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OT63: Open Pit Mining

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. There are hidden threads every few days here. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:

1. The Report Comment button is back. Thanks to 75thTrombone for fixing things up.

2. New advertisement on the sidebar, for the Secular Solstice celebration. I’ll be at the one in New York City, so if you’re coming too I’ll see you there.

3. Thanks to everyone who emailed me with your thoughts on Trump. I got hundreds of emails and can’t reply to all of them, especially the ones trying to engage me in debate. I’m sorry, I just can’t debate a hundred people at once.

4. Thanks to everyone who disagreed with my predictions and offered to bet on them. I’ve accepted a few offers already, but I won’t be accepting any more until I can get a Bets/Predictions post up where I record all of them so I can keep track.

5. A few people emailed me to say that they have friends or family members who attempted suicide for Trump-related reasons. I’m really sorry about that and I hope they’re okay. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, consider checking out the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, which also has a special webpage on election-related suicidality. Please note that in a few rare cases, if you’re really serious about commiting suicide immediately and won’t back down, calling a hotline can end with them picking you up for psychiatric hospitalization.

6. If you’re looking for a more productive way to deal with the election results, some friends have pointed out some good opportunities for activism:

— The National Popular Vote is a really cool and game-theoretically interesting way to get rid of the Electoral College without a Constitutional amendment. It’s pretty close to being passed and the site gives you some ways to help push it forward.

— Trump has posted an online survey asking which of his plans he should prioritize during his first 100 days in office. You might not find anything super-great on there, but some of them are definitely worse than others, and it might be that by telling him to prioritize the less bad ones you can do a lot of good. Disclaimer: I have no idea if Trump plans to take the survey results seriously.

— Apparently the new administration didn’t realize that all of Obama’s staffers are leaving, and now they have a few thousand executive branch jobs to fill. Because of their commitment to avoid lobbyists they can’t use the preferred method of just giving all the positions to lobbyists, and they’ve been reduced to the indignity of having to accept applications from real citizens. Bloomberg notes that There’s No Shame In Joining The Trump Administration if your goal is harm reduction, and if you agree you can apply here. If you have some kind of useful political/administrative experience, this might be an unusually easy route to getting a position of power where you can do useful things like lobby for foreign aid and alleviate the effects of various Trump policies. Curious what the EA peoples’ opinion on this is.

— Here is a very complete spreadsheet about how best to contact your representatives and senators.

7. If you want to change (or add a link to) your username on this blog, you can do it at https://slatestarcodex.com/wp-admin/profile.php

8. My Amazon affiliate link no longer works. Please don’t buy things through it and expect me to get any money.

9. In an effort to keep my Trump-related traffic spike around for more useful things, I’ve added a “Subscribe via email” button to the side of the blog. If you really want to get emails every time SSC updates, now you can.

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1,820 Responses to OT63: Open Pit Mining

  1. Astral Brane says:

    I’ve accepted a few offers already, but I won’t be accepting any more until I can get a Bets/Predictions post up where I record all of them so I can keep track.

    There are websites for that already. BetMoose is the first that comes up.

    — The National Popular Vote is a really cool and game-theoretically interesting way to get rid of the Electoral College without a Constitutional amendment. It’s pretty close to being passed and the site gives you some ways to help push it forward.

    Yeah, but good luck convincing Republicans to support it when they think the EC gives them an unfair advantage. (Which isn’t necessarily even true, since turnout would be different under NPV.)

  2. Another South Bay Meetup?

    We’re thinking of hosting another meetup sometime before Christmas. Possible dates for us would be Friday December 9th or Saturday December 17th. What works for other people?

  3. Moon says:

    Trump voters, and many other Republicans, are an interesting study lately. Incredibly sore winners. Incapable of positive emotion. Their idea of happiness is feeling vengefulness and exhibiting cruelty. They are addicted to their own adrenaline, and addicted to conflict with, and abuse of, the other political tribe.

    Have you ever seen a sports team, that after winning the game, can not be happy for their success, but is instead is completely obsessed with bashing the other team that just lost to them, and with gloating over that team’s sadness? Of course not. This is highly dysfunctional behavior.

    After an election, if one’s candidate wins, a healthy individual might be expecting and hoping for their candidate to do good things for the whole nation, including the seventy something percent of eligible voters who did not vote for their candidate– because the other voters either stayed home, or else they voted for another candidate.

    Divisiveness does win elections. And the GOP is most expert at divisiveness. But once the election is over, divisiveness can destroy the country, if people find themselves incapable of constructive behavior, cooperation toward common goals etc.

    But humans are incredibly tribal. Since Big Money and mega-corporate donations rule politics, the political parties do not actually have much to offer ordinary voters– although I would argue that the Dems throw ordinary voters a bone much more often the the GOP does.

    Since the GOP offers absolutely nothing to ordinary voters, voters can’t be pulled together through a focus on the positive constructive aspects of their own political tribe, because there aren’t any. So the way the GOP activates its voters’ tribal instincts, to get them to the polls, is to get them to hate the other tribe through fear and hate mongering fake news.

    Thus you have the spectacle of HRC having lost the election. And then are Right Wingers talking about the wonderful things their GOP candidate is going to do? Not so much. They’re mostly focused on bashing the one remaining acceptable scapegoat in the country– liberals and liberal politicians.

    How long after HRC has lost the election will people go on discussing the cattle futures trading she did 40 years ago, where there was no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on her part– but she’s a liberal politician, so you have to give in to your urge to chant “Lock her up” nevertheless. It makes your day and gives meaning to your life, doesn’t it?

    Having a bad day? Bash a liberal. That will make you feel better.

    Under Trump, certainly those social justice believers who use extreme tactics aren’t going to have any power– perhaps not even in the expensive universities where they have had power in the past, and where they had secluded from the outside world. They were so secluded that 99% of liberals living outside of San Fran and very expensive universities had never hear of them. I had never heard of them either, until I came to this site.

    But who cares that HRC, and extreme social justice tactics practitioners, and Dems in general have no power? That makes it even easier to bash a scapegoat, if that scapegoat has no power, doesn’t it?

    As I said, carry on. When one party gets almost all the power and the other is the scapegoat and gets all the blame, history shows that this works out just fine, doesn’t it?

    • The Nybbler says:

      Trump voters, and many other Republicans, are an interesting study lately. Incredibly sore winners. Incapable of positive emotion. Their idea of happiness is feeling vengefulness and exhibiting cruelty. They are addicted to their own adrenaline, and addicted to conflict with, and abuse of, the other political tribe.

      You need to adjust your model of reality. This is not true, not even on /r/the_donald. You get both the positive (“we’re going to make America great again”, “We did it! We elected a president with meme magic!”) and the negative (jail Hillary, throw out those illegals).

      How long after HRC has lost the election will people go on discussing the cattle futures trading she did 40 years ago, where there was no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on her part

      You can keep saying there’s no evidence, but it won’t make it so. In any case, the main person discussing those here was not a Donald Trump supporter and said he’d prefer Clinton to win over Trump.

      Under Trump, certainly those social justice believers who use extreme tactics aren’t going to have any power– perhaps not even in the expensive universities where they have had power in the past, and where they had secluded from the outside world.

      One can hope, but I rather doubt it will be that clean a reversal.

      They were so secluded that 99% of liberals living outside of San Fran and very expensive universities had never hear of them. I had never heard of them either, until I came to this site.

      I’m not willing to accept either your estimates or your implicit claim to be typical. Certainly many of these liberals outside SF had heard of Justine Sacco and Tim Hunt. Any of them who read the Guardian would be very familiar with their beliefs and actions. Perhaps they hadn’t heard the term SJW (a term mostly used by their opponents, though they have made some attempts to either muddy or reclaim it), but many were familiar with the phenomenon.

  4. Michael Crone says:

    This is my second try posting this. We’ll see if it works this time.

    Is there anyone else who would be interested in an SSC meetup either around the New York solstice celebration or on an earlier date in Michigan.

    • raemon777 says:

      Note that there’ll be a megameetup (aiming at the general SSC crowd) the day after the Solstice celebration (Solstice celebration is the 17th, Megameetup is 18th)

      https://www.facebook.com/events/187105845029955/

      • Michael Crone says:

        I’m considering it. I was hoping for something more directly SSC related.

        • raemon777 says:

          Well, I’m obviously totes biased here, but it is my honest opinion having seen both Solstice Megameetups and the previous NYC Slatestar meetup, that they were essentially identical. (The Solstice itself is certainly it’s own thing that has a very different feel, but the Megameetup is just “the sort of people who comment on Slatestarcodex hanging out and talking”)

  5. Michael Crone says:

    Would anyone else be interested in an SSC meetup either at the NYC solstice celebration or in Michigan on an earlier date?

  6. Aris C says:

    Hi Scott,

    Re your discrimination tax on hiring decisions argument in your left-liberal manifesto – wouldn’t it be almost the same to just abolish discrimination laws affecting pay, so that a Martian who realises he/she/it is being discriminated against can offer to work for a lower salary?

    Granted, there two issues with this proposal, a) that you do not get to fund scholarships and b) that it is unfair that two equally qualified are not paid the same.

    However, this solution addresses an issue your tax scheme doesn’t – that is, what happens if Martian candidates are actually not as qualified as Earthlings? With today’s mandatory minimum wage & discrimination laws, and under your tax scheme, and employer will have no incentive to hire Martians – hence, Martians would never get work experience, their offspring would grow up in an underprivileged environment &c, so they’d have no way to improve their lot [I cannot claim credit for this thought – Milton Friedman made this argument].

    Interested you to hear your thoughts.
    A.

  7. hyperboloid says:

    So Fidel Castro, Communist dictator, and metaphorical Bugs Bunny to the CIA’s Elmer Fudd, is dead. It’s the end on an era. His life truly embodied the great political contradictions of the twentieth century; A tragic story of a liberator turned tyrant, an epic conflict between imperialism and Communism, …the death of Fredo. In times like this I turn to the Simpsons for wisdom.

    • Deiseach says:

      I was curious as to the opinions any body here might have as to what this means: a change (further thawing) in US-Cuban relations, the beginning of the end of the Communist experiment in Cuba, or things will continue on much as they have done under Raúl, given that Fidel handed over power a decade ago?

      You have to say this for him: he outlasted everyone and everything that anticipated, waited for, or even tried to bring about his death. Even the Orange Bowl stadium, as per this extract from Whispers in the Loggia:

      And with Miami’s exile base at Calle Ocho (8th Street) choked through the night with revelers – in part as the nearby Orange Bowl, kept on reserve for decades as the community’s Ground Zero for this occasion, no longer exists

      • BBA says:

        Nothing will change. An explicit statutory condition for lifting the embargo is that neither Fidel nor Raul is in power. That leaves executive action, and the incoming State Department looks to be full of anticommunist hard-liners who are unlikely to budge a millimeter on anything short of full restoration of the Batista regime (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not far from the truth).

      • hyperboloid says:

        Fidel’s death will have almost no political consequences for Cuba internally. Any real change will have to wait until the ascension of Miguel Díaz-Canel, and the likely change to a more collective politburo led style of leadership akin to Deng Xiaoping era china. I tend to think post-Raul Cuba will move ahead with market reforms, even without any change in relations with the US, but only time will tell.

        As for what the shape of Trump administration Cuba policy will be, I don’t know that we have any way of knowing. BBA mentions the prospect of a state department full of old school cold warriors, and it could happen. But as of this post, Trump has yet to nominate a potential secretary of State, so at this point that is just speculation.

        Much of the detailed policy making in the executive branch goes on at the level of undersecretary and below, and amazingly enough, Trump’s policy appears to be to turn the selection of thousands of lower level appointees through out the federal bureaucracy over to his cabinet. Mattis will have his people at defense (And thank god for small mercies there), Sessions will have his people at justice, and who ever reigns in foggy bottom will have a free hand to do as he likes personnel wise. Add to that the fact that there will be in effect two sate departments, one in the Truman Building, and one in Trump tower, and you have a recipe for organizational chaos.

        The Cuban regime, and for that matter nearly every other third world dictatorship, will likely try to conduct negotiations directly with the Trump organization, offering valuable economic concessions in exchange for favorable policies. For all we know Trump will go full Hyman Roth, and the Havana skyline will soon feature the Yuuugist classiest Trump tower of them all.

  8. Moon says:

    To his credit, Trump himself doesn’t seem interested in locking Hillary up. Because he himself knows that all that stuff about her having committed criminal acts was just bs that he used to keep people from voting from her, so he could win the election.

    But his naive followers, and other Right Wingers who listened to Trump’s statements and to other fake Right Wing news about Hillary, want to still believe every word Trump ever said, even though he lies most of the time and contradicts himself constantly. So these folks still can’t let go of obsessing over how criminal HRC supposedly is, and wanting to put her in jail.

    Sometimes the stuff that people say and do to get elected, still keeps having effects after the election. If people are naive enough to believe fake news lies, they are not going to stop believing lies, just because the election is over.

  9. Moon says:

    Progressives and liberals are constantly bashed wherever they go, especially bashed by “rationalists.” Apparently there is some tendency for the vast majority of rationalists to be Right Wing Libertarians, and for them to believe that this is the only rational way to believe.

    Progressives are blamed for the problems of society. This despite the fact that they have zero power, that government in all branches and at all levels, is dominated by the sworn enemies of liberals, who seem obsessed with bashing them.

    Liberals are fantasized to be very powerful, e.g. to control the media– the media that somehow was unable to stop voters from electing a government which is dominated by the Right Wing. in all its branches, and at both state and federal levels. Somehow liberals are very powerful– in controlling a supposedly “liberal media” that is totally ineffective at getting voters to vote for liberals.

    How afraid and angry does one have to be, to be afraid of, and angry at, people who have no power– to feel compelled to bash them constantly, even after they’ve lost big elections, as powerless people do? Somehow they, and their defeated politicians, are still the ones to bash and blame for every serious problem.

    Make sure that you make this the whole meaning of your life, to bash liberals, to be afraid of them, and to cause them to become less powerful– although for liberals right now, to become less powerful would mean for them to have less than zero power.

    One party gets pretty much all the power. The other gets all the blame. Interesting how that works.

    Carry on. Because, historically, movements of this type usually turn out well, don’t they?

    • The original Mr. X says:

      This despite the fact that they have zero power, that government in all branches and at all levels, is dominated by the sworn enemies of liberals, who seem obsessed with bashing them.

      I’d hardly call academia, Hollywood, the mainstream media, the judiciary, the sitting President and the civil service “zero power”.

    • Tekhno says:

      You sound far more obsessed with the right wingers in this comment section then even they are obsessed over left wing power, so at risk of running foul of the rules, since I do think it is necessary, I’m going to lay you with the charge of more than a little projection.

      I agree that it’s silly to overstate the amount of power progressives have in society, especially since the Republicans in the USA have just taken congress and the Presidency. However, you’d be guilty of the reverse error if you were to claim that the right has had the boot over your side all this time. If so, then they’ve been pretty terrible at advancing their program, despite apparent zero resistance.

      How can it be that civil rights for minorities, black people, and gays advanced so much from the 60s up to now if this was the case? Clearly, contrary to what some right wingers imagine, there was a right wing pushback in the 80s, but even if we want to start the clock here, this did not reduce the power of the left to zero. Since, if we start the clock from the 80s up to now, we still see improvements in rights for minorities, with the most recent President, Obama, allowing gays to openly serve in the military, and same sex marriage bans being found unconstitutional in 2015.

      I think part of your problem is that you interpret the consensus as being overwhelmingly right wing because you live in the United States, which is relatively further to the right compared to Europe (the Conservative Prime Minister initiated the bill to make gay marriage legal in the UK), Canada (just passed bill C-16!), and Australia (very high minimum wage), even though all Western countries have moved to the left on most social issues and the welfare state (while the right maintains a tight grip on finance). By comparison, the USA looks ultra right wing, but if you compare it to how it was in the 80s, the trajectory has still been to the left. You’re stuck in the same bubble that you criticize others of being stuck in.

      Going forwards, something has certainly changed, and I think we are at the start of a genuine movement to the right and a reversal of many left wing victories. The wind has changed since Brexit and Trump, so yes, the right will have less and less credibility blaming things on the left, but up until this point there certainly hasn’t been a unilateral march of victory by the right wing. The left wing has won on most social issues, with the right winning on finance and military (and guns in America) issues since the 80s. Neither side has been reduced to having zero power and both sides remain extremely competitive. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote narrowly and only lost in the electoral college. During the campaign she had the backing of most major news networks. These things should point towards “progressives have zero power” being flat out false.

      Do you know that sometimes I even suspect you of being a right winger trying to discredit the left? I don’t think I’m alone on that. I’d like to see more left wing posters here, and I’d like to reach out to them, but you’re not really helping when you behave this way. Please adjust yourself. We can all forge a better standard of discussion forum together.

    • BBA says:

      We can’t post images here, but if we could I’d have itstimetostopposting.jpg cued up. I’m as close to a typical left-liberal as we get around here, I’m sympathetic to everything you say, but these multi-page rants are not helpful, to you or me or anyone else.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      The “everyone who disagrees with me is a single giant mass who control everything and are motivated by pure evil and stupidity” shtick has finally worn out its welcome. Banned for one month.

  10. Deiseach says:

    Let’s fight about something other than politics – climate change!

    This article in the news recently – and a sample news story based on it:

    Antarctic sea ice had barely changed from where it was 100 years ago, scientists have discovered, after poring over the logbooks of great polar explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

    Experts were concerned that ice at the South Pole had declined significantly since the 1950s, which they feared was driven by man-made climate change.

    But new analysis suggests that conditions are now virtually identical to when the Terra Nova and Endurance sailed to the continent in the early 1900s, indicating that declines are part of a natural cycle and not the result of global warming.

    It also explains why sea ice levels in the South Pole have begun to rise again in recent years, a trend which has left climate scientists scratching their heads.

    “The missions of Scott and Shackleton are remembered in history as heroic failures, yet the data collected by these and other explorers could profoundly change the way we view the ebb and flow of Antarctic sea ice,” said Dr Jonathan Day, who led the study, which was published in the journal The Cryosphere.

    “We know that sea ice in the Antarctic has increased slightly over the past 30 years, since satellite observations began. Scientists have been grappling to understand this trend in the context of global warming, but these new findings suggest it may not be anything new.

    So what does this mean?

    (a) It’s the Antarctic not the Arctic, that’s why it’s different

    (b) This proves AGW is a hoax!

    (c) This proves AGW is real!

    I defer to those with more knowledge of the subject.

    • In recent years, antarctic sea ice has been expanding even as arctic sea ice contracted. I don’t know if there is a generally accepted explanation, but the fact itself isn’t controversial. It’s just one of those facts that gets pointed at by one side of the debate and ignored, accept when it’s necessary to respond, by the other.

      I did a search of the NSIDC site, and found:

      “Antarctic sea ice appears to have reached its annual maximum extent on October 6. The maximum occurred relatively late compared to past years. In contrast to the past three years, the 2015 maximum did not set a new record high for the period of satellite observations, but was nevertheless slightly above the 1981 to 2010 average.”

      But I found that by a search on “antarctic.” If I just start at the top page, I get four links to “arctic,” none to “antarctic,” plus a link to “sea ice data” that gives me the arctic tab on the subject, although at that point I can click on the antarctic tab.

      I see a lot more news stories about arctic sea ice setting new lows than about antarctic setting new highs.

  11. Moon says:

    NYT article today, noting that fake news is Republican. People don’t click on Democrat biased fake news. That’s because Fox, Breitbart etc. have been immersing us in Right Wing propaganda for decades, so that’s the kind of propaganda that people believe.

    Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/world/europe/fake-news-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-georgia.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

    “Jobless and with graduation looming, a computer science student at the premier university in the nation of Georgia decided early this year that money could be made from America’s voracious appetite for passionately partisan political news. He set up a website, posted gushing stories about Hillary Clinton and waited for ad sales to soar.

    “I don’t know why, but it did not work,” said the student, Beqa Latsabidze, 22, who was savvy enough to change course when he realized what did drive traffic: laudatory stories about Donald J. Trump that mixed real — and completely fake — news in a stew of anti-Clinton fervor.”

    • Sandy says:

      People don’t click on Democrat biased fake news.

      They do, it’s just somehow never called fake news when it fits into prog narratives. Then it’s “Well, at least it got people talking about the issues!”.

      • Moon says:

        Yes, you found a single piece of fake news that is Democrat biased. Congratulations. I stand corrected. I should have said “There is ALMOST no fake news that is Democrat biased.”

        If you will read the NYT article above, you see that fake Dem news creators can not make any money off of it, whereas, Right Wing fake news creators are getting quite rich off of it, because people can’t stop clicking on it.

        • Sandy says:

          If you will read the NYT article above

          Sure, Carlos Slim’s blog is definitely a neutral arbiter of such things.

          you see that fake Dem news creators can not make any money off of it, whereas, Right Wing fake news creators are getting quite rich off of it, because people can’t stop clicking on it.

          Yes, but on the other hand, right-wing fakers are far too incompetent to compete with left-wing fakers. The former may have the quantity, but the latter has the quality. And that’s something, ain’t it?

          Like I said: some stories are considered “fake news”, others are considered “Unfortunate Developments that Nonetheless Helped the Narrative”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            When you are linking someone who died in 1957, you have to know you are stretching.

          • Sandy says:

            When you are linking someone who died in 1957, you have to know you are stretching.

            I could link to Mary Mapes, who had a fawning movie made about her exploits in the fake news business. Or I could link to Stephen Glass, who rose high in The New Republic while making up stories about rampant drug use and orgies at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Duranty is just the standard-bearer for this sort of thing.

          • For anyone curious, here is a link to a story on Glass with mentions of some other fakers.

            It’s worth noting that the right wing false news people are pointing at is mostly web sites with no particular reason for anyone to believe them who doesn’t already agree.

            The false news on the other side was in the NYT, New Republic, … .

          • BBA says:

            I was reintroduced to Stephen Glass when Ta-Nehisi Coates brought up his piece on DC taxi drivers, an implausible series of crude racial stereotypes which happened to flatter the retrograde views of the New Republic’s erratic owner/editor Martin Peretz. (A lefty nickname for TNR during the later Peretz years was “The New Racist”; it was also known as “even the liberal New Republic” since it was the nominally left-wing media source that most consistently argued for right-wing causes, like invading whatever country Bush was trying to rile us up against this week.) And of course, the article that brought Glass down, about a teenage hacker, was completely apolitical.

            It’s not so simple as “all the hoaxes are left wing omg!!!”

            And these Macedonian websites with newsy-sounding names that have only produced falsehoods are a different beast entirely from anything we’re talking about here.

        • Deiseach says:

          Moon, I’m inclined to ask why should amateurs on the Left bother creating fake news when the mainstream media is more than happy to do it for them?

          Or rather, when the mainstream media frets that maybe it’s a tiny bit one-sided in its coverage, then reassures itself that it’s doing all it can to be balanced and fair.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Jill Stein just fleeced the left for $7 million on the “news” that voting machines were totally hacked and Hillary could still win this. Fake news is far from being only a right-wing phenomenon.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Not just Jill Stein. The original articles like “Computer scientists urge Clinton campaign to challenge election results” (CNN) were also fake news, basically uncritically reporting a press release. It took me, holding a mere bachelors in CS, about two seconds to figure out a possible cause and a few minutes to confirm that it was plausible. Yet all the stories I saw on it before 538 weighed in were completely uncritical. That’s fake news, even if the bogus assertions were actually made.

        • Brad says:

          I think a lot of that is down the unfortunate economics for news media that have been unleashed by the internet. In the old days there would have plenty of time to get a second opinion from an independent expert before going to press the next day (or that night for TV news). But now ever outlet is racing to put up an article with a clickbait headline before it becomes stale.

      • Deiseach says:

        I think “fleeced” is a bit strong here, since Ms Stein was only hopping aboard the “Hillary wuz robbed!” bandwagon many had cheerfully set a-rolling ‘cross them prairies (ah, remember back when it was proof that Trump was talking crazy talk when he said the election was rigged and he’d contest the results if he lost? Yes?).

        The last-gasp dying swan routines have, thankfully, more or less settled down (appeals to faithless electors, plans to do away with the electoral college, all the write-in and phone-in scripts to state and national representatives I’ve seen shared around) but I suppose there’s a kick or two left in these dead frog’s legs before Trump is sworn in.

      • rmtodd says:

        If the voting machines were hacked, what exactly could a re-examination of them achieve, other than possibly confirming that a hack took place? I mean, if someone did hack them, they probably overwrote whatever the “correct” data was, so it’s not like you could say “Aha! The original vote for HRC was xxx,xxx instead of yyy,yyy”.

        • BBA says:

          The more common variety of voting machine is the Scantron style, where the voter fills out a paper ballot and the machine just scans and counts it. If the paper ballots are preserved (as they should be under any sane system), you can double-check them against the machine’s count.

          With touchscreen voting machines (in use in many counties in Wisconsin AIUI), there is no paper trail and there’s nothing to recount, as you said.

          • rmtodd says:

            Yeah, that’s basically what I was getting at; I should have been clearer and said “all-electronic voting machines” to rule out systems like the scanned paper ballots we have in Oklahoma.

      • Moon says:

        She wants a recount to find out if there is any voting machine fraud going on. Of course it is not news unless fraud is found– which it won’t be anyway, because it is so easy to cover up without a trace.

        You Right Wingers are really reaching– It is indeed true and correct news that Stein is collecting money to finance a recount. No lies there. That’s what is happening.

        • Deiseach says:

          Of course it is not news unless fraud is found– which it won’t be anyway, because it is so easy to cover up without a trace.

          Moon, please re-read that and then think about why you get little traction on here when you try to argue your points.

          “There is massive fraud perpetrated by the right-wingers to make sure Hillary lost the election, and the fact that no evidence will be found just means that the conspiracy is all-powerful!”

          That is the kind of reasoning one sees on sites arguing that Reptiloids are cross-breeding with humans and putting their hybrid offspring into positions of power and influence. If you want to be taken seriously, please step back from the brink a step or two.

        • Iain says:

          Having recently acquired Moon-credits by virtue of publicly outing myself as leftish, allow me to spend them by seconding Deiseach: Moon, all this discussion of electoral fraud is counter-productive. Clinton’s team has spent the time since the election quietly going over the evidence to determine whether there is any sign of electoral fraud, and have concluded that there isn’t. Here’s their official response to Stein’s announcement.

          If you are looking for a new pet cause to post about, I suggest taking a look at Trump’s transition team, and the ways in which Trump is already using the office of the presidency to help out his business empire. There are too many real issues right now to waste time on fake ones.

          • Moon says:

            The recounts won’t show anything. There can not be evidence of electoral fraud when electronic voting machines are used. The software used on them is considered a trade secret by law. Therefore, if fraud is committed on electronic voting machines, it is completely safe from ever being detected, because it is allowed, actually required, to be kept secret, by law.

            The solution is to get rid of electronic voting machines and use paper ballots. But if we wait until there is EVIDENCE of fraud, obviously we will wait forever, since fraud perpetrators are protected by law from ever being detected.

  12. Moon says:

    The Guardian on fake news and the election:

    Facebook’s failure: did fake news and polarized politics get Trump elected?
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/10/facebook-fake-news-election-conspiracy-theories

    • BBA says:

      “Fake news” is rapidly becoming meaningless. Originally it referred to the likes of The Daily Currant, which publishes plausible-but-false stories and hides behind being “satire” like the Onion (only without any of the jokes). Nowadays it’s more likely to refer to Breitbart or Zero Hedge, which are slanted and full of unsubstantiated rumors but really not that much worse than Salon or Gawker The Concourse, aside from being right-wing instead of left-wing. The former are a scourge and Facebook is within their rights to get them debunked; the latter are, though loathsome to me, within the bounds of legitimate discussion.

      • Moon says:

        I would like to see the sites full of unsubstantiated rumors, like Breitbart and Zero Hedge, debunked. But I can’t be hopeful that such a trend will last long. After all, we are in a capitalist society, where everything is about making money, regardless of whether it destroys our democracy and/or our country. And it’s profitable for FB and others to be a conduit for lies and propaganda. I would love to be proven wrong about that though.

      • A fake news site in the “arguably satire” sense targeting Christian fundamentalists. I think this is the one I came across as a result of someone who assumed it was real quoting it as evidence of how nutty fundamentalists are.

      • Brad says:

        Nowadays it’s more likely to refer to Breitbart or Zero Hedge, which are slanted and full of unsubstantiated rumors but really not that much worse than Salon or Gawker The Concourse, aside from being right-wing instead of left-wing. The former are a scourge and Facebook is within their rights to get them debunked; the latter are, though loathsome to me, within the bounds of legitimate discussion.

        When a site goes from printing rumors they think might be true to just printing everything they hear that strikes their fancy, or outright making up their own rumors, that’s when it becomes a real issue. From the outside it is hard to know exactly when or if they’ve crossed that line.

  13. Has anyone else seen this thing with the reddit CEO apparently editing user posts?
    https://gizmodo.com/reddit-ceo-caught-secretly-editing-user-comments-chatl-1789342358

    Apparently he’s been receiving a lot of abuse from sections of /r/the_donald crowd and finally just used admin powers to directly edit several posts abusing him. Now I can totally understand getting sick of that sort of rubbish he was dealing with (extreme abuse apparently), but from my uninformed perspective it also seems like a worrying precedent not to mention a dazzling display of poor judgment. It’s one thing for moderation policies to be politicized, but if site admins started editing user posts on a regular basis it challenges the fundamental integrity of online debate. It’s demolishing the only reasonable Schelling Fence that I can think of.

    This is not some obscure corner of the internet either. It seems like a huge deal to be happening on such a prominent site. I don’t have a strong opinion that someone is to blame here, just that this is a big deal.

    It generally feels like there’s a general societal trend towards echo chambers, ideological trolling tactics, and fragmentation in all parts of the political spectrum in the West, which is worrying to say the least. Does anyone agree/disagree? What would help to reverse this trend?

    • keranih says:

      Hadn’t seen it, and not crazy about the Gizmo link, but it seems that the largest issue was the secret editing, not the secret editing. Can’t block the signal, Mal.

      Also, it might just be me, but I dunno about reddit being all that +/- bag of chips.

      What is most disturbing for me is the allegation of lack of rules enforcement, which led to large amounts of written abuse, which then led to stupidity like “secret editing”.

      WRT echo chambers and fragmentation, yes, I agree this is happening.

      I am…less clear about it being a bad thing. Oh, sure, echo chambers not good. Shifting towards smaller groups with higher trust so we can discuss things without pulling knives on each other? I dunno. I think this can be good.

      And until I get a better idea on whether fragmentation is a good or bad thing, I don’t know if I want to reverse it or not.

      Reducing the number of things disagreed on is one way of reducing fragmentation, but both Scott and Monty Python have spoken on the need for splitters and outgroups. Plus, how do we stop disagreeing on something? A fiat from on high to either stop talking or agree that “X is the answer!”? Seems…unscientific. Likewise, reducing opportunities for buggering off elsewhere might make people learn to tolerate each other more, but also prevents people who are being abused by their group mates from finding greener pastures.

      …random assignment to sports franchises, with a mandated requirement to participate in n-count game day festivities?

      (That last one probably makes no sense to Brits, because the US doesn’t tend to have political divisions extend to who we cheer on at the stadium.)

      • Thanks for the comment. Chose the gizmodo link because it was a tech site rather than a news site the could be perceived to be politically biased, basically because I wanted to keep things meta if possible.

        I’m guessing the lack of rules enforcement was just trolls popping up quicker than they could swat them. It’s deliberately quite easy to sign up for a reddit account, so there has always been a reasonable level of trollery on reddit afaik. Its just here it focused into a political goal and the CEO of the site became the target when he tried to prevent it. Still stunningly ill advised methods on his part I think.

        I share most of your sentiment regarding the splitting stuff, and part of me is a big fan of Scott’s Archipelago. But another part of me worries when groups become organised enough not to just provide support and ideas, but manufacture their own insular environment of facts about the world. It seems then fragmentation is far more likely to have a slippery slope that leads to teaching “the outgroup must die”.

        So basically while I’m unsure about this topic, my knee-jerk reaction is for the a democratic authority to say… have any opinion you like, but don’t lie about/misrepresent the opinions or actions of others. And, again in a knee-jerk sense, I do find appealing that deliberate mixing of different groups in that sort of way, where you don’t have to conform to their view but you have to be civil, honest and get along with them at some basic level. Maybe I just can’t decide if I like Mill or Hobbes…

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Site owners and mods throwing hissy fits isn’t new, and neither is censorship of right-leaning subreddits.

      Personally I’m a lot more worried about the “fake news” thing. If the big social media networks decided to enforce a ‘whiteout’ on alternative news sources then a big chunk of the population would be thrust back into the pre-internet MSM dark ages. The ability to tamp down on dissent that has already existed in TV and print can’t be allowed to extend to the internet as well.

      What would help to reverse this trend?

      Break up of the big media companies, either through anti-trust action or just by having all of their content pirated and their ads blocked.

      People will always look to like-minded sources for news, that’s not new and it’s not the problem. But a bunch of uncoordinated bloggers can’t enforce a consistent narrative as well as an Official news apparatus. Without the present level of top-down control it will be harder for people to maintain ignorance and a lot more facts will slip through.

      • Yeah I have deep concerns on both sides of the fake news thing too, though I don’t think this is a sideshow by any means. I guess once we slide into a situation where the only choices are drowning in groupthinks or smothering all opinion, we’ve already lost our way. We really need better conceptual approaches to these issues now before one or the other of these options become entrenched.

        • Moon says:

          There is only one side to fake new– the Right Wing side. See NYT article I cited and quoted in my comment further below here.

          Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’

          • I’m not convinced the Right have the monopoly on disinformation, and don’t find debates over who’s the worst offender to be very productive. However the sides I was referring to above were not political but were to do with concerns about free speech on one hand and lies/hate speech on the other. They’re both valid issues to be worrying about, but I think if we consider one issue and forget the other, we’re lost.

      • Anonymousse says:

        I’m concerned that a bunch of uncoordinated bloggers will result in fractured knowledge. I’m worried that working from completely separate knowledge bases will greatly reduce our ability to have thoughtful discourse, which I think is already happening right now. If your facts and my facts uniformly disagree with each other, what hope do we have of reaching a consensus?

        In fact, I think it will be easier for people to maintain ignorance, as they simply won’t be exposed to the facts slipping through. And I don’t think many people will go out of their way to broaden their knowledge base if it requires reading dozens of disparate news sources. I have a hard enough time keeping up with information as it is, and I think (if only by virtue of reading this blog) I am above-average in that realm. Further fractionalization would make my job of being a reasonably informed commenter nearly impossible.

        • ” And I don’t think many people will go out of their way to broaden their knowledge base if it requires reading dozens of disparate news sources.”

          Google News does a pretty good job of feeding me information from lots of different news sources. Looking at the page at the moment, the top has a critical piece on Castro from the WSJ, a positive piece from the Havana Times.

          • Anonymousse says:

            I use Google News as well, and find it does pull from a wide variety of sources. I don’t think Google News will be sufficient if hundreds pf fractionalized blogs are the main sources of information. More importantly, a “main stream” news source is incentivized to appeal to a wider audience and thus cover a larger variety of viewpoints, something that a smaller site has no reason to do.

        • Deiseach says:

          I’m concerned that fact-checking is becoming (if it’s not already) a lost art. The traditional media still pays lip-service to correcting errata when pointed out, even if they do stick the correction in a tiny paragraph on the bottom of page ninety-four.

          Online sources? How do you even? I see a lot of hogwash being uncritically swallowed (and I’m not pointing at anyone in particular, it’s endemic all over the place regardless of age, race, gender, creed or politics) and no apparent ability to recognise that someone in 1789 is very unlikely to speak like someone from 1990 or 2005. Everyone is happy to take the worst possible interpretation of their enemies’ motives or actions and the best possible of their own side (which is an endemic human problem throughout all of history, so it’s not a modern development by any means) but this only gets amplified by no obligation towards balance and how easy it is to cherry-pick a selection of links, out-of-context quotes, and put spin on things.

          I dunno. As long as outrage and clickbait generate revenue, and as long as media runs on revenue so that traditional sources are ever more full of advertising, advertorials, and sponsored content and online sources will do anything for page views, I have no idea what the solution is, or if there even is one. We’re long past the days of one authoritative source for news, be that the BBC or Walter Cronkite, and that’s probably for the best, but the replacement isn’t cheering to contemplate.

          On the other hand, that could be taking a dim view of it and this is the usual churn and noise when moving from doing things the old way to a whole new paradigm, and it’ll settle down in time?

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          If your facts and my facts uniformly disagree with each other, what hope do we have of reaching a consensus?

          I believe we could, at this point, at least agree on which facts are in dispute.

          (Side rant: I never liked the phrase “agree to disagree”. Always came off as a lazy cop-out. At least declare what the point of disagreement is.)

          Agreeing on which facts are in dispute is already a step beyond what I usually see, where each side doesn’t even understand what the other side believes.

          Another important step, IMO, is to understand the nature of groups. Declaring an entire group that believes proposition P also believes Q is pretty bold – they often don’t, even if Q -> P. Members of that group may arrive at P from many different directions.

          Finally, once facts in dispute are established, individuals can then attempt to set down methods for resolving them, assuming they want to. This is a big step, since a lot of people are simply getting stuff off their chest, and sympathizing and offering a way out is all it takes.

          Some of those remaining may be treating their arguments as soldiers, and it becomes necessary to figure out what argument is their king, and assure them you aren’t going to attack it. (If you DO mean to attack it, then you’re probably doomed. Enjoy fighting uphill.)

          The ones left over after all that might be truly principled, which means you might have a common way to resolve which facts are actually facts.

    • Moon says:

      Most fake news is Right Wing. Most abusive trolls are Right Wing. And Republicans intentionally use bashing and trolling type political campaigning, because it wins elections. So any attempt to censor fake news will have the Right Wing up in arms. Without fake news like Fox and Breitbart, the Right would not win any elections. There are no factual reasons why the majority of the country’s voters would want to buy what the Right is selling– a program where ordinary people are screwed over by mega-corporations and the .01%. If they are truthful about that, no one in their right mind would vote for it.

      But FB and everyone else will probably end up giving in. Because the Right is powerful– controlling all 3 branches of government now. And so the Right could boycott and ruin businesses that refuse to publish their lies and propaganda. So FB and everyone else on the Internet, will probably give in to the Right Wing, as usual, and go back to making money being conduits for lies and propaganda. An historical account of this propaganda election strategy is here below– an account written by a Republican political scientist, BTW, from a Right Wing think tank.

      The political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
      Norm Ornstein on why the Republican Party was ripe for a takeover, what the media missed, and whether Trump could win the presidency.
      http://www.vox.com/2016/5/6/11598838/donald-trump-predictions-norm-ornstein

      I can’t blame anyone for denying that the U.S. is immersed in Right Wing propaganda. When propaganda works, almost everyone does deny that it exists. But election of people like DT, who lies 70% of the time, would likely be impossible if we were not so immersed, and if people had not learned over years to more easily believe lies than to believe the truth.

    • rmtodd says:

      The thing I found most startling about this incident is not that someone with admin privileges was pissed off by some message to use his privileges to remove it — that sort of thing has undoubtedly happened before. What I found startling is that the Reddit CEO apparently has an admin-level account/password on the main message-board systems. I mean, I’d expect the CEO’s job to consist of dealing with financial matters, meetings with the upper managers of the company, meeting with investors or reps from other companies with whom the company has a business relationship, not doing sysadmin tasks or admin tasks on the message boards (Reddit is big enough that the “keep the machines running” admins and the “deal with naughty users/messages on the boards” admins are probably separate departments). Under the Principle of Least Privilege, I wouldn’t have expected the admins to have ever given the CEO full admin privileges on the message boards.

      • Yeah I find it really weird too. Wikipedia says the company is valued at $500m, so its not like they’re some startup where the CEO is secretly also the network and database admin. I’ve worked places where the director demanded admin pw on the servers in a way that’s kind of difficult to say no to, but its pretty strange at a company this size. To be honest the casual way to which he admitted was really strange too. When I first looked I thought his account must have just been hacked.

        Banning abusive trolling is ok by me, but secretly editing user posts seems like a fence that a social media admin or company should never ever ever cross. And it sucks because for all its faults reddit is a cool site and it would be a tragedy if either editing became accepted or reddit failed as a site.

  14. Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

    Here’s a change of pace from the politics: with Black Friday here, what are some suggestions for gifts? I’m shopping for gifts for a scientifically-minded Catholic guy who likes books, especially nonfiction and science fiction, and a very religiously-minded Catholic guy who’s big on stereotypically ‘manly things’ like beer, beards, and knives (less so on mechanics and guns). I don’t want the gifts to be specifically Catholic; I mentioned it as a disclaimer that the gifts shouldn’t be things that might offend.

    • keranih says:

      A couple thoughts –

      There’s a new edition of L’Engle’s Walking on Water out (here) – I would call it more ideal for a gal, but.

      Mary Russel’s The Sparrow is another that might be found interesting, and – for a total change of pace – Son of the Black Sword is an epic-length new fantasy by Larry Correia.

      My brother really enjoyed The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination which was a delightful collection of different takes on mad geniuses.

      From Narnia to Space Odessey: The War of Letters between Arthur C Clarke and CS Lewis – I found this an interesting exchange and think it should probably get more notice than it does.

      There’s a 2007 edition out of The Crossbow by Ralph Payne-Gallwey.

      Other thoughts: Is there a knife-making class at the local college?

      • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

        Wow, you really hit it out of the park on those suggestions! All of those books look really good. The Mad Scientist’s Guide looks amazing, personally, and the war of letters book seems perfect for the first guy. The knife-making class is a good idea, but I don’t think that the second guy’s schedule permits much in the way of extra-curriculars; his job takes up a lot of time.

    • For someone who is big on knives, you might want to look at this very high end (and expensive) knife sharpening tool. I have it, and find that it works very well.

      For a highly biased recommendation, your scientifically minded sf fan might enjoy my second novel, which is a fantasy with scientific magic whose underlying logic is based on some of the mathematics of quantum mechanics.

      If either of your Catholic guys isn’t already a GKC fan, you might want to give him one of the essay collections. Deiseach can probably do a better job than I can of saying which would be best for the purpose.

      For your scientifically minded guy who likes nonfiction, The Selfish Gene, if he hasn’t read it, is very good. Also Thinking Fast and Slow.

      • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

        The reader’s a rabid Chesterton fan; he’s actually the reason I was first introduced.

        I had no idea you wrote fiction, but I’ll check it out! Hard SF is definitely his speed.

        • Does he have the collected poetry of GKC? If not, he should.

          I’ve published two novels. The first was marketed (by Baen) as fantasy, but is really a historical novel with made up history and geography–no magic, no elves, dwarves, or equivalent. The second, which I recommended, is a fantasy with scientific magic, set about thirty years after the magical equivalent of Newton, the person who takes the first big step towards converting magic from a craft to a science. That sounded better suited to your purpose.

    • Deiseach says:

      For science fiction, I’d recommend John C. Wright’s Count to the Eschaton series – warning: has got Catholic themes and the author is also one of the Sad Puppies so politics warning there, but it is basically the tale of two warring geniuses trying to steer the fate of Earth and Humanity over millenia before the machine intelligences arrive to enslave us when we incurred a debt by triggering the Monument trap (also they are fighting over who gets the girl). It’s old-school trashy pulp SF of the Big Dumb Object ilk, only bigger and dumber than anything you may have read before, and I love it (always remembering, of course, that YMMV and your friend might hate it).

      The Amazon page is a little out of date; it says it’s a four-book series but book five has just been released and whenever Tor get around to publishing book six (which has, according to Mr Wright, been sitting on the editor’s desk for over a year) that will be the end of the series.

      Or maybe not. He pulled a huge plot-twist in this latest one.

      As for your other friend, there are so many craft-beers and micro-breweries springing up all over (even here in my home town) that there is a bewildering choice of quirkily-named brews out there (God be with the days when it was Guinness, Murphys, or Beamish for stout or Smithwicks if you wanted to be fancy), so there probably are all sorts of taster packs being sold for Christmas. I imagine you can purchase a couple from a local supermarket or off-licence, stick a bow on them, and let him see which one (if any) he likes.

      • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

        Catholic themes are a plus, actually; I was just trying to avoid an overtly religious gift since I wanted the present to be more about interests than identity. Craft beers are a good choice, too; thanks!

  15. FullMeta_Rationalist says:

    Apropros of Trump’s Action Plan, what does SSC think of the Common Core?

    • keranih says:

      Education of young kids is not my field. My relations who are teachers say, (and I paraphrase)

      – Whether or not you like the idea of Common Core has a lot to do with how much you’ve dealt with kids who were previously in a school district in another state. (*) It also has to do with how much you think Washington DC (vs your state capital) should be telling you about how to educate your classroom full of kids.

      – Teachers have been dealing with kids who couldn’t pick up on concepts in the “traditional” manner for forever. Many schools – either deliberately or not – had developed workarounds – one or two teachers who were great at figuring out how the kid had to learn the material, and the kids with trouble might do some extra work wth them until they caught up. Common Core pretty much demands every teacher know all the tricks. There was a reason that schools didn’t use “all the teachers know all the tricks” before.

      – In many areas, the rollout was HORRIFIC – they didn’t have materials, they didn’t have competent people to teach the teachers the new system, the whole thing was a mess. (This is the largest thing I’ve heard.) This was perhaps inevitable with a complex top down solution dumped on a decentralized system. It was still hard to live through.

      – From outside the system, my first question is “how are they measuring the success of the program?” None of my relations are high enough to know/explain how this is being done, and I think that’s a very bad sign.

      Again, not my field, but I have a desire to mail all the administrators a copy of Seeing Like a State.

      (*) Apparently, the urban/suburban schools are dealing more with state-state transitioning kids. In rural/suburban schools, they’re dealing more with high truancy/broken home kids, and are doubtful CC has a fix for that.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        I appreciate your writing this, keranih. I’ve not followed Common Core, and only got exposure to it in the form of occasional posts about it shared on various social media, and I only dug into the ones showing other ways of doing math. (As a math major, I found the “new” methods sound, but different – consistent with your account here.)

        I’ll make the standard disclaimers here about how your account might be too subjective, AFAIK, given my definite naivete on the topic, but other than that, this is the first plausible summary of CC that I’ve read.

        One argument I can think of in favor of CC is that, while most teachers cannot know all the special tricks, it’s possible that they could have stood to learn a few more, and CC pushed some of them in that direction. Whether that was worth what was spent on it is a claim I could see as dubious, but it does at least raise the question in my mind of whether teachers would benefit from learning a few more “tricks” at the expense of a seminar or two. (E.g. doing some arithmetic via the “making change” method.) My understanding is that teachers already do this type of training all over the place, but I have no idea one way or the other how well this was tracked – for all I know, maybe there were large parts of the country where fewer teachers were doing this.

        • keranih says:

          Good points, Paul.

          For me, I think that trying new ways of doing things is good, so long as one can track if this new way is better or not. And the whole education sector looks (to me) like it is allergic to the idea of objective measures. Breaks out in hives & panic attacks.

          (No, SIL, not talking about you.)

          PS: the one “new” trend that I think is good and should be tried more often is using non-fiction to teach reading/parts of speech/writing. While I suppose an argument could be made that as a narrative, self-focused species, we are more intrigued by stories of Dick and Jane going up the hill, but why not include narratives about the parts of a tree and what nutrients it needs?

    • Brad says:

      I don’t see any particular reason that ever tiny little school district needs to have its own curricula. The idea that the local school board has some special insight into the supposed unique nature of their little snowflakes and so can design some bespoke curriculum that is superior to a general purpose one is nonsense.

      There is an argument from natural experiments through homogeneity, but I think many of these choices are very close — it may be better, objectively speaking, to teach trigonometry with geometry rather than holding off and teaching it as part of pre-calculus, but it isn’t the type of thing that is going to make a huge difference in anyone’s life. And there are countervailing benefits to uniformity. Not just the obvious ones having to do with kids moving from one part of the country to another, but also less obvious ones having to do with being able to get better objective measures of outcomes (but with respect to students and to teachers) when everyone is trying to accomplish the same thing.

      That’s not to say that I think every school should use the same textbook, or ever teacher the same lesson plans, but they should by and large being trying to teach the same things in the same years. At least as to public school, and at least as to the middle, say, 75% of student ability.

  16. jdwill07 says:

    Three reasons National Popular Vote by state compact will probably not make it:

    1. They have taken all the low hanging fruit, further states have strong reasons not to sign on per Nate Silver

    2. States Rights – This was thought to be a relic of the South and hoary conservatives like Pat Buchanan, but seems to be alive and well in NY, IL, and CA now that DJT is president.

    2. If they get past #1 and #2, then there could well be a constitutional challenge

    Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3

    No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

    • shakeddown says:

      OTOH, If Trump really screws up, it’s suddenly going to start looking a lot more appealing to a whole lot of people. And if we get another massive EC/popular vote split within a decade or two, people might also be angrier. It’s not enough anger to push things under current circumstances, but if elections start diverging more, it might be.

      • jdwill07 says:

        Well, he could, but so far (early days) he is showing some very good signs. I am still puzzling through whether I could support PV. If we did, 8 or so metro areas would drive the country. We have had centralized power from essentially city states across history and it usually failed because provinces rebelled in conjunction/collusion with some external challenge. I think the founders were thinking about this when they set up the Electoral rules.

        • shakeddown says:

          If we did, 8 or so metro areas would drive the country.

          Not really – rural voters would still make up a far bigger share of the vote than any ethnic or religious minority, and those guys get politicians wooing them all the time. They might get a slightly less disproportionate piece of the political power (they’d still get disproportionate senate and probably house representation).

          We have had centralized power from essentially city states across history and it usually failed because provinces rebelled in conjunction/collusion with some external challenge.

          I’m confused what you’re arguing there – most governments in history have, at some point, failed. For most of history the vast majority of the population was rural, but since the industrial revolution, revolutions have been more likely to be urban than rural (e.g. Boston Tea Party, French Revolution).

          I think the founders were thinking about this when they set up the Electoral rules.

          The original purpose of the EC was supposed to be to keep populists out of the white house (the founders wanted there to be a barrier of elitism between the common man and the final decision). Making the Senate have two people per state (and then reinforcing this by splitting up rural territories, like Dakota, into multiple states), however, was partly motivated by this.

  17. Tekhno says:

    It’s time for another left wing reply train! I don’t want people to get drowned out. I don’t want people to get dogpiled. I care about your voice.

    You are not alone.

    In the interests of solidarity and breaking through the right wing consensus of SSC, please respond below if you are one of our left wing posters. No, this is neither madness or mockery (perish the thought!). What must be recognized is that people stay silent when they think that they are alone, and only by speaking out can we change that.

    Solidarity!

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I will assume you are actually serious, but I feel like I’m being trolled.

      Here.

      • Tekhno says:

        But what would the punchline even be?

        PSYCHE! I’ve got you in my fascist dungeon now.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          Tekhno made a bet with me a few days ago that he couldn’t produce an effective registry of SSC leftists for use in a soft purge. I guess I owe him $20.

          ^— joke post I had been thinking about making ever since his 4:18pm post

          • HeelBearCub says:

            This joke is not clearly enough a joke, despite the statement. I was at first unclear whether someone was joking back then or you are joking now.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Sorry that wasn’t clear. Maybe my comments below clear it up?

            (I have to remind myself that I read and think over others’ comments here a lot more than people probably think over mine…)

        • Moon says:

          You don’t have to SAY you’re Left of Center to know you are in the Right Wing dungeon here. Just express a few Left of Center views, and you will soon find yourself feeling grateful that your head has not yet been chopped off.

          And, hbc, if it’s a joke, it’s certainly less harmful, so far, than a lot of the treatment Left of Center people receive on this site. So I’m okay with it so far, whether it was a joke or not.

          In fact, I’m glad we did this. Because now I have a list of people whose posts I can probably read, who I can be fairly sure will not be trying to break my nose, metaphorically speaking of course, on the Internet, for being Left of Center. A few of them may disapprove of my not being the typical Left Winger here, i.e. a door mat bending over backwards to be fair to Right Wingers who are abusive to me. But I’m used to that by now.

          There are times when I just am not willing to read any more posts that are abusive to me or to other Left Wingers. At first I was trying to stop reading all the posts of the abusive people. But there are too many. Far easier to keep track of a small list of people who are either Left, or Center, or do not like echo chambers.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Just express a few Left of Center views, and you will soon find yourself feeling grateful that your head has not yet been chopped off.

            Not true – OTTOMH, some LoC views that don’t:

            – same sex marriage is okay
            – judging potential job performance on race is not okay
            – universal basic income is worth considering
            – there exist some terrible privately-run schools
            – there exist some publicly-run programs that a lot of people like
            – there exist Republicans who cheat, steal, lie, etc.
            – there exist Democrats who are pretty decent
            – Richard Spencer should not have more political influence
            – turning the US into a Christian state is most likely a bad idea; dismantling any existing apparatus that is clearly pro-Christian-only is probably a good idea
            – everyone has a default right to bodily autonomy
            – evolution is much more likely to be more accurate than intelligent design; the latter is unfalsifiable, proves too much, etc.
            – the global average temperature is probably trending upward; human activity is probably causing a net increase
            – Cthulhu swims left
            – more individual freedoms are, ceteris paribus, preferable to less

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Paul Brinkley:

            Most of those are akin to mottes. But most of the action is in the bailey. For instance, if I say that gay marriage is a-ok, but that conservatives aren’t very accepting of that, then the argument starts.

            In other words, gay marriage is only a-ok around here, because the conservatives want to claim it’s not a liberal issue.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – “For instance, if I say that gay marriage is a-ok, but that conservatives aren’t very accepting of that, then the argument starts. In other words, gay marriage is only a-ok around here, because the conservatives want to claim it’s not a liberal issue.”

            Gay Marriage is A-Ok. Conservatives are definately the least-accepting group of that. Gay Marriage is definately a liberal issue.

            Has someone argued the other side of this? On what grounds?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @FacelessCraven:
            There has been consistent argument here that conservatives don’t care about gays getting married, don’t want it to be illegal, are just fine with it, why do you keep bringing this up as if conservatives want to end gay marriage, etc.

            As a specific for instance, I made the point that gay marriage (and other gay rights) were dependent on SCOTUS to survive, and that most states still had many anti-gay laws on the books, and therefore SCOTUS appointments by Trump could harm gay rights regardless of how Trump feels personally. Multiple counter arguments were made that conservatives just want the issue to go away.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC

            The arguments I’ve seen here are that conservative politicians and potential justices would just like to see the issue go away. That’s not the same as saying they are OK with gay marriage; it just means they think the harm to them of relitigating the issue is not worth the gain.

            (My argument, slightly different, is they will not wish to overturn the decision so soon. This, too does not mean they are OK with it.)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @HeelBearCub – There is what people would prefer, and there is what people are willing to expend political capital to enforce.

            I think the gun culture is great. Liberals are definately the least accepting group toward the gun culture. Gun Rights are definately a conservative issue.

            …And yet Obama made no push toward further gun restrictions, and his court picks didn’t overturn Heller. I was not confidant that Hillary’s appointments would overthrow the Second Amendment, and did not think concerns over that happening were a good reason to vote against her. My sense has been that liberals, while still generally hostile to the idea of gun rights, have realized that the issue is a loser for them and have more or less given up on it for the foreseeable future.

            From inside the Christian community, the sense I get is that we think our former position was doomed from the start and regret taking it in the first place. There are strong arguments for why Christians should not enforce our beliefs via secular law, and for why this in fact corrupts Christianity. As doing so becomes obviously impractical, those arguments gain strength.

            On the other hand, a court that decisively leans conservative very well might overthrow Gay Marriage or Roe v. Wade, just as a court that leans decisively liberal might overthrow Heller. I am pretty sure most conservatives object to liberal standards of jurisprudence and vice versa, and I don’t see any way to really fix that. But I don’t think repealing Gay Marriage is a conservative or republican priority in and of itself.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        I wouldn’t have pegged Tekhno as left-wing, but I think he’s sincere. Of course, I’m not left-wing either.

        …at least, not unless I’m talking with dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. Side note for any self-identified moderates/small-l libertarians/ancaps/minarchists/other types, if you ever want to feel like a raging pinko, talk politics with a State Trooper from a state like Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee, or Kentucky some time. 😛

        • hlynkacg says:

          Well your choice of pseudonym aint exactly helping there.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Hey, Lysenko was one of the greatest heroes of the Cold War.

            Single-handedly crippled Soviet life science and agriculture for years, maybe decades 😛

    • Spookykou says:

      *raises hand awkwardly*

      present?

      (I have always thought of myself as liberal and leftish in any case)

    • Moon says:

      Me.

      So far, there are 3 of us then: me Hbc and Spookykou. Have all the others left? Are you Left of center, Tekhno?

      • Tekhno says:

        I’m pure center. Radiating light and magnanimity.

        • Moon says:

          So there are 2 of us radiating light. Very good. Well, actually I am reflecting the sun’s light. But we are both spreading light around the world. Which is useful.

        • keranih says:

          Radiating light and magnanimity

          If that’s not a Mike Carey Lucifer reference, I’m going to be very disappointed.

    • BBA says:

      Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong, dood!

    • rlms says:

      Interesting to see whether all self-described leftists are seen that way by the rest of the commentariat. I consider myself left-wing, and assume others see me that way (at least in this context). Unrelated: anyone think they know which handle I switched from at roughly OT61?

      • The only commenters I currently have pegged as leftist are Moon and HBC, but I’m not very good at keeping track, so there could be a dozen others whose comments are either not sufficiently common or not sufficiently obvious to attract my notice. I’m not sure I could name any pro Trump or alt-right commenters, not because I haven’t seen such comments but because I don’t remember who made them.

        Part of a general pattern of not remembering people’s names.

        • hyperboloid says:

          The only commenters I currently have pegged as leftist are Moon and HBC…. so there could be a dozen others whose comments are either not sufficiently common or not sufficiently obvious to attract my notice

          … I’m hurt you haven’t noticed me.

    • Mark says:

      I think I might be left wing.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I’m a left winger. Certainly by American standards.

    • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

      I consider myself to be left wing, though I don’t comment all that much.

      • Moon says:

        Welcome, bringer of the final, heaven-like stage of history to the immanent world. That’s quite a project you have taken on.

        I had to look up the definition of the phrase, Immanentizing Eschatons.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      Uh, sure. Hi.

    • erenold says:

      Wait a second…

      Is there space here for an utter oddball of a neo-Confucian meritocrat who generally tends to agree more, in the Western context, with centre-left ideologies and institutions?

      Meh, thinking about it, I’m probably more of an exotic Blue Tribe auxilia than a truly committed ideological leftie. Scootch over, anyway.

    • tmk says:

      By SSC comment section standards, I am happy to be left wing.

      Actually, I used to be much more left-wing, but over time I have opned up to the libertarian or neoliberal perspective. So I am currently confused about how those ideologies are losing to right-wing populism.

      • ” the libertarian or neoliberal perspective.”

        Can you describe how you use “neoliberal?” I’ve mostly seen it used as a negative term. How does it differ from “libertarian,” “classical liberal” or “liberal” in the usual modern sense?

        • ChetC3 says:

          The Clintons are neoliberals, but calling them “libertarians” or “classical liberals” would be a stretch.

        • hyperboloid says:

          A neoliberal is someone who is committed to classically liberal economic positions, without necessarily holding to any general libertarian doctrines. In extremis in can refer to people like Pinochet or Fujimori, who supported free market policies while being otherwise extremely authoritarian.

          Confusingly, in the United States it’s also used to mean “centrist democrat”, of the DLC/Bill Clinton variety. The two definitions only marginally overlap.

          • BBA says:

            “Liberal” in the US doesn’t mean the same thing as it does in the rest of the world, so of course “neoliberal” would be even more confused.

            American “neoliberal” is more rest-of-world “liberal” than typical American “liberal”, I think. Like “left” and “right” these are context-dependent and don’t really have solid meanings that can be pinned down.

          • IrishDude says:

            Does neoliberal have any social policy characteristics to you?

        • rlms says:

          I think neoliberal can be used in three ways (at least). One, it can be a synonym for “libertarian” (generally used as a slur). Two, it can mean holding libertarian economic policies without accompanying libertarian social policies (a la Thatcher, Reagan, Pinochet at the extreme). Three, agreeing with (at least up until recently) the political consensus of Clinton in the US, Merkel in Germany, the Conservatives in the UK etc. I think some people also occasionally use it in a different way to mean some sort of post-liberal thing.

          • Tekhno says:

            And now some conservatives have started using it to refer to the post 2010 identity politics leftists. It’s all very confusing, and I think we need to smash the political lexicon, wipe the slate clean, and start all over again. People don’t even agree on what things like nationalism, socialism, and private property mean.

    • superordinance says:

      What’s up, comrades?

    • Iain says:

      I guess we’re doing this?

      I am center-left by Canadian standards, which I believe equates to “raging communist” by American standards.

      • dndnrsn says:

        If you’ve ever voted NDP, then certainly.

        • Iain says:

          Of course, comrade!

          • dndnrsn says:

            I’m a Liberal, myself. Party of government! Plus JT is a real hottie.

          • Iain says:

            Strictly speaking, I am currently a member of the Conservative Party, having signed up to do my patriotic duty and keep Kellie Leitch as far away from the levers of power as humanly possible.

            I would make a snarky remark about Trudeau being a vapid stuffed shirt, except A) he never seems to actually wear a shirt, and B) I voted Liberal anyway, so I don’t have much of a leg to stand on.

      • stillnotking says:

        And I’m center-left by American standards, which translates to “blood-crazed fascist” by Canadian standards. See you at the revolution! ?

    • ChetC3 says:

      I’m on the political left, and a de facto SJW.

      • AnonEEmous says:

        don’t do this. an SJW is not you, probably.

        • Iain says:

          I disagree. The ritual hatred of the evil SJW in this comment section is ridiculous, and actively impedes clarity of communication and thought.

          I, too, am Spartacus an SJW.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            I can’t speak to this comment section. But more generally, hatred of the SJW is well-founded and actively enforces good ideas over stupid ones.

          • Iain says:

            There are people in this comment section who agree with the goals of social justice but use “SJW” to describe people with whom they disagree on means. There are people in this comment section who describe the potential nomination of a populist congressman from the Midwest to be DNC chair as “SJW madness” because he is Muslim.

            Define your terms.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            You mean, the one who fucked heavy with the Nation of Islam? Louis Farrakhan’s homie?

            Face it, it is kind of SJW madness. The nomination could’ve been made in entirely good faith from a party uninterested in social justice groups, but we know that the Dems aren’t currently and he’s a black Muslim who, as mentioned, fucked pretty heavy with the Nation of Islam. From where I’m standing, it definitely seems like no small part of this nomination is doubling down on appealing to victim groups, and with a guy who, again, fucked with the Nation of Islam, no less.

          • Sandy says:

            There are people in this comment section who describe the potential nomination of a populist congressman from the Midwest to be DNC chair as “SJW madness” because he is Muslim.

            Ellison is a Farrakhan acolyte who repeatedly defended his mentor, and just a few days ago he canceled an interview with the NYT after they told him they were going to ask him questions about his support for Farrakhan.

            Overlooking things that would or should be disqualifying factors for anyone else simply because in this particular case they apply to a minority individual is very much a cornerstone of SJWism.

          • “I, too, am Spartacus an SJW.”

            Can you define SJW? I’m not sure if you are saying “I consider myself an SJW and the picture of SJW’s common here is wrong” or “I consider myself an SJW, SJW’s really are what is described here, and I’m for it.”

          • Iain says:

            We apparently have very different definitions of “acolyte”, “mentor”, and “fucked heavy”.

          • “There are people in this comment section who describe the potential nomination of a populist congressman from the Midwest to be DNC chair as “SJW madness” because he is Muslim.”

            Two points:

            1. “Describe the potential nomination as SJW madness because he is a Muslim” is somewhat different from “Describe the potential nomination because he is a Muslim as SJW madness.” Which claim was being made?

            2. I gather that “Muslim” here means “supporter of the Black Muslim movement.” The original black Muslim movement was not Muslim in the ordinary sense of the term, despite the name, since it held wildly heretical views, so it’s worth distinguishing. I gather that there was a later split between members who were moving towards orthodox Islam and ones who were not.

            I’m not sure just where Farrakhan, who I gather Ellison is claimed to be a supporter or, fits into that.

          • Brad says:

            “I, too, am Spartacus an SJW.”

            Can you define SJW? I’m not sure if you are saying “I consider myself an SJW and the picture of SJW’s common here is wrong” or “I consider myself an SJW, SJW’s really are what is described here, and I’m for it.”

            Maybe you didn’t see the movie, but when the characters say “I am Spartacus” it isn’t a claim to actually be Spartacus, rather it is something like “if you are going to hang him, hang me too”.

          • “We apparently have very different definitions of “acolyte”, “mentor”, and “fucked heavy”.”

            Googling around, I found a story very critical of Ellison with lots of details. If the facts alleged in the story are correct, the description you disagree with is justified. Do you know if they are?

            Some details (all from the story, which could for all I know be bogus):

            Ellison was a defender of the NOI as a third year law student, 1989-90. He appeared onstage with an NOI spokesman in 1995, wrote a column defending Farrakhan using the name Keith X Ellison. In 1997, using the last name Muhammed, he wrote that “Minister Farrakhan is a tireless public servant of Black people, who constantly teaches self-reliance and self-examination to the Black community. . . .”

            All of that certainly looks as though he considered himself both a member of the NOI and a supporter of Farrakhan for at least seven or eight years, which, if true, would seem to justify the description you disagree with.

          • Iain says:

            David Friedman: The original post, in its entirety:

            In other political news, the Bern, Elizabeth Warren and Charles Schumer want to promote Muslim Keith Ellison to DNC chairman.

            This is either extremely clever because it’ll keep him from running in the 2020 primaries, or SJW lunacy.

            I don’t want to make this a referendum on an individual poster, so I’ll refrain from linking directly, but if you want to go back and read the context it was in OT 62.25. Notably, the person who posted it never mentioned Farrakhan. The link does mention that he is Muslim, but not as a central focus, and not in the context of the Nation of Islam. Regardless of what you think about the Farrakhan-related case against Ellison, that’s not the case that was being made.

            Speaking of that case: in addition to spewing anti-semitism, Farrakhan also said a lot of stuff about “self-reliance and self-examination in the black community”, as you quoted. It seems likely to me that Ellison liked that stuff and spent time in denial about the associated antisemitism. It is unclear to me that he’s met Farrakhan more than once or twice, which makes “acolyte/mentor” an obvious exaggeration, and he’s long since denounced Farrakhan in terms that are clearly sufficient for the Jewish community in Minneapolis, with whom by all accounts he has a good working relationship.

            In terms of my Spartacus quip: I don’t know if I’m an SJW. Are you far-right? Like “far-right”, “SJW” is mostly used as a pejorative to express disdain for an undifferentiated outgroup. In that sense, whether or not I am an SJW depends a lot on who is asking.

            There are certainly concepts associated with social justice that I support. I am happy to call myself a feminist. I think the idea of “privilege” is a useful conceptual tool. I am center-left by Canadian standards. There are cases where I think that social justice people go overboard; there are cases where I think that the anti-social justice consensus on this website goes overboard and pats itself on the back for punching straw men. I’d like to think that, in my conversations here, I have not used any of the excessive and vicious tactics that are well known as the exclusive domain of the nefarious SJW, unless mild sarcasm became a super-weapon while I wasn’t watching.

            Does that answer your question?

          • @Iain:

            Thanks for quoting the original. I’m not sure if I had seen it. One problem with reading things here is that if a comment comes in while I am reading comments and is above the point I am currently reading, I don’t think I ever see it.

            Take my point about the distinction between Muslims and NOI as applicable to the original you quoted as well as the later discussion. It’s an important difference

            But my other point still holds. Choosing someone who is a Muslim because he is a Muslim would be, if not SJW madness, at least arguably bad SJ policy. Choosing someone for other reasons who happens to be Muslim is reasonable enough, although in the current U.S. political situation it might be imprudent.

            Assuming the points about the Farrakhan connection are true, I think it does indicate serious problems with Ellison, as does the fact that he apparently lied about it in the past, claiming a much briefer and more distant involvement with the NOI.

            I agree, however, that there are good things to be said about the NOI as well as bad. I’m not sure if the same is true of Farrakhan.

            “Are you far-right?”

            Depends on your definition of right. I’m a proponent of anarcho-capitalism, which by one definition is as far right as you can go.

            “Like “far-right”, “SJW” is mostly used as a pejorative to express disdain for an undifferentiated outgroup.”

            That may be true in some places. I don’t think it is true here. I can’t tell from your comments how much of SSC you have been reading for how long.

            And I hadn’t seen the Spartacus film. I see almost no films, preferring to waste my time arguing with people online instead.

          • “I have not used any of the excessive and vicious tactics that are well known as the exclusive domain of the nefarious SJW”

            I’m not sure anyone here claims they are exclusive to the SJW, merely that they distinguish the SJW from the generic SJ. Most of the tactics in question have been used, perhaps in other times and places, by people who are not leftists at all.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            You know SJW gets thrown around cavalierly here. Please don’t try and make the argument that it is used with any sort of specific definition on a consistent basis.

            It’s also very clear that that Iain has his tongue slightly in his cheek, which you reply to as if it were literal.

            I’m sure this style works for you in many arguments. I find it to be disingenuous.

          • “You know SJW gets thrown around cavalierly here.”

            Ever? I wouldn’t be surprised. I gather true of the comment about appointing a Muslim.

            But not often enough to keep it from having a reasonable clear meaning here.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            Oh please, I can find multiple examples in this Open Thread where it is misused/not used in the way you say is the accepted definition.

            Part of what you’re seeing is the diffusion of identity politics into the fabric of our discourse. In a way, the SJWs have won.

            The SJWs seem to be in full rout, and their reaction has been frankly kind of pathetic (cry-ins, pleas to Trump not to be mean to them, indulging in fantasies about gaming the electoral college), while the anti-SJW types are emboldened and energized.

            Ooooh, I like that. Considering there was a campaign to donate to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name, I think any SJWs who want to troll the survey can well afford to stump up a dollar.

            Left Winger (Democratic Party Regular)
            Left Winger (Communist:tankie)
            Left Winger (Communist:intellectual)
            Left Winger (Communist:NOS)
            Left Winger (Socialist/Berniebot)
            Left Winger (SJW) (with subcategories)
            Left Winger (bleeding heart)
            Left Winger (left-libertarian)
            Left Winger (trade unionist)
            Left Winger (anarcho-syndicalist)

            SJW was coined to refer to intersectional feminists

            Justin Trudeau, for example, bears many of the hallmarks of SJW, and is the prime minister of Canada.

            It is extremely easy to find plenty of examples of SJW being used as a boo light around here. The fact that, for purposes of argument, you claim to be blind to this speaks poorly of you, one way or the other.

            In fact, you asked Iain to define SJW immediately after he had given two competing definitions. Given your stated desire to argue, I have to think you are trolling.

          • @HBC:

            One of your examples of the loose use of SJW is a claim, whether true I don’t know, about its origin, not about its current use. None of the others supports either your account or mine.

            For instance:

            “the SJWs have won.”

            “The SJWs seem to be in full rout, and their reaction has been …”

            “I think any SJWs who want to troll the survey can well afford to stump up a dollar. ”

            None of those tells us what subset of left winger “SJW” is being used as a label for.

            Has anyone here described you as an “SJW?” Described Jill/Moon as one? On your account it should happen routinely.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            Yeah, I figured that you would try and argue that those usages of SJW are actually speaking particularly of actual SJWs.

            They are not specific, you should know it. The fact that you won’t even consider the possibility further confirms my thoughts that you are basically just trolling.

          • Moon says:

            Is that what trolling is? People on this board think they are rationalists, think they are objective and unbiased. But this is a Right Wing echo chamber here, despite people’s beliefs that they are being objective. Nothing that you or I or anyone else here is doing, has changed that, or will.

            Humans are being capable of infinite self-delusion. These people think they are objective. We think we are going to persuade them to become objective. All of us are wrong.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            So what you’re saying is, after an accusation was submitted, David didn’t just submit? he actually asked for proof of misuse?

            If you want me to justify, for example, why Trudeau bears the hallmarks of SJW, then I will be more than pleased to do so. The makers of the other remarks may have to stand for themselves, but looseness of the term hasn’t been proven; just looseness / applicability.

            Moon, here’s a tip. Instead of going about vaguely whining about how this place is an irrational right-wing echo chamber, and how the irrational right wing has erected an echo chamber and drunk the kool-aid, challenge specific assertions. And if you don’t want to bother with that, then you’re just wasting the time of anyone who bothers reading your comment, because you’re just submitting an assertion without proof, which can then be dismissed without proof.

          • Brad says:

            “Like “far-right”, “SJW” is mostly used as a pejorative to express disdain for an undifferentiated outgroup.”

            That may be true in some places. I don’t think it is true here. I can’t tell from your comments how much of SSC you have been reading for how long.

            I’ve been reading for at least many months, pretty consistently, and I share Iain’s impression. There’s very little nuance, charity, or even clarity on the subject of so-called “SJW” here. It is one of a handful of subjects on which a plurality of SSC comments can be relied on to be very irrational.

          • Iain says:

            @David Friedman: I don’t have much to add to what HeelBearCub and Brad have said, except to say that contra HeelBearCub I don’t think you are trolling. I do think that this appears to be a bit of a blind spot for you. I encourage you to think more deeply about the “far right” comparison. I think “SJW” often serves as a usefully vague label for the out-group here, in the same way that “far-right” might be used in a community to the left of this one: to identify the enemy, and provide a convenient excuse for rejecting a whole range of arguments without actually engaging with the most reasonable versions of them.

            Another way to put it: some people on this site use “SJW” the same way that Moon uses “Right Wing”, and it’s no more endearing.

          • dndnrsn says:

            It’s a term that really needs tabooing. I avoid using it, both because using it marks you as a certain sort of person (which I am not), and because it could mean so many things it has become meaningless.

          • Tekhno says:

            @dndnrsn
            This is why I keep pushing “intersectional-feminist” or “intersectionalist” because it describes the subgroup most people have a problem with, as distinct from regular left-liberals and progressive liberals, and the critical theory of intersectionality is where all this privilege and progressive stack stuff comes from in the first place.

            The term “social justice warrior” decays much easier into a snarl word, because potentially everyone is a warrior for some definition of justice in the social realm. It easily develops into a general purpose term for the left which only serves to squash intersectionalism together with regular progressive ideology. The big problem with outgroup homogenity bias is that it acts to make itself true. If you call people an SJW/fascist for long enough, they eventually start to absorb the ideology through osmosis.

            This is why it’s really important to be pedantic about accurately categorizing ideologies. The best thing is to always make sure to distinguish sub-groupings from their larger categories and generally exhibit a little caution in naming things at all. If you can describe what a group is doing without having to name the group, then do that instead. It’s the behavior that should be the problem, after all.

            SJW definitely needs tabooing.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Tekhno:

            I know people who would say they subscribe to intersectionality, are intersectional feminists, etc, who do not subscribe to forms of that which cause problems, and who I have had reasonable disagreements with, just as I know right wingers with whom I have had reasonable disagreements. In my personal experience, I have known people from different parts of the political spectrum, some of whom are reasonable and can be debated with productively, some of whom can’t be.

            This seems to have more to do with a particular personality type than with their actual politics – I’ve related this anecdote before, but I have two acquaintances, both similar politics, both almost identical as far as “identity markers” go – both left wing activist types – but one is a good friend who I trust and who it’s possible to speak with productively, and the other is … well, a complete nightmare, and has been referred to by the latter as an “SJW”! (Thus being one of two people, the other a conservative, who I’ve actually heard use the term in person). On paper, they would seem very similar, but they aren’t.

            The vibe I get from this sort of person is kind of an inquisitorial mindset. Disagreeing with them is impossible – you just prove you are whatever their particular politics have as the boogeyman (again, this isn’t just left-wingers – I’ve met right-wingers who think everyone who disagrees with them is a worthless pinko), and even agreeing with them is a rattling experience – very much walking on eggshells, as though they’re waiting for you to screw up.

            I think that any ideology is going to attract some problem individuals. Some ideologies certainly attract more than others. But I’ve gotten the same vibe from disagreeable people with of a left-wing persuasion as I have from disagreeable people of a right-wing persuasion. It’s left me with the impression that there are some people whose politics, etc, are shaped by various factors – but they would be disagreeable people regardless of where they ended up politically.

            Of course, the solution is not to throw up one’s hands and say all is lost, but to construct ideologies that prevent this sort of person from doing too much damage. This is why I distrust any ideology that tells its adherents “whatever you do is OK, as long as you pick the right targets, for you are the good guys and they are the bad guys.” Regardless of what the actual content of the ideology is.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @dndnrsn – “The vibe I get from this sort of person is kind of an inquisitorial mindset. Disagreeing with them is impossible – you just prove you are whatever their particular politics have as the boogeyman (again, this isn’t just left-wingers – I’ve met right-wingers who think everyone who disagrees with them is a worthless pinko), and even agreeing with them is a rattling experience – very much walking on eggshells, as though they’re waiting for you to screw up.”

            …I’ve been thinking about something similar a bit. Let me run it past you.

            I think, for some people, Tribal identity is a really big deal. Like, they’ve probably never heard the term “tribal identity”, but they place a great deal of emotional importance on the consensus positions of their group. For these people, political issues and talking points and facts and data and so on aren’t pieces of evidence to be critically interrogated, they’re shibboleths that all add up to “I’m part of your group”. When they show you the article from Jezebel or the clip from John Oliver, they expect you to laugh or be outraged or otherwise emote the same way they did, *because they assume you are like them*. If you instead frown and furrow your brow and start picking at inaccuracies or playing devil’s advocate, you’re effectively slapping away the offered hand of friendship.

            I’m very sure this isn’t a Social Justice thing, or a liberal thing; I think very probably it’s just a people thing. My sister’s whole family of in-laws all are bog-standard centrist democrats who’d totally consider voting republican with the right candidate, and they love talking about politics, but only if the conversation is limited to what everyone agrees completely about. It’s maddening.

          • “But I’ve gotten the same vibe from disagreeable people with of a left-wing persuasion as I have from disagreeable people of a right-wing persuasion.”

            Can you suggest a good, intuitive modifier to describe people of various ideologies who fit that pattern? “Bigotted” is one possibility, but a lot of people assume it only applies to a small subset of things one can be bigotted about. We need an X such that “X-libertarian” means the libertarian equivalent of an SJW.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Tekhno:
            That’s a really good example of how the term “SJW” is not used consistently around here. The “Warrior” part is theoretically supposed to identify specific illiberal tactics, not merely the recognition that the various different social categorization that apply to an individual combine to have a distinct effect in terms of how that individual navigates society.

            The fact that you haven’t picked up that it is the tactics (such as shaming and no platforming) that are supposed to distinguish the SJW from standard intersectionalists shows that the term is in fact mostly being used inconstantly with that definition.

          • Tekhno says:

            @dndnrsn

            Of course, the solution is not to throw up one’s hands and say all is lost, but to construct ideologies that prevent this sort of person from doing too much damage.

            That ideology already exists, thankfully. It’s called liberalism, and it has left and right wings. Let’s have the left return to left-liberalism (just called “liberalism” in the US), and the right return to liberal-conservatism (generally just called conservatism though marked with its liberal heritage).

            Let’s leave this intersectionalist and alt-right identity politics garbage behind entirely.

            This is why I distrust any ideology that tells its adherents “whatever you do is OK, as long as you pick the right targets, for you are the good guys and they are the bad guys.”

            Then you should distrust intersectional identity politics specifically, and identity politics in general.

            @HeelBearClub

            The “Warrior” part is theoretically supposed to identify specific illiberal tactics, not merely the recognition that the various different social categorization that apply to an individual combine to have a distinct effect in terms of how that individual navigates society.

            How many people are going to possess that knowledge and then just sit there and do nothing with it? The concept itself leads to the warrior-like behavior.

            The behavior is the actual problem. If we could describe what’s going on just by criticizing behavior then that would be great, but unfortunately there is an ideology behind the activism and the legislation. Instead we need to name that ideology precisely.

            SJW is a bad term not because it conflates the warriors with the mere believers in social justice. It’s a bad term because it doesn’t describe what their metric for justice is, in the first place. Intersectionality is that metric. Attack that specific metric, then you can destroy that ideology without harming other leftists in the crossfire.

            Same for the right.

            The fact that you haven’t picked up that it is the tactics (such as shaming and no platforming) that are supposed to distinguish the SJW from standard intersectionalists shows that the term is in fact mostly being used inconstantly with that definition.

            What standard intersectionalists? Intersectionalism is this weird fringe ideology that was mostly concentrated in academia and only started to flood into popular left wing discourse in 2011. I remember this very clearly. A new generation became 18 at just the right time, I guess. In Occupy Wall St, protestors started setting up the progressive stack. Suddenly, you had an obscure ultra-fringe interpretation of feminism elucidated in the late 80s being a dominant force in shaping one of the biggest financial protests of our time.

            Suddenly a weird shift started happening. People on the left started complaining about culture a lot more than they used to. They started acting like inverted religious conservatives.

            I’m just going to reel off some of the stuff that has happened in roughly sequential order, so forgive grammar. First I learned of this stuff, my community, internet Atheism, tore itself apart over Elevatorgate and the new overzealous harassment policies at skeptic conferences, leading to Atheism+ and the end of New Atheism. Then “rape culture” started becoming a well known concept. The wage gap started entering politics. We learned that little girls had been subjected to abuse in Rotherham since 1997, with the police turning a blind eye for fear of being called racist, that people who tried to speak up were sent to diversity training, and that a parent that tried to retrieve his daughter was arrested, FINALLY leading to hearings in 2013. Yes means yes. Meg Lanqua Simmons. Rolling Stones. Mattress girl. Ants. Then politicians, major center-left world leaders like Justin Trudeau start mentioning Ants as a problem (what this little thing that should be just confined to gaming! What?). Meanwhile race relations are being torn apart and people are burning their own neighborhoods over shootings. Then BLM starts.
            Then Universities go nuts as if its a medieval wave of hysteria. The Melissa Click incident. The “this is not an intellectual space” crap at Yale. An1ta and Zoe (name filter) Qunn are invited to the UN due to Ants and some Youtube videos. The UN! Earlier this very year, a law was narrowly shot down in France that would penalize games with the removal of tax rebates, and a new rating system, for sexist content (THIS IS WHAT CONSERVATIVES DO!).
            Then Nottinghamshire starts recording catcalling as a “hate crime”. Then a corporate product, the new Ghostbusters movie, starts getting wielded to attack vloggers and tar them as misogynist for innocuous critical opinion. Then all the racistracistracistracistracist chants over Brexit. Then we finally reach the point just this winter where Stockholm, Sweden institutes its “gender equal snowploughing” policy resulting in gridlock, while the MPS who propose it double down on the policy, saying that feminist snowplough logistics hadn’t been implemented correctly, and this from the same country that declared it had a feminist foreign policy last year. Phew!

            This is just the stuff I remember. Even if you agree with some of this stuff, or disagree but want to argue the details of whether it happened, you surely agree that something has happened, that a big shift in left wing politics occurred sometime after the decade began. The left and the right just aren’t the same things as they were in the period of 1980-2010.

            I’ve mentioned in other posts, but I think it’s worth repeating: a big tell is that the phrase “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” to describe libertarians no longer makes any sense. Back in 2008, it was well understood that conservatism as a philosophy generally wanted to meddle in your bedroom and leave your pockets alone, and American liberalism wanted to meddle in your pockets and leave your bedroom alone. Then this weird shift happened and the phrase no longer made any sense. I thought I agreed with the left completely on cultural issues, but then suddenly I didn’t. All the forums and message boards I go to that are left of center suddenly started moving with the wind, and then suddenly things the exact same poster would have said four years ago, are now offensive. Something is happening.

            The shift is affecting the right too. Hence, Trumpism, the alt-right, offensive right wing 4chan culture spreading to twitter. Political events like Brexit, and Donald Trump’s victory against regular conservatives, and then winning the White House.

            So no, it isn’t just that the same people pushing the same old ideology suddenly started acting differently. It’s not just tactics. What happened was that a fringe ideology became popularized, which then lead to the change in behavior. Left-LIBERALS simply wouldn’t behave this way, because they wouldn’t be protesting culture to begin with. They’d be protesting laws, and part of the problem is that the only thing left to protest is culture. The seed of Fascism is growing somewhere in the right as well.

            The only reason any of this is accepted as standard is because you’ve adjusted to the new normal.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Tekhno

            Hear, hear!

            (Though I still think SJW is a good term. “Third wave intersectional feminist” doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue, and misses the ones who put race before gender.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            So, I think you guys have proven my point. Thanks for that. I guess.

            So apparently I am evil and the enemy now. Nice to know.

          • Tekhno says:

            @HBC

            So apparently I am evil and the enemy now.

            Wha… ?

            The enemy.

            Evil.

            Who said that? I didn’t say or even imply that. I’m really confused by this response.

            Disagreement =/= YOU’RE THE ENEMY PREPARE TO DIE DO NOT PASS GO PROCEED TO GULAG

            I mean, if we’re in the business of being melodramatic here…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Tekhno:

            Have you actually read the entirety of this thread that you are commenting in?

            First comment at this level:

            I can’t speak to this comment section. But more generally, hatred of the SJW is well-founded and actively enforces good ideas over stupid ones.

          • Tekhno says:

            @HBC

            Yes, AnonEEmous said that, but I don’t agree with it. Who are the “you guys”?

          • HBC writes:

            “So apparently I am evil and the enemy now.”

            Just when I was planning to offer, as evidence against your view of how SJW is used here, the lack of people describing you, or Jill/Moon, or Ozy a while back, as SJW’s. Do you have some counterexamples?

            I don’t think you are evil or an enemy. Merely mistaken about many things.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @DavidFriedman:
            Upthread you said SJW was uniformly used here to refer to people who used specific tactics and not as a general epithet to refer to the left.

            Now Teknho and The Nybbler are using it to describe all intersectional feminists, and I have given you other quotes just in this thread where it is not being used in a manner that is consistent with applying it to only those who utilize those tactics.

            But I need evidence that specifically it’s being applied to me to satisfy you? It is of course not generally applied to me. Presumably because those who use it in a pejorative manner for the left are constrained from directing insults at me by various factors.

            Much in the way, if I were the kind of person who used the word “wing-nut” to describe the right, I wouldn’t directly address you as one.

            The fact that words like “wing-nut” aren’t used around here should tell you something.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Teknho:
            You are trying describe it as a strictly neutral name for intersectional feminists. I think you are wrong in general, but definitely wrong in how it is used here.

            I’m not talking about your preferred definition, I’m talking usage at SSC. I’ve provided examples from this post. But there are plenty more if you look at others.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            SJW, at its core, is a function of bad-faith acting. It’s an “intersectional feminist” who will use any chance to call you a racist, or a sexist, or so forth. They will not brook disagreement and will call you sexist or racist for disagreeing, and they will actively enforce echo chambers and block out disagreement.

            Hatred of this is a good thing. If you’re for “social justice”, but you’re willing to listen to criticism, then you’re not an SJW. I don’t know how other people are using it, precisely, but the problem is that almost all intersectional feminists / social justice advocates DO tend to act in this way, especially since if they didn’t they might stop being intersectional feminists / social justice advocates (or super-progressives). So it blends together, but not because the term is imprecise, just because the groups decline to differentiate themselves between good and bad.

          • The Nybbler says:

            As far as I can tell, among those who use the language of intersectional feminism, there are the academics (who write papers contributing a net negative, IMO, to the store of human knowledge) and you have the warriors. Some who are academics are also warriors; some of those confine their warring to academic realms.

            If there are those who use the language of intersectional feminists with whom one can have a discussion without it coming down to block, ban, or some variant of “shut up you toxic ciswhitemale”, I haven’t seen one.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            It should be apparent at this point that I would put myself under the (very broad) umbrella of intersectional feminism.

          • “Now Teknho and The Nybbler are using it to describe all intersectional feminists,”

            In an account of how it originated and how they think it should be used, not of how it is actually being used in the general conversation. In any case, even if it was being used that way, it wouldn’t fit your claim, since that’s still a narrow subset of leftists.

            You agree that it isn’t used for you. How about Jill/Moon? If your view, that it is used here as a general purpose label for leftist were correct, wouldn’t you expect it to show up fairly often in references to two of the most visible leftists here, both of whom people routinely respond to critically?

            All you offered in your previous response were uses that could have meant left wing bullies, could have meant anyone on the left. That isn’t evidence for either interpretation.

            I don’t, by the way, think you are trolling and am unsure how you use the word when you claim I am. Perhaps you have broadened it out to a general purpose pejorative, just as you claim other people have done with SJW.

            I do think that you are unwilling to face the fact that your confident assertion is inconsistent with the available evidence about the use of the term SJW in this group.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            You, self admittedly, make arguments just because you like to argue. (Anticipated rebuttal: you will not deny having said this, but ask for proof)

            An internet troll is someone who attempts to provoke discord by making untrue statements (usually inflammatory ones, but not always) I’m not saying you are a troll, but rather in some instances you engage in the behavior. You like to provoke people in argument.

            I rather doubt you do not know what a troll or trolling is. I have not said anyone else was trolling. Odd that you would say that I am using it in a general manner.

            The available evidence indicates that SJW is not used consistently, and is readily used as an epithet to apply to the left generally, rather than specifically to individuals posting here. This is a point I already made explicitly and you have chosen to ignore. See my prior argument about use of the word “wing-nut”.

          • Moon says:

            HBC, I don’t know why we keep arguing with people who abuse Left of Center people, about definitions pf particular terms that many use in a pejorative fashion, and about whether we’re evil or whatever. I do it too. I just wonder why I do it. Bad habit, perhaps.

            It would make more sense if people stopped using the term SJW around here, and said specifically what they are referring to, each time they comment on it. But that would be too rational. And I notice that rationalists don’t usually do things that are rational. Emotions rule– especially for rationalists. It just feels so satisfying for “rationalist” to bash people who are Left of Center, that they just can’t resist the temptation to do so, just because they are being unclear in their language.

          • Deiseach says:

            We need an X such that “X-libertarian” means the libertarian equivalent of an SJW.

            Some of ’em make me think they think Scrooge was a bleeding-heart liberal; workhouses for the idle and incapable paid for out of my money stolen via taxation and rates? What kind of crazy Communist talk is this?

            “At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, `”t is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

            “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

            “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

            “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

            “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

            “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

            “Both very busy, sir.”

            “Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

            “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

            “Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

            “You wish to be anonymous?”

            “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

            “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

            “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides — excuse me — I don’t know that.”

            “But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.

            “It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

            If you think that’s a bit highly-coloured about preferring to die, my Victorian-born grandmother had a terror of the poorhouse/workhouse; her generation had been taught to fear it (because it was deliberately set up to discourage any but the most desperate) and people would prefer to die at home rather than go into the County Home (the institutions that took over from the poorhouses).

          • Tekhno says:

            @HBC

            Now Teknho and The Nybbler are using it to describe all intersectional feminists

            No. I’m dropping the use of SJW entirely (I agree it should be tabooed, just for different reasons), and using a more accurate term to describe the actual problem ideology without homogenizing the left under one label, like how SJW gets used. Most leftists do not follow intersectionalist theory. Intersectional theory has illiberal conclusions. Liberal-leftists are not a problem at all.

            What I really want to fight is not leftists, but illiberals, which is why I oppose the alt-right.

            You are trying describe it as a strictly neutral name for intersectional feminists.

            Um… no.

            I’m not talking about your preferred definition, I’m talking usage at SSC.

            And I’m saying SSC should stop using an inaccurate snarl word like SJW, and use a term that refers to the theory behind the specific sub-group we are talking about. SJW as a term is too vague and has been rendered meaningless by the far-right.

            It should be apparent at this point that I would put myself under the (very broad) umbrella of intersectional feminism.

            What do you think intersectional feminism is? It’s not completely open ended in spite how the wiki article makes it sound.

            I mean, I also believe that the problems a woman can face because of her gender overlap with the problems a woman can face because she’s black. This doesn’t make me an intersectional feminist, because intersectionality isn’t a mere statement of intersection, but a whole theory incorporating ideas such as “racism = prejudice + power”, and the progressive stack. It’s an extension of critical race theory applied to feminism. The definition of oppression in such theory is overly broad. You have to have a pre-existing belief that the problems are real problems at all.

            If you merely believe that a woman who is black can face sexism and racism, then you have elementary observation powers, but there is no critical theory or dogma involved there. Intersectionality had to be invented to analyze this phenomena from the standpoint of a specific pre-existing framework.

            If you agree with academic concepts of oppression, then fine, but you can’t expect other people on the board to not disagree with that and argue against you intensely.

            Tabooing SJW shouldn’t mean that if you have an ideology you want to argue for that it goes unchallenged.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @DavidFriedman

            We need an X such that “X-libertarian” means the libertarian equivalent of an SJW.

            Such a group might exist, but it would be especially self-inconsistent, as an SJW is authoritarian.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Such a group might exist, but it would be especially self-inconsistent, as an SJW is authoritarian.

            I’ve seen one self-described libertarian argue that the government should intervene to stop “the paternalism of the mob”, as he put it, which basically seemed to mean that institutions and individuals wouldn’t be allowed to advocate for socially conservative views.

          • @HBC:

            “An internet troll is someone who attempts to provoke discord by making untrue statements (usually inflammatory ones, but not always) I’m not saying you are a troll, but rather in some instances you engage in the behavior. You like to provoke people in argument.”

            I like to argue with people. I rarely do it by making incorrect arguments, and then as a pretty obvious joke. Off hand I cannot remember having ever done it here. I am arguing that SJC is used here with a fairly clear definition–very roughly left wing bullies. Neither you nor Jill/Moon is a bully, so you don’t get described as SJW’s.

            “I rather doubt you do not know what a troll or trolling is.”

            I know what trolling is. But since nothing I have been doing comes close to fitting the definition, the fact that you accused me of trolling suggested that you didn’t.

            “The available evidence indicates that SJW is not used consistently, and is readily used as an epithet to apply to the left generally, rather than specifically to individuals posting here.”

            You have so far failed to offer a single example of it being used here in that sense. If people routinely used it to apply to the left generally, one would expect it to be used to apply to the left here, at least by people whose feelings towards those they were applying it to were not friendly. That pretty clearly describes the feelings of many here towards (at least) Jill/Moon.

          • Jiro says:

            Some of ’em make me think they think Scrooge was a bleeding-heart liberal;

            Scrooge was miserly, not greedy. Those aren’t the same thing; being a miser is about not wanting to spend your money and being greedy is wanting to get more money. Scrooge is used so often as a strawman greedy capitalist that people forget this.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            A word that indicated, not the content of someone’s politics, but how they relate with others politically, would be useful. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that is snappy and neutral.

            Libertarians of that sort do definitely exist. Some of the most blunt abuse I’ve gotten online has been from libertarians unwilling to defend their positions, but willing to call me an advocate of theft, a moron, etc for doing little more than questioning their views.

            @Tekhno:

            Well, personally, I do distrust politics based around seeing ad hominems as a positive – which is what the group in question, and their right-wing equivalents, do – and I distrust groups that give off a zealot vibe. But there are intersectional feminists, or people who subscribe to intersectionality more general, who do not derive their discourse standards from it.

          • My wife suggested the word “bully” to describe at least part of the behavior pattern.

            Libertarian Michael Cloud coined the term “libertarian macho flash” to describe a different part, but one that I think is more closely linked to the thread on gay pride parades.

        • Tekhno says:

          SJW was coined to refer to intersectional feminists, but has now thanks to right wing overuse become a term meaning “something left wing I don’t like”. Basically everyone is an SJW now depending on who you are talking to.

          • I can’t speak to usage elsewhere, but in the posts and comments on this blog SJW has a reasonably clear meaning. Roughly speaking, an SJW is someone on the left who believes that all is fair in love and war and political disagreement counts as war. Hence someone who supports various tactics against those who disagree with him that many here disapprove of.

          • Moon says:

            I guess we all need somebody to hate. And SJWs are the ones to hate on this site. This being a Right Wing site, most people would need to hate Leftists.

            It is a testimony to the fact that there is little that is really hate-able about the Left, that an obscure group of Leftists had to be picked to hate– a group that is extreme in their tactics, a tiny group of people that most Left of Center people don’t know exists– unless they are live in the San Fran area or went to a very expensive college with a very sheltered environment.

            I had never heard of SJWs before I came here. I know tons of liberals/progressives, none of whom have ever mentioned SJWs in the many years I’ve known them. But that suffices for someone for the Right to hate.

            I don’t like extremists myself. But I don’t go looking under every rock for them either.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Moon, probably the biggest reason this blog is considered “right wing” is because you can’t just dismiss an entire political wing of people.

            Justin Trudeau, for example, bears many of the hallmarks of SJW, and is the prime minister of Canada. Multiple governments in Europe have SJWs or super-progressives firmly ensconced within them. Bernie Sanders made the statement that “white people don’t know what it’s like to be poor”. The idea that SJWism is some lunatic fringe is just not the case. I’m not even going to go into the many, many media personalities who are SJWs as well. Face it: your side has made the fringe crazies their standard bearers, which is why I left it.

        • ChetC3 says:

          Given how I feel about the puppies, the ants, and the Passion of Saint Eich, I cannot honestly pretend to be anything else.

    • Moon says:

      Welcome to all Liberals of any shape or hue, coming out of the closet, including people who have just a bit of a tinge of Leftyness, by the standards of some country or another.

      It doesn’t have to be a shameful thing to be a liberal. It’s actually the world’s best hope, I do believe. Rather like real news consumers (rather than fake news consumers, where all Dems are considered guilty until proven innocent, of anything anyone makes up to accuse them of.) Great to know you folks are here, even if some of you don’t comment much, which is your perfect right.

      And Happy Thanksgiving to All, regardless of your political leanings or lack thereof.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      I have trouble deciding if you are being sincere, but it doesn’t hurt…

      So yes, I’m left-of-center. At least, I consider myself left-of-center.

      I believe, based on the current evidence, that the combination of fair-but-regulated markets and progressive taxation and strong government presence in the fields where the free markets are very prone to facilitate poor decisions by the public (either by discounting externalities, or that framing some domains of society in terms of goods that can be traded for money can be problematic) and that government can be a positive force and should be active force in economy for the benefit of the society. In general, the German / Nordic model is a nearest thing we have seen for optimal society.

      The belief that government can be fair, just, dynamic, uncorrupted and efficient is an important factor in maintaining the government that stays that way. Is there any capable person of good morals and ethical principles who wants to have a career in the public sector, if the image of public sector is terrible? Of course this depends on not only maintaining the image, but maintaining the reality the image is a reflection of.

      On the other hand, I’m not sure if others think me as a left-of-center, and I suspect I would not be very welcome in many left-of-center parties in my country. For example, I’m also ready to admit that unions or minimum wage do not anymore have the net-positive effect they once had a century or half a century ago. I also don’t like some forms of multiculturalism, especially the relativistic viewpoints that treat cultures unchangeable monoliths and in effect currently in Europe help to create cultural ‘pockets’, sub-societies that exist by maintaining an identity based on how fundamentally different they are from the wider society instead of assimilating… but on the flip side of coin, no one should be judged by their skin color or name or other such background, and the effect of HBD is probably overstated by the people who make most noise about it.

      I also maintain that nationalism that is healthy is possible and is for the benefit of the society and maintaining such healthy forms of nationalism is the best defense against fascism. (What is healthy nationalism? E. g. concentrating on the positivity and optimism, the general trust in the societal contract, appreciating the few national stereotypical quirks and traditions, inclusiveness, niceness, liberal democratic standards, not hating anybody, not looking down on other people or nationalities or ethnic groups…)

      • Moon says:

        Thanks, nimim.k.m. for such a specific reply about what you do and do not believe about politics.

        “Is there any capable person of good morals and ethical principles who wants to have a career in the public sector, if the image of public sector is terrible?”

        Probably not. And that is a huge problem in the U.S. today. Bashing government and politicians wins elections, so people do it more and more. But once the election is over, perhaps not so much can be accomplished, because all the bashing has been quite destructive to the society, the government– and to good people who might run for public office if campaigning didn’t mean that they and their families would be bashed constantly, and that they would be assumed to be evil, regardless of what they said or accomplished.

        I don’t know how our supposedly Kenyan born, supposedly Muslim, president tolerated all of this. I imagine he will be glad to leave office. Maybe even the supposedly murderer of 100 people, and supposed pedophiliac, Hillary Clinton will be glad to go back into private life, and not have her name smeared with all kinds of evil and groundless accusations from fake news constantly.

    • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

      I’m not a liberal, but I’ve moved left since I started reading SSC actively. I think that might be another interesting statistic to track.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        thoughts on why?

        • Saint Fiasco says:

          I’m a liberal but I’ve moved right since I started following SSC.

          Either SSC has a strong moderating effect that moves people towards the center, or it’s just regression to the mean.

          • Moon says:

            Although it’s not intentional, you’ve likely been propagandized by the SSC Right Wing echo chamber. If a human hears something 1000X, they’re very likely to start believing it. And it doesn’t take long at all, when reading SSC, to read Right Wing views 1000X.

            There’s also the fact that people with Left Wing views are by far the ones who are most often abused here. And if you see some category of people being abused frequently, why make your life difficult? You’re likely to leave that group, if it is within your power to do so– i.e. if it isn’t based on something like skin color, which is beyond your control.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            I’ll counter with my experience: Moon, the left wing doesn’t come out to argue. Especially on social issues, the left wing cannot even discuss terms without someone getting called racist, sexist, islamophobic, et cetera. As an obvious result, they’ve moved into being incorrect because there’s no way to be corrective, especially since left politics in many cases are centered around vocal minorities, letting them be hijacked by fringe crazies who speak convincingly about their pain. Not convinced?

            Well, take a look at Tah-Nehisi Coates, who has the following story to tell: once upon a time, a black man shot one of his acquaintances fatally. Later, when Tah-Nehisi Coates viewed the 9/11 attacks, he felt numb, because Whiteness had killed his acquaintance. He then goes on to postulate that black people are ground up by the system to fuel it further, perhaps as gas or as lubricant.

            The only thing I omitted from this story: the black man was, in fact, a policeman, which means of course that he was some kind of Avatar For Whiteness, or whatever. Meanwhile, the central conceit of the book really makes no sense; I’m not saying I’d want anything like this to happen, but if all African-Americans moved back to Africa, the country wouldn’t stop working (Joe Biden can fill in for two months, surely). It would probably take about a year to recover and frankly recoup a lot of welfare and policing costs. So in what sense are black people ground up to make America tick? In no actual sense, but it’s such a powerful victimhood narrative that no one’s actually challenged it.

            By the way, this guy has a byline at the Atlantic.

            In other news, it’s really getting on my nerves that your only argument seems to be “echo chamber, kool-aid, low information” and so forth. People can disagree with you legitimately. I came here because Scott said things that agreed with me, but also because he writes really well and I can respect his opinion on most issues. I suspect you’re just angry because, these days, intelligence has a conservative bias :O

          • Moon says:

            AnonEEmous. Interesting that you had to look to literature for a SJW type person with an extreme Left Wing narrative. You had to look to some guy writing literature, using poetic license,. That that is because there aren’t very many SJWs who are politicians or political activists. You apparently were looking under every rock, determined to find an extreme Left Wing narrative somewhere.

            I’m glad to be a Left Wing person– that movement where, if you want to find someone extreme, you have to find yourself a person writing literature, who is using poetic license, and who is not responsible for policy. By contrast, look at DT’s cabinet.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “AnonEEmous. Interesting that you had to look to literature for a SJW type person with an extreme Left Wing narrative. ”

            then maybe you should read comments that reply to you more often because:

            “Justin Trudeau, for example, bears many of the hallmarks of SJW, and is the prime minister of Canada. Multiple governments in Europe have SJWs or super-progressives firmly ensconced within them. Bernie Sanders made the statement that “white people don’t know what it’s like to be poor”.The idea that SJWism is some lunatic fringe is just not the case. I’m not even going to go into the many, many media personalities who are SJWs as well. ”

            “You had to look to some guy writing literature, using poetic license,.”

            let’s pause to note that you have no idea if that is the case or not

            unpause

            if by “poetic license” you refer to poeticizing a real process he believes exists, then yes. It’s just that said process…doesn’t exist. Whether or not black people are ground up by America, it doesn’t need to do this to survive in any real sense, and yet he asserts it without proof. Why? because it is an unstoppably powerful victimhood narrative.

            “That that is because there aren’t very many SJWs who are politicians or political activists. You apparently were looking under every rock, determined to find an extreme Left Wing narrative somewhere.”

            “every rock” i’m just citing random off-top examples of SJWism and how it can flourish due to the Left being unable to check it. Coates recites a story of personal pain, and no one stops to ask what it has to do with white people. He posits a painful theory, and no one stops to ask what it has to do with reality. I can find you articles calling him a high priest of progressivism, and certainly he’s treated that way by his devotees.

            “I’m glad to be a Left Wing person– that movement where, if you want to find someone extreme, you have to find yourself a person writing literature, who is using poetic license, and who is not responsible for policy. By contrast, look at DT’s cabinet.”

            sure thing

            …ball’s in your court on this one; you’ve got the guy who desegregated his own state and successfully prosecuted KKK killers, a guy who runs a news site, head of the RNC, and uh… some CIA dude? Have fun with that one, but be warned: facts, in this case, might have a conservative bias 🙂

        • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

          Well, I deconverted from Catholicism shortly after coming to SSC, which moved me leftwards on some social issues. The deconversion wasn’t primarily due to SSC, but it helped.

          Additionally, Scott’s very well-spoken and persuasive. I think that as a result of reading his work, I’ve developed better defenses of the right-wing positions I still hold and a better understanding of left-wing positions in general. I’ve also increased the size of my “error bars”; I feel less confident in my positions if I can’t point to evidence backing them up, and am thus more likely to extend the benefit of the doubt across the aisle and listen to other peoples’ positions.

          Finally, it caused me to consider future scenarios in which production is automated. In this situation, it seems clear to me that the libertarian policies I prefer would have horrific results, while the only thing that could support a large underclass would be a more socialist system. Thus, while I think my positions are a better fit for the world right now, I see us as on a spectrum that will end with my preferred policies being worse and others being better.

          • Moon says:

            Interesting. SSC could indeed be considered Left on some social issues, although not on economic ones. Since it’s heavy with Libertarians– who are Republicans who smoke dope and who have nothing against gays.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      I’m not a liberal by American standards, but I’m for giving the left a voice here. Not because I think they’re great, but rather because I’m staunchly against echo chambers. I don’t want the Great Sorting. Someone on the left might have a point that someone on the right may have missed, and they’ll never know if they’re run out of town. By symmetry, the left needs to go over the best of the right, in case there’s something the left has missed. If either side writes off the other as evil, greedy, hopelessly in thrall to propaganda, etc., I count that as a loss.

      The only way I’ve seen so far to resolve such different points of view is to first rediscover the methods for resolution, or hammer out new ones, and the key I see there is rational discourse – which is the #1 reason I come to SSC/LW. The idiosyncratic crowd is fun, too, but I can find fun crowds in lots of places. SSC/LW stands out for their focus on design of discourse and reason, and their implementation.

      • Reasoner says:

        Agreed on all points.

        I think a Great Sorting may be happening based on whether sites require use of identifying information or not. For example, my Facebook feed is quite liberal. Twitter (generally used with real names) leans left. reddit (generally used with pseudonyms) leans right. 8chan (completely anonymous at all times) is freakishly right-wing.

        I’m not sure how to solve this problem. Right-wingers will not post under their real names because they fear losing their jobs. Left-wingers don’t like interacting with pseudonymous/anonymous internet users because they are sometimes nasty. SSC’s policy of a “heads on sticks” moderation policy with pseudonyms allowed is one solution, but I wonder if there are others.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          For my part, I don’t think any top-down solution will be a solution, although it could be part of one. All Scott’s doing with his moderation strategy is tending his garden. (And he has that right.) The catch is that some people might not like that, and leave. The question there is whether the people who stay are the people Scott would prefer to stay, and that in turn depends on how they perceive his methods. This all leads to a tension that I think is what holds a lot of the site together. It’s not top-down; rather, it’s a push-pull between Scott and the commenters and readers, probably ideally always under a little tension, but not too much.

          I think that Scott wants the sort of people who seek what I described above – exploring rational discourse, regardless of whether it’s liberal, right-wing, whatever. Any threat to that is a threat to his garden. Hopefully my thinking is correct, because that’s why I hang around here, too. So my hope is that there’s enough people like this to keep the traffic going. Scott’s an interesting writer all by himself, but it helps me a lot to know there are a lot of other people who value good arguments.

  18. Iain says:

    Sounds like Trump is tapping Nikki Haley for UN ambassador. If this is true, it is surprisingly good news: Haley was a prominent early critic of Trump, and as far as I can recall she is the first to be nominated for something important. Maybe Trump’s cabinet won’t be 100% toadies and lickspittles after all.

    At the very least, I can’t find any evidence that Nikki Haley actively hates the United Nations, which makes her a better choice than some former ambassadors.

    • Sandy says:

      Repeating my previous criticism from when Haley was being considered for State — I like her, but she has no diplomatic experience at all.

      as far as I can recall she is the first to be nominated for something important

      I’d say Attorney General is pretty important.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        “First Trump critic” is how I interpreted that.

        • Sandy says:

          Oh. Disregard then. Romney might get the State job if Trump’s fondness for photogenic people shines through.

          • Iain says:

            Yeah, HeelBearCub’s interpretation is what I intended.

            Don’t get me wrong – I have no great love for Nikki Haley. But Trump could have done worse, and the fact that he’s branched out beyond the set of people who supported him during the campaign is promising.

            Romney getting State would also be (relatively) good news, in my opinion.

    • keranih says:

      At the very least, I can’t find any evidence that Nikki Haley actively hates the United Nations, which makes her a better choice than some former ambassadors.

      Can you unpack this a bit? Better how? Better being friendly with the people at the UN, or better at serving American national interests, or just better because you disagreed with John Bolton?

      Bolton’s criticisms of the UN (given in that WP article) seem about right to me. (And it appears the the NYT agree with at least some of them.)

      – The five permanent members of the UN Security Council to work more closely to craft powerful resolutions and make sure they are enforced, and to address the underlying causes of conflicts, rather than turning them over to the Secretariat and special envoys;

      – A focus on administrative skills in choosing the next secretary-general; and

      – A more credible and responsible Human Rights Commission.

      Which ones do you disagree with, or do you have other criticisms that you think should take priority?

      • Iain says:

        There is a place for people who loudly oppose multilateralism and doubt the basic purpose of the United Nations. That place is not as the UN ambassador.

        John Bolton was a terrible diplomat. Even where his goals were reasonable, his approach was counter-productive. Here’s an article from the Economist.

        Would you nominate an anti-Zionist as the US ambassador to Israel? Even if he had a reasonable list of things he wanted to achieve?

        (While they don’t have much to do with his time at the UN, the first four paragraphs of this section and the testimony during his Senate confirmation hearing, especially Day 2, are also good examples of why I have a low opinion of Bolton.)

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      It’s always a good idea to give your critics an ambassador role. Makes you seem open minded and gets them as far away from you as possible.

      • Earthly Knight says:

        As far away from you as possible, in this case, the 15 minute walk from Trump Tower to the UN.

    • Silverlock says:

      Speaking as a South Carolinian, my main objection is that he is taking one of our useful politicians away from us. I don’t agree w/ Haley on everything, but I have a fair bit of respect for her.

    • cassander says:

      UN ambassador is prestigious, but not not a particularly important position. I imagine it’s more about her burnishing her resume/trump trying to get the exact reaction from people that he got from you than anything.

  19. registrationisdumb says:

    I’m not sure if this has been suggested before, but has anyone here ever considered making a SSC 8ch board?

    While some understandably have concerns over the general politics and culture there, 8ch is built in a modular way like reddit, where boards are self-moderated and don’t regularly interact with each other, allowing users to create their own board culture.

    There’s several positives I can think of as well:
    -More readable format
    -Easier to see comment replies to see who is responding to you
    -Allows for semi-anonymous posting, putting the emphasis on post-quality rather than namecalling
    -Allows direct posting of images and videos
    -The hide button allows you to filter by user ID as well as by thread. If you find that a specific poster regularly posts low-information posts, you can filter their posts while still seeing who replied to them.

    I’ve rarely posted here since the wordpress registration has been mandatory, and have noticed a significant drop in overall post quality since then, but would probably regularly visit an 8ch SCC board.

    • suntzuanime says:

      There was one. It was… something.

    • Jugemu says:

      There’s a general SSC/LW one, but it’s not very active (or particularly good either):
      https://8ch.net/ratanon/catalog.html (NSFW)

      >putting the emphasis on post-quality rather than namecalling

      If only.

      • registrationisdumb says:

        Ah, well that’s unfortunate now that I look at it. My first thought is that the nature of the board is that it’s due to some combination of poor moderation/lack of interet/lack of structure, and ideally it would have structure closer to the reddit where there’d be threads up for each individual article (they’d get temporarily stickied, then allowed to die out as normal), instead of being some sort of a rationalism (and rationalist) meta-discussion.

        But I could be wrong and it could be like Communism in that it never works no matter how many times you try it.

        • Moon says:

          Or the ideal structure could be like total laissez faire capitalism– a system that no one has ever tried, because it’s obvious it will not work.

    • Mark says:

      have noticed a significant drop in overall post quality

      My initial thought was that making it harder to post would lead to an increase in quality, but if quality has dropped, I suppose it means that the people who most enjoy the sight of their own writing have the least to contribute.

      Or perhaps people who’ll just pop off the odd interesting comment are discouraged, while people who write absolutely everything that comes to mind, aren’t.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Or, perhaps, correlation doesn’t equal causation.

        Both things could be correlated with something else that is actually causitive of the perception of a drop in post quality. That’s a possibility that should be considered.

      • registrationisdumb says:

        More specifically what I have noticed:

        -Anonymous comments on SSC allowed a few things. The first is that it anyone can comment more easily, and that at least on SSC, Anonymous posters tended to post productive content. The second is that if user X wants to snark on liberals/conversatives for to vent, they can do so without it building their image, or if Y wants to post something out of character, they can do so without being told that they’re a fake Libertarian and actually a crypto-nazi because they had an inconsistent argument once.

        As it is, I feel the voices on SSC have become very stagnant, and by reading the username, I can pretty accurately predict the quality of the post, the political/philosophical slant, and who else will agree/disagree with it out of habit rather than correctness. Basically the same problems standard forums run into, where it evolves into cliquishness over time.

        I think this is somewhat inherent to the nature of usernames in that it creates a sort of cult of personality, biasing us by nature.

        >I suppose it means that the people who most enjoy the sight of their own writing have the least to contribute.

        I also think that this isn’t necessarily a given. If the same person disagrees with you every post, you can sort-of shrug them off after awhile and decide that putting effort into breaking down their arguments is useless, which can weaken your own arguments by putting you in a bubble. Anonymous passerby comments strengthen your arguments by exposing them to fresh criticism.

        • Jiro says:

          Some of these are features rather than bugs. Why would we want people to post inconsistent arguments? And why would we want people insulated from the consequences of snarking?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, it has been said. Earnest truthseeking means not always living up to your stereotype in every case, and certainly it’s annoying to get pidgeonholed as e.g. a right-wing partisan when you’re just trying to explore ideas.

            And from my point of view, registration has actually reduced the consequences of snarking, because now I don’t have that one Anon following me around to every thread to harass me.

          • hlynkacg says:

            A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

            -Ralph Waldo Emerson

          • Moon says:

            Suntzu, so I am not the only one who has been “stalked” or followed around from one thread to another by someone wanting to continuously harass me? At least I am not alone in that.

            May it never happen to anyone again.

        • Tekhno says:

          Why would we want people to post inconsistent arguments?

          Because the argument is what is important not who’s making it. I often experiment with various ideas that don’t fit into my overall ideology, but other people may feel more comfortable going anon in order to post what ifs. It also means that people are able to make arguments without backlash or worrying about identity issues.

          And why would we want people insulated from the consequences of snarking?

          However, this is the flip-side. I often wonder if it’s possible to design a registration system so that we can have the first thing but not the second. It’s probably impossible and inherent to the nature of fixed pseudonyms vs fluid pseudonyms, but it’s worth some people smarter than me trying to think of a way around it.

  20. Moon says:

    I don’t know whether Trump is going to turn out to be like Hitler or not. No one does, because Trump lies constantly and is very inconsistent. So he’s rather unpredictable. But I am pretty sure that if he did turn out to be like Hitler, that most commenters on sites like this would still be raving on and on about how awful SJWs are and how awful it is that somebody somewhere once said that all women ought to vote for Hillary because she is a woman etc. etc.

    Everybody focuses on First World problems, even while we are in the process of turning into a Third World country.

    Humans are creatures of habit, and are also capable of infinite self-delusion.

    • Loquat says:

      “Like Hitler” in what ways, though? If Trump tried to open up death camps, conquer other countries for lebensraum, assassinate political opponents, ban all other political parties, or take any of the other significant actions listed here, I’m highly confident most of the commentariat here would get upset about it.

      • Dahlen says:

        If there’s one silver lining to the Trump presidency, it’s precisely the fact that he’s too used to the good life to have the psychological profile required for these things. A certain under-siege mentality, developed under conditions of austerity, is usually a prerequisite for bringing out this sort of extreme violence in people — not to mention a very firmly held extreme ideology. Whereas Trump is certainly not a man of the mind, nor has he had reason to become embittered. For him life just appears to be one big circus show or birthday party starring him in every role. The worst he’s likely to do, given that emotional tone, is to bully some peons into enacting policy that ruins the lives of some people very far away, without him personally feeling that shit’s about to get real and that when that happens, he’ll be at the helm. That’s why I don’t worry too much about America under him.

        His cabinet, however? I’m not sure the guy has enough political discernment or even favourable environment so as to not accidentally endow a literal 1488er or several with important positions. I mean, he seemed to have enough of it at least to express unease at sharing a party with David Duke back in the day. But yeah, it’s a terrific time for bad apples.

        And there’s, of course, the encouragement-by-proxy of grassroots support of policies and people much more extreme.

      • Wander says:

        Maybe he’ll run anti-smoking campaigns and bring in maternity leave?

    • Deiseach says:

      Moon, it is damn awful when people say “Women should vote for X because she’s a woman”. Feminism was supposed to be about, amongst other things, equality of treatment with neither special preference nor disfavour being shown because of one’s sex.

      Pleading for “vote on sex-based grounds just because” is saying a woman can’t fight an election on equal grounds to a man, she has to have special pleading on her behalf because she isn’t otherwise good enough.

      “Vote for a woman just because she’s a woman going for the job” says nothing about quality or ability. Vote for this woman because she’s well-qualified? No problem there. Vote for this woman because she’s the best candidate? No problem there. Vote for this woman because she’s a woman and that’s all you need to take into account? Big problem there.

    • stillnotking says:

      Given that Trump has never expressed fascist political beliefs in any respect where they differ from the modern American mainstream (e.g. that democracy is bad, personal freedoms such as those afforded by the Second Amendment are bad, minorities are responsible for America’s problems just by virtue of their race, America is destined to expand its borders), I have a hard time crediting this concern. It seems analogous to the right worrying that Obama was secretly a Communist.

      Be wary of comparisons based on elements that aren’t unique to fascism. For example, the belief that America needs a strong leader, or that America is better than other countries, or that it has been in decline and needs to be “made great again”. While you may disagree with them, those aren’t fascist beliefs. They’re very common ones among the discontented of any nation. A huge number of your countrymen share them without having a fascist bone in their bodies. Just because Hitler pulled those levers doesn’t mean anyone who pulls them is Hitler. And be especially wary of arguments that focus on the degrees of separation between Trump and actual fascists. Again, the same arguments were used by the right in ’08 to “prove” that Obama was a disciple of Alinsky and Ayers.

      Personally, I’m concerned that Trump will be the American Berlusconi. That would be quite bad enough.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Fascist? I’ve always argued that Trump has not appealed specifically to the idea of the nation as more important than the populace that seems an intrinsic part of fascism.

        However, Trump ran as a nativist, populist demagogue with appeals to to an explicit cult of personality. He literally said “Only I can fix it” and “[electing me will] make every dream you ever dreamed for your country come true.”

        Whatever one term label you want to put on that, or if you deny that it can be captured by a one word label, it’s disturbing.

        • stillnotking says:

          Absolutely. I think we on the left have an instinctive distrust of anyone who appeals to those themes, and for good reason. (Not that we don’t have our own blind spots.)

          But it doesn’t strike me as accurate or productive to call him a fascist. That’s the kind of language that makes the people whom we’d most like to listen to our concerns dismiss us.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The problem is that what Trump has done rhymes with fascist. Absent a good term, people are going to gravitate to the one that closely matches it. Because, it is deeply disturbing.

            And then there are the deliberate winking echoes promulgated by people in his campaign, played so they can have it both ways, coyly refusing to denounce, then pseudo denouncing, then repeating the same behavior.

            When a six pointed star, shows up over a pile of cash linked to the word corruption, that’s not an accident. When it gets retweeted by Trump’s son, that’s not an accident either.

            So, color me unimpressed by all of the hand-wringing. Sure, try and find a more suitable name, but this all strikes me as the kid who gets in an inch away from your face, putting his finger right at your eyeball, claiming the “I never touched him” defense. That kid is an annoying little shit who is trying to break the rules by using them. He knows and you know, regardless of whether he gets away with it or not.

            Now, appropriate strategy for dealing with that kind of pathetic bullshit is something else.

        • Garrett says:

          As someone with a Poli-Sci degree, I have a bit of an allergy to people who confuse fascist, totalitarian and authoritarian.

          The flip side of this (and it took me way too long to catch on to) is that Hillary’s campaign slogan was “Stronger Together”, which is the principle behind the Fasces, the symbol from which fascism takes its name.

      • Iain says:

        Trump also isn’t so hot on the personal freedoms in the First Amendment, particularly when it comes to freedom of the press.

        • stillnotking says:

          Trump is very hostile to the media (who have been very hostile to him, when they weren’t openly treating his candidacy as a joke), but let’s not overstate the case. Trump wants to strengthen libel law so that he can sue media outlets who “write bad” about him. “Write bad” seems to be Trump vernacular for libel, in much the same way he uses “bad people” as a stand-in for felons and illegal immigrants. The man is not a precise speaker. While I think that is very bad policy and speaks to his thin-skinned, bullying nature, it’s a far cry from abolishing the First Amendment.

          It’s worth keeping in mind that America has some of the weakest libel laws in the West. He probably could have sued over some of the coverage, in, say, Great Britain.

          • suntzuanime says:

            But he promised to make America great again, not turn it into a Great-Britain-esque hellscape.

          • Anonymousse says:

            @suntzuanime: How did you not go with “Make America Great Britain Again”?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Surely I am losing my edge.

          • Nyx says:

            Speaking as a Brit myself, our libel laws are not to be envied. In fact they’re so bad that the US specifically had to make a law making such judgments unenforcable, because Americans kept coming to the UK courts (which placed the burden of proof on the defendant).

            Remember that these strict libel laws delayed the distribution and broadcast of Going Clear in the UK, due to a threat of legal action. Back in the 90s, it also caused some newspapers not to publish stories about alleged victims of Jimmy Savile (for fear of ruinous legal costs). And later, threats of legal action were used to prevent reporting on allegations of doping by Lance Armstrong. The simple fact is that libel laws defend the rich and powerful, and nobody else. Libel laws are better in the UK than they used to be, less favorable to the plaintiff and less vulnerable to the kind of absurd libel tourism that went on.

            “It’s worth keeping in mind that America has some of the weakest libel laws in the West. He probably could have sued over some of the coverage, in, say, Great Britain.”

            The same could definitely be said of Hillary Clinton. Or for that matter, Barack Obama.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      @Moon:

      I don’t know whether Trump is going to turn out to be like Hitler or not.

      I’m glad to see you’re becoming more open-minded. Oh, and this reminds me:

      You can say what you like about Hitler….

      • Moon says:

        >I’m glad to see you’re becoming more open-minded.

        Well, that makes one of us.

        Since you’ve given me permission– thank you so much for that, oh Great One– NOT– I will say that I wonder whether or not, when Hitler came to power, whether lots of people were all focused on making sure that no one was allowed to compare Hitler to Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun– or to someone else that they thought of as a good historical example of evil.

        Just wondering.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Moon – “Since you’ve given me permission– thank you so much for that, oh Great One– NOT– I will say that I wonder whether or not, when Hitler came to power, whether lots of people were all focused on making sure that no one was allowed to compare Hitler to Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun– or to someone else that they thought of as a good historical example of evil.”

          Napoleon, I think, was the go-to Pre-Hitler Hitler.

          • John Schilling says:

            I had reason to look into that a while back, and I believe the usual pre-Hitler Hitler was the Pharaoh. The evil one, even if we’re not sure who that was.

            I would have expected someone like Napoleon, or maybe Genghis Khan, but in hindsight, what’s the Bible good for if not providing Icons of Ultimate Evil? Well, OK, there’s some Icons of Ultimate Good in there too.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        …at least he killed Hitler.

  21. Moon says:

    Article from New York magazine

    Activists Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/activists-urge-hillary-clinton-to-challenge-election-result

    I hope this gets done.

    • The Nybbler says:

      “Page Not Found”.

      Ah, here it is:

      http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/activists-urge-hillary-clinton-to-challenge-election-results.html

      The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.

      I’m going to predict that the largest cities used optical scanners.

      http://elections.wi.gov/sites/default/files/page/179/voting_equipment_by_municipality_09_2016_pdf_19011.pdf

      Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay (cities over 100,000) — all use ES&S DS200 optical scanners.

      • Deiseach says:

        Okay. Have they analysed Trump’s votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines versus counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots? Any analysis of election results from other years?

        Because unless they can show that this is not an artefact of the voting process, and that Trump/other candidates in previous years, received the same ratio of votes from machines to optical scanners/paper ballots but Hillary’s vote pattern was wonky, they haven’t shown evidence of anything yet other than “Hm, she got 7% fewer when voting was by machine versus paper ballot, wonder why that is?”

        If sneaky devious nogoodniks hacked the voting machines and stole her votes, great, show it and get the result over-turned. But first you have to show that there isn’t any other/more credible explanation for this result than “deliberate fraud”.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Do you really have to prove fraud as a prerequisite for investigating for fraud? Honestly #AuditTheVote seems like a good idea to me, the vote should *routinely* be audited. Maybe there wasn’t any fraud in this case but it seems like a good general policy to protect against and discourage fraud so that we can have more confidence in the cleanliness of our elections.

          The only persuasive argument against seems to be “but what if the audit turns up something, wouldn’t that lead to civil war”, and at that point you have basically given up on democracy.

          • Deiseach says:

            Do you really have to prove fraud as a prerequisite for investigating for fraud?

            I think it would be good to have comparisons before crying foul. As it stands, and this is only a quick opinion based on reading that article alone, it sounds like (I am not saying it is, I am saying it sounds like it) they are saying “Our favoured candidate did not win, so it must be down to fraud!”

            Well, have they anything to back this up? Did they compare “states where she won which had voting machines versus paper ballots or other methods”? Did Trump have similar results in states he lost? If this really is a unique result that is not seen elsewhere, sure, call it fraud, bang the drums, prosecute it. I think voting is important enough that it should not be interfered with. But show that “no, nothing similar was ever seen in this election or other elections” before saying “This mysterious 7% difference can only be explained by sinister interference by the vote-snatchers!”

            Just because it is weird and anomalous (if it is anomalous, we don’t have the data to say that yet) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the result of malice or fraud. The universe is weird and anomalous. People do things for the weirdest reasons; it might be that someone using a voting machine would not vote for Clinton but would do so on a paper ballot, maybe because of the layout of the ballot and how the machine presents the candidates. God knows, I don’t, so let’s get some facts here first.

            I agree with you that a regular random audit would be no harm to keep things honest and prevent conspiracy theories on the part of all parties.

          • Brad says:

            Something like:

            available source code for the devices + reproducible build process + available core dumps from the actual machines

            seems like a no-brainer to me. If the vendor screams about proprietary trade secrets, then find another vendor.

          • Moon says:

            The process by which vendors are found is that they contribute money to state political campaigns– same as other contracts for goods and services with state or federal government. Companies invest in government and get contracts out of it, just like the MIC and all the rest. The integrity of the voting process is not considered.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            I’m okay with it if it’s done evenhandedly. I object if the auditing is done only jurisdictions where Trump won; or if the auditors look only for the kinds of irregularities which would have benefited Trump.

            But I suspect most of these “auditthevote” types are more one-sided in their aims.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Yeah, that’s reasonable. I assumed there would be something in place in the recount schemes to prevent that sort of nonsense, but since no one is interested at ALL in having any sort of fair or reasonable electoral process, that probably wasn’t a safe assumption to make.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ fortaleza84
            I’m okay with it if it’s done evenhandedly. I object if the auditing is done only jurisdictions where Trump won; or if the auditors look only for the kinds of irregularities which would have benefited Trump.

            For evenhandedness:

            Any year when the EC overrides the National Popular Vote, there must be an audit — against the EC-guy, whoever it is. That brings the audit down to a practical size (even if some narrow margin states originally in the NPV’s side were included in the audit).

          • AnonEEmous says:

            that’s fine I guess, but how is that any better than “audits must be done generally”? Or “audits must be done below a certain percent”? It definitely seems like it’s possible to win the electoral college and lose the popular vote without any cheating; the only marginal case, where Bush likely cheated in 2000, was still close enough that it’s a possibility. Plus, in cases like this one it’s not that marginal; 68K votes isn’t a Bush-level margin of victory. But whatever, we could use more audits anyhow, as long as it’s not me paying personally for it x-d

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ AnonEEmous

            For getting the new rule passed, the fewer and cheaper the audits the better, but whatever. I think the most important points are to have a default rule in place that any General Election that has one of X, Y, and Z automatically triggers a recount, and specifies how it be conducted. In 2000, Bush ran out the clock by arguing about details like that. Also when a recount is triggered, all deadlines should be put on hold till all recounts are finished to the satisfaction of both sides.

        • John Schilling says:

          Okay. Have they analysed Trump’s votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines versus counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots?

          Yes. They have. The only thing that seems to be going on is that the all-electronic voting machines were sent to the rural and small-town precincts while the optically-scanned paper ballots were used in big cities. I’m kind of surprised the difference is only 7%.

          • Deiseach says:

            So there is an alternative explanation for the difference that is not “deliberate fraud” and it’s “demographics”: places that had paper ballots also had a greater proportion of (likely) Clinton voters, places that had machines also had a greater proportion of (likely) non-Clinton voters.

            Thank you for that, that is exactly the kind of information I was seeking.

  22. shakeddown says:

    Does anyone have an idea for outside-view arguments for mac vs. PC?

    On the inside view, everyone seems confident that whichever one they’re using is inherently superior. The one outside view argument I’ve heard is to look at customer satisfaction ratings – people with macs tend to really love them, suggesting that actual experience with macs turns people to their side. This isn’t fully convincing, though – macs are expensive, so this could just be sunken cost fallacy, or a form of confirmation bias.

    • dndnrsn says:

      How many people use neither? That would be an issue for the outside view.

      • Anonymousse says:

        I don’t think the Linux community is famous for their fair and balanced view of macs and PCs…

        • hyperboloid says:

          But I think we are famous for knowing more about computers then most macOS and Windows users.

          Of course technically speaking the “Mac vs PC” distinction is out of date, as Apple transitioned to x86 based Intel processors ten years ago.

          • Anonymousse says:

            I concur, and in my mind my comment came with the context that I respect people who know more about computers than I do. I didn’t make any effort to insinuate that in my comment, though, so it’s just insult.

            Do you have an opinion on the merits of the two platforms?

          • hyperboloid says:

            I wasn’t insulted. Graph Linux users and computer nerds on a Venn diagram and the former falls almost entirely inside the later. Naturally that means you end up with a lot of people who are absurdly opinionated about trivial issues.

            The thing is I think it’s strange to be having the Mac vs PC argument in 2016.

            As the situation stands today, Mac and PC really aren’t separate platforms. Ever since Apple dropped the RISC based PowerPC processor and went over to Intel CPU’s Macs are basically built with the same components as high end PCs. The only thing that makes a Mac a Mac is a bunch of firmware that supports OS X/macOS. You can dual boot Windows 10 or any Linux distro you want on basically all apple desktops and laptops made since 2006. It’s even possible to build a “Hackintosh” from OTC components and install macOS sierra on it, but its a massive pain in the ass.

            The only real question is operating systems, and whether your willing to pay the (by now relatively modest) premium to have the option of using macOS.

            On the one hand, I happen to think there is a special place in hell for who ever designed HFS plus (the file system that Macs have used since OS 8), but your average user probably doesn’t care, and they’re phasing it out sometime in 2017 anyway. On the other hand I think sierra has a lead in UI design, but compared to Windows 10 it is slight. If you’re in the market for a high end computer and have an iPad and an iPhone, and you want to easily sync your devices to your desktop, get a Mac. If you’re going to spend a lot of time playing call of duty, and want to have a lot of expansion options, get a PC.

          • Brad says:

            You missed excel. If you use excel seriously, you need windows. On the other hand if you spend a bunch of time programming and your IDE of choice is anything other than VS you probably don’t want windows.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Brad
            Agreed about excel, but do you really think that visual studio is the only option for an IDE on Windows?

            I’m not a software, developer and I have done relatively little coding on windows, but is there anything wrong with Eclipse? It’s feature rich, customizable, and it’s actualy gotten a fair amount of support form Microsoft recently.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hyperboloid:

            Have done some development in javascript and node destined for AWS deployment, the available windows options have seemed like they are poor and very frustrating. Eventually we went to cloud9 as cloud/browser based environment, which seems to work well enough, but still crappy compared to a normal IDE.

            Now, I was mostly just passively accepting others recommendations as this is a very part time, side project for me, so I could be completely wrong.

          • Brad says:

            Sure eclipse works on Windows, the jetbrains one does too. There’s also windows versions of vim and emacs.

            But if you are writing java (or c, most c++, haskall, ruby, python — basically anything except for c#, f#, or the Microsoft flavor of c++) the entire tool chain is written for unix first and windows is an afterthought. You’ll constantly be fighting impedance mismatch.

            People do it, heck I’ve done it, but is not the most straightforward choice.

    • rlms says:

      I think which one is better depends greatly on what you want, so there are no general outside-view arguments. You could look at the fact that more people switch from PC to Mac than vice versa. You could also compare objective factors (specs, price etc.) but the correct way to weigh them up varies from person to person.

    • Brad says:

      I don’t think there’s one right answer. If someone says that Mac is strictly inferior or strictly superior to PC he is simply wrong. It has to do with what you need the computer for, how much money you have to spend, what your tech support options are, etc, etc, etc.

      • shakeddown says:

        These are all reasonable arguments, but they still feel inside-view-ish. To illustrate the difference here, if you say “Macs have great software for video editing”, that’s inside-view. If you say “Giving either a mac or a PC at random to a graphic designer, we see that graphic designers with macs do better work”, that’s outside-view. Genuine outside-view seems hard since we don’t usually do this kind of double-blind trials IRL – what would you say is close to it?

        • Gobbobobble says:

          You could compare the sort of software written (or # of downloads) for each platform? For example, far more games run on Windows than Mac. But that methodology might have chicken-and-egg problems.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Given that I use Mac for work and PC at home, and wouldn’t change either, going to toss my two-cents in with the folks saying they’re better at different things.

    • dwietzsche says:

      I’m not a mac guy for political reasons mainly, but one of my IT friends who was heavily into Linux and the usual associations started coming around after he received a work-issue Mac laptop. I don’t understand all his reasons, but he was pretty impressed by the hardware, even though the machine was build in ’12.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Companies that account for IT support find that macs are dramatically cheaper. eg, IBM. (leaving aside the dramatically better hardware)

      Similarly, office buildings use fluorescent light bulbs not to save money on electricity, but to save labor replacing them.

      • shakeddown says:

        Oh, nice.

      • Spookykou says:

        This is what I would expect(hindsight bias?!) mac OS just doesn’t let you fiddle with as much stuff as windows.

        But ‘harder to fiddle with’ goes in two directions ‘harder to fuck up’ and ‘harder to fix/customize’. This understanding of what fiddlability? means for a computer is pretty widely agreed upon and which OS is more fiddly is as well I think. I am not aware of any particular test of this, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find a definition of fiddlability that you care about and then test it for the two OS to get an objective determination on the exact amounts. Getting an outside view on the value of fiddlability is not as obvious to me.

        Everything else in the Mac PC debate boils down to Apple vs All other computer manufactures, Apple charges a lot for it’s brand is the only real point there, and the knock on effects from PC being way more common, more software support, more malware support, etc.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          I don’t think that this has anything to do with fiddling.

          Apple charges a lot for it’s brand

          Apple charges nothing for its brand. It is a discount. If you want to run windows, it is cheaper to buy a mac and separately buy windows to put on it, at least for a laptop. (But you shouldn’t run windows directly on the machine. Instead you should run it in an emulator because the overhead of running the mac operating system is negative.) This will be cheaper than buying a PC with the closest comparable hardware (as mentioned in the link), but it will be much better because of all the hardware that you can only get from Apple. Macs are expensive because Apple only sells good computers, not because they charge more.

          • Jonathan says:

            Apple charges nothing for its brand. It is a discount. If you want to run windows, it is cheaper to buy a mac and separately buy windows to put on it, at least for a laptop.

            Apple has the highest profit margin of any computer manufacturer, so yes, it would cost you considerably more if you could find a competitor with equivalent hardware. Fortunately for Apple, the commoditization of PC hardware has lead to a race-to-the-bottom. While competitive products do exist, they can be hard-to-find amongst the crud, generally targeted at businesses, or simply not directly comparable (e.g. MS’s Surface).

            But you shouldn’t run windows directly on the machine. Instead you should run it in an emulator because the overhead of running the mac operating system is negative.

            The moment you place an OS in a VM, you lose direct access to the underlying hardware and are at the mercy of whatever paravirtualization the host OS/hypervisor provides. This is particularly egregious in the case of a desktop OS (like Windows) because you lose all high-speed access to the graphics card. One of the problems unique to Apple is they have (traditionally) provided poor driver support for native execution of Windows, so you may witness benchmark anomalies.

            Now, if all you are doing is web browsing and Office, then there is little need to worry about your specific OS configuration. If you’re going to be running performance-heavy applications like Games or Engineering applications, then you have to pay closer to attention to what’s going on.

            Macs are expensive because Apple only sells good computers, not because they charge more.

            No, they are more expensive for both reasons.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            As I said above, my original link supports my claim: IBM finds that macs are already a little cheaper
            before support costs.

            Profit does not address my claim. Apple has high profit margins because its costs are low because it is competent. It spends very little on R&D and it spends very little on marketing. But it spends those dollars very well. Also, its manufacturing is cheaper, if only because it has experience with techniques that other companies are just now copying.

          • Jonathan says:

            Profit does not address my claim. Apple has high profit margins because its costs are low because it is competent. It spends very little on R&D and it spends very little on marketing. But it spends those dollars very well. Also, its manufacturing is cheaper, if only because it has experience with techniques that other companies are just now copying.

            Claiming that Apple (more accurately, Foxconn) has some secret sauce that can save them ~ $200 per unit (20% vs 4% margin) is an outrageous claim. I’d only be willing to accept that if you could produce evidence to that effect.

            As I said above, my original link supports my claim: IBM finds that macs are already a little cheaper
            before support costs.

            I see nothing in the article to that effect (Re: acquisition costs). I’m going to assume you’re referring to:

            IBM found that not only do PCs drive twice the amount of support calls, they’re also three times more expensive. That’s right, depending on the model, IBM is saving anywhere from $273 – $543 per Mac compared to a PC, over a four-year lifespan.

            The only quantitative statement for costs is in reference to the total cost of ownership (TCO) over a finite time period (four years). I don’t consider it controversial to claim that support dominates the cost of IT in industry and Apple traditionally holds an advantage over Windows in that sector.

            I will admit the language is less than perfect and could potentially be interpreted in several ways. However, “three times more expensive” and a difference of “$273 – $543” does not correspond to any reasonable range of new computer prices.

          • Spookykou says:

            I went ahead and watched the video, they are talking total cost of ownership over 4 years.

            In particular they are comparing Lenovo T460 with macbook pro 13 for the 273 number.

            Lenovo T460 with with macbook air 13 for the 513 number, the Air is about 500 dollars cheaper than the pro, so I guess the Air is also worse than the pro on IT cost?

            And finally the Yoga X1 back against the pro, for the 543 number.

            The T460 is very slightly better in terms of specs compared to the pro both better than the air, and it’s about the same price as the air, the yoga is a hybrid tablet that obviously costs more for it’s specs, at around the same price as the pro, which seems to imply that the yoga IT costs are half that of the t460.

            Maybe I am horrible at math or something, but this evidence seems far from conclusive that the issue here is windows vs mac os.

            I did this ignoring the current sale price on the Lenovo store(apple did not seem to be running a sale on the air or pro), the sale Lenovo is currently running is greater than the cost difference noticed by IBM, so maybe they just need to buy more of their computers around black Friday like the rest of us.

            This also all assumes they are paying close to retail for these laptops, which I honestly have no idea about.

            Also, this is all about laptop pricing, I work for a company slightly smaller than IBM but still in the top 50, and we use considerably more desktops than laptops.

          • Iain says:

            As far as I am aware, literally nobody at IBM uses a desktop. IBM employees get a laptop as their primary workstation, and then can request a docking station and external monitors if necessary.

            I have no special information, but would be very surprised if IBM paid sticker price for its laptops. Every employee gets a new laptop every four years, which works out to nearly 100K new laptops purchased every year. I assume you get a bulk discount at that point.

            On a semi-related note, if you are in the market for a cheap laptop and don’t mind it being a few years old, you can get a pretty good deal on old Thinkpads that IBM is cycling out of service.

            Source: IBM employee.

          • Spookykou says:

            Yeah about halfway through looking up prices I thought, they probably don’t pay retail, but I had already put in the time, sunk costs and all that.

            Is it expected that everyone takes their work station home with them somewhat regularly, or can you speculate on the reason for the laptop preference?

          • Iain says:

            You can take a laptop home with you. You can take it with you to visit a client, if you are client-facing. You can bring your laptop to a meeting. When you are at your desk, if you like, you can simulate the desktop experience with a docking station, external keyboard, and external monitor.

            What are the advantages of a desktop?

          • Spookykou says:

            I had assumed the ‘corporation relevant’ advantage for Desktops was the price. Some people I work with can take advantage of mobility, and they get laptops, most of them, myself included, never have any reason to move their computer around, a mac mini or pc equivalent no frills tower normally cost around half the price for the specs compared to laptops(at retail, but this seems clearly a byproduct of manufacturing costs that should translate into any sort of pricing deal).

          • Jonathan says:

            What are the advantages of a desktop?

            Cost, performance, and human interface.

            For a corporation, the difference in cost are more than offset by the productivity gains of a notebook. For your average employee, computer performance dramatically exceeds their requirements, so that’s similarly a non-issue.

            Certain technical tasks (circuit design, mechanical engineering, etc.) have extensive performance requirements and a cramped screen/keyboard can be a significant handicap on productivity (e.g. multiple running applications). You can mitigate the later with a docking station, but it still means that you have significantly impaired productivity the moment you pull the notebook out and try to use it anywhere else.

            Where I work, the company issues both notebooks and desktops to engineering staff. I don’t see a whole lot of non-programming technical work done on notebooks. Instead, the notebook is generally limited to office work and “viewing” (maybe limited editing) of the technical material. A few people have outrageously expensive notebooks in docking stations but they are the minority.

          • Iain says:

            Setting aside cost, it is a lot easier to add the advantages of a desktop to a laptop than vice versa. Don’t like the keyboard or screen? Plug in a docking station! Processor isn’t beefy enough? Offload it to a server! It doesn’t work the other way around – if you would like to bring your desktop to a meeting, you just can’t. You may lose the benefit of the docking station when you leave your desk, but that’s still a step up from never being able to leave your desk at all.

            For reference, I have met people who do circuit design for IBM, and they were all carrying around Thinkpads too.

          • Spookykou says:

            Well, this could also just be a difference of corporate environment.

            I work for UPS so the vast majority of employees don’t even use computers, but the departments we have that do use computers are mostly of the ‘cubicle farm’ format, we have an office building somewhere, a bunch of people walk in, sit at their desks, and plug away all day. They are never in meetings, they never need to move anywhere, they just show up and do some kind of data entry all day. The idea of giving them all laptops and docking stations instead of just buying them a desktop seems wasteful.

            I just assumed IBM would similarly have large numbers of employees who match that description, but in retrospect, they might not.

          • Brad says:

            That’s pretty much it. If you don’t need any of the advantages that a laptop has over a desktop there’s no point in paying the dollar and performance penalty for it. The performance penalty has to do with most laptops being designed with weight and power consumption being major considerations. you can get desktop replacement laptops but at that point they are more portable than mobile.

            Edit: Wow, don’t leave posting window open and walk away. This should be three posts up.

          • bean says:

            I work at a major aerospace company, and even the engineers get laptops. We get very nice ones, and the advantages of being able to take them into meetings and on trips presumably far outweigh the cost savings. Laptops are pretty much mandatory, so you might as well upgrade them instead of buying desktops as well. (Also, that would be a pain to manage.)
            I’m sure that there are some people with really high-end desktops doing CFD and the like, but even our stress guys use laptops.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            20 or even 10 years ago it might have made sense to go for desktops based on a dollar-per-computron basis. But unless you are on an extremely tight budget, or really need a desktop for some specific reason, the margin just isn’t that big any more.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I was wrong. IBM claims that Macs are 10-20% more expensive. But that isn’t for comparable machines. A low-end T460 is much worse than an Air. Maybe when it is maxed out it is comparable to a Pro, but I am skeptical.

            But I want to return to the topic of profit. There are two things I should have mentioned higher on my list. First, there is an apples-to-oranges problem because Apple also makes the software. You probably should compare PC+MS profit to Apple profit. You should expect vertically integrated companies to have lower profit margins. Second, low-end computers have low profit margins and high-end computers have high profit margins. The profit margin on a computer comparable to a mac isn’t the profit margin on the typical computer. I am more familiar with the situation of phones, where Samsung sells low-end phones with razor-thin margins and high-end phones with manufacturing and sales costs like iphones. But they have lower profit margins because of higher advertising costs.

      • Wander says:

        I can’t help but feel there are other variables within companies that use Mac vs PC that would change the cost of tech support. Who is choosing to use which, and what activities does their job entail?

        • Spookykou says:

          From what I understand the article is actually just an internal study by IBM about their own costs after asking employees what computer they wanted, and giving out a bunch of Macs in response.

          I would actually really like to see the relevant data, while in general it is not hard to imagine that Mac is better in terms of IT cost, I am curious about the details here.

      • TheBearsHaveArrived says:

        I can see that. Its really easy to screw up your windows.

        Is the virus difference still true(or was it ever true?)

        If so, I guess I could see the point of giving a gift of a mac to someone new to internet browsing instead of a cheaper PC they would just infect.

        • Jonathan says:

          Is the virus difference still true(or was it ever true?)

          Kinda? Mac OS has benefited from being a niche platform for the about the entire time it’s been connected to the Internet, making it a not inherently valuable target (unlike the business world running on Windows). Pre-X, it had no inherent security advantages over anyone else. Post-X, it was architecturally similar (in the broadest sense) to Linux (through its BSD heritage) which gave it advantages over the versions of Windows available at the time. With XP SP2, and especially Vista, Microsoft aggressively ramped up their security posture and any structural advantage Mac OS enjoyed was erased.

          These days, the vulnerabilities are less about the OS as a whole and more about the vulnerability of individual applications (namely browsers and their plugins). The OS’s role is primarily a parameter of the shell code (e.g. a Mac exploit will rarely work under Windows and vice versa) and whatever mitigations the OS provides to prevent an attacked application from escalating into an exploit (e.g. sandboxing, address space randomization, etc.).

          If you’re willing to accept hearsay evidence, a college friend of mine who spent many years as a professional hacker (with a few exploits sold to the DoD under his belt) had a very negative view of Mac OS X security in the 2010ish timeframe. They provided fewer mitigations than Microsoft and the ones they did provide were generally far less sophisticated and less capable. Mac exploits were generally saved for pwn2own-style competitions because they had little market value (supply drastically exceeding demand). He has since left that business so file that as a historical footnote and not a statement as to the current state of things. (He did say that iOS had far better security than Android for what it’s worth.)

          If so, I guess I could see the point of giving a gift of a mac to someone new to internet browsing instead of a cheaper PC they would just infect.

          By that logic, something like a Chromebook would be preferable to a Mac. Obviously, it’s more limited (which is one of the primary reasons why it would be more secure).

          These days, all the modern OS’s have “good enough” security and attackers are largely focusing on Cell Phones and Internet-Of-Things devices, so I’m not sure how much thought should really be focused on this specific issue.

    • TheBearsHaveArrived says:

      Cost for the capabilities lean pretty strongly for a general windows 10 PC.

      • The one big advantage I can see to Windows aside from cost (I’m a Mac user) is that there is a much larger range of hardware to choose from. That briefly seemed to be changing when Apple allowed clones, one of which I owned, but then they reversed that decision.

  23. Squirrel of Doom says:

    Is there any real information on increase in Trump related suicides?

    Would there be? I mean, is anyone counting things like this?

    • dwietzsche says:

      I doubt there could ever be reliable statistics about it. Just would guess from first principles that more people killed themselves when Michael Jackson died than killed themselves because Trump won.

    • hyperboloid says:

      I have a hard time believing that there was any net increase in suicides because of Trump. Anybody sighting Trump as a reason to commit suicide is likely suffering from serious pre-existing psychiatric problems, and apt to engage in suicidal ideation for reasons much more parochial then a national election.

      • stillnotking says:

        Almost everyone who commits suicide after a traumatic event had serious pre-existing psychiatric problems. I don’t doubt that Trump’s election was traumatic enough for some people to cause them to commit suicide. Trump’s loss might have been, too — is that what you mean by a “net” increase?

        MJ says some suicide hotlines saw a major increase in call volume; adjust for partisan bias, maybe, but it doesn’t strike me as the kind of thing people would fabricate.

        • Deiseach says:

          I tend to agree with hyperboloid; if you’re already depressed/prone to suicidal ideation and you were influenced by the panic over the result of the election (neo-Nazis! forced gay conversion camps! no more abortions! Jews, Hispanics, blacks and other minorities to be rounded up and deported!), it might be the last straw pushing you over the edge, but that it was the only reason – very doubtful. That is saying that had Hillary won, these people would not have killed themselves, and we can’t know that, because we don’t have access to a world where Hillary won and then we can count the suicide rates and compare them.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        Anybody sighting Trump as a reason to commit suicide

        I must say, I’m rather enjoying these unintentional typos.

    • lvlln says:

      I think if this turns out to be true, no one will know for at least months to come, if not years.

      At the minimum, we’d have to have data on the suicide rate during, say, the 2 weeks after 11/8, and compare that to an equivalent 2 week period.

      But how noisy is suicide rate data? I imagine it’s even enough that you could compare years with other years, but is a given 2 weeks long enough for it to all even out?

      Furthermore, what kind of seasonality effects do we need to account for? Does the rate in the 2nd 2 weeks of November traditionally differ from the rate in the last week of October + 1st week of November? Can we compare 11/8-11/22 of 2016 and 2015, or do years that are multiples of 4 have special features wrt suicide rates due to things like POTUS election and Summer Olympics?

      Gathering and verifying the data and running this type of analysis takes time, time that hasn’t passed yet. So anyone claiming that there’s been any sort of meaningful effect should be looked at extremely skeptically.

      Similar arguments go for things like hate crime, of course.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      This might be the typical mind fallacy at work, but suicidal people aren’t generally motivated by one easily-articulated reason.

      If you’re close enough to the edge that Hillary losing the election could push you over then you’ve got much bigger problems than Mr Trump in your life. It’s not like healthy people are throwing themselves off bridges in droves over the news. If it’s happening at all it would be the metaphorical last straw for someone already feeling crushed by other, more serious, worries.

      Anyway I certainly hope that I’m right. The level of (unjustified IMO) panic over Trump in some quarters is absolutely unreal, and that’s it’s own tragedy. But it would be much worse if more susceptible people were taking it as an endorsement of suicide.

      • stillnotking says:

        The level of (unjustified IMO) panic over Trump in some quarters is absolutely unreal

        How is the top story on every front page not some version of “NEO-NAZIS ATTEMPTING TO SEIZE CONTROL OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT”?

        • The Nybbler says:

          The whole “here’s Steve Bannon, part of the Trump transition team, who runs a news organization he called the platform of the alt-right” followed by “Look over here, it’s Richard Spencer, neo-Nazi! Trump is obviously hiring neo-Nazis for his administration!” is getting kind of boring.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Steve Bannon self identified as “alt-right”. The phrase alt-right was coined by Robert Spencer, who is, more or less, a suit and tie Nazi. If Bannon means alt right in way different to Spencer he damn well better publicly explain himself.

            If I call myself a Communist, and you quite rightly point out that Stalin and Mao killed millions, then the burden is on me to show how I’m not that kind of Communist.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Steve Bannon did not self-identify as alt-right. He said (in an interview with presumably-hostile Mother Jones, for which we don’t have the context) that Breitbart was “the platform for the alt-right.”

            He HAS publicly explained what he thinks the alt-right is.

            http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/11/19/bannon-alt-right-young-anti-globalist-anti-establishment-nationalist/

            “Our definition of the alt-right is younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist, terribly anti-establishment.”

            There’s also a “guide to the alt-right” on Breitbart posted by Bokhari and Yiannopolis, though it’s not clear if Bannon endorses that either.

            This “Spencer is alt-right, Spencer is a neo-Nazi, Bannon is alt-right, therefore Bannon is a neo-Nazi” stuff is ridiculous.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            Note that the Breitbart “guide to the alt-right” specifically identifies Spencer as an intellectual of the alt-right, saying “The media empire of the modern-day alternative right coalesced around Richard Spencer during his editorship of Taki’s Magazine. In 2010, Spencer founded AlternativeRight.com, which would become a center of alt-right thought.’

            He isn’t a non-central example.

          • lvlln says:

            I’m starting to get a better understanding this year of how so many Republicans were able to justify calling Obama a Socialist in 2008 because he supported taxing people with higher income more than people with lower income, to the point that they actually believed it themselves.

            At the time, I thought such mass delusion was exclusively a property of the right.

          • Iain says:

            @lvlln: If I accept for the sake of argument that Bannon’s ties to the alt-right are at most indirect, can you give an example of a prominent member of Obama’s administration who was as closely connected to Actual Socialists as Bannon is to Richard Spencer and his band of white nationalists?

            That is to say: even if you don’t think it is a particularly close connection, I struggle to see how calling Obama a socialist is equivalent. Did the Obama campaign have a bad habit of accidentally retweeting socialists? Were socialists particularly happy about his election? Do you have any particular incidents in mind?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC
            Yes, Spencer is solidly alt-right. But the term has grown well beyond the meaning he gave it; it’s been applied more widely than even the Breitbart guide does, particularly by some on the establishment left (I’ve seen Libertarians, Tea Partiers, and even the ants included. Moldbug’s group is often included as well). And neo-Nazism isn’t one of the unifying principles (if indeed there are any) of this expanded alt-right.

          • Stationary Feast says:

            That’s the thing. I think of myself as alt-right since I read and enjoy Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire, Theodore Dalrymple, and Razib Khan, but Spencer only shows up on my radar screen occasionally, and never for very long. As far as I can tell, the alt-right is a large enough category to include people who roll their eyes at people like Spencer or simply don’t hear about people like him much.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Moldbug’s group is often included as well

            a) Moldbug is cited as part of the alt-right by the same Breitbart article. But see (b), this is irrelevant.
            b) In what way at all does the fact that other people are (mis)identified as part of the alt-right change the fact that Spencer is a certified central example?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Re: (b)

            You need to define your set before you can say whether X is a “central example” of it.

            As I said before I’ll grant that Spencer, as the guy who first put Theodore Dalrymple, Bill Kauffman, Michelle Malkin, and Steve Sailer in the same metaphorical room together probably deserves some credit for starting the alt-right, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much on it’s own.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:
            Note that I am replying to The Nybbler who is happy to categorize Spencer as “solidly alt-right.”

          • The Nybbler says:

            If I were trying to claim the non-central fallacy, I’d say that Bannon was not a central example of a member of the alt-right. He wouldn’t fit in with Spencer’s set, nor does he even fit his own definition (because he’s not “younger people”).

            What I’m claiming is
            “Bannon is associated with the alt-right”
            “Spencer is a key figure of the alt-right”
            “Spencer is a neo-Nazi”
            therefore
            “Bannon is a neo-Nazi”

            is not valid reasoning.

          • On the question of how Bannon describes himself, here is a talk/interview he gave a couple of years ago.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ HBC:

            Ahh, my apologies then, please continue.

          • rlms says:

            My main takeaway from that talk is that Bannon really likes the word “metastasize”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            From that interview Friedman linked (and Bannon repeats the same basic claim multiple times).

            Look, we believe — strongly — that there is a global tea party movement. We’ve seen that. We were the first group to get in and start reporting on things like UKIP and Front National and other center right. With all the baggage that those groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage, both ethnically and racially — but we think that will all be worked through with time.

            He’s happy to work with these people, who have specific racist baggage, and just assumes that it will eventually work out. He’s just not very “arsed” about it. He knows who he’s working with, and doesn’t find it to be important.

            He thinks he is in control of the tiger.

          • Iain says:

            It’s actually even more interesting than that.

            I’ve spent quite a bit of time with UKIP, and I can say to you that I’ve never seen anything at all with UKIP that even comes close to that. I think they’ve done a very good job of policing themselves to really make sure that people including the British National Front and others were not included in the party, and I think you’ve seen that also with tea party groups, where some people would show up and were kind of marginal members of the tea party, and the tea party did a great job of policing themselves early on.

            Bannon doesn’t just acknowledge that the populist right tends to attract racists and antisemites. He also acknowledges the necessity of self-policing to keep them out. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any evidence that he is actually interested in doing any of that policing…

          • The Nybbler says:

            @HBC

            So basically he’s not a white nationalist, not a neo-Nazi, but he’s not willing to discard and shun entire broad movements merely because they contain such? And he expects such people to become more and more marginalized.

            That may or may not be wise. But it certainly doesn’t make him equivalent to Spencer or justify breathless rhetoric like ‘How is the top story on every front page not some version of “NEO-NAZIS ATTEMPTING TO SEIZE CONTROL OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT”?’.

          • Moon says:

            Interesting. That may turn out to be Trump’s fatal flaw– that he thinks he can control things and people he can’t control. Being president is not the best job for thin skinned people, used to being surrounded by sycophants who constantly bow to them.

          • dndnrsn says:

            If “alt-right” is just “non-mainstream, non-libertarian, not-especially-religious right”, it kind of becomes a bit meaningless, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure all 4 of the guys you list were doing their thing well before Richard Spencer was fired from The American Conservative for being “too extreme”. Just a crazy catchall “everything not in the Republican party tent”, and arguably they’re poking their nose into that tent.

            EDIT: This was @Stationary Feast. I wonder why the order of posts is messed up in this thread?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @dndnrsn – “If “alt-right” is just “non-mainstream, non-libertarian, not-especially-religious right”, it kind of becomes a bit meaningless, doesn’t it?”

            …That’s pretty much exactly how I saw the “alt-right” label for most of this year, and it seemed like a useful-enough term to apply it to myself. If you don’t want Christian theocracy, have grown disillusioned with Libertarian talking points, and have made the observation that conservatism doesn’t actually conserve anything, but you find yourself opposed to the left and blue tribe generally, what’s the name for your position?

          • dndnrsn says:

            How about right-winger (NOS)?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @dndnrsn

            Ha ha. But what are the other categories

            Right Winger (GOP/neocon)
            Right Winger (RINO)
            Right Winger (Evangelical)
            Right Winger (Tea Partier)
            Right Winger (right-libertarian)
            Right Winger (populist/Trumpist)
            Right Winger (sovereign citizen)
            Right Winger (neo-Nazi:intellectual)
            Right Winger (neo-Nazi:1488er)
            Right Winger (neo-Nazi:NOS)

            And I guess the equivalent for the left

            Left Winger (Democratic Party Regular)
            Left Winger (Communist:tankie)
            Left Winger (Communist:intellectual)
            Left Winger (Communist:NOS)
            Left Winger (Socialist/Berniebot)
            Left Winger (SJW) (with subcategories)
            Left Winger (bleeding heart)
            Left Winger (left-libertarian)
            Left Winger (trade unionist)
            Left Winger (anarcho-syndicalist)

            etc.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            NOS?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Not Otherwise Specified in ICD codes ?

          • The Nybbler says:

            NOS = Not Otherwise Specified. Used in medical coding when there’s a list of possible ways to more specifically describe a condition to indicate it’s not anything in the list.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Suffice it to say that “alt-right” is far more in need of tabooing than most of the words you see people saying we ought to taboo.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            ah, thanks for the explanation. I guess I don’t think Right Winger – NOS works well because the movement was a pretty new thing, and heavily opposed to other parts of the Right Wing. Like, people posting Trump pepes and talking about the God Emperor were definately part of a movement, and I don’t think it’d be fair to generic “right wingers” to use their label for it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            “Alt-right” is one of those things where the words themselves suggest something generic, but they actually refer to something specific. It’s not just a way of saying “not a mainstream Republican, not a libertarian, not a theocrat”.

            I agree it could use tabooing because it’s one of those things where maybe there isn’t a proper central example.

          • Mazirian says:

            I think I first became aware of Spencer when he founded alternativeright.com, a now-defunct blog/zine. This was probably around 2010. Some of the few things I remember about it is that it was sleek-looking and that Jason Richwine (pre-debacle) published some interesting articles on immigration there.

            Spencer was the one who came up with ‘alt-right’ or least the one who popularized it. However, it seems controversial to equate his current views with the term alt-right. This is because his own views have changed (public views at least). He has become much more radical in the last year or two, e.g., I don’t recall that he was anti-Semitic or advocated for a white ethnostate in the early alternativeright.com days.

            The fact that Bannon and Breitbart have attached themselves to the label alt-right is confusing because literally no one who knew the term a year or more ago would have thought of Breitbart as an alt-right site then.

            Another reason to not equate alt-right with Spencer is that I don’t think he’s much of a thinker. I’ve read some of his stuff, but I can’t think of a single original idea that he has expressed. If you want to know who the intellectual godfathers of the alt-right are, here’s a good operational rule: former writers for the National Review blackballed for right-deviationism. They include Peter Brimelow, Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire, Robert Weissberg and Lawrence Auster. Joseph Sobran might be a precursor.

            The elements that have been associated with the term alt-right from the beginning are: race realism/HBD, immigration restrictionism, isolationism. I think these are the essential elements of the movement and for that reason, saying that Breitbart is part of the alt-right is confusing for someone who has known and used the term before its recent popularity.

            The problem with the term alt-right is that there’s the original definition of alt-right, associated with the (not static) positions of Spencer and others, and then there’s the new and better-known usage that doesn’t mean much more than “Trump supporter”.

          • “The fact that Bannon and Breitbart have attached themselves to the label alt-right ”

            I don’t think they have.

            As best I can tell, Bannon’s position is that alt-right authors are among those he publishes. As best I can tell from the talk of his I put up a link to, he identifies with something broader, running from the Tea Parties through Brexit/UKIP, with Marinne Le Pen towards the edge of it. Right, and rejecting part of the traditional libertarian/conservative alliance in the U.S..

            Either the identification of Bannon and Breitbart with the alt-right is an invention of the media and the Hillary campaign or “alt-right” describes a much broader movement than those pushing that identification imply.

          • Tekhno says:

            The alt-right was basically two factions, with the non-ethnats being usurpers. Now the conservative but non-ethnat faction has begun distancing itself from the term alt-right due to Richard Spencer getting attention in the mainstream use.

            Paul Joseph Watson – of Infowars fame and with ties to Breitbart – had used the terminology before, but has now dubbed the anti-ethnat faction as the “New Right” compared to the alt-right, and various mods from /r/the_Donald have been promoting a New Right subreddit that specifically has disclaimers against racism and antisemitism.

            It’s looking a lot like there’s going to be a lot more sharp drawing of boundaries and sectarianism as more attention is given to this motley internet movement. The alt-right broadened, but with an underlying tension, so it might snap in two at some point. Pro-Israeli civic nationalism is fundamentally incompatible with anti-Israeli ethno nationalism, after all. Only one can live.

            With the label itself being discredited, those parts of the broader alt-right outside of the original nazi core are going to start jumping ship to a different label. Or at least that’s what the early signs are, and the noises the e-celebs are making. Of course, Bannon has come out against racism and antisemitism within the alt-right, but he probably isn’t going to be able to enable that grouping much longer, with all of the scrutiny of it.

          • Judging by Bannon’s talk a little more than two years ago, the movement he considered himself part of had some ethnic nationalist types but was at least mildly hostile to them:

            “The central thing that binds that all together is a center-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. ”

            “By the way, even in the tea party, we have a broad movement like this, and we’ve been criticized, and they try to make the tea party as being racist, etc., which it’s not. But there’s always elements who turn up at these things, whether it’s militia guys or whatever. Some that are fringe organizations. My point is that over time it all gets kind of washed out, right? People understand what pulls them together, and the people on the margins I think get marginalized more and more.”

            “I think they’ve [UKIP] done a very good job of policing themselves to really make sure that people including the British National Front and others were not included in the party, and I think you’ve seen that also with tea party groups, where some people would show up and were kind of marginal members of the tea party, and the tea party did a great job of policing themselves early on.”

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          I’m not afraid of Nazis neo- or otherwise. It’s part of a general rule I have: I refuse to be frightened by the mention of a dead man’s name.

          But, regardless of that, Trump isn’t a Nazi. Nearly every policy he’s advocating now was either the law of the land less than a century ago or at the very least still on the table within the last fifty. Immigration restrictions by ethnicity and mass deportation of illegal immigrants aren’t new and they’re not even unconstitutional much less dictatorial.

          I get that people are afraid. I’m not trying to mock them for it, because I get where it’s coming from. But its just not a realistic fear.

          • stillnotking says:

            I don’t think Lindy West is legitimately worried that Trump or Bannon are Nazis, in whatever broad sense of the term. She believes that if she uses the most extreme language possible, and encourages others to do the same, it will influence voters’ thinking against Trump. Of course, in reality, all it will do is influence voters to think that Trump’s critics are kind of crazy, and to be very skeptical of anything negative they say about him (especially as it pertains to Nazis).

            This is just a theory, and, I admit, not a very charitable one.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            I don’t know, but based on my experiences I’m erring on the side of most people (particularly Jews) who are saying that they’re terrified actually being terrified.

            One of the things the Clinton campaign has to answer for is emphasizing this neo-Nazi / neo-Cossack nonsense. I agree with Steve Sailer: it was a transparent attempt to part donors with their money, by making them think the results of the election would determine their people’s right to exist. But the result is that tons of otherwise very reasonable people are seized with a completely unreasonable fear.

          • stillnotking says:

            Yeah… I agree with that. I let my annoyance with West get the better of me, and I retract my uncharitable assessment of her motives.

  24. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    .How about the boring hypothesis that Americans change the party of the POTUS fairly often, and the current result doesn’t say a whole lot about either Trump or Hillary?

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      There was a guy who made a model with boring assumptions that predicted a trump win (funnily enough, the author didn’t believe it): http://www.vox.com/2016/6/14/11854512/trump-election-models-political-science

    • Anonymousse says:

      I’ve been responding to the “swinging pendulum” hypothesis by suggesting that it is actually an inverted pendulum. Makes it less boring!

    • dwietzsche says:

      I think this election was a toss up and it should be regarded as such. But that I think is somewhat at odds with the view that Trump winning was the inevitable scheduled backlash against the party in power.

      • Wrong Species says:

        Trump won every midwestern state except Illinois and Minnesota. The election was very close but at least in the Midwest(especially if you exclude Chicago), they were clearly rejecting Clinton as part of a general backlash.

      • shakeddown says:

        But it was a tossup partly because Trump was an unusually bad candidate (so was Clinton, but not by as much).

    • stillnotking says:

      Although this seems like a really boring hypothesis, it turns out to be an almost magical one. As in, there is no identifiable mechanism by which it seems to happen, such as lower turnout from the party in power, or a middle segment of swing voters who get tired of the party in power. We can “explain” it by reference to historical events, but those explanations feel ad hoc. Margins of victory don’t follow any kind of pattern either. The parties’ generally alternating control of the presidency post-WWII clearly isn’t random; something explains it, but political scientists don’t know what.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      I didn’t think Trump would be nominated, but after he was, I predicted he would win based on the fact that he is far more charismatic than Hillary Clinton in terms of appearance and demeanor.

      My amateur psychological theory is that a lot of voters subconsciously choose based on appearance and demeanor and then justify their decision after the fact with rationalizations based on more substantive considerations.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ fortaleza84
        I didn’t think Trump would be nominated, but after he was, I predicted he would win based on the fact that he is far more charismatic than Hillary Clinton in terms of appearance and demeanor.

        Er, what do you think ‘charismatic’ means?

        • Sandy says:

          Well, Trump has a bit of a devoted cult going, but “magnetic” might be a better adjective.

        • Moon says:

          Charismatic to a certain rather large sector of the American population means a politically incorrect brash macho successful billionaire business man and reality TV star celebrity. Many Americans worship the wealthy, and even more so if they are crude and rude– what might be labeled “rich white trash.”

          But not everyone responds to that. So it wasn’t a certainly he would win anything– whether electoral or popular.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          Er, what do you think ‘charismatic’ means?

          The dictionary definition seems to work pretty well:

          compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.

      • tgb says:

        Keep in mind that your amateur psychological theory incorrectly predicted the winner of the popular vote, which seems like the thing it was predicting since you don’t include any interstate differences. In other words: I don’t really buy it, just as I don’t buy any of the ad hoc retrospective explanations. (Or even predictive ones like Scott Adams’s.) Too many factors at play to simplify to one thing and since every model comes up with either D or R at the end, it’s too easy to say “Look, it’s right!”.

        • shakeddown says:

          +1 to this. I don’t really buy any argument that predicted Trump would win that could equally well prove he’d win the popular vote. (I’d say this even if he had a narrow win in the popular vote – like Scott said, a 2% measuring error shouldn’t change much).

        • suntzuanime says:

          I disagree with this, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have an amateur psychological theory of *swing* voters, and those are the ones who decide the election. Saying that the amateur psychological theory didn’t account for the millions of Californians who were even more hopelessly liberal than usual this election doesn’t seem like a good rebuttal.

          The problem with Scott Adams’s model was that he predicted a landslide, and it didn’t occur. If he’d made more modest claims, a popular vote loss by Trump would not falsify his model.

          • Moon says:

            How could he have not predicted a landslide? He’s obviously worshipful of Trump and can’t see how anyone else could fail to feel the same way, except for a small number of Hillary’s family members and friends.

            How else could he see Trump as a Master Persuader? Trump is an ignoramus about most things. He is not a Master anything except a Master Self-Promoter.

        • nyccine says:

          Scott Adams spent the better part of the year explaining persuasion methods, why they work, and then laid out the case that Trump was amazing at it, predicting what he was going to say, what mental imagery he would use, how audiences would respond, how his opponents would react, and why they would fail; he also offered caveats that outlined the limits of persuasion.

          If, out of all this, you are laser-focused on puffery regarding the margin of victory, you have completely, spectacularly missed the point. You are so far away from the point, in fact, you are actually in an alternate universe from the point, only accessed by protagonists in P.K. Dick novels when they undergo mental breakdowns (or just happen to be tripping balls). This is the same hilariously bad mistake Orwell made in critiquing Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution, which ridiculously cedes that Burnham’s vision of the rising managerial state, its global presence, and its impact on the citizenry is correct, but Burnham is WRONG! because his prediction that Nazi Germany would be one of the powers astride the world turned out wrong (and takes a gratuitous, and completely wrong, swipe at what he perceives as Burnham’s power-worship; my pet-theory is that Orwell was upset that unlike he, Burnham, a former Trotskyite, completely abandoned democratic socialism as a possible future). Orwell would eventually at least see sense – Burnham’s description of the managerial state is the basis of 1984, and sections of the Managerial Revolution are essentially copy-pasted as The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism – but I suspect critics of Scott Adams’ “Master Persuasion” thesis never will.

          • Moon says:

            Trump had help from the Master Propagandists Bannon and Gingrich and others, so he certainly did end up using their propaganda techniques, which do overlap with persuasion techniques. And Faux News and Hannity used these techniques on Trump’s behalf. But a lot of it was just simply lying about Hillary. No complex tactics necessary there. And getting the help of Comey and Russian hackers– was that Master Persuasion there?

            And the election could easily have gone either way. Trump himself is no Master Persuader. Just a macho bully entertaining celebrity reality TV star billionaire business man– characteristics that appeal to a large sector of Americans who go bananas over that sort of character, just playing that role that comes naturally to him. No Master of anything except self-promotion required.

            Trump said himself that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and he wouldn’t lose any supporters. To think of this kind of person as some kind of master strategist, you just really have to want to think of him as some Master something. Because there is little or no evidence for that. He’s just a macho guy shooting his mouth off, being brash and entertaining. Careful strategy about anything is obviously beyond him. This is a guy who believes any fake news story he sees on TV, without questioning it. And who talks in a disjointed stream of consciousness way– obviously not carefully planned or executed.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Moon – “Trump had help from the Master Propagandists Bannon and Gingrich and others, so he certainly did end up using their propaganda techniques, which do overlap with persuasion techniques.”

            You’ve mentioned Gingrich tons of times in your many, many posts here. I think this may be the very first time you’ve mentioned Bannon. Why are you suddenly including Bannon now? If he’s a “Master Propagandist”, why had you never mentioned him before this moment? If he is a “Master Propagandist” and you completely missed him until now, does that undermine your confidence in your previous analysis? Had you even heard of Bannon before he was tapped by Trump?

            [EDIT] – I apologize in advance if this comes across as an attack. One of the things we pretty clearly disagree about is how to assess evidence. I have been wrong about a lot of things in the past, and the way I realized I was wrong was by tracking my beliefs and predictions over time, and taking special note of contradictions and discrepancies. I think it’s important to do this, because otherwise it’s easy to be highly certain about views that are dead wrong.

          • Moon says:

            FC, point taken. From now on I will mention everything I believe about every person on earth in every post I make.

            Seriously though, it seems obvious to me that Trump has no particular skill in anything except self-promotion. And all Republican presidential candidates always have the help of Master Propagandists such as those at Fox and Breitbart, even if they know nothing about propaganda themselves. Mostly that help is from Fox, Breitbart, and other fake news sites propagandizing on the candidate’s behalf– and bashing the opposing candidate– to the consumers of their news media– not from them teaching the candidate anything about persuasion.

            Trump is a brash celebrity billionaire who tests out things to say and says what people’s eyes light up (He even admitted this once, about The Wall.) He just has a clown personality that people like. He doesn’t seem to actually learn anything much from experience– except in the moment, when they get energized by his mention of stuff like walls.

          • shakeddown says:

            you are laser-focused on puffery regarding the margin of victory, you have completely, spectacularly missed the point.

            Shooting off at the mouth aside, could you explain how a “master manipulator” would get two million fewer votes than his (very unpopular) opponent? Or what this point we’re supposedly missing is?

          • Moon says:

            Scott Adams did read a book or 2 about persuasion, so good for him. He’s still just a comic strip writer who lucked into great success accidentally.

            The persuasive techniques Adams mentions are real. That doesn’t mean Trump actually used them. E.g. confirmation bias. You can say that Trump said “crooked Hillary”, knowing that this would be confirmed by subsequent events. But he didn’t know that, or even if he did, it wouldn’t have gotten far without Comey’s help and Russia’s and Assange’s help.

            Comey and Assange and Russia did the real work. It was not at all necessary for Trump to even have ever heard of confirmation bias, to make Hillary seem crooked. What Comey and Assange did would have sufficed, even if Trump hadn’t said a word about it.

            And Trump would have been told to label her as crooked by his propaganda advisers, even if they had never heard of confirmation bias. Because their whole plan was to tell lies about Hillary and distort everything she said and did, and to say 1000X that this or that statement or action by Hillary proved that she was untrustworthy and crooked.

            That’s just basic propaganda. Bash your opponent 1000X in a row, using the same adjectives, and people will start believing you.

          • nyccine says:

            @Shakedown
            These:

            explaining persuasion methods, why they work, and then laid out the case that Trump was amazing at it, predicting what he was going to say, what mental imagery he would use, how audiences would respond, how his opponents would react, and why they would fail; he also offered caveats that outlined the limits of persuasion

            are the points you are missing. That’s what’s important about about what Scott Adams was writing about, that’s what you were supposed to be basing the validity of his claims on – did Trump, in fact, do and say the things, and say them in the manner, that Scott Adams said he would? Would people react to the messages presented as Scott Adams suggested they would? – not “98% chance of a landslide”*

            *speaking of, why is it acceptable to say “Trump’s victory doesn’t disprove Nate Silver’s model; we just live in the universe that happens 28.6% of the time?” but not “Trump not winning in a landslide doesn’t disprove Scott Adams’ prediction, we just live in the universe that happens 2% of the time”?

          • shakeddown says:

            Well, at the very least, Nate Silver’s universe is 14 times more likely. A bit more, given that he also described what a Trump victory would look like in very specific terms – so P(things look like they did|Trump won) is very high (over 50%) in Silver’s model, but even lower than 2% in Adams’.

            Like, his claim seems to be “if Trump did the things I say, he’d have won in a landslide. He lost the popular vote because he didn’t use my techniques”. [EDIT: my mistake – looks like his claim was weaker and more more believable than that. The point that we have only weak evidence for it still stands, though]. Which isn’t impossible – you could even make a reasonable argument that Trump narrowed the popular vote to be within range of electoral victory by partial and ineffective use of Adams’ techniques – but it’s pretty weak evidence, and my prior on them is pretty low.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          Keep in mind that your amateur psychological theory incorrectly predicted the winner of the popular vote, which seems like the thing it was predicting since you don’t include any interstate differences.

          Actually, I suspect that if the election had been based on the popular vote, Trump would still have probably won by adjusting his strategy accordingly.

          Perhaps more importantly, Trump did shockingly well despite unrelenting media hostility and lukewarm support from his own party.

          • shakeddown says:

            The media was hostile to Trump in the same way Miss Hoover is supportive of Lisa Simpson – they spent a lot of time vaguely saying he was bad, then spent even more time talking about Hillary’s emails, then said “but everyone remember, she’s the good one!”.

            You’ll notice that Lisa was never elected class president.

          • fortaleza84 says:

            The media was hostile to Trump in the same way Miss Hoover is supportive of Lisa Simpson – they spent a lot of time vaguely saying he was bad, then spent even more time talking about Hillary’s emails,

            I’m not that familiar with the Simpsons, so I am not sure I understand this point. But if you are saying that the MSM devoted more time to discussing specific alleged wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton than by Donald Trump, I’m pretty skeptical.

    • Tatu Ahponen says:

      The pendulum is actually really obvious if you look at it for a bit. Since 1944, in American elections, apart from 4 years, the Democrats and the Republicans have exchanged the presidency every 8 years, almost like a clockwork.

      1944-1952: Democrats
      1952-1960: Republicans
      1960-1968: Democrats
      1968-1976: Republicans
      1976-1980: Democrats (note! The years 1980-1984 are the expection to this rule)
      1980-1992: Republicans (as above)
      1992-2000: Democrats
      2000-2008: Republicans
      2008-2016: Democrats
      2016-: Republicans

  25. Heresiarch says:

    The who-wins-the-popular-vote thing is seriously foolish.

    First of all, circumventing the Constitution is a bad impulse to begin with, even if you can do it. In the end, no matter what the rules are, you’re going to have to actually convince people, and there being an effective slight supermajority requirement (i.e., a majority sufficiently broadly spread around) is not a bad thing, particularly with so powerful a government as we have. Eliminating any check or balance is not something to be done lightly. The Electoral College may be in practice no longer a very effective Check or Balance, but making an end run around it ignores the need for such a Check. I would assume most people here are against Trump, as was I. Imagine the Electoral College were the only thing standing in the way of a populist like Trump– or even a worse one. How would you feel then? When considering some change in government, remember that if today’s political patterns and rules are not fixed, but are shaped by the system (which are propositions I firmly believe) you are playing with fire if you try to create some Rube Goldberg contraption based on your assumptions and an ephemeral set of circumstances in the real world. ALWAYS imagine your opponents having some new contemplated power first, or imagine it coming to benefit them disproportionately, not you.

    Broader still, and in my opinion, most important, is this point I would make: political extremism is directly proportional to how easy the need for consent and compromise is to circumvent. If you can get the Supreme Court to institute whatever end results you deem noble, substantiated (to your way of thinking) by unassailable logic, why on Earth would you bother to compromise with your opponents? The fake Constitutional rights invented by the Supreme Court during the past century or so are Exhibit A, culminating most recently with the asinine idea that the Constitution guarantees “equal dignity”. I’m in favor of gay marriage, and Obergefell robbed me of the ability formally to consent to it by my state passing that law, while doing massive damage to the idea everywhere of the Rule of Law. Supporting a thing never means that you have to support any method of reaching it. And as a result of this corner-cutting, fueled by this ambition for swift social change, Left and Right no longer speak the same language and so have no basis for real discussion. It doesn’t matter two shits whether those idealists were right or not. The Left caused Trump.

    It can get worse, and will, unless the Left realizes the damage its current degree of extremist ambition is doing.

    • These issues are not simple. There is no easy answer here.

      The who-wins-the-popular-vote thing is seriously stupid.

      Yes, but not for any of the reasons you mention.

      The basic concept of winning the popular vote is a simple one which we use for all other single-seat elections; it’s easy to grasp, and almost everyone sees it as legitimate. That’s not stupid.

      What is very risky about the interstate compact: counting on every participating state to comply. What if the popular vote outcome differs from the outcome in their state, or the outcome desired by state leaders? Would New York, say, install the Republican electors, when New York’s own voters chose the Democratic ticket? The Constitution does provide that the legislature chooses the electors, so any state’s legislature has the inherent authority to override the voters and declare one slate elected.

      I reject the idea that there is something about the Electoral College which (in and of itself) is inherently worthy because it’s in the Constitution. Abolishing the Electoral College, or changing the way electors are chosen, is not problematic. Overthrowing the constitution or violating the rule of law would be problematic.

      The Electoral College, even before the 2000 election, was widely seen as an archaic formalism. Before 2000, practicaly every political science textbook predicted chaos and crisis if the popular vote loser won through the Electoral College.

      Of course, they were wrong about that, but even though the presidential succession functioned smoothly, it left a scar on the public’s certainty in the legitimacy of American elections. Long story short, when Trump bellowed that the election was “rigged”, the 2000 election made that claim more plausible than it should have been.

      Al Gore and Hillary Clinton accepted the verdict of the Electoral College, and led their supporters to do the same. But we can’t really count on presidential candidates to do that.

      Immediately before the 2000 election, when it looked like Gore might win more electors, while losing the popular vote, there was a news report that the Bush campaign was planning to contest the Electoral College result through a public campaign of pressure on Democratic electors. And had Donald Trump been in that situation, given his past statements, it seems unlikely that he and his supporters would have gracefully conceded.

      We have a norm in this country that the loser accept the verdict of the electors. But as we have seen this year, our political norms are not as strong as we thought.

      And two states– Maine and Nebraska– split their electoral college votes by district. Why not enact that system nationwide instead?

      Because congressional districts are subject to gerrymandering, and (just as with counties) Democrats are packed into relatively few of them. If every state copied Maine and Nebraska, Republican nominees would be guaranteed the White House for probably decades, no matter what the popular vote.

      But a national popular vote system (regardless how arrived at) is not as easy or as desirable as many of its supporters think.

      Of course some people moan about the possibility of a nationwide recount. Yes, that could be a nightmare, but mathematically, it’s extraordinarily unlikely. And most states now have optical scan paper ballot systems which are very accurate; in my experience across many recounts, hand counts show almost precisely the same totals.

      Another problem is that there’s no obvious basis for deciding whether the election was decisive.

      Under the Constitution as it now stands, if no candidate gets 270 electoral votes, the election is (in effect) declared inconclusive and thrown to the House of Representatives. What is the equivalent way to win a popular vote system? We can’t say a majority of popular votes, because presidential election winners rarely get half of the votes cast. One proposed amendment I saw prescribed a highly arbitrary 40%. Others just hand the election to whoever gets a plurality, even if that’s only 30% or 20% or 10%.

      Of greater potential concern is that this will move ALL election law to Washington. The candidates, the rules about voter eligibility, voter ID, hours of voting, etc., etc., will inevitably become federalized.

      Otherwise, what would stop Utah from lowering the voting age to 14, so as to maximize the number of Republican votes? What would stop California from opening up voting to non-citizen immigrants, so as to run up the score for Democrats?

      The only way to prevent such chicanery is with a national election law, overriding every state, and ultimately dictating every detail of election procedure.

      Are we ready for that?

      • Iain says:

        Elections Canada is an independent, non-partisan federal agency that handles all the procedural aspects of Canadian elections. It seems like the obviously correct approach. In my experience, most Canadians are bemused when confronted with the patchwork partisan nature of the American system.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Oh, yes. We can barely believe the degree to which politicians are involved in the US system, and the degree to which it is local. Canada has its faults, but we don’t have gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc to the extent the US does. Nowhere near.

          • Eltargrim says:

            Frankly, I’ve never actually heard of significant voting issues in Canada, and we’ve had a good number of federal elections in the last 16 years. Wasn’t the biggest recent hubbub about having/not having some party representatives at one polling station?

          • dndnrsn says:

            I can barely remember. Elections here seem to go a lot more smoothly than in the US.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            What does Canada do to prevent gerrymandering? An Independent Maps movement got taken out back and shot by my state’s Supreme Court recently, so I’m curious if there’s another avenue to try pushing. Is it just due to being a PR system?

          • dndnrsn says:

            We don’t have a PR system – we’re parliamentary FPTP.

            Currently, electoral reform is bogged down in the fact that the Liberals won a 54% seat majority with under 40% of the vote and of course they don’t want to lose their majority. That’s simplifying it a bit of course.

          • Iain says:

            @Gobbobobble: Here’s an FAQ about the redistricting process. It’s an independent commission, working within guidelines set by statute, with input from the public.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Thanks! Too bad, though. It’s “just” something so mind-bogglingly basic and obvious and sensical as having an independent group draw the map. Shame the state justices here are such spineless cowards.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Iain, this might be my small-government knee-jerk reaction here, but to my mind “non-partisan federal agency” is something that is far easier to talk about than to accomplish.

          -Is it staffed or directed by men and women appointed by parliament/the PM’s office?

          -Is its budget somehow sequestered and immune to cuts and alterations directed by partisan political agendas?

          On what basis are you so confident that you can trust Elections Canada to be independent and non-partisan?

          • Eltargrim says:

            Is it staffed or directed by men and women appointed by parliament/the PM’s office?

            The CEO of Elections Canada is appointed by Parliament for long terms; in the last hundred years, we’ve had six. It maintains approximately 500 permanent staff, who are presumably under the typical federal government bureaucracy.

            Is its budget somehow sequestered and immune to cuts and alterations directed by partisan political agendas?

            The budget is vulnerable to parliamentary whims, unfortunately; but that also makes it easier to publicize when it is under the knife. Rather than dealing with 50 states each cutting 8 percent, you have one government making the cuts.

