Open Thread 127.25

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1,085 Responses to Open Thread 127.25

  1. Nick says:

    SSC, what is a genre you wish would get more love? In books, games, whatever.

    I’m a fan of Lost Continent/Beneath the Earth stories. Alas, the age of exploration and modern science have largely vanquished them. They’re a part of the science fiction genre’s heritage, but I’m actually not sure how much we produce lost, uh, planet stories these days. I can’t remember the last one I’ve read, anyway.

    Alternate question: what genre mashup do you wish was a thing? Tell us all about the historical theological detective novel that should have been.

    • Walter says:

      I guess I just like stuff that doesn’t care if I like it, but only if I like it? I dunno, that’s super paradoxical, but show me a self confident weirdo of a series, one that is just its own thing and doesn’t give a flying flip if I read/watch it, and there’s like a 50% chance I’ll fall in love.

      Give me more anime like Kaiji.
      More books like the Terra Ignota series.
      More web comics like Homestuck.

      Just, I dunno, more content creators doing the stuff that they feel like doing, not the stuff that looks like what is currently most successful.

      • Nick says:

        I hear you for sure. Recently I decided to look into Umineko no Naku Koro ni because it sounded more or less like that and was rather disappointed. =/ Though I did the anime and not the games, so maybe it’s an adaptation problem. It’s got me wanting something really well done in its genre—the murder mystery where the storm has taken out the bridge and the phone lines, with a hefty dose of the apparently supernatural and competent discussion of logic/rationality.

        • Tarhalindur says:

          FWIW, the old scuttlebutt I heard is that the Umineko anime is one of the worst anime adaptations of the last couple of decades (as in, I’m not sure the people who are both Nasuverse and When They Cry fans would actually consider the Umineko anime a worse adaptation than the Tsukihime one, but they’d have to think about it); even the manga has something of a bad rap. So I’d have higher priors on adaptation problems than usual.

      • rubberduck says:

        Seconded. It’s nice to see a story that just wants to be its own thing.

        On that note, have you read/watched Golden Kamuy? The plot itself* is pretty good but half the show’s time is devoted to the writer geeking out over military history or hunting or life among the indigenous peoples of Japan and Russia. There’s a serious story about war and trauma in there somewhere, but the series never takes itself very seriously and doesn’t feel dark at all. It’s super underrated (imo) and if you like idiosyncratic shows you might like it. (Manga is superior to the anime.)

        *Russo-Japanese war veteran helps an Ainu girl find a huge stash of gold, the location of which is encoded in tattoos on the backs of 24 escaped prisoners. And along the way they go hunting and fight lots of bears and get drawn into all sorts of drama because other people are after the gold too.

      • Nick says:

        True story: I was reading just now some reviews by Ted Gioia, and I came across this description,

        [T]his book is not for the faint of heart. I’m not just talking about the macabre Stephen King-ish atmosphere in this iconoclastic novel—which is downright creepy at times. Even more striking is the way this book forces readers out of their comfort zone. Danielewski gives you no quarter, no place to hide. There are a handful of books I have encountered over the years—such as Heidegger’s Being and Time or Joyce’s Ulysses or Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow—that possess a “will to power,” an ambition to dominate the reader. You must address books of this sort on their own terms, or not at all. House of Leaves is one of those works. It sets its own rules, and you can play or walk away, but not much in-between.

        I wonder if this is not what you’re getting at too. In which case the books Gioia mentions might interest you! I can’t speak for Heidegger, Joyce, or Pynchon, but I did like House of Leaves, and based on reputation, Gravity’s Rainbow is probably the most accessible of the other three. And I rather like the “ambition to dominate the reader” description regardless.

    • hls2003 says:

      historical theological detective novel

      Already done – The Name of the Rose.

      I kind of miss the relatively optimistic “Atomic Age” sci-fi genre. This covers a moderate amount of ground; for example The Incredibles has a bit of this, the Golden Age (some transition to Silver Age) feel. But I also miss the civilizationally confident stories where the solution is “I mean, X threat is dangerous, but it’s nothing that a nation fresh off kicking butt in WWII can’t handle with more guns.” As an example, compare the original 1950’s “The Thing” with the 1980’s remake (ignore the more recent one). Both good movies, but the second one is much more bleak about humanity’s prospects.

      I also agree with missing the “explorer / lost civilization” genre as a casualty of modern maps.

      • Atlas says:

        I kind of miss the relatively optimistic “Atomic Age” sci-fi genre…But I also miss the civilizationally confident stories where the solution is “I mean, X threat is dangerous, but it’s nothing that a nation fresh off kicking butt in WWII can’t handle with more guns.”

        Same here, and, if you have any interest in comic books, Darwyn Cooke’s DC: the New Frontier and Alan Moore’s Tom Strong are two very fun ones that attempt to reconstruct something like this aesthetic, I think on the whole quite successfully.

    • I wish there were more slice-of-life type movies. It doesn’t have to strictly adhere to some formula, I just think there isn’t enough movies that represent day to day life for people and the things they concern themselves with. Take something like Ingrid Goes West, which perfectly encapsulates the social media landscape over the last couple of years.

      Also, straight up adventure movies, like The African Queen. How many movies like that still come out?

      • LesHapablap says:

        We need way more adventure movies

      • achenx says:

        Boyhood was the most “slice of life” movie I’ve seen probably ever. Some people really liked it (including me), others hated it.

        • I liked it too but like I said, I’m also looking for more regular movies to just talk about current concerns. Movies shouldn’t be so relecutant to “date” themselves in some way. If you watch a tv show from the early 2000’s, you will not hear one character utter the words “9/11”, even though it permeated that time. You can’t go a day without hearing someone talk about Donald Trump today but you wouldn’t know that by watching our movies. And sure, politics influences our culture to an extent that you can see influences in movies that aren’t nominally about politics, but those are abstract enough that if you don’t already know about our culture, you wouldn’t have guessed it.

          And yes, directly talking about Donald Trump would be very controversial so I understand why they don’t do that. There’s also the fact that people want a little escapism and are trying to get away from Trump. I get that. But there are so many other things they could say that are less controversial but they don’t.

          • Well... says:

            It would have to be done in an extremely tasteful, delicate* way, and I think few are capable of collaborating with such a result. Hollywