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Open Thread 69.75

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

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714 Responses to Open Thread 69.75

  1. Anonalous says:

    Today, Trump reversed the federal instruction to public schools to allow transgender students to use whatever bathroom aligned with their gender identity. (Shouldn’t it be sex identity or something? Clarity of terms is a long lost cause on this issue.) My first thought after hearing this was to double check that it wasn’t being misinterpreted and exaggerated, as is so often the case, but it does seem that Trump has gone against his prior comments on trans bathrooms issues (I believe he once stated that he felt Caitlyn Jenner could use whatever bathroom she wanted).

    My second thought was that I couldn’t really come up with a good argument against the guidelines, even though I have my share of doubt in social issues like this. As far as I can tell, there’s an apparent gain to be made by allowing bathroom choice, in terms of mental health among transgender students, and no apparent loss aside from breach of tradition (which is certainly enough for some, but I don’t think it holds up in debate).

    However, I’ve been consistently surprised by the quality of arguments from conservative intellectuals (is blue-tribe conservative a good description?), especially in this comment section. I’d rather not mentally shelve the issue until I hear the opposing view, so does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • The Nybbler says:

      He didn’t reverse it, he just withdrew it.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Potato – pahtahto.

        • John Nerst says:

          Just hijacking this comment for a language question: Isn’t it to-may-toe, to-mah-toe? Nobody says po-tah-toe, right?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The Gershwins seemed to think either (or either) was a good example.

            But I don’t think the different pronunciations are common anymore, with potato or tomato.

          • mk says:

            As a speaker of Commonwealth English, I can attest there is a distinction between how North American English speakers say to-may-toe and we say to-mah-toe.

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            Yes, as far as I know po-tah-toe is an analogy to to-mah-toe that was invented by the Gershwins for comic effect.

        • The Nybbler says:

          No, not the same. Reversing it would mean giving positive guidance that the DoE thinks you go into bathrooms according to your birth certificate.

    • James Miller says:

      This issue is better decided by states than the federal government. Part of the United States surviving is letting blue and red states have their separate way on cultural issues as much as is practically possible.

      • Warren says:

        This.

        The perception is that there is zero social cost for having this kind of rule is incorrect. The cost is that 50% of the country gets infuriated by what they perceive as the government imposing progressive micromanagement of sexual norms. This causes blowback that could be avoided.

        • The cost is that 50% of the country gets infuriated by what they perceive as the government imposing progressive micromanagement of sexual norms.

          Do you think it’s as low as 50%?

          • Warren says:

            You are right. Its probably higher by a non-trivial factor.

          • valiance says:

            It’s more than 50%? Why? How many people care strongly about this issue? I mean only half the country voted and only half of those voted for Trump. How many non-Trump voters are really exercised about transgender bathrooms?

          • I don’t know–I don’t have data. But my impression from living in America is that the norm of “guys don’t go into the women’s room” is very widespread and fairly strong. I would be unlikely to use the women’s room of a restaurant even if the men’s room was in use and I was pretty sure the women’s room was single use with a lock. Much more unlikely in the relevant case, where a woman could come into the room while I was using it.

            And my impression is that parents feel more strongly about that sort of thing for their kids than for themselves.

            Most people feel strongly about being pushed around, which is how it feels if word comes down from on high that your institutions must support a deliberate violation of your norms.

            I don’t think the same would be true if the rule was limited to post-op transsexuals, but it wasn’t. As best I understand it, all a man had to do to be permitted to go into the women’s room was say that he felt himself to be a woman.

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            The taboo appears to be very strong. I’ve been in a group of men person turning lights off in a building before, and can verify that out of a group of 5 men, at least 4 will express a their hesitation to violate the taboo about going into the a multi-stall women’s restroom, to verify its empty and turn the lights out in a building that is known to be otherwise empty.

        • skef says:

          States still have governments, and are still decidedly “macro”.

        • Deiseach says:

          Exactly. How accommodating would those in favour of unisex/gender neutral bathrooms be about a federal law that imposed on all states the requirement to re-introduce gender-segregated bathrooms if they had done away with them? I’d bet we’d see all sorts of arguments why this was tyranny and why individual states should be allowed set their own policies on matters like this.

        • Nyx says:

          Uh, it is precisely the opposite. The government here is telling schools not to micromanage the toilet etiquette of their students. It’s the conservatives here who want to institute Restroom Commissars and random genitalia checks, not even because they really care about what chromosomes are in their bathrooms, but because the liberals said they weren’t allowed to.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Maybe I misread the situation but as I understood it the Government order being rescinded moves the question back to state/municipal level which is the exact opposite of micromanaging.

            The idea of “Restroom Commissars” is also a borderline straw-man. The conservative position is that “There is an existing social norm where public restrooms, showers, etc… are segregated by gender and we’d like to keep it” If you want to argue for unisex facilities on their own merits that is fine, but saying that trans-people should be allowed violate social norms is not going to promote public acceptance of trans-people, just the opposite in fact.

          • rahien.din says:

            hlynkacg,

            saying that trans-people should be allowed violate social norms is not going to promote public acceptance of trans-people.

            IE : if trans-people want to promote their acceptance, they should try not to violate social norms

            This sentiment seems noble, but it is a false choice.

            EG : an XX-chromosomed post-transition trans-man needs to use the public restroom. His only options are gendered. His choices are :
            – Use the men’s room, and violate the “norm” of using the restroom designated for one’s chromosomes
            – Use the women’s room, and violate the norm of using the restroom designated for one’s appearance

            The choice is not “violate norm vs do not violate norm.” It is “violate norm of your choice vs do not use the restroom.”

          • The Nybbler says:

            @rahien.din

            Nobody can see your chromosomes (believe me, I’ve been in a lot of men’s rooms and NEVER had to show a karyotype), so there’s no worry about norms there. Even if there was such a norm, the issue of a norm that no one but you knows is broken can’t be resolved by government action.

          • John Schilling says:

            – Use the men’s room, and violate the “norm” of using the restroom designated for one’s chromosomes

            The norm predates the discovery of the chromosome by centuries, and as implemented in practice assigned rest rooms according to one’s perceived gender identity. Modulo possible differences in perception between the various people trying to use the same rest room at the same time, that is what I understand most transgender people to have been asking for all along.

            The bit with the chromosomes and/or birth certificates is not a norm, but a pedantic legalism introduced when some people started saying, “we’re going to dance all over your fuzzy-bordered ‘norm’ and maybe wave our hairy penises in your daughter’s faces and you can’t stop us!”

            Turns out, sometimes they can stop you.

          • skef says:

            The norm predates the discovery of the chromosome by centuries

            Seems wrong on the facts and anyway misleading on the merits.

            Let’s make the date the discovery of the link between the Y-chromosome and sex determination, which was in 1905.

            Before the late 1800s the West was protecting women from men in bathrooms by not having any public facilities for them at all. Women out of the house would have to get creative. Private facilities weren’t typically sex-specific, just as they aren’t now.

            Even sex-specific men’s bathrooms were apparently a Victorian innovation, and part of a general trend of making all sorts of spaces sex-specific. So not centuries.

          • JulieK says:

            The government here is telling schools not to micromanage the toilet etiquette of their students

            Schools micro-manage many aspects the toilet etiquette of their students already.
            When I was in 7th grade, you couldn’t use the bathroom during the 3-minute break between classes. The only way to use the bathroom was to get a pass during class from the teacher. You had to show that pass to the adult sitting in the hall in front of the bathroom (and IIRC, write your name in a notebook). This did succeed in preventing bullying and smoking in the bathroom.

          • Aapje says:

            @skef

            It seems to me that your facts show that public restrooms have been gender-restricted way before the the late 1800’s, they just weren’t offered for women routinely until then.

            PS. Does anyone know whether the Roman latrines were gender segregated?

          • rahien.din says:

            Nybbler,

            the issue of a norm that no one but you knows is broken can’t be resolved by government action.

            False : birth certificates.

            John Schilling,

            The norm predates the discovery of the chromosome by centuries, and as implemented in practice assigned rest rooms according to one’s perceived gender identity. The bit with the chromosomes and/or birth certificates is not a norm, but a pedantic legalism

            We don’t disagree. That’s why I described a chromosomal “norm” vs appearance-based norm. Sheesh.

            That legalism was perpetrated when some people started saying, “we’re going to dance all over your fuzzy-bordered ‘norm’ and maybe wave our hairy penises in your daughter’s faces and you can’t stop us!”

            By these laws, post-transition XX trans-men with hairy penises are required to use the same restroom as our/your/somebody’s daughters.

            The people clutching their pearls and claiming to protect that essential social norm are enacting laws that require violation of that very norm.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ rahien.din
            This thread sort of blew up while I was gone, so I apologize if it feels like I’m dogpiling but I’d like to address your initial reply…

            So long as we have a norm of gender-segregated bathrooms the presence of a “man” in “the ladies’ room” is going to be source of comment/concern and vice versa.

            The norm of “using the restroom designated for one’s chromosomes” is a weak/straw-man. The norm is what gender do you present as?” or more strictly “what are you packing between your legs?”. If a Trans-woman can’t pass for female it stands to reason that they are presenting as male and can thus avoid violating social norms simply by using the men’s room. It’s not like we ask effeminate gay men to use the women’s restroom, or butch lesbians to use the men’s (though perhaps we should).

          • skef says:

            @Aajpe

            I said that gender-specific men’s bathrooms were a Victorian innovation. That also puts them in the 1800s.

            Poking around, this link indicates that Roman public bathrooms where not segregated. (This is for people who weren’t peeing in the pots on random street corners.) The controversy back then was over mixed bathing, with phases when it was fine and phases when it was discouraged. (I won’t link to wikipedia on this for filter reasons.) I would say that mixed bathing is generally accepted these days.

          • rahien.din says:

            hlynkacg,

            The norm of “using the restroom designated for one’s chromosomes” is a weak/straw-man. The norm is what gender do you present as?

            I agree that gender presentation is the social norm, and the one we want all to protect.

            But that is not the norm ensconced in laws that use the birth certificate to identify a person’s sex.

            If you segregate bathrooms based on birth certificate sex, then you are segregating based on the appearance of the genetalia at birth. If the person’s appearance, adult genitalia, and gender identification are allowed to play no role, then this amounts to segregation by chromosome.

            Ergo, these laws explicitly disallow the consideration of such worthwhile norms as “what gender do you present as?” or “what are you packing between your legs?”

            (Huevos doces aside.)

          • Evan Þ says:

            On the other hand, one benefit of looking at birth certificates is they can be easily checked without actually looking at a person’s genitals and priming a media firestorm.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Nobody brings their birth certificates to public restrooms (except perhaps at the DMV), and those who actually get their plumbing reworked can have their birth certificate gender changed also (according to Wikipedia, except in four states, none of which is North Carolina)

            Edit: This was aimed at rahien.din, not Evan Þ; the point is that birth certificates are a better proxy for “what’s between your legs” than is implied, and that matching your bathroom use to your birth certificate may or may not be a law, but it isn’t a norm. Norms are socially enforced and the people in and around the bathroom won’t ever see your birth certificate.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Okay, perhaps “easily” wasn’t the best word. How about “conclusively”?

          • rahien.din says:

            Nybbler,

            birth certificates are a better proxy for “what’s between your legs” than is implied

            A post-transition XX trans-man whose birth certificate says “female” needs to use the public restroom in North Carolina. A unisex bathroom is not available.

            Which one do we think he should use according to social norms? Which one is he allowed to use according the law? If those are not the same thing, does the law achieve its stated purpose of protecting the social norm?

            Nobody brings their birth certificates to public restroom
            Straw argument. (You know better than that.)

            Those who actually get their plumbing reworked can have their birth certificate gender changed, except, pertinently, in North Carolina
            Self-refuting.

            matching your bathroom use to your birth certificate may or may not be a law, but it isn’t a norm
            Correct. Hence the initial scare-quotes.

          • John Schilling says:

            Which one do we think he should use according to social norms?

            The men’s room, if he’s doing even a half-assed job of passing for a man.

            Which one is he allowed to use according the law?

            The women’s room, if the law were to be enforced in that case, which it almost certainly wouldn’t.

            If those are not the same thing, does the law achieve its stated purpose of protecting the social norm?

            The law fails to protect the social norm in the case of the transman who wants to use the men’s room. The law succeeds in protecting the social norm in the case of the cis-male pervert who got caught harassing cis-women in the women’s room and tries to play the “…but I’m really a transwoman and you should be praising my bravery instead of punishing my transgression” card. Since there are more cis-male sexual predators than trans-anythings, and since the law can be easily enforced against the predators but will mostly be ignored when quietly violated by the transgendered, it may be a net social good.

            A law allowing common sense would be better, but if you disallow common sense in favor of The Govenment Shall Tell You Exactly How To Deal With The Transgendered, Because We Don’t Trust You Bigots To Do It Right, this is one of the things that falls out of that.

          • rahien.din says:

            John Schilling,

            If our goal is to prevent/police sexual harassment, maybe we should instead pass a law against sexual harassment – OH WAIT.

            Moreover, you’re implicitly assuming trans-people would never sexually harass members of their own gender. What happens then? Do you send the pervert trans-woman back to the men’s restroom? Do you tell her she can never use the restroom in public, ever again? Preposterous.

            We cannot restrict the rights of a class of people merely because those rights would (theoretically) be abused by fraudulent people not of that class. That is a spectacularly bad idea.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Those who actually get their plumbing reworked can have their birth certificate gender changed, except, pertinently, in North Carolina

            That is not what I said. That is the opposite of what I said. I said there were four exceptions, none of which was North Carolina. In North Carolina you can get your birth certificate gender changed after sex reassignment surgery.

          • rahien.din says:

            Nybbler,

            My mistake. Consider it retracted.

          • Nyx says:

            A law allowing common sense would be better, but if you disallow common sense in favor of The Govenment Shall Tell You Exactly How To Deal With The Transgendered, Because We Don’t Trust You Bigots To Do It Right, this is one of the things that falls out of that.

            No, instead you want The Government Will Tell You Exactly How To Go To The Bathroom, Because You’re Clearly Just An Evil Pervert, And It’s Fine, If You Are Not An Evil Pervert, Feel Free To Ignore This Law And We Promise That We Won’t Use This Law To Ruin Your Life For Going To The Toilet. Talk about using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. You’d think conservatives would be skeptical about massive over-reach of government power, about how overcriminalization gives government officials huge discretion to ruin people’s lives if they don’t like them (and there are lots of people out there who don’t like transsexuals), about pervasive regulation reaching into every part of our lives.

            The bottom line is that we don’t need any law. The kind of sexual harassment that conservatives are so terrified of is not only illegal but is punished with incredible severity. The only reason conservatives want a law is because liberals said they couldn’t have one, for ignoble reasons admittedly, but that doesn’t make the law any more reasonable.

          • multiheaded says:

            The law succeeds in protecting the social norm in the case of the cis-male pervert who got caught harassing cis-women in the women’s room and tries to play the “…but I’m really a transwoman and you should be praising my bravery instead of punishing my transgression” card.

            Except that the above never fucking happens, y’all. You are ridiculous concern trolls.

          • Garrett says:

            As an observation, I think there are two different sets of concerns going on here:

            The first is around treating trans-gendered people with care and compassion. Although certain people are likely to be uncomfortable, at the adult level I think most people are willing to tolerate a certain level of awkwardness for the dignity of others. That having been said: to transmen (and women who may be in the men’s room), don’t talk to guys who are sitting on the commode.

            The second is how this might be exploited. What would stop a man from rules-lawyering and claiming to be a transwomen so that they can ogle women in the changing room or similar. I personally believe that the greatest amount of concern is over this issue. This is why single-stall unisex bathrooms appear to be a solution that conservatives are generally okay with.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I think most people are willing to tolerate a certain level of awkwardness for the dignity of others.

            Why is “dignity” so much higher up the scale than avoidance of “awkwardness”? That is, why should 99+% of the population be made uncomfortable for the comfort of < 1%?

            That's worst case, of course, since a lot of, perhaps most, cis people aren't going to be bothered by having a non-passing trans person in the same bathroom. But those who are are _still_ likely to be a much larger group than trans- people.

          • dndnrsn says:

            What happens to cis women who ogle other women in washrooms? What happens to cis men who ogle other men in washrooms? “Person belongs here” does not equal “they can do anything in here with impunity.”

          • Jiro says:

            What happens to cis women who ogle other women in washrooms? What happens to cis men who ogle other men in washrooms? “Person belongs here” does not equal “they can do anything in here with impunity.”

            By that reasoning, women should be fine with cis men in women’s bathrooms as long as they don’t do any ogling. Obviously, they’re not fine with it.

            Arguing that the norm is based on bad behavior, and therefore that having trans women with penises in the women’s room is okay as long as they don’t behave badly, misunderstands the norm.

          • rahien.din says:

            Why is “dignity” so much higher up the scale than avoidance of “awkwardness”?

            The former is a purpose of the law. The latter is not. The law is not there to protect your tender sensibilities – that is why we have nosegays and fainting couches.

            Why should 99+% of the population be made uncomfortable for the dignity of < 1%?

            Your math is incomplete.

            For one, this is not the proper examination of that probability. If 1% of the population is trans (generous) and the full remainder is awkward around trans-people, then the probability of an awkward encounter is 0.99*0.01=0.0099. The more rare trans-people are, the less effect they have on everybody else, and therefore, the less strong is your claim that 99% of Americans would endure some ill effect as the result of a chance encounter.

            To put it another way : if awkwardness times potentially affected populace is a basis for law, then consider Eric Sprague, whose appearance is far more awkard than a trans-person’s. There is only one of him, meaning that 99.9997% of Americans are potentially affected by his entry into a public restroom. Should we ban Eric Sprague from public restrooms?

            For two, this awkwardness is time-limited. People used to feel very awkward sharing restrooms with black people, or with homosexuals. But not any longer, because exposure to that awkward situation decreases the awkwardness. If we allow trans-people into public bathrooms as proposed, then the negative utility of that awkwardness is finite. If we effectively ban trans-people from public bathrooms then the negative utility for trans-people is non-finite.

            So either proper way to examine effect size – based on prevalance, or based on time duration – weakens your claim substantially. The claim is weakened further when we recognize that trans-people are likely to congregate in areas that could easily be avoided, and when we recognize that not everyone is so easily affronted as you seem to be.

            Why do I have to care about their dignity more than my own personal comfort in this fleeting interaction?

            Enduring some awkwardness in order to preserve the dignity of others is simply what grown-ups do.

          • dndnrsn says:

            By that reasoning, women should be fine with cis men in women’s bathrooms as long as they don’t do any ogling. Obviously, they’re not fine with it.

            They wouldn’t be women’s bathrooms any more then, would they? The group “men who would use a gender-neutral washroom if that’s all there was” is far, far larger than “men who would claim to be trans to creep on women.” A few cases of the former may exist but it is probably not a smart tactic as far as being a creeper goes – it will probably result in more attention coming to the fact that you were creeping in a washroom.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The law is not there to protect your tender sensibilities – that is why we have nosegays and fainting couches.

            Dignity is as much about “tender sensibilities” as is awkwardness.

            If we effectively ban trans-people from public bathrooms

            This proposal is not on the table. No one is saying that trans people can’t use a public bathroom; the issue is about _which one_.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            There’s a lot about this discussion that is the equivalent of slipping A = !A into a system of formal logic. Starting with a fairly trivial desired outcome, one ends up demanding that the almost universal norm towards single-sex bathrooms be eliminated, or that women just stop being uncomfortable with the idea of men in a bathroom they’re using, or that every building in the country be retrofitted with individual bathrooms at tremendous expense.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            wave our hairy penises in your daughter’s faces

            That would take some choreography worth watching. If the girl is (for simplicity) five feet tall, the boy would have to be quite talented (or unusually tall) to get his penis to that height.

            Hm, if another boy is at the same time hunched down on the floor for the purpose of peeping under a stall door, perhaps the waver could stand on the back of the peeper.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Maybe you are not a native English speaker, or maybe you take things too literally, or maybe you are just being difficult, but this is an extremely common idiom.

            https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/in%E2%80%93your%E2%80%93face

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Edward Scizorhands

            The terms ‘eat dirt’ and ‘stuff down our throats’ are obviously not meant literally, and their emotional connotation is faint. ‘Wave our hairy penises in your daughter’s faces’ is brilliant Dark Arts rhetoric. It gives a picture that can be taken literally, until you zoom back and see that it’s impossible. I may sound like I’m quibbling, as a boy exposing himself is possible, but the emotional effect of the impossible picture remains. There’s an elegant interplay among literal and figurative and the Webster’s definition (by which the fact of the boy being in the room at all can be seen as ‘aggressively intrusive’, no matter how retiring his behavior) — and finally there’s a choice of mottes.

            Since this discussion is winding down, I’ll state my overall position. The trans person gives (if possible) a note from zis doctor to the principal/school counselor, who applies common sense. Hopefully each school (or each state) will adopt something agreeable to all parties; but if not, since a child can’t move to a different area, the federal government might step in. My priority is to protect the trans child.

        • Kevin C. says:

          @Warren

          “The cost is that 50% of the country gets infuriated by what they perceive as the government imposing progressive micromanagement of sexual norms. This causes blowback that could be avoided.”

          So what if “50% of the country” is infuriated? They’re a bunch of ignorant deplorables who need “educated” in the right way of doing things, and are the losing side of the “culture war” anyway. Any “blowback” will be comparatively feeble and can be weathered, and besides, serves as evidence of just what awful, awful people they are and as justification for whatever measures are necessary to suppress them.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Not helpful mate.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            What hlynkacg said. Doing it once makes a point. Doing it repeatedly is trolling.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @hlynkacg, @Edward Scizorhands

            Look, I keep seeing people, like Warren here, (particularly people who are more on my side of the tribal conflict) making arguments of the form ‘the Left needs to stop doing these things because they’ll make (us) Silent Majority angry and create “backlash”‘, and this is not a good argument, because it matters who is making whom angry, and the disparities of power between them. For one, I’ve been hearing this sort of argument my entire adult life, and yet, the supposed “backlash” rarely actually happens, and when it does, it’s a feeble thing that accomplishes nothing. Anger only matters if it can be meaningfully acted upon. If the only thing your enemy can do is stew impotently in their resentment, why not do things that will piss them off?

            Not to mention the attempts to argue a “live and let live” compromise via Federalism or otherwise; you do your thing in your territories and we do our thing in ours. First, a look at history shows that “live and let live” isn’t really a thing (yet another reason why libertarians will always be a tiny minority of the population), not like “convert the heathen” is a thing. To the extent that “live and let live” has arisen, it did so mostly via a détente between roughly equally-matched sides with neither one able to subjugate the other; it definitely doesn’t happen when one side has proven decisively victorious over the other in the “culture war”.

            And consider, would you be in favor of, say, federalism on the issue of slavery? Of live-and-let-live on a religion practicing human sacrifice? Would you defend the “right” of a tribe of cannibal raiders to continue to eat people on the grounds of ‘it’s their culture and they get to practice their ways on their territory”? No. We all accept there are issues where “live and let live” is not acceptible, practices that one must fight not only in one’s own state and culture, but where it is right and proper to impose upon others to stamp them out. We just all “draw the line” in different places, and I seek to remind my fellows when and where needed that for a lot of relatively influental people and institutions, we’re on the wrong side of that line.

            How is this critique of a faulty argument, and thus of the misguided tactics it encourages, not helpful?

          • skef says:

            @Kevin C, are you on a side or not? Because I’m pretty sure I’ve also heard you say that the right doesn’t have much sympathy for or interest in how you think things should be either. So maybe you’re the one guy who has it all figured out or maybe you’re a crank; I wonder how you judge that for yourself. But if you never see things swinging back your way, maybe that’s just because no one on either side really wants it to.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @skef

            “are you on a side or not?”

            Well the mainstream American conservative “Right” is closer to me politically (and much more my tribe culturally) than the Left. If only in the sense that 10 is closer to -10 than 12 is. I very much prefer the mainstream “Right” to the mainstream “Left”; it’s just that I don’t think they can win; there is no hope, all is lost, et cetera, et cetera.

          • skef says:

            @Kevin C

            Then maybe you can’t [see] the movements back and forth given your distance from them?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Skef

            (First, I think you accidentally omitted a verb.)

            “movements back and forth”

            I do, in fact see movements, but they look pretty unidirectional, at least over the longer term.

          • skef says:

            @Kevin C

            I can see a kind of movement that is consistently away from what I think, given your contributions here, you see as a “starting point” (although I’m dubious about that point when it comes to the specifics). But that movement seems more determined by the sort of things Ellul discusses (in this book that I read because it was posted in the comments on this site earlier) than by politics. This whole dynamic about winning and losing (and “cucks” for that matter) overstates the influence of these positions on day to day life, where change is much more driven by what becomes possible and then becomes expected of us.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @skef

            “I can see a kind of movement that is consistently away from what I think, given your contributions here”

            My core view is that whatever the cause of this movement, it’s clearly for the worse. It’s incompatible with the long-term survival of human civilization, and it threatens the annihilation of my “tribe”, my culture, and everything I value and consider good in this world. It looks like the unstoppable permanent triumph of evil, Satan winning Armageddon, if you will.

            Consider whatever worldview or political system you consider most evil, most inimical to everything and everyone you hold dear. Now imagine living in a world where such a system has been steadily growing for centuries, and now looks like it will utterly conquer the whole of the world, and destroy permanently, beyond any hope of recovery, everything you value, and that there’s literally nothing anyone can do to stop it. Evil wins absolutely forever, and all is lost. In such a situation, how do you react? What do you do? Because that’s pretty much how I see our world.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @Kevin C.

            We all have our hobby horses. But it’s important not to be that guy who just has one post that he rephrases over and over and over. We all get that you think all is lost and our doom is assured. It may well need to be said, but it probably doesn’t need to be said more than 3 times on a given open thread.

          • skef says:

            @Kevin C

            I understand, but if you really stand alone on this stuff, you still face the “am I a crank?” problem. What if you got everything you wanted and it was terrible (either on a subjective or ethical level)? In virtue of what are you so confident in the judgments you’ve made?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @skef

            “What if you got everything you wanted and it was terrible (either on a subjective or ethical level)?”

            First, if I got “everything I wanted” on the politico-cultural front, the result would almost certainly be inimical to my continued survival, so I wouldn’t be around to see the results, and don’t care about their (subjective) outcomes for me personally. Second, this is a question that can be turned on anyone. What if you got everything you wanted and it was “terrible”?

            “In virtue of what are you so confident in the judgments you’ve made?”

            My confidence about which part? My morals, or their unattainability and inevitable defeat? On the former, aren’t you confident in your own ethics? Or are you claiming that you have difficulty telling good from evil, and are trying to make a virtue out of an inability to distinguish right from wrong? Is not the ability to know right from wrong an essential element of adult life that one should always seek to strengthen and hone? Anyway, I am confident in my values, on the basis that they’re my values.

            As for confidence in the judgments as to the material conditions of “Progress” and the defeat of my values, I think that you, if you analyze it, will in fact agree with me. Consider a nation or polity that is predominantly White Borderer Anglo-American (with the rest preferentially East Asian), and not being rapidly shifted away from that by a flood of invaders (armed or unarmed); with electricity and a post-Industrial Revolution technology level; which has rejected the legitimacy of democracy as a system of government in favor of hereditary aristocracy; which has rolled back not only feminism and gay marriage but no-fault divorse, the idea of marriage being about love rather than family formation, and has made arranged marriages a significant fraction of marital unions again, with real patriarchy and deference for elders restored; which has rejected freedom of religion as an unworkable impossibility, and which while tolerant of minority churches amongst the peasants, openly admits that membership in the ruling class requires adherence to the official doctrine (as is true in all societies, even ours, whether we admit it or not), and which has a functional Inquisition to protect the seats of authority from entryism; which rejects equality and egalitarianism perhaps even up to the level of pronouncing William Wilberforce a damnable heretic who should have been executed for his apostasy; which has reordered relations and education so that birth rates are no longer sub-replacement. What do you consider the odds of any such polity coming into existence at all, let alone not being quickly crushed out of existence by its enemies shortly after doing so? Do you honestly see a path by which folks like me could meaningfully work toward achieving even a portion of that?

          • 1soru1 says:

            > Do you honestly see a path by which folks like me could meaningfully work toward achieving even a portion of that?

            Help me out; which parts are not yet the official policy of the current US administration?

          • skef says:

            On the former, aren’t you confident in your own ethics? Or are you claiming that you have difficulty telling good from evil, and are trying to make a virtue out of an inability to distinguish right from wrong?

            If we’re speaking of my “intuitive” ethics, at the level of assessments of right and wrong that don’t normally require reasoning, (but could admit of reasoning) like “killing that child would be wrong”, yes, I’m fairly confident, in the sense that I don’t spend a lot of time evaluating whether my sense of such cases is right.

            But most every cases that ethics come into aren’t of that sort, and those can require quite a bit of thought. With respect to those questions I do reevaluate and change my mind fairly frequently, although changes with results of a larger “scope” are correspondingly more rare.

            Part of why I do that is that, apparently somewhat like you, I don’t have a clear ethical in-group these days. Extensionally I suppose I’m fairly American liberalish. But I wouldn’t give anything like the “standard” liberal reasons for the policies I would support, and however much I’ve just rationalized differently it’s not only rationalization, because my views are still somewhat heterdox even out at the level of policies.

            Here’s the thing: most people who don’t wind up thinking much at all about right and wrong, and occasionally revising their views, don’t do so because their views align fairly well with those around them. If you live in a (sub)culture where everyone pretty much agrees on the details (except maybe for some of the folks on the TV or whatever), it’s no problem to just live that way.

            But I’m not in that position and you’re really not in that position.

            It sounds like you’re saying that all of your views about what the world should be like are as unambiguous to you as my view about not killing that child. So it wouldn’t even matter if, say, literally everyone in the counter-factual society you prefer was miserable all the time. (Or, to put a more realistic spin on it, if everyone but the men in charge were miserable because the latter became total douche-bags and did terrible things under those circumstances). Living this way would just be their duty.

            But I find it doubtful that’s an accurate description of your thinking. I think instead that you have more abstract beliefs (combined with some more specific beliefs, like with the child, that don’t intuitively generalize) about what is right and wrong, and you’re applying those. You don’t just think “life should be this way” entirely from moral intuition, but could give reasons why it should be this way. So ultimately I’m asking why you are so confident in your reasoning. Are your starting points so different from those of other people that their having reasoned to different conclusions carries no weight? Aren’t their fairly standard ways that some forms of reasoning simply shouldn’t result in such high confidence in the conclusion, and aren’t you likely using some of those methods? (I doubt, for example, that you have a logical proof of your worldview.)

            In particular, I wonder about the internal coherence of any ethical framework that allows for “Now most living people die, possibly suffering greatly as they go, so that things are better (by the relevant standard) for those left after that.” Which is often what it sounds like you want to happen, while shrugging off the moral implications — probably some of those people dying would be children, after all — by pointing out that it won’t actually happen, and you can’t make it happen.

            More specifically: if society was ever that way, we have evidence that the situation isn’t stable, because we aren’t that way now, as you lament. So that period of suffering and death can’t realistically be weighed against an eternity of (in your view) right living.

            In short, I think that with respect to views so specific and unusual as yours, “aren’t you confident in your ethics too?” is a kind of dodge. You have a vision of utopia, and you have reasons why you think it would be utopia, but you don’t really want to go through them with people, possibly out of some awareness that they don’t support the confidence you have put in them.

            But let me turn this around. An email address for me is listed on the website for a philosophy department. It turns out that that means I (and presumably everyone else in that position) get emailed a “tract” about every other month. From my perspective (and I do sometimes take care in making this evaluation) these are generally written by cranks. The positions taken in these tracts rest on a house of cards at best, and at worst they are just incoherent throughout. And cranks suffer from their status. It’s anger-inducing and ultimately very lonely. So I do also sometimes consider how I might try to “beautiful mind” my way out of such a state were I to fall into it, and hope others would help me if I wound up there. So: What advice would you give to the cranks of the world? Are they inherently lost? Are there no questions they can ask of themselves that might be helpful?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @skef

            “you have reasons why you think it would be utopia, but you don’t really want to go through them with people,”

            At least partially because the people who have made here on SSC some of the same arguments I would have been permabanned by Scott for it or similar arguments.

            Plus, there’s something kind of insulting about an argument of the form “you don’t really believe what you say you believe, and if you do, it’s only because you’re too stupid to see your patently faulty reasoning.” There’s a certain amount of appeal to incredulity, responding to someone defending, say, the goodness with X, Y, and Z with the position that no one could really, if they’ve properly thought about it, defend X, Y, and Z, so either they don’t really think X, Y, and Z are good, or they haven’t properly thought about it. Your position essentially seems to boil down to implying, if not claiming, that some of my moral values are utterly indefensible (and thus that their liberal antithesis is inescapable; that all thoughtful people truly must agree with these particular values).

          • Kevin C. says:

            @1soru1

            “Help me out; which parts are not yet the official policy of the current US administration?”

            Seriously? C’mon now.

        • rahien.din says:

          The perception is that there is zero social cost for having this kind of rule is incorrect. The cost is that 50% of the country gets infuriated

          Well sure. But that cost has to be measured against the ethical/moral/practical significance of the law. We only have laws because there are things that people don’t like but still should do.

          There is no law requiring people to eat their favorite food every now and then, insofar as they can obtain it. There is a law requiring people to keep their driving speed below a certain posted limit. There is no law requiring you to hug your mom. There is a law requiring you to serve customers at your restaurant with no consideration of their race.

          Probably some non-negligible percentage of people think speed limits are unnecessarily low. At the time of its passage, a significant percentage of people were infuriated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And yet we have those laws.

          Your implied standard of minimally-induced-fury doesn’t seem like it would allow us to enact the laws we need or to adequately pursue justice.

          • Jaskologist says:

            “The Law” is an overloaded term as you are using.

            The Civil Rights Act was debated like any other law, and passed by a 2/3 majority of Congress and the President. Maybe a significant percentage were infuriated by that, but we went through the normal process to show them that they were in fact a minority and lost fair and square. This lent it a great deal of legitimacy. We pass laws when (overlapping!) majorities of us think it moral and worth imposing on others.

            Who voted for trans bathrooms? Nobody. The President simply declared that now this was the morality we must all abide by, no you don’t get a say in how you are ruled, do as you are told.

            This is a very different source of Law. And every time you appeal to Rule of Law to justify your right to impose on others while bypassing the democratic process, you undermine it.

            Maybe next time make the moral case first and convince people this is a rule worth following instead of simply telling them this is what they must do because you know better, so much better that we can dispense with formalities like voting.

          • Iain says:

            Who voted for trans bathrooms?

            The Charlotte City Council, for one. Here’s a list of dozens of other municipalities across the US who have also passed non-discrimination ordinances including gender identity. (I don’t know how many of those laws cover washrooms, but I think it is safe to assume the number is non-zero.)

            If you’re upset about mandates being imposed from above, perhaps spare some sympathy for the cities of North Carolina. In response to Charlotte passing its ordinance, the state government of North Carolina called a special session to not only overturn that ordinance, but also prohibit all municipalities in North Carolina from passing anti-discrimination ordinances.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Who voted for trans bathrooms?

            BuzzFeed.

      • Kevin C. says:

        @James Miller

        “Part of the United States surviving is letting blue and red states have their separate way on cultural issues as much as is practically possible.”

        How about: “Part of the United States surviving is letting Northern and Southern states have their separate way on cultural issues as much as is practically possible”?

        Because what you’re asking for is, in the view of at least some, allowing deplorable red-staters the “freedom” to oppress, and violate the human rights of, the transgender people in their populations. And there is no “freedom to oppress”, no freedom to violate the universel human rights of others, is there? Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere; and so on.

        • James Miller says:

          A key difference between transgender rights today and slavery before the civil war is freedom of movement. The civil war was very, very bad and it certainly would have been better to work out a solution similar to what happened with slavery in the British Empire.

          “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere; and so on.” How does injustice in the Congo threaten justice in the United States?

          • Kevin C. says:

            First, how much “freedom of movement” do transgender teens have? Do you really think the Left will say, “fine, let the red staters be free to treat transgender people/Muslims/undocumented immigrants/etc. as mean as they want to in red states because those transgender people/Muslims/undocumented immigrants/etc. can always move to a blue state”? Consider the arguments and positions on crossing state lines for an abortion pre-Roe v. Wade (or in the hypothetical of a post-Roe v. Wade-overturn world, often levied as reasons to fight against such an overturning).

            And on the second, the phrase is a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”:

            Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            First, how much “freedom of movement” do transgender teens have?

            It’s unfortunate to focus on teens here, since there’s the inconvenient truth that many children who have unusual gender identities grow out of it and go on to live perfectly normal lives. Endorsing — and, let’s be frank here, not just endorsing but enforcing through politicized social shaming and media manipulation — this at the teenage level at all most likely harms far more kids than it helps.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            “Endorsing — and, let’s be frank here, not just endorsing but enforcing through politicized social shaming and media manipulation — this at the teenage level at all most likely harms far more kids than it helps.”

            I agree. I was just using it as an example as to why the Left will never accept James Miller’s “freedom of movement” argument as a reason not to crush and exterminate us deplorables.

        • Wrong Species says:

          The thing is that not every issue is on par with slavery. For those issues, we can have federalism. What issues are incredibly important that they need to be addressed on the federal level? I don’t know but I don’t think most Americans would consider bathroom bills to be the most pressing issue of the day.

          • rlms says:

            Conversely, are bathroom bills the most pressing example of federal overreach? I would imagine not (if they are, that seems pretty good to me).

          • Evan Þ says:

            But are they one of the examples that’re most possible to roll back?

          • Kevin C. says:

            @Wrong Species

            “The thing is that not every issue is on par with slavery. For those issues, we can have federalism.”

            But who gets to decide which issues are “small” enough to be allowed federalism, and which are “incredibly important that they need to be addressed on the federal level”? A hint: it doesn’t look like “most Americans” is the answer.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            But who gets to decide which issues are “small” enough to be allowed federalism, and which are “incredibly important that they need to be addressed on the federal level”?

            Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and their pals got to decide two hundred and forty years ago or so. Though you can pitch in with your own suggestions if you can get two-thirds of state legislatures on your side.

          • BBA says:

            Which John Bingham did about 150 years ago, overriding the original decisions of Madison and friends.

      • rahien.din says:

        Honest questions : why? Can you provide examples of said cultural issues that were successfully addressed via strict federalism? Can you explain what you mean by “practically possible”?

        Otherwise your claim strikes me as glibly dismissive… and it seems to smuggle the assumption that “cultural issues” are of no ethical or practical consequence.

        (I’ll listen and I’ll update. TIA)

        • Gobbobobble says:

          it seems to smuggle the assumption that “cultural issues” are of no ethical or practical consequence.

          At least not of sufficient consequence to warrant whichever team happens to control Congress at the time forcing their position down the throats of opposing states.

          The US has nearly-universal suffrage (for citizens at age of majority, anyway) and it is ridiculously easy to move across states. If one can vote and, if finding oneself in an intolerable minority, can leave, that seems like pretty good conditions to just let the states experiment and let the good ideas spread naturally.

          IMHO the USA is the closest thing to Archipelago our planet has, or at least would be if the Federal govt would stop sticking its nose into everything and people would quit demanding they do so.

          (Aside, I’m curious if folks in the EU consider it to be more Archipelago than the US. I’m rating the US higher since there aren’t internal language barriers, but I might be mistaken about how big a deal those are in Europe.)

          If your pet culture project doesn’t have widespread enough support to pass a constitutional amendment, then you need to listen very carefully to Cromwell before declaring it moral to run roughshod over the people who disagree with you.

        • random832 says:

          @rahien.din

          Otherwise your claim strikes me as glibly dismissive… and it seems to smuggle the assumption that “cultural issues” are of no ethical or practical consequence.

          Well, it’d be in good company on this blog. ‘“Intolerance” is starting to look like another one of those words like “white” and “American”.’

    • meh says:

      My inclination is that this is a non issue for most people, but has been made into an issue for political points.

      That said, I don’t see how the rights argument holds up. One group is having their rights violated by being forced to use a bathroom with people they are not comfortable using a bathroom with. But to remedy this, you are forcing a different group of people to use a bathroom with people they are not comfortable using a bathroom with.

      The only solution I see is having more classes of bathrooms.

      • skef says:

        The specifics of this issue aside, it seems as if the “public square” has started implicitly addressing all such bathroom questions with an additional all-sex + handicap access single-toilet bathroom beside the group male and female bathrooms. That also tends to be where parents of either sex wind up changing diapers. Given all these needs to be of lower frequency than those of first and second rank, it works out pretty well with so little fuss that most people haven’t really noticed.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          The term is a “family bathroom” because a parent can help a child use the bathroom in there, but it’s useful in a whole bunch of other situations. (Like people who are plain uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with anyone.) More and more businesses are adding them. I’m not sure how well a mandate would work, but the situation is at least getting better, bit by bit.

        • hlynkacg says:

          This strikes me as the most reasonable solution for all parties, but the cynical bastard in me suspects that some people are simply impossible to please.

        • Wrong Species says:

          This seems like another thing related to cost disease. We can’t agree on an issue so we create a more expensive alternative as a compromise. I wouldn’t be surprised if the government started mandating these additional all sex bathrooms.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Wrong Species
            That is a really good point. I actually feel a bit sheepish as I’ve seen the precise behavior many times before but the nature pattern never quite “clicked”.

          • Spookykou says:

            In an interview with Gavin Grimm(I believe a central person in the case of transgender restrooms in schools) on NPR recently he expressly stated that any and all ‘unisex’ solutions, like the unisex options at his school, were unacceptable.

            What is weird is his lawyer, who was trying to make the case that it is plainly illegal to discriminate by sex in any institution that receives federal funding. Which made me wonder, by that standard aren’t all gendered restrooms then illegal? Gendered sports teams, or changing rooms, etc?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Attitudes like that make me think it’s not about “having a place to safely use the bathroom,” and it’s instead about “you will recognize my gender, shitlord.”

            But Grimm is a teenager, and teenagers aren’t known for their rational long-term planning. It would be unfair to have his views speak for everyone.

            Interview is here, fwiw. http://www.npr.org/2017/02/23/516895094/transgender-student-in-virginia-bathroom-case-reacts-to-trumps-order

      • Warren says:

        In principle, more bathrooms sounds like the best solution. In practice I feel that this would be colossally expensive.

        If there is a legal requirement to comply, what would the cost be to renovate all of our buildings to install, say, 20% more bathroom floorspace? Consider spending X millions to improve the quality of Y% of people by Z utils. In this case we know X is huge, Y is very small, and the value of Z is debatable. If this is seen as acceptable for trans people, try generalizing the principle it to (all) other minorities and sub-groups.

        • If there is a legal requirement to comply, what would the cost be to renovate all of our buildings to install, say, 20% more bathroom floorspace?

          I think that’s an overestimate. You now have a men’s room and a women’s room with (say) ten stalls each. You have to add one small room with one stall. If the bathrooms are smaller than that, make it one small room on every third floor, meaning that you never have to climb more than one flight of stairs to get to it.

          If demand is so low that each bathroom has only one stall, as is often the case in restaurants, you can make both bathrooms available to both sexes, as is occasionally done, since they are only going to have one occupant at a time.

          • Evan Þ says:

            And making single-stall bathrooms unisex is a wonderful idea even aside from transgender issues. If there’re two guys who need to use the bathroom at once, and no women, why not let them use both? I still remember the time when my whole Boy Scout troop stopped at a gas station on the way back from camping, and there was only one single-stall men’s room…

          • Warren says:

            Hmm. You are probably right – 20% is likely high. That said, I still don’t think that this would be inexpensive. Consider a 20 story office building with a set of M/F bathrooms on each floor. I’m not an architect, but I strongly suspect that you cant just add in extra rooms hooked up to water/waste system cheaply.

          • skef says:

            @Evan Þ

            I think it’s fair to say that men and women have benefited from sex-specific bathrooms in different ways. Women’s bathrooms (I’m told) tend to suffer less from the “pee everywhere” phenomenon. And (is this sexist?) the women’s modal bathroom time using a fixture tends to be longer than the man’s modal time, leading to lines outside of women’s bathrooms even when the facilities are evenly matched.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @skef, if we’re talking about places with low enough bathroom usage to only have two single-stall facilities, how often will there be significant lines outside of one or the other?

          • skef says:

            @Evan Þ

            I guess when the girl scout troop arrives?

          • AlphaGamma says:

            Similarly, I have never seen a men’s or women’s bathroom on a train or plane, probably at least partly for the reason Evan Þ states.

        • Randy M says:

          It is a good solution to implement going forward on new construction, and probably very expensive to renovate every public building going forward.
          Schools have no problem getting bonds passed, though, so what does that matter.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It is a good solution to implement going forward on new construction

            Why do I have a feeling that if this wasn’t a result of your ox being gored, you would roundly criticize a mandate affecting new construction going forward?

          • Randy M says:

            What’s my ox?
            Do I really ’roundly criticize’ things here so often?
            I was just drawing a distinction in cost between renovating and designing from the ground up.
            (And an unrelated point about school bonds usually being voted in on ballots.)

            I don’t know why I am being cryptically quizzed on your feelings. I’m… not terribly invested in your feelings, though.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randy M:
            Sorry, that was supposed to sound more conversational than adversarial.

            The ox/gore here is trans-women in women’s bathrooms, which, generally, conservatives are worried about. Conservatives would like them kept out of women’s bathrooms.

            I’m simply pointing out that if liberals were to be in favor of new spending mandates for school districts to support something that they wanted, conservatives would generally decry it (unfunded mandates).

            Also, the blithe attitude about school bonds is out of step with the general conservative sentiment about whether it’s wise to pass school bonds (or engage in other spending by the government).

          • Randy M says:

            Ok, no problem. The “What does that [cost] matter?” was a cynical lament ironically stated, which I thought would translate exactly because it is such a cliche (though true) complaint.

            I’m simply pointing out that if liberals were to be in favor of new spending mandates for school districts to support something that they wanted, conservatives would generally decry it

            I thought this was something that liberals *did* want? Isn’t the dogmatic “conservative position” something like “suck it up, buttercup, check your plumbing and go in the assigned room.”

            I think that a mandate that going forward schools need to be built with a third bathroom option for a single occupant of any traditional, undisclosed, or novel gender would not actually be terribly expensive and is a reasonable compromise, but that it isn’t a good option to decree an immediate and sweeping mandate to remodel all existing facilities as that would be quite expensive. So if we are willing to let the situation gradually resolve itself as buildings require renovations due to wear, it would make an excellent solution, but if it is an issue that must be resolved immediately it will probably be either costly or contentious.

        • Deiseach says:

          If there is a legal requirement to comply, what would the cost be to renovate all of our buildings to install, say, 20% more bathroom floorspace?

          Don’t have to add in more bathrooms, you reduce the existing number of male-only/female-only bathrooms. Something similar to wheelchair accessible bathrooms in buildings with pre-existing bathrooms (I’ve seen this done in a couple of public buildings here in Ireland where the construction was done long before accessibility requirements were law, and the easiest solution was to re-model the existing bathrooms).

          Take one or two of the stalls that are currently male or female, wall them off or put in a dividing door, and call them unisex (make them wheelchair accessible for maximum use of space). Anyone – male, female, wheelchair user, able-bodied – can use them. Going in there doesn’t single you out as ‘trans’ or an exception. Especially if you’ve reduced existing single-gender bathroom space, people will be more likely to use them (“oh drat, all the stalls in the ladies’ room are already in use”) and it won’t be noticeable that Greg or Sue is the only one who goes in there consistently and not into the main bathroom. Or if it is noticed, it’ll be put down to a quirk, an eccentricity like germphobia, or shyness about peeing in company.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ meh
        I don’t see how the rights argument holds up. One group is having their rights violated by being forced to use a bathroom with people they are not comfortable using a bathroom with. But to remedy this, you are forcing a different group of people to use a bathroom with people they are not comfortable using a bathroom with.

        That level can be more symmetrical than the object level is. The male bathroom/locker room is a place where an odd person is likely to get abuse, perhaps physical damage such as rape or worse. In the female bathroom, the worst abuse zie risks is some recreational screaming.

        • Loquat says:

          If a given environment is such that a biological male who identifies as female is liable to be physically abused or raped in the men’s bathroom or locker room, it seems unlikely that having said individual use the women’s bathroom/locker room but otherwise stay in the same environment will improve the situation. Indeed, locals may well be moved to use violence to keep them out of the women’s rooms.

          If the environment is a bit more normal, such that an odd person in the men’s room isn’t going to get worse than verbal abuse… well, teenage girls are well known for their talents at verbal cruelty, and an odd person who’s seen as an interloper is liable to be target #1.

          • Garrett says:

            At the elementary/high-school level, the men’s changing room is one of the few places that boys will both be in some state of vulnerability and that the teachers are generally not likely to go (even if same-sex) without specific cause. So it is a particular location more prone to abuse.

        • John Schilling says:

          In the female bathroom, the worst abuse zie risks is some recreational screaming.

          And then an hour later zie gets beaten up behind the school by the boyfriend of the girl who was creeped out by the weirdo who brought his penis into the girls’ room for God only knows what reason.

          Loquat is right – if you’re at a school where that would be a risk in the boys’ room, the risk isn’t confined to the boys’ room. Also, your response is amusingly gender-normative; in the modern progressive era, girls can be violently abusive thugs just like boys.

          • random832 says:

            And then an hour later zie gets beaten up behind the school by the boyfriend of the girl who was creeped out by the weirdo who brought his penis into the girls’ room for God only knows what reason.

            This is, of course, already a crime (at least for the boyfriend, and maybe also for the girl if she intended for the assault to happen). I assume that under the progressive ideal set of policies it would be a hate crime and that the additional penalties would discourage it further.

          • John Schilling says:

            Yes, and assaulting transwomen in the mens’ room is also a crime, so why are the transwomen in such terror of being told to use the men’s room?

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ John Schilling
            > > In the female bathroom, the worst abuse zie risks is some recreational screaming.

            > And then an hour later zie gets beaten up behind the school by the boyfriend of the girl who was creeped out by the weirdo

            Lower and lower probabilities.

          • Loquat says:

            @houseboatonstyxb

            Lower and lower probabilities.

            What, compared to the probability of a biologically male student getting physically attacked or raped for using the boys’ room instead of the girls’? Because that seems like it’d be super low to start with.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          “zie” isn’t a word.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ ThirteenthLetter
            “zie” isn’t a word.

            Maybe not yet everywhere, though it’s a word in some sub-cultures already. ‘Ze’ may be more popular so far, but my brain doesn’t parse it as well; it looks truncated or perhaps foreign, and lacks the phonetic gravitas for use as a subject or object. (How is it pronounced, anyway?)

          • The Nybbler says:

            ITYM “‘zie’ ain’t a word”

      • Deiseach says:

        It’s not about more bathrooms, it’s the stealth way of introducing the battle for transgender rights. Same with gay rights – pick a sympathetic cause (same-sex marriage/bathroom rights), pick sympathetic representatives to share their human-interest story of how they have been hurt and affected by the ban, use heightened language about the ill-effects (how many “trans people are being banned from using bathrooms” articles have you seen where no, they’re not being banned from using bathrooms in the plural and non-descriptive – that is, they are being forbidden from relieving themselves when they need to, unlike cis people; it is that they’re not being permitted to use a particular gender-assigned bathroom). If someone is allegedly terrified and uncomfortable about using the male bathroom (because they do not identify as male), but equally terrified and uncomfortable about using the female bathroom (because they’re afraid someone will ‘recognise’ they’re not ‘really’ a woman), I really don’t see how you are going to make them feel better – but the idea is put out that “all this discomfort will magically disappear if it’s legal for trans people to use the bathroom of their choice!”

        Make opponents out to be crazy unreasonable bigots who have nothing but prejudice to go on and use mockery and reductio ad absurdum against them, get the term “transphobes” out there and doing work for you. Get tugging at those heart-strings, get people to react on emotional basis rather than stopping to think, and get the tide of public opinion turning in your favour.

        Get your federal requirement that all public bathrooms be gender-neutral (don’t bring it to anyone’s attention that this now means that it’s not just trans people, it’s cis people or people of any gender can use any bathroom which means yes, a cis male can use the same bathroom as cis or trans women and vice versa). Then once that has slipped down easily, continue on with the next phase of the struggle, which has now been made easier because you’ve convinced people that objecting to something having to do with gay/trans/etc. rights is setting themselves up to be mocked and ostracised as bigots, phobes and haters.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Do you know any transgendered people?

          What I’ve seen is that they desperately want to be accepted in the social role of their preferred gender. I’m not sure what’s going on there, and it might not be reasonable, but it’s a very strong desire.

        • Deiseach says:

          What I’ve seen is that they desperately want to be accepted in the social role of their preferred gender.

          And the high school bathroom cases are not going to do that. I see the objection to “I’m the only one who has to use this single-user bathroom, that singles me out” but if there’s a law suit about it, whoever didn’t know you were trans beforehand certainly will know now. That’s partly why I wonder why on earth the press covers this case with photos and real names, and why they aren’t reported on as Doe vs School Board of Tinytown. That’s not really going to help with “I’m an ordinary 17 year old” when the girls (or boys) you may want to date now know you used to be a girl (I’m using that phrasing as that is how most people will think about it).

          And again, equal-access laws are not going to help someone anxious about being accepted as their preferred gender if they have any doubts about “Am I sufficiently masculine/feminine looking?” All that will do is shift “That looks like a guy in a dress, he shouldn’t be in here” to “That looks like a guy in a dress, well it’s legal now” and not “That could be a masculine-looking woman”.

          It is a problem and I don’t know the easy way to solve it, but the view that those most opposed are those who are parents of school-aged children surely means that taking the “spoonful of honey” approach is better? Assure them that no, their daughters/sons won’t be forced to see a naked girl/boy in their locker rooms or whatever, take it seriously that parents of young children may have fears that seem irrational but are as sincerely felt as the strong desire of the trans person – there have been cases of sexual assault of children in public restrooms – and work from there. Don’t laugh at them and dismiss them out of hand, because everyone will think that is special pleading and the first time some pervert does try and pull a peeping tom act, it will torpedo your case and no, saying “But he wasn’t trans, so this isn’t a trans person doing it,* so we were right” cuts no ice, because the fear was about people pretending to be trans and ‘No True Scotsman’ in this case won’t help. An outraged parent doesn’t care that the guy taking photos of their 10 year old daughter after sneaking into the women’s restroom wasn’t trans, nor do the parents of children of similar ages who hear about this.

          The response there is “We used to be able to head off suspicious-looking characters but now your new laws won’t let us challenge anyone so how do we protect our kids? Or vulnerable women?” That may be unreasonable, but it’s as deeply felt and does need more of an answer than “Well, so long as they’re not really trans, not our problem!”

          *The story is luridly presented in tabloid style, there seems to be mental illness at the root of it and certainly not a genuine trans person. But it happened, nevertheless, and can’t be ignored as “nothing to do with us”. Unintended consequences and all that, of trans-friendly policies at the Toronto shelters.

          • Cypren says:

            All that will do is shift “That looks like a guy in a dress, he shouldn’t be in here” to “That looks like a guy in a dress, well it’s legal now” and not “That could be a masculine-looking woman”.

            Unfortunately, I think this is exactly correct. One of my close friends is transgender, male-to-female pre-op. (For consistency’s sake I am going to use the female pronoun, because that’s what she prefers, but this is difficult even for those of us who know her well; we’re so socially and biologically coded to make gender assessments it is painfully difficult not to say “him”.)

            She has the great misfortune to have been born 6’4″ and with a body type that will never, ever be intuited as “female” no matter how much surgery she gets. This is pretty much a neverending source of agony for her and she’s been hovering on the edge of suicide for the entire time I’ve known her; despite being extremely intelligent, skilled and quite wealthy, the one thing she wants is out of her grasp and, barring major breakthroughs in medical science, probably will be her entire life: the ability to reshape her body so that society recognizes her as the gender she sees herself as. Instead, her response has generally been to retreat to the Internet and stay socially isolated from people in real life; online, she can be cute and girly and get the social reaction that she craves so desperately.

            We’ve had a lot of discussions in the past about why she hasn’t gone forward with fully transitioning in surgery, why she wears male clothes and represents herself at work as male despite the fact that it’s agonizing to do this (and only middling successful, in my view; her mannerisms and quirks are such that when trying to hide it, I think she comes off more as oddly unstable than either male or female). She insists that she can’t fully live as a woman because she’ll always be seen as a “man in a dress”, and I think that she’s right about that, but I also think that the odd middle ground she’s holding right now of being a man with traditionally-feminine mannerisms is perhaps perceived even worse.

            I don’t know that there’s a happy ending for cases like this. Knowing her for the last decade or so has definitely changed my personal sympathies for transgender people, but I don’t know that it’s really changed my view on public policy: I still think that to the extent we’re going to segregate genders, it’s probably best to do it by biological sex rather than “preference”, because there’s considerable evidence that even fully transitioning to the opposite sex doesn’t actually improve the quality of life or suicide risk for transgender people. If we aren’t making quantifiable gains by making them more comfortable, I’m not sure it’s worth the cost of making other people less comfortable and creating a bureaucratic system for adjudication of exceptions to gender segregation rules.

          • Iain says:

            @Cypren: Unless I am missing something, that paper is not as pessimistic as you seem to think. It is comparing post-op trans people to cis people, not to pre-op trans people. For example:

            Table 2 describes the risks for selected outcomes during follow-up among sex-reassigned persons, compared to same-age controls of the same birth sex.

            The paper shows that post-op trans people are still worse off than cis people, but not that transition itself doesn’t help. From the “Strengths and limitations of the study” section:

            Given the nature of sex reassignment, a double blind randomized controlled study of the result after sex reassignment is not feasible. We therefore have to rely on other study designs. For the purpose of evaluating whether sex reassignment is an effective treatment for gender dysphoria, it is reasonable to compare reported gender dysphoria pre- and post-treatment. Such studies have been conducted either prospectively or retrospectively, and suggest that sex reassignment of transsexual persons improves quality of life and gender dysphoria. The limitation is of course that the treatment has not been assigned randomly and has not been carried out blindly.

            Also, the study is based on people who transitioned in the 70s and 80s. It does not seem implausible that some combination of improved medical technology and changing attitudes in the last several decades could lead to improved outcomes.

          • JulieK says:

            There are already high school locker-room cases. e.g.:

            Illinois’ largest high school district violated federal law by barring a transgender student from using the girls’ locker room, authorities concluded Monday.

            For the student at the center of the federal complaint and all other transgender students at the district’s five high schools, the staff changes their names, genders and pronouns on school records. Transgender students also are allowed to use the bathrooms of their identified gender and play on the sports team of that gender, school officials said.

            But officials drew the line at the locker room, citing the privacy rights of the other 12,000-plus students in the district. As a compromise, the district installed four privacy curtains in unused areas of the locker room and another one around the shower, but because the district would compel the student to use them, federal officials deemed the solution insufficient.

            http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-transgender-student-federal-ruling-met-20151102-story.html

          • multiheaded says:

            I strongly fucking disagree that American parents need to be indulged further. They already exist in a culture of hysteria, moral panic and absurd overprotectiveness. Which contributes to outright abuse of the children they “protect” as well!

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Do you know any transgendered people?

          Going to chime in here because I actually do, since we appear to have a lot of “as I understand it”s and “As far as I can tell”s in the thread. Hi-ho, Anecdata, AWAAAAAY….

          So, two IRL Plus somewhere over a dozen assorted transgendered people online, about half of which are actually in care and transitioning and/or on hormones, the other half of which are self-diagnosed. For obvious reasons the online ones are weighted lower. I am not counting another dozen plus non-binary/genderqueer/etc.

          The ones I know best (the first two) weren’t concerned about the legal trouble or law protecting them. They were concerned about whether or not they were socially accepted when using the restroom matching their identity. They were afraid of some guy (for the FtM) or girl (MtF) looking at them and going “HEY, WAIT A MINUTE, YOU’RE NO GUY/GIRL!!” and the associated shame and embarrassment. They both started using the bathrooms matching their identified sex prior to the current brouhaha. I only knew one in high school (FtM, my first girlfriend AND boyfriend, as it were, since they figured out their identity while I was dating them which was….something…), and it took him until senior year before he felt ok using the men’s rooms at school. He was more comfortable in public, more comfortable still in public someplace geographically distant from our town. AFAICT both support the measure, but more on symbolic/tribal grounds than because it makes a policy difference.

          Of the ones online, 2 are against explicit transgender bathroom rights laws, both on grounds that they think they will be abused by fakes and because they see it as wasted political capital better spent on other issues. The majority generally feel that the law is orthogonal to the issue since it won’t do someone assaulted much good and the real barriers are social, but would rather there be a law than not because of the comfort it might give someone else.

          I am aware of one person in my general social circle (visits the same public chat space as I do) who feels very, very strongly that this law is needed. She is not trans, but has a trans lover. She is also the one who calls me fascist scum whenever we’re on at the same time (Logging in with a “Good evening, everyone” literally gets me a “Fuck you, You Fascist Piece Of Shit. I hope you fucking die”) because I debated ethical use of force and critiqued the moral validity of pacifism once. She was also the one engaging in rather extreme histrionics about fearing for her and her trans lover’s lives from “Brown Shirt Trump Supporters” or that the “police can just come to our door and kill us” circa mid-December (the last time I saw them online).

          So, on the one hand, I think it’s pretty clear that most transgendered people like the law -as- an intellectual salve and comfort to their fears regarding this issue, and that makes sense. I sympathize with that pretty strongly, and I remember scouting bathrooms for one of the people mentioned above so he could go in and feel comfortable in case someone stopped him between the door and the stall. It was almost certainly overkill. But it was what it took for him to feel even half-way comfortable, so I WOULD like to see things change so that fewer people are wracked by that level of emotional distress.

          On the other hand, I think that’s about the only good argument FOR these sorts of guidelines, I think that the social conservatives are RIGHT when they say that this is a deliberate camel’s nose under the tent with the intent to use this to push for further changes (and erode cultural norms) later. That bothers me a lot less than it does them, but I don’t like the tactic and I suspect that it’s utility as a wedge issue matters more to the activists than the actual emotions of the people affected, especially since I remember the GLBT coalition being really, really lukewarm at BEST and often outright hostile to the ‘T’ in the ’90s and early ’00s (when I was more in tune with those circles than I am now. I will admit to being pretty much totally out of touch with the current GLBTIQ identity political scene).

          And I know that my compromise ideas will get nowhere because this has the hallmarks of another issue where compromise is impossible (see previous comments on abortion and gun control in US politics). So I’ve generally been ignoring this discussion.

          Make of my anecdata what you will.

          • Incurian says:

            FtM, my first girlfriend AND boyfriend, as it were, since they figured out their identity while I was dating them which was….something…

            God damn enlisted folk always have the best stories.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Does it count if I was in high school at the time, well before my decision to enlist? Either way, it was rather a crash course in “gender identity is a thing that exists” and various other concepts that had never occurred to me.

            On the one hand, I like to think that I handled it better than a lot of horny teenaged mostly-straight guys would, in part because I came from the sort of household where my version of “The Talk” at age 14 was getting my mom’s hand-me-down copies of Masters’ & Johnson’s Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy.

            On the other hand, he still had to deal with an emotional relationship with a teenager (mentally and emotionally immature practically by definition)…and the sort whose version of “The Talk” was getting copies of Masters’ & Johnson’s Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy….

        • And are these tactics unuque to that side of that debate? I seem to recall that in the pre progressive era, it was the people who spoke up for gay rights who were mocked and ostracized. It woulf be sirprising if people trying to sell something didnt start with tye eady cases, and it woukd be surprising if peiple with a majority on their side didnt take advantage of the fact.

        • pylonshadow says:

          You really think you’re taking us inside the mind of the American “limousine liberal” dont you?
          You’re the most prolific commenter here and the great majority of your comments consist of you ventriloquizing
          the Worst American Liberal Imaginable: Actually scorning their imagined scorn! Actually mocking their probable mockery! They being hypothetical.
          And this obsessive hatred for liberals isnt just blowing off steam. It destroys personalities. You cant stop. You need it every day. If it all went away, you’d lose your mind.

      • ShemTealeaf says:

        I’m not 100% sure, but my feeling is that trans people often make the other occupants of the bathrooms uncomfortable regardless of which bathroom they’re using. If women are uncomfortable sharing bathrooms with female-presenting and female-identifying people who were born male, I can only assume they’d be even more uncomfortable sharing bathrooms with a big, burly, bearded, male-identified person who was born female. Even totally disregarding the comfort of the trans people in question, I don’t think there’s a solution (other than more bathrooms) that would even make all the cis people comfortable.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          a big, burly, bearded, male-identified person who was born female.

          I hear this a lot, but female-to-male are the rarest kind of transsexual. Wikipedia says estimates go from 0.05% to 0.001% of the population.

          Out of that,what proportion of that fraction of a fraction of a percent would you want to bet are “burly” or “bearded” as opposed to androgynous? What proportion of those are burly and bearded in high school?

          When we’re talking about transsexuals in bathrooms, we’re overwhelming talking about men in women’s rooms. And when we’re talking about this in schools, we’re talking about boys with fully-intact male genitals, teenage lust and no problem with deviant behavior in girl’s rooms. The feeling of discomfort is completely appropriate on the parts of women and the parents of girls.

          • Iain says:

            Would you care to point to any actual evidence of horny teenage boys shoehorning themselves into women’s washrooms under a trans umbrella and engaging in “deviant behaviour”?

          • ShemTealeaf says:

            Do you think it’s more likely that the androgynous MtF trans kid wearing feminine clothing is going to abuse someone in the girls’ bathroom, or get abused by someone in the boys’ bathroom? I have no data, but my suspicion is that the latter scenario is more common.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I thought part of the Progressive dogma was that feelings of discomfort trump the need for actual evidence?

          • gbdub says:

            Has a “trans umbrella” actually existed anywhere for any length of time? By which I mean “the norm (legal or otherwise) is so strongly against calling out someone who is by all appearances a creepy dude and not a transwoman that the creepy dude’s behavior would need to be tolerated”.

            I’m not sure it has. Creeps of all flavors certainly do exist though.

            To be fair here, I think the conservatives are objecting to a state of affairs that might be anticipated to exist, not one that currently does.

            It’s not clear to me that “sincere transpersons whose outward appearance mismatches their preferred restroom sufficiently to get hassled about it” vastly outnumber “creeps who would abuse trans-friendly restroom policies to get their jollies”.

            In any case as was noted elsewhere in this thread, high school bathrooms don’t match well to public restrooms mostly frequented by adults who are strangers to each other, so it’s probably difficult to create a policy that works well for both.

          • Iain says:

            @Gobbobobble: Have you ever seen anybody on this site make that claim? Perhaps you would care to stop tilting at strawmen?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Right, sorry, I forgot that isolated demands for rigor is this site’s favored form of dishonest argumentation. Carry on.

          • Brad says:

            Pushing back against strawman characterizations of vaguely defined groups of people isn’t an isolated demand for rigor.

            This:

            I thought part of the Progressive dogma was that feelings of discomfort trump the need for actual evidence?

            is a shitpost that you should feel bad for having made.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            This

            Would you care to point to any actual evidence of horny teenage boys shoehorning themselves into women’s washrooms under a trans umbrella and engaging in “deviant behaviour”?

            is an isolated demand for rigor

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            A male who intends physical assault would do better to catch his victim in a location more private than a restroom, where at any time potential screamers may enter. Assuming his brain is working.

          • Iain says:

            @Gobbobobble:

            It’s a demand for rigor, sure. I certainly hope that it’s not isolated. Dr Dealgood made a claim; I asked for evidence for that claim. This does not strike me as an unreasonable request. Indeed, the original Mr. X provided a reasonably close example here.

            If you think that my demand for rigor is isolated, then you must be thinking of some previous post of mine where I rejected the necessity of evidence. Would you care to point me to that post?

          • rlms says:

            @Gobbobobble
            No it’s not. It’s a demand for evidence, which is very reasonable. An isolated demand for rigour is where you criticise your opponents arguments/evidence in a certain way, but don’t apply the same thing to your arguments/evidence. Demanding your opponents provide evidence for their claims isn’t the same thing, even if you assert claims without evidence yourself. If you made an evidenceless assertion, then responded to a demand for evidence by saying “no I don’t need to provide evidence”, then demanded evidence for someone else’s assertion, that would be an IDFR. But that has not occurred here.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            More that I hardly ever, in culture war threads, see people actually accept presented evidence as “actual” evidence when the demand is responded to. So in those situations it’s basically just a cheap way to shut down opposition without actually engaging with their arguments. (Especially when the challenge is essentially “are teenagers *really* gonna do stupid things because hormones? I dunno man let’s see some data on that one…”)

            Maybe you’re better than most at updating, I dunno. If so I apologize. The post just has a strong vibe of “cheap drive-by that doesn’t actually engage with anything Dealgood posted”

            Counter-shitposting is not productive, though, and I apologize for that.

          • John Schilling says:

            the norm is so strongly against calling out someone who is by all appearances a creepy dude and not a transwoman…

            I would guess that in most places the norm is still that “creepy dude” encompasses anyone recognized as a transwoman. Once you’ve identified someone as “creepy”, if you’re into that sort of thing, they are Outgroup and you don’t have to bother with distinguishing which type of creepy outgrouper they are.

          • Iain says:

            @Gobbobobble:

            I mean, I certainly asked the question with a distinct suspicion that Dr Dealgood did not actually have an example, because to the best of my knowledge such examples do not exist. If Dr Dealgood had replied with a list of compelling examples, I hope I would have updated my opinion. Conversely, if Dr Dealgood spends time looking for examples and fails to find any, I hope the updating shoe will be on the other foot.

            I don’t think “are teenagers really going to do stupid things because of hormones?” is a fair summary of my question. Dr Dealgood claimed:

            When we’re talking about transsexuals in bathrooms, we’re overwhelming talking about men in women’s rooms. And when we’re talking about this in schools, we’re talking about boys with fully-intact male genitals, teenage lust and no problem with deviant behavior in girl’s rooms.

            I don’t see how you are reading this as merely a claim about hormonal teenage boys. It is pretty clearly a claim about trans girls with penises wreaking havoc in the loo. To the best of my knowledge, this doesn’t happen on a regular basis anywhere outside of people’s imaginations. If it does, I would like to know; if it does not, then Dr Dealgood should stop asserting otherwise.

            I am honestly quite baffled by your implication that my original question was a cheap drive-by shitpost.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            “Deviant behavior” may be a clinically correct term (“departing from normal standards”), but its connotations seem designed to inflame rather than discuss.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            To get back to the topic, I think that the concern is that a boy will go peeping in the women’s bathroom and when found there, will claim to identify as a women or be genderfluid or something. Then the concern is that some people will reflexively take his side, just because it fits a narrative.

            I would argue that there are quite a few examples of people reflexively taking a side. There are a bunch of topics where a two narratives are both true to some extent, but where (the extremists of) the tribes only believe one of these narratives and completely dismiss the other.

            So I don’t think this concern is completely unwarranted.

          • Iain says:

            I agree that this is the fear. I disagree that people are dumb enough to buy that excuse. I propose that we settle this question with data: can you find an example of a case where that actually happened?

            If not, perhaps people should consider updating on this issue.

          • Randy M says:

            fwiw, I think that fear is less likely in a school, where the principle knows the child was not trans yesterday and the boy likely won’t want a reputation as trans. But not non-existent, because more than a few parents will use whatever cover they can grab to raise hell when their children get reprimanded and there are activists looking for test cases. So, not going to come up often, but neither are trans children commonly found in schools.

            In public facilities–gym showers, department store restrooms, and so on–I think it is a legitimate fear. Voyeurs or exhibitionists aren’t going to already be known to the population there, aren’t going to have a reputation to protect, and will happily use a trans-friendly law to avoid getting a sex offender status, if their lawyer is worth anything, and a rough estimation is that the population of convicted sex offenders is about 0.25%, which is roughly equal to the trans-population, right? And in these cases, people are lawsuit adverse and aware of the proposed legislation on both sides, so they would likely be quite wary of pressing the issue or getting targeted for intolerance.

          • It is pretty clearly a claim about trans girls with penises wreaking havoc in the loo.

            I don’t think so. I think it’s mainly a claim about men wreaking havoc in the women’s room and using the claim they are transgender to defend themselves in doing so.

            And I think “wreaking havoc” is likely to be activities very far short of rape, but sufficiently unpleasant for others to be worth preventing.

          • random832 says:

            @DavidFriedman

            It is pretty clearly a claim about trans girls with penises wreaking havoc in the loo.

            I don’t think so. I think it’s mainly a claim about men wreaking havoc in the women’s room and using the claim they are transgender to defend themselves in doing so.

            Er, this is a comment by @Dr Dealgood, right? You’re making a distinction that he doesn’t actually believe exists.

            There is no difference between an “actually-cisgender” heterosexual boy and a teenaged “trans-lesbian.” So it seems like kind of a moot point.

          • Iain says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            For what feels like the millionth time: prove it. Obama put out an executive order nearly a year ago mandating that schools respect the claimed gender identities of their students. Many schools have been doing so for longer than that. If teenage boys are getting away with “unpleasant activities” in school washrooms by claiming to be transgender, surely somebody, somewhere has written about it.

            If you can’t find a source — and so far, nobody can — then maybe you should reconsider your position.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            You keep trying to shift the burden of proof off of the people making a radical change and onto the people opposing it. Normally I wouldn’t play along with that.

            But since I don’t actually have much to do today, I did 10min of Google searching for you. The below are some of the many such incidents which happened in the US over the last 2 years. I chose not to include the Canadian cases I found because this is fundamentally about American domestic politics.

            Seattle man cites new law to undress in women’s locker room. (In MSM outlets which picked up the story later this was spun as a “protest” against the law, rather than an emboldened pervert. So this one also doubles as the media covering up a sex crime. Twofer.)

            Ammon Idaho man photographs women in Target changing rooms, taking advantage of the chain’s new trans policy.

            Cross-dressing pedophile films woman and child in Woodbridge Virginia. Another crossdresser films “hours” of women changing in LA.

            For a grand finale: transgender “girl” allowed to enter girl’s lockerroom immediately used that right to perv on the girls, and was enabled by the school administration.

            Again, this isn’t all of the examples out there. Or even all the ones I could find in an afternoon. This was 10min of web browsing.

            So yeah, common sense 1 : nonsense 0.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            I would edit my previous comment but I’m worried it would disappear again.

            I used very rude and confrontational language, especially the final sentence. That was immature on my part and not helpful. It’s not good practice to post while frustrated.

            Hopefully the factual point I was trying to make won’t be drowned out by my tone.

          • Iain says:

            I am totally willing to accept a bit of intemperate language on your part if it means actual citations. Thank you. That said:

            Three of those links are just perverts getting caught recording people. Why are they relevant to a discussion of trans bathroom laws? Nobody is proposing that we legalize voyeurism. Note that all three of them were charged, including the one who happened to be trans herself, so it’s not even like we’re weakening our ability to prosecute creeps

            The Seattle link is the same as this one that Evan Þ posted earlier. I admit that public locker rooms are a potentially tricky area, and I am not opposed to reasonable compromises being made in those cases. Most of the people I’ve been arguing with have been focusing on bathrooms, though, which is weird. As Randy M pointed out, school bathrooms are the easy case.

            The ACLU has a significantly different take on the Minnesota case. I’ll take my summary from the source that doesn’t aggressively misgender the teenager in question, if you don’t mind. In any case, this link is as close as anybody has come to finding an actual misbehaving trans teenager, so I’ll give you points for that. I’d be interested to see how this case turns out.

            Anyways, I have posted way too much about this today, and I long ago started to repeat myself, so I am going to bow out of this conversation for now. I apologize if I have gotten excessively testy at any point in this sprawling conversation.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            Why are they relevant to a discussion of trans bathroom laws? Nobody is proposing that we legalize voyeurism.

            One of the major concerns is IMHO that it makes it harder to go after voyeurists.

            I think that it is very naive to merely divide the world into legal and illegal & ignore the issue of the question of how laws can be enforced.

          • Loquat says:

            The ACLU has a significantly different take on the Minnesota case.

            I can totally believe that the suggestive dancing, envious comments on other girls’ bodies, etc, were attempts to fit in rather than harass, but I don’t really see a good way the school could have balanced the trans girl’s desire to fit in with the other girls’ desire not to share a locker room with a biological male.

            A key allegation the ACLU leaves out, and indeed seems to pretend didn’t exist, given their lawyer’s comment that the school could provide alternate changing areas for girls uncomfortable with the situation, is that some girls did switch to using an alternate changing room, and the trans girl followed them there too. Probably because by that point the official girls’ room was empty.

            So really, the whole thing seems to boil down to whether the school can/should mandate social acceptance – it’ll be interesting to see if that’s what the court case ends up turning on.

          • BBA says:

            On some level these policies are about avoiding telling trans people “sorry, you don’t pass as well as you think you do.”

          • Garrett says:

            On a semi-relevant note, how many people here get the uncanny-valley feeling from trans people? If that occurred less, would acceptance be easier?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’ve been really disconcerted by a trans person in transition. This was before I’d heard of transness, so I was faced with a person whose gender was completely indeterminate to me.

            This was different from uncanny valley. I literally couldn’t access my ability to talk.

            Since then, i’ve assumed that I treat men and women differently, but I haven’t been able to identify what the difference is, and I haven’t had a problem with gender ambiguous people since– I might think they’re somewhat odd-looking, but I’m not massively weirded out.

            Also, I talked with someone decades ago who wore a convention costume that was split vertically, male on one side and female on the other. I saw the costume, but only noticed it as a bunch of bright colors and didn’t parse the gender aspect.

