Open Thread 126.25

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971 Responses to Open Thread 126.25

  1. Walter says:

    What is the tastiest kind of candy bar you can buy in a typical American gas station, say a BP or a QT? Goal is to convince a foreign friend that we have Best Candy.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Mounds

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        This, or Almond Joy, is the objectively correct answer.

      • Aapje says:

        @Hoopyfreud

        Is Mounds better than Bounty? This review and the comments seem to prefer the latter.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          For one thing, Bounty comes in milk and dark chocolate; it’s always preferable to have a choice, don’t you think?

          Stopped reading here because I simply C A N N O T

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        I should amend this to say that Mexico, in fact, has the best gas station candy by dint of having Glorias; Mounds are simply the best in the US.

    • Nick says:

      I’m fond of Snickers, but I’m not sure they’re the objectively tastiest.

    • J Mann says:

      Depending on mood, Reese’s cups, Mounds, Heath, Butterfinger, with a long shot play by Whatchamacallit.

    • AG says:

      100 Grand

    • Protagoras says:

      Why are you trying to convince people of things that aren’t true? I won’t say they are the best, as I don’t feel I have done enough comparisons, but Germany has better candy than America.

    • edmundgennings says:

      We do not, the brits have the best. Crunchies are amazing and should be imported more broadly.

    • Clutzy says:

      That giant slab of watermelon laffy taffy. Liquid gold is that.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I’m going to go with a Payday, because at least that is different from what I think you will get elsewhere (which will otherwise be better in Europe).

    • Well... says:

      Depends what part of the US. There’s a part of Los Angeles where all the gas stations sell Kinder Buenos, and that is definitely the best candy. But it’s also a foreign candy, I think.

      So if you don’t want to count that, then other people have already said Mounds.

      Kit Kat is underrated but probably not good enough to sway a foreigner, so long as that foreigner is from Europe.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        Kit Kat is also available pretty much worldwide. The recipe in the US may be slightly different, as American Kit Kats are produced under license by Hershey’s (Kit Kats everywhere else in the world are made by Nestle).

    • littskad says:

      A Moon Pie and a cola (RC Cola, for purists)
      Charleston Chews
      100 Grand bars
      Or, if you’re not in a chocolate mood: Payday or Bit-O-Honey

      • Well... says:

        A Moon Pie and a cola (RC Cola, for purists)

        I thought it was supposed to be a Knee-high and a Coney Island.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Grape Knee-high?
          (That product name always made me think you should be able to buy purple socks from vending machines.)

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I’m only a few steps removed from the industry, so I have my own biases.

      However:
      -American mass market chocolate largely sucks.
      -The highest quality mass market choices are probably Ghiradelli and Dove.
      -Ghiradelli may be swiss-owned, but that doesn’t mean it is Swiss operated.
      -American mass market non-chocolate candy (Skittles, Gummy Bears, Laffy Taffy, Twizzler, Nerds) is way superior to the non-American stuff, at least the kinds I have tried. Like, the only thing even close to the same league is Swedish Fish and the Haribo gummies. Though, I suspect this is because sugar tastes by nation vary even more than chocolate tastes.
      -3 Musketeers

      • AG says:

        American mass market non-chocolate candy

        Ah yes, you mean the “high fructose corn syrup products” contingent?

      • Deiseach says:

        American mass market chocolate largely sucks.

        Anecdote not data, but since Mondelez (formerly Kraft) took over Cadburys, the general consensus is that the chocolate does not taste as good – they seem to have changed the recipe to cheaper ingredients, or ones more American in style, or something. They definitely engaged in cost-cutting with closing down plants and moving to cheaper labour countries but worse than that they’ve made the standard bars smaller! for the same or higher prices!

        Also what annoys me is that they’re constantly trying to push weird variations with Oreos in – I don’t like Oreos! I don’t want to eat Oreo-flavoured chocolate! I want the old bars not your weird new varieties and sickly-tasting chocolate!

        They’ve introduced new ‘darkmilk‘ bars which taste more like the originals, so I’m going to assume they’ve gone back to something like the original recipe for these (and the way they’re marketing them as “for adults” makes me think this is a way of conceding to the British and Irish chocolate eaters that yeah, the new bars are rubbish but they’re still trying to get kids to prefer the new style of chocolate).

        EDIT: I forgot to say that the “luxury” brand Green & Black’s was taken over by Cadbury and yes, since the Mondelez take-over, it too has definitely gone down in taste and quality.

    • Heath bar.

      But home made English toffee is, I think, even better.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Dark chocolate Milky Way.

      • Nick says:

        I’m a fan of the little bite-size ones around Halloween, when my workplace kitchen has a bowl of them.

    • Jiro says:

      For some reason, the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain’s shop area is stocked with tons of different types of candy that would otherwise be local brands. Any answer that is not a nationwide brand could likely be found there.

    • Heterosteus says:

      Goal is to convince a foreign friend that we have Best Candy.

      Scotland has the best candy.

      No, I’m not Scottish.

    • Dack says:

      I would say the best candy does not technically count as a bar.

      On a related note, I went through 2 different stores specifically looking for big bags of Reese’s Pieces recently (for making trail mix) and failed to find any of any size. Makes me wonder how many candies are really that universally available.

  2. Hoopyfreud says:

    Posted in the last thread a few minutes ago, reposing here because I think it’s interesting:

    I feel like something about copyright broke recently. I think we went through a Kuhnian paradigmatic shift without realizing it, and I don’t like it on this side.

    Somehow, we went from “don’t sell things you don’t own” with commonly understood definitions of “sell” and “own” to the current paradigm in which copyright holders seek to extract maximum value out of their holdings by using the presence of any copyrighted material as a basis for claiming those rights. Yes, that’s how they’re formally defined. No, I don’t think they should be. The cost of negotiation for media use rights is so (irreducibly) expensive that I don’t think it’s possible to [libertarian] one’s way into a useful solution while retaining copyright in its current form.

    Consider that mixtape culture was a thing at one point, and that Endtroducing… not only saw the light of day but was one of the best and most-loved albums of the 1990s. It’s composed almost entirely of samples. I don’t think it could be made today. Certainly not by an unknown like DJ Shadow was. I used to make mixtapes for fun (and have recently been thinking about getting back into it), and I can confirm both that I used large amounts of copyrighted material… and that I sincerely felt like I was making something new. I never sold mixtapes – they were played and duplicated for free for close friends. I feel like the conception of copyright we have should allow for this – that it did once allow for this – but I have no idea how to formalize it. See also: photocopying pages from D&D manuals.

    I sometimes think the internet broke it. The internet got rid of “art for friends,” on the assumption that a wider audience is inherently better. But it feels like there’s a missing concept here. Something about unidirectional semipermeable cultural membranes, isolation from the backdrop, distance from the monoculture, eternal September. It used to be that you had to push uphill to get something a wide audience; now you have to push uphill to keep it small. The death of derivative art is only a manifestation. I don’t know what can be done to fix it; I think intellectual property needs to be rethought. The CC license seemed like a promising alternative about 7 years ago, but the world keeps forcing IP into existing legal systems. The dependency is built into the superstructure. It scares and depresses me.

    And also there’s something about legibility, originality, acceptance of transformative work – remember that Endtroducing… was a commercial release. How did we end up in a world in which all samples need to be licensed? There’s something here about legal tests, maybe about legal determinism… I feel like subjective criteria should matter more here than they do. But I don’t know if that fixes it.

    • AG says:

      The only case in the opposite direction has been in fandom: the tacit agreement by corporations not to go after Comiket or convention Artist Alleys.

      It seems like some of the copyright hounding comes from a place of financial instability, though. Consider the case of Article 11, or the link tax, wherein preview snippets of news articles are subject to licensing fees. Or the way news archival is decaying: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/04/the-memory-hole-2.html

      If journalism was in less of dire straits for making money, they could be less desperate for extracting news consumption rent, or have the capital to properly archive.

      Prince was horrible about copyright, but that was in reaction to being burned by the system himself, first.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I never sold mixtapes – they were played and duplicated for free for close friends.

      What am I missing here? Do that now, put it on YouTube , worst that happens is that it gets de-monetized.

      There are roughly a bazillion people putting up various takes on copyrighted material. They don’t get taken down. The chief complaint from people is that their actual fair use of the material is demonetized.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        They do get taken down, though, and copyright strikes get issued. Demonetization is one thing, but takedowns get fired at people all the time as far as I can tell.

  3. hls2003 says:

    I was reading about the Tsar Bomba the other day, and got the general idea (though I’m far from a nuclear weapons expert) that there are not many theoretical (though some practical) upper limits to how many stages you could put into a similar-design thermonuclear weapon and how much yield you could consequently expect.

    This got me thinking. What do you think is the largest single explosion that humanity could specifically cause, given say five years preparation on a worldwide full-production war footing with current technology (or plausible and short extrapolations therefrom)? It wouldn’t necessarily need to be on Earth, but it would have to be directly caused by humanity (i.e. you can’t just wait for a solar flare or point a telescope at a supernova).

    A few ideas I came up with, but haven’t got the knowledge to even guess at estimated maximum yield:

    Nuclear weapons, of course;
    Conventional explosives, which counter-intuitively might work better in this scenario because there is physically so much more of their components (ANFO pile covering Rhode Island?);
    Antimatter – but probably couldn’t scale up production in time;
    Redirected impactors – nudging objects seems like it would take too long under these parameters;
    Higher-speed and higher-mass Voyager 2-style impact.

    Any other thoughts on humanity’s biggest bang?

    • bean says:

      Definitely nuclear, particularly if you’re willing to be a bit flexible with the time. Tsar Bomba was approximately 50 MT, and it could have been 100 easily. Worldwide consumption of fertilizer nutrients (the first proxy I could think of for Anfo production) is 186 million tons a year. So to a first approximation, you could probably get ~1 GT out of conventional explosives in 5 years, or 10 Tsar Bombas. I’m not 100% sure we could do that with nuclear because of how much our design capability has atrophied, but if you’d asked the US of the early 60s to do so, it would have been pretty easy.

      (There may be some limitations on how many stages you can get from weird and exotic effects. Those are common in nuclear weapons, but I respond by sticking a bunch of TBs in the same box and fitting them with a common detonator. And if you say that’s cheating, I’ll point out that (almost?) all implosion weapons use a multi-point detonator system, and I’m just separating the detonators more.)

      • hls2003 says:

        I wouldn’t consider the “Bomba box” to be cheating by the terms of the hypothetical. As long as it looks like one explosion (even if caused by multiple devices), I’d count it.

        • dick says:

          Is it possible to detonate two nukes right next to each other? As opposed to one nuke exploding slightly earlier and damaging the other in such a way as to keep it from igniting and/or chain reacting properly?

          • bean says:

            I know where you’re coming from, but it doesn’t apply in this case. Nuclear fratricide happens when you have two independent devices close together, going off independently. That is not the case here. I’ll just make sure the detonators are aligned closely enough that each separate device goes off before the effects of the other devices reach it. (Timing to this level of precision is something nuclear weapons people routinely deal with anyway.) And yes, to anyone a reasonable distance away, that will look like one explosion.

      • Eric Rall says:

        I’m pretty sure I’ve seen claims from multiple sources that the Teller-Ulam design has no theoretical limit on scaling up. You just need a big enough primary to set off the entire secondary. If that’s true, the bottleneck on the nuclear option is probably either the maximum size of secondary the biggest primary we can build could set off (I think the biggest single-stage warhead in current inventory is the W76, at 100 kT, but I have no idea how big a secondary that can drive) or our ability to manufacture the raw materials for the secondary (lithium deuteride for the secondary proper and refined natural or depleted uranium for the tamper).

        If the primary is the bottleneck here, it seems like it should be possible to daisy-chain progressively larger secondaries (e.g. use a Tsar Bomba style bomb as the “primary” for an even bigger secondary), but that’s just speculation on my part. And even if it’s theoretically possible, it’s probably a significant design challenge. And bean’s talk of atrophied design capability makes me doubt we could sort those challenges out within five years.

        • bean says:

          I’ve heard similar things about Teller-Ullam, and it is theoretically possible to stack as many stages as you want. In practice, I’m mostly hedging against John Schilling popping up and saying “actually, you can’t do that because of such and such” because I have vague memories of him saying that in the past, but could equally be imagining them. BombaBox solves that problem.

          • John Schilling says:

            There’s no theoretical limit that I know of, but Teller-Ulam devices are driven by turbulent radiation hydrodynamics. Since turbulent hydrodynamics without radiation is not only a Millennium Prize problem, but the only one for which “this is proven insoluble” is an acceptably prize-winning answer, the only way to know where the limits are is to test them. Which I would strongly request that you do on a planet I do not live on.

            I’m ~80% confident that if the Russians still have and release for this purpose the full test data from Tsar Bomba, we could design a Deus Bomba of ~500 megatons around it. When we see the test data from that, I’ll have an opinion on larger bombs. Box o’ Bombas is the pragmatic approach.

          • bean says:

            That’s it. I was remembering a previous discussion where we covered exactly this.

            the only way to know where the limits are is to test them. Which I would strongly request that you do on a planet I do not live on.

            Hey, finally a use for the SLS.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Maybe try to ignite Jupiter?

      This extremely sketchy Wikipedia article claims that you could ignite the fusile elements in Jupiter’s atmosphere and turn it into a star with a sufficiently large nuclear bomb. Stack exchange and other sources claim that it’s simply too small however: even a brown dwarf is generally many times as massive as Jupiter.

      Another, seemingly even less likely, plan from that article would be to steer a small black hole into a collision with Jupiter so as to increase it’s density to the point that it undergoes fusion.

      • hls2003 says:

        Intriguing future options, but not current technology or near-future. Also, if we could manipulate black holes to that extent, I would expect that perhaps we could get bigger explosions from stellar interactions? We could presumably also manipulate neutron stars to create a regular periodic nova from orbiting a larger star.

      • Chalid says:

        Asteroids and comets have hit Jupiter with far more energy than any bomb, and it hasn’t ignited.

        • 10240 says:

          I have no idea if the concept is plausible, but asteroid impacts don’t necessarily disprove it: asteroids hit the surface, while the detonation may need to happen at a large depth.

    • Lambert says:

      The good thing about a nuke is that it fits in one plane/warhead.
      I’d expect other, dumber things to pack a bigger punch per unit industrial capacity (however defined), if we don’t care too much about energy density.

      My proposal would be to bury a 100 MT nuke under as much coal as we can get (easily in the tens of GT), in order to make the world’s largest fuel-air explosion. I’d imagine lack of oxygen will be the limiting factor.
      And we’ll just have to hope that the shockwave doesn’t die out.

      • hls2003 says:

        Maybe if you powder the coal to increase the surface area? Some grain-silo and other dust explosions pack a pretty big punch.

        • Lambert says:

          that’s what the nuke’s there to do.
          I figure a lot of the carbon will be straight-up vaporised.

      • bean says:

        I’d expect other, dumber things to pack a bigger punch per unit industrial capacity (however defined), if we don’t care too much about energy density.

        I’m really not sure this is true, at least at scale. All of the nuclear infrastructure is expensive, but it’s already there. While I can totally believe that, say, a really big FAE is cheaper than a 5-10 kT bomb, particularly if you only need one, there are going to be limiting scaling factors there, too. For instance, an FAE needs air, which limits how tightly you can pack them together. So once we get into the megaton range, you’re going to want nukes. Economies of scale apply there, too. Tsar Bomba was a lot less than 50 times as expensive as a 1 MT warhead.

    • Nornagest says:

      I don’t think you could do it in five years, but (153814) 2001 WN5 is going to pass within the Moon’s distance of the Earth in 2028. It’s about a kilometer wide. If you could nudge it into impact with the Earth or Moon, it would be worth about 10^5 megatons.

      • Garrett says:

        How difficult would it be for a terrestrial person to nudge that distance down for that 2028 event? Could I use a computer-controlled telescope mount and a commercial IR laser right now to cause impact?

        • Nornagest says:

          Very unlikely. Actually figuring out the energy budget would take some ugly orbital mechanics math that I’m not really capable of without a lot of work (it would be one thing if the near miss happened soon, but it’s several orbits away — 2001 WN5 has an orbit about the size of Mars’), but an asteroid 0.9 kilometers wide works out to somewhere on the order of 10^14 kilograms. It most likely doesn’t need a very big nudge, but it’s a very big rock.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Since we have 283 million seconds, it works out to about 0.88 m/s of delta V, if you could deliver it all at once right now, to make it hit something 250 million meters off its current trajectory. [0]

            I couldn’t find resources to see how much nuclear explosion would be needed to move 10^14kg that much, and my math is too rusty.

            Wait, maybe it’s not:

            dV = Isp * G0 * ln(mass ratio)

            0.88 = 6000 [1] * 9.8 * ln (MR)

            0.00001496598639455782 = ln (MR)

            1.0000149661 = MR = (10^17 + nuke mass / 10^17)

            1496610000000 = nuke mass, in grams

            1.5 million metric tons of nuclear bombs, which presumably means just the nuclear core, not all the stuff around it.

            That’s not that far off from using a laser to ablate tiny pieces of it, though. Assuming your laser can get up to 6000 s (a quick google suggests some can do 3000 s right now), you would still need to burn off 1.5 million metric tons of asteroid stuff.

            (Next step would be to see what happens if I can assume it’s made of propellant[2] and land nuclear engines on it[3] how many of them I would need. )

            [0] Delivered in just the right way. This is very hard to calculate but definitely the easiest part of the job.

            [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion

            [2] I have no reason to assume this.

            [3] It better not be rotating.

          • John Schilling says:

            1E14 kg and 0.88 m/s of delta-V, I get 132 megatons of proximity-fuzed nuclear explosives, producing acceleration by neutron and X-ray ablation of the asteroid’s surface. However, you don’t want any one explosion to be more than ~70 kilotons yield, so that’s 1,885 small hydrogen bombs in sequence.

  4. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Cobra Kai season 2 became bingable at 12 AM Eastern today. Discussion thread for anyone who’s watched it.

    No spoiler version: character development was good, but if you came for the groundbreaking social commentary, it covers little new ground. The issues returning characters Johnny, Daniel, their kids Robby and Sam, Miguel, Aisha, Hawk and Demitri have were all set up during S1. Grown women Amanda and Carmen get to become more 3D than One Percenter Mom and Immigrant Breadwinner, and there was room for more of that from the aforesaid characters. As critics were expecting, Martin Kove’s John Kreese has a stellar character arc. Unfortunately, Peyton List as the main new student Tory is a cipher: a juvenile delinquent whose excuse is that she was raised in the precariat (“Mom lost her restaurant job for taking uneaten food home for my brother and me to eat. They said it’s against company policy… The world shows no mercy.”) That was an idea ripe for Cobra Kai‘s commentary on class in 2010s America, but went unused because we never meet her family. The only new ground broken on this front is Paul Walter Hauser’s Stingray, a manchild who boasts that all his earnings from Home Depot are disposable because his mom doesn’t charge him rent and treats the other Cobras, who are all 17 and under, as friends.

    More later, but it’ll be spoilers.

    • Walter says:

      I really liked the first season, definitely going to watch the next.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Wbuaal xvpxf bss gur frnfba ol svtugvat Frafrv Wbua Xerrfr sbe haynjshy ragel (vr pnzrb ng gur raq bs F1). Tbbq pvarzngbtencul nf gur pvtne xvpxrq bhg bs Xerrfr’f zbhgu ynaqf va n genfu pna naq qbrf n fybj ohea gb frggvat bss gur rzretrapl fcevaxyre qhevat gur svtug.
      Fbzr gvzr nsgre gur svtug, Wbuaal npprcgf Xerrfr’f ncbybtl sbe univat orra na nohfvir grnpure naq yrgf uvz onpx vagb uvf yvsr. Zrnajuvyr ng gur qbwb, ur fpbyqf Unjx naq Zvthry sbe oraqvat gbheanzrag ehyrf gb orng Ebool. Zvthry svaqf bhg gung Ebool vf uvf frafrv’f fba naq srryf yvxr Frafrv vf oraqvat Pboen Xnv’f cuvybfbcul sbe uvf fba. Wbuaal gnxrf uvz bhg sbe n ohetre npebff gur fgerrg sebz jurer Ebool jnf obea naq rkcynvaf gung Ebool jnf obea bhg bs jrqybpx naq ur jnf vaivgrq ohg jnf gbb nsenvq gb fubj hc. “V snvyrq zl fba ba uvf svefg qnl va guvf jbeyq, naq V’ir orra snvyvat uvz rirel qnl fvapr.”

      Episode 3: Johnny has to buy a laptop for his business. “My students told me to get an Apple. You sold me a lemon.” “First off, that’s a Dell.” The montage of Johnny Googling “hot babes”, finding a conspiracy website, watching martial arts videos on Youtube and getting interrupted by an ad for Daniel’s free Miyago-Do Karate is hilarious.
      Youtube commenters call Daniel “LaRacist” for offering real Okinawan karate, and one of the car salesmen says “I don’t think you’re guilty of cultural appropriation.”

      Yngre, Wbuaal pngpurf Xerrfr pnyyvat fbzrbar sebz gur qbwb, guerngravat “gb ohea gur jubyr cynpr qbja” vs gurl pna’g svaq uvf cebcregl. Ur pynvzf vg jnf ubhfrxrrcvat ng gur Furengba jurer ur’f fgnlvat… ur gnvyf Xerrfr naq svaqf uvz va n ubzryrff furygre, jurer ur nqzvgf gb ylvat nobhg er-rayvfgvat naq univat oynpx bcf rkcrevrapr sebz Cnanzn gb Nstunavfgna. Lrf sbyxf, lbh pna purpx “ubzryrff Ivrganz irg” bss lbhe ’80f Pyvpur Yvfg. Wbuaal fnlf gurl fubhyq obgu jbex nf xnengr grnpuref gb trg onpx ba gurve srrg.
      Qrfcvgr Qnavry gelvat gb xvpx uvf yviryvubbq bhg sebz haqre uvz ol bssrevat serr xnengr, Pboen Xnv pbagvahrf gb fhpprrq juvyr Zvlntv-Qb fgehttyrf gb nggenpg zber guna Ebool, Qrzvgev naq qnhtugre Fnz. Fbzr oblf fubj hc sbe gur serr yrffbaf naq qrpyner gur “jnk ba, jnk bss” naq “cnvag gur srapr” grpuavdhrf n fpnz gb trg serr ynobe. Bu, naq Qrzvgev tnir Pboen Xnv n onq Lryc erivrj. Unjx, jub jnf Qrzvgev’f bayl sevraq onpx jura ur jnf whfg Ryv, gryyf uvz ng gur znyy gb gnxr qbja gur erivrj be ur’yy orng uvz hc. Ur trgf orng hc ohg fnirq ol Fnz naq Ebool.
      Xerrfr fubjf gung ur unfa’g punatrq ol grnpuvat Unjx gb xrrc gur srhq tbvat: “Lbh qvqa’g ybfr gb Zvlntv-Qb, orpnhfr gur svtug vf bayl bire jura lbh fnl vg’f bire.” Fb ur inaqnyvmrf gurve qbwb naq fgrnyf Ze. Zvlntv’f Zrqny bs Ubabe, sbe juvpu Qnavry oynzrf Wbuaal, jub va ghea qrznaqf n pbasrffvba naq ncbybtl gung’f abg sbegupbzvat.
      Rcvfbqr 6 unf Wbuaal gnxvat bss gb erhavgr jvgu uvf guerr sevraqf va gur bevtvany svyz (bar bs gurz vf qlvat va ubfcvpr). Zber fhofgnagngvir fhocybgf nebhaq guvf cbvag vapyhqr Ebool zbivat va jvgu Qnavry naq Fnz qhr gb univat ab sbbq be ryrpgevpvgl orpnhfr uvf zbz jrag ba inpngvba jvgu n fhtne qnqql jub bssrerq gb cnl gur erag ba ure ncnegzrag juvyr fur jnfa’g jbexvat, naq zrnajuvyr Gbel pngpurf Fnz’f rk Zvthry ba gur erobhaq.
      Zvthry svaqf bhg gung Unjx inaqnyvmrq gur Zvlntv qbwb jura ur erirnyf gur fgbyra Zrqny bs Ubabe qhevat n grnz fcneevat rirag va gur jbbqf. Ur gevrf gb erghea vg gb Fnz, ohg Ebool nafjref gur qbbe naq fgnegf tnfyvtugvat ure naq uvf qbwb ol ylvat gung Zvthry pnzr ol naq uvqvat vg jurer vg jnf fgbyra sebz sbe rirelbar gb svaq. Zrnajuvyr gur pne qrnyrefuvc vf ybfvat fnyrfzra naq Qnavry’f zneevntr vf pehzoyvat orpnhfr ur’f sbphfvat ba uvf qbwb engure guna jbex jvgu uvf jvsr.

      Episode 8 starts with Johnny knocking on Carmen’s door and admiting that he loves her… which turns into a passionate kiss… which turns into a hilarious montage of her sharing all his interests in a sexy way, until he wakes up.
      He finds out that Carmen has had bad luck with men in California, but is currently in a relationship with a man she met through a dating app. Miguel offers to set Johnny up with the same app. The resulting social commentary on the dating market for a man of Johnny’s age and status is pretty funny, but not Cobra Kai’s best: he complains to Miguel that it used to be so simple “Bump into a hot babe in a bar, hard… but not too hard… buy her a drink, see if you click.” Then he goes out with a single mother of two, an SJW (“But the problems are actually systemic, like the Patriarchy.” “Yeah, totally systemic. I hate the Patriots too.”) and the woman who got him fired from his handyman job in S1E1… before a woman bumps into him (causing him to send a message he was going to delete as “desperate” to Ali), apologizes for not watching where she was going, and offers to apologize with a Coors Banquet.

      Wbuaal bireurnef Pnezra’f oblsevraq gryyvat n thl sevraq gung ur’f tbvat gb chzc naq qhzc ure, abg fgvpx nebhaq gb or n sngure gb Zvthry, gura tb gb eryvrir uvzfrys (gur erfgebbz vf bhg bs beqre: “Nzrevpn vf snyyvat ncneg!”), jurer Wbuaal gryyf uvz gb arire fcrnx gb Pnezra ntnva, trgf fubirq, naq xvpxf gur thl’f nff. Ur fubjf zrepl jura gur thl ortf sbe vg, juvpu rpubrf n snyyvat bhg jvgu Xerrfr jurer ur gryyf uvz gb yrnir gur qbwb sbe chggvat nohfvir vqrnf va uvf xvqf’f urnqf.
      Rcvfbqr 9 frrf Wbuaal gnxr Pnezra bhg gb gur fnzr erfgnhenag jurer Qnavry tbrf gb znxr hc jvgu uvf jvsr Nznaqn… naq gurl npghnyyl uvg vg bss. Guvf vf rpubrq ol Zbba (ersbezrq Zrna Tvey yvrhgranag) ubfgvat n qehaxra cnegl sbe obgu Pboen Xnv naq Fnz naq Ebool’f perj. Fnz naq Zvthry xvff, birefrra ol Gbel. Qrzvgev hfrf n zvpebcubar gb nve nyy bs Unjx’f byq areql vagrerfgf naq orq-jrggvat, juvpu vf nobhg gb yrnq gb n svtug jura rirelbar unf gb eha orpnhfr cbyvpr neevir. Zvthry ybfrf genpx bs uvf tveysevraq Gbel, juvyr Fnz vf nsenvq gb tb ubzr nsgre qevaxvat ure haqre gur gnoyr… fb Ebool gnxrf ure gb uvf qnq’f ncnegzrag.
      Rcvfbqr 10: Qnavry naq Nznaqn pna’g pbagnpg Fnz be Ebool gur arkg zbeavat, naq Nvfun vf fraqvat zrffntrf nfxvat Fnz vs fur’f BX nsgre jung unccrarq jvgu gur pbcf. Qnavry hfrf gur “svaq zl vCubar” srngher gb genpx uvf qnhtugre gb Wbuaal’f ncnegzrag. Qnavry vf sernxvat bhg jura Wbuaal nafjref gur qbbe naq fnlf lrf, lbhe qnhtugre’f urer, ohg lbh’er abg pbzvat vafvqr hagvy lbh pbby qbja. Qnavry oernxf va naq lbh trg gur svtug lbh’ir orra jnvgvat gjb frnfbaf sbe… bayl sbe gur xvqf gb dhvpxyl oernx vg hc.
      Ba gur svefg qnl bs fpubby, Zvthry vf hafhpprffshyyl grkgvat Gbel, ubcvat fur qvqa’g trg neerfgrq. Fur fubjf hc qhevat svefg crevbq gb svtug Fnz sbe gelvat gb fgrny Zvthry. Ebool svtugf ure, juvpu Zvthry frrf pbzvat nebhaq gur pbeare naq xabpxf uvz bss uvf tveysevraq. Gur svtug gheaf vagb n trareny zryrr sbe gra zvahgrf jvgu grnpuref, gjb frphevgl thneqf (fbeg bs) naq svanyyl cbyvpr vagreiravat… ohg abg orsber Zvthry cvaf Ebool, nterrf gb yrg uvz tb, naq trgf ercnvq jvgu n oybj gung fraqf uvz snyyvat bire n envyvat. Gur cbyvpr pnyy na nzohynapr naq jr’er gbyq vg’f hapyrne vs Zvthry jvyy fheivir. Fnz vf nyfb gnxra gb gur ubfcvgny, jurer Nznaqn fnlf gurl’yy trg Gbel rkcryyrq naq beqref Qnavry gb fgbc grnpuvat xvqf frys-qrsrafr. Pnezra gryyf Wbuaal Zvthry jnf n fjrrg obl jub nibvqrq svtugf “naq V arire jnag gb frr lbh ntnva.” Wbuaal ergheaf gb gur qbwb gb svaq Xerrfr grnpuvat ntnva. Fbzrubj Xerrfr unf gnxra bire gur yrnfr. Ur fnlf “Lbhe fghqragf ner urer jvgu zr orpnhfr lbh snvyrq bar bs gurz jura vg pbhagrq gur zbfg.”
      Jryy, gung’f n pyvssunatre.

    • cassander says:

      Might it be better to let this wait an open thread or two so people have time to watch it?

  5. johan_larson says:

    Welcome to the Library of Broken Dreams. It contains all the books we wish we had read, but probably never will. You are invited to list some of the books contained in this collection.

    • JPNunez says:

      We only have complete the Iliad and the Odyssey of the Epic Cycle, so maybe the rest of the poems of the Epic Cycle? which definition of the epic cycle? Just fuck me up and give me as many poems as the longest definition you want to use.

      Then again maybe they didn’t survive completely because they weren’t that good.

    • Nick says:

      Ulysses, Infinite Jest. The Bible, Summa Theologiae. It, though there may be better King candidates.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        The Bible

        ???

        • johan_larson says:

          What? The Bible on my list too. It’s highly respected, but it’s really long and parts of it are really really boring. I would like to have read it, but I’ll probably never get around to it.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’d read bits of it before, but I finally read it cover to cover when I was stuck in a hotel room for a week and had nothing to read but a Gideon Bible.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            The bible is strongly recommended if you wish to join the ranks of ex-christians. I mean, I have better reasons for being an atheist today, but reading it is what killed my faith at age 13. (I was very conscientious about confirmation. )

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Obviously an atypical experience, but I’d read the Bible cover-to-cover by age 9 or so. Mom bought a new translation because I wasn’t succeeding on the King James at that age.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Maybe not as atypical as @Le Maistre Chat thought: I also read the Bible cover-to-cover around age 9. Mom and Dad bought me the “New Living Translation”; I haven’t cracked that translation open in years, but I still think it’s great for people who’re just starting the Bible for the first time.

            No, it didn’t hurt my faith in the least.

            (A few years later, after I’d spent some time in Shakespeare, I tried the King James Version. It still took a little getting used to, but now I love its magisterial style.)

          • Nicholas Weininger says:

            This is probably another good place to plug Robert Alter’s translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he has released piece by piece over the last twenty years culminating in a very recent omnibus three-volume edition.

            I have read all the individually-released pieces and the omnibus is sitting on my shelf. It may well take years to get to because Alter roughly released the most interesting parts first, though the Five Books of Moses are sort of a mixed bag and in retrospect I should have felt freer to just skip all the extremely detailed interior decoration instructions for the Temple, for example. Anyway, his David Story and Psalms are particularly excellent, and _The Wisdom Books_ and _Strong as Death is Love_ also very engaging, though I think I still prefer the Ariel and Chana Bloch translation of the Song of Solomon.

          • meh says:

            Bible is my choice for the slightly different question
            “all the books we wish others would read”

          • S_J says:

            @ThomasJorgensen

            My parents read portions of the Bible to us on many evenings…then I was given my own Bible when I learned how to read.

            Somewhere along the way, my parents switched to reading a chapter from the Bible every morning as part of our homeschool curriculum. By this point, other books were selected for reading to the family in the evening.

            Somewhere along the way, the minister who led my childhood church took up a read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, and encouraged many in the church to follow that plan with him. To my knowledge, he is still doing that, and many in that church are still doing it.

            By my count, I’d read through the entire Bible at least twice, possibly three times, before I turned 18. Most of that reading was the “New International Version”, though I’ve also read a fair bit of the “New American Standard” translation, and the “English Standard Version” translation.

            I still feel strange when I talk to people who grew up in a church, but never read the entire Bible. It’s even stranger when they haven’t even read all the way through one of the Gospels, or can’t tell me whether a particular book is Old Testament or New Testament.

            Some people lose their childhood faith when they find unexpected things in the Bible. Some people change and grow in their understanding of their childhood religion.

          • bean says:

            I will admit to not having read every word in the Bible, but the bits I’ve skipped are mostly the heavy bits of Jewish Law (how to properly quarter a dove for a heave offering, and why that’s different from a wave offering) and Song of Solomon, which continues to completely baffle me. I’ve read everything else at least twice, mostly 3+ times. This seems to be reasonably common in most of the circles I frequent, although not universal.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            This was all a long time ago, but I remember that my reaction was two-fold. First, that the god of the bible was clearly not worth worshiping – that if I was going to lend credence to the narrative in the text, the people of Israel had a Stockholm syndrome relationship with a demon lord, and while the new testament was less morally repugnant, that ended with Revelations, which.. right so “Still Evil”.

            That is, I independently rediscovered the Gnostic Heresy. (Which in hindsight? Fucking hilarious to me)

            The second reaction was that while modern Christianity asks us to believe in the absence of proof, the god of the bible was just not that shy! That is, if the bible was in any way factual, miracles ought to be ubiquitous and undeniable. Which. Yhea, no.

        • Nick says:

          Lots of people have read bits of the Bible, but not the whole thing. Many nowhere close to the whole thing.

          • SamChevre says:

            I’ve read the whole thing at least a dozen times. It improves on re-reading. (King James, or ESV if you must.)

    • The Nybbler says:

      The Collected Works Of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Solzhenitsyn.

    • Plumber says:

      Never will?

      I’d hate to think so!

      But the big five that I’ve started reading (translations of) but never finished and wished I had are:

      Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales,

      Guest’s The Mabinogion,

      Ovid’s The Metamorphosis,

      and

      Homer’s The Odyssey,

      Hesoid’s The Theogony,

      Twenty years ago I did read every single damn word of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, and I sometimes have ambitions to read it again while especially rewarding at the beginning and end, I found it a gard slog, especially the parts about Lady Iseult and Sir Tristram.

      • Chlopodo says:

        If you’re having trouble with the classics, consider trying a different translation. I attempted Homer a few times when I was younger, and always thought I didn’t like him. Later I learned that, actually, I really do like Homer– I just hate Robert Fagles.

        • Nicholas Weininger says:

          What translation did you find you liked? In particular, have you read the Emily Wilson one and if so did you find it worthwhile?

          • Chlopodo says:

            I haven’t read Wilson’s, no. The Iliad I ended up liking was Caroline Alexander’s. I haven’t yet found an Odyssey that lives up to that standard, but Stephen Mitchell’s was fine. Rodney Merrill has translations of both which are surprisingly effective at reproducing the dactylic hexameter in English.. though I haven’t read them in their entirety. Don’t just take my word for it, though– it’s just my opinion, and I think each person should do their own research and previewing to see what they like most.

    • Nornagest says:

      Mostly when I want to read something I just read it. But there’s a few that make an impractically big bite to chew: the Mahabharata, for example, comes in at about 1.8 million words (for those following along at home, that’s about two and a quarter Bibles, three times the Sequences, or about the same length as Worm).

      I guess I’ll probably never get through those last two volumes of Gulag Archipelago, either.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        What he said. I found the Ramayana for my Kindle unabridged and translated, but haven’t found the equivalent for the Mahabharata. That’s still high on my bucket list, along with al-Tabari’s History.
        Works I have read cover to cover without length deterring me include the Bible and Ramayana, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Hume’s History of England, Churchill’s histories of the World Wars, Orlando Furioso and War and Peace.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          This seems appropriate – a fairly recent translation of the “critical edition:” https://www.amazon.com/Mahabharata-1-Translated-Bibek-Debroy-ebook/dp/B06XY9RRPK

          The Mahabharata is more fragmentary than the Ramayana, and there’s great difficulty in synthesizing a cohesive whole out of the fragments. I actually pretty strongly recommend against reading a “complete” edition.

          • Nornagest says:

            That’s some deeply weird cover art.

          • Deiseach says:

            Oh, that looks like a good translation, and a reasonable price too! I’ve only read (struggled/skimmed) through a 19th century version which is very dense and mostly relied on watching the TV versions of the epic. This seems like a more manageable translation.

      • Chlopodo says:

        (What is Worm?)

        • Nornagest says:

          A 2011 superhero web serial that was pretty popular among SSC-adjacent types when it came out. It’s pretty good, but I was mainly pointing to it for its length: it’s more than twice as long as War and Peace.

      • Nicholas Weininger says:

        Don’t worry about the last two volumes of the Gulag Archipelago, they aren’t that good. FWIW I say that as someone who is now reading the new translation of Kolyma Tales with great interest, though slowly because one can only take so much bleakness at a sitting.

    • johan_larson says:

      The big one in my version of the library is Knuth’s “The Art of Computer Programming”, currently at 4 volumes of a planned 10. It’s just really dense.

      There’s also the Bible, as I mentioned before, though I’m not quite sure that one will stay in the library.

    • S_J says:

      I will place The Brothers Karamazov into the Library of Broken Dreams, alongside Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I doubt that I will ever read them in full.

      Currently, Ovid’s Metamorphosis and Hesiod’s Theogony reside there, as does Anabasis by Xenophon. Among this set, one or two might be withdrawn and I may read them.

      • Nick says:

        I’ve liked reading Dostoevsky, but when I last read Dickens (as a kid) I was bored to tears. He deserves another chance, but man is it not going to be anytime soon.

        • S_J says:

          I was able to read Crime and Punishment, as well as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But I think The Brothers Karamazov was a bridge too far at that point, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never approach that category of literature again.

  6. Hey says:

    Last week, I asked you to give a location in the world and date in 2019 at which you would try to meet somebody if you hadn’t been given a more precise meeting time and date. I received 51 answers, so here’s my analysis :

    First of all, would any two of you have met each other ?
    The answer is yes : John Schilling, rlms, thomas, and a reader who wishes to remain anonymous would have met each other at noon on December 31st at the information booth at Grand Central Station in New York City. Then a few meetups would have occured at 23:59 in Times Square (Tatterdemalion,Eternaltraveller,gryffinp,honoredb,Xeno of Citium,Nornagest,Tgb and an anonymous reader), at the Grand Central information booth (Edward Scizorhands,mathematics and an anonymous reader), and at Null Island (where the equator crosses the Prime meridian) (ScottAlexander,JohnNV and an anonymous reader).

    Some of you would have barely missed each other, most notably three people who chose the statue of James Wolfe, the Prime Meridian monument and the entrance of the Royal observatory in Greenwich.
    Some had the same ideas, but got different conclusions : one person chose the North Pole and one the South Pole at midnight, December 31st. Two other people chose to go to the most popular tourist attraction, but one thought it was the Colosseum, while the other chose the Eiffel tower. Some chose a significant place and date in American history (the White House on the Fourth of July, Ground Zero on 9/11).

    Three readers attempted to use the only total solar eclipse of the year (on July 2nd, in the South Pacific), as a Schelling date, sadly they chose three different places. Proctor and RDNinja wouldn’t have seen each other, but at least they would both have seen the eclipse.

    Last but not least, a popular destination for time travellers was the top of the Empire State Building, with a visit on Valentine’s day and one on December 31st 1999.

    Times Square and Grand Central Terminal are pretty large and crowded places so finding each other there would be hard (even if you went as close to the ball/clock as possible). My favorite solution to this issue was given by someone who suggested wearing a banana suit to be noticed more easily. I should probably have asked more explicitly for a precise point (I hesitated to give Times Square as an example of a place that would have been too crowded to work).

    There’s not much to be said about how location affected your choices. Out of the 15 people from the “UK” and “USA”, 13 chose a location in the US, while only 6 out of the 14 from the “United Kingdom” and the “United States” did, but I’m pretty sure this is just noise.

    If I could go back and change the question, I would have removed the deadline (the end of the mission being a Schelling point in time I didn’t intend), and I wouldn’t have used the term “Schelling point” which led some people to read the Wikipedia page on Schelling points and biased the results in favor of Schelling’s original example (noon at Grand Central Terminal).

    • johan_larson says:

      No one else chose the day of the summer solstice, June 21? And null island?

      (I think I screwed up entering my data.)

      • Hey says:

        Other people chose the summer solstice, other people chose Null Island, but only one person chose both.

    • Nick says:

      the White House on the Fourth of July

      Wouldn’t the better choice be Independence Hall?

    • The Nybbler says:

      I chose the White Sands Trinity obelisk at noon on the day it’s open. (there are two a year but one had passed). I am sad to find that no one else has stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb.

      • Hey says:

        Ah, I was wondering why you picked this day in particular. The only other surprising date was November 23 (at the open space beside the intersection of West Circle and Free Speech Bikeway).

    • b_jonas says:

      I was the one who chose Paris. I was considering to choose New York, but decided against both because I expect it would be easier for Americans to travel to Europe than the other way, and because it may seem like I’m cheating if I choose a US location just because you posted the challenge on an internet forum that’s unusually full of people who live in the U.S.

    • My first thought was the Empire State Building, because I thought that was the original Schelling point, which is what the Less Wrong article by Scott suggests. But the wikipedia article says Grand Central Terminal. What gives? Did he just hear about Schelling Points and, as a non-New Yorker, immediately think of the most iconic place in the city instead?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        The original focal point was determined by a survey by Schelling of his Yale students. In the days before co-education and cell phones, students in Connecticut would go on dates in New York, meeting at the train station. Scott cites a more recent book, Art of Strategy, which ran a 21st century game show competition to find a split between Times Square and an unspecified observation deck of the Empire State Building, following Sleepless in Seattle (hence Valentine’s day). The people in the game show managed the vastness of Times Square and the ambiguity of the observation decks and did find each other.

    • Nornagest says:

      If I knew the person I was looking for was from SSC, I’d carry around a prophet-of-doom sign with a big paperclip on it. That ought to get their attention.

    • meh says:

      I am surprised at how many people chose midnight december 31st.

      • AG says:

        Is it not 1/1 until 12:01?

        • meh says:

          how have you been counting down new years eve?

          • AG says:

            Well, traditionally, you’re counting down to 12:00 as 1/1, ergo midnight is 1/1?

            So “midnight 12/31” reads like you’ve got 24 hours of 12/31 to go.

          • meh says:

            right. midnight 12/31 is not a day anyone treats with any significance.

        • Eric Rall says:

          “Midnight” of a date is ambiguous, since there isn’t a conventional agreement over whether that means the midnight at the beginning of the calendar day or the one at the end.

          The two recommendations are 1) use 11:59pm or 12:01am, both of which are unambiguous, or 2) in military time, 0000 denotes midnight at the beginning of the day, while 2400 denotes the one at the end. E.g. 2400APR24 is the same time as 0000APR25.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        I picked 23:59, or the latest possible time the info booth was open. Maybe I should have chosen noon. But I wanted to give the other person as much time as possible to make it to the location listed on the Wikipedia page for a Schelling meet-up place, and I was already at December 31 anyway.

        I’m still not sure which is better. It’s 4:3 in favor of noon over 23:59.

        • meh says:

          i think we need to actually run this experiment and see how many people who picked midnight 12/31 actually show up midnight 1/1

    • Last but not least, a popular destination for time travellers was the top of the Empire State Building

      There is no such place, at least accessible. There are four observation decks spaced around the top floor.

      Or so I have been told.

      • The Nybbler says:

        There is no such place, at least accessible. There are four observation decks spaced around the top floor.

        There are two observation levels, an outdoor one on 86 (it goes all the way around, but is probably the one described as four decks) and an indoor one on 102. There is a closed-to-the-public 103rd floor with outdoor balcony, and a domed space above that with a hatch leading to the top of the building proper, beneath the antenna. Given the size of 103 and the top, it shouldn’t be a problem finding anyone there, but getting past the security guards might be a problem. I’ve only been on the public tour up to 86 and 102 personally. (102 is not worth it, though the outdoor 103 might be if you know who to bribe)

    • RDNinja says:

      In hindsight, I was trying to be too clever for my own good, and placed too high an emphasis on avoiding crowds.

    • Chalid says:

      Dec 31 23:59 in Time Square, when the ball drops? Good luck finding each other. Even at noon on Dec 31 Times Square is pretty packed, I’m told. On the other hand, the Grand Central Terminal information booth is usually not so crowded (and the subset of people who aren’t actively trying to find a train is quite small).

      Interesting how much New York City dominates the answers – looks like almost every US location mentioned was in NYC.

      I wonder what this would look like if you asked this in an Asian country.

    • John Schilling says:

      Three readers attempted to use the only total solar eclipse of the year (on July 2nd, in the South Pacific), as a Schelling date, sadly they chose three different places. Proctor and RDNinja wouldn’t have seen each other, but at least they would both have seen the eclipse.

      Which of them was going to be waiting at R’lyeh?

      Asking specifically from an opsec perspective, because that was NOT SUPPOSED TO BE MENTIONED TO THE UNINITIATED. Someone is getting their brain eaten first.

    • Garrett says:

      Huh. I went with noon on December 25th at the information booth at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
      (IIRC, the thing everybody thinks of as Grand Central Station is actually Grand Central Terminal).

  7. J Mann says:

    This came up in a prior thread, and while I apologize for beating a dead horse, I’m interested in the perceptual split.

    If you have not opined on this subject previously, would you say that Eve is to Adam’s right, left, or neither in this picture, and if you think it’s a close question, why?

    • Nornagest says:

      The perspective’s kind of funky, but I’d say she’s in front of him before I said she’s left or right. His left foot is definitely to his left of her (see the dog), he’s looking directly at her with his shoulders on the same plane as his gaze, and it looks like his right knee is pointing to her right.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Adam is twisted to the left and his head is twisted to the right; Eve is clearly to the right of his solar plexus, but not clearly to the right of his hips or line of sight. Overall, I’d call her “on his right hand side” but not “on his right side.”

    • cassander says:

      Eve is stage left of Adam.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      She’s directly in front of him. Any confusion is due to his twisted posture and the line between them not being parallel to the plane of the picture. It becomes clear if you imagine him straightening up and the “camera” rotating around them slightly clockwise.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Neither. Adam is facing Eve, so she’s directly in front of him, not to his left or right.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I don’t think the perspective is completely coherent, but mostly I would say Eve is to Adam’s right. Adam is receiving an apple with his right hand from Eve’s right hand. While Adam’s hand is slightly bent inward, it is not enough to put Eve directly in front of him. Adam’s torso is twisted to his left with his head turned to the right (towards Eve), and Eve is slightly turned to her left (that is, her bellybutton is not pointing at Adam) with her head tilted down and to the right. Adam’s left foot is much closer to the tree than Eve’s right foot; her little dog makes this clear.

      If Adam were sitting straight, it might be that he would be facing Eve directly, with Eve slightly turned away from him (towards the viewer). But he isn’t.

    • rlms says:

      Somewhat to the right, her left leg lines up roughly with his right.

    • AG says:

      Directly in front. His forearm handing the fruit is going “into” the painting in the z direction, while hers taking the fruit is going “out of”, meaning that their arms are centered across their bodies like they’re shaking hands.

    • Hey says:

      At first, I’d say she is in front of him, but if I had to choose between left and right, I’d say she is slightly on his right (her right hand is right in front of Adam, and her body is on the right of her right hand from Adam’s point of view).

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Everyone needs to take into account that perspective in these kinds of paintings is very skewed.

      Adam is reaching across his body, with his right hand, towards Eve. That puts Eve on his left.

      Depth in paintings like this isn’t really … a thing.

      ETA: He is certainly not facing away from the viewer, so the idea that Eve is somehow on his right… is, uh, weird.

      • The Nybbler says:

        This is not a medieval painting. It’s Flemish Baroque, considerably later. Adam is not facing away from the viewer; he face is in profile. His upper body, however, is twisted away.

        Depth in paintings like this isn’t really … a thing.

        This painting has a very strong depth cues. At large scale, look at the way the birds diminish in the distance, the trees on the right, the garden path near right center. At smaller scale, look at the peacock, the shadows on Adam’s arm and body, or the serpent.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I understand that, but I’m talking more about the iconographic history than anything else.

          Let me put it this way. Is Eve to the left or right of the rock upon which Adam is sitting?

          • quanta413 says:

            I would say she’s to his right looking at the rock he’s sitting on, but I would’ve said she’s more to his front/left when I was focusing more on their torsos.

            I’m not sure my brain can really coherently imagine a 3D arrangement that gets the correct 2D picture.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Her right foot is somewhat to the left (her left) of the extension of the front plane of the rock — in fact, the rock continues, you can see it behind the dog where a vine is on top of its sloping surface. Her right hand is reaching to meet Adam’s right hand; this is the the most ambiguous part of the perspective, because to match all the other depth cues her hand must be reaching rightward as well as forwards, but there’s no such cue on her right arm itself.

            They’re both in extremely awkward positions, and that’s not a trick of the perspective. She’s reaching up above her head with her left arm, her right shoulder is slightly back with her arm extended forward, and her neck is bent forward and to her right. He’s sitting on the rock with his torso twisted left and his head turned right, shoulders hunched, both arms extended, and looking up.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Bleh, longer comment eaten. Basically, we see Adam is sitting on a rock facing us and turning to his left to accept the apple.

            Both the sense of perspective is off, because they are still mastering that aspect of art, but also anatomy is off, in the same way Egyptian paintings and statues are weird because they haven’t figured that the back heel needs to come off the ground.

      • J Mann says:

        1) Hey, you previously expressed an opinion! It’s a free country, but I did restrict the question to people who hadn’t participated in the prior discussion. 🙂

        2) For filing in the “How J Mann thinks” folder, I find Another Throw’s comment below convincing.

        IMHO, at the moment captured, Eve is standing either in front of Adam or slightly to his right, but it seems likely that the artists were trying to convey that Adam had just turned left to face Eve (or was in the act of turning left), so it’s likely that the artists were drawing on anti-sinister iconography. A qualified art historian (which may include Another Throw) would be likely to be conclusive on the subject, but I buy based on current knowledge.

    • ECD says:

      Clearly on the left to me. Also, may want to tag that link as NSFW.

      • Nornagest says:

        If your work’s going to get upset over nudity in Baroque religious art, I’m tempted to say you need a better workplace.

        • Mark Atwood says:

          It’s not the official policy one has to worry about, it’s that one person who is offended on behalf of some hypothetical someone else who’s not actually offended, and than that one person then makes an anonymous HR complaint. From that point forward, the process is on rails, from the HR workflow, then IT pulling copies of the HTTP edge cache logs, and it would take an EVP intervening to make the train come to a sane stop.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If you work at a company that bad, you definitely should not be doing ANY non-work browsing on company equipment.

          • toastengineer says:

            Is that not the rule rather than the exception?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Maybe it is, but I’ve never worked for a company that bad. That includes Google, which is politically that bad, but is sort of a special case; trying to police the browsing habits of Google engineers (especially Google search engineers) is impractical.

          • baconbits9 says:

            How do you find out you are in a company that bad?

          • The Nybbler says:

            How do you find out you are in a company that bad?

            Either they’re up front about it, or everyone’s very careful not to commit such violations and someone helpfully clues you in, or people are regularly getting fired for such violations. With the last you might only find out when you’re fired, but more likely the info will be on the company rumor mill.

        • ECD says:

          Can’t say I chose my workplace based on its internet policy.

          • Nornagest says:

            No, but it’s a pretty good proxy for a lot of things about the working environment that I do care a lot about.

    • bullseye says:

      Basically in front of him. The more I look at how he’s twisting his body, the less sense it makes. At first it looks like she’s to the left of his legs or in front of the left leg, so he’s twisting his upper body left to face her. But the dog’s position messes that up.

    • beleester says:

      Eve is to his right. Her body is to the right of his right hand, and her feet line up with Adam’s right foot, so whether you go by Adam’s perspective or by staging, she’s to his right.

      I think I can see why someone would say “left” or “straight” – Adam’s hips appear to be pointed straight at Eve, and he’s twisting sharply to his left to take the apple in a way that doesn’t make sense if she’s on the right (unless Adam has T-rex arms), but I definitely think “right” makes more sense overall.

    • Another Throw says:

      It is not a meaningful question because the artist did not draw it with consistent perspective.

      The obvious intention was to present the effect that he had been sitting on the rock minding his own business before turning to his left in place (somewhere around 180 degrees) in order to accept the apple from her. In addition to fulfilling the obsession with trying to capture motion in art, this would be consistent with the fall of Man theme. That damn seductress tempting Man to turn his back on God, and all that. Also, left being a very discredited direction.

      As part of the twisting in place, from the ground up, his body is turned further and further. His (left) foot turned to his left, his hips turned more so, his shoulders more so, and his arm reaching across his torso even more so. The dramatic shadowing on his arms indicating he is reaching deeper into the scene across his body to the left to receive the apple somewhere around his left side. His face turned (very) slightly to his left while looking at her and pointing at the apple quizzically, while her face is turned to her left to return the gaze. It is easier to distinguish in her face because her right eye breaks out from behind the bridge of her nose to clearly indicate it isn’t a strict profile, while differentiating from a strict profile is harder in his face because there are fewer cues when turned that direction. I get the impression his face is turned to the left from the overall proportions of his head, but when trying to examine them closely, the effect breaks down. I would be willing to accept that the turn of her head might be an error on the artists part as an unnecessary accommodation to the tilt of her head (as well as whatever is going on with his head) and they are both supposed to be looking at each other squarely.

      Either way, the artists intended him to be looking directly at her, with her face slightly to the left or centered with respect to his shoulders.

      But there are a bunch of conflicting cues.

      Well, for one, the whole thing does not have a consistent light source. For example, the highlights on their bodies conflict with each other (as well as the horse and deer and tree trunk). This makes the shadowing on his upper torso hard to interpret. Is just thematic? Probably. But if we were to assume there was supposed to be a consistent light source, being moderns like we are, it gives the impression that he is being shadowed by the tree and she is not, which would only make sense if she and the light source are to his right somewhere. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Uhg. Everything is so conflicted.

      And then there is the placement of her feet. The foot carrying all of her weight is only slightly above his right foot. Without a consistent light source to interpret the shape of the ground it is hard to tell how much is from that and how much is from foreshortening. But I have an inescapable feeling that the ground is sloped so that the foot carrying her weight is the same depth as his right foot, which splayed off moderately to his right side as he turned on the rock. This would put her to his right. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Uhg.

      It is kind of disconcerting, actually.

      Anyway, I am getting tired of looking at it on my phone, so my point is that lighting and perspective have rarely been consistently applied even in those eras when it was rigorously understood. A rigorous spatial relationship is far, far less important than the thematic effects of his turning to his left (!) to turn his back on God (!) in order to accept the apple (!) and fall into the shadow of sin (!).

      • J Mann says:

        Thanks for responding, everybody!

        This response is especially helpful – it makes sense that the artists were trying to convey that Adam was turning to his left to accept the apple from Eve. It certainly explains a lot about the painting that looks weird to a modern viewer

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      In front of.

    • fion says:

      He’s facing right at her.

  8. Aapje says:

    Dutch law was changed to allow for the registration of fetuses that died due to miscarriage or stillbirth in the Personal Records Database, after a lobby by parents who had miscarriages, who felt offended that legally, the fetus who died was not consider a person who existed. There is no lower limit to this, with regard to the age of the fetus. The registration can be made retroactively.

    An interesting issue is that this may favor anti-abortion activists, at least rhetorically, as fetuses that are allowed to be aborted at the discretion of the mother can now be registered as people. In fact, there was a case of a woman who aborted her fetus after her partner left her, became depressed for a year and then registered her aborted fetus as a person.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Interesting…

      Does registration have any practical significance? Are any statistics about the database publicly available to be affected by this change?

      • Aapje says:

        The only practical reason that I’ve seen is that a funeral insurance will supposedly now pay for the funeral of the fetus.

        I’ve read that the people will be registered with a specific code, which allows for them to be distinguished from babies that died after birth. I suspect that the generic statistics about births/deaths will exclude these, to be consistent with the past and the registrations of other countries. However, that is just speculation.

  9. Aapje says:

    There is a three part documentary about the events leading to Bret Weinstein leaving Evergreen State College (about 30 mins per episode). Note that this documentary is obviously from Bret’s point of view and those who agree with him.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3

    A very interesting look into the far side of SJWism and their tactics. However, it also seems clear that the president of the college played a key role in enabling this, including telling the campus police to stand down when students were hunting Bret.

    • Walter says:

      Can’t watch youtube at work, can you give a brief text summary?

      • Aapje says:

        The events are that Evergreen used to have a Day of Absence where black people were supposed to be absent, to demonstrate something about racism. This seems to have been an event mostly for a SJ subculture, with STEM students and professors apparently ignoring it (including Bret). So it was purely voluntary and an opportunity for SJ activists to have some events off campus.

        Then the Day of Absence was changed to make the absence of white people mandatory, which Bret objected to, because he considered it racist and oppressive. This made him a target of SJW activists who demanded his resignation, corned and blocked Bret, so he couldn’t leave and resisted the campus police when they showed up.

        Bret had a meeting where a Kafkaesk administrator told him that asking people who claim to be victims of racism about the racist experiences they had is itself Racism with a capital R. In general, a constant in the video is that the SJ advocates make very strong claims about being victims of racism at Evergreen and/or claim that it has a racist culture, but never actually give any examples of racist incidents.

        There was a meeting by the college president where it was announced beforehand that black people were to have the chairs and white people had to stand, but when it turned out that there were enough chairs, white people were allowed to sit in the back. At that meeting, some activists turned on Bret and the students who defended him.

        There is a video, presumably made by the SJ activists themselves during a meeting with the president, where he says that staff have to be educated to accept the SJ(W) beliefs and that if “it doesn’t take,” they should be gotten rid off.

        Later, the SJW people started checking cars that arrive at the college during Bret’s day off, where the documentary speculates that they were looking for Bret.

        A day later, Bret decides to have class outside of campus for his own safety. He lives across from campus, so has to ride by it (he was going by bike). He noticed SJ advocates waiting at the spot where he normally would enter campus and them sending messages with their phones when he rode by. He entered campus at a different spot and went to the campus police, who told him that they have instructions not to intervene, that they can’t ensure Bret’s safety, on campus or at home and that he should travel by car. He went home and his wife noticed he is extremely rattled.

        The next day, he and his wife stopped going to campus. They later filed a lawsuit. However, because state law doesn’t allow for punitive damages, he could merely get paid for the value of his contract, about $250k each for him and his wife*.

        Anyway, the video is well worth watching. Especially because the SJ activists were very proud to film their own exploits, so there is a fair amount of footage of outrageous stuff.

        PS. The tenure of the President of Evergreen is currently being evaluated, so he might be leaving soon.

        * Note that one of the prominent SJ activists was also let go with the same settlement after she was racist against white people at the wrong moment.

        • rlms says:

          well worth watching

          Why?

          • Aapje says:

            Because it is a good example of how abuse by extremists can happen when people defer to an authority that doesn’t have to legitimize its actions or claims, but can claim authority over others for something that others supposedly cannot comprehend and/or verify.

            I think that the events also are very helpful to understand how sects can go Jim Jones or Ma Anand Sheela.

            In the case of sects, the wisdom of the leader is typically argued to be divinely inspired in a way that cannot be understood and thus questioned by those who were not enlightened. So the authority can then demand/do the craziest things and dismiss any resistance as apostasy. So instead of actually defending the demands/actions, the leader can simply evade the object level discussion by appealing to a far more abstract principle, like faith.

            It also seems fairly common for such sect leaders to start exploiting their believers, engaging in selfish or even just sadistic behavior at their expense.

            Similarly, the very extremist SJWs at Evergreen made almost no attempts to justify their actual actions. Resistance to specific actions was typically evaded by accusing the college of being racist, which supposedly legitimized any actions/demands by the SJWs.

            Their only specific demands were about their activism, but not actually about specific solutions to fix the supposed racism. They did make abstract demands that the administration ‘fix racism,’ an impossibility as they wouldn’t tell the the administrators what their specific problems are.

            A lot of their activism seemed to be primarily sadistic, like stealing cake from the administrators, forcing the president to keep his hands by his side during a speech to make him feel what black people supposedly have to do to not get shot by the police, not allowing the president to pee when he had to, taking away microphones and otherwise disrupt administrators while they are talking and disrupting the naming of a building after a (black!) former president.

            It seemed to me to be akin to what you get if you never set rules for a child, turning them into a spoiled brat that thinks nothing of abusing others, yet doesn’t actually enjoy it. They feel bad about what they do, but they still do it, because they can.

        • Walter says:

          Gah, that seems terrible! I wasn’t aware that it had gotten so bad. My college experience was nothing like that, and it was only like a decade ago.

          • rlms says:

            It has gotten so bad if you consider the worst example of “it” (AFAIK) as representative, which seems like a silly thing to do.

          • Aapje says:

            @Walter

            Evergreen does seem to be very much an outlier and not representative for the average college experience at all.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Evergreen’s motto is “Omnia Extares”, or “Let It All Hang Out”.

            You reap what you sow.

          • Aapje says:

            The motto seems to be a reference to their mascot, a penis Geoduck.

          • BBA says:

            As the above suggest, this isn’t a storied old institution recently taken over by crazies. Evergreen was founded around the height of the ’60s student movements and was meant to be “nontraditional” and “experimental.” It’s always been like this.

            The real question is how someone like Weinstein ended up working there.

          • Aapje says:

            He considers himself left-libertarian. I think that hippies had/have a very strong left-libertarian element, but that this anti-authoritarianism also attracts those who merely want to replace authority with another authority.

            So I see this conflict as completely non-surprising (just like the conflict between nerd hippies – rationalists – and SJ is non-surprising).

            The more interesting question is why authoritarianism has gained so much ground. This may be because the counterculture became the culture, bringing in many authoritarians who share the goals, but who prefer very different means.

          • BBA says:

            Authoritarians have the advantage of naturally seeking authority, while libertarians (especially hippies) generally won’t bother.

          • Nornagest says:

            Hippies were (and to a lesser extent are) a pretty eclectic bunch. Student radicals — actual Marxist revolutionaries, the Days of Rage guys that were setting bombs and getting into shootouts with the police — were a largely separate scene, but there was still plenty of room for authoritarianism in, for example, the new religious practices that sprung up around the Sixties counterculture, or in drug-assisted psychological experimentation (Tim Leary was a pretty overbearing dude by most accounts).

            And I’m not sure how well the average vaguely counterculturish fellow traveler around that time distinguished between the two.

      • 10240 says:

        What about you do your f’n job?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Is this, like, a meme or something?

          Otherwise it seems really unwarranted.

          • 10240 says:

            No, and I know it’s understandable and inevitable that most people are going to use the internet for work-unrelated things at times, I just found it slightly weird/funny that someone pretty much explicitly says that he is slacking on his job right now, and asks for assistance to work around a limitation that has presumably been put in place to prevent him from doing so.

        • Dack says:

          What about you do your f’n job?

          Many jobs have downtime.

    • BBA says:

      To tie this into our endless discussion of The Simpsons: the only reason why I’d even heard of Evergreen before this debacle is that it was Matt Groening’s alma mater.

  10. Plumber says:

    Some thoughts on the Democratic Party coalition (Full disclosure, while I have been a registered Republican and registered third-party in the past, and have voted for same, mostly I’ve voted for Democrats in my lifetime, the Pew Research political quiz classes me as a “Disaffected Democrat”, and The Hidden Tribes quiz has me as a “Traditional Liberal”, the two axis political quizzes have me as “Social Traditionalist”/”Economic Statist”, please someone else post similar thoughts for the Republican Party coalition):

     Prompted by some posts in the last fractional open thread I thought to look at some polls (here, here, and here – please check to see if I’m misinterpreting them) to see what the relative strengths of “progressive” vs. “traditional” Democrats is and what seems notable to me is :

    1) Both the social “liberal” and “socialist” contingent of the Democratic Party is indeed more than just a few years ago, those who class themselves as “liberal” instead of “moderate” or “conservative” is much higher than in years past, though exactly thepercentage that will now call themselves “socialist” (whether they mean Cuba/North Korea/Venezuela or Canada/Denmark/Norway the polls don’t show) is too different for different polls for me to be confident of a number but they indicate that it’s probably the highest percentage of Democratic Party voters calling themselves that, at least since the 1940’s, if not ever.

    2) Unlike the majority of Republican Party voters who say they think the G.O.P. still isn’t “conservative” enough and is still too “moderate”, the majority of Democratic Party voters say they think that their party isn’t “moderate” enough, and is too left/liberal.

    3) The majority of Democratic Party voters has no opinion of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and in many ways the “moderate” wing of the Democratic Party knows less about news of the “Progressive” wing than Republicans do.

    4) “Twitter” Democrats and “off-line” (still the majority) have different views and demographics.

    Democrats who post on social media tend to be younger, whiter, more educated,  concentrate in expensive cities, and are much more likely to call themselves “progressives” than the majority of Democratic Party voters who tend to be older, more often union members, much more often are African Americans than “on-line” Democrats, a bit more often other non-whites, and are more likely to call themselves “moderates”.

    A telling indicator is that after it was publicized that the Democratic Governor of Virginia had a yearbook photo where he’s in ‘black-face’ white Democrats in Virginia were more likely to say he should resign than black Virginian Democrats, and white Democrats nation wide were more likely to blame the fortunes of black Americans on continuing racism than black Democrats and black Americans in general themselves (though still morethan all Americans in general).

    5) Democrats in “Red States” are more likely to be older, blacker, and self-identified “moderates”, and they still have a say in who is the Presidential nominee, despite living in areas that elect fewer Democrats to Congress and local offices.

    With lot’s of overlap, I’ll divide the Democratic Party into these very simplified and stereotyped groups:

    New Deal Democrats (“Paychecks”,”Pensions”, and “Public Works”):
    I’d be very surprised if the vast majority of votes in the last 50 years, if not the last 100 weren’t motivated by basically keeping Social Security checks and the like still coming. 
    Still the biggest contingent, but not very vocal and the most likely to bolt and vote for Republicans. 

    Great Society Democrats (“Civil Rights”, “Voting Rights”, and “The War on Poverty”): The most loyal contingent (won’t vote Republican or third party) despite often being “social conservatives”, supports means tested welfare programs (as opposed to the “tontine socialism” and “you get out what you put in” New Deal Democrats), often said to be “taken for granted”. Often culturally similar to Republicans, older and more religious than most of “the Left”.

    Anti-traditionalists (“The New Left”, “environmentalists”, “feminists”, “marriage equality”): An “Old Leftist” will complain about the mere existence of highly paid CEO’s in the first place, a “New Deal Democrat” will complain that the CEO doesn’t pay their employees more and doesn’t get taxed more to fund Social Security/Medicare/et cetera but doesn’t say they shouldn’t exist, an Anti-traditionalist/New-Leftists complains that more CEO’s aren’t women and/or an ever expanding laundry list of the “non mainstream” (a sort of “We are the 99%” based on identity not income and wealth), starting from a base of support for Affirmative Action for African Americans (who genuinely had a raw deal) in the 1960’s, then conceptually added women as among the “disadvantaged” (so now the majority of the population), and keeps piling on more “identities” of those “disadvantaged by traditional power structures”, and shoveled on a layer of “ecology” as well.

    An example of this kind of thinking is an article I read printed in the San Francisco Chronicle on how “the Black and Brown community produces less greenhouse gases but inhales more toxins”, which is mostly true in a way, as black Americans have had less time to gather family wealth and neither have new immigrants, and thus they tend to spend less on gasoline and traveling by jet airplanes, and rent is cheaper closer to freeways so if you have less to spend your more likely to live near them, but it’s the results of economic conditions seen through the lens of identity and environmentalism.

    This contingent is wealthier and more educated than most of Democratic Party voters.

    Sandersist “Democratic ‘Socialists”‘: Now including more than just supporters of Senator Sanders, but “Welfare State Expansionists” as a label doesn’t roll off the thumbs, I’d class Andrew Yang’s U.B.I. idea as also part of a movement of supporting not just continuing the programs of the New Deal and the Great Society, or reviving old benefits (the free college of the 1960’s), but actually expanding government welfare benefits beyond what they have been (“Medicare for all”), a growing youthful contingent, once the remaining “New Deal Democrats” would’ve been more likely to oppose them for fear of draining the coffers that support the tontine state, but after Obamacare has been more resilient and popular than it first seemed I expect this contingent will increase in significance, but my predictions have often been wrong.

    Anti-Capitalists (“The New Old Left”): Just a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have thought that this was a Democratic Party contingent at all, but I’ve since picked up an issue of Jacobian and I’ve read of those who want “Sanders to make a good name for Socialism”, and then “create a movement for real socialism”. These are those who don’t just want the welfare state capitalism that is practiced in Scandinavia that Sanders says he supports and labels “Democratic Socialism” (which is sometimes called “social democracy” or “progressive capitalism”), but support actually nationalizing some industries like the British Labour Party did in the 1940’s, with a few even wanting to go full Cuba. I still think this is a small contingent that not long ago were even more against the Democratic Party than the Republicans (because it was “reformist”, “created false consciousness”, et cetera), but I’m now aware that they exist (that post offices in the early 20th century were also banks were you could keep a savings account, the Tennessee Valley Authority, companies becoming public utilities such as the East Bay Water Company becoming the East Bay Municipal Utility – all in the 20th century – are as close as we’ve come to nationalization in the U.S.A. during peace time, but there are rumblings about the State of California seizing and running the Pacific Gas & Electric Company – so who knows? Still I’d be shocked if anything like austerity era Britain comes to the U.S.A.).

    [If it wasn’t obvious I feel most comfortable sharing a beer with “New Deal” and “Great Society” Democrats, “Anti-traditionalists” I’ve long regarded as “annoying but not dangerous” – but now that they really do seem to be seizing “the cultural commanding heights” I more fear that they’ll create a climate where political arguments more and more become just louder and about signaling social affiliation, the “Sandersists/Yangites give me hope that they’ll turn from trying to get college loan forgiveness and other free stuff for adults, and maybe the agenda will turn back to alleviating childhood poverty again (I can dream can’t I?), the actual old leftists who remember the 1930’s U.S.A. were fascinating to talk to before they passed on, but like a captive tiger in a zoo I expected their movement to stay safely locked captive in the past, and since I haven’t spoken to any of the new generation of anti-capitalists I don’t know quite what to make of them and their chances, I’ll regard them as a “fringe” like the anarchists for now]

    – To be continued…

    • Plumber says:

      Conclusions: ‘Leftists’/’liberals’/’progressives’ are definitely a growing contingent of the Democratic Party coalition and are much more likely to have their voices heard than the “moderates” by journalists (the national press mostly live in the same areas as ‘progressives’) but “moderates” and those who just think the Party should be “more moderate” (I presume in order to win in general elections) are still the majority of the Party, but they also tend to be less engaged and decide which candidate to support later.

      Biden’s decades old anti-abortion, and anti-busing statements hurt him more among younger white Democrats than among older black Democrats (who ironically seem to be more forgiving of old enough indications of what may be regarded as anti-black attitudes).

      The energy is definitely on the “progressives” side (who want to “build a movement”), but the numbers are still on the side of the “moderates” (who just want to win the current election, and prefer “half a loaf to none”).

      Biden and Sanders are currently the leading candidates, but it’s way too earlier to pick a winner now, if an African-American candidate (Booker? Harris?) can get enough name recognition and young white liberal support, then they may grab enough support to get the nomination, historically the candidate thought of as more moderate will win, but I’d say they’ll have a fight similar to the 2016 Clinton/Sanders struggle.

      The odds I give some canidates to win the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination are:

      Biden: 20% chance to win

      Harris 17% chance

      Sanders: 15% chance.

      Booker: 13% chance

      Warren 10% chance (many Democrats agree with her, fewer think she’ll win)

      Someone else I don’t know (because it’s still early): 25% chance to win.

      If nominated for the general election I’d give:

      Biden’s odds to win against Trump as 52%,

      Sanders at 45%,

      Harris at 40%,

      Warren at 35%,

      and I’ve no sense of the odds of the other candidates.

       I think there’s an aspect of the generation gap involved, my grandparents generation that first cast a ballot for F.D.R. is now mostly dead, and there’s just not as many older whites who are Democratic Party voters, anymore, and while older blacks still vote for Lyndon Johnson’s Party they are more moderate than the youngsters.

      The polls show that young whites are more likely to be “Left” and Democrats than older whites, but I haven’t seen any polls that compare young blacks to old whites, but I have seen some polls that show that older Hispanic men are more likely to vote for Republicans than other Hispanics, so my guess is that younger blacks will be more “progressive” than older blacks as well, but not to the extent that young whites are as they tend to be less likely to have a college diploma which (in the young) correlates with ‘progressivism’ (I wish there was a better label).

      Back in the ’90’s it seemed that both the Democratic and Republican parties were headed in a libertarian-ish direction, both on economics and culturally, with each party having a different emphasis but both heading in the same general direction – now all bets are off and I really can’t predict how things will shake out in twenty or even ten years.

      Please share your impressions, and I’m eager for someone with a greater depth of knowledge than me to do a similiar write-up on the Republicans.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        I think you’re missing some distinctions among the anti-traditionalists; I’d probably come closest to this camp on policy, but my reaction to the politics around it is basically disgust and the feeling that the important issues have been thoroughly co-opted by the “more black queer women CEOs by fiat” contingent. Where would you put the position that “the biggest environmental problem is ecological destruction, the biggest economic problem is the inflation of housing, medical care, and legal advocacy away from common access, and the biggest social problem for the underprivileged is the prevalence of broken and abusive homes/lack of support and mentorship and we should try to fix those things?”

        I suspect the only substantive difference between us is that I’m fundamentally convinced that there’s no way out but through; I look at the past and I see no place for someone like me and failing institutions my generation will have to make difficult decisions about. Better to learn the lessons we can from it and use them to build something we can live with today.

        • albatross11 says:

          This isn’t a standard political split in the US (or anywhere, AFAIK), but I think an interesting split is between people whose worries about dangers to our long-term well-being, and maybe even species survival, are:

          a. Due mainly to ongoing processes continuing too long–global warming, plastics failing to degrade in the ocean, overpopulation, water shortages, the boom and bust cycle of capitalism, unsustainable deficits, political instability.

          b. Due mainly to one-offs–civilization-threatening nuclear war, pandemics, engineered plagues, hostile AIs building paperclip factories, self-replicating nanotech, dinosaur-killer impacts, etc.

          Those sort-of blend into each other at the extremes (maybe population pressure leads to some kind of civilization-ending, species-threatening war or plague; maybe some destructive one-off technology wrecks the planet by being cheaper and more efficient than alternatives but damaging to the planet in ways that end up poisoning the oceans or something).

        • albatross11 says:

          ISTM that even when you agree on what the problems are, you may disagree on the causes and the best solutions from here.

          For example, lots of people are being raised in hard conditions–broken homes with no dad present, nobody in the family who works a regular job, casual drug use and drinking, etc. Suppose we both agree that’s a problem (whether you want to imagine the single mom here being a black woman in the South Side of Chicago or a white woman in Eastern Kentucky). We might still not agree on what caused it (the destructive forces of capitalism/the collapse of traditional values) or what the right way forward should be (better and more comprehensive government programs to raise the children properly and teach them the right way to live/welfare reform and a return to social and legal pressure not to have kids out of wedlock and to work for a living).

          I also strongly suspect that social media is driving a lot of the national conversation away from any productive discussion, toward stuff that’s maximally engaging/outrage inducing and thus self-sustaining.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            Agreed on the last point. As for the first, I’d happily consider voting for a Republican who campaigned on the above issues. Every election I check all the candidates’ platforms for the above positions, and at least lately I’ve seen even token advocacy for solving them only from Ds, with the exception of Rs who go for the “traditional values” explanation – and as I said, I don’t find the “let’s turn back time” position compelling. Still, if I had the choice between a “family, church-but-not-theocracy, and conservancy” Republican and a “#resist, mayocide now, free college will solve poverty” Democrat I’d vote Republican in a heartbeat. But I don’t have any of those out here (I’m sure there are some elsewhere, and I hope to god they win out over the “dump paint in the river to cuck the libs” contingent of their party), which makes me sad. As it is I just have to roll with the changes in the Democratic party, even as it becomes less of a political party and more of a mass movement.

        • Plumber says:

          @Hoopyfreud

          “…I think you’re missing some distinctions…”

          I don’t dispute that and I invite a better typology than mine.

          I’d also like to see a typology done of Republicans/”the Right” but I feel way underqualified to do one myself.

          “…I’m fundamentally convinced that there’s no way out but through…”

          You’re probably right about that but I fear leaps in the dark, “It worked until 1990’s”, “It works in Canada” (and to give the Right it’s due “It works in Utah”) are more convincing to me than “It works in theory”, unfortunately it’s impossible to turn back the clock selectively (“I want the union density of 1954, the wages of 1973, and the post ’80’s public acceptance of mixed race marriages” isn’t an option”). “More like Canada” may be an option though.

          AFAICT Republicans have disparate elements of the past they’d like, and as for places I remember some talk of pre ’97 Hong Kong and post ’73 Chile, and once again I invite someone to better explain “the Right” to me.

    • bullseye says:

      My Facebook friends who post about politics mostly match your “anti-traditionalist” category, except that they are also socialist and anti-billionaire; they’d rather get rid of billionaires than see gender equality among billionaires. I’m not sure how much of what I’m seeing is actual viewpoints and how much is social media hyperbole, but they seem to be hard-left on both social and economic issues, and maybe a little more interested in economics.

      They’re mostly educated, middle class whites in their 30s, who live or used to live in Atlanta (blue city in a red state). One is an lower class (but educated) black woman from a swing state who has never met any of my other friends but has nearly identical views.

      • Plumber says:

        @bullseye,
        I readily acknowledge that my typology was a simplification and that overlap exists, mostly I wanted to get across that it’s a coalition and not a monolith.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I like this typology.

      • Plumber says:

        @DinoNerd,

        Thanks!

        It was a bit of work trying to suss it out in my mind and have it kinda match what polls show, though judging by the comments here I got those I labeled “Anti-traditionalists” wrong.

        After I came up with the typology I looked for some othet examples and came upon an essay by Nates Silver called “Why Harris And O’Rourke May Have More Upside Than Sanders And Biden” which also divided the Democratic presidential primary electorate into five groups:

        “…our method claims there are five essential groups of Democratic voters, which we describe as:

         1) Party Loyalists, who are mostly older, lifelong Democrats who care about experience and electability.

         2) The Left.

         3) Millennials and Friends, who are young, cosmopolitan and social-media-savvy.

         4) Black voters.

        And 

         5) Hispanic voters, who for some purposes can be grouped together with Asian voters.

