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Open Thread 82.25

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

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981 Responses to Open Thread 82.25

  1. HFARationalist says:

    On faith

    In this post “faith” is defined as unjustified belief.

    I’m personally against faith because you can have faith in any statement regardless of whether it is factually correct which means faith is not a tool that can help us understand anything. For example I can have faith that Grumpy Cat is the President of the United States if I want to. That does not make my statement factually correct though. I can even claim that having faith is good while reason is evil at least in the case of Grumpy Cat, like anyone who denies the “fact” that Grumpy Cat is the President is a servant of some evil canine.

    What is even worse than faith is “rationalization” in the sense of LW. At least faith is honest about its lack of justification. Using rationalization to back up a faith is dishonest hence it is even worse. In my example that applies to apologists who claim that President Trump is identical to Grumpy Cat and provide pseudorational arguments in support of the claim against evidence.

    I hope I’m not beating a dead horse. I personally believe that faith, both religious and secular, should not exist.

    • Well... says:

      In this post “faith” is defined as unjustified belief.

      Justified by whom/what? If someone believes in evolution but has never really sought to understand how it works or why it’s a valid theory, is that faith just as factually correct or incorrect as a belief that Grumpy Cat is the president?

      • HFARationalist says:

        One needs to at least update their own beliefs based on evidence. It is reasonable to tentatively accept explanations from experts in a scientific field when you do not understand it. However relying on expert view is not as accurate as knowing the field yourself.

        • Well... says:

          Do theologians/priests not count as experts in religious fields?

          • HFARationalist says:

            No, they don’t for the same reason why I can’t declare myself to be an expert in the theory that Grumpy Cat is the President of the States and then expect people to believe in my theory because I’m a scholar specializing in it.

            Scientists are experts in their respective fields (but not other fields!) because their views on their own field are actually more likely to be correct compared to someone outside the field on average. However this does not apply to theologians and priests. Their religious views are challenged by theologians, priests of other religions and atheologists all the time. Hence being a theologian or a priest does not make one’s religious views more believable.

          • Nick says:

            But people commonly hold views on religion and theology which are obviously false, while the views which priests and theologians hold are not obviously false, and indeed they are authorities on showing faults in “folk theology.” So even if you don’t grant that theologians are more likely to be correct, you have to admit they’re less likely to be incorrect.

            Moreover, the problem you’re identifying is endemic to any controversial idea, not just religious ones. Is there no such thing as an expert on public policy? Is there no such thing as an expert on philosophy? I’m willing to say yes on both, even if most of the beliefs of most proposed experts turn out to be wrong.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @Nick What do you mean by obviously false? You mean religious views that do not agree with the scriptures? Theologians and priests are probably not that good in this area compared to those they preach. Instead this is an area where literalist fundamentalists prevail. In Christianity the literalist fundamentalists are the Sacred Name Movement/Hebrew Roots/Messianic Jewish/Neo-Ebionite people and in Islam the literalist fundamentalists are Salafis including Wahhabis and maybe Kharijites. In Judaism I think the literalist fundamentalists are Karaites. None of these are the most popular people you see in their respective religions.

            The reason why this happened is that religious orthodoxy is almost never literalist fundamentalist.

            I think an expert on philosophy can exist in the sense that the expert is familiar with philosophy more than most people. I think an expert on public policy is a similar concept compared to the concept of an expert on philosophy.

            However religion is different. A theologian may know a lot about different views in a religion, their religion itself might not be correct at all which makes their theology useless.

          • Nick says:

            What do you mean by obviously false? You mean religious views that do not agree with the scriptures?

            No, by obviously false I actually mean obviously false. My point is that even if you won’t admit some views in theology are true, you have to admit some views are false, simply because they don’t make any sense, and this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what does or does not agree with Scripture. To take an extreme example, no Jesus is not miraculously burnt onto your toast. To take a less extreme example, no the world is not six thousand years old. To take a more controversial example, the belief that e.g. Jesus and the Father are separate cannot be squared with the beliefs that there’s one God and that both Jesus and the Father are God—those three things cannot all be true, something has to go (theology, of course, traditionally tosses out the first one, hence the doctrine of divine simplicity).

            Theologians and priests are probably not that good in this area compared to those they preach. Instead this is an area where literalist fundamentalists prevail. In Christianity the literalist fundamentalists are the Sacred Name Movement/Hebrew Roots/Messianic Jewish/Neo-Ebionite people and in Islam the literalist fundamentalists are Salafis including Wahhabis and maybe Kharijites. In Judaism I think the literalist fundamentalists are Karaites. None of these are the most popular people you see in their respective religions.

            I don’t know how you’re defining theologian, but I guarantee you the average one knows a lot more Greek and Hebrew than the average fundamentalist. And the fundamentalist who does know biblical Greek and Hebrew is an expert, because like any other expert he has a bunch of relevant domain knowledge. Do you have any basis for the claim, though, that fundamentalists are best at interpreting Scripture?

      • Protagoras says:

        I’m kind of fond of Twain’s (well, probably that’s a misattribution, but what can you do with quotes) “believing what you know ain’t so” as a definition of faith. It has the disadvantage that most of those who claim to have faith will not be happy with the definition, but the advantage of matching up to their behavior pretty well.

    • HFARationalist says:

      My main concern about faith is that it can lead to anti-epistemology. This is especially common in the faithful who are also quasi-rational. When someone loves thinking but also wants to protect some questionable statement about facts it usually causes anti-epistemology, even really elaborate anti-epistemology. A little faith corrupts everything. For example if you only have faith in a religion that does not influence your views on ethics and science we can at least trust you when you avoid topics about religion. However if your religious views include creationism and specific religious rules as ethics we may at least trust you on explicitly secular topics unrelated to religion. If you form anti-epistemology and try to apply it everywhere we can’t have any reasonable rational chats any more because we don’t know whether any of your statement is given under the influence of faith at all.

      When I was a fundamentalist not just my religious views were influenced by religion. It also caused serious anti-epistemology as well. As a result even my views on chairs were affected. To justify beliefs in a diety I declared that chairs might not be real. I declared that in fact no statement about real life can be known at all. Well that statement is correct but approximation of reality is at least possible. This is how questionable belief plus quasi-rationality can ruin epistemology.

    • HFARationalist says:

      I agree. However I believe humans should continue to try to understand the universe even if our knowledge is not completely accurate. This does not mean that since we can’t know anything for sure all logically consistent ideas are equally valid. In particular this does not justify faith.

      Misapplication of the idea that induction can not be justified gives more bullets to the faithful.

    • Wrong Species says:

      How do you differentiate “using rationalization to back up a faith” from justified belief?

      • HFARationalist says:

        The former is biased while the latter is open-minded.

        • Wrong Species says:

          And who’s going to judge whether someone is being biased or open minded? You?

          • HFARationalist says:

            Yeah this is a problem. The key here is really just whether one argues in good faith (i.e. do not defend a view at any cost but instead be a priori unbiased). However there is no way we can completely guarantee that.

            However there do exist certain traits correlated with open minded participants and other traits correlated with apologists in a discussion. We can set some rules for a rational discussion to encourage open minded ones and discourage apologists/view lawyers.

  2. Deiseach says:

    And the calls for removals of memorials and monuments to Confederate soldiers arise in Ireland.

    I find this ironic because our local city has a monument to an Irish (minor) political figure who also fought in the American Civil War; it was only by chance he fought on the Union side. Had he been persuaded by friendship to go with the Confederates, we might be seeing calls for the removal of his statue. I say “ironic” because the statue (which has little to no artistic merit) was only erected thirteen years ago and replaced one which had been there for decades – but the previous statue was honouring a religious figure, and perhaps that was seen as not quite the thing in our new modern 21st century society (there were no reasons given for its removal and where it has ended up, besides ‘in storage’, is unknown; it was supposed to be erected elsewhere but that never happened). I think it is very ironic that a statue of a native with European fame was replaced by one presumably deemed ‘less controversial’ or ‘more in keeping with what our present values are’ and this latter one just barely escaped being on the side representing ‘our present values are with the Confederacy oops how embarrassing’.

    Maybe leaving statues alone and in place, even if you disagree with the reason they were originally erected, is the safest course of action after all?

    • Matt M says:

      I recently watched the movie Gods and Generals, which has a prominent scene wherein “Irish Brigades” of recent immigrants for the North and South end up squaring off directly against each other. Not sure if 100% historically accurate or not, but it’s certainly one of the more emotional scenes in the movie.

      Including some commentary from Sgt Killrain (whom you may remember from “Gettysburg” as well) something to the effect of “Imagine that, we get so tired of fighting the English we come all the way over here, only to find ourselves shooting at each other…”

    • HFARationalist says:

      I agree. Let the Confederate flags fly and let the statues stand. Here is why: We need to protect freedom of thought and freedom of speech from the moral police. The moral police from whatever tribe is evil for existing.

  3. Ketil says:

    A link below mentions credit interchange fees. One thing that has puzzled me is that Amex and Visa etc manage to get a cut of 2-4% of every transaction. To me, that seems huge.

    When Google and Samsung announced NFC support a long, long time ago (at least as early as 2011), I thought great, now they will band together their capabilities — Google’s software and Samsung’s massive electronics — put wireless POS terminals everywhere, and people will start paying with their phone. Not so different from a plastic card – except for those percent CC tax. In other words: everybody benefits, except those greedy CC executives.

    Why didn’t it happen? Instead, we have NFC payment and similar solutions, but all transactions are cleared by the CC companies. Seriously?

    • Deiseach says:

      Why didn’t it happen?

      Because the money has to come out of your account and go into the merchant’s account eventually, and the banks don’t want to handle that for nothing. So you either have a debit card with the charges associated or a credit card with the charges associated from which Google and Samsung facilitate the money transfer. Else Google and Samsung have to get into the banking business as money handlers and why would they, when banks and credit card companies already exist? Like PayPal where you need a credit card or bank account and PayPal facilitates the transaction but the clearing of the money is done the old-fashioned way through the banking system.

    • John Schilling says:

      Why didn’t it happen? Instead, we have NFC payment and similar solutions, but all transactions are cleared by the CC companies. Seriously?

      Have you been reading Beta Guy’s “Accounts Receivable” effort posts? Moving money around, when it has to go to bignum different accounts in different quantities at different times for different reasons, mostly under the control of greedy uncooperative customers, is HARD. And, being money, people aren’t going to tolerate “oops, we screwed up, sorry, we’ll do better next time”. You do it right 100% of the time, or you cover the mistakes out of pocket (even the ones that are someone else’s fault). Also, being money, people aren’t going to just trust you with it and accept your promise that they will get what they are due.

      And Beta Guy is just talking accounts receivable for one company, where at least half the transaction is directly under their control and they already have a business relationship with everybody else involved.

      Expecting a technology company with no great financial expertise or infrastructure to take on this responsibility for millions of third parties, and do it for free, is not realistic. Any transaction that doesn’t involve you handing a sheaf of banknotes to the person you’re buying stuff from, the middleman is going to claim a small cut. Maybe from you, maybe from them, maybe they’ll be up front about it or maybe they’ll hide it, but it’s going to happen.

      • Mark says:

        If you could conduct the transaction with a cash equivalent you would be able to cut down the fees?

        Have a company which uses its own internal currency to settle transactions, with that internal currency 100% backed by the appropriate national currency, in some bank somewhere.
        You might need some fees, but it wouldn’t have to be 2%.

        • Protagoras says:

          It’s true that part of the reason businesses put up with the annoying fees is that their customers insist on the convenience of being able to use credit cards, but another non-trivial reason is that cash raises security issues. The need to protect cash from being stolen thus contributes its own costs. There are security issues around credit cards, of course, but at least as far as I understand the system, the security risks are mostly on the credit card companies (this being one of the things they charge for; probably they use their monopoly position to overcharge, but they are providing a genuine service).

  4. Douglas Knight says:

    Will Charlottesville be the ACLU’s Skokie?

  5. Kevin C. says:

    Oddest headline I’ve seen on the net this week: “Demonic weaves believed to be root of hair crimes

    MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) –
    Thieves have killed four people while trying to steal hair weaves and products, and now many Memphians say demonic spirits could be to blame.

    Search the words “cursed hair” on the web and the prophesies are plenty.

    “Whose-ever hair I was wearing on my head, that heifer had a bad omen and that bad omen followed her from India and came on top of my head, and I took on her spirit,” one woman said on YouTube.

    After a WMC Action News 5 investigation revealed how deadly the business of selling hair in Memphis can be, Mid-South women let loose on Facebook.

    Weave wearers went back and forth about what some believe to be the root cause of the crimes.

    One woman wrote: “Do you know the history of the hair’s original owner? What type of spirit did that person have? You may be buying a person’s hair and their demonic spirit.”

    Another woman wrote: “Maybe the reason so many people are doing ungodly things has a lot to do with the fact that many of the purchases are made in other countries that worship false gods.”

  6. skef says:

    [This question is vaguely related to an event within the past three days … but only vaguely.]

    The president was buoyed to election by capturing the hearts and minds of a populist, nationalist movement,” Alex Marlow, Breitbart’s editor in chief, said Friday evening. “A lot of it was anti-Wall Street, anti-corporatist, anti-establishment. And now we’re seeing that a lot of these guys remaining inside the White House are exactly the opposite of what we told you you were going to get.”

    Let’s grant “anti-establishment”, and I guess “anti-Wall Street” to the extent of general grumpiness about “fat-cats” that is normally of little consequence. Is there much evidence of a significant movement like this on the right in the U.S.? Does being pissed off about NAFTA, for example, make one “anti-corporatist”?

    The cynical reading of Republican politics of the last few decades is that they held out the promise of social issue votes that were never successful while delivering tax cuts and favors to business types (or at least holding off increases). Isn’t Breitbart mostly tapping into the same social issues in the hope of pushing the business stuff in the other direction? Without actual government levers, do Bannon sympathizers have a real power base?

    [Added a bit later:] To be more specific, isn’t white identity politics more significant politically than the portion of the alt-right that Bannon represents?

    • dndnrsn says:

      What portion of the alt-right does Bannon represent? He’s talked about a supposedly race-neutral “economic nationalism” but Breitbart under his rule was, uh, not allergic to race-baiting, to say the least.

  7. Eltargrim says:

    Relevant to Naval Gazing, USS Indianapolis has been located on the ocean floor. Some images.

  8. Space Viking says:
  9. BBA says:

    From NY Magazine, the mother of one of the Charlottesville protesters speaks out: I Lost My Son to the Alt-Right Movement

    • HFARationalist says:

      It is the son’s right to join the alt-right movement or even the Nazis if he wants to. Similarly if he wants to convert to Haredi Judaism, so be it. If he wants to become a transwoman, so be it.

      Parents simply need to shut up. I always can not stand it if parents want to bash a child for any ideology the child (sometimes an adult!) supports that they don’t like. That’s just oppression.

      Freedom can not exist if families can curb it. Freedom from family control is more important than freedom from an authoritarian but not totalitarian state. At least non-totalitarian dictators do not micromanage your daily life!

      If some movement needs to be banned because it is deadly let the state handle it. On the other hand families need to shut up forever.

      • alchemy29 says:

        A good parent can’t avoid caring about their child’s wellbeing. I assume you would have at least some sympathy for a mother lamenting that her child overdosed on heroin. Maybe you draw the line at beliefs. But surely you wouldn’t be okay with a child joining a literal cult and cutting off all prior social ties. Asking a parent not to care about their child’s beliefs and social sphere is asking them to not to care about their child. The only question is where to line of acceptability is. Being a literal Nazi seems well past that line.

        • HFARationalist says:

          I’m not OK with someone getting addicted to drugs. The state should help the drugged recover instead of incarceraterating them. However joining a fringe religion and cutting off prior social ties is certainly OK in my book. That’s called pursuing your ideals. Joining Nazis or Communists is also OK in my book. That’s also just pursuing your ideals and morals.

          If we declare that parenting or other forms of social pressure is acceptable in basically suppressing Nazis Nazi parents can also decide that they want to use parenting to suppress anti-Nazism.

          The only thing the society needs to police is actions, not beliefs. We should allow people to be Nazis. However if they actually try to harm Jews we need to stop them and they need to go to prison. Harming Jews is not OK because Jews are people and you must not harm people. Dangerous beliefs are defanged when we strictly ban violence.

          • DavidS says:

            I’m not sure how you want to stop social pressure though… Or do you just mean that there should be social pressure against using social pressure?

          • HFARationalist says:

            Yeah maybe..

            The key is to ban violence. We shouldn’t care about whether you have ethical views. Instead we are only interested in eliminating harmful actions. There is no reason why unorganized racist violence is worse than unorganized violence unrelated to racism. From a pure individualist point of view both are equally bad as violence against individuals.

      • Well... says:

        Spoken like someone without any kids.

        Also, didn’t you say you live with your parent(s) still?

    • InferentialDistance says:

      He was beyond the point where we could have a rational discussion. Not long after, I told him I thought he should move out.

      That is not how you deradicalize someone, lady.

      • HFARationalist says:

        Why does she even have any right to pressure her son to change his views at all? Political freedom from parenting has to be guaranteed at the meta level or similar tactics can be used against us.

        Declaring someone irrational does not work on the alt-right because it isn’t necessarily irrational at all.

        • InferentialDistance says:

          All communication is a changing of views, and so long as a parent doesn’t abuse any authority they have over a child, it is acceptable to engage in discussion in attempt to persuade them to hold different views.

          • HFARationalist says:

            This is theoretically correct. However in practice discussions without implicit pressure is almost impossible if parents are involved.

            There is a reason why many memes can be passed down from parents to children no matter how absurd they are.

          • rlms says:

            @HFARationalist
            That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to persuade your children if you think your beliefs are correct (doubly so in cases like this, where you are trying to persuade them to disbelieve a certain thing rather than copy your beliefs).

          • onyomi says:

            There is a reason why many memes can be passed down from parents to children no matter how absurd they are.

            But many of those memes may be adaptive. I, for one, am glad my parents talked to me a lot as a child with the result of me achieving native fluency in English…

            Infants are information and habit sponges. Barring extreme child abuse (isolation), there’s no way to have them not pick up ideas and habits from whomever they’re around. If you take them away from their parents they’ll just pick up the behaviors of their adopted parents or state-approved babysitters.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @onyomi That’s why we need transhumanism ASAP.
            @rlm Nazism isn’t an incorrect belief. It is immoral but not factually incorrect.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Nazism included the belief that “Aryans” are so superior (especially at fighting) that it’s a good strategy for them to just take what they want.

            This turned out to be false.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Nazi ideology believed multiple things that were false and the organization (or lack thereof) of the Nazi state seriously hampered their war effort.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @dndnrsn You mean the so-called Jewish conspiracy? Just look at how the Japanese dealt with it. They actually believed that the Jewish conspiracy is real. However they decided to co-opt it instead of becoming hellbent on exterminating Jews.

            @Nancy Lebovitz I agree. However I think Nazi 2.0 can fix that. Trying to exterminate Jews and Slavs was certainly stupid. Actually believing that Jews controlled the Soviet Union and Slavs are inferior hence they can’t fight and acting on such beliefs is utter stupidity. However I think neither is an essential part of Nazism which I believe is ethnic expansionism. You don’t have to claim that you are superior to expand.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Have you read Wages of Destruction by Tooze?

      • alchemy29 says:

        How should one do it? It’s quite a tall order.

        • HFARationalist says:

          Nazism isn’t irrational hence it makes no sense to say that Nazism is incorrect or just some woo. It is very selfish at the level of groups but that’s it. You can’t use reason to lead someone out of Nazism.

          From the page I’m not sure whether what this dude is into is just White Nationalism or actual Generalplan Ost eliminationism.

          There is only one thing we can do to actual Generalplan Ost Nazism, namely to restrict it. It is just like some poison. It isn’t woo but it is dangerous to humanity. I will even argue that Nazism is an existential threat. We should compare Generalplan Ost Nazism to murder.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Nazism is irrational if the net effect is bad for the group it’s supposed to be helping.

            The third Reich didn’t make “Aryan” Germans better off.

          • HFARationalist says:

            Real Nazis would just claim that this is an issue of implementation instead of Nazism being an inherently infeasible ideology.

            I think a much better argument is that Nazis are just like gangs shooting people randomly and that should be a crime.

        • InferentialDistance says:

          Open dialogue, trust, kindness, actual empathy for the plights of the radical. Like what Daryl Davis did. A lot of people who end up as extremists start in a place where they are shown staggeringly little empathy.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            More Daryl Davis. I especially recommend the transcript of the second podcast.

            http://loveandradio.org/2017/02/how-to-argue/

            I don’t know whether anyone else is using his methods.

          • HFARationalist says:

            Many people who end up Nazis are really poor, incel or both.

            The stupid hook-up culture leaves lot of highly intelligent men celibate. That is certainly bad for any society.

            Angry single men, especially angry educated single men tend to support the far-right. Most people are obsessed with whiteness even though this phenomenon has nothing to do with it. The same phenomenon in the Muslim world is called Islamism.

          • alchemy29 says:

            That is one hell of a tall order. Daryl Davis could have been killed for what he did and from reading his story he came very close a few times. I respect him immensely and I wouldn’t fault anyone for failing to fill his shoes.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m not seeing people trying Davis’ methods even on less dangerous opposition.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            From Nancy’s link:

            It’s like dog fighting. You get a dog that’s already predisposed to being mean. There’s certain breeds that have that disposition, say a rottweiler, a pitbull or what have you… And they take these dogs and they beat these dogs even more, and make them even meaner. Then they put them in the pit with the other dog to fight. It’s like that – if you have something that’s mean, and you’re mean to it, you’re making it meaner. You can’t beat the meanness out of it, but beating it, you’re increasing it. Same thing with hate. If somebody hates you and you’re beating on them, they’re gonna hate you more. It’s not like “I wanna beat the hate out of you”, no. But you can drive the hate out with logic, and love and respect, and that’s the example that I have set, and for me it has worked.

            I’m sure tearing down their statues, denying their right to free assembly, no-platforming them, and literally assaulting them are all just so effective tactics.[/sarcasm]

            You don’t have to walk into a lion’s den to do this stuff. You just have to be willing to have actual dialogue, rather than immediately jumping to “that’s so racist, how can you say that!?” and trying to get speakers disinvited and etc… You just have to not fire people like James Damore, and not lie about what they actually said, and be willing to acknowledge the truth (scientifically established!) even when it’s inconvenient.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m not seeing people trying Davis’ methods even on less dangerous opposition.

            You don’t need to try Davis’s methods on less dangerous opposition. Them you can just crush. Persuasion is used when domination fails, not the other way around.

          • Brad says:

            Open dialogue, trust, kindness, actual empathy for the plights of the radical. Like what Daryl Davis did. A lot of people who end up as extremists start in a place where they are shown staggeringly little empathy.

            Is that your plan for engaging with antifa?

          • InferentialDistance says:

            Huh, that’s interesting. Is that your plan for engaging with antifa?

            So long as they’re not at this exact moment trying to punch me, yeah. I mean, what do you think I’m doing right now? And I guess on the internet I can wave that first part, since physical violence isn’t supported over TCP/IP. Though I’m not sure I can have an open dialogue with someone who doesn’t want one.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            And, of course, people on the right need to have respectful discussions with Hillary supporters and SJWs.

            This stuff is *hard*. Don’t assume all the obligations are on the other side.

          • Brad says:

            Huh, that’s interesting. Is that your plan for engaging with antifa?

            So long as they’re not at this exact moment trying to punch me, yeah. I mean, what do you think I’m doing right now?

            Posting in a place where there’s a zero percent chance anyone in antifa will read what you are writing?

          • InferentialDistance says:

            And, of course, people on the right need to have respectful discussions with Hillary supporters and SJWs.

            This stuff is *hard*. Don’t assume all the obligations are on the other side.

            Yes. It takes two to tango.

            Posting in a place where there’s a zero percent chance anyone in antifa will read what you are writing?

            I also post on tumblr, but my circles are somewhat disjoint from antifa circles. But, broadly, even here I’m interacting with people who disagree with me without lying about their positions, calling for them to be silenced by authority, punishing them, etc…

            And, well, the internal response to the Google memo showed that the number of people who support extrajudicial violence to suppress speech they didn’t like is much higher than previously thought. It’s not completely unlikely that there are some SSC lurkers with such leanings.

          • Brad says:

            Antifa went there to start shit, shit happened, and they deserve blame for the part they played in it. Peaceful protestors need to stop letting violent fucks use them as protection.

            Extrajudical violence trying to strip people of these rights is so incredibly abhorrent, you have no idea.

            And given antifa’s propensity for starting violence, there is a non-trivial chance that one or more fuckers started attacking the car, spooking the driver, and thereby causing his panicked rush to get out of there, with the ensuing death and injuries.

            No, they also hate science speech that contradicts their narratives. And liberal speech on individual rights and freedom when it creates obstacles to their agendas.

            That’s what you call open dialogue, trust, kindness, actual empathy for the the plights of the radical, and not lying about their positions?

            You want to have it both ways. I’m calling bullshit.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            InferentialDistance said:

            “I also post on tumblr, but my circles are somewhat disjoint from antifa circles. But, broadly, even here I’m interacting with people who disagree with me without lying about their positions, calling for them to be silenced by authority, punishing them, etc…”

            The thing is, Davis is talking about positive obligations, not just negative obligations.

            For example, learning about the other side’s views and then being willing to listen to individuals talk about their dangerous and/or offensive ideas while holding your ground but not attacking.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            That’s what you call open dialogue, trust, kindness, actual empathy for the the plights of the radical, and not lying about their positions?

            You want to have it both ways. I’m calling bullshit.

            If they want to explain their position without resorting to violence, I’m more than willing to listen. But I don’t feel the need to excuse violence, from either side, especially in a forum where I don’t expect either of the groups under discussion to be reading. Especially since the context was about how we should only condemn the protesters because the counter-protesters weren’t as bad.

            While I agree that killing people with a car is worse than anything the counter-protesters did, that doesn’t make the violence initiated by some counter-protestors acceptable. If you want to make the case for why it is, go ahead, but “calling bullshit” isn’t an argument.

            And could you point out what my lies were? Because the response to the Google memo, as well as Charles Murray, shows a distinct anti-science bent. And the response to the ACLU shows a distinct anti-rights bent. As does the general pattern of trying to suppress speech through violence.

          • InferentialDistance says:

            You want to have it both ways.

            Really. Because I’m clearly cheering for team nazi so much:

            Nazis are violent, unethical thugs.

            Even disgusting people like nazis. Even to speak disgusting views like racial supremacy.

            The violent thugs on the right spoiling for a fight.

          • The Nybbler says:

            And, of course, people on the right need to have respectful discussions with Hillary supporters and SJWs.

            You can try. But if you do, they tend to block you, call you names, expel you from any forums you share, have you fired if they can, etc. They’re perhaps less amenable to persuasion than many current KKK members (the more powerful KKK of the past was likely less amenable to persuasion and more amenable to lynching anyone trying to do the persuading). You can assume not all the obligations are on the other side, but the fact is, there _are_ some on the other side, and they are not being met

          • Zorgon says:

            Part of the problem is that there are definitely multiple routes by which a person can find themselves exhibiting extremist beliefs and behaviours, and the process of “meanification” that Davis talks about is only one of them.

            Another, perhaps more pernicious, route to extremism is one in which the subject finds themselves in a social or cultural niche where the expressing of extremist views becomes a status game; the Less Wrong sphere has covered this extensively. Daryl Davis’ approach – while very laudable and exhibiting great humanity – does not hold out much hope for dealing with the other kind of extremism.

      • DavidS says:

        I knew a guy whose mum kicked him out of the house at 15 because she caught him smoking pot. So hr went and lived with his drug dealer.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        It’s not her job to sacrifice her life to deradicalize her adult son.

        More accurately, to try to deradicalize him.

        She should have tried joint therapy. But ultimately he will make his own choices, and in the end she cannot be responsible for someone else’s decisions.

    • Matt M says:

      I can only think to wonder how NY Magazine would feel about a Catholic mother complaining about her son converting to Islam…

    • The Nybbler says:

      I started reading that story and my BS detector started to flash. I looked up at the byline… Anonymous. I’d file it under “narrative”, along with the stories about people tripping on LSD and staring into the sun, or corrupted by [moral-panic-of-the-week] into lives of degradation. It’s a cautionary tale, little more.

      • dndnrsn says:

        It’s not as though NY Magazine hasn’t run “IT HAPPENED TO ME!!!” articles by “anonymous” authors that came off as fishy before.

        • Deiseach says:

          It possibly could be true in a very broad sense, certainly if there really is the parent of a Charlottesville protester, remaining anonymous is sensible in order to preserve your life from deluges of social media hate and maybe even somebody deciding to heave a brick through your window.

          I think the trouble may be more in the “As Told To Alexa Tsoulis-Reay”; it’s not like we haven’t seen journalists out for A Story That Fits My Template writing up a version of things that panders to the prejudices of their readers (or more importantly, those of the commissioning editor who will or won’t buy their free-lance story depending on if they like it).

          Or indeed, journalists inventing stories out of whole cloth.

          I agree that ending with the “I still send him videos of our dog” is the classic heart-string twanging manipulative nonsense that makes me go “just the facts, that’s what reporting is supposed to be!” What on earth is supposed to be the good of that? “Well, I wouldn’t be convinced by society, my parents or anyone else trying to talk me out of it, but the idea that Woofles will look at me with disappointment in his big, loving, brown eyes just crushes me, I’m going to give all this up and come home!”

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          She might actually be sending videos of the dog as an effort to maintain connection.

          Not so much that the dog misses him (though that might be true) as that they still have liking dogs in common.

          • Deiseach says:

            Sending “we both like dogs, we have that connection, Woofles misses you so come home son” videos seems like not a very practical idea for changing his mind given You Know Who also famously liked dogs.

            Gasp! More proof the alt-right is really Literal Nazism! 🙂

    • Deiseach says:

      I Lost My Son to the Alt-Right Movement

      Heck, back in ’79, I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper 🙂

    • Space Viking says:

      Neo-Nazis /= alt-right. The leftist media is trying to slur all Trump supporters as somehow being Nazis, as if there were 60,000,000 of them in this country and not a few thousand, as is the truth. According to the polls, it’s not working, because it’s exactly as accurate as claiming that all Democrats support North Korea. Next it will probably be Russia nonsense again, as they run out of ideas.

      Also, to correct the record, Stefan Molyneux, mentioned in that garbage article, is a libertarian, not a “Nazi”. Libertarians reading this, let it be known that the left hates you and will will lie about you as much as they hate and lie about the right.

      • Mark says:

        Perhaps it’s easier to just accept it. Thinking about politics is kind of a waste of time anyway – libertarians are Nazis, free speech is Nazi, police are Nazi, MRA are Nazi, Milo Yiannopolis is a Nazi, Damore is a Nazi, white people are Nazi, Men are Nazi.
        And, it is right to punch Nazis in the face, because they are wasting our time with this stupid bullshit.

        So, let’s punch all Nazis in the face, until they shut up, and then we can get on with the important stuff like doing Star Trek.
        I get it now – this is a kind of rational anti-rationalism – suppress thought gone wild, thought gone wrong. Too much thinking is bad for you.

        • rlms says:

          How could you miss femi from your list?

          • Mark says:

            That’s bordering on Nazi talk.

            Listen, we’re all agreed that we’re going to punch Nazis. Muddying the waters is Nazi. We all know what it’s about – don’t think, just purge the global body politic of this terrible uncertainty.

            Don’t think, punch. If in doubt, punch. Punch, punch, punch.

      • Brad says:

        @Space Viking

        Neo-Nazis /= alt-right. The leftist media is trying to slur all Trump supporters as somehow being Nazis, as if there were 60,000,000 of them in this country and not a few thousand, as is the truth.

        The linked article mentions neo-nazis once:

        From his tweets, it sounds like he was hanging around with neo-Nazis.

        Are you denying that there were any neo-nazis in Charlottesville? Is it impossible that he was hanging out with them?

        How exactly is this an example of the “leftist media” trying to slur all Trump supporters?

        Also, to correct the record, Stefan Molyneux, mentioned in that garbage article, is a libertarian, not a “Nazi”

        The article never claimed he was a Nazi. You aren’t correcting anything.

        Let it be known that the left hates you and will will lie about you as much as they hate and lie about the right.

        Check out that beam in your own eye.

        • Space Viking says:

          The number of times the article mentions Neo-Nazis is irrelevant.

          There were in fact a few Neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, which is exactly my point: the media is conflating all Trump supporters with a tiny handful of Nazis. Again, it’s as if the right were accusing everyone on the left of supporting Kim Jong-un — preposterous. Trust in the media is at an all-time low with good reason.

          The article implies everyone on the right must be a Nazi, or soon will be. Don’t pretend that it doesn’t. It’s part of a much larger campaign to libel us in this way that’s replaced the previous Russia narrative. I’m curious what will be next.

          Except that I’m not hating on anyone, just defending the truth, and I haven’t lied. Nice baseless smear though, that’s exactly what I’ve been talking about. And I’d prefer to keep SSC free of personal attacks, so I’ll ask you not to do so again.

          • Brad says:

            @Space Viking

            The article implies everyone on the right must be a Nazi. Don’t pretend that it doesn’t.

            No, the article doesn’t imply that. You are wrong.

            Furthermore, by accusing me of “pretending”, you are saying I’m lying. I believe that’s what we call a personal attack.

            Except that I’m not hating on anyone, just defending the truth, and I haven’t lied.

            Yes you have (viz. the “leftist media”) and no you aren’t.

            The truth is that the article does not claim or imply that all Trump supporters are Nazis, nor more specifically does it claim at all that Stefan Molyneux is a Nazi or even a “Nazi”. Making those false claims about the article is not in any way, shape, or form “defending the truth”.

            I’ll withhold judgment on the third point, it may be that you are just mistaken rather than lying.

            And I’d prefer to keep SSC free of personal attacks, so I’ll ask you not to do so again.

            Check out that beam in your own eye.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Brad:

            “You are wrong” is not an argument.

            “Don’t pretend” is a figure of speech. Calm down Brad, I’m not accusing you of being a liar.

            “Yes you have” and “no you aren’t” are not an argument, either.

            Did you miss the article’s “tweeting about Trump” line? Clearly it is making those implications. And have you missed the media onslaught pushing this same narrative?

            I appreciate you withdrawing your accusation of lying. If only the leftist media had as much class.

          • Brad says:

            Did you miss the article’s “tweeting about Trump” line? Clearly it is making those implications.

            That’s a naked assertion. As it happens an erroneous one.

            The full line was:

            I saw that he was questioning the Holocaust, and tweeting about Trump, white supremacy, and all this horrible stuff about women

            It in no way implies that all Trump voters are Nazis.

            And have you missed the media onslaught pushing this same narrative?

            Another naked assertion. And even if it were accurate, which you’ve done nothing to show, it still has no bearing on your claim with respect to this one.

            Calm down Brad, I’m not accusing you of being a liar. … I appreciate you withdrawing your accusation of lying.

            Have you ever heard of fundamental attribution bias? Because you are exhibiting it in spades.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Brad:

            Again, an article using “tweeting about Trump” as evidence that someone is a supposed Neo-Nazi, is indeed evidence that Trump supporters are being branded as Nazis. But I have to congratulate you, because you’ve managed to make the accusation of a naked assertion as a naked assertion.

            Anyone not living under a rock can see that accusations of Nazism from the left have undergone a… uh… marked increase lately. If you want evidence, turn on the TV. Apologies if you do live under a rock.

            And what do your quoted statements even have to do with fundamental attribution error? I’m not seeing it.

            Are you going to accuse me of random logical fallacies until you run out?

            You know though, I hold no ill will toward you, Brad. You’re genuinely fun to argue with.

            🙂

          • skef says:

            You know though, I hold no ill will toward you, Brad. You’re genuinely fun to argue with.

            Is there a term for this? “Interest trolling”, perhaps?

          • Space Viking says:

            @skef:

            Actually, no. I’m just missing when SSC was a friendlier place. We ought to have more fun, even when we’re on opposing sides who are out in the streets beating each other in real life.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Brad:

            We ought to be more constructive, too. How do we prevent a civil war? What do you think of my secession idea upthread, and regardless of your opinion on that, what are your ideas? I’ve gone on offense enough lately, and would like to listen for a bit.

          • rlms says:

            @Space Viking
            “tweeting about Trump” is a description of part of the son’s behaviour. “sometimes removing social media posts quickly and sometimes making them public” is a similar description. The author clearly doesn’t intend to link the latter to the alt-right, and there is no evidence that they have different intentions for the former. They are saying that an alt-righter is a Trump supporter, not that all Trump supporters are alt-right.

          • Space Viking says:

            @rlms:

            My read is different, but I’ve had enough of this argument. Time to enjoy my Sunday.

          • Brad says:

            Space Viking

            We ought to be more constructive, too. How do we prevent a civil war? What do you think of my secession idea upthread, and regardless of your opinion on that, what are your ideas?

            I don’t think a civil war is anywhere near likely.

            I’m on team optimism, team anti-hysteria, team anti-paranoia. As I see it things are pretty damn good and likely to get better. Even despite Trump, so long as he doesn’t bumble into World War III.

            Despite the fact that I’ve been forced to defend them here against unhinged rants, crits, intersectional feminists, and the like are not my people. Though I hope some of them will grow up into my people. I’m a neo-liberal.

          • I’m a neo-liberal.

            You may be the first person I have seen to so identify himself–mostly the term seems to be used to attack people.

            Can you define what you mean by it? How does a neo-liberal differ from a classical liberal, for instance?

          • Brad says:

            @DavidFriedman
            I generally hear classic liberal as a synonym for libertarian. Did you mean it in some other way?

            I take the spectrum on economic issues to be:
            anarcho-capitalism
            libertarianism
            neo-liberal
            social democracy
            democratic socialism
            socialism

            Would you lay it out differently? Or use a different word for the third spot down?

          • @Brad:

            I generally hear classic liberal as a synonym for libertarian. Did you mean it in some other way?

            I think modern libertarians are pretty close to classical liberals, close enough so that one might describe them as the current version, but not exactly the same. Classical liberals were, among other things, in favor of expanding the franchise, not an issue on which I think libertarians have any consistent position.

            So far as your list, I think of anarcho-capitalists as a subset of libertarians. Putting neo-liberals between libertarians and social democrats makes some sense but doesn’t specify in what regard they agree or disagree with those on either side of them.

          • Brad says:

            With the caveat that this may idiosyncratic:

            I’d say that neo-liberals share many of the normative desires of the social democrats but also many of the positive beliefs about the world of the libertarians.

            Social democrats seem to think the hard part is getting into power. Once that’s accomplished they can pass the right laws and everything will be great. Libertarians know that government intervention often leads to untended consequences and can do more harm than good, but they are content to throw up their hands and give up on it. Neo-liberals know it is difficult but nonetheless still hold out the hope for positive government intervention.

            A typical issue separating neo-liberals from the rest of the left is free trade. A typical issue separating neo-liberals from libertarians is support for government intervention in healthcare markets.

      • HFARationalist says:

        I agree. The word “Nazi” has to be accurately applied. It can not be diluted.

      • AnonYEmous says:

        To correct the record further; Stefan Molyneux is a cult leader who is currently hanging on the schlongers of the alt-right for clicks, relevance, attention, what have you.

        If you want me to find you a bunch of stuff of him being all race realist, it shouldn’t be too difficult. He’s not just some libertarian, or even just some right-libertarian, or even just some anarcho-capitalist.

        • Space Viking says:

          So now he’s a cult leader, in addition to being a Nazi? Got any evidence? And what makes you think that right-libertarians can’t be race realist, i.e., scientifically accurate?

          Next, he’ll be a werewolf. He is Canadian, after all.

          • HFARationalist says:

            I doubt he is a Nazi. He may sound like Jared Taylor or the biodiversity folks. That’s it.

  10. A Definite Beta Guy says:

    Accounts Receivable Part 3
    Collections

    Besides applying cash, A/R teams collect money from customers. Collections (noun: the activities involved in receiving payment for outstanding/past due invoices) typically varies substantially from industry to industry, and definitely varies from customer to customer account, which makes it difficult for me to provide a comprehensive view of the entire role. In addition, I have only worked in a B2B* environment, so I have no experience in B2C Collections (like, say, an auto loan). Because of that, I am not able to provide a view of the specific collections processes for the typical commenter. Apologies in advance.
    However, I think I can provide at least some insight into how A/R treats its collections and some of the challenges facing the team.
    First, the amount of work facing A/R is practically infinite. You can always be doing something to try to collect money, whether reviewing reports to find major past due balances, investigating a customer question, following up with Legal for a contract interpretation, or just calling up delinquent customers and demanding money.
    To give some background on a typical state of affairs, the average A/R accountant at my current department has 128 accounts with past due balances that have not been touched in the last 90 days. Each has an additional average 150 accounts with past due credits (IE, we owe the customer money), which also require time since the credit understates our total receivable balance.

    (Note: I tend to have a lower number of past due balances. Right now, I stand at 24 accounts, of which 21 are mislabeled as my accounts and will be recoded. That’s partly why I have time to post lengthy posts on SSC. However, theoretically, I could be working on other department-level processes, which the managers have so far not been interested in assigning. )
    I do not want to give the impression that A/R accountants are working 80 hours a week: we simply aren’t paid enough for that, and I don’t know any who are. Even at my last position, a Kafkaesque nightmare, we would top out at maybe 60 hours per week if necessary, and tended be more around 48 hours. Most A/R departments will top out at the productivity level of a typical low-wage office job: 40-45 hours per week, with a decent amount of slack in working hours, and occasional busy periods.
    However, because the amount of work is theoretically infinite, A/R must prioritize accounts. Rarely will A/R get to everything, so decisions must be made about which accounts and balances are allowed to slide and which will be pursued aggressively.
    Second, A/R is typically judged by two major metrics: Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) and Bad Debt. Either of those numbers getting too high will typically result in heads rolling across the floor.
    DSO is a measure of how quickly we collect from customers. Essentially it gives management a measure of when they can expect their cash, on average. A DSO of 30 means that the company can expect 30 days between a sale and receiving payment. A DSO of 25 means that the company can expect payment in 25 days. Lower is obviously better.
    Typically, A/R is not placed under immense pressure to lower the DSO number. It tends to be fixed by contractual payment terms and the nature of the industry. In my experience, there is occasionally pressure to try to reduce DSO, but these are handled more on a project basis and less on a day-to-day work flow basis. It is also not usually expected to generate great results. Customers don’t want to pay earlier than they are used to.
    Now, a rising DSO will raise alarm bells, as it destroys the company’s cash budget. Companies will budget a certain amount of working capital** to operate, and a rising DSO will shrink that margin. As capital is usually a scarce commodity***, companies with a rising DSO may have to go to credit markets to raise short-term capital. This can be expensive, so is typically not appreciated. At my last position, a misestimated cash forecast caused an $80 million payment shortfall in the cash budget, which prompted Treasury to impose additional reporting and forecasting requirements on my A/R department.
    This was not appreciated (see above “infinite amount of work to do”).
    Our other metric is Bad Debt. Simply put, when we decide we can no longer collect a receivable, it is written off from our account. There’s some funky accounting I’ll get into later, but for right now, it’s only important to know that A/R’s inability to collect cash is an expense that decision-makers notice, and thus track closely.
    Note: certain commenters may think it is possible to avoid Bad Debt, by not actually writing off anything. This will not actually work, as there are certain accounting principles which will prevent this sort of behavior. I’ll describe it later, when I discuss Reserves and Bad Debt more fully.
    Bad Debt is not really our day-to-day focus per se, but it tends to be a larger focus than the DSO number. It fluctuates more, and is something A/R usually has more direct control over. Therefore, most of our daily efforts are spent collecting past due balances, and not trying to improve the DSO. This will change if the DSO starts to rise, in which case DSO will take priority. But DSO usually does not rise, so Bad Debt becomes the focus.

    So, taking the two together, A/R typically establishes certain reports and procedures to identify the biggest bang for our buck. In particular, we will have reports showing the top past due balances, the top credit accounts (which may be masking balances that are owed to us), DSO of each major top account, and balances as a percentage of revenue (so we can still target smaller accounts that are not paying a large % of their invoices).
    Smaller balances usually are not pursued. If, for instance, Taggart Transcontinental paid an invoice at $400,000 instead of $400,200, the remaining $200 will be written off after some period of time (usually a year).
    What defines a small amount varies based on industry and revenue. For instance, here is an example from the IRS for Pharmaceuticals and Medicine:
    http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/Documents/areas/adm/acis/IRS_2008.pdf
    You can see an average of 4.8% bad debt to total receivable. This amount is actually .88% for the largest companies, whereas companies between $25mm and $100mm averaged 6.7%. This is probably because these two are actually in slightly different industries: a local hospital deals largely with medical claims, which have notoriously high bad debt rates, whereas United HealthCare is a health insurance company that probably collects on most of its B2B debts.
    What will make an A/R accountant exceptional is the ability to identify trends of small, recurring balances. For example, there was a sales tax increase last month that affected hundreds of my customers. I identified the affected accounts and mass-mailed them all. Each particular account was only around $100 or so, but the collective amount was around $30,000 per month, an extremely substantial amount of money that would single-handedly ruin all my accounts.
    Data analysis like this is much easier in the era of computes. As long as my payment application records are accurate, I can pull up every single invoice, item by item, and see exactly how much a customer paid. If, for instance, Taggart Transcontinental were short-paying Rearden Steel $25 on every single invoice for a some miscellaneous phone charge, Rearden Steel would pull every single phone charge, group them together en masse, and send a single communication.
    However, this type of data analysis is rare (depending on industry). A/R will typically use what is called an “Aging” to track balances, and ensure they are attacking the oldest balances. An “Aging” is just a display of the current balances, with each balance in a different bucket based on how old the balance is. An example is here:
    https://www.cliffsnotes.com/~/media/7a08925bf4d744bbb47b7ce6d1fda9db.ashx?la=en
    You can see that the balances are broken apart, or “aged” in A/R parlance, by their month. Balances not yet do are considered current, and then each balance is placed in a bucket by month. This particular company chooses to age all balances over 90 in the same bucket. ****
    So, how might A/R approach the aging above?
    First, we would look at the total balances. A/R will totally disregard current balances: it is a complete waste of time to bug people for payments on debts that are not actually due. The exception are particularly large orders that would make a material impact in the company finances, particularly if the customer habitually pays late.
    The 1-30 bucket would be addressed based on the A/R accountants knowledge of these particular customers. For example, if B. Ambroz and W. Bruce ALWAYS pay late, but are always good for the money, the A/R accountant may elect to send a single email or phone call to those customers. If it’s new that they are paying late, those two customers may be called aggressively until A/R can determine what is going on.
    The next focus would be the Over 90 day accounts, particularly K Carter, since he makes up such a huge portion of the balance. The next would be J Baker. Though J Baker’s debt is not quite as old some other debts, J Baker makes up a huge PERCENTAGE of the balance: we can clear up a lot of our books if we can get him to pay. An additional item to note is that J Baker does not have any CURRENT balance, which means he is no longer a customer, so we have no leverage over him (other than sending him to an outside collection agency or taking him to small claims court).
    So, what can A/R actually do to collect? Honestly? Not much. Most of my day is spent sending emails and occasionally making phone calls. We likely will not take people to court, because it would sour an existing business relationship. Typically, we cannot impact the customer business at all, because the outstanding balances are not large enough to make the accounts unprofitable. If the account is in extremely bad shape, we can absolutely move to cut off business. However, this will require the consent of other decision-makers, any of whom can usually veto our decision (and can only be overridden by an executive board member).
    To give you an idea of how little our leverage can be, in my prior company, we had a major customer that would routinely pay their multi-ten-million-dollar invoices 10 days late. Instead of pressuring the customer to comply with terms, our sales and legal team re-wrote their contract to make their new payment terms 40 days.
    Upper management threw a fit. They also blamed us in A/R for the new contract (even though we obviously do not write contracts). Suffice to say, I am happy I am not in that position anymore….
    Next time, I’ll discuss the Reserve process in a bit more depth, and segue into some of the fraud prevention efforts typically employed.

    *B2B stands for Business to Business. IE, I only deal with other companies, not the general public.
    **Working capital is defined in accounting terms as current assets minus current liabilities. In practical terms, it’s the amount of money we have working for us in day-to-day operations. It’s a major function of a business to manage working capital, usually through Treasury and Finance.
    ***Certain companies, like Apple, have more money than God. Most of us do not operate in that boat and have a laundry list of capital projects that we do not have funding for.
    ****90 days is a typical cut-off for a Doubtful Account. After that point, it is usually considered unlikely to collect in a B2C setting. Mortgages, for example, are considered non-performing if nothing is paid for 90 days. In B2B settings, 90 days is much less important, as 90 days to resolve a major pricing dispute would be lightning fast.

    • Deiseach says:

      We likely will not take people to court, because it would sour an existing business relationship.

      Hoooo, yeah. We had a problem with this for another large, regular monthly payment we have to make. Now, granted, sometimes it gets to the middle of the month and we go “Oh crap, did we pay that yet? Better get a payment out fast!” but we do pay.

      For some reason (don’t ask me, we never got an explanation), a couple of months’ payments were deemed to be missing from their side, so we got the letters about “you’re late and by the way LEGAL PROCEEDINGS UNLESS”. This did not engender a good reaction on our parts (it started with “F” and ended with “you”) because we knew we’d paid on time and in full and moreover had the evidence to back that up.

      Some rather heated emails and telephone calls later, they got back to say “Oh yeah, you’re right, we got those cheques”. No explanation about what caused the screw-up on their side, no apology, and leaving us very much steamed about the immediate resort to PAY UP OR ELSE WE’LL SIC THE LAWYERS ON YA.

  11. baconbacon says:

    General question for those who approve of the currently popular Popper quote on tolerant societies.

    Why quote Popper and not MLK, Mandela or Gandhi? Those guys actually did it (helped create more tolerant societies), and did so with non violence as a central, non negotiable (though not perfectly implemented) principle no matter the harm the came to its practitioners. We have examples of extreme tolerance to the point of accepting fists, lynchings and murder without physical retaliation improving society, are there actual examples of tolerant societies practicing tolerance and falling because of it?

    • Brad says:

      We have examples of extreme tolerance to the point of accepting fists, lynchings and murder without physical retaliation improving society

      We also have examples of oppressors being overthrown by force of arms.

      Are there actual examples of tolerant societies practicing tolerance and falling because of it?

      Arguably the one Popper is writing about — Weimer Germany.

      In general, I find “why can’t you be more like Gandhi” to be akin to concern trolling. If you think being punched, lynched, and murdered all the while turning the other cheek, why don’t you go volunteer for it instead of volunteering others?

      Did you advocate non-violence as a central, non negotiable principle in the wake of 9/11?

      • baconbacon says:

        In general, I find “why can’t you be more like Gandhi” to be akin to concern trolling. If you think being punched, lynched, and murdered all the while turning the other cheek, why don’t you go volunteer for it instead of volunteering others?

        If I think being punched, lunched and murdered all the while what?

        I am not volunteering anyone whatever the rest of the line was intended to be, but those quoting Popper approvingly are doing so based on the expected outcomes of to much tolerance. The actions of, for example, Civil Rights activists in the US greatly exceeded the tolerance that Popper suggests is a maximum and lead to a more tolerant society overall. As an example it is a direct counter to the spirit of the quotation, and the reply “getting punched, lynched and murdered isn’t worth it” is vastly different from “being to tolerant will end tolerance”.

        Arguably the one Popper is writing about — Weimer Germany.

        The Wiemar Republic fell after two historically terrible depressions in the first 12 years after the end of WW1, and the Nazis were not met with tolerance. The Wiemar Republic fell after the appointment of a PM who operated independently of Parliament and pursued what is generally viewed today as totally asinine economic policy.

      • Brad says:

        … and murdered, all the while turning the other cheek, is so great why don’t …

        • baconbacon says:

          This changes nothing in the reply, I didn’t state that it was great I asked how you can defend Popper’s statement when counter examples exist.

          • Brad says:

            I was just making a correction.

            On the specific question of your purportedly fatal counterexamples I think you are misidentifying the relevent societies. MLK didn’t control American society. He wasn’t in a position to extend or refuse to extend unlimited tolerance. In fact, one way to look at it is that his actions were effective not by dint of converting his enemies but rather by triggering the intolerance of the larger society against his enemies which in turn acted against them on MLK’s behalf.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        In general, I find “why can’t you be more like Gandhi” to be akin to concern trolling. If you think being punched, lynched, and murdered all the while turning the other cheek, why don’t you go volunteer for it instead of volunteering others?

        A lot of modern left-wing activists explicitly claim to be taking up the mantle of the civil rights movement. “Why can’t you be more like MLK?” is a fair response to such people.

        • rlms says:

          I think there is very little overlap between violent leftists and people who admire MLK for his non-violence. Nazi punchers certainly wouldn’t compare Malcom X unfavourably with MLK.

    • kjohn says:

      Ghandi helped to create a more tolerant country by expelling all the muslims.

      Mandella took a country where disempowered young women could be expect to have pencils put in their hair, to a country where disempoweered young women could expect to be raped. Holding his up as a non-violent figure is also ridiculous. Good or bad, his victory was a victory for violent methods.

      • rlms says:

        “Ghandi helped to create a more tolerant country by expelling all the muslims.”
        That’s certainly a novel perspective on Gandhi’s role in the partition of India!

        • kjohn says:

          I don’t see how you can give him credit for one half of the equation and deny it for the second.

          • rlms says:

            The partition happened despite Gandhi, not because of him.

          • kjohn says:

            No Ghandi, stll partition? Then you can’t give him credit for anything.

            Ghandi was aware of the muslim anxieties when he was making his push for independence. He did not calm those fears. He was demanding independence without first calming those fears. The congress refused the compromise of decentralalisaton.

            If the partition was the natural consequence of the removal of a neutal British lodestone – and I can’t see how you can claim otherwise – then I don’t see how you can give seperate credit for independence and partition.

            If Ghandi did urge decentralisation – but I’ve seen no evidence that he did (and I’ve looked) – then I wlll admit to beng wrong. If by ‘despite Gandhi’ you simply mean that Ghandi desired dominion over the muslim minority then I do not think that absolves him of all blame.

          • rlms says:

            “Ghandi [sic] desired dominion over the muslim minority”
            I don’t think he would have described it that way, but let’s say that’s a fair description for the sake of argument (especially since “Gandhi’s desired policy would likely have lead to domination of the Muslim majority at least in the short term” is certainly defensible). Then he wanted a unified India, but didn’t get it (despite trying). So the partition happened despite his efforts, and he deserves neither credit nor blame (depending on whether you think it was a good idea or not) for it.

          • kjohn says:

            Partition was a consequence of independence*. If he gets credit for the latter then he must take blame for the former.

            I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            * Well that or civil war.

      • baconbacon says:

        I honestly don’t see the value in debating someone who would open with these types of characterizations.

        • kjohn says:

          Says the guy who considers putting rival anti-appartheid leaders into burning rubber tyres ‘non-violent’ and tolerant?

          And who ignores – regardless of any objections to my brief charactersation – the partition when talking about the tolerant society of India?

          How ought one open when dealing with such a person?

          • baconbacon says:

            Says the guy who considers putting rival anti-appartheid leaders into burning rubber tyres ‘non-violent’ and tolerant?

            Was that in your first point? It wasn’t, if that is your point then make it, pretending I am ignoring points you haven’t made only reinforces my earlier stance that is unlikely to be informative or useful engaging you much further.

            And who ignores – regardless of any objections to my brief charactersation – the partition when talking about the tolerant society of India?

            Godse specifically stated that his motive for murdering Gandhi was based on Gandhi’s support for Muslims, partition was heavily supported by Muslim activists, Gandhi had no official power during the partition, and finally characterizing the partition as “kicking the Muslims out” is disingenuous at best.

          • kjohn says:

            Was that in your first point? It wasn’t, if that is your point then make it, pretending I am ignoring points you haven’t made only reinforces my earlier stance that is unlikely to be informative or useful engaging you much further.

            You opened the discussion. I could hardly have pointed out his violent acts before you wrote your post holding him up as a figure of non-violence, could I?

            Godse specifically stated that his motive for murdering Gandhi was based on Gandhi’s support for Muslims, partition was heavily supported by Muslim activists, Gandhi had no official power during the partition, and finally characterizing the partition as “kicking the Muslims out” is disingenuous at best.

            Do you normally use assassins as your main source? Ghandi opposed the main muslim group at every turn pre-partition, as far as my research has turned up.

            If having ‘no official power during the partition’ means he’s blameless for partition. Then shouldn’t having no official power during independence keep him for taking credit for that? I can’t see how you can have it both ways.

            “Kicking the muslims out” was, I admit, a snarky phrasing to highlight the ridiculousness of your not mentioning the partition in your post.

    • nimim.k.m. says:

      I assume the Popper quote you are referring to is the one concerning tolerance of intolerance.

      I personally don’t like it, because practically nobody ever defines what actions exactly constitutes “tolerance” and “being intolerant of intolerance”. I have not read Popper, so I’m unclear what was the original context.

      If someone mouths [something horrible and intolerant] and by disagreeing with them in public, in a rhetorically effective way, you manage to convince the observing audience to be less inclined to believe them, that seems to be a perfectly fine example of being intolerant of intolerance. Likewise, not inviting those people to your parties. (“Saruman, we are not going to hang around with you anymore if you advocate for removing Ents from the forest of Fangorn because they don’t fit in your industrialized Orc-utopia.”)

      On the other hand, granting authorities a right to e.g. arrest people accused of being [something horrible] and throw them into secret prisons at will without proper judicial procedure and overview is also a way of being “intolerant of [something horrible]”, but also certainly a bad way of going about it.

      It seems that intolerance and tolerance are so vague concepts, that one should instead try to find (and then defend) more concrete policies about how to handle these things.

  12. Jiro says:

    Scott, this hidden open thread is not hidden. I can see it on the sidebar when I directly go to slatestarcodex.com. This did not happen before.

  13. Well... says:

    I think I’ve asked this before but now I’m feeling a bit more serious about it:

    If I wanted to gain some useful computer programming skills (in particular the kind that pairs well with usability and design) what is the best place to go learn that in little 1-hour chunks, for free?

    I completed the HTML, CSS, and half of the JavaScript courses at Codeacademy (forgot most of that stuff now), but found it excruciating because there’d come a point where I needed a human to look at the code and tell me what I was doing wrong, and the automatic code-checker gave comments that were basically useless. It also felt like a human could tell me “The course is having you do it this way for this reason, but just so you know, in the real world we all do it that way for that reason.” It was also annoying that Codeacademy was like “Write whatever you want in the header” and then I’d end up wasting 20 minutes just deciding what to write there. Just tell me what content to put there, I want to learn the language!

    So, recommendations for free learn-to-code sites BESIDES Codeacademy? Also, recommendations for what exactly to go learn?

    • Charles F says:

      what is the best place to go learn [coding] in little 1-hour chunks, for free?

      I’m pretty sure that doesn’t actually exist. Coding is a mess of weird rules, exceptions, indecipherable error messages, and constantly changing standards. For me at least, an hour is long enough to get frustrated by a new programming thing, but not long enough to actually work through it, and it ends up being really ineffective. If I devote six hours at once once a week to figuring out the harder parts of what I’m doing, and 10 minutes at a time going over the easy stuff, I find I can actually improve and stay improved.

      I’m a big fan of the cargo-cult approach to learning programming, where you find a project that looks sort of like what you want to do, copy most of it (actually typing it out, not just ctrl-c ctrl-v everything) then start tweaking it, modifying it, and tearing out pieces of it to replace them with your own content. There are tons of projects on github that you can do this to.

      • Well... says:

        I like the “just build something” approach but have found it lacks a “here’s how to get started” portion.

        • Charles F says:

          This is true. My way of getting started was copying every (relevant-looking) file in the project, and looking things up as I did it so I had a general idea of what sort of thing I was currently writing code for.

          You can sometimes find blogs where people built something and wrote about each step as they implemented it, those are even better than github projects if you can find one relevant to your interests.

          I’m not actually 100% sure which step you’re calling getting started. Choosing what to learn? Choosing what general sort of thing you’d like to build? Finding an existing thing kind of like the thing you want? Starting writing code once you know what you want to build?

          • Well... says:

            The step I’m talking about is, let’s say I go to github.com and want to pick a project to copy. How do I even know what kinds of terms to search for? For instance, I had an idea for a Firefox add-on that did X (don’t remember what now) and was told it would be simple enough and a good first project. But X was just what I called what it did. No idea whether that’s what people on Github would call it.

            So, that kinda thing.

            Also, what am I pasting into? A txt file in Notepad? Do I need to download something like Atom and paste it into there? Etc.

          • Iain says:

            Let’s say I wanted to make a Firefox add-on. I’ve never done it before, so I would start by googling “firefox add-on tutorial”. The first hit is this page, but it has a big warning at the top saying it is out of date and I should look at WebExtensions instead, so let’s go with that.

            The section called “Getting Started” looks promising. “What are extensions?” gives me a bit of background, but the real interesting link is “Your first extension”. This appears to be a pretty reasonable step-by-step guide to making a trivial extension. If I were actually making an add-on, instead of writing a comment, I would try out these instructions, followed by the “Your second extension” page.

            In terms of actually following the instructions, it looks like you are basically started from square one. A few tips:

            – The reason to use something like Atom is because it has features that make it easier for you to read and write code. For example, most text editors will do syntax highlighting, which makes different kinds of code different colours: comments in one colour, keywords in another, and so on. You don’t need a fancy text editor to get started, though. Code is just text. It doesn’t care how you write it.

            – The tutorial says: “Create a new directory and navigate to it” and gives instructions on how to do so on the command line. You don’t actually have to use those commands: you can build the directory structure however you want, so long as the end result matches what you see under “Trying it out”. You will want to learn to use the command line eventually, especially if you are on a Mac / on Linux, but you don’t have to worry about it right away.

            – You’ll notice that I didn’t mention going to github. Looking at other people’s code is a good way to learn, but you need to know some fundamentals first. Starting with guided tutorials is a good way to help you get to that point.

          • Charles F says:

            Yeah, that could be tough. Your idea *probably* isn’t novel enough that nobody’s done something similar, but if you don’t already know what sort of framework it would require, it would be hard to find something that did something similar.

            I might advise somebody who was having that problem to table that idea, find some other smallish, well-documented projects, and try messing around with those until they can at least figure out what to search for.

            I would strongly recommend against copy-pasting instead of manually typing things, but I can’t really stop you.

            What program you used would probably depend on your system and how much of a hassle it is to build and test the project after you’ve made changes*. I use Vim for just about everything outside of work, but you could use notepad++ or download an IDE. I’m torn about whether new programmers should start with syntax highlighting, since I didn’t, but it’s probably a good thing overall, so avoid plain notepad.

            Rather than a txt file, it should have the same extension as the file you’re copying.

            It’s probably worth looking for a tutorial to get a development environment set up for whatever sort of project you’re working on.

            *A web project with just HTML/CSS/JS is easy to modify while it’s running, no IDE necessary. Add ASP.NET/other web server code and an IDE starts to make a lot of sense. Firefox extensions are simple to edit without any fancy tools. Phone apps I’ve never even tried working on without an IDE and you probably shouldn’t either.

            You’ll notice that I didn’t mention going to github. Looking at other people’s code is a good way to learn, but you need to know some fundamentals first

            I’m not convinced that looking at other people’s code isn’t a good way to learn the fundamentals, but it’s been a while since I was new to this stuff. So take anything I say with a grain of salt.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Man, this makes me sad 🙁

        I’ve been trying to learn some VBA at work with all my extra time. It is HARD. I have tried going to the cargo cult route, and run into the predictable cargo cult problems: I have absolutely no idea what the code means so I have no idea how to trouble-shoot.

        It’s a painful process learning to code.

          • Charles F says:

            I endorse this based on a positive experience with learn C the hard way. It did a good job focusing heavily on writing functioning code, rather than whatever snippet was the focus of the exercise. And stayed away from “here are the 1500 other related things/other approaches” sticking to just making something work. I wouldn’t say once you’re done you’ll have actually learned “X”, but you could do far worse as an introduction.

            The courses aren’t free anymore though.

          • Brad says:

            I wouldn’t recommend that if the immediate goal is VBA. Python is a pretty distant cousin of VBA.

            The event driven nature of it has some parallels to javascript, but if for whatever reason one didn’t want to learn VBA directly, the next best bet would be VB 6, and I guess VB .net if that wasn’t an option.

          • Charles F says:

            @Brad
            I think it depends on whether the goal is learning to code in a general sense, or learning to use a particular tool for work. If it’s the latter, you’re quite right. Learning Python would make it easier to figure out a VBA as a second language, but it probably wouldn’t be the most efficient way.

    • kjohn says:

      I like W3Schools for JavaScript, but f you’ve already learnt JS then I’m not sure.

      Visual Studos is a great IDE. So I’d probably suggest learning C# usng the IDE since it has real-time error checking and a good descriptor of what you’re written incorrectly (and if its not clar enough copy it into DDG and look at the stackoverflow results).

      If you do the VS C# then I think I’d recomend starting a new Console project and trying to create something really simple – not something with even a glimmer of usefulness – and then stackoverflowing everything you’re ignorant of

      I assume from the Codecademy course that you’re familiar with loops, ifs, methods, variables and everything else that one might take for granted? If you weren’t I might recomend spending one of your hours looking at Scratch since it is colour-coed for your convenience.

      • Well... says:

        [i]f you’ve already learnt JS

        I assume from the Codecademy course that you’re familiar with loops, ifs, methods, variables and everything else that one might take for granted?

        As I said, I got halfway through the Codeacademy JS course, and forgot most of what I learned.

        Why C#? What is C# mainly even used for?

        I’ve played around with scratch a little–never really tried to build anything, just put blocks together and seen what they make the cat do. Seems like a possibly good place to start. Does what I learn there really transfer out well, or is it just more of a way to put me in a “programming state of mind”?

        (Props to you for anticipating I’m a DDG user, or remembering if you’ve seen me mention it.)

        • kjohn says:

          C# is used fr everything you don’t need to use assembly or C for. Its the main language or Unity (game development), Asp.Net (web development) as well as for winforms.

          I recomend C# partly because its what use, but it also have a very goo stackoverflow community (although what language doesn’t at this point?) but mainly bcause Visual Studios is really really good.

          The buildingblocks that Scratch presents to you are the building blocks of every language that I’m familiar with. When you graduate to a proper language you’d stll have to learn all of that, but at least you’d have a better idea of what you need to learn.

          Apart from the fact that Scratch lacks arrays. That’s a huge oversight; arrays and lists are very important.

          • Iain says:

            This is good advice if you want to program applications on Windows, and less good advice if you do not. The universe of relevant languages is a lot larger than assembly / C / C#. I would recommend against assembly and C for now. C# is a perfectly cromulent language, but it is not where I would start.

            My go-to recommendation for general learning-to-program is Python. In your particular case, if you are interested in “usability and design”, then Javascript might also be a good choice. I would probably avoid fancy frameworks to start with: they can make programmers more efficient and productive, but at the cost of covering up what’s actually going on, which is the exact opposite of what you want when you’re first learning.

            I’ve also heard good things about Scratch. You could try playing around with that. Your goal would be to learn the underlying concepts of loops, conditionals, function calls, and so on. Once you know how those work, figuring out how to use them in any other language is just a matter of learning the syntax.

        • rlms says:

          I would recommend GameMaker (the free trial) over Scratch, presuming it hasn’t changed too much since 2008. It’s not much more complicated, but is much more powerful. Skills from it definitely do transfer out. The only problem is if you are completely uninterested in making games.

          • Viliam says:

            Ren’Py seems like a very gentle introduction into coding (a specific kind of) games.

            You can start with making a completely linear visual novel; just write the script and add some pictures. There is no programming involved, yet, but you get familiar with the editor you will use later.

            Then add some menus and go-to commands. Now it’s a real game that one can win or lose. Then add variables and conditions, so the game can remember your previous choices. This is how you slowly get from “not programming” to “programming”; potentially producing something valuable at each step.

  14. dndnrsn says:

    What is up with this poll? It’s NPR/PBS, and one thing jumps out at me, that just seems bizarre.

    Namely, Latinos are one of the groups this poll breaks answers down by that are most favourable towards (higher approve %, lower disapprove %) of white supremacy, white nationalism, and the Alt-Right. This seems mighty weird, and leads me to think there’s something wrong with the poll. I can’t come up with an explanation other than “something must be wrong with this poll,” at least.

    • Randy M says:

      It’s not a huge difference, but possible explanations:
      Latinos are lower income and want immigration restricted to reduce competition for lower paying jobs, even if it hurts other Latinos.
      Conversely,
      (that portion of) Latinos are more nationalist than other groups and see White Supremecists as compatible (contra HFA) long term, each setting up adjacent spheres of influence.
      or,
      Some Alt-right respondents are trolling by misstating their racial identity
      or,
      Some portion of Latinos also consider themselves to be white.
      or,
      Some higher portion of whites might have agreed but are afraid of saying so anonymously.
      or,
      Some portion were not English fluent

      • HFARationalist says:

        I think this can be explained partly by the existence of white Latinos.

      • rlms says:

        “Some portion of Latinos also consider themselves to be white.”
        But why would that portion be so much more white supremacist than the white-white population?

        • crh says:

          Hispanics are generally low status compared to whites, so it could make sense for a white hispanic to aggressively embrace the “white” part of their identity.

          (And illegal immigrants are really low status, so there are strong incentives for hispanics who immigrated legally [or whose ancestors immigrated legally] to differentiate themselves. Say by adopting hardline views on immigration, for example.)

          • rlms says:

            But white supremacists are extremely low status. Your argument explains why Hispanics could become relatively immoderate Republicans, but that doesn’t happen.

          • crh says:

            Yes, that’s a good point. I still think signaling games are part of what’s going on here, but it probably can’t be the whole story.

          • HFARationalist says:

            I agree. However we also need to look at Latin American societies for some clue.

            They are much more racist than America. In fact non-black immigrants are usually much more racist than native white Americans because modern Anglo racism is really mild compared to East Europe, India and Northeast Asia.

            Racism in Hispanics you observed is probably mainly of Latin American origins.

          • Art Vandelay says:

            But white supremacists are extremely low status.

            I agree, but I think this misunderstands the nature of the phenomenon.

            It seems to me that it is about ensuring their is a group that is below you on the racial/ethnic hierarchy. I’ve heard historical Italian American immigrants being cited as a classic example of this. Having been discriminated against, as soon as a new influx of different immigrants replaced them on the bottom run they were particularly zealous in emphasising the fact that they were above this newer, poorer lot.

            When you’re at the top of the pile there is less need to differentiate yourself by beating on those below you.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      Namely, Latinos are one of the groups this poll breaks answers down by that are most favourable towards (higher approve %, lower disapprove %) of white supremacy, white nationalism, and the Alt-Right. This seems mighty weird, and leads me to think there’s something wrong with the poll. I can’t come up with an explanation other than “something must be wrong with this poll,” at least.

      Have you ever seen a picture of a /pol/ gathering?

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Can you explain what this means? I might just be missing a joke.

        • Charles F says:

          There was a thing going around the internet a while back comparing a group picture of some liberal, pro-immigration news group’s employees (all white, also men?) to a meetup from some notoriously anti-immigrant/illiberal section of 4chan’s /pol/ board (very diverse group).

          I think this post is referencing that or making the same point. The privileged people who gain status in lefty circles being vocally supportive of minorities don’t do a very good job giving those people and their ideas a real platform. Or something.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            This, but less “actual point” and more “joke”. Photos of stuff like the trolling of Shia LeBeouf’s stream further confirm this: /pol/ is impressively diverse for a nominally white supremacist community.

            Though I’d disagree about the reasons. In reality, most people don’t really mean the most extreme stuff posted there, and to people there, the expected negative value of an improbable danger of white supremacists is lower than the certain annoyance of SJ/SJW/PC/diversity pushes/etc.

          • HFARationalist says:

            /poI is diverse partly because 4chan is owned by a Japanese guy who actually censors anti-Japanese posts. Hence there are lots of Northeast Asians there.

            Of course Northeast Asians generally tolerate any form of white racism that is not against them.

          • Aapje says:

            @Charles F

            An executive editor at the Huffington Post posted this tweet of a meeting with only non-black women. She seemed to be fishing for ‘girl power’ compliments judging by the accompanying emoticons.

            Return of Kings then pointed out that this same person had attacked the Oscars for not giving enough rewards to black people, which made RoK somehow a voice of reason.

            The picture has been contrasted with various pictures of more diverse groups, like this comparison to the NRA board.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @Aapje NRA is just conservative, not far-right. You need to at least be at the level of Richard Spencer to qualify as far-righters. Spencer is far-right because of his antisemitism, not white nationalism which I believe is just the white American variant of Russian Nationalism or Japanese Nationalism. All societies have ethnic nationalists and America currently does not have too many of them. Not yet.

            The alt-right is diverse. Biodiversity people are friendly to Jews and Northeast Asians. Reactionaries are also not particularly problematic in terms of race. Many like Japan and Singapore. On the other hand there are indeed really obnoxious people in the alt-right as well, mostly small bloggers who can be much more obnoxious than established alt-right leaders.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Given the small numbers we are talking about (2%,3%), and the sample size, you probably are just looking at the fact that the error rate on is higher the smaller the sub-group, and can then swamp the number. If the error rate on the Latino sample is 5% (with the overall error rate of 2.9%), then you can just be looking at simple error.

      If the numbers were 53% vs. 57%, you wouldn’t be surprised and would just say “it’s about the same”.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        white supremacy, white nationalism, and the Alt-Right

        Of note, they are also more likely to agree with Antifa, by roughly the same percentage as Alt-right.

        I’m wondering if this survey was English only.

      • dndnrsn says:

        The “unfavourable” numbers also differ, by larger margins.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      It’s definitely amusing.

      That said, my intuition is that this effect isn’t significant, especially correcting for the multiple comparison problem. And it’s a rather small difference in support to begin with.

      Lizardman’s constant plus the margin of error means we should expect a range from about (0.7%, 7.3%). The numbers for white supremacists are well-within that range. For white nationalists, only the Tea Party and Latinos are above it. That’s a sign to be suspicious.

    • rlms says:

      The same pattern also occurs for Klu Klux Klan and Antifa. My original theory was that they’re more likely to refuse to admit ignorance by putting “unsure” and in that case they randomly pick “agree”. But that doesn’t work for all of them.

    • Standing in the Shadows says:

      I’ve had related odd experience with this. I travel a great deal for work, and so I take a lot of TNC (Uber, Lyft, etc) rides.

      TNC drivers never talk about any topic that could possibly be controversial, because it just takes a few quietly pissed off passengers giving them a low rating to get them kicked out as a driver.

      Except for Hispanic TNC drivers in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. First of all, I think all the TNC drivers in the major cities of those states are Hispanic, or at least, I never had one that wasn’t. And they were all Trump voters, and out and proud about it, and would talk at length about why they were, and most of their family in the US were.

      • Randy M says:

        What did they give as reasons?

        • Standing in the Shadows says:

          Gb punaary Puevf Ebpx’f byq fxvg, rirelguvat gung juvgr sbyxf ungr naq srne nobhg Zrkvpna guhtf, pevzvanyf naq tnatf, Zrkvpna vzzvtenagf ERNYYL ERNYYL ERNYYL ungr naq srne nobhg Zrkvpna guhtf, pevzvanyf naq tnatf.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I know a Hispanic guy who is a proud Trump voter, and his reason is “fuck you.”

          He’s the only person I have any regular real-world contact with that I know was a Trump supporter.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Maybe it’s all part of one enormous game of transdimensional pickup sticks.

  15. eyeballfrog says:

    What are the long term benefits of malaria relief in Africa? Obviously having fewer people with an awful disease is good in and of itself, but surely it must have positive social or economic effects as well.

  16. Granjoroz says:

    So…there’s something I’ve been trying to understand, but I’m having trouble finding a transparent answer. If it costs about 4 bucks to purchase a bed net for the Against Malaria Foundation, why does it cost on average more than 5,000 dollars to save even a single life through that method? Sure, there’s certainly other costs involved, but what are those costs? I mean, you could get a 100 bed nets for less than a tenth of 5,000, and you’d think 100 bed nets would save several lives. So what eats up so damn much of the funds?

    Sorry, I admit I am a total greenhorn on this count, and I’m sure it shows, but my preliminary research didn’t give me a straight answer and I really want to know.

    • Nornagest says:

      Implementation costs: you need people to distribute the bednets (not cheap!), teach the end users how to use them, etc. Inefficiencies in the process: a bednet isn’t totally protective, it just means you don’t get bit when you’re sleeping; and on the other hand, you might be sending them to a town with five hundred bednets and one malaria-bearing mosquito. And most of the people that get malaria don’t die from it.

      There’s also some diminishing returns going on. Malaria was a lot more prevalent a decade or so ago, and people are starting to talk seriously about eradication now. Which is awesome, but also means less lifesaving bang for your buck at least in the short term.

    • rlms says:

      I think the main factor is that it has a low mortality rate. This page claims that in 2015 there were 429,000 deaths out of 212 million cases. That seems like an unreasonably low mortality rate to me, but taking it at face value, if we say that all of the 1250 people we can protect with $5000 of bed nets go from definitely having malaria to definitely not having it, then the expected number of lives saved is 1250 * 429,000/212,000,000 = 2.5 (approximately what we are looking for).

    • Art Vandelay says:

      I went on holiday to rural Tanzania with a group of eight people. We used bed nets and copious quantities of insect repellent. Halfway through the trip a couple of people started feeling ill in a way that was consistent with the early symptoms of malaria. We drove an hour or two to the closest hospital and all got tested. Four out of our group of eight had malaria, they got a shot, everyone was fine.

      Obviously this is very anecdotal but it seems extremely consistent with the idea that you have to buy a lot of mosquito nets to save someone who would have otherwise died.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        It’s probably more expensive to have enough clinics than to supply enough malaria nets, but I’m wondering about the numbers.

  17. oldman says:

    Cultural question for Americans: How much does someone have to drink before they are said to have a “drinking problem.” I’ve seen television shows where people that would be called “occasional drinkers” in my country are referred to as alcoholics.

    Is this a real cultural difference, or is it just TV not wanting to show what alcoholism is really like? (or some combination of the two, in which case – in what ratio?)

    • skef says:

      First, “alcoholic” is generally misused in the U.S. as a term for anyone with (what I would call) a “drinking problem”, when it should really be restricted to people who are in some sense addicted to alcohol. If your drinking every other weekend causes you to get into bar fights, you’ll probably be called an alcoholic.

      Second, the standards vary quite a bit by area. It’s possible the television phenomenon is influenced by L.A. drinking culture, which is actually on the modest side, in part because (until recently, anyway) everyone drives at the end of the evening. (Stimulants are another matter …) The modal citizen of Wisconsin drinks a lot more than the modal citizen of California.

      • Well... says:

        Are those with alcoholism a subset of those with drinking problems, or vice versa? Or two discrete-but-mostly-overlapping categories?

        My vote would go for the third option. Your comment made it sound like you think it’s the first one.

        • skef says:

          I am generally in favor of the contemporary mental-health practice of adding something like the clause “and these symptoms are negatively affecting the person’s life”. I see “addiction” as one of those terms. So I think we’re in roughly the same place, but I wouldn’t refer to the people who would find it difficult to not drink but are otherwise problem-free as “alcoholics”. But this isn’t a hill I would want to suffer a cut on, let alone die.

          Of course, there’s a threshold above which drinking is a straightforward medical problem, regardless of the psychological factors. If your liver is gradually shutting down, you’ve been informed of this, and you’re still drinking, you are an alcoholic.

    • Protagoras says:

      Probably some combination, probably more the latter than the former, but I don’t want to try to guess at an exact ratio.

    • lvlln says:

      Here in the Boston area among my peers, “drinking problem” has more to do with behavior around drinking rather than sheer volume. I think someone who drinks a beer or 2 with dinner every night and drinks half a dozen on weekend nights with friends while having a safe and good time would be said to be a heavy drinker but not someone with a “drinking problem” (though certainly they might be causing problems for their health). But someone who drinks only occasionally but each time they drink they get completely plastered, blacking out, acting obnoxious, throwing up, or some other combination of similar behaviors, would be said to have a problem.

      Likewise for literal alcoholics who are actually addicted to alcohol. Even if they’re high functioning and can do their jobs and other daily functions well enough, if they have to drink like someone addicted to cigarettes have to smoke with some regularity, then they’d be said to have a problem.

    • Well... says:

      We still do not understand addiction well. Even if you’re using “someone with a drinking problem” interchangeably with “alcoholic” by which you mean “someone addicted to alcohol”, it’s hard to say whether there’s some objective measure of addiction to alcohol that stays consistent across cultures.

      To answer the question in a more striaghtforward way, I think a lot depends on microcultural expectations and patterns.

      For instance, I typically have about one drink per day (a 12oz beer, or a shot of whiskey neat in a glass), with a day off here and there, bringing my average to probably something like .67 or .75 drinks a day. Some weeks this goes down to like .16 drinks a day (like when I’m feeling too cheap to buy alcohol) or up to 2+ drinks a day (like if I’m on vacation around my extended family), and in the latter case they’re spread out over a day. Only on very rare occasions (once every few years) do I have more than 2 drinks in a sitting. I haven’t had more than 5 drinks in a sitting since my bachelor party, and doubt I will more than one or two more times in my life.

      Most people would call me a moderate drinker. My extended family would consider me a somewhat heavy drinker. I hear about my (childless) coworkers going out to bars several nights a week, doing barhops most weekends, etc., and to me that sounds like mild alcoholism.

    • ilikekittycat says:

      There is not a good answer for this, because Americans have vastly different views/practices. About half of Americans are sober, then 50-70 percentile is 0-2 drinks a week, 70-90 is 2-15 drinks a week, and the top decile of drinkers is 15-75 drinks a week.

      What is considered problem drinking is “more than I do,” generally.

  18. Incurian says:

    Anyone else thinking about just memorizing rot13?

    • thepenforests says:

      Nah, it’s super useful not to be able to read rot13. Oftentimes it’s used to post either a) spoilers or b) solutions to puzzles, and in both of those cases I might want to be able to decide whether to read what’s written or not.

    • rlms says:

      Nf cbfgrq hcguernq, V’z qbvat guvf! Guvf zrffntr jnf jevggra znahnyyl.

    • Randy M says:

      No, but I’d be happy to see it go away. Most of the time, I’d rather read an interesting discussion that contains spoilers of a work I might–but probably won’t–read or watch eventually, then miss out or waste time un-roting it.

      • Well... says:

        I kind of agree, though I understand myself to be a freak in that I’m truly not affected by spoilers.

        On the other hand, I saw it used in an innovative way on this very thread, to discuss a topic the OP thought might be too intense/abhorrent for some readers.

        So maybe Rot13 is good, but used for the wrong things.

        • Randy M says:

          Even there it irritated me. I’ll bow to the board norms, but if a preference cascade eliminates its usage I’m happier with that.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Even there it irritated me.

            I was seriously tempted to post the full text of “lorem ipsum” in rot13 as a protest.

          • Well... says:

            Rot13 always kind of irritates me when my eyes first see it, but beyond that I didn’t register irritation with the particular use of it in question. Should I have?

            The more I think about it, the more I agree: I’d be happier to see Rot13 go away.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t see irritation ever being instrumentally useful or morally obligatory, if that’s what your asking. But for consistency, regardless of the purpose, it is the same inconvenience to decipher.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        You should ask Bakkot to add spoiler tags.

        I can’t speak for everyone but I would greatly prefer to have a drop-down instead of rot13. It’s the best of bad options rather than a first choice.

        • Protagoras says:

          I don’t care about spoilers so I’d be happy to see rot13 go with no replacement, but drop-downs are certainly much less annoying than rot13.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            What about black-on-black text so that we can highlight without the screen resizing?

            Does highlighting work on mobile? I frankly don’t know.

    • Drew says:

      Kind of. I occasionally write in public. And I really hate it when people read over my shoulder.

      I’d like some kind of script or font that would be easy for me to read, easy for me to write, and very hard for someone else to casually skim.

      I hadn’t considered ROT13, and had been looking at various historical or conlang alphabets, but ROT13 might not be that bad of an option, all things considered.

      • schazjmd says:

        In my younger, more paranoid days, I dealt with that issue by learning how to write in mirror-script. It wasn’t hard at all, just took a bit of practice.

        ETA: It comes in handy in meetings, as I can industriously take “notes” that express my true feelings.

      • crh says:

        If you’re generally writing on a screen, there’s a technological solution to prevent casual eavesdropping. It has some obvious downsides, but may be less effort than learning to read/write ROT13.

        If you’re mostly writing with pencil and paper, why not learn shorthand? Few people will be able to read it and (if you get good enough) you’ll get the added bonus of being able to take notes very quickly.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          An easier technical solution for a laptop is a screen protector that makes it very hard to observe unless you are sitting directly in front of it.

          • Charles F says:

            A harder non-technical solution with some more useful side effects could be learning a foreign language.

          • Matt M says:

            Learning to “speak” an indecipherable code in order to combat casual eavesdropping strikes me as one of the most “lolrationalists” things ever…

        • Evan Þ says:

          Or, do what I did in ninth grade, teach yourself the Greek alphabet, and write English using it.

          (I had the additional reason that I wanted to get closer to reading the New Testament in the original language. Well, I can now read it as in pronouncing the words from the page, but I still can’t understand it.)

          • Standing in the Shadows says:

            I did something similar. 7th grade I taught myself Tengwar. 8th grade the Kingsly Read Alphabet. 9th grade a conscript of my own design that I still use a much evolved version of for my personal papers.

            I keep meaning to sit down and learn Cyrillic and Hangul.

          • Nick says:

            I designed a conscript in 11th grade for writing more quickly, but I never got any good at using it. I probably still have the notes for it, actually—I had it all worked out with pencil and paper, and I was pretty obsessive about saving that sort of stuff in the event I ever got back to it.

  19. HFARationalist says:

    Preventing Genocidal Race Wars

    What is the likelihood of a global genocidal race war taking place within the next 30 years? What about 50 years?

    I’m not interested in moralizing because as we all know genocides are evil and nobody here is planning to start one.

    On the other hand I’m interested in how such wars can be prevented.

    There are two types of race wars, those that involve groups capable of using weapons of massive destruction and those that do not involve such groups. The former type in addition to causing horrible damage is also an existential risk. Hence it is important for us to estimate likelihood of both types.

    Please allow me to tell you what a nightmare is in my mind. A crazy Nazi or Nazi-equivalent group suddenly nukes Israel and as a result Israel starts its Exterminationist Tribalist retaliation. A white Nazi group and a Nazi China or Japan suddenly destroy each other in a rain of nukes, biological weapons and grey goo, killing several billion in the attack that is over in one day, laying entire continents waste. Islamist freaks suddenly nuke Israel and Israel nukes humanity as ET retaliation. These are nightmares to me.

    • Nornagest says:

      Whatever you’ve been reading to give you this idea, I’d suggest reading less of it.

      The concept is incredibly far-fetched. You’d need a race-theory ethnostate (something that doesn’t currently exist) to develop the ability and desire to commit genocide (extant but rare) on a global scale (which basically requires superpower status). And all that within thirty years. There are only a couple of possible — not plausible, possible — routes to that that I can think of, and they’re so unlikely that dwelling on them as options probably has a negative expected value. So I won’t.

      • HFARationalist says:

        Yeah. I’m actually fearing for my life due to concerns about global genocidal race wars among major nuclear-capable groups. I’m really worried that maybe white Europeans, Muslims, Jews and Northeast Asians will destroy each other within several days in some crazy hatefest likely started by Islamists with many places completely nuked. Almost everyone with genes belonging to these groups or belonging to those who are genetically close to these groups will die.

        Maybe we should leave a copy of all human knowledge in Mexico so that if we are all dead the rest of humanity can at least have something. I mean I’m pretty confident that Mexican mestizos in Mexico are unlikely to be on the death list of future Nazis and Nazi-equivalents. What do you guys think?

        • Nornagest says:

          I think that if the entire field of international relations isn’t worried about this, maybe you shouldn’t be either. Bioengineered diseases targeting ethnic markers are at least vaguely plausible; meanwhile, there are zero nuclear weapons right now in the hands of states with genocidal racial policies, nor in Islamists’*, and I don’t expect the Nazis to be taking over in thirty years. Any effort we could spend on avoiding disaster if the Nazis do take over and start carving Hitler’s face on the Moon with ballistic missiles is better spent not voting for Nazis.

          *Iran allegedly had a weapons program, and definitely has a competent strategic rocket force. But they’re only Islamists in a kind of peripheral sense — they don’t have the expansionist religious ambitions of e.g. ISIS or Al-Qaeda or even the Muslim Brotherhood. And they’re not stupid; I can see them being interested in a deterrent force, but I can’t see them initiating a strike on Israel for shits and giggles. It would mean their own destruction and they know it.

          • HFARationalist says:

            I don’t really worry too much about Iran for it is getting secularized. What I worry about much more are Sunni radicals. The Samson Option of Israel is completely reasonable because there are many stupid and insane people who hate and want to kill Jews. At least nukes can deter non-suicidal lunatics from attempting to start another Holocaust.

            Another serious concern is international Nazism. Nazism as an abstract concept does not have to be German or even white. Nazism plus technology is a dangerous mix. What’s even worse is Nazis of Tribe A and Nazis of Tribe B fighting against each other.

          • Nornagest says:

            Nazis are irrelevant. Yes, they’re in the news, but consider that only a few hundred showed up to what was supposed to be a major rally in a country of three hundred million.

            Sunni radicals are at least a real problem, but there is not really a credible short-term path to them getting nukes. Certainly not enough nukes to fight WW3.

            Take a week off from Discourse, you’ll feel better.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @Nornagest Thanks! However the worst forms of Nazism isn’t American. The more individualism we have the less Nazism we have. I predict that Germany, Austria, Russia, Serbia, Croatia and Japan will have the worst Nazis on this planet. Currently the worst Nazi group on this planet is probably Golden Dawn because it literally beats people.

            In the worst case almost everyone other than blacks and Native Americans can leave America and be accepted elsewhere in a Nazi future. This includes LGBTs as well because secular people generally have no problems with them. As for blacks and Native Americans I don’t know who will accept them if they want to leave America.

            In the next 50 years a whites vs NE Asians mutual genocide is very unlikely because neither fights as a race, a Europeans vs Jews mutual genocide is equally unlikely because they have nothing to fight over, a Sunnis vs Shias mutual genocide is possible but I doubt that nukes or grey goo will be used, an Islamists vs Hindus mutual genocide is unlikely because Hindus don’t want to exterminate Muslims, an Islamists vs the West mutual genocide is unlikely, an Islamist vs Jews mutual genocide is plausible though Israel will probably prevent it from happening.

            What do you guys think? It seems that only fundamentalists and other lunatics may be into global genocidal race wars because what is the purpose of such wars?

    • James Miller says:

      I fear a small group might use genetic engineering of viruses or bacteria wage race war.

      • HFARationalist says:

        I agree. We already know which races the culprits are likely to be from. White-Germanic (Anglo and German Nazis), White-Slavic (Russian Nazis), Ashkenazi Jewish (Kahanists), Arab (Islamists), Iranian (Islamists), NE Asian-Chinese (Ultranationalists/Nazis), NE Asian-Japanese (Ultranationalists/Nazis). I think I have included almost all possible culprits.

        How to make sure that all these groups completely get along? I mean most of them already get along well but there are still serious conflicts.

        • James Miller says:

          How to make sure that all these groups completely get along?

          We can’t. If technology allows any small group of ordinary people to kill billions, we don’t survive.

          • HFARationalist says:

            I agree. So in addition to not voting for Nazis or Islamists let’s build a figurative Noah’s Ark in Mexico then. Leave a copy of our knowledge in some hard drive there. The copy should be locked and periodically updated. However once updates are no longer possible due to race war, religious war or AI lunacy the information will be unlocked. I think lunatics will spare Latin American mestizos because they aren’t very dangerous globally. and are unlikely to be physically close to too many robots powered by strong unfriendly AI.

          • If technology allows any small group of ordinary people to kill billions, we don’t survive.

            Which suggests that the solution is defensive technology, to make sure that a small group can’t kill billions. Every time the tailored Ashkenazi killing bacterium damages one of my cells, my nanotech cell repair machine undamages it.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @DavidFriedman I strongly agree. This will lower the possibility of sudden genocides. Ashkenazis really need this more than everyone else though I believe white Europeans and Northeast Asians are also high-risk populations. Basically the richer you are perceived to be, the more hated you are.

            I’m still going to support the Mexican Knowledge Base idea because race wars aren’t the only incidents that can lead to such destruction. AI is another serious concern. It also tends to destroy developed regions over less developed ones.

          • I’m still going to support the Mexican Knowledge Base idea

            At a considerable tangent …

            I wrote an sf story a very long time ago in which benevolent aliens had predicted the evolution of intelligence on Earth, created a storehouse of knowledge designed to nudge our civilization, when we and then it developed, in the right direction, and put the storehouse in a location that would be obvious and accessible once we had reached a reasonable level of development.

            They only made one mistake:

            “And he gestured, with one enormous flipper, to the globe of Earth and the giant arrow of the Marianas Trench pointing to where the storehouse, the giant storehouse, lay, six miles deep.”

            Prediction is hard, especially about the future. Mexico might turn out to be the wrong location.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        I see this as a very far fetched possibility.

        How would you tailor a virus to target people with particular alleles? CRISPR/Cas? you have to ensure the virus spreads easily, replicates well in the hosts, and the absolute worst it would do is cause some double-stranded breaks in some minute regions of a minority of a host’s cells? Want to do RNAi? You’re still dealing with off-target effects, especially after the virus mutates.

        How is that going to harm a particular “race”? We have ways of repairing double-stranded breaks. We have ways of ameliorating viral reproduction. And bacteria aren’t even in the same realm with respect to harm as viruses are. The most it would do is spread some terror.

        I’m only a B.S. in Synbio, and don’t study viral/bacterial epidemics, so I could be wrong. Please correct me with the science if I am.

        • James Miller says:

          It seems wrong to share my fears for how this could be done on the Internet.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Do you have a background in biology? If not, your fears are probably ungrounded. If you do you can drop a word or two and it would likely be enough for me to understand what you’re getting at.

          • James Miller says:

            No background in biology, but I do have one in existential risks.

          • James Miller says:

            You not seeing what I’m thinking about means either (1) I’m wrong, or (2) it’s non-obvious enough that I should keep quiet.

          • HFARationalist says:

            @James Miller Are you saying that you don’t want to give genocidal people more ideas?

          • James Miller says:

            HFARationalist,

            Yes. I don’t fear SSC readers, but someone who knows the biology might do an Internet search to see how to do the most damage.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I’d appreciate your discussing this topic with a Biology professor in private, with the knowledge that nothing will be disclosed.

            I, too, have though of various risks that I never talked about with people (such as how easy it is to tamper with food products).

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          My guess is that you couldn’t do a perfect job of wiping out a “race”, but a good approximation (targeting genes for the physical features which are how people generally identify races) which doesn’t kill everyone targeted and does kill some other people will probably be possible.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            But HOW do you target those alleles in a manner which actually kills or greatly debilitates the people carrying those alleles?

            It might work if a population has relatively unique membrane alleles with unique exposed residues, but other than that (or the CRISPR / RNAi mentioned previously) I really don’t see how you can design a virus which predominantly targets a population and does significant harm (on a short time scale) to that population.

            And I straight up don’t see how you’d design a bacteria to target a population at all.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            You’ve obviously thought about this more than I have, and you may well be right.

            The nearest real-world thing I can think of is that there’s a rare gene which confers resistance to HIV if you have one copy and immunity if you have two copies.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innate_resistance_to_HIV

            Biowarfare is harder than it sounds. Frustrations of biology. Funny and reassuring.

            https://eukaryotewritesblog.com/%E2%80%A6/%E2%80%A6/30/book-review-barriers/

          • HFARationalist says:

            @anonymousskimmer and Nancy Lebovitz

            I’m glad that designing race extermination weapons is hard. 🙂

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Thanks Nancy. +1 for the blog link.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            You’re welcome.

            Now that we’re feeling better, onward to the obnoxious question. How long till it will be reasonably easy to do bioweapons? That’s got to be easier that GAI.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Indiscriminate bioweapons we can do now! 😀

          • HFARationalist says:

            @anonymousskimmer Thankfully even indiscriminate ones aren’t usually easy to produce. It usually takes a state to produce effective biological weapons.

            For example Aum Shinrikyo didn’t manage to get any biological weapon.

          • John Schilling says:

            Indiscriminate bioweapons we can do now!

            If you’re willing to settle for killing five people, sure. But if that’s your goal, wouldn’t a revolver be easier?

            Biological and chemical warfare at the mass casualty level, presently requires industrial and scientific capabilities at the small nation-state level. Among other things, it requires the ability to test your proposed new weapons under realistic operational conditions. And no, CRISPR probably isn’t going to change that any time soon.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I said I would avoid reading anything you wrote Kevin C., but will respond to this.

            It’s possible there are biological reasons for the segregation of Chlamydia serovars, I’d have to see the research. I’d assume another likely possibility is effective sexual segregation of the human populations, and not that a particular serovar prefers a particular race.

            Thus, specific serovars may be associated with particular racial groups; either behavioral or biologic factors could explain these findings.

            Even so novel antibiotics are in development which could likely tackle even broad-spectrum antibiotic resistant strains of these bacteria. And if that failed there’s always phage therapy.

    • Loquat says:

      Dude. Dude. Seriously. Dude.

      Basically nobody in the entire world wants to have a global genocidal race war.

      I know you know one guy who says he’s into it, but (a) that’s just one guy, and you probably know a skewed sample, and (b) odds are good he’s just being an edgelord and would not actually support a plan to exterminate the entire population of Africa if it seemed likely to actually happen.

      Also, neither Israel nor any other country is going to nuke all of humanity as ET retaliation; that would be stupid. If someone mounts a sufficiently serious attack on Israel that a nuclear response is called for, they will either know who did it or have some pretty solid guesses, and either way they’re not going to waste nukes and make themselves the bad guys by attacking random third parties like Vietnam or Peru.

      Also also, have you noticed any Nazi-on-steroids violent eliminationists taking over nuclear-armed countries lately? Because I really haven’t seen much worse than the usual strongman dictators who prefer to stay alive and in power and are well aware that’s not going to happen if they start raining nukes everywhere.

      • HFARationalist says:

        I hope you are right. Maybe that’s because you still have hope for humanity? Maybe I have read too much about Nazis and too little about non-Nazis. I wonder why are people still alive, why haven’t everyone been killed, why isn’t there a global mass genocide and why there still exist humans living outside concentration camps.

        I have a weird tendency to only read and care about the harshest messages. Hence I’m obsessed with Nazis and ISIS, wondering why most people are still normal. I like reading about Nazis and ISIS but certainly not about people going to the beach and having fun. To me Nazism, ISIS and other deadly and repressive ideologies are natural while humans just relaxing is not.

        What’s the purpose of a global genocidal race war anyway? Land? Minerals? Safety through extermination of others? Extermination for the sake of extermination? Or..just absolute hatred?

        • eyeballfrog says:

          >I hope you are right. Maybe that’s because you still have hope for humanity? Maybe I have read too much about Nazis and too little about non-Nazis. I wonder why are people still alive, why haven’t everyone been killed, why isn’t there a global mass genocide and why there still exist humans living outside concentration camps.

          >I have a weird tendency to only read and care about the harshest messages. Hence I’m obsessed with Nazis and ISIS, wondering why most people are still normal. I like reading about Nazis and ISIS but certainly not about people going to the beach and having fun. To me Nazism, ISIS and other deadly and repressive ideologies are natural while humans just relaxing is not.

          So in other words your beliefs about human nature are directly contradicted by the available evidence.

      • Randy M says:

        What’s the purpose of a global genocidal race war anyway?

        Point to one, and we can talk about it’s purpose.
        You seem to be saying “Total destruction seems like it should be pretty popular! Why don’t more people try it? And why do so many people want to try it, anyway?”
        There are serious threats, but no one here thinks anyone likely to be able *is* going to want to, and this is a group that is especially concerned with existential threats like paperclip transmutation.

        • HFARationalist says:

          I think money, land or resources does not motivate people to conduct 100% genocides. Even if wiping out 99% of a tribe helps another tribe take its resources wiping out the last 1% can be really costly and does not seem to be useful in getting money, land or resources.

          The only motivations I can think of are religion and hatred. A tribe motivated by theism can do what they otherwise would never bother to do. If “exterminate group A up to the last man, woman and child!” is in the scriptures of a religion and believers actually take it seriously a completely genocide might actually be carried out. Another factor is hatred. People filled with hatred can perform actions that benefit no one.

          Near-complete genocides have more motives. Personally I believe since the most technologically advanced groups aren’t fertile in general money or land are probably not going to be the causes. I mean you might be able to exterminate a nation but you probably won’t find enough settlers from your own race to settle the lands that used to belong to that nation. Nor do I believe that getting resources requires extermination or expulsion of natives at all. Great powers need oil, copper, etc. However nobody actually tried to conduct genocide on all Arabs in the Arabian Peninsula to get some oil. Resources can indeed cause deadly proxy conflicts but not “let’s exterminate all natives!”.

          I have excluded money, land or resources as motives of near-complete genocides. So what are the real ones? I think one of the most plausible ones is a sudden genocidal attack against a powerful tribe for the purpose of freeing oneself from their oppression or domination. The attack has to be stealthy and quick so that the powerful tribe does not have time to counterattack.

  20. Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

    One more thing, this hidden thread doesn’t seem to be particularly well hidden.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Yes, I thought I had to click on an individual post for it to show up, but now it’s just there.

      Scott is on Low Internet Mode so maybe he skipped a step.

  21. alchemy29 says:

    Is there a futures market for musicians? (sorry if this is the wrong terminology) For example if I expect that a particular artist who is not popular will become the next Adele, is there a way to profit off this if I’m right? I assume record labels do something like this – signing contracts is betting on the future success of an artist, but can regular people do it just as we can with companies?

    • J Mann says:

      It’s tough to do a futures market in people’s careers. You could crowdsource loans to promising musicians that pay off only on great success, I guess.

    • Nornagest says:

      Short of, like, becoming their manager or printing a truckload of bootleg merch, I don’t think so.

    • rlms says:

      You could buy things they’ve signed (posters etc.) or limited edition albums, which will appreciate if they take off.

      • alchemy29 says:

        That’s a great idea. I did some cursory eBay searching and a signed Beatle’s Abbey Road album is worth over $2000. A signed Beatles photo is similar. However, they are arguably the biggest artist ever. A signed Whitney Houston album or poster by comparison is only about $800. And a signed Taylor Swift 1989 album is only about $200. Also one of her signed first album is about the same, so there may not be an early mover advantage (though it would be easier and cheaper to get a concert ticket and hence the signature).

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I just finished Peter Thiel’s Zero to One and his description of the difficulties faced by venture capital funds makes me pessimistic about this business model.

      A successful VC fund makes the vast majority of it’s money on one or two big hits among a large number of misses. Unsuccessful funds, i.e. most of them, lose all their money on a large number of misses.

      Thiel believes that this isn’t luck but reflects skill in choosing startups which are most likely to succeed. But even taking him entirely at his word even a skilled venture capitalist is going to pick many more duds than winners. And that’s in a much more tangible field!

      • alchemy29 says:

        Interesting. I wonder if the situation is the same for record labels – do they go through dozens of artists for every successful artist they produce? After a very cursory search, it looks like the number of total artists ever signed to Universal (one of the big 3 record labels) is pretty small – on the order of 1000. Which suggests that major record labels have a decent success rate.

        • Major labels can pick up artists who have already done well on minor labels.

        • crh says:

          Major labels also have lots of resources and power to improve their artists’ chances of success, for example by getting their music played on the radio frequently. Even if Universal is very good at predicting who the public will like, and even if you can become exactly as good, you should expect the artists you pick to be much less successful on average than the artists Universal picks.

    • James says:

      Not exactly in the up-and-coming niche like you seem to be talking about, but: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_bond#Bowie_Bonds

    • crh says:

      There’s a company called Fantex that lets you do something like what you describe, but for professional athletes. I’m not aware of any direct equivalent for musicians, though.

  22. eyeballfrog says:

    So I usually see “LGBT folk”, “trans folk”, “queer folk”, etc, used in favor of “LGBT people”, “trans people”, “queer people”, etc. It stands out to me because “folk” isn’t really a common word anymore and yet it consistently gets used here. Why is this word choice so common?

    • Well... says:

      “People” is speciesist, and offensive to folks who do not identify as humans.

    • J Mann says:

      Because their protest songs are (mostly) terrible.

    • Randy M says:

      It’s funny, I don’t see it in that context much (though I’m not in that context much, but I remember more seeing things like “the LGBT community”) but I do recall it being used as colored folks or the like by Dem politicians during speeches. I think it just tries to signal extra normalcy. Folks are people back home, just living life, maybe not people around you right now, but certainly not anyone to get alarmed by.

    • skef says:

      Google hit counts don’t seem to reflect this observation.

      Of course, “Queer as Folk” was a fairly prominent Showtime series some years back. It was named for the similar British series, which was in turn named because “folk” and “fuck” sound a bit more alike there.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        which was in turn named because “folk” and “fuck” sound a bit more alike there.

        “There’s nowt so queer as folk” is (was?) an actual expression in certain parts of England.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      Not American, but the first US politician I noticed using the term “folks” a lot was Barack Obama, which I assumed was just part of the chummy persona he was trying to cultivate. Maybe it bled over from his speeches?

      • Matt M says:

        I remember Glenn Beck calling this out pretty frequently as an obviously transparent attempt at seeming less elite and privileged.

    • secondcityscientist says:

      “You folks” is a pretty common expression in the parts of the country that resist that foul, insidious contraction “y’all”. If you’re from a place that y’alls, maybe it’s less common there.

      • rahien.din says:

        that foul, insidious contraction “y’all”

        Them’s fightin’ words!

        Edit: I realized after posting that this post may seem insincere, or a demeaning caricature of the people who say “y’all.”

        That could not have been farther from the truth. Those are indeed fighting words. I just want to make my total sincerity clear. To y’all.

        Let’s not get into the lexical horror that is yall, though. That one’s a definitive atrocity of which we need not speak.

    • Art Vandelay says:

      I’ve noticed this as well and been confused by it. Your comment inspired me to have a look around and I found this article which suggests it’s about emphasising the fact that groups are not homogenous.

      “Folks”: a term that refers to groups of people, in the plural, without suggesting that they comprise a singular totality that could be united in one common struggle, which may be precluded by the difference of their experiences and degrees of privilege.

      It seems part of the left’s current obsession with doing divide-and-conquer on itself.

  23. HeelBearCub says:

    Hypothetical scenario. I’m sure some or going to say this isn’t fair, but then I would like to be persuaded how or why.

    Suppose, in a hypothetical contemporary Germany, over the last 20 years:

    a) The government enacted an official segregation policy for Jews and enforced it.

    b) Both the government and private officials erected and commissioned many statues and other likenesses of various Nazi period figures. Most decently sized towns would have a statue of a generic Wehrmacht member, and also common would be Goring & Rommel. There would also be a few of Hitler, usually with the the others.

    When looking on that Germany, would claims that the the statues were just a neutral remembrance of heritage hold any water?

    Why wouldn’t that analogy apply to Confederate monuments?

    • Urstoff says:

      Given that most confederate statues were erected around the turn of the century in response to the end of “carpetbagger” rule, with another significant number put up in the 50’s/60’s in response to the civil rights movement, I don’t think much of an analogy is needed.

      Of interest: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2001/04/12/southern-comfort/

      • The Nybbler says:

        iven that most confederate statues were erected around the turn of the century in response to the end of “carpetbagger” rule, with another significant number put up in the 50’s/60’s in response to the civil rights movement, I don’t think much of an analogy is needed.

        Seems to me these are two rather significantly different categories.

      • hlynkacg says:

        As Nybbler says, I think these are two very different categories.

        Especially once you consider the fact that the turn of the century occurred only 35 years after the war ended. A veteran who fought at Gettysburg on his twentieth birthday would have turned 65 in July of 1908. The war was still very much a part of living memory when many of those monuments were built.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @hlynkcg:
          I mean, if you think it helps your arguments, they can start erecting the monuments and passing the laws in 1975 or 1980.

          Does that make you feel less sure about what the monuments to Rommel, Goring, and Hitler symbolize?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Not really no, the Germans can build monuments to whom they please. It’s not like a statue of Hitler is going to stop us from bombing them flat all over again should they step out of line.

            It also seems to me that there was a burst of WW2 nostalgia and memorial building in the early-mid 90s which I think is understandable considering that it coincided with the “boomers” coming into political/social power and the veterans succumbing to old age.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:

            there was a burst of WW2 nostalgia and memorial building in the early-mid 90s

            Sure, but was there one in Germany? And what form did it take, if any? Were any laws passed relating to civil rights in Germany at that time? What were they?

            It seems to me you aren’t actually engaging with the hypothetical? Or, I am misunderstanding what you mean.

            If Germans passed laws restricting the free movement of Jews and erected monuments to Nazi leaders in leaving memory of the German soldiers who fought in the war, how does that change your intuition about what that would mean about that hypothetical German society?

            ETA:

            It’s not like a statue of Hitler is going to stop us from bombing them flat all over again should they step out of line.

            Note that in the 1900s the North could very well not have simply “bombed the South flat”, and id not do so, when they did eliminate civil rights for black people.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I think your hypothetical is conflates two very different things. You’re treating “monuments” and “passing laws” as equal and inseparable. I don’t think they are. In the absence of Jim Crow, a statue of Lee is just a statue. Ditto a statue of Hitler or Lenin in the absence of a totalitarian police state.

            The federal government’s failure to enforce the 14th amendment is a whole separate issue. If you want to talk about that, you should talk about that.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:
            Again, if you really think it helps your argument, (which actually doesn’t seem to be an argument) you can consider the hypothetical where they only erect statues of members of the Wehrmacht, Goring, Rommel and Hitler.

            We still wouldn’t be confused at why they did so.

            But the addition of the laws is simply further evidence going to motivation and intended meaning. We are allowed to notice patterns of behavior and draw reasonable inferences.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I’m making observation that these things are not necessary related.

            In the hypothetical scenario where Germans erect a bunch of monuments to Nazi-era heroes in the late 80s but otherwise continue as they have, do claims that the statues are not “a neutral remembrance of heritage” hold any water? I don’t think they do.

            Edit: To elaborate…

            There is an implicit argument here that because a “significant number” of confederate monuments were erected in the 60’s in response to the civil rights movement, all monuments must be judged through that lens. I disagree.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:

            do claims that the statues are not “a neutral remembrance of heritage” hold any water? I don’t think they do.

            Frankly, I find this very puzzling.

            You are telling me that if Germans started putting up thousands of statues to those individuals your take would be “I can’t possibly guess why”?

            ETA:
            And if those were coincident with laws denying civil rights to Jews, that this would not have an effect your judgement?

          • Matt M says:

            I think there’s something to be said for wanting to honor famous locals who went on to achieve some level of notoriety, even if they did so for a questionable cause.

            I visited the country of Georgia a few years back and they have a very odd dynamic going on with one Joseph Stalin. On the one hand, you can visit the Soviet Occupation Museum in Tiblisi and receive a very well documented and descriptive account of the evils of the Soviet Union, how they murdered priests, sent dissidents to gulags, and generally oppressed the Georgian people.

            On the other hand, you can visit “the birthplace of Joseph Stalin” and walk through a Stalin museum with a bunch of biographical information and artifacts from his life, that doesn’t really have any mention of mass-murder. It includes a giant Stalin statue outside. (I took a photo of myself giving a middle finger to this statue which remains my most cherished souvenir from the trip). Here, in his hometown, Stalin himself is treated as a “local boy who made it big” the same way a small town in America might honor a local kid who went on to become a famous actor or football player, without necessarily trying to take a strong position on the actual content of the guy’s movies or whether or not football is a great sport.

            In other words, I think it’s understandable bordering on wholly acceptable for Virginians to want to honor Robert E Lee due to his significant achievements in life. A hypothetical Robert E Lee statue erected in Illinois is certainly more problematic and I struggle to think of many non-political reasons such a statue would come to exist in the first place.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ HBC
            No, my take is that the Germans can honor whomever they like. I am in no position to judge as I am neither German nor a mind-reader.

            You’re continuing to treat 2 separate things as one and the same. Would you endorse denying civil rights to Jews so long as any and all hints of Nazism were scrupulously avoided. My guess is that you wouldn’t. So stop equivocating and focus on your true objection.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hylnkacg:
            The meta-argument is about who do we, as a society, honor, and why. Remember these are public statues displayed primarily on public land. They express the combined sentiment of the populace.

            I’m not arguing about whether the Germans have sovereign rights. I’m arguing that the the choice in whom to honor represents a symbolic statement of a society’s values. If Venezuala erects a statue of Lenin, it has symbolic value. If Hugo Chavez erects a statue of Lenin as he is instituting state takeover of the means of production, that symbolic value is more clear. Statues are, literally, symbols.

            So, the more concrete argument is simply about what symbolic value the Confederate statues had when they were erected. You can see the post below where I give that more detail.

          • Matt M says:

            HBC,

            Is “confederates” as a class really appropriate?

            One could say that states, north and south, tend to put up statues of the biggest military heroes from those states in the biggest war that this nation ever fought. It just so happens that in the south, those will be confederates. Is there an implied “anti-Slavery” message associated with a statue of US Grant? Or William T Sherman? (which should be particularly offensive to native Americans)

            It’s also worth noting that these are statues mainly of soldiers and generals. NOT of legislators (who had far more say and influence in the continued prevalence of the existence of slavery) or of say, large plantation owners.

          • hlynkacg says:

            So, the more concrete argument is simply about what symbolic value the Confederate statues had when they were erected.

            I feel that this was addressed both in my opening reply and in Matt’s comments above.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            I don’t think most confederate generals really qualify as famous. Maybe if it was just Lee and no one else…

            That said, former drug lord Pablo Escobar has an honored gravesite in his hometown. I found out about this because an American rapper famous for smoking weed (Wiz Khalifa) went to honor the gravesite and posted a picture of him smoking weed to honor Pablo…apparently the town felt doing drugs at the gravesite of a literal drug lord was disrespectful, and they demanded an apology. So people apparently can be very weird about these things. But I can’t imagine it applies to anyone but the very famous, and only Lee qualifies there. From what I hear, there are a lot more monuments of just generic “confederate generals”, most of who I bet no one outside of the town can name.

          • Protagoras says:

            @AnonYEmous, Jackson is also pretty famous. After that, you may be right; Longstreet seems to me to be somewhat known, and Forrest somewhat infamous, but I may overestimate because I’m a bit of a history buff. Past them, it looks to me like the names do become pretty obscure.

          • Matt M says:

            Yes. Of course a monument to an obscure general in that general’s hometown is, IMO, an entirely different statement than a monument to an obscure general in some random town he’s not really affiliated with in every way.

            The first seems harmless to me and is likely about local pride. The second is, best case scenario, “southern pride”, but might very well also denote some sense of bigotry, I dunno.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Of course a monument to an obscure general in that general’s hometown is, IMO, an entirely different statement than a monument to an obscure general in some random town he’s not really affiliated with in every way.

            Maybe I was unclear, but I was responding to this argument:

            I think there’s something to be said for wanting to honor famous locals who went on to achieve some level of notoriety, even if they did so for a questionable cause.

            Obscure confederate generals, by definition, didn’t achieve any real level of notoriety. They’re not famous. Even the history buff admits this. Oh, and the statues were, in the main, erected long after the war, so the argument in your other post that it was just war hero statuary doesn’t exactly fit either.

            Face it fam, they were erected to make a statement of separatism in the era of coming-togetherness. That’s all it is. Just accept it, take the L, and move on to more fruitful territory.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ AnonYEmous
            I feel like you’re using an oddly narrow definition of “famous”.

          • AnonYEmous says:

            Maybe. But come on, just because they were a general in a war? One who no one knows about and didn’t do anything especially important?

            Feel free to dispute my argument, I acknowledge it’s personally based, but I think it stands.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I assure you that someone from Podunk Alabama who makes the rank of general will be famous in Podunk.

            Your argument assumes that fame is both universal and readily quantifiable. It isn’t. Being famous in Podunk Alabama is not the same as being famous in NYC which in turn is not the same thing as being famous in Bejing China, or the African bush.

          • Matt M says:

            What hlyn said.

            I grew up near a very small town in Oregon. They have a small plaque dedicated to their most famous hometown kid, he was like, the starting right tackle for the New York Giants during one of the Super Bowls a few years ago.

            Even at the height of his fame “most people” probably had no idea who he was. Even right now I can’t remember his name. 100 years from now he may not even have a Wikipedia entry anymore.

            But if 100 years from now we decide that football was an evil and barbaric sport, it would be bizarre to conclude that “surely the reason this town put this plaque up in the first place was to honor evil barbarism – why else would they honor such a figure?”

    • The original Mr. X says:

      When looking on that Germany, would claims that the the statues were just a neutral remembrance of heritage hold any water?
      Why wouldn’t that analogy apply to Confederate monuments?

      I’d say that monuments have the meaning people ascribe to them.* In the case of Confederate monuments, many of them were originally meant to signify support for segregation, but practically nobody thinks of them that way now (or practically nobody did, until the media started whipping up a fuss over the topic). In the case of the Nazi monuments, the people setting them up would most likely be the same people who drafted, passed and enforced anti-Semitic laws, so claims that they didn’t think of anti-Semitism when setting up statues to famous anti-Semites would be implausible. On the other hand, if after several generations people stop seeing the monuments as anti-Semitic and instead come to look on them as simply neutral remembrances of German history, then they would indeed become neutral remembrances rather than symbols of anti-Semitism.

      (* Actually I’m not entirely sure I’d say that, but I don’t think it’s an obviously wrong position to hold.)

      • Iain says:

        Working within this framework: why would it matter if people only saw Confederate monuments as support for segregation because of the media whipping up a fuss? Regardless of cause, it’s clear that a large number of people today do see them that way. If you are prepared to let the perceived meaning shift from racist to non-racist, why can’t it shift back?

        Or in other words: if statues have the meaning that people ascribe to them, how could you ever be justified in claiming that somebody is getting the meaning of the statue wrong?

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          I’d say they aren’t “wrong.” The issue is the redefinition has been carried out by agitators obsessed with fighting a trivial battle for no particular reason instead of leaving well enough alone.

        • Charles F says:

          Or in other words: if statues have the meaning that people ascribe to them, how could you ever be justified in claiming that somebody is getting the meaning of the statue wrong?

          Suppose I travel to the south and see a bunch of statues of people I associate with slavery and racism. Then I go home and tell everybody that in Georgia they glorify racism and build monuments to slavers. I’ve accurately judged the meaning of the statue to me, but then projected that meaning onto people who might be immortalizing entirely different concepts for the 99% of people who see the statues who are locals.

          So, I think the reason it might matter is that if we stopped going out of our way to take offense at faraway monuments, the meanings might shift back to something more benign than what we’ve made of them. Though, whether the meanings actually were benign before lefties/media started agitating, I don’t know.

          • Iain says:

            It seems worth pointing out that white nationalists came from across the country to defend the Lee statue in Charlottesville, and the people protesting them were mostly locals. More broadly: I haven’t done a ton of research, but my impression is that the majority of monuments are being removed by city councils, presumably at the behest of (some portion of) their citizenry. I don’t think “going out of our way to take offense at faraway monuments” is a fair assessment of the situation.

          • Brad says:

            There’s been some demographic changes in a lot of parts of the former confederacy. Large cities in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia are getting a bunch of migration for jobs from all over the country and the world. And the entire old south, including smaller cities and rural areas, are getting African-American inflows from northern cities in a reversal of the Great Migration, driven by job losses and high living costs.

          • Charles F says:

            @Iain
            I agree it’s probably not an accurate assessment. But we were taking as an assumption that the media coverage was the cause of the bad affect. And I think in that case, there’s a good argument for just leaving well enough alone.

            @Brad
            So, should this be discussed using the same sort of framework as gentrification? Just replacing economic power with cultural/moralizing power. With newcomers to the area displacing the preexisting culture and values and making it hostile to the natives?

          • Brad says:

            Maybe. It certainly isn’t the only phenomenon of its kind. I think states out west have gone through similar uncomfortable transformations a number times given the many waves of migration they had.

            In the event, my personal take on gentrification is — it kind of sucks for the people being pushed out, but such is life. Every proposed solution I’ve was far worse.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Working within this framework: why would it matter if people only saw Confederate monuments as support for segregation because of the media whipping up a fuss? Regardless of cause, it’s clear that a large number of people today do see them that way. If you are prepared to let the perceived meaning shift from racist to non-racist, why can’t it shift back?

          It can, but it hasn’t yet, hence the fact that removing the statues is controversial.

          Or in other words: if statues have the meaning that people ascribe to them, how could you ever be justified in claiming that somebody is getting the meaning of the statue wrong?

          In the same way that I can claim both that words mean what people use them to mean, and that somebody’s using a word wrongly.

      • secondcityscientist says:

        many of them were originally meant to signify support for segregation, but practically nobody thinks of them that way now

        Have you asked any black southerners about that? I’ve lived in the midwest my whole life so haven’t had the chance; there’s no statues to Robert E Lee in northeastern Illinois. I suspect you’d get a different view of pro-Confederacy statuary from the people they were meant to intimidate. Not directly related to statues, but Senator Carol Mosley Braun opposed an official recognition of Confederate imagery back in 1993, if you want a perspective that’s recent but not related to current controversies.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Actually Germany has a real life issue which is both more analogous and less inflammatory: monuments to the pre-WWI German empire and things named after the Kaisers.

      The Max Planck Society was originally the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, and the Max Planck Institutes were likewise the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes. In 1948 both were rechristened with their now-familiar names.

      Similarly, during denazification many monuments to Otto van Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm and other revered figures of the Kingdom of Prussia and German empire which had been built over the previous centuries were demolished by occupying forces.

      The Germans today seem rather fond of their remaining monuments: they’ve certainly paid a lot to restore them. But one could also argue that, since nostalgia for the empire was a contributing factor to the rise of the Nazis, the remaining ones need to go too. So where do you come down on this?

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Because no analogy to Nazis applies, since the Nazis are uniquely evil.

      • hoghoghoghoghog says:

        This is uncharitable to the Nazis. We like to joke about green pointy fanged monsters, but they weren’t really that. They were perfectly capable of arguing their case like reasonable people, and were able to win 36% of the vote fair and square. Nazi analogies are famously overused, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with them.

        • Mark says:

          I’m wondering if the Nazi’s pre-war treatment of the Jews was worse than American treatment of blacks?

          • Randy M says:

            You mean, in the antibellum south during the height of slavery? I’m not too solid on Nazi timelines, but I’d say that’s plausible based on the impression that work camps or worse didn’t start until after the war.

          • Mark says:

            No, I mean the 1930s.

          • ilikekittycat says:

            Once you get to the level of “random periodic spasms of violence against your kind” I’m not sure you can really split the hair anymore…

            How to even evaluate “maybe if you become a dedicated Fascist and lover of German kultur and get them to overlook Jewish ancestry you can have a middle class life in a modern industrialized nation” vs. “life in a much more stable/predictable rural society, where the greatest telos you can reach is comfortable cattle”

          • rlms says:

            I think the comparison was the 1930s for both.

          • Mark says:

            From Woodrow Wilson on, there was de-facto absolute discrimination against black federal workers. There was also massive discrimination against black doctors and lawyers, as well as a ban on inter-racial marriage and other widespread discrimination.
            On the other hand, there were black businesses, there were black lawyers and doctors, and no laws banning them. There were pogroms in both nations – Krystalnacht vs. Tulsa race riots.

            The impression I get is that the Nazis were more explicit about their anti-Jewish policies and that those policies were more extreme – Jewish actors are banned, but America has Paul Robeson.

            So, Nazis seem worse to me.

          • rlms says:

            I don’t know enough about either issue to make any strong conclusions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer changes if you change “American treatment” to “Southern American treatment”, or “in the 1930s” to “in the 1920s” (looking at tables of lynchings by year, there were a lot more from 1900 to the mid 20s than in the 30s).

          • Evan Þ says:

            @rlms, not even so. There were Black-owned small businesses; there were Black people who legally owned firearms; there were Black colleges; there was free migration to the North without any exit tax.

          • rlms says:

            @Evan Þ
            Up until the Nuremberg laws, there were state-employed Jewish professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers etc. (source). Jews were allowed to leave Germany, since that was what the Nazis wanted. Unlike the US, before then there were also no anti-miscegenation laws, and Jewish students were allowed to attend public schools (albeit in quota-restricted numbers). Overall, I’m inclined to say that the statutory discrimination against American from 1933-1935 was worse than that against German Jews in the same period. But I don’t know how non-statutory factors compare, and I think they could be more important. How likely was a random crime by a white/German against a black/Jew to be punished, and how frequently were blacks/Jews unjustly framed?

          • Evan Þ says:

            @rlms, well, if you’re talking about the early 1930’s, before the Nazis had put all their policies into place…

          • rlms says:

            @Evan Þ
            The period between the seizure of power in 1933 and the Nuremberg laws in 1935 wasn’t exactly nice for German Jews. But I’d argue that even after that, statutory discrimination against Jews was arguably worse. Post-Nuremberg, they had comparable anti-miscegenation laws, but laws preventing Jews using public schools, theatres etc. (comparable to segregation) weren’t put in place until 1938.

        • Urstoff says:

          I think we’ve gone down the rabbit hole of sarcasm and emerged on the other side.

          • hoghoghoghoghog says:

            Not being sarcastic, just steelmanning an antifa claim (that some normal political movements look a lot like Nazis) by saying it backwards (Nazis look a lot like a normal political movement). The claim that the Nazis were totally unique is very convenient for nationalists and I don’t want to leave it totally unchallenged (just like Pol Pot probably had something to do with communism).

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            The Nazis acting like a normal political party does not mean the Nazis are not uniquely evil. The two don’t have anything to do with each other.

            The Confederacy is not uniquely evil, as there were multiple governments at the time that explicitly defended slavery. For instance, the government the Confederates fought also permitted slavery. Just because they are BAD GUYS, does not mean they are THE WORST GUYS IN HISTORY.

            If you want to go into the territory of actual nuance, the Nazis really aren’t uniquely evil because other societies have also implemented industrial genocide, but the Nazis should still be considered uniquely evil because they were a civilized European government doing it, and not a Biblical kingdom, a Middle Eastern ethnic empire, or a barely functional overpopulated African state.

          • lvlln says:

            The Nazis acting like a normal political party does not mean the Nazis are not uniquely evil. The two don’t have anything to do with each other.

            This seems true to me.

            It also seems to follow that if one claims that any normal political party or movement acts a lot like Nazis, then we can’t then conclude that that normal political party or movement is also evil like Nazis, because the Nazis’ unique evilness doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that the way Nazis act similar to that normal political party or movement.

    • Mark says:

      I think it’s an excellent analogy.

      The problem is, cultural practice is nowhere determined primarily by considerations of universal justice. It’s determined by local custom and opinion.

      If I think your grandpa was a horrible man, do I have the right to deface his tomb? Maybe. Maybe, if what he did to me was unspeakably evil. That’s understandable.
      But if your practice requires that you protect that tomb, is it really the best thing for me to pursue my vengeance?
      Domination or compromise. I think it depends on passion as well. I don’t think we should think that defacing the tomb is the moral high ground. It’s an understandable act of passion.

    • John Schilling says:

      Why wouldn’t that analogy apply to Confederate monuments?

      Because we don’t have a time machine to go back a hundred years and tear down the Confederate monuments at the height of Jim Crow, and if we did I’d ask why you are wasting time with the monuments when there are all the actual black people who you could be helping.

      Anyone whose monuments you can tear down, is someone whose monuments you don’t need to tear down.

      • hlynkacg says:

        Well said.

      • Matt M says:

        Anyone whose monuments you can tear down, is someone whose monuments you don’t need to tear down.

        Which is precisely why I believe the true justification of tearing these things down is for the blue tribe to show its dominance and control over the red tribe, rather than out of genuine concern for the hurt feelings of black people who may feel marginalized in seeing them.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Anyone whose monuments you can tear down, is someone whose monuments you don’t need to tear down.

        This argument is far too facile.

        Absurdly, when I erect a statue of BHO on your front lawn, are you bound to keep it up because you can tear it down? Of course not.

        Is every single piece of public art that is erected bound to stay in place forever? Can any of them be taken down or moved? Again, this is absurd.

        • “don’t need to” doesn’t translate as “are not permitted to.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well then, it’s not an argument against taking down monuments, is it?

            If his position is “We aren’t required to take down monuments, but it is perfectly fine if we do” that leaves him with no objection to people who wish to remove the monuments and successfully petition for their removal.

          • kjohn says:

            Its not an argument against taking down the monuments, but it is an argument against any arguments that it needs to be torn down or that there is some great virtue in tearing it down compared to any other public art.

            If you just find the statues ugly or what-have-you then is there really any need for the powerful and the media to go on a nation-wide crusade ratrher than simply compromising?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I find them offensive in their current context. That is the argument for tearing them down.

            You may not find them offensive. You have had the statues in their current context for 50 to 150 years without compromising with those who found them offensive.

            You don’t offer compromise now. You offer to leave them exactly as they are.

          • kjohn says:

            The compromise is not trying tear down your monuments. Or everything else you have that we find offensive.

            (Out of curiosity – since its related to broader points – when you claim that compromise ought to be about giving you* most of what you* want in exchange for your* ceasing hostilities for a time are your being sincere?)

            *non-specific ‘you’s.

          • Matt M says:

            The compromise is not trying tear down your monuments. Or everything else you have that we find offensive.

            Right. And it looks like this is where we’re going. Given that the left isn’t going to stop tearing things down, the right has decided to adopt their own similar strategy and go from “defend our monuments” to “tear the left’s monuments down.”

            Hence, the push to remove the Lenin statue in Seattle. Hence, the loud disruptions of Julius Caesar Trump in New York. Whether this is a better outcome than what we had before is certainly up for debate…

          • hlynkacg says:

            I think it’s unambiguously worse, but I don’t see any real alternatives either.

            Trump was absolutely correct to ask “where does this stop?”

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I prefer to ask, “Where does it start?”

            Benedict Arnold deserves a sincere memorial to his noble intentions.

            A hero of the war, libeled by his naysayers, “Arnold was frustrated and bitter at this, as well as with the alliance with France and the failure of Congress to accept Britain’s 1778 proposal to grant full self-governance in the colonies.” (wikipedia).

            Had he been successful thousands of lives would have been saved and Slavery would have been ruled illegal in the colonies decades before it was – and possibly without a Civil War.

            He deserves more than a mere boot statue.

            (This is tongue-in-cheek)

          • The Nybbler says:

            Benedict Arnold deserves a sincere memorial to his noble intentions.

            Absolutely. I suggest a port-a-potty.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            I know you’re being facetious, but I would vastly prefer a world where Lee and Arnold both get monuments to one where moral busybodies go around tearing other people’s monuments down.

          • Matt M says:

            The real question is, if someone built a statue to Arnold in England, would we now demand it be torn down?

            Is it inappropriate for them to honor someone who was on the losing side? Who fought against political self-determination?

    • J Mann says:

      I wouldn’t say they were neutral; I would say they’re German history. Actually, I really admire how hard the Germans have worked specifically not to forget their history, although I don’t know what became of the Nazi monuments.

    • dodrian says:

      I would echo Mr. X’s comments above: meaning changes over time, and depends highly on context.

      Consider a few words in the English language: Geek, nerd, redneck, queer. All of these were slurs at one time that have for the most part been reclaimed and embraced by the groups they describe. The N-word can be horribly offensive, or dropped casually depending on who says it and in what context.

      In a not-hypothetical example: to some the confederate battle flag genuinely represents Southern culture – individual freedom, Country music, Dukes of Hazzard, NASCAR, biscuits and gravy, and the flag is flown as a symbol of pride. To others it’s a reminder of slavery, racism and Jim Crow, and unfortunately it’s also sometimes flown to represent these values. To some General Lee represents bravery, duty and patriotism, to others he represents oppression, folly and rebellion.

      Is one interpretation correct and another false? No – both exist side by side. To move forward, those who fly the flag with positive intentions need to recognize that they have neighbors who can’t avoid seeing it negatively. Those who want to remove statues to confederate soldiers need to acknowledge that there will be people genuinely offended by this, and not because of racist motivations. Life is complicated, there’s no easy solution.

      • Aapje says:

        The N-word can be horribly offensive, or dropped casually depending on who says it and in what context.

        I think that ‘nerd’ can be said in pretty much any context.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      @The Original Mr. X, @A Definite Beta Guy, @Mark, @John Schilling, @J Mann, @dodrian:

      I think you are misunderstanding the application of the analogy.

      No one is questioning what these hypothetical monuments would mean to the Germans who contemporaneously erected them, and yet I have seen the argument forwarded quite frequently that Southerners who erected these statues did so merely to commemorate their dead, and for no other reason, and not as a means of reasserting the ideology which lead to the civil war in the first place.

      And, indeed, if we examine the language used contemporaneously we can see additional evidence. For instance, at the dedication of the statue honoring the Confederate soldiers (“Silent Sam”) on the campus of UNC, speeches were given. UNC has provided archived copies of at least some of the text. I think the full text is available somewhere but I have not turned it up.

      “The present generation, I am presuaded, scarcely take note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South. When “the bottom rail was on the top” all over the Southern states, and to-day, as a consequence, the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States — Praise God.

      I trust I may be pardoned for one allusion, howbeit it is rather personal. One hundred yards from where we stand, less than 90 days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because on the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison, and for thirty nights afterward slept with a double-barrel shot gun under my head.”

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Surely the meaning people give the statues today is more relevant than the meaning given by those who erected them?

        • hlynkacg says:

          Is it?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          A: That statues signifies slavery and Jim Crow to me
          B: They put it up pay tribute to our Southern heritage.
          A: The Southern heritage they were paying tribute to was the one where white people subjugated black people.
          B: It doesn’t matter why they put it up. What matters is what it means today.
          A: That’s what I just said.

          This becomes a circular argument.

          • random832 says:

            The argument for the statues basically boils down to “The only meaning that matters is the one that people who like it say they assign to it. Therefore nothing is ever bad actually.”

          • Matt M says:

            random,

            I don’t think that’s quite it.

            I think the anti-statue argument often is not merely “This statue represents slavery to me therefore it must go,” but rather “This statue represents the desire of white people to oppress me.” This is not merely an appeal to one’s own emotion, but an implication of ill intent on the part of statue supporters.

            To put it another way, if one could know with 100% certainty that nobody flying a confederate flag on their truck actually meant it as a symbol of racism… that in every single case it was intended to be a harmless expression of “southern pride” or whatever, would people still object to it in the same way as they do now? I feel like a large part of the argument now is “The supporters do this thing to be racist – they won’t just admit it.” So whether they’re actually doing it to be racist does seem relevant to the argument.

          • kjohn says:

            Bad? Things can certainly be bad, but the Democrats are trying to pass a law demandng that states replace the confederate-individual statues that they donated with others. You don’t need to demand everything you deem ‘bad’ be shipped away.

            One meaning that matters is the one the people who like it assign to it, and tolerance ought to be considered.

    • kjohn says:

      One reason that the hypothesis is unfair is the same reason calling them ‘confederacy statues’ is unfair. The left aren’t just removing statues of confederacy figures, and there not just removing statues erected in particularly ‘problematic’ times.

      The best illustration of what the anti-staue people actually object to is the Taney statue. Thus the better metaphor is ‘should any existant statues of Weimar Republic figures (that were not actively anti-Nazi) be torn down’ and the answer to that seems obviously ‘no’.

  24. Mark says:

    Whatever happened to that thing where the DNC were paying violent protesters to disrupt trump rallies?

    • Urstoff says:

      The same thing that happened to that pizza place that had an underground sex dungeon.

      • MrApophenia says:

        By the way, if you ever get the chance, try that place’s pizza. It’s really good (if a bit too pricey), and the dungeon entrance is so well-hidden and soundproofed you’d never know it’s there.

      • Iain says:

        A) I see no sign that this woman has anything to do with the DNC. As far as I can tell, she was inciting pro bono.
        B) This is a clear counter-example to people who keep claiming that antifa never face consequences or arrest.

        • rlms says:

          Kind? Necessary? True?

        • hlynkacg says:

          Granted she has no direct ties to the DNC (that we know of), but she was a delegate in the California state convention. Likewise, over a year elapsed between the event in question and Felarca being charged with a crime, despite the fact that her face and name were known on the day of.

  25. Nabil ad Dajjal says:

    This is going to get into some inflammatory topics, specifically the murder of children by their parents and Donald Trump, so I’m going to rot13 it and ask people to try not to flame.

    Fb n pbhcyr pb-jbexref naq V jrer gnyxvat nobhg fbzr FS obbx jurer na NV unq gevrq gb cerirag jne ol ubyqvat gur puvyqera bs jbeyq yrnqref ubfgntr. Vs nal gjb pbhagevrf jrag gb jne, gur NV jbhyq xvyy gur bssfcevat bs obgu fvqrf’ yrnqref.

    Bar thl fcbxr hc naq fnvq fbzrguvat nybat gur yvarf gung vg jbhyq arire jbex orpnhfr jbeyq yrnqref jbhyq whzc ng gur punapr gb xvyy Qbanyq Gehzc We rira vs vg pbfg gur yvirf bs gurve bja xvqf. V jnf chmmyrq naq nfxrq uvz vs ur frevbhfyl gubhtug gung nalbar ungrq gur Gehzcf zber guna gurl ybirq gurve puvyqera. Ur erfcbaqrq gung ur sryg gung jnl.

    V erohxrq uvz ohg gung fgngrzrag vf fgvyy obgurevat zr. V’z abg rknpgyl n uvccl ohg V yvgrenyyl pna’g vzntvar n ungr gung vagrafr. Vg qvfgheof zr gb guvax nobhg vg.

    V thrff V jnf envfrq gb rzcunfvmr snzvyl yblnygl zber guna zbfg Nzrevpnaf ohg V pna’g frr znxvat n genqr yvxr gung nf nalguvat yrff guna zbafgebhf. Crbcyr urer graq gb ovg ohyyrgf ba gurfr fbegf bs guvatf fb uryc zr haqrefgnaq: jul jbhyq fbzrbar srry guvf jnl?

    • powerfuller says:

      Jul abg whfg nccbvag puvyqyrff yrnqref va guvf fvghngvba? Bgurejvfr, gur Cbcr nybar unf pnegr oynapur gb ynhapu nyy bs gur Ingvpna ahxrf!

      Ohg gb erfcbaq gb gur dhrfgvba — V qba’g haqrefgnaq vg, rvgure, hayrff lbh nffhzr gung zbfg jbeyq yrnqref ner fbpvbcnguf jub qba’g npghnyyl ybir gurve puvyqera. V pna’g vzntvar qbvat fhpu n guvat zlfrys, naq vs V xarj bs n zna jub pbhyq unir, fnl, fgbccrq gur Ubybpnhfg ng gur rkcrafr bs uvf puvyqera naq qrpyvarq gb, V qba’g guvax V pbhyq oynzr uvz.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        Lrnu gung obbx’f cybg fbhaqrq ernyyl qhzo. Vg’f boivbhfyl abg n jbexnoyr cyna sbe znal ernfbaf orlbaq oyvaq ungr.

        Gur bayl jnl vg ernyyl znxrf frafr gb zr vf vs gur NV jnf gelvat gb havgr uhznavgl va bccbfvgvba gb vgfrys, Mreb Erdhvrz fglyr.

      • Iain says:

        V pna’g vzntvar qbvat fhpu n guvat zlfrys, naq vs V xarj bs n zna jub pbhyq unir, fnl, fgbccrq gur Ubybpnhfg ng gur rkcrafr bs uvf puvyqera naq qrpyvarq gb, V qba’g guvax V pbhyq oynzr uvz.

        Tvira gur bcgvba gb fgbc gur Ubybpnhfg ol fnpevsvpvat lbhe bja puvyqera, vg vf haqrefgnaqnoyr gb qrpyvar — ohg lbh jbhyq cebonoyl abg irurzragyl erohxr n crefba jub znqr gur fnpevsvpr. Vaqrrq, V guvax vg pbhyq cynhfvoyl or qrfpevorq nf urebvp.

        Gur qvssrerapr urer vf gung, rira vs lbh guvax Gehzc vf nf onq nf gur Ubybpnhfg — naq juvyr V’z pregnvayl ab Gehzc sna, V guvax gung’f cercbfgrebhf — xvyyvat uvf fba qbrfa’g npghnyyl qb nalguvat. Whavbe frrzf yvxr n ovg bs n gjvg, ohg gung qbrfa’g erzbgryl whfgvsl zheqrevat uvz whfg gb fcvgr uvf sngure.

        Guvf frrzf yvxr cbbeyl gubhtug-bhg gbhtuthlvfz, engure guna n qrsrafvoyr zbeny senzrjbex.

      • Jiro says:

        Consider that in real life, kings often were able to kill their children for their own benefit. Of course, the children often plotted against them and that’s why the kings had to do that, but it still shows as a general principle that rulers would be able to kill their children for their own safety.

        Also, if you set this up you construct a system which gives the advantage to ruthless people.

        • Consider that in real life, kings often were able to kill their children for their own benefit.

          What historical examples were you thinking of? I think all of Henry II’s legitimate sons rebelled against him at one point or another, and he never killed any of them.

          The Ottoman practice was for the sultan to kill off any brothers who might be rivals, but I don’t remember that extending to sons.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            For some reason I knew that Ivan The Terrible killed his kids.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @Edward Scissorhands

            Kid, singular, his adult son Ivan Ivanovich. Ivan Vasilyevich (Ivan the Terrible) was infamously prone to extremely violent outbursts of rage/instability later in life, and his relationship with Ivan Ivanovich had been deteriorating for some time, with them arguing over military and personal matters.

            As I understand it, Ivan the father flew into one of those violent outbursts when he saw Ivan the son’s wife wearing light/revealing clothing and started assaulting her. His son came running and physically interceded and started screaming back at Ivan the father. It turned into a mutual screaming match covering their recent arguments, family drama, etc, and then Ivan the Terrible struck his son upside the skull with his scepter (not sure if once or repeatedly). A senior member of court was there and tried to intervene, but Ivan started beating him too.

            Ivan Ivanovich collapsed, at which point Ivan Vasilyevich dropped the scepter and rushed to help while weeping, but of course by that point it was too late. As with a lot of domestically violent people, it’s always easy to go “Oh my god I’m so sorry” AFTER it’s too late.

            There’s a fairly famous painting of the aftermath, and though it was painted centuries later and probably ahistoric as hell it’s always stuck with me.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      the murder of children by their parents and Donald Trump

      Jeez, that’s an extremely specific inflammatory topic. What a difference a comma would have made 😛

    • Salem says:

      He’s lying.

      Or rather, he’s performing. The next time you meet your co-worker’s wife, ask him to repeat what he said in front of her. See how he hemms and hawws.

      The question is not why he feels that way, but why he claims to feel that way. And this is just a boring answer about social incentives and cheap talk. It’s the same reason people claim to be literally shaking, or thrilled to make your acquaintance.

    • John Schilling says:

      Whfg gb pynevsl: Lbhe sevraq nffregvat guvf cbfvgvba, qbrf ur npghnyyl unir puvyqera? Zvabe puvyqera jub yvir jvgu uvz naq uvf jvsr, be lbhat nqhygf npghnyyl envfrq ol fnzr, nf bccbfrq gb n zbaguyl puvyq fhccbeg cnlzrag sebz fbzr ybat-ntb syvat? Vs fb, lrnu, V’z xvaq bs onssyrq.

      Ohg frr Ntnzrzaba naq Vcuvtravn. Nf cbyvpl, guvf qbrfa’g jbex orpnhfr fbpvbcnguf rkvfg, arne-fbpvbcnguf rkvfg naq gur fgnxrf vaibyirq ner uvtu rabhtu gb chfu gurz bire gur rqtr, naq jung unccraf jura n jbeyq yrnqre’f bayl puvyq trgf uvg ol n gehpx (be xvyyrq va n cynltebhaq nppvqrag svtugvat jvgu eviny jbeyq yrnqre’f puvyq ng Ubfgntr Ryrzragnel Fpubby?).

      Nf n jnl bs ribxvat onssyvatyl rkgerzr ungerq sbe Qbanyq Gehzc, nccneragyl vg jbexf.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        Ab xvqf lrg ohg ur fnvq gung ur jnagf gurz.

        Ur’f tnl fb V’z nffhzvat gung ur naq uvf cnegare jbhyq nqbcg.

        V qba’g unir xvqf rvgure, NSNVX, ohg gur vqrn vf fgvyy fvpxravat gb guvax nobhg. Vs vg unq vaibyirq npghny syrfu-naq-oybbq puvyqera V’q yvxr gb oryvrir gung V jbhyq unir qbar n ybg zber guna whfg pnyy uvz bhg ba vg!

        • skef says:

          Ab xvqf lrg ohg ur fnvq gung ur jnagf gurz.

          Ur’f tnl fb V’z nffhzvat gung ur naq uvf cnegare jbhyq nqbcg.

          Vs lbh’er jbaqrevat nobhg guvf thl’f npghny nggvghqrf, nf bccbfrq gb gur hasbeghangr fragvzrag, zl thrff vf gung vg jbhyq gnxr dhvgr n ovg zber, naq zber fcrpvsvp, rssbeg gb trg guvf thl bhg bs vebal/ulcreobyr zbqr. Ur zvtug abg rira or njner bs jung ur’f qbvat, nf vs gur pbashfrq jnl fbzr crbcyr hfr “yvgrenyyl” jrer fcernq bire uvf ragver fcrpgehz bs pbzzhavpngvba.

          Vs va gur pynevslvat cneg bs gur gnyx ur jnf fcrnxvat jvgu n ybg bs natre, engure guna va n qrgnpurq jnl be jvgu srne be whfg rzcungvpnyyl, gung jbhyq pbhag ntnvafg guvf nffrffzrag.

        • John Schilling says:

          Ab xvqf lrg ohg ur fnvq gung ur jnagf gurz.

          Ur’f tnl fb V’z nffhzvat gung ur naq uvf cnegare jbhyq nqbcg.

          Abj lbh’ir tbg zr jbaqrevat, va n qvfgheovat fbeg bs jnl, whfg jung ur jnagf xvqf sbe. Ohg uvf cerfrag zvaqfrg vf nyzbfg pregnvayl fb sne erzbirq sebz npghny sngureubbq gung V jbhyqa’g gnxr uvf jbeqf nf nalguvat zber guna eurgbevp be fvtanyyvat. Ur’f cneg bs Grnz #ArireGehzc, naq Grnz #ArireGehzc vf qrsvarq ol ungvat Gehzc zber guna nalguvat, fb jr ungr Gehzc zber guna jr ungr gur vqrn bs fnpevsvpvat bhe ragveryl ulcbgurgvpny puvyqera, evtug? Qba’g jnag gb nccrne jrnx urer.

          Vs na npghny sngure fnlf fbzrguvat yvxr guvf, gura nf Fnyrz fhttrfgf, nfx uvz gb ercrng vg gb uvf jvsr. Vs fur nterrf, onpx dhvrgyl njnl naq ybbx sbe gur arnerfg rkvg.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Abj lbh’ir tbg zr jbaqrevat, va n qvfgheovat fbeg bs jnl, whfg jung ur jnagf xvqf sbe.

            V unq n fvzvyne gubhtug ohg vg’f bar bs gubfr dhrfgvbaf gung’f abg fhccbfrq gb bpphe gb lbh.

          • Standing in the Shadows says:

            V vzzrqvngryl gubhtug gur fnzr guvat, ohg vg’f bar bs gubfr PEVZRFGBC guvatf bar vf abg fhccbfrq gb guvax, rfcrpvnyyl tvira guvf thl’f frkhny bevragngvba.

    • Mark says:

      Gehzc xarj gung gur qrzbpengf jrer gbhtu, abg gb or gevsyrq jvgu, fb ur yrg gurz xabj ur zrnag ohfvarff. Ur gryyf gurz ur jnagf n jnyy, n ernyyl terng jnyy. Gur qrzbpengf ybbxrq ng gurve puvyqera’f snprf. Gura gurl fubjrq guvf zna bs jvyy jung jvyy ernyyl jnf.

    • Randy M says:

      I have an easier time believing that you are telling this as a lie than that the person you are talking about would admit that as a truth. So I disbelieve unless someone here says they feel the same way.

      The novel you refer to was probably loosely based on stories like Theon Greyjoy in GoT, and whatever real world analogs to this type of rival fosterage may have exisited. I am also reminded of this story, from wikpedia (but also memorably referenced in my favorite ERB video):

      Dzhugashvili [Josef Stalin’s eldest son] served as an artillery officer in the Red Army and was captured on 16 July 1941[6] in the early stages of the German invasion of USSR at the Battle of Smolensk. The Germans later offered to exchange Yakov for Friedrich Paulus, the German Field Marshal captured by the Soviets after the Battle of Stalingrad, but Stalin turned the offer down, allegedly saying, “I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant.”

      • MrApophenia says:

        The most recent episode of Hardcore History touches on this a bit – apparently when Julius Caesar was conquering Gaul, one of his primary means of making sure tribal leaders behaved was to have one of their kids as an honored guest of Rome, who would be killed immediately if you step out of line.

        According to Carlin this was an extremely common form of diplomacy through lots of eras and lots of parts of the world, and it probably wouldn’t have been if it didn’t work at least a decent portion of time.

        • Randy M says:

          Yes, now that you mention Rome, I think Constantine was also a party to similar treatment. Another effect of it, besides deterrence, would have been to propagandize to the conquered nations or rival house’s elites.

          • Mark says:

            Doesn’t always work – that was Dracula’s origin story.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I think the insurance policy aspect was often secondary to the old idea of “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”.

            Assuming you can get the world’s (for value of ‘the world’s’) future elites under your control as young children and control their pedagogy, you can do an -awful- lot to ensure that by the time they’re adults they’ll be nice, loyal vassals. All the more so if they grow up meeting and socializing with your own kids and you can foster some future strategic marriages at the same time.

          • MrApophenia says:

            Oh sure. I mean, 2000+ year old spoilers for this week’s Hardcore History episode, but it didn’t work for Caesar either.

          • Nornagest says:

            Doesn’t always work – that was Dracula’s origin story.

            Tokugawa Ieyasu’s, too.

            Bringing up kids as hostages to their families’ good behavior seems to work reasonably well as leverage for said good behavior (though it’s not foolproof, as the Tokugawa example shows), but poorly at ensuring the next generation will be friendly. I imagine there’s a tension between the two — the more credible it is that you’ll kill the kid as an object lesson, the less well-disposed the kid probably feels toward you and whatever lessons you try to teach them.

        • A famous counterexample is the young William Marshall as a hostage of Stephen’s, to guarantee his father’s promise to surrender the castle if Matilda didn’t show up with an army to defend it. The father reneged, pointing out that he had more sons and the equipment to produce still more, and Stephen didn’t have the heart to carry out his threat.

          English history might have been rather different if he had.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        @Randy

        I don’t think Nabil is lying, and I think Salem is correct. Tough talk is easy and cheap.

        Or as the aforementioned fantasy work put it: “Words Are Wind”.

        • Randy M says:

          Sure, words are cheap, but what does he hope to buy with “I’d sacrifice my kid to spite him”? We have to believe this is a social setting where this sort of thing is not only thinkable, not but believed that it will show the speaker in a positive light?

          I guess the most charitable reading would be that Nabil’s friend believes that he believes this about himself, never having felt any paternal feelings before, and he theorizes based on very surface level utilitarian thinking that he would be offering up a life to save all the many lives in the Trumpian Gulags to come.

          @Nabil–I had not meant offense, but a way of saying literally “that’s incredible.” I am trying to be charitable to anti-Trump fanatics.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            No offense taken.

            As for the social setting, we do get occasional talk about assassinating Trump and the various things his supporters / Straight White MenTM deserve. I hear that stuff a lot anyway so I just brush it off.

            This was way outside the norm though.

          • Standing in the Shadows says:

            As for the social setting, we do get occasional talk about assassinating Trump and the various things his supporters / Straight White MenTM deserve. I hear that stuff a lot anyway so I just brush it off.

            At WORK!? Someone will talk like that at WORK?!

            Just how Blue is your social setting? Where do you work? Google?

            And I thought I was sitting in a deep Blue hell…

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          I guess the most charitable reading would be that Nabil’s friend believes that he believes this about himself, never having felt any paternal feelings himself, and he theorizes based on very surface level utilitarian thinking that he would be offering up a life to save all the many lives in the Trumpian Gulags to come.

          Yep, and I’ve been in plenty of social circles where talk like that was made, though none where the speaker was over the age of 24 and/or sober.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        I wish that I was lying.

        It’s been under my skin for the last week. I’m not losing sleep or anything but it’s unpleasant to think about.

        Also Stalin has such memorable quotes attributed to him.

        • MrApophenia says:

          Maybe one way to clarify it – is he maybe not saying that he would do it, but that he thinks some hypothetical liberal world leader would do it because they hate Trump so much?

          If so it’s still laughably wrong, but just the usual sort of wrong where you can’t imagine your enemies could possibly love their kids the way you love yours.

      • Brad says:

        A few years back I remember hearing that the last German POW, a guy who the Russians believed killed Stalin’s son, had finally been released by Russia after almost 70 years. However, looking for a link just now, I only found a very dodgy source, so maybe it isn’t true after all.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      The edit window has passed but just to clarify: the guy doesn’t currently have any children but wants them. I’m disgusted at the idea but nobody is in any immediate danger.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      In the real world, there are parents who send their kids out to be suicide bombers for a much smaller effect than killing an enemy leader.

      I’m sure that some of the parents are doing this because it’s dangerous to not go along with terrorism, and I’m equally sure that some of the parents are true believers.

    • Well Armed Sheep says:

      Cbyvgvpf vf gur zvaqxvyyre.

    • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

      So, how friendly are you with this guy? Is this the only opinion of the sort they’ve displayed? Because maybe it’s just theorizing within the hypothetical, I know that I can be an edgelord when discussing random subjects at work during lunch, it’s just assumed to be part of the environment.

    • rlms says:

      V qba’g guvax guvf vf vasynzzngbel rabhtu gb jneenag ebg13, ohg vg unf vafcverq zr gb erfgneg zl cebwrpg bs orpbzvat syhrag va vg.

      • Standing in the Shadows says:

        Vg gbbx zr nobhg 2 jrrxf bs zrzevfr fhccbegrq genvavat.

        V sbhaq gung n zrzevfr genvare ncc jvgu gur 200 zbfg pbzzba ratyvfu jbeqf urycrq zr n ybg, znlor vg jvyy sbe lbh.

        • rlms says:

          Gunaxf, vg’f avpr gb frr fbzrbar ryfr jvgu gur fnzr vqrn! V zvtug znxr na Naxv qrpx. Pheeragyl V pna jevgr snveyl dhvpxyl (jevgvat gur Ratyvfu naq genafyngvat) ohg ernqvat vf naablvatyl fybj.

    • Standing in the Shadows says:

      V jbhyq punyx vg hc gb lrg nabgure rknzcyr bs yvoreny qrenatrzrag.

      Gurl nyernql znxr xvyyvat gurve bja puvyqera va gur jbzof bs gurve zbguref n fnpenzrag.

      Xvyyvat nabgure zna’f puvyqera bhg bs fcvgr naq ng guvf pbfg bs gurve bja puvyqera vf abg rira n fgrc qbja sebz gung.

  26. lvlln says:

    Has anyone read and have any thoughts on The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn? I only heard about it recently when watching one of Jordan Peterson’s lectures on YouTube, and the way he described it seemed depressingly relevant to today, which made me curious about checking it out. At the same time, Peterson is hardly an unbiased source on something like this, and I’ve also heard from a Russian friend of mine that I might have gotten the wrong impression about the gulags and dekulakization. Yet the little research I’ve done on Google and Wikipedia also tends to tell me that Peterson generally has it right.

    In any case, it seems to me that the history of the gulags and the politics surrounding them is important to learn, and they’re also something I wasn’t taught much of in school compared to, say, what was going on in Western Europe around the same time. So I think it’d be a good idea for me to check this out, but I’m curious if others have thoughts on the book or if there might be better resources for learning about this stuff.

    • Randy M says:

      I have not read it, but I am surprised you have only recently heard of it. I believe it had a fairly large historical impact, something like an Uncle Tom’s Cabin, perhaps? Western visitors to Russia were often shown a more sanitized version of the conditions, and I think Solzhenitsyn’s work was influential it opening a window to what the Soviet state was willing to do, solidifying Western & dissident resolve.
      Given the risk at doing such a thing, I’d weight it as likely to be truthful, though as I said I can’t say exactly what all it contains.

    • Sluggish says:

      Tangential response, but if you get the chance, I recommend Solzhenitsyn’s novel ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’. It’s not as related to ‘Gulag Archipelago’ as you might expect, but it has the advantage of being much shorter.

      • lvlln says:

        Thanks for the recommendation. I see that it’s only about 170 pages, so I think I’ll start with that, in terms of offline reading.

    • zoozoc says:

      I heartily recommend reading at least the first couple volumes. I found them extremely fascinating. He is extremely detailed about the entire prison complex (and its history), so you can always skim over those parts. But his story and the other’s stories about living in the Gulag is very much worth reading. As mentioned earlier, his book is split into several volumes. I believe I only read volume I and II (but I could be wrong). I’ve been meaning to pick up the entire book myself and read it again.

    • Levantine says:

      Recently I came across resources regarding Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago here:
      http://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-russian-scare

    • uncle joe says:

      I’ve read about half of it. It’s an OK book. It was probably more impressive in the 70s when the horrors of the Soviet system were largely unknown. It tends to describe things in detail and at excessive length, which made it something of a chore to read. The major strength of the book is the volume of individual testimony Solzhenitsyn collected about life in the gulags. I’m not aware of another work that matches it in this regard. However, I prefer the Black Book of Communism as a source of facts, and I prefer Darkness at Noon as a narrative.

  27. postgenetic says:

    What is the dominant phenomenon of our era?
    I contend it’s exponentially accelerating complexity, which includes exponentially accruing knowledge.
    Add ~5.9 billion people since 1900, give an increasing and significant percentage of humans access to exponentially more powerful technology, extending our reach in-and-across geo eco bio cultural & tech networks.
    Historically and evolutionarily, we’ve generated unprecedented environs … And we, humans, can’t handle these novel environs, the myriad consequences of this emergent (& still emerging) phenomenon.
    Due to the rate of change, our situation is somewhat analogous to dropping 500 penguins on a summer dune in the Sahara … coding doesn’t work for interface with those environs, hence, the coding won’t be, can’t be selected. Our situation is different in that we can create and implement knowledge.
    Even with those incredible powers, think that humans aren’t sufficiently coded — biologically, culturally or technologically — to pass natural selection tests in environs undergoing exponentially accelerating complexity for X number of years.
    Year X approaches.
    Exhibit A: Sky.
    Exhibit B: Ocean.
    In addition, collapse, or the large and rapid restructuring of a network’s relationships, is part of the when-not-if physics of non-equilibrium systems. It’s called self-organized criticality, or critical-state universality: meteor hits; plagues; world wars; climate changes; super volcanoes; mass extinctions; stock crashes; etc.
    So the chaos that abounds world wide, and yes, it’s always been there, is about to get significantly worse.
    The collapse dominoes are aligning … and think thusly: the forces are larger than humans can control.
    Culture, Complexity & Code2: link text

  28. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Would you take a salary cut to have your own office? How much?

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Do you literally mean having an office or are you using it as a metonym for a managerial position (e.g., “getting a corner office”)?

      I’m a bench scientist / PhD student, so an office isn’t very useful to me. I wouldn’t spend enough time there to justify lowering my stipend even further. But if I could hit a button and become a PI in exchange for a pay cut that would be wonderful.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I meant a literal physical office, with walls that go to the ceiling and soundproofing if necessary. Also a door.

    • Charles F says:

      I finally managed to request a shared office a couple months ago. I’m certainly not giving that up along with a chunk of my salary.

    • John Schilling says:

      I have my own office, and you’d need to offer me at least a 10% raise to go back to anything less than a shared office with a partition. And understand that you would be paying more for less work, because the distractions etc really do matter.

      Flip side, I don’t hire more people than I can accommodate in private or shared-and-partitioned offices.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      No, I don’t make enough money to take a pay cut. 🙁

      Rumor is my office is planning to move to an Open Office. Open Offices are the dumbest office trend. I plan to put some cardboard to separate myself from my co-workers.

      • Randy M says:

        I had an open office for a few years. It was helpful in being able to lean over and ask the stats expert for help now and then, or get another engineers attention by raising my head a couple inches, but for keeping concentration for beyond a few minutes… not so great.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          I just don’t want people looking at me all day. Why? totally uncomfortable. Shout as much as you want, just leave me in peace!

    • Urstoff says:

      I have my own office and would gladly take a raise to share an office with someone.

    • The Nybbler says:

      A small one, maybe 5%-10% max. To be able to work from home all the time I’d take a large cut, maybe ~25%. Open, crowded offices are unpleasant but my view of it is that it hurts the company more than it hurts me; if the top brass want to economize on space by reducing the productivity of their employees that’s on them.

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      No.

      (And this isn’t a cute answer, like “oh, haha, I already have an office.” I work in an open floorplan. I like it.)

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I’ve learned something, and there may be something worth generalizing.

      My question was based on the vociferous complaints I’ve seen about open offices, but it didn’t occur to me that there’s something between one’s very own office and an open office.

      Maybe the lesson is to remember that there may be non-dramatic alternatives.

      • The Nybbler says:

        it didn’t occur to me that there’s something between one’s very own office and an open office.

        Lots of things. Private office, small shared office (2-3 people max), group office (8-10 people), cubicles with high walls, cubicles with low walls, then open office. And density variations within these. The Dilbert corporate dystopia was high-walled cubicles; this would be considered heavenly from the viewpoint of a Googler with a 4-foot desk, no walls, and jammed in a huge room with concrete floor and ceiling with hundreds of others at similar desks lined up in tightly-spaced rows. (to be fair, I think the 5-foot desk is still standard, but there were definitely spaces with small desks)

      • Iain says:

        My workplace has relatively spacious, high-walled cubicles — 7 to 8 feet, by eyeball — with sliding doors. It looks drab, but in practice it’s quite a good balance between quiet when you need it and easy communication with your coworkers nearby.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Nope- had one before, didn’t really care for the isolation. I work in a more-or-less open office now (big “shared” cubes so low that everyone’s heads are over them, and many of us (myself included) working standing desks with no walls at all), and just take my laptop and go off to a break room or unused meeting room when I need/want privacy (or just to sit down ’cause I get lazy).

      But I don’t feel strongly- if you gave me a 5% pay raise to take an office, I’d go for it.

    • Andrew Hunter says:

      I’d jump at the opportunity (though worry a bit about perverse incentives: would my employer be motivated to make my day to day experience shitty so they could sell me back the nice parts? It’d be tremendously shortsighted of them, but we’ve done dumber things to pad sociopath executives’ bonuses before.) It is not offered by my current employer and won’t be, for a sort of annoying reason I worked out a while back: Google (and most of the SV tribe, I think) is allergic to the idea that “rank hath its privileges.”

      My sister works in the State Department, and to her it of course makes sense that FSO-X and up (I don’t actually know the cutoff!) get private officers, with Y and up getting nice wood ones. That’s just one of the perks that come along with being higher ranked; it’s not an egalitarian environment. Your seniors are Better Than You (hopefully they’re nice about it–she certainly hasn’t reported bullying or the like to me.) In Silicon Valley…there’d be a riot. “He thinks I should bow and scrape just because he’s three levels up???” Of course, the actual execs get exceptions to this–at many companies they nominally have the same work spaces as everyone else, but in practice have nice private offices and conference rooms that are Theirs. But a normal coworker, even a vastly higher-ranked one? They can have more money, because that’s private and we don’t talk about it, but not nicer offices or food or assistants.

      There’s something morally nice about this, sure, but it’s also frustrating, because it means we can’t have nice things. In particular, as SV companies grow, the average quality is diluted. (Everyone denies this, but it’s a fact. The bar was higher to be employee #100 than #10000.) With 100 employees, all of whom are effectively highly ranked (or at least “elite”)–it’s totally justifiable to give people nice offices, serve foie gras in the cafeteria, and take the entire team to Tahoe for a week. With 10,000…you can’t do that for all of them. It would be unaffordable (or at least uneconomical), and most of them don’t “rate” it (in the eyes of leadership.) The original 100 would…but you can’t give them anything nice, other than money, without giving it to everyone. So no one gets it.

      I suppose paying for the perks would be slightly less in opposition to egalitarianism in principle, but Google at least is sort of allergic to internal markets, and I think it comes from the same place. (We also have massively oversubscribed subsidized masseuses; I’d happily pay double to get reliable scheduling when I fuck up a joint in BJJ, but every time this gets brought up the egalitarians scream bloody hell.) So I doubt we’d be able to offer such a program [1].

      Next time I get promoted I am seriously considering pitching a fit about this, even so. It’s just good business sense, anyway–I would be massively more productive in a broom closet than my current workspace, which is a desk in the middle of a heavily trafficed hallway next to the security office.

      [1] An exception I recently learned: some Microsoft offices have nice parking spaces you can buy…by giving the most to charity in some sort of internal competition. (I don’t know the exact rules or the going rates, though, unsurprisingly, senior execs win every time.) I wonder if that might fly at Google for offices.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Instead of giving everyone offices, another way to avoid perks is to give everyone offices. Isn’t this what Microsoft used to do?

        Wouldn’t it be fairly easy for Googlers in Seattle to get a job with an office at MS? Lots of people complain about this, but do any of them jump ship? I’m sure that there are many downsides to MS, but the value of actually answering the question, of putting a dollar (or percentage) figure on offices (and the other differences) is that you can see whether you have coherent preferences.

      • Deiseach says:

        It’s just good business sense, anyway–I would be massively more productive in a broom closet than my current workspace

        I have my own office! Yes, it used to be a broom closet (well, storage room) but I have one, even if it is a teeny-tiny one! 🙂

        Last two jobs were local government so run along civil service/public service lines (like your sister); the ordinary staff (Grade IIIs) shared an office each with our own desk (along the lines of the 8-10 shared office The Nybbler describes); Acting Grade IV was the office manager and had an office of her own, but it was connected to the group office and the door was always open because she was in and out more than she spent time in her office; the Staff Officer – Grade V – had her own separate office down the hall but again, relatively open to people going in and out, and in both places Da Big Cheese (CEO of one job and Director of Service for the Section in another) had their own private office where you very definitely did not wander in and out but waited to be called if you were wanted. That was the level at which you spoke of them as “Mr So-and-So” and addressed them as “Manager” when speaking of/to them in the presence of others who were not from within the section, though both did do the whole “call me Bob” routine, which worked better with one guy than the other since one was much more approachable in manner. I got on way better with the Senior Executive Officer – Grade VIII – who was the second-in-command at the second job, because (a) I kind of knew him already from the first job and (b) he was much more easy and convincing in the whole “call me Bob” role and (c) more of my own class/background than the bosses from that job and job before that who were very middle-class and aspirational with it. Oddly enough, though I come from a lower-class background, I can be a thundering snob in some matters of taste and have a tendency to internally go “Oh. How very… bourgeois” like the most grande of grande dames in Downton Abbey 🙂

        So what is going on at Google? If the guys three levels above are supposed to be on the same playing field as you, what about all these managers in the memo brouhaha going on about how they had blacklists of people they wouldn’t work with, and the bragging in some quarters about how they could ruin someone’s career not alone in Google but within Silicon Valley as they talk to managers in other companies and could blacklist a candidate from ever getting a job again?

        Or are those managers much, much higher up and would have their own office?

        • Andrew Hunter says:

          Those managers with the blacklists still worked in open office bays, they just have political power anyway.

          • Deiseach says:

            So the egalitarian thing is – mmm, don’t want to call it a sham, how about a veneer? “This is Joe, an ordinary co-worker just like you who gets no special perks – except he can make or break your career and if you get on his wrong side he can make sure you never work in this business again”.

            I think I’d prefer if Joe had even a teeny office of his own so I know not to shoot my mouth off around him 🙂

          • sandoratthezoo says:

            @Deiseach

            I’m not at Google, but I work in the Silicon Valley in an open-floor-plan office for a software company. I don’t think that at my company or any other company I’ve worked at that there’s a pretense of egalitarianism. I mean, we’re still a corporate hierarchy. Nobody is unclear about what management means. (There are some companies that try to do really flat management structures, but they’re a small minority of companies that work in an open floorplan).

            I guess that there’s an element of “I’m the boss but some privileges are unseemly” in the same way that, in the most stodgy places in the world, your boss is your boss but there are still things that he won’t ask you to do. But more so, I think that the appeal of open floorplans is cost-savings and lines of communication, not the illusion of equality.

          • Matt M says:

            As a slight twist on things, I work at a consulting firm where for the consultants and junior consultants, its open office. The managers and partners still have offices.

            The twist is that the managers actually have bigger offices than the partners do, despite being significantly junior, lower pay, lower status. The justification is that managers often have to have team meetings with 4 or 5 people, where partners usually meet with clients one on one (or in large groups that necessitate a conference room anyway). Very utilitarian rather than status-oriented.

        • DavidS says:

          In policy departments of UK civil service the norm for maybe decade has been that senior folk sit in open plan with everyone else. And definitely don’t get addressed by title or surname!

          I’ve never had my own office and suspect I wouldn’t like it. Turns quickly checking something with someone into a bigger more formal deal. Though I can usually work from home if I really need to get my head down on one thing.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Hah, no, I don’t make enough money to consider any kind of salary cut in exchange for anything. Ask me again when I crack 40K, and have a job where I wouldn’t be constantly leaving my desk to work a front desk.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Not again I won’t. When I left the startup I was working for a few years ago, both Microsoft and Google were interested in hiring me back (I’d work for both previously and my former managers at each company both had openings on their teams). Microsoft came through with an offer faster, and I accepted despite it being considerably less than what I’d been making at Google before leaving for the startup. The big reasons were:

      1. I prefer Microsoft’s balance of structure vs autonomy to Google’s.

      2. Private offices at Microsoft vs bullpens at Google.

      3. Bird-in-the-hand offer from Microsoft, while Google was taking their time moving the process along.

      Accepting the offer from Microsoft was probably the right call in hindsight: both companies phased out the SDET/Test Engineer role not long after, and the way Microsoft did so worked out well for me, but it sounds like Google’s way of phasing out Test Engineers would have had a significant chance of dead-ending my career or pushing me out of the company.

      But the private office didn’t last long: Microsoft moved my team to open-plan offices about a year later. So if a future decision came down to a strict choice of pay vs private office, I’d be very aware that there’s no guarantee of the private office lasting long enough to be worthwhile.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      No; when I need my own office, I either work from home or invade an unused conference room.

      Open office plans are great—if you combine them with private office space available to anyone who needs it. The offices don’t have to be personal: I could spend one afternoon in one private office, the next afternoon in a different one. The pattern is known as “Cave and Commons” among software methodology nerds.

      The worst approach* is five-foot cubicles: they’re enough to prevent collaboration between cube spaces, but not enough to provide any kind of sound insulation. Guess what most of my work spaces have been? At one point, I had a cube, but spent almost all my time in an open shared lab space; about half the time I was the only one in it, so it functioned as a very large private office; the other half of the time one of my small set of co-workers was in it, which provided occasions for opportunistic communication.

      Finally, I should note that sometimes I need privacy so that my coworkers are insulated from me: my muttering when wrestling with messy code or recalcitrant software tools can get very loud (and profane).

      (* Yet: growth mindset!)

  29. Well Armed Sheep says:

    What is the most effective way to advance the open borders cause in the US right now?

    I’m not particularly interested in discussing the merits of open borders in this thread. Instead, I’m hoping for insight on what groups and organizations I should donate time and money to if I want to affect the current political debate. I am not very concerned with ideological purity, in the sense that incrementalism is fine. However, “donate to the Democratic Party” is not useful given the overall balance of my political views.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I’m an open borders opponent so take the following with a large block of salt:

      The answer depends on what you see as the primary value of open borders.

      Someone who sees it in humanitarian terms, that everyone from the third world deserves to come here for a better standard of living, should donate to migrant rescue organizations. Recently Italy and whoever is in charge of the Libyan Coast Guard have been cracking down on them but they’re still towing boatloads of people from Africa to Europe. That’s bad for Europe but great for those Africans.

      Someone who sees it in economic terms, that free movement of labor is a rising tide which lifts all boats, should donate to organizations which advocate for visa applicants. The most economically productive immigrants are perversely the easiest to keep out. The system is badly broken and those who would navigate it need the help of lawyers.

      I’m much more sympathetic to the latter than the former as my writing should make clear. But regardless of what sort of goal you’re trying to achieve it’s important to start with an assessment of what your priorities actually are.

    • qwints says:

      Somewhat facetiously – make immigrants more pro-Republican, and Republicans more pro-immigrant.

      • Well Armed Sheep says:

        Making Rs more pro-immigrant would obviously be good. More interested in the “how.”

      • J Mann says:

        Yes, but what if it makes Democrats less pro-immigrant?

      • dndnrsn says:

        @qwints, Well Armed Sheep, J Mann

        In Canada, the Conservative party is a lot better at attracting visible minority voters and immigrant voters than the Republican party is. No party sees immigrants as a lock for them, and no party (except the parties dedicated to Quebec sovereignty) sees immigrants as especially unlikely to vote for them. In fact, socially conservative Conservatives have found some immigrant groups to be a welcome source of support. This is one of the reasons that Canada has a much weaker anti-immigration movement than the US, even though we have over 2x the per capita legal immigrants per year.

        The question of how this could happen in the US is a different matter. I don’t know if the political climate would really make it feasible, unfortunately. It probably would make the Democrats a bit less pro-immigration, but having one party confident immigrants will always vote for them, and the other party confident immigrants never will, seems like a recipe for terrible immigration policy.

        This hasn’t led to open borders for Canada; we have a points system, but we let in a lot of legal immigrants compared to the US. 0.7 per 100 per year versus 0.3, last I checked the numbers.

    • hoghoghoghoghog says:

      Gay marriage took off when everyone knew a gay person; similarly open borders could take off when everyone knows an immigrant, especially an illegal immigrant. So programs that help illegal immigrants find a bit of legal twilight are helpful in the long term and the short term.

      At least in NYC there are a few little programs that do this, often affiliated with some church. They basically need people who can learn a smidgen of immigration law and own a suit to accompany people to immigration hearings and give them advice/moral support. Language skills are a plus. I don’t know how effective these programs are; my mom volunteers for one and she’s skeptical (she thinks they might be doing illegal immigrants a disservice by encouraging them to interact at all with the authorities, even in a sympathetic place like NYC).

      • Well Armed Sheep says:

        Yeah, that seems counterproductive — my sense is that they’re much better off laying low as far as the authorities are concerned.

    • Space Viking says:

      Open borders will never happen in the United States, or if it does, there will be a civil war first. So, your best bet is to push for secession. The “Calexit” movement is especially worth looking at, as it’s real right now, it will receive a major boost when Trump wins reelection in 2020, and open borders would easily pass in an independent California. I’m on the right, and I would be delighted to see California leave the union — it would make right-wing presidential politics in the U.S. much easier — so you wouldn’t get any opposition here.

      And hey, if against all odds open borders is a good thing for California, you’d inspire other countries to try it, too. Smaller scale experiments with a receptive population are easier than larger scale experiments with a militantly opposed population. I know we’re not on the same side politically, but I mean it when I say that secession is the best way for our disparate tribes to get along peacefully, and to actually try different policies, smashing the current deadlock.

      • If only a fixed number of visas are being given out, helping people get them doesn’t move us towards open borders.

        One thing you could do is work for or contribute to groups that assist illegal immigrants–I expect such exist, although they may not label themselves as such. Another is to engage in or support research on the effects of immigration. Julian Simon did some of that quite a while back, producing results inconsistent with the then current anti-immigrant stereotypes.

        qwints’ point is an interesting one. Bush tried to make the Republican party more pro-Hispanic, which in practice would be more pro-immigration, but he failed. Encouraging immigration by groups likely to vote Republican–Cubans in Miami are one obvious example–and publicizing their existence might help.

        But of course, that would tend to make the Democrats less pro-immigration.

      • Open borders will never happen in the United States

        The U.S. had effectively open borders, with no limits on New World immigration and restrictions only on Chinese immigration, for the majority of its history. What, in your view, has changed to make that impossible short of a civil war?

        • alchemy29 says:

          Wasn’t immigration only open to white people? In any case, open borders to people able and willing to leave everything behind to cross the ocean by boat, is not quite the same as what open borders would be like today. The difficulty of physically traveling and the uncertainty were de facto barriers to immigration. If I recall correctly, immigration levels have been on the order of 10% of the population throughout the history of the US. Barriers to travel have decreased and legal barriers to immigration have increased to keep the flow roughly constant (with big fluctuations admittedly).

          • Wasn’t immigration only open to white people?

            No. Until the 1920’s, the only restrictions I am aware of (other than on people carrying infectious diseases and the like) were restrictions on Chinese immigration starting in the second half of the 19th century. New world immigration was unrestricted, and would have included people who were not white by any likely definition.

            In any case, open borders to people able and willing to leave everything behind to cross the ocean by boat, is not quite the same as what open borders would be like today.

            You don’t have to cross an ocean to get to the U.S. from Mexico. European and Asian immigration would be somewhat easier today–but the U.S. was accepting about a million immigrants a year, into a population of about a hundred million, during the years just before WWI.

          • alchemy29 says:

            The naturalization act of 1790 only permitted citizenship for white persons. Who were the non-whites that were immigrating? Slaves? Indentured workers? Genuine question, I can’t find that information. Open borders with only citizenship for certain people seems not quite in the spirit of open borders. It also seems like it would create many social problems.

            Having read your other response I see that is what you are going for and I can’t say I’m thrilled with the idea. Bringing in immigrants and then denying them social benefits will not encourage self reliant immigrants – it will make poor immigrants worse off who will then grow to resent their new country but probably not have the resources to leave and re-establish their life again. And there are certain social benefits you can’t deny. Someone gets shot? You can’t leave them to die. Someone has their limbs paralyzed? You can’t deny them disability and leave them to rot, unable to move. Someone loses their job and can’t feed their children? You can’t leave their children to starve. Those children would still be US citizens.

            Of course technically you could deny them all of those things and make them second class citizens. That would quickly lead to social unrest and a new civil rights movement – especially since these immigrants would be very large in number – there are several million people trying to obtain US citizenship every year.

            Maybe you’ll argue they shouldn’t have immigrated. People don’t plan for the worst. They will immigrate, and society will have to deal with the consequences.

            Empirically I think that the best successes with immigrants have been the complete opposite approach. Invest lots of resources into immigrant literacy and integration so that they will have stable lives. Iceland has a better immigrant situation than France for instance.

            With regard to quantity, immigration was at it’s highest pre WWI wasn’t it? Otherwise it’s been steady with about 9-12% of the population being foreign born. (with a dip in the post WWII era). The US already gets the benefits of having access to foreign talent, and there is no great shortage of immigrants despite all the barriers. It seems like a working system.

          • Aapje says:

            I agree with alchemy29. There is this naive libertarian idea that you can just let the immigrants come over, live in slums and then they’ll pick them up by their bootstraps.

            Even if it could work in a harsh system with minimal welfare (doubtful at the current level of societal development), society just won’t stand for it (anymore).

          • Bringing in immigrants and then denying them social benefits will not encourage self reliant immigrants – it will make poor immigrants worse off who will then grow to resent their new country but probably not have the resources to leave and re-establish their life again

            Back when immigrants, including my grandparents, were coming at the rate of a million a year, the “social benefits” you are concerned about pretty much didn’t exist. The results of that experiment are not consistent with your theory.

          • Space Viking says:

            @alchemy29:

            Because non-white immigrants in the United States prior to the 20th century essentially don’t exist. It didn’t happen, aside from a limited number of Chinese in California. (The other exception is black slaves, of course, but that stopped in 1808).

            @DavidFriedman:

            Obviously, open borders immigrants today would vote overwhelmingly to increase welfare benefits, including for themselves, thereby bankrupting the United States. That’s what the data shows, do you deny it?

          • alchemy29 says:

            David Friedman my response is to follow, but I’d really like to know why you think it will benefit the US to let in immigrants and then make them second-class citizens. “It worked in the past” isn’t compelling. Yes high levels of immigration were beneficial when land was dirt-cheap and labor was a heavily scarce resource. Also children were guaranteed citizenship (I assume you are okay with keeping this?). I deny that this would work now. I think it will lead to slums at best and more Charlie Hebdo at worst (mostly because it has already happened in other countries).

            Anyways to respond – I started my dispute by pointing out that the past is not analogous to the present. So my dispute continues. If someone gets shot in the gut in 1920 then they usually die. If someone gets shot in the gut in 2017 then life saving resuscitation and surgery are performed which often works if they make it to the hospital. This is done for everyone who makes it to the ER regardless of ability to pay and regardless of visa or citizenship status. I think this is a clear social good and will fight tooth and nail against any efforts at dismantling it. I think the medical community and public agree that it’s not okay to leave people to die who could have been saved. There is a big difference between a technology not existing and on the other hand excluding a certain class of people from it.

          • Drew says:

            Back when immigrants, including my grandparents, were coming at the rate of a million a year, the “social benefits” you are concerned about pretty much didn’t exist. The results of that experiment are not consistent with your theory.

            In past threads, I’ve seen people note that the poor in the US are, in objective terms, significantly richer than people in the 1920s. But we notice that there are still huge negative consequences to modern poverty.

            There seem to be two forces at work. Poverty can be material deprivation (“I’m starving”) or it can be status deprivation (“I’m so below everyone else that I feel depressed.”)

            The status-deprivation is so unpleasant that people will spend money on status, even if it means not eating a healthy amount.

            If this is true, then the objective wealth of the immigrants might not be the important thing. The immigrants in the 1920s were objectively poor. But they weren’t that far below other people in their communities. So the psychic costs of poverty didn’t kick in.

            If you brought those people into the US today, I’d expect that we’d get multiple generations with really horrible outcomes.

            The thing that I find hard about this is that I can see an argument for doing the immigration anyway.

            If I look at global utility, then immigration is probably good, even if it has horrible consequences for the US. The immigrants might feel poor. But they’re not starving in a slum somewhere on $2/day. The benefits outweigh the costs.

            If I look at utility for people who are currently inside the US, then this proposal seems like an obviously bad idea. We’d destroy our internal markets for unskilled labor, and create a new semi-permanent underclass.

            So do I recommend policy based on what’s good for the US, or what’s good overall?

          • Space Viking says:

            @Drew:

            I wouldn’t be so sure that open borders would be good for non-Americans, because open borders is dangerous enough to risk destroying America’s status as a first-world country.

            The United States leads the world by far in scientific and technological innovation. Are we going to risk ruining that with out-of-control crime, terrorism, civil war risk, environmental destruction, taxes, regulations, government debt, outright socialism from importing left-wing voters, lowered GDP from a low-skilled workforce, increased corruption, etc., all from open borders? Will third-worlders be helped if, say, American medical innovations occur at a slower pace? Open borders could kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. It’s just not worth it.

            Helping third-worlders is good, so let’s do it with the Against Malaria Foundation, Give Directly, increasing the foreign aid budget (something Trump is open to), etc. We don’t have to do it by destroying ourselves — that helps no one. And I haven’t even mentioned the international instability and wars that would result from a destabilized, internally weakened America, but you get the picture.

          • Obviously, open borders immigrants today would vote overwhelmingly to increase welfare benefits, including for themselves, thereby bankrupting the United States.

            1. Who immigrates depends in part on whether they can collect welfare or have to support themselves. The latter group, who are the ones who would be coming under my proposed rules, are not the ones who would support expanded welfare.

            2. Under my proposal, they can’t vote until they have been here long enough, supporting themselves, to see themselves as the payers, not the receivers, of expanded welfare.

            Because non-white immigrants in the United States prior to the 20th century essentially don’t exist.

            Do you count Hispanics as whites or non-whites? They are the main group of current illegal immigrants and would probably be the largest group of immigrants under open borders. And quite a lot of them immigrated legally before restrictions went on in the nineteen twenties.

          • @Alchemy:

            I agree that if someone shows up wounded at the ER, he is going to get treated whether or not he is a recent immigrant. But I don’t think that would be an adequate reason for people to come who were not planning to support themselves, which is the problem I’m trying to solve with my proposal. And it isn’t a significant cost to those already here–ER expenditures are a trivial fraction of all medical expenses.

            My reason for thinking those already here would benefit by free immigration is conventional economics, the same arguments that imply benefits from free trade. As long as all exchange is voluntary, we benefit from increased opportunities to exchange.

            More than that would require a much longer explanation than I am prepared to offer in a blog comment–I have a webbed price theory textbook I can point you at if sufficiently interested.

          • Drew says:

            My reason for thinking those already here would benefit by free immigration is conventional economics, the same arguments that imply benefits from free trade. As long as all exchange is voluntary, we benefit from increased opportunities to exchange.

            Maybe I misunderstood my macro core, but this doesn’t seem true.

            Removing a trade barrier doesn’t mean that “we” benefit. It just means that overall productivity increases. The group protected by the trade barrier (in this case ‘US Labor’) can easily end up worse than they were before.

            Saying that this represents a benefit for “us” requires some extremely strong assumptions about our social welfare function.

            I’m imagining a toy example where countries have CES production functions. The US has a ton of capital and very little labor. Some other country has a glut of labor and very little capital. Should they merge?

            The consequence of a merge might be something like, “US Labor loses $10/year, US Capital gains $20/year.” It’s a good deal in net. But there are obvious consequences for income distribution.

            If you want to claim that there’s some analysis showing that the numbers work out in the specific, real-world case of the US, that’s fine.

          • Space Viking says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            Non-white immigrants who oppose welfare don’t exist. Why would they? Incentives are incentives.

            Now, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Again, only whites support smaller government. We can bring some in with more selective, restricted immigration than what we have today — this I support.

            Libertarians have a hard time accepting this, but libertarianism is, with few exceptions, an ideology that appeals only to whites. (Only white men, really, but that’s a separate issue). Open borders would destroy that ideology, your ideology, forever.

            Get it through your head: minorities will never vote for you. And yes, Hispanics are minorities. Why don’t you ask one if he sees himself as white or not?

            And you should see the data on racism in minorities. David, they hate us. Blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims hate whites and Jews much more than whites and Jews (rightly) feel uncomfortable around them. Why should we invite in more people who hate us?

          • alchemy29 says:

            @David Friedman
            Thank you for your response. I apologize if my last comment was impatient, I understand that this is a more complex topic than can be fully discussed in a blog comments section.

            I do think that immigration involves too many externalities for a supply and demand model to capture the biggest effects. And I do think that stability is a huge issue. But perhaps thats a discussion for another time.

          • Removing a trade barrier doesn’t mean that “we” benefit. It just means that overall productivity increases.

            “Overall productivity” is an odd way of putting it, but other than that you are correct. If nobody benefited by steel tariffs, nobody would lobby for them.

            I am not claiming that every individual benefits by the abolition of a tariff, or all tariffs (the latter is more likely), or all immigration restrictions. “We benefit” means that the summed benefits to those of us (in this case present residents) who are better off are larger than the summed losses to those of us who lose, both defined in willingness to pay terms. That’s in addition to the benefits to the immigrants.

            For abolition of a single tariff, it’s reasonably clear who the gainers and losers are. Owners of inputs (capital, labor, raw materials) to the protected industry lose, consumers of the output of the protected industry and producers of export goods gain. Gains larger than losses.

            For abolition of all tariffs or all immigration restrictions, figuring out gainers and losers is much harder.

          • INH5 says:

            And yes, Hispanics are minorities. Why don’t you ask one if he sees himself as white or not?

            About half of US Hispanics and Latinos identify as white on the census.

        • Space Viking says:

          @DavidFriedman:

          Because now the American political climate has changed to be at its most adversarial since, well, the Civil War, and before that, the Revolutionary War. We understand on the right that open borders is meant to replace us with more pliable, leftist voters. Instead of the people electing a new government, it’s the government electing a new people. Full-on open borders would remove any legitimacy USG still has left — the only possible responses would be another 1776, or doing nothing and turning into Venezuela, or worse, South Africa.

          Past immigration to the United States was overwhelmingly European in origin, and whites are the only American racial group who support smaller government. Open borders as envisioned today would certainly mean tyranny on a scale never before seen in American history, and that’s what we have a 2nd Amendment to prevent. In an open borders future, if war doesn’t break out immediately, it will once it becomes clear to all that not only the left, but the socialist, anti-white, anti-Semitic left will never lose another election with their hordes of new voters.

          • Matt M says:

            or worse, South Africa.

            Good luck with that. In the last topic someone unironically suggested “White people were worried about ending apartheid in South Africa too, and that turned out to be fine.”

          • Past immigration to the United States was overwhelmingly European in origin,

            Europeans who were viewed at the time by many here as a terrible threat, for much the same reasons you offer now for non-European immigrants.

            and whites are the only American racial group who support smaller government

            I don’t think any American racial group supports smaller government, unfortunately,

            My proposal would be open borders with new immigrants not entitled to either vote or receive welfare benefits for a substantial period of time, at least a decade, perhaps more. That way you only get people who are willing and able to support themselves. To be fair, they should have some sort of reduced tax burden to compensate for the tax funded benefits they are not eligible for.

            I see no reason to expect that the immigrants you would get under those rules would be any more in favor of large government than the present population.

            Incidentally, you seem to assume that the Democrats support open borders. In my experience, pretty nearly the only people supporting that position are libertarians.

          • BBA says:

            Venezuela, or worse, South Africa.

            By what possible metric is South Africa, a country with a lot of problems but still more-or-less functional, doing worse than Venezuela, a country undergoing a complete societal breakdown? For extra credit, answer without regard to skin color.

          • Space Viking says:

            @ Matt M:

            Good point. There’s a lot of education that needs to be done on this issue. Americans don’t know how bad it is in South Africa.

            @ DavidFriedman:

            Except that they didn’t have extensive polling and other techniques 150 years ago. Now we know all sorts of things, like how immigrants and potential immigrants vote, what their policy positions are, their propensities for crime, their IQ levels, their economic productivity, etc. — we don’t have to guess. All of these demonstrate that open borders in America would be enormously destructive. I’m sorry, but open borders is just not a data-driven position.

            And unfortunately, from what I’ve read, whites really are the only race to support smaller government. It’s true that many whites do not, of course.

            Your proposal is just not restricted enough. Their children will cause all of the problems they would, just delayed by a generation, if that.

            According to Pew, American whites support smaller government 52%-37%, while for foreign born Hispanics, it’s 12%-81%(!) Numbers are also bad for native born Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, Asians, etc. The numbers belie your optimism.

            Left-libertarians, yes, who often, but not always, support the Democrats.

            @BBA:

            Here you go. And no, I won’t answer without regard to “skin color”, because race matters, whether we like it or not. It may not matter to us, but not only is it an important source of human differences in nature, it sure does matter to just about everyone else. We ignore it at our own peril.

          • their IQ levels, their economic productivity, etc. — we don’t have to guess.

            Do you assume that we only gain by interacting with very productive people? High IQ people?

            That might be true if you are imagining a communist society with equal division of incomes. But in a market society, how much you get depends mostly on how much you produce. The less productive person gets a lower income, consumes less, and is still much better off than he was where he came from. That doesn’t make him a burden on the more productive.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The less productive person gets a lower income, consumes less, and is still much better off than he was where he came from.

            But we don’t have that kind of society and we get further and further away from it all the time. We have a society where the (much) less productive person gets free housing, free food, free medical care, free schooling, now moving towards free post-secondary education, even free recreation and entertainment. Also for the least productive, effective exemption from laws against personal crimes at least until they put someone in the hospital.

          • BBA says:

            My friend, when you respond to me with a link to an hour-long video based on premises I’ve already indicated I don’t accept, and it doesn’t even answer the question I asked you, I get the sense we aren’t going to be able to have a productive discussion.

          • Space Viking says:

            @BBA:

            If you don’t have time to learn the facts, then don’t waste my time by commenting on what you’re ignorant about.

            Unless you have a substantive response?

          • @Nybbler:

            I’ve been defending a particular proposal–open borders, with new immigrants not qualified for welfare for an extended period of time and with their taxes reduced to compensate them for the fact that some of what taxes pay for isn’t available to them.

            You are correct that the case for open borders is weaker in a welfare state. On the other hand, the existence of open borders makes a welfare state less politically attractive–that’s why supporters of a welfare system generally want it to be federal, to keep interstate competition from driving down welfare levels. If you are opposed to a welfare state, that’s a further benefit of easy immigration.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If you are opposed to a welfare state, that’s a further benefit of easy immigration.

            It’s just not practical, though, because if you don’t have a welfare state, or even if you bar it to immigrants, someone’s going to blame dead mothers and children on you, get the welfare state passed or reinstated for immigrants, and then you’ve got open borders and a welfare state. Dead mothers and children outside the country aren’t yet at the point that they’re an automatic trump to any policy that allows them.

          • John Schilling says:

            Literal cash-payment welfare, or soup-kitchen welfare, is only part of the problem. The most important part of what the United States provides to residents and immigrants alike, on the general welfare front, is a high-trust society with good government, This isn’t free, and it isn’t easy to scale to a large new immigrant population.

        • Aponymouse says:

          I would imagine the creation of welfare state have increased the numbers of would-be immigrants, decreased their mean productivity, and thus increased opposition to open borders. Having no property and no job is much more survivable in the US today compared to third-world countries – that was not necessarily the case a hundred years ago.

      • BBA says:

        Calexit isn’t polling that well and it’ll probably take until after 2020 to happen, look at how slow Brexit is going and that’s a cake walk compared to leaving the US. But strictly speaking, it might be constitutional for Congress to expel California from the Union just by passing a law; that’s how states are admitted, after all. And it’s absolutely in the Republican party’s interest to kick California out.

        • Matt M says:

          Calexit will vanish as a thing as soon as Trump is gone from office.

          At which point Texit probably returns.

          I think we’d need like 10+ years straight one one party rule for either to get far enough along to have any legitimate shot.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Any provision for expulsion would be shaky. Texas Vs. White makes numerous references to “perpetual union” and “indissoluble.”

          Maybe you can draft a Constitutional Amendment, but the amendment provision says a state cannot be deprived of its senate suffrage without its consent, so California would have to agree as well?

          • Evan Þ says:

            On the other hand, expelling a part of California would probably be Constitutional. The Boundary Treaty of 1970 ceded to Mexico several small tracts along the Rio Grande that were hitherto part of Texas, including at least one that was inhabited. Similarly, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 ceded to Britain what were arguably several inhabited parts of Massachusetts. As far as I know, neither of the affected states ever consented.

            So, could the United States government give independence to… oh, all of California except Fannette Island in Lake Tahoe? Or if independence doesn’t fall under those precedents, could we cede it to some cooperative foreign government – maybe the Maldives, which are known to the State of California to be about to lose all their territory?

            (Yes, all this is pie-in-the-sky theorizing. But I like it!)

          • James Miller says:

            @Evan Þ

            If, say, 60% of Californians wanted independence, we would probably only have to expel a small *geographic* percentage of California to get that number under well 50%. And we could sell that expelled part to Mexico in return for them paying for Trump’s wall.

          • Aapje says:

            That would give a lot of power to the inhabitants of Fannette Island.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Aapje, good point. Even after the next census, they’d still have one Representative and two Senators. Rump!California could merge with another state (like Nevada) to solve that, but that’d need consent of both state legislatures… and they might not be willing to give up their sudden power.

            On the other hand, if we’re literally talking about Fannette Island (instead of going with James’s plan), it’s uninhabited! Which means they’d still have Congressional seats, but they’d go unfilled!

          • Aapje says:

            What happens if a Californian would row out to the island the day before the split and camp there? She wouldn’t own any land in the old state, but would she still be a Californian who can vote?

        • Space Viking says:

          @BBA:

          It’s true that it probably won’t happen, but it has a genuine, decent shot. My point was that it’s amenable to funding and activism to improve its odds. The fact that it polls better among California’s youth means that it likely does have a future. I agree that if it does happen, it will take a while.

          @Matt M:

          That may well be true, but politics can move fast. The sanctuary cities issue hasn’t truly come to a head yet, neither has the border wall, neither has preventing illegals from voting. I’m not confident enough to make your prediction that it requires a decade of one party rule.

          @Definite Beta:

          Ah, but that’s only one SCOTUS decision away from changing.

          @Evan:

          Or how about just coastal and southern California? This would also make a Calexit referendum more likely to pass within California, because Trump supporters in the north and east of the state could then remain within the US in a rump State of California without being forced to move.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Polling well among youth doesn’t mean “in 20 years everyone will believe it.”

            This looks much more likely as “in 20 years those people will realize it was a stupid idea and stop believing it.”

            Those youth have little to lose and/or don’t realize what they would actually lose.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Edward:

            Possibly. A contrary view is that those youths are mostly minorities who won’t change their mind as they grow older about living in an America controlled by the Republicans. Statistically, they’re not about to become Republicans themselves.

  30. Deiseach says:

    Impressive new re-design of the header!

    Has anyone else read this? It’s absolutely hilarious, but it is of some concern as it does show how people have their opinions formed by coverage. It’s very pertinent in the case of jury selection as we can see here, and why there is a sub judice rule on this side of the water, but also I think it shows how, when speaking of the media as “neutral”, it goes a long way further than merely “They didn’t flat out call Ronald Clantone a baby-eating puppy-drowner, what more do you want?”

    We can form opinions – or have opinions formed for us – of people we not alone have never met, but are never likely to meet in real life. We judge them based on those opinions. Maybe we even decide to take action in the real world based on those opinions – that guy deserves to lose his job! she should not be allowed teach young children!

    All based on whether a newspaper’s style guide decides you call people espousing these views moderate and those views extreme.

    Digressing a little, the linked article mentions the EpiPen price hike and today I saw this news story about a possible cure for peanut allergies. Could the two be linked? That is, if the EpiPen manufacturers were aware of this research – and it’s possible, given that the experiment ended in 2013 and I imagine they would want to keep on top of news about allergy treatments – that they decided to squeeze the last drop of blood out of the turnip before a ‘cure’ made their product about as relevant as buggy whips? You can’t terrify parents into demanding all schools carry EpiPens in each classroom, which is a nice little earner for your company selling replacement stock annually to every school in the nation, if parents now can get an effective treatment for their kids, after all!

    • Rob K says:

      I will say, based on my experience of jury service you’ve got a room full of people who are torn between a reluctant desire to discharge their duty (where I live we get a somewhat inspirational 20 minute video about the role of jury trials in our democratic system) and a strong desire to not spend several days stuck in a box listening to something boring.

      As a result, you’re really hoping to get disqualified without lying. Getting to note for the legal record that Martin Shkreli disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan while doing so is icing on the cake.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Peanuts are not the only allergy that can cause anaphylaxis. Of the two people I know who carry Epipens, one is allergic to a laundry list of foods that does include all nuts but also other things (dairy, eggs, fish, and sesame). The other is allergic to wasp stings.

      And while we’re on the wasp sting subject, my parents got a friend who is a doctor to write them a prescription so they could have one to store at a fairly remote house in rural New England where they spend vacations, essentially in case a guest gets stung or bitten by something that they turn out to be allergic to and have a dangerous reaction.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’d imagine though that if a genuine peanut allergy cure comes along, then work on other food allergy cures would be in the pipeline. I wouldn’t see EpiPens vanishing, certainly, but on the other hand if there is no longer the spectre of “Can you be sure YOUR child didn’t try a bite of a peanut and butter jelly sandwich at school/someone’s house?” cajoling parents into buying and carrying these and lobbying to have them everywhere, then the market is going to reduce sharply, I would have thought.

        Still sold for beestings and the like, yes. In case you turn blue in the face because a café made your slice of cake in the same kitchen as they made peanut cookies, no (and I’m not being flippant here, I know it’s a real risk and can be triggered by infinitesimal traces of the allergen).

  31. Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

    It came up in the subreddit, so I might as well ask: whatever happened to the 3 day moratorium on talking about tragedies of this sort?

    • Aapje says:

      It expired after 3 days.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Eh. The big conversation kicked off Monday, which wasn’t three days.

        If the first response had been “Yo. 3 day moratorium.” I think there would have been a fair amount of respect for that. As it was, nobody really thought about it.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          Yeah, it didn’t come to mind in time. The discussion seemed extremely hot, so I decided to sit it out.

          I would guess that’s evidence for the policy being useful, but maybe it would’ve turned up like this anyway.

        • John Schilling says:

          If the first response had been “Yo. 3 day moratorium.” I think there would have been a fair amount of respect for that. As it was, nobody really thought about it.

          I remembered it after the edit window for my first few posts, alas. I suspect it was too late by then anyway, but an early reminder would have been helpful.

        • Aapje says:

          @HeelBearCub

          I meant that as a meta-joke: the 3 day moratorium expired after 3 days.

    • skef says:

      The torch rally was Friday, and I expect a number of people were subjectively taking “the event” to having started then.

  32. John Schilling says:

    For anyone wondering whether there is likely to be a nuclear war between the US and North Korea in the near future, I 99% endorse this explanation of why the answer is “no”. Fisher and Taub get a few of the details wrong, e.g. in 2010 North Korea sank a South Korean surface warship, not a submarine, but this doesn’t change the assessment in any significant way. Kim Jong Un’s bombastic statements are the standard North Korean MO, and Trump’s are aimed at his own base more than they are at anyone in Korea. Neither one of them is deploying or alerting military forces in the way they would if they actually believed war was likely.

    • Randy M says:

      I don’t disagree, but is there anyone in Trump’s base eager for a war with Korea? Maybe some rah-rah middle American types who think we’re getting a bum deal appeasing them or something? Neo-cons who think it might be worth the risk to save the oppressed North Korea populace?

      edit: Or just edgy types who like macho posturing?

      • John Schilling says:

        Trump’s base is eager to see Kim Jong Un kowtow to US might and give up his nuclear weapons because a Strong Leader told him, “Give up your nuclear weapons, Or Else, And We Mean It!”. This is a pleasing fantasy, and not even remotely limited to Trump’s base – though other groups may imagine different people doing the kowtowing over different issues.

        Kim Jong Un isn’t going to give up his nuclear weapons, of course, but he also isn’t going to actually nuke anyone. Trump will claim credit for stopping Kim from nuking anyone. Kim, for his part, will say things that Trump can spin as Kim being real close to nuking someone before he was stopped (and tell his own base that stopping was his choice and good judgement).

        • Jiro says:

          Kim, for his part, will say things that Trump can spin as Kim being real close to nuking someone before he was stopped

          Trump doesn’t need to spin it. The media will spin it, to make Trump look like a warmonger.

      • Unsaintly says:

        I know an ardent Trump supporter who is highly intelligent and well educated (masters degree, big fan of military history, and attained a high officer rank in the military) who believes that a war with North Korea is a good idea. He thinks that the US not attacking the Soviet Union at the end of WW2 was a mistake, and that the immediate casualties would have been well worth the tradeoff of not having another nuclear superpower in the world. He sees this situation with North Korea as a chance to not make that same mistake again.

  33. kieranpjobrien says:

    What’s with the Wait But Why AI Persuasion thing? And is the missing ‘Essay B’ deliberate?…

  34. James says:

    I was enjoying the OKCupid/dating discussion in the last open thread. Shall we carry it on? But maybe focusing a little less on Andrew (who, after all, didn’t sign up for all that scrutiny) and more on general observations.

    A few words about my situation, because Andrew’s reminded me of it a bit: I’m about the same age as Andrew, or a tiny bit younger—I’m 28—and I was surprised to see the claim that this is late to get married. I missed that memo! Most of my friends of my age would consider themselves too young to get married, and the ones I know who are married tend to be a bit older. Then again, plenty of them don’t plan on getting married at all. I guess our crowds are different.

    I probably have about the same success rate with women as Andrew, I think. A little bit of success here and there, but in general, I’m chronically single. But I’m very aware of why this is in my case: My standards are very, very high! Maybe unreasonably high. Partly they’re high in an absolute sense—things like looks and smartness—but I’m also seeking a high degree of compatibility. I don’t have that much of a problem with whether or not women like me (it happens from time to time), but I never like the ones who like me, and vice versa.

    Should I relax my standards, or continue holding out for great women? A detached, game-theory-ish perspective (The Secretary Problem?) suggests that maybe I should relax them, but this seems depressing to me, though it’s hard to say why. I just don’t really want to share myself with anyone I don’t feel is a really close match for me. (Lovers aren’t secretaries, after all!) But I barely ever meet anyone who I like enough. Maybe this means I’ll end up old, alone, and past my prime. That seems a waste, but I like the alternative (hooking up with people I only half-heartedly like?) even less.

    Other miscellaneous thoughts on OKCupid, dating, etc. also welcome here.

    • powerfuller says:

      Eh, I’m in the same boat; also nigh-30. The big difference between secretaries and spouses is that you need a secretary; I don’t feel much of a duty in the abstract to get married, though I’d like to. Like you, my standards are pretty high, or perhaps “narrow” is the better term, and they’re mostly based on positive qualities in my exes. I kind of wish I had had worse luck with women as a younger man, so that I might find women more attractive today who instead fail to coincide with my desires (not fail to measure up, mind you; my desires don’t matter to anybody and nobody’s obliged to meet them). And I really wish I could just consciously change my desires to be more open to various kinds of women. I end up dating women I respect and care for but don’t really like that much, and then feel guilty the whole time for failing to like them better. But I rarely ever meet women I actually like (romantically). It’s very hard for me to conclude that I’m chasing a dragon and ought to trade duty for desire and enter a mundane, functional marriage instead of looking for a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying one. At least I have a few more years to put off that decision (I’m fairly confident the mundane option will be available to me in, say, 10 years). Not sure I had a point here other than commiseration…

      • James says:

        I end up dating women I respect and care for but don’t really like that much, and then feel guilty the whole time for failing to like them better.

        Rings a very distinct bell.

      • Deiseach says:

        It’s very hard for me to conclude that I’m chasing a dragon and ought to trade duty for desire and enter a mundane, functional marriage instead of looking for a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying one.

        This is why I would like to kill with fire the whole goddamn notion of “soul mates”, “the one”, “Mr/Ms Right” and so forth.

        Our culture has been brain-washed into the worst of both worlds: retaining some of the traditional notions of marriage as permanent, a major life decision, something you will enter into expecting to last, and a marker of adulthood, while bringing on board the ideas that the only valid reason for marrying is romantic/sexual love, that your spouse is and should be all-in-all to you (emotionally, physically, spiritually and the whole nine yards), that this new relationship supersedes all former ones (family, friends, others) and worst of all, if you fail to maintain the pink fuzzy clouds tingly champagne feeling of “falling in love” for fifty years then it’s a failure.

        Bah, humbug. Nobody has that fairytale marriage where their spouse is their other half and fulfills them utterly. That’s why you have family, friends, work colleagues, weird people you meet on the Internet to discuss cactus people with, and the rest of it: so you have a life that does not revolve around one single person who has to be mother/wife/lover/best friend/household manager/etc. Everybody settles in some way, shape or form. Your gorgeous, intelligent, interesting, heart-stirring partner is going to have days when they get sick, are tired, are stressed at work, have fat days, or just don’t feel like going trekking in Peru, they’d rather stay at home in their pyjamas binge-watching Game of Thrones.

        I’m fairly confident the mundane option will be available to me in, say, 10 years

        So long as you remember not to think of yourself as a ‘catch’ or that you’re doing the other person a favour; if you’re deciding that you’re settling for the mundane option, chances are very likely the other person regards you in the same light – well, he’s not what I was hoping for, but he’ll do I guess, especially as time is ticking on.

        • powerfuller says:

          Please chill out, Deiseach. I don’t expect a spouse to fulfill all of my desires, or complete me, or be the center of my life. I just want a relationship where I feel more than “objectively this person is reliable, worthy of respect, ought to be happy, and would make a good spouse/parent” at least some of the time; I don’t expect relationships to be nothing but romantic dates and great sex, but I do want a relationship where it’s like that at least some of the time. I don’t expect a spouse to be a great conversationalist on all of my favorite topics or interests, but I would like one that I actually enjoy talking to about a shared interest, at least some of the time. I don’t expect a spouse to never be sick, or flawless, or anything like that. It’s difficult to talk about this sort of thing because whenever I say, “I’m unhappy in an functional but emotionally flat relationship,” people always respond as though I’m demanding a perfect woman who conforms to my every desire. To want something is not to want everything.

          No relationship is perfect, but they do admit of better and worse, and couples who are really into each other over the long term do exist (and yes, I know those relationships take work, too). If I have a chance of finding one, I might as well not call off the search prematurely. I don’t think I deserve or have a right to have one, but I have a chance. I’m not saying life is unfair for this — I’m blaming my own experiences and the obstinacy of my desires, not women, and not the world.

          And yes, I expect that if I settle, the woman would be settling for me, too. I’d prefer that, in fact, to the situation where I’m settling and she’s crazy about me. Then I would end up feeling guilty for not reciprocating her feelings.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m glad that is your opinion, but you really don’t help yourself by phrasing it as “a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying one.” because that does sound like putting all your eggs in one basket and especially when contrasting it to a “trade duty for desire and enter a mundane, functional marriage” where you make it sound as if you and she will be shackled together like galley slaves at the registry office and live in dull mutual loathing with no joy of life.

            Perhaps if you re-phrased it as “I don’t want to marry merely for the sake of it, I want to have a relationship of mutual affection and shared interests”, you wouldn’t get crotchety middle-aged non-romantics shaking their palsied fists at you?

            To quote from a letter from Tolkien to his son Michael (and stripping out all the religious references) – women are people in their own right with needs and desires of their own and not guiding stars or divinities for the sake of the sighing lover:

            There is in our Western culture the romantic chivalric tradition still strong, though as a product of Christendom (yet by no means the same as Christian ethics) the times are inimical to it. It idealizes ‘love’ — and as far as it goes can be very good, since it takes in far more than physical pleasure, and enjoins if not purity, at least fidelity, and so self-denial, ‘service’, courtesy, honour, and courage. Its weakness is, of course, that it began as an artificial courtly game, a way of enjoying love for its own sake without reference to (and indeed contrary to) matrimony. Its centre was …imaginary Deities, Love and the Lady. It still tends to make the Lady a kind of guiding star or divinity – of the old-fashioned ‘his divinity’ = the woman he loves – the object or reason of noble conduct. This is, of course, false and at best make-believe. The woman is another fallen human-being with a soul in peril. But …it can be very noble. Then it produces what I suppose is still felt… to be the highest ideal of love between man and woman. Yet I still think it has dangers. It is not wholly true… It takes, or at any rate has in the past taken, the young man’s eye off women as they are, as companions in shipwreck not guiding stars. (One result is for observation of the actual to make the young man turn cynical.) To forget their desires, needs and temptations. It inculcates exaggerated notions of ‘true love’, as a fire from without, a permanent exaltation, unrelated to age, childbearing, and plain life, and unrelated to will and purpose. (One result of that is to make young folk look for a ‘love’ that will keep them always nice and warm in a cold world, without any effort of theirs; and the incurably romantic go on looking even in the squalor of the divorce courts).

            …However, the essence of a fallen world is that the best cannot be attained by free enjoyment, or by what is called ‘self-realization’ (usually a nice name for self-indulgence, wholly inimical to the realization of other selves); but by denial, by suffering. Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify & direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him – as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial. Too few are told that — even those brought up ‘in the Church’. Those outside seem seldom to have heard it. When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along. Someone whom they might indeed very profitably have married, if only —. Hence divorce, to provide the ‘if only’. And of course they are as a rule quite right: they did make a mistake. Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgement concerning whom, amongst the total possible chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to. You really do very little choosing: life and circumstance do most of it (though if there is a God these must be His instruments, or His appearances). It is notorious that in fact happy marriages are more common where the ‘choosing’ by the young persons is even more limited, by parental or family authority, as long as there is a social ethic of plain unromantic responsibility and conjugal fidelity. But even in countries where the romantic tradition has so far affected social arrangements as to make people believe that the choosing of a mate is solely the concern of the young, only the rarest good fortune brings together the man and woman who are really as it were ‘destined’ for one another, and capable of a very great and splendid love. The idea still dazzles us, catches us by the throat: poems and stories in multitudes have been written on the theme, more, probably, than the total of such loves in real life (yet the greatest of these tales do not tell of the happy marriage of such great lovers, but of their tragic separation; as if even in this sphere the truly great and splendid in this fallen world is more nearly achieved by ‘failure’ and suffering). In such great inevitable love, often love at first sight, we catch a vision, I suppose, of marriage as it should have been in an unfallen world. In this fallen world we have as our only guides prudence, wisdom (rare in youth, too late in age), a clean heart, and fidelity of will

          • powerfuller says:

            What in “a romantically / sexually / spiritually / etc. satisfying relationship” implies I think women ought to exist for me, or that a relationship ought to be for my own benefit, and not for hers as well, or that women are not “people in their own right with needs and desires of their own and not guiding stars or divinities for the sake of the sighing lover”? That’s an absurdly uncharitable reading of what I said, and is just more of the same old knee-jerk reaction I alluded to above. Considering you were capable of much more charitable interpretation, as you wrote one out yourself, I don’t get the righteous indignation.

            I’m not saying a marriage of desire is free from of duty, nor vice versa, but I am saying that I’d rather marry and have children because I love my wife and want to see her existence continued somehow, and not just because it’s the expected thing to do, or produces better life outcomes on average, or would make her and my parents happy, or because I need the structure and social ties in my life lest I become a total weirdo hermit. If you want to go for literary references, the dynamic I have in mind is less “become Sir Lancelot” and more “avoid becoming Newland Archer, if I can.” Like I keep saying: women owe me nothing, life owes me nothing, but I can take my chance. You think I’m being stupid? Good for you.

          • Deiseach says:

            powerfuller, if you really don’t see what contrasting “trade duty for desire” with the laundry list of “what I would like/expect in a spouse” sounds like, then I can’t help you.

            Y’know, I will come out and say now what you claim I said: all this defensiveness does make me think you were only thinking of “what can I get out of a marriage, what do I want in a spouse” and not thinking of “what can I offer a spouse, what can I put into a marriage”.

            I end up dating women I respect and care for but don’t really like that much, and then feel guilty the whole time for failing to like them better. But I rarely ever meet women I actually like (romantically).

            Again, all that is about “I can’t find a woman that appeals to me in all the ways I want one to appeal to me” and again it sounds like “yeah I date them because it’s better than nothing” but not really hugely convincing, especially with the “I don’t really like them that much”. What kind of liking, exactly, are you talking about? Liking them as people, or liking them as “suitable mates for someone of my calibre”?

            You never said word one about that, merely smugly assumed that if you had to settle for Less Than Helen of Troy in ten years time, you’d have your pick of desperate and willing women. What makes you so sure that in ten years time any woman will want to marry you? Can you list off your desirable qualities? If all your attractions only come down to “have a really good job with a reasonable amount of disposable income”, is it enough to compensate a woman for having to live with a man sighing over “I only settled for you, you know, I still pine for someone to fulfill me utterly“?

            Uncharitable enough for ya?

          • James says:

            Yes, this is the trouble with discussing love on SSC. There’s a strong likelihood of Deiseach diving in and, erm, being Deiseach all over it.

          • rahien.din says:

            Well I’m with Deiseach.

            I could go less charitable?

            I’d proceed further on the anti-soulmate idea. It isn’t merely that soulmates’ trve love is some rare gem and nary but bluebird-attended maidens and caped charger-bourne princes shall experience it. I actually think that landing with your “soulmate” is probably a bad thing to want and to get.

            This is because the right person isn’t necessarily the one with whom you are perfectly compatible right off the bat – if that person can even exist and be found. The right person is the one you want to make compromises for. If you never compromise, you aren’t actually in a relationship with another person. You’ve just located a meat-computer whose outputs are comprehensive expressions of your own god-like qualities, as though a finely polished mirror. Wanting that is kind of creepy and subtly invasive and free-will-destructive.

            The nature of love instead is that it drives you to give of yourself and it is that act of giving which is love. Love isn’t perfect satisfaction, but instead love exists despite imperfect satisfaction. Love isn’t never having to say no, or never feeling sad, or never being disappointed, it’s that involuntary response you always have, despite slings and arrows*. That’s the whole meaning of “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud.” You’re going to be disappointed. You’re going to disappoint. So you’re going to have to love. Charity suffereth long.

            Thus, every time someone says “I can’t find anyone who meets my high standards!” I subconsciously read “I can’t find anyone who will do all the compromising!” or “I can’t find anyone who won’t ask anything of me!” or “I just want a relationship where I don’t have to expend emotional effort!”

            It’s like Twain said about the classics, those books everyone wants to have read but doesn’t actually want to read. You’re searching for the trappings of love, without having to actually love.

            * Yes of course no one should stay with a shitty asshole derelict philandering demeaning possessive wasteful destructive partner. That fact does not change a single thing about the nature of love, and it is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for people who don’t want to have to put in any effort. Consider all y’all’s selves headed off at the pass.

          • Matt M says:

            You’ve just located a meat-computer whose outputs are comprehensive expressions of your own god-like qualities, as though a finely polished mirror. Wanting that is kind of creepy and subtly invasive and free-will-destructive.

            Eh, I mainly agree with you, but I’ll push back on this one a bit.

            I think wanting that in a general sense is fine, so long as you

            a. Recognize the odds of achieving it are very low
            b. Do not attempt to pressure people who aren’t that into becoming that for you

            Telling someone “You need to be like X or I won’t love you” is a bit of an asshole move.

            But saying “Being single is a decent enough life for me and I’m unwilling to let it go for anything less than X” is everyone’s individual right, so long as they’re honest about it up-front.

          • James says:

            Well, I feel either misunderstood or insulted.

            The right person is the one you want to make compromises for. If you never compromise, you aren’t actually in a relationship with another person.

            Yes, I am happy to compromise! I even want to compromise. I want to find someone whom it feels worth compromising for, and I don’t.

            You’ve just located a meat-computer whose outputs are comprehensive expressions of your own god-like qualities, as though a finely polished mirror. Wanting that is kind of creepy and subtly invasive and free-will-destructive.

            I agree that’s creepy. I’d appreciate you not telling me that’s what I want, because it isn’t.

            The nature of love instead is that it drives you to give of yourself and it is that act of giving which is love. Love isn’t perfect satisfaction, but instead love exists despite imperfect satisfaction.

            Imperfect satisfaction sounds great! I’d kill for imperfect satisfaction! Where can I get some? The trouble is I don’t find even that.

          • rahien.din says:

            All,

            Fair points. Consider me walked back a bit. Whatever further contention I could offer, it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so.

            Most specifically, James, I can see how the post was insulting. If permitted, I would offer that : my feeling in writing it was more generally-directed-rant than accusatory-targeted-dogpile, and I regret making a pile-on of it, and (to the extent the post pertained to you) you were genuinely misunderstood.

            Thanks for being so immediately tolerant of an outburst, heh.

          • James says:

            Thanks, rahien.din. No hard feelings.

          • Deiseach says:

            Yes, this is the trouble with discussing love on SSC. There’s a strong likelihood of Deiseach diving in and, erm, being Deiseach all over it.

            Forget destroying the universe to end suffering. What those people should be working towards is destroying the universe to end love!

          • Randy M says:

            I think Deiseach and AutisticCat are soulmates co-conspirators.
            😉

          • dndnrsn says:

            “Co-conspirator” to replace “partner in crime” on online dating profiles?

    • rahien.din says:

      I think it’s a mistake to say “I will only date women whom I know I would marry.” It’s a bit like saying “I will only perform experiments that I know will be successful.” You’ll never learn anything that way.

      Here’s the other thing : people have this idea that dating exists prior to marriage, and that you just have to endure dating long enough to find someone you like enough to marry, and then you get to stop dating. But successful marriage is just a different kind of dating.

      You’ve got to discover the ways and situations in which James enjoys dating.

      So there’s a third alternative : go out with people you seem to enjoy, hook up with them sometimes, and allow yourself to be surprised.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Re: 28 age
      Your crowd is different. I’m 30, and the majority of my friend group is now married. Marriage typically occurs in the late 20s. IIRC, this is median age of first marriage in the US, so half of everyone will get married older.

      Anyways, it’s not that 28 is late to get married, it’s that 28 is late to find a spouse. I got married at 27 (I think?), but I had already been dating my spouse for several years by that point. Looking for a marriage partner at 28 means losing out on a HUGE chunk of the dating market, because they are already married, or already dating people who they will eventually marry.

      Besides the smaller market, certain people still single at 28 are also really bad at dating/getting dates. To be 100% frank, you should assume your lack of success will continue to hold going forward….if you keep doing what you’re currently doing. Like, most people start dating at, what, 15? So you’ve had 13 years of failure. Why are you ASSUMING that the next 13 years will be better, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing?

      That means you’re running a high chance of Forever Alone.

      So if you really want to get married, you need to hit the pavement and make changes. If it’s not an important goal to you, then keep on keeping on (and don’t complain online about how Forever Alone you are).

      So that’s the marriage part.

      Regarding “high standards”:
      You should have high standards. You do not want to marry someone that makes you miserable. One of my friends almost made this mistake. Thankfully, his brain finally smashed some neurons together and he ejected from his dumpster-fire relationship before making any sort of major commitments.

      That’s good.

      But your standards need to be realistic. Like those companies whining they can’t hire superstar programmers at $40k/year and so there must be some huge STEM shortage? Yeah, same thing, if you’re ugly, you’re not going to get a model, full stop. So you might want to relax your standards, but I have no idea what your standards are.

      • James says:

        Anyways, it’s not that 28 is late to get married, it’s that 28 is late to find a spouse.

        Good point.

        Besides the smaller market, certain people still single at 28 are also really bad at dating/getting dates. To be 100% frank, you should assume your lack of success will continue to hold going forward….if you keep doing what you’re currently doing. Why are you ASSUMING that the next 13 years will be better, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing?

        Well, possibly. I do think about trying to improve the rate at which I meet women, since that’s the other relevant variable if I won’t change my standards. I’m trying (and managing) to get a bit bolder when it comes to signalling interest to women that I’m speaking to and asking for their numbers, and so on. (Though I’m still not brave enough to cold approach.)

        Like, most people start dating at, what, 15? So you’ve had 13 years of failure.

        Whoa, whoa! I take your point, but let’s not go nuts. I’ve had, depending on how one counts, 2-5 relationships in that time.

        (and don’t complain online about how Forever Alone you are)

        Sure. I realise that I relinquish all rights to bitch about my situation.

        So you might want to relax your standards, but I have no idea what your standards are.

        Yeah. I suppose it’s tricky to quantify, so tricky to compare notes on.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Just FYI, I am speaking in the general “you” with the marriage discussion, not the specific “you.” A lot of guys who have already been struggling with dating by 28 are probably going to continue to struggle with dating, so need to improve strategies.

          I don’t think 2-5 relationships is bad at 28, but I’m a pretty reserved guy and I think 5 relationships at 28 is high….my opinion might not count for much.

      • Randy M says:

        I think all of this is well said.

    • My standards are very, very high! Maybe unreasonably high. Partly they’re high in an absolute sense—things like looks and smartness

      Why would it be important to you that a woman was very good looking? That strikes me as a characteristic that might be desirable, but not very important.

      I could even argue that it’s a liability. Looks are the characteristic most easily recognized by strangers, so you will have more rivals for a very good looking girlfriend than a moderately attractive one.

      And how attractive a woman looks to you depends more on how you are relating to her, what emotions she is expressing, than on physical details.

      • James says:

        I don’t know! De gustibus non est disputandum. (If anything, I seem to be getting shallower the older I get.)

        • andrewflicker says:

          To some degree I’m shallower than I was when I was younger because I’ve realized how *easy* many of the trappings of attractiveness are to achieve with a little effort. People obviously can’t easily change their general facial shape, but stuff like “shaving without filling your face with nicks and ingrown hairs” or “replacing your shoes when they are disgusting, hole-filled messes” or “shower regularly” are really, really easy, and I gave people too many passes when younger.

          None of this really applied to dating/relationships, but just generally evaluating others. When I was a kid, I think I thought people were just sort of magically in-born more or less attractive than others- which is true on a naive level, but holy cow can you screw with that baseline by conscious effort!

          • Charles F says:

            stuff like “shaving without filling your face with nicks and ingrown hairs” […] is really, really easy

            So, I think I might be outside of your target audience since I get them all the time even when (or in places) I don’t shave, but, how? 90% of the advice I see on the internet is about shaving, which doesn’t seem to be my problem, and the other 10% is about exfoliating, which hasn’t helped. Is there some really basic easy thing that is so blindingly obvious to everybody that nobody thought to put it on the internet for me?

          • andrewflicker says:

            Charles F – yeah, I’m specifically talking about the ones that come about from bad/unhygenic shaving practices. If you’re having a lot of problems with ingrown hairs anyway, I’m guessing you have very curly hair. Best recommendation for curly/coarse hair men is to just grow out the beard a bit and stop shaving so that the hairs never have a chance to ingrow. Use a needle or *very* sharp tweezers to “fix” any ingrown hairs as they first appear, and eventually every follicle on the face will have a longer hair growing out of it that’s “safe”- at that point you’re good until you shave it off again (which, if you’re a curly haired guy, I’d just suggest “never”).

        • Deiseach says:

          Looks are also the thing that fades fastest as people get older, so looks alone are a poor basis.

          Like the saying goes “Kissing don’t last, cookery do!” (which I see now is actually a quote from a novel by George Meredith).

      • knownastron says:

        I have to agree with David here. I had this girl that I thought were a 6.5 in overall attractiveness become a 10 after a conversation where we talked about our shared core values and beliefs.

        This happened recently and was a bit of a revelation. It made me realize I shouldn’t filter too harshly based on looks in the future.

        @James, maybe you eliminate potential mates based on looks too early to realize that they are indeed attractive/compatible.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I don’t get this.

      I avoided any kind of dating until my mid 20s over a rebellion against my innate biological impulses (in retrospect it seemed easier/more justifiable to rebel against myself than my parents; I was also semi-consciously trying to make a “bargain with the universe” over longevity vs. reproduction, but knew this was bunk). So I never got any practice.

      I found my mate on a mutual interest online forum and she also happened to be pretty, though looks are really less important than any degree of intellectual and values compatibility. It was a forum with a high degree of gender balance.

      Have gender balanced interests and talk about those interests with others (if needed at least one of you should be willing to move)? Have standards of the mind (mechanism of thought and/or interests) and allow your body’s natural attraction to a particular sex to be amorphous enough that you find body types outside of the supermodel, swimsuit model, pinup model, or whatever style attractive? (A high libido and exposure to a variety of body types might help with developing this broadened attraction, if absolutely necessary. I’m only speculating as my body type sexual attraction was broad enough from the beginning.)

    • sandoratthezoo says:

      Here’s how I see age of marriage working for my set (mostly white or Asian, privileged, went to elite colleges, got good jobs):

      If you exited college with a serious SO, you were probably going to get married in your late 20’s, maybe early 30’s, to that SO.

      If you exited college without a serious SO, you probably wouldn’t meet your future SO until your late 20’s, and then you’d get married in your early 30’s.

      If you either missed that first round or got divorced/broke up with your long-term SO, you’d meet your futures spouse in your early 30’s and get married in your mid 30’s.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I do see people say they’re surprised to find they’re happily married to someone who isn’t their “type” so it may make sense to relax your standards about looks somewhat.

    • Drew says:

      I’d guess that you’re optimizing the wrong thing and applying your filters too early.

      When I hear people talk about, “high degree of compatibility,” it often seems to mean ‘sharing a bunch of interests.’ People give this way, way too much weight. And they define interests too narrowly.

      Interests, at the level of “rock climbing” or “board games” or whatever, are really a matter of immediate circumstance. I go rock climbing because I happen to live near a rock-climbing gym. I like the people at the club. And the hours fit my schedule at work.

      People think they want a partner who shares those specific interests. And they rule out people who don’t.

      The thing is that, if my circumstances change, I’d change my hobbies. A move to Hawaii might have me surfing instead of climbing. A change in the board-game group would have me playing D&D. And, in the long-term, your circumstances will change.

      So, the relevant question is not, “does she also like rock climbing?” but rather, “if we moved to Hawaii, would she join me in exploring new options? Would we find stuff we both enjoy?”

      The important things, at that level, are compatible levels of extroversion, novelty-seeking, athleticism, and energy. Also the ability to communicate.

      Those things are really, really hard to judge at a distance. Maybe the girl you’re talking to would be up for sports, but never got introduced to a running club she liked. Maybe you’d share her interest in movies, but didn’t get a good introduction.

      The fact that you’re chronically single, and ruling out almost all potential-dates makes me think you’re over-filtering, and filtering too early. You could be meeting a great woman every day, and with the current strategy, you wouldn’t notice or know.

      Instead, go on a bunch of 1st dates. Check your assumptions about the type of girl you’d be compatible with. And then be choosy among the people who you’ve spent effort getting to know.

      • James says:

        When I hear people talk about, “high degree of compatibility,” it often seems to mean ‘sharing a bunch of interests.’ People give this way, way too much weight. And they define interests too narrowly.

        I definitely used to do this; not sure whether I still do. I would filter based on things like “music taste”. No-one has my exact taste in music, so this was a waste of time. And the logical end point of that line of thinking would be to date someone exactly like myself, which sounds like hell. So I’ve tried to ditch this.

      • Deiseach says:

        So, the relevant question is not, “does she also like rock climbing?” but rather, “if we moved to Hawaii, would she join me in exploring new options? Would we find stuff we both enjoy?”

        Or even “Can we both have separate interests we enjoy without bitching at each other about it? I like rock-climbing, she likes her knitting club. She doesn’t complain that I’m always going out with the gang risking my neck and buying expensive equipment, I don’t complain that there’s not one square inch of the house that hasn’t got a knitted fol-de-rol covering it, we both enjoy our thing and don’t begrudge the other enjoying their thing”.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        In the “how I met my SO” discussion, the big deal doesn’t seem to be “person’s interests are identical to mine” or “person met my specs”, it’s “we are much more delighted by each other’s company than we’ve been with other people”.

        There’s probably both an overlap of specific interests and some meta-overlap– there’s being delighted by the other person’s angle on the world.

    • rahien.din says:

      One more thing (deliberately separated from my other replies) and then I’ve my peace :

      I get something from participation here that I neither need nor want nor could get within my marriage. This sort of hyper-precise, esoteric, pseudo- (or non-pseudo) adversarial debate is something I genuinely need. It is an important part of my person. But my wife is driven totally nuts by having to engage in this owlishness, and so it’s not a helpful thing for it to exist in my marriage. Likewise, playing basketball. So we don’t do those things.

      If I pre-thought dating and decided I needed my wife to be able to spar with me in the way we do here – because, hey, that’s genuinely an essential part of me – I would have written my amazing future wife right off the list. And subsequently missed the single most important relationship of my life.

      This is the evidence that convinces me of the principle : finding the right person is not even finding a person who can engage with you in the ways that are most important to you.

      Edit: clarity

  35. mobile says:

    The word fascism derives from Italian fascio and Latin fasces, meaning a bundle of rods or sticks. The obvious political symbolism — strength through unity — has been employed faar beyond nominally fascist polities.

    British English has (or had, as the term has since acquired a very different meaning) its own term for a bundle of sticks. That term is faggot.

    The upshot is that we are one or two historical accidents away from lamenting the resurgence of faggotism in western civilization and worrying how to stand up to the faggotists marching through our streets.

    • JulieK says:

      Thanks to the Brothers Grimm, I learned the older definition first.
      Actual conversation:
      7th-grade bully: You’re a f*****.
      7th-grade me: A f***** is bundle of sticks.

      • The Nybbler says:

        In middle school we had a guy named Sven who was bullied for a while. Until one time a bully called him a f*****. Sven whipped out an axe, whapped the guy across the cheek with the flat of it, and said “No, I’m a fasces!”

        (OK, didn’t happen. But it should have.)

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      @JulieK

      HAH.

      And here I thought I was the only one. It actually somewhat defused the build-up towards a nice beating, because first they were just puzzled, then they settled for mocking me for being so dumb as to think that that’s what faggot meant.

      It probably says something about young me that I was more offended that they didn’t believe my definition than relieved that they didn’t end up kicking my ass.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        It probably says something about young me that I was more offended that they didn’t believe my definition than relieved that they didn’t end up kicking my ass.

        I know what you mean, but having been in that situation many times myself, they probably did kick your ass, it was just social and emotional, instead of physical.

        At least, that is how I felt growing up. Constantly emotionally bruised because I was on the receiving end of what were essentially social beatings.

        Of course, I also didn’t get that I completely misunderstood one of the purposes of teasing, which is frequently at first a means of encouraging bonding.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Well, no, mockery cuts deep when you’re a kid, and I got more than my fair share, but this was the same school where a kid pulled a knife on me and drew blood, so it certainly could’ve been worse.

        …and you lost me on that last one, outside of a context of “Shared stress and strain pushes people together” a la Basic Training.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          it certainly could’ve been worse.

          Oh, sure. I wan’t disputing that.

          …and you lost me on that last one

          Well, since you brought up basic training, think about movies you have seen with soldiers in them. You almost always have a scene where the soldiers are ribbing each other. And frequently, there is a scene where one guy seems to take it “too far” and there is a very tense moment, until the other guy burst out laughing and says “I like you.”

          Or sometimes it goes the other way, and they are enemies from that point forward.

          That is a highly stylized and overly dramatic version of a dynamic that plays out all the time. Something like “if you can’t take a joke, then you are a poor candidate for friendship”.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Yes, I’m familiar with the “You’ve got -guts-, kid, I -like- you” thing. And ribbing-as-testicular-fortitude-check is certainly real enough in certain team environments. It’s basically a simple way of stress-testing a newbie to see how they handle stress.

          I’m just dubious that this extends to Middle School/Jr. High. In the examples above, what gets accepted is being able to take it and laugh and give as good as you get, or being able to blow it off jovially at least. Generally when you try “laugh and give it back/make a joke of it” the response is anger and “oh so you want to fight now”, while simply blowing it off gets you escalation.

          Having spent several years in the US Military, there are aspects of that sub-culture at the enlisted level that I didn’t care for, but even there aside from the occasional bullying asshole who liked his rank a bit too much, there was a VERY clear difference between that and the sort of shit that you get with boys in school.

    • Deiseach says:

      Faggot is also a British term for a dish made of offal and breadcrumbs – not quite meatballs but in the same general category.

      Mr Brain’s Faggots is a commercial brand of these.

      • Aapje says:

        The British seem to be doing this intentionally, so they can say naughty things while ‘just’ talking about food:

        – Spotted dick
        – Scotch Wood Cock
        – Bangers And Mash
        – Dorset Knobs
        – Cock-a-Leekie

      • Winter Shaker says:

        Amusingly, they’re needing to take the fight to Facebook just be allowed to advertise their product without being banned for using offensive words.

        This probably isn’t a fight that’s worth the effort, in my opinion – though what to rename them? Well, their meatball like product is kind of a ‘bundle’ of little ‘sticks’ of meat and plant products… I vote for Mr Brain’s pork fasces 😛

    • carvenvisage says:

      I’m always left wondering if I’m crazy or everyone else is blind when people have such blase confidence about complex social issues. Humans were capable of getting the nazi question wrong, but us, nowadays, we’re obviously right about everything. Yeah, just like all the other times…

      Is no one else scared of the category ” fucked up dominance things”? -Nazism, imperialism more generally, convert-or-die abrahamic religions, that asshole boss you had.. rape, slavery,…

      -all the other times our anti-dominance norms were 100x too weak, and it led to thousands of years of exploitation and abuse..

      but Jim Crow was wrong and civil rights is cool, so homosexuality is kawaiiiiiiiii!! *japanese girl spinning around holding up peace signs*?

      Like is no one else is a bit cautious about that category?

      ..Am I crazy or are you blind?

      _
      _

      Also, hitler screeching away is very impressive. if you’re inclined to kneel before something, he was very very good at taking advantage of that, and he’s not the first guy or the last guy. Yet our culture has moved towards blind acceptance and group dogmas. On what basis? Why, in a world where Nazism happened, would it ever be safe not to form your own views ?

      • lvlln says:

        I’m not sure if you responded to the right sub-thread, but FWIW I agree with your general thrust. I think it’s reasonable to be hyper-skeptical of any ideology or movement that demands that you go along with them without actually convincing you. That asserts that they’re so obviously right that if you don’t comply, they’re fully justified in using power to shame or otherwise coerce you into complying. And I think the more confident its adherents are that it’s correct, the more it deserves to be scrutinized.

        I think the obvious lesson from the Holocaust isn’t just that Nazism or fascism or antisemitism are wrong, but that having hyper-confidence in any ideology is wrong. If you’re hyper-confident about an idea, that makes you comfortable with doing extreme things for that idea, and extreme things can cause almost unimaginable amounts of suffering. See also: Communism, Inquisition, ISIS.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          @lvlln,

          Actually this guy has a way more specific hobby horse than what you’re talking about.

          He’s made the argument before that male homosexuality is, at least in large part, about a dominant top humiliating and injuring a submissive or unwilling bottom. Like if one were to take the culture around prison rape and extend it to the majority of MSM.

          It’s a view without a good place in the normal ideological hierarchy. It’s homophobic in an unusually literal sense so it doesn’t seem likely to be embraced in polite society. But it’s also viscerally opposed to masculinity which means that the far-right doesn’t have much room for it either. Maybe Christians or MRAs might approve of it.

          • lvlln says:

            Huh, that must be why I was confused at that post’s existence in this subthread. Certainly not what I expected, but you do see all sorts on SSC, which is why I like this place so much.

          • carvenvisage says:

            You either have a weird definition of masculine or you’re reading too much between the lines.

      • Brad says:

        Am I crazy or are you blind?

        Are you saying gay (male?) sex is akin to nazism because you think it is inherently and always about domination?

        If that’s the right reading, then I’m pretty sure the answer is behind door number one.

        • carvenvisage says:

          No more than slavery or rape or imperialism or convert-or-die are always about domination. Sometimes they’re about sex, or economics, or unifying a culture behind a bullshit rallying cry.

          But somehow if your norm is ‘don’t do OTT dominance shit’ you would have coincidentally got the right answer on all of these questions humanity emphatically did not get the right answer on. Which suggests that it’s a pretty good norm/outside-view-check.

          _

          Which by the way makes perfect sense in a species with strong sexual bonding where one sex is significantly bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than the other. -Having the correct ‘stay the fuck away’ calibration is insanely unadaptive evolutionarily.

          _

          Then there’s also the meta arguments, like that we’ve seen what consequences believing with absolute certainty, just because your group does can have, and how often that’s epistemically accurate.

          • beleester says:

            I feel like if you can stretch the definition of “OTT dominance shit” to include gay marriage you can stretch it to cover just about anything.

            For instance, traditional marriage is clearly meant to express the dominance of the man over the woman. Sure, some people would say that it’s about mutual love and respect, but take a look through the Bible and tell me if you still think an Iron Age society was big on egalitarianism.

            Or how about capitalism? It was the driving force behind slavery and imperialism. What purer expression of dominance is there than to reduce a human to the dollar value they can provide you?

          • Deiseach says:

            I feel like if you can stretch the definition of “OTT dominance shit” to include gay marriage you can stretch it to cover just about anything.

            A strand of feminist theory has denoted straight marriage as “meat for sex” or “legal prostitution”, and Andrea Dworkin for one had the idea that all heterosexual sex is precisely what the OP was saying: dominance of one partner by a bigger, stronger one not caring if the other partner was willing or not (hence, all heterosexual sex is rape and can never be considered consensual in any circumstances).

            So there are people out there thinking along these lines.

            For instance, traditional marriage is clearly meant to express the dominance of the man over the woman.

            No, traditional marriage was about controlling these impulses, providing some protection to women, and imposing duties and responsibilities upon the man, especially when it came to children.

            take a look through the Bible and tell me if you still think an Iron Age society was big on egalitarianism

            Egalitarianism? No. Women not the slaves beneath the feet of men? Yes.

            Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

            He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.

            House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

            An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

      • Charles F says:

        Do you happen to know where I can find the previous comment thread about this? I don’t want to make you rehash your whole argument about what’s wrong with gay relationships.

        The first thing that strikes me is that it seems like you’re ignoring how many people are versatile rather than tops or bottoms. I suppose there’s an argument that that just leads to the same problem in alternating directions and it’s not that much better, but I prefer the idea that some mutually pleasant ways for men to be intimate have become associate with dominance stuff that I find somewhat squick, but that doesn’t make it impossible to do the same things with a different intent.

      • cassander says:

        >Is no one else scared of the category ” fucked up dominance things”? -Nazism, imperialism more generally, convert-or-die abrahamic religions, that asshole boss you had.. rape, slavery,…

        Do we not include, for example, progressivism on this list?

        • rlms says:

          You can include anything you dislike.

          • carvenvisage says:

            try shoehorning something dumb into my list then.

          • rlms says:

            @carvenvisage
            As someone mentioned before, heterosexual relationships and capitalism. You could also have eating meat (where humans dominate animals in fucked up ways), or legal systems. Those aren’t even that dumb — I’m sure people have made honest arguments similar to yours for the first two — but I imagine you would disagree with them.

            Looking at your list, I think a better argument than “these things have dominance stuff, these things are bad, hence things with dominance stuff are bad (hence gay is bad)” is “these things are violent (apart from the asshole boss, which isn’t really comparable to the others), these things are bad, therefore violent things are bad”. Violent gay is definitely bad! But most gay isn’t violent (the same goes for most of the other things I mentioned).

          • carvenvisage says:

            You could also have eating meat

            Killing stuff to eat it is harsh but killing something by definition isn’t dominating it. Actual OTT dominance shit, like the worst sides of factory farming, is definitely fucked up.

            Plus I’m willing to bite the ‘between humans’-addendum bullet, and you presumably wouldn’t argue that changes the whole thing. Our attitude to animals isn’t like our attitude to humans. We treat them like something between insects and us. At best it’s comparing apples to oranges.

            capitalism

            Wtf?

            Literally just the idea people can keep stuff they earned or made.

            But… unfettered monopolies are bad, as capitalism fails whenever someone has too great a stranglehold on a market. (no competition, no marketplace). what a coincidence, the right answer again!

            Ridiculous

            legal systems

            you what?

            heterosexual relationships

            Not necessarilly dominant. certainly not in a particularly OTT way. It’s literally baseline normal. it’s also literally how the species reproduces, so you’d expect this to be an exception if there ever was one, because it’s literally inescapably necessarry. (or at least has been for the last 100,000 years).

            Beyond ridiculous
            _
            _

            violence

            Other things which are violent: self defence, cutting down a tree. Violence is not just sometimes ok, it’s sometimes morally wrong not to engage in it. You obviously can’t argue that violence is inherently wrong, but you can that dominance is.

            _
            _

            the asshole boss, which isn’t really comparable to the others

            Less extreme than others, but asshole bosses have caused plenty of misery and are thousands of years old, and getting assertive with little bits of power towards those beneath you is a well recognised thing to avoid.

          • Brad says:

            heterosexual relationships

            Not necessarily dominant. certainly not in a particularly OTT way.

            Same thing applies to gay relationships. I have no idea why you believe otherwise. It’s frankly bizarre.

          • carvenvisage says:

            BTW 2 more items my heuristic covers that are obviously (but apparently not that obviously) wrong, and don’t have to be violent:

            1. bullying

            2. subjugation of women

          • rlms says:

            @carvenvisage
            The dominance part of animal farming is humans controlling every aspect of animals’ lives. But sure, you can reasonably bite the addendum bullet and we can ignore it.

            By capitalism, I meant what actually happens in capitalist societies, not a cutesy “feminism is the radical idea that women are people”-style ideological summary*. Employers decide what happens in the majority of their employees’ waking lives by ultimately threatening them with starvation if they don’t obey. Sounds pretty dominanty to me.

            Legal systems: firstly, the idea that we are forced to obey laws we have no control over, and secondly, the idea that if you break those laws you can be deprived of your property, freedom, and occasionally life.

            As Brad pointed out, common wisdom is that homosexual relationships are also “not necessarily dominant”. Presumably you disagree. Where is your information on this subject from? Intuitively, one would think that since there is a significant difference in size and strength in almost all heterosexual relationships, but not in homosexual ones, the former would have more dominance stuff.

            Bullying is commonly physically violent or contains the threat of physical violence. Even when that isn’t the case, it could be said to contain mental violence (intentional infliction of mental harm).

            Subjugation of women (at least, the obviously wrong kind) also generally contains physical violence or the threat thereof. If you want to define non-violent (including mental violence) subjugation of women and argue against it, go for it. But I don’t think it’s obviously wrong.

            More examples of dominance things that aren’t terrible: the teacher-student and parent-child relationships, the military.

            *Out of context, your “workers have the right to the fruits of their labour” sounds rather more communist, but I don’t want to get into that discussion.

          • Employers decide what happens in the majority of their employees’ waking lives by ultimately threatening them with starvation if they don’t obey.

            Odd, in that case, that in modern capitalist societies nobody starves to death–unlike modern non-capitalist societies.

            You are ignoring the fact that there is more than one employer. If the employee does not do what his employer wants him to do and gets fired, the result is not that he starves, it is that he gets a different job with a different employer.

            Possibly relevant fact: In modern developed societies, real per capita income is twenty to thirty times as high as the global average through most of history. That suggests just how wildly unrealistic your “starving to death” model is. Given the power you imagine employers to have, surely they could push the employees down to making only two or three times as much as the average person in the past and pocket the difference.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            What are these modern non-capitalist countries you are talking about? About 9 million people starve to death each year. I’m pretty sure that not all of them live in North Korea, Venezuela etc. Also, according to this, a couple of thousand Americans do die of malnutrition each year.

            By “ultimately”, I mean that if you refuse to work for any employer, your chances of starving are fairly high. You might quibble that this isn’t true in developed countries. Possibly relevant fact: the majority of people don’t live in developed countries.

          • What are these modern non-capitalist countries you are talking about?

            The Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge were all modern non-capitalist countries with mass famines.

            About 9 million people starve to death each year.

            Source? Where and under what circumstances?

            Also, according to this, a couple of thousand Americans do die of malnutrition each year.

            Could be true. But dying of malnutrition isn’t the same thing as starving to death.

            Your source is WHO. I quote from their site:

            Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions. One is ‘undernutrition’—which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals). The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer).

            Someone who dies due to obesity has not starved to death.

            By “ultimately”, I mean that if you refuse to work for any employer, your chances of starving are fairly high.

            Not true in the U.S. at present. Even without welfare payments, the income from begging would be enough to prevent starvation, although not to give you a very attractive life. Calories are cheap.

            Further, what you wrote was:

            Employers decide what happens in the majority of their employees’ waking lives by ultimately threatening them with starvation if they don’t obey.

            The fact that if you refuse to work for any employer you will starve, even if true, does not let your employer decide what happens in your life by threatening you with starvation. It might let a cartel of all employers do so, but no such cartel exists.

            Would you claim that the woman you propose to can make you accept whatever terms she wants by ultimately threatening you with celibacy if you don’t agree?

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            “The Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge were all modern non-capitalist countries with mass famines.”
            I assumed from your use of the present tense that you were talking about currently existing countries, which none of those are.

            “Source? Where and under what circumstances?”
            Source here. The figure varies a lot depending on how you are counting, but I think it’s pretty definitely between 5 and 10 million.

            “Someone who dies due to obesity has not starved to death.”
            No, obviously not. However, I’m confident that considerably more than 2000 people die in the US each year from heart disease and other obesity related issues. So I doubt they are included in that statistic. Based on what I know about the US, I think that a couple of thousand deaths/year from undernutrition sounds approximately right.

            “Not true in the U.S. at present.”
            Sure, but most people don’t live in the US.

            “Would you claim that the woman you propose to can make you accept whatever terms she wants by ultimately threatening you with celibacy if you don’t agree?”
            No. But I didn’t make the analogical claim about employers, I said that they can control what you do, not they can make you do anything you want. I would say that the same applies to people of your preferred gender you propose to. However, the degree of control is different because being unemployed is different to being single.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @rlms

            If you include ‘mental violence’, you’re now lumping in all forms of aggression together without a hard line between physical (and potentially damaging), and otherwise, which is flipped almost 180 from the ‘never be violent’ heuristic you proposed.

            And the non aggression principle is a good heuristic, just not a reliable ‘keep well away’ warning because aggression is much harder to pin down and avoid ambiguities of. (and is also inherently much milder)

             

            >The dominance part of animal farming is humans controlling every aspect of animals’ lives.

            No it isn’t. A secretary isn’t dominating their boss by planning out details of their work life. It’s treating them without any concern for their welfare, not mere micromanaging. If you farm animals humanely it doesn’t mean you are treating them with contempt.

            Plus, they’re animals. One doesn’t have to bite a bullet to say we have less duty to respect their their agency, when objectively do have (and are capable of) way less.

             

            legal systems

            Which is why courts are immune from scrutiny, process, and there’s no such thing as juries or appeals, and judges are trained and encouraged to rule based on self-assertion and whim rather than bound to the law.

            That we should all have to follow rules is not a radical idea, or that we have to employ some people to arbitrate.

            And the point of the rule of law is in large part to avoid power struggles between individuals and groups. Rather than settling things by who can get the other party to surrender, we have a neutral arbiter. The idea of legal systems is diametrically opposed to ideas like ‘slavery, rape, convert-or-die religions’.

             

            >parent-child relationships, the military

            You shouldn’t dominate your kids in any sense comparable to the examples on the list. The reason they have to obey you isn’t supposed to be because you’re stronger than them and can make them do what you want, but because you’re a better steward of their future than they are being older and wiser or more experienced.

            The military half fits in, but it’s not gratuitous, it’s a life or death situation.Plus military is in the first place, viewed as a necessarry evil. Meaning a bad thing. A heuristc that says something is really bad doesn’t predict that nothing can ever ever supercede that factor.

             

            So the only two half exceptions are heterosexual relationships and the military, which are life and death situations respectively. One is literally how the species has continued and survived, the other is how people have prevented foreign aggression and domination.

            And ‘military’ is a way tamer part of imperialism, which includes military and a bunch of other stuff on top of it (including training people in how to terrify and suppress civilian populations as well as defeat armed enemy combatants).

             

            as for why gay relationships are inherently fucked up in that way. Fine:

            1. mechanically, someone has to get fucked in the ass. Someone with a peener. To try to cut through the bullshit, who the fuck would want that for their kid? Like sure you can argue people can do what they want blah blah blah. If you want to get fucked by a horse and die on camera, I can’t stop you, (and maybe am not charitable enough to even try), but at some point, the fact remains that that was a baby and a healthy child at some earlier point, and something has gone severely severely wrong between then and now.

            2. It’s a deviation from the norm. Heterosexual relationships don’t indicate anything about fucked up dominance ideas because choosing them is a standard and obvious default.

            Doesn’t mean that it can never be a purely hedonistic thing, or people don’t sometimes do it for good reasons like the funny accents or parades and not giving a shit, or that the potentially the least bad thing if you’re stuck on a bad configuration can be to indulge in it, ..but it really doesn’t seem like something we should be promoting. Don’t lynch people, don’t beat anyone up for what they subject themselves to, obviously, but equally obviously not doing that doesn’t mean you have to promote it to children as something normal and healthy (or better).

            Like personally, I really want any future kids to one day come home with an anal prolapse wondering why I not only supported the lie that this stuff is cute and no big deal, and sexuality is immutable, (because those were politically convenient lies to combat empowered ‘bigots’ being violent 30 years ago). bit evem demanded they support it- made it look forbidden and bigoted to think or feel otherwise, and of course sexuality is immutable because that’s a nice convenient idea and never mind the science or facts.

            Like, remember we’re living on hitler world and moloch world, not the world where if a group says something loudly enough and often enough it’s definitely true. On that world, I don’t take risks blindly following group dogmas that look evil as all hell

            _

            >capitalism

            The idea is to leverage competition and people’s incentives + knowledge. Monopolies are bad forms of capitalism where one group gains dominant control over an area and is no longer subject to competition, and in general markets don’t work when people use leverage aka power to sidestep competition in the market.

            And ‘OTT dominance shit’ obviously doesn’t mean being less than maximally egalitarian. Other bad things like letting someone starve on the street or not saving someone drowning is bad but different.

            >teacher-student

            It’s not so different from having a boss. The fucked up part is that it’s compulsory so you can’t veto it or leave.

            You can argue that it’s more important to get kids away from really bad parents without much fuss, or that it’s necessarry for a functioning society (weaker argument imo, you get down with 3Rs basics very early) but the compulsary side of it is a little bit fucked up on the face of it.

          • rlms says:

            @carvenvisage
            I might respond more substantively at some point, but first, what is your opinion of heterosexual sodomy?

          • Brad says:

            mechanically, someone has to get fucked in the ass. Someone with a peener. To try to cut through the bullshit, who the fuck would want that for their kid?

            You have an unusually* strong disgust reaction to gay male sex. Why not just leave it at that instead of trying to dress it up in this unconvincing theory about dominance?

            It’s like if someone spun out an entirely theory about how big ag was going to destroy civilization rooted in the fact that he really hates the taste of asparagus.

            * Yes, unusual. In case there was any kind of doubt you aren’t saying out loud something everyone thinks but doesn’t say.

          • cassander says:

            @rlms

            If your theory of capitalist starvation were true, why are we not all slaves to the farmers? If “do what I say or else I won’t sell you food” were as strong as you suggest it is, then they should be the richest, highest status, most powerful people in capitalist societies the world over, because they have most direct access to the threat of starvation. yet this is true nowhere. how do you explain this?

          • carvenvisage says:

            I might respond more substantively at some point, but first, what is your opinion of heterosexual sodomy?

            It’s way way less of a departure from what you should /have to be adapted to doing anyway. it shows dignity if you don’t want to do it as a woman or respect as a man, but it’s really not a big deal.

            If on the other hand humans were a gender neutral non-sexual species that could change its shapes, it would be a sign of very bad mental health to (regularly) do things equivalent to the ‘bottom’ role, and a sign of psychopathy (and manifestation of) to take the ‘top role.

            Between males its way worse than that, but the dominance part is fucked up regardless of any genders, just necessarry and natural between male and female, -which is probably why we are insensitive to its messed up nature.

          • carvenvisage says:

            You have an unusually* strong disgust reaction to gay male sex. Why not just leave it at that instead of trying to dress it up in this unconvincing theory about dominance?

            It’s the same reaction I have to paedophilia and getting fucked to death by a horse, and is the same heuristic that gives you the right answer on every huge moral question that humanity got wrong. If a heuristic is always right, and people consistently get things wrong that it would have avoided, it’s a pretty good heuristic.

            And because everyone seemed to be against it until a sustained campaign of propoganda, which aren’t exactly famous for their ineffectiveness or tendency to push people towards the truth. How did gay rights “‘gay’= cute and harmless” get in on the back of righting the wrongs of slavery, exactly? Current consensus in polite society is clearly a matter of momentum rather than consideration.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @cassander

            there are lots of different farmers, and if they coordinated to deny people food they would be taken over by force.

          • Protagoras says:

            @carvenvisage, Gotta second Brad on your reaction being unusual. If you are under the impression that all of the rest of us are as disgusted as you are, and just pretending otherwise to be PC, you are seriously mistaken.

          • Charles F says:

            If humans were a gender neutral non-sexual species that could change its shapes, it would be a sign of very bad mental health to (regularly) do things equivalent to the ‘bottom’ role, and a sign of psychopathy (and manifestation of) to take the ‘top role.

