees there is absolutely no reason for you to worry, is there?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Ukraine, as you probably know, has been given certain “security assurances” when it agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR.

            Those security assurances explicitly and intentionally fell short of a guarantee of military defense. This is not so with NATO.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @hlynkacg

            Out of the two people in that conversation, you think the one who isn’t worrying about the destruction of the white race sounds fascist?

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Romanianon,

            The reason why I specifed non-rhetorical was to get an actual answer, seems like I did. “Westward Ho!” isn’t a great one imo but conventional in Europe.

            I have my own family in Germany, no love lost for Putin or Russia, and no interest in war nuclear or otherwise. That’s why I’m sympathetic to the “Trump is unstable” argument… as long as it’s paired to an actual game plan for the US and EU to stop digging the holes we’re in.

            But full steam ahead is not terribly compelling. As much as you want to save Romania, I don’t want to see America and Germany continue to decline.

            Anyway, I wish you the best personally. If it makes you feel any better, Trump will very likely lose in November.

          • Anonymous says:

            What the hell do you mean, what to do with that bought time? How about living, breathing, existing? I don’t care a fig for the white race when the sacrificial victims for its SUPPOSED rescue from the SUPPOSED danger it is in, are me and mine and our way of life. So excuse me if by recoiling from certain death and/or defeat I fail to do my part in securing the existence of [y]our people and a future for white children, although as far as I’m concerned I’m doing exactly that. By the way, not that it should matter, but apparently to you it does, so let me mention that Romania is an overwhelmingly white country (do you know how many black people are there in here? Hundreds of them! Hundreds! and upstanding citizens too) and no US election is able to change that. But look at all the good it does us, to be so white. Behold the grandeur of the master race, in the squalid villages and Molochian Soviet urban landscapes, in the national IQ average of 91 that the HBDer Lynn ascribed to us (you can do the statistical gymnastics yourself, to blame it all on the gypsy minority, go ahead).

            This is some pretty good writing.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Anonymous Bosch

            Those security assurances explicitly and intentionally fell short of a guarantee of military defense.

            So what did they mean? What particular kind of security did they assure?

          • dragnubbit says:

            Saddam thought he had the green light to invade Kuwait without US military repercussion, which led to a massive US military presence in Islamic lands that continues to this day.

            The signals Russia is getting from the Trump campaign are far more encouraging than what Saddam relied on.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            So what did they mean? What particular kind of security did they assure?

            Straight from the text:

            The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

            Is this guarantee utterly useless in the context of Russia’s veto power? Obviously. But they’ve also provided pretty much every kind of assistance you can think of short of a protective military incursion, including tough economic sanctions of Russia, diplomatic expulsion from the G8, economic aid and intelligence-sharing for Ukraine, etc.

            Since the agreement was designed to be just short of a mutual defense guarantee, providing aid just short of military defense seems fair. NATO, on the other hand, is explicitly a mutual defense guarantee. Such half-measures would clearly and unambiguously nullify NATO in a way they didn’t nullify the Budapest Memorandum.

          • Anonymous says:

            Right now, the West is looking at a slow death by immigration and suppressed native fertility.

            This is no better than the AI monster people. Spending time on SCC with its “rationalists” and “rationalist-adjacents” has made me come to appropriate how lucky I am to have not been born with paranoid tendencies.

          • bean says:

            if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

            The key is bolded. Russia hasn’t used or threatened nukes. I’d agree that we’d be justified giving more help than we have (and we should have given it, too), but there’s at least a plausible escape hatch in the last clause of that sentence.

          • Randy M says:

            if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

            Does the “nuclear weapons are used” part apply to just the threat clause or the aggression clause as well? I honestly can’t tell from the quote, so if that is verbatim it’s bad phrasing.
            Like saying “Call the cops if someone hurts you or threatens you with a gun”–well, they hit me with a baseball bat, should I call the cops?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Dr Dealgood:

            You say “suppressed”. Who exactly is doing this suppressing? The global pattern appears to be that, when people (especially women) have the choice and the means, they tend to have fewer and fewer kids, to below replacement rate usually. No suppression required.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Romanianon
            I don’t blame you for emotions running high. I sympathize.

            That said I think you really need to go back and reread both Dealgood’s initial reply and your response to it.

            you say;

            I interpret this just as though someone put a gun to my head, saying, well, death comes for all of us eventually, now’s a good a time as any to die.

            and then turn around and say;

            …So excuse me if by recoiling from certain death and/or defeat I fail to do my part in securing the existence of [y]our people

            Do you see the irony?

            Any war between the US and Russia regardless of initial cause, will involve a fair number of casualties, and those casualties are going to come from a certain subset of the US population. The US military, especially the combat arms, is overwhelmingly rural, working class, and Southern. It’s not Clinton or Obama’s kids getting deployed to war zones. It’s the people who are currently rooting for Trump.

            You need to convince the coal-miners from Kentucky and the preacher’s kids from Alabama that they ought to throw themselves in front of a Russian tank to save you, but your post reads like someone grabbed an Italian newspaper editorial from the 1930s and ran a simple find/replace script on it.