        The goal is for candidates to form a coalition consisting of at least three of the five groups…”

        which is maybe a better typology, though more focused on who and less focused on why than mine.

        If I play match up of my typology to Silver’s:

         “Party Loyalists” = my “New Deal Democrats”,

         both his “The Left” and “Millennials” = both my “Anti-capitalists”, “Anti-Traditionalists” and “Sandersists”

         his “Black Voters” = is close enough to my “Great Society Democrats”, and I don’t have an obvious match for his   “Hispanic and Asian Voters”.

        How Silver distinguishes between his “The Left” and his “Millennials” is a puzzler to me, my guess is that he took those white Democrats that I divided into “Anti-traditionalists”, “Sandersists”, and “Anti-capitalists”, who weren’t Millennials and lumped them all together as “The Left”, took the remaining white Democrats who were neither Millennials or leftists and classed them as “Party Loyalists” and then separated out black voters as one group, and Asian/Hispanic as another. 

        If someone’s a 30 year old Hispanic leftist, would Silver class them by age, leftism, or ethnicity?

        I’ll try and see if Silver did a typology for Republicans.

    • An Fírinne says:

      I’m not sure why you are putting Venezuela in the same category as Cuba and North Korea given that it is not a socialist but a “social democratic” country more akin to the “Nordic model” countries then actual socialist countries.

      • Plumber says:

        @An Fírinne,
        I’ll take your word for what Venezuela is like now, I just remember reports that Chavez was giving Castro material support and that the press described the regime as “socialist”.

        I stand corrected.

        • cassander says:

          Chavez was giving Castro material support and described his own movement as as “socialist”. Venezuela is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a social democratic country and has nothing to do with the nordics.

          • Plumber says:

            @cassander,
            Other than what @An Fírinne posted I have no reason to dispute any of your statements about Venezuela.

            I must admit that beyond both North Korea and Somalia being Hellscapes, I’m not that interested in learning more about dystopias as those two examples provide enough cautionary tales.

            The Soviet Union is a little more interesting, both because it grew in power enough to be an existential threat, and because so many looked to it as a model, despite the plentiful evidence that it was a Hellscape for most of it’s existence, and that when it’s rulers stayed the whip a bit it soon fell (which is also interesting), but a lot of my interest is simply that I’ve ex-soviet co-workers and I can talk to them face-to-face and get a better idea of how it really was, whereas with Venezuela I don’t as easily have that option.

            Places that seem to squeeze out a bit more happiness, or life expectancy for their citizens than California interest me more, Austalia, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, and much of Western Europe seem to share some patterns, and (unless I’ve misread) in some ways their governments are more, and in some ways less market interventionist than here.

            Costa Rica and Singapore (and to a lesser extent Switzerland and Utah) seem to diverge from the “social democracy” model while still seeming to be good places, which is also interesting, though there seems to be far less info I can find on their way of life.

          • cassander says:

            @plumber

            Places that seem to squeeze out a bit more happiness, or life expectancy for their citizens than California interest me more, Austalia, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, and much of Western Europe seem to share some patterns, and (unless I’ve misread) in some ways their governments are more, and in some ways less market interventionist than here.

            Life expectancy has very little to do with government policy in rich countries and far more to do with diet, culture, and genetics.

            Happiness is a difficult thing to measure, so difficult I don’t think it can be done so meaningfully. Standard of living however, can be measured, and when you do it objectively the US almost always comes out on top, with the exception of a couple tax havens and petro states. I much prefer to trust in that with the assumption that happiness will, if not follow, at least be affordable and, in combination with relative freedom, achievable.

          • An Fírinne says:

            The majority of Venezuela’s economy is under private ownership, as you should know socialism doesn’t allow for private ownership, nevermind 70% of the economy being under private ownership.

          • John Schilling says:

            Socialism is entirely consistent with the definition of “ownership” where the “owner” gets a piece of paper saying “you own this” and is then told exactly what he is supposed to do with it and where he is to send any profits, with regular visits by gun-toting enforcers. I’m pretty sure even actual Communism could stretch to accepting that, but socialism has always been OK with nominal property ownership under strict control of society.

            When such a society reaches the point of broad and explicit price-fixing, it’s generally a safe bet that what is happening is properly “socialism”. There’s also the bit where, before the whole thing went to Hell, prominent international supporters of socialism were pointing to Venezuela and saying “Look! Socialism Works, and it’s Awesome!”.

          • An Fírinne says:

            @John Schilling

            Socialists accept personal ownership but not private ownership. 70% of Venezuela’s economy is under private ownership and are run for profit. The Bolivarians have mmade it clear they are on the path to socialism and not at socialism.

            No socialists were cheering Venezuela as an example of a socialist success story. Socialists like Chomsky and Corbyn rightly so praised Chavez for his life-changing social reforms but never once called Venezuela socialist. I highly doubt you can find a single instance of a socialist calling Venezuela socialist.

            The whole “Venezuela is socialist” idea was started by right-wingers when the economy started collapsing.

          • 10240 says:

            I don’t think there is a point in debating An Fírinne, he is a very obvious pro-Maduro troll.

            >These actions allowed Maduro to stay in power despite all evidence being that he is extremely unpopular

            What nonsense the man has huge support and received millions upon millions of votes in May.

          • An Fírinne says:

            @10240

            Maduro got 6 million votes in the last election, how is that not huge support? Having a different opinion to you does not make me a troll.

            Not all of us mindlessly accept undigested what the msm tells us.

            I will tell you what, if you’re such a rationalist why don’t you disprove what I said instead of resulting to personal attacks?

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            I don’t think there is a point in debating An Fírinne, he is a very obvious pro-Maduro troll.

            No he isn’t. Isn’t a troll someone trying to create agitation for its own sake, where the writer may not even believe what he says? An Firinne has given no indication on insincerity.

            In fact An, I would love to see you start a top level thread on Venezeula, after you come up with the best evidence you have on your beliefs. Although I’m not sure what those beliefs are? I think it is clear to everyone that Venezeula is a basket case, but I think you believe that it isn’t the ideology that is to blame, and maybe you think Chavez was a good leader? I haven’t seen any evidence to speak of from your side, but that is also true of your detractors.

          • 10240 says:

            @Mark V Anderson I would consider a troll someone who perhaps sincerely believes something, but doesn’t make an even semi-serious attempt at convincing people, but instead hassles, disrupts or sows uncertainty among those who disagree with him by nitpicking, or making statements (without evidence) that most people consider ludicrous, but might sway or confuse some people if they hear those statements a lot. IME this is pretty common forum troll behavior.

            I think it must be clear to him that most of us think that Maduro is extremely unpopular (on the basis of virtually all opinion polls and other news coming out of Venezuela), and the official vote count is questionable at the minimum. (And Venezuela has 20 million registered voters, so even “millions upon millions” of votes are not proof of huge popularity.) As such, that argument was extremely unconvincing for most readers, and he certainly knew that, and thus if he had been attempting to convince, he would have tried to provide more evidence for his view.

          • Nornagest says:

            Isn’t a troll someone trying to create agitation for its own sake, where the writer may not even believe what he says?

            Theoretically. Practically, none of us are mind readers, so it ends up pointing to anybody who’s stirring shit regardless of intention.

            People’s thresholds for “stirring shit” vary, but I’m not inclined to be very charitable toward stupid arguments over the exact definition of socialism.

          • An Fírinne says:

            @Nornagest

            Words have meaning and certain economic institutions need to be in place for socialism to be socialism.

            You cant call a dog a cat and then whine I’m arguing about the exact definition of “cat” when I say you’re wrong

          • Nornagest says:

            Words have meanings, which are the meanings people have in mind when they use them. Clarity is then a matter of matching your meaning to your audience’s. “Cat” and “dog” are pretty unambiguous as long as your English is halfway decent, and you could even legitimately correct somebody for refusing to adopt an author’s sense of the word while you’re talking about that author’s work, but while you’re in a general discussion, you can’t legitimately pick your favorite author’s sense of a word and decide that that’s the One True Meaning and everyone else can go to hell, not while there are other takes on the word in common use.

            Sometimes this means people, especially those with a different intellectual background, will decide to use a word in a way that annoys you. The correct response to that is to suck it up. Calling them out on it, first, makes you look like an elitist prick, and, second, is a one-way ticket to obnoxious unproductive semantic arguments. Like this one.

          • Plumber says:

            @Nornagest
            "...Sometimes this means people, especially those with a different intellectual background, will decide to use a word in a way that annoys you. The correct response to that is to suck it up. Calling them out on it, first, makes you look like an elitist prick, and, second, is a one-way ticket to obnoxious unproductive semantic arguments. Like this one."

            I don’t think that I was who you were addressing this time, but I’ll try to take it to heart, as I’ve often been baffled or annoyed at new (to me) terms and usages recently. 

            Thanks. 

          • An Fírinne says:

            @Nornagest

            The meaning of “personal ownership” and private ownership” are very unambiguous also.

            The fact that you don’t understand the major and fundamental difference between these two types shows you have very little knowledge of socialist economics, which is vey typical among the right.

          • Nornagest says:

            I understand that the people you hang out with draw a clear distinction between the two. (Don’t know the details, don’t care, it doesn’t matter to my point anyway.)

            But you’re not talking to the people you hang out with, you’re talking to the right. (Well, I’m pretty sure I’m to your right, anyway.) You can’t reasonably expect this crowd to speak socialist natively, nor to concede their own understanding of words to you once you graciously explain the socialist parlance. That being the case, you should not get upset when it doesn’t.

      • As far as I know, the Scandinavian countries didn’t seize media organizations that were critical of the government in power. I don’t think they imposed price control. As best I can tell, they are relatively free market economies with a lot of income redistribution.

        That isn’t Venezuela.

        • An Fírinne says:

          Even if all that were true none of that changes the fact that the majority of Venezuela’s economy is under private ownership. As an economist you should know socialism doesn’t recognise private ownership.
          As an economist you should also know socialism is not merely when the government does stuff.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            socialism doesn’t recognise private ownership

            This is untrue. Socialism is state control, not state ownership.

            If you have your own personal definition of “socialism” that is separate from the rest of mankind’s, you’re just wrong.

  11. Yovel says:

    Hey, I will be in Boston in the next week from monday to thursday, and I would like to attend a rationalist\SSC activities, if any occur at the relevant days. Does anyone know about such activities? thanks in advance, Yovel.

    • SamChevre says:

      Faute de mieux, I plan to be in Boston on Tuesday or Thursday, and would enjoy meeting after work. (I’m a Western Mass meetup regular.) You can email me at my username at gmail.

      • Yovel says:

        Great, I sent you a mail. I anyone wants to join (or just attends the Open Data Science Conference), I will be quite happy to know you.

    • SamChevre says:

      OK, I’m making it a meetup, and asking for help.

      5:30 Tuesday evening, somewhere near/between Hynes Convention Center and South Station.

      Help–Boston people–suggestions on a place to meet? Options with Kosher food preferred, but not absolutely necessary.

      • Yovel says:

        I will elaborate a bit- I’m an Orthodox Jew, so I only eat Kosher, but I don’t mind just drinking coffee in an otherwise non-Kosher place if that’s too inconvenient.
        I will be happy to discuss the religion topic in the meetup if anyone is interested.

      • lvlln says:

        I don’t know anything about where Kosher food is available, but the space from Hynes to South Station covers a really sizable chunk of downtown Boston, including the Boston Common and Chinatown. On a Tuesday night, there’s no shortage of restaurants of all types in that space that should have enough room for a meetup.

        • David Speyer says:

          I’ve never been there, but Milk Street Cafe meets all your conditions.

        • SamChevre says:

          @David Speyer

          Thank you for the suggestion: unfortunately, it looks like Milk Street Cafe closes at 3:00.

          It’s hard to figure out where to go–I come to Boston every month or so for work, but I’m don’t know the city at all.

  12. ilikekittycat says:

    Zizek v. Peterson
    long version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78BFFq_8XvM
    longer if that one doesn’t work, but you have to skip a lot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGRC5AA1wF0

    Clip I’ve seen shared most frequently on whether “postmodern neo-Marxist” is a coherent category: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDOSOQLLO-U

    I was sure Peterson would have the home-court advantage, the well-known/celebrity advantage, and his dapper gentleman’s aesthetic might give him the advantage with a normie crowd. but from what I’ve seen on the internet, people really think Zizek showed charm and prodigious intellect while Peterson seemed to have crammed “The Communist Manifesto” at the last minute and was out of his element when it wasn’t really that sort of narrow debate-club debate. Peterson seems to have shown up expecting to have to engage the sort of “SJW” stereotype that gave him so much grief over Bill C-16 but actually found himself stimulated and intrigued more than he expected by Zizeks far-left-but-anti-PC stance; Zizek didn’t seem to be driven to any particular epiphanies by his opponent. If I had to guess, I would say people who came into this 95% ignorant of Peterson but biased/predisposed to not liking him generally weren’t convinced to look into him any deeper, whereas at least a few people who came into this 95% ignorant of Zizek/predisposed to not liking him might have actually look into some more of his arguments.

    In the interest of fairness the major anti-Zizek opinion I’ve seen from the left linked in a lot of places was Nathan J Robinson in Current Affairs.

    That said, does anyone not think Zizek generally won the debate, or have a significantly different narrative of what they saw there? (that isn’t just the pure deontological argument that “Zizek is right about communism”/”Peterson is right about capitalism” so they automatically won no matter how they performed? We should probably avoid the actual topic of happiness under capitalism or communism because we’ve done that a million times and aren’t gonna resolve it here.)

    • HeelBearCub says:

      So, not to be the fly in the soup, but … why should I expect there to be anything interesting contained in those videos?

      Now, if you tried to say “watch this analysis of the McGregor-Mayweather fight” (2017 hype, I know), I’d understand why it could be interesting (or not), but I wouldn’t find it consequential. And this seems similar, although at least McGregor and Mayweather were both champions of their respective sports.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      So far, I´ve only managed to watch first half. Peterson is certainly very clever and interesting thinker, but I was unimpressed by his critique of Communist Manifesto, which to me seemed to bear little relationship to its actual content (yes, I´ve read it).

    • Nick says:

      I watched it and did a blow-by-blow in 125.75. I can see how folks might think that Zizek won, but I think it’s kind of illusory. Zizek pretty much declined to respond to Peterson’s objections to communism, and painted himself as making a very narrow plea for “more regulation,” so narrow that I don’t see how it could be called Marxist in the least. And Zizek is a character, as Peterson put it, so he has genuine charisma. He did problematize “happiness,” on the other hand, and seems to think capitalism has some issues, but again, the latter’s such a narrow criticism that there’s not much to rebut.

      The format also hurt the exchange. Easily witnessed in the complete cross purposes to which their opening statements were directed, and the fumbling way they met in the middle in the later back and forth. Would have been better to start with 5 minute opening statements or something and then delve right into conversation. More interesting, too.

    • Erusian says:

      What I found most remarkable is how much they agreed on many important points. They didn’t really engage in a meaty capitalism vs socialism debate. But Zizek made no attempt to defend the sort of people Peterson claims to fight. In fact, he denounced social justice explicitly. Likewise, Peterson agreed with some of Zizek’s points about the flaws of capitalism even as he defended it.

      And I realized something: I don’t think I’ve ever seen Peterson debate someone who supports standard issue social justice who wasn’t either dishonest or a raving loon. Mind you, I’m not saying everyone who supports social justice is a dishonest raving loon. I’m just saying, when their brilliant debate tactics are to ask Peterson why he assaults his students by deadnaming them… they might not being great theoreticians and rhetors. That is literally a classic example of a loaded question (‘have you stopped beating your wife? style).

      What I’m curious about is: where are the high-resolution defenders of the social justice zeitgeist? Where are the intelligent, articulate people who defend identity politics as currently practiced? Where are the great thinkers where this ideology emanates from? Like, David Friedman is (I think we can agree) a very intelligent, cogent economist with subtle and complex intellectual arguments. The libertarian saying all taxation is theft is a low resolution emanation of his arguments: they perceive them to be correct even though they lack the wherewithal to properly express them or properly analyze them. I can name figures for the moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, the Evangelicals, Muslims, Catholics, the Socialists, the Communists, the Libertarians…

      I know a lot of low resolution people who support social justice as popularly practiced. Where are the high resolution people? Where are the thinkers? That’s the debate I want to see. Jordan Peterson vs someone who supports Social Justice in an intelligent, articulate way that doesn’t start from the premise they’re right and the world needs to get thee behind them.

      • Well... says:

        Might someone in the all-trite be such a candidate? After all, that’s where you’re likely to find an articulate and intelligent defender of identity politics. A Sailer, or Taylor, or Brimelow, or Derbyshire perhaps. Their politics are such an uncanny mirror image of the social justice zeitgeist they might serve as a suitable stand-in, if not an actual representation of it.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          Sailer posts on this blog so we can find out if he’s ever considered soliciting him for a debate on individualism.

          My own thought is that Peterson treats Idpol as an end rather than a means which is the manner in which he can tie that horseshoe together.

          It would be equivalent to looking at the sides in the great war by the collectivist faction that employs machine guns and artillery and the individualist faction that employs swords and cavalry charges.

          Idpol is only an end in the sense that people grouping together tend to get some incidental utility from the camaraderie.

          SJ won’t take individualism seriously because they view individualists the way you would view a tax evader or draft dodger; i.e. it’s an ‘obvious’ attempt to escape collective guilt and avoid paying various social, cultural, and financial reparations (I’m using reparations in the broadest sense of the word) to the relevant underprivileged segments of the world, and/or an attempt to justify current real or perceived social hierarchies.

          The individualist and the reactionary are alike in the sense that they have no desire to pay most if any of these reparations. The reactionary doesn’t want to be made responsible for other tribes, especially when it is done ungraciously and the reactionary is outnumbered, but the individualist doesn’t want to be made responsible for any other person.

          I do think the reactionary can see individualism more honestly than SJ can since a significant portion of them were former libertarians who later grew to regard individualism as impractical or unrealistic, i.e. inconsiderate of the way humans are programmed in much the way a communist is inconsiderate of the way humans are programmed when they collectivize agriculture.

          • Well... says:

            SJ won’t take individualism seriously because they view individualists the way you would view a tax evader or draft dodger; i.e. it’s an ‘obvious’ attempt to escape collective guilt and avoid paying various social, cultural, and financial reparations (I’m using reparations in the broadest sense of the word) to the relevant underprivileged segments of the world, and/or an attempt to justify current real or perceived social hierarchies.

            Right. Plus, it makes no sense to themselves either, because why would you want to lose out on potential spoils?

          • Clutzy says:

            From my POV, the antisemitism anti-white-patriarchy analogy has an important thread that runs through it which is the fact that they are both unfalsifiable. Whether that is by design or not is up to your own interpretation, but in the end it is very important. There is no set of events or facts presented where the conspiracy theorist is convinced he/she is wrong.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Sure, both are unfalsfiable. This is the problem with a lot of the softer social sciences ideas, and with conspiracy theories; the uncharitable might point out a resemblance. But “these are both unfalsifiable!” is not a huge resemblance.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            I don’t agree that they are unfalsifiable in the way that Freudian psychology is but depending on what the argument is and who is making it, what’s being argued may feel intangible because the arguer would shift the goal posts if they thought you had evidence to disprove their starting claim.

            Economic and behavioral data on this exists which can settle one way or another most claims made, *when they are made concretely*.

        • dndnrsn says:

          So, two objections. First, suppose that we say that “identity politics” (this is kind of a boo-word; even if it’s an accurate descriptor of some people’s politics, does anyone apply it to their own politics?) is represented by the intersectional social justice types (for groups that aren’t cishet white men, or whatever) and is also represented by the all-trite (for cishet white men primarily, also, let’s be real, they ain’t all het). (Side note: East Asians fit into this very awkwardly, especially east Asian men – a lot of groups that get derided as just being angry white men contain a decent chunk of east Asian men, eg, Lobsterdaddy fans) This is already a pretty big statement. But even if it is the case – their epistemology is completely different. Even if we say that white nationalism is identity politics for white people – are there any white nationalists who embrace critical theory, or anything like that? Steve Sailer is a biodeterminist, a lefty identity politics person is a social constructionist. Etc. Steve Sailer’s defence of borderline-white-nationalism (I know that he himself claims not to be a WN, thus, borderline) is not going to be the defence of wokeness by someone who replaces vowels with x’s, but with some terms swapped out.

          Second, the assumption there’s no articulate and intelligent defenders of lefty identity politics? There are. They just aren’t the ones who get the most attention – because the ones that get the most attention are the ones with the simplified views that provide quick soundbites when said aggressively. It is like this with every political persuasion, isn’t it? The problem for a defence of left-wing identity politics specifically is that the best arguments for it occur in an academic context that, charitably, requires a lot of experience with a certain academic style to get, uncharitably, is very obscurantist. The sort of exponent of wokeness that people here are likely to have run into is neither an academic, nor an effective proselytizer – but rather someone who is engaged in clickbaiting, in fighting for elbow room in a broadly friendly environment (like a university campus or an activist scene), or some combination of the two.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Second, the assumption there’s no articulate and intelligent defenders of lefty identity politics? There are.

            Name one.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Ah, this is the fabled “charity” we have so much of here, eh? Of course the outgroup must be nothing but ninnies.

            I read a book by bell hooks one time and while I found some flaws in it, it was vastly less grating than your average clickbait author/semipro activist.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Second, the assumption there’s no articulate and intelligent defenders of lefty identity politics? There are.

            Name one.

            Ah, this is the fabled “charity” we have so much of here, eh? Of course the outgroup must be nothing but ninnies.

            No, it’s that “name one” is literally what the GP requested:

            I know a lot of low resolution people who support social justice as popularly practiced. Where are the high resolution people? Where are the thinkers? That’s the debate I want to see. Jordan Peterson vs someone who supports Social Justice in an intelligent, articulate way that doesn’t start from the premise they’re right and the world needs to get thee behind them.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @dndnrsn wrote:

            I read a book by bell hooks one time and while I found some flaws in it, it was vastly less grating than your average clickbait author/semipro activist.

            The bell hooks book that I read (FifE) convinced me she was either batshit crazy or (more charitably) speaking from the other side of such a vast inferential gulf that the language being used only vaguely resembled English.

            The best alternative I can currently suggest is Julia Serano. Julia is clearly articulate and intelligent; when wrong, she tends to be understandably wrong rather than achieving the not-even-wrong wrongness magnitude of bell hooks. Like, I can at least imagine holding beliefs that would make Julia’s views sensible. I don’t happen to hold those beliefs, but I can imagine it. Whereas bell is standing on mars – her primitive concepts are vague word-blobs never clearly defined but simply assumed to exist.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            It was not intended as a passive aggressive claim that no such person exists. I just wanted you to get specific, asking for just one example that we can discuss, rather than have a theoretical debate when that seems silly about such a topic.

            I’m not impressed by bell hooks, as she very often makes claims without any evidence. When she does provide a little evidence, it is usually anecdotal where she projects her beliefs on people’s motivations. This results in self-justifying arguments.

            For example, this is an excerpt from one of her books:

            While teaching at Yale, I walked one bright spring day in the downtown area of New Haven, which is close to campus and invariably brings one into contact with many of the poor black people who live nearby, and found myself walking behind a group of very blond, very white, jock type boys.[…] Seemingly unaware of my presence, these young men talked about their plans to fuck as many girls from other racial/ethnic groups as they could “catch” before graduation. They “ran” it down. Black girls were high on the list, Native American girls hard to find, Asian girls (all lumped into the same category), deemed easier to entice, were considered “prime targets.” Talking about this overheard conversation with my students, I found that it was commonly accepted that one “shopped” for sexual partners in the same way one “shopped” for courses at Yale, and that race and ethnicity was a serious category on which selections were based.

            To these young males and their buddies, fucking was a way to confront the Other, as well as a way to make themselves over, to leave behind white “innocence” and enter the world of “experience.” As is often the case in this society, they were confident that non-white people had more life experience, were more worldly, sensual, and sexual because they were different. Getting a bit of the Other, in this case engaging in sexual encounters with non-white females, was considered a ritual of transcendence, a movement out into a world of difference that would transform, an acceptable rite of passage. The direct objective was not simply to sexually possess the Other; it was to be changed in some way by the encounter. “Naturally,” the presence of the Other, the body of the Other, was seen as existing to serve the ends of white male desires. Writing about the way difference is recouped in the West in “The ‘Primitive’ Unconscious of Modem Art, or White Skin, Black Masks,” Hal Foster reminds readers that Picasso regarded the tribal objects he had acquired as “witnesses” rather than as “models.” Foster critiques this positioning of the Other, emphasizing that this recognition was “contingent upon instrumentality”: “In this way, through affinity and use, the primitive is sent up into the service of the Western tradition (which is then seen to have partly produced it).” A similar critique can be made of contemporary trends in inter-racial sexual desire and contact initiated by white males. They claim the body of the colored Other instrumentally, as unexplored terrain, a symbolic frontier that will be fertile ground for their reconstruction of the masculine norm, for asserting themselves as transgressive desiring subjects. They call upon the Other to be both witness and participant in this transformation. For white boys to openly discuss their desire for colored girls (or boys) publicly announces their break with a white supremacist past that would have such desire articulated only as taboo, as secret, as shame. They see their willingness to openly name their desire for the Other as affirmation of cultural plurality (its impact on sexual preference and choice). Unlike racist white men who historically violated the bodies of black women/women of color to assert their position as colonizer/conqueror, these young men see themselves as non-racists, who choose to transgress racial boundaries within the sexual realm not to dominate the Other, but rather so that they can be acted upon, so that they can be changed utterly. Not at all attuned to those aspects of their sexual fantasies that irrevocably link them to collective white racist domination, they believe their desire for contact represents a progressive change in white attitudes towards non-whites. They do not see themselves as perpetuating racism. To them the most potent indication of that change is the frank expression of longing, the open declaration of desire, the need to be intimate with dark Others. The point is to be changed by this convergence of pleasure and Otherness. One dares– acts–on the assumption that the exploration into the world of difference, into the body of the Other, will provide a greater, more intense pleasure than any that exists in the ordinary world of one’s familiar racial group. And even though the conviction is that the familiar world will remain intact even as one ventures outside it, the hope is that they will reenter that world no longer the same.

            So she heard some boys talk about seducing women and calling women of some races easy to seduce. Instead of drawing a sensible, Occam Razor conclusion, that the level of effort required for seduction might have been a reason why the boys sought out non-white women and/or that they like big butts (and cannot lie (NSFW)), she comes up with an elaborate (conspiracy) theory and declares this to be the truth.

            I see zero evidence in her description of her experience that supports her conspiracy theory over my Occam Razor conclusion. Even in the unlikely case that her interpretation of what the boys really believed/felt is correct, her anecdote would still not generalize to all white people, so cannot be used to make the general claims that she makes further on in her book.

          • Aapje says:

            @Glen Raphael

            Julia Serano seems the most reasonable of feminist writers. For example, she actually recognizes that male sexual aggressiveness tends to be attractive to women.

            She actually believes that what men say are their true beliefs, rather than argue that they really believe something different than what they say. Of course, it probably helps that she used to be a man.

            However, she seems mostly interested in trans issues, which makes her works mostly uninteresting if you care about the impact of gender roles on cis people.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Sorry Aapje, your razor is slashed by the “don’t trust anything guys say about sex in a group/public” razor.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Glen Raphael

            I don’t think Julia Serano really fits the bill; she’s more willing to put stock in biological explanations than is the norm for SJ types. I haven’t read Whipping Girl in a while, but have a copy somewhere. However, the inferential distance is at least part due to SJ stuff being really heavy duty social constructionist.

            The inferential distance is indeed big; that’s part of the problem. The differences are meta far more than object, to use the local jargon. The way that someone into lefty intersectional SJ stuff sees the world as functioning, sees reality as working, is different from the way that a rat/adj person does – even if said rat/adj person is very left-wing in their preferred policies, social mores, etc by any reasonable standard.

            To give an example: a lefty rat/adj person who says “controlling for everything else, a black person will be discriminated against in ways a white person won’t, in the USA today” will have different explanations for why and how that is, for how the whole system of discrimination works against, than an intersectional-lefty person. It follows they will have different explanations for how to try and solve those problems, etc.

            @Aapje

            I apologize for suggesting you were being passive aggressive. The bell hooks book I read did indeed have a habit of making big leaps. However, while her prose is baroque, and the scholarly habit of having to cite something to make a point makes things a bit weird, she is coherent. You can engage with what she’s saying. And she reads as a lot less hostile than your standard clickbait/semipro activist type.

            I think the reason people here tend to have a problem with intersectional lefty SJ types is primarily to do with the fact that, among the ones who optimize for clickbait or optimize for fighting intra-activist battles, they tend to have a hostile vibe. They also tend to have a different epistemological style that extends to discourse norms – if the rat/adj civility norm makes rat/adj spaces extremely vulnerable to “calm Hitler” type stuff and to trolling in the classic sense (wasting people’s time and forcing them to spend emotional energy by acting in bad faith), the inverse norm one finds in SJ spaces – that civility is not neutral, that it is an unfair demand, that it is a way to sneak in bad ideas (which, as with “calm Hitler” stuff, it is vulnerable to) makes it very hard for them to speak with people who aren’t already on board.

          • Erusian says:

            if the rat/adj civility norm makes rat/adj spaces vulnerable to “calm Hitler” type stuff

            Does anyone have examples of Calm Hitler? Because I can’t think of any. Hitler ranted and raved. Slave owners beat abolitionists on the Senate Floor. Etc. The Republican Party doesn’t let in Spencer or his ilk just because they’re well groomed, calm, and all that.

            The closest I can think of is the Soviet Union, which said all the right things to satisfy certain ideological beliefs but was lying through its teeth. But I don’t think the rat/adj community fell for it nearly as much as the more radical left…

          • albatross11 says:

            dndnsrn:

            I’m interested in the “name one” question, not at all as a gotcha, but rather as a “where would I find a strongman version of these arguments?” The online/clickbait versions of SJW/intersectional feminism/etc. ideas I’ve seen seem nutty to me, but yeah, there’s a world of difference between a defense of libertarianism by David Friedman and one by J Random Taxation-Is-Theft on the internet, so it’s quite plausible that the same difference exists between the easy-to-find and sensible versions of SJW ideas.

            But I’d like to know where to look. In the past, I’ve linked to and discussed editorials published by apparently-big-name people in the broad intersectional feminist/gender studies/SJW world; are those good representatives of this set of ideas?

          • albatross11 says:

            baconbits:

            That critique applies equally to bell hooks’ essay. (Breaking News: Teenage boys bragging about who they’re gonna fuck are not 100% reliable.)

            This excerpt did a nice job, though, of explaining something about hooks’ worldview to me. And I suspect she’s right that:

            a. Those boys considered the fact that they were sexually/romantically interested in nonwhite girls to be part of their not being racist. And indeed, this is certainly true for many definitions of racist, especially if we’re talking about having an actual dating relationship rather than just a quick f–k.

            b. Those boys were probably imagining that sexual/romantic relationships with nonwhite girls would broaden their perspectives and change them somewhat. And again, they’re probably right–not so much if they just f–k some girl one night and never talk to her again, but definitely if they have a serious relationship with someone from a very different life/culture.

            However, I’d say that:

            c. All that would apply just as well to girls as to boys, and some girls definitely go in for the romance/exoticism of dating someone of a different race or culture.

            d. I think she is massively overestimating the importance of ideology and racial supremacy issues in the minds of those boys, who are probably a lot more interested in dating (and sleeping with) pretty girls of various backgrounds.

            e. One consequence of (d) is that the benefits of (a) have only a little to do with race. There are some physical differences between races, but the real broadening effect that transforms you probably involves dating outside your social class/background. The white son of two top Boston doctors who dates the Asian daughter of two top Boston doctors isn’t going to get all that far out of his comfort zone. If he dates the daughter of a coal miner and a short-order cook from West Virginia, he’s likely to have a much more broadening experience.

          • albatross11 says:

            dndnsrn:

            To give an example: a lefty rat/adj person who says “controlling for everything else, a black person will be discriminated against in ways a white person won’t, in the USA today” will have different explanations for why and how that is, for how the whole system of discrimination works against, than an intersectional-lefty person. It follows they will have different explanations for how to try and solve those problems, etc.

            Two important differences I’ve noticed in approach:

            a. I think the rationalist-adjacent person will be more interested in empirical questions and data. In what way do blacks get discriminated against, how do we know, what do we know about the decision processes leading to discrimination, etc. That is, I think we tend to want to engage in a factual / logical mode of thinking. My sense is that the SJ-adjacent person is more likely to engage in the moral mode of thinking.

            b. Very prominent and apparently high-end SJ/feminist/trans rights/etc. people very often seem opposed to engaging with the other side, permitting anyone else to engage with the other side, allowing the other side to speak, etc. To take part in a dialogue with the other side (where the other side is, say, Christine Sommers, not Jared Taylor or David Duke) is offensive, and to allow her to speak is even more offensive.

            I find (b) the most difficult to square with rationalist norms. “You’re not allowed to speak because your ideas are the wrong ones, any evidence you provide will be discarded, and I’ll condemn anyone who talks with you” seems like it makes it very difficult to get to any kind of understanding.

            Am I misunderstanding something about this broad intellectual movement? Because it seems like shunning and no-platforming are supported by heavy hitters in the movement, but maybe that’s because the people who look like heavy hitters to me are just the online rabble rousers best at getting attention?

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            I think the reason people here tend to have a problem with intersectional lefty SJ types is primarily to do with the fact that, among the ones who optimize for clickbait or optimize for fighting intra-activist battles, they tend to have a hostile vibe.

            No.

            I object to the often very strong anti-male and/or anti-white bias that permeates nearly the entire movement, which results in extremely one-sided claims, even if you look at the papers where key principles were introduced (like white privilege or toxic masculinity).

            These papers are far from click bait or intended to fight intra-activist battles. They seem to be honest attempts to generalize certain specific SJ complaints into a general explanation of the cause, based on a (sometimes literally) black/white dichotomy between oppressors and the oppressed.

            It’s extremely common that devastating critiques can be made of those papers merely by taking the claims that they make of how men treat women or white people treat black people and then make (nearly) identical claims, with substantial actual evidence, that women/blacks treat men/whites in the same or similar ways as claimed and/or that people treat people of the same gender or race like that and/or that men and/or white people get treated similarly or worse than supposedly more oppressed groups.

            The scholarship all seems to be in service to propping up a conspiracy theory that is fundamentally very similar to the common accusation against Jews: ‘these people are overrepresented in positions of power and use their power to benefit their own, as they lack empathy and concern for us.’

            I don’t object to the content of Mein Kampf because of its ‘vibe,’ but because it is a dehumanizing document that makes false claims about Jews that legitimize oppression. Similarly, I object to most SJ scholarship because it is dehumanizing and legitimizes oppression.

            What I consider even worse is the attempts by SJ researchers to suppress evidence that doesn’t fit their theories, like misbehavior by women against men. At that point it goes beyond the realm of ideological blindness and we enter the realm of maliciousness.

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            I see no evidence in bell hooks’ actual description of what she witnessed that the boys even considered racism or non-racism at all.

            I am personally hugely skeptical that these boys would be concerned by that. It seems to me that boys/men typically want to have casual sex to have good penis feelings, not as a performance to demonstrate their woke bonafides.

            This book is from 1992, so the event she relates must have been before then. So this was long before the SJ became very popular among the liberal elite.

          • baconbits9 says:

            That critique applies equally to bell hooks’ essay.

            No, it applies even more so!

          • albatross11 says:

            There’s a moral theory that the broad SJ/feminist/critical race theory movement seems to embrace, and that seems massively wrong to me, involving collective responsibility / guilt for wrongs by certain classes of people–whites having a certain set of responsibilities and debts by virtue of being white, men by virtue of being men, etc.

            That is, members of this movement seem to think that I have some particular moral obligations because I’m a white man, and that this relates to either alleged (but plausible) advantages I have in this society as a straight white man, or historical wrongs visited upon members of different groups by members of my group.

            A related theory that seems to be held by that broad movement involves evaluating justice or equality or equity on the basis of groups, rather than individuals. This would be the notion that we should send fewer black kids to detention if they’re disproportionately being sent there, regardless of whether they’re held to the same behavioral standard as white kids.

            These both seem fundamentally wrongheaded, and like they lead easily to justifying mistreatment of individuals for the sins of their group, and to individual discrimination/unfairness.

            Indeed, in a world where there are any nontrivial differences between groups (interests, abilities, opportunities, culture, etc.), it’s impossible to do justice to people both as individuals and as groups. To behave properly in the group-oriented frame, you must behave unjustly in the individual-oriented frame.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            That is, members of this movement seem to think that I have some particular moral obligations because I’m a white man, and that this relates to either alleged (but plausible) advantages I have in this society as a straight white man, or historical wrongs visited upon members of different groups by members of my group.

            I think the distinction between these two claims is actually really important if you care about the ideological roots of SJ. The intersection is equally important because it’s a strong, centralizing claim with ambiguous philosophical roots that’s therefore quite difficult to tackle directly.

          • Well... says:

            Back to my suggestion about an all-trite stand-in…

            It’s not just “identity politics for white people” — it’s the argument that identity politics is necessary and effective to get what you want.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the alt-right version of one flavor of white guilt (where I owe a debt because of the sins of other people who look like me) is found in the comment by Stefen Molyneux that basically most of the good parts of the modern world are the work of white men. That’s attacking a claim that whites owe nonwhites as a collective, by saying “no, we don’t owe you for the slavery/colonialism, you owe us for parliamentary democracy and antibiotics.”

            From an individualist standpoint, this is silly, of course. I am no more entitled to take credit for the good works of Thomas Edison than I am obliged to take the blame for the bad works of Cecil Rhodes. They’re just a couple guys who looked a little like me.

            From the collectivist, group-oriented morality standpoint, this is a meaningful argument. I note that Eric and Bret Weinstein really disliked Molyneux’ statement, presumably because they don’t like the collective credit/blame by race idea no matter who’s pushing it.

          • albatross11 says:

            Well:

            If indeed the future of US politics turns out to be race/gender identity politics, then the most powerful and influential race/gender in the US are pretty-much guaranteed to have their own brand of it. This seems to me to be a pretty good argument for trying to avoid having the future of US politics be race/gender identity politics.

          • Well... says:

            @albatross: I agree with you. I’m just saying if you’re looking for an intelligent/articular defender of identity politics to debate the Lobsterman, get someone from the all-trite. (Unless a genuine SJW can indeed be found.)

          • albatross11 says:

            It sure seems like both ideas are mixed together in the SJ-adjacent stuff I see. And also the two ideas fit well in a group-oriented moral worldview. OTOH, you can rephrase the privilege idea in individualist terms, where it seems like it almost becomes noblesse oblige, or alternatively like the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” or “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

            I think a lot of talking past each other between rationalist-adjacent and SJ-adjacent types probably comes down to having a group-oriented or individual-oriented view of justice and morality.

          • Clutzy says:

            No comment, just want to read this thread easily.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Erusian

            I don’t know about now, because Trump getting elected caused a lot of people to decide that the brownshirts were coming, but for a while, Richard Spencer got on to news shows and the like by being a white nationalist who wears a jacket.

            As for rat/adj spaces, they are definitely more tolerant of the all-trite than the norm, no? There’s no real WNs here right now, the serious death eaters mostly got banned (for rudeness, or at least, with rudeness as a pretext) or left, the only time an actual Nazi showed up, he got banned for acting in bad faith. But there’s definitely people whose views are right of the Overton Window in polite company.

            @albatross11

            The issue is that the more subtle versions tend to be deep in academic territory, and tend to have a communicative style that is… Opaque. But start with bell hooks; she’s at least less rhetorically hostile than your standard clickbaity type.

            The issue is that, again, there’s just a huge epistemological difference between someone with the rat/adj mindset, and someone with the SJ mindset. It’s on the meta level; it’s like a Protestant and a Catholic arguing.

            @albatross11

            a. Yeah, sure. I mean, look, I’m here, aren’t I? The rat/adj way of looking at things is, shall we say, a little spectrum-y at least. So hard numbers, statistics, carefully collected and handled anecdotes, etc are seen as the overall best way to comprehend reality. I, by and large, agree with this – the statistical illiteracy of many SJ types is for me the biggest turnoff.

            It’s not so much that they have a “moral” mode of thinking – it’s that they’re social constructionists, both in the sense that they tend to underrate (in my view) biological factors, and in the sense that they see language as affecting reality as much as or more than the other way around. It’s hard for me to be charitable about this, because to me, it’s just such a weird way of thinking.

            b. I think it follows from being a social constructionist and believing that language affects reality. If you allow bad words to be spoken, you’re allowing bad things to happen in reality. To some extent, this is accurate! I don’t think it’s a completely wacky way of thinking. However, it seems only to work in situations where they already have the advantage – it’s optimized for working in spaces like university campuses. It leads to something that I’ve experienced more than once in one-on-one conversations with people I was on relatively friendly terms with – the react with bafflement to someone having basic disagreement on things that to them seem axiomatic, to the point that they can’t really explain why they’re axiomatic.

            @Aapje

            Come on, you can’t tell the difference between what the Nazis believed about the Jews in the 20s-40s, and the observation that white men hold a disproportionate share of power in western societies today? I think the claim that white men have rigged the world to benefit us is certainly much weaker than the SJ folks would have it, but to compare to the notion that a hated minority secretly controls the world? (For starters: would you rather be a white man in the US today, or a Jew in Germany a hundred years ago?)

            What would you say to a proponent of “SJ theory” or whatever we’re going to call it who you were trying to convince they were wrong? Let’s say they’ll listen to the elevator pitch. They’re not going to listen to “you’re like the Nazis, but for white men instead of Jews.”

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            You are missing my point.

            There are different reasons to dislike an ideology. One reason is that the ideology is considered to be (unfairly) dangerous to a group in practice. A problem with this standard is that it is immensely contextual. The very same ideology that is a minor threat in one situation can become a major threat in another. For example, an anti-white ideology which is a relatively small threat if believed by some black people in an environment dominated by white people who resist their victimization, can become a much bigger threat if someone with such an ideology achieves a position of power or if such ideologues exist in environments where white people are a minority (and those exist in ‘white’ societies, but obviously also in African nations, in some of which, anti-white violence seems quite common).

            This way to judge ideologies treats groups as monoliths: you have minority/weak/abused blacks and you have majority/strong/abuser whites. This ignores that group-level statistics don’t hold for subgroups and individuals. This is one of my objections to identity politics: it tends to falsely equate people to a generic experience (aka stereotyping): white people benefit on average of their skin color, so all individual white people benefit from their skin color, so a white person who was stabbed by black people shouting anti-white slurs can’t be a victim of a hate crime. You get these feedback loops where the stereotype influences perception, which strengthens the stereotypes (that’s why we need hard facts to calibrate our perceptions against).

            Another big problem with looking at outcomes is that it encourages ignoring threats until it is too late. If white people can only complain once an anti-white ideology has gained so much ground that anti-white discrimination is considered a serious enough problem, then preventable harms that we can foresee will get ignored until the harms actually happen and the victimized individuals/subgroups/groups are relatively powerless.

            So if you are assessing an ideology, it seems non-obvious to me that you should merely look at how much harm the ideology currently causes. There are reasons to look at it differently if you assess the (potential) harmfulness of an ideology and you can evaluate ideologies for other reasons than to determine their potential for causing discrimination (like whether you expect that greater adoption will solve or worsen problems).

            For starters: would you rather be a white man in the US today, or a Jew in Germany a hundred years ago?

            In 1919, German Jews were actually greatly over-represented among the rich, powerful & well-educated, far more than white people in the US today, so if we ignore future developments and the race-independent differences between 1919 and 2019, I might actually pick being a Jew in Germany in 1919, if we freeze history there.

            What would you say to a proponent of “SJ theory” or whatever we’re going to call it who you were trying to convince they were wrong? Let’s say they’ll listen to the elevator pitch. They’re not going to listen to “you’re like the Nazis, but for white men instead of Jews.”

            The argument I am making now is not tailored to address SJ ideologues. That doesn’t make it wrong, but merely not very persuasive due to their worldview.

            I prefer to point to scientific findings that undermine their claims, which still might not be very persuasive, although the strong negative reaction to those scientific findings suggests that it touches a nerve.

          • dndnrsn says:

            And you’re missing my point: going immediately to the Nazi comparison weakens your case considerably, to the point that I (not an SJ ideologue, not by any stretch of the imagination) find it vaguely risible.

            It is true that SJ treats individuals and small groups of individuals as microcosms of a larger group in a way that flattens out many of the wrinkles of reality. This is bad! However, the comparison to Nazi rhetoric about Jews runs into a huge number of problems: Jews had disproportionate representation in professions, etc, but they were a tiny minority of the German population, and they held little “hard” power – they were not (to the best of my knowledge) overrepresented in positions of government authority, and they were reliant on gentile authorities for protection. Whites are a majority in the US, are projected to be a majority for some time, and even after that, will be a plurality. In 1919, Jews were under 1% of the German population.

            Already in 1919 violent anti-Jewish rhetoric was common, and had actual muscle behind it in a way that there is no parallel today. If you want a group to compare to the Jews, East Asians are maybe a better fit in the US today: resented by everyone else for being “too successful” (with the flavour varying based on who’s doing the resenting), it seems widely acceptable to discriminate against them. The parallels aren’t perfect: the presence of East Asians is ignored (they don’t count for purposes of “diversity”, for example) and the discrimination against them is oddly ignored (it’s not hard to find people saying that the primary beneficiaries of an end to all AA and AA-like things in elite universities would be whites, when in fact, it would be Asians – the case of the UC system makes this blatantly obvious). However, in both cases, you have a disproportionately successful minority group, resented for it, with discrimination against them socially acceptable.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Jews had disproportionate representation in professions, etc, but they were a tiny minority of the German population, and they held little “hard” power – they were not (to the best of my knowledge) overrepresented in positions of government authority

            Hugo Preuß, who was a Jew, wrote the constitution of the Weimar Republic. Hugo Haase, a Jew, became joint chairman of the provisional government from the 1918 revolution to the 1919 elections, where he led one of the participating parties. Other significant Jewish politicians in the Weimar republic: Bernard Dernburg, Rudolf Hilferding, Otto Landesberg, Walther Rathenau, Kurt Eisner, Rosa Luxembourg and Eugen Leviné.

            It seems very likely to me that the over-representation in education, wealth and power extended to politics, because that is what you’d expect.

            It’s logical that anti-Naziism and/or anti-anti-semitism results in a bias to assume that the Nazi claims about Jews were completely false, but that is a risky bias. It makes one exceptionalize the Nazi, creating a false perception that Nazi-like ideologies are built fully on lies.

            Anyway, I don’t think I am missing your point. I completely understand that you think that my comparison is offensive because to you, such a comparison necessitates more than just a certain similarity in what kind of reasoning is considered valid and falsely blaming a group for harming another, but also a real threat that may plausibly result in a genocidal event. I just reject the significance you place on that.

            Now, I do try not to make such comparisons because I know that many/most people think like you, which is fine. You are entitled to your views on what makes for a valid comparison. But so am I.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Aapje writes:

            However, [Julia Serano] seems mostly interested in trans issues, which makes her works mostly uninteresting if you care about the impact of gender roles on cis people.

            That was my conclusion too. In her book _Excluded_, the central story that justifies the title involves a woman-only music festival she wanted to participate in where not only the performers onstage but the lighting crew, the ticket-takers etcetera are all “women” – no men allowed. The event happens to be run by radfems whose definition of “women” excludes Serano and this makes her sad.

            I had a rather mixed reaction to this situation.

            On the one hand, yeah, I can see how it sucks that people don’t want you at their event! But maybe the right response is to fight for or seek out events that don’t exclude half the population rather than encouraging such events but merely trying to move the bar such it still excludes people like me (men) while letting in people like you?

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @dndnrsr:

            I read a book by bell hooks one time and while I found some flaws in it, it was vastly less grating than your average clickbait author/semipro activist.

            Which book of hers did you read? I read Feminism is for Everybody and found it…approximately that grating.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Hugo Preuß, who was a Jew, wrote the constitution of the Weimar Republic. Hugo Haase, a Jew, became joint chairman of the provisional government from the 1918 revolution to the 1919 elections, where he led one of the participating parties. Other significant Jewish politicians in the Weimar republic: Bernard Dernburg, Rudolf Hilferding, Otto Landesberg, Walther Rathenau, Kurt Eisner, Rosa Luxembourg and Eugen Leviné.

            First, is this disproportionate? You’ve listed some German Jewish political figures in the Weimar period. What % of German political figures were they? Second, including the last two seems a bit of a reach. They were failed revolutionaries. Failed revolutionaries being summarily executed by far-right militias, with the cooperation of mainstream political elements, doesn’t show that any group those failed revolutionaries were a member of had power.

            It seems very likely to me that the over-representation in education, wealth and power extended to politics, because that is what you’d expect.

            First, they weren’t overrepresented in power. Second, being overrepresented in education and wealth is often a substitute for being overrepresented in power, because education and wealth are more meritocratic than being part of an aristocracy or getting an officer’s commission or being elected or whatever. Third, that’s not what you’d expect, or at least, it runs counter to observed reality: are Asian-Americans (south or east) overrepresented in elected office? Both are overrepresented in university, and Asian-Americans have an average household income greater than the American average, and also greater than the white American average.

            It’s logical that anti-Naziism and/or anti-anti-semitism results in a bias to assume that the Nazi claims about Jews were completely false, but that is a risky bias. It makes one exceptionalize the Nazi, creating a false perception that Nazi-like ideologies are built fully on lies.

            Which claims do you think were correct? The Nazis made claims that were exaggerations of the truth (they lied about the % of Jewish doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc) and they made claims that were blatantly false (the claim that all Jews everywhere were part of an international capitalist-communist conspiracy which had, among other things, caused Germany to lose WWI. The Nazis looked at a minority group, with popular views of that group ranging from hated to grudgingly tolerated, that nevertheless punched way above its weight in terms of accomplishment, and concluded that this group must be doing something nefarious.

            Anyway, I don’t think I am missing your point. I completely understand that you think that my comparison is offensive because to you, such a comparison necessitates more than just a certain similarity in what kind of reasoning is considered valid and falsely blaming a group for harming another, but also a real threat that may plausibly result in a genocidal event. I just reject the significance you place on that.

            Now, I do try not to make such comparisons because I know that many/most people think like you, which is fine. You are entitled to your views on what makes for a valid comparison. But so am I.

            It is not that there needs to be some threat of genocide, or whatever. It is that the standard “woke” view is a misinterpretation of history (white people didn’t get on top through trickery and conspiracy, they got on top through a series of lucky strokes allowing them to whip everyone else for a while, and are staying on top largely through inertia and through, intentionally or unintentionally, suppressing the entry of Asians into the ranks of those on top under the guise of helping others into those ranks) while the Nazi narrative takes a group that wasn’t on top, and constructs a view of the world in which that group is secretly on top.

            It is not that your comparison is false, it is that it misses a central point: the statement “white people are on top of America today” is, roughly, correct; where the SJ, woke, whatever types go wrong is in their reading of how and why this is the case. You can believe this statement, or something like it, to be correct, without adopting the worldview, epistemology, etc of the SJ crowd. The statement “Jews were on top of Germany/the world in 1919” is false, and the only people who believed it were anti-Semites.

            “This group holds power, and that is why they are disproportionately well-off, well-educated, etc” is a different statement from “this group is disproportionately well-off, well-educated, etc and therefore they must hold power”. The first is generally the case – what point is there to having power otherwise? – while the second is disproved by the experience of merchant minorities, etc, throughout history.

            It is not about the threat of genocide; in some bizarre alternate history where there were prosemitic conspiracy theorists whose shtick was “let’s ally with the international conspiracy!” their belief that the Jews were on top would still have been factually incorrect. The statement that white people are, overall, on top of modern American society, is correct.

            To think about it another way, the comparison is false because the damage that can be done by the woke to white people is primarily done to white people with less power (aim at the rich white legacy students, hit the non-legacy white kids trying to get into a good university, with Asians getting caught in the blast radius – or, with the aim primarily being at Asians, if we’re thinking conspiratorially), to men primarily to men with less power (for example, the prototypical campus rapist is imagined as Chad Fratbrother III, but there’s some limited evidence that campus tribunals hit minority men really, really disproportionately hard, harder than the actual cops-and-courts system does), etc. This is because some white people actually do have real, hard power: legacy kids are not going to be getting bounced out of Harvard in favour of the children of poor Chinese immigrants any time soon; boosting the numbers of black and hispanic kids in Harvard comes out of the pieces of the pie that would go to non-legacy white kids and Asians, not to the bit of the pie the legacy kids enjoy. It’s not a secret that the white people most likely to believe in wokeness (by the %s, the average university-educated-Democrat white American is woker than the average black American, by opinion-gauging questions) are the ones who are the best off – clearly, they don’t feel threatened.

            In comparison, the Nazis did their utmost to kill all the Jews they could get their hands on – 80% of the Jews still in Germany in 1939 died in the Holocaust, compared to 90% of the (on average much poorer, less educated, less assimilated) Jews in Poland. That 10% difference in death rate is not that much, and it was probably due to stuff like the ability, which held until the end of the war, of Jews in marriages with non-Jewish partners having some protection – but assimilation protecting you from murder is hardly a great degree of power. Being a well-off assimilated German Jew did not help you once the chance to get out of the country was no longer available. There was next to no support for national socialism or for antisemitism more generally by German Jews.

            So, even taking magnitude out of it entirely, there’s various clear differences that make the comparison mostly invalid.

            EDIT: @Glen Raphael

            Yeah it was Feminism is for Everyone. I found it much less grating. Your average clickbait-feminism piece reads like, oh great, the mean girls have figured out a way to make their cruelty and entitlement to general deference seem virtuous. Great. There’s no way I would be able to get through even a short book like hooks’ if it was the same stuff. I agreed with some of it, I disagreed with other parts, I thought its arguments frequently depended on big leaps, but it felt like someone was actually trying to convince me of something.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @dndnrsn:

            The Nazis made claims that were exaggerations of the truth (they lied about the % of Jewish doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc) and they made claims that were blatantly false (the claim that all Jews everywhere were part of an international capitalist-communist conspiracy[…]).

            bell hooks claims there is an existing white supremacist capitalist patriarchy which to me seems pretty analogous to the international capitalist-communist conspiracy. Doesn’t it serve the same purpose? Having a weird imaginary group to attack – a group that has no specific members and whose existence isn’t testable -means you’re not demonizing specific people, you’re demonizing a vague amorphous blob which specific groups of people can be non-falsifiably assumed to be affiliated with or providing cover for. Which in turn ends up supporting demonization of the people themselves.

          • dndnrsn says:

            The idea that there’s a “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” is, in my view, a misreading and misunderstanding of reality, but it’s of something that’s there. The Nazis’ “international Jewish capitalist-communist conspiracy” was… considerably less based in fact.

          • albatross11 says:

            dndnsrn:

            Yeah, one side effect of having a lot of ideas and arguments tabooed is that once you leave an environment where everyone agrees with you, you’re likely to see a bunch of (obvious from the outside) arguments against your position that surprise you because you’ve never even imagined them coming up. And if your subculture reacts with outrage to some of those arguments, that’s probably all you’re going to have to answer them with.

            It’s like someone who was brought up in an environment in which questioning the truth of their religion was so socially unacceptable that it was never done. When that person goes to a modern college campus, he’s likely to suddenly be confronted with arguments and ideas he has no immediate answers to, and he may very well respond by getting angry.

            This tends to leave the non-SJ folks winning a lot of debates even when their case isn’t all that strong, and probably leads to some of those memorably hilarious quotes from SJ folks about how logic and debate and free speech are all part of the white male oppressive patriarchal culture.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @dndnrsr:

            The idea that there’s a “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” is, in my view, a misreading and misunderstanding of reality, but it’s of something that’s there. The Nazis’ “international Jewish capitalist-communist conspiracy” was… considerably less based in fact.

            Can you elaborate? I honestly don’t see a distinction that makes a difference.

            For instance, how is the “international jewish conspiracy” not a misreading and misunderstanding of something that is there, that is part of reality? Jews do exist, dominate various professions, network with one another, have some common interests with one another (which might sometimes be in conflict with the interests of non-jews), and support various organizations to promote their interests. If you remove the “…and this is nefarious!” part and just look at claims that are testable or provable, many seem to either bear out or could in theory do so, do they not?

            (FWIW my family is Jewish.)

          • bean says:

            in some bizarre alternate history where there were prosemitic conspiracy theorists whose shtick was “let’s ally with the international conspiracy!” their belief that the Jews were on top would still have been factually incorrect.

            Didn’t the Japanese try to do that? I recall that they set up a village in Manchuria and tried to attract Jews to it because they believed the Nazi propaganda about them, and though “we want a piece of that action”.

          • dndnrsn says:

            White supremacist: the richest societies are mostly majority white, whites tend to be on top in those societies, colonies of various European states were all over the place, majority-white US has an unofficial empire. Now, I don’t like the way that some social-studies types have invented a new “official” meaning for “white supremacist” (in the same way they have for “racism”) – I think it’s pretty sketchy to take an emotionally-loaded term with a colloquial meaning and give it a new meaning; it leads to some heavy-duty equivocation. I can see, at a minimum, how the current status quo has benefited white people (or people who happen to be white) disproportionately.

            Given that white people are the majority, and the majority of the power-holders to a greater degree, in these societies, people who aren’t white who want in have to adjust. Doing things the “white” way becomes the standard, etc. Again, this fits into the fancy-sociologist-or-whatever definition. Personally, I wish they’d used a different term, because “white supremacist” in the way they use it seems designed for equivocation – call someone a white supremacist or describe something as white supremacy, get that emotional punch, and when someone says “what the fuck Justin Trudeau is not a white supremacist” smugly point to some journal article.

            Capitalist: I think this one is a gimme if we’re sensible about what constitutes capitalism. The crew who toss “capitalist” around like that aren’t necessarily sensible; sometimes they’ll ascribe things that have existed as long as humanity has to capitalism.

            Patriarchy: in what I think is the fairest definition of patriarchy, in which a society is ruled by high-status men, this one isn’t too hard to defend. High-status men observably rule the roost. To some extent, high-status women are being allowed to join the party. However, this is not the sociology-or-whatever definition of patriarchy, which I agree is kind of inchoate in a frustrating way – anything can be patriarchy, or nothing.

            So, the term “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” is, for the vast majority of people who use it, grounded in a worldview which I don’t share. However, I think it is gesturing at some real stuff. We live in a world in which white people are disproportionately powerful and set the rules to a disproportionate extent, capitalism is clearly on top, and it is better to be a high-status man than the alternatives.

            EDIT: In comparison, modern antisemitic myths (as opposed to premodern anti-Jewish myths, which mostly revolved around religious animosity, accusations of ritual murder, host desecration, etc) tend not to point at something real. “Jews are disproportionately well-educated, present in some populations, and network because they have been forced together by a couple millenia or so of oppression, and also, being better-educated than the norm, they’re more present in any intellectual movement than proportionally one would expect” doesn’t lead logically to “and there’s a vast international conspiracy, and also they’re running communism and capitalism as a good cop-bad cop act”. You need a whole bunch of other ingredients to get there.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @dndnrsn:

            “Jews […] network because they have been forced together by a couple millenia or so of oppression[…]” doesn’t lead logically to “and there’s a vast international conspiracy”

            The only difference between “they network” and “they conspire” is whether you hang a boo light on the phrase you use to describe reality. When you say Jews network because [reasons], that claim isn’t in disagreement with the antisemite who also believes they network because of reasons but emphasizes or imagines different reasons. The modern antisemite who claims Jews meet (often in secret, sometimes in meetings of private organizations created for that purpose) and discuss things and try to control things and try to change the world…is not technically incorrect. Calling the network “vast” isn’t an overstatement – it spans the globe – and whether we call it “conspiracy” or not is a difference in spin, not disagreement.

            Me, I am in in favor of smart Jews trying to influence world events. Should we pretend that never happens?

            and also they’re running communism and capitalism as a good cop-bad cop act”.

            Okay, sure, that part is mostly wrong. But the vast international conspiracy totally exists. Whereas for “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” the fact that those four constituent words each independently refer to something in the world does not make the combined phrase a useful concept.

            To put this another way: Jews actually exist – I have met self-declared Jews and I have been one. Whereas I have never met a self-declared “white supremacist capitalist patriarch”. Have you?

          • Erusian says:

            @dndnrsn

            I don’t know about now, because Trump getting elected caused a lot of people to decide that the brownshirts were coming, but for a while, Richard Spencer got on to news shows and the like by being a white nationalist who wears a jacket.

            As for rat/adj spaces, they are definitely more tolerant of the all-trite than the norm, no? There’s no real WNs here right now, the serious death eaters mostly got banned (for rudeness, or at least, with rudeness as a pretext) or left, the only time an actual Nazi showed up, he got banned for acting in bad faith. But there’s definitely people whose views are right of the Overton Window in polite company.

            So… in both your examples it looks like the White Nationalists showed up, acted politely, and were eventually ejected. How is that a polite Hitler? Maybe I misunderstand the term but the idea, at least on meme level, is that if someone making outrageous claims is polite we will side with them over the angrier but reasonable claim. (Ie, “What, all I was saying is we should discuss if Jews should be allowed to exist You don’t need to be rude…” vs “YOU ANTISEMITIC BIGOT.”) It’s not that we will give them a chance, decide they are acting in bad faith, rude, and propagating hate and ban them. That seems a functioning antibody to me.

            You say there’s definitely people. Can you name anybody?

            I can think of Polite Stalins, by the way. People who say it’s immoral for certain classes or races to exist from a left wing perspective etc. And likewise, Stalin was historically considered much more polite than Hitler (who was given to ranting). But I’m having real trouble thinking of Polite Hitlers.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Kurt Eisner led a rebellion that in 1918 successfully overthrew the state government of Bavaria (the largest state in Germany and a fifth of German land) and was the prime minister of the socialist government. They made a huge mess of things and got only 2.5% of the votes in the 1919 state elections. He was assassinated by a nationalist while on his way to resign (which in turn resulted in a retaliation by an Eisner fan against a politician who was rumored to have ordered the murder, who was shot, but survived; this resulted in other Eisner fans firing at delegates just afterwards, killing one). Then there was a coalition government that ruled for 1 month before being overthrown and replaced by a communist dictatorship, which faced a successful coup after 6 days, where after Eugen Leviné ran the communist state with 2 other Russian émigrés.

            They were in turn overthrown after 6 days by the leader of the previously deposed coalition government with the help of the paramilitary Freikorps, which had many Nazi leaders to be, in their midst. So they became right-wing heroes in Bavaria.

            The entire episode soured many Bavarian people and probably many in the rest of Germany very much on communists/socialists and gave a lot of power to the right in Bavaria. Eisner in particular was a big boost to the Nazi narrative, as he fit the accusations very well, being Jewish, socialist and causing great harm to the Bavarians.

            Bavaria later became the Nazi stronghold (for example: Hitler’s failed Beer Hall Putsch was in Munich, Bavaria). Presumably, the aforementioned events were a large factor.

            By my count, there were 6 people who were the leaders during these possibly very important and certainly very exceptional events (and thus of the prominence of Eisner and Leviné), 2 of which being Jews. So 1 in 3. For all of Germany, 1 in 100 people were Jewish (I don’t know the stats for Bavaria at the time, so I’ll assume it is about the same). So if you want to argue that Jews were not over-represented in politics during these significant events, you have to find about 194 other prime ministers of German states with similar significance, from the Weimar period, none of them being Jews (with no bias against or for Jews when selecting those people). I consider it very unlikely that those 194 people exist(ed).

            The same is true for the other people I named, you will have to find 99 people with equal significance from the Weimar period for each of them, to argue that Jews were not more prominent in politics than their 1 in 100 presence in Germany.

            Aside from the above, I think that Glen Raphael made a good argument for how the Nazi claims had some truth in them.

            I just want to add that I also suspect that Jewish politicians were over-represented on the socialist side and underrepresented on the nationalist side (of course, also due to their antisemitism). Again, the Nazi narrative was that Jews were socialist/communist, anti-German backstabbers. So if Jews were over-represented on the socialist side and/or the pro-‘pay the reparations’ side, then they surely would have seen that as support for their claims.

            Admittedly, my argument is heavily based on the impression I get from looking at the sources, not a careful counting of many people or a study done by an expert. So I might be off-base.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            I won’t reply in depth to the SJ arguments you made in your response to me, as others are engaging you on that front.

            I just want to point out that the antisemite claim of Jewish domination/corruption was/is not dependent on direct control by Jews. It is and was often argued that gentiles cooperate in anti-gentile policies, after manipulation by Jews. So there is a claim of indirect control, where a relatively tiny percentage of Jews in positions of power have control way beyond their number.

            The concept of false consciousness seems to be a common element in identity politics movements, because it is needed to bridge the dissonance between the claim that a specific identity group has a shared interest and common experience of oppression & the fact that there are always people in that group who oppose the claim that they are being oppressed and the ideology in general.

            This is true for Naziism, Marxism and the various branches of the Social Justice movement. For example, in feminism, false consciousness is often called internalized misogyny.

            This mechanism that is used to explain why there are people of supposedly oppressed identities who refuse to join the cause, can then also be used to claim that even when supposed oppressors are a minority in positions of power, oppression is nevertheless supported by a majority of those in power.

          • Erusian says:

            @Glen Raphael

            The only difference between “they network” and “they conspire” is whether you hang a boo light on the phrase you use to describe reality. When you say Jews network because [reasons], that claim isn’t in disagreement with the antisemite who also believes they network because of reasons but emphasizes or imagines different reasons. The modern antisemite who claims Jews meet (often in secret, sometimes in meetings of private organizations created for that purpose) and discuss things and try to control things and try to change the world…is not technically incorrect. Calling the network “vast” isn’t an overstatement – it spans the globe – and whether we call it “conspiracy” or not is a difference in spin, not disagreement.

            Me, I am in in favor of smart Jews trying to influence world events. Should we pretend that never happens?

            Do you not understand how hostility is a relevant part of communication? Let’s say. I describe brave American soldiers going abroad to defend freedom in Iraq. Let’s say I describe poor Americans forced by economic necessity into soldiering being sent abroad to extend an imperial order into Iraq. The underlying fact of the thing is the same: soldiers being sent into Iraq. And yet those are different realities, aren’t they?

            Also, you have an overly expansive idea of where Jews live. There are 9 countries with a Jewish population of more than a hundred thousand. There are two with a population above a million. There are over a hundred countries with no Jewish population, and many more with absolutely insiginficiant populations. And outside of a couple of countries, Jewish populations tend to be shrinking. Or do you imagine the three thousand Jews who live in China are secretly controlling China or give any advantage to a Jew in China?

            I can name multiple ethnic groups with more of a diaspora presence. The Arabs, the Chinese, the Russians, the Nigerians… But those don’t get focused on for some reason, do they?

            I am for smart people trying to influence the world regardless of their ethnic background. I understand too that ethnic groups tend to have some degree of in group favoritism. But I find this focus on Jews an isolated demand for rigor. If you want to make a generalized case that every race constantly conspires, then you might have a consistent worldview although a dismal one. But I’d like to see people who supposedly believe that talking a little more about groups other than Jews. After all, the supposed Jewish conspiracy has killed less people, gotten less wealth, and controlled less nations than many other groups…

            @ Aapje

            I just want to add that I also suspect that Jewish politicians were over-represented on the socialist side and underrepresented on the nationalist side (of course, also due to their antisemitism).

            The Jews were slightly more likely to be left leaning than right leaning. However, certain brands of conservatism attracted significant Jewish support. Others did not, mostly due to anti-semitism. However, likewise some leftist factions had trouble attracting Jewish support due to antisemitism. The general pattern is a diversity of Jewish opinions but that Jews would not support antisemites.

            As anti-semitism took over the right, Jews increasingly went to the left, making a self-fulfilling prophecy. This was further supported because Eastern Europeans knew the Nazis were anti-semitic. When the Nazis went hunting for Communists in occupied territories, actual Communists would sometimes pretend to not be Communists (to avoid being liquidated). They would instead point the Nazis towards Jews, which confirmed the narrative further.

            Again, the Nazi narrative was that Jews were socialist/communist, anti-German backstabbers. So if Jews were over-represented on the socialist side and/or the pro-‘pay the reparations’ side, then they surely would have seen that as support for their claims.

            Sort of. The Nazi narrative was that the natural state of the world was race war. Jews could not win in combat against superior races like the Germans. So instead they ‘fought’ by convincing people that the world actually wasn’t a constant state of race war. The Jews had certain mercantile skills and skills at decadent arts that held a certain low attraction. They would use this to economically/culturally outcompete gentile races and dominate them. This is where the quasi-socialist images of Jews exploiting German workers or the quasi-rape of German women come from. (I say ‘quasi-rape’ because there was actually a degree of manliness attached to violent rape in Nazi imagery: the Jew had to use trickery or bribery. The idea of genuine attraction was due to the woman having absorbed ‘decadent art’.)

            Eliminating the Jews would eliminate this delusion that races weren’t constantly at war with each other and lead to a constant, unending state of racial warfare and competition. Which the Germans would win, because they were superior. Until about the last week or two of Hitler’s life when he believed the Slavs would because they had beat the Germans.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Glen Raphael

            I think “they network” is different from “they work together to pull the strings, start wars, etc”. The central Nazi claim was not that it was harder for a gentile to get a good job as a lawyer, or whatever. The central Nazi claim was the Dolchtstosslegende – that the Jews had conspired to cause Germany to lose the previous war.

            That there are Jews, but nobody who calls themself a white supremacist capitalist patriarch, doesn’t really matter – does any Jew seriously identify themself as an international capitalist-communist conspirator?

            @Erusian

            But they didn’t behave themselves politely – which is why they got banned.

            @Aapje

            I’m aware of the history. I just don’t think that taking power in a revolution, which you quickly lose, is the same sort of power or popularity as being at the top of a social structure, taking power through elections, etc. Anyway, I think what happened after shows that Jews, in retrospect, didn’t have a great deal of power in Germany…

            I don’t really buy “false consciousness” – there’s usually better explanations for why people support things that seem to go against their interests than “they have been cleverly snookered.” Regardless, in the case of Germany, it was clearly false – the snookering didn’t exist.

          • Erusian says:

            But they didn’t behave themselves politely – which is why they got banned.

            That’s sort of my point. Politeness is ultimately a standard of behavior. If that standard excludes people of certain ideologies, then it is a successful antidote to those ideologies. And if it allows other problematic ideologies, then it’s not an antidote to those.

          • albatross11 says:

            There’s actually a kind of continuum. On one side, there’s the flat-Earther-level conspiracy theory where the Jews/the Patriarchy/the Capitalists/the Evil White Males/etc. all get together with their villain mustaches and black hats and plot to rule the world and make life hard for everyone else. On the other end of that continuum, there’s some discussion of informal social networks, back-scratching, subtle social forces that disadvantage one group relative to another, unconscious biases in peoples’ minds. As you move from left to right on that spectrum, you usually get more reasonable and less objectionable. (Depending on the specific “conspiracy,” there’s probably one point on the spectrum that’s closest to the truth.)

            This applies very generally. Some people are on one extreme of that spectrum w.r.t. Jews–they think there’s some cabal of Jews controlling the weather or something. On the other end of the spectrum, you get people talking about the concentration of Jews in media, entertainment, the professions, law, and academia, and maybe discussing AIPAC and whether it has too much influence.

            Because this is all on the same spectrum, you have the opportunity both for people to do the motte-and-bailey thing where they start out talking about the International Jewish Conspiracy and then backtrack into talking about how maybe AIPAC has too much influence and there are a lot of Jews in media, and also to do that the other way w.r.t. accusations of anti-Semitism–someone complains that AIPAC has too much influence and gets accused of believing in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or something.

            Similarly, some people talk about the Patriarchy as though powerful men in our society had membership cards and private clubs where they met to plot the oppression of women. Others have some more subtle points about subconscious attitudes and implicit bias.

            When the most visible people on one of those spectra are on the extreme flat-Earther end, it’s easy for almost everyone to dismiss even people who have worthwhile insights and points to raise, because they’re being mapped to the obviously-crazy flat-Earthers.

          • Aapje says:

            @Erusian

            I’m only aware of one antisemite Jew: Otto Weininger. His antisemitism was rooted in a weird misogyny, where he saw Jews as feminine and suffering from the same traits he believed existed in women: being passive, unproductive, unconscious and amoral/alogical.

            As might be expected from an antisemite Jew, he killed himself.

            @dndnrsn

            Extreme unpopularity and failure can have a big political impact. I think that it is a mistake to only count politicians whose politics succeeded as impactful.

            The failed policy of starting WW I was very impactful. You wouldn’t dismiss the people who started WW I as inconsequential, would you?

            As for ‘false consciousness’: you mistakenly seem to interpret my comment as a defense of it as a valid argument. I meant my comment as an explanation of one reason why I don’t think that majority and minority status of a victim group is that significant to identity politics ideologies, as there is no fundamental need for the movements to change their ideology depending on the actual level of power and/or representation in top positions.

            So if (adherents of) such an ideology harshly accuses a demographic that is too large to be attacked in total, but some extremists who believe in that ideology end up in a situation where they can harm a subset of of the demographic they blame, there is no reason to assume that they won’t harm this subset.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Erusian

            In the first case, there were a few DE types who made being outrageously rude part of their shtick. In the second case, the guy showing up doing the “what do you think about this site I found? I don’t know, maybe the smart people here can help me” shtick was found elsewhere crowing about his clever plan to redpill the normies by pretending to be one of them. Neither was set in stone that it is in the nature of the far right to get banned for being assholes.

            @Aapje

            Sure, failure doesn’t mean that you weren’t powerful. But the harder-core revolutionaries who tried to set up Soviets and the like were clearly unpopular – even the social democrats turned on them.

            I’m not saying you approve of false-consciousness arguments; just apropos of it, I think it’s a bogus argument – it’s an unfalsifiable just-so story.

            And yeah: the white people, or the men, etc etc, who get hit, aren’t the ones aimed at.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            The narrative was not that Jews did things that were or seemed in the best interest of the German/Aryan people, so I don’t see why popularity is a significant factor, rather than influence/power.

            As for ‘false consciousness,’ I mainly find it interesting not because it in itself is unfalsifiable, but because it disarms many counterarguments against the entire identity politics narrative (if one beliefs in it, that is). Even if a merely small fraction of the ‘oppressed’ group agrees or if no or very few ‘oppressors’ are in power, it can still be argued that oppression is present or harm in that environment can be argued to be caused by the ‘oppressors,’ by virtue of them having indoctrinated many of the ‘oppressed.’

            Without the concept, it seems to me that identity politics ideologies are too ridiculous to believe, even for the gullible.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Having the people – especially the people with guns – on your side, is the best form of influence. That they didn’t actually have the influence and power their haters ascribed to them was shown by what their haters did to them.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        The thing is that intersectional feminism tends to resolve into either radfem-ism, where gender is a dialectical stuggle between men and women (think for five minutes about this and you will understand TERF) or liberal social redistributivism that takes the idea that “the smallest minority is the individual” fairly seriously and defines privilege in ways that respect that idea. The concept of cardinal oppression (scoring woke points) tends to disappear pretty quickly as cogency emerges. On race issues, there’s a somewhat-similar dynamic. If you’re asking for the dialectical social justice thinkers, I can’t recommend any to you because I’m waaaaay too liberal to find them anything but insane; if you’re asking for the liberal ones I can answer, but I think you may find them unsatisfying.

        E: actually, you may find some decent sources for the dialectical race conflict contingent among the Black Power movement; (early) Malcom X is the canonical example, though his later views are closer to the opposite.

        • Erusian says:

          I’ll take the recommendations regardless. But you’re right: I already know deep thinkers on the left, just none in this particular strain of it.

      • toastengineer says:

        someone who supports Social Justice in an intelligent, articulate way that doesn’t start from the premise they’re right and the world needs to get thee behind them.

        I’m not sure anyone who doesn’t would be recognizable to us as believing in SJ.

        • Nick says:

          I think a place to start is Ozy’s social justice Intellectual Turing Test. You can read the results here and pick e.g. pro-SJ ones by actual SJs. I remember some being quite good, though one that stuck out to me I can’t find now.

          Picking because many of those folks are rational-adjacent and would probably be able to talk in a way comprehensible to us but still recognizably SJ.

      • Walter says:

        I think this is a lot like the conflict theory vs. mistake theory thing that popped up at the end of Scott’s article, mainly that if you expect a conflict theory advocate to explain why you are making a mistake you have fundamentally misunderstood the idea in question.

        ‘Why do none of these gun advocates show up to my fencing bout?’ Like, it shouldn’t be mysterious that social justice operates on its own terms instead of its enemies, and ‘debates’ people like Mr. Peterson by calling him a bigot.

      • Plumber says:

        @Erusian

        “..where are the high-resolution defenders of the social justice zeitgeist?…”

        I belIeve that a guy named Jorge Mario Bergoglio fits the bill, though maybe you could provide some term definitions so I may make a better guess.

        “…Where are the great thinkers where this ideology emanates from?…”

        Emanate from?

        I think that would be a guy named Luigi Taparelli, but with antecedents centuries before that.

        IIRC, C.S. Lewis referred to a common human instinctual sense of right and wrong as the “Tao” in The Abolition of Man, and I think Plato’s Republic has a lot on “justice”, John Rawl’s Theory of Justice and Michael Sandel’s Justice are good, PBS did a video series of Sandel’s lectures that are good, and maybe the most articulate proponent in living memory was Martin Luther King Jr.

        Besides the Church my best guess of the organization that’s been most effective in delivering social justice would be the U.S. Army, but some term definitions would be helpful so I may better guess.

        • Erusian says:

          Jorge Mario Bergoglio

          Cute. But I don’t think the Pope fits the SJ zeitgeist. I’ve read his theological works (though he puts out less than Ratzinger). He might be more friendly than Ratzinger but he is not pro-abortion, he doesn’t make women priests, and he is not fully accepting of homosexuality or pro-gay marriage.

          Emanate from?

          I think that would be a guy named Luigi Taparelli, but with antecedents centuries before that.

          Again, Taparelli doesn’t fit the ideology closely enough to count. This is like claiming the Civil War was fought over Catholic rights because Abolitionism began in religious rights circles. They even created the term Emancipation to describe a granting of rights because that’s what they wanted from the British.

          Again, I understand where Christian Democrats (pro-welfare, conservative socially) come from and concede they have a rich intellectual tradition. I also think the Marxists do. But neither of those people support Social Justice as currently practiced.

          IIRC, C.S. Lewis referred to a common human instinctual sense of right and wrong as the “Tao” in The Abolition of Man, and I think Plato’s Republic has a lot on “justice”, John Rawl’s Theory of Justice and Michael Sandel’s Justice are good, PBS did a video series of Sandel’s lectures that are good, and maybe the most articulate proponent in living memory was Martin Luther King Jr.

          Besides the Church my best guess of the organization that’s been most effective in delivering social justice would be the U.S. Army, but some term definitions would be helpful so I may better guess.

          He also liked the term Ratta. He also once wrote an essay that basically argued, while legal equality was good, most homes would be most happy if the man was in charge. I’ll concede he’s a good source if you can get a feminist to agree that men should occupy most leadership roles, as Lewis argued.

          As for definitions, I am looking for articulate, deep thinkers who seriously engage with their subject manner and can make successful arguments that stand behind current social justice paradigms. Basically, there are two qualifications: the average BLM protestor in the street would point to them as someone who represents their views and the person makes a subtle, complex philosophical argument for why the BLM protestor is correct that is convincing and not obviously logically flawed/begins with the presumption they’re correct and explains from there. (Substitute BLM for any cause.)