            Going somewhat further afield, I’ve talke with a man who wore clothes that signaled two messages. He wore black leather, but it was soft leather. His black leather cap had a silver pin with a garnet.

            He said that the most interesting people were the ones who noticed both messages.

          • Jiro says:

            On a semi-relevant note, how many people here get the uncanny-valley feeling from trans people? If that occurred less, would acceptance be easier?

            That’s equivalent to asking “if they pass, could…”

            Dividing people by gender is deeply baked into the human mind and trans people who can’t pass will trigger an alarm. There is no way to avoid this.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            is that some girls did switch to using an alternate changing room, and the trans girl followed them there too.

            This was relevant, and I wanted a more direct report. The lawsuit is at http://thecolu.mn/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/01.pdf and this part starts at paragraph 166.

      • Urstoff says:

        I think the status quo before the stupid moral panic about transgender sexual predators in bathrooms worked pretty well. If a transgendered person identifies and looks like a woman, she uses the women’s restroom, likewise for the men’s restroom.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Urstoff
          If a transgendered person identifies and looks like a woman, she uses the women’s restroom, likewise for the men’s restroom.

          Yep. (And still can, if zie passes.) Problems include…
          – People who for some biological reason look odd have always been targets for bullying. Any ‘moral panic’/’keep our bathrooms pure’ laws give the bullies cover and discourage the target from looking to authority for help.
          – People who really are in a transition process often have an odd mixture of physical characteristics which make it impossible to pass either way.

          • gbdub says:

            “The ‘moral panic’/’keep our bathrooms pure’ laws” in large part came about in reaction to the push for “make our bathrooms trans-friendly” laws rather than a spontaneous transphobic crackdown.

            Prior to that the issue was largely invisible – “don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t great, but it’s probably preferable to “moral panic/keep our bathrooms pure”.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            And under the status quo, there were no “keep our bathrooms pure” laws. People handled it informally, and it worked out.

          • random832 says:

            And under the status quo, there were no “keep our bathrooms pure” laws. People handled it informally, and it worked out.

            I don’t understand why you’re talking about laws. Moral panics aren’t laws. If there was a movement towards calling out suspected trans women and having them punished for using women’s restrooms, doing it by putting pressure on property owners to use their property rights in a discriminatory way doesn’t magically make it morally pure. (I’m not sure of the timeline and if there was or wasn’t, but saying “there were no laws” sounds an awful lot like conceding the point. Everything I described is certainly within the range of the statement “handled it informally”)

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I don’t understand why you’re talking about laws.

            Because the person I was quoting was talking about laws??

      • Deiseach says:

        Part of the problem is, whatever about public bathrooms for adults, when we talk about schools we are talking about a bunch of 13-18 year olds who are going through the most excruciatingly sensitive time of their lives, when their bodies are changing in odd ways, when pack mentality and conformism to the arbitrary fashion and beauty standards of the day are at their most rigorous and most policed, any deviation from what is deemed to be acceptable in weight/looks/clothes/tastes in pop culture is picked over and used to judge you, and this is even before you add in gender/sexuality turmoil.

        No matter what you do, somebody is going to be upset – not fake upset, either.

    • “Shouldn’t it be sex identity or something? Clarity of terms is a long lost cause on this issue.”

      As best I can tell, people concerned with transsexual issues invented a distinction between biological sex and psychological/social sex, assigning “sex” to one category and “gender” to the other. They then insisted that anyone who didn’t use the terms in their way was wrong.

      “My second thought was that I couldn’t really come up with a good argument against the guidelines”

      The guidelines imply that someone who is biologically male is entitled to go into the women’s room of a school. Our society has strong norms about interactions between males and females. One of them is that males are permitted to see other males naked, females other females, but that individuals are permitted see naked members of the other sex only under special circumstances, most obviously when they are married or lovers. Some people choose to abandon those norms by going to a nude beach or the like, but that’s doing it by mutual consent, not by compulsion.

      Another norm carries over a similar set of rules to observing other people urinating or defecating, perhaps in an even stronger form–I would feel less comfortable urinating in the presence of my wife than in the presence of a random adult male, the latter situation being common in men’s rooms.

      The rule being discussed requires schools to permit the routine violation of that norm by any male willing to claim to be a female or any female willing to claim to be a male. And it requires them to permit it for children–with regard to whom parents are likely to have especially strong feeling against the violation of sexual norms.

      My interpretation of the original rule was that it was bullying, the equivalent of the blue tribe telling the red tribe to eat dirt in order to prove their power. “We can force your children to violate your strongly held sexual norms, and there is nothing you can do to stop us.”

      It turned out there was something they could do, and they did it.

      That wouldn’t be the case if the rule was limited to post-surgery transsexuals, both because they are not obviously classified by genetic gender and because it would then be limited to a small number of people with a demonstrated strong reason for it. But the rule, as I understand it, allows anyone who claims to feel himself a member of the opposite gender to act as one.

      • skef says:

        One of them is that males are permitted to see other males naked, females other females, but that individuals are permitted see naked members of the other sex only under special circumstances, most obviously when they are married or lovers.

        How, in practice, would the relevant violations of these norms occur, and how much would they matter?

        I haven’t been in a so-designated woman’s bathroom, but I assume they have sinks and toilets, and the toilets are in stalls. Is that not correct? If it is, it seems like any nakedness in a woman’s bathroom would be in a stall.

        In a so-designated men’s bathroom, there’s a more public form of nakedness at urinals, but Burning Man pee-funnels aside, one generally needs a penis to use a urinal effectively, so any objectionable pre-op transgendered person will need to head to a stall. Is the worry that they’ll see nakedness on the way? Partitions between urinals are increasingly common, and probably not very expensive to install. Would those not be sufficient?

        And, of course, if the sort of worries you cite are the reason for the status quo, those doing the worrying must be putting the existence of gay people out of their minds quite effectively, given that they’ve been occasionally sharing group bathrooms with gay people their entire lives*. Does the fact that they can do so not have any weight against this worry over out-of-control bathroom users?

        * There are of course certain bathrooms that have been picked out (somehow) as locations for “cruising”. “Public” gay sex seems like an ebbing phenomenon, prompted in large part by past difficulties of arranging for private sex in a disapproving world, now practiced mostly by older men who find it familiar and the severely closeted. “If you outlaw gay sex, …”

        • Deiseach says:

          skef, the reasons you adduce about who is going to see someone’s genitals in either a male or female bathroom where closed stalls are available is exactly why I am unconvinced about the argument over public bathrooms needing a law to be designated gender-neutral.

          I’m not going to know if the woman in the stall beside me was born with a vagina, currently has a penis, or is going to have that penis reconstructed into a vagina. Not unless they stand in the middle of the bathroom floor and pull down their knickers and say “Take a look at that!”

          So all this “fear and horror and terror and discomfort” about being ‘found out’ for using the ‘wrong’ bathroom does not convince me. I’m willing to believe someone not very sure of their new gender identity or trying it out in public for the first time is going to be nervous and anxious and all the rest of it, but someone who can convincingly pass as their preferred gender and thinks of themselves that way and dresses, acts and in all other ways behaves as that gender – they really are fainting with nerves when they have to go into the ladies’ bathroom in a department store?

          No, I’m not convinced. It’s a wedge issue for getting the trans rights campaign out into public view and getting sympathetic responses and getting the public on board.

          • random832 says:

            (I’m having problems loading the page, so I’m not certain this reply will show up in the right place)

            @Deiseach

            So all this “fear and horror and terror and discomfort” about being ‘found out’ for using the ‘wrong’ bathroom does not convince me.

            Why do you think this is about failing to pass?

            Why don’t you think the more plausible scenario is: the fact that someone is trans has been made public (either through doxxing or through not being closeted) and someone else in their community who hates trans people is going to memorize their face and, on encountering them in the bathroom, publicly attack them (either directly assaulting them or making a fuss to the owner of the building).

            Or maybe: Someone who is convinced by right-wing media that evil deviant men are lurking in every women’s restroom attacks anyone who they consider insufficiently feminine, based on no real knowledge of their birth sex – sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong. The damage is done when they’re right, and they suffer no real consequences for being wrong.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            There’s also damage done if they’re wrong about a person being trans.

            People don’t like being attacked verbally or physically, and masculine-looking women can find being misgendered quite painful.

          • gbdub says:

            masculine-looking women can find being misgendered quite painful.

            But that’s why guessing at an ambiguous person’s gender has been, even before the wider awareness of transgender issues, a faux pas on the order of guessing if a woman is pregnant. I think a person would have to present as pretty definitely masculine, not just androgynous, for the issue to actually be raised in the average public restroom.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Why don’t you think the more plausible scenario is: the fact that someone is trans has been made public (either through doxxing or through not being closeted) and someone else in their community who hates trans people is going to memorize their face and, on encountering them in the bathroom, publicly attack them (either directly assaulting them or making a fuss to the owner of the building).

            As with the fear of getting beaten up, if somebody’s going to attack you they’re highly unlikely to confine their attacks to the toilets, meaning that which toilet you use is unlikely to make much of a difference.

            Or maybe: Someone who is convinced by right-wing media that evil deviant men are lurking in every women’s restroom attacks anyone who they consider insufficiently feminine, based on no real knowledge of their birth sex – sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong. The damage is done when they’re right, and they suffer no real consequences for being wrong.

            If that’s the worry, shoving a federal order down their throats (and, presumably, thereby making them even more incensed) might not be the best way to go about things.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            There’s something intellectually dishonest about accusing conservatives of unnecessarily harping on this issue when it wasn’t on their radar at all 10 years ago and only got on their radar because people pushed it on them.

          • Conservatives had a choice about whether and how much to push back.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Conservatives had a choice about whether and how much to push back.

            And? Everyone in a dispute has a choice about whether and how much to push back. That says absolutely nothing about which party in the dispute is in the right.

          • random832 says:

            And? Everyone in a dispute has a choice about whether and how much to push back. That says absolutely nothing about which party in the dispute is in the right.

            “That says absolutely nothing” is a very different position from declaring them to be in the right on the sole basis that they (purportedly, based on a standard that excludes discrimination by individuals) didn’t “shoot first”.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            It’s not that they didn’t shoot first means they are right. It’s the insistent claiming that they did shoot first when of course they didn’t. It’s intellectually dishonest to claim that we needed to pass laws allowing people to access the bathroom of the gender they claim because of conservatives passing laws saying otherwise.

            90% of conservatives really had no idea of transness 10 years ago. They wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from crossdressing. Many of them still can’t.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          When you start down this path, you are going to have to eventually answer the question “why do we have separate men’s and women’s room at all?”

          Even with the benefit of hindsight, I haven’t seen anyone draw the line that says the distinction is important yet people can violate it if they choose.

          • gbdub says:

            Even with the benefit of hindsight, I haven’t seen anyone draw the line that says the distinction is important yet people can violate it if they choose.

            That to me is the kicker. Any reason that justifies gender specific bathrooms in the first place also justifies the desire of cisgender people to not share bathrooms with people that appear to be the other gender.

            The ciswoman and the transwoman both want to use the women’s restroom for the same reason – they are uncomfortable using the restroom with men. But if there’s no way to identify a stranger’s gender, then that desire is not satisfied.

            Are transwomen not otherwise comfortable with gender-neutral restrooms comfortable sharing the restroom with a stranger who is by all outward appearance male? I presume not? (I’m sure there are some transpersons who don’t really give a damn about gendered bathrooms, except insofar as being able to use their preferred one is an important part of feeling accepted as their preferred gender. I’m not talking about them here)

          • Deiseach says:

            “why do we have separate men’s and women’s room at all?”

            Because in order to urinate or evacuate your bowels, uncovering your genitals is involved. Uncovering one’s genitals is also done in the context of sexual situations, or inviting sexual attention, whether that is intentional or accidental.

            The crushing presumption of heteronormativity (yes, I’m snarking here) means that uncovering your genitals in the presence of others with the same plumbing is not considered to be the same invocation of sexual situations, whereas being in the presence of someone with the opposite set does have those connotations.

            So people are uncomfortable about revealing or uncovering their private parts in front of others of a different sex, and that applies even where it’s done in semi-privacy (such as bathroom stalls).

            Maybe it’s irrational but a lot of human behaviour in a socially mandated context is irrational.

          • thehousecarpenter says:

            Having separate men’s bathrooms allows men to use urinals (without violating the taboo on a member of the opposite sex being able to see their genitals), which makes things more convenient for men because more urinals can be packed into a given volume than a set of stalls. Hence why it often takes much longer to wait for a space in the women’s bathroom than for the men’s.

            Apparently, a significant proportion of women are so hygeine-conscious that they refuse to make direct bodily contact with the toilet seat, which results in people urinating all over the seat being a much more common problem in women’s bathrooms than in mens (disclaimer: I don’t speak from experience; I’m not a woman).

            For women, women’s bathrooms seem to have a function as gender-segregated social spaces to some extent. (It’s interesting that the same doesn’t hold for men.)

          • Aapje says:

            Urinals are also more convenient and hygienic for men.

        • caethan says:

          If you’ve never attended an American high school: stalls in high school bathrooms (at least in any of the several I’ve been to) very often don’t have doors.

        • (Quoting me)

          One of them is that males are permitted to see other males naked, females other females, but…

          How, in practice, would the relevant violations of these norms occur, and how much would they matter?

          They probably wouldn’t in the case of bathrooms, although they might in the case of locker rooms, showers and the like.

          I was using the description of that norm to lead into the similar norm about people urinating or defecating. That is the paragraph after the one you quoted.

      • Jaskologist says:

        My interpretation of the original rule was that it was bullying, the equivalent of the blue tribe telling the red tribe to eat dirt in order to prove their power. “We can force your children to violate your strongly held sexual norms, and there is nothing you can do to stop us.”

        Gratifying to see a libertarian recognize this. If only the Reason crew were are wise as their forebears.

        This is why people trying to come up with possible compromises are so wildly off the mark. The conflict was the entire point, and if some sort of compromise were found, a fight would simply be picked in its place.

        • MNH says:

          It’s interesting to see you both supporting this. As a liberal who lives in overwhelmingly liberal environments, my initial response to hearing that North Carolinans wanted to ban trans people from the bathrooms they preferred to use was essentially identical: I felt that this was mostly just about using legal power to stick it to trans people because they generally disliked them, rather than just leaving them be and letting them use the restroom they want (because why would anyone actually care)

          In general though, I think that “my opponent is doing this to spite me/my team rather than out of the convictions they claim to hold” is rarely an accurate thing to assume, and thinking further I became convinced that the people who support these laws genuinely do actually care about trans people’s presence in their bathrooms.

          So, similarly, I can assure you that at least for me and the people I associate with, the rule wasn’t intended as bullying at all, and the patterns of thought that make you think it might be also make a lot of my friends think that you are the bullies looking for conflict.

          • random832 says:

            thinking further I became convinced that the people who support these laws genuinely do actually care about trans people’s presence in their bathrooms.

            If that’s the case, why is there any reason to believe, as many people on that side of the argument have openly claimed (along with isolated demands for rigor for me to prove that a widely hated group is discriminated against) here, that there was absolutely no extralegal discrimination before either law was passed, and thus that there was no problem for the law to solve? If those were their genuine convictions then presumably they had them before, right? So where the hell does the idea that they never acted on it come from?

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Jaskologist
          The conflict was the entire point, and if some sort of compromise were found, a fight would simply be picked in its place.

          Hopefully the next political football will not be kids who are in a fragile medical condition already. Maybe a wedding cake or something.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s to the advantage of each side to pick the most sympathetic and vulnerable victims to use as the picture of the harm caused by yielding to the other side. (Photogenic helps too) So, I wouldn’t count on another wedding cake. Unless the owner of the bakery has a baby who will die of some horrible disease because the bakery got shut down.

            Toxoplasma, again.

    • There is a benefit: Mental health for children experiencing discrimination due to forced bathroom choice in local districts that refuse to recognize transgender rights. The magnitude of this benefit is relatively small, but of course real for its recipients.

      The cost: This is a nearly impossible to measure damage on the social/moral/cultural fabric of local subsets of the population, to have the right to enforce moral codes at an individual level, that run against the progressive fashion of cosmopolitan/elite areas. It is an indignity of having a federal leader, not from your tribe or area, micromanage the way you run the lives of your children.

      The benefit goes to, mostly, bullied and fucked up kids who could use some help. The cost is incurred by damaging an amorphous set of small cultural enclaves and poisoning their belief in their relationship with federal institutions and sovereigns.

      The background noise is the similarly hard-to-measure suffering that goes on in the US, which is sort of the opportunity cost of debating whether the president should be allowed to decree bathroom choice for a nation. There is the bullied kid at school. There are also the dying homeless folks outside my apartment. There are the tortured drug war prisoners rotting in jail. There is a lot of background suffering.

      I think anyone with a general well calibrated liberal conscience would be strongly in favor of transgender rights, even as decreed by the president, since standing up for human rights is never wrong. The general calibration of red tribe is that transgenderism is a mental illness, and even if it wasn’t, people should stick to the time-tested tradition of either bein’ a boy or a girl.

      Gray tribe is the (potentially naive contrarian view, which I hold) that the liberal ideal is probably best, but it needs to come about culturally and locally, and presidential decrees on cultural micro-mgmt tends to not work basically ever.

      • Deiseach says:

        There is a benefit: Mental health for children experiencing discrimination due to forced bathroom choice in local districts that refuse to recognize transgender rights.

        How is this going to be any help in public bathrooms, where people don’t know the person using the facilities alongside them and so have no idea if that is “dude in a dress” unless it very obviously looks like “dude in a dress”?

        And in a school setting, people probably will know Jane-used to be-John or John-used to be-Jane, so the bullying is not going to stop merely because now the school legally has to let “Jane” or “John” use the bathroom of their choice. If the transgender kid wants to be treated “like the other boys/girls”, the last thing that a very public law suit is going to do is achieve that; now everyone will be looking at them in school and going “hey, there’s that trans kid!” Congratulations, Gavin Grimm, now everyone who didn’t know there was anything particularly out of the ordinary about you and so treated you like “just another 17 year old kid” will know that you used to be biologically female.

        I do have sympathy for the kid in this case, because it really does sound like a raw deal and it makes sense to sort the rules out. I have no sympathy for the finger-wagging sneering in the opinion column (see sample below) and that is what is getting people’s backs up about the whole issue.

        These are, I expect, the same enlightened folk who fret and worry about scary sex perverts masquerading as transgender women so they can lurk in the ladies room.

        You mean the parents of school-aged children? They’re the ones most opposed, according to this survey.

        I actually don’t care one way or the other, but what does annoy me is the line being peddled that it was the right-wing or conservatives or religious nutjobs or what have you who started the whole fuss about bathroom laws. No, the fuss started when the progressives started on about exactly this – “I feel so helpless and scared when I can’t use the bathroom of my preference” – about public restrooms where, as I said, nobody is going to know who you are. The way the sympathetic stories were peddled in the media, you would think there were police patrolling every restroom in the state demanding to see birth certificates, if not their genitals.

        When bathroom laws were passed as a result of this activism, then the story shifted to “we were just quietly going about our business not making any fuss and using bathrooms of our identified gender but the conservatives suddenly made a big deal about it all”.

        No. You can’t eat your cake and have it. Either you want nobody to make a big deal of you being trans, which includes not making a fuss over “No, I demand that everyone acknowledge I can pee in this bathroom not thatone because I am trans”, or you make a big to-do and get attention and get pushback.

      • random832 says:

        It is an indignity of having a federal leader, not from your tribe or area, micromanage the way you run the lives of your children.

        The way you run the lives of other people’s children.

      • Kevin C. says:

        @NatashaRostova

        “The cost is incurred by damaging an amorphous set of small cultural enclaves and poisoning their belief in their relationship with federal institutions and sovereigns.”

        What about those who see damaging this “amorphous set of small cultural enclaves” not as a cost, but as another benefit; that any “small cultural enclaves” that would be “damaged” by this are wrong and should not exist, and so any “damage” done to them is a good thing, and that such groups’ “relationship with federal institutions and sovereigns” should be analogous to a fly’s “relationship” with a flyswatter?

        • The Nybbler says:

          What about those who see damaging this “amorphous set of small cultural enclaves” not as a cost, but as another benefit;

          War to the knife.

          • Kevin C. says:

            “War to the knife.”

            First, I hope you mean that metaphorically.

            Second, even if it’s a futile war in which the opponent has you hopelessly outmatched and there is no chance at all of victory?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Metaphorically? Sure. I mean, it’s way more likely to involve guns than knives. But you’ve asked what you do when the other side will accept nothing short of either your complete capitulation or your complete destruction (“SURRENDER OR DIE” in the vernacular); what else is there to do but fight until one side or the other is destroyed?

            Second, even if it’s a futile war in which the opponent has you hopelessly outmatched and there is no chance at all of victory?

            Again, two choices. You fight until they beat you, or you practice saying “Caitlin Jenner is stunning and brave and can use whatever bathroom she wants”.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            “Metaphorically? Sure. I mean, it’s way more likely to involve guns than knives.”

            So you are, in fact, talking violence?

            “what else is there to do but fight until one side or the other is destroyed?”

            Seppuku? To avoid both the intolerable shame of surrendering to evil and the drawn-out agony of slow-but-inevitable defeat?

          • The Nybbler says:

            So you are, in fact, talking violence?

            Under the conditions you’ve given, there is going to be violence. Anything from Godzilla v. Bambi (government destroys the opponents with no real resistance) to civil war. Even seppuku counts as violence of a sort.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            “Under the conditions you’ve given, there is going to be violence.”

            Well, recall that my initial question was: “What about those who see damaging this “amorphous set of small cultural enclaves” not as a cost, but as another benefit?” Do you deny that such people, do, in fact, presently exist? Or are you saying that, given that they exist, violence (of some form) is already inevitable?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Or are you saying that, given that they exist, violence (of some form) is already inevitable?

            Some violence has already happened, mostly of the “government jails dissenters” type. More seems inevitable, though it’s not inevitable that it escalates until one side is destroyed; the uncompromising may be more willing to compromise once there starts to be some cost to them for being uncompromising.

          • Kevin C. says:

            @The Nybbler

            “it’s not inevitable that it escalates until one side is destroyed; the uncompromising may be more willing to compromise once there starts to be some cost to them for being uncompromising.”

            But do you think there’ll ever actually be such a “cost to them” in this case sufficient enough to induce compromise, given that it looks pretty clear that electing Trump and a Republican congress look grossly insufficient to that end? And if so, based on what evidence?

        • doubleunplussed says:

          The consequences of using flyswatters would be considerably different if flies had voting rights.

    • Jiro says:

      I suggest that before trying to come up with good arguments for or against transgender bathroom rules, you try to come up with good arguments for regular bathroom rules. Exactly why is it a woman doesn’t want a man in the women’s bathroom? It’s really hard to come up with an answer that doesn’t just amount to “women have a terminal preference for not having men in the women’s bathroom”.

      The fact that it’s hard to defend excluding the transgender is an artifact of the fact that it’s hard to defend excluding anyone.

      • Being unable to articulate or parameterize a reason for a base feeling, which is the cause for why you support a policy, isn’t a sufficient condition to discard the proposed policy.

        Why is women having a terminal preference, based on tradition or culture or whatever, for not having men in the women’s bathroom not reason enough?

        I think trying to derive these things from a naive rationalist principle will only reconvince your side, but won’t convince those who are arguing from a traditionalist framework.

        • Warren says:

          Not sure Jiro was taking a side. It seems to be a perfectly reasonable that if we could give a satisfying answer as to why we have gender segregated bathrooms at all, we might learn something about the issue at hand.

        • Aapje says:

          @NatashaRostova

          IMO, Jiro’s point was that the proponents of letting transgender people use a different bathroom than their birth and/or legal gender tend to argue that there is no good reason not to allow this, but this is a bad argument if the same argument can be made for gender segregated bathrooms in general & practical considerations are not actually people’s motivations. People can then reasonably be fearful of a slippery slope situation.

          For example: I like eating fish. Plenty of people seem to dislike it. I could make an solid argument that there is no good reason not to eat fish and that it is in fact quite healthy. This would however be a very stupid argument to make if my goal was to actually convince, as the objection is that these people dislike the taste.

          If they do somehow manage to accept my argument that their distaste should be overridden because of others concerns, then they then can no longer argue categorically against other demands that they eat unpleasing things because of the greater good. Insects, soylent green, dung. They may understandably be worried that giving in to eating one unpleasant thing for the greater good will end up with them eating only disgusting food in the future.

          Similarly, if people simply don’t want to pee & shit in close proximity to people of the other gender, due to deeply ingrained reasons that some people might consider sexist, but are nevertheless just not going to just change easily, you will get strong push back if you start chopping away at the gender segregation bit by allowing people to simply declare that they want to use the other bathroom.

          Frankly, I think progressives and conservatives are a lot more alike in this basic preference and that many progressives (would) hate sharing their bathroom with the other gender.

      • hlynkacg says:

        There was a post in one of the recent subreddit Culture War threads that I can’ seem to find now about the philosophy of Steve Bannon. The crux of it was the assertion that everything from to open borders to gay/transgender rights was an effort to undermine the concept of personal and social boundaries.

        Gender is one of the few area where drawing distinct boundaries is still socially acceptable and that’s why it’s being attacked.

      • Warren says:

        Yes.

        Also, even if the preference is completely irrational, that doesn’t change the fact that violating the preference would cause disutility to a significant number of people. I suspect that when Blue Team looks at this, they categorize the disutility as the knee-jerk product of oppressive social norms. The difficulty in articulating the opposing position seems to support this.

        This may be uncharitable, but I think that smuggled into the progressive argument is the notion that in a truly great society everyone would have the sensibilities of a nudist. On a deep level, the fact that we even have gender segregated bathrooms is seen as a callback to 1800s style patriarchy.

        • BBA says:

          I have said this before, and I’ll say this again: in a few decades every toilet will just have a sign that says “toilet” and segregating them by gender will seem just as backward and oppressive as segregating them by race.

          • Aapje says:

            And urinals will be banned.

            And women will still visit the bathroom in teams, but then for one to keep out the men.

          • Creutzer says:

            @Aapje: Unisex bathrooms are not universal in France, but they exist, incuding in a major university. There are, indeed, no urinals, but women’s behaviour is unchanged and clearly nobody thinks it’s a big deal, or any sort of deal for that matter.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Creutzer:
            America is, well, weird about bodies. I blame the Puritans, although perhaps incorrectly.

        • random832 says:

          the notion that in a truly great society everyone would have the sensibilities of a nudist. On a deep level, the fact that we even have gender segregated bathrooms is seen as a callback to 1800s style patriarchy.

          I don’t think these two things are as tied together as you think. The fact that notions of modesty don’t apply when people of the same sex are alone together could just as well be regarded as part of the patriarchy system. “No-one goes to the bathroom / showers / changes clothes around each other” is just as stable and non-sexist a configuration as “Everyone does”. Even “anyone can freely choose not to”, with availability of individual facilities, would be enough.

          The most baffling of all is when it’s applied to facilities that are already individual. Why does a typical gas station, for example, have two bathrooms, each with a locking outer door and exactly one toilet (and one urinal in one of them, which makes even less sense)?

          • rlms says:

            “Why does a typical gas station, for example, have two bathrooms, each with a locking outer door and exactly one toilet (and one urinal in one of them, which makes even less sense)?”
            Interesting, the UK doesn’t have that (usually because there is only one bathroom).

          • hlynkacg says:

            Interesting, the UK doesn’t have that (usually because there is only one bathroom).

            Heck this is often the case in the US (at least in my neck of the woods) most smaller business, gas stations, convenience stores, coffee shops, etc… only have 1 bathroom.

          • random832 says:

            Maybe “typical” was overstating it. It’s true of the majority of gas stations that I have personally visited and had occasion to note the bathrooms of, with more of the outliers having multi-stall restrooms than had only one single.

            But that’s obviously going to be biased by my specific circumstances (midwestern, suburban).

            Most businesses other than gas stations seem to have multi-stall restrooms, generally with only two or three, or no restroom for customer use.

      • John Schilling says:

        I suggest that before trying to come up with good arguments for or against transgender bathroom rules, you try to come up with good arguments for regular bathroom rules.

        Communal bathrooms inherently involve some degree of forced intimacy, and too much forced intimacy leads to discomfort and ultimately fear.

        This goes beyond actual visibility of Naughty Bits; as the eminent William Theiss noted half a century ago, what titillates most is not what we can actually see but what we imagine we might see if things go “wrong”. This applies to the viewee as well as the viewer, and in a rest room we have to consider not just inadvertent wardrobe malfunctions but the possibility of deliberate breach of social norms. And washing, application of makeup, adjustment of clothing, are minor intimacies and vulnerabilities in their own right. So don’t expect a flimsy rest-room stall partition to solve the problem.

        The overwhelming majority of the population are cis-hetero men who don’t mind a small degree of forced intimacy with other cis-hetero men, and cis-hetero women who ditto. The majority (though not overwhelming) of non-cis-hetero adults are confident in and comfortable with their ability to “pass” at least casually for the sake of social convention.

        So, where logistics strongly favor communal rest rooms, we solve 99.9+% of the forced-intimacy problem with one rest room that is effectively labled “cis-hetero males or else fake it for two minutes”, and the other “cis-hetero females or else fake it for ten minutes”.

        That’s why we have regular bathroom rules, which exclude almost nobody.

        High school bathrooms, unfortunately, get a concentrated dose of the exceptions. As Deiseach has already noted, Jane-with-a-penis can’t fake it because A: she probably hasn’t developed that level of confidence yet and B: everybody remembers when she was still John-with-a-penis. Probably creepy-John-with-a-penis, because he didn’t know whether he was supposed to be hanging out with the girls as one of them or trying to hit on them to prove his manhood, and hadn’t developed the skills or confidence for either. So even if you are expecting the school’s cis-female population to grow up into tolerant woke progressive adults who don’t care about such atavistic things, this may not be the best time, place, and transwoman to test that theory.

        • skef says:

          Oh good grief. I’m not “passing”, I’m just using the bathroom. Do you think when I’m in a one-holer I’m throwing glitter around?

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m not “passing”, I’m just using the bathroom.

            So why is it important which bathroom you use? And yes, I see that the same question could be asked of cis people. But if part of the demand for equal access is that it is important to be accepted as the gender one identifies as, then a degree of passing is involved. Otherwise there is the “that’s a guy/girl dressed up” dissonance, and that’s only going to be solved by making all bathrooms unisex where cis, trans and gender non-conforming all use the same facilities, so it doesn’t matter if it’s cis woman, trans woman, cis guy in a dress, cis non-conforming guy or however you look to the other people.

            I would be a lot more sympathetic to “I just want to use the bathroom, do you really think I’m sprinkling glitter around when all I want is to pee?” approach. I’m much less sympathetic to the “I feel scared and uncomfortable when I have to use this bathroom when all I want is to quietly use the bathroom of my choice without being outed or looked askance at, which is why I am making a big public deal out of demanding to be allowed use that bathroom”.

          • skef says:

            So why is it important which bathroom you use?

            I’m just gay, so overall I haven’t had to worry about this. The underlying reasons why I haven’t don’t have much to do with my other gay men’s changing their behavior, which is itself at least a little interesting.

            Gay men (and straight men) differ in how likely they will be perceived as gay just walking around. But except for the very insecure, I doubt anyone is, for example, removing or obscuring items of clothing before entering shared bathrooms. No “passing” is necessary because the conventions take care of everything. Men in bathrooms typically don’t look at each other beyond a glance, and all anyone seems to be worried about is whether those conventions are followed. Someone who beats up a guy in Daisy Dukes in the bathroom would probably beat them up anywhere.

            I argued against @DavidFriedman’s analysis earlier in the thread because it seems like a failed attempt at rationalization. Bathrooms are where we pee and poop, and while it’s possible to explain our attitudes about doing those through, for example, evolutionary arguments, they’re at best partially revisable through reasoning. People feel vulnerable when doing those things, hence the multiple layers of privacy. As other people here have already pointed out, that vulnerability (on all sides) probably needs to be addressed rather than criticized or explained away.

          • John Schilling says:

            Oh good grief. I’m not “passing”, I’m just using the bathroom.

            You’re doing both. If you’re not doing anything that would dispute the statistically-justified presumption of cis-heteronormality, that’s “passing” whether it is intended as such or not.

            It is, in this context, quite convenient that what convention requires to avoid causing fear, discomfort, or offense is exactly what you and everyone else would be doing anyway. That’s why the traditional rules have worked so well for so long for almost everyone – the only real rule for most was “don’t go out of your way to muck it up”. Can we perhaps get back to how we might help the few people who do have problems under the traditional rules?

          • skef says:

            You’re doing both.

            No, I’m really not. I’m doing absolutely nothing to blend in as a straight person when I go to the bathroom.

            What you describe is something other people are doing, mainly projecting heterosexuality onto everyone in the bathroom for their own comfort. Since you describe this as natural, it’s probably what you do. It’s quite likely many straight men have never given the issue a moment’s thought.

          • Aapje says:

            @skef

            ‘Passing’ can be a passive act. When there are social norms that are different based on your appearance, how you look determines how people treat you. ‘Passing as a man’ merely means that people apply the social norms that apply to men to you, because you look like a man to them. It doesn’t mean that you desire to be categorized that way and especially doesn’t mean that you make an effort to be categorized that way.

            Note that this goes beyond male/female & gay/straight. You can also pass as belonging to an age group, a social class, a member of a subculture (like a goth), etc. Quite often, ‘passing’ involves both appearances and behavior.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m doing absolutely nothing to blend in as a straight person when I go to the bathroom.

            Oh beeswax. So you prance into the loo scattering rainbow glitter and shouting “Whee! I’m here, I’m queer, and I’ve got a dick/pussy [delete as applicable] so suck it, bitches!”?

            Really?

            And so when women see other women going into the bathroom, they think “Ah, a straight woman, because if she were a lesbian, she’d have a T-shirt saying that and wouldn’t be going in here”?

            Really?

            One of us is getting confused between the “gender” and “sex” difference re: orientation here. There are cis lesbian woman and cis gay men as well as cis het women and cis het men. If you’re going to argue that a cis lesbian or gay man is “projecting heterosexuality” onto you when you use the bathroom of your choice, go fight it out with them, that’s not a problem for us straights.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            If you’re going to argue that a cis lesbian or gay man is “projecting heterosexuality” onto you when you use the bathroom of your choice, go fight it out with them, that’s not a problem for us straights.

            Not helpful.

          • skef says:

            @Aapje

            I’ve lost the thread. Are gay men not supposed to be men now?

            Say some guy hates Japanese people but also can’t really tell them apart from Koreans. When that guy looks at Japanese people and mistakenly takes them as Korean, are they passing as Korean in those instances?

            I understand that some people have built up a whole complex of ideas in their head for it makes sense to say “passing” in relation to gay men in bathrooms. But they’re confused, and that isn’t what the word means.

          • skef says:

            If you’re going to argue that a cis lesbian or gay man is “projecting heterosexuality” onto you when you use the bathroom of your choice, go fight it out with them, that’s not a problem for us straights.

            Not helpful.

            Not even coherent. Scanning up, I see that this is from a Deiseach post; I don’t read those anymore.

            Deiseach: what the hell are you talking about? There’s been an ongoing argument in this sub-thread about whether gay men are “passing” as straight men when they go to the bathroom in the eyes of straight men (in some sense). No one has accused gay men or lesbians of projecting anything until you blurted this out. You are sitting at your computer screaming at phantoms.

          • Aapje says:

            @skef

            Say some guy hates Japanese people but also can’t really tell them apart from Koreans. When that guy looks at Japanese people and mistakenly takes them as Korean, are they passing as Korean in those instances?

            Yes. In that specific context, Japanese people pass as Korean and thus escape the wrath of the person who hates the Japanese.

            Again, passing is how other people categorize you and in SJ, the term is always used in the context of the bad behavior that this either exposes you to or protects you from and/or the privileges that this gives or keeps from you.

            We are all constantly ‘passing’ as various groups every time we interact with people who do not know us very well, as they stereotype us based on our appearance & behavior and change their expectations and demands based on that.

          • Spookykou says:

            Skef, I have only ever heard the word “passing” in reference to trans people, so I was a bit confused by your comment, but John’s use of hetero was I guess intended to imply gay men passing as straight as well?

            I feel like it is important to keep in mind that, given this broad form of “passing” the kind that gay men and Trans men engage in is fundamentally different. I imagine for most gay men they “pass” without effort, because most people just assume that any given man they see is hetero. However most people do not assume that any given biologically female person is male, and so the degree to which Trans men would need to put effort into “passing” seems like it would obviously be drastically different than the effort required of gay men.

            I think that John’s point is not very reliant on the idea that gay men are or are not putting any effort into “passing” as straight, in any case, this seems pretty orthogonal to his post.

          • skef says:

            @Aapje

            I guess all I can say at this point is “that doesn’t sound to me how people generally use that concept”, but stipulating that as the definition for the sake of argument, I don’t doubt many people do that.

          • Nornagest says:

            I believe “passing” was actually coined in a racial context, back in the Jim Crow era when people with small amounts of black ancestry were nonwhite by legal standards (one-drop laws, etc.) but could “pass for white” socially.

          • Cypren says:

            @Nornagest: This is also my understanding of it.

            My grandfather is one-quarter African-American and grew up in Georgia in the Jim Crow era (born in 1923), but his features are such that he mostly looks like a typical white Southerner with a permanent deep tan. He’s spoken in the past about how he was generally assumed to be white by most people he interacted with, but his mother (who was half-black, one-quarter Cherokee and one-quarter white) was quite clearly not. Fortunately, they lived on a reasonably remote farm where his parents were more or less left alone even though anti-miscegenation laws were still in effect at the time (and indeed, for more than 40 years afterwards).

            My understanding is that my great-grandparents were very careful not to flaunt their marriage (they had traveled to Pennsylvania to marry) in public and left their relationship somewhat generally ambiguous to get along with the locals near their farm; if people wanted to assume she was his housekeeper and not his wife, they were happy to let them rather than risk a confrontation. They only lived in Georgia at all because my great-grandfather had ancestral property there; otherwise, I’m sure they wouldn’t have risked it. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for them both, or how much they must have loved each other in order to go through with it for so many years. It’s also hard to imagine the unease they must have felt for their unborn child while my great-grandmother was pregnant, or the relief when my grandfather turned out to be white enough to “pass”.

            It’s interesting how the racial characteristics get diluted over time. My mother has a bit darker skin than I do and her hair is quite a bit more naturally frizzy than a typical white person’s, but at this point, five generations removed from my great-great-grandmother (who was the child of a freed slave and the last pureblood African-American in my lineage), I have ghost-white skin and I doubt anyone would look at me and suspect I was anything other than a typical white person of Scotts-Irish-English descent.

          • dndnrsn says:

            NAACP leader Walter White is a good example of someone who could pass. (Nominative determinism?) He was 5/32 black – which, by the standards of the time, made him black. He intentionally identified himself as black, except when he was in situations where being black would be dangerous.