            Between males its way worse than that

            That sounds testable. Gay men do have a higher risk of a variety of mental health problems. But it’s not *that* much higher, and with a few minutes of googling, all I’ve found are some assertions that it’s definitely all social pressure and there’s nothing wrong with you, dear reader, and not much in the way of studies about whether that’s actually the case, or studies that compare anything more interesting than handedness in tops vs bottoms.

            Do you know of any research indicating that tops/bottoms actually have those qualities?

          • Charles F says:

            @Protagoras
            I’ll be the dissenter here. It is pretty unusual for this group, but it’s well within the norm for, say, Christian Texans, I think. And whether it’s unusual is less important than whether it’s unwarranted, which might depend on whether/how gay sex dynamics are harmful (waiting on citations) and whether the disgust would be protective for potential gays. (I doubt it. Maybe for bisexuals, but probably not very)

          • cassander says:

            @carvenvisage says:

            there are lots of different farmers, and if they coordinated to deny people food they would be taken over by force.

            That is accurate. There are also lots of employers. Does the same logic not apply to them?

          • However, I’m confident that considerably more than 2000 people die in the US each year from heart disease and other obesity related issues. So I doubt they are included in that statistic.

            Your figure was from WHO. I quoted the WHO definition of malnutrition. How they decide which deaths from obesity related issues count as deaths due to malnutrition I don’t know, but it is clear that they are not limiting the figure to those who starve to death.

            Approximately 9 million people die of world hunger each year according to world hunger statistics

            It isn’t clear if those are all people who starve to death or include people who die of something else due to being malnourished.

            That aside, I note that the largest number of hungry are in a country that has been officially socialist since it’s founding, although I concede that the actual system is some mix of capitalism and socialism. I also note that hunger, by that source, is largely of people who grow their own food, so are not starving due to being unwilling to accept the orders of their employers.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            “it is clear that they are not limiting the figure to those who starve to death.”
            Why is that clear? What would be a more accurate estimate? It is clear that they aren’t including people who die from obesity-related issues. They might well be including people who die from causes linked with other forms of malnutrition, but I don’t think that’s obvious.

            “It isn’t clear if those are all people who starve to death or include people who die of something else due to being malnourished.”
            Sure. But as crimes against epistemology go, using hyperbole in the same way as official statistics isn’t a particularly bad one.

            “I also note that hunger, by that source, is largely of people who grow their own food, so are not starving due to being unwilling to accept the orders of their employers.”
            I could argue that this is evidence in favour of my argument! Those people either refused to accept the orders of their employers, or couldn’t even find employers, and thus end up starving.

          • @DavidFriedman
            “it is clear that they are not limiting the figure to those who starve to death.”
            Why is that clear?

            Because I just quoted and linked to a statement by the organization generating the statistics you were citing which said what else they were including in malnutrition. Someone who dies from obesity didn’t starve to death.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            Do you agree that people who die from obesity-related problems are not included on the list? I think *that* is clear, given that heart disease is closely linked to obesity and also the leading cause of death in the US. The fact that death from obesity is the opposite of death from starvation is totally irrelevant.

            If you do agree, why do you think it is clear that the figures include deaths from non-obesity-related non-starvation malnutrition? I agree that it certainly plausible; it depends on where they and we draw the line between starvation and non-starvation undernutrition, and how prevalent both those things are in the US. I don’t think either of us know enough about either factor to reach a conclusion.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @charles F. The ‘gender neutral shapeshifter’ thing was meant to be a spherical-cow-land control to isolate something, and what something would indicate there would be different from on planet earth where the species has a reason to default to comfort with that vague class of activity, -and could certainly get wires crossed or feel like being transgressive for the lulz, etc. (Plus contemporary factors strongly further ‘normalising’ it)

            So for a comparison, if you had a world where it was always trivial to flee and no one ever had to fight, it would strongly indicate something if people locked themselves in rings or cages, to fight in tournaments. And what it would indicate might reflect on the nature of those activities, but one wouldn’t be making a prediction about bare-knuckle-boxing in this world if they said ordinary boxing, -including pain and risk of injury/damage, (and of inflicting the same to someone who might be making a mistake) in ‘never have to fight’ world would indicate something.

            Ok hopefully it’s clear what I was saying now.

            _

            As for studies, I don’t trust any study I haven’t vetted the methodology of (and even then there’s still the issue of burying unfavorable non-preregistered studies, and just lying) -let alone on this issue.

            Maybe I’ll go digging for studies at some point, but if I do it will probably be as a rhetorical thing, not because I think it’s a good argument with current levels of scientific quality control /on a hard to pinpoint issue with so many confounding factors.

            I dug a bit of favorable sounding stuff up in the last thread, but I’m not inclined to make a positive argument along that vector unless my actual argument is being attacked along it.

          • Do you agree that people who die from obesity-related problems are not included on the list?

            No. My guess is that some subset of such people are included in the count, presumably an estimate of how many died because of obesity as opposed to how many died of heart attacks, which are made more likely by obesity. But that’s only a guess.

            What is clear is that the definition of malnutrition by WHO is not limited to starvation, since the WHO page says so.

          • g says:

            rlms’s figures for malnutrition-related deaths do not, in fact, come from the same organization one of whose documents considers obesity a variety of malnutrition. Those who say they do haven’t been reading carefully enough.

            According to this about 3 million children die of undernutrition every year. I don’t know what the figures are for adults.

            As for the sex thing, carvenvisage, I agree with what seems to be everyone else: you are not being in any way rational about this and your (what I take to be) strong intuition that homosexuality = ass-fucking = dominance is not one that other people generally share, for the good reason that it’s — hmm, what’s the right technical term? ah yes, wrong.

        • carvenvisage says:

          Unless you mean communism, no.

          Maybe there’s some vague overlap with an incidental part of the cluster (The ‘incautious dogmas’ part) but you might as well include quilting if you’re going to take it that direction because lots of things metastasize into dumb cliques or religions. Being wary of that is mostly a seperate issue. Like jainism probably has some weird dogmas but definitely doesn’t belong on the list.

          Plus note that half of those aren’t even group dogmas/religions. Slavery is a legal state. Rape is an action commited by an individual, imperialism is… a sum-up word isn’t coming to mind, (aesthetic?), and of course your asshole boss is, taxonomicly, an ‘asshole’.

          Only naziism and convert-or-die are religious, which makes them extra explosively bad. The unifying element, as set out previously, is embracing the idea of dominating people/subjugation.

          _

          Another reason it’s not:
          Amongst religions, progressivism is inherently (if not currently) well on the more egalitarian front. And I don’t grant that the recent identity politics offshoot is the real thing. (certainly not the whole of it.)

          I’d say progressivism is roughly the idea that we should rush ahead to make things better without worrying about chesterton’s fences or caution, because so much is obviously wrong. (And perhaps not only wrong but entrenched and set to resist. and/or attack)

          So I’d say progressivism has been a reasonable ideology, or guiding principle, for most of its history. Lots of stuff really was really bad (and correctly idtentifed as such), and in an entrenched way, so ‘lets clear this shit aside WOOO’ seems like a pretty well attuned reaction to something that might need some attunement to deal with. If it was a mistake, it was certainly an understandable one, reacting against something that asked for reacting against.

           

          Like if we consider abolitionists real idealist progressives, the current batch would be more like the prophibitionists, who created the mafia (or alternatively some hypothetical anti-boxing hysteria that precluded progress on anything else). Because you’d expect ‘Progressive’ implies an incremental approach that starts with stuff that actually matters. Like if abolitionists were entrenching people FOR slavery with their antics (I’m not saying were, this is a hypothetical to illustrate a point), then at least they were aiming at a genuinely important cause. (and also being genuinely brave)

          I don’t think actual progressivism is without its disasters (french revolution), but for the most part it hasn’t been clearly morally wrong like every other item on the list, doesn’t share the unifying element I already spelled out, is pretty young in its recent ‘obviously wrong’ phase and generally, all around, obviously doesn’t fit in the list.

          • cassander says:

            Maybe there’s some vague overlap with an incidental part of the cluster (The ‘incautious dogmas’ part) but you might as well include quilting if you’re going to take it that direction because lots of things metastasize into dumb cliques or religions.

            This is sort of my point. the issue isn’t the precise details of the ideology that matter, but the level of violence with which is pursued that’s the issue. Had a bunch of germans in the 1930s decide they really didn’t like the jews, and so offered every jew in germany 10x what their property was worth to sell it and move elsewhere, nazi wouldn’t be a synonym for evil. I’ll fully grant that some ideologies are more susceptible to violence than others, but the issue is still the violence.

            >I don’t think actual progressivism is without its disasters (french revolution), but for the most part it hasn’t been clearly morally wrong like every other item on the list,

            at best, I’d consider the french revolution proto-progressive, but let’s put that aside for a minute. if the french revolution wasn’t totally wrong, than I don’t know what is. Tens of thousands murdered, millions killed in two decades of continental war war, it was a disaster. And if you want to say “sure it was bad on the whole but it had a lot of good parts” then, well, the nazis built lots of autobahns, and those are pretty great.

            And then, of course, we have the ultimate expression of progressivism, communism, which murdered an order of magnitude more people than the nazis did, and caused several orders more poverty and oppression, over a period of 70 years (more if you count the latent holdouts), not 13.

          • carvenvisage says:

            This is sort of my point. the issue isn’t the precise details of the ideology that matter

            yeah but the dominance thing also gets you the right answer on things that aren’t religious in nature. I didn’t say this is a more important principle that ‘think for yourself’, just a seperate one.

            Plus my one derives the ‘don’t adopt other people’s views verbatim and regurgitate them like a drone’ heuristic.

            at best, I’d consider the french revolution proto-progressive, but let’s put that aside for a minute. if the french revolution wasn’t totally wrong, than I don’t know what is. Tens of thousands murdered, millions killed in two decades of continental war war, it was a disaster. And if you want to say “sure it was bad on the whole but it had a lot of good parts” then, well, the nazis built lots of autobahns, and those are pretty great.

            Sorry, I was referring to progressivism in general, not to the french revolution specifically.

            And then, of course, we have the ultimate expression of progressivism, communism, which murdered an order of magnitude more people than the nazis did, and caused several orders more poverty and oppression, over a period of 70 years (more if you count the latent holdouts), not 13.

            I did grant that if you were talking about communism my answer would be different. (I’d add to that that it’s partially responsible for the rise of nazism as well).

            Based on your definition of progressivism it’s not quite so clear, but I still don’t think it fits in the class. The class isn’t (just) ‘worst shit ever’, it’s OTT dominance shit you could easily recognise as such if you have the heuristic. Progressivism might be more dangerous but if so I think you need another way to spot it, as it cloaks itself in the opposite appearance.

            As to whether communism was progressive, I think the communism we’re talking about is based on marxism, which is just a plain old vanilla cult, nothing ‘progressive’ about it. (well, a slow burning one) -“We need to restructure the whole of society to this weird way some guy who sounds smart said.” You can argue that e.g. allowing women to vote was short sighted, but not that it doesn’t have some common sense or natural appeal, or that it can’t pose as progress. The same isn’t true for a radical restructuring of society based on nothing but faith and wishful thinking like marxism. There’s little or no common sense element to it.

            Ordinary ‘we have to do something’ progressivism might get you the french revolution, but, marxism is a different (aggressive, ambitious, more directly religious, much more dogmatic) beast.

          • Mary says:

            Amongst religions, progressivism is inherently (if not currently) well on the more egalitarian front.

            Anything that you can not be is not something you inherently are. To be inherently something you must be it at all times (at a minimum).

          • carvenvisage says:

            @mary you’re right, I chose the word inaccurately.

            (‘Naturally’ more on the egalitarian side, then.)

          • cassander says:

            @carvenvisage says:

            I did grant that if you were talking about communism my answer would be different. (I’d add to that that it’s partially responsible for the rise of nazism as well).

            My point is you can’t separate the two. At the very least, progressives openly supported communist regimes for 70 years. And not just supported them, looked to them for inspiration and leadership.

            As to whether communism was progressive, I think the communism we’re talking about is based on marxism, which is just a plain old vanilla cult, nothing ‘progressive’ about it. (

            Again, progressives alive at the time thought differently. they absolutely saw communism as progressive. Hell, “progressive” was a euphemism for communist for many years.

            There’s little or no common sense element to it.

            “From each, to each” is a very common sensical idea. It doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have common sense appeal. And in the more technocratic modes, communism central planning was just an extreme version of what the progressives were selling.

      • Charles F says:

        Why, in a world where Nazism happened, would it ever be safe not to form your own views?

        What makes you think that, in a world where somebody formed Nazism as a view, it’s safe to assume you won’t make a similar mistake? If you can observe groups and their views, you get the opportunity to see that if you believe ABC, you’ll fit in with those people and probably have a stable job and a nuclear family, and if you believe XYZ you’ll fit in with these people and have contract work and a polycule. And you can try to pick up a dogma that has already undergone some testing to make sure it’s not Nazism.

        As for anti-dominance norms, it doesn’t seem like it should be surprising that ours aren’t very strong. We spend a pretty long time as children dependent on adults, and then unless we’re the leader of our group (which seems to have only gotten rarer as we’ve modernized) or close enough to make a bid for that spot practical, bucking the hierarchy is a terrible idea, fitness-wise. So there would seem to be a motivation to be blind to that sort of dynamic in favor of being a part of a functioning group. (Maybe lacking that particular human quality makes you crazy?)

        • carvenvisage says:

          What makes you think that, in a world where somebody formed Nazism as a view, it’s safe to assume you won’t make a similar mistake?

          Well if we all come up with our own views, at least we won’t be falling down one single insane direction. The marketplace of ideas relies on you not metagaming it in the laziest possible way. –

          So it’s basically a deontological thing. Individually it might be more profitable to adopt a dogma, but there needs to be a preponderence of people using their discernment/judgement, or else things get into feedback loops and disconnected from reality.

          -Basically consensus needs peer review. It’s kinda like leeching a torrent if you don’t do it (and way way worse if you actively distort it), except that if an illegal download goes down it’s not the end of the world while if consensus falls into blind feedback loops it literally could be.

          If you can observe groups and their views, you get the opportunity to see that if you believe ABC, you’ll fit in with those people and probably have a stable job and a nuclear family, and if you believe XYZ you’ll fit in with these people and have contract work and a polycule

          I definitely could be missing something, but if the idea is something like ‘join a group for selfish reasons.’ I don’t see how it’s so different from ‘join the nazis and have a shining glorious angelic aryan future!’. That sounds pretty appealing to me..

          Is the difference that the first two are more sedate? Idk if most nazis were more brownshirtish rather than ‘patriotic workers and housewives’ that would have struck a german of the time as normal. I mean I guess it would come off more extreme, but I don’t know if that would be enough.

          There was way more upheaval then, even not including the communists street militias that inspired the nazi brownshirts, which are a pretty big temptation and also mean there’s no such thing as ‘pick a safe option’.

          And you can try to pick up a dogma that has already undergone some testing to make sure it’s not Nazism.

          There’s a point! Didn’t take naziism long to go off did it? Maybe joining a stolid predictable group does work. Need to think about this.

          And democracy was new in germany, so it isn’t like bickering between ‘venerable’ parties gradually descended into the situation of the time. They started with instability and never fully got rid of it.

          I guess my best response to that, then, other than maybe-admitting that that heuristic could be pretty safe, is that people following ‘joiner’ impulses don’t seem too scared of communism, which is communism, so maybe ‘beyond the pale’ or ‘recognised as abnormal’ is not sufficient criteria, and one still needs to independently peer review the legitimacy of the party they give their soul to, if that’s what they’re going to do.

          You could also argue that marxism grew out of a relatively harmless dogmatic tradition. 20th century marxism had a precursor in marxism proper, which had a precursor in communism more generally. And naziism had precursors too. Maybe if more people had thought critically those ideas could have been exposed before it was too late.

          As for anti-dominance norms, it doesn’t seem like it should be surprising that ours aren’t very strong. We spend a pretty long time as children dependent on adults, and then unless we’re the leader of our group (which seems to have only gotten rarer as we’ve modernized) or close enough to make a bid for that spot practical, bucking the hierarchy is a terrible idea, fitness-wise

          Didn’t think of those on the evolutionary side.

          That kind of helps my argument, so, playing devil’s advocate:

          1. There’s a pretty sharp transition between childhood and adulthood though. The whole ‘rebellious teenager’ thing (if it is a proper thing) could indicate that this is smoothly mediated by something-or=oether, and wouldn’t explain tolerance of a parent-child type relationship between adults. (which might also be confusing or disconcerting, or insulting, for (primitive) people who have children.) And there’s kind of precedent with how siblings are imprinted as not-sexual-partners.

          2. If you let someone below you on the social ladder be dominated by someone on your level, that sets a precedent that you can be by someone above, so I think it would make sense for people to resist it if possible. (and maybe become inured/blind to it if there’s no hope of protecting/establishing norms). And in a hunter gatherer tribe there’s never going to be so much stratification between the top and bottom that you can’t just up and murder the chief if he’s getting above himself or trying to push others down.

           

          Argument that could go either way:

          A male hunter-gather is likely to be a killer if he’s a hunter, and might have to fight in wars with other tribes.

          I’m fairly sure ‘dominance’ is generally something that happens in controlled group contexts, not in a state of combat. -If you are dominated in combat it means you could killed, and that you didn’t manage to flee when you were losing or disadvantaged, while in a social situation ‘dominance’ can potentially happen without a life-or-death total defeat.

          So being closer to combat and killing, I imagine your average hunter gather is going to be, it would be nice if I had a better way to put this… ‘less of a pussy’, and might therefore have a far stronger inclination and ability to react against threats, and to process them in a combat (i.e. all out) rather than social, mode.

          (Plus at least some incentive not to compromise their combat routines. If I you roll over and die in an office social confrontation, you’re probably not going to get eaten by a sabertooth tiger next week as a result. Maybe you can afford to be much more compromising when you don’t have to defend yourself from nature and other tribes and physical threats in your tribe)

          But the flipside of that is that if you’re hunting then you’re killing stuff to eat, so if you view the animals as “people” of some sort (I think some native american terms for animals are like ‘people-of-the-X, which is (very?) weak evidence), you might consider yourself to be dominating them, which would be a strong reason not to object to the general idea.

          And I vaguely remember some stuff about hunter-gatherer tribes being egalatarian. (Not 100% sure whether this is well established or just some random story I read)

          Maybe lacking that particular human quality makes you crazy?

          I think it It definitely doesn’t in the usual sense of ‘lost track of reality’.

          Maybe it could in the ‘mad dog, keep away’ sense, but I feel like people generally admire that kind of recklessness and know how to deal with it.

          Also I think people are aware when they have to swallow an insult, that it would be great if people wouldn’t do that, which having an occasional ‘defensive-escalater’ around strongly disincentivises. (if you have none around insults become pretty costless/riskless)

          Also christianity is a confounder here as it tells you not to take such things into your own hands.

          • Charles F says:

            Well if we all come up with our own views, at least we won’t be falling down one single insane direction. The marketplace of ideas relies on you not metagaming it in the laziest possible way

            I definitely like this in spirit, but in practice I think it’s a bit unlikely that “dominance is bad” is going to be a really common view. It seems like most people stop at object-level concerns and wouldn’t get here. Then individuals who happen to have some relative power and didn’t come up with “no dominance” is going to mange to control others somehow for their goals, people without the “no dominance” idea are going to notice that fighting back isn’t such a great idea and just pursue their goals with the resources left to them or notice that being on the winning side makes them more able to pursue their goals, and help the first guy dominate people.

            “Fucked up dominance shit” is the default state of nature, I think. And creating institutions and ideologies that anyone can join (or be indoctrinated into), so that they don’t try to come up with their own and accidentally hit the “I’m an ubermensch and others should submit to me” cluster is an ongoing project of civilization. Maybe after they’re mostly indoctrinated, they’re even encouraged to think for themselves a bit and question parts of it, but you’ve got to get them to the point where they’re probably mostly on-board first. Leading to a possibly-safer way to get consensus peer-reviewed.

            people following ‘joiner’ impulses don’t seem too scared of communism, which is communism

            Scary point. I’m hopeful that a mostly youthful (I think) enthusiasm for communism is because it’s a naively attractive ideology when you still don’t have much skin in the game. And that people will age out after thinking about maybe not wanting to give their house and job to the workers collective. But this seems like a great case of thinking for yourself not being such a fantastic defense, because communism is a really easy ideology to come up with when you don’t have as much stuff as people around you. I know PrimarySchool!Charles managed to figure out that if our magic cards belonged to everybody, we could all make better decks and have more interesting/fair games (and win more tournaments), and that it benefited me extra must have just been a coincidence. So while spreading a “no dominance” norm is probably a good strategy, relying on people to come up with their own, and to come up with ones that don’t immediately benefit them, seems like it wouldn’t help much.

            I haven’t spent much time on the evolutionary idea either, and I know you can come up with an evo-psych explanation for anything, so this probably isn’t the most productive, but my perspective is:

            There’s a pretty sharp transition between childhood and adulthood though. The whole ‘rebellious teenager’ thing

            I think this makes much more sense as a process of taking your own place in the status hierarchy as an adult, rather than a transition from the parent-child dominance relationship to the free egalitarian community relationship. Rebelling against your parents is the first time your status is determined based on merit rather than just your need for support, and a rebellious phase encourages you to keep climbing until you’ve hit the highest status you can reach.

            If you let someone below you on the social ladder be dominated by someone on your level, that sets a precedent that you can be by someone above, so I think it would make sense for people to resist it

            On a meta level, maybe. On an individual level, if preventing that domination is essentially trying to lower the guy on your level’s status, and status is achieved/enforced through violence, then hell no it wouldn’t make sense to resist it. I think the two pretty easy kinds of dominance structures are a fuzzy ladder and a pyramid.

            In the case of the ladder, most people are dominated a bit and dominate a bit, and it’s not a great idea to dominate somebody too close to your level (since they might think they’re actually more dominant) or somebody too far below your level (since interacting with somebody very low status lowers your status by association). So the people near the top benefit from it, everybody in the middle is kind of neutral, people at the bottom lose out, but the order is based mostly on ability to enforce your will through violence or social maneuvering, so nobody in a position to do something about it has an incentive to.

            In a pyramid, everybody but the lowest level dominates more people than they’re dominated by, so only the bottom step has an incentive to do away with the system, and they’re outnumbered and low-status.

            Edit: missed this bit

            I definitely could be missing something, but if the idea is something like ‘join a group for selfish reasons.’ I don’t see how it’s so different from ‘join the nazis and have a shining glorious angelic aryan future!’. That sounds pretty appealing to me..

            The idea was “join a group with some confidence the doctrine doesn’t have a lot of unforseen bad outcomes.” Admittedly I chose dumb examples, since it seems too early to have a really good idea of whether rationalists will end up turning Berkeley into a hellscape of Dragon-Army-Gone-Wrong cults, but if you become a Democrat or a Republican, either way you’re probably going to contribute to a gradually increasing government and regulatory ecosystem without creating any sort of dystopia/apocalypse in the next 50 years with high confidence. Joining an upstart National Socialist party, not so much. High chance of fizzling out, low chance of disrupting things (probably in a bad way if people aren’t really careful).

          • carvenvisage says:

            But this seems like a great case of thinking for yourself not being such a fantastic defense, because communism is a really easy ideology to come up with when you don’t have as much stuff as people around you. I know PrimarySchool!Charles managed to figure out that if our magic cards belonged to everybody, we could all make better decks and have more interesting/fair games (and win more tournaments), and that it benefited me extra must have just been a coincidence

            I think 20th c marxism is more like a prophetic warrior religion of revolution, not just the idea we should share our cards, and no way would someone normal come up with that on their own.

            (especially 100 years later, after some successful union movements and the conditions that gave rise to the highly ‘reactionary’ ideology don’t hold to the same extent).

            Marx was a most unusually (amoral) “impact-ambitious” guy, -see the quote about ‘the point is to change history’, and was reacting to contemporary circumstances.

            He wasn’t trying to find the truth but to have the most influence (one way or another), and he practically admitted it. So the kid-communism example is not the same. (When I say ‘is communism’ maybe I should be more precise and say ‘is marxism-derived communism’.) Just the idea of sharing stuff one day in the future is not so dangerous. There’s no more continuity between that and “inevitably the proletariat must and will rise up and seize the means of production, by any and all means, (preferably all), and neutralise regressive elements”- than there is between deism and convert-or-die.

            -The former in each case is a common and innocuous destination in logic, the latter is made dangerous by a vast acretion of insane embelishments which people didn’t manage to dismantle or contradict before a critical mass could be reached.

            _
            _

            And do mass idelogies actually immunise people from the I’m an ubermensch/narcicism individual attitudes? Seems to me more like it legitimises that approach to life. If an all out struggle between political parties is where you find your religion, I don’t think that exactly encourages you to be a monk.

            _

            (I leave replying to the rest of your points because these are the only two perhaps-interesting replies I have)

          • Charles F says:

            I think 20th c marxism is more like a prophetic warrior religion of revolution, not just the idea we should share our cards, and no way would someone normal come up with that on their own.

            Hmm, yeah it’s definitely much harder than just sharing resources. But maybe not quite as hard as you’re making it out to be. People with less than they think they deserve deciding that they should have more (and more and more) control over what gets produced and who gets it, seems not *really* hard to hit on, and also would have a lot of the bad effects of Marxist communism.

            I think overall I agree with you that people making their own views would probably not get Marxism with much frequency at all. They definitely would come up with a lot of half-formed systems with bad unintended consequences, but probably not so appealing as Marxism, so maybe less likely to cause massive humanitarian disasters.

            (Though I continue to expect that pretending to adopt views of the powerful to gain some advantage pursuing your own goals will end up producing pretty much the results we’ve gotten.)

            And do mass idelogies actually immunise people from the I’m an ubermensch/narcicism individual attitudes? Seems to me more like it legitimises that approach to life.

            This doesn’t seem right to me, but I don’t have much of anything to say against it. At least, if you’re in a political bubble, you’re kept separate from the people you might like to lord over, so you don’t end up doing much of it, maybe? If that were the case at one point, social media might have ruined things a bit.

  36. Art Vandelay says:

    I wan’t to pick up a discussion from the last OT. I was arguing against this idea:

    “We have too much political strife so we need to reduce the power of government and increase the power of the free market”

    My argument was that this is in itself a political position so is not going to reduce political strife at all. Let’s imagine that Trump was an undercover libertarian and on assuming office he instantly instituted a plan to drastically reduce government, getting rid of welfare, government agencies, all regulation, privatising or simply disbanding almost everything currently run by the government. He would obviously face massive political opposition to his political decision to slash government power.

    @Onyomi made the claim that this is just semantics. Sure, getting rid of politics in favour of free markets is a position on politics, but only if you want to be pedantic about it.

    This wasn’t quite the point I was making though. I agree that the disagreement here is semantic but my take is rather different. The libertarian side of the argument seems to treat government and politics as synonyms, or at least close enough that it makes little difference but I think this deeply misunderstands what politics is.

    Let’s imagine another hypothetical situation in which Trump has used his Master Persuader skills to negotiate a deal where everyone agrees to pursue their goals through the market. Damore releases his memo in this new libertarian USA. Do all the SJ people decide, “Well, seeing as government doesn’t really have any power any more I’m not going to get angry about this”? And if he does get fired, do all the anti-SJW people think to themselves “If we still had a government this would really grind my gears, but we don’t have politics any more so I’m going to let it slide”?

    As I was thinking about this I realised that the idea we need to reduce government in order to heal political divisions is actually not just wrong, it’s dangerous. The idea came from this piece, which wasn’t about the Damore controversy, it was about the Charlottesville violence. I find it hard to believe that anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of 20th Century history could possibly believe that the way you deal with threat of rising fascist and communist violence is to REDUCE the power of the government. The far-right and far-left don’t get into power because government is too strong, precisely the opposite is the case. This seems so obvious I’ve started to wonder if the Mises Institute is actually a Communist cabal, playing the long con by arguing for massive reductions to the state, biding their time until this comes to pass and they can raise a people’s militia to take advantage of the resulting power-vacuum to seize control and implement some 5-year plans.

    • Aapje says:

      I think that it’s really dangerous that many neoliberals are now telling people that no tweaks can be made to the system but the only choice is to let the market operate freely and accept the outcome. It logically leads people who dislike the outcome to desire radical chance/revolution.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I think that it’s really dangerous that many neoliberals are now telling people that no tweaks can be made to the system

        Huh? Who do you mean here? The technocratic left?

        The technocratic left loves tweaks…

        • Aapje says:

          Perhaps tweaks is the wrong word, I did mean substantial change that still preserves the basic capitalist system.

          Bill & Hillary Clinton, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Merkel and the EU all have this narrative where large scale migration, lower taxes on business, a reduced safety net, etc are inevitable and no other choice can be made.

          • Iain says:

            Huh?

            Obamacare was one of the largest expansions of the US safety net in decades. Clinton had detailed proposals for closing corporate tax loopholes. I don’t know what you mean by “large scale migration” — there is a gap between politicians and voters on the right, sure, but the same gap is much less salient on the left.

            Do you have an example of a policy that you would count as a sufficiently large tweak to the system?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “Politics is the art of the possible” — Bismarck
            “”I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.” — FDR

            My point here is that the technocratic left includes, with a very high priority, a calculation of what they think is possible in their decisions on what they propose.

            Call it pragmatism as a moral principle.

          • Aapje says:

            @Iain

            Obamacare was one of the largest expansions of the US safety net in decades.

            That provides support for my argument, actually. There was huge tax evasion during those decades, welfare was gutted, work security greatly reduced, the 1% got a much bigger part of the pie and then Obamacare is supposed to make up for this???

            I’ll grant you that Obama can plausibly be considered a victim of circumstance, as more might simply not have been possible, but Obama did try to push popular opinion on (silly) topics like equal pay, but not so much for other topics.

          • Iain says:

            There was huge tax evasion during those decades, welfare was gutted, work security greatly reduced, the 1% got a much bigger part of the pie and then Obamacare is supposed to make up for this???

            I was about to type [citation needed], but on second thought that’s not my biggest objection. My real objection is that nobody on the left is saying anything about these being good/inevitable.

            This is not a case where “neoliberals” are telling people nothing can be done; this is a case where politicians do not achieve all their goals you like, and have other goals that you personally dislike. Calling this “really dangerous” is a bit silly.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Having universal healthcare is a really low bar for modern societies to reach for. The fact that Obama achieved it doesn’t show that he or his friends were big on wealth redistribution, just that they finally got around to doing the bare minimum expected of hyper-advanced post-industrial societies. There is a lot of disdain by neoliberals for social engineering. Canada is a good example, as leftists are in firm control of Canada, but because they are neoliberal leftists they don’t bother to augment the system in any way. Instead, they keep taxes extremely low so that half the population can buy really big houses and fancy cars that have been shown by science to not increase happiness by one iota, while neglecting to spend even a dime for the common good.

          • Iain says:

            @The Red Foliot:

            Your personal opinions on bar height are irrelevant. The simple fact is that the United States previously didn’t have universal healthcare, and now it does, funded in large part by a significant tax increase on people making more than $200K/year. That is not a small change, and I don’t see why Obama’s personal feelings on redistribution matter in the slightest.

            PS: That is not a good summary of Canadian politics. For example, it’s a bit weird to say that leftists are in firm control of Canada when there’s a whole major party (the NDP) to the left of the majority government. Source: I’m Canadian.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            It’s not my personal opinion on bar height; virtually all other advanced countries had universal healthcare, so one can conclude that its introduction wasn’t indicative of any significant desire for social spending on Obama’s part relative to his international peers. That Obama’s national peers, who are neoliberals and neoconservatives, thought that even universal health care might be “a bit too much” is only an indictment of neoliberalism, as countries without neoliberalism don’t think that way.

            As for Canada, I am Canadian, too, and so I am aware that the (neo)liberal party is in solid control, and furthermore that the vaunted NDP which you say is right wing is actually culturally left wing, as they are host to a lot of social justice people. If they appear right wing to you, because of their economic policies, that is funny because their economic beliefs are essentially those of neoliberals, showing that you think neoliberals are right wing (I would concur).

          • Iain says:

            the vaunted NDP which you say is right wing

            What? I said that there is a whole party to the left of the Liberals. That is precisely the opposite of saying the NDP are right-wing.

            And again: I don’t care about Obama’s motivations for supporting universal healthcare. I don’t care about a comparison to Obama’s “international peers”. I care about the comparison to the status quo. I care that millions of people got health coverage who previously didn’t have it, and that the fundamental question of health policy in America is slowly but surely pivoting from whether everybody should be covered to how.

            I’m not King of the Left. If you want to sit around bellowing “neoliberal!” at everybody who fails your arbitrary purity tests, I guess I can’t stop you. I just hope you’re not expecting to convince anybody.

            (If you are actually interested in convincing people, you could start by defining what you mean by “neoliberalism” and explaining why you see it as a bad thing.)

          • The Red Foliot says:

            The value of assessing what people like Obama and his peers think is that it helps you predict future trends, as they are on the ascendant. The fact that neither Obama nor his peers seem to care much for social expansion beyond just the low bar of universal health care indicates that neoliberalism probably won’t be developing in that direction anytime soon. One can also look at the receding popularity of social democrats of Europe and their general non-existence in North America, as well as the increasing prevalence of neoliberals in all quarter, to see that the only true champions of humane societies are likely to be supplanted by neoliberals who hate everything but low taxes and fancy cars.

            I see neoliberals as essentially mild-mannered libertarians. They favor free trade and low taxes but don’t take it as far as ancaps. The fact that they are considered left wing only proves to me that the left is the new right, and there is no new left to replace the old left.

          • Iain says:

            Hillary Clinton campaigned on making college debt-free. Would you categorize free college as a low tax, or as a fancy car?

            To be clear: I think free college is a dumb social expansion, but it’s clearly a social expansion. Your theory is bad, and you should spend more time observing the world instead of complaining about how you imagine it to be.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I see neoliberals as essentially mild-mannered libertarians

            You think the people pushing for universal national healthcare are libertarians?

            You think giving up a quarter of my income to the government (or more!) is low tax?

          • The Red Foliot says:

            Hillary’s proposal is indeed a radical (and stupid) departure from neoliberalism, and perhaps my views do need a teensy bit more nuance; however, there is definitely a trend of center-leftists coming to favor more libertarian-ish positions on economic matters, eschewing, in particular, wealth transfers to the very poor. I admit it is not bad on all fronts, however.

          • I see neoliberals as essentially mild-mannered libertarians.

            Who want governments to spend about forty percent of national income, regulate a wide range of industries, have government produce and control almost all K-12 schooling and most higher ed, decide what drugs, medical or recreational, people are allowed to take, …

            Your view is the mirror image of the libertarian position that both Democrats and Republicans are statists, differing in detail in exactly what they want the state to control.

            Seen from the North Pole, everything is south. Seen from the South Pole … .

          • cassander says:

            Bill & Hillary Clinton, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Merkel and the EU all have this narrative where large scale migration, lower taxes on business, a reduced safety net, etc are inevitable and no other choice can be made

            Bill Clinton and Obama both expanded the safety net, as it has under every president since FDR. It didn’t shrink under blair or cameron. Don’t know about merkel. I lose patience with those on the left who prefer the myth being under attack to the reality of their success. The left is not fighting some rearguard action, it is constantly advancing, and it is so used to automatic advance that it confuses temporary abatement of progress with catastrophic defeat.

            That provides support for my argument, actually. There was huge tax evasion during those decades,

            please show evidence of this, or don’t make the claim.

            welfare was gutted,

            one welfare program was made less generous. every other one expanded, and by much more.

            work security greatly reduced,

            what does this mean?

            the 1% got a much bigger part of the pie and

            only if by that you mean “the wealth of every sector of society increased, but it increased faster for some than others”. Which is true, but not exactly a catastrophe unless your only motive is avarice.

            then Obamacare is supposed to make up for this???

            There is nothing to make up for.

          • Well…no. The neoliberal left differ from the neoliberal right.

          • Aapje says:

            @cassander

            Do you mean by absolute numbers or by relative numbers? Because the US population increased, which naturally gives you an increase, even if the per capita size of the programs stay the same.

            I also believe that relative wealth is very important and has a great impact on how society hangs together, so if GDP increases, you need increase in the programs as well or you lose something.

            However, the changes I’m complaining about go beyond wealth redistribution. I think that meritocracy has been taken too far and respect has been lost for the human behind the provider of labor. Some people’s abilities are so valuable that they benefit from this, but many others are part of the precariat.

            What most of the modern left and right misunderstand that the precariat is fundamentally not demanding handouts, but a fair deal. As Roosevelt said:

            When I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.

            And as Truman said:

            Every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from our Government a fair deal.

            However, at this point I think we must look beyond mere equality of opportunity, but also a level of respect and consideration for those who can’t. When society starts demanding more from people than what they can provide with a healthy amount of effort, the capitalist system becomes one of abuse.