            In general Canada has a fairly strong tradition of non-partisan institutions (or at least the perception thereof); we had some mild sniping between our previous PM (Stephen Harper) and our Chief Justice a few years ago (much milder than anything Scalia or Ginsburg ever said), and it was a national scandal. The amount of influence that our previous government was trying to wield over our scientific institutions also yielded significant criticism.

            While I can’t point to any structure guaranteeing impartiality, we’ve had a good track record so far, and isn’t that the point of trust?

          • Iain says:

            I’m mostly just regurgitating information that can be found on the Elections Canada website, but:

            a) the Chief Electoral Officer is appointed by a parliamentary vote and (as of 2014) serves a 10 year non-renewable term. The current Chief Electoral Officer is only the sixth since 1920.
            b) Elections Canada has statutory authority to draw on the Consolidated Revenue Fund, giving it reasonable financial independence from elected officials.
            c) I trust Elections Canada based on a lifetime of experience giving me no reason not to, and because we would notice if they weren’t. How is it any different than trusting the court system?

          • dndnrsn says:

            I am willing to bet that the Canadians here trust our government way more. Maybe not the elected government – I didn’t like the Harper Conservatives, and despite voting for his party and being a strong Liberal supporter I don’t think much of Justin Trudeau’s track record so far – but I think Canadians trust the unelected bits of our government far more than Americans do theirs.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Long terms certainly help, so that’s a good structural safeguard. That said, my attitude is that the point you have to extend trust is the point at which the system is now open to failure.

            I’m not saying it’s NOT impartial, but I have to question how much of that is cultural rather than structural, and exporting the structure of a system without the cultural supports doesn’t work all that great (Hi, Afghanistan! Hi, Iraq! Hi, Almost All Of Africa!)

            For better or worse, we have a long record of regulatory agencies and even theoretically neutral institutions being wielded like a club against political opponents, by BOTH major parties, so speaking personally I am NOT willing to extend trust absent very, VERY robust structural safeguards. Some have a better track record than others (It’s been awhile since we had really serious SCOTUS issues, and a cursory search failed to turn up anything substantive regarding most of our various Inspectors General), but all have had their moments over the past couple centuries.

            Now, all that said, I could actually get behind that kind of idea, but I’d want to layer in as many structural and cultural protections as I could. And by Cultural I mean inculcating a specific sub-culture among the employees of any such office similar to that present to some extent in the American military below the rank of General Officer (sadly, the apolitical General is a dead or at least highly endangered species these days, but that’s an entirely separate worry).

          • Eltargrim says:

            @Trofim: I’ve actually just learned this myself, but almost all appointments to the Canadian bureaucracy have to be approved not by Parliament, but by the Public Service Commission, which has non-partisanship as part of its mandate. There is also some evidence of the kind of internal culture you’d like to see.

            I see your point that convention works well until it doesn’t, and I’m open to a better solution, but the US option is not it.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The ideal is a culture of neutral, public-serving competence in the civil service. Sometimes it’s for real, sometimes it’s honoured more in the breach – some outfits (at different levels of government) are certainly more competent than others.

            There have been cases of ideally-neutral government agencies getting involved in politics: during the 2006 election, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announcing an investigation into possible insider trading (and the way they announced it) played a role in a Liberal minority government being replaced with a Conservative minority (some Liberals say the RCMP commissioner was acting politically), and there were accusations that the Canada Revenue Agency under the previous government disproportionately audited environmental charities opposed to Conservative energy policy.

            However, the general impression I have gotten is that Canadian government agencies tend to be more neutral than American, and Canadians perceive it to be this way.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        what would stop Utah from lowering the voting age to 14…California from opening up voting to non-citizen immigrants

        Wow!
        It turns out that I didn’t know the history or statement of the 26th amendment.

        • John Schilling says:

          The 26th Amendment requires states to extend the franchise to all citizens who are at least 18 years of age. I do not see where it would prohibit a state from extending the franchise to non-citizens or to minors if the state were to so choose.

        • See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_v._Mitchell

          Congress has a lot of authority to regulate federal elections. State elections tend to follow along, rather than have completely different standards, or giving different ballots to different voters.

          Under a popular-vote system, activities like the ones I mentioned would lead to comprehensive federal regulation of elections.

      • BBA says:

        Yeah, this is why I’m hesitant to endorse NPV – even though in theory it’s certainly better than the archaic compromise that is the Electoral College.

        But I will say that every other country I’ve researched has a single national electoral commission that sets uniform rules and procedures for the voting process, at least for national elections. The US stands alone in putting election administration in the hands of local officials, often themselves elected on partisan ballots (no offense, of course). Now, we’ve never been a country to follow along just because the rest of the world does it another way (America Fuck Yeah! Miles and pounds for life!) but I have to wonder if we’re the ones doing it wrong, just because it’s always been that way.

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      The fake Constitutional rights invented by the Supreme Court during the past century or so are Exhibit A, culminating most recently with the asinine idea that the Constitution guarantees “equal dignity”. I’m in favor of gay marriage, and Obergefell robbed me of the ability formally to consent to it by my state passing that law, while doing massive damage to the idea everywhere of the Rule of Law.

      Kennedy’s opinion was clumsy, but I fail to see how Obergefell was anything other than a straight application of already-established precedent under the equal protection clause. Scalia said as much in previous dissents.

    • beleester says:

      there being an effective slight supermajority requirement (i.e., a majority sufficiently broadly spread around) is not a bad thing, particularly with so powerful a government as we have.

      The Electoral College is not a supermajority requirement. Donald Trump did not have a majority, let alone a supermajority. He had a minority which was sufficiently spread around to win. For Democrats, it’s effectively a supermajority requirement, but that’s a result of them having a coalition which is concentrated in urban states, not an actual requirement of the system.

      Imagine the Electoral College were the only thing standing in the way of a populist like Trump– or even a worse one.

      Yes, a voting system that sometimes fails to pick the majority winner can “stand in the way” of a populist, in theory, but what actually happened was that it didn’t stand in the way of Trump at all. So empirically, the Electoral College is not a check on extremist politicians. Depending on whether the extremist politician is a Republican or Democrat, it’s a 50-50 chance whether the Electoral College will make it harder or easier for them to get elected.

      you are playing with fire if you try to create some Rube Goldberg contraption based on your assumptions and an ephemeral set of circumstances in the real world.

      A direct popular vote is less of a Rube Goldberg contraption than the current system. “Winner = Most Votes” is simpler than “Winner = Most votes in the correct combination of states.”

      And even if the political winds shift and somehow Republicans end up being experts at winning the popular vote, I will happily let them do it if it means we can stop arguing over who should have really won the election every time there’s an EC split. The loser will just have to adapt their platform to get more votes next time. That’s how democracies should work.

      political extremism is directly proportional to how easy the need for consent and compromise is to circumvent.

      Donald Trump seems pretty damn extreme to me. What did the Electoral College force him to compromise?

      • dwietzsche says:

        The electoral college doesn’t always favor Republicans. It is a bit of a historical coincidence that the last two presidents to fail to garner the popular vote were Republican.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          The EC favors low density states over high density states. It favors slower growing (or even shrinking) states over faster growing states.

          Right now, the coalitions are such that the dense urban areas favor Democrats. The urbane/rural split is roughly as old as Mesopotamia and given that we have now reached the kind of media and communications environment that prevents regional splits in part loyalty, I don’t see the D/R coalitions changing much for the foreseeable future.

          So, it might be an accident that Ds are urbane and Rs aren’t, but one can make the argument that nomenclature is the only thing that is accidental about it.

          • dwietzsche says:

            Quote: In recent elections, with both parties generally being at least somewhat competitive in all four major regions of the country, there usually hasn’t been such a large gap between the tipping-point state and the popular vote. And small gaps have often reversed themselves. Gore, of course, lost the Electoral College in 2000 to George W. Bush despite winning the popular vote. But four years later, Democrats had a slight Electoral College advantage, as John Kerry came slightly closer to winning Ohio, the tipping-point state that year, than to the national popular vote. In general, in fact, there’s almost no correlation between which party has the Electoral College advantage in one election and which has it four years later. It can bounce back and forth based on relatively subtle changes in the electorate.

            Source: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/will-the-electoral-college-doom-the-democrats-again/

          • “The EC favors low density states over high density states. ”

            Surely low population, not low density. Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state.

        • beleester says:

          My argument still holds up, even if that’s true. The point is that, while the Electoral College can prevent an extremist from gaining power, it’s equally able to help an extremist gain power.

          (Actually, the argument becomes stronger if the Electoral College can cut both ways. If it was consistently tipped against the more extreme party, then you could argue that the skew might usually prevent extremists from getting power. But if it can cut both ways, then it’s truly random whether it helps the extremist or not.)

    • Earthly Knight says:

      The Left caused Trump.

      If by “cause” you mean “is to blame for,” this is false. Trump supporters are adults, they bear full responsibility for their own moral failures. If we’re assigning blame to people who aren’t Trump-supporters, conservatives like yourself with distorted views of history and the constitution probably take second place. You’ve helped to create the delusional fantasy world where Trump supporters can thrive.

      I’m in favor of gay marriage, and Obergefell robbed me of the ability formally to consent to it by my state passing that law, while doing massive damage to the idea everywhere of the Rule of Law.

      Obergefell was decided on basically the same reasoning as Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down state anti-miscegenation laws. Do you think Loving was also wrongfully decided? Did it also do “massive damage to the idea everywhere of the Rule of Law?”

      • shakeddown says:

        I’m uneasy about the courts deciding gay marriage (that is, I agree with their decision, but only with confidence~0.6). It seems like gender is a fundamental separation in regards to marriage in a way that race isn’t – maybe race was once, but by Loving vs. Virginia we already had laws to the effect that you couldn’t use race as a legal criterion. For gender, though, there are plenty of laws that rely on it (e.g. divorce laws, the draft, laws about violence against women), so you can’t say the law makes a principled stance of being gender-blind.

        TL;DR: The court may have had reasonable justification to rule for gay marriage, but the reasoning from Loving vs. Virginia doesn’t apply.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          I don’t think this is really true, but let’s suppose that federal law is officially race-blind but not officially sex-blind. What relevance does this have for gay marriage? Do you think the reasoning in Loving in some way premised on race-blindness, and the reasoning in Obergefell premised on gender-blindness?

          • shakeddown says:

            As I understand it, the argument in Loving is:
            a) Law must be race-blind, therefore:
            b) laws that rely on racial discrimination are unconstitutional.

            This seems relevant: Gay marriage was a lot more popular at the time of its legislation than Interracial marriage. My interpretation of this is that a lot of people felt that while they were personally against Interracial marriage, it was in some sense not “legally fair”.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Here’s the argument from Loving:

            Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.

            I don’t think changing “racial classification” to “sexual orientation classification” and “invidious racial discriminations” to “invidious homophobia” really affects the conclusion.

          • shakeddown says:

            There are several parts of that argument that don’t fully generalize. In particular, they mention racial discriminations being unsupportable by law, while gender discrimination very much is. They also rely on the fourteenth amendment, which says a lot about race (in various precedents, though not overtly in the original text), but not much about gender. So I’d say the case for gay marriage under these grounds is significantly weaker than the case for interracial marriage.

            Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s strong enough that SCOTUS made the right decision. But it’s not as strong – so Loving => Obergfell is not directly applicable.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            In particular, they mention racial discriminations being unsupportable by law, while gender discrimination very much is.

            I don’t really know where you’re getting this from. The court takes laws which discriminate on the basis of gender to be prima facie suspect and demands that the government show that the discrimination has an exceedingly persuasive justification. Maybe more importantly, I don’t know what you think gender discrimination has to do with Obergefell, which concerned gay marriage.

          • shakeddown says:

            The court takes laws which discriminate on the basis of gender to be prima facie suspect and demands that the government show that the discrimination has an exceedingly persuasive justification.

            Right, but it does allow some cases, as mentioned above. And quite a lot of people would consider it reasonable to argue that gender is relevant to marriage.

            Maybe more importantly, I don’t know what you think gender discrimination has to do with Obergefell, which concerned gay marriage.

            If Obergfell were trying to directly generalize Loving, they would say something like “Marriage laws should be blind to the gender of the participants in the same way as they are to their race.” But the precedent that laws should be race-blind is a lot stronger than for laws being gender-blind.

            Like I said, I do believe Obergfell is still justifiable. Just not quite as easily.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Right, but it does allow some cases, as mentioned above.

            Yes, but it also allows racial discrimination under very limited circumstances, which is why certain affirmative action policies have passed constitutional muster. From what I understand, the standard for laws which discriminate on the basis of race is only slightly more demanding than the standard for laws which discriminate on the basis of sex.

            If Obergfell were trying to directly generalize Loving, they would say something like “Marriage laws should be blind to the gender of the participants in the same way as they are to their race.”

            I… suppose the court might have reasoned that way. It didn’t need to, and it didn’t, though. But your argument is still an enthymeme. The supreme court allows discrimination on the basis of gender only when there’s an extremely persuasive rationale for doing so. Even if Obergefell had something to do with gender discrimination, what would have been the extremely persuasive rationale for banning gay marriage?

          • Brad says:

            Loving isn’t a model of clear judicial draftsmanship. But the long and short of it is that there is a dual holding, the court held that the anti-miscegenation laws violated both the equal protection and the due process clauses of the fourteenth amendment.

          • “I don’t know what you think gender discrimination has to do with Obergefell, which concerned gay marriage.”

            No. It had to do with same sex marriage. Defined by the gender of the participants, not their sexual preferences.

            There was nothing in existing marriage law that would have prevented a male homosexual from marrying a female homosexual.

      • Moon says:

        Clearly, Republicans caused Trump, with its bashing fact-free political campaigning. Some Conservatives scholars even admit this and wrote a book about it. Here is an article about them.
        http://www.vox.com/2016/5/6/11598838/donald-trump-predictions-norm-ornstein

        he political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
        Norm Ornstein on why the Republican Party was ripe for a takeover, what the media missed, and whether Trump could win the presidency.

  26. Anthony says:

    Huge upset in game8 of Carlsen vs Karjakin. Carlsen was the huge favorite going into the chess championship. However there are only four games left and both sides have white twice. Karjakin is now the favorite imo, all he needs is to draw all the games. And Karjakin could relaistically still win a game as white. However Carlsen is stornger at rapid games so Karjakin is heavily unfavored if it goes to tie-breakers.

    Whats shockng to me is that both players got into such terrible time issues. Players get extra time at move 40. At move 33 both players had sub 3 minutes remaining to make it to move 40 (this is from memory). Under such time pressure Carlsen made a game losing blunder and then a few moves later Karjakin gave most of the edge back. Computers think Karjakin gave the whole edge back but Carlsen’s position looked alot harder to play. However Carlsen later made some more mistakes.

    Interesting game!

  27. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    https://medium.freecodecamp.com/the-code-im-still-ashamed-of-e4c021dff55e#.oteybc470

    A programmer talks about having written a website promoting a dangerous prescription drug, but doesn’t mention which drug it was. Anyone have plausible ideas about which drug it was?

    • Brad says:

      Maybe accutane (isotretinoin)?

      • Eltargrim says:

        I was also thinking accutane, but my understanding is that a) doctors are *extremely* rigourous when it comes to accutane prescriptions (what with the horrific birth defects it causes), and b) there are few alternatives to accutane, and the author of the article states in the comments that his sister consulted with her doctor to change to an alternative option.

        With the year of 2000 and the location of Canada, my guess is bupropion (a.k.a. Wellbutrin and Zyban): it was approved for use in Canada in 1998; it’s both an anti-depressant and a smoking-cessation aid (targeting young women?); it’s been linked to suicidal ideation; and there are a number of alternatives available.

    • Jiro says:

      Not directly relevant to your point, but if you create a norm of “programmers should avoid creating websites for things that are unethical and really dangerous”, this norm includes ethics that are not identical to yours. The price to pay for having programmers not program websites that dishonestly push drugs is also having programmers not program websites that promote birth control, or abortion, or gay rights, Trump, or (if you’re on the other side) gun rights, or the death penalty, or allegedly racist science, etc.

      Of course, I’m sure you could find a different programmer to help you with that birth control web site, but that applies to drug websites too.

      • Randy M says:

        I think this is fine–nay, great–if self policing and they are willing to take the career hit, but how likely is that to be the norm?

      • Phil Goetz says:

        I disagree with Jiro. We should be smart enough to distinguish between opinions held with low certainty (“gun rights are bad”) and things so certain we can regard them as facts (“promoting drugs that don’t work and kill people is bad”). People who can’t are mentally broken, and it’s pointless to build your rationality norms to accommodate them.

        • Jiro says:

          Everyone (or at least pretty much everyone not on this site) thinks their own opinions are held with high certainty. Just look at how political discourse is not only “the other side is wrong”, but “the other side is so wrong that the only explanations are that they are stupid or misinformed”. The election should have given you plenty of examples of this, and we even have one on this page (look at the argument that nobody could even think there is compelling evidence that Hillary Clinton committed a crime).

          Also, the knowledge that the drug kills people was post-hoc.

      • beleester says:

        Most branches of engineering already have such a norm, because “don’t build things that are really dangerous” covers practical issues like “Don’t build bridges that will probably collapse.” Lives can depend on an engineer’s work, so we want them to have a strong inclination to work carefully and honestly.

        (In fact, in most countries, it goes beyond norms and into actual laws about what certifications you need to work on a project.)

        Now that software has become a large part of people’s lives, to the point that it’s also capable of killing people or ruining their lives when misused, I think it’s a good idea to have a similar norm, for a similar reason.

        I don’t think it’s realistic to fear that vaguely controversial things will also face censure. If something is controversial, rather than obviously dangerous, then you can probably find an engineer or programmer who thinks it’s ethical to do. Is Donald Trump having trouble finding architects to work for him?

        • Randy M says:

          I don’t think that analogy holds, at least not as stated. The engineer building a bridge that doesn’t collapse is analogous to a programmer making a website that doesn’t crash, or allow easy access to sensitive information, etc.
          If you want a programmer to be held liable for how the website he designs is using is used, then you need to consider holding the engineer liable for who will ultimately use the bridge or building designed. Which may be done, perhaps, but only for extreme cases. Specific crimes, not legal rude actions. Presumably ultimate responsibility for the drug lies with the doctor prescribing unless fraud was being carried out in the marketing or testing of it, in which case the programmer could share culpability if he had reason to know this.

          When I worked at a company that made chemicals for electronics, certain substances were controlled by customs, making us responsible for everyone who was even in the same room as the formula or product–there couldn’t be citizens of certain countries, as that was considered tantamount to arming hostile governments with weapons technology.
          But that was clearly spelled out. I don’t think there was any legal requirement to investigate the buyers of common materials–we could sell solder to people who bull-dozed puppy orphanages or whatever.

          • beleester says:

            The programmer in the article knew that he was building something that would make unethical recommendations – no matter what the user answered, the software would recommend the drug – but I’ll admit this is an edge case, since the marketer isn’t very culpable to begin with.

            A Reddit post about this article had a few better examples, such as a programmer writing time-logging software that would always round times in the employer’s favor – if they clocked in at 9:01 and clocked out at 5:14, it would be logged as 9:15 to 5:00, so they’d lose almost half an hour of pay. Basically wage theft – they weren’t paying for a few minutes of each employee’s time each day. And the programmer would definitely know this was the intent, because rounding it this way is more work than rounding the same way each time.

            Hmm. You do have a point, that it’s not exactly analogous to the engineer’s problem. If they build a bridge to spec and it didn’t collapse, they can be pretty sure that the bridge itself isn’t harmful, except perhaps in oblique ways that we can’t reasonably hold them responsible for. But a programmer can face cases where they know that, even if they meet the specifications and don’t have any bugs (the equivalent of “the bridge doesn’t collapse”), the software that they’re building will be used for shady or downright illegal practices.

            But I still think Jiro’s fears are overblown. Even if we exclude all the edge cases where it’s unclear how harmful they are or if the programmer should have known, there will still be a good number of cases where it’s not ambiguous that it’s going to be used for something shady.

            EDIT: Also, I think codes of ethics are good for handling grey areas, where it’d be hard or impractical to bring down the hammer of the legal system, but it’s still shady and you’d rather it didn’t happen.

        • Garrett says:

          I have a degree in software engineering from a school in Ontario, Canada. Ontario has decided to regulate software engineering like an engineering discipline.

          Of course, not everything falls under that category. Engineering is usually regulated because improper design can result in $BIGNUM deaths. That is, the problem with bridge collapses isn’t that it wastes money and causes traffic back-ups, but that people can die from them.

          Building a website that doesn’t crash isn’t likely to be a life-or-death thing, though I can see some corner cases where it might be. The place where software engineering as a design discipline matter are in things like medical devices or avionics where failure can once again result in death.

          • Eltargrim says:

            The place where software engineering as a design discipline matter are in things like medical devices or avionics where failure can once again result in death.

            For a Canadian example of where this matters, see the Therac-25 incident.

  28. Deiseach says:

    Is this sounding familiar?

    Regarded as a no-hoper and a joke candidate, going up against a former office holder and another candidate who is vastly the favourite, this guy stunned everyone by winning the nomination to be the Republican party candidate in the forthcoming presidential election.

    It’s all happening in France.

    Increasingly isolated, Mr Fillon stunned colleagues by launching his bid for presidential primaries in May 2013 and started working on a programme, setting about drawing up economic and social reforms far more radical than his opponents. These call for an “electroshock” for France, including hacking away at France’s rigid labour laws to make it easier to hire and fire, reining in welfare benefits, scrapping the 35-hour working week, slashing half-a-million state sector workers and cutting state spending by €100bn in five years.

    Current polls suggest he stands to beat Mr Juppé next Sunday to lead the centre-right and take on Marine Le Pen in presidential elections next April and May.

    This is definitely the year of “right-wing parties get a shake-up”.

    Oh, and can the media opinion-formers instruct me on this – would it be sexism not to vote for Marine Le Pen, given that she is a woman, and the only woman remaining in the race, going for election to the highest office in the land?

    I mean, since it’s sexism and sexism alone that made women vote for Trump instead of Hillary? So French women should all vote for Marine in solidarity?

    Or is it only sexism if you vote for the ‘wrong’ candidate?

    EDITED: I was forgetting this one! Another woman official in trouble because of using email for work communications instead of the system provided by the department!

    An Irish example this time, just to be even-handed 🙂

    • HeelBearCub says:

      God damn the endless straw-man snarking of feminist positions is old.

      Edit:
      Is snarking on liberals for sport really supposed to be OK around here?

      • stillnotking says:

        Straw man? Weak man, maybe, but Slate editors are saying that white women sold out the sisterhood by not voting for Hillary, and you know that article wouldn’t be written about Marine Le Pen.

        (Although, to be fair, the author blames racism more than sexism. Not that that’s a superior argument.)

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Quote me where that article says to vote for Hillary because of the mere fact she is a woman.

          • stillnotking says:

            It doesn’t, but that wasn’t Deiseach’s snark, either. She snarked that sexism made women vote for Trump. The Slate article says:

            What leads a woman to vote for a man who has made it very clear that he believes she is subhuman? Self-loathing. Hypocrisy.

            […]

            There are still women who think like this—who buy the misogynist lie that sexual assault is a compliment, that any woman who gets groped must have wanted it, that men’s desire for sex is more important that women’s desire for safety and bodily integrity.

            Is there another interpretation of that than “sexism made women vote for Trump”?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Allow me to quote Deiseach:
            “would it be sexism not to vote for Marine Le Pen, given that she is a woman, and the only woman remaining in the race, going for election to the highest office in the land?”

          • stillnotking says:

            That’s the point — would it? One could construct an equally plausible narrative about Frenchwomen’s internalized misogyny and self-loathing being responsible for any refusal to vote for Le Pen. That narrative will not be written, ever, because liberals don’t like Le Pen and conservatives don’t like the narrative.

            Deiseach’s snark, obviously, is that the narrative is ridiculous and condescending, that it assigns agency to women only in the ways that the left would prefer them to exercise it. I can’t blame her at all for being snarky about that. It annoys me, and I’m not even a woman.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The article you quoted talks about Trump’s behavior and policies as stacked up against Hillary’s competence and policies.

            There is nothing in the article that states or implies that one should vote for women irrespective of their behavior or policies. Nor does it say or imply that a vote against any woman is sexist. Nothing.

            If you are saying that an article would never be written about some opposition to Le Pen being motivated by sexism, I think you are wrong in that. To the extent that you could find the equivalent to “Trump that Bitch” shirts being employed in opposition to Le Pen, I think you most certainly could see articles written about it. Although, I have no idea what the French press is like in this regard.

            The straw man is “any and all opposition to any female candidate is sexist”. The actual position is “female candidates will be subject to some sexist opposition, which hurts their chances and standing”.

            You can construct plausible arguments against this line of critique. What about Angela Merkel, for instance? Running for her fourth term in Germany, she doesn’t seem to be suffering this, although someone familiar with German politics would be far better to address this. But this is a very different critique than the one Deiseach offered..

          • stillnotking says:

            OK, I feel like I’m starting to put words in Deiseach’s mouth here, and I don’t want to do that, so I’ll let her respond, if she wants. Suffice to say I think you and I are reading her comment somewhat differently.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        Is snarking on liberals for sport really supposed to be OK around here?

        We’ll find out when Scott reads the report notice (I’m assuming you reported the post).

        Besides, while I don’t agree with what Deiseach said, there is some merit to the idea: Inasmuch as voting in the first woman president was very important (and there were many that claimed it was, for a variety of reasons) in the US, it stands to reason that it would be similarly important in France. Of course, that is only one factor of several to take in count in the election, and it might well be that it’s outweighed by others (like xenophobia and the like).

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I did not report the comment.

          My tendency is to try and talk about things first. I’d rather have community self-policing.

          I try and call out bullshit and herp-derp from liberals as well. Moon thinks I’m a crypto-right-winger or something.

          But, there is always plenty of pushback against Moon or the next liberal. Not so on the other side of the slate. I perceive there are probably 20 comments like this I pass over for every one I challenge in some way.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I did not report the comment.

            My tendency is to try and talk about things first. I’d rather have community self-policing.

            Maybe you should. I agree that self policing is great, but these comments are a bit too populous and disorganized for that, Sometimes you need Scott to put his boot down and enforce his Reign of Terror Bhuddist mystic gates of wisdom.

            Like, I try to do this sometimes, but there’s too many posts and too many comment chains that plain don’t catch my interest. I don’t even read Deiseach comments unless they’re brought to my attention, for example.

            I try and call out bullshit and herp-derp from liberals as well. Moon thinks I’m a crypto-right-winger or something.

            I ‘member (that’s the freshest new meme, right?), that was a hilarious exchange.

            But, there is always plenty of pushback against Moon or the next liberal. Not so on the other side of the slate. I perceive there are probably 20 comments like this I pass over for every one I challenge in some way.

            Well, there’s a matter of volume (a lot more right-wing posters, a lot more swipes, less incentive to go around nagging all of them), but I do think that a lot of liberal stuff also gets through, it’s just that there’s a certain kind of swipe that’s common of lefty people, that has particularly poor reception here, so when it comes up it creates a lot of backlash.

          • Brad says:

            But, there is always plenty of pushback against Moon or the next liberal. Not so on the other side of the slate.

            It’s worse than that. When you or someone else does pushback to a comment from the right, someone invariably chimes in to give that comment a wildly implausible reading and chides the pushback as uncharitable.

            Curiously no such charitable readings are ever proposed for left leaning comments.

          • Randy M says:

            Curiously no such charitable readings are ever proposed for left leaning comments.

            Just for my own personal calibration sake, how much of this is hyperbole?
            I’m not going to check, but I do rather doubt this is strictly true.

            More to the point, would it be fair for someone with quite different views to attempt to reinterpret for Moon? Would it be appreciated?

          • Brad says:

            Of course when I say never, I mean literally never — in the almost four years and tens or hundreds of thousands of comments that have been posted here it hasn’t happened once. I certainly did not mean “happens with far less frequency”. No one ever uses the English language that way. Thank you for reading my comment with such charity.

          • lvlln says:

            It’s worse than that. When you or someone else does pushback to a comment from the right, someone invariably chimes in to give that comment a wildly implausible reading and chides the pushback as uncharitable.

            Curiously no such charitable readings are ever proposed for left leaning comments.

            Obviously this is something that’s extremely hard to quantify or gather empirical evidence for, but my belief is that this statement is wildly inaccurate. I think people from all sides of the political/cultural spectra tend to get treated generally the same with respect to charity on their posts. Any difference in perception of that charity seems to me to be a difference in baseline expectation by the commenter, rather than difference in behavior by responders.

          • Randy M says:

            Of course when I say never, I mean literally never

            I understood it was intentional hyperbole, and asked you to clarify by how much. It’s fine if you had no real idea and were just venting.

          • Brad says:

            You honestly thought I had in my back pocket evidence that 2.345% of the time left leaning comments were read charitably and 85.548% of the time conservative comments were? Or were you just pretending to be confused for rhetorical purposes?

          • Randy M says:

            I’m loathe to continue the subthread since the complaint was so petty in the first place, but I was wondering the magnitude of the persecution you felt you were fighting against.

            In any case, that seems clear now, so thank you.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            You honestly thought I had in my back pocket evidence that 2.345% of the time left leaning comments were read charitably and 85.548% of the time conservative comments were? Or were you just pretending to be confused for rhetorical purposes?

            I mean, you’re the one that usually complains about assertions without data backing it up.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        God damn the endless straw-man snarking of feminist positions is old.

        Lots of people I know attributed Hillary’s defeat to the fact that she’s a woman.

      • Deiseach says:

        HeelBearCub, I don’t particularly want to “snark on liberals” but they just make it so easy and so irresistible. The New York Time seemed to find nothing contradictory in saying that 53% of gender A voting for candidate of gender A was down to sexism which is why they didn’t vote for candidate of gender B but 54% of gender B voting for candidate of gender B was unremarkable. My point there is that it is either sexism or not to vote for a candidate based (solely) on whether or not they are of the same gender as you; it cannot be sexism if A does it but not if B does it.

        Time magazine:

        What happened to Clinton’s firewall: women? How could women not support the first presidential candidate with an agenda focused on equal pay, paid family medical leave and childcare? How could they not vote against a racist, sexist candidate like Donald Trump accused of groping more than a dozen women? How could they not flock to the polls in record numbers to elect the first female president of the United States?

        …Abhorrence of Trump failed to drive enough voters to the polls for Clinton. And Clinton’s flawed candidacy failed to inspire enough women—and men—to support her. And so we’re left with this: An angry female electorate with no obvious woman heir apparent and 60 million cracks in a still unbroken glass ceiling.

        The Huffington Post:

        Yes, I said it. If you’re a woman, you should vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

        Our options are bleak. The two presidential nominees have the lowest approval ratings of any presidential nominees to date, but one of them is a woman, and that matters. It is the first candidate that could potentially hold office who will stand with both feet forward for women’s rights. This isn’t about a claim or policy. There is no debate that Hillary Clinton is a woman, and therefore she is compelled have women in mind.

        …I don’t necessarily hope to change anyone’s mind on which candidate they vote for. But if you are a woman living in America, and you truly dislike both options you have for president, your option is not to not vote. You don’t have to love everything about Hillary Clinton to be inspired watching history be made. Your option is the woman. It’s ok for your option to be the woman. You side with your side. You side with the notion that young girls will grow up saying they want to be the next woman president.

        Now let’s make it happen.

        Some online student thing (presumably representing the college-educated young women’s vote):

        So it’s impossible to ignore the role gender is playing in this election. As for the claim that Clinton is so strongly endorsed only because she is a woman, history doesn’t quite provide evidence for femininity as an advantage in politics, business, education or the public sphere in general.

        But it’s true that more and more people are realizing the importance of having prominent female political leaders, so it would follow that some Democrats would vote for Hillary just because they are excited about the prospect of a female president. I don’t see that as shallow or ignorant at all.

        Some might argue that we shouldn’t put aside actual policy differences between candidates just to elect a president of a certain demographic, but I’m willing to bet that some people voted for Obama at least in part because they wanted to see a president who strayed from the trend of his all white, male, Protestant predecessors. Just as they should have.

        And more online in various places that called for voting for Hillary on the basis that as a woman, she understood and would push for women’s issues, but I didn’t keep track of every last thing I saw on Facebook, Tumblr, etc.

        All the hand-wringing over “breaking the last glass ceiling” implies that women should have voted for Clinton as a woman. I used Le Pen as (an admittedly extreme) example of where that rhetoric falls down.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Congratulations Deiseach. Royal huzzahs. Very well done. Absolutely incredible. I bow before your keen insight and charitable contribution to debate.

          You managed to find a random blogger who has a sum total of 7 posts at Huffington Post who offers a “well, given the bad options, vote for the woman” take that could, if you squint while looking at a funhouse mirror while having bleach poured in your eyes, be mistaken for “always vote for the woman or you are sexist”.

          Slow clap.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            You managed to find a random blogger who has a sum total of 7 posts at Huffington Post

            232 followers on Twitter; I could find twenty Actual Nazis with more influence. This is about as noncentral / weakman as it’s possible to get.

          • Incurian says:

            Maybe you guys could do a thing where you say “I disagree with this, but here is a list of criteria which, if satisfied, would change my mind.”

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The Huffington Post is a major media outlet; the fact that they’re willing to publish pieces calling for women to vote Hillary on the basis of her sex is telling.

            ETA:

            Maybe you guys could do a thing where you say “I disagree with this, but here is a list of criteria which, if satisfied, would change my mind.”

            Or at least, “This is a list of criteria that must be met for me to consider an example worth paying attention to.”

          • DrBeat says:

            HBC, do you consider it an acceptable excuse to say “This website doesn’t support this view even though it published an article in support of this view because that was just that one writer” when the view is one you want to attach to your political enemies? I do not suspect that you do. I suspect you would say that publishing the article is proof of their tacit support of the view, and have done so in the past, when the view was one attributed to the other political tribe.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Incurian:

            I took the position (in my first response to her) that Deiseach was engaging in straw-man snark, and that I objected to her post on those grounds.

            At which point she seems to have confirmed it.

            There isn’t really a reason to grant her position charity when she clearly is behaving uncharitably and shows no desire to do otherwise. I’ve tried to engage with her multiple times in far gentler and more charitable manner.

          • Deiseach says:

            Slow clap.

            Hey, I’ll take any applause I can get.

            Right now, there’s a lot of flailing around for why Hillary didn’t win the election. It’s racism! It’s sexism! It’s the fault of Comey! It’s the fault of the third party voters! Whitelash!

            People didn’t like Hillary, was often the reason. And the response to that is “Sexism because she’s a woman!”

            No, people can have reasons for disliking Hillary as a potential president other than sexism (whether the old-fashioned kind or the interalised, self-hating kind). Now, there can be disagreement on whether those are good or sufficient reasons to dislike her, but they can’t be handwaved away by “it was sexism what dun for her” and if the Democrats want to run a good candidate in 2020 (which I really hope they do), then they have to bite the bullet and look at reality.

            I don’t know what the internal party machinations are at the moment. That’s their business. What the voters, the supporters of Hillary, the supporters of the Democratic Party, will have to do is also look at things calmly, and I’m not seeing that yet. That’s natural, of course; they had the party ready to go when the result was announced that (as they thought) she had won and it spectacularly blew up on them and they’re angry, hurt, shocked and still feeling the hit.

            But the idiot little girls stomping their feet in a tantrum about sexism and white women are not going to help anything or anyone. I do get fed-up when I see women telling me (and other women) “the only reason you could possibly dislike the idea of Hillary as president is internalised sexism and misogyny and being brainwashed how to vote by the man in your life”.

            Oh, feck off for yourself and complain about stealing honey from bees, why don’t you, if you want to be pointless? At least you, HeelBearCub, have bones in your skeleton instead of being a squishy bag of entitlement.

          • Rob K says:

            @The Original Mr. X: The Huffington Post publishes a huge number of un-edited, un-reviewed posts by nobodies. Huge long tail of little-clicked garbage, which they’re happy to publish for those handful of clicks and the chance that something catches fire as clickbait.

            As someone who looks through this comments section for interesting conversation, I have been mildly irked by Deiseach’s decision to use it for aggregating whining from liberal nobodies. If I wanted to read that crap I’d go find it in the wild.

          • Iain says:

            “the only reason you could possibly dislike the idea of Hillary as president is internalised sexism and misogyny and being brainwashed how to vote by the man in your life”

            Has anybody anywhere ever said this? Even your own cherry-picked examples are explicit about Hillary being a flawed candidate.

            Perhaps if you stopped getting actively worked up about strawmen, you would finally be able to pull yourself away from the snarking at liberals that you keep claiming you don’t want to do. I’m sure it would be a great relief to have that burden off your shoulders.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Original Mr. X, @Dr. Beat:

            You do understand that her linked articles don’t actually support her position, right? The same shit people jump up down, night and day, to criticize Moon over?

            Have the courage of your convictions.

          • stillnotking says:

            @Iain,

            The articles we’re complaining about, like the Slate piece I quoted above, tend not to be rigorous arguments, but gratuitous outpourings of vitriol and abuse at demographic groups who voted “wrong”. Sure, the author doesn’t come out and say in so many words that white women had to vote for Hillary, but she’s completely negative in her assessment of the ones who didn’t, and doesn’t bother to imagine any motives besides sexism and racism. It’s not straw-manning to call that an expression of identity politics, if an indirect one.

            I realize some people who hold more nuanced views might feel like they’re in the crosshairs when I mock that kind of article, but that isn’t my intent. I just want to point out how ludicrous it is that Slate, one of the banner sites of the online left, considers it necessary and justified to publish such a piece. Whatever theories may underlie the author’s world view, they served to produce a useless and mean-spirited article.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            The Huffington Post is a major media outlet; the fact that they’re willing to publish pieces calling for women to vote Hillary on the basis of her sex is telling.