            Conversely, there’s been a few high profile cases (eg Rachel Dolezal) of the opposite happening – white people passing themselves off as light-skinned black people. That’s a more recent development.

            @Cypren: Around here, the important question is, can you pass for a Puritan or Quaker?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Johnny Otis passed for black, though I don’t know how much his white ancestry/background was an open secret.

            The Color of Water might be a weird case– a Russian Jewish woman left her abusive father to marry black men and live in a black community.

            I’ve only heard about the book, but what I heard is that she insisted she was black in spite of looking white.

          • Deiseach says:

            Also not helpful to say “projecting heterosexuality” when what they mean in this context is “projecting cisnormativity”.

          • skef says:

            Also not helpful to say “projecting heterosexuality” when what they mean in this context is “projecting cisnormativity”.

            Thats. not. what. we. were. arguing. about.

        • Deiseach says:

          So, where logistics strongly favor communal rest rooms, we solve 99.9+% of the forced-intimacy problem with one rest room that is effectively labled “cis-hetero males or else fake it for two minutes”, and the other “cis-hetero females or else fake it for ten minutes”.

          Or exceptions like “mother with small boy that she brings into the ladies (because nobody expects her to go into the gents)” or “father with small girl that he brings into the ladies (because nobody expects him to bring her into the gents)”.

          Where people are uncomfortable (e.g. they think “that is a guy dressed up as a woman”), sure, maybe equal-access laws will prevent things like challenges or telling the trans/non-gender conforming cis person “you can’t come in here”. But it is not going to make people stop thinking “that is a guy dressed up as a woman”, or at least not until a chunk of time has gone by and attitudes have caught up, which is probably why the fight is being fought now, to get attitudes to catch up and cut down on that time-span.

          • Randy M says:

            Nit pick:

            “father with small girl that he brings into the ladies (because nobody expects him to bring her into the gents)”.

            Is that the norm? I’ve always assumed I’d get dirty looks at the least if I brought my 3 year old into the ladies room. We went in the men’s room.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Randy, I agree with you. I’ve several times seen dads bring their daughters into the men’s room, and people might’ve felt a little awkward, but things were fine.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Thirded. In the US, small children go in whichever bathroom the parent belongs in.

          • rlms says:

            It is the same in the UK in my experience.

          • Aapje says:

            I’ve been made to believe that baby changing facilities are sometimes present in women’s restrooms, but pretty much never in men’s restrooms, so it can be far more practical to use the women’s restrooms.

            PS. Note that I refuse to acquire a baby to verify this.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I’ve been made to believe that baby changing facilities are sometimes present in women’s restrooms, but pretty much never in men’s restrooms

            This is false (in the U.S. in most of the places I have been). Diaper changing stations are near ubiquitous in large, well-frequented public facilities in my neck of the woods.

            And, ahem, you wouldn’t need to acquire a baby to notice whether or not a bathroom has installed a diaper changing table.

          • Randy M says:

            Eh, a baby changing station is just a sort of plastic table that folds down from the wall. One can usually find a suitable stand in elsewhere. The real problem arises when you don’t bother encumbering yourself with a diaper bag because you’re just running in for a few minutes and “Oh no, what’s that smell?”and I don’t think the ladies room even gives out free wipes & diapers.
            Anyway, lessons like that are what firstborns are for.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I never visit women’s restrooms, so I am never in the position to notice that the women’s restrooms is laid out differently.

            Also, my PS was an attempt at dry humor.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            I have no idea why you think I am talking about women’s restrooms?

            I am male. I see diaper changing stations all the time.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            That can be true and yet there can be a substantial disparity. My point is that you presumably can’t actually compare the numbers.

            Obama apparently thought that there was enough of a disparity to do this:

            http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/12/health/diaper-changing-tables-bathrooms-babies-act/

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Aapje:
            Note the difference between “disparity” and “almost never” (which is what you said originally).

            Note also that the act covered federal facilities only, which basically just says “Yes, you can and must spend some of your facilities budget to install changing tables in the men’s rooms”. Government facilities in the US almost always lag behind on things like this, because government spending is such a politicized topic.

            Go to any mall, box store or movie theater built or renovated any time in, I am guessing, at least the last 20 years, and changing tables abound. They are cheap, a one time cost and take no room. I can’t ever remember failing to find one when needing to change my children’s diapers. My oldest is 19. I changed about 50% of all the diapers changed by parents, maybe more, as my wife was working full time and in grad school.

          • Aapje says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Ok, that is fair enough. In my country they seem to be quite rare in men’s rooms though. I’ve never seen one of those wall thingies, for example.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      it does seem that Trump has gone against his prior comments on trans bathrooms issues (I believe he once stated that he felt Caitlyn Jenner could use whatever bathroom she wanted).

      IIRC the Jenner bathroom comment was made in reference to one of Trump’s hotels, so I don’t think the new federal instruction counts as “going against” this. At any rate, it seems quite coherent to say “I think transgender people should be allowed to use whichever toilet they want, so that’s going to be the policy in buildings I own; but I also don’t think this is an area where the federal government should get involved, so as President I’m going to leave the issue up to local governments to deal with.”

    • rlms says:

      RE sex/gender:
      I think the word “identity” is superfluous. If you buy into the idea that sex and gender are separate, then gender is what you think you are (cis men and trans men have the same gender) and sex is what you are physically (cis men and pre-op trans women have the same sex). So “sex identity” doesn’t really make sense as a concept, and “identity” is redundant in “gender identity”, unless you are skeptical about trans people *really* being the gender they claim, and want to add “identity” to acknowledge that. But in that case, you should really just use “sex”, because “gender” is a stupid Victorian euphemism that should only be grudgingly tolerated because it is useful to have two terms.

      • John Nerst says:

        The thing is, I suspect many would object to this:

        cis men and pre-op trans women have the same sex

        …or at the very least object to it being pointed out.

        • Creutzer says:

          Well, if x has a penis and female hormone balance, then the computation of sex(x) crashes in my brain. But if a pre-op trans woman who receives no hormone treatment and a cis man don’t have the same sex, then I really don’t see what why we’d bother having the word around.

        • rlms says:

          I was using pre-op as shorthand for pre-op, pre-hormones, and pre-any other physical changes. Possibly some people would disagree with that statement, but I don’t think many would.

    • random832 says:

      (Making this a second-level reply because it’s something that’s come up in several different parts of the thread.)

      Can we break down the concept for a moment? I see a lot of people in this thread making an unstated (or more or less stated) assumption that either under the policy as it stood before, or under progressives’ preferred set of rules, actually-cisgender boys could gain access to the girls’ restroom on a whim by a mere declaration, without any other steps to obtain a diagnosis as being trans and without even having to commit to their proclaimed self-identification for longer than the duration of a single bathroom trip.

      Is there any actual evidence for this being the case?

      • Dr Dealgood says:

        There is no difference between an “actually-cisgender” heterosexual boy and a teenaged “trans-lesbian.” So it seems like kind of a moot point.

        Beyond that, so-called medical gatekeeping is routinely denounced as transphobic by the LGBT movement and requirements for amending sex on official documents has only been getting easier over time. Mere declaration is the explicit goal, and if the law or school policies today have higher standards we can count on them being challenged in the courts.

        • random832 says:

          I’m not sure what the point of your comment is. Yes, we’re all aware that some people don’t think anyone is really transgender. I strongly suspect that not everyone who made the assumption I noted shares that belief with you, and I’d like to hear from them.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            The second paragraph is the answer to your question; the first paragraph is me disputing your question.

            The movement pushing for lower requirements to legally declare a new sex is the same movement pushing for trans-in-bathrooms. We could posit a US with strict medical gatekeeping on trans and a bathroom free-for-all but it seems politically unlikely. A victory on one front implies a victory on both.

      • Deiseach says:

        California’s law, which is being praised as the country’s most progressive, allows all genders equal access to restrooms – but only single-occupancy ones. So that means if there’s one loo on the premises it has to be accessible to everyone, cis trans or otherwise.

        That’s not a bad compromise, but I wonder if they’re going to leave it at that or later on broaden it to multi-occupancy bathrooms, which is where all the trouble is really about.

        As to “actually-cisgender boys could gain access to the girls’ restroom on a whim by a mere declaration”, I don’t actually think that’s a real risk – but on the other hand, ‘peeping toms’ are a real thing and I’m sufficiently cynical not to rule out the possibility that somebody is going to try this because it’s how they get their jollies. Human sexuality is a wild and blooming meadow of unique blossoms, don’t you know.

        It doesn’t actually help their case that the more idealistic/partisan exponents are all “You’re trans if you say you’re trans. There is no ‘born in the wrong body’, that was only a narrative in the early days to get past the medical gatekeepers. Nobody has the right to question you or doubt you: your declaration is enough”. That’s fine for psychological reassurance, but it doesn’t allay problems with “They wouldn’t let me use the women’s restroom because they said I look like a man” if you do look, speak and dress like a man.

        And this is a lovely trendy ad, but it failed of its message with me because when I saw it, unfortunately the first thing that popped into my mind was “this is a guy in a dress”, which means I’m a transphobe*, because that is (apparently) a genuine young transwoman. So bathroom equal-access law or not, if I’m washing my hands at the sink and this person is standing beside me doing likewise after we’ve both used the bathroom, I’m not going to freak out but I am still going to think “guy in a dress” not “another woman”. I don’t know how that will work out for trans rights, where the whole idea is to stigmatise such thoughts (don’t think “guy in a dress”, think “person presenting as female therefore they are female”) and make them as untenable as anti-gay prejudice.

        *(Having your facial recognition system ping “guy” not “girl” in this instance is what makes me a transphobe. Though it doesn’t always ping that way; I’ve seen people who say “I’m a trans -” and I’m agreeable to call them a man or a woman, because they do look like a man or woman in face and body. Maybe those are the cases nearer to intersex, where uterine hormonal effects did have more of an effect and later hormonal treatment amplified this? I don’t know).

        • The original Mr. X says:

          As to “actually-cisgender boys could gain access to the girls’ restroom on a whim by a mere declaration”, I don’t actually think that’s a real risk – but on the other hand, ‘peeping toms’ are a real thing and I’m sufficiently cynical not to rule out the possibility that somebody is going to try this because it’s how they get their jollies. Human sexuality is a wild and blooming meadow of unique blossoms, don’t you know.

          I did come across a similar case a while ago, although obviously since this is just one incident the usual caveats apply.

        • random832 says:

          @Deiseach

          I’m sufficiently cynical not to rule out the possibility that somebody is going to try this because it’s how they get their jollies.

          The assumption that I asked about was that the policy would in fact give those people cover, not that they’d try it at all. (There’s possibly also an argument that they might be emboldened by it even if it did not actually give them cover, but such an effect would be inherently temporary)

          • Evan Þ says:

            Would it be temporary? “You might get found after an investigation” is very different from “People will notice and stop you immediately because there’s no possible excuse.”

          • random832 says:

            By “temporary” I mean “assuming that the policy does not give people cover and people are emboldened it nonetheless, there will be a brief uptick of people doing it, it will be enforced well against them (conditionally true on the policy not in fact giving them cover), and they will no longer be emboldened.”

            The example that has been brought up seems to show that people who do this won’t tend to go to any effort to not present as 100% traditionally masculine.

            I also don’t think that switching enforcement response from “immediate lynch mob” to “at least some semblance of investigation” is actually a bad thing.

            (And you are also disregarding other possible excuses like “really urgently had to go and the men’s room was full/broken/too far away” and “walked in the wrong one by mistake”)

          • Aapje says:

            @random832

            I imagine that under the old rules, merely the fact that a person who is legally a man was found in the women’s bathroom can be used as evidence of nefarious intent. Explanations that this person could legitimately offer generally requires collaborating evidence, like him being a plumber or having a small girl with him who needs to pee.

            Under the new rules, such a person could presumably claim to be trans, without any additional evidence. The result is that it is permanently more difficult to build a case against this person.

            In fact, we may assume that many cases of peeping or sexual assault involve he said/she said scenario’s, where the unexplained presence of the man in the women’s restroom is the final drop that enables a conviction. So we could very well see a huge reduction in successful prosecutions if ‘anyone can declare to be of the opposite gender at any time and everyone has to believe them’ becomes the norm.

          • random832 says:

            @Aapje

            Under the new rules, such a person could presumably claim to be trans, without any additional evidence.

            …if ‘anyone can declare to be of the opposite gender at any time and everyone has to believe them’ becomes the norm.

            I asked if there was any reason to believe this would happen, and no-one engaged with the question except Dr Dealgood. I am completely unconvinced by his argument that an opposition to medical gatekeeping automatically entails an opposition to the notion that something disingenuous is going on if someone presents as 100% masculine, has never claimed to be trans before, and does not subsequently claim to be trans outside the context of bathroom visits.

          • random832 says:

            Er, on looking through this again, I’m somewhat embarrased to notice that this subthread is actually in reply to my post that I referred to.

            However, @Deiseach’s post doesn’t actually engage the “would the policy really set a ‘mere declaration’ standard” issue (except to note that she doesn’t think it would be the case – I want to hear from people who do), and here you are repeating it again without providing any justification.

          • Aapje says:

            @random832

            Do you agree with me that there are people who believe that any declaration of transness should be taken at face value even if someone “presents as 100% masculine and has never claimed to be trans before”? If you, your argument is merely that you believe that judges judge people according to the beliefs that actual people do believe.

            It seems to me to be a rather weak argument to claim with confidence that judges won’t do that, especially if the law is written in a way that make that a logical interpretation of the law. At a certain point the judge has no leeway even if he or she believes something different.

            PS. I left out “and does not subsequently claim to be trans outside the context of bathroom visits” because if people start using it as a (non-true) defense, they could just start making those claims to bolster their defense.

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje:

            Do you agree with me that there are people who believe that any declaration of transness should be taken at face value even if someone “presents as 100% masculine and has never claimed to be trans before”?

            I am unaware of anybody who holds this stance. Do you have an example?

          • Loquat says:

            How would you determine that someone “never claimed to be trans before”? Maybe in a high school where everyone’s known the person for years you could say that, but in a typical adult context like bar bathrooms, public swimming pool locker rooms, etc where everyone involved is a stranger or close to it, it’s impossible to prove a negative extraordinarily difficult to prove the universal that Person X has never told anyone they were trans ever before.

          • Jaskologist says:

            @Iain

            Here’s the actual text of Obama’s order:

            The Departments interpret Title IX to require that when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that
            differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity. Because transgender students often are unable to obtain identification documents that reflect their gender identity (e.g., due to restrictions imposed by state or local law in their place of birth or residence), requiring students to produce such identification documents in order to treat them consistent with their gender identity may violate Title IX when doing so has the practical effect of limiting or denying students equal access to an educational program or activity.

            It was the explicit policy that schools must go off of student say-so and nothing more.

          • random832 says:

            It was the explicit policy that schools must go off of student say-so and nothing more.

            On a sufficiently bureaucratic say-so that it’s implausible to expect a student to be able to switch back and forth quickly enough to execute his evil plan of invading the girls’ restroom.

            You’re still focusing way too much on medical gatekeeping and not on the fact that “passing oneself off as trans” requires way too much commitment to be plausible.

            I also strongly suspect “student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate” is intended to only allow the student to do so without involving their parent/guardian if they’re over 18.

          • Iain says:

            That’s just saying that students don’t need official documents to tell their school that they’re trans. It doesn’t mean that schools can’t reject obviously insincere cases. Obama’s order has been in place for nearly a year. Can you point to a case where this has actually been a problem?

            In general, laws tend to get applied with a modicum of common sense. Anybody who wants to claim that our modern hyper-liberal society has outlawed common sense in favour of political correctness should be prepared to prove it with a real-world example. (In an ideal world I would hope for multiple examples, but at this point my expectations are low.)

          • Randy M says:

            I also strongly suspect “student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate” is intended to only allow the student to do so without involving their parent/guardian if they’re over 18.

            Without being very explicitly spelled out, that would depend on the district, I suppose. “Student or parent” could mean by the student alone only if the student is their own legal guardian, or it could mean “listen to the parent unless it contradicts the student’s stated wishes, then go with the student.” Similar things have happened before.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            There’s nothing in there about the school being authorized to reject any claim. And there’s a substantial group in the transcommunity that rejects the need to pass, so who are you to play gatekeeper?

            The student does need to notify the school first, though. So Joe can’t just decide during lunch he’s a girl and check out the new locker room.

          • BBA says:

            In general, laws tend to get applied with a modicum of common sense.

            A modicum of common sense is too much to expect from school administrators. That’s why this is even an issue in the first place.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Gotta love Zero Thought Tolerance policies…

          • Iain says:

            @Randy M: My challenge might have been poorly phrased. I’m specifically looking for cases where giving trans people access to bathrooms has been taken too far.

            I’m well aware that — given a sufficiently large country — implausibly dumb things happen every day. But that only strengthens my point. Nobody seems to be able to produce even one case of trans bathroom laws being taken overboard. I’ve been hearing a lot about how this entire situation is an obviously exploitable recipe for disaster, and yet even given the remarkable propensity of human beings to screw things up, there has been a near-complete lack of examples. (There has been one link to a trans woman who was arrested for voyeurism, and one link to a man who walked into the women’s change room as a pseudo-protest against trans bathroom legislation. Am I forgetting anything?)

            If horny teenage boys could easily dupe school administrators into letting them stroll through the women’s locker room scot-free, I have a hard time believing it wouldn’t be happening. At some point, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

          • Randy M says:

            Sorry, I deleted my comment while you were replying because I didn’t think it added anything and was kinda dog-piling. Your reply can stand equally well in response to the previous two comments, and my thoughts here still stand (probably not a big deal in schools, maybe in other situations)

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            To be honest, I’m not sure what you want.

            These laws have existed for months, if that, and World War T hadn’t even started in earnest until after Obergefell ended the gay marriage fight. On top of that, the press has a long history of covering up sex crimes by their favored groups.

            You* advocated for a new law to enforce a new set of social norms. I** pointed out that the logical consequence of this is going to be a lot of chaos, when it’s no longer possible to eject men and “women” with penises from women’s locker rooms and bathrooms.

            Demanding incontrovertible evidence of the results of a policy which hasn’t been implemented yet is poor form. It’s on you* to show that it won’t have those results before you get to make the change.

            *Metonym for trans locker room/bathroom folks.
            **Metonym for status-quo locker room/bathroom folks.

          • Iain says:

            @Randy M: No worries. I thought your post was fine.

            @Dr Dealgood: As Jaskologist posted above, Obama put out an executive order about this nearly a year ago. Many jurisdictions have included gender identity in their non-discrimination laws for longer than that. This is not some new phenomenon that just happened in the last couple of months. These policies already exist.

            And don’t give me this conspiracy nonsense about the media covering up sex crimes (which I note, in passing, is incompatible with your claim that these laws don’t exist yet.) Maybe the NYT wouldn’t write about it, but you can’t possibly expect me to believe that Breitbart, say, wouldn’t be all over one of these cases. You were talking in another branch of the thread about how trans girls in high school are “boys with fully-intact male genitals, teenage lust and no problem with deviant behavior in girl’s rooms”. Prove it. Show me the deviant behaviour, or else stop making these claims.

          • It doesn’t mean that schools can’t reject obviously insincere cases.

            The relevant text (emphasis mine):

            The Departments interpret Title IX to require that when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity.

            That looks pretty explicit.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            I posted a reply here but it was eaten after I tried to edit it. Here is a repost of that comment.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I quote you language directly from the order stating that schools are required to accept a student’s word, and you just declare that “oh, but we don’t really mean that.” Based on what, exactly?

            If you wouldn’t even accept proof direct from the text, I’m skeptical you’re going to accept any “proof” about the effects of a policy that is still tied up in appeals, ie: not in effect yet. After all, you already know that such cases have already popped up (more than once, in Target, where they famously embraced such bathroom policies) in similar circumstances. Why does it have to happen in the specific context of public schools before people are allowed to draw conclusions from those other cases?

            We don’t have to pass the law to see what’s in it. What was declared by executive can be undone the same way.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            I am unaware of anybody who holds this stance. Do you have an example?

            I’m a bit late to this, given that so many comments came after, but since it was a direct challenge to me:

            Ozymandias appears not just to believe this, but also that it is the common stance of trans activists (see question 6 and especially question 7):

            “But to address the main point: trans activists are pushing a very clear and concrete definition for transness. It’s “if a person says they’re trans, then they’re trans.” It is hard to be mistaken about this definition!”

          • Iain says:

            @Jaskologist: I fail to see how a couple of men getting arrested for voyeurism is a knock against letting trans women use the washroom. Your entire case is that there will no longer be any defence against creeps — but if these guys were arrested and charged, then clearly Target’s policy hasn’t made it impossible to deal with creeps. So, problem solved?

            Again: I will start worrying about rogue teenage boys asserting that they are transgender to force schools into letting them creep on the women’s locker room the very moment that somebody can show me a single shred of evidence that this is a real world problem. Laws exist in an interpretive context. I assert that no judge would interpret the law the way you claim. If you disagree, find me the case.

            Also again: this is not a new, completely untested policy. The same rules have been in place in Toronto since 2012. Is four years long enough to evaluate the policy? Are American teenagers worse people than Canadian teenagers?

            ETA:
            @Aapje: Okay, fair point. I suspect that Ozy was not considering the kind of “ha ha ha I said I’m trans now you have to let me do whatever I want” scenario that people here seem to be so afraid of, but at face value that certainly counts. If Ozy stood behind that comment even in the obviously insincere cases, then I would disagree with them.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            Ozy has a similar stance to you: people would not fake it.

            IMHO, this is a common human failure mode: ‘stuff that my beliefs don’t account for won’t happen because it would undermine my beliefs’.

          • Iain says:

            I mean, sure, I think nobody will fake it in ways that cause significant problems for the system. I do so because nobody has been able to present me with any evidence otherwise. I am willing to be proven wrong, but I’m not going to roll over and admit to wishful thinking just on your say-so. The same failure mode works on both sides.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @loquat:

            it’s impossible to prove a negative extraordinarily difficult to prove the universal

            Congratulations: You have been awarded 10 MachinaBucks!

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Deiseach
          As to “actually-cisgender boys could gain access to the girls’ restroom on a whim by a mere declaration”, I don’t actually think that’s a real risk – but on the other hand, ‘peeping toms’ are a real thing and I’m sufficiently cynical not to rule out the possibility that somebody is going to try this

          Heh. In a US multi-stall ladies restroom, getting much peeping done would require taking a position in front of the stall to peep under its door. So the peeper would be at risk, if someone else enters the restroom, of screams of “Eeek, call the police” or perhaps “Talley-ho!”

      • hls2003 says:

        First of all, I think it’s already stealing a base when people refer to it as “bathroom policy.” The bathroom is probably where it’s at its least obtrusive, since most have at least one stall. The bigger issue is common areas – locker rooms, showers, dressing rooms. I don’t know about anyone else, but at my health club, there’s always some dude (and for some reason it always seems to be some portly elderly gentlemen) who can’t be bothered to keep his towel around his waist at his locker, or doesn’t much cover up when going from the shower, or flaps his junk while shaving at the sink. So nudity issues are probably at a lower ebb in bathrooms due to widespread stalls; it’s the remainder that end up being a “public” issue. Limiting it to bathrooms is already positing the easiest case.

        Second, in my opinion the locker room problem isn’t limited to, or even particularly about, transgender people. It’s an issue with eroding the norm where a woman can simply say “there’s a penis in the women’s locker rooms – get him out, security.”

        Current estimates suggest 0.2-0.4% of the population is transgender. That’s 700,000 – 1.4 million transgendered people in the U.S. I find that high, myself, given media interest in inflating numbers, but there is some evidence for it. Of those, presumably some fraction will never have occasion to walk around a locker room in the nude.

        The total number of transgendered people is more or less comparable to the 750,000 people currently registered as sex offenders in the U.S. Bear in mind that many sex offenders are guilty of exactly what progressive locker room policy presumably asks to be ignored – indecent exposure to, or prurient observation of, children. Those are felony sex offenses. They are generally considered bad in and of themselves, regardless of whether physical molestation follows. One consequence of this cultural debate is be to reduce that stigma, if “just looking” or “just hanging it out there” becomes just something everyone is now expected to encounter in a public nudity setting. I suppose that might be wrong or right – certainly registering fewer sex offenders who merely urinated in an alley should be considered a good thing – but it needs to be considered.

        Moreover, the prevalence of exhibitionistic disorder may be approximately 2-4% in the population – ten times the population of transgenders. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/sexuality,-gender-dysphoria,-and-paraphilias/exhibitionistic-disorder

        Voyeurism may be two to four times more common than exhibitionism, particularly in males. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/sexuality,-gender-dysphoria,-and-paraphilias/voyeuristic-disorder

        Even if one assumes that there is no overlap between those disordered populations and transgendered people (dubious, but let’s presume), there is still a potential population 10-40 times their size that gets a boost from the proposed elimination of gendered nudity norms. In other words, even if there are zero problems with transgendered people themselves, it doesn’t solve the problem; their impact would likely be negligible anyway given the much larger population of potential rule abusers. The issue isn’t really the tiny number of transgendered, it’s the orders-of-magnitude larger number of perverts who are now harder to spot and discourage.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          and for some reason it always seems to be some portly elderly gentlemen

          My own theory is that men who grew up before homosexuality became accepted and visible are less likely to view the male body in sexual terms, and so have less of a problem letting it all hang out. I doubt many people nowadays would be happy buying a group shower, but those were apparently once a thing.

          • hls2003 says:

            I usually figure it overlaps with the “I’m old, outta my way” attitude you also sometimes see in elderly motorists.

            Or possibly once the testes sag far enough, the towel is no use anyway.

          • skef says:

            Older men would be more likely to describe these cultural changes using words like “snowflake”.

            Regardless, I think you have the diagnosis wrong. Men have become more shy about their bodies as their bodies have become more sexualized in the broader culture, not due so much to homosexuality but the media emphasizing male hotness in their efforts to draw female viewers and therefore dollars. A lot more of those men are in the locker rooms after workouts focused on trying to look better than used to have that goal.

            Anyway, boys: do what you need to, except for wearing the towel you’re going to dry off with around your sweaty body to the shower. That’s just gross.

            [I admit it: I walk to the shower naked for this reason (but from with a towel wrapped around me). Doing anything else is just inconvenient given the infrastructure. Showering in a swimsuit like some people are doing now just seems baroque.]

          • Jaskologist says:

            My guess is that the older you get, the less you care what others think. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Regardless, I think you have the diagnosis wrong. Men have become more shy about their bodies as their bodies have become more sexualized in the broader culture, not due so much to homosexuality but the media emphasizing male hotness in their efforts to draw female viewers and therefore dollars. A lot more of those men are in the locker rooms after workouts focused on trying to look better than used to have that goal.

            OTOH, there does seem to have been a broader trend in decreased physical intimacy among men over the past half century or so, and the increased visibility of homosexuality seems like the most obvious cause.

          • skef says:

            @X

            My assertion that [A] is not the result of acceptance of homosexuality is not meant as an implicit argument that [B] is not the result of acceptance of homosexuality.

          • lvlln says:

            Jaskologist:

            My guess is that the older you get, the less you care what others think. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

            This was my intuition as well, and it matches my own personal experience. When I was in my teens, I was super conscious about being naked in front of others in locker rooms and such. Now in my early 30s, I just don’t care and only cover up to the extent that I’m not obviously making anyone else uncomfortable. And I’ve grown generally convinced that we should kill the nudity taboo and all bathrooms & locker rooms need to go gender-neutral ASAP.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            My assertion that [A] is not the result of acceptance of homosexuality is not meant as an implicit argument that [B] is not the result of acceptance of homosexuality.

            What are [A] and [B] referring to here?

          • skef says:

            What are [A] and [B] referring to here?

            Old-school nakedness in locker rooms was the result men not thinking of it as big deal; it wasn’t about “intimacy”. The older people in the gym now aren’t naked to be intimate with each other, they just aren’t thinking about it. So decreases in intimacy don’t explain the change.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            In addition to the matter of older people not caring as much about convention and cultural changes, it’s possible portly older men don’t have waistlines and have lost manual dexterity, so it’s harder for them to get a towel to stay in place.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Old-school nakedness in locker rooms was the result men not thinking of it as big deal; it wasn’t about “intimacy”.

            My thinking was more on the lines that since the human body is now much more sexualised, this provides a plausible explanation for both (a) people not wanting to reveal their bodies, and (b) people not showing non-sexual physical intimacy.

      • random832 says:

        Two of the replies so far have mentioned “medical gatekeeping” and the trans community’s objections to it.

        I think that there might be two competing definitions of this at work.

        To my understanding, the actual “medical gatekeeping” issue is people being required to pass a psychological evaluation often entailing proving that they can “live as a woman” (which involves wearing a dress, even though not all cis women wear dresses) before they’re allowed to start any kind of medical treatment (even though without hormone therapy they may be doomed to ping as “guy in a dress”). It’s gatekeeping of medical treatment.

        Some people here seem to have mutated that to gatekeeping by medical treatment – that there is some objection to not extending ‘trans status’ (such as the ability to use the correct bathroom) to someone who is not interested in seeking any kind of treatment.

      • Spookykou says:

        Well, this is not really specific to this issue, but I think part of the idea behind THE TOXOPLASMA OF RAGE essay is that advocates of an issue have an incentive to promote the most controversial cases they can find. I would imagine the most controversial cases in this issue would look VERY similar to ‘actually-cisgendered boy’.

    • keranih says:

      Many people have given good answers, but a slight spin –

      Firstly, it’s not so much the intent as it is the enforcement of it. The whole thing blew up because a city in NC made it a rule that if a business owner called the cops on a guy who was perving around the ladies’ room in their bar or restaurant, and it turned out the guy was actually legit transexual, the guy/gal could sue the bar owner and win for being discriminatory.

      Other people have run down the math, so that one sees there are far more pervy guys (or guys who act pervy whilst drunk) than there are transexual people. As the rules were written, it was very difficult for bar owners to boot out pervy guys if all they had was a complaint that there was a guy in the gal’s room. Nightclubs and such being what they were, the bar owner wasn’t likely to get more than that, and if gals didn’t feel safe going to the loo whilst being a bit drunk, the bar’s number of women customers were going to drop off sharply. No gals, no hetero guys. And the bar goes under.

      I am not myself sure of how to fix the issue – I sympathize with people in that state of mental anguish and with their struggle to fit in, even though I don’t agree that transexualism should be as readily embraced as the Left seems to think. But I as a woman also want to be able to rely on society to get guys-I-dont-know-and-who-make-me-feel-threatened OUT of my space. Not in jail, just not around me.

      I would really like a way to fix this so that transpeople who are not trying to creep out the mundanes get to use the bathroom – any bathroom – without drama, while at the same time I get to keep my idea of the women’s loo as a place where I don’t have to worry about dealing with guys being guys.

      Finally –

      conservative intellectuals (is blue-tribe conservative a good description?)

      *winces* Dude, don’t say that. Not like that. Red tribe has smart learned people. (Just cause they done good in school don’t mean they eat arugula or any other stuff like that.)

      • Iain says:

        Do you have a source on your “rules as written” claim? For reference, here is the text of the ordinance. Key paragraph, in which the bolded section is the part being added:

        It shall be unlawful to deny any person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, privileges, advantages, and accomodations of a place of public accommodation because of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or national origin.

        That’s a very general statement, not a set of rules about what you can and can’t do to “pervy guys”. Similar laws are in place in many other cities across America. Here’s a list. I am not aware of any cases where those laws have been interpreted as blindly as you seem to fear. Are you?

        (The only real case of trans people getting pervy I am aware of is this case from Idaho, which did in fact lead to charges. However, it did not happen in one of the eight cities in Idaho that have passed non-discrimination ordinances including gender identity, so we can’t use it as conclusive evidence one way or the other.)

        • Deiseach says:

          I don’t really think there’s a (or there is going to be a) huge problem with “trans people getting pervy”. Most probably just want to use the loo in peace with no fuss, and I’m live-and-let-live on that.

          However, (1) I am cynical enough about human nature not to think that some idiot (not a trans idiot, but I’m also not going to rule out the rest of the QUILTBAG umbrella as preserved from all stain of original sin and it’s only the hets who are perves) is going to try something and when they get caught, use the “I’m trans! You are oppressing me!” defence (2) I think this is not about bathrooms per se, it’s the camel’s-nose-under-the-tent strategy for shifting trans rights up the political reforms and social engineering agenda, just as ‘marriage equality’ was the most sympathetic and presentable face of getting homosexuality accorded equal social status and turning opinions around so that nobody wants to be regarded as a homophobe (3) I am very annoyed by the new narrative doing the rounds that “everything was going along fine when all of a sudden, out of nowhere and for no reason, all these discriminatory unjust transphobic bathroom laws – that deny trans people the use of bathrooms – were passed!” No, you guys started the ruckus deliberately to get attention, to get a campaign going and raise awareness and force “the president should make a decision on this!” You do not get to re-write the narrative to cast yourself in a more palatable, sympathetic light now as “poor little victim me, all these transphobes jumped out of the bathroom and dragged me out and threatened to jail me”.

          I do feel sorry for trans teenagers trying to navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood and handle the pressures of school and life and this added burden, but the schools also have to accommodate the kids and parents who say “I don’t care if it’s legal, I don’t care if the president says you have to, you let a boy in the same bathroom as my daughter and I’m pulling my kids out of this school”.

          That’s a social attitude that is going to take a long time and a lot of work to overcome, and casting the opposition as all villains and transphobes is not going to do it. One story was about a woman who changed her mind when she was in a bathroom with her young daughters and a group (of what sound more like drag queens than trans women, to be honest) came in: she described them as visibly adult in appearance and voice young men dressed up as women, and she says her daughters were upset. Now she’s in favour of these ‘transphobic’ bathroom laws. And she used to work for the ACLU. Telling her she’s a bigot and a hater isn’t going to help.

          • random832 says:

            (3) I am very annoyed by the new narrative doing the rounds that “everything was going along fine when all of a sudden, out of nowhere and for no reason, all these discriminatory unjust transphobic bathroom laws – that deny trans people the use of bathrooms – were passed!” No, you guys started the ruckus deliberately to get attention, to get a campaign going and raise awareness and force “the president should make a decision on this!”

            Why do you think they did that?

            Has it occurred to you that it may be possible that the status quo was not actually satisfactory to them? Just because previous discrimination was being done in terms of individual school administrators and business owners all independently deciding to exclude them, that’s not the same thing as the it wasn’t happening that you’re trying to paint it as. @Edward Scizorhands said in another comment “People handled it informally, and it worked out.” – but no-one’s presented any evidence of this.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If you want to present evidence that the situation 5 years ago was intolerable, do so.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m not saying the situation was not unacceptable, I’m saying that this is a political activist campaign as much as it is about human rights (though “we just want the right to pee” may be a harder sell than “we just want the right to love”).

            What I am objecting to is heaving a brick through a window, then standing there in wide-eyed injured innocence about where did all these cops come from and how very dare they arrest me?

            If you get in a fight, acknowledge that you threw a punch – maybe it wasn’t the first punch, maybe it was but you were provoked – but don’t throw a punch then go “who, me? no sir, never!”

        • J Mann says:

          Iain, how do you suggest that a bar owner distinguish between pervy guys and trans women who are going into the womens’ restroom?

          Granting that there is no overlap at all between the sets, (1) I assume you don’t want the bar owner interrogating the actual trans women over whether they are pervy guys; and (2) if the bar owner suspects an actual trans woman of being a pervy guy who is lying, what do you suggest he do?

          keranih, as I said downthread, I think the end state is probably to end public bathrooms. I don’t know if there are efficiency costs to that or not.

          • Iain says:

            What does “pervy guys” even mean in this context? Aside from “being in the bathroom, quietly doing your business”, what can trans women get away with in women’s bathrooms that men cannot? Nobody’s saying we should legalize sexual harassment in washrooms, so long as we make sure that a trans woman is doing it. If people are peeking under stalls or dancing naked on the counters, gender identity is irrelevant — cis women aren’t allowed to do that either. If a trans woman is just using the washroom normally, I don’t see why the bar owner would ever need to get involved.

            Does that mean that it is possible for cis men to take advantage of anonymity to wander in to women’s washrooms to pee, with the hopes that people will assume they are trans? Sure, I guess, so long as they don’t do anything pervy, and they are confident that nobody who knows they aren’t trans sees them. I don’t know why I should be concerned about that, given that nobody has presented any evidence that this is a thing that happens in real life, and it’s not clear why it’s particularly bad even if it did happen.

          • random832 says:

            @Aapje said in another comment

            In fact, we may assume that many cases of peeping or sexual assault involve he said/she said scenario’s, where the unexplained presence of the man in the women’s restroom is the final drop that enables a conviction.

            i.e. the concern is that if they do do something pervy and there is only one witness. (Something that isn’t an issue for cis lesbians / gay men because of reasons)

          • Jiro says:

            Aside from “being in the bathroom, quietly doing your business”, what can trans women get away with in women’s bathrooms that men cannot?

            But that gets back to the question of “why do we prevent men from going into the women’s bathrooms”. A man is not permitted to go into a women’s bathroom whether he is quietly doing his business or not. And there really isn’t any reason why we prevent this except that women say they don’t like it.

            We don’t really have a principled reason to keep men out of women’s bathrooms, so of course you’re not going to be able to find a principled reason to keep trans women out either.

          • J Mann says:

            @Iain & Jiro:

            I think that’s the final question. There’s no way for bar owners to keep cis men out of the women’s room without inconveniencing some trans women. According to keranih, the driver for this was bar owners who thought that fewer women would come to the bar if they didn’t keep cis men out.

            They might be wrong about that, although as far as I can tell, most of the recent kerfuffles have been about women who have complained.

            Personally, I don’t have a problem if you want to knock down the wall and have us all just share one big bathroom, as long as the urinals and troughs stay up for efficiency purposes, but some women seem to.

            I guess the question is whether they will adjust or suffer some injury, and if so, whether it’s an injury that it’s legitimate to care about.

          • Iain says:

            I think it’s helpful to distinguish between two cases of discomfort.

            1. Women feeling uncomfortable with masculine-looking trans women sharing the washroom. This is a necessary consequence of treating trans women as women, and it is the sort of consequence where we have historically been prepared to bite the bullet and tell those women to suck it up. As a rough parallel, consider the aftermath of racial desegregation of washrooms, and its impact on white women who might feel uncomfortable pissing with black women around. Bar owners might have lost income if those women stopped coming out to bars, but that didn’t justify abandoning the law.

            2. Women feeling uncomfortable because cis men are wandering through the women’s washroom, and nobody is brave enough to challenge their right to be there. This is different from the first case, because nobody’s saying that cis men should be able to do this — it’s just an inadvertent side-effect. Again, though, it is not clear to me that this is a significant category in practice. There are plenty of jurisdictions that have these laws; if this were a common problem, surely somebody would have been able to come up with an unambiguous example by now.

          • Evan Þ says:

            … and how is anyone at all supposed to be able to tell the difference between (1) and (2)?

          • Iain says:

            If I were to start randomly walking into women’s washrooms on a regular basis, sooner or later I would run into a woman that I actually know, who knows that I am not trans. If a non-trivial number of men were doing this on a regular basis, at least one of them would have been caught and reported. If even a handful of men had been caught and reported, the bathroom brigade would be trumpeting it from the rooftops. Given the lack of trumpets, we can conclude that this is not a common problem.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Not necessarily. If I go to the other side of the city – or even to the nearby mall – I could probably go months and months without running into anyone I know. Cities are big places.

            And even if it currently isn’t a big problem, it could be in the future once social norms change as the Left is pushing for, and men doing this face less immediate hostility.

          • Iain says:

            So you are driving across the city on a regular basis just to take a piss in a woman’s washroom? Without doing anything else creepy? (Bear in mind that voyeurism and exhibitionism are still just as illegal, and any attention from the authorities will immediately topple your house of cards.)

            Why?

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            I am assuming that Evan was arguing that if he was a pervert, he could do that (some go to immense lengths).

            Anyway, to go back to your earlier 1 vs 2: my objection and the objection that I think a lot of people have, is that we don’t get a clear answer on how to distinguish between the two.

            If there was some coherent answer, like: let’s set up a system with semi-objective criteria determined by an independent doctor who decides when a person is sufficiently clearly trans to be given this right to use a women’s restroom (and perhaps other rights). It doesn’t have to go as far as surgery, but just using hormones or having x months of treatment with a specialist. You know, something more than: I say it and therefor I am.

            That I never see this offered is IMO a sign that there is zero willingness to seek a reasonable compromise with those who resist and/or that there is no willingness or ability to understand the objections (which boils down to the same thing, really).

          • Iain says:

            @Aapje:
            If there weren’t so many institutional barriers to accessing treatment, I suspect that trans people would be a lot more receptive to your gatekeeping. As it stands, to access treatment in many jurisdictions, people have to spend some amount of time “living in the desired gender role”. If there is going to be gatekeeping, it makes sense that you require people to take the reversible step of living in the desired gender role before the much less reversible step of hormone treatment or surgery.

            Your last paragraph is gratuitous.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            I agree that there seems to be distrust of the medical profession among trans people. However, at a certain point people have to compromise if they are to coexist. If there is no willingness to carry any burden and all burdens are demanded to be be on the shoulders of others, then people have already abandoned the democratic mentality.

            I also think that my last paragraph deserves to be said. One of the shitty aspects of US politics is that a lot of people seem to be going for total victory.

          • Iain says:

            How precisely do you tell the difference between a person who is completely unwilling to consider your objections, and a person who has already heard those objections many times over, has considered them, and rejects them?

            I think most trans people would be surprised by your assertion that they do not carry any of the burdens of this situation.

            Anyways, I said two posts ago that I was done. Really done, now.

          • Deiseach says:

            Unfortunately, Iain, guys doing stupid crap to spy on women in bathrooms does happen. A bar owner or club owner being concerned about a dodgy looking person hanging around the ladies may be over-zealous but it is a case of ‘better safe than sorry’.

            Is this unfair to trans people? Yes, it is. But it also happens that some men will take stupid crazy risks and shrugging off “Is that a guy hanging round the women’s toilets? Oh well I’m sure there’s no harm in it” may not end well. There’s a reason people – including parents – are freaking out over it, and it’s not because of transphobia, it’s because of creepy guys pulling this crap. Telling them “sure this person wanting to use the women’s facilities still has male genitalia but they’re harmless and it’s not some weird sex thing” may be true but it’s not going to convince people unless you back it up with more than “and if you don’t believe us you’re a bigot”.

            Even California found it necessary to make some additions to their “peeping tom” laws:

            California’s criminal invasion of privacy laws are a relatively new addition to the peeking tom laws. These sections make it a crime to look through holes in bathrooms with the intent to invade someone’s privacy.

            Penal Code (j)(2) makes it a crime to use a camera to look at someone’s body under or through clothing (“upskirt” violations). It was signed into law in 1999.

            And the use of newer technologies, such as camcorders and mobile phones as instruments of criminal invasion of privacy, was not specifically addressed by the California Legislature until 2011.

            You violate this subsection of the invasion of privacy law when you:

            1. look through a hole or opening into, or otherwise view
            2. the interior of any area which someone is occupying with a reasonable expectation of privacy, including, without limitation, any:
            1. bedroom,
            2. bathroom,
            3. changing room,
            4. fitting room,
            5. dressing room, or
            6. tanning booth;
            3. by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a:
            1. periscope,
            2. telescope,
            3. binoculars,
            4. camera,
            5. motion picture camera,
            6. camcorder, or
            7. mobile phone;
            4. with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside.

          • Deiseach says:

            sooner or later I would run into a woman that I actually know, who knows that I am not trans

            Depends. If you’re dressed as your usual male-presenting self, she may be justified in going “Iain? What the heck?” and thinking something weird is going on, though you may be able to get away with “Er, I was caught short and this was the nearest bathroom”. Unless you do make a habit of going into women’s bathrooms dressed and acting like a man.

            If you’re dressed as Susan, your real gender identity, she may have inadvertently outed you. Your neighbour or acquaintance can’t know that you’re not trans if all they have to go on is “he’s not out where I know him”. It might be perfectly reasonable for you to only go out as Susan in a random place not your usual haunts, and only bad luck or bad timing to run into someone who knows you.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Iain – Yes, what Aapje said: if I wanted to lurk in bathrooms without running into anyone I know, I easily could. Fortunately, like most Americans, I don’t. But it only takes a small minority to cause problems.

      • skef says:

        where I don’t have to worry about dealing with guys being guys.

        And this has been another episode of “heterosexuality is a disaster zone”.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Wat?

          • skef says:

            guys “being guys” apparently means “conniving to peep at women in bathrooms”. She’s not even bothering to qualify the statement.

            As groups, men and women don’t tend to think very well of one another.

          • Randy M says:

            As individuals, they seem to get over that quick enough, as Kissinger (purportedly) noted.

          • skef says:

            @Randy M

            There’s a “I don’t hate men! Look, I have a boy friend.” joke in there somewhere.

          • Randy M says:

            What is causing the problems is not heterosexuality, but sexual dimorphism.

            Not the attraction of one sex to another, but the existence of distinct biological sexes with accompanying distinct psychology and physiological idiosyncrasies.

          • Randy M says:

            I can’t edit the above post (that happens sometimes when you accidentally double post). Yes, I see the fallacy in it.

          • skef says:

            @Randy M

            Yes — the extent to which heterosexuality is a disaster zone is the result of sexual dimorphism, the former doesn’t cause the problems. Most disaster zones are like that.

            [I’ll add: I’m not making an implicit claim that homosexuality isn’t also a disaster zone. I’m mostly attempting a little rhetorical rebalancing for people who don’t quite see the mess they themselves are in. ]

          • Randy M says:

            “Love” is a hell of a drug.

      • Deiseach says:

        conservative intellectuals (is blue-tribe conservative a good description?)

        I’d prefer Violet Tribe (the suggested but never really took off counterpart on the Red Tribe side to the Grey Tribe), because at least it entertains the notion that some of the Red Tribe may be able to string six words together into a sentence (in between the real business of slavery, genocide, grinding the faces of the poor and witch-burning).

    • J Mann says:

      Anonalous, here’s where I am currently:

      1) I think it’s a Chesterton’s Gate problem. I don’t actually know why some people want gender-segregated bathrooms. If you think there’s at least an arguable case for gender-segregate bathrooms at all, then I guess you have to ask about the costs and benefits of allowing trans bathroom use of choice.

      2) Argument 1 – there is no justifiable reason to have gender segregated bathrooms at all. In fact, their existence is gender discrimination, because under our “separate but equal” system, women typically wait longer on average to use the bathroom. Not only should Trump not rescind the rule, he should say that it’s a Title IX violation to stop anyone from using the bathroom of their choice.

      3) Argument 2 – Parents don’t want their kids below a certain age to see the genitals most commonly associated with the other gender. (This came up in Milo’s U-W speech, when he went after a woman after she got in a confrontation with the school over whether it was reasonable for the school to ask her to keep her penis and testicles covered while in the women’s sauna). Grey tribers probably mostly think that’s stupid even for 5 year olds, 8 year olds, etc. but I guess the question is whether we think it’s reasonable enough that a local community could institute the rule.

      3) Argument 3 – the rule is about protecting women from molestation by cis men, who we believe are more dangerous and offensive, than, say, cis lesbians and trans women. This may be, but if so, we may be back to interrogating people about gender – if someone who we suspect of being a cis man wants to use the women’s sauna or shower or whatever, there’s not much way to enforce the rule without some interrogation.

      I suspect the end state of the rule is to substantially reduce public bathrooms, showers, most nude saunas, etc. If some people want privacy from differing genitals in nude environments for themselves or their children, and other people find genital discrimination offensive when applied to people who identify as the same gender, then the easiest solution is to avoid exposing people to any genitals at all. I’ll miss the trough, though – it’s very efficient and I don’t personally think I need to be protected from trans men, cis women, or otherwise.

      • Aapje says:

        I don’t actually know why some people want gender-segregated bathrooms.

        One reason:
        – I want to have (the option of having) sex with women.
        – I believe that most women are grossed out by hearing (about) a potential hookup or partner peeing/pooping/farting/etc, even if it is very innocent.
        – I believe that women talk to each other about men, including intimate things, while men AFAIK generally don’t literally shit-talk to women about other men like this
        – So with women in the restroom, things that happen can poison a group of women against me.

        AFAIK, women have similar beliefs (they also seem to worry about keeping men whom they are interesting in, ignorant about their restroom habits, at least, early on).

        • Megaflora says:

          Fascinating. This is an example of a human motivation that I have not only never encountered, but have never even imagined being a thing. I have genuinely never modeled this as a human thought process before.

  2. bean says:

    Time for Part 2 of my battleship history. This one is going to be somewhat longer than Part 1, mostly because I wrote it ahead of time.
    We left off with the Washington Naval Treaty being signed. One result was that future battleship construction was limited to 35,000 tons ‘standard’ and 16” guns. The Second London Naval Treaty of 1936 kept the tonnage limit, but reduced the maximum caliber to 14”, with a pair of ‘escalator clauses’. In the case of Japan pulling out, the gun caliber limit would be 16”, while the displacement limit could be raised by agreement of the signatories (at this point just the US, Britain and France), which was invoked in 1938.
    Standard displacement according to the treaty was defined as the displacement (weight) of the ship “complete, fully manned, engined, and equipped ready for sea, including all armament and ammunition, equipment, outfit, provisions and fresh water for crew, miscellaneous stores, and implements of every description that are intended to be carried in war, but without fuel or reserve boiler feed water on board.” This is different from the values for displacement normally used to design ships, and was intended to create an equitable standard for measurement of all ships, not just battleships. As you can imagine, the games began immediately. Some powers (most notably Japan and Germany) just flat-out cheated, building ships that were 20-30% heavier than they should have been. Others went to fairly great lengths to keep weight down, using aluminum for fittings in place of steel. At one point, the US reduced the ammo allowance for battleships from 100 rounds per gun to 75, without changing the size or actual capacity of the magazines.
    The US, Britain, France, the UK, Germany and Italy all built nominally ‘treaty’ battleships, a comparison of which can be found here. The Japanese alone finished a pair of ships which were outside the bounds of the treaty, the Yamatos. The degree of adherence varied by country. The British were the most scrupulous, and the Germans came very close to ignoring it entirely. I’m going to focus on the US, and give brief mention of the other nations, as I want to keep this relatively short, and most of the other sections will be specifically about Iowa.
    The first US treaty battleships were the North Carolina and Washington, designed to the first set of treaty limits, three quad 14” turrets and a speed of 27 knots on 35,000 tons. Overall, a nice design, but when the first escalator clause was invoked, the US chose to replace the quad 14” turrets with triple 16” ones. This, however, unbalanced the design, as battleships are normally designed to be protected against their own guns, and it was considered impossible to build a ship with sufficient speed that was protected against 16” guns on 35,000 tons.
    The problem with high speed is that it requires a long ship or high power, and American design practice required that 60% of the waterline be armored for stability. That meant that the available armor thickness was determined by the length of the ship, but a shorter ship would be slower. However, American naval engineers came to the rescue, providing a new propulsion system that was both more powerful and smaller. The result was the South Dakota class, 35,000 tons, 27 knots, 3×3 16” and protected against 16” gunfire. By far the best of the regular treaty battleships, but also very cramped.
    In 1938, the second escalator clause was invoked, allowing ships up to 45,000 tons. The US then decided to go after a much faster battleship, contrary to normal US practice. The result was the Iowa, capable of 33 knots, but otherwise broadly similar to the SoDaks. Those extra 6 knots were expensive, and the only other improvement was the replacement of the 16”/45 caliber guns of the previous ships with 16”/50s. (Caliber here means “the barrel is this many times the diameter of the gun”). However, the result was the best battleship ever built.
    The US did plan another class, the Montanas. They would have been totally post-treaty, and I think their treaty displacement would have been about 54,000 tons. The speed would have dropped to 27 knots, but 12 16” guns and armor against the 16”/50 with the heavy shell. They were never laid down, and cancelled in 1942.
    The British only built one type of Treaty battleship, the King George V-class. (OK, yes, the Nelsons might fall under that heading, but I’m talking post-1930.) They were broadly similar to the North Carolina, armed with 10 14” guns in two quad and one twin turrets, although somewhat better protected and capable of 29 knots. Unlike the US, they didn’t feel they had time to accept the delays imposed by the switch to 16” guns, and there were several other design defects. They had a planned Lion-class, broadly equivalent to the Iowas, but they were cancelled due to the war. They did build one additional battleship, Vanguard, which was armed with 8 15” guns in turrets left over from WWI. A good design, but suffering from poor armament. (Nothing against the 15”/42, which was very good for its day, but not up to WW2 standards.)
    The Bismarck-class were oddities, very similar to the Bayern-class of WWI. Their deck protection was grossly inadequate for WW2, and their use of twin turrets for their 8 15” guns was not a good use of weight. Slightly better than the KGV with equal fire control, but handicapped by poor doctrine and the superior British fleet.
    The Richelieu and Vittorio Veneto classes were both 15” ships that didn’t see much service. See the link above for details. Richelieu was actually quite a good design, particularly after the US rebuilt her during the war.
    The Yamatos were about 56,000 tons standard (so far as that has meaning in this context). They had 9 18” guns and a speed of 27 knots. The guns were the biggest ever put on a warship, and she also had massive amounts of armor. Unfortunately, her armor was compromised by poor design and obsolete metallurgy, and her guns were not particularly good.
    I may discuss the role of the battleship during WW2 next time, or go on to technical topics. What do you guys want next?

    • Evan Þ says:

      Thanks for doing this series! I’d vote for battleships in WWII next.

      What was the practical impact of the North Carolina‘s being “unbalanced”? It seems to me it’s just violating a bookkeeping rule of thumb, but am I missing something?

      • bean says:

        What was the practical impact of the North Carolina‘s being “unbalanced”? It seems to me it’s just violating a bookkeeping rule of thumb, but am I missing something?

        A good question. My immediate response was “of course it was important, because…”. In practice, yes, it’s better to have a battleship with 16″ guns and armor against 14″ guns than one with 14″ guns and equivalent armor. But you do generally try to design against your own guns.
        I guess the practical impact was that the US was frustrated enough to design the SoDaks, which from an engineering perspective are amazing ships.

      • gbdub says:

        I think the main logic is that a battleship is primarily designed to fight other battleships. Presumably, the other guy’s guns are going to be just as big as yours, so a first-rate battleship needs protection from the first-rate naval guns of the day.

        Standard cruisers of the time had maximum 8in guns. So you could say that 14in-class armor was really suboptimal. Too thin to defend against battleship guns, but much thicker (and therefore much heavier) than necessary to defeat cruiser guns. All that extra armor does is slow you down.

        The “battlecruiser” was a popular solution in WWI – they were battleship-sized and mounted battleship guns, but sacrificed armor for speed. The idea was they could outrun any other ship with guns big enough to defeat them, but with big guns of their own that would be deadly to smaller cruisers. These were good for raiding, breaking through a fleet’s cruiser/destroyer screens, fast flanking maneuvers, and harassing enemy battleships with dangerous gunfire while they were occupied with toe-to-toe fighting your own battleships.

        Anyway I think the idea was, an “unbalanced” battleship is both a vulnerable battleship and a slow battlecruiser – not real good either way.

        • bean says:

          I think the main logic is that a battleship is primarily designed to fight other battleships. Presumably, the other guy’s guns are going to be just as big as yours, so a first-rate battleship needs protection from the first-rate naval guns of the day.

          This doesn’t seem quite right. If it was, then all battleships would be protected against the nominal “first-rate naval guns”, regardless of the caliber of guns they carried. I can’t think of a single ship that was designed that way, although I could be missing something. There were quite a few 16″ guns running around when North Carolina was designed.

          Standard cruisers of the time had maximum 8in guns. So you could say that 14in-class armor was really suboptimal. Too thin to defend against battleship guns, but much thicker (and therefore much heavier) than necessary to defeat cruiser guns. All that extra armor does is slow you down.

          You’re treating armoring as binary, which is very much not true. “Not protected against 16″ guns” really means that the immune zone against 16″ guns is significantly smaller than they’d like it to be. (The immune zone is defined as the distance from the point at which a gun stops going through the belt to the point where it starts going through the deck.) It does not mean that the armor is totally ineffective against 16″ guns. The North Carolina’s designed immune zone was 20,000 to 30,800 yards vs the 14″ shell. Against the 2240 lb 16″ shell it was 21,300 to 27,800 yards, per Dulin & Garzke. Friedman gives an outer of 32,000 yards vs the 16″ in the tables in the back, but I’m pretty sure that’s an error, as the text pretty much lines up with D&G.

          The “battlecruiser” was a popular solution in WWI – they were battleship-sized and mounted battleship guns, but sacrificed armor for speed.

          Only the British ones. The German battlecruisers were in fact quite similar to later fast battleships in terms of weight breakdowns.
          (A full discussion of the battlecruiser is on my list of potential columns. The amount of mythology around those ships is fairly incredible.)

          Anyway I think the idea was, an “unbalanced” battleship is both a vulnerable battleship and a slow battlecruiser – not real good either way.

          That’s a bit harsh. Unbalanced means that you’re violating a design rule of thumb. One aspect of this is that you’re trying to squeeze as much combat power out of your tonnage (and money) as you can. Protecting a 35,000 ton ship against 18″ guns is likely to leave it slow and weak. Protecting against your own guns seems to work well as a rule of thumb for figuring out how much armor you should put aboard, but it isn’t mandatory.

          • gbdub says:

            The original question was “why was this a rule of thumb” which I figured justified a lot of the simplifications I made that you pointed out. I mean, you’re the one who originally labeled North Carolina unbalanced, and not protected against her own guns, and now you’re taking me to task for agreeing with you!

            The distinction between “battlecruiser”, “fast battleship” and “battleship” was clearly a continuum. And the Brits did make a more extreme speed-and-firepower for armor tradeoff than the Germans did, but the German battlecruisers were capital-sized ships several knots faster than battleships while carrying less armor and smaller guns. They were much larger and as fast or faster than light cruisers with substantially heavier guns. And it seems like they were used for largely similar roles to the British battlecruisers in practice. Really, it seems like the Brits gave up a lot of armor and a little firepower for speed, while the Germans sacrificed a smaller amount of armor but a larger amount of firepower.

          • bean says:

            The original question was “why was this a rule of thumb” which I figured justified a lot of the simplifications I made that you pointed out.

            I did come on a bit too strong. My apologies.

            I mean, you’re the one who originally labeled North Carolina unbalanced, and not protected against her own guns, and now you’re taking me to task for agreeing with you!

            You took that agreement way too far. I read you as suggesting they’d have been better building them as protected only against 8″ guns, which is very much not the case. Battleship armor is complicated.

            The distinction between “battlecruiser”, “fast battleship” and “battleship” was clearly a continuum.

            Agreed. Particularly when you start looking at different countries and what they were doing.

            And the Brits did make a more extreme speed-and-firepower for armor tradeoff than the Germans did, but the German battlecruisers were capital-sized ships several knots faster than battleships while carrying less armor and smaller guns.

            Not that much less armor, actually. Compare Derfflinger with Konig.
            Yes, I’m nitpicking at this point. The red mist descended when you made the suggestion on armoring vs 8″ guns.

          • bean says:

            Re the weight distributions of various ships, Friedman’s Battleship Design and Development has weight breakdowns of various ships, given here as displacement (metric tons)/hull %/armor %/machinery %/weapons %
            Dreadnought 18404/34.0/27.9/11.1/17.3
            Inflexible 17693/36.0/19.9/19.7/14.6
            Iron Duke 25407/34.0/31.2/10.0/17.8
            Tiger 28892/33.7/26.0/19.8/12.9

            Nassau 18870/33.6/35.2/7.3/14.3
            Von Der Tann 19370/31.7/32.7/14.8/11.1
            Konig 25470/29.8/39.7/10.6/12.2
            Hindenberg 27380/31.2/36.0/15.2/10.2

            KGV (WW2) 42760/32.8/29.6/6.6/17.6
            Bismarck 45951/25.9/38.9/9.4/16.5
            Iowa 57495/28.3/32.6/8.5/10.5

            I’m not quite sure what this was supposed to prove. But it’s interesting, at the very least. (Figures may not be comparable, because different navies computed things different ways.)

          • gbdub says:

            Didn’t mean to generate red mist, and certainly didn’t mean to criticize North Carolina which was clearly a successful design despite its “unbalance”.

            I was just trying to take an extremist “balanced” position. Danger of trying to oversimplify for a novice while an expert waits ready to pounce, I suppose 🙂

            I was also probably thinking of the “all-or-nothing” armor concept, another rule-of-thumb that certainly informed design in a useful way but was rarely (if ever) taken to its full extreme.

          • Evan Þ says:

            and certainly didn’t mean to criticize North Carolina which was clearly a successful design despite its “unbalance”.

            As someone who grew up in North Carolina, thank you very much.

            </out-of-context>

      • cassander says:

        I think a lot of the attachment to balanced designs was aesthetic rather than rational. That said, I there is at least one theoretical defense for it. Your ship is designed to fight at a certain range, e.g. 20-30k yards, or whatever. That range is going to be determined largely by the design of your guns (size, elevation, shells, etc.). Since you’re going to be fighting at that range, you should design your armor around that range. If you aren’t going to fighting at 10k yards, then armor that protects you at 10k yards is useless. Ditto 35k. In an ideal world, you’d be looking at armor in terms of the guns of your most probably enemies, but the trouble with them is that you don’t have nice sets of ballistic and penetration tables for their guns, just yours. Their capabilities aren’t known, so in the absence of better data, designing your ship on the assumption that the enemy is probably going to do about as good a job as you are isn’t ridiculous.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Tangential question: something that’s been puzzling me about battleship design is the value of secondary armament. I’ve heard multiple places that the Dreadnought was a huge step up from its predecessors due to two major design feature:

      1. Ditching the secondary armament in order to free up displacement and construction budget for more big guns. The advantages I’ve heard claimed are: logistical simplicity (only need to stock one caliber of shells), easier fire control (only need one set of aiming calculations, and don’t need to figure out which set of splashes are from which battery), and the big guns being effective out of proportion to their cost/displacement compared to secondary guns (longer range, effectiveness against heavier armor).

      2. Switching from coal-fired reciprocating steam engines to gasoline/oil-fired steam turbine engines. Turbines being more powerful and more durable for similar displacement, allowing faster ships to be built for the same investment in engines in the ship’s displacement budget, and allowing the ships to be ready for action more of the time at a lower operating cost. And the switch from coal to liquid fuels allowed fuel to be stored more compactly and allowed the ship to be operated with smaller engine crews (freeing up the cost of recruiting, training, and employing the crews, and freeing up displacement used for crew quarters, etc, for engines, armor, and guns instead, since oil could be pumped to the engines while coal needed to be carted and shoveled.

      And it’s usually #1 that I hear emphasized as the more important of the two. #2 seems to have stuck, but #1 puzzles me because when I started reading up on Interwar and WW2-era battleships, it seems that they all have secondary armaments again. If ditching the secondary armaments was such a big win in 1905, what changed in the 20s and 30s that secondary armaments were suddenly worthwhile again?

      • bean says:

        This actually had me confused for a while when I first got into this stuff. The answer is that the secondary armaments on the pre-dreads weren’t really secondary. They were part of the ship’s main weapons. At the time, 12″ guns fired so slowly that they weren’t suitable to be the only armament, and armor was so heavy that it couldn’t be employed widely. Some ships of that era had 20″ belts. So 6″ guns were added to use on other battleships because there was lots of exposed stuff to use them on. Eventually, they grew, ending up at the same size as the main guns, which could now fire reasonably fast. The move to greater range helped this.
        The problem was that destroyers were getting bigger, too, and bigger weapons were needed to deal with them. So the size of the anti-destroyer guns began to grow. The only substantial difference between Dreadnought and Bellerophon was that the later had 4″ secondary guns, as opposed to Dreadnought’s 12 pounders. This lasted until the Iron Dukes, when the British went to 6″ guns. (And it appears that the Germans planned to fight at short ranges and use their 6″ secondaries against the opposing battleships, for that matter.) In fact, Friedman (British Battleships, and I apologize if my many references to him are confusing) speculates that the reason Renown, Repulse and the Large Light Cruisers got 4″ secondaries was that Fisher had killed off the 6″ gun on capital ships once and didn’t want it coming back.
        So the basic answer is what the secondary armaments on 1910s and later BBs came from the secondary armament on Dreadnought. It’s just that nobody recognizes a weapon that’s a ‘pounder’ as a real gun, and it’s easy to skip over all the 4″ ships, mostly because they didn’t survive the treaties after the war.

        2. Switching from coal-fired reciprocating steam engines to gasoline/oil-fired steam turbine engines. Turbines being more powerful and more durable for similar displacement, allowing faster ships to be built for the same investment in engines in the ship’s displacement budget, and allowing the ships to be ready for action more of the time at a lower operating cost. And the switch from coal to liquid fuels allowed fuel to be stored more compactly and allowed the ship to be operated with smaller engine crews (freeing up the cost of recruiting, training, and employing the crews, and freeing up displacement used for crew quarters, etc, for engines, armor, and guns instead, since oil could be pumped to the engines while coal needed to be carted and shoveled.

        Friedman (British Battleships again) suggests that this was in a lot of ways the more significant change. Several others were groping towards all-big-gun armaments, but Dreadnought really broke new ground with turbines, which allowed a much higher sustained speed. She didn’t introduce oil fuel, though. That was the Queen Elizabeth class, and both they and the Royal Soverigns were designed for coal. I think the first ship designed for oil was probably Nevada. (Most references claim otherwise about the QEs citing one of Churchill’s books, but Friedman cites official records to support him on this.)
        Also, nobody fired on gaseoline. Every battleship I’m aware of was built to be fired on heavy bunker oil (or coal, obviously). The Iowas were refitted to burn DFM (sort of like diesel or jet fuel) in the 80s.
        Interestingly, Oklahoma, one of the ships sunk at Pearl Harbor, still had reciprocating engines installed. The US Navy was not at the forefront of naval engineering until the 30s.

        • cassander says:

          >The US Navy was not at the forefront of naval engineering until the 30s.

          Parshall, among others, says otherwise, and I tend to agree. I think the US did very well during the whole treaty period, consistently putting out top quality designs that were well implemented. I was going to say they did well with limited budgets, but of the big 3, I’m honestly not actually sure who had less money. Japan, of course, was massively poorer than either anglo power, but they spent a lot more of what they had on the navy. I’d be curious to see a good accounting comparison of the various naval budgets of the period.

          • bean says:

            Parshall, among others, says otherwise, and I tend to agree.

            I may have gone too far with that statement. We were clearly behind Britain pre-WWI, continuing to use reciprocating engines the better part of a decade after they gave them up. (Mixed with turbines, weirdly. I don’t know what was going on.) During the 20s, I’d have to check details, but I think we were broadly equal. During the later half of the 30s, we were clearly superior to anyone. The Germans had similar steam conditions, but our plants worked and theirs didn’t.

            I think the US did very well during the whole treaty period, consistently putting out top quality designs that were well implemented.

            I’ll agree with this. The US generally did a better job with our tonnage than the British did.

            I was going to say they did well with limited budgets, but of the big 3, I’m honestly not actually sure who had less money. Japan, of course, was massively poorer than either anglo power, but they spent a lot more of what they had on the navy. I’d be curious to see a good accounting comparison of the various naval budgets of the period.

            I’m not sure that such a thing is possible. US shipyards were apparently something like twice as expensive as British shipyards during WW2, but much faster. Japan probably didn’t even have real budgets, in the same way the Soviets didn’t. I’d say that the US and Britain were largely equal through the 20s and 30s, the US having a stronger economy being offset by endemic pacifism in Congress.

          • bean says:

            I checked Friedman (US Battleships, amazingly), and found the answer to why the US went back to reciprocating engines for the New Yorks and Oklahoma. The problem was that US specs demand long range (this is also why the Washington treaty displacement didn’t include fuel) and at the time reciprocating engines were much more fuel-efficient. Also, forced lubrication, developed since Dreadnought, allowed much greater reliability at high speeds.

        • Eric Rall says:

          So it’s more a case of three classes of armament (heavy guns to fight armored warships at long range, light guns to fight destroyers at close range, and medium guns that can supplement either battery), with the medium guns merging into the heavy guns in Dreadnoughts and the light guns gradually growing as the destroyers got bigger? The medium guns being 6″ on classic pre-Dreadnoughts, 8″ or 10″ on semi-Dreadnoughts, and merging into the heavy guns in Dreadnoughts and later ships. That makes sense, thank you.

          I also went through ship specs on wikipedia after reading your reply and John Schilling’s, and one more aspect clicked for me. The last “classic” British pre-Dreadnought class I could find was the Duncans, which had twelve 6-inch guns as their secondary armament at a loaded displacement of about 13,500 tons (plus a tertiary armament of ten 12-pounders, six 3-pounders, and two machine guns, which as you say was equivalent to Dreadnought’s secondary armament of twenty-seven 12-pounders).

          The first post-Dreadnought class I can find with 6-inch guns as secondary armament were the Iron Duke class super-Dreadnoughts (launched just before WW1), which had twelve 6-inch guns (same as the Duncans) at a loaded displacement of 29,500 tons, about 220% the size of the Duncans.

          And the WW2-era HMS Vanguard had only eight 5.25″ guns as its secondary armament on a ship with a displacement of 44,500 tons, which gives us a displacement-to-medium-guns ratio about twice that of the Iron Dukes and 5x that of the Duncans. So there’s no contradiction or discontinuity: the small guns got bigger for a while after Dreadnought, but less than the extent to which the ships were getting bigger, so the emphasis was continuing to move away from small and medium guns.

          Friedman (British Battleships again) suggests that this was in a lot of ways the more significant change. Several others were groping towards all-big-gun armaments, but Dreadnought really broke new ground with turbines, which allowed a much higher sustained speed.

          Massie’s “Dreadnought” and “Castles of Steel” are the main books I’ve read on the subject, and Massie seems to agree with Friedman: he puts at least as much emphasis on the engines as the guns, while it was the more casual treatments of the subject I’ve seen (various articles and documentaries, and tangential mentions of Dreadnoughts in books that don’t treat the technical details in depth) that seem to have a conventional wisdom that the gun format was the most important part.

          I’m not sure where I got the idea about gasoline from; heavy fuel oil does make more sense. Thank you for the correction.

          • bean says:

            So it’s more a case of three classes of armament (heavy guns to fight armored warships at long range, light guns to fight destroyers at close range, and medium guns that can supplement either battery), with the medium guns merging into the heavy guns in Dreadnoughts and the light guns gradually growing as the destroyers got bigger? The medium guns being 6″ on classic pre-Dreadnoughts, 8″ or 10″ on semi-Dreadnoughts, and merging into the heavy guns in Dreadnoughts and later ships. That makes sense, thank you.

            I’m not sure that the medium battery on the pre-dreads was ever considered for use against torpedo boats/destroyers. My knowledge of that period is more limited, at least until Friedman comes out with that book.

            which gives us a displacement-to-medium-guns ratio about twice that of the Iron Dukes and 5x that of the Duncans. So there’s no contradiction or discontinuity: the small guns got bigger for a while after Dreadnought, but less than the extent to which the ships were getting bigger, so the emphasis was continuing to move away from small and medium guns.

            That’s a very interesting way of looking at it, although you did make two mistakes. First, Vanguard had 8 twin 5.25″ mounts, for 16 guns. Second, you used her standard displacement, when loaded was more like 51,400 tons. So the guns/ton is lower on Vanguard, but by maybe 25-30%, not 50%. Figuring out exactly how much tonnage each spent on the secondaries is outside of current resources, but I may have a go later. I’d suspect that Vanguard actually spent as much if not more than Iron Duke as a percent of tonnage, because powered mountings are a lot heavier than casemates.

            Massie’s “Dreadnought” and “Castles of Steel” are the main books I’ve read on the subject, and Massie seems to agree with Friedman: he puts at least as much emphasis on the engines as the guns, while it was the more casual treatments of the subject I’ve seen (various articles and documentaries, and tangential mentions of Dreadnoughts in books that don’t treat the technical details in depth) that seem to have a conventional wisdom that the gun format was the most important part.

            Interesting. I’ll have to take a look at those. Even D.K. Brown didn’t put that much emphasis on the turbines as being significant from a strategic point of view. Of course, it’s been a while since I read those, and he focuses on the naval architecture side a lot.

            I’m not sure where I got the idea about gasoline from; heavy fuel oil does make more sense. Thank you for the correction.

            You’re welcome. Suggesting gasoline would be a good way to get beaten. The stuff is terrifyingly flammable.

          • Eric Rall says:

            As I recall, “Dreadnought” is about 2/3 about politics and diplomacy in Britain and Germany between the 1880s and 1914, with emphasis on the naval arms race, and a third about the respective Navies (mix of ship design, institutional culture, and development of war plans), with emphasis on Jackie Fisher’s reforms in Britain and Alfred von Tirpitz’s efforts to build the Kriegsmarine. Both parts are biography-heavy, since Massie seems to take the view that the key decisions were personality-driven as much as they were driven by technology and broader social forces.

            “Castles of Steel” is more narrowly focused on naval operations and how the ships, fleets, and warplans developed during the arms race actually performed during the First World War.

          • cassander says:

            @Eric

            I love Robert Massie, the man has an amazing ability to make history flow like a novel, but if I have one criticism of Dreadnought, it’s that he spends too much time on Fisher and the RN and not nearly enough on Tirpitz and the Kaiserliche Marine.

          • Eric Rall says:

            That’s fair: Fischer gets a lot more “screen” time than Tirpitz, and come to think of it, the Navy-focused portions of the book are mostly Fischer and the Royal Navy. The Kaiserliche Marine (*) was mostly talked about in terms of its interactions with politics and diplomacy, or in terms of its reactions to and effects on the Royal Navy.

            (*) Cassander is right and my previous comment was wrong: Imperial Germany’s navy was the Kaiserliche Marine. Kreigsmarine was specific to Nazi Germany.

          • John Schilling says:

            The first post-Dreadnought class I can find with 6-inch guns as secondary armament were the Iron Duke class super-Dreadnoughts (launched just before WW1) … And the WW2-era HMS Vanguard had only eight 5.25″ guns as its secondary armament.

            One lesson that wasn’t learned until late in the dreadnought era, but should have been obvious by the late pre-dreadnaught era: A multiplicity of gun calibers means wasted resources in every type of gun you can’t use efficiently in whatever battle you actually fight, and fire-control coordination problems when you try to use them anyway. So all of the guns on a battleship that aren’t heavy-duty shipkillers should be the same kind of lighter gun, something that can be used against any type of small warship or any type of airplane that would attack a warship.

            Six-inch guns are for the most part too slow to be effective against airplanes or the smaller sorts of torpedo boats, which pushes you to dual-purpose guns in the four- to five-inch range(*). The British 5.25″ was the largest useful DP gun of the era, I think, but it was undeniably useful. The 6″ single-purpose guns that many navies mounted in the WWI era and the Germans held on to as late as WWII were never very useful in their own right, and forced their users to add yet another battery of 3-4″ antiaircraft guns in whatever space was left over.

            And nobody trusted the dual-purpose guns to be entirely adequate against air attack, so add yet another battery of rapid-fire 20-40mm guns, but those were usually light enough to be tucked safely out of the way of the heavier guns so we’ll ignore them for now.

            *Not every 4-5″ gun was dual-purpose, though by WWII most were.

          • bean says:

            @John Schilling
            I disagree strongly for once. Time to break out the knives!

            One lesson that wasn’t learned until late in the dreadnought era, but should have been obvious by the late pre-dreadnaught era: A multiplicity of gun calibers means wasted resources in every type of gun you can’t use efficiently in whatever battle you actually fight, and fire-control coordination problems when you try to use them anyway. So all of the guns on a battleship that aren’t heavy-duty shipkillers should be the same kind of lighter gun, something that can be used against any type of small warship or any type of airplane that would attack a warship.

            I’m not sure the tech was there for DP guns before the 30s. The weight efficiency of DP batteries is a pretty strong lure. And what about the secondary batteries of the Standards? They were all the same caliber, but very different guns.

            Six-inch guns are for the most part too slow to be effective against airplanes or the smaller sorts of torpedo boats, which pushes you to dual-purpose guns in the four- to five-inch range(*). The British 5.25″ was the largest useful DP gun of the era, I think, but it was undeniably useful.

            The 5.25″ was too heavy to be a particularly good DP gun. It wasn’t terrible, but I’ve heard that the Didos with 4.5″ guns were considered by far the better ships. The limit was the 50 or so pounds people can usefully handle in that role. They should have stolen our guns for Vanguard, as well as our fire-control system.
            The US tried to build a 6″ DP gun, and it was a contender for the secondary battery on the Montanas. Unfortunately, it never worked all that well.

            The 6″ single-purpose guns that many navies mounted in the WWI era and the Germans held on to as late as WWII were never very useful in their own right, and forced their users to add yet another battery of 3-4″ antiaircraft guns in whatever space was left over.

            In fairness, the first British AA guns were bought under the 1913-14 estimates, to put on Tiger and the Iron Dukes, the 1911-1912 ships. I don’t have such specifics for other navies, but I believe they were similar.

            And nobody trusted the dual-purpose guns to be entirely adequate against air attack, so add yet another battery of rapid-fire 20-40mm guns, but those were usually light enough to be tucked safely out of the way of the heavier guns so we’ll ignore them for now.