            It’s not helping your cause.

          • Anonymous says:

            @dndnrsn
            If you know anything about Dealgood’s posting history you should know very well who he considers the bad guys (err gals) in this story.

            In most cases misogynist isn’t a great word for those that oppose feminism. But in some cases …

          • 2stupid4SSC says:

            @hlynkacg I assume their vision of this does not actually involve war with Russia. The two situations they see before them are, Clinton, NATO respected, Russia does nothing. Trump, USA withdraws from NATO, Russia invades their country. Either way no war with the USA.

            …So excuse me if by recoiling from certain death and/or defeat I fail to do my part in securing the existence of [y]our people

            In this context, this is saying something more like ‘ sorry if I don’t do my part by dying, to protect you from the race…..race(?)’ thing that Dr Dealgood thinks we are losing in the west. They feel like Dr Dealgood is asking them to die for a made up cause, I understand why they would be upset.

          • Jaskologist says:

            As was pointed out to me recently by John Schilling, we promised Ukraine pretty much nothing in return for giving up their weapons. The “security assurances” were apparently understood by all parties as not imposing any real obligation.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ 2stupid4SSC

            Granted, and as I said above I both sympathize with Romanianon’s position and think that Dr Dealgood is being overly pessimistic.

            That said, we do have a problem. I don’t want to rehash the last two election threads but at the same time I don’t think it’s all that controversial to say that a large chunk (if not most) of Trump’s support stems from the fact that the rural working class is sick of being used as scapegoats & cannon fodder and is starting to get uppity about it.

            So the question stands.

            How do you convince, the coal-miners from Kentucky to make sacrifices for a people not their own?

          • Anonymous says:

            You’re making a big leap from Trump to to “rural working class is sick of being used as scapegoats & cannon fodder.” If what you are saying is true, I’d expect to see it in military recruiting numbers.

            Anything doing there?

          • hlynkacg says:

            I don’t think it’s much of a leap at all. Nor would I expect to see it reflected in recruitment numbers (at least not yet) as the US military generally turns away more applicants than it takes in peace time.

            Like I said, I’m not in the mood to rehash the last two election threads but you’re free to check them out yourself. Or alternately read Scott’s Three Great Articles on Poverty and Why I Disagree With Them in conjunction with Cracked’s How Half of America Lost It’s %&^ing Mind!

          • CatCube says:

            @Anonymous

            The US Army is currently in a massive drawdown, and is now at its smallest size since 1939. They’ll be cutting another 25,000 in headcount within the next two years.

            Recruiters ain’t real worried right now, but that’s more a function of the Army not wanting them to find a lot of people.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’ve seen no evidence, or even a decent argument for the proposition, that they need to be worried in the near or medium term either.

          • hlynkacg says:

            …and?

          • Anonymous says:

            And you are full of shit. If and when another war happens, pretty much any war, the usual suspects will sign up in droves to prove how macho they are. When that fades they’ll stick around for what is, despite the whining to the contrary, very good compensation.

            Billy-Bob isn’t Atlas and he isn’t shrugging.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Ahh yes, I thought I detected your stench in the previous reply.

            BillyBob may not be shrugging (yet), but he is voting Trump.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, that’s true. But your extension from that to a larger phenomenon that will dramatically change history is just wishful thinking.

            You’re quite prone to confusing what you hope will happen with what is likely to happen. Might want to work on calibration.

            If it wouldn’t take to much time away from polluting comment threads with one word comments that is.

          • hlynkacg says:

            In the wake of Romney’s 2012 defeat, myself and quite a few others (most notably the folks at Instapundit) predicted that a populist demagogue would run away with the nomination in 2016 if the GOP leadership didn’t start taking immigration, and the declining rural QOL seriously. I’d say current events have born that out.

            What was it you said to me in one of our early encounters? Something to the effect of “I’d gladly see your culture destroyed, and you dead in a ditch if that’s what it takes for me and mine to live in comfort“. If you’re really that eager to fight a class war why don’t you stop sending nasty emails and start sending letter bombs?

            If anyone here needs to work on their calibration, it’s you.

            Edit: Removed unnecessary insults.

          • Anonymous says:

            The caned good and ammunition manufacturers appreciate your continued faith.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I can think of far far worse people to be appreciated by.

            Beans are delicious, and shooting an excellent way to relieve stress. 😉

          • dr fackoff says:

            how did bay area immigrant hlynkacg get to be the tribune of the redneck people?

          • hlynkacg says:

            ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • Anonymous says:

            Ingroup-outgroup-fargroup mechanics. Rednecks are being shat on by hlynka’s outgroup, so he defends them.

        • Alex S says:

          I would take this more seriously if I thought our alliances were limiting attacks on the US. Trump is proposing a radical change to something but it may not be the biggest reason peace has lasted. This raises the question of what has been preventing nuclear war all this time. Maybe it’s just that many states don’t want nuclear weapons because they don’t face any imminent threats and the weapons are too expensive.

          On the Baltics, I agree you need to take into account the pessimistic reading, but the discussion I’ve seen only takes into account the pessimistic reading and ignores the charitable reading. The Baltic states are a liability, so if they can be simply booted from NATO, that’s good.

          • LHN says:

            I don’t think NATO would survive ejecting the Baltics. It’s hard to see a principled formulation that papers over “we’re prepared to extend Article 5 guarantees to any member country not under threat of needing them– though there’s some unspecified subset we’d probably actually fight for rather than withdraw from”. Which countries are the real tripwire and which the pretend ones we’ll throw out if the Russians express interest would be up in the air, whether or not the formal organization persisted.

            (Which is exactly the sort of war-courting uncertainty that NATO is designed to avoid by its clear “in or out” criterion.)

          • Anonymous says:

            The Baltic states are a liability, so if they can be simply booted from NATO, that’s good.

            You must be American.

            The Baltic states are not only model “good neighbors” here in Europe, they work really hard to be because they hated the Soviet yoke. They want and always wanted to be counted as part of Northern Europe like Denmark or whatever, and have that same standard of life. Also they’re members of the EU in good standing. If they were fucked over by NATO, it would destabilize the entire European arrangement and also be the worst kind of betrayal toward people who are strongly turned toward the West, which won’t look good for making friends in that region in the future.

            Sure, maybe you think they’d be an acceptable short-term sacrifice to avoid the US getting entangled with Russia, but the amount of fuckery unleashed by anything of that sort would be incalculable and really bad for America as well in the medium to long term. If there’s any real chance of Trump doing anything like that, that’s the best argument I’ve ever heard for voting Hillary.

          • Alex S says:

            Are you saying NATO can only expand and never shrink, or it will collapse? Their being in NATO presents a weak spot of uncertainty even under a Clinton presidency, since they are on the Russian border and have a significant Russian population. Also, Russia has apparently been lowering its threshold for using nuclear weapons because a defense of the Baltics could provide cover for attacking the city of Moscow, which Russia’s conventional forces might be too weak to defend. The Baltics are not worth the risk of all-out nuclear war.

          • LHN says:

            It can shrink through something like when France chose to leave, which obviously wasn’t related to a direct threat from an adversary. But no, I don’t think it can unilaterally kick out members it’s agreed to defend (and vice versa) under threat without NATO becoming a paper tiger. At best, we could dissolve it and organize the new, “real” western alliance with whatever countries we’re actually willing to participate in a defense agreement with.

            Even there, the brinksmanship threshold necessary proving the new alliance’s bona fides would be substantially higher, since the natural presumption would be that we don’t really mean it if push comes to shove this time either.

          • Anonymous says:

            Their being in NATO presents a weak spot of uncertainty even under a Clinton presidency, since they are on the Russian border and have a significant Russian population.

            What the hell Russian propaganda have you been reading? The Ethnic Russian population of the Baltic states has been almost cut in half since the Soviet Union fell, and they’re the direct product of the Baltic region being forcibly annexed by the Soviets in the first place, so any problems they might have are the fault of Russia, if they’re any existing nation’s fault. Trying to fix it with even more Russian imperialism is as backwards as possible.

            As for the border, their sum total border’s something like a quarter of the length of Finland’s. (In fact, Lithuania doesn’t even have a border against Russia except the small Kaliningrad niche — which is admittedly a problem region, but only for the reason that Russia really shouldn’t have that territory.) Does that make Finland fair game too? It’s not even a NATO member.

            The simple fact is that the only thing causing any uncertainty in Eastern Europe is Ivan getting uppity again. Yes, it’s regrettable that the bear has nukes. No, that doesn’t mean that caving is the best #1 no-flaws plan. You’re pretty much advocating that if anything should happen, we precommit to a Chamberlainesque appeasement plan. Because that worked so well last time, right? Eventually, that’ll just lead to the other guy consuming everything until he hits something you actually do feel obliged to defend with nuclear force, and by that point you’ll be more likely to have to use them since you’ve already demonstrated weakness extensively.

            The alternatives are to defend NATO countries with conventional arms as NATO treaties specify, or to just crumble and let power-hungry dictators use the threat of thermonuclear war to conquer the world — a strategy which in itself won’t likely stop thermonuclear war, since now everyone can see it’s successful AND your own nuclear stockpiles are in the hands of someone who saw how effective the threat strategy was. You don’t like brinksmanship? Maybe don’t act to leave it in the hands of warmongering lunatics.

          • bluto says:

            Does that make Finland fair game too?

            I suspect the key question relating to that is, did Simo Häyhä have any kids?

          • bean says:

            Maybe it’s just that many states don’t want nuclear weapons because they don’t face any imminent threats and the weapons are too expensive.

            Uhh….
            How does this square with North Korea being able to afford the things? They have about the same GDP as Afghanistan. They’re politically expensive, not fiscally expensive. Yes, it’s obvious that if anyone could build them in their garage, they’d be more widespread, but the Nork bomb is proof that it’s not actually that expensive if you’re not optimizing for speed. The only nuclear development program that is well-known is the Manhattan Project, which was run with basically no attention paid to cost and every emphasis on speed.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The Baltic states are a liability, so if they can be simply booted from NATO, that’s good.

            They can’t. There’s no provision for removing countries from NATO outside of a voluntary exit, so in practice it would require unanimous consent. Obviously the Baltics would block any move to eject each other (as would Poland, Romania, etc.)

            We could probably expel them de facto by publicly renouncing our obligation to defend them. But that would likely be the end of NATO. I’m not of the opinion that NATO needs to last forever, but triggering an abrupt and ambiguous collapse with an unknown endpoint in the face of a surge in Russian aggression is not a recipe for peace in our time.

            As I have said earlier, the best approach for stability would be for NATO to publicly announce an indefinite moratorium on any further enlargement, including a freeze on all current Action Plans with aspiring members like Georgia and BiH. This would give Russia reassurance that we do not have designs on extending NATO’s current border with them or expanding into the Caucasus.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          @Anonymous,

          The racist stuff I get, but what’s this innuendo about me being a misongynist?

          Is it because of the PUA thing or the traditonal gender stuf or what? Because I don’t think I’ve said anything stereotypically bitter / women-blaming.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Anonymous (sort of a dark lavender?):

            If, as you are implying/basically outright stating, Dr Dealgood blamesfeminism for lowered birthrates, that still would not indicate someone actively suppressing it, unless he has one of those “feminism-invented-by-the-CIA” theories. People following incentives and so on isn’t like that. As it turns out, most women will choose not to have more than 2 or maybe 3 kids max, or at the very least make choices that lead to not having more than 2 or maybe 3 kids max, if given that choice. Likewise, most men will choose or make choices that have similar results, and don’t seem particularly peeved that women choose or make those choices.

            It turns out that most people (including myself) would rather go to college, party, spend their money on nice things, travel, screw around, or whatever, than settle down in their late teens/early 20s and start having kids.
            @Dr Dealgood: Am I mistaken in thinking that that you are saying an intentional actor is doing the suppressing?

            Plus, it’s not just “the native population” – there’s no reason to think that the same thing won’t happen to immigrants from wherever. I know plenty of young women of all ethnicities and religions, born of immigrant parents, immigrants themselves, who are extremely unlikely to have more than 2 or 3 children, if that.

            I ultimately think that your fear is mistaken: the same factors that ended most “traditional Western cultures” (at least as self-described traditionalists, alt-righters, etc see them) aside from a few holdouts will do the same to everyone else too.

          • Anonymous says:

            The someone in question are dastardly women. Damn them for not knowing their place. All those empty strollers!

            http://cdn.collider.com/wp-content/uploads/planet-of-the-apes-ending.jpg

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            @Anonymous,

            Ah ok, great. Just another random insult thrown at the wall then. Good to know.

    • Sfoil says:

      Well, there are a couple of reasons it’s better for the US (or Russia or China) to offer to use nuclear weapons on behalf of its allies, off the top of my head:

      1. Proliferation: The US credibly offers to nuke an aggressor on behalf of its allies. In return, those allies don’t build nukes. If the US loses credibility, either through saying “lol no of course we’re not starting a nuclear war over freaking Taiwan” or through more subtle ways, now those countries will feel motivated to roll their own.

      2. Variance: Sure, maybe Japan is as (or more!) responsible in deciding whether or not to use nuclear weapons than the US. But if e.g. 50 more countries had nukes, that probably wouldn’t be true of all of them. Also, one of those countries might decide to go full retard and open Nuke Mart. Does Brunei give a damn if the Biafrans want two or three bombs? As long as their money’s good…

      3. Decision time. Lots of potential nuclear powers are positioned close to their likely targets (think India and Pakistan). If there’s a warning that the Chinese are about to invade Taiwan, or that North Korea is launching missiles at Seoul, these countries might have under a minute to decide whether or not to launch their own nukes, making a false-positive warning far more dangerous. Most status quo nuclear powers are either so large (Russia, China), generally positioned away from likely attackers (UK, France) or both (USA) that even a direct attack against them affords a solid ten or fifteen minutes to decide whether to retaliate, and in the case of allies they also have the option of waiting for the bombs to land before retaliating.

      The latter option might sound bad, but it really isn’t. If e.g. North Korea knows that the nuking the South will trigger nuclear retaliation, it doesn’t matter if the US takes a few hours or a day to retaliate — the end result is the same (both countries get nuked). A unilateral South Korean nuclear power doesn’t have that option; they must launch while the Northern warheads are in the air (flight time: <2 minutes) or risk losing their retaliation capability (note that this scenario makes both a pre-emptive strike more attractive and a launch on false positive more likely).

      4. Status Quo Bias: Whatever the merits of other arguments, the current status quo hasn't led to nuclear war so far. Is it really a good idea to change it?

      My personal opinion is that massive proliferation risks making nuclear weapons the new gunpowder. You see, in pre-gunpowder armies, it seems that casualties on the winning side tended to be relatively low, because the majority of killing actually took place when one side broke and ran. Gunpowder meant that winners sustained higher losses — casualties on both sides of a battle were more likely to be equal. Did that chasten potential aggressors? No (ask Napoleon) — instead, a bunch of new norms developed to the effect that good armies just didn't mind getting their hair mussed a bit:

      Those heroes of antiquity ne’er saw a cannon ball
      Or knew the force of powder to slay their foes withal
      But our brave boys to know it, and banish all their fears
      With a tow row row row row row, to the British Grenadiers

      It’s tempting to think that if everyone had nuclear weapons, nobody would fight each other out of fear of retaliation, but things have happened to ratchet up the slaughter before and war still happened. If “yeah whatever, sometimes you bomb and sometimes you get bombed, suck it up buttercup” becomes a winning formula, it’s going to end up getting a lot of people killed, and I think it’s worth trying to avoid that.

      • Alex S says:

        The decision time reason is interesting. The natural reply is that if decision time could lead to frivolous wars, a rational country will price that into their decision to acquire nuclear weapons and maybe will just decide not to. But obviously, as you suggest with your final comments, the world isn’t always a rational place. Somewhere we have to examine the empirical evidence.

    • John Schilling says:

      Yes, he is proposing a radical departure from the status quo but the status quo seems irrational.

      The status quo is that we haven’t had any nuclear wars in seventy years, and not much in the way of wars of conquest in general.

      We’re agreeing to launch nuclear weapons to defend countries and maybe get blown up ourselves. Why? What is worth that risk?

      That would be the aforementioned status quo. There are nations with nuclear weapons and a propensity to engage in wars of territorial conquest, most notably Putin’s Russia. Against such nations, nuclear weapons are required as a defense. So the alternatives are,

      A: Pretty much the entire world outside of the United States surrenders to nuclear-armed aggressors, or

      B: Pretty much the entire world outside the United States acquires nuclear arsenals of their own, with N^2 opportunities for nuclear-grade misunderstandings, or

      C: Somebody with a lot of nuclear weapons undertakes to guarantee the defense, at least against nuclear attack, of nations with none.

      The United States is uniquely qualified to play that last role. We have more to lose than almost anyone from starting a global nuclear war unnecessarily, we have no ambitions of overt territorial conquest, and we have the strategic depth to ride out anyone’s first strike and retaliate only when we know for sure what we are facing, Any plan other than the status quo greatly increases the risk of nuclear war being waged on a global scale.

      Which Would Be Bad.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      A more Russia-friendly policy sounds smart. Liberal commentators say ambiguity about the Baltic states is bad, but there’s ambiguity about the ambiguity. A more charitable interpretation is Trump would just kick the Baltic states out of NATO.

      “Liberal commentators say ambiguity is bad, but if you this charitable interpretation of the ambiguity, it’s fine” is a non-answer to the criticism of why ambiguity is bad, since obviously you can’t guarantee that every relevant actor (Russia, the Baltics, the remainder of Eastern Europe) will co-sign this interpretation. You don’t even know that it’s Trump’s interpretation, since you yourself label it “charitable.”

      Also, removing a state from NATO is not something Trump could do on his own.

      Nuclear proliferation is bad in general but that’s because it’s a proxy for the real problem, the risk of using the nuclear weapons.

      The risk of nuclear weapon use is based on the binomial probability of N countries each making the decision to use them in response to a given military event. It is a trivial observation that the higher N is, the higher the risk of their use.

  30. Carinthium says:

    Question in case anyone here would know. I’ve been looking at various sources which say that executives in the triple A gaming industry are irrational and grossly out of touch with what is actually profitable and what gamers actually want, due to being old men inexperienced with actual gaming. And I have seen very odd signs, such as Koonami with Hideo Kojima, the destruction of the Sims brand, Square Enix doubting the profitability of the JRPGs that made them famous etc.

    On the other hand, the reasons why microtransactions and DLC are implemented seem to make perfect sense. Further, it seems a good general rule not to assume that the entire industry is run by idiots despite the intelligence necessary to become an executive in the first place without very strong evidence.

    Can anyone help me out here? How out of touch are gaming executives, really?

    • Anonymous says:

      How out of touch are gaming executives, really?

      I think they might well be hideously out of touch with what gamers want in many cases — although I’m not on a first-name basis with a majority of them so I won’t try to determine that — and still be very clear on what makes money in a concrete sense, e.g. “charge $60 for the game that took 200 000 man hours to make, then charge another ten bucks for a horse that one of the art guys bashed together in three hours”.

      On the economic end the good practice (for making money hand over fist, that is) is much more clear-cut than it is on the artistic end, not to mention that what gamers want often conflicts with the economics (DLC horses being an obvious example: gamers want that shit right in the box, or for free if it’s a downloadable upgrade. But they’ll still fuckin’ pay, at least some of them, so automatically the more profitable route is to fuck the gamers over).

      • Carinthium says:

        That sounds logically like it makes a lot of sense. That being said, I find it hard to believe that sacking the guy that made Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill profitable and cancelling the Silent Hill games made any sense. Or that it was a good idea for Square Enix to abandon the JRPG gamers, as proved by the success of Bravely Default. Or that the way EA acted when they bought Maxis regarding the Sims as a franchise made sense.

        That’s why I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong- I’m on the fence on this one.

        • Space Attorney says:

          I feel like a lot of these supposed discrepancies can be explained either by “good art isn’t profitable”, which extends to every entertainment industry, or “the target market for most of the ‘bad’ decisions happens to be significantly larger and less vocal than the target market for the ‘good’ decision”.

          Case in point on the second one is Konami. By dropping Kojima and Silent Hills they’ve drawn the ire of a lot of people (and rightly so). But they did this because they were dropping standard video game development altogether to focus on pachinko (think Plinko from The Price is Right turned into a slot machine), which is a far simpler and far more lucrative endeavor. I’m not sure what catalyzed this change, but no matter how much backlash it garners it’s a near certainty that it’ll be profitable. Pachinko is huge in Japan.

          How this affects other companies and games I’m not quite so sure. Nowadays I generally just default to the position of “there must be some huge, nebulous fargroup that makes X baffling decision make sense economically”.

    • BBA says:

      Well, maybe the execs have a point in ignoring what gamers want. I have it on good authority that gamers don’t need to be the audience for video games, and in fact gamers are over… right, I’ll get my coat.

    • Equinimity says:

      I left the industry in 2010, so I’m not up to date on current trends but this stuff didn’t change much over the years I was a code monkey.

      My experience was the people who ultimately paid my rent back then have a fair idea of what’s profitable, but not why. As a result, you get a lot of grasping at something that ought to be profitable but then focusing on the wrong aspect. One of the more bizarre bits of my career was working 22 hours straight to change the menus from a pastel cartoonish style that matched the level design to a brushed metal style the night before we shipped. Why? Because a senior exec had seen his nephew playing whatever the FPS of the month was at the time and wanted our game to ‘look like that’. He was right that it sold 20 times as much as we did, but the art style wasn’t the reason.

      So, microtransactions and DLC are a straight financial decision that they’ll make pretty accurately. Choosing IP on the basis of previous sales is something that they’ll project fairly well too, barring the unforeseen. (*) When execs meddle in game design though, it’s a cargo cult style of decision making.

      * – Don’t be working on a ‘survive the disaster’ game when an identical disaster kills tens of thousands. We canned the game, there was no way to finish it without looking like we were trying to cash in on people’s deaths.

    • Anonymous says:

      http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2011/02/02/making-crash-bandicoot-part-1/

      ^ Andy Gavin, maker of Crash Bandicoot tells his stories from the trenches ^

      Its a long read, but contains a lot of stories about clueless and malicious execs. He says that his entire team had to threaten to quit in order to force them to avoid naming the game Willy the Wombat.

    • MereComments says:

      Long time industry veteran here. I would echo what Equinimty said about execs knowing what’s profitable, but not why. I’ve worked for 4 different publishers (two now defunct) over the past decade and a half, and there’s a spectrum of competence and out-of-touch-ness among the execs. Clueless businessmen who think they’re creative and make terrible strategic decisions (“we’re making the next World of Warcraft/GTA/Call of Duty! But with none of the experience and with 1/3rd the budget”) are definitely a real thing. But so are execs that are very clear about being the business end, and the developer being the creative end, and making that relationship function well and profitably.

      Two points that are tangential but related to your question. “What gamers want”. It’s pretty common wisdom in game development that the most vocal and hardcore gamers are a tiny percentage of the overall gamer population. Yes, they are a critical demographic, and yes, they can drive the narrative, but conflating what people are screaming about on the most hardcore of the hardcore forums with “what gamers want” will give you disastrous tunnel vision. The devs themselves are prone to this sort of thinking as well (and generally more aware/in touch with the most hardcore viewpoints), and part of the job of the leads is to keep the eye on the big picture.

      The “cluelessness” of execs. Even for the savvy execs who generally make smart decisions and allow the devs of a lot of creative freedom, AAA games are essentially a crapshoot. Unless you’re on your 4th iteration of a title with a familiar team and familiar tech, you are investing a HUGE amount of money into a project with a multi-year time horizon and more unknown unknowns than any other media, like say film. The burn rates for large AAA projects can be jaw-dropping, and if the devs start hitting significant roadblocks in terms of tech or quality, you are going to panic unless you have nerves of steel. Even granting that some execs are as clueless as they seem, a lot of stuff that seems incomprehensibly dumb from the outside comes out of this pressure cooker environment.