            The Huffington Post, like Forbes, Medium, Kinja-era Gawker, or any number of other news websites, has a core of paid contributors and then an ocean of un-vetted, user-submitted content that ANYONE can sign up for. Here are instructions on how you, too, can publish stupid shit on the Huffington Post for disingenuous commenters to weak-man with “even the Huffington Post!”

            Or at least, “This is a list of criteria that must be met for me to consider an example worth paying attention to.”

            At a minimum, if you are making a charge about the media, and want to cite a media organization in support of this, you should be referring to an actual paid journalist or editor, not a glorified comment thread.

            Unfortunately since this comment fork is already maximally nested I suspect my criteria will be met with studied silence and a repeat of the same behavior the next time someone wants to crap on the liberal media.

          • Iain says:

            @stillnotking:
            I will grant you that one post, published the morning after the election. Deiseach has been posting like this for two weeks.

            In mild defense of the article, if you strip out the rhetoric about betrayal, I think the core argument is accurate and relevant:

            The shocking results of the election prove that most white women don’t consider themselves part of the coalition of nonwhite, nonstraight, nonmale voters who were supposed to carry Clinton to a comfortable victory.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I will grant you that one post, published the morning after the election. Deiseach has been posting like this for two weeks.

            You know, nobody’s forcing you to read anything she or any other poster here writes.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            You know, nobody’s forcing you to read anything she or any other poster here writes.

            And no one’s forcing you to read arguments against those posts. Wasn’t this a productive exchange?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            And no one’s forcing you to read arguments against those posts.

            I’m not going around complaining that people are arguing with Deiseach about things, so I’m afraid you’ll have to try harder if you want to make some sort of hypocrisy charge.

          • Iain says:

            This is the dumbest argument, and I refuse to get dragged into complaining about complaining about complaining about complaining.

            Deiseach, do you have more liberal tears you could loudly quaff in this thread?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I refuse to get dragged into complaining about complaining about complaining about complaining

            Yeah, I hate it when people do that.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ The Original Mr. X
            You know, nobody’s forcing you to read anything she or any other poster here writes.

            Hey, I just found that the Hide Poster thing is back. Click on someone’s avatar and it gives that option.

            This is not the old option that only hides the whole thread.

          • erenold says:

            Deiseach, when you say this:

            Right now, there’s a lot of flailing around for why Hillary didn’t win the election. It’s racism! It’s sexism! It’s the fault of Comey! It’s the fault of the third party voters! Whitelash!

            People didn’t like Hillary, was often the reason. And the response to that is “Sexism because she’s a woman!”

            I presume you are aware that 134,344,293 votes were cast (as of today – likely to continue rising), and the election was decided by about 48,000 voters. 0.0003572% of the electorate, in other words. I say nothing of the popular vote/EC discrepancy, of which nothing more needs be said.

            You think none of the abovementioned factors had a more than 0.0003572% influence on the election? Particularly the bizarre and frankly worrying intervention by James Comey?

            It seems obvious to me that when an election is this close, just about every conceivable explanation can be and likely is, in fact, decisive. Now, obviously, that doesn’t preclude a role for explanations you would presumably find more to your liking – quite the opposite. Indeed you’ll find me personally in agreement about many that I think you would propose. But under these circumstances, I am surprised at the extremity of your confidence that all of the above explanations for the election are nothing but strawman fodder for your increasingly vivid hysteria.

            I’ve seen you post about (our shared, incidentally) interest in football, so I close with a gentle and polite suggestion – you’re being Ruud van Nistelrooy, here. Maybe you should not be.

        • keranih says:

          D, hon, you know I love you, and I actually totally agree with you on this point(*), but for the sweet mercy of Christ, could you quit poking the bear? Just for a bit?

          (*) regarding liberals equating “not preferring a candidate (who is female)” with “sexism”.

      • Moon says:

        “Is snarking on liberals for sport really supposed to be OK around here?”

        Of course it is. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Open your eyes.

    • BBA says:

      Deiseach? We all know and love you, but maybe you can find a more productive way to vent your frustrations with the morons on Tumblr than taking it out on us?

      (Yes, I have a mouse in my pocket.)

      Remember: just because they share some of your interests, are otherwise decent people, and are extremely passionate about their beliefs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t morons. And just because someone is smart about some things, it doesn’t mean they can’t be a moron about other things.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Agreed. I enjoy Deiseach’s rants but in moderation.

        The American Association of deplorable basterds urges you to enjoy Deiseach responsibly 😉

      • Wrong Species says:

        Also agree. Snark is ok in moderation but that’s it.

        • Deiseach says:

          Apologies, I tend to act like a dog with a bone when I get my teeth into something. Suitably chastened, I shall now turn my attention to worthier topics – the role of applied mathematics in creating the perfect cup of coffee.

          From my local weekly paper (links to the paper cited included):

          A Ballyduff Upper mathematician is a step closer to answering what, for some, is one of life’s most pressing questions – how to make the perfect cup of coffee.

          Advanced mathematical analysis of a “hideously complicated” set of variables reveals that the size of the coffee grain is critical, followed by a long list of other factors.

          This information is expected to be of particular interest to industrial manufacturers of coffee machines.

          The research, carried out by a group from Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (MACSI) at University of Limerick (UL) is published in SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics.

          The research was led by Ballyduff Upper’s Kevin Moroney of UL and co-authored by Dr William Lee, who now heads the industrial mathematics group at the University of Portsmouth, as well as Stephen O’Brien from UL, Johann Marra and Freek Suijver of Philips Research, Eindhoven.

          “There are about 2,000 chemicals in coffee, making it as complex as wine,” said Dr Lee.

          Coffee brewing is, the researchers say, poorly understood, and a better understanding of the physics and chemistry of coffee brewing is likely to lead to better designed coffee machines.

          They used a combination of experimental and mathematical methods to reveal grain size is one of the most important elements in brewing coffee, but a host of other factors also play an important role.

          According to Dr Lee, “what makes the best coffee is hideously complicated – from the shape of the filter, to the scale of a single grain, to the flow rate of water and which machine or tool is used, there are an enormous number of variables.

          “But maths is a way of revealing hidden simplicity. By using mathematical analysis, we can begin to tell the story of which elements and in what order lead to the best coffee – we are now one step closer to the perfect cup of coffee,” he explained.

          The team hope to develop a complete theory of coffee brewing that could be used to inform the design of filter coffee machines in the same way that industry uses the theories of fluid and solid mechanics to design aeroplanes and racing cars.

          “One of the many challenges that have to be overcome is to understand the effect the grind size has on the extraction of coffee,” Dr Lee said.

          “Our model shows that this can be understood in terms of the grind size controlling the balance between rapid extraction of coffee from the surface of grains and slow extraction from the interior of coffee grains.

          “This not only explains qualitatively why grind size plays such an important role in determining the taste of coffee but also quantifies that relationship through formulas. These formulas could allow fine tuning the design of a coffee machine for a particular grind size,” Dr Lee concluded.

          Abstract of the paper:

          Asymptotic Analysis of the Dominant Mechanisms in the Coffee Extraction Process

          Publisher: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
          K. M. Moroney, W. T. Lee, S. B. G. O’ Brien, F. Suijver, and J. Marra

          Extraction of coffee solubles from roast and ground coffee is a highly complex process, depending on a large number of brewing parameters. We consider a recent, experimentally validated, model of coffee extraction, describing extraction from a coffee bed using a double porosity model, which includes dissolution and transport of coffee. It was shown that this model can accurately describe coffee extraction in two situations: extraction from a dilute suspension of coffee grains and extraction from a packed coffee bed. Despite being based on some simplifying assumptions, this model can only be solved numerically. In this paper we consider asymptotic solutions of the model describing extraction from a packed coffee bed. Such solutions can explicitly relate coffee concentration to the process parameters. For an individual coffee grain, extraction is controlled by a rapid dissolution of coffee from the surface of the grain, in conjunction with a slower diffusion of coffee through the intragranular pore network to the grain surface. Extraction of coffee from the bed also depends on the speed of advection of coffee from the bed. We utilize the small parameter resulting from the ratio of the advection timescale to the grain diffusion timescale to construct asymptotic solutions using the method of matched asymptotic expansions. The asymptotic solutions are compared to numerical solutions and data from coffee extraction experiments. The asymptotic solutions depend on a small number of dimensionless parameters and so are useful to quickly fit extraction curves and investigate the influence of various process parameters on the extraction.

  29. pamape says:

    I had an interesting exchange recently.

    After I took my date to a bus stop in the middle of night, I was walking home when I saw this group of four homeless-looking people who were behaving slightly aggressively. I walked past them, they started walking with me and a few of them shoot some questions at me. In particular, one of them who was slightly dark-skinned asked me “am I white or black?”

    I thought about this for a moment and decided that the best reply is “You’re the same color as Obama.”

    The slightly dark-skinned person joked and said something like “Yeah, my second cousin is Obama”. Another person said “Fucking racist shit, let’s beat him up”. He sounded quite hesitant and there wasn’t much conviction in his voice and everyone else ignored him and they went on their way.

    My interpretation of this was that they meant to ask a question that seemingly doesn’t have any good answers from their perspective and then maybe harm me in some way if I do give a wrong answer?

    I think my answer was pretty good because a) it was true b) I was comparing him to a powerful high-status person, so it’s quite hard to interpret it in a racist way.

    Of course it would have probably been safer to ignore them totally.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Asking questions where any answer is an excuse to beat you up is standard bully behavior, so yeah. Not a bad dodge.

  30. Phil Goetz says:

    Creeping Irony: Newspaper articles scoff at people for repeating unsubstantiated creepy clown reports. They explain this behavior by repeating details about a study showing children find clowns creepy, reported on “independently” by Reuters and the BBC, which turns out not to exist.

  31. Acedia says:

    Finally having some success convincing the people in my social circles that a Trump presidency, if it’s bad, will most likely be bad in a dreary, depressing way that wears down your spirit rather than an explosive apocalyptic way that literally murders you and burns down your house.

    It’s not exactly a hopeful message, but it does a better job of producing the grim determination that gets people through hard times than the gibbering hysteria that too many on the left are deliberately trying to create atm.

    • Matt M says:

      Questions like “who was the worst president ever and what was life like during their presidency” might help, if only because the only eras of America in which I think we could truly approach disastrous proportions were probably the civil war and the great depression (and the two presidents who presided over those things are lauded as great by all the official historians sooooooooo)

      • ChetC3 says:

        Pierce, Buchanan, and Hoover are not usually lauded as great, though of course you already knew that.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      What’s your line of argument that a Trump presidency will be fairly bad rather than apocalyptic?

      • mnov says:

        Every previous president’s term in office was not ‘Apocalyptic’, and you can even generalise president of USA to ‘leader of a stable democracy’ and interpret ‘Apocalyptic’ as something obviously too mild, like ‘Experienced negative real GDP growth’ or ‘major regression in civil rights’ or some such criteria that at least somewhat depends on a country’s government, and you’ll probably still be under 20% of leaders.

        So if you blind yourself to details that are currently highly available and therefore seem super important but will barely register in whatever accounting people do of the effects of the Trump administration in another twenty years, not-Apocalyptic is a much more likely outcome because it’s a much more frequent outcome.

  32. Le Maistre Chat says:

    I’d like to solicit opinions on why it’s dangerous to criticize Islam. This claim is currently in the MSM thanks to General Flynn, but it’s a meme they’ve been using since late 2001.
    Are the journalists warning “Don’t criticize Islam; you could get killed by an offended Muslim”, is it some abstruse thing about it being morally dangerous to let prejudice into your white heart, or what?

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      It seems obviously in our interest (as a country) to marginalize radical terrorist groups by any available means. Making it clear through our diplomacy that we don’t consider their words or actions to speak for Islam as a whole is one such means.

      When Flynn or whoever says that Islam is a political system, for example, and criticizes it on those grounds, he implicitly concedes that the theocratic mode of government is the “true” Islamic system, meaning you write off secular majority-Muslim states in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Western Africa, you write off states with codified balances of power such as Lebanon or Indonesia, you write off every secular nationalist or socialist movement, and you write off every Muslim minority currently assimilating in a Western country. We should be elevating these as examples, not dismissing them in favor of spotlighting the takfiris.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        It seems obviously in our interest (as a country) to marginalize radical terrorist groups by any available means.

        Agreed.

        Making it clear through our diplomacy that we don’t consider their words or actions to speak for Islam as a whole is one such means.

        What is the evidence that this has successfully marginalized radical terrorist groups?

        • rlms says:

          Since the idea that Islamist theocracy is the only true form of Islam is a key part of terrorist ideology, it seems likely that espousing that idea would help the terrorists who hold it.

        • Anonymous Bosch says:

          What is the evidence that this has successfully marginalized radical terrorist groups?

          What evidence would you accept? International relations isn’t exactly an empirical field where we can run double-blind trials of “universe where we define our conflict against Islam as a whole” against “universe where we don’t.” Or where we can quantify and control for the “don’t needlessly topple secular regimes” variable to isolate the “don’t declare war on Islam” variable. Logical, consistent arguments are all we really have.

          • dndnrsn says:

            You’re making it sound like I’m the only one with a basement full of different cages of mice I’m trying to teach different religions, like I’m some kind of weirdo or something.

    • stillnotking says:

      Do you have an example?

    • Spookykou says:

      I’m confused, do you think that any appeal that people not be prejudice is abstruse, or is it just confusing for you in the particular case of Islam?

      • Incurian says:

        I think his point was more about people conflating criticism with irrational prejudice, not whether prejudice is ok.

        • Spookykou says:

          Is this just a ‘can we talk about statistics’ argument, or are there some real criticisms of Islam that don’t at least flirt with prejudice that people want to say but can’t?

          I think the Quarn is too long!?

        • Incurian says:

          I don’t understand what you mean by “can we talk about statistics” and I didn’t really intend to participate in an argument. I was trying to make a clarification because you said you were confused.

          Are there real criticisms of Islam? Sure, lots. Ask a Shia about the whacky things Sunnis believe or as a Sunni about the silly things Shia believe.

          In my opinion, it’s not much worse than most religions, but that doesn’t mean the only criticisms of it are “they’re different,” “i don’t like brown people,” or “they don’t love jesus enough.”

          • Spookykou says:

            I was confused, and your clarification did not really change the situations that I saw, but your clarification did potentially push it in one direction.

            “can we talk about statistics” is the, somewhat common call to talk about statistics and how they relate to race, and not be lambasted for being racist. Which I don’t really have a problem with, but I think should be phrased as such. The ‘irrational’ component of what you said is what made me think of this, because statistics have a rational connotation.

            Are there real criticisms of Islam? Sure, lots. Ask a Shia about the whacky things Sunnis believe or as a Sunni about the silly things Shia believe.

            This is what I was hinting at with my ‘The Quarn is too long!?’ joke, this is not ‘criticism of Islam’ that anyone in America would seriously censure or care about.

            So the question is, what kind of criticism does Le Maistre Chat want to make, that the left wing media would consider dangerous.

            Sorry if it felt like I was attacking you, or responding aggressively, that was not what I intended. Thank you for trying to clarify their position for me.

          • Incurian says:

            No apology necessary, but I do think your first response to Chat’s question was uncharitable.

            I think his question was reasonable. If there are journalists who say you shouldn’t criticize Islam (I’m not aware of any such journalists but I took the question at face value), what is their reasoning?

            If their reasoning is that such criticism invites violent reprisals, then such a journalist would indeed censure even esoteric criticisms of Islamic theology (which are unrelated to prejudice).

            If the journalists just have an overly-sensitive racism detector then they may not care about the theological stuff, but they might take issue with criticisms pointing out the correlation between Islam and terrorism or the propensity for Muslim-majority countries to have an overtly theocratic bent (whether or not these are the strongest critiques in the world I make no judgement, but they are at least superficially valid and not necessarily born of prejudice).

          • Spookykou says:

            I assume the criticism Chat was referring to was broad claims about all of Islam of the form used by General Flynn.

            These criticism seem to be stock standard negative stereotypes about large groups of people based on little more than gut feeling, and seem like pretty classic appeals to prejudice.

            Thus framing the question that I lead in with, is there something in particular about Islam that makes this ok, or are you making the more general claim that this kind of stuff should be acceptable.

            I will admit it is not the most charitable interpretation of what they said, the General Flynn name drop heavily coloring my assumptions.

            correlation between Islam and terrorism

            Gets back to my statistics point, which might just be a product of my personal idiosyncrasy. But I consider that stuff to be, at least nominally, based in objective reality and way more acceptable(and debatable). Versus the vague and often nonsensical stuff Flynn spouts off about Islam.

    • BBA says:

      Freedom of religion means nothing if you’re only free to have a “good” religion.

      Also, something about strategic alliances with the Gulf States, maintaining access to oil supplies, and other such realpolitik.

      And probably other things too, depending on the speaker. It’s not either-or.

      • John Schilling says:

        Freedom of religion means nothing if you’re only free to have a “good” religion.

        Freedom of religion clearly meant something to a whole lot of people who never envisioned it meaning anything other than “pick your favorite Judeo-Christian denomination, and we get to look at you funny if you insist on Judaism”. May not have meant what you or I want it to mean, but that’s not at all the same as “means nothing”.

        • rlms says:

          I think that it is possible at least some of the Founding Fathers (being elite intellectual types with religious beliefs at odds with those of the general population) might have planned for freedom of religion to encompass deism and possibly even atheism. In fact, after some brief research I think you are just plain wrong. Quote from Jefferson’s autobiography: “a singular proposition proved that [a bill for establishing religious freedom’s] protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination”. He is pretty clearly considering non-Judeo-Christian religions.

          • John Schilling says:

            In fact, after some brief research I think you are just plain wrong. Quote from Jefferson’s autobiography…

            When did I ever say anything about Thomas Jefferson?

            At least some of the founding fathers were deists, Jefferson among them. A few, e.g. Thomas Paine, may have been atheists.

            That leaves a whole lot of for-real God-Fearing Christians of one denomination or another among the founding fathers, and not really a whole lot of tolerance for outright rejection of Christ.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I think “the insertion was rejected by a great majority” was intended to be the key phrase there.

          • lhn says:

            Though it seems pretty clear that even the ones who weren’t particularly tolerant of non-Christian religions understood that’s what the federal standard permitted.

            E.g., in the North Carolina debates, we have future Supreme Court justice James Iredell confident that Americans won’t vote for “pagans and Mahometans”: “it is never to be supposed that the people of America will trust their dearest rights to persons who have no religion at all, or a religion materially different from their own”, but he argues, apparently successfully, for leaving that in the hands of the voters.

            (Iredell also discusses ways in which non Judeo-Christians can take legally binding oaths, because “if none but Christians or Jews could be examined upon oath, many innocent persons might suffer for want of the testimony of others”. He gives the example of an east Indian “Gentoo” in England who swore by kissing the foot of a priest.)

            Governor Johnston follows that up with:

            It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans, pagans, &c., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President, or other high office, but in one of two cases. First, if the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves. Another case is, if any persons of such descriptions should, notwithstanding their religion, acquire the confidence and esteem of the people of America by their good conduct and practice of virtue, they may be chosen.

            There may have been Founders who assumed that freedom of religion extended only to Christians or at most to Jews. (And it certainly didn’t stop some states from having established churches into the early 19th century.) But at least in NC, the specific example of Muslims was raised in open debate and accepted. Opponents there certainly couldn’t have tacitly assumed that it only meant Christians after that.

        • BBA says:

          Who cares what it meant to them? I’m an ethnically Jewish atheist, and freedom to be whatever kind of Christian I want means nothing to me.

          I suppose I can give it some respect in historical contexts, even cuius regio eius religio was a far cry better than endless war, but these days it just doesn’t cut it anymore.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Consider it from this angle:

        Will becoming more Muslim make the United States better or worse? Should we adjust policy accordingly?

        • rlms says:

          Will having more men make the US better or worse? (Crime statistics suggest worse.) Should we adjust policy (e.g. regarding eugenics) accordingly?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            A better example would be, say, refusing visas and refugee status to single young men with low socioeconomic status, since it’s more directly comparable to the arguments about refusing visas and refugee status to Muslim immigrants. And…unless I’m mistaken, that position was actually staked out in at least theoretical terms and got some support the last time immigration issues were discussed here.

            I could certainly see a case for it at least as strong as the cases for restricting Muslim immigration.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I feel like this was supposed to be a reductio ad absurdum, but it actually would be wise to keep the sex ratio from diverging far from 50:50, and there may be areas of policy where that turns out to be a relevant consideration.

        • Dahlen says:

          Well, from the point of view of very conservative people, they do have some pluses such as high religiosity, traditional gender roles, and opposition to homosexuality and other Western vices.

          I sometimes have to wonder what the right’s real beef with Muslims is. Yes, they’re a problematic minority who spreads its religion by means of warfare and intolerance, and that poses a big security risk. Yes, the more traditional ones are so traditional (child marriage, FGM, punishment by mutilation, honour killings) that they come off as obviously barbaric. Yes, they form a separate cultural group with its own languages and system of writing (& food, & habits, &c.) that they tend to integrate poorly and communicate preferentially amongst each other, which harms the social fabric.

          But, somewhere along the continuum from the worst parts of Afghanistan to the level of Westernisation of their liberal allies, there seems to be a sweet spot wherein Muslims that have assimilated up until that point (no violence, no illegal stuff, better integration & some change in attitudes towards the West) might make extremely promising right-wing voters. Haven’t you folks thought of that?

          Also, has it occurred to anyone that some older-style liberals may regard the “God & Guns” contingent as less than desirable for the same reasons (of a lesser degree) that you regard Muslim immigrants as such?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            there seems to be a sweet spot wherein Muslims that have assimilated up until that point (no violence, no illegal stuff, better integration & some change in attitudes towards the West) might make extremely promising right-wing voters. Haven’t you folks thought of that?

            They did think of that. In 2000, Bush aggressively courted the Muslim vote; there was a general attitude in the GOP that these guys were a “minority” vote they could get. There are a lot of reasons that went away after 9/11 and not all of the blame there should fall on the right.

    • Matt M says:

      “Are the journalists warning “Don’t criticize Islam; you could get killed by an offended Muslim”, is it some abstruse thing about it being morally dangerous to let prejudice into your white heart, or what?”

      I think this is a rare case where it’s both – and you can pick and choose your argument depending on which side you’re on and which side you’re talking to and still be fairly effective. A liberal who doesn’t want Islam criticized because it’s unfair for white people to judge disenfranchised groups can say to the conservative (who doesn’t give a crap about offending disenfranchised groups) “Look, even if you don’t care about offending them, you STILL shouldn’t insult them because it will make them more violent against our troops overseas – you don’t want our troops to die, do you?”

      • roystgnr says:

        That sounds like an argument aimed at conservative pragmatists; aren’t you worried about it backfiring horribly among conservative rationalists? Hell, even among the pragmatists, if you do convince them of the premise “Don’t say anything bad about group X or they’ll become violent and murderous” then the correct response is “I’ll no longer say anything bad, but boy I’m going to be thinking bad things awfully loud!”

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Eh, I think there is an unambiguous distinction between speech that actively encourages and incites violent behavior, and speech that people attempt to criticize/punish with violence. Even in the first case, I think the bar should be set VERY high for actual legal action (immanent lawless action is a decent standard).

    • dwietzsche says:

      People who use terrorism to explain why Islam is bad are doing what amounts to some really precise, context free cherry picking. The US has killed quite a few people just in the last couple of decades, a lot of these deaths are of questionable utility vis a vis national security (we might have made some poor choices lately, guys!), but Christians, even the ones that want to believe the US is a Christian nation, can hide behind the fact that western states are secular, and not even bother to attempt to account for that kind of bloodshed while they count all the deaths accruing to Mohammedans.

      You could have arguments about Islam that account in a non-trivial way for their doctrine, but that would entail actually knowing more about the religion than what gets spoon fed through propagandistic channels. Everyone’s heard that one guy who has never read a book about theology assert with supreme confidence that Islam is a “religion of conquest,” or some such thing. The point isn’t that a critique can’t be made, it’s that the people who want to make such critiques start out hating Islam before they know anything about it, and all they engage in are ex post facto arguments in service of their prejudices.

      In the long run it’s just easier to default to “y’all are bigots” than trying to explain to every aspiring dilettante in comparative religions that they haven’t done their homework.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        but Christians, even the ones that want to believe the US is a Christian nation, can hide behind the fact that western states are secular, and not even bother to attempt to account for that kind of bloodshed while they count all the deaths accruing to Mohammedans.

        What do you mean “hide behind”? It’s true. Even if you take the 100% Michael Moore position that everything done by the West in the ME over the past few decades has been to create violence and chaos, it was done in the name of secular political interests, not in the name of Christianity.

        This moral equivalence is a little infuriating.

        In the long run it’s just easier to default to “y’all are bigots” than trying to explain to every aspiring dilettante in comparative religions that they haven’t done their homework.

        Interesting strategy. How did it work out in the last election?

        • dwietzsche says:

          People who read three lines from the Koran and then assert all Muslims are evil are, objectively, unquestionably, inarguably, bigots. Whether saying they are has political utility or not is irrelevant.

          If the US can murder people in the name of a thing called “secular political interests,” why are we obliged to account for Islamic atrocities under a religious banner? Clearly, the fact that a state has a theocratic design does not mean that it does not also have secular interests. Either way you’re just playing a shell game.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            If the US can murder people in the name of a thing called “secular political interests,” why are we obliged to account for Islamic atrocities under a religious banner?

            W… what? Maybe because we want to understand what’s going on and our declared enemies’ motivations for acting as they do? I don’t think that’s a particularly controversial statement…?

            Clearly, the fact that a state has a theocratic design does not mean that it does not also have secular interests.

            And just because a state has secular interests doesn’t mean that state doesn’t have theocratic interests, too, so… ???????

            Either way you’re just playing a shell game.

            I don’t even understand what you’re trying to get at here.

          • carvenvisage says:

            People who read three lines from the Koran and then assert all Muslims are evil are, objectively, unquestionably, inarguably, bigots. Whether saying they are has political utility or not is irrelevant.

            You don’t think there are three lines in Mein Kampf that would make you a bigot by this definition?

            Just because some people say a book is holy doesn’t mean it isn’t evil. It’s a poor argument

          • dwietzsche says:

            I’m not sure what the implications of this counter-argument are supposed to be, really. I only ever got through the first page of Mein Kampf, but the reason wasn’t because it says a lot of stuff about how to pan fry Jews. It’s because it said a lot about Providence, and Hitler’s belief that God has inspired him, and the reason that was intolerable was because Hitler said it and I already knew who he was.

          • carvenvisage says:

            I don’t know off the top of my head if there is anything clearly and openly evil in it, but the point is that there could be, just like there could be in the qu’ran, or the bible, or any book that people choose to make the subject of a religion.

             

            And, not 100% clear or open, but imo the concept of ‘lebensraum’ alone is almost enough to write off nazi philosophy as evil.

            At least once it gets implemented in some thoughtless line like (and of course we need ‘living space’ to expand and live in, -populations naturally grow beyond their means, UNLIKE OUR NEIGHBOURS LOL) -except leaving that last bit unsaid.

             

            There are probably more evil things in the qu’ran. By all accounts there are plenty of evil things in the bible, and the qu’ran in particular is worse. But never mind the qu’ran in particular- The point was that three lines from a holy book could potentially let you label all adherents of the religion as evil, more or less. Or failing that, evil or stupid.

        • dwietzsche says:

          Yes. If you want to understand their motivations… you might want to actually inquire into their motivations. I bet you it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than “Mohammed told me to kill whitey.”

          • hlynkacg says:

            Granted, it is more complicated.

            But at the same time discussing their motivations without acknowledging Islam’s role is kind of like discussing the last 100 years of Russian history without mentioning Lenin or Communism.

      • stillnotking says:

        People who use terrorism to explain why Islam is bad are doing what amounts to some really precise, context free cherry picking.

        When people say they’re committing terrorist acts in the name of their religion, the religion has to be considered the largest part of the context. To conclude otherwise, we’d need some compelling reason not to take them at their word; in fact, we have the opposite, since many of them demonstrate a willingness to die as well as kill. I don’t think we necessarily need to know anything about Islamic doctrine in order to conclude that there’s a problem here. If large numbers of people started doing suicide terrorism in the name of a brand new religion called Zyzygism, we would know Zyzygism is probably bad. We’d still want to know more, but we wouldn’t expect that additional information to make us think much better of it.

        If all knowledge of Islam vanished, terrorism would decrease sharply. In large parts of the world, it would practically disappear. That’s enough to make a basic value judgment about Islam. (OK, absent some really implausible cases where Islam is the only thing preventing a massive catastrophe.) I think the old adage about not opening your mind so much your brains fall out applies. Religion seems to be afforded charity that would be absurd in relation to almost anything else. In a world where enormous research studies are performed to determine whether or not playing Grand Theft Auto V makes people violent, we’re somehow still arguing about whether Islam does?

        None of this has anything to do with bigotry. You can’t be bigoted against an idea. Assuming that some unknown individual Muslim(s) are violent would be bigotry.

        • dwietzsche says:

          You really think when Palestinians commit terrorist acts against Israelis, they only care about what Allah thinks? That there are simply no material conflicts animating the decision to do something like that? When Osama Bin Laden attacked the US, it wasn’t because he thought God told him to. He resented US influence over Saudi Arabia. This is something he even says. There is indeed a cultural component to Muslim resentment of the West, but that’s about a whole lot more than just religious stuff. Even ISIS, which apparently intends to create a state in order to bring certain Islamic prophecies to fruition, is hopelessly mired in, you know, reality problems. Guys who were ousted when the US disbanded Saddam’s military and needed freaking work, a Sunni sect that refused to accept being ruled over by what they considered to be a Shia state, and long standing historical conflict between two muslim sects.

          When you say terrorists only kill themselves for religious reasons, you’re also saying “I don’t really care what’s going on. I heard a guy say a thing and it comports with my preferred way of painting him and his people and so I’m just going to roll with that.”

          • Spookykou says:

            His point is pretty clearly that,

            When people say they’re committing terrorist acts in the name of their religion, the religion has to be considered the largest part of the context.

            so to then argue against him by saying religion is not 100% of the context, is just a blatant strawman.

          • stillnotking says:

            I don’t think religion is the only reason, no. But the Buddhists in Tibet have not been strapping bombs to themselves for the last sixty years of Chinese occupation. All kinds of people have very strongly felt political goals, but only in the Muslim world is terrorism widely considered a means of achieving them, and I must reiterate that the terrorists themselves say Islam is the key factor. I don’t understand the reluctance to believe them. I’d need some kind of really compelling alternative theory before I’d refuse to accept the obvious one.

          • dwietzsche says:

            4/5ths reasoning at its finest. “Largest part of the context” basically just means “My blaming Islam is legit.” It’s not even an attempt at hedging the argument. And it’s still wrong. People have real problems. Then they have a language and a set of ideas and slogans they use to explain themselves. The real problems are always the most important thing. If you aren’t trying to understand them, you aren’t trying to understand anything.

          • Spookykou says:

            Edit Actually I don’t care, if you’re not interested in arguing in good faith, you’re not interested.

          • dwietzsche says:

            The thing you call terrorism other people call asymmetric warfare. For sure it’s mostly not what, say, ISIS does, at least half the time. They have their own tactics that aren’t really distinguishable from other kinds of light infantry/cavalry engagement. It’s true there’s a history of Islamic terrorist tactics and techniques that goes all the way back to the Algerian War. It exists precisely because they’re just tactics you might use if you wanted to fight but could never win in a straight up face to face conflict.

          • dwietzsche says:

            Spookykou, you might be qualified to referee this debate. You might not be. How would you know? We can spend the next eternity arguing that the real problem is that the other guy isn’t being sufficiently charitable to us. Just another distraction.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            When you say terrorists only kill themselves for religious reasons,

            I don’t see anywhere in that comment where he said that.

          • Spookykou says:

            I lied, I do care.

            Maybe my understanding of the Strawman concept is wrong.

            Someone stated a position, you then argued against a ridiculous caricature of that position, which is dramatically easier to argue against.

            When I called you out on it.

            You responded with, no clearly they did not mean what they said, they meant the ridiculous caricature position.

            Do you think ‘Literally 100% of the motivation for terrorism is Islam’ is a reasonable position? Honestly? In a world with 1.7 Billion or so Muslims, and plenty of non-Muslim terrorists. Do you honestly think that position you ascribed was not a strawman?

            More over, do you think ascribing a less charitable position to the person you are arguing with, from their stated position, is arguing in good faith?

            I mean, these feel like text book examples here, I must have an old edition of the book or something.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Actually, the thing people call terrorism is ALWAYS asymmetric warfare. By definition, any type of violent political action between non-state and state actors, or between state actors where the military power imbalance is too great to allow for conventional engagement is an example of “asymmetric warfare”.

            If you mean to imply that there is some sort of ambiguity between, say, 9/11 and a Guerrilla group shooting up a military convoy, then I think you have a rather shaky grasp of these affairs.

            If you are having some trouble understanding the difference, part of it can be that just because a person or group engages in terrorism, it does not mean they are not also using other tactics. For example, let us imagine a hypothetical cell of insurgents in Iraq, circa 2004, and a few different tactics and combinations of tactics.

            Scenario 1: The cell emplaces IEDs with the primary goal of killing US Soldiers, destroying US military vehicles, and/or disrupting convoys and patrol operations. The cell takes some reasonable precautions to reduce civilian death toll (warns sympathetic populations before the attacks, chooses emplacement sites away from high traffic areas, etc). Category? Guerrilla/Irregular Warfare, Not terrorism, even if more civilians are killed than soldiers.

            Scenario 2: The cell emplaces IEDs with the primary goal of killing US Soldiers, destroying US military vehicles, and/or disrupting convoys and patrol operations. The cell takes no precautions to reduce civilian death toll because they believe A) it’s not their moral responsibility anyway, it’s the Americans’ fault these tactics are necessary, B) the cause is so important that any level of collateral damage, however regrettable, is justified, or some combination of both or similar beliefs. Category? Quite possibly grounds for a war crimes prosecution against any survivors after the end of hostilities, but STILL not terrorism.

            Scenario 3: The cell emplaces IEDs with the primary goal of killing US Soldiers etc. etc. AND of frightening the civilian population with the death and destruction in their midst, driving them away from cooperating with the occupying forces. They deliberately choose emplacement sites and detonation times to accomplish both goals simultaneously (this one was, IMO, the most common during the timeframe I was in Iraq). Category? Now here’s a case where there’s ambiguity. Not how to categorize it: This is both Guerrilla Warfare AND terrorism. However, in practice it’s probably going to be indistinguishable from Scenario 2 if you’re attempting to treat “War Crimes” and “Terrorism” differently. To my mind, a good reason not to (pick whichever you want to treat more summarily and harshly and use that standard for both).

            Scenario 4: The cell emplaces IEDs with the primary goal of killing civilians and destroying non-military targets in order to frighten and ‘persuade’ the civilian population etc. etc. They choose emplacement sites and detonation times accordingly. A good RL example of this would be the guys who infiltrated the construction crew of a US-funded school, and placed explosives in the interstitial spaces of the building, in the foundation, etc. Thankfully they were found by an electrician before the building was finished. Category? NOW we are talking about good old fashioned terrorism.

            I can think of a few targets that are debatable either way, civilians contractors and civilian government officials who direct, support, and/or enable but do not directly engage in combat operations, or police officers in an urban insurgency setting. Note that this would only hold for military attacks (keeping in mind minimizing collateral damage to the level justified by the military necessity of the strike), not kidnappings, ransoming, torture/execution videos, etc. And even with these sort of theoretical edge cases we have precedents from the body of treaties and historical deliberations on the law of armed conflict to guide us.

          • rlms says:

            @stillnotking
            “All kinds of people have very strongly felt political goals, but only in the Muslim world is terrorism widely considered a means of achieving them”
            That is a ridiculous claim. Have you not heard of the IRA and UVF? ETA? The Tamil Tigers? The militant wing of the ANC? FARC? It’s interesting that you mention Buddhists. Are you aware of the Burmese Buddhists persecuting Rohingya Muslims? Relevantly, the Rohingya are not retaliating with terrorism.

            “the terrorists themselves say Islam is the key factor”
            It is definitely reasonable to accept that claim. But what you should not do is accept the related claims that the terrorists make, that they are the only true form of Islam and representative of it as a whole. If you accept that claim, you are playing into their hands.

          • Sandy says:

            Are you aware of the Burmese Buddhists persecuting Rohingya Muslims? Relevantly, the Rohingya are not retaliating with terrorism.

            I thought it was a stupid statement too, but there has been some commentary arguing that the Rohingya conflict is a race war masquerading as a religious conflict.

          • stillnotking says:

            @rlms:

            There’s an enormous quantitative difference between the number of Muslim terrorists and terror groups, and the number of left-wing/Catholic/Hindu etc. terrorists. I didn’t say Islam is the only religion (or ideology) capable of having terrorists, I said Islam inspires terrorism to a unique degree.

            The point is often made that terrorism is a failure as a political strategy, and this is true. No doubt that’s responsible for the fates of the Tamil Tigers, the most violent factions of the IRA, and the majority of Communist terror cells in Europe: its failure eventually becomes impossible to ignore. The Muslim world is a glaring exception to this learning process, however. Muslim terror groups proliferate despite the fact that they rarely achieve their political goals. We can also look at opinion polling among Muslims to see that they are unusually willing to consider the option of terrorism in defense of their faith.

            So I stand by my statement: Only in Islam is terrorism widely considered an effective solution to political problems.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @Spookykou:

            Nope, those are still in the latest version of the textbook.

            I wouldn’t worry too much about dwietzche;* he’s clearly hooked, so it’s only a matter of time before he’s Assimilated.

            (* Hah! I just got it!)

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Well part of the problem is people keep equivocating between Wahhabism and the rest of Islam…

        • dwietzsche says:

          We certainly have a disagreement about how to properly interpret what somebody else said. The difference is that while I acknowledge that there is a disagreement, you apparently believe the disagreement empowers you with the ability to unitarily adjudicate rules of fairness. I think, for the most part, people should try to understand each other, and for what it’s worth, I agree with you that it’s sort of pointless to have a discussion without at least making the attempt. But this isn’t a classroom, charity is only so useful, and at the end of the day there are going to be insoluble disagreements, not just about the world, but about what people mean when they talk about it, and resort to charity talk just becomes another way of working the refs.

          Edit: There are people who like to extrapolate from examples of terrorism a general lesson about Islam. A LOT of them. That is an empirical fact. Whether it is reasonable for them to do so has no bearing on whether they do. But the motivation to do that doesn’t come out of nowhere, it is not difficult to identify, and even sophisticated attempts to mask that aren’t usually too convincing. He says here: “If all knowledge of Islam vanished, terrorism would decrease sharply. In large parts of the world, it would practically disappear.” Now, look maybe he’s right about that, and maybe terrorism is a uniquely bad form of violence that is worse than other kinds of violence other political and ethnic groups commit. Regardless, it’s the point he wants to make, that you’re saying, for whatever reason, he doesn’t want to.

          • Moon says:

            Religion is politics and tribalism. If you get rid of any particular religion in a tribal society, people will find some other way of grouping themselves into tribes– and they will continue to be violent if they already were.

            In fact, Sunnis and Shias have been fighting each other a lot in the M.E. It doesn’t make any difference to them that they are both Muslim. And in past history, the 2 sects didn’t always fight each other like they do now.

            Violent tribal people fight and kills people– regardless of whether they have no religion– or even the same religion, with minor differences, like Sunni and Shia.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Moon:

            If you get rid of any particular religion in a tribal society, people will find some other way of grouping themselves into tribes– and they will continue to be violent if they already were.

            What’s your evidence for that claim? I don’t know one way or the other, but it seem prima facie plausible that religions, which are not just politics and tribalism, but also specific sets of claims about the supernatural, offer to some extent at least, an additional reason for conflict and violence, rather than just a one-to-one substitute (assuming that the specific claims of that religion are conducive to engaging in violence in the first place).

        • carvenvisage says:

          If large numbers of people started doing suicide terrorism in the name of a brand new religion called Zyzygism, we would know Zyzygism is probably bad.

          If suicide terrorism is inherently bad (I don’t think so), I still don’t think this would follow.

          Is engineering bad, because many of the 9/11 terrorists were engineers? Arguably it teaches ways of thinking that are exploitable to this kind of thing, but that’s a weakness, not overall badness. And who’s to say such weaknesses are even characteristic of engineering, more generally, anyway?

          Though in the case of a religion you often have a holy book that’s a bit less abstract than a sort-of platonic form, like ‘engineering’.

           

          Another example is the kind of bullshit science and borderline fraud we see coming out of, like, ‘the west’s’ science-priesthood. I think it’s pretty good evidence that the idea is bullshit, but not conclusive, and if it was that would still be indicting the institution (/institution cluster) rather than the platonic form of science.

          Though again I think religions, being beholden to particular traditions and holy books and stuff, have at a minimum a bunch of arbitrary stuff that people made up to interfere with the business of approximating ideal platonic forms, -and sometimes little interest in it at all.

           

          Which I suppose is kind of like saying ‘Islam’, (or ‘christianity’, etc), is more like a (historical) institution than like an ideal form in the process of instantiating itself, which I think is how religions are popularly conceived.

          (which, say, maths is actually more like)

          (and thence game theory, and thence morality, imo. (hopefully))

          -So then only if the historically contingent institution has handed down eternal principles (as strong norms or something) will the religion resemble something that approximates that ideal. But most religions have nothing like that, or what they do have sucks so badly that they mostly ignore it.

           

          -Leaving a lot more degrees of freedom /chaos for violent factions or individuals in an otherwise peaceful tradition/institution.

          • stillnotking says:

            I’m considering Islam not just as a belief terrorists tend to have in common, but as the primary belief they cite for their actions. Speech is our biggest clue to understanding the link between ideology and behavior. It deserves an enormous amount of weight.

            I completely agree that religions have to be considered as real institutions rather than ideal forms. That’s why I tend not to care very much about what some millennia-old documents say.

          • carvenvisage says:

            I agree with you, -was just having a go at the form of the argument. It’s something of hobby.

            edit: Though millenia old documents can be big shaping influences. They’re the closest things to constitutions these institutions have. They’re, -to use a figurative phrase literally, -‘their bibles’.

            Religions generally believe in their holy texts, so how those religions turn out is dependent on their holy texts. As presumably is how they can evolve, mutate, be influenced etc, right now.

        • rlms says:

          If Islam is the main cause of Islamist terrorism, why are Western terrorists often not very religious? There are several factors that correlate better with Islamist terrorism than being religious, such as being a 2nd generation immigrant and petty criminal in the West, and being ruled by a bad government made up of members of a different Islamic sect to you in the Middle East (not to mention being male). Islamism (political Islam) is an important factor to look at when considering terrorism, but it isn’t inseparable from Islam as a worldwide religion, and there are many other relevant factors. The vast majority of Muslims are not Islamists, and furthermore the majority of Islamists are not violent. Do you think the Northern Ireland troubles would have disappeared if there had been no Protestant-Catholic differences? Islamism does play a larger role in relevant terrorism than religion did in the Troubles, but the situations are still similar.

          • Creutzer says:

            Islamism (political Islam) is an important factor to look at when considering terrorism, but it isn’t inseparable from Islam as a worldwide religion

            Depends on what exactly you mean by that. You can have Islam without Islamism, I suppose, and certainly without terrorism. But Islamism uses Islam as its justification, and it can do that because Islam is a religion with expansionist traits, and so if you cherry-pick the right things, you get a justification for Islamism. Without that justification, Islamists would have rather a harder time doing what they’re doing. “We’re just a random bunch of guys who want to conquer the world” doesn’t sell so well without a religious underpinning.

          • hlynkacg says:

            why are Western terrorists often not very religious?

            For the same reason the most hard-core communists tend to come from comfortable bourgeoisie backgrounds. Terrorism (like activism) is a form of theater.

          • Randy M says:

            If Islam is the main cause of Islamist terrorism, why are Western terrorists often not very religious?

            One reason could be that guilt stemming from their desires or temptations (for illicit sex or whatever unorthodox thing they want) makes absolution through martyrdom more appealing.

            Another may be that these are already people with rage against the west or their own rulers, and their preachers stoke or direct that to advance the political causes of Islam. Whereas the more devout is also more self-controlled and doesn’t feel an anger that helps them take the steps toward violence.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Perhaps your definition of “very religious” is faulty. In people such as ourselves, perhaps that manifests in knowledge of doctrinal minutiae. In others it may manifest in regular church attendance and prayer. In others it manifests in never saying a bad word. Why assume it stops there?

            Did the 15 century lord who alternated between whoring and buying indulgences not believe in his religion, or did he sincerely believe in it, especially the part that said he could get away with the whoring for the right price?

            Your modern terrorist may sincerely believe that he has made a complete hash of his life and done things which he should not have. No surprise that he would then embrace the sincere religious belief that he can wipe that slate clean by killing a bunch of infidels.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @RLMS

            I question the validity of your claim if you’re trying to claim that, for example, the perpetrator of the Pulse night club shooting was not very religious, as opposed to the fact that he either did not display his religious convictions ostentatiously and/or radicalized himself relatively recently before the shooting.

            As for the comparison with Northern Ireland, the situations are only true if you agree with Pan-Arabism and/or Islamism, and see the presence of the US (or the West in general) in ANY Muslim majority country as illegitimate occupation. Even then, if you ascribe that as a major driver, it only explains Islamist terrorism after 2001, and we have decades of examples prior to that.

            Furthermore, I actually DO think that without the religious component that the Troubles would have been less violent and would have ended sooner. Compare the relative size of the OIRA and INLA with the Provos.

            If you are living a relatively comfortable life but are socially alienated, then religious ideology can be a powerfully attractive thing, replacing that sense of alienation with a sense of purpose, and giving you the answers you felt you were missing.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            My first post was marked as spam for some reason, so I’m leaving out the pew link this time, but:

            So, regarding “most Muslims” and “Most Islamist” claims, I was looking into that and I found something interesting. I would have definitely agreed with the claim “Most muslims do not endorse violent jihad”, but the last time I looked into the issue the studies and polls showed substantial minority support in the 15-25% range for Muslims in western countries and the 20-40% range for countries outside the West. The latest pew polls (I had a link, but it got marked as spam) have that number dropping markedly everywhere except Turkey (where it actually went UP) and among Palestinians where it held steady.

            I find that an interesting change. I’m sure that liberals will say “well, since 2006-2008 we’ve disengaged in Iraq and drawn down in Afghanistan, that’s why”, while others will point to ISIS tarnishing the ‘brand’ of violent Islamism. I suspect it’s more the latter than the former myself, but the former probably plays some role too.

            That said, I want to ask if you’re saying “The majority of Islamists are not currently under arms and actively fighting”, or saying “The majority of Islamists do not support violence as a legitimate tactic to advance their agenda”? If you’re saying the former, I agree but don’t think that means much, as the latter tells us much more about the nature of the ideology with respect to promoting/supporting violence.

            If you’re claiming the latter, that the majority of Islamists do not support violence as a legitimate tactic, what forms the basis for that belief? I’d be interested in seeing any surveys specifically covering self-described Islamists/Political Islam/Pan-Islamist adherents, since most of the ones I’m aware of just targeted Muslims in general.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            To follow up (trying to reconstruct the post that got eaten by the spam filter), I actually DO think that the Troubles would have been less violent and lasted a much shorter time without the religious component and history of religious conflict. Compare the relative size and influence of the PIRA post-split with the OIRA and INLA.

            And I would also dispute the claim that ‘western terrorists are not very religious’ if by western terrorists you’re referring to ones like Nidal Hasan, Omar Mateen, the Tsarnaevs, etc. The fact that they A) adopted their radical religious beliefs relatively late in their lives relative to their attacks and/or B) did not live in accordance with their religious beliefs or make a public display of them did not mean that they were not religiously motivated.

    • ChetC3 says:

      They’re afraid that criticism of Islam might inadvertently give aid and comfort to the enemy, ie, right-wing populists.

      • Wander says:

        I’d put my confidence behind this idea. People will go to great lengths to not agree with the outgroup, even if it means siding with an even more disagreeable far-outgroup.

      • Moon says:

        Also, people are afraid that criticism of the entire religion of Islam may result in discrimination toward peaceful Muslims, which would make peaceful Muslims less likely to trust U.S. authorities or to report Muslims who are terrorists.

        It does make sense to have peaceful Muslims on our side, in fighting terrorism. Some have already been killed in hate crimes. And we certainly don’t need any more of that. Our society needs to give peaceful Muslim who are citizens or legal residents, reasons to assimilate and feel comfortable in the U.S.

        • Garrett says:

          (I haven’t yet read the Koran, though I’ve taken a course in comparative religions, so take this with a grain of salt).

          From what I’ve read and heard, the Koran seems awfully similar to the Old Testament – lots of rules, history of a people, glorifying military victory except when it isn’t. In short, something that provides a lot of text to pick-and-choose your underlying conclusion.

          My impression is that what the various cultures surrounding Islam need is their version of the Enlightenment and humanism. Something that upholds intrinsic human value and the search for knowledge. One of the best places for that to occur would in in the Western world, and especially the US. I would hope that such a movement could be created here and then move back to the rest of the islamic world. Whether that will happen, I don’t know.

          I worry about muslims who are in the US already. They certainly face discrimination. Fortunately, this seems to be small-scale, uncoordinated and stamped out when discovered. But it can’t be easy for them.

          • At a slight tangent, there was a rationalist movement (Mutazilite) in Islam in the ninth century, supported by a series of caliphs, most notably al Mamun. It included a pretty serious attempt to purge scholars who held the opposite position and refused to renounce it. But it eventually failed, although some of its ideas probably got incorporated in the winning orthodoxy.

            Interesting to wonder what would have happened if it had won.

    • TheBearsHaveArrived says:

      It being dangerous depends on who and where you are.

      Its probably a bad idea for politicians who have to make great deals with people across the world to offend a deeply held religious belief like that. Tact is nice.

      Its probably a bad idea to criticize the religion as a secular blogger or rock artist in some Islamic countries.

      For someone like Sam Harris, someone who is not a politician and has less restraints, its a good idea for him to criticize the negatives.

      As for the journalists warning, the South Park guys can’t even show muhammad without bomb threats.

      Its probably a good idea to have a muslim ban, or only accept H1-B visas and only the actually brilliant. It seems like every other week there is another major muslim terrorist attack in Europe.

      But how to do so without making some borderline countries more extreme? Good question.

      • rlms says:

        “It seems like every other week there is another major muslim terrorist attack in Europe.”
        It might seem like that, but it isn’t actually so. Maybe you should consider some of the others things that seem like good ideas.

        • Wander says:

          No, most of them are stopped. France has had something like 400 terror plots or connections found and stopped this year. And most of the attacks that do happen are significantly smaller than Bataclan or Bastille day (though as has been discussed in this very blog those outliers are what really matter), and don’t get major international coverage.

          • John Schilling says:

            France has had something like 400 terror plots or connections found and stopped this year.

            Cite?

            And how many of these “plots” are idle banter between two guys without either drive or clue except a third guy overhears them, incites them to some trivial overt act, and turns out to be a government agent/informant looking to run up his score?

          • rlms says:

            According to this, there were 73 terrorist attacks in France in 2015, performed by any group, including both successes and failures. Out of those, only 15 were jihadist (47 separatist, 7 right-wing, the rest unspecified). However, the majority (377 out of 424) of arrests made were of jihadists.

    • lvlln says:

      My view is that it’s just an overactive immune response. The people who call any and all criticisms of Islam “dangerous” are prioritizing the safety and comfort of Muslims within Western society – people they perceive as the oppressed minority – and they perceive criticism of Islam as being a way or a path or a step down the slippery slope to oppressing them further. So they nip it in the bud.

      Obviously this is a very bad heuristic, for it completely ignores nuance and greatly hampers the ability of people to actually discuss solutions to political problems. When both (a) “most Muslims are peaceful, but a relatively small minority of extremists are interpreting Islam in a way that causes great harm and suffering to others (mostly other Muslims), and it behooves us to try to understand why this problem is so unusually severe in Islam if we want to solve it” and (b) “we should suspect all Muslims of being ISIS agents” get responded identically with “That’s dangerous speech, shut up!” we’re in a very very bad situation wrt the discourse.

      • gda says:

        You are of course describing the very narrative of the Obama administration. Eight years of deliberately sticking their head in the sand (or worse, if the rumours of Muslim Brotherhood influence in the administration are anywhere near the mark) are now most decidedly over.

        Trump is filling his administration with military/intelligence guys who were largely ignored and then dumped by the Obama administration, for precisely speaking inconvenient “truth to power”.

        Time for some “Mad Dog”.

  33. carvenvisage says:

    Why is food so cheap? Can I buy a tin of peaches at aldi for 60 cents, (more) because

     

    A) People are suffering or exploited badly somewhere else

    or

    B) Mechanisation, division of labour, streamlinging, economies of scale, make the harvesting, transport, packing, slicing, etc etc, all very cheap?

     

    -How much am I benefiting from other people’s misery as a plain old everyday ‘westener’?

     

    Hopefully someone can give me an idea on this.

    It seems like a really important question, but all I have are a a few observations, theories, and speculations. Which I can’t fit together into a useful basic-logical-framework for the problem, let alone a quantitive grasp of things.

    Halp!

    • onyomi says:

      Factory farming is a big part of why meat is so cheap. And factory farming is arguably highly immoral, if animal suffering has any moral value at all.

      • suntzuanime says:

        He specified “people”.

        • Randy M says:

          Well, to be pedantic he also specified peaches.

          • Randy M says:

            Probably he’s wondering how common are products that are made in sweatshops or how poorly treated are agricultural workers. I don’t want to speak definitively about it without being able to address the whole supply chain, etc.

          • onyomi says:

            Well, I don’t see anything immoral about cheap peaches, though some claim GMOs are bad for you. More importantly, I think, we definitely sacrifice flavor for appearance and durability at most groceries: plants are bred now more for the latter than the former.

            (reposted from above)

            But yes, I understand the question; what I was sort of trying to say was, if you’re worried about the morality of cheap food, I think factory farming is by far more morally problematic than paying undocumented workers low wages under the table to pick fruit.

          • suntzuanime says:

            And what I was trying to say is, not everyone is willing to sell out the human race for the good of the chickens.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            And what I was trying to say is, not everyone is willing to sell out the human race for the good of the chickens.

            Those who are willing have given in to either the Dark Side or The Far Side, I’m not sure which.

          • “I think, we definitely sacrifice flavor for appearance and durability at most groceries”

            True of fresh fruit, but the question was about canned peaches.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @Randy M yes that’s basically what I’m wondering

      • carvenvisage says:

        @Onyomi as it happens I’m a vegetarian. I’m thinking purely in terms of international rather than interspecies transactions.

        I would say good point though- -except for how arrogant that would be on my part, lol.

    • Spookykou says:

      I think among other things, we are really good at shipping now.

      I don’t remember the source, so it could be totally bogus (but hopefully younger me knew not to trust bogus sources)

      But I remember something about the cost to ship cotton from the US to China, turn it into a T-shirt, and ship it back to the US costing a little over a dollar per shirt. Regardless of the factory conditions in china, this sets the cost of shipping something to china and back at way less than I would have thought.

      I think this is a considerable part of the equation, because everything is expensive as hell on Guam because the don’t have easy access to a major shipping port. In fact I imagine prices go up at some proportion with your distance from major shipping ports.

      • carvenvisage says:

        But I remember something about the cost to ship cotton from the US to China, turn it into a T-shirt, and ship it back to the US costing a little over a dollar per shirt. Regardless of the factory conditions in china, this sets the cost of shipping something to china and back at way less than I would have thought.

        Thanks, that’s just the sort of information that I don’t have and wouldn’t think to search for

      • andrewflicker says:

        $1 per shirt is actually more than I would have expected- I work in ecommerce, and I can easily get a container full of something from China for cost-of-goods plus $800, and according to googling you can get about 36,000 shirts in one 40′ container.

        • Spookykou says:

          That was including manufacturing cost, which might well be the bulk of the cost. It might also have been total cost, so including the price of the cotton, I am not sure, in any case as someone with no knowledge of it, it set the price of freight shipping at lower than I had assumed.

        • CatCube says:

          That’s interesting. What’s included in that price? Is it from Chinese port to US port, from Chinese factory to US port, or Chinese factory to your warehouse?

          I knew that shipping a container was cheap, but I didn’t realize it was that cheap.

    • Matt M says:

      “A) People are suffering or exploited badly somewhere else”

      Evaluating this depends on the comparison you use.

      Compared to you and people you are likely to know, third world farmers work crazy hours in backbreaking labor for wages that seem like sustenance (at best) in conditions we would almost certainly consider exploitative.

      But compared to their relevant peers and colleagues their life is – well, average. They are almost certainly better off being able to sell their peaches to Del Monte or whoever than they were before (otherwise, they would simply choose not to sell to Del Monte).

      • carvenvisage says:

        They are almost certainly better off being able to sell their peaches to Del Monte or whoever than they were before (otherwise, they would simply choose not to sell to Del Monte).

        I don’t think that proves anything. If I was a really big shipping or harvesting corporation, then I don’t imagine I would find it too complex to force small scale farmers to sell to me on my terms.

        -Infracstructure on that scale takes a lot of setting up, capital, etc.

        So presumably there would be massive entry costs to the kind of competition that makes supply and demand a decent approximater of value.

        In the absence of which there is only a ridiculous leverage advantage that puts the farmer at hypothetical-me /del monte’s mercy? Or?

        That’s my initial reaction anyway: Why would supply/demand work here, and why wouldn’t power overrule that even if it did?

         

        On the other hand, picking a peach and slicing isn’t actually that much work. 60 cents is roughly 10 minutes at minimum wage where I am, but I could prepare several can-fulls of peaches in that time, -without the benefit of any mechanisation, (with which I imagine each one might be sliced more on the scale of a single second, just positioned and sliced through by an appropriately shaped blade)

        -so without knowing the facts I find it equally plausible that either people are compelled to work unbalancedly hard to inneficiently pack and ship these things, just so I can have things on the other side of the world which don’t naturally grow here*, and live like lords couldn’t 200 years ago, -or that automation + scale simply makes it very straightforward and streamlined.

        So how do you know the peach farmer works ridiculous hours at backbreaking labour? Is it just common knowledge?

        *(if peaches even don’t. no idea. -if not, then mangos or something)

    • dwietzsche says:

      A part of the reason that food is cheap is because the people who do the small scale stuff (picking peaches, putting cans of peaches on the shelf) get paid almost nothing. There are people who get paid more in the supply chain but the stuff they do scales up more. Whether you think people should get paid shit because they merely put cans on shelves depends on your priors.

    • keranih says:

      Modern food production is really a fascinating area, and if you don’t know much at all about how so much safe, nutritious (and fattening, and weird) food is available to the world, man, I envy you, because you have a lot of cool stuff to learn about.

      But the short version is “B”. There are lower-class and low income people (to include both migrants and native-born) working food production in every developed nation. It is true that most of them are working long hours in sometimes harsh weather conditions. But do remember that if those cheap peaches were not available to you, then there would not be any money in producing them. The peaches have been available in cheap cans for longer than a peach tree lives – someone deliberately planted that tree in the expectation of being able to harvest the fruit and sell it to you.

      In the absence of modern global food trade, the poor peasants would be working harder, with poorer tools, with less literacy, fewer material goods (like phones and clean cotton underwear) and the peasants would be more of us. Maybe even you and I.

      Rejoice in your clean cotton underwear, in your washing machine, your cheaply printed paperback book, and your canned peaches. The peasant sure is happy about them.

  34. carvenvisage says:

    @Stellaathena

    My reply re: correspondence theory of truth. In particular this comment.

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/13/open-thread-62-5/#comment-434435

     

    My reply is being eaten for some reason when I post, so I’m now trying a pastebin link (website like imgur but for text):

    http://pastebin.com/KGvsdcB2

    (Accidentally left formatting in, but leaving it like that, as the italics emphasis is important.

  35. carvenvisage says:

    @heelbearcub. Also @moon

    Not sure you will see my reply to you the in last open thread as there’s now a new one, so linking you to it here:

    https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/16/open-thread-62-75/#comment-437235

    • Moon says:

      Carvenvisage, I did find now what you posted on the other thread.

      “you didn’t read what the fuck I said -and honestly ask yourself if it was true or justified, before you launched into your spiel.”

      Yes, I actually did read it, and I actually did ask myself whether it was true or justified, before I replied. I know that there is a lot of distrust between people of different political views here, so I certainly understand why you would think that someone like me, from a different political tribe, who disagrees with you, did not read what you said and think about it. Perhaps you believe what you believe so strongly, that it seems obvious that if I even read what you said, it would be obvious to me that it is true.

      “I don’t even resent that, -everyone’s done it, and my response was unambiguously hostile, and thus a good target for profiling as malicious, but if you’d paid a little critical attention to what I was replying to, or if you’d doublechecked for half a second what the reply was to, you wouldn’t have been shocked into cramming your round spiel into yet another square hole.”

      I am assuming that what you are referring to here are your and my last comments on the thread you were in, when you gave this latest reply. You last statements are unclear, so I don’t know for sure. I am certainly not going to go through some long thread trying to figure it out, if you don’t want to specify exactly what you are referring to. I find myself in the position that I often find myself in, on this board– not willing to go to a whole lot of trouble to understand or communicate with someone who aims insults at me– and who is very clear in their insults, but not so clear in some of their other statements.

      I know that different people are used to different ways of interacting. Perhaps most of the politically related discussion on this board will have to be carried out by those who don’t mind breaking each other’s noses and having their noses broken, metaphorically speaking, over the Internet. Because to some of us, that is not our idea of a civil discussion, so we will end up declining to participate.

      • carvenvisage says:

        Carvenvisage, I did find now what you posted on the other thread.

        It was a direct link so there shouldn’t have been any finding involved but sometimes they don’t work, I find. no pun intended.

         

        Heelbearcub said that Scott wanted nothing more than to ‘crush political correctness’, and widen the overton window. I called this a blatantly dishonest, malicious, micragression, because that’s what it was and is, as I have explained and defended at unnecessarry length. Except perhaps, in retrospect, for the ‘micro’ prefix.

        You jumped in right off the bat with

        Moon says:
        November 20, 2016 at 10:42 am
        Hbc, let me translate for you. “Blatantly dishonest”, “malicious” “stupid”, “irrational” etc. generally mean “Left of Center” on this board.

        You see, since the “correct” position is always pretty far to the Right of Center, in the opinions of most people on this board, a Left of Center position can not be seen as reasonable, honest, well-intentioned etc.

        Politics is tribal. My tribe good, honest, virtuous, smart, strong — no matter what we do or say. Your tribe dishonest, malicious, stupid, weak– no matter what you all do or say.

        See how this works?

         

        Not so much as lifting a pinkie to even contemptfully disdain the possibility that I was pointing something true and important (relativly speaking) out.

        -Not even worth casting aside with an imperious wave of the hand: just launch straight into how this particular anthropoligical specimen has gone so far wrong, and how its failings reflect more broadly on humanity. Ever heard of ‘Bulverism’?

         

        In my brief absence in that comment thread, you followed this up with

        Moon says:
        November 20, 2016 at 12:17 pm
        HBC, okay, let’s ask Carvenvisage to come up with a more credible explanation than mine, for his labeling of your statement as “blatantly dishonest.”

        Don’t hold your breath while waiting to hear from him.

        Moon says:
        November 20, 2016 at 1:59 pm
        Okay, Hbc, I look forward to reading Carvenvisage’s right reasons for his “blatantly dishonest” statement. I am not holding my breath waiting for it, either.

        So spare me your sudden gentility. In the day it took me to get back to the thrad, you and HBC had not only decided I was clearly wrong, -Nothing to see here.

        which would have been fine. -Just garden variety pathetic grasping. But you took it beyond that, below that, and started psychoanalysing why I’d gone so far wrong, and then making loud predictions about how you’d never here from me again, because I’m so obviously a troll or a moron.

        (after only like a day !!)

         

        So, I gave you the explanation, at length, and returned the favour of psychoanalysis. I even explicitly pointed out that this was what I was doing so that you wouldn’t get confused, and I graciously pointed out that my initial comment was hostile, and thus might set off someone to be ruder and stupider than they would otherwise.

        (though of course it’s hard to point out when someone is trying to maintain plausible deniability for bad minded insults without being hostile)

         

        So then you ignore the arguments and proof that, as I said, you jumped the gun: that you were bulvering away -and meanwhile I was right. because that’s what the facts seem, straightforwardly to be.

        And instead start pearl clutching like you hold yourself to genteel and worthy standards of discussion rather than guffawing and gloating about how dumb I was in my (brief) absence, among other things. And as if if I had come out of nowhere with the aggressive psychoanalysing, rather than taken you up on the insults and rudeness you’d offered.

         

        All i can say is that, if you really do have standards of discussion, ones you you seek to uphold, evidence seemingly to the contrary, they are very different indeed than mine.

         

        The debatable things I’ve shown I believe in are:

        calling a malicious insult a malicious insult. (whether it be subtle and carefully couched or not),

        responding to like, with like.

         

        Whereas you apparently believe in:

        Whining about things you’re guiltier of than others, and who the person you’re complaining about is not guilty of.

        gloating and guffawing about the wrongness-of before so much as engaging, let alone showning to be wrong

        forming a quick 2 person consensus that a third person is obviously wrong, the minute they pop out and aren’t there to contradict you. (or is it, perhaps even, that you would do so right in front of someone?)

         

        You also accuse me of being unclear in that thread, and say that I didn’t bother to point you to the thread. The hyperlink’s formatting is clearly to a comment, so again we have a case of you making a wrong snap-assumption, and building on that foundation of quicksand, but it may be an honest mistake, and I don’t know if that’s fair to point out, but why shouldn’t I, when dealing with something with such communication norms as yours?

        You also say ‘I’m not so clear in my other statements’.

        Without specifying which statements you mean, so I can, y’know, find them and defend them? Very broad of you. Really living up to those high standards.

        • Moon says:

          I hear that you’re very angry with me. If I hurt your feelings, I apologize.

          It is hard for me to keep track of individuals on the board. It’s not like in person, where you have a face and a voice to get used to. Some people here dish out a lot of abuse. It sure looks to me like liberals receive the majority of the abuse. Some people dish it out a lot, and are hard as nails and can take it when someone slams them back. And some people can dish it out but can’t take it.

          I can’t see any point in trying to have/continue this discussion, since slinging insults and blame back and forth is unappealing to me. I think blame and shame are rarely useful– especially not in discussions.

          I hope for you to have a happy Thanksgiving. After all, your guy won, so I guess you have reason to be happy.

          • carvenvisage says:

            I’m Not particularly happy that trump won. Mostly just scared. It’s like electing Nero’s horse: Great protest value, (imo necessarry), but dangerous for everybody.

             

            My (probably highly biased) perception of abuse-ratios is that the two recent bans are pretty representative: Earthly knight was banned for two weeks for almost literally constant belittling talking down to and demeaning people over days if not a week or more. On the other side of the aisle some commenter who’s username I’ve never noticed before got a three month ban for a single comment calling HBC an evil stupid communist.

            Certainly the latter is more directly characteristic of the term ‘abusiveness’, but imo the former is clearly way more harmful, and requires much more bad faith.

            But it’s Scotts rules and he’s in favor of niceness and kindness, -gentle sounding things, not something more generic like ‘fidelity’, or indeed something with an opposite emphasis, like ‘honour’.

            So you cant say Scott hasn’t given people at least a little warning to be wary of more open /direct forms of hostility.

             

            I think answering claims that accompany social aggression without answering/pointing out the social aggression is pretty terrible in the long run, and it’s easier to just sigh and move on rather than challenging (conversational) aggression.

            And doing so often requires venturing out on the shaky ground of two out of three, having thrown kindness temporarily to the side.

            But I think this is good and healthy: without people occasionally taking umbridge at subtle (or not so subtle) rudeness, -and putting their case forth for people to judge for themselves, there’s no way to avoid an equilibrium where needling people is free social leverage- disincentive for people to disagree with you: so at some point you have to point out that you think a thing is a needle -and people will need to judge whether it is or not.

            (imo, ymmv)

             

             

            Anyway, May you live long and prosper, and I hope life finds you well.

  36. Brad says:

    Is this whole wave of “centrists” or whatever you want to call them, exhorting people to be nice to Trump voters and quit calling them deplorables a form a political correctness? If so, is Trump’s war against political correctness going to include them as targets?

    • Moon says:

      It’s not Centrists. It’s mostly liberals, 99% of whom have always acted like doormats. It’s why we got Trump, and why resistance to him will be weak and ineffectual– tweets, FB rants, poorly organized very brief demonstrations with vague goals, and comediy shows making jokes about things that are tragic, not comic.

      • DrBeat says:

        If you think that we got Trump because liberals were too doormat-like in not standing up against Trump, you really are on the goddamned Moon.

        “I didn’t get the thing I wanted” does not logically mean “the people who could have got me what I wanted were insufficiently loyal and acted like doormats”. You know who thinks it does? Donald Trump.

        • dwietzsche says:

          I generally think Obama did alright as a president, given the circumstances, but he also held out for eight years in hope of some kind of across the aisle reconciliation that he should have figured out wasn’t going to happen at least by the end of his first term. In the meantime the share of Democratic seats in state and federal government dropped. Those things are not unrelated to each other.

          • Wrong Species says:

            What did you expect Obama to do? He didn’t have control of the Legislative branch for over his Presidency. Not only that but he also used plenty of executive power.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            he also held out for eight years in hope of some kind of across the aisle reconciliation

            Is that why he rammed through his health-care plan using parliamentary gimmickry and then spent the rest of his two terms trolling the Republicans on Twitter? Odd sort of way to reach for reconciliation, but I guess we all have our own path to follow.

          • dwietzsche says:

            I think there’s been a comprehensive global failure on the left to even try to justify itself on policy grounds. Partly that’s because the sense of sudden victory in the culture wars, but there are a bunch of other factors, including the contemporary structure of left media opinion, which spends almost no time whatsoever talking about economic issues. Hillary Clinton was in many ways worse than Trump on that front. She couldn’t credibly win over the left in her own party, because everyone knew she wasn’t really interested in Sanders style economic reforms. But she also shied away from trying to convince people that open borders/free trade were good things worth fighting for, knowing that it would alienate her base and not win over anyone to her right. And that meant that she had to rely on a bunch of arguments that have nothing to do with her specific designs for power. In the aftermath of this election, most of the left seems to continue on in that trajectory. Just mindless hateblogging everywhere.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            The budget deal following the 2010 election seems like the sort of thing Obama could have been doing with the Republicans all along, if he’d been more interested in that sort of thing.

        • dwietzsche says:

          Will only add that I have no interest in getting into a debate about whether Obama was fair to Congress or a big meanie. I’ll just say “Merrick Garland” and rest my case.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      Is that wave of centrists arguing that people who aren’t being nice to Trump should be fired/excluded from polite society/attacked in the streets?

      More generally, I’m a Trump voter. What do you think the appropriate way to treat me is?

      • Brad says:

        More generally, I’m a Trump voter. What do you think the appropriate way to treat me is?

        Well, what do you think? Shall I emulate your choice for President and come up with a nasty nickname for your handle? Mock any attribute that I suspect you might feel insecure about? Try to rile up the crowd against you?

        Granted I’m not very good at these sorts of things, but if it is the thing to do, I can give it the old college try.

        • Moon says:

          Brad, if you are not a liberal, please do join the cause. We need a few more liberals who can dish out back to conservatives, the kind of treatment that conservatives dish out constantly.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Brad – “Well, what do you think? Shall I emulate your choice for President and come up with a nasty nickname for your handle? Mock any attribute that I suspect you might feel insecure about? Try to rile up the crowd against you?”

          I voted for a president, not for standards of civil behavior. If you’d be kind enough to inform me on when that election is held, I’ll be sure to vote in it as well. In any case, your tribe does not seem to have much of a problem with those behaviors, now or before the election, so I’m not sure what exactly the election is supposed to have changed.

          I expected Hillary to win, and had resigned myself to that fact. I am sorry that the results of the election did not go the way you wanted, but I do not believe you have the right to tell me who to vote for, or to threaten to punish me for my vote. I can appreciate that you do not want to live in a country with people like me; the feeling is at least somewhat mutual. The question is, how do we live together in peace? If you think the answer to that question is to double-down on the double-down of the double-downed abuse toward people who disagree with you, then probably you should do what you feel you need to do. We’ll see how it goes, I guess. As Moon and Earthly Knight have demonstrated, you will find no shortage of boon companions.

          If you want to talk, talk. If you want to fight, fight.

          • Brad says:

            If you want to talk, talk. If you want to fight, fight.

            I’m going to be over here trying to avoid being mauled by the pack of rabid dogs you helped unleash. There’s nothing at all you can do to corral them for at least two and probably four years. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

    • stillnotking says:

      Is this whole wave of “centrists” or whatever you want to call them, exhorting people to be nice to Trump voters and quit calling them deplorables a form a political correctness?

      Most people taking that position seem to have pragmatic reasons: it’s rather hard for Democrats to win elections while calling ~50% of the electorate deplorable. One can oppose a politician without implicating his supporters — that’s the traditional approach, in fact.

      Personally, I’d suggest they stop because it’s absurd to believe that very many Trump voters were acting out of any kind of malice, so niceness should be extended to them by default. Not sure if that counts as political correctness, but I’m told that it is synonymous with politeness, so I guess it would.

      • Moon says:

        Yeah, I’m really motivated to be nice to the supporters of the candidate who threatened to put my candidate in jail, during the presidential debate, although there were no charges against her, much less proof of any wrongdoing. And he never took that statement back, as Hillary did take the deplorable statement back.

        You’re lucky most liberals are doormat types, but I am not. I will treat you no better than you treat me.

        A lot of Trump voters are very sore winners– expecting everyone to walk around on eggshells around them.

        • stillnotking says:

          In the first place, I’m a Clinton voter and a lifelong liberal.

          In the second place, Scott and SSC try to keep things somewhat objective and dispassionate. I realize that can be hard; it’s less of a problem for those who are capable of subtle insults.

          Finally, we were talking about voters, not candidates. Pretty much everyone who votes for a major-party nominee has some level of disagreement or disapproval. The nature of partisan politics is that no one gets exactly what they want. So we can’t start these discussions from the presumption that voting for a candidate indicates endorsement of everything the candidate said. That simply isn’t how politics works.

          • Moon says:

            Many Trump voters have come out and said that they voted for Trump because he would take a wrecking ball to the country, and he might destroy it, but that was okay with them. Surveys show that many of them hate Hillary, which I imagine to be a response to fake news.

            Oh, and what a horrible statement I made above toward Trump voters ” I will treat you no better than you treat me.” I can understand why you had such a problem with it.

            How could Trump voters ever handle such cruel treatment, as to be treated the same way they treat others?

          • Moon says:

            And as for talking about voters, not candidates, I would grant you that point in most political races, but in this one DT consistently acted like a bully. So the people who voted for him, voted for someone who consistently acts like a bully. I’m not inclined to go to great trouble to be polite toward such people.

            If any of those voters are as thin skinned as their candidate, then that’s their problem, not mine.