            Usually two batteries. Occasionally three, but that was mostly just the British being weird. And I’ll save the stories of blast interference for another day…

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m not sure the tech was there for DP guns before the 30s. The weight efficiency of DP batteries is a pretty strong lure.

            The British QF Mark V 4″/45 was introduced in 1914 as a low-angle gun, modified with high-angle mounts and fixed ammunition by 1918, and seems to have served adequately as a dual-purpose gun through the 1930s and even into WWII. Not as good as the later 4.5″ guns in power-assisted dual turrets, but that’s mostly just 1930s technology being better for all purposes than 1910s stuff.

            I’d be hard-pressed to name a significantly better heavy AA gun prior to 1930, and as a low-angle gun it could deliver about the same weight of HE fire to about the same range as a heavier but slower-firing 6″ gun of the same era. So I’m going to call that a successful DP gun with World War I technology, and a better fit for any post-WWI battleship than the normal mix of 6″ low-angle and 3″ high-angle guns.

          • bean says:

            I’d be hard-pressed to name a significantly better heavy AA gun prior to 1930, and as a low-angle gun it could deliver about the same weight of HE fire to about the same range as a heavier but slower-firing 6″ gun of the same era. So I’m going to call that a successful DP gun with World War I technology, and a better fit for any post-WWI battleship than the normal mix of 6″ low-angle and 3″ high-angle guns.

            I’m not so sure. In general, it’s best to put your metal in as few shells as possible. 6″ looks to be about optimum for anti-destroyer work, but it’s too big for AA. And while the theoretical ranges might have been the same, low muzzle velocity means longer time of flight and worse accuracy. Overall, it probably would have been better in a WW2 context, but the ratio of danger from airplanes and destroyers changed a lot between the 1920s and WW2.
            (The other aspect was that power drives for small mounts weren’t really there until the 30s, which meant you couldn’t use big AA guns.)

      • John Schilling says:

        1. Ditching the secondary armament in order to free up displacement and construction budget for more big guns.

        As bean points out, the smaller guns on a pre-dreadnought weren’t secondary. In the early battleship era, there was real uncertainty as to what sort of gun was actually going to be the big shipkiller. 11-13″ guns could very nearly pierce any armor at any range, but were heavy and fired very slowly and how many hits were you going to score at ten miles distance with 19th-century fire control? 7-10″ guns were lighter so you could carry more of them, fired faster, but would only pierce battleship armor at close range. 4-6″ guns wouldn’t pierce battleship armor at any range but you could carry dozens of them, each firing dozens of times a minute, and their explosive shells could turn wreck all the unarmored parts of a battleship in short order There was lots of pontificating, but very few battles to provide evidence.

        And if you guess wrong, your ship is almost worthless. You put eight 12″ guns on it, and they score a handful of damaging but not decisive hits and then the other guy is close enough to turn you into a blazing wreck with explosive shellfire. Or maybe turning all the unarmored parts of a battleship into scrap metal is only an inconvenience, and it’s the number of close-range armor-piercing shells that will be decisive. So you get ships like the King Edward class, with four 12″ guns, four 9″, and fourteen 6″. That can’t be the best mix, but it also can’t be the worst.

        Turbines being more powerful and more durable for similar displacement, allowing faster ships to be built for the same investment in engines in the ship’s displacement budget

        In addition to the advantages you note, this allows you to hedge on a bet of “OK, maybe the really big guns are the battleship killers and I shouldn’t waste anything on the little ones”. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong and you have to run away, but you never have to let the other guy get close enough to actually wreck your ship with his smaller guns.

        And the third step is the central director fire control, the wonderfully and literally steampunk contraption that bean described a few OTs ago that allowed you to show in peacetime exercises that, yes, you really were going to be scoring a decisive number of hits from beyond the effective range of smaller guns.

        All-big-gun alone would have been a dangerous bet. All-big-gun plus steam turbine plus director fire control was the game-changer.

        Then, as bean points out, you need truly secondary weapons that will never be used against a battleship but are a cheap hedge against not having your destroyers in the right place. By the end of the dreadnought era, those were about as big as the kill-battleships-with-lots-of-explosive-shells guns were in the pre-dreadnought era, but the mission was different.

        • bean says:

          So you get ships like the King Edward class, with four 12″ guns, four 9″, and fourteen 6″. That can’t be the best mix, but it also can’t be the worst.

          This isn’t quite right. The classic Pre-Dread was 4 12″ and 12 6″. The King Edward VIIs were built as part of the transition towards Dreadnought, not as part of a covering the bases exercise. There were growing doubts about the utility of the 6″, but they weren’t ready to go all the way to something like Lord Nelson.

          And the third step is the central director fire control, the wonderfully and literally steampunk contraption that bean described a few OTs ago that allowed you to show in peacetime exercises that, yes, you really were going to be scoring a decisive number of hits from beyond the effective range of smaller guns.

          Nitpick: That didn’t come about until several years after Dreadnought. The testbed was Neptune, the eight British dreadnought. But yes, gunnery was rapidly improving during that time. I may do a piece on the evolution of fire control, as the description was of the finished product.
          (Also, does it count as steampunk if there’s no steam in the mechanisms? Yes, steam does provide the electricity to run the thing, but I’m not sure that’s enough. But I don’t really understand steampunk, anyway.)

          Then, as bean points out, you need truly secondary weapons that will never be used against a battleship but are a cheap hedge against not having your destroyers in the right place.

          I wouldn’t say never. Friedman (Fighting the Great War at Sea, and yes, I might be addicted to his books) suggests that the Germans planned to use theirs in a fleet action. And I suspect that Washington may have fired her 5-inchers at Kirishima.

          • gbdub says:

            Didn’t Washington manage to close to unusually close range before opening fire? So the 5″ gun use was taking advantage of an unexpectedly favorable engagement rather than the design goal?

          • bean says:

            Didn’t Washington manage to close to unusually close range before opening fire? So the 5″ gun use was taking advantage of an unexpectedly favorable engagement rather than the design goal?

            Correct. I was being pedantic, and pointing out that if you have a weapon that will do damage to a target and are in range, you’re likely to use the weapon. The Germans planned to fight within range of their 6″ secondaries, so they did plan to use them. But I don’t think they were included because of that.
            (As an aside, I checked Washington’s action report, and they did fire the 5″ guns on Kirishima.)

    • Montfort says:

      If you or anyone else is familiar with the topic, I’d be interested in the Italian Navy, or, more generally, the less-well-known navies of this period. I don’t hear much about them, but I’m guessing they were mostly tasked with home defense and possibly colonial adventures? If that’s true, did they have different building priorities or philosophies?

      • bean says:

        I have some familiarity with the Regina Marina, although not a lot. I cut that part mostly for the sake of space, as I was already at a thousand words.
        The RM was unusual in that it was exclusively a Mediterranean navy. Their ships were short-legged and built for speed, often to the point of insanity. They and the French spent a lot of the 30s trading the title of fastest warship, building ships that turned out to be nearly useless when war came. The RM never had to worry about functioning outside of relatively sheltered waters, so their ships were lighter. Their battleships weren’t as bad as some of their cruisers, although Vittorio Veneto and her sisters were probably the weakest of the treaty battleships. (They were also the first to be laid down, so they shouldn’t be judged too harshly.)
        There are a couple of features of technical interest. The first is the guns. They were incredibly powerful, but also very short-lived (something like half the life of the US and British guns). It’s been suggested that they didn’t need to be long-lived because they would never operate that far from their bases.
        Their armored decks were pretty terrible, for reasons I’m not totally sure of. They used an interesting torpedo defense system (something on the list of stuff to do posts on), the Puligese system. It consisted of a cylinder which was supposed to crush under explosive loading. The system wasn’t well built, though, and it was hard to repair.
        And then there was the AA. It was terrible. A late-war US destroyer had 30% more firepower. And better FC.
        Honestly, the overall impression of the Italian navy (and I’m not a scholar of the RM, so I could be wrong) is that they weren’t really ready for the war, and certainly weren’t able to keep up when it got going. They gave the British some trouble in the Med, but folded after 1942.

        • Montfort says:

          Thanks, that was interesting. If they were going for short-lived guns and frequent repairs maybe they thought a war would be reasonably short? I guess with a lack of oil access it would sort of have to be. Additionally, Wikipedia claims the Soviets stole the Puligese system for Sovetsky Soyuz, though I guess no one had seen it in action yet.

          Do you have an idea of the scope of their ambitions pre-WWII? That is, was the RM supposed to rule the Mediterranean like an Italian lake or just be good enough to keep other countries away from Italy/Ethiopia?

          • bean says:

            Thanks, that was interesting.

            You’re most welcome.

            If they were going for short-lived guns and frequent repairs maybe they thought a war would be reasonably short?

            Not exactly. There’s a big difference between regunning at your main fleet base and doing it at a god-forsaken atoll in the central Pacific. The Italians were operating close enough to their bases that going home to re-gun wasn’t the hardship it would be for the Pacific Fleet.

            I guess with a lack of oil access it would sort of have to be. Additionally, Wikipedia claims the Soviets stole the Puligese system for Sovetsky Soyuz, though I guess no one had seen it in action yet.

            ‘Stole’ is not quite the right word. The Italians were the man naval partners of the Soviets during the interwar years, and a lot of the design art in Soviet capital ship plans is Italian in origin.

            Do you have an idea of the scope of their ambitions pre-WWII? That is, was the RM supposed to rule the Mediterranean like an Italian lake or just be good enough to keep other countries away from Italy/Ethiopia?

            Ruling the Mediterranean was one of Mussolini’s big propaganda goals.

          • John Schilling says:

            The Italians were operating close enough to their bases that going home to re-gun wasn’t the hardship it would be for the Pacific Fleet.

            According to this, the Italians didn’t build enough of their big high-velocity guns to re-gun even a single battleship. And the lead time on a heavy naval gun is at least a year, so I have to assume they were planning a short war.

            But you’re right that they were planning to own the Mediterranean by the end of that war, and they gave it their best.

            Also worth noting was that their “best” turned out to be their naval special forces, particularly the underwater demolitions teams. Also minisubs, kamikaze(ish) motorboats, and other “gimmick” weapons that in other theatres of war never really amounted to much. The Italians had technology and doctrine well ahead of everyone else in that era, and I believe their UDTs sank more allied shipping than the entire Italian surface fleet.

          • bean says:

            According to this, the Italians didn’t build enough of their big high-velocity guns to re-gun even a single battleship. And the lead time on a heavy naval gun is at least a year, so I have to assume they were planning a short war.

            Those guns can be re-lined, although if I was planning to do that, I would have made sure to make at least one extra set of barrels. Although that does say that the later guns had loose liners, which is the usual means of doing quick re-barrels.

          • cassander says:

            >If they were going for short-lived guns and frequent repairs maybe they thought a war would be reasonably short?

            I have a far more mundane explanation. Some admiral ordered some engineer to come up with a gun that met X characteristics, and he did, and the degree to which he did so by shortening gun life wasn’t explicitly realized or considered relative to other factors, such as ship weight, shell weight, etc. until it was too late (psychologically if not physically).

            That plus a high velocity gun made more sense in 1914, when the gun was designed, than it did in 1935 when the ships were being built.

          • bean says:

            I have a far more mundane explanation. Some admiral ordered some engineer to come up with a gun that met X characteristics, and he did, and the degree to which he did so by shortening gun life wasn’t explicitly realized or considered relative to other factors, such as ship weight, shell weight, etc. until it was too late (psychologically if not physically).

            I can buy that. The Italians did have a problem with trying to hit specific numbers without regard to the effect on the ship as a system. (The speed obsession with their cruisers and destroyers, specifically.) I suspect this had a lot to do with Muossilini being really big into propaganda. Or maybe it’s just the Italians in general.

            That plus a high velocity gun made more sense in 1914, when the gun was designed, than it did in 1935 when the ships were being built.

            Navweps gives the design date as 1934, not 1914.

          • cassander says:

            `@bean

            The ships were designed in 34, the guns were originally designed (maybe built, I forget) for a class of ships in 14 to match the Queen Elizabeths. They got used in 34 to avoid the time/expense/risk of developing a new gun.

          • bean says:

            The ships were designed in 34, the guns were originally designed (maybe built, I forget) for a class of ships in 14 to match the Queen Elizabeths. They got used in 34 to avoid the time/expense/risk of developing a new gun.

            Sources?
            Navweps is the gold standard, and it says that they were a 1934 design. Likewise, the designation is Model 1934, which is unlikely for a gun supposedly built 20 years earlier. The Italians did design and build a 15″ gun in 1914, but it was 40 calibers.
            Sources, please. I’m curious as to where this came from, but also virtually certain it’s not true.
            (Might you have gotten the Italians confused with the USN, who were planning to mount the 16″/50 Mk2 built for the South Dakota (BB-49) and Lexington classes on the Iowas? That obviously fell through (but is a story for another day), but it sounds like what you’re describing.)

          • cassander says:

            @bean

            I might be mis-remembering, but I would have sworn that the Littorios were originally going to have 16 inchers, but that they ended up with guns designed for some ships that got delayed by the war then canceled by Washington.

          • bean says:

            I might be mis-remembering, but I would have sworn that the Littorios were originally going to have 16 inchers, but that they ended up with guns designed for some ships that got delayed by the war then canceled by Washington.

            I’ll go through D&G when I get home on that, but it looks like they might have ended up at 15″ guns for reasons of balance. It was nearly impossible to build a 16″ fast battleship on 35,000 tons, and I doubt anybody but the US could have pulled it off. The KGVs were a bit under-armed, making me think that 15″ was probably the sweet spot for Treaty ships. Of course, all three nations that went that way also had a tradition of 15″ guns.

          • bean says:

            D&G says that the Italians did look at 16″ guns, but decided on 15″ because they thought they’d have trouble making the bigger guns, and because they were worried about balancing the design.

          • cassander says:

            @bean

            But were they new 15″ guns or old ones? Or maybe a modification of an older design?

          • bean says:

            But were they new 15″ guns or old ones? Or maybe a modification of an older design?

            New ones. D&G and Campbell both confirm that they were new guns designed in ’34. Not a modification of the old ones, either. The 1914 model was wire-wound, the 1934 one was not. Well, some of the 1914 guns were wire-wound. Some of them may not have been.

    • beleester says:

      Are you on Spacebattles/Sufficient Velocity, by any chance? They really dig this sort of historical military commentary.

      • bean says:

        I am not. My main internet participation is here, and another forum where everyone already knows this stuff.
        (Honestly, I’m a bit hesitant to go somewhere where there’s too much interest, because it would probably turn into endless fights over minutiae. Too many Weheraboos and the like about.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          Wait, there are Wehraboos about surface ships?

          • bean says:

            Yes, there are. Maybe not as many as about tanks, but why do you think the “Bismarck was scuttled!” thing has lasted so long?

          • dndnrsn says:

            I had always thought that was about the sort of “men fighting a doomed battle” aura, which can be far more acceptably applied to the Bismarck than to plenty of other German “fighting a doomed battle” things because, first, Germany hadn’t started mass killing of civilians yet, and, second, the German surface fleet had the cleanest hands of any German military element anyway. I didn’t know that anyone argued the German surface fleet was particularly great.

          • bean says:

            There’s a substantial number who seem convinced that Bismarck is the BEST BATTLESHIP EVER! Googling on this produces a lot of people who know very little about naval design, but have strong opinions on this.
            (I actually think the website I link in the OP underrates Bismarck’s belt armor, as they don’t take the edges of the armored deck into account. But that’s another matter.)

          • cassander says:

            @bean

            Yes, there are. Maybe not as many as about tanks, but why do you think the “Bismarck was scuttled!” thing has lasted so long?

            The same reason as the Rommel legend, because building up your utterly defeated enemies is a way of making yourself look good.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Wehraboos puzzle me because they focus on everything except what actually made the German military (the army mostly) punch above its weight.

          • bean says:

            @cassander

            The same reason as the Rommel legend, because building up your utterly defeated enemies is a way of making yourself look good.

            I’m not so sure that’s it. It certainly happens (it explains the purported superiority of French sailing warships, for instance) but the “Bismarck was actually scuttled” brigade seem to be trying to diminish the efforts of the allies, not enhance them.

            @dndnrsn

            Wehraboos puzzle me because they focus on everything except what actually made the German military (the army mostly) punch above its weight.

            I think that being a Wehraboo is incompatible with a deep understanding of warfare. If they can understand the things which made the Germans punch above their weight, they also understand the reasons why the Germans weren’t actually all that awesome.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @bean:

            I agree. Shallow historical knowledge is to blame.

            If you’re talking about the war crimes – the Wehrmacht, and even the Waffen-SS to some extent, appear to have pulled off one of the great public relation coups of history. The “clean Wehrmacht” myth is quite embedded in the popular culture – I’ve had the rather weird experience of people who are not Wehraboos, left-wing people, who take the attitude that among the actual military, the western allies were no better than the Germans and Soviets. Which is just not true.

            If, on the other hand, you’re talking about the logistics, the minutiae of equipment, the fact that the Panthers and Tigers were a small minority (I’m just adding up numbers on Wikipedia, and the Pz III and IV and related assault guns outnumbered the Panthers and Tigers by something like 3 or 4 to 1), and the fact that the German advantage came in the form tactical superiority through leadership training and doctrine, that’s probably down to “rule of cool.” Logistics is for dorks. Plus my wacky theory that wargames are to blame.

          • Protagoras says:

            There are certainly Bismarck fans. One thing they like to point to was that the main guns on Bismarck and Tirptitz could re-load and fire again considerably more quickly than most (maybe any?) other battleships; calculations based on maximum weight of shells they could throw out in a given amount of time don’t look too bad for Bismarck. But that ignores that even the battleships with slower guns hardly ever fired their guns as fast as physically possible; various tactical considerations determined when to fire the next salvo more than just when the guns were ready again (for example, they corrected aim based on observing the splashes from the previous salvo, which meant waiting until that salvo came down, which at long range took considerably longer than reloading).

            The Deutschland class heavy cruisers can also be made to sound pretty impressive if you are selective in which features you emphasize and ignore some of the problems they experienced.

          • gbdub says:

            Wait, isn’t the going theory that the German’s attempted to scuttle Bismarck and this at least contributed to the sinking? I thought that was the conclusion of two of the three expeditions that went there. I mean she was already doomed and had ceased to be a viable fighting ship.

            Either way Bismarck does seem to demonstrate the difficulty of actually sinking a well-armored battleship by direct gunfire. She was mission killed long before she went under.

            How many other battleships went down primarily from naval gunfire in WWII? I know of Kirishima

          • bean says:

            @Protagoras
            All true. But at long range, middling FC and terrible armor doom her.

            The Deutschland class heavy cruisers can also be made to sound pretty impressive if you are selective in which features you emphasize and ignore some of the problems they experienced.

            Like, say, the concept just not working?

            @gbdub

            Wait, isn’t the going theory that the German’s attempted to scuttle Bismarck and this at least contributed to the sinking? I thought that was the conclusion of two of the three expeditions that went there. I mean she was already doomed and had ceased to be a viable fighting ship.

            It is. The point is that some people seem to think that ‘she was scuttled’ is somehow significant to anyone who isn’t a naval architect. The fact that the British effectively sank her when she was mission-killed is what matters, not what actually let in enough water to put her on the bottom.

            How many other battleships went down primarily from naval gunfire in WWII? I know of Kirishima…

            One of Fuso or Yamishiro were also sunk by naval gunfire. Nobody’s quite sure which one, though. I think Combined Fleet has an essay on that.

    • Garrett says:

      For ironic reasons, I find “They had a planned Lion-class, broadly equivalent to the Iowas, but they were cancelled due to the war.” incredibly hilarious. Thank you!

  3. In a previous open thread not so long ago, someone asked what policies people think should change if human biodiversity proved to be real and several people mentioned the doctrine of disparate impact. As I understand it, this doctrine says that if a policy affects some racial/ethnic group disproportionately, then it should be considered discriminatory and therefore illegal. But I’m not a lawyer and I suspect this characterization of the doctrine of disparate impact is a simplification, so if anyone knows something good about that doctrine that examines what the law says and how it’s being applied, I’m very interested.

    In any case, if we define the doctrine as I have (which seems to have been what people had in mind in the open thread I’m talking about), it doesn’t seem s tightly connected to the question of human biodiversity or the lack thereof. I understand human biodiversity as the view that there are significant between-group genetic difference among mankind. (As I noted back then, if that’s how you understand human biodiversity, then it’s clearly true, but let’s put that aside for now.) First, depending on what traits those differences have to do with, it may have no legal consequences, so the hypothesis that human biodiversity is real doesn’t per se invalidate the doctrine of disparate impact.

    But, even more importantly, even if human biodiversity were not real, it seems to me that the doctrine of disparate impact as I have defined it should probably be scrapped anyway. For instance, even if the only reason why members of some groups are more likely to engage in criminal behavior is something like neighborhood effect, it’s still wrong to conclude, from the fact that a policy such as assigning more cops to high-crime neighborhoods disproportionately affects some minorities, that it’s discriminatory. Of course, there could be other reasons to reject such a policy, but disparate impact as I have defined it should probably not be used in that case regardless of whether human biodiversity is real.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Congratulations; you’ve deduced the standard non-Death-Eating conservative argument against disparate impact. I agree with it completely.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Just want to point out that the doctrine of disparate impact is only applied to ‘protected classes’, and which classes are ‘protected’ is explicitly decided by the legislature and can differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If your state is recovering from a vicious civil war between the butter-side-uppers and the butter-side-downers, you might want to make toast preference a protected class. But even if you buy that disparate impact is a useful mechanism, you aren’t obligated to do so apply it to every potentially-victimized group.

      • Do you know a good article/blog post/whatever explaining what the doctrine of disparate impact is exactly? As I said in my original comment, I never really looked this up, so all I have to go is what people in favor of it and people against it told me in conversation and, while they seem to be saying the same thing, I suspect it’s inaccurate. In particular, is it really the case that, under that doctrine, any policy that disproportionately affects a protected class is illegal? It seems that it would potentially render illegal a lot of things which can’t possibly be illegal, so that can’t be right. For instance, given that in the US black people commit more murder on average than white people, if black people are a protected class, it seems that it would render illegal any punishment for murder since it would disproportionately affect black people. But surely that can’t be true, so the doctrine must be more complicated.

        • Sandy says:

          Under disparate impact, any policy that disproportionately affects a protected class may be considered suspect, and if the government doesn’t have a good justification for it, courts may strike it down as biased. The way it was once explained to me (by a practicing lawyer) was by way of a hypothetical wherein the NYPD decides that it wants its cops to be as formidable and imposing a presence as possible, and so it institutes a new policy that says recruits have to be at least 5’10”. This policy will have a disparate impact on Hispanics, the vast majority of whom are shorter than 5’10”, whereas whites and blacks are generally around the same height on average. So any Hispanic who gets the short end of the stick based on this policy can sue and NYC will have to justify the need for this policy in court, or drop it.

        • Aapje says:

          @Philippe Lemoine

          Disproportionate impact can be allowed if there is a ‘good’ reason. Of course, what is or is not a good reason is itself a highly political question.

          I would argue that it effectively moves political decisions to the courts, who get to decide what are good reasons and what are not. So this just further politicizes the courts.

          A while back I argued on ThingOfThings why I consider it quite destructive to politicize the courts. One reason is that it strongly encourages packing the courts with ideological allies, which is not very democratic. Then in turn, those who find their ideology the minority (or absent) among judges, have a strong incentive to oppose the courts and undermine this institution.

          IMHO, a good political system allows people a fair opportunity to get their way within the system and doesn’t encourage them to see the system as fatally stacked against them and thus in need of replacement.

        • Brad says:

          Disparate impact isn’t a single doctrine, it is a class of doctrines that arise by text, regulation or case law, under several different federal laws. The fact that they are statutory doctrines rather than constitutional mean they can be modified by Congress or even in some cases can potentially be modified by a regulatory agency (i.e. the President).

          Probably the most important of the disparate impact doctrines is the one arising under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination in employment. It was originally crafted through case law, but in 1991 was codified into statutory law. It’s also fairly typical in its application.

          The basic idea is this:
          In the usual case of employment discrimination, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the employer engaged in intentional discrimination. Once he has done that, he wins the case.

          In a disparate impact case of employment discrimination, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that a facially neutral policy created a disparate impact. At which point the burden shifts to the employer to prove that there is a manifest relationship between the policy and job performance (aka business necessity). At that point the burden shifts back to the plaintiff who can still win if he proves that there is an alternate policy that would serve the employer’s legitimate goals as well as the challenged policy with less of a disparate impact.

          It isn’t the case that once you show a disparate impact the case is over and you win.

        • Okay, thanks, this makes a lot more sense. But now I don’t know what to think, unless I learn more about how it’s applied in practice. I can see how, in some cases, it would just shift the burden of proof on the defense for no good reason. But I can also see how in some cases it would be a good thing. I just have no idea whether, on balance, the effect is positive or negative. Again, if someone knows a good paper that explains how this doctrine is used in practice and what effects it has had, I’m very interested.

        • Brad says:

          I can’t vouch for it having only skimmed the first section, but this is relatively highly cited:

          Was the Disparate Impact Theory a Mistake 53 UCLA L. Rev. 701 (2005-2006) Michael Selmi

          http://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2030&context=faculty_publications

        • Cypren says:

          The most serious effects of disparate impact doctrine aren’t in courts, where the business necessity defense is pretty robust and will hold in all but the most capricious examples of arbitrary policies. The biggest impact is that the existence of disparate impact doctrine means that lawsuits which are primarily based upon “X group is underrepresented” cannot be peremptorily dismissed and will always go to trial with the commensurate expenses.

          The threat of the legal costs and damaging publicity even if the employer prevails is enough to create a chilling effect and prevent most policies that would lead to disparate impact even if the policy is justified. The most obvious example of this is the (relatively) recent Ricci v. DeStefano case where the New Haven Fire Department refused to promote any firefighters because no black candidates met the promotion requirements.

          The great irony is that ultimately they were sued by 17 white and 1 Hispanic firefighter who were being denied promotions, and the Supreme Court ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor in a 5-4 decision split along conservative/liberal lines. The premise of the decision was that the fire department did not have sufficient evidentiary basis for concluding “that, had it not taken the action, it would have been liable under the disparate-impact statute.”

          The outcome of this case was of course to damn everyone to legal hell: take pains to avoid disparate-impact lawsuits and you risk being sued for civil rights violation for the non-minority people affected by the outcome. See you all in court, suckers.

          • Thanks, this makes sense, but do you know a good discussion of this chilling effect, which you say the doctrine of disparate impact has had on businesses? I’d be interested in something dealing with this aspect of the question too.

  4. BBA says:

    Today in complicated answers to simple-sounding questions: how do you sell insurance across state lines?

    (As usual, I feel compelled to warn you – Mayhew tends to stick to the facts, but it’s still a partisan Democratic blog and many of the commenters and other bloggers there make Jill/Moon look tame. Don’t get out of the boat.)

  5. Warren says:

    Hi, I recently found this site. This is amazing. I’ve never undergone cognitive behavioral therapy, but I imagine it feels very much like what I get from reading your work. Its like I can actively feel the toxicity of twitter/MSM being drained from my brain. The amount of reasonableness and self-awareness present in your work gives me faith in humanity. Thank you.

    • T says:

      It sounds like you’d enjoy going through some other related areas of the rationalist community, as some of them sound, fortunately, quite similar to Scott. This is how I felt when I first found people like this on the Internet as well though, and it’s quite a nice feeling to know that you aren’t alone, regardless of what it is you felt you were alone with.

      Check out some of the links in the sidebar on the left, bonus points for LessWrong and reading through the archive on this site (that should take at least a few months of your time, I’m sure)

  6. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Anyone want to talk about the Second Boer War (1899-1902)?

    It was an uncanny foreshadowing of much later conflicts. When the Boers besieged the British South African towns of Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking, the Empire struck back and trivially annexed the Transvaal Republic and Orange Free State. This did nothing to stop the Boer militias from attacking them, so they put the civilian population in concentration camps (the first of those name), where many women and children died from unsanitary conditions.
    The war saw protests and was viciously attacked in the Manchester Guardian and Westminster Gazette, though a majority always supported it, the Conservative government winning a “Khaki election” against the Liberal Party (where opponents included a young David Lloyd-George). Outside the Empire, it was massively unpopular, to the extent that a Belgian jury acquired a young man for attempting to assassinate the Prince of Wales.
    It was an early example of a propaganda war, with supporters implying that the Boers deserved everything they got for their racism and preemptive strikes, the opposition implying that it was a genocide waged for ownership of the Kimberley diamond and Rand gold mines.
    British correspondents included Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill. Mohandas Gandhi participated as a stretcher bearer for a hospital, while Arthur Conan Doyle was a surgeon.

    • Space Viking says:

      Boers used massed fire with modern rifles behind wire fencing and trenches to break British troops at the Battle of Magersfontein. Sound familiar? Yes, this was a precursor to WWI tactics, which would come 15 years later. Did the British learn from it? No. Nor did the Germans, who had provided the Boers with those modern rifles.

      This causes me to wonder what new, effective tactics from the Syrian Civil War could be applied in future on a larger scale, and who’s ready for it, and who’s not. Any war nerds present? I just looked it up myself, and I see… anti-Assad propaganda.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        50$ drones with bombs? That’s the hot news about ISIL, don’t know if it’s Syria-specific. Seems like potentially a big deal, but probably there’s some obvious counter for it that I haven’t thought of.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Did the British learn from it? No.

        Actually, they did. Unit-for-unit, the BEF was the best army in 1914, precisely because they’d applied the lessons of the Boer War (greater emphasis on fieldcraft and marksmanship, better co-ordination between artillery and infantry attacks).

        • Aapje says:

          I also really like how the British taught their soldiers to use their rifle as a poor man’s machine gun:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_minute

          • Protagoras says:

            Knowing about this is one of the things that has kept me from buying into any of the multi-shooter Kennedy conspiracy theories; a bolt action rifle absolutely can be used to fire three accurate shots in six seconds (actually considerably less than that!) Of course, Oswald didn’t have the British infantry training, and wasn’t using exactly the same gun, but it definitely seems that a skilled person could fairly consistently get similar results to what he got, and if Oswald wasn’t that skilled, well, a lucky person can perform like a skilled person one time.

          • Aapje says:

            Oswald actually fired only 2 accurate shots, the third missed by a mile.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Knowing about this is one of the things that has kept me from buying into any of the multi-shooter Kennedy conspiracy theories

            Well that and the fact that despite Oliver Stone’s protestations to the contrary the Zapruder film clearly shows an exit wound which means the lethal came from somewhere above and behind the limo.

            But yes I agree entirely, three accurate shots at 100m in six seconds (or as Aapje observes, 2 accurate shots and one wild) is well within the capability of a skilled marksman.

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            Oswald enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1956 and was granted a hardship discharge in 1959. Like all recruits he was tested for marksmanship and scored high enough to qualify for sharpshooter (the middle grade of qualified marksmen in the Marine Corps), later reduced to marksman (the lowest grade), so he definitely had some rifle skill.

          • Protagoras says:

            Yeah, in talking about Oswald being less skilled, I was being as generous to the conspiracy theorists as possible, since even with that generosity it still wouldn’t have taken a miracle for him to get the results he did. I had been aware that he had a military background; the conspiracy theorists insist that he had never been that great and was out of practice, but those claims also don’t seem that compelling to me. There are a lot of reasons to reject the conspiracy theories.

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            Yeah, I think Oswald may have been mentioned as a Marine in Full Metal Jacket, which is where I attributed the memory anyway, but in looking him up to confirm that was surprised to find that he qualified as far more skilled than I would have expected/had ever heard previously.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Do sharp-shooting skills need maintenance?

          • Aapje says:

            Note that Oswald also tried to assassinate retired U.S. Major General Edwin Walker on April 10, 3 weeks after he had bought the rifle, and missed from less than 100 feet away. The bullet struck the window-frame and the bullet fragments did hit Walker.

            Malcolm Howard Price testified that he met Lee Harvey Oswald at the Sports Drome Rifle Range on September 28 and helped him sight his rifle (a scope usually needs to be adjusted to be accurate). He also testified that he met him two more times and that he was impressed by the scope, that Oswald bragged about.

            Presumably, Oswald would have merely fired scopeless rifles in the marines, so he wouldn’t know how to adjust the scope or even that it is necessary to do so. Based on other information that suggests that Oswald wasn’t very meticulous, I consider it plausible that Oswald never practiced before his assassination attempt on Walker, then figured out that the scope was way out of whack only when he missed that easy shot.

            An interesting fact is that the Warren commission found that the scope had defects which were well-suited to the assassination. The crosshairs were set high, which makes it easier to hit a target that is moving away. Normally you would have to ‘lead’ a target that moves away, but not with this rifle due to this defect. There was also a slight sideways defect that causes the bullet to hit a little to the right of the aim point, but Kennedy’s car was curving right during the second shot that hit Kennedy. So again, this would have made that shot easier (and the 2nd shot was the harder one, as the car was further away).

          • Cypren says:

            Do sharp-shooting skills need maintenance?

            Very much so. Shooting is a physical skill that will degrade without practice, and somewhat rapidly. The intellectual basics are easy enough to grasp and retain, but accurate shooting is about very precise control of discrete muscle groups that aren’t stressed the same way in other day to day activities. Rapid-fire shooting is even more demanding, as it requires not just practice in general but practice with the specific weapon and caliber of ammunition to drill the recoil characteristics into kinesthetic memory.

            As I understand it, US Special Forces troops shoot more than 1000 rounds a week as their standard training regimen to practice with their issued weapons. Professional competition shooters are probably the only other people who come even close to that amount of firearms practice.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Cypren, that’s what I thought, so any claims about Oswald’s shooting ability need to factor in evidence about whether he was staying in practice.

          • bean says:

            Shooting is a physical skill that will degrade without practice, and somewhat rapidly. The intellectual basics are easy enough to grasp and retain, but accurate shooting is about very precise control of discrete muscle groups that aren’t stressed the same way in other day to day activities.

            I think this overstates it somewhat. Being really good at shooting is something that takes a lot of maintenance. Being a pretty good shot doesn’t take that much once you get to that level. I can’t say for certain what category Oswald would have had to be in, but it’s certain that the Marines would have gotten him to ‘pretty good’.

            As I understand it, US Special Forces troops shoot more than 1000 rounds a week as their standard training regimen to practice with their issued weapons.

            They’re not just practicing simple marksmanship. Most of those rounds are fired doing things like room-clearing drills, which are a lot more perishable than bench marksmanship.

          • Aapje says:

            Especially since much of that is team work, which needs to be done from muscle memory, as they need to be quick to have a tactical advantage.

      • Incurian says:

        This causes me to wonder what new, effective tactics from the Syrian Civil War could be applied in future on a larger scale…

        Seamless transitions from conventional to irregular is the new trend that is giving good guys headaches. It is said to have begun in Lebanon in 2006, but ISIS was the first to do it on a large scale. See Hybrid Warfare.

        The US actually has pretty good doctrine to counter this, imho, but it’s hard to teach and harder to put into practice.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Aaand Hybrid Warfare is basically what the Boers used. They fought in disciplined ranks from trenches when it was advantageous, or went about their business in regular clothes until shooting. British propaganda said lack of uniforms made them unlawful combatants, while opposition propaganda painted them as poor farmers fighting as a militia with what little they could afford.

        • Incurian says:

          Interesting.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        What should the British and Germans have learned, other than not to start wars?

        • bean says:

          Things like “entrenched enemies are really hard to push out of position”.
          In fairness to them, the conditions in western Europe during WWI were fairly unique. In the east, the troop density was low enough that maneuver was a possibility. In both the Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War, the fortified positions were single places which could be put under siege. It’s somewhat harder to put half a continent under siege, although the British blockade came close.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Things like “entrenched enemies are really hard to push out of position”.

            They did learn that, which is why flank attacks were such a big thing in 1914 (the whole “Race to the Sea” was actually a series of attempted flanking manoeuvres). Massed frontal attacks were only resorted to when the front already stretched from neutral Switzerland to the English Channel, leaving frontal assault the only option left.

          • Protagoras says:

            Also, whether they learned it from the Boer War or not, they do seem to have figured out that artillery was hugely important to attacking entrenched positions. It took them a while to figure out the details, the most effective forms of artillery and the best ways of making use of them, but the British and Germans (and French, for that matter) did all treat artillery as a major priority before the war, not just during the war.

    • Salem says:

      What I find most interesting is the poor performance of the British military. The Boer War proved that Crimea was no fluke. 1700-1815 they sweep all before them, 1853-onwards it’s general underperformance with occasional romantic glory. Why? Some possible ideas:

      1. The early British advantage was financial and moral, not technological or organisational. The spread of nationalism and wars of total mobilisation blunted this.
      2. The professionalisation of the Civil Service was ultimately a mistake, creating (ironically!) a large class in the government dedicated to their own interests and ideologies rather than those of the nation. Even an egregious parasite like Henry Fox could only skim so much cream – mostly he wanted glory, and that meant success. The interests of the War Office were not nearly so well-aligned.
      3. Britain was spreading itself way too thin. What vital interest was implicated in Sevastopol or Bloemfontain? (Or Mons…) The faults weren’t so much military as political – if you don’t pick your battles, of course you won’t fight so well.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        What I find most interesting is the poor performance of the British military.

        You mean by conquering the largest empire in human history? That sort of performance?

        Boer War proved that Crimea was no fluke.

        The British army performed fine in the Crimea; its main problems were due to the difficulty of supporting a large army on hostile territory thousands of miles away from the motherland. The Boer War took place in a period of rapid technological advancement in which it was difficult to keep up with the pace of changing weaponry. The Boer War proves nothing about the Crimea, because whilst there were some very superficial similarities the two conflicts were actually extremely different.

        Plus, whilst this sort of analysis is a bit of a blunt instrument, I count 51 conflicts involving British forces between 1815 and 1899 here, of which 43 (84%) were victories, 6 (12%) ended without a clear winner, and just 2 (4%) were defeats. If we limit ourselves to fairly major conflicts involving regular British troops, the numbers come out as 32 total (I think), out of which 2 (6%) were defeats, one (3%) was a draw, and the rest (91%) were victories. I don’t know what your definition of “poor performance” or “a fluke” is, but I think most people would consider a nine-out-of-ten success rate to be quite good.

        • Salem says:

          You mean by conquering the largest empire in human history? That sort of performance?

          Essentially all the valuable parts of the Empire were acquired prior to 1853.

          The British army performed fine in the Crimea; its main problems were due to the difficulty of supporting a large army on hostile territory thousands of miles away from the motherland.

          We are saying the same things in different ways. “The army was fine, the difficulty was in supply, logistics and communications,”and “The military did badly because of supply, logistics and communications” are the same thing.

          I don’t know what your definition of “poor performance” or “a fluke” is, but I think most people would consider a nine-out-of-ten success rate to be quite good.

          But those were all colonial wars against manifestly inferior powers! That period is called Pax Britannica because we didn’t have any major conflicts – except the Crimean and Boer Wars, which went badly. It’s more like 0.5/3.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Essentially all the valuable parts of the Empire were acquired prior to 1853.

            Introducing “value” as a criteria seems a bit like shifting the goalposts TBH.

            Plus, if the British army really was so crap in 1853, we’d expect it to be pretty bad in the preceding decades as well. Armies rarely go from being great to being awful overnight.

            We are saying the same things in different ways. “The army was fine, the difficulty was in supply, logistics and communications,”and “The military did badly because of supply, logistics and communications” are the same thing.

            You never mentioned supply, logistics and communication in your original post. But anyway, since the British army’s difficulties in Crimea had nothing to do with actual combat performance (they won all the major battles they fought in), and the army’s performance in South Africa had little or nothing to do with logistics, I don’t see how S Africa proves that Crimea was “no fluke”. The two wars had practically nothing in common!

            ETA: Plus, no, I don’t think that the British army in the Crimea did badly by any metric. Supplying an army 35,000 strong in enemy territory and winning multiple battles until said enemy sues for peace is not by any reasonable metric “doing badly”.

            But those were all colonial wars against manifestly inferior powers!

            Not really. The Indian states had comparable weaponry to the British (and the rebels in the Indian Mutiny had in many cases been trained by the British as well), as did the Ottomans and Egyptians. China was technologically behind somewhat but had access to huge resources.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I have read – I don’t know how accurate it is, couldn’t provide a source, etc – that the Indians, Ottomans, and Egyptians faced difficulties not in the technological aspect, but in the organizational aspect. They didn’t have the kind of societies that enabled the military organization the British had. Or, one could look at Europe only a few centuries earlier, and note that military organization, infrastructure, etc was lacking – it wasn’t in the interest of the rulers to have it differently.

            Similarly, in modern times, when the Arab militaries went up against the Israelis and lost, it wasn’t due to a technological lack. I can’t remember who here posted this, but it’s interesting.

          • Salem says:

            Shifting the goalposts??? When have I ever suggested that a large empire was a good thing? That’s entirely your notion. My contention that Britain was stretching itself too thin in this period is confirmed rather than refuted by your observation that they acquired vast amounts of worthless territory in sub-Saharan Africa in pursuit of some misguided “glory.”

            That you accuse me of rhetorical dishonesty when I have done nothing even approaching it makes it very hard for me to conclude you are acting in good faith. Good day.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Shifting the goalposts??? When have I ever suggested that a large empire was a good thing? That’s entirely your notion.

            I said that conquering a large empire is an unlikely feat for a rubbish army to achieve. You objected, on the grounds that the land didn’t meet some (undefined) criteria for being sufficiently valuable. Maybe “red herring” would be more accurate than “shifting the goalposts”, but either way, it’s not really a rebuttal.

            That you accuse me of rhetorical dishonesty when I have done nothing even approaching it makes it very hard for me to conclude you are acting in good faith. Good day.

            Oh, grow up.

    • keranih says:

      I haven’t seen anyone yet mention Breaker Morant – a nicely done film that does a good job of capturing the moral complexities of the time. (It plays rather loose with some of the facts, which WP goes into some detail about.)

  7. McLovin says:

    I am having trouble choosing between two course for next term (I’m a sophomore who will be majoring in Computer Science and Economics once I’m able to declare (next term)). I’m either going to take “Applied Regression Analysis” or “Stochastic Processes” (my other two classes are Econometrics and Computability and Complexity). I’m having a difficult time deciding between the two of them, and nobody on campus is giving me a good answer either direction. So I come to you, and hope that somebody here can help me make this decision. (The major pro of Stochastic Processes is that it’s with a professor I like, but who’s retiring after next term. Also it’s proof-based. The major pro for Regression is that it might be more helpful in the short run of taking Econometrics, but it’s doesn’t seem as good in the long run.)

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Why are you majoring in economics? There are two main reasons to do so. One of the classes fits one of the reasons. The other doesn’t fit either.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        Don’t suppose you’d deign to actually state what those reasons are for those of us in the peanut gallery, wouldja

        • Urstoff says:

          Search for truth

          Search for $$$

          • McLovin says:

            Search for Truth, but in such a way that if it fails I can search for $$$

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Those are very high-level goals. Does an econ major help you achieve them? That is pretty much a category error. You should break down your plans into components and identify how a school major contributes to those plans.

            The main reason people major in economics is to appeal to employers. One is by the employer’s direct knowledge of the degree. In particular, the degree in general is a way of signaling that you like money. But this does not depend on which class you take. The other way to appeal to employers is to learn specific, valuable skills. The regression class teaches one such skill, which Natasha named but did not value. If you are not interested in such skills, then maybe you should take the other class. But if you are not interested in the skills taught by the economics major, maybe you should study something else?

          • Urstoff says:

            $$$ is truth, truth $$$ — that is all
            Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

          • McLovin says:

            Douglas – Econometrics is heavy in regression (but obviously not as heavy as the specific class), so I’m getting something of that skill either way. Stochastic Processes are also important to Economics (and CS), and since fewer people are taking stochastic, it might also look better.

    • Tell me the professor and textbook (or at least textbook) of your regression analysis course.

      My general view: Expected value of stoch processes is higher, since more rigor generally makes future life easier. Expected value of reg analysis is lower, since 80% of the time this course is just bullshit boring textbook statistics and p-values.

      But some regression analysis with a focus on causal inference, and scientific inference, is really really dope (think how Scott does Regression analysis on SSC, or even better Andrew Gelman if you read his blog).

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Perhaps you are simply advising against majoring in economics?

        • I think econ as a degree has lots of variation across school, and synergies with other courses. I got a B.A. in econ, and *love* economics, but on its own a B.A. in econ wasn’t enough to get me where I wanted to go.

          I then did a MSc, and now combined econ+stats+causal-inference+coding to get the type of job I love. However, a smart undergrad could achieve this without wasting time/money on an MSc (like I did), if they take the right courses.

      • McLovin says:

        I believe it will use The Statistical Sleuth by Ramsey and Schafer.

        That’s basically been my thoughts about the two courses. If Regression is good, it will be really good. On the other hand, my current stats prof (who’s teaching stoch and wrote the book we’ll use for it) joked that we covered the first two weeks of it in our discussion of regression.

        • If you’ve never learned any of the stuff in the regression table of contents before, it might be worth taking. It looks kinda boring, but sometimes boring is necessary.

          Probably depends on how motivated the prof is. Stochastic processes, for someone who likes stats/math, is probably more intrinsically fun to learn.

          Actually, I’m just going to say take the course with the better prof and/or go with your gut. They are both very useful for different things.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      For me, “proof-based” means “80% more fun” means “I will work 60% more in this class” means “I will learn 40% more.” Alas these numbers are made-up, but I’d at least include some analysis of that form. Remember to take the outside view! Sure, you can imagine a situation where you work just as hard in the less cool, more helpful class, and to some extent its defeatist not to try. But… will you really?

    • andrewflicker says:

      I’m currently taking Stochastic Processes, and rather enjoying it. It’s proof-heavy, but not nearly so much as Real Analysis (for example). It’s rigorous, and full of quasi-real-life examples with dice, cards, etc. Random walks / Markov chains (which are a major focus of the course) is also hugely important in modern CS topics like machine learning and AI.

    • McLovin says:

      I ended up signing up for Stochastic Processes, mostly because it seems more applicable to CS. Thanks for your advise.

      • nimim.k.m. says:

        Well, I was going to suggest the following strategy: look at the syllabus, and take the one you consider more difficult, because that way you’ll benefit most of the organized study and teaching.

        However, that strategy comes with some important caveats: it assumes both profs are at least mediocre. And also (this one depends on your psychology and study habits though) if you have an absolutely zero interest in the course and it’s not mandatory, consider if it’s worth the effort (at least in my experience such conditions result in unnecessary agony and poor grades). But both of those are very extreme cases.

        My personal preference would be stochastic processes, because it would be much more fun.

  8. knownastron says:

    I’ve come across the essay “Keep Your Identity Small” by Paul Graham a couple times from different sources, most recently on the Second Enumerations podcast that Scott recommended.

    I like the idea of keeping your identity small and being able to not get too emotionally invested when discussing politics.

    However, I’m having trouble keeping my identity small because I am also actively working to figure out who I am, what I stand for, and what group I fit in with best.

    Has anyone had a similar experience or can give advice on keeping your identity small?

    • hlynkacg says:

      For what it’s worth I’ve been there. I wish I had some actionable advise for you but I don’t.

    • Aapje says:

      @knownastron

      I am also actively working to figure out who I am, what I stand for, and what group I fit in with best.

      I would suggest keeping these somewhat separate. Choose a group based on what you stand for, but try to keep the group from directly changing your beliefs. Shove a solid filter in between where you examine the dogma of the ingroup.

    • Anatoly says:

      Taboo the word “identity”.

    • Brad says:

      I am also actively working to figure out who I am, what I stand for, and what group I fit in with best.

      It’s worth considering whether or not you need to figure these things out in some kind of momentous and conclusive way. An alternative to sitting down making a decision is to spend a lifetime working them out in a day by day process of discovery.

    • IrishDude says:

      I find it helpful to consider all my beliefs tentative hypotheses, subject to change as new information comes in. I have stronger beliefs that requires more information before I’ll alter them, and weaker beliefs that are more sensitive to new information, but I consider all my beliefs challengable.

      It can be discomforting to find credible counter-arguments to my more deeply held beliefs, but that’s one reason I try not to hold strong opinions until I’ve done a good-faith effort to find the best arguments and counter-arguments for a belief. On quite a lot of things I don’t have the time to do due diligent research and reading, so on quite a lot of things I don’t hold strong opinions. That seems to work best for me on keeping my identity small.

    • Urstoff says:

      The best identity is no identity. People are incredibly complex sets of preferences, interests, beliefs, desires, etc. Having an “identity” is necessarily a simplification and restriction of what a person actually is.

    • Wrong Species says:

      I don’t know to what extent you can keep your identity small. Maybe try not to get to hung up on how you define your identity. You can be a conservative and accept something that goes against tradition or be a liberal and accept something that isn’t freedom maximizing. My advice would be to separate questions of identity from questions of facts. These things are often intertwined which makes it difficult but try it anyway.

  9. Deiseach says:

    Can I blame this on the Trump administration? 🙂

    Wisconsin bans Kerrygold butter (and presumably EDIT: but not the cheese).

    This has led desperate Winsconsinite Irish-butter addicts to drive across state lines to stock up on the illegal butter, smuggle it back in, order it online, and even buy it from renegade grocers in Wisconsin who haven’t taken stocks off their shelves.

    “Under Wisconsin legislation, retail butter for sale in Wisconsin must bear either a Wisconsin or federal grade mark. This effectively excludes Kerrygold butter being sold in Wisconsin because Kerrygold butter is graded, produced and packaged in Ireland,” Ornua told the Irish Farmers Journal in a statement on Wednesday.

    While this was not enforced in the past, local authorities have recently revived the grading obligation. Ornua made a first public mention of the ban in April 2015 in social media interactions with customers finding it harder to buy Kerrygold butter.

    @MitchRyan912 Unfortunately, bc our butter is imported from Ireland it is not USDA graded. WI law prohibits the sale non-USDA graded butter.

    — Kerrygold USA (@KerrygoldUSA) April 20, 2015
    Ornua added that no other states were affected.

    It is only in recent days that a blanket ban has come into force in application of the 1970s legislation, with stores facing fines for stocking the flagship Irish butter. This has prompted consumers to take to social media again and exchange addresses of retailers defying the prohibition or tips to order Kerrygold online. Others said they were driving to neighbouring states to constitute stockpiles.

    What are the penalties for illegal butter selling (or I suppose that should be “selling illegal butter”)?

    Kerrygold, which is imported, hasn’t been certified, so anyone selling it faces a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail.

    Forget the War On Drugs – now it’s the War On Dairy (That’s Imported, And Only In Wisconsin Anyway – So Far At Least)! 😀

    Please watch the (tongue-in-cheek) video in this linked article – I never thought I’d see the day where Kerrygold is referred to as something “with a cult-like following”.

    • S_J says:

      For some reason, this reminds of a short story that was originally published in the 1970s.

      Lipidleggin

      It’s a funny story, but it leaves me with the feeling of are you sure it can’t happen?

    • Randy M says:

      Next thing you know Deiseach will be trying to get us to go to a raw milk speakeasy.
      All I can say is that I love Kerrygold and I suspect Wisconsin is not trying to find the most inclusive criteria.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m amused that Wisconsin – which is the dairy capital of America? – seems to be so threatened by Kerrygold that it needs to revive 70s laws. Generally I’m all for food adulteration and food quality laws to be followed, but really, it’s salt butter so it’s not made using lactic cultures or the like, it’s pretty much: full-fat milk -> skim off cream -> add salt -> churn and there you go! It can’t be all that different from how they make butter in Wisconsin?

        The American blogs etc. say the difference in the taste is because the milk comes from grass-fed cows. I have no idea if there is a difference because all the butter I’ve ever eaten has been Irish 🙂 So can anyone tell me if they do notice a difference between American butter and Kerrygold?

        • random832 says:

          There’s definitely a difference between it and mass-market American butter, but what I don’t know (because I haven’t had any of the latter) is how it compares to the American-made “European-style” butters that have been appearing in the last year or so. (I’ve also heard that European butter has a slightly higher fat content than American)

          Cynically, I’m wondering if the goal is merely break the brand loyalty of Kerrygold customers for just long enough for those products (which are inevitably cheaper, not being imported) to get a foothold in the market, rather than to actually keep imported butter off the shelves long-term.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I haven’t experimented with butter in the past year, so I don’t know about these recent developments, but when I did a careful study, I found that American grass-fed butter was just as good and twice as expensive.

        • Randy M says:

          I never cared for butter before. After a brief paleo phase, one remaining change (in addition to the cast iron pans) is an abiding love of Kerrygold butter. It may be psychological or a result of changing tastes that occur as we’ve aged, but there’s my testimony anecdote.

        • Brad says:

          I don’t remember ever having had that specific butter but the butter in Ireland when I was there last summer did taste different from the butter I’m used to in the US.

        • roystgnr says:

          I tried Kerrygold butter after reading some studies that suggested there was a significant nutritional benefit (more Omega-3 instead of Omega-6 fatty acids, IIRC) from dairy products from grass-fed cattle.

          I was astonished to find a taste difference as well. “Why does this butter taste more like butter?” followed quickly by “Why the hell doesn’t my old butter taste enough like butter!?”

          YMMV though. I still use cheap butter in recipes where I expect other flavors to overpower the butter taste, and my father still swears by Country Crock spread (“with real ingredients”, brags the web page. Not imaginary!) and doesn’t like the flavor of anything else.

    • beleester says:

      Dairy is serious business in Wisconsin (“America’s Dairyland”) and we’re not going to take anyone else’s word for it that their butter is good! 😛

      Practical question: Can’t they get it graded in Wisconsin after they import it? Or is that too expensive/impractical?

      • random832 says:

        It looks like one of the scoring criteria requires judging the cream it’s made from.

        Wisconsin page – the standards seem to be basically the same.

        • Deiseach says:

          Looking at that system and the current system used in Ireland (which is under EU regulations and mainly concentrates on fat content, moisture content, and salt/milk proteins content, plus food safety limits on microbial contamination), the difference there is that the US grading on flavour and appearance seems to me (ironically enough) to be in accord the older (up to the 1920s) system operated by the Cork Butter Market for classifying butter.

          With the advent of creameries and mechanisation, (a) farmhouse butter production became more mechanised and easier and (b) commercial butter production took over from private farmhouse production and both contributed to greater standardisation, which meant more consistency and control, and so grading on flavour, colour etc. seems to have fallen by the wayside. That’s why (ironically) the US letter grades seem the older system.

          Since the Irish dairy industry doesn’t grade by the same criteria, Kerrygold doesn’t have equivalent ‘taste test’ notes so they seem to be working towards getting the butter tested and graded in the US under the system, or working out some way of getting the necessary grading by an approximation in Ireland, or something.

          From the Food Safety Authority of Ireland website:

          The use of the term ‘butter’ on the packaging or associated advertising material of fat spreads in the EU is intended to indicate to consumers that it is a churned-cream dairy product consisting primarily of butterfat, water, non-fat milk material and if necessary, salt. The composition of butter is clearly defined in EU and Irish food law and therefore, the appropriate use of the term ‘butter’ on fat spreads is limited to products meeting specific composition rules

          A. Milk fats
          Products in the form of a solid, malleable emulsion, principally of the water-in-oil type, derived exclusively from milk and/or certain milk products, for which the fat is the essential constituent of value. However, other substances necessary for their manufacture may be added, provided those substances are not used for the purpose of replacing, either in whole or in part, any milk constituents.

          1. Butter The product with a milk-fat content of not less than 80 % but less than 90 %, a maximum water content of 16 % and a maximum dry non-fat milk-material content of 2 %.

          Butter in Ireland is typically 82% butter fat, 16% water and 2% salt/milk solids

        • BBA says:

          It’s somewhat unusual that USDA grading is entirely voluntary, and in the absence of a state law like Wisconsin’s there’s no requirement to put a grade on your label at all. At my local grocery butter and eggs were usually labeled with grades, but there was some imported butter that wasn’t, and there are lots of products where grade standards exist but no grade is on the label. Odd how these norms form. Apparently in my state it’s only mandatory to put grades on eggs, maple syrup, and a few produce items if they’re in closed packages.

          As a side note, the USDA standard for bananas takes curvature into account. So much for the EU being the only entity to try to regulate that.

          • random832 says:

            No it doesn’t.

            Consider the shape of the finger on its own or as a component part of the cluster or hand. The term well formed should be used for fingers having normal curvature and proportion and lying within the natural contour of the hand.
            Misshapen should be used for those fingers which are twisted, stunted, or otherwise deformed so that the normal contour of the cluster or hand is destroyed.

            This isn’t clearly equivalent to the EU standard which has similar wording but allegedly (this seems not to have been actually true, but it’s what anti-EU people objected to. It may have been confused for a similar regulation for cucumbers) in practice denies the highest grading to bananas whose natural contour beyond a certain degree of curvature.

          • BBA says:

            That’s only because the USDA doesn’t assign grades to bananas. The word “misshapen” on an inspection report sounds equivalent to docking them a rank. My point is just that we have bureaucrats measuring how curved bananas are too.

    • hls2003 says:

      Dang, that hits close to home. We have so much Kerrygold in my fridge you’d think we were stockpiling for the apocalypse. Not in Wisconsin, fortunately, but close.

    • valiance says:

      First thing I thought of was the Sealab 2021 episode where they run into a butter shortage: http://www.adultswim.com/videos/sealab-2021/der-dieb/

    • James Miller says:

      Until my local supermarket started selling Kerrygold butter, I would get 20 units or so at a time from the closest store that had it.

      • Deiseach says:

        I see my nation has grossly underestimated the addictive qualities of Kerrygold 🙂

        Perhaps Wisconsin is justified in conducting a War On (Foreign) Dairy!

    • Deiseach says:

      As I told the gentleman with the 4-hour heterodox holocaust video, I am not going to sit through a video talk, so I skipped the TED talk and read one of his essays.

      My God, it’s thin gruel. It’s the mega-church approach (“Just tell them Jesus loves them as they are! and copy what the popular culture is doing, so we all sing watered-down Christian versions of last year’s rock and pop hits* and call that worship”) with techie buzzwords used instead of the youth minister I’m down with Da Kidz vibe.

      ‘Instead of boring old thick dense tradition and theology, just tell them God wants them to be happy and then we’ll go for a craft beer or organic fair trade boutique coffee while discussing the latest indie album and the new Call of Assassin’s Final Overwatch game’.

      I am too old and crotchety for this “Just like cyberpunk, but Christian!” version of religion-lite.

      *I am old enough to remember the original of this and no, I don’t mean the Marilyn Manson cover, I mean Pete Burns and Dead or Alive on Top of the Pops.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I only listened to a moderate amount, but the thing which struck me as unusual is that he says God promises in the Bible that people will have considerable powers, and we shouldn’t assume we can’t be trusted with them.

        Thanks for checking the link.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Yes, and there’s a considerable orthodox theology about these powers and what God does to make us trustworthy. The key word is theosis. A deceased saint becomes God in all ways except ontologically (said to be logically impossible, and the Logos is God). Furthermore, there’s the occasional living person God trusts to perform more than the occasional miracle, and they’re called a thaumaturge (like jolly St. Nicholas).

  10. Rock Lobster says:

    I recently finished Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction. For my own assistance in keeping track of things I took about 20 pages of notes and also stuck about 25 pages of passages I had highlighted at the end. Would anybody be interested in having a copy? Might as well share them with people who might enjoy them.

    What would be the best way to anonymously share it here? Would a Dropbox link or a Google Drive link be anonymous? I’ve never done this before.

  11. Error says:

    I was linking someone to Meditations on Moloch recently, and noticed that its preamble appears to have vanished. Um? Was that intentional?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yes. I rewrote my Top Posts page, and while I was doing that I edited some old posts to make them less about random stuff going on at the time and more sub specie aeternatis.

      • Error says:

        Huh. I like those personal asides, but oh well. The Wayback Machine still has the original if I really want it. Thanks for answering.

      • RhetoricalViking says:

        My unsolicited two cents: I really liked the old Top Posts page and thought it was a great summary of your site when I first came across it. It told me what topics your blog tended to explore and gave some sample posts.

        Your current top 10, in comparison, seems lacking. A lot of your titles are clever and appropriate but rarely hint at what the content will be about. If I was a newcomer, I probably wouldn’t think to click on any of them.

        I also probably wouldn’t think much of a blog where the “#4 post” was a book review.

        • shakeddown says:

          Supported. The new page seems like a less interesting and informative version of the old page, and I’m not sure if there’s anything there that wasn’t in the old page.

  12. Deiseach says:

    This collision of the historic and the modern is fascinating.

    Eagles versus drones

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      An early argument against drones being common was that people would use them as skeet-shooting targets.

      Eagles are *so* much cooler.

      And as for terrorists attacking drones…. I can’t see a moral argument against using Langley as a military target.

      • Jiro says:

        Terrorists have no right to attack “military targets” for the same reason that gang members don’t have the right to call the police military targets and then attack them.

        • random832 says:

          What reason, precisely, is that?

          • Montfort says:

            I’m not Jiro, but presumably because terrorists usually are not lawful combatants in a declared war. You only get to claim the legitimacy of “military targets” if you yourself are operating by the rules of war.

            I mean, hitting the pentagon is probably “better” in some sense than hitting random civilians, but that doesn’t make it legitimate.

    • John Schilling says:

      OK, but it’s the Dutch who are doing this. And also, I find, the French. Instead of training cheese-eating monkeys to surrender to drones, the French are training eagles to fight them?

      Where does the United States of America stand in the development of this critical technology? Mr. President, we must not allow a weaponized eagle gap!

      • Deiseach says:

        The Dutch have imported American sea eagles, I’m not sure what the French are using (though I love that they’ve called them by the names of the Musketeers and d’Artagnan).

        Certainly America should and must have its own Eagle Counter-Drone Force!

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I’m not sure what the French are using (though I love that they’ve called them by the names of the Musketeers and d’Artagnan).

          That’s the cutest thing in warfare since SSgt. Reckless (the first female Marine?).

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      So, assuming that eagles are a good defense against drones (I suspect that even if they work out, there will be an eagle shortage), how hard is it to enable drones to protect themselves against eagles? It may be more sensible to have specialist drones, some of which can defend against eagles and others of which do the usual drone jobs.

      • gbdub says:

        I don’t think eagles are a good solution for fully weaponized drones (which will likely blow up and kill your eagle). Eagles are going to be hard to train and replace – eventually it will be easier to just crank out drone-killer drones. It’s a lot easier to load software than hand-train an eagle.

        But they’re very handy for taking out nuisance drones flying where they ought not.

  13. It seems that Sessions just reversed the DOJ’s decision under Obama to reduce the use of private prisons by the federal government. I don’t have any opinion on this, as I have never researched the pros and cons. What do people think about this and do you know a good discussion of that issue?

    • Back when I was still a card-carrying progressive, I took a few upper level courses in undergrad on the incarceral state as part of an honors seminar in PolScience.

      I will say, that while it’s been years, I remember there being an incredibly robust argument in favor of the horror of the US prison system. Not just in terms of binary racial disparities, but the entire system being, at its worst, brutalistic and horrendous in its treatment of humans and how the prison institutions were run.

      I’m sometimes unsure though if these abstractions hold at this level. Private prisons are probably bad, but I am not sure I can give a valid analysis or critique without spending months reading this stuff.

      I am willing to take a general view though that privatized prisons do appear to suck.

      • Well, for the sake of keeping the discussion focused, I’d like to talk only about whether it’s a good or bad idea for the DOJ to rely on private prisons.

        Is it true that private prisons are worse than public ones? If so, in what sense? Are people just talking about the way in which prisoners are treated or do they also take into consideration the costs?

        • hoghoghoghoghog says:

          Our Dear Leader gives some links here: https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/02/22/repost-the-non-libertarian-faq/#prison_privatization

          One would want to balance this against costs. Private prisons don’t reliably save money, but it’s controversial[*] whether or not they save money on average. From first principles it is not clear why a politically-connected industry in a monopsony market with massive start-up costs and difficult-to-measure outcomes should be expected to deliver cost savings.

          [*] Existence of a controversy means squat in a debate like this; anyone can manufacture one. I am writing this more to excuse my own ignorance than to make a point.

  14. shakeddown says:

    I’m compiling a list of examples of nominative determinism, and like all lists of examples I can only find three off the top of my head. Anyone have good examples?

    • Douglas Knight says:
    • Jaskologist says:

      Robin G. Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor.

    • Schibes says:

      1980s-90s NASCAR driver Lake Speed
      Early 20th century judge and judicial scholar Learned Hand
      2000s Cleveland Indians all-star outfielder Grady Sizemore, who stood 6’2″ tall and weighed 205 lbs.

    • The Nybbler says:

      One of my favorites is Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, first head of the Port of New York Authority, which among other things is responsible for bridges in the NYC area. The Outerbridge Crossing is named after him; it’s the southernmost and in a sense “outermost” bridge in New York.

    • skef says:

      I’m a fan of what might be called “degenerate* cases” of this, like this sign and the Audible tag-line.

      [* edited from “degenerative — whoops.]

      • shakeddown says:

        I didn’t get this one. Is there something particularly real about realnetworks?

        • skef says:

          “Particularly” doesn’t come into it — that’s why I [should have said] “degenerate*”. The bar for being real is pretty low.

          I guess the category I’m thinking of isn’t strictly nominal determinism, because it doesn’t necessarily have to do with names, but it’s in the same neighborhood.

          I look at what that sign is announcing and think “Yup — checks out.” Similarly with the “this is audible” that ends my audiobooks.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      There used to be a men’s clothing store near Wilmington, Delaware called Mansure and Prettyman, presumably named after the owners.

    • Salem says:

      Lord Judge was the head of the judiciary in England and Wales.

    • Protagoras says:

      I guess there’s the philosopher John Wisdom.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Mark Fishman is a big name in the Zebrafish research community.

    • roystgnr says:

      I keep a little list of examples I found amusing; here’s a few that didn’t make your list or Wikipedia’s yet:

      William “Shockley” was an electronics pioneer
      David “Featherstone” invented the pink flamingo
      The “Wright” (maker) brothers made the first airplane
      The “Lumiere” (light) brothers first captured light as motion pictures
      “Bernhard” Reddemann, firefighter + flamethrower developer
      The “Saddam Dam” is likely to have a very sad fate
      “Lincoln” was “linkin'” the states together
      “David B. Bleak” fighting against 10-to-1 odds
      The Nobel prize is a noble prize
      “Reagan” funded “Ray gun” missile defenses
      “Bill Gates” bills for software running on logic gates
      Warnings about intelligence explosion risks came from “Dr. Good”
      “Neil A” (Armstrong) backwards is “Alien”
      Professor “Harry Hurt” wrote the definitive motorcycle safety study
      “Princess Di”/”Die”
      One of the most polite actors is T. Hanks
      Bernie Madoff with the money…

      • shakeddown says:

        Do you have a link for Dr. Good? Googling is confounded here

      • Randy M says:

        Good list.

        The Nobel prize is a noble prize

        Started by a man who felt himself ignoble.

        “Princess Di”/”Die”

        All the others have as well, but certainly not as famously.

        Almost enough to make one take “nominative determinism” seriously, save for knowing the law of large numbers and seeing how tenuous some of the links are. However, I have three test cases in the works, so I will let you know in forty years or so how that works out.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      There’s a military base in the area here that offered a pho bar in the cafeteria.

      I suspect it might be… non-optimal.

    • MrApophenia says:

      My favorite is a funeral home in Buffalo run by the Amigone family.

  15. J Milne says:

    20 Ideas From the Mind of David Gelernter , or, Why David Gelernter Hasn’t Been Offered a Regular Columnist Spot Despite Being Interesting.

    • Kevin C. says:

      Thanks for that link. I wasn’t really familiar with Gelernter or his positions, so it was informative as well as an interesting read. Though I definitely have to disagree with him on the architecture bit in #3 (As I think I’ve said here before, I’m pretty much of the opinion that architecture peaked with Gothic and Baroque and has, with a few exceptions for houses, generally been going slowly downhill since). Though, mark me in agreement with the recurring theme about scientists needing to be about more than science; the example in #16 stands out in particular.

  16. Kevin C. says:

    There’s an interesting article in the Washington Post about mass imprisonment in the US, and criminologist John Pfaff’s work on that subject in his new book. In short, it’s not the drug war behind mass incarceration and racial disparaties, but instead about violent crime. The bit that most stood out:

    Consistent with Pfaff’s analysis, drug crime convictions account for the incarceration of fewer than 1 in 6 state prison inmates. Also, drug offenses don’t contribute to the appalling racial disparities in imprisonment. The white rate of being sentenced for drug crimes (15 percent) is actually slightly higher than that for blacks (14.9 percent) and Hispanics (14.6 percent). Reducing sentences for nonviolent drug criminals would thus not only have a small impact on mass incarceration, it could also worsen racial disparities in imprisonment rates.

    • dndnrsn says:

      OK, I’m spitballing here, and I’m not really basing this on any facts, more old fashioned reasoning. If the police start going after drug dealers, and “being arrested and possibly imprisoned” becomes a threat, dealers who want to avoid that will drop out, meaning that dealers will be increasingly “hard” types, who are less afraid of the cops and prison. If the drug market is increasingly served by rougher types, violence as a way of cornering the market will become more likely. If dealers are increasingly people who have less to lose – younger men, especially – you run into the fact that younger men are just way more violent than the average. So violence becomes more likely.

      Similarly, pressure from the police makes drugs more expensive, doesn’t it? “I am willing to risk incarceration” becomes a reason to put a premium on the cost of whatever it is, likewise, if fewer people are willing to deal, the cost goes up. If producing and smuggling the stuff becomes more involved, the price goes up. Etc. When the cost goes up, users are probably more willing to resort to crime.

      Putting it another way – what % of aggravated assaults, gunpoint robberies, murders, etc have drugs involved in some way or another? Of the drugs involved, what % are drugs that are gone after more harshly than the police?

      • Cypren says:

        This is also a good argument for why gun control achieves a fairly high degree of compliance in countries with fairly low levels of violence, but has been utterly ineffective in the US. When you’re operating in a criminal world where violence is common, the value of having an illegal gun far exceeds the potential cost if you’re caught in possession of it.

      • Kevin C. says:

        “Putting it another way – what % of aggravated assaults, gunpoint robberies, murders, etc have drugs involved in some way or another?”

        I don’t have much data on hand on this (if there is any, given how you’re talking second- and third-order effects), but similarly spitballing, I’m confident, based on what I have read, that the answer is “less than you’d think”. And at least some of the violence/drug-dealing connection is more due to violent young men finding that the drug market is the one that pays the most for their “skills”, and that legalization would mostly cause them to ply their comparative advantage in interpersonal violence in some other field.

        Near as I see it, the Post article was mostly aimed at the types who go on and on about “nonviolent drug offenses” as if the majority of the population of America’s jails and prisons were composed entirely of people arrested “for nothing more than smoking a joint”.

      • MrApophenia says:

        We actually don’t have to rely on pure speculation for this, as America already ran this experiment once. When alcohol was made illegal and police aggressively enforced this law, alcohol trafficking became a source of very large numbers of violent crimes perpetrated by professional criminals.

        Once the prohibition of alcohol ended, the violent crime rate dropped back to pre-Prohibition levels, where oddly enough it remained until the War on Drugs got going in earnest.

    • BBA says:

      Ending the drug war won’t change the fact that the US has longer prison sentences than the rest of the “developed” world for equivalent crimes, despite having similar crime rates in many cases. We’re also more likely to sentence a convict to prison, rather than probation or fines. See the last two pages of this report.

  17. Kevin C. says:

    Also in potentially interesting links, from Daniel Susskind of Oxford, arguing that technological unemployment will likely prove worse than many think:
    A Model Of Technological Unemployment, Oxford University Discussion Paper, No. 819, February 2017“[pdf]

    Abstract:

    In the past 15 years a new ‘task-based’ literature has emerged, exploring the consequences of technological change on the labour market. The account that emerges is optimistic about the prospects for labour in the 21st century. In this paper I argue that this optimism is unjustified. I show that the supply-side anal- ysis in this literature is based on outdated reasoning about the way that these machines operate. The result is that the existing models arbitrarily constrain what machines are capable of doing. I build a new task-based model based on more justifiable assumptions. Updated reasoning about how machines operate leads to a significantly more pessimistic account of the prospects for labour. In a dynamic version of the model, labour is driven out the economy at an endoge- nously determined rate, forced to specialise in a shrinking set of types of tasks, and wages steadily decline to zero. In the limit, labour is fully immiserated and ‘technological unemployment’ follows.

  18. Hey open thread.

    I broke my leg a few days ago, spiral fracture, really painful. Had surgery the other day with lots of metal and screws in my bones.

    I’m looking for some cool stuff to read. I’ll just throw out some attributes of things I like, I’m in too much pain and on medicine to articulate myself: Older, historical, political, esoteric, related to old news papers or journals. I don’t really know. Stuff that can be linked to. Not too hard to read, maybe takes 5-50 minutes to read through.

    Anything to distract myself. This is your chance to get me to read and remark on whatever weird or boring stuff you can’t ever find anyone to talk about.

    • One Name May Hide Another says:

      Oh no! I hope you get better soon. No materials I could think of that would fit your description, but I’m curious what everybody else will come up with to match the criteria. =)

    • Deiseach says:

      I haven’t kept up with this one, and it seems to have stopped updating in 2016, but I think Geoffrey Chaucer Hath A Blog is very funny. For example, a review from 2006 of the hit new romaunce Serpentes On A Shippe:

      Al of Londoun ys aflame wyth newes of the grete entertaynment of ‘Serpentes on a Shippe,’ the which ys perfourmed ech daye by the menne of the gild of beekeeperes (and thus ys ycleped a ‘b-movie’). Ich haue just nowe retourned from a trippe to see yt wyth Litel Lowys and Tommy Vske. Whan ich was ther, Tommy founde for me a copye of the romaunce in fyve chapteres on whiche the performaunce ys based, and Ich shal pooste yt heere for yower redyge. (This writer hath a verye good style – ich am reallye jealous. Oon daye, peraventure, ich shalle write sum thyng of Arthur; and yet, the matir of Troye hath alwey ben easier for me.)

      Spoyler alert: If ye haue nat yet sene the performaunce of ‘Serpentes on a Shippe,’ rede nat of the romaunce, for it doth telle of the manye suprises and straunge eventes that happen in the course of the storye, and thus it mayhap shall lessen yower enjoiement of the performaunce yt self.

      (Sample Spoiler of the play):

      Then ther was a crashinge grete and terribil, and the sound of the sayles droppinge on to the decke. In the winde the ship did founder. Vp staires, Sir Sean did checke wyth the mariners and finde hem all y-slawe by the snakes, and the snakes had occupyed the wheel of the shippe and the mappe of navigacioun. And Sir Sean cam doun and toold Sir Neville and Sir Neville was passinge wroth and seyde, ‘That ys ynogh. I haue hadde it wyth thes cursed by Seynt George snakes on this cursed by Seynt George shippe!’

      If this is the kind of thing to your taste, you can hop around for various posts that might seem entertaining. I find it hilarious, but that’s just me.

      Another recommendation is Armarium Magnum (which, um, stopped updating in 2014 – I’m sensing a trend here). Atheist Irish-Australian has a go at correcting historical howlers, reviewing historical/history-themed books and movies, etc. (His new blog is called History for Atheists but that may be a bit too polemical for someone with pain-reduced concentration span who needs diversion, not outraging).

      Finally, a current and recently updated blog! The TOF Spot, by Mike Flynn, professional statistician (the day job) and SF writer. Warning: he’s a co-religionist of mine (and not one of the enlightened progressive ones), so his views may not cohere with your views in spots, but mainly he sticks to “science fiction, philosophy, statistical analysis, sundry miscellany, and the Untergang des Abendlandes”. Did a very long and (again to my taste) entertaining overview of The Galileo Affair: warning, it is very long.

    • One Name May Hide Another says:

      Ok, I have one for you. The story of Enron. Clearly the executives deserve our eternal scorn, right? As it turns out, the case is not at all as clear-cut as we, the public, were led to believe. The executives were not given a fair trial. Any potential defense witnesses were intimidated into silence. Most of what we know about the case is the picture the prosecution painted during the trial: the narrative that was then uncritically repeated by most media. And given that the defense was not given a fair chance to give us their side of the story, how much do we actually know about the case?

      I first got interested in this subject because of a personal connection to someone who was themselves intimidated by the investigators. I didn’t know them back then, and the whole thing came up much later, and only because I was using Enron as an example of all that is bad with this world. And one day I got challenged on it.

      What amazes me the most is that whenever I have since tried to bring the subject up with other people, I was met with hostility. Even when I managed to convince some folks that the trial wasn’t fair, people were still very upset at me and often insisted that what the prosecution did was a good thing because all’s fair in the fight against evil.

      Interested? I’m not able to post links in my comments, but Google enron Houston clear thinkers, and the first result will take to a blog written by a lawyer with links to his articles about Enron/Lay/Skilling.

      Hope you enjoy. And hope you do get better soon.

      • skef says:

        The Eichenwald [book] had a great deal of information that is quite damning. Some people object to his “narrative” style, but he backs up what he does with extensive documentation. It did argue that Lay himself was less involved in the bad stuff, but didn’t entirely have his hands clean. Are you arguing that what actually happened is irrelevant because the trial was tainted? That’s a common and defensible position, but it doesn’t get you to “they didn’t really do anything wrong”. Or are you arguing that all seemingly damning sources are misguided, and this other source has the real story?

        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          The Eichenwald [book] had a great deal of information that is quite damning.

          I haven’t read it, unfortunately. Does the book contradict any of the arguments listed on the Clear Thinkers blog? If you have the time to check it out, click on the first link Douglas Knight kindly provided in his comment, and then follow – for example – the the unjust prosecution and conviction of Mr. Skilling link. If you don’t have the time or mental energy, I completely understand. After all, I’m probably not going to be picking up the Eichenwald book any time soon, either.

          Are you arguing that what actually happened is irrelevant because the trial was tainted? That’s a common and defensible position, but it doesn’t get you to “they didn’t really do anything wrong”.

          I’m not under the impression that nothing wrong was done. In fact, I’m pretty sure there was accounting fraud going on. It’s just that Lay & Skilling weren’t guilty of it.

          What I do believe is that our society developed a certain mythology around the Enron case. And much of this mythology is false. Now, people with a better knowledge of the case (like Kurt Eichenwald, I’m guessing) will probably have a more nuanced view of the situation. The average Jane though was like me, I think, before my views got challenged. From the blog:

          Given the societal bias against Skilling and nearly everything else related to Enron, it’s not all that surprising how little most people know about the case against Skilling. “Wasn’t he prosecuted for Enron’s fraudulent accounting?” I am often asked. Well no, he was not. The government dropped those charges.

          “Well then,” they ask. “Wasn’t he prosecuted for causing Enron to go bankrupt?” Again, no, I reply patiently, Enron Task Force prosecutors repeatedly declared throughout Skilling’s case that they were not prosecuting him because Enron failed.

          Of course, those same prosecutors quickly dispensed with that myth during Skilling’s sentencing hearing when they blamed him for Enron’s failure so that they could heap a huge prison sentence on him. But that’s another issue.

          “But wait,” they invariably say. “Didn’t they go after him because of those shady partnerships that he did with that guy Fastow?” No, I point out, the prosecutors didn’t even attempt to prove that any of those special purpose entities (“SPE’s”) were illegal.

          “Well, shoot” most folks finally throw up their arms in exasperation. “He’s rich and a bunch of people lost money when Enron went down the tubes. He must have done something criminal.”

          I have had literally hundreds of conversations similar to the foregoing. The ugly reality is the same one that we didn’t want to confront when Ken Lay died and one that we resist confronting now — Jeff Skilling was lynched by an angry mob.

        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          The Eichenwald [book] had a great deal of information that is quite damning.

          Apologies, but I haven’t read the book. If you do have the time to check out the Clear Thinkers blog (which Douglas Knight kindly linked), let me know if any of the central arguments made there are contradicted in the book. In particular, check out the article on Skilling. (You can get there, if you follow the first link and click the unjust prosecution and conviction of Mr. Skilling).

          Are you arguing that what actually happened is irrelevant because the trial was tainted?

          I’m not arguing no one did anything wrong. In fact, I’m pretty sure there was accounting fraud going on, it’s just that Skilling and Lay were not guilty of it.

          What I believe is that our society has developed a lot of mythology around Enron, and much of that mythology is untrue. Now, I’m sure people who have studied the case in detail have a more nuanced view. My own view, however, was not nuanced at all, before I got challenged on it. And I believe that the average person’s understanding of what happened is close to what mine was.

          From the blog:

          Given the societal bias against Skilling and nearly everything else related to Enron, it’s not all that surprising how little most people know about the case against Skilling. “Wasn’t he prosecuted for Enron’s fraudulent accounting?” I am often asked. Well no, he was not. The government dropped those charges.

          “Well then,” they ask. “Wasn’t he prosecuted for causing Enron to go bankrupt?” Again, no, I reply patiently, Enron Task Force prosecutors repeatedly declared throughout Skilling’s case that they were not prosecuting him because Enron failed.

          Of course, those same prosecutors quickly dispensed with that myth during Skilling’s sentencing hearing when they blamed him for Enron’s failure so that they could heap a huge prison sentence on him. But that’s another issue.

          “But wait,” they invariably say. “Didn’t they go after him because of those shady partnerships that he did with that guy Fastow?” No, I point out, the prosecutors didn’t even attempt to prove that any of those special purpose entities (“SPE’s”) were illegal.

          “Well, shoot” most folks finally throw up their arms in exasperation. “He’s rich and a bunch of people lost money when Enron went down the tubes. He must have done something criminal.”

          I have had literally hundreds of conversations similar to the foregoing. The ugly reality is the same one that we didn’t want to confront when Ken Lay died and one that we resist confronting now — Jeff Skilling was lynched by an angry mob.

          • skef says:

            Should I take it that you’re using “executives” in a narrow sense that doesn’t include the CFO? I would say the book does support these views:

            1. Lay was less responsible for the primary problems than Skilling.

            2. The actual malfeasance primarily traces to Fastow.

            3. The board, under the direction of Skilling, was grossly incompetent when it came to approving Fastow’s plans.

            4. The theory that Skilling was not aware of the purpose of the SPEs is implausible given the timing of when they were created, what transactions they were involved in, and how these were linked to previous guidance to shareholders. At a minimum he knowingly misrepresented the earnings of specific sub-businesses. That’s a form of securities fraud, which I believe is a charge he was convicted of and was the basis of most of his sentence.

            Given Skilling’s knowledge of the financial manipulation via the SPEs, how responsible he was for that probably depends on one’s attitude towards the “the accountants signed off on it, so I assumed it was legal” defense (or the “everyone was doing it” variant).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @One name:
            That quoted passage is a dishonest form of argumentation, in several ways.

            One, it doesn’t even say what they actually charged him with. It does this so that it can simply be a list of things he was not charged with.

            Second, clever criminals can make criminality damn hard to prove. Sometime you charge what can be proved. The go to example is Al Capone who was convicted for tax evasion

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            @HeelBearCub

            That quoted passage is a dishonest form of argumentation, in several ways.

            Yes, you’re right. I took it out of context and used to illustrate my point about how I, and probably many other people, have had many misconceptions about the case. The lawyer goes into much more detail on his blog. The reason I brought up the blog in the first place is because I thought it matched Natasha’s requirements for an interesting/older/political read.

            Second, clever criminals can make criminality damn hard to prove. Sometime you charge what can be proved. The go to example is Al Capone who was convicted for tax evasion.

            That’s a great point. The way I understand it, however, is that whether Skilling/Lay actually broke any laws is arguable. The argument I hear more often in their case is not that they were criminals who were difficult to catch, but rather that the laws were such that these guys could get away with doing allegedly evil stuff without doing anything criminal. So it’s not that they were like Al Capone, breaking law and getting away with it, but rather that they may have done evil stuff without actually breaking the law.

            Now, personally, I believe it was likely a witch rich hunt. I’m biased. I’m more appalled at the prosecutorial abuse than at the incompetence, bad incentive structure, or whatever it was, that led to Enron’s collapse. I don’t think I believe in not giving people a just trial and putting them in jail for decades because they lacked foresight/were too greedy/too stupid to avoid bankrupting a company, even if the collapse resulted in billions of dollars evaporating. Especially if many of the billions of dollars were in fact made in the first place thanks to the same lack of foresight/greed/stupidity.

          • One Name May Hide Another says:

            @ skef

            Should I take it that you’re using “executives” in a narrow sense that doesn’t include the CFO?

            Actually, you’re being too generous. The reality is I was just being sloppy with the word.

      • Douglas Knight says:
        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          Yes, thank you! The first one. It links to further articles: for example, one about “the unjust prosecution and conviction of Mr. Skilling”.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Yes, I do think that the Enron executives deserve our eternal scorn. That has nothing to do with the trial, which is only about the third worst thing the company did. This is a perfect example of why I find the Enron case so frustrating. So many people hold it up as an example but never indicate what aspect of it they mean. It did two extremely famous things, but do you remember the other? And I scorn the incompetence demonstrated by something much less famous, but much bigger.

        The two famous things are that it stole a billion dollars from California and committed accounting fraud to create a mirage of a billion dollars. But the company was once worth about 50 billion dollars, which evaporated overnight. The two famous billions were only ever a small part of its business and don’t explain where the 50 billion went.

        The main business of the company was selling long-term contracts. But it let the salesmen decide the value of the contracts. So they sold lousy contracts, declared them to be great wins, got their bonuses, skipped town, and the company published how much money it would be making in the long term and Wall Street loved it, until the long term came around. Yes, the executives deserve our eternal scorn for this incompetence.

        • massivefocusedinaction says:

          I think it’s an odd situation that the US, seems to prosecute one person/company per financial crisis which becomes the popular scapegoat for all the chicanery of the boom. I’ll bet Lehman’s senior management is pretty thankful, Madoff (who had nothing to do with mortgages) erupted shortly after their bankruptcy pulling the focus of them.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Are you saying that Keating and Milken were the scapegoats of the S&L crisis? Maybe they played that role in the public mind, but that didn’t protect thousands of bankers from prosecution. Does the public mind work any differently elsewhere?

            (Yes, Madoff was lucky for the mortgage guys, but the timing was not a coincidence. Market downturns expose frauds: his clients pulled out to rebalance their portfolios. I think that the timing of Enron with respect to the bursting of the tech bubble was a coincidence, but Worldcom was not.)

        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          got their bonuses, skipped town

          That’s a big problem. Any opinion on clawback provisions to battle it?

          Yes, the executives deserve our eternal scorn for this incompetence.

          I don’t want to be too literal here, but if it was just incompetence, then do they really deserve eternal scorn for it?

    • Urstoff says:

      aldaily.com has enough interesting links to last you until you die.

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      No one has mentioned G.K. Chesterton? His Father Brown golden age detective shorts actually have the least religion in them. With religion, his _Heretics_ and _Orthodoxy_ have a lot of colorful, short attention span stuff. I couldn’t get into his long fiction, which had nothing like that. His poems are good.

      To C. S. Lewis, I’d give much the same praise on all his widely-varying subjects and reading levels (except _Till We Have Faces_).

      On both these authors, in your condition I’d suggest opening random anywhere now and then.

      • Evan Þ says:

        Are you excepting Till We Have Faces because it takes a longer attention span (very true) or because you don’t think it’s so good (I think, literarily speaking, it’s Lewis’s best novel)?

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          I was excepting Till We Have Faces from the praise I had just given GKC, specifically because TWHF lacks the colorful, short attention span stuff that Lewis’s other books, and much of GKC’s writing, have.

          I understand that TWHF better approaches literary standards…. Hm, it occurs to me that while Lewis did at least one book in each of several genres, he hadn’t tried the lit-crit slot before TWHF.

          The three books of the Space Trilogy were each in a different sub-genre of mid-century SF. The Dark Tower was early horror.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      On the off chance that you’re negotiable on reading vs. listening, and on it being longer on account of you only having to listen: what about Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series? It’s historical and often esoteric; I’m currently listening to the stuff about ancient Persia, just after Cyrus the Great.

    • Levantine says:

      Older, historical, political, esoteric, related to old news papers or journals. I don’t really know. Stuff that can be linked to. Not too hard to read

      Here, I’ve collected no less than twenty ideas/ suggestions:

      1. Bibliodyssey the blog: http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com

      2. Hector Oesterheld’s comics: which are pretty political and available in Spanish, and a few in French

      (They, as most of these titles, are available on Library Genesis)

      3. Jacques Vallee’s books: The Heart Of The Internet, Messengers of Deception, Forbidden Science, and Passport to Magonia (I arranged them in order of probable worth, from best to worst) can be found on Scribd and elsewhere.

      4. Charles Fort’s complete opus: http://www.sacred-texts.com/fort/index.htm http://www.resologist.net/loei.htm

      5. Caravaggio: a life sacred and profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon

      6. Romance of the Three Kingdoms : an illustrated re-telling (not the original) of the famous novel http://www.china-on-site.com/pages/comic/comiccatalog2.php

      7. Krushchev Lied by Grover Furr

      8. John Archibald Getty – Origins of the Great Purges The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938

      9. An Illustrated Guide to Korean Mythology by Choi Won-Oh

      10. Famous Artists Course Lessons by Famous Artists Schools (1954)

      11. Linda S. Godfrey’s books of cryptozoology

      12. Nikolaus Harnoncourt: Baroque Music Today

      13. Perelman’s Physics for Entertainment & Fun with Maths and Physics : old books that I recommend because of their old-fashioned charm

      14. Julieta Jones comic ouevre by Stan Drake, is available in Spanish

      15. “On Stage” by Leonard Starr, comics from 1957 in English

      16. Sappo (1932) Sundays – complete comics

      17. HAMLET IN AFRICA, 1607 : an essay by Gary Taylor

      18. Biskind Peter : My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles (2013)

      19. Dream of the Red Chamber https://infogalactic.com/info/Dream_of_the_Red_Chamber#Translations_and_reception_in_the_West

      and, finally, this essay:

      20. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams http://www.bookforum.com/pubdates/15175

    • Levantine says:

      NatashaRostova: Older, historical, political, esoteric, related to old news papers or journals. I don’t really know. Stuff that can be linked to. Not too hard to read

      As I don’t know when or whether my comment that contained 5 links will be published, here is the same reply, without links:

      I’ve collected no less than twenty ideas/ suggestions:

      1. Bibliodyssey the blog

      2. Hector Oesterheld’s comics: which are pretty political and available in Spanish, and a few in French

      (They, as most of these titles, are available on Library Genesis)

      3. Jacques Vallee’s books: The Heart Of The Internet, Messengers of Deception, Forbidden Science, and Passport to Magonia (I arranged them in order of probable worth, from best to worst) can be found on Scribd and elsewhere.

      4. Charles Fort’s complete opus is available online

      5. Caravaggio: a life sacred and profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon

      6. Romance of the Three Kingdoms : an illustrated re-telling (not the original) of the famous novel at china-on-site com

      7. Krushchev Lied by Grover Furr

      8. John Archibald Getty – Origins of the Great Purges The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938

      9. An Illustrated Guide to Korean Mythology by Choi Won-Oh

      10. Famous Artists Course Lessons by Famous Artists Schools (1954)

      11. Linda S. Godfrey’s books of cryptozoology

      12. Nikolaus Harnoncourt: Baroque Music Today

      13. Perelman’s Physics for Entertainment & Fun with Maths and Physics : old books that I recommend because of their old-fashioned charm

      14. Julieta Jones comic ouevre by Stan Drake, is available in Spanish

      15. “On Stage” by Leonard Starr, comics from 1957 in English

      16. Sappo (1932) Sundays – complete comics

      17. HAMLET IN AFRICA, 1607 : an essay by Gary Taylor

      18. Biskind Peter : My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles (2013)

      19. Dream of the Red Chamber , the novel

      and, finally, this essay:

      20. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams on book forum com

    • Casanova’s memoirs is a favorite of mine. It’s long, but can be read in small pieces. The current translation, based directly on Casanova’s manuscript, is probably not available online, but I believe the older translation, based on an edited text, is.

      Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish is very small chunks and fun–a portrait of early 20th century immigrant Ashkenazi culture masquerading as an explanation of the language.

      The four volume Orwell Letters and Essays is made up of short pieces and very interesting both for the ideas and as a picture of intellectual and political life in about 1930-1950.

      Steve Landsburg’s Armchair Economist is small chunks and fun.

      Damon Runyon short stories are good.

  19. One Name May Hide Another says:

    So, I think I want to start a blog, but I need help thinking some things through. (I know many people around here have blogs/websites, so any and all words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated.)

    Here’s the background. I love making short, funny videos. Over the past year, I’ve made several of them on various subjects. I did political satire, a special occasion congratulatory video for a friend, a video introduction to a piece of specialized software. The topics have really been all over the place. Basically, whenever I had some free time and an excuse to make a video – an occasion where I knew the vid would be useful to at least a small group of people – I jumped at the chance.

    There are at least three things I’m getting out of it. First of all, fulfillment. Creating videos puts me in the state of flow. It gives me a way of expressing myself. And I have an absolute blast doing it. Second, it helps me connect with other people. Sense of humor is very personal, so when someone gets my jokes, it very much feels like they get me. And third, I’m not going to lie, it makes me feel validated. There’s nothing quite like causing someone to laugh so hard they spit their coffee all over their keyboard.

    So now I’m thinking I want to start making these videos more regularly and begin publishing them on a personal website. (There are some other things I’d like to put there, too: materials related to homeschooling, some photography, technical projects, etc.) At the same time, I’m scared of doing it. I’m not sure if the pros outweigh the cons. (People with blogs: have the pros outweighed the cons for you?)

    A major argument for is that it would give me a chance/excuse to make videos more regularly. After a couple of years, I’ll have a body of work I’ll be proud of. Something I can one day show to my kids and tell them, here, this is what I’m all about.

    Another reason I might want to do it is that it’d give me a chance to build a small community, and perhaps make some friends. My current social life is terribly underwhelming. I have many acquaintances, but no real friends, other than one or two family members.

    One of the things that scare me to death, on the other hand, is the idea of being doxxed/targeted. I’m somewhat un-PC, not terribly so, but I know that I have some views that are incredibly unpopular where I live. (Again, I know many of you here are in the same boat.) I joke about something, it gets taken out of context, the next thing I know there is a Twitter hashtag with my real name in it and people bullying my children or shaming my employer into getting rid of me because I’m a racist bigoted SJW snowflake.

    It’s not even that I want to make that many videos about politics. I’d like to make some, but there are plenty of other topics I’d love to cover: child-rearing, my favorite HBO series, QED, some medicine-related subjects, some literature, some linguistics, a how-to video on writing a best man speech. Random stuff. But you just never know what people might get offended about.

    Finally, another fear/consideration I have is legal. Can one get sued for putting videos online? Let’s say I make a video about cats: about how I like to do this & that with my cat. But then someone will do this & that with their cat, and their cat will die. So they will claim that it was my fault and that I therefore should pay them a modest sum of one million dollars.

    So… What does everyone think?

    • NIP says:

      I think you’re paranoid, friend, and that you should just make a YouTube channel and be done with it. Do you know the sort of content that is allowed to stay up on YouTube, and the type of audiences they’re allowed to attract? I highly doubt there’s anything you could create which would overstep the bounds of propriety there, believe me.

      Don’t let your dreams be dreams. JUST DO IT

      • Schibes says:

        I will second NIP’s encouragement of you to just start posting on YouTube. You worry about doxxing, well I say don’t worry so much, as long as you don’t show your face and there is no personal information in there you will be OK. Maybe clear your utility bills off the kitchen table before pressing the “Record” button. That sort of thing. You don’t even have to disguise your voice — one of my favorite YouTube channels, Bad Lip Reading, has been in existence for six years and has earned over 700 million views, and its creator is STILL anonymous. All that is known about him is that he is some sort of professional music producer or studio technician. If Internet sleuths can’t find out who THAT guy is what makes you think they’re going to expend any effort on you? Just don’t pay random dudes in India $5 to hold up anti-Semitic signs on camera and you’ll be fine. Good luck!

        • One Name May Hide Another says:

          If Internet sleuths can’t find out who THAT guy is what makes you think they’re going to expend any effort on you?

          That’s a great point. The truth is, I actually have no idea how easy it is to stay anonymous online. These YouTube examples are encouraging. (Running an anonymous blog should be equally easy, I’m guessing.) I wonder how these folks handle sharing their work with family and friends, though. Clearly, family & friends know it’s them? I’m probably overthinking this.

          Just don’t pay random dudes in India $5 to hold up anti-Semitic signs on camera and you’ll be fine.

          Ha. Arguably even PewDiePie would have been fine if he weren’t so incredibly popular. The journalists wouldn’t have cared enough to go after him.

          Good luck!

          Much appreciated!

      • One Name May Hide Another says:

        I think you’re paranoid, friend

        Yeah. Probably. =)

        I highly doubt there’s anything you could create which would overstep the bounds of propriety there, believe me.

        I guess that’s true. I hear about people being banned from Facebook/Twitter all the time, but not so much from YouTube.

        Don’t let your dreams be dreams. JUST DO IT

        Ha, thank you. =)

        • Levantine says:

          One advice: just pay attention to the tags option. Tagging is very important in order to be actually found out by your potential audience, the people who share your interests.

          YT user Styxhexenhammer666 says so. I don’t know first-hand.

          The reason for this advice is that many youtube creators simply neglect tagging, in the sense that they either not use it, or not engage their minds about it, don’t spare a minute of their time for it.

          This is not about using tricks or being especially clever. Just about sparing some thought about which keywords would lead your potential fans to your video.

          Best

  20. RhetoricalViking says:

    I’m Canadian and when I went to school for undergrad, because I was in engineering, my tuition was higher than for most. You can see how the values differ across different programs: https://uwaterloo.ca/find-out-more/financing/tuition.

    I recently found out that this is not the norm, that at most universities engineering and humanities students pay the same tuition. This really surprised me for a few reasons.
    1. Engineering professors are in demand in the industry and universities would need to pay them competitive wages to keep them around – in comparison, there’s not all that many options for a philosophy professor so their wages could be much lower.
    2. Engineering labs have a ton of equipment that cost a lot to maintain. I can’t think of what similar costs a philosophy department would need to incur: things like conferences and textbooks should be similar across fields.
    3. Engineering students generally earn much more than humanities students after graduation. So they would also be willing to pay more.

    Given all of these, why is it so common for students to pay the same amount, regardless of degree? Would addressing this potentially help the student debt crisis? i.e. if students who are entering fields with typically lower ROIs pay less, would the debt problem become more manageable?

    • JulieK says:

      American students usually don’t decide which degree they want before they start college.

      • RhetoricalViking says:

        Interesting, I didn’t know that was the norm in the States. Regardless, I assume people choose their major after first year or so. So I would then have expected first year tuition to be the same, with divergence afterwards.

      • Eric Rall says:

        That wasn’t my experience. When I was applying to colleges in 1999, every school I applied to required me to apply for specific majors (usually a first choice and an alternate major in case the first choice was oversubscribed and I didn’t make the cut). Things may have changed since then, or my experience might have been skewed by the schools I was applying to (mostly state schools, and mostly schools in California).

        It was fairly common during my undergrad years for students to change majors a year or two in, but most of the time the changes were between related majors (e.g. switching from Electrical Engineering to Computer Science).

        The university I wound up attending (Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo) was organized as six “Colleges” clustering related departments (Agriculture, Architecture, Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and Science/Math). Each college had its own branch of admissions system (part of why you had to declare a major when you applied) and there were college-specific fees for labs and facilities on top of the University-wide uniform tuition. I think the multiple-college organization structure is pretty widespread in the US, but I’m not sure how common the college-specific fees are.

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Anecdata checking in, this is exactly how it worked at my Midwestern state school. It also had a track for undeclareds, though.

        • Brad says:

          Applied around the same time to private schools on the east coast and the furthest I have had to specify on an application was something like “school of engineering” vs “school of arts and sciences” and never a specific major.

      • massivefocusedinaction says:

        Interesting, that was my experience at a Western state school. One applied to the school to enter, then took mostly the general requirements for most degrees for roughly 2 years, usually with a progression of one or two classes within the planned degree cluster, and then applied to the college from which they wished to graduate (for all but one college this was a rubber stamp exercise for anyone who met the minimum qualifications), then took mostly degree centered classes until graduation.

    • Deiseach says:

      Can you imagine the screaming blue murder that would happen if any university proposed paying certain professors less than other professors? Especially if it came to a STEM vs Humanities split? If you’d like to stand up in public and say you think the Professor of Queer Latinx POC Afro-Centric Herstory should be paid one-third the salary of the Professor of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (who’s a white cis het male to boot), go right ahead, but be sure to be wearing your asbestos underwear first 🙂

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Can you imagine the screaming blue murder that would happen if any university proposed paying certain professors less than other professors?

        Do you know anything about the US Academic market?

        Hiring faculty is a competitive enterprise. I know because my father, who worked at a public university which had little understanding from the state government in this matter, would frequently note the candidates they lost to institutions offering a higher pay package to a specific professor.

        • Deiseach says:

          I would say you could get away with pay scales. I would not imagine you could get away with bluntly saying “Engineering professors will turn out graduates who make way more money, so they’re more valuable to us as churning out Future Alumni Donors. Arts and crafts are pretty but worthless”.

          Blaming “Big University has loads of money unlike us and would poach him away” can get the administration off the hook for “why aren’t you offering me the same as he’s getting?” “Because you’re not worth it to us” will get them into trouble.

          Ask your father if he was involved in the administration of payroll or the like; I was assisting in payroll for education services and the amount of time wasted explaining why he was getting an allowance I’m not getting, why is she getting paid three days before I’m getting paid and the like every single year, when you had to explain yet again that the reason A got the allowance in this month’s salary and you didn’t is because A started working here a month before you did and it operates on strict seniority so you will get your increase in next month’s salary – well, imagine explaining that the reason a good (but not the top in his field) engineering professor is pulling down a larger salary than a National Humanities Medal winner in the English department is because they create more monetary value, and do you think there won’t be protests and allegations of racism, sexism, homophobia and every other thing? Like this article? Now imagine how it would read if universities admitted no, it’s not the result of the remnants of structural sexism, we deliberately and intentionally pay our psychology professors less because they just don’t turn out the higher-earning students in the same numbers our engineering professors do:

          Another factor in the faculty-pay gap is pay disparity across fields. We know, for example, that professors of engineering at doctoral universities make, on average, 20 percent more than do professors of psychology. Furthermore, engineering is a male-dominated field, while psychology is dominated by women.

          Ms. Ward cites mentorship programs for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—the STEM fields—as one solution for getting women not only to go into higher-paying disciplines but also to stay there.

          There are already studies on race, gender and marital status effects on faculty pay and gender gap pay difference in sciences as compared to humanities; what do you think would be the effect if there was an admission that faculty were going to be paid on a “bang for the buck” scale and that meant humanities were always going to be paid less than STEM, sorry that’s how it is?

          I accept that the “paid according to pulling in funding” model is several steps in that direction already, but that can be hidden under the fig-leaf of “there’s more money from business for business and technical subjects, there’s never going to be big money in poetry”. A blunt “you’re never going to be worth as much to us because your students will have lower salaries” is another kettle of fish; the first is “the crude realities of commerce undervalue us but academia at least does not”, the second is “even in academia we’re underdogs”.

          • shakeddown says:

            I’m confused here. Factually, STEM professors/academics already get paid more and have better academic job prospects, and I haven’t really heard a huge public outcry about it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:
            Go back. Read the part I quoted. Note how the part I quoted is not true (and you now seem to admit it.)

            The market for higher education professors is not the fluffy sinecure you seem to have made it in your mind. Nor is it some dystopian utopia designed by the mind of Kurt Vonnegut.

            It is at the mercy of the market, which means that potential STEM professors have to be turned into actual STEM professors by paying them enough to keep them from being STEM employees in the private sector. English professors? Not so much.

            Yes, some people will always and everywhere bitch about “so-and-so gets paid how much!?” That has nothing to do with universities or liberals and everything to do with people.

            This seems to be you working yourself into a lather about an imagined moral failing of people you perceive to be your enemies.

          • Deiseach says:

            HeelBearCub, you appear to be confused about the point I was trying to make. It’s not that “some faculty are paid more than others”, it’s not “star performers need to be paid more or they’ll be poached”, it’s not even that “STEM faculty get paid more because they’re able to go into private industry if they get the hump with academia”.

            The point I was trying to make is that if the administration of the universities made this plain, and told the humanities faculty that the reason they are going to be paid less, despite the fact that they hold equivalent qualifications (a Phd for a PhD), the same position in the university, have tenure, are head of a department like the engineering guy is head of a department, have published as much, have won national and international awards etc etc etc is that bluntly it’s all about the do-re-mi and no, we don’t care about the value of education or a rounded individual or learning for the love of pure knowledge, it’s that the STEM guys are going to produce students who will go into high-paying jobs and so can be hit up for larger donations afterwards than your students who will, if they’re lucky, end up having to train as a high school teacher.

            That is where the protests about inequality and devaluation would come in. An acknowledgement that the university is running a two-tier system and that Professor A is considered not as worthwhile as Professor B purely on the grounds of what subject they teach.

            I’ve seen it in religion – the fuss over not permitting women to be ordained meaning that women are being treated as ‘second-class citizens’ and in churches that did allow ordination but not access to the bishopric that this was a two-tier, unjust and unfair system.

            I am saying that if you import this into academia, if Professor A learns that he/she is considered lower-value, second-class, and inferior to Professor B, and that on grounds of “who makes the most money for us”, there will be war.

            I am not saying this does not already happen, that academia is a cosy sinecure, or the rest of it. I am saying that it’s not openly admitted to be how the money is divided up, and if it becomes openly admitted, there will be trouble.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:
            Leaving aside all of the emotionally freighted language you are using, what is your evidence that, say, English professors aren’t aware of the relative difference in how much Computer Science professors are paid?

          • > what do you think would be the effect if there was an admission that faculty were going to be paid on a “bang for the buck” scale and that meant humanities were always going to be paid less than STEM, sorry that’s how it is?

            From my experience in talking to people from different departments, everyone already knows his is the case. Finance professors make, easily, 3-10x more money than humanities professors.

            I think you’re looking for a hidden controversy/information where there isn’t one. I really think everyone already knows CS/STEM (etc) profs get paid more, because the market values them higher, so the university has to pay them more to prevent them from going to the private sector. And I bet if I googled something like “unfair inequality STEM professor academic pay” I’d get a handful of hits.

            You’re right that they don’t come out and state it in such blunt words publicly. But then again, my boss doesn’t take me aside and say “We don’t pay you as much as a research scientist your age, because he has a higher base IQ than you and a PhD from an ivy league school.” We both know it’s true though.

          • quanta413 says:

            @HeelBearCub

            I don’t think Deiseach is saying that English professor’s don’t know this. I think she’s saying that university administrators aren’t going to say out loud that it’s effectively their policy to treat humanities as second tier departments because of reasons x, y, and z. Everyone one knows it, and sort of grudgingly accepts it, but it’d be mean spirited to be blunt about it.

            But it’s not unique to academia anyways. I think it’s true in most businesses too that managers avoid explaining in blunt terms why certain people are paid more than others.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta413:
            You don’t think university admin is willing to say the words “market rate” when taking about compensation?

            Look at this link which includes the following in the list of factors for compensation decisions:

            Effective “Market Rates” for faculty with similar specialties that are externally established for the region and for the Nation. These include regional cost-of-living differences;

          • Deiseach says:

            with similar specialties

            That’s the fig leaf, though; it’s the admin saying to the English prof “Well, yes, Jones the new Electrical Engineer is getting the same rate as Smith the Mechanical Engineer, even though Jones isn’t as qualified/doesn’t have as many publications/hasn’t been tenured as long as you have, because Jones and Smith are in the same School of Engineering”.

            The admin saying to the English prof “Look, we’re paying Jones more than you because Jones makes us more money, so tough” is the blunt admission out loud that causes trouble.

            I’m not up on Title IX but wasn’t that originally about women’s sports being treated equally to men’s sports in colleges? And wouldn’t the argument there have been “Look, some of our college footballers are likely to go on to the professional football leagues and the big money, there’s nothing comparable there for women even if they’re successful as basketball players or tennis players, that’s why we invest more in men’s sports”?

            EDIT: I see it was about intercollegiate athletics, but the principle remains the same: male athletes, depending on the sport, have a chance at bigger money than female athletes.

            Discrimination was deemed unacceptable and why Title IX got passed in the first place:

            2. The Policy – The Department will examine compliance with this provision of the regulation primarily by means of a financial comparison to determine whether proportionately equal amounts of financial assistance (scholarship aid) are available to men’s and women’s athletic programs. The Department will measure compliance with this standard by dividing the amounts of aid available for the members of each sex by the numbers of male or femaLe participants in the athletic program and comparing the results. Institutions may be found in compliance if this comparison results in substantially equal amounts or if a resulting disparity can be explained by adjustments to take into account legitimate, nondiscriminatory factors. Two such factors are:

            a. At public institutions, the higher costs of tuition for students from out-of state may in some years be unevenly distributed between men’s and women’s programs. These differences will be considered nondiscriminatory if they are not the result of policies or practices which disproportionately limit the availability of out-of-state scholarships to either men or women.

            b. An institution may make reasonable professional decisions concerning the awards most appropriate for program development. For example, team development initially may require spreading scholarships over as much as a full generation [four years) of student athletes. This may result in the award of fewer scholarships in the first few years than would be necessary to create proportionality between male and female athletes.

          • quanta413 says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You don’t think university admin is willing to say the words “market rate” when taking about compensation?

            I didn’t claim anything of the sort. I said they wouldn’t admit “it’s effectively their policy to treat humanities departments as second tier”; I think there may be a difference between us in what we view as being blunt about things.

            Funny enough, I actually shortened my original response before posting it. I think that saying “something, something markets” is basically an evasion for politeness (and I mean in general, not just when a university says it about academic salaries). If somebody asks why the CEO is paid so much more than them (not a CEO) and you answer “market rates and the magic of the free market”, I would view it as an evasion. A blunt and honest answer would be “almost always, having a good CEO is worth more to a company than having a good widget fizzler”.

            The policy doesn’t say “market rates are generally higher for engineering and science faculty because they bring in more grant money” (although it’s an obvious implication of the rules they lay down) or “engineering and science faculty are payed more because their work is what justifies our supposed benefits to society” which is more what I would view as a blunt admission of the difference and why it’s there. You have to already know the market rates to even figure out from that policy that humanities professors are paid less (of course, I expect most academics to know that since people like making money).

            But like I said, not a unique trait of academia to be cagey about talking about pay differences. So meh.

          • beleester says:

            Just to clarify, Deiseach: You’re not claiming that universities are refusing to offer professors in more valued fields more money. You’re not claiming that universities are not open about the fact that professors in valued fields make more money. You’re not claiming that there is a huge outcry about either of these things. In short, the world looks exactly like you want it to – professors in fields that can make more money are getting paid more and everyone is cool with that. And yet you’re still darkly muttering about how the humanities will unleash the terrible power of Bad PR if the universities put a foot wrong.

            So, uh, what more were you expecting? Will you only be happy if they put “STEM RULES, ART DROOLS” in big letters on their employment contract? What value does “being blunt about it” add?

            (Also, is there really a difference between “STEM gets paid more because they can make more money on the market” and “STEM gets paid more because they have more value”? And do you think Humanities professors are so dim that they don’t see past the “fig leaf”?)

          • Deiseach says:

            And do you think Humanities professors are so dim that they don’t see past the “fig leaf”?

            beleester, let’s back this up, because we appear to be wandering off into the undergrowth.

            Rhetorical Viking started (unintentionally) all this with a post wondering why it was the exception, rather than the rule, that they paid more for tuition as an engineering student than a humanities student, and advanced as one point why future engineers might be charged more:

            1. Engineering professors are in demand in the industry and universities would need to pay them competitive wages to keep them around – in comparison, there’s not all that many options for a philosophy professor so their wages could be much lower.

            I said that if it were an open and admitted policy that philosophy professors were paid less than engineering professors simply because of the money one can make/generate over the other, that the humanities side would protest what they perceived to be unequal treatment. And then we all got into that this is already happening in fact if not in written-down policy.

            I have no dog in this fight. All I meant was that if unequal treatment was admitted to be unequal and that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others were the rule, professor A might feel it unfair that professor B gets higher wages simply because B can always quit and get a high-paying job in industry.

            I may be mistaken on this. Maybe philosophy professors know, accept, and are perfectly happy that they are considered only filler to make up the gaps while the real important ones are the ones producing future high-earning engineers and business graduates. Maybe that is laid out to them by the administration when they take up a job offer: “You do realise you will only get two-thirds the same salary as the guy with the same qualifications, publications and length of service because we have to pay him more to keep him from leaving for private industry?” “Sure, no problem!” “You also realise that despite all the bushwah about the pursuit of knowledge, all we really value is the pursuit of money and that we only keep a humanities department because – well, we’re not quite sure?” “Oh yeah, I’m well aware what I do has no worth or value at all!”

            If that is the case, I withdraw and retract everything and accept correction. But if that is so, somebody had better explain the facts of academic life to this person: yes, you are doing a crap degree in a Mickey Mouse field and nobody thinks it’s real education. Oh, and let this professor in on the real scoop while they’re at it. History? Pffft! Come out and admit you know you’re second-rate and not worth it!

          • rlms says:

            There are other kinds of value than monetary.

      • Eltargrim says:

        Via my province’s Sunshine laws, you can actually see what given professors are making (assuming that it’s above 100k CAD). While I didn’t track down *everyone*, practically everyone making over $175k at my university is either in STEM, medicine, or senior administration.

        Among the professors I recognized, there was a distinct trend: the more funding they brought in, the more they were paid.

        It was common knowledge that business and law professors at my previous university were paid more, though I never actually examined the pay scale.

        I’m sure that there are brackets and ranges involved in the pay negotiations, but to say that there’s no differentiation would be simply wrong.

        • Schibes says:

          the more funding they brought in, the more they were paid

          We’re got those laws down in the USA too, which makes it easy to see that the highest paid university employees are not the top professors, deans, or chancellors, but the football coaches. Because they bring in the most “funding”. In fact, football (and to a lesser extent, basketball) coaches are pretty much the highest-paid public employees in the USA, period. You can make of that what you will.

      • pylonshadow says:

        This IS Dunning-Kruger, in the wild, wasting time, huffing with attitude, doing its damage. This is the melisma of political pontification. Harrumphing committees of one.
        These commentators police the entire comment section and subreddit in such a way that no critique against a conservative person/policy may ever be develioped without being immediately met by this angry swarm of nyet-conservatives (who just happen to be defending stuff today that 365 days ago they never would have dreamed. What’s interesting is what you’ll be indignifying yourselves defending next? And how far will you go? If you’re rooting for Trump your future values and opinions are really up in the air in a way not true of the rest of society. But we dont crtitique the right here.)
        Ban three of them and this place could breathe again.

        Although not the most extreme, Nybbler, HYlincca, Deiseach are the most unrelentling in their one-sidedness. David Friedman is the fourth nyet-conservative who just happens to find reality has a conservative bias score of 99%. but I realize his value as an elder.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Hey now, I for one object to being labeled a “nyet-conservative”. Я консерватор, и его на ношу мое гребано рукав.

          That said, while I do sometimes finding myself wishing Deiseach and Nybbler would step it back a notch, your own attitude isn’t helping.

        • Evan Þ says:

          If you could develop your thesis that our conservative commenters are “defending stuff today that 365 days ago they never would have dreamed,” I’d be interested. Myself, as a less vocal sort-of-libertarian, I can definitely identify policies of mine that’ve changed over time. For some of them, I can identify the arguments that budged me… but for others, I can’t, and I don’t like that.

          (Some examples where I can identify the arguments, in case you’re interested: Over the last eight years, I’ve come to accept gay marriage; over the last three years, I’ve come to accept government intervention in the economy; over the last year and a half, I’ve come to accept protectionism.)

        • And I object to being accused of policing the subreddit. I’ve read it a couple of times, generally when someone pointed me at something, don’t remember ever posting in it.

          Given that in your context “conservative” seem to mean “Trump” and that two of Trump’s positions (immigration and trade) are ones I routinely argue against, I don’t think I view reality as having a conservative bias score of 99%.

          Maybe three if you count hostility to Islam.