          • Plumber says:

            @Erusian

            “….SJ zeitgeist…”

            The thing is, I really think the “SJ ideology” doesn’t really have “thought leaders”, or rather it did, but they’re mostly dead and burried and the ideology is passed on by Sesame Street and hundreds of thousands of school teachers who are passing on psychic anti-bodies against one side of a decades past battle. “Speech codes” and the rest are from a curriculum developed to keep peace in the desegregated schools of the 1970’s which were internalized and passed on by a couple of generations, plus a feminization of academia, as most teachers and most college students are women and they set the norms in their environments

            Now BLM I think grew from a gut instinct of “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon”, and an organic reaction to the publicizing of unarmed “black and brown” men and boys (a few girls and women as well, but still mostly males) who’ve been killed by police in the last ten years – if anything created the movement it would take cell phone cameras and a multiplication of media outlets (for the record BLM is the only “SJ”s” that I encounter face to face as they have a weekly protest in front of my job every Friday, though interestingly the majority of protesters look Latino not black).

            So partially scolds who are still yelling (actually typing) “Teacher said!” into their young adulthoods, and partially an understandable gut level reaction to watching footage of people who look like more themselves being beaten or killed by people who look less like themselves.

            No one needs to have articulated a platform for those, though I understand that much of it probably resulted from some watching the black Civil Rights movement of the ’50’s and ’60″s (and African Americans really did have a raw deal then) which used some tactics of the Labor movement,
            and the India independence movement to get rid of the legal edifice of Jim Crow, and basically some white women reading The Second Sex and saying “You know what, we’re oppressed too!”, and things snowballing from there, with the American Indian Movement, Chicano’s, Gay rights, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

            I don’t think they are any leaders anymore as the impetus is two (three?) generation of adults that grew up with a “Were also oppressed!” ideology, and teachers passing on a “Be tolerant to [groups] manners that by now is a combination of most people leaving only a subset left.

            In practical terms this leads to stuff like black Democrats (who tend to be older than other Democrats, as older whites are now mostly Republicans) being more forgiving of and likely to support Joe Biden despite he’s making anti-bussing statements decades ago, and also being more forgiving of the Governor of Virginia who was in blackface in a yearbook photo, than are white Democrats who are mostly younger and more educated, and lets be frank, with a few exceptions like the more narrowly focused BLM (“Stop shooting us!”), “S.J.” is mostly a collegiate class thing, and who are the collegiate class?

            Those who’ve well internalized a set of rules and can parrot them back well.

            Pare that with a college admissions system that gives points for demonstrating “community service” noblesse oblige and “leadership” and you have…

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          John Rawl’s Theory of Justice

          Yes yes, this was pretty well written, and I found it half convincing, even though I am pretty anti SJ. I know lots of folks are contemptuous of the idea of a veil of ignorance, but I think it is an important concept. I disagreed with lots of what he said, but it was something that is worth discussing. Theory of Justice was written decades before SJ was a thing, but this is the sort of book that shows how an intelligent SJ would argue.

          • Plumber says:

            @Mark V Anderson

            “…Theory of Justice was written decades before SJ was a thing…”

            I dispute that.

            The term “social justice” predates Rawl’s book by centuries (until recently I mostly encountered the term in obituaries “…a fearless advocate for social justice”), which is a term that has varied uses and users, including Catholics, Marxists, and The National Union for Social Justice of the 1930’s (which ultimately became pro-Axis powers).

            As for what’s described here as the “S J” ideology, I can’t tell how it’s much different from the “New Left” of the 1960’s (which, unlike the “old left” held students not workers as “the vanguard” and emphasized race more than class), or the “Second Wave Feminism” of the 1970’s, both of which were in swing when A Theory of Justice was published, a time of much greater domestic terrorism and the decline of the “post war liberal consensus” that was tag-teamed by both “the left” and the emerging “New Right”.

            Even as late as the early 1990’s I remember leaving work and twice seeing riots, once with dozens of cops chasing a running mob while I waited at a stoplight! (at Haste and Telegraph in Berkeley, California), and another time seeing a car on fire while a chanting crowd circled around it (at Telegraph and Haste).

            I do concede that the internet has enabled a new kind of trouble, but if instead of the lynchings and bombings of the past all we have to worry about is “Twitter mobs”, I’d call that a good trade.

          • I know lots of folks are contemptuous of the idea of a veil of ignorance, but I think it is an important concept.

            The veil of ignorance was offered by Harsanyi before Rawls, and unlike Rawls he drew the obvious conclusion.

            What I am contemptuous of, and have never found anyone able to defend, is the idea that behind the veil of ignorance you would be infinitely risk averse, would choose as if you were certain to end up in the least desirable role. That’s crucial to reaching Rawls’ conclusion and it makes no sense.

            In Harsanyi’s earlier version you have an equal probability of being anyone, which implies maximizing the average Von Neumann utility of the population.

          • Aapje says:

            I would argue that the ‘veil of ignorance’ is an argument in favor of ‘blind’ policies. However, race- and gender-blind policies are now seen as an impossibility by many if not most SJ advocates, who believe that unconscious discrimination makes policies that attempt to be neutral into racist and sexist policies in their execution.

            So the ‘veil of ignorance’ may have Cthulhu’d right into anti-SJ territoriality by now.

          • albatross11 says:

            David:

            I wouldn’t be infinitely risk averse, but I don’t think I’d just want to maximize the average utility. Suppose society #1 is split between 50% people who have everything they could possibly want and enjoy a standard of living comparable to that of inhabitants on a Culture orbital, and 50% people who live nasty, short, brutish lives in the Imperial salt mines. Suppose society #2 is 100% people who live just a little below the average utility of society #1. I think I’d choose society #2 from behind the veil of ignorance. Would I be irrational to do so?

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @David

            I know you have to be famiar with the empirical failures of the expected utility hypothesis. The conclusion I’d expect you to draw is that people have moral intuitions about the shape of distributions, and that this is therefore Not An Economic Problem.

            You don’t need generalized infinite risk aversion to explain Rawls, by the way. Rawls explains it as, “free persons concieve of themselves as beings who can revise and alter their ends and who give first priority to preserving their liberty,” and as “the minimum [liberty] assured by the two principles in lexical order is not one that the parties wish to jeapordize for the sake of greater economic and social advantages.” That’s a strong claim I suspect you disagree with, but to frame it as “infinite risk aversion” is misleading. It’s rational aversion to what he sees as an infinite risk.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the place you can pull that distinction out is when world #1 is our world, and world #2 is Omelas. Is the very low probability that you will end up as the miserable child in the basement enough to make you decide you wouldn’t want to go into that world, even if it were necessary to the high standard of living of the rest of Omelas to keep that one child in the basement?

          • Would I be irrational to do so?

            You would be failing to understand what Von Neumann utility means.

            The statement “the average utility of lottery A is greater than the average utility of lottery B” means I would prefer lottery A to lottery B. That’s how Von Neumann converted utility from an ordinal to a cardinal measure.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @David

            Would I be irrational to do so?

            You would be failing to understand what Von Neumann utility means.

            The question isn’t about von Neumann utility, but about rational preferences. Albatross11 is asking if you think that von Neumann utility is a good (or at least rational) basis on which to choose between the worlds they’re proposing (and given that I agree with Albatross here, I’d actually like to hear your defense of it if you think it is. I haven’t actually seen you comment on utility monsters).

          • albatross11 says:

            David:

            It seems like this means that my preferring society #2 to society #1 implies that, based on my utility function, the average utility *must* be higher in society #2 than in society #1. (Assuming I’m rational.) Right?

            So you might prefer society #1 while I prefer society #2, but assuming we’re both rational, that must come down to differences in our utility functions–you find the chance of being in the elite in society #1 worth the chance of ending up in the Imperial Salt Mines, while I don’t.

            Am I understanding this correctly?

          • quanta413 says:

            If I understand David Friedman correctly, the implication is that Von Neumann utility takes into account risk aversion when making the measure cardinal. That’s how you define the cardinal values of utility. By asking for the odds you’d take to balance a mixture of A and C (where A > B > C) with a 100% chance of B. I’m not looking at the definition now so someone correct me if I have the wrong gist of things.

            Since the veil of ignorance problem is a problem ostensibly for a single person (in order to justify something across people), we don’t have to worry about utility monsters.

            Summing Von Neumann utilities across agents to try to make a global utility measure is much stickier. And not justified in general, although it may work out in specific cases.

          • @albatross11:

            You are understanding it correctly.

            @Hoopyfreud:

            You don’t need generalized infinite risk aversion to explain Rawls, by the way.

            Then how do you get maximizing the minimum welfare in the society?

            Albatross11 is asking if you think that von Neumann utility is a good (or at least rational) basis on which to choose between the worlds they’re proposing

            And I am answering that Von Neumann utility is defined as describing how you choose between alternative lotteries–in this case the lottery of which role in society you will occupy. That’s what the veil of ignorance (Harsanyi version) implies is the basis for deciding what the best society is.

            Is your point to reject the whole veil of ignorance framework, so you are choosing not in terms of how you feel about your ending up in different roles but some entirely different criterion?

            @ quanta413:

            If I understand David Friedman correctly, the implication is that Von Neumann utility takes into account risk aversion when making the measure cardinal.

            Correct. Risk aversion wrt income is equivalent to declining marginal utility of income.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            What I am contemptuous of, and have never found anyone able to defend, is the idea that behind the veil of ignorance you would be infinitely risk averse, would choose as if you were certain to end up in the least desirable role.

            So you disagree with his conclusion. I do too, although that doesn’t make me contemptuous. Rawls seems to think that if we didn’t know what station we would have in life, we would surely do our best to improve the worst possible case, to the exclusion of all other incentives. I don’t agree.

            But my points are: 1) the veil of ignorance is an important concept, in that in making ethical judgments we really should consider the position of those who have very bad luck, and put ourselves in their shoes. I didn’t realize he didn’t invent the veil of ignorance, but that doesn’t make it less important. 2) that Rawls writes in a rational manner and can be argued with rationally. As I said, I am pretty anti SJ, so I don’t agree with many of such proponent’s positions, but the whole point of this thread is to come up with intelligent proponents. I think Rawls is a good example.

            The term “social justice” predates Rawl’s book by centuries

            Okay yes you are right. I think I even remember Rawls using the term social justice in his book, which startled me a bit. What I should have said is that SJ wasn’t such a big thing.

            Edit: Oh I wanted to add that I agree with Albatross’ comments. I would prefer a society without great extremes of good and bad even if the average was a little lower. Of course there can be a tremendous gulf in where the line is drawn.

            Edit 2: Aapje makes it sound as if even Rawls would be kicked out of the SJ camp these days. Perhaps out of the more radical SJer camps, but I think it is a losing proposition to find a rational SJer in that radical a camp.

          • albatross11 says:

            Rawls’ strategy would be right, however, if we knew that God was going to assign us to the worst position in whatever society we chose. (That would be pretty malevolent if done to a person with no choice of societies, but arguably just if done to the person who got to design the society into which he’d be put.) That is, if you think of this as a game between you and God, where you choose the society and God puts you in the worst place in that society, then you’d want to follow Rawls’ strategy.

          • 10240 says:

            I would argue that the ‘veil of ignorance’ is an argument in favor of ‘blind’ policies.

            @Aapje I don’t think the veil of ignorane approach prescribes any particular approach regarding blind policies. If subconscious discrimination is prevalent, then affirmative action to compensate may be compatible with a veil of ignorance approach, depending on the details of the policy in question, and one’s views on its effects.

            I would prefer a society without great extremes of good and bad even if the average was a little lower.

            @Mark V Anderson , When you are taking average here, you are not using Von Neumann utility, are you?

            Also, I get the “no great extremes of bad” part, but what’s the problem with extremes of good?

            Rawls’ strategy would be right, however, if we knew that God was going to assign us to the worst position in whatever society we chose. (That would be pretty malevolent if done to a person with no choice of societies, but arguably just if done to the person who got to design the society into which he’d be put.)

            @albatross11 It would still be pretty malevolent, as you would design a society where average utility (even Von Neumann utility, i.e. taking risk aversion into account) is a lot lower than in a society you would design if you were to be assigned to a random position.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @David

            I answered that question quite clearly immediately below the line you quoted. If you disagree with my answer, I’d prefer you engage with it.

            But, to add to what I said earlier: keep in mind that Rawls assumes that the veil of ignorance ought to be treated as a consensus-building exercise. In terms you might appreciate: although you might assume that the object of the exercise is to maximize your own von Neumann utility if a ballot is held behind the veil, I hope you can see that a policy with extreme payoff matrices is unlikely to succeed, because people will value extreme outcomes more extremely. Therefore, the elected society will almost certainly be the one that maximizes liberty rather than one that satisfies anyone’s von Neumann utility – the equilibrium may in fact be von Neumann suboptimal for everyone! But Rawls’ assumption is that people will, in aggregate, no matter what their individual utility functions actually are, strongly prefer a society in which the feasibility of achieving a wide variety of outcomes (given distributions of talents) from an arbitrary starting point is maximized.

            Also note that the number of possible outcomes is not maximized here. The feasibility of attaining them is. Big difference.

          • Aapje says:

            @10240

            Yeah, my comment was pretty poor.

            In retrospect, the veil of ignorance seems quite compatible with affirmative action policies and the like.

          • 10240 says:

            But Rawls’ assumption is that people will, in aggregate, no matter what their individual utility functions actually are, strongly prefer a society in which the feasibility of achieving a wide variety of outcomes (given distributions of talents) from an arbitrary starting point is maximized.

            @Hoopyfreud I don’t understand the argument. Does he mean that the only way to achieve a minimum level of liberty we all desire is to use Raws’ approach, i.e. maximize the well-being of the worst-off person? How does it follow that we would all have a certain minimum level of liberty in that case, but not if the worst-off person is even slightly worse off than that?

            But Rawls’ assumption is that people will, in aggregate, no matter what their individual utility functions actually are, strongly prefer a society in which the feasibility of achieving a wide variety of outcomes (given distributions of talents) from an arbitrary starting point is maximized.

            I don’t think why that should be true. Behind a veil of ignorance, you have the same chance to be any particular person after the veil is removed. So before the veil is removed, you have the same chance to eventually reach any particular position in society, even if after the veil is removed, opportunities are not equal.

            I hope you can see that a policy with extreme payoff matrices is unlikely to succeed, because people will value extreme outcomes more extremely

            I don’t think a policy which maximizes the minimum utility, as Rawls suggests, would succeed either: people care about the average outcome enough that maximizing the minimum wouldn’t be their only priority.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @10240:
            If you assume the “pyramid” of resource distribution is, well, a pyramid … then you don’t stand an equal chance of all possible resource allocations. You are vastly more likely to be at the bottom than the top.

          • 10240 says:

            @HeelBearCub I meant that you had the same chance to end up at the top as any other person, not that you had the same chance to end up at the top as to end up at the bottom.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @10240

            Does he mean that the only way to achieve a minimum level of liberty we all desire is to use Raws’ approach, i.e. maximize the well-being of the worst-off person?

            That’s a bit backwards, I think. He means that the principles he lays out form the basis for the minimum level of liberty we desire – that designing a society in which all institutions increase the well-being of the worst-off person (which is not the same thing as designing a society which maximizes the well-being of the worst-off person), we will maximize liberty. His veil of ignorance argument is post-hoc, so he justifies the difference principle on moral grounds before trying to demonstrate that everyone would choose it; I think that presentation confuses his argument a bit.

            I don’t think why that should be true. Behind a veil of ignorance, you have the same chance to be any particular person after the veil is removed. So before the veil is removed, you have the same chance to eventually reach any particular position in society, even if after the veil is removed, opportunities are not equal.

            I think that Rawls’ fundamental arguments for why equality of opportunity is a principle component of liberty are a bit hard to follow, especially from a utilitarian perspective. Regardless, I’m not saying that you will prefer a situation in which liberty is maximized; I’m saying that the greatest consensus will be for a situation in which liberty is maximized, as it avoids the problems that arise when one tries to aggregate utility functions.

          • But Rawls’ assumption is that people will, in aggregate, no matter what their individual utility functions actually are, strongly prefer a society in which the feasibility of achieving a wide variety of outcomes (given distributions of talents) from an arbitrary starting point is maximized.

            That does not appear to me to describe Rawls’ conclusion.

            As I remember it, having read the book long ago, Rawls argues that society ought to be designed to maximize the welfare of the worst off person in it.

            Is that correct?

            If so, it implies that a society where everyone gets 100 utiles is superior to a society where one person gets 90 utiles and everyone else is in a range from 110 to 1000. That is not maximizing “the feasibility of achieving a wide variety of outcomes.”

            You seem to have read a different version of the book than I did.

          • Clutzy says:

            If so, it implies that a society where everyone gets 100 utiles is superior to a society where one person gets 90 utiles and everyone else is in a range from 110 to 1000. That is not maximizing “the feasibility of achieving a wide variety of outcomes.”

            That is not the problem with the Rawls thought process, the wrongness is inherent in the veil. There is no veil, there can be no veil, and the veil itself would be an evil hundreds of times more destructive than the most destructive capitalist, socialist, authoritarian, or other society. The veil destroys all incentive to build something for the future.

          • 10240 says:

            @Clutzy While I don’t really agree with the veil of ignorance idea myself (though I see the arguments for it), I don’t think your characterization is right. The idea is (I think) that we should design society as though we are behind the veil when we design it; then the veil is removed. If it’s beneficial for most people to have a society where constructive behavior is incentivized then, even behind the veil, we would design a society with such incentives.

      • baconbits9 says:

        What I found most remarkable is how much they agreed on many important points.

        Peterson is a hard line centrist, and not an economist, which leads to the agreements. Marxism is totally dead as an economic theory, its core economic conception(s) is as disproven as it can plausibly be. Capitalism is non-utopian though, if you skip the ‘Marxism is inherently a giant steaming pile of crap’ portion of the debate and discuss flaws in capitalism you end up with ‘common ground’ which gives the appearance of the radical leftist winning the debate because the centrist is ceding that capitalism has flaws.

        Marx’s critique of capitalism was not the capitalism was flawed and communism would be better, it was the capitalism was fatally flawed and it would consume itself and spit out communism which was wildly superior. The standard of a communist/Marxist winning the debate ought to be demonstrating that capitalism should be destroyed and replaced, not concession of what are trivial points when compared to the core doctrine of Marx.

        • Aapje says:

          Peterson is a hard line centrist, and not an economist, which leads to the agreements.

          Also because Zizek is a Marxist in name only. He was kicked out of a his job at a university in Yugoslavia under Tito because his Master’s thesis was considered non-Marxist.

          What he really is, is a contrarian, edgelord and nitpicker who has strong opinions that certain parts of Western society are broken, but who doesn’t have an actual grand alternative. All of this make him very similar to Peterson.

          The main difference is that Peterson fears revolution and that Zizek romanticizes it, at least as long as it’s merely theoretical. If actual revolutionaries show up on his doorstep and ask him to take up arms, I bet that he suddenly remembers that he has an appointment at a hot dog stand (note that the comments under that very short video are actually funny).

      • mdet says:

        Would Jesse Singal count as high resolution social justice? He’s a journalist at New York Magazine, and he started a blog recently. He has solidly progressive views, but he’s also the type of person who argues for good-faith debate, and against “left-wing identitarianism”. While most of his writing is aimed in the opposite direction — convincing progressives to be less identitarian and more classically liberal — I think he would be qualified to debate Peterson from a progressive angle. I haven’t read or listened to anything by Brett Weinstein, but he seems to be in the same category.

        Or maybe when you ask for high-resolution social justice you’re looking for someone who will defend exactly the parts of the left that Singal criticizes? Natalie Wynn / ContraPoints on YouTube makes coherently argued (but very weird) videos that often argue in favor of the more illiberal parts of the left. While she mocks the classical liberal “freeze peach bros” for thinking ““reasoned debate”” solves everything, she otherwise does a good job not-mischaracterizing opposing arguments imo. While I think she’s capable of it, I don’t think she’d ever agree to an in-person debate with Peterson.

        • albatross11 says:

          I think you could get a really great conversation between a free-market advocate and someone like Bret Weinstein, but I think Weinstein is pre-SJW leftist and not at all friendly to identity politics. So they’d be debating capitalism and its flaws/failure modes.

          But I don’t think Peterson is all that interested in such a debate–he seems to speak much of the same language as a lot of the SJW-adjacent academic types–he’s interested in speaking in archetypes and useful fictions and such. But I don’t think economics is a great passion of his, so I don’t see why he’d have especially interesting insights into it except where it overlaps psychology/myth/symbolism/etc.

        • albatross11 says:

          More generally, trying to line up debates for their draw as battle royales between ideologies seems kinda dumb to me. I’d like to see discussions where the participants come into them ready to really communicate and discuss their ideas and beliefs in good faith, and from which I’m likely to learn something.

        • Erusian says:

          For whatever internet points are worth, thank you for actually recommending someone. I haven’t read them, I don’t endorse them until I do. But you’re literally the first person to take my request for a recommendation as an actual request and to give me someone to at least read.

        • Aapje says:

          I’ve read Singal’s writings on trans issues, where he seemed very reasonable and thorough, but also opposed to the current mainstream SJ narrative.

          So just like Bret, he may be too old school for the new school.

  13. oerpli says:

    Semi coherent post incoming:

    I feel a bit sad and nostalgic currently and thought I would ask here how to handle the following situation:

    I studied Physics (seriously) from 2010 to 2014 and CS from 2012 to 2018 (have two MScs now).

    I haven’t done any real Physics since 2015 I think and sometimes stumble upon something nice, e.g.:

    https://thecuriousastronomer.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/derivation-of-plancks-radiation-law-part-4-final-part/

    Usually this triggers hard nostalgia and sadness in me, because:
    1. I had a pretty good life back then
    2. I feel completely lost when reading Wikipedia articles about these topics, even though I understood them at some point.

    I sometimes consider ordering some Physics books (Feynman lectures maybe?) to refresh my memories but I am not sure whether this will be interesting and fun or make me more miserable.

    Is/was anyone in a similar situation? How do/did you cope with it? No idea if it’s relevant but I am above average in “sentimentalism” (due to being good at remembering things and even better at forgetting the bad parts).

    • I got a doctorate in theoretical physics back in 1971, was a postdoc at Columbia for a few years, decided I was a better economist than physicist and switched fields. I haven’t tried to keep up with physics, although I did use the mathematical structure of QMech—multiple complete sets of basis states—as the model for how magic works in my second novel.

      I don’t find anything in current physics that exciting to me, with the possible exception of the many worlds model, which is part of the reason I switched fields. So I don’t feel a lot of regret at no longer being a physicist.

      • oerpli says:

        I don’t feel regret at no longer being a physicist (not being a fan of current physics was also a reason for me not pursuing it further). But I feel a lot of regret for not being able to derive/remember the beatiful parts of physics. e.g. GR, principle of least action, …

    • BBA says:

      Every so often I regret not sticking with pure mathematics. There’s no money in it, of course, and just keeping up with where the field was 150 years ago was too much for me as an undergrad, to say nothing of how bizarrely mind-bending current developments are. And the notion of doing original work, where I can barely understand existing work, is incredibly daunting. (Not to mention, anything to do with academia is a big giant UGH these days.)

      But still…I used to love this stuff. I wanted to be a mathematician when I was a kid. There’s still something in it that calls to me.

      How do I cope? I remind myself of the money I’m making now.

      • Nicholas Weininger says:

        FWIW I got a PhD in pure math and feel similarly. I deliberately chose a field (combinatorics) where the cutting-edge problems are relatively easy to understand (problem statements at least if not always proofs!) and the heavily Hungarian subculture appealed to me. But I did not have motivation and/or talent enough to be a superstar researcher and found the paths available to me in academics disappointing. Coping is for me not just about money, though that certainly helps, but also about taking pleasure in the ways having a mathematical frame of mind can help one reason clearly through all kinds of problems.

        • oerpli says:

          What is the meaning of ‘Hungarian subculture’? I am half Hungarian and I am not sure if I could point out the Hungarian subculture in a lineup of 5 subcultures.

          Also I liked the little combinatorics I was exposed to (generating functions from my discrete math lecture mostly).

          • Nicholas Weininger says:

            I think “Erdosian” may be a better word for it (apologies for omitting the diacriticals here and below). There was a sort of head-in-the-clouds delight in finding problems that were simple to pose but hard to even get toward solving, and an open-hearted unpretentious appreciation of the beauty of the best proofs that one could find, with a strong drive toward finding more beautiful and simpler proofs where the first ones available were aesthetically unsatisfactory. I associate it with Hungary not only because of Erdos but because of the semester I spent in Budapest learning from Hungarian combinatorics professors, and the Hungarians who were well-represented on the grad school faculty and among the textbook authors and conference speakers I was exposed to (Szemeredi, Beck, Bollobas, Komlos if any of those names mean anything to you). But they may or may not be representative of the broader Hungarian culture.

          • Kindly says:

            The subculture of people interested in extremal combinatorics is heavily Hungarian in the sense that many of these people are Hungarians.

            I’m not sure their nationality is otherwise relevant. Maybe having grown up speaking a language with 34 cases makes it easier to adopt the unnatural twisted mindset you need to apply the Szemerédi regularity lemma left and right.

          • oerpli says:

            My Hungarian isn’t that great (don’t get to use it much since my parents’ divorce 18y ago) but I always had the impression that 34 cases sounds more daunting than it actually is, as most of them replace prepositions.

            Is it really more complicated to learn:
            goI schoolto (megyek iskolába)
            compared to:
            I go to school (ek megy ba iskolá)

            (Serious question btw – I hope someone with a stronger grasp on languages chimes in).

          • Kindly says:

            You’re absolutely right – the cases are not the scary part. Although they are an instance of what feels like an obsession with relative position of things that does make learning the language harder.

            “It has 34 cases” is the single sentence I can say about Hungarian that helps get across the accurate impression that I think it’s a very hard language to learn – but if I had to pick my #1 complaint about the language, it would be the utterly alien word order different from any other language I know.

          • johan_larson says:

            I’m not sure having many cases in a language is all that big a deal. I’ve never dealt with Hungarian, but I have spoken Finnish, which has a lot of cases. They’re really just doing what English prepositions do (to, at, in, from, …) except they are written attached to the root word rather than separate from it.

            And English has its own complications: a very large vocabulary with lots of loan words and really rather irregular spelling. Do our mighty unabridged dictionaries and annual spelling bees smarten us goodly?

          • Nick says:

            @johan_larson

            I don’t know about you, but I’m smarting after meeting with an unabridged dictionary.

    • Björn says:

      I have similar feelings, though for different reasons. I studied hardcore theoretical mathematics from 2011 to this march, and now have my masters degree. But I regret focusing so hard on my analytical thinking and making nothing of my memory and my verbal intelligence.

      I think in some way this is the feeling of becoming a full adult. The times of trying out things are over, and there are reasons why I should stick with the career decisions I have made. But this fills me with melancholy, since I have quite diverse interests I did not follow during my times at the university.

      I know that hobbies exist for exploring other aspects of what I like to do. But I feel like I wasted a significant portion of my life on mathematics, which I chose as my major because of irrational fears of unemployment during the financial crisis.

      I haven’t really found a solution for this feelings yet.

    • Chalid says:

      Unless you have a use for knowing serious physics and doing it regularly, your knowledge of it will inevitably atrophy. I wouldn’t fight that process; my guess is that it will just lead to a lot of frustration and leave you in the same place in the end. Find something else you care about more.

      (Did a physics PhD, abandoned the field after.)

    • fion says:

      Not helpful to you, but this will be me in the future. I’m coming to the end of a physics PhD, I’m planning to change fields, and I’m a very nostalgic person. In five years I won’t be able to do the calculations I’m currently doing, and I’m sure that will make me sad. Hopefully I’ll take solace in being good at whatever I’m doing then.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I never was a physicist – but I loved physics classes – just didn’t like the kind of work I saw physicists doing, and so decided to major somewhere else.

      I regret no longer remembering enough calculus to appreciate the beauty of Maxwell’s equations. But I have all these lovely algorithms to play with instead, and no difficulty at all understanding them, even 40 years out of school.

      So it’s just a mild nostalgia, and occassional impulse to relean some of that fairly basic math.

  14. What’s a right-wing equivalent of the front page of Reddit? I’m trying to balance my intake of low-quality political hot takes.

  15. ana53294 says:

    Any resource that easily explains how vote counting works in your country?

    In Spain, we have vote-counting according to the D’Hondt method. Here is a nice infographic (it’s in Spanish, but you can still understand it). I find it a very confusing way to count votes, but anything more complex than first past the post is confusing.

    • OutsideContextProblem says:

      We use Mixed Member Proportional (MMP).

      It achieves two things: 1) maintaining the British system of having an electoral MP responsible for local concerns who will represent a geographic locale in the national parliament, and 2) ensuring that representation in the House is proportional to overall share of the vote.

      Downsides are the increased complexity (which an awful lot of people don’t fully understand); reduced independence of MPs – as they are mostly only there on the parties mandate, not their own and will get removed if they are kicked out of their party; and reduced local representation.

    • Deiseach says:

      We have Proportional Representation by Single Transferable Vote, usually known simply as Proportional Representation.

      A good guide to how it works here.

      There are occasional mutters about changing it, since it does lead to a lot of coalition governments. But in two referenda the Irish people voted to keep it, because it’s a fairly flexible and responsive way of getting the result you the voter (and not the political parties) want. The parties might prefer a system where one of them is a definite winner but the general public tend to not trust any of them with unfettered power.

      And as this long post says, the televised count is the real fun of the whole affair anyway.

  16. Erusian says:

    UBI came up last thread, so I have a question:
    The Federal government currently spends about $7,500 per person on various forms of welfare, not including things like education, veteran’s benefits, regulatory programs, etc. So, for the UBI crowd: who would trade a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing every citizen an inflation/economic size adjusted $7,500 a year for a Constitutional amendment banning all forms of federal welfare?

    If no, is there a different amount of money you would do it for? Or some forms of welfare you feel absolutely need to be preserved?

    If yes, how do you deal with a fact you’re decreasing targeted subsidies to poorer areas/communities/groups and increasing them to relatively wealthier groups?

    • John Schilling says:

      I would rather target the UBI at $5000/person-year and hold back the remaining $2500 for dealing with the hard cases a UBI can’t help – and none of which will involve giving people money or fungible goods and services.

      But the current federal budget is (adjusted for inflation and economic size) unsustainable in the long run, will absolutely have to be diminished whether by choice or by collapse, and so a Constitutional amendment with a $7500/year (ditto) requirement would be basically an economic suicide pact. So no.

    • quanta413 says:

      It sounds strictly worse than the current system to me. UBI to anyone already paying more than the UBI is equivalent to an adjustment to their tax rates. People who do need welfare may need more than 7500 in value of welfare (for example someone has an expensive mental or physical ailment). A few people on welfare may not be trustworthy to not spend money stupidly and probably shouldn’t receive it in cash or cash equivalent forms. Deiseach posted a link to a sad story recently about someone getting a check from their health insurer to pay for a bill which they promptly spent on street drugs instead and overdosed. It was both sad and the sort of thing you can at least make a little harder by not cutting people big checks.

      I’d prefer not to lock in the current spending levels as a minimum forever and then also lock them in to be distributed evenly. At some point if taxes are unable to keep up with a fixed UBI, it means raising taxes on everyone above some threshold to bring things back into equilibrium anyways.

    • The Red Foliot says:

      $7,500 is a surprising amount, since I had the impression that welfare in America was very limited. Is there an explanation for how it is proportionally spent? My thoughts are that it is either:

      1. Spent mostly on healthcare.
      2. Wasted on bureaucracy or mismanagement.
      3. Highly irregular, so that some disabled people receive large amounts of welfare while others don’t receive any at all.
      4. Spent on lots of small things, like subsidized bus passes and food stamps, whose aggregate impact is difficult to conceive.

      I would reject the offer in any case (as a UBI/welfare proponent) on the basis that I think America’s welfare expenditures are too low at present and should be increased.

      • toastengineer says:

        I had the impression that welfare in America was very limited

        Where from?

        My opinions on this aren’t really SSC-quality levels of informedness, but from what I understand the U.S. spends a ton on welfare but it’s spent really, really ineffectively. See this.

        • John Schilling says:

          One of the services the United States provides to the rest of the developed world is an example that they can point to and say “…at least our health care system isn’t that bad; stop rocking the boat or we’ll wind up like the Americans!” The same, but I think to a lesser extent, for other social-welfare programs. It is in no way necessary for the denegration of American social welfare institutions to be factually correct in order for the United States to perform this service; it’s not like anyone is going to check and see. Tourists and exchange students don’t experience that aspect of American life, and journalists mostly tell people what they want to hear.

          I have a vague feeling that the United States ought to be able to charge for this service, but I’m not sure how to go about implementing that.

          • ana53294 says:

            The US provides these services for healthcare, university prices, jails and gun control.

      • rlms says:

        Judging from here, about 40% is healthcare (Medicare and Medicaid), 40% is social security (mostly pensions), and 20% is traditional welfare (mostly “family and children”).

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          It hasn’t been clear to me whether UBI is intended to cover conventional welfare or also health care and pensions. But it makes a certain sense if it turned out that the ‘inefficiency’ in welfare was merely a product of adding In the very large senior citizen population plus the healthcare sector which is riddled with cost disease.

      • Erusian says:

        $7,500 is a surprising amount, since I had the impression that welfare in America was very limited. Is there an explanation for how it is proportionally spent? My thoughts are that it is either:

        The OECD tracks ‘social spending’. The US is always #1 in absolute terms and per capita terms (at about $14,000 per person). Where it’s lower is the percentage of GDP/percentage of budget/percentage of anything.

        The US is mainly different in two ways: it means tests almost everything and it makes much, much more extensive use of tax breaks to incentivize behavior/alleviate poverty. (This leads to the US having one of the most progressive tax systems in the world. It also means the benefits to the poor are often more generous than elsewhere.) This is largely because of the interplays of American politics: Democrats, wanting to seem moderate, never made the case for extending benefits to every American successfully. And Republicans, not wanting to seem extreme, pushed for tax credits so they can claim they care about the poor. (Insert less cynical interpretations here.)

        Anyway, social spending (as opposed to direct transfer welfare) is about a third tax breaks meant to help the poor or incentivize prosocial investment, more than half medicare/medicaid, and the remaining is stuff like SNAP, TANF, Appalachian Development, etc.

        • baconbits9 says:

          It also has to do with the definition of poverty, I think the most common definition for advanced countries is something like “60% of median income” as the poverty line, which is generally biased against the US.

    • TheContinentalOp says:

      What is the NPV of an inflation-adjusted (presumably) U$7500/yr lifetime annuity?

      Solve for the equilibrium when a billion third worlders, living on U$2/day, make this calculation, and race for the border so their future children can benefit from the 14th Amendment.

    • dick says:

      I’m (modestly) in favor of a (modest) UBI and I would be in favor of something along these lines, if you subtract some welfare programs and add the revenue from ending some tax breaks, most notably the mortgage tax deduction. The former, because there are some situational programs that probably count as “welfare” that wouldn’t be replaced by a UBI and shouldn’t end (e.g. unemployment insurance), and the latter because that’s probably the only way to keep it neutral-ish for the middle and upper-middle class.

      • Erusian says:

        There is no Federal unemployment insurance. It’s a state level thing which wouldn’t be affected by an amendment banning Federal welfare. It’s not paid for by the government either: it’s paid for by your employer.

    • Eric Rall says:

      If you’re only looking at poverty-targeted programs (TANF (welfare), SNAP (food stamps), Section 8, Medicaid, EITC, SSI, etc), total federal spending in 2018 was $796 billion ($418b for Medicaid and $378b for other federal antipoverty spending), or about $2500/person or $3300/adult. In order to get to $7500/person, you also need to cannibalize Social Security Retirement, Medicare, and the ACA exchange subsidies.

      That means you need a fairly long phase-in period to implement this plan humanely. Otherwise, about 40 or 50 million retirees are going to lose their health care coverage and take a substantial cut in their cash income. You need to let people know this is coming far enough in advance that they can adjust their retirement planning for the new “flat $7500/year and no Medicare” regime.

      • Erusian says:

        I agree. That doesn’t really answer my question though: do you think it’s worth it? Would you do it, given a phase in period?

        • Eric Rall says:

          Yes, assuming the amendment could be worded in a way that addresses other potential quibbles to my satisfaction. But I’m a soft libertarian, and I only support a UBI if it’s a replacement for existing social spending. I strongly oppose any non-trivial UBI that would be added on atop existing programs.

  17. BBA says:

    The other day I took a walking tour of downtown Los Angeles organized by the LA Conservancy, which I highly recommend for anyone who’s going to be in the area. A highlight was a ride on Angels Flight, a roughly 300-foot (90-meter) funicular that’s been rolling up and down Bunker Hill since 1901. I find it interesting how a funicular car is a mode of transportation, meant to move, and yet tied to its particular location – the car is slanted to match the slanted rail it runs on. It can’t run on a flat railway, or even one at a different slope, because then it would be askew. In fact, the railway can’t even be extended, say, to run down the other side of the hill, because the car isn’t suited for it… I don’t know if these ramblings make sense to anyone but me. Anyway.

    Angels Flight claims to be the world’s shortest railway. It’s certainly short, but is it the shortest? It’s complicated. Guinness has awarded the title of “world’s shortest funicular” to one in Bournemouth, England, which at 39 meters is less than half the length of Angels Flight. But Bournemouth calls its funiculars “lifts” (i.e., “elevators” in proper English). And if an inclined elevator counts as a railway there are even shorter ones, like this tiny one by the Millennium Bridge in London. I have a hard time calling that a railway, though I guess it is a car that runs on rails, so maybe it is.

    There is an important sense in which Angels Flight is a railway and those other shorter ones aren’t: financially. Angels Flight was an independent, profitable business for the first 6 decades of its existence, ending only when the entire area was condemned as part of the demolition urban renewal of Bunker Hill. Since then it’s been torn down and rebuilt and is currently run by a nonprofit foundation. Even under city ownership it was never merged into any larger organization, though it does take Metro TAP cards now. Furthermore, it’s regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission as a transit system, like the LA Metro, BART, etc. (Which, incidentally, the tour guide blamed for the rather dismal safety record of the rebuilt Angels Flight, because the regulators don’t know how a funicular works and they treat it like a railroad instead of an elevator… I don’t know nearly enough to have an opinion on this.)

    In any case: shortest railway or not, it sure is cool.

  18. Ventrue Capital says:

    I thought I posted this request months ago, but if I did, I can’t find it.

    I’m running a D&D campaign (actually using GURPS rules, but that’s not important).

    The most powerful nation on the planet is the Agorian Empire, which is what I describe as “anarcho-feudal” — basically anarcho-capitalist, but the judges in the privatized judicial system call themselves “nobles” and the private security firms call themselves mercenary bands, knights, or adventuring companies.

    A plurality, perhaps a majority, of the population are Christian, and consider necromancy and undead to be abominations which should be illegal.

    However, the pagan part of the population doesn’t have a problem with necromancy per se.

    Is it reasonable to assume that there would be one province where necromancy is practiced openly?

    And what would be the relations between those who want to prohibit necromancy and those who want to practice it? Obviously they would be similar to those between those in an anarcho-capitalist society who want to prohibit drug use and those who want to use drugs, as described in The Machinery of Freedom.

    What would the long-term outcome be? Is the status quo stable?

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      David will have a different opinion than I, I’m sure, but for my money, iff the Christians abhor necromancy enough that they refuse to do business with those who use necromantic labor on the same terms as with other Christians, there will probably eventually be a pogrom. Consider that the pro/anti drug sides don’t assume the other to be irredeemably evil in his work. Your model should probably be the historical treatment of Jews.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @Hoopyfreud

        To clarify, I assume there is one province or client state where necromancy, including necromantic labor, is legal, and it’s illegal in the rest of the Empire.

        Consider that the pro/anti drug sides don’t assume the other to be irredeemably evil in his work. Your model should probably be the historical treatment of Jews.

        One difference is that Jews in the Middle Ages didn’t have weapons, or hired mercenaries. Necromancers do.

        Another is that it’s more difficult to go on a crusade to somewhere across the continent, than it is to burn a ghetto in one’s own town.