    • LPSP says:

      Oh boy, one of my old pet topics! The line to draw in the sand here is between business decisions and game decisions. The major powers at the head of video gaming’s triopoly – and that includes legendary veteran designers like Shigeru Miyamoto of Mario and Zelda fame – are almost all criticised as being out of touch with the gaming experiences player’s want. The strongest recent example in the Nintendo camp is the fiasco over a fan-made Metroid game, AM2R, which basically satisfied what everyone wanted from the franchise and has wanted for decades, unlike the games Nintendo actually releases. Similar parralels can be made with Valve’s attitude towards TF2, towards Games Workshop’s attitudes towards its flagship settings in the world of table-top gaming, and the examples listed in your own post et cetera.

      The thing people aren’t complaining about are how keen executives are to adapt their business models. No, the criticism there is at the decision-makers for being too sharp. Most executives are old and basically-obviously not in it for the joy of creating a dynamic, trailblazing or even solid product any more. They’re hedging nests for their grandchildren, pouring all their efforts into milking micro-transactions and what-have-you gimmickry without putting a jot of thought into what the games are actually like. This, they delegate to cheap, superficial colour-by-numbers design processes, and low-paid or outsourced groups that plainly got into the business for the money, or certainly at least not to do what they’re presently paid to do. So we get Final Fantasy mobile apps that resemble the games only at the cheapest level, with hordes of spammy soulless artwork collectibles not tied to any meaningful game decisions or compelling story developments, the equivalent of cheap plush collectibles. That’s largely what companies like Nintendo now furnish – they know their name and brand has huge innate pull, that everyone recognises Mario and Yoshi, and that people will fork out for safe nostalgia. The games are just plush toy adverts, or the experiences there-in are just plush-toyism to coin a phrase. All rounded corners and funny squeaky buttons, no meaning.

      I could go into many of these points in more detail. It’s a significant problem at the heart of most gaming, video or not, today. Video games as attire is more profitable/stomachable that video games as video games, and the people at the top are just plumping their reputations and lining their wallets now in any case. The best game design these days is done non-for-profit like AM2R, as the indie scene is rife with signally bullshit and SJWism, has been for years (that’s how many people became aware of SJWism, through the disconcerting events in inbred indie game circles and journalism). There’s a paucity of genuine thoughtful design where it counts in the high-powered industry, and perhaps it’s just because all the low-hanging fruit have been taken and no-one cares enough about the fringe cases to fill out of them. But a lot of people, especially people most-centric to “plays games for the depth” crowd, are dissatisfied and spend little on big budget productions, which reinforces the situation as the triopoly focuses on ever more superficial audiences. ‘S a clusterfuck.

      • Zorgon says:

        It does, however, present a number of opportunities to those who can figure out what that dissatisfied customer base want and – absolutely crucially – somehow cut through the unbelievable noise level to let them know that satisfying options exist.

        Unfortunately that latter is made more difficult by essentially every single force in play in gaming right now. Cash-in crap, shovelware, SJW indie shit, AAA loudhailers, media gatekeeping, and even the snarling anger of the dissatisfied core gamers themselves all serve to make it very hard indeed to get attention for your core-pleasing game.

        • LPSP says:

          Honestly Zorg (heh, I used to go by a name similar to that many years ago), I don’t see those clusterfuck forces going anywhere, anytime soon. The idea of some snappy startup turning the market upside down is a fantasy. The best thing that can happen – and arguably the source of the best things that have happened recently – is for an already-wealthy entrepeneur to pursue a vision and coordinate all the pieces together without being slaved down by the bullshit. Which raises the question of how to spontaneously generate philanthropic millionaires with gaming interests? Charity? Think of people without good games to play!

          (I thought of another item to add to my earlier list of “once-great companies gone completely soggy”, but I’ve forgotten now. Nintendo, Valve and Games Workshop are my typical big three examples, and now I can add Konami and Square-Enix to that list.)

  31. cassander says:

    A while back I made the assertion that the revenue neutral carbon taxes (that is, passing carbon taxes but lowering other taxes an equal amount) were a good policy, but they would invariably be blocked by the left. This position was challenged.

    As much as I am loathe to have anything nice to say about Vox, this appeared today vindicating my position. The proposal is not purely revenue neutral, but it’s quite close, and the left is trying to defeat it. The article does a good job of showing how little anti-carbon measures motive the organized left when there are going to be no revenues to distribute, and the true venality of an opposition whose proposal is short on details for carbon mitigation, but long on how they’re going to spend all the money their measures raise.

    The conclusions to be drawn from this exercise (besides making clear the folly of doubting Cassander) are open for discussion.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      …making clear the folly of doubting Cassander

      Is that why you (almost) chose the name, then?

    • Carinthium says:

      Reading the article as of right now. Will edit this post to include a view on the matter.

      EDIT: The issue seems rather confusing to me. I would have said the alliance was straight up wrong- after all, there is no reason why you can’t simply start with a revenue neutral carbon tax then attempt something else later.

      Yes this means abandoning coalition allies, and I can understand why you’re reluctant to do that. But the more states of America have their own climate taxes the more momentum the environmental movement gains.

      What I’m confused by is the fact that the revenue neutral carbon tax didn’t win over Republican voters, who would rather a carbon tax that wasn’t revenue neutral. I simply don’t understand that, meaning I scrap all the above as a position and don’t know what to think.

      • Nathan says:

        At a guess, I’d expect that Republican voters are sceptical of punitive taxation in general and supportive of renewable energy subsidies in general.

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        What I’m confused by is the fact that the revenue neutral carbon tax didn’t win over Republican voters, who would rather a carbon tax that wasn’t revenue neutral. I simply don’t understand that, meaning I scrap all the above as a position and don’t know what to think.

        Republican voters are for the most part not principled capitalists (see: Trump) who can be appealed to with ECON 101 lessons about the efficiency of Pigouvian revenue mechanisms. They are sufficiently dumbed down at this point that they will reject any proposal that includes the term “tax” out of hand, and if a politician steps out of line (as Bob Inglis did) he will get primaried with ads that use the term “tax” (as Bob Inglis was).

        • Jiro says:

          So many taxes share the traits that they don’t like that the fact that something is a tax is Bayseian evidence that it is one of that set. Even a non-objectionable-seeming tax is highly likely to be a disguised objectionable tax rather than a really non-objectionable one.

        • “What I’m confused by is the fact that the revenue neutral carbon tax didn’t win over Republican voters”

          Consider all the taxes passed as temporary taxes that are still around fifty or a hundred years later. If someone asks you to support a tax on carbon to be balanced by a reduction in other taxes, one plausible response is “I don’t believe you. Once the tax is passed, the other taxes will come back up again.”

          The political system doesn’t have good commitment mechanisms, ways of making promises you can’t break.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            If someone asks you to support a tax on carbon to be balanced by a reduction in other taxes, one plausible response is “I don’t believe you. Once the tax is passed, the other taxes will come back up again.”

            Isn’t this a universal argument against all tax reform? Other than abolition, I suppose.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yep. NJ just passed a massively increased gas tax along with two small reductions in the sales tax. I posted an informal poll on a NJ forum about when the sales tax would return to present levels. A clear majority said we’d never see the second reduction, with a large number saying we’d never see the first.

            @Bosch:

            It says you can’t reform taxes by adding new ones.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            It says you can’t reform taxes by adding new ones.

            Earlier in that same post you also used an example where two existing taxes were adjusted, so this smells like a motte.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            Supposedly temporary taxes being permanent isn’t the same as supposedly permanent tax cuts being transient. Is there a history of the latter?

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Supposedly temporary taxes being permanent isn’t the same as supposedly permanent tax cuts being transient. Is there a history of the latter?

            Wouldn’t any tax hike qualify as this?

    • Nicholas says:

      As I understand it from a few other article, this is all inside baseball: the person who spearheaded the measure is not liked, and his coalition is not trusted. The opposition is more about denying them a feather in their cap, out of fear that they can leverage demonstrated legislative victories to increased strength inside the movement.
      In the same way that health care is not about being healthy, environmental regulation is not about regulating the environment.

      • cassander says:

        I fear regulation much more than taxing and spending. There are many more limits on the taxing power than the regulatory power, and far more attention is paid to taxation. As long as the rates are fixed in law, the carbon tax is no more dangerous than any other.

    • Wrong Species says:

      The thing about the Carbon tax is that while it sounds good, there is simply no way that the left can be trusted to keep their part of the bargain regarding revenue neutrality. If given control of the legislative and executive branch, how long would it take for them to suddenly find new excuses to increase the tax without a reduction in another tax? To some extent, I would actually prefer some of the other regulations proposed. At least they can’t be used as a slush fund for whatever new craze the federal government “needs” to fund.

      • cassander says:

        I fear regulation much more than taxing and spending. There are many more limits on the taxing power than the regulatory power, and far more attention is paid to taxation.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I read that article and the distributing-tax-revenues thing seemed to be only a small part of what seems like an internecine conflict between climate groups, played up for culture-war-ish-ness and clicks.

      • cassander says:

        If it’s culture war, it’s of the blue on blue variety.

        • Outis says:

          That’s what culture wars are going to look like going forward. Red is dead.

          • cassander says:

            It never dies, it just gets a few left wing positions shoved onto it over the course of a generation, then blue moves the goalposts.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        The revenue neutrality thing is pretty tied to the core disagreement: a narrow, focused, potentially bipartisan effort to fight climate change versus a big intertwined progressive agenda.

    • Cheese says:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_pricing_in_Australia may be interesting to you.

      Initially we had a much more extensive ETS (not revenue neutral in any way if I recall correctly), proposed by a government which had an electoral mandate for it, which was destroyed by fuckery on the left (TL;DR: Green party voted against it as they felt it didn’t go far enough, they had balance of power in the senate, this precipitated a series of events that eventually resulted in a reduction in power of, and finally an electoral defeat of the centre-left government after further term in which for a while we did have an ETS/Carbon Tax).

      The second attempt, detailed in the wiki. Was sort of a revenue neutral carbon tax. Not quite though. It’s main step in that direction was made by a massive increase in the income-tax free threshold (5k -> 18k) and a variety of