        • John Schilling says:

          Jews in the Middle Ages had as many weapons and mercenaries as A: they could afford and B: they felt would be useful. And most of them were smart enough to figure that “getting ourselves killed fighting enemies that outnumber us fifty to one” was not very useful.

          Can the hypothetical necromancers raise Zombie Hordes that can defeat all the armies of Christendom? If so, that makes for a very different dynamic than suggested by the original question.

          • LHN says:

            There’s a decent argument that that’s a matter of cultural selection after spending late Antiquity getting ourselves killed fighting enemies that outnumber us fifty to one repeatedly over centuries, with Diaspora Rabbinic Judaism coming out of whoever either survived or avoided that.

            That said, minorities which spend a few centuries at such a disadvantage while maintaining practices that the majority oppose and periodically react with violence to aren’t that uncommon. Especially if they’re economically beneficial. (Banditry, say.) If it’s culturally ingrained or even just imputed unfairly by the majority, there’s also likely a certain “as well to be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb” motivation. (If I’m going to get hanged as a dirty necromancer the next time the crops fail even if I’m personally innocent, I might as well get the benefits of necromancy.)

            Getting a province out of that rather than a minority in the hills is another matter, but it may depend on the uses of necromancy. If it includes, e.g., the ability to animate lots of zombie spearmen, then even if the pagans are generally outnumbered, there may be places that it’s too costly to rout them out of at a given military tech level.

            Especially if there’s terrain that’s specifically to their advantage/disadvantage. Maybe there’s too much consecrated ground for them to be a threat near the cathedral city, but out in the Moorlands you’re working against the power of a thousand years of bog burials and your clerics are at serious minuses on their Turn Undead rolls.

          • Andrew Hunter says:

            I wonder if the proper model isn’t closer to Westphalia: both sides consider the other immoral, but a war of eradication would drain everyone dry (something something literal vampires!) And so an uneasy detente arises.

          • LHN says:

            Something like Westphalia probably means that there was a concerted effort at eradication that ended in costly failure. Which isn’t implausible– after the third time the invasion of Necromancia ended with having to put down the army of your own dead, letting them just use their dead might look a lot more appealing. Likewise after the wars of necromantic conquest wind up just producing XP for a bunch of high-level clerics with relics who undo years of painstaking spellwork with flashes of holy light.

            Assuming that military/magical technique is suited to creating reasonably defensible frontiers, maybe everyone takes a breath and reorients. (And then decides that the real thing to fight over is appropriate IP enforcement on magical scrolls.)

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            @John Schilling wrote:

            Can the hypothetical necromancers raise Zombie Hordes that can defeat all the armies of Christendom? If so, that makes for a very different dynamic than suggested by the original question.

            This is what we gamemasters call an “adventure hook.” (Actually it will be part of the historical background of the campaign: a series of crusades by the Church against necromancy, necromancers, and the undead, which crusades were spearheaded by paladins and clerics.)

            Thank you.

            @LHN wrote:

            Getting a province out of that rather than a minority in the hills is another matter, but it may depend on the uses of necromancy. If it includes, e.g., the ability to animate lots of zombie spearmen, then even if the pagans are generally outnumbered, there may be places that it’s too costly to rout them out of at a given military tech level.

            Especially if there’s terrain that’s specifically to their advantage/disadvantage. Maybe there’s too much consecrated ground for them to be a threat near the cathedral city, but out in the Moorlands you’re working against the power of a thousand years of bog burials and your clerics are at serious minuses on their Turn Undead rolls.

            Another adventure hook. Thank you, too.

            To clarify, the province where necromancy is practiced openly is filled with “death-aspected” mana a/k/a Black mana from Magic: the Gathering. Lots of swamps, graveyards, and unhallowed areas.

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            @LHN wrote:

            There’s a decent argument that that’s a matter of cultural selection after spending late Antiquity getting ourselves killed fighting enemies that outnumber us fifty to one repeatedly over centuries, with Diaspora Rabbinic Judaism coming out of whoever either survived or avoided that.

            Harry Turtledove wrote “Last Favor” about that.

            (BTW the Karg tribes of Terramar practice Judaism and consider themselves the Ten Lost Tribes.)

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @Hoopyfreud wrote:

        Consider that the pro/anti drug sides don’t assume the other to be irredeemably evil in his work.

        I’m not sure that’s true. Remember The Machinery of Freedom was originally written in 1973. I remember anti-drug propaganda from back then (which convinced me at the time) that people who took LSD or heroin would go berserk and attack random innocent people. And don’t you think there are plenty of people who think homosexuals are *irredeemably evil* even today? (I wish I could have gone to Fred Phelps’ funeral with a sign: GOD HATES BIGOTS! But that’s me being intolerant of the outgroup, so it’s not particularly enlightened/Christian of me, is it. “Be angry, but do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26)

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @Andrew Hunter wrote:

        I wonder if the proper model isn’t closer to Westphalia: both sides consider the other immoral, but a war of eradication would drain everyone dry (something something literal vampires!) And so an uneasy detente arises.

        Right, that’s one interpretation of the model I stole from The Machinery of Freedom came up with.

        Would you be interested in playing in my campaign?

        @LHN wrote:

        Something like Westphalia probably means that there was a concerted effort at eradication that ended in costly failure. Which isn’t implausible– after the third time the invasion of Necromancia ended with having to put down the army of your own dead, letting them just use their dead might look a lot more appealing. Likewise after the wars of necromantic conquest wind up just producing XP for a bunch of high-level clerics with relics who undo years of painstaking spellwork with flashes of holy light.

        Thank you for writing some of the details of my campaign’s history for me. (I hope you’re interested in playing as well!)

        @Pterry Pratchett (God rest his sweet soul!) wrote:

        “…and Brutha said to Simony, ‘Where there is darkness we will make a great light…’”

        “An axe isn’t a holy symbol, you stupid man.” “Oh. Then let’s make it one.”

        “Everywhere I look I see something holy.”

        @LHN wrote:

        Assuming that military/magical technique is suited to creating reasonably defensible frontiers, maybe everyone takes a breath and reorients. (And then decides that the real thing to fight over is appropriate IP enforcement on magical scrolls.)

        Are you familiar with the Dungeonomics blog at Critical-Hits.com?

        Especially this article, about spells as intellectual property?

        • LHN says:

          I wasn’t aware of that– thanks!

          (And thanks very much for the invitation, but I can’t add another game right now.)

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            You (and everyone else here) is welcome to join my game’s Discord server and play by posting, or just chat about gaming.

            I’ve been running my game over 40 years, off and on. I’m pretty bright and fairly clever and I’ve read a *lot* of sf. So there are very few people who can offer me worthwhile advice about GMing, either running the game or creating the world, and probably most of them are either here and/or on the SSC Discord server.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      This may be a dumb question, but have you thought about just lifting the Icelandic Commonwealth directly? Gothi, Thingmen and Lawspeakers already sound like they walked off the pages of a fantasy novel so it’s not really a stretch for D&D.

      Anyway, part of the secret sauce of anarcho-anything is not having laws determined by provincial boundaries. My guess would be that if the Christians hate necromancers and the undead enough to want to kill them and pagans don’t value them enough to vigorously defend them, they’ll have to practice secretly. It’s Nassim Taleb’s principle of “the most intolerant wins” with the twist that it’s the majority of the population and not a small minority.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @Nabil ad Dajjal, may his tribe increase, wrote:

        This may be a dumb question, but have you thought about just lifting the Icelandic Commonwealth directly? Gothi, Thingmen and Lawspeakers already sound like they walked off the pages of a fantasy novel so it’s not really a stretch for D&D.

        There are Gothi, Thingmen, and Lawspeakers by those very names in the Northlands on Terramar.

        However, for the main part of the campaign I’m trying for medieval/renaissance European culture.

        Anyway, part of the secret sauce of anarcho-anything is not having laws determined by provincial boundaries. My guess would be that if the Christians hate necromancers and the undead enough to want to kill them and pagans don’t value them enough to vigorously defend them, they’ll have to practice secretly. It’s Nassim Taleb’s principle of “the most intolerant wins” with the twist that it’s the majority of the population and not a small minority.

        True, and in “Is Anarcho-Capitalism Libertarian” (chapter 31 in The Machinery of Freedom) @David Friedman wrote:

        I predict that, if anarcho-capitalist institutions appeared in this country tomorrow, heroin would be legal in New York and illegal in most other places. Marijuana would be legal over most of the country.

        He has seven paragraphs of explanation leading up to this conclusion, and I basically followed his logic, I think.

        • Deiseach says:

          My curiosity is why are the pagans okay with necromancy? Even a society that is happy to communicate with the spirits or have the ghosts of the dead return on the Annual Feast of the Ancestors may not be too happy if instead of Grandpa being raised from the tomb in a dignified manner for the ancestral veneration, some necromancer has Grandpa shuffling around doing zombie labour.

          So who gets turned into zombie labour and how does that fit in with the culture? If the province is okay with “Cousin Laban died of the spotted fever so we had a warlock raise him up and now he slops out the pigs just fine”, other provinces (whether Christian or not) may not be so fine with it because “you can’t just enslave your own family, much less someone unrelated to you, and them being dead doesn’t change that”.

          • Nick says:

            It could be something metaphysical or theological—maybe the Christians think the raised bodies have retained their souls (hence enslavement is wrong) while the pagans think there isn’t a soul/it’s left the body (hence there’s nothing to enslave; it’s a true automaton).

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            @Nick wrote:

            It could be something metaphysical or theological—maybe the Christians think the raised bodies have retained their souls (hence enslavement is wrong)

            The Bible doesn’t really give any reason for opposing necromancy, but it’s d–n clear about it. Leviticus 19:31 and 20:6 and 20:27, Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and 26:14, I Samuel 28:7, I Chronicles 10:13, Isaiah 19:3, and Revelation 21:8.

            The closest there is to a reason seems to be in Isaiah 8:19 (should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?), I John 4:1 (test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world).

            (The Book of Om says that witches shall not be allowed to live, although this may be a mistranslation since it also says that they may be caught in traps of treacle. This has led some to believe the word may in fact be cockroaches. A theory has also been advanced suggesting that, in a later passage stating they bring lascivious dreams, the word might actually be translated as “boiled lobsters.”)

    • Ms. Morgendorffer says:

      I guess you could go with something like Shadowrun (I’m only familiar with the PC games) with city-states modeled as corporations. One of those state could use necromancy mainly for augur and cheap, low-maintenance slave labour. Other cities having trade agreements with the Necro-friendly to outsource some labour, the stuff being hush-hush as they don’t want their citizen to know that their food / stonework comes from necrolabour, and the necro-city trying to keep the scale of use of necromancy unknown to outsiders to protect the derived income ?
      So you’d have for necro side an old tradition of openly using resurected family members to do grunt work in the farm, with a taboo on using out-of-family corpses for that, the traditional side having disdain for those, the necro-state engaging in more industrial-scale use of necromancy while trying to keep the operation low-profile. Other cities would find them disgusting and evil, but unaware of the fact that a huge part of their materials / food supply is availble at that price due to necroslaves. That could lead to an unstable equilibrium prone to PCs being sent to do stuff for both sides.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @Ms. Morgendorffer wrote:

        I guess you could go with something like Shadowrun (I’m only familiar with the PC games) with city-states modeled as corporations.

        The Agorian Empire is a “manapunk” society, kind of a mirror image of Shadowrun: mohawks and magic, but no technology. A fantasy background with a cyberpunk ethos, with magic taking the place of technology, and street wizards tapping into the Spellweave (instead of the Net) in order to accomplish things. Mages aren’t just sages or merchants: they’re hard-edged, alert businessmen. They and their bodyguards have all the magical augmentations that money can buy: Dark Vision instead of IR eyes, and so on.

        So you’d have for necro side an old tradition of openly using resurected family members to do grunt work in the farm, with a taboo on using out-of-family corpses for that, the traditional side having disdain for those, the necro-state engaging in more industrial-scale use of necromancy while trying to keep the operation low-profile. Other cities would find them disgusting and evil, but unaware of the fact that a huge part of their materials / food supply is available at that price due to necroslaves.

        It’s easy for bigots to refuse to hire necromancers, and to refuse to patronize shops owned by necromancers, or which have undead or necromancers visible to the public. It’s a lot more difficult for them to boycott shops which sell goods that were mass-produced on an assembly line by mindless undead (unless there are labeling requirements). And it also hurts the boycotters in the pocketbook.

        That could lead to an unstable equilibrium prone to PCs being sent to do stuff for both sides.

        Another set of adventure hooks. Ka-ching Thank you!

    • John Schilling says:

      It seems very unlikely that the general public’s ideological commitment to anarcho-capitalism is going to override their sincere Christian (or any other religious) faith and their emotional revulsion to necromancy. So I’d expect the fate of necromantic pagans to be approximately that of actual pagans / non-Christians in historic Europe – if the missionaries can’t convert them, they’ll be slowly deprived of their lands from the most valuable/accessible to the least as Crusades and pogroms can be raised (historically, the Romuva held out in Lithuania until ~1400). Or forced into ghettos if they are deemed both useful and tolerable, so the answer will depend on how useful necromancy is, but ghettos give the intolerant majority a “we can kill them all if we need to” peace of mind that sovereign pagan states on their border don’t.

      If necromancy is very useful, the necromantic pagans may be the ruling class of the broader civilization, but they may still find it pragmatically useful to live in isolated enclaves or exclaves. There’s probably a narrow band of possibility in which they pretend to be subject to someone else’s sovereignty.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Also possible is the necromantic pagans keep their power level hidden until they can raise and control an enormous army of the dead, in which case they’re taking over.

        • Ventrue Capital says:

          From every graveyard pour the hordes to strike before the dawn,
          A thousand years of death’s carnage gathered ‘fore the morn.
          Their vengeance turned against mankind’s unsuspecting head,
          There’s no defense, there’s no escape, you cannot kill the dead!

      • LHN says:

        Though slowly is arguably key for an RPG background. You just have to set it early enough in the process that it still has centuries to run, and the ultimate outcome is outside the PCs’ time horizon. So “Norway” is Christian and “Iceland” is mixed and “Lithuania” is pagan, and what happens in a few centuries is Someone Else’s Problem.

        Or if the players are interested, perhaps can hinge on their actions. Historical European paganism was at a clear disadvantage long term against the Abrahamic religions. But there’s nothing stopping things from being different here. Maybe the pagans have a clear material and morale advantage (like access to necromancy, or the player characters’ recovery of powerful pagan artifacts that provide military advantage and inspire the fervor of the populace). Or if the game is less epic and more sociological, maybe they successfully evolve their belief system into something more durable against incursions. (Julian the Apostate may not have managed that, but India certainly did.)

        • Ventrue Capital says:

          @LHN wrote:

          Or if the players are interested, perhaps can hinge on their actions. Historical European paganism was at a clear disadvantage long term against the Abrahamic religions. But there’s nothing stopping things from being different here. Maybe the pagans have a clear material and morale advantage (like access to necromancy, or the player characters’ recovery of powerful pagan artifacts that provide military advantage and inspire the fervor of the populace). Or if the game is less epic and more sociological, maybe they successfully evolve their belief system into something more durable against incursions. (Julian the Apostate may not have managed that, but India certainly did.)

          The characters are very interested. There are four necromancers: one is a lich, the others are still-living: a journeywoman necromancer, her mentor a (NPC) master necromancer, and a Lovecraftian ghoul who is starting her apprenticeship. A fifth character is an undead knight.

        • Ventrue Capital says:

          @LHN wrote:

          Historical European paganism was at a clear disadvantage long term against the Abrahamic religions.

          Yes, and I have no idea why, so I’m assuming that it’s true on Terramar as well.

    • honoredb says:

      Are zombies a profitable slave labor force? If so, you have a few historical parallels, generally ending in the pagan slavers losing either a civil war or a culture war.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @honoredb wrote:

        Are zombies a profitable slave labor force?

        As far as I can see, they are, within limits. They’re basically unintelligent automata, physically inferior to humans (except for zombies’ strength), but they can be instructed to perform the same set of motions indefinitely, 24/7, without being paid or requiring any maintenance, except periodic inspections to make sure they haven’t fallen over, or lost any limbs, or turned at a slightly different angle.

        If so, you have a few historical parallels, generally ending in the pagan slavers losing either a civil war or a culture war.

        How do you figure that? Chattel slavery existed continuously in a majority of ancient, classical, and medieval European societies from roughly 3000 B.C. to after 1000 A.D., and for centuries after that in the Ottoman Empire, Africa, the colonial possessions of Spain and Portugal and Britain, and in the United States.

        I try hard to stay a Whig historiographer as I was in my youth (thanks to Asimov, Heinlein, and Robert Anton Wilson), but four thousand or five thousand years is a hellishly long time for the moral arc of the universe to bend towards justice.

    • etheric42 says:

      I think it also depends on what the nobles/judges feel compared to the population. If the Christian plurality sees necromancy as evil, but the nobles see peace as a higher value than piety, then you get a bunch of peasants who talk a mean game against the necromancers, but (usually) don’t do anything out of fear of being outlawed. A group may band together and raise their own noble+knights, but the other nobles may take retributive action the moment anyone crosses a line.

      I’d imagine an anarcho-fuedal society to have a fairly strong NAP in order to be stable in the face of strongmen over the decades/centuries.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @etheric42 wrote:

        I think it also depends on what the nobles/judges feel compared to the population.

        If the nobles feel something strongly different from the majority of their clients, maybe it’s time for their clients to swear fealty to some different nobles.

        @Bertholdt Brecht wrote:

        Wäre es da
        Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung
        Löste das Volk auf und
        Wählte ein anderes?
        (Would it not be better
        for the government
        To dissolve the people
        And elect another?)

        @etheric42 said:

        I’d imagine an anarcho-feudal society to have a fairly strong NAP in order to be stable in the face of strongmen over the decades/centuries.

        Maybe, maybe not. That’s part of what’s discussed in “The Stability Problem” in The Machinery of Freedom.

        Per that chapter, one of the things that keeps the Agorian Empire relatively libertarian is the fact that there are well over 10,000 nobles, warriors, spellcasters, and assassins — in other words, people willing and able to do violence if called upon — rather than 10 or even 100.

        • etheric42 says:

          @Ventrue Capital

          Per that chapter, one of the things that keeps the Agorian Empire relatively libertarian is the fact that there are well over 10,000 nobles, warriors, spellcasters, and assassins — in other words, people willing and able to do violence if called upon — rather than 10 or even 100.

          Yes but without a strong NAP, a aggressive action would strongly reduce that pool of 10,000 professional violencers as each side pulled on their contracted allies, OR the aggressor would immediately face repercussions by a number of houses for being the first one to break the peace.

          If the former, the survivors of said fantasy world war would likely form institutions that resemble the latter, be too weak to stop a regime change, or face repercussions as their people get sick and tired of a draft / their fields being burned / trade being halted (repercussions such as emigration to a more peaceful lord). Meaning the world would either stop looking like it is today, or looking more like one with a stronger NAP.

          If the nobles feel something strongly different from the majority of their clients, maybe it’s time for their clients to swear fealty to some different nobles.

          There’s a range of tolerance. It’s doubtful the peasants (which I guess wouldn’t necessarily be peasants if there isn’t serfdom… so I guess “the people”) would be willing to change lords if there was any disagreement whatsoever. There’s transaction costs in changing lords (probably have to move to a different territory, may have to rebuild your reputation within a new pecking order, possible loss of social or familial contacts).

          If your lord is mostly on your side respective fire elemental taxes, free association of church sacrifices, strong security, and all your family and friends are loyal to this noble… maybe you let some necromancy tolerance slide. Now sure, you still speak out against it on festival day. And you’re sure your lord would never allow necromancy in his territory or to his people as registered in the Christian records and graveyards. But him not going to war on the neighboring province is just something you let uncomfortably slide. After all, war would be hard on the turnip business, and would invalidate the no-Christian-zombie treaty the people in your grandfather’s time worked so hard to establish.

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            @etheric42 wrote:

            without a strong NAP, a aggressive action would strongly reduce that pool of 10,000 professional violencers as each side pulled on their contracted allies, OR the aggressor would immediately face repercussions by a number of houses for being the first one to break the peace.

            If the former, the survivors of said fantasy world war would likely form institutions that resemble the latter, be too weak to stop a regime change, or face repercussions as their people get sick and tired of a draft / their fields being burned / trade being halted (repercussions such as emigration to a more peaceful lord). Meaning the world would either stop looking like it is today, or looking more like one with a stronger NAP.
            […]
            war would be hard on the turnip business, and would invalidate the no-Christian-zombie treaty the people in your grandfather’s time worked so hard to establish.

            Right! In “Police, Courts, and Laws — On the Market” and “The Stability Problem” in The Machinery of Freedom, David Friedman discusses this and gives a convincing (to me) explanation of why this will happen:

            Perhaps the best way to see why anarcho-capitalism would be so much more peaceful than our present system is by analogy. Consider our world as it would be if the cost of moving from one country to another were zero. Everyone lives in a housetrailer and speaks the same language. One day, the resident of France announces that because of troubles with neighboring countries, new military taxes are being levied and conscription will begin shortly. The next morning the president of France finds himself ruling a peaceful but empty landscape, the population having been reduced to himself, three generals, and twenty-seven war correspondents.
            We do not all live in housetrailers. But if we buy our protection from a private firm instead of from a government, we can buy it from a different firm as soon as we think we can get a better deal. We can change protectors without changing countries.

    • Plumber says:

      @Venture Capital,

      I’ve been trying to respond to a question of yours at the “Discord” thing but it’s not taking, so I’ll try here:
      @ John F. >

      “How is your character a fish out of water?”

      My character is a ‘fish out of water’ in such a way that his player (me) can plausibly not remember setting details.

      You know how most Americans can’t find other nations on a map?

      Like that.

      @John F >

      “And what do you mean by “isolated place”?”

      I’m getting the distinct impression that your asking for a back-story out of me! 

      I loath back stories, character concepts beyond “Has sword, wants loot” are a blight on gaming that should be destroyed! 

      But, okay fine, here’s a b.s.:
      “So, once upon a time a spell-caster came to the village of Dorfweitwegvonüberall, and made a grand entrance with his hat and robe with stars and moons, and his wand, and changing reality to fit his will.

      The Spell Caster, being bored decided to look for some action, or make some. In looking around he finally laid eyes on a young lady named Gertrudt. 

      It just so happens that a young lad of the village by the Hans also long had eyes for Gertrudt, and he didn’t like “Mr. High-and-mighty-magic-man” eyeing his girl (or rather the girl whom he’d like to be his girl).

      With Hans was his dog (puppy really) called Fritz.

      Now Fritz didn’t know why, but he could sense that the man in the robe leaning over the fence, talking to the large human women, was angering his boy Hans, and in an instant, Fritz’s little doggie mind made a split decision to bite the robed man.

      Ouch! What the…? Away you miserable cur!”

      …bellowed the spell-caster as he kicked at the little dog, and just when he raised his wand and started an incantation (as testified to by two village men of good reputation, “who saw the whole thing”)…BAM! 

      Hans, defending his dog went right behind the magic-user, and bashed in his skull with a shovel.

      Upon seeing the magician dead (and the size of his coinpurse), the good people of Dorfweitwegvonüberall declared that Hans had rid them of a great evil that had turned several of the regulars at villages tavern (called “The Tavern”) into toads the night before (they got better).

      Hans gloried in the new attention, everyone looked at him differently, especially Gertrudt (who now looked at him at all), and soon it was decided that there was a whole world full of Wizards, Warlocks, and Witches, that had to be met by a hero of Hans stature, and the world couldn’t wait, and he needed to go  right now!

      And so Hans, handed some rations, a bedroll, and an axe, set forth.”

      As to your threads purpose it looks to me that you’re spending far to much effort on “macro” details.

      A name for the fish monger in the village is a good thing, the name of the sea that the fish came from less so!

      Keep it simple “The Witch Woods”, “The Goblin Caves”, “The Tower of the Alchemist”, et cetera. 

      Also, don’t neglect hobo!

      Modern gaming is way too focused on murder saving the world and far too little on the quest for loot as motivation. 

      The Hobbit, The Jewels in the Forest, The Seven Samurai,  and The Tower of the Elephant have great adventure”hooks”, but The Lord of the Rings decidedly doesn’t.

      Now please make with a “Mysterious stranger who has a map to sell that you meet in a tavern“!

      • Nornagest says:

        My character is a ‘fish out of water’ in such a way that his player (me) can plausibly not remember setting details. You know how most Americans can’t find other nations on a map? Like that.

        An underappreciated bonus of having your character be one of epic fantasy’s traditional callow farmboys is that he doesn’t need to know any more about the setting than any other lazy teenage peasant would. Details of the War of Wrath between the Great Western Alliance and the Dark Lord of Urglblurgl? Man, my character doesn’t even know who owns the farm five miles down the road.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          +1
          It’s just the best character type for introducing the setting through.

          • Plumber says:

            @Le Maistre Chat,

            Amen!

            Settings are best explored in play!

            A start like:
            “A shadow passes over you, as you look up you see a Dragon passing overhead”,

            “What do you do?

            That’s about all you need.

            No lengthy setting history essays.

            No big lists of nationalities and social classes 

            PC’s are ignorant/isolated farm kids ala Luke Skywalker/Percival newly arrived from the land of Generica (part of the Nondescriptian Empire),  in an unfamiluar land were they somehow understand the language (except when they don’t!), and have them learn about the world through NPC’s. 

            If there’s backstory, unless it’s a map, journal etc.that a PC finds in play try to not give a handout!

            Oracles, street prophets, and witches will give voice to the setting history in character (hopefully).

            1)Make up or steal find a scene that looks like it will be fun/exciting.
            2) Listen to what the players say.
            3) Have them roll some dice for suspense.
            4) Tell the players what changed in the scene. 
            5) Repeat

            “Your at the entrance of the Tomb of Blaarg what do you do?” If they’re real contrary “Your inside the Tomb of Blaarg, what do you do?”, or “You’re trapped deep inside the Tomb of Blaarg”  etc. Just quickly narrate to the part where the actual adventure begins. They can role-play how they turned tail and ran back to the tavern.

            For a crash course in bad DM/player interaction see DM of the Rings
            While much of the fun of DM’ing is in making a world (the other part is witnessing the PC’s shenanigans), try to keep world building bare bones. It’s usually more fun to imagine up than to play. When the players start to get jaded, then maybe introduce “exotic”, “innovative”, and “weird” elements, but usually at first freaky “Alice in Wonderland on LSD” “adventures” are less fun!

            One of the most successful (i.e. my players liked it) “campaigns” that I DM’d/Keeper’d (I reused the same setup for both Call of Cthullu and Dungeons & Dragons) was a mashup of the plot set-ups of “Conan the Destroyer” and “Young Sherlock Holmes” (cultist, Elder gods, yadda, yadda, yadda), I didn’t map anything out on paper before hand at all! I just imagined “scenes”, described them to my players, and had them roll dice to see if they did whatever they were trying to do, then on to the next scene! 
            As a player I prefer Swords and Sorcery settings, but I can remember some particularly fun sessions of Shadowrun that had no fantasy elements at all. The trick was that a very good gamemaster amped up the roll-playing aspects, and downplayed the role-playing aspects, with lots of action and suspense, resolved by many dice rolls (a chase were you roll at each corner or notable landmark lends itself well with this approach).

            Other times that I’ve had a lot of fun involved lots of described magical elements and dialog, and almost no dice rolls at all. 

            As a player, sure some guidance on what sorts of PC’s will fit the game would be nice, but if the answer starts with: “10,000 years ago a great meeting was held on the continent of….” just nope! 

            Small details help build characters more than big grand “5,000 years ago the armies of Argle-Bargle invaded the lands of Generica” details.

          • Nornagest says:

            I know I talked it up just upthread, but this is getting a little too prescriptive for me. It’s absolutely possible to start your PCs out as illiterate hicks and introduce setting details to the players as they become apparent to the characters. It can even be a pretty compelling approach in some circumstances, especially if you’re introducing a new system or the whole concept of roleplaying to a group or to certain players in it. It’s cliche in lit and in computer games for a reason.

            But it’s not the only way to do it, and, depending on the kind of game you want to play, it can even be a pretty bad one. It basically rules out introducing political gameplay early, for example, and it puts some pretty sharp constraints on characters’ motivations: no knowledge past your village means no attachments past it.

            (As to Shadowrun, the whole orcs-in-Neuromancer schtick always fell flat for me. I’d rather just be playing a straight cyberpunk game.)

          • etheric42 says:

            @Nornagest

            I love Hillfolk and Diaspora’s creation system to get people into a political drama quickly. Heck, Hillfolk’s character creation has been some of the most fun I’ve had in RPGs both times we did it.

            I also am a fan of novels that start in media res, so there’s that. And the games I’ve played run/played by people who were setting wonks were some of the worst games.

            My 4e conquistadors/BSG game had a great start. “As leaders of the expedition to the new world scheduled to set out in the morning, Empress Isabella calls you into her grand throneroom along with your attendants and staff. The room quiets as she ascends the dias, her frail form helped by the lord protector. She smiles wanly at you and says a few quiet words that are mostly swallowed by the room. “Thank you… supplies spain desperately needs… a way to escape the demons…” then you hear the iron clank of the doors to the room being shut and barred. Cloths are pulled back revealing supply crates that you had just spent the past week reviewing and approving. A look into a distant alcove reveals even your horses have been brought into the throneroom. Then the lights go out. Then the empress begins chanting. In your next breath you inhale salty seawater. After a brief struggle to orient yourself you realize it is now daytime. You are a few dozen yards off the coast of some tropical destination. Your crew, your livestock, and crucially, your supplies, lie in disarray on shore and in the surf. There is chaos. People are drowning. Supplies are being swept away. What do you do?”

            Proceed to mini-game where actions are dictated, dice are rolled, hard choices are made, and we establish how many survivors and equipment the colony/expedition starts with.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m not arguing for handing your players a 200-page setting bible at the beginning of each game — that’s a terrible idea, because they won’t read it and if they do they’ll hate you for it. I’m arguing that there are other ways not to do that.

            Haven’t played Hillfolk or Diaspora, but I might check them out now.

          • etheric42 says:

            @Nornagest

            I’m not a huge fan of FATE, so I’m at odds with some bits of Diaspora, but I’ve stolen the “sector creation” part of it and reused it in a variety of other games.

            @Plumber

            DM of the Rings! Shamus Young is the Scott Alexander of the video game world.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nornagest:

            I know I talked it up just upthread, but this is getting a little too prescriptive for me. It’s absolutely possible to start your PCs out as illiterate hicks and introduce setting details to the players as they become apparent to the characters. It can even be a pretty compelling approach in some circumstances,

            I think it’s a great approach for one PC. It doesn’t work for anyone who wants to be able to do politics right after chargen, and may kill suspension of disbelief for someone who’s learned magic. Forcing it on all PCs so I don’t have to write a setting handout… no.

          • Nornagest says:

            may kill suspension of disbelief for someone who’s learned magic.

            You could probably make a divine caster a Joan of Arc type, or take a page from anime and make them an attendant at a rural shrine. And sorcerers are easy, of course. Wizards are tough, though — woods witch or apprentice to a hedge wizard is an option, but if you want a more traditional wizard the closest equivalent would probably be to apprentice them to a strict master who’s not interested in politics and who rarely let them out of the tower.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nornagest: Agreed, that sums up the options nicely (except I find 3-5E Sorcerers intolerable).

        • Plumber says:

          @Nornagest

          “An underappreciated bonus of having your character be one of epic fantasy’s traditional callow farmboys is that he doesn’t need to know any more about the setting than any other lazy teenage peasant would…”

          Damn straight!

          Preach it!

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            @Nornagest, @Le Maistre Chat, @etheric42:

            Put your money where your magic mouth is: Come play in my campaign! 😀

            (Okay, Le Maistre Chat gets a pass because they are running a game themselves. *Maybe* gets a pass.)

            [Note: the next two paragraphs are mostly plagiarized from the article “World Building and Old School Games,” modified for my campaign.]
            My campaign is a crazy, over-the-top, special snowflake of a setting. (I sometimes describe it as “Swords, Sorcery, & Saucers,” and sometimes as “an anarcho-capitalist version of China Mieville’s Bas-Lag stories.”)

            I do high-concept world building in a game that is focused (from the players’ points of view) on hex crawling, gritty dungeon crawling, and faction play, all with total freedom of player choice and emergent story telling.

            One thing I do is allow players extreme freedom of choice in creating characters, including the character’s background — including whether to have any background at all.

            I have one player who is running a woman of a lesser noble house who is basically a spoiled heiress, with the rest of the party being her bodyguards, servants, sycophants, etc. (The noblewoman also happens to be a sorceress with a lot of academic training and zero field experience, which leads to a lot of humorous — to me — incidents involving friendly fire.)

            I have another player who is running a graduate student from the Galactic Empire that is doing field work on Terramar.

            I have another player who is running a murder hobo.

            I do other things, all of which are listed in the article on “World Building and Old School Games.”

            1. I try to start the players with something familiar: something close to a dungeon crawl, in close to a Standard Fantasy Setting.

            2. I give out setting information only as it comes up in-character and/or in-play. (The exception is the handout page; if a player doesn’t know that, I expect they will make a lot of errors that I need to correct by saying “No, in my game there is not a feud between elves and dwarves,” or “No, on Terramar orcs generally live peacefully with their neighbors,” and then we have to rewind time because the player’s character has been doing things which make no sense in that context.)

            3. I reserve the detailed infodumps, like comprehensive lists of races, or languages and language families, or discussions of religions on Terramar, for posts on the campaign wiki at terramar.obsidianportal.com.

          • etheric42 says:

            @Ventrue Capital

            Tempting. I’ve been meaning to do market research on OSR games and I personally have never participated in a hex crawl which fascinates me conceptually. I really want to incorporate something similar (and radically different) in the system I’m developing. But my schedule is currently quite full with two legacy boardgames and an online Divinity 2 group.

            I also get frustrated with being a PC in games that don’t grant PCs some control over the worldbuilding. Which is why I’m usually the local GM. Because that means I’ll usually select games with shared worldbuilding or even if we play 100% GM-created games… well I’m the one doing the creation.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Ventrue: Besides DMing, I’m already playing in a face-to-face D&D 5E game and dealing with a 6-month-old puppy who got spayed yesterday. That’s gotta be the worst time to try to learn GURPS.

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            @etheric42 wrote:

            But my schedule is currently quite full with two legacy boardgames and an online Divinity 2 group.

            What about play-by-posting, which can be done at your convenience? Or simply joining my campaign’s Discord server and chatting about gaming?

            @Le Maistre Chat wrote:

            Besides DMing, I’m already playing in a face-to-face D&D 5E game and dealing with a 6-month-old puppy who got spayed yesterday. That’s gotta be the worst time to try to learn GURPS.

            As I said before, one doesn’t need to learn the rules to create a character nor to play the game.

            However, as I also said before, you (and only you) have a good reason for not joining my game.

            But what happened to the “Soothsayers & Scoundrels” Discord server?

            @Nornagest wrote:

            I’m not arguing for handing your players a 200-page setting bible at the beginning of each game — that’s a terrible idea, because they won’t read it and if they do they’ll hate you for it. I’m arguing that there are other ways not to do that.

            I agree with the “No Homework Manifesto”, “No Homework for the Last-Minute Player” and “Avoiding Homework with Limited Handouts.”

            That’s why I came up with the single-page handout for my campaign.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @Plumber wrote:

        @Venture Capital,

        Who is *Venture* Capital? I’m *Ventrue* Capital. Totally different guy.

        @ John F. >

        Another totally different guy!

        My character is a ‘fish out of water’ in such a way that his player (me) can plausibly not remember setting details.

        I agree with the “No Homework Manifesto” at “No Homework” and “No Homework for the Last-Minute Player” and “Avoiding Homework with Limited Handouts.”

        That’s why my campaign is set up so players don’t have to learn or remember setting details.

        The only exception is the stuff I list as “things that everyone on Terramar would know, even if they just arrived from Earth a few days ago,” which is basically “Stuff you would see with your own five senses:
        1. It’s hot and humid (compared to Earth; even if your character can’t make that comparison, you the player need to).
        2. The sun is big and orange, and there are two moons which are *really* big, plus a ring around the planet.
        (The following presume you have interacted with people on Terramar, either because you grew up there, or because you came from elsewhere but have spoken with natives.)
        3. The technological level is pre-industrial (even if your character doesn’t know to call it that).
        4. There are (supposed to be) nonhuman races, and monsters, although you might not have seen any, nor know any details about them.
        5. People believe in magic, although you might not have seen any, nor know anything specific about it.

        I’m getting the distinct impression that your asking for a back-story out of me!

        No, I want to know if your character is from a remote village, or grew up in the woods, or is from a small island (like @dndsrn’s character), or is from off-planet from elsewhere in the Galactic Empire (which is neither galactic, nor an empire), or is from contemporary Earth, or is from a different fantasy world (like the Forgotten Realms, or Middle-Earth, or whatever).

        Keep it simple “The Witch Woods”, “The Goblin Caves”, “The Tower of the Alchemist”, et cetera.

        I already have all of those in my campaign, plus the Ironwood, the Crystal Caverns, Dwarrowheim, and the Tower of the Necromancer, which is in the middle of the West Marshes.
        Fantasy World Map
        Map of Clichea
        Generica – The Realm of Fairly Limited Imagination, showing major Trade Routes

        Now please make with a “Mysterious stranger who has a map to sell that you meet in a tavern“!

        That would be the Spotted Frog tavern, in Frogtown, on the edge of the marshes. Or not. (Most of the active player-characters are in the hiring hall of the Adventurers’ Guild in a large city a few hundred kilometers away, having a remote conversation with a wizard, via scrying crystal.)

        There’s a meter-tall humanoid lizard (with brown scales) trying to sell a “Tweasoo Mapp to Dwagonz Tweasa” to any bwave adventoowa who is interested.

        Also the tavernkeeper is trying to get people to go down and clear the basement out of vermin.

    • Nornagest says:

      The most powerful nation on the planet is the Agorian Empire, which is what I describe as “anarcho-feudal” — basically anarcho-capitalist, but the judges in the privatized judicial system call themselves “nobles” and the private security firms call themselves mercenary bands, knights, or adventuring companies.

      That’s basically just feudalism. A lot of people think of feudal societies as places with a lot of central authority, and that’s kinda true on the village scale, but almost the opposite is true on the macro level — you can only get a feudal society in situations where well-equipped people can locally establish a monopoly on violence, but projecting power is very difficult, and so you need to rely on oaths, cultural norms, and quid-pro-quo arrangements to enforce any relationships between parties that need to persist past a sword’s length. This is very close to an anarchy.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        @Nornagest wrote:

        That’s basically just feudalism.

        I’m not sure I agree. To me, one of the defining characteristics of feudalism is the existence of serfdom. No one in the Agorian Empire is a serf (unless you count people in debt-bondage).

        To clarify, sometimes I define “anarcho-feudalism” as “feudalism in which every peasant is free to choose their own lord.” (That soon leads to every peasant being free to own their own land, and choose their own occupation.)

        But if you want count the system as feudalism even if it doesn’t have serfdom, then I won’t argue with you, as long as you clarify what the defining characteristics of feudalism are, to you.

        I suppose that makes sense, because Tsarist Russia wasn’t feudal, at least after Peter the Great, even though it had serfdom.

        Anyway, would you like to play in my campaign?

        • Nornagest says:

          The basic unit of social relationships in feudalism as I see it is vassalage, which is at once an oath, a cultural norm, and a quid-pro-quo arrangement. Serfdom can be thought of as a special case, and an important one especially earlier in the European Middle Ages, but I’d still call a system feudal if the lowest-status tenants in it acted as freemen rather than serfs, as long as there was a similar network of vassalage relationships and a similar class-based division of responsibility.

          Your setting sounds cool, but I’m already playing in LMC’s Mycenaean Greece campaign and I only have time for one.

  19. DeWitt says:

    Why does doomsday thinking seem to be so popular among humans?

    It seems to have been a thing of all times and ages. It’s not even a religious matter; there are plenty atheists who get terribly scared of AGW or the fallout or other matters. I remember talking about some what-if scenarios with a friend in high school, but I’m not currently at all worried about the world ending anytime soon. Why is it so popular a strain of thought? Surely it’s no coincidence, and there’s a reason a fixed amount of humans seems to believe they live in the end times?

    • albatross11 says:

      I dunno. TEOTWAWKI scenarios are common in fiction, so there’s clearly some kind of appeal. Perhaps because they let us dispense with all the messy tradeoffs and suboptimal equilibria we’ve landed in right now, roll the world back to the year zero, and start over? Alternatively, maybe it’s just the joy of watching the world burn. How many times has Randal Munroe destroyed the world in his What If? comics, by now?

    • baconbits9 says:

      Humans ability to plan for the future is a serious factor in our success, and cultures that only planned well enough to live through 9 out of 10 or 99 out of 100 bad years were deleted from history. Anytime there was a major bottleneck the doomsday preppers of their time came out over represented on the other end.

    • John Schilling says:

      At least part of the answer is that survivable doomsday scenarios offer the survivors freedom from usual social and legal constraints, probably including the ability to gun down hordes of worthless scum without guilt or repercussion, and in some cases proof of their intellectual or moral superiority in having survived in the first place.

      I’ve always liked Niven’s “Inconstant Moon” for including none of that, and turning the end of the world into a simple love story instead.

    • Murphy says:

      it’s likely that we’re disproportionately descended from people who were a little extra prepared for disasters when they happened.

      Humans were knocked down to a few thousand surviving individuals couple of times. (it’s part of why organ donation and blood transfusion works at all in our species.)

      There may be occasional selection for the kind of person who considers “but what if that volcano erupts”, “but what if that river has a flash flood and kills most of the people in the town”, “but what if the crops fail”, especially if they take long term actions which mean they’re among the eventual survivors.

      If a tendency to play “what if” games mean you get to have living descendants while your neighbors did not… well there’s gong to be more people with a tendency to think about the “what if” scenarios.

      • baconbits9 says:

        It’s this and a step more. The time to prepare for the future is during good times, for some creatures this means excess consumption. Bears eat as much as they can during the lush seasons to prepare for the lean, but humans broke out of this cycle by being able to save for distant futures, not just the next few seasons. 10 good years in a row for a bear won’t leave a bear 10x better prepared for a horrible one, but for humans this can be true (and with investment it can now be 100x instead of 10x). I would guess that this has selected for a base level of paranoia in humans when things are going well, without that behaviors suited for one level of productivity would wipe you out when the shift came.

    • cassander says:

      Doomsday pretty much always seems to me to have a message of “we’re doomed because other people are bad”? Thinking other people suck is pretty universally popular. Doomsday thinking is just saying other people are so bad they’re going to destroy everything.

    • Viliam says:

      If the world ends tomorrow, it means I don’t have to clean my room today.

  20. DinoNerd says:

    I find myself thinking about the costs and benefits of pre-employment tests, particularly those done on the applicant’s own time, on top of the usual phone screen, interview etc. This comes out of a conversation in the last open thread about banning education (and perhaps credentials) as a means of judging between candidates, but goes in a slightly different direction.

    In all my time in software engineering, I’ve had such requests made of me twice. One was an aptitude/intelligence test, administered by the potential employer as part of their interview etc. cycle, when I was a new grad with a non-relevant degree. This didn’t strike me as especially notable.

    The other was a requirement to produce code on my own time as a test required by Amazon after phone interview(s?) and before proceeding to the next stage of their hiring process, which would have involved travelling to Seattle at their expense, even though the position itself was where I lived, not at their HQ. I can come up with all kinds of good reasons for Amazon to want to be sure I was serious, and minimally competent, before that stage. But this is very unusual, especialy with my level of experience, particularly since it was essentially a coding test, and coding skill is not my major value at this stage of my career.

    More interestingly, lots of people suggest such requirements are inherently abusive, as consuming too much of the candidate’s time etc. I’m now wondering whether what they really wanted to know was whether I had good enough boundaries to reject this request, whereupon I would be a bad prospect for the kind of generally abusive work environment Amazon is reputed to have, even among software engineers.

    In my case, I’d been laid off unexpectedly, and was interested in collecting Unemployment Insurance, which required me to report things I’d done each week in search of work, and there was a clear mismatch between the government bureaucrats’ expectations of what a job hunt looks like, and the realities of job hunting for a later career software engineer. I saw this as giving me something to put on the government’s what-I-did-this-week form, and I had plenty of time to do it, given that pavement pounding isn’t a useful strategy in that situation. I saw Amazon itself as a Safety U – not a place I’d ever *want* to work, or stay at longer than I absolutely had to, but a place to go if no other prospects panned out immediately, and money became tight. (I.e. I really wasn’t a good candidate for them :-()

    As it happened, one of my other leads came through with an offer before Amazon got around to inviting me to Seattle, so I turned down Amazon’s invitation. I was quite clear I’d rather work for the boss I’d worked for before, who’d turned out to have openings, than for a company with as bad a rep as Amazon.

    Now in retrospect I’m wondering if Amazon’s requirements and delays were not a result of bureaucratic inertia, but a perhaps unconscious filter for prospective employees who were either desperate, or poor judges of what behaviour is appropriate from potential employers.

    • johan_larson says:

      A company as prestigious as Amazon get vast numbers of applications, many from people who really really want to work there, and many from people who are completely clueless. This leads them to run an interview process that demands a lot of the applicants and verifies even very basic skills.

      Interviewing as a software engineer is a pain. I really wish I didn’t have to prove I can code yet again, after five different jobs and fifteen years in the industry.

      • Walter says:

        At my most recent job, I was sitting down for the interview.

        This is one of those jobs whose credentialling is impeccable. 5+ years with this software, 3+ with this, etc, etc. I have all those pat.

        I’m a senior software X, about to become principal architect Y at place Z. Interviews all day, manager, senior manager, executive, company founder.

        Finally, the code screening. 3 questions. Time to show off my…

        Question 1: What is polymorphism?

        Question 2: What is one difference between a thread and a process?

        Question 3: Did you have any questions for us?

      • Mark Atwood says:

        I work for Amazon, and I sit on those interview loops.

        First, our interviewing process is as hard on the interviewers as it is on the candidates. One of the pieces of friction in hiring is getting Amazonians to be willing to schedule the time and join the interview loops for the constant stream of people who pass the phone screens and the coding test.

        Second, over my career, I have interviewed and then either hired or not-hired and sometimes oh-hell-no-what-was-recruiting-thinking a very large number of software developers, senior software developers, and software architects. It is terrifying how many of them have impeccable resumes with long lists of claimed skills and accomplishments and who have acceptable home coding test examples, but can’t answer utterly basic software design questions or do basic remedial programming problems when asked to do them while I watch.

        (“What is one difference between a thread and a process?” is a question I’ve used myself on candidates, and seen people with 10 years of “experience” on their resume struggle with it and fail.)

        We (and by “we”, I mean the whole industry, not just my particular employer at this particular point in time) have to ask those “stupid questions”, because, well, we have to, and because it works.

        • DinoNerd says:

          What is one difference between a thread and a process?

          In what context? HPUX had the simplest distinction/contrast I’ve ever seen, except for having IIRC, 3 types of threads. Linux has the most complex distinction – and arguably doesn’t have anything you can point at and say unambiguously “this is a thread”.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            You will pass that question, just for that answer, because that shows more understanding then more than half the technical candidates I have ever interviewed. If I was interviewing you, I would then dig in deeper, and ask you for what was the difference on HPUX, the difference on Linux, and how the differences are different from each other. You will probably very quickly demonstrating deeper knowledge than your interviewer, and that is completely fine.

        • AG says:

          As a non-programmer, man I wish interview questions could be like that for my area of jobs. I could rabbit on about a technical question like that, easy.
          Instead, it’s all “tell me about a time when” social anxiety-provoking stuff that never has a nice clean answer, so you’re trying to provide context as to why your answer actually answers the question and hoping it doesn’t come off like bullshitting, because no one thinks about their past experiences in such a way, so they don’t present themselves as nicely as a technical answer to a technical question.

          In fact, I suspect that people who are more qualified might give less satisfactory answers, because what makes them better at dealing with the situations in situ is why it’s more difficult for them to articulate their answers to such wishy-washy questions.
          Bleh.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            I spent three months prepping for Amazon’s “tell me about a time when” interview style, and I guarantee my answers were not bullshit. Much of what makes it hard is digging in to see if the first answer is bullshit or not.

            Yes, it’s hard. It’s there to find out more things than “can you pass a leetcode?”.

            It’s even harder on the other side of the table, let me tell you. It gets harder for me each time I do it, as I self criticize how well I did each time around.

            I’m also taking it with me and adding to to my personal toolbox at such time as I work for a different company.

          • dick says:

            Instead, it’s all “tell me about a time when” social anxiety-provoking stuff that never has a nice clean answer, so you’re trying to provide context as to why your answer actually answers the question and hoping it doesn’t come off like bullshitting, because no one thinks about their past experiences in such a way, so they don’t present themselves as nicely as a technical answer to a technical question.

            As it happens, there is a nice clean solution to this! I do a lot of interviewing, and this is my default advice to new grads and people who find interviewing difficult or stressful (so much so that I may well have posted it here before and forgotten about it):

            Dick’s Secret To Cracking the Behavioral Interview

            1. Make a list of the five best or most impressive things you’ve done at work, the things which best demonstrate your value to a future employer.

            2. Write each of them as a story. They should be structurally similar to a story you’d tell at a party: about 2-3 minutes long, with a setup, a problem, and a solution.

            3. Practice telling them in the mirror or to a friend until it feels natural to rattle them off without effort.

            4. In the interview, when they ask for a time when you did X, pick whichever story comes closest to X and tell it. Possibly with slight alterations (no outright lying!) to make it better fit their question, though this is rarely necessary, since behavioral interview questions are so broad.

            I know this feels like cheating. It’s not! “But wait, they asked for a story about a time when I had a conflict with a coworker -I can’t tell a story about me leading a project that only tangentially involves conflict with a coworker, that would be lying!” That is misplaced scrupulosity, ignore it. It’s a job interview, you selling yourself is the whole point and everyone there knows it. It’s not their fault they don’t know which questions to ask. So help them out, and give them the information they need (what makes you valuable? why should we hire you?) regardless of what they ask.

            Hope that helps!

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Second to everything Dick said.
            It’s generally good practice to review your project and normal work once a quarter and identify any successes or major projects you did. It helps your manager out a lot around performance review, and also helps you create a resume/make stories like this.

            If you don’t, you’ll go through an entire year and ask yourself “uhhh….what exactly did I do this year?”

            Also, behavioral questions will be different between staff, senior staff, and management role. I’ll see if I can find my interview guides for different positions.

            The really important part is being ready with SPECIFICS and follow-up questions. One of the things that landed me my current role despite no industry experience is that I went into great deal on how to find variances in a prior job. Also explain-it-like-I’m-five explanations. Our factory exclusively uses analogies to making cakes in a kitchen.

        • johan_larson says:

          I understand why it is done. But I do wish there were a better way, particularly since these tests are focused on very basic skills. I wish I could prove basic coding fitness once and for all, so interviews could focus on determining whether I am a good fit for *this* job rather than every random coding job in the industry.

          You’d think this could be done, maybe with some sort of exams administered by a trusted third party. This seems like an idea obvious enough that someone must have tried it commercially. I guess they just couldn’t make it work. I wonder what part of the puzzle just wouldn’t fit.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            The problem is the exams get corrupted fast. The incentives for would-be exam corporations are out of alignment with the problem.

            Maybe if the ACM designed and proctored the exams, it would be a thing, but the ACM is currently too deeply captured by the University Industrial Complex.

            (I have the ACM on my mind at the moment, because I just had coffee at the Spheres with a potential candidate and his boyfriend, and told me how he and his college classmates realized that their BS CS curriculum was complete garbage, and that only valuable thing their university was providing was each other’s presence and then the final credential, so they ran their own student-run night-and-weekend classes under the umbrella of their school’s ACM student club.)

          • johan_larson says:

            Sure. If the exam company was answerable to the test takers, they would be tempted to water down the exams. Answerable to investors, their goal would be to make money, so the same is very likely to happen. That leaves some sort of principled independence as a foundation rich enough not to need money, or maybe the employers. If a consortium of major employers were inclined to set up exams like this, they could do it. And it would be in their interest to keep up standards, since they would be using it to make hiring decisions.

            What would the employers be getting out of it? A cheaper hiring process. Given the rejection rates the major companies are running in their processes, and the fact that they use actual engineers to administer the interviews, it must be costing them plenty for each junior hire.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            The hypothetical exam foundation would be sued into closure for because of “disparate impact”. Or it would be infected, converged, poisoned, and then have it’s flayed skin worn by “social justice”. Or it would turn into a guild.

            Or worse, some combination of all three.

          • ana53294 says:

            The exam foundation would need to be something like a guild. A body whose interest is to limit the number of job seekers, while establishing a level of quality.

            Something like the bar exam, or the medical exam, but without the degree requirements.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            something like a guild … whose interest is to limit the number of job seekers

            That is a “cure” orders of magnitude worse than all the disease it’s trying to treat, combined.

            Having the knack and the skills are entirely sufficiently limiting in themselves. The last thing we need is a yet another example of Public Choice Theory fucking it up.

          • johan_larson says:

            The hypothetical exam foundation would be sued into closure for because of “disparate impact”.

            I’m not sure that’s true. The ETS and ACT organizations run large-scale testing programs. And the tests they administer feature perennialy disappointing performance by blacks. Yet ETS and ACT are able to keep doing what they do, and educational institutions are able to keep using their tests. Also, the employers this hypothetical foundation would be service, tech companies, are well known for hiring disproportionately small numbers of blacks going back decades, but no one has forced them to stop. So I’m not sure legal peril would be the greatest threat to this sort of testing organization.

            It I had to guess, the greatest threat would be skepticism on the part of employers. Tech companies seem to sincerely believe that getting the right people is important, and they have found a way to do so that is working. Working at great cost mind you, but working. Selling a novel staffing solution that might possibly lower the quality of new hires would be an uphill battle even if you could point to lower hiring costs.

          • albatross11 says:

            You mean like the College Board? Or the folks who do the various computer/sysadmin certifications?

          • Clutzy says:

            To be honest, I don’t understand why firms don’t just try to get people to do something freelance as an extended interview.

            Like, if I had a law firm, why not pay my top 3 candidates 1k for some work product? If I like it, your hired, if I don’t you made 1k confidentially for 4-8 hours of work.

          • johan_larson says:

            Like, if I had a law firm, why not pay my top 3 candidates 1k for some work product?

            The agreement I signed when starting my current job specifies that i am not allowed to take on outside employment without permission from my current employer. These sorts of clauses seem to be pretty common in this industry.

            I don’t think rules like this are aimed at making hiring more difficult. I think they are more about making sure you focus on your job, and not some side hustle thing. But it does make it somewhat risky to do what you are suggesting. But I suppose it would work fine if the people you are trying to hire are not currently working.

            Some employers do give out small take-home programming projects are part of the screening process. But they are not done for pay, and are done only for assessment purposes.

          • acymetric says:

            @johan_larson

            I’m sure it varies by country (and in the US, even by State), but I wonder how enforceable that clause is?

          • Clutzy says:

            I was mostly thinking about kids coming out of college/law school or leaving entry level positions (or not related, like hiring a person with a BA in Econ who has been working in a sales position for a while).

            But even in actual law practice the poaching tactics are so shady, this would be like 1/10th that level.

    • Nornagest says:

      I’ve gone through the coding exercise you describe, and I didn’t see it as a big deal. It’s done after the exploratory phone interview and in lieu of the usual technical phone screen, so it’s not consuming so much more of the candidate’s time; it did take me an hour and a half or so (out of a limit of two hours), where the technical phone screen would probably have taken me forty minutes to an hour, but that’s counterbalanced by me being able to do it whenever I want and not have to take time out during a workday.

      Of course, this might also have something to do with the fact that I usually do better work when someone gives me a problem and leaves me alone than when I have to talk my solution out in front of a whiteboard.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        It’s not a problem, but I can easily see it getting really crazy.

        Remember, now is the best possible time to be a software developer. If they make candidates do this right now, imagine what they would do if the job market were as bad as it is good today.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Remember, now is the best possible time to be a software developer. If they make candidates do this right now, imagine what they would do if the job market were as bad as it is good today.

          Having been through such periods, the interviews were generally easier (shorter, more “describe your experience” and maybe a few fairly easy coding questions that the particular interviewer liked) but hard to get and you were rather likely to never hear from the company again if you were interviewed. I think if the market turns sour, we won’t see the interviews change.

        • Mark Atwood says:

          Interviewing is easier, both for the employer and for the candidates, when the market isn’t as good.

          When it’s a buyers market, generally the only people applying for swdev jobs are people for whom swdev is their their “calling”, or is otherwise the skill they are best at, and they lack the skills that instead mainly involve being tall and having good hair.

          Right now, because it’s a sellers market, there are a constant stream of enthusiastic candidates with good “emotional skills” who are hoping for those sweet sweet 225K TC starting offers.

          Pity that they can’t code their way out of a paper bag with a copy of a leetcoding cheatsheet in their hand.

    • Jake says:

      As someone who has been on both sides of the software interviewing process, my favorite interview I’ve ever been in was one where I was sent a mockup of a small customer request for a system and asked to create requirements and psuedo-code for a system that would meet the customer request. I think they said don’t take longer than a few hours to work on it, but it was just a concrete test of your thought and design process. Yes, it took a bit of my time to complete, but that filters a bit on serious applicants only, and it still wasn’t more time than a full-day onsite interview would be. It also gave us something concrete to talk about in the interview, discussing why certain decisions were made, almost like an in-depth code review. I’m honestly surprised more companies don’t do interviews like that, since it seems to be a really effective way of seeing how someone will work.

    • dodrian says:

      When I interviewed a few months ago (for junior/mid software developement positions, all of them a good distance from where I lived), that was pretty common.

      For the positions I got far along in, the process was pretty much always:
      HR Screen (questions about the resume, compensation, etc, 15 mins)
      Phone Screen (simple technical questions like “what’s an abstract class” 15-30 min)
      Take-home challenge (1-4 hours, mostly open ended “build this simple app”, though one was a test of “bugfix and then extend this code”)
      Follow up phone interview (30min-1hr, talk about the challenge to make sure I actually did the work and knew what I was doing, culture fit questions).

      I got offers after that, only one company wanted to fly me out for an in person interview, but it sounded more like that was pretty much a culture-fit type interview and more trying to convince me to accept.

  21. HeelBearCub says:

    I saw this mentioned, thought it was a leg-pull or a spoof (come on, this must be from The Onion, right?)

    No, it’s real headline. (The accompanying story is at least a little better) actually worse.

    Good grief, Charlie Brown!

    ——————————

    Yes, there is a point to this.

    • Nick says:

      I saw those, and while the wording (and the apparent coordination between a few high profile folks?) is bizarre, I’m not offended or anything. It’s easy for instance to read it as an attempt to underscore the heinousness of the act, namely that it happened on Easter.

      I laughed at Babylon Bee’s take.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        (and the apparent coordination between a few high profile folks?)

        People, all using common formations in the same language, are, I guess, coordinating:
        Ramadan worshipers
        Eid worshipers
        Synagogue worshipers

        • baconbits9 says:

          The Ramadan worshipers link uses the term Muslim within 2 sentences, and uses Muslim/non-muslim a combined 9 times. Eid link uses Muslim by the 2nd sentence and your 3rd link is the same as the 2nd.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And a 120 character tweet is evidence of avoiding the term Christian? Somehow?

            Additional is it pretty much a given that anyone in the Western world is far more likely to know that Easter is celebrated by Christians? Than they are that Eid is celebrated by Muslims?

          • acymetric says:

            Yeah, people are thinking way to hard about this. “Easter worshipers” inherently means “Christians” at least to most people (I don’t even think you have to qualify it with “in the Western world” to make that claim true).

            Labeling them as “Easter worshipers” makes it a stronger statement in my eyes, because it carries more weight. “Christians attacked” is to “Easter worshipers attacked” as “I was beaten and robbed” is to “I was beaten and robbed in my own home” (the implication being that while attacking Christians is bad, attacking them while worshiping on one of their most sacred days is even worse.

            That anyone could be offended by the phrasing here is flat out beyond me.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @ HBC

            I’m not making any claims except that your links don’t refute the claims being made.

            @ acymetric

            Then phrasing like ‘Christians attacked while attending Easter Services’ is even more informative.

            Googling Clinton tweets about Ramadan, Eid gives hits like

            As we begin Ramadan, I wish all Muslims a blessed time of reflection, family, and good health. Ramadan Mubarak. -H

            but also

            Wishing a blessed Ramadan to all those who have embarked on the month of fasting.

            So no one quote is meaningful, however if the accusations are functionally that all prominent leftists skipped a specific word in their responses (accurately) I wouldn’t find it unreasonable to point that out.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            @acymetric –

            Assume there’s a belief on one side that the other is trying to pretend that they don’t exist, and then someone speaks either generally (“places of worship”) or really specifically (“Easter worshippers”) in a way that avoid the group they think is being memory-holed.

            It should make sense, then.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            “You could have wordsmithed something even more than you did to reduce the chance of offending [group] so why didn’t you?” is one of the things I hated about the P.C. movement.

          • baconbits9 says:

            There are a few pretty simple ways to demonstrate that the position is bogus/bad faith.

            1. Find a couple of high ranking Democrats who tweeted using the term ‘Christian’

            2. Find a series of tweets from high level Democrats about a similar Muslim event that uses either Mosque or the period of worship that doesn’t use Muslim along with it.

            Either of these is pretty much a slam dunk ‘you guys are blowing this way out of proportion/live in an echo chamber’ response.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @baconbits9:
            My claim was neither more, nor less, than “X worshippers” is a fairly commonly used turn of phrase, thus finding many people using that turn of phrase doesn’t require any coordination. The contextual clues, wherein you are trying to indicate that the attack came against people at a place of worship engaged in a specific ritual of their religion makes the specific phrasing even more useful, and likely.

            If we say “Christians attacked on Easter” we leave out elements that “Easter worshipers” includes, thus it is unremarkable that people would utilize the second, more compact and more accurate, phrase.

          • John Schilling says:

            Then phrasing like ‘Christians attacked while attending Easter Services’ is even more informative.

            But is it actually true? Has anyone proven that even one single victim of the attacks was actually a Christian?

            If the answer is “Duh, they were attending Easter Services, obviously they were Christians”, then no, “Christians attacked while attending Easter Services” conveys no information that isn’t already encoded in “Easter worshippers attacked”, and requires twice as many words. You seem to be either demanding a gratuitous and uninforming name-dropping of “Christians”, or you are suggesting that there is some uncertainty as to whether the people who worship Easter are anything but.

          • Nornagest says:

            Obviously they’re worshipping Easter, the egg-laying rabbit-goddess of spring.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @baconbits9:

            There are a few pretty simple ways to demonstrate that the position is bogus/bad faith.

            Do you agree that the burden of proof is on those making the claim?

            The claim:

            Yet Obama, Clinton, and other Democrats … could not bring themselves to identify the victims of the attacks as “Christians”

            I could point you at Obama or others using the word “Christian” many times, but I don’t think this would satisfy the critics. Rather the fixation is the specific: “S/he didn’t say it exactly this way this time”.

            But … here is an easily searchable example.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nornagest:

            Obviously they’re worshipping Easter, the egg-laying rabbit-goddess of spring.

            Sounds adorable! I’d take her over that po-faced Eostre we talked about last thread.

          • brad says:

            “You could have wordsmithed something even more than you did to reduce the chance of offending [group] so why didn’t you?” is one of the things I hated about the P.C. movement.

            Anti P.C. always struck me as whose ox is being gored. Every culture and sub-culture that I’ve ever heard of has language taboos.

          • albatross11 says:

            brad:

            Every culture has language taboos, but not every culture has the same range or intensity of language taboos. In the same way, France and Saudi Arabia both have modesty taboos that get enforced on women by law and custom, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no difference between the two. It seems to me that modern SJ-adjacent culture has language taboos that are extremely broad, strongly enforced, and somewhat unpredictable.

            And then there’s the question of whose language taboos, if any, should be imposed on everyone else. SJ-adjacent folks seem to be rather eager to impose their (broad and strict) language taboos not only within their culture, but on everyone in the country. Anti-PC is basically the backlash of that–people from different subcultures with different language taboos saying “no, I don’t think I should have to follow your language taboos.”

          • baconbits9 says:

            My claim was neither more, nor less, than “X worshippers” is a fairly commonly used turn of phrase, thus finding many people using that turn of phrase doesn’t require any coordination

            You were responding to a complaint which was not that a common phrase was used, but that a common phrase was used to the exclusion of other common phrases. You also presented no evidence that it is common to use such phrasing as a stand alone statement, which is likely easy to find, further demonstrating that you don’t understand the basics of the complaint.

          • baconbits9 says:

            You seem to be either demanding a gratuitous and uninforming name-dropping of “Christians”, or you are suggesting that there is some uncertainty as to whether the people who worship Easter are anything but.

            I am demanding no such thing, I am pointing out the logical conclusion of a defense of ‘Easter Worshipers’ somehow carrying more information.

            The rest of the point is misleading, there was a targeted attack, does anyone think that the targets were specifically non Christians who happened to want to observe an Easter celebration, or that specifically the celebration of Easter was being attacked and not the religious people who celebrate Easter?

            Again the complaint being lodged is not that one person used a phrase that was imperfect for some reason, but that a group of people all avoided a word that would commonly be used.

          • baconbits9 says:

            As in its very easy- this would be a start of a refutation

            These acts of terror against Christians in Sri Lanka are unspeakably tragic. Our hearts are with the victims and their families. We owe them our commitment to making our world a place where no family lives in fear of persecution because of how they worship.

          • brad says:

            @albatross
            That analysis strikes me as completely inaccurate. The culture conservative taboo package was and is much more aggressive and totalizing than anything promoted by the “SJ-adjacent”.

            It is still, in 2019, against the law to say shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, or tits on TV.

          • AG says:

            Ahem, I’m sure you actually mean shirt, Pez, fork, cant, corksucker, motherforker, and tots.

          • Plumber says:

            “I’m tired of all these snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!

          • acymetric says:

            @Plumber

            “I’m tired of all these snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!

            One of my absolute favorite TV edits of all time. For full effect, the actual quote is:

            “I’ve had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Monkey-fighting snakes on a Monday-to-Friday flight would have been such an amazing movie. I find it very disappointing that writers think they can substitute swearing for creativity like that.

        • quanta413 says:

          “Ramadan worshipers” is the odd one out. Ramadan is a whole month! Who would say that? It’s like saying “Lent worshipers”.

          • Nick says:

            If anyone says “Lent worshipers” is a thing, beware, they’re trying to pull a fast one on you.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        I think one person’s comms team gets a message out first, and every other comms team sees the first message (it is part of their job) and makes sure to check all the same boxes on their own messaging.

    • The Nybbler says:

      If apophenia is the tendency to see patterns in random events, what’s its counterpart where a pattern is correctly identified but then random events are incorrectly matched to it?

    • albatross11 says:

      Offense archaeology is as dumb when done by the right as when done by the left.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

        • Gobbobobble says:

          Less of this sort of flagrant mockery then, please. (Or get yourself a red N, I guess)

          If you see shit on the floor, criticize that; don’t drop trou and proceed to point and laugh and your own leavings

          • HeelBearCub says:

            What exactly is “flagrant mockery” here?

          • Gobbobobble says:

            The whole model of “this post annoyed me so I’m going to copy it verbatim but with my outgroup substituted in, that’ll show ’em!!”

            Yes, there is a point to this.

            And don’t forget to waggle your finger at the end just in case they didn’t get the message

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Gobbobobble:

            Did the original post annoy you?

            Do you think you would have been receptive if I pointed out how annoying it actually should have been?

            Because I have tried many different ways of making this point over the years.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Strictly speaking, yes it does (though I didn’t even see it until you linked it). I’m not going to argue it isn’t overdramatic outgroup-sniping.

            But my general distaste for people dragging shit from one thread into another is the greater annoyance. It just reeks of petty feuding.

        • Nick says:

          Albatross is exactly right, but I want to point out that there’s a perfectly good reason to object to Deiseach’s dumb AP headline: it indicates stunning ignorance on the part of the article writer or the headline writer. The problem with the Breitbart article isn’t this at all, but rather that it’s stupid outrage bait.

          One could certainly treat AP ignorance like outrage bait, which sounds dumb and unproductive to me, but glancing over Deiseach’s thread I don’t see any about the AP story. It wasn’t until Tenacious D shared a completely different outrage story in a subthread that there was any.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Let’s complain about bad media takes … but only if they offend conservatives?

            Not buying it.

            I post something that says “look at how idiotic this is” … and the reaction isn’t to be mad at the media, or criticize how dumb it is.

            And if you want to say it’s my history here, well, let’s just say there is some hot pot and kettle action going on.

          • dick says:

            I want to point out that there’s a perfectly good reason to object to Deiseach’s dumb AP headline: it indicates stunning ignorance on the part of the article writer or the headline writer.

            …as long as you assume it’s impossible for anyone to not know Notre Dame is a Catholic temple. That strikes me as a) certainly false, and b) pretty provincial. By way of comparison, Angkor Wat is a very recognizable tourist attraction, but I thought it was a non-religious monarch’s residence until I looked it up just now, and even if you’d told me it was a temple, I wouldn’t have known which religion it was a temple to*. If it caught fire tomorrow, an AP article explaining its religious significance would be quite helpful to me. Why is the same not true of Notre Dame?

            * Answer: vg’f pbzcyvpngrq

          • Heterosteus says:

            I post something that says “look at how idiotic this is” … and the reaction isn’t to be mad at the media, or criticize how dumb it is.

            I think a big part of that is that most of us recognise that this is a direct attack on a specific post on a previous thread, and so regardless of the content of what you linked it comes across as petty, aggressive and mean.

            Copying the Charlie Brown line was a particularly nasty touch.

            (And I agree with Nick that the original headline Deiseach posted about was hilariously dumb. I enjoyed laughing at it despite being neither offended nor a conservative. I think it was dramatically less culture-war-y than your post, even without the context of Deiseach’s previous post.)

          • brad says:

            Let’s complain about bad media takes … but only if they offend conservatives?

            That’s what it means to be a safe space for those on the right triggered by any positive mention of the current dominant ideologies in economically successful cities (and their associated educational institutions).

            It’s not the worse thing in the world to want, I just wish advocates were more honest about what they are trying to do.

        • quanta413 says:

          Your comparison is unfortunate because the headline Deiseach linked was hilarious. It’d be like a headline “Famous tourist attraction the white house, also address of U.S. President”. And it has an analogy to Mecca in the title for a double whammy of hilarity.

          The Breitbart article is just dumb.

        • Deiseach says:

          It was only reading down this thread that I saw my name mentioned.

          HeelBearCub, please accept this lovely Spring bouquet of (imaginary Internet) blossoms 🙂

          Others, I don’t mind. Thank you for intervening, but while I did notice the deliberate resemblance, I didn’t think it was meant to be mockery. I’m very sorry if HeelBearCub took it that my original comment was meant to be “Boo, outgroup!” or something of that nature; it was genuinely intended to be a “well I suppose that’s one way to describe it” moment of forehead-smacking, not anything pushing conspiracy theories or more mean-spirited than “this is a real ‘Natural disaster abroad, no Britons injured’ level of reporting”.

          As to the whole “Easter worshippers” thing, I thought the phrasing was clunky, it would have been more natural to say “Christians” in this context, but the attacks weren’t just on churches but on hotels as well and it’s plain this was a very politically-motivated and anti-Western act by a small group. While I do think it’s telling that Clinton etc. all used the same phrasing, I don’t think it’s anything more sinister than “excessive caution”. The reaction to it by right-wing sources in America probably has to do with history with the Obama administration and the perceived reluctance of the State Department to get involved in helping admit Christian refugees and asylum seekers who were victims of sectarian violence in majority non-Christian countries (because of a perceived narrative of “Christians can never be persecuted” along the lines of “you can’t be racist against white people because of their privilege”), as contrasted with a perceived eagerness to be publicly in favour of explicitly supporting Muslims as Muslims and sensitive to any appearance of them being persecuted.

          Here, have this free “Good grief, Charlie Brown!” thrown in for nothing 😀

      • Clutzy says:

        I’m more interested in the weirdness aspect of it. Regardless of its accuracy/inaccuracy and the breaking down if it is an efficient turn of phrase better for staying under character limits, its an incredibly weird and unorthodox one. I want to know if Obama (or Hillary which went first) thought of the phrase, or if it was some galaxy-brain intern. Whoever it is their mind needs to be studied.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      As a Blue Triber myself I’m pretty sure I can feel myself flinch from writing a phrase like “Christians attacked”. Unconscious bias is real, and not only in the places the left likes to talk about. Breitbart found a little piece of it.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I think it’s in the lane of “Obama/Dems won’t say ‘Islamic terrorism.'” For instance, consider Hillary’s reaction to the Christchurch attack on mosque worshipers:

      My heart breaks for New Zealand & the global Muslim community. We must continue to fight the perpetuation and normalization of Islamophobia and racism in all its forms. White supremacist terrorists must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped.

      Could you see her saying:

      My heart breaks for Sri Lanka & the global Christian community. We must continue to fight the perpetuation and normalization of violent jihad in all its forms. Islamic terrorists must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped.

      She’s capable of strongly identifying the good guys and bad guys in the attack on Muslims by a white supremacist but not when it’s an attack on Christians by extremist Muslims.

      • Civilis says:

        Despite being on the right, I find concerns about the use of the phrase ‘Easter worshipers’ to be overblown. It comes across as people looking for evidence that the political and cultural elites are downplaying the effects of anti-Western sentiment in the Islamic world and seeing something that can be interpreted that way whether or not it’s actually motivated by that sentiment.

        Still, there’s a larger point to be made, illustrated here: a certain section of Western political and cultural elites act far more concerned with Western anti-Islamic sentiment (Islamophobia) than with anti-Western sentiment in the Islamic world. I don’t know if it’s worse that this might be due entirely to political expediency, or that this might be entirely rational.

        The problem is that the response by the Western cultural elites seems to make the problem significantly worse. Playing up Western anti-Islamic sentiments makes Islamic anti-Westerners feel justified in attacking Western culture as a whole, while downplaying the real effects of anti-Western sentiment in the Islamic world has only convinced many in the West that the elites are their enemies.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I find concerns about the use of the phrase ‘Easter worshipers’ to be overblown.

          I think it’s about appropriatelyblown. Nobody’s saying this proves Hillary is a secret Muslim spy. But it does add to my suspicions that, yes, elites like Hillary are more concerned with Muslims than with westerners or Christians.

          Basically if you said, “here are two statements by Hillary Clinton, one about a terrorist attack committed by Islamists one about an attack committed by white supremacists, which is which:”

          [Attacker’s ideology] must be condemned by leaders everywhere. Their murderous hatred must be stopped.

          we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks

          I don’t think many people would have trouble picking out which statement goes with which set of perpetrators and victims. When the victims are the people she prefers she has no trouble calling for condemnation of the specific, named ideology and calling for the suppression/elimination of the people who adhere to it. When it’s the victims she can’t be assed about, it’s platitudes about generic, nebulous “hatred” and “violence.”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I think it’s about appropriatelyblown. Nobody’s saying this proves Hillary is a secret Muslim spy. But it does add to my suspicions that, yes, elites like Hillary are more concerned with Muslims than with westerners or Christians.

            Agreed. This is why I never vote for people like her.

        • dndnrsn says:

          @Civilis

          Is Islamist terrorists in Sri Lanka murdering Sri Lankan Christians “anti-Western” sentiment? Is Christianity inherently a “Western” religion?

          I think part of the issue is that Western Christians and those “culturally Christian” – which includes Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – tend to have the West as their benchmark. So they don’t see the parts of the world where Christianity is a minority religion as vividly as the places where Islam is. I’m pretty sure that, by numbers of dead, Christianity is the world’s most persecuted religion, and has been for some time. But Clinton and Obama are in a part of the world where anti-Muslim sentiment by Christians is more of an issue than the other way around.

          I don’t think it helps to view Christianity as a “Western” religion – and it’s funny that one finds this idea both on the right and the left. Christianity has been present in multiple cultural spheres for almost as long as it has existed.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Do you think the statements would have been any different if the international network attacks against Easter worshipers had happened in Australia or France?

          • Civilis says:

            Is Islamist terrorists in Sri Lanka murdering Sri Lankan Christians “anti-Western” sentiment? Is Christianity inherently a “Western” religion?

            I think there’s a real case to be made that there’s definitely a correlation between ‘Christianity’ and ‘the West’, especially when viewed from outside. Keep in mind that the attacks in Sri Lanka was specifically in response to the Christchurch attack conducted by a white/Western/European nationalist/supremicist (given the suppression of the attacker’s deliberatly confusing manifesto and the overlapping definitions, I’m not sure which is the most accurate characterization). Further, in addition to churches, hotels were targeted and are frequently targets in other terrorist attacks; while one can make a case that in some cases, most notably Egypt, the attackers are targeting the tourism industry, I’d say that in this case and in the hotel attacks in India and sub-Saharan Africa it’s more likely the attacks are targeting foreigners, mostly Western.

            Related to some of the other discussions in this OT, I think a lot of people do not comprehend how much Western Christians see non-Western Christians as part of their group, and this is something the “culturally Christian” don’t really understand. I can only speak as a Catholic, but I’ve attended a number of masses said by priests from Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. The priests from sub-Saharan Africa have been very vocal about the persecution their communities face for their faith. As such, Western Christians are far more likely to identify with the Nigerian or Sri Lankan victims than the Christchurch victims.

            Clinton and Obama are in a part of the world where anti-Muslim sentiment by Christians is more of an issue than the other way around.

            And this is part of the problem. The Western elites have a lot in common with the elites of the Islamic world, both the business and government types of Islamic nations as well and the educated Islamic immigrants in their own countries. As such, anti-Islamic sentiment is an issue for them, as it affects their relations with the foreign elites. The vast majority of the public doesn’t have that connection with their own elites, much less the elites of foreign cultures. As such the public, whose votes keep the elite in power, get irritated when their elected representatives act in the interests of foreign elites the voters have nothing in common with as opposed to foreigners that they have identities in common with.

            In part, this is an entirely foreseeable side-effect of modern identity politics. Destroying ‘nation’ and ‘culture’ as socially unifying factors has pushed group identification back onto factors like religion. The Sri Lankan Islamic extremists see ‘Sri Lankan Catholics’ and ‘rich foreign tourists’ as part of the same foreign sociocultural group as the Christchurch shooter. Western Christians don’t see New Zealand Muslims as being as much a part of their sociocultural group as they see Sri Lankan Christians. And it’s perfectly rational that “culturally Christian” Westerners might not identify with Sri Lankan Christians the way devoutly Christian Westerners do.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I think they might have been; I also think more attention would have been paid, because unfortunately, who is getting killed gets different attention based on who it is… I think that if there had been 321 killed in that way (they weren’t all Easter worshippers, right? Some were hotel attacks, I think) in France, it would be enormous news; had it happened in the US, it would blot everything else out.

            @Civilis

            I don’t think it’s that someone like Hillary Clinton has more in common with Islamic-world elites and wants to get along with them; I think it’s because to Americans, Islam is either an oppressed victim religion making up a little % of the US population, or a scary monolithic thing that’s somewhere else being threatening. Neither is correct – Islam is a major world religion, just as Christianity is; their history isn’t wildly different – both are proselytizing expansionist religions, both have experienced internal strife (I wonder if you could compare which is worse – Catholic vs Protestant or Sunni vs Shia?), both have suffered persecution when/where the minority, both have behaved oppressively when/where the majority.

            I think both Westerners who are positively inclined towards Islam (and are not Muslims themselves) and those who are negatively inclined, both regard it as a fargroup – not as something with nuance and history and weight to it.

          • Civilis says:

            I think both Westerners who are positively inclined towards Islam (and are not Muslims themselves) and those who are negatively inclined, both regard it as a fargroup – not as something with nuance and history and weight to it.

            This is true for Islam taken generically, not necessarily for individual Muslims. Likewise, it’s the same for Sri Lankans; Sri Lankans taken generically are members of a fargroup. Sri Lankan Catholics are regarded differently by other Catholics, especially when the primary reason they’re in the discussion is because they’re Catholics.

            Let’s switch the individual subject of the discussion from Hillary to Trump for a second. As far as the public is concerned, Trump’s hostility to Islam is well “known”, yet he has no problem bumping shoulders with the political and business elites of the Islamic world either. Remember the “Orb“? Trump has extensive business ventures in Dubai as well as properties in Turkey and Indonesia. Taken separately, ‘Muslim’ is a fargroup for Trump, but ‘business partner’ or ‘investor’ (or ‘billionaire’, for that matter) almost certainly overrides that status.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            their history isn’t wildly different

            Only if you squint your eyes and don’t put a lot of importance on the history they are currently making, which a lot of people do.

            Christianity is now in the West literally dying out at a decent pace and has very few true radicals (of the murder and anti-democracy kind). In places where it is spreading, it is a fairly innocent kind that doesn’t impact us much.

            Islam is becoming more radical in many places & the interaction with Western society includes a decent number of shootings and bombings.

            I think both Westerners who are positively inclined towards Islam (and are not Muslims themselves) and those who are negatively inclined, both regard it as a fargroup – not as something with nuance and history and weight to it.

            Downplaying actual differences is also treating them as a fargroup.

          • Clutzy says:

            The Christianity isn’t different than Islam meme has to die. It is rooted in such odd equivalencies. People do understand that the crusades followed Charles Martel’s defense of France and the Islamic occupation of Spain, right? They also followed hundreds of incursions into Greece/Italy from Islamic (mostly north african based) slavers. And about a half dozen attempts to overrun Constantinople. In modern times they would be considered a defensive war, just like Afghanistan is in the US and WWI/WWII in the UK.

          • People do understand that the crusades followed Charles Martel’s defense of France and the Islamic occupation of Spain, right?

            The Christians were there first, so expansion of Islam was largely into Christian (and Zoroastrian) territory. But Charlemagne’s conquest of the Saxons was just as much aggression on behalf of a religion, not a response to a previous Saxon conquest of Christian territory. And Charlemagne, unlike the Muslims, forced those he conquered to convert to his religion.

            The Muslim conquest of Iberia did not involve any attempt at forced conversion or expulsion of Christians and Jews. The reconquista did end up with forced conversion or expulsion of Muslims and Jews. There were religiously tolerant Christian conqueror and intolerant Muslim ones, but those were the exceptions.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Civilis

            Sure. Trump is probably more likely than the normal politician to have plutocrats as his ingroup. He also seems to like strongmen, etc.

            @Aapje

            “History” implies the past. Islam hasn’t seen some developments Christianity has, and is in a different place, but the impression I got back when I was a wee religious studies major, is that the two religions are not wildly different in content or character. Both are proselytizing, expansionistic religions.

            @Clutzy

            Both are expansionistic religions; Islam fighting wars against Christianity in an attempt to expand was doing exactly what expansionistic religions do. As David Friedman notes, there’s plenty of Christian expansionism, historically.

          • ana53294 says:

            Christianity (or at least Catholicism) did justify the conquest of America due to the lack of Christian faith of the Native Americans.

            Jesuits who converted people, just making it much harder to justify enslaving them and killing them, were not very welcome.

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            Both are proselytizing, expansionistic religions.

            Sure, but Western Christians are a lot less proselytizing and expansionist than they were in the past. This in turn means that there is less reason for a general phobia of certain Christian branches (like Catholicism) or Christians in general.

            I think that one form of lack of nuance is that fears are often too easily dismissed as irrational, rather than derived from risks that are often no less serious than those that cause the dismisser to fear certain other groups.

          • Civilis says:

            Sure. Trump is probably more likely than the normal politician to have plutocrats as his ingroup. He also seems to like strongmen, etc.

            If you think this is any different for anyone else at the same level, I have a bridge to sell you. Even if they don’t have contacts at that level on assuming the presidency, being an ex-president comes with a set of perks, such as access to groups like the Davos World Economic Forum.

            Saudi Arabia, for example, was a key Clinton benefactor. The oil-producing giant has had a relationship with the Clintons dating back to Bill Clinton’s time as governor of Arkansas.

            In 1992, while running for president, then-Gov. Clinton secured a $3.5 million Saudi donation for a Middle East studies program at the University of Arkansas.

            A few weeks after Clinton was inaugurated president, the Saudis kicked in another $20 million. Both deals were brokered by a close Clinton friend, David Edwards.

            Overall, the Clinton Foundation has received staggering sums from Saudi benefactors — between $18 million and $50 million. (The foundation’s donations are reported in ranges, not specific numbers.)

            [From this article]

            I think what’s also important here is that the political and business elites of the Islamic world are, if anything, more divorced from their own public than ours are. That’s one of the specific complaints Bin Laden had against the Saudi monarchy, that they were too contaminated by outside influences.

            Aapje:

            Sure, but Western Christians are a lot less proselytizing and expansionist than they were in the past. This in turn means that there is less reason for a general phobia of certain Christian branches (like Catholicism) or Christians in general.

            One of the reasons I consider that those Western leaders more concerned about Western anti-Islamic sentiment may have a rational point is that Western religious expansionism was subsumed by nationalist expansionism centuries ago (and the religious part eventually vanished completely); while we can talk about expanding the reach of Catholicism to the heathens of North America, everyone knows that what was really at stake was the power of Spain vs its European rivals. The last major bouts of direct nationalist expansionism pretty much ended with a world war that took tens of millions of lives. Islamic religious expansionists are playing a very dangerous game in poking nations that have for the most part put aside militaries designed for the end of the era of nationalist expansion. The most dangerous of them isn’t Western, it’s China, and for all their bluster of defending Islam for attacks from outside, there’s a reason they get vengence for the victims of Christchurch and not the Uighurs.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Clutzy

            You write

            The Christianity isn’t different than Islam meme has to die.

            Why? It’s self-evident that that no two things are exactly identical, and both are large complex phenomena. So no one’s really claiming identity here. And depending on context and background, the similarities may be much more salient than the differences. Or the differences may look more like temporary differences of degree, rather than remotely fundamental.

            I see two salient differences relevant to SSC posters/English speakers.

            1) There’s no Christian sect that I know of currently trying to conquer their neighbours, commit terrorist acts, or impose completely religious laws/courts as national policy
            2) Many posters here will have been raised Christian, or among Christians, or be Christian, or otherwise both consider Christians their in group and have more detailed knowledge of Christianity and its variations.

            Christians do currently force non-Christians to participate in religious activities, invoking the power of the government as well as social pressure etc. (Happens in the US, while being technically illegal.) There’s at least one country using government pressure to force non-monotheists to convert – they may become either Christian or Muslim, but nothing else is acceptable. Recent US history demonstrates a long series of attempts to enforce Christian family values legally. US Christians routinely coerce school systems to avoid teaching science where it contradicts their theology – even when that theology isn’t accepted by all Christian sects. And I know too many people disowned and shunned by their parents and the community they grew up in, due to being considered sinful. (Sure, being gay won’t get you executed in Christian countries. That’s not much comfort if you know a child who committed suicide.)

            In summary, plenty of people see only a difference in degree between Christian and Islamic attempts to force their religion and its values on outsiders, and many of them can see a broad range in Islamic as well as Christian behaviour in this area. Some Christians would impose their own equivalents to sharia if they could; the big difference is that those Christians currently have less power than the equivalent strain of Muslims. (There are fewer of them, the societies they are in are more skeptical, and they aren’t as concentrated.)

            Those of you who are Christians can insist all day long that you wouldn’t do such things, and in general I believe you. But you have some co-religionists I regard as dangerous. And there are many perfectly fine upstanding Muslims out there too – I remember, for example, the young lady I met in graduate school, who invited me to visit her mosque.

          • Clutzy says:

            Why? It’s self-evident that that no two things are exactly identical, and both are large complex phenomena. So no one’s really claiming identity here. And depending on context and background, the similarities may be much more salient than the differences. Or the differences may look more like temporary differences of degree, rather than remotely fundamental.

            Because the meme, in the majority, is invoked to justify (or at least equivocate about) Islamic violence in the current era. Its like justifying German terrorists bombing the French because of WWII.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Aapje:

            If you want to talk about certain extremist strains of modern Islam that are, to be granted, quite powerful right now? Sure, bad. I definitely agree with you there. Christianity right now, globally, is fairly chill by some time periods.

            However, I’m taking the long view. I’m no expert on this – but my understanding is that the dominant scary form of extremist Islam is a historical reaction, and a fairly recent one, to getting kicked around by the West for a while. If a religious movement hadn’t filled the niche of “why are these guys we used to go 50-50 with smashing us all of a sudden” – more broadly “why is this happening to us” – and prescribing a particularly radical or extreme solution, a political movement would have.

            If the sudden change where the Christian world had a growing dominance and power over the Muslim world had happened in the same time frame, I imagine a similar movement would have come about in the Christian world somewhere. We can’t say “this is a problem with Islam” unless we also take the view that, say, there’s some special difference why Germany behaved as it did 1933-45 that’s dependent on some element inherent to Germany. Which, admittedly, some people do, but I don’t think they get taken very seriously by the academics.

            @Civilis

            Sure, but why there’s a link is important too. “I rub shoulders with sketchy dictator guys, but it’s OK, because we both have considerable resources” does get you a different outcome, maybe, than “also they get to tell people what to do and they do it; how cool is that” does?

          • Aapje says:

            @dndnrsn

            The independence movements were largely communist and nationalist, not Islamic. The Islamists are mainly revolting against corruption, liberal behavior and their own independent governments. Of course the Islamists object to Western influence, which they see as too liberal, but I don’t think it is reasonable to (merely) see them as (belated) anti-colonialism.

            Even if it was, their strong rise makes it legitimate for those who oppose their values to worry, IMO.

          • Because the meme, in the majority, is invoked to justify (or at least equivocate about) Islamic violence in the current era.

            I don’t think so. I think it is mostly invoked to protect non-violent Muslims from being blamed for the actions of violent Muslims.

            The argument on one side is “Islam is an inherently violent religion–look at the following selected passages from its founding texts and the following description of its history. Hence even Muslims who are not known to be terrorists are inherently dangerous.”

            The counter argument is “Christianity can be shown to be an inherently violent religion by similar standards, so there is no reason to assume that Muslims in general are particularly dangerous.”

          • Doctor Mist says:

            DinoNerd:

            Christians do currently force non-Christians to participate in religious activities, invoking the power of the government as well as social pressure etc. (Happens in the US, while being technically illegal.)

            I’ll assume you actually have an example for the U.S.? In any case, few and far between.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            dndnrsn:

            Both are expansionistic religions; Islam fighting wars against Christianity in an attempt to expand was doing exactly what expansionistic religions do.

            If you sincerely believe you have an inside line to The Truth, and that people toward whom you have no a priori ill-will are going to suffer greatly if you do not convine them of The Truth, what else makes sense.

            The difference is that Christianity was, almost from the start, concerned with the individual’s relationship with God, while Islam was, almost from the start, also fundamentally interested in the Right Way to run a society. It was a political movement every bit as much as a religious movement, and will be incompatible with Western values as long as it is unable to tease those two apart.

          • albatross11 says:

            It seems likely that this fell out of the fact that for its first couple centuries, Christianity was a movement with very little political power and few powerful adherents. The problems of keeping an empire running smoothly or keeping your soldiers’ spears all pointed in the same direction was not one the early church spent a lot of time on. Also, at least according to the gospels, Jesus was pretty explicitly not interested in founding/heading up a political movement.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            albatross11-

            Yup. So Christianity went down the ratholes of “Is Christ God? Or just like God? Or of God? Are there three, or one, or somehow both at once?” while Islam’s first big challenge was literally “Who should be in charge after Mohammed?”

            My Whiggish side says this is why the West invented calculus. (“So, imagine something really really small. No, smaller than that. Arbitrarily small. Now suppose you combine a whole lot of them. No, really, more than that. Arbitrarily many.” It all came out of counting angels on pins.) And we are justly proud of the separation of church and state, but if Jesus’s armies had stormed Rome, it wouldn’t have happened here.

          • It all came out of counting angels on pins.

            The point of the question of how many angels could fit on the head of a pin was that an angel had location but not extension, so the answer was “an unlimited number.”

            Adding up zeros doesn’t give you calculus.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            All right, fair enough. I didn’t mean to be literal; the angels and pins were a perhaps ill-considered exemplar for the sort of deep thinking that the church fathers had to engage in to make sense of the paradoxes they were stuck with.

  22. johan_larson says:

    Today, in news from the entirely too sedentary:

    10,000 steps is a lot! I measured out a 5 km course and walking it took only 6,200 steps. To walk as much as my doctor advises me, I may have to become semi-nomadic.

    • Walter says:

      I salute you in your new, migratory, life choices.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      My girlfriend and I have had a lot of success with daily morning runs using the Couch to 5K / 10K apps. You can bang out your daily step goal and burn an absurd number of calories in about an hour if you’re willing to get up early. It’s also a good warm up for any weight lifting or body weight exercises you would otherwise do before work.

      Even if you spend the entire rest of your day sitting perfectly still you’re still “active” in theory.

    • Mark Atwood says:

      My solution to that problem is I have a standing desk at work, and I have one of these in front of it.

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0016BQFSS
      (the stepper, not the model standing on it).

      It took a few week’s practice to be able to type and mouse while using it, but the counter in it will often count up over 10000 steps in a work day. And then my fitbit will often go over 10000 “normal” steps in a day, just by me deciding that if a trip is less than 3/4 of a mile, I will just walk it. Given that the Amazon campus is maybe two miles in length N-S, I get lots of opportunities to make that decision.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Do you use the bands, or just the stepping pedals?

      • Walter says:

        Does stepping up and down at your desk get you sweaty and stinky? I’m a big fat guy who is always on the alert for ways to be less sedentary, but it is hard enough for me not to sweat just sitting down.

        • AG says:

          Wouldn’t the key to this be good airflow in the area? I can run without sweating in a sufficient wind.
          Can you set up a desk or office fan?

    • mobile says:

      The word “mile”, from Latin mille meaning thousand, originally represented the distance covered by a Roman soldier in 1,000 paces (2,000 steps). Your own walking seems well calibrated to that, so you can expect 10,000 steps to cover more-or-less five miles (or 8 km for those of you who have forgotten your roots).

  23. fion says:

    I recently finished Ursula K Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and was pretty blown away by it. I related to the main character more than I’ve related to just about any other character in fiction. I loved how the author portrayed the good sides and the bad sides of everything, and illustrating different perspectives. I thought the way she imagined an anarchist society was compelling and intriguing. I am simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by it.

    If you’ve not read it and are interested in stories about different kinds of societies and how different kinds of people deal with them then I’d highly recommend it. I have no idea what Le Guin’s political leanings were, even after reading both this and The Left Hand of Darkness (which I also loved, but not as much), which I think is praise.

    I’m interested in hearing the thoughts of other people who read it too, whether positive or negative. Also, does any of her other work compare? Should I read it all or will I be disappointed?

    • johan_larson says:

      I have no idea what Le Guin’s political leanings were, even after reading both this and The Left Hand of Darkness (which I also loved, but not as much), which I think is praise.

      Socialist anarchist, maybe? I’m not well-read in that sort of politics, but she seems to drop the name Kropotkin a lot.

      • Ventrue Capital says:

        Yes, she called herself a “non-libertarian anarchist.”

        You can imagine how I feel about that. 😀

        Jordan Bassior (upon whom be peace!) did a brilliant nasty review of The Dispossessed at https://fantasticworlds-jordan179.blogspot.com/2011/01/retro-review-dispossessed-ursula-k.html.

        The Dispossessed is a good book, but very deeply flawed. Ursula K. LeGuin intended to compare and contrast Anarres with the real world, but did so only by loading the balance scales — the “real world” shown is a combination of the worst of capitalist societies; Anarres is an idealized anarcho-socialist utopia with very managable problems. At the same time, many of the problems are “the planet ate my homework” type problems, supposedly due to the harshness of the environment, but clearly (to me, anyway) due to Anarresti lethargy in exploiting their opportunities.
        […]
        We know that Anarres suffers from severe overpopulation because they have evolved a way of lie (farming on an arid planet vulnerable to years-long droughts) which should require immense food surpluses be laid up in granaries and other storehouses. Instead, everyone can take food as long as there is no extreme shortage. (This is explicitly stated by Shevek in the scene with the laid-up train).

        Thus, the accumulation of large food surpluses is impossible. (Heck it would be “profiteering” to even try!) And, when the drought hits, we witness an atomic-powered industrial civilization suffering from the sort of famine that the Pharaohs of Egypt had managed to avoid with a muscle-powered agricultural one.

        Good going, Odonists. Circle of Life, and all that. *snicker*
        […]
        The Anarresti have and enforce a de facto non-intercourse policy with the rest of the Universe, analogous to that of Shogunate Japan. Their trade with Urras is grudging and restricted to vital items. Information going in and out is censored. They ignore (!) the coming of interstellar aliens (!!!). Shevek is supposedly the first person to travel from Anarres to Urras for over a century, which if true argues that the restrictions used to be even more severe. He has to avoid a rock-throwing mob in order to leave the planet. This is a level of xenophobia the Iranian ayatollahs only *wish* their own people possessed.

        • My reaction to the book was a little less harsh. I thought she played fair with the anarchist society that she obviously preferred, showing some of the problems with it. But the non-anarchist society on the planet that the anarchist society was contrasted to looked like the U.S. in the 1960’s as imagined by a loyal communist who had never been out of the Soviet Union.

    • Nick says:

      I read it a few years ago and liked it quite a bit; unfortunately, I lent it to a friend and never got it back. I liked it a lot more than The Left Hand of Darkness, which was just all right.

      I agree that the anarchist society is compellingly realized and balanced; the worldbuilding there is the best part of the book. The society on the planet not so much, but maybe that’s just because quasi-totalitarian states are, well, bad. 😛

    • Protagoras says:

      You’ve read the best of her stuff. Whether you’ll be disappointed by her other stuff depends on whether you are only interested in something just as good or better (there isn’t anything else like that) or whether good but not as good would still satisfy you (there is some of that; in that case perhaps The Lathe of Heaven would interest you).

      • Nick says:

        Are the later Earthsea books any good? I read the first one a few years ago but wasn’t super interested in continuing.

        • Nornagest says:

          The Tombs of Atuan is on par with A Wizard of Earthsea, The Farthest Shore a step down but still decent. Tenanu is skippable. I haven’t read The Other Wind but haven’t heard anything good about it.

        • Ventrue Capital says:

          I *love* the Earthsea books. (Why do you think I named my planet “Terramar”?)

          • Ventrue Capital says:

            And I also borrowed some ideas from the Hainish universe for one of my sf campaigns.

    • sfoil says:

      LeGuin uses nuance in her portrayal of characters and cultures, but it’s pretty obvious which side she’s on. She’s writing fiction, so she can easily create a world that’s counterfactual to reality; since she’s a good writer, she can do it in a somewhat subtle manner.

      There was an old Overcoming Bias post — old enough that I don’t remember whether Robin Hanson or EY wrote it — that I agree with: The Dispossessed is one of the best portrayals of the romance of communism that exists. I agree. It’s a highly idealistic portrayal of anarcho-communism.

      To me, Anarres looks to be headed towards a Malthusian catastrophe (rapidly growing population, resource-poor autarkic state). This line of thinking doesn’t appear to have entered into Le Guin’s calculus at all; if it had and she didn’t like the implications, she would have had total authorial freedom to form the world she built such that it would no longer be a problem. Also, Anarres is a better place to live than the early Soviet Union because Le Guin wanted the good-faith utopian dreams of the early communists to be true, not because they were actually plausible.

      • albatross11 says:

        I’d stack The Dispossessed against The Probability Broach–both are too kind to their utopias, but do represent actual attempts to think through what those anarchist societies would look like and how they’d deal with various shocks to their system.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      I have a definite love hate relationship with LeGuin. I loved her books Dispossessed, Left Hand of Darkness, and Lathe of Heaven, although I read them so many years ago I no longer remember what they were about. But I picked up “The Telling” about 10 years ago and I just couldn’t finish it because it was so terrible. I always finish books that I start, because I keep thinking bad books will get better by the end, and usually they do. But this one was so bad I gave up.

      So she has great and awful books.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      I continue to find improbable the anarchists’ preservation, some 160 years on, of the ideological uniformity of the self-selected founding generation. I read Bedap’s complaint that “Kids learn to parrot Odo’s words as if they were laws” and I think, you’re just now noticing this?

    • Nicholas Weininger says:

      I thought _Lavinia_ was very good, and her earlyish short story collections (e.g. The Wind’s Twelve Quarters) are excellent as well, though her later short stories get a little samey. I’d put _The Lathe of Heaven_ in the same category of excellence as _The Left Hand of Darkness_ and _The Dispossessed_.

      I thought it was a measure of her honesty about the tradeoffs that I could at once see that (a) she was pulling for Anarres and (b) on my own scale of values Urras was a clearly superior place to live. A similar thing is true of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Three Californias trilogy, where he is trying hard to make the world of _Pacific Edge_ feel like a utopia, but the warts-and-all future of _The Gold Coast_ comes out obviously preferable anyway.

    • fion says:

      Thanks for your comments everyone. I’ll check out some of those suggestions.

      It seems I’m the only person here who didn’t realise Le Guin was pulling for Anarres. I thought the world she presented was far from a utopia and she admitted it. In fact one of the two story arcs is about Shevek gradually coming to terms with the fact that Anarres is not a utopia, is not free, is not fair.

      I do agree that Urras is a caricature. A-Io is more authoritarian than, say, the USA. It is more objectifying of women, more restricting of women, more harshly divided along class lines and possibly even more imperialistic. But it doesn’t seem like an order of magnitude off of any of those, especially if we go back in time a few decades.

      I agree with much of the Jordan Bassior quote above, but I disagree that Le Guin tried to hide any of that. In fact I think it supports my point that she’s not presenting an idealistic anarcho-communist utopia, but a gritty, flawed, barely-functioning implementation of that ideology. With a little more authoritarianism, Anarres could prepare for droughts, get people doing jobs that need done and perhaps be less close-minded to the rest of the universe.

      Finally, I think the ending of the book is not that optimistic that the Odonian ideal is even logically possible. The settlers set up an almost perfect implementation of Odo’s ideas but after 160 years there is creeping bureaucracy, creeping authoritarianism and political polarisation. All that happened automatically, naturally… inevitably?

    • Mark Atwood says:

      I have been known to print out copies of Jordan’s takedown and stick them into copies of the book in libraries and bookstores.

      I remember when he write the first iteration of that review and posted it to rec.arts.sf.written, back in the day, in the olden times.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Oh, one other thing: there are apparently still people on the hard left for whom production meetings like the one in Chapter 12 are a selling point. Imagine coming in from a hard day reforesting the West Tamaenian Littoral and having to sit through that before you can go home to the partner!

  24. Theodoric says:

    Here’s an interesting article about Medieval retirement planning. Apparently, it was common for people in their 60s to let people (not necessarily family members) live in their homes in exchange for food and other support (the elderly person would continue to live in a designated area of the home). They also had “hospitals” that amounted to retirement homes-you had to pay to get in (so not for poor people, or at least not just for poor people). Some required work; you could pay to get out of that. I had thought that pre-Social Security retirement planning amounted to “live with children, the workhouse, or sleep on the street”, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

    • SamChevre says:

      Another arrangement was a life interest in property, with the inheritance exchanged for care during life. An arrangement like this is an important part of the plot of the Brother Cadfael novel Monk’s Hood.

  25. Kestrellius says:

    What do you call a directory listing the low speeds of government vehicles?

  26. dick says:

    Some of you may be interested in MuseNet, openAI’s foray in to procedurally-generated music.

    • rlms says:

      I think this is really unimpressive. The cherry-picked GPT-2 texts were incredibly convincing, even if the ones people generated later were less so. But to my ear, the examples for MuseNet sound obviously wrong and unmusical, and if you generate some yourself and listen to them I think you’d have to be tone deaf to find them convincing. I’m sure I’ve heard significantly better examples of computer generated music elsewhere (in the style of Mozart specifically) but I can’t seem to find them. Stuff by AIVA sounds way better but I’m not sure how legitimate it is.

      • dick says:

        The difference between this and previous attempts is that, whatever you’re thinking of, it almost certainly had hard-coded music theory in it, e.g. “there should be a four bar intro, and then sixteen bars with a melody and a counter-melody, and to make a melody, first you pick a key…” and this is nothing more than an engine that takes music in one side and spits (hopefully) similar music out the other side.

        The reason (I suspect) that the GPT-2 texts seemed better is because there are so many more unique words than notes, and they are much easier to classify and organize by heuristic. Given the phrase “Frodo stepped on the…”, it’s pretty easy to make an AI that can reliably figure out which words can and can’t come next, compared to looking at four notes and deciding which notes would/wouldn’t sound good as the fifth note. Similarly, the difference in meaning or use between a D-flat quarter note in a Chopin piece and the same D-flat quarter note in a Bon Jovi song is larger than the difference between the word “stepped” in The Hobbit and “stepped” in a news article. So, while (if I understand right) no one is actually writing code to group notes in to phrases or words in to clauses, the emergent behavior of the program has to achieve an equivalent effect, and has a harder task in the musical context than in the written one.

        • rlms says:

          I believe I was thinking of this which does use as similar deep learning approach. However, it appears that Mozart piece sounded so convincing because it was actual Mozart regenerated from the training data… Still, I don’t think the MuseNet pieces sound much better than the other ones on that page when you take into account the different synth quality.

    • quanta413 says:

      It’s eh. It doesn’t seem coherent over a longer span. Some of it could pass as elevator music. And I am extremely lacking in musical ability so I can only imagine what it sounds like to someone with a clue.

      I kind of like the bluegrass prompt one, but I felt frustrated at a certain point because I sort of expected… something? A transition? A conclusion?

      • danridge says:

        The Chopin one is actually quite impressive to me; even with some variations in tempo which are normal for the style, the beat/bar structure seems consistent and readable throughout. I haven’t done a complete harmonic analysis at all, but it at least seemed like the kind of thing you could do an analysis on, and none of the changes sounded ‘incorrect’ on one listen. In fact, I would say that it kept to harmonic principles enough to set up certain expectations, which I could tell because in certain places I found the chord change surprising, but, as I say, not incorrect. There may not have been too much larger structure to it, but I do know that it started and ended in the same key (minor beginning to relative major ending, but that’s not an issue).

  27. Atlas says:

    Random thought:

    There’s a belief/meme on parts of the left today that “representation matters.” (Or rather, “[clapping emoji] REPRESENTATION [clapping emoji] MATTERS [clapping emoji]”.) A big part of the idea is that non-white people and women want to see characters of the same race and/or gender in entertainment media, because they identify with them more.

    Okay, fair enough. But the reciprocal holds true: As an individual consumer who is a white male, I, ceteris paribus, prefer to consume entertainment about white males. Or, more broadly, I tend to prefer entertainment starring People Like Me in various senses as the protagonists/heroes. I have found it surprisingly psychologically liberating to admit this: I like to cheer for my own team. I’m sick of movies like James Cameron’s Avatar where I’m supposed to root for the aliens to beat the humans. Likewise, while it by no means is the, or even a, primary factor in how I feel about a film, all other things equal I do honestly prefer to see white male heroes, and furthermore white males with whom I also share national/regional/ethnic etc. identities.

    It’s also worth noting here that there are some notable contemporary movies like Captain Marvel, Get Out, Crazy Rich Asians, Lady Ghostbusters and Black Panther that are not just movies that happen to have female/black/Asian characters/actors in them. (As opposed to the way that e.g. Men in Black has a lead who happens to be black.) They are, explicitly, marketed as team cheers for Team Women/Blacks/Asians. I’m not necessarily saying that there’s anything wrong with that, but if we’re going to insist on sorting ourselves into teams I’m not going to pretend that I don’t want to root for the team I was placed on. (As opposed to some white males, like Vox dot com critic Todd Vanderwerff, who engage in half-hearted ritual self-flagellation about how much they hate watching white male protagonists.)

    That’s a statement about my individual preference as a consumer, not a prescription for the entertainment industry or society as a whole. Theoretically it’s fairly comparable to e.g. director Jordan Peele’s recent statement—which from my point of view is fairly reasonable!— about how he’d probably never cast a white male as the lead in one of his movies. (I realize that the statements are somewhat different, but I think that, considering the context of Peele’s work, they’re similar enough to be fairly compared.)

    However, if I was a public figure, I obviously could not make this seemingly conceptually valid statement under my True Name without facing serious backlash. (Peele faced backlash, but he also received open support, which I doubt that someone making a reciprocally pro-white male statement would receive.)

    • Lord Nelson says:

      Speaking as someone who is not a man, it’s not that I can’t relate to white male protagonists. I can relate to them just fine in the vast majority of movies. But I grew up watching TV shows where the girls were either princesses or love interests or relegated to token female characters that never did anything useful. Over the years, I internalized the belief that women existed for the male gaze (ie, your value depends on whether men find you attractive), that women were less talented than men, and that women were intrinsically worth less than men. Those beliefs contributed to a fair bit of self-loathing and low self-esteem through my young adult years.

      I think it’s important, especially for kids, to see characters who look like them in a diverse set of fictional roles. Don’t make all the girls princesses or Smurfette; make some of them adventurers, or politicians, or scientists, or the wacky comedic relief character. Thankfully, this does seem to be getting significantly better in recent years, with cartoons like the MLP reboot, AtLA, and The Dragon Prince, just to name a few.

      Granted, in my opinion, quality storytelling always comes first. All the representation in the world doesn’t mean a thing if your show is so boring or mediocre that no one enjoys watching it.

      Edit to add: I’m going to plug The Good Place here, just because I can. It’s an excellent show that happens to have a diverse main cast. The first two seasons are on Netflix.

      • Clutzy says:

        I am here only to say that I am the original The Good Place promoter. No one has ever approached my level of promotion of that show as long as it existed. In my social circle I was always the mover. In many ways I feel that my social group is probably the reason it still exists. Without us, it would be a sitcom that no one noticed.

      • lvlln says:

        Speaking as someone who is not a man, it’s not that I can’t relate to white male protagonists. I can relate to them just fine in the vast majority of movies. But I grew up watching TV shows where the girls were either princesses or love interests or relegated to token female characters that never did anything useful. Over the years, I internalized the belief that women existed for the male gaze (ie, your value depends on whether men find you attractive), that women were less talented than men, and that women were intrinsically worth less than men. Those beliefs contributed to a fair bit of self-loathing and low self-esteem through my young adult years.

        This has always struck me as the best argument for diversity in representation. Unfortunately, I don’t know how good it is. For it to be a good argument, we’d need some strong evidence that token/love interest/princess female characters really are dominant in fictional media AND that such dominance actually causes girls and women to internalize beliefs like the one you did. That 2nd part is the hard part, and as far as I’ve looked, I haven’t seen any actual support for the notion. Personal testimony that they were affected in some way doesn’t help, both because that’s an anecdote and because humans are notoriously bad at determining what caused them to do/believe something.

        It also raises a 2nd question: If we presume that such a depiction of women DOES cause girls and women to internalize these pathological beliefs, then what sorts of pathological beliefs does the depiction of men in fictional media (i.e. as heroes and such) cause boys and men to internalize? And how do those pathological beliefs compare to the pathological beliefs internalized in girls and women? It’s entirely possible that the way men are depicted in fictional media cause more or worse pathological beliefs to be internalized in boys than the reverse situation, and as such pushing for more women to be depicted in starring roles could result in greater suffering for girls and women due to them internalizing even more pathological beliefs.

        If this were like anthropogenic global warming where experts in the field are presenting rigorous studies where they dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s that show that it’s happening, and it enjoys overwhelming support within the scientific field, this stuff would be easy to buy into.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think you’d also need to pay attention to the poor portrayals of men in media. The sitcom “lazy/fat/dumb husband with the out-of-his-league attractive and smart wife who saves him from his own stupidity every episode” isn’t a good message for anyone involved either.

          And on the gripping hand, I’d really prefer if people did go looking to packaged corporate entertainment for role models anyway.

          • baconbits9 says:

            What specific shows do you have in mind here?

          • lvlln says:

            And on the gripping hand, I’d really prefer if people did go looking to packaged corporate entertainment for role models anyway.

            The supposition is that people aren’t looking to packaged corporate entertainment for role models – rather, it’s that characters in corporate entertainment are inevitably role models to people, whether they want it or not. Even if they go into every movie thinking to themselves consciously, “I will not treat these characters as anything more than lights on a screen,” you will inevitably come out of the theater having been influenced by the characters in some particular way.

            There’s a defensible motte there. You are entirely helpless to prevent your brain from changing as a response to things you see. If you watch Star Wars, your brain will be modified permanently such that the next time you hear “Darth Vader,” you will identify it with something, rather than wondering, “what the heck is that?”

            But the bailey that needs actual empirical evidence for is that we can actually predict how you will be influenced (beside the trivial example above). The supposition isn’t that depictions of girls as helpless princesses causes girls’ brains to be modified in some way. It’s that it causes girls’ brains to be modified in a certain way – specifically that it will cause them to be passive, consider themselves only as eye candy, etc.

            For the “diversity in representation” argument to be correct, that last supposition needs to be correct. It’s just that it looks like there’s about as much reason to believe it’s correct as there’s reason to believe that homeopathy is correct or that vaccines cause autism.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Past edit window, but that was obviously supposed to say “prefer if people did *not* go looking to packaged corporate media…”

            @baconbits9

            King of Queens. The Simpsons. Family Guy. All the way back to The Honeymooners this has been a fairly common trope.

            @lvlln

            It’s quite the rabbit hole, though. You can’t just write entertainment, you have to be aware that you’re sending messages, and “shaping minds,” and then determine what mind shapes you want, and then consider how your characters will shape minds or not shape them or…

          • baconbits9 says:

            The Simpsons was an intentional rejection of the popular trope of highly competent TV dad, which is far more common (ditto Family guy) The most popular shows often, but not always, had competent fathers or father figures (for Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).

            Examples:

            The Cosby Show, Alf, The Wonder Years, Full House, Growing Pains, Happy Days, That 70s show, Fresh Prince.

            There are some in betweens as well- Home Improvement and Fraiser, but I would say the majority to vast majority of shows with a father figure actually use him as a father figure.

          • albatross11 says:

            My intuition is that:

            a. Media images and entertainment probably do have subtle effects on their watchers and ultimately on society.

            b. Those effects are probably not typically obvious straight-line ones like “watching violent movies makes people violent.”

            c. Everyone massively over-discusses these issues because you can get more attention talking about popular entertainment than talking about subtle social science stuff.

          • Nick says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            That trope is ubiquitous in commercials too.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @lvlln:

            The supposition is that people aren’t looking to packaged corporate entertainment for role models – rather, it’s that characters in corporate entertainment are inevitably role models to people, whether they want it or not.

            This is why I’m anti-capitalist when it comes to the media. Our role models should come from religion and folk culture, never a corporation’s intellectual property.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that we should be careful not to simply equate the beliefs that are being spread with role models.

            There are all kinds of pathological beliefs that can be spread that don’t result in the media consumer being inspired to follow in the footsteps of the protagonist.

            For example, the comment below where Mark talks about a very idealistic model of a man, might convince a short, ugly, nerdy kid that he is unlovable, rather than inspire him to grow taller, become prettier and stop being a nerd.

            Similarly, certain supposedly positive messages aimed at girls/women, might not have the intended effect.

          • mdet says:

            Whenever anyone talks about what makes art good and important, they emphasize how a certain story resonated with them, impacted them emotionally, changed the way they see the world, etc. If art has the power to change people for the better, then it must also have the power to change people for the worse. We can’t say “Don’t go looking to some packaged corporate entertainment for role models” without necessarily belittling the movies and tv shows that do move us.

            I agree with lvlln that predicting which particular messages and themes in a work will influence who and how is very difficult and complicated — if it was easy, then every movie and show would be great (in terms of “deeply moves its audience”).

          • lvlln says:

            @mdet

            Whenever anyone talks about what makes art good and important, they emphasize how a certain story resonated with them, impacted them emotionally, changed the way they see the world, etc. If art has the power to change people for the better, then it must also have the power to change people for the worse. We can’t say “Don’t go looking to some packaged corporate entertainment for role models” without necessarily belittling the movies and tv shows that do move us.

            (bolding mien)

            You sort of touch upon this in your 2nd paragraph, but just because someone claims that some work of art changed the way they see the world, it doesn’t follow that it actually did change the way they see the world. From what I know about psychological research, humans are notoriously bad at figuring out why they do things, and I don’t see why this would be an exception.

            I know this is a minor point, since we all agree already that art can influence people for good or for bad. I’m just pointing out that someone’s personal experience doesn’t prove to us that the conditional in that if clause is true.

          • onyomi says:

            Regarding the buffoonish, rather than competent dad, I think it’s rather like the ass-kicking female, e.g. originally a rebellion against type that has now become so ubiquitous it would actually be more surprising for a 2019 movie or tv show to feature a happy homemaker female character. Which is why I couldn’t understand the fuss over Captain Marvel (haven’t seen it; am officially suffering superhero film exhaustion): like, wow! a powerful female superhero!? How revolutionary!

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ lvlln:

            For the “diversity in representation” argument to be correct, that last supposition needs to be correct. It’s just that it looks like there’s about as much reason to believe it’s correct as there’s reason to believe that homeopathy is correct or that vaccines cause autism.

            I think the idea’s more plausible than you’re giving it credit for. A large part of our behaviour is influenced by the norms of the society in which we grow up, and a large part of societal norms are influenced by the kinds of stories people tell each other, the kinds of behaviour they depict as normal or admirable, and so on. If media keeps portraying women as acting passively and waiting for men to solve all their problems, this contributes to a societal norm of “women should act passively and wait for men to solve all their problems”, which in turn encourages actual women in that society to act passively.

        • Mark Atwood says:

          then what sorts of pathological beliefs does the depiction of men in fictional media (i.e. as heroes and such) cause boys and men to internalize

          Well, going by how Disney portrays young men, in order to be an actual person who matters at all, a young man has to be tall, good looking, rich, and politically connected. (Or be good at lying about it, thank you Aladdin.) Otherwise he is either the villain, the villains’ lackeys, the comic relief or else invisible background grunts, less important that the animated paving stones under the girls’ feet.

          • lvlln says:

            This seems like a reasonable just-so story, but you’re still making the same leap that the “diversity in representation matters” crowd is making. Which is that you can actually predict, just from looking at the piece of media, what sort of influence it will have on someone.

            Of course, there are trivial cases where this is easy; a video with a jump scare will tend to cause the audience to jolt in the moment, Star Wars will tend to cause the audience to be able to identify “Darth Vader” as a word that refers to a character rather than just a string of 11 characters where the 6th is a space, and pornography will tend to cause the audience to be aroused (presuming it’s what they’re into).

            But when you get down to depictions of characters in fiction influencing someone’s self-image and model of the social universe IRL, that’s not so easy. You can’t just claim “Of course people who watch [media that glorifies characters who behave like X] will think [behaving like X] is good IRL!” You have to demonstrate it empirically.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Disney gets a terrible rap for their princesses. Major Disney princesses from my era.

            1. Ariel, guess who saves the princes life in the first act. Guess who isn’t just eye candy as the prince doesn’t love her for her looks, without her voice (a metaphor) the pretty face on its own isn’t enough.

            2. Jasmine, who is independent minded, assertive and brave. She totally overlooks the fact that Aladdin is homeless for his inner beauty and doesn’t care for his outer beauty on its own.

            3. Megera, saves Hercules’ life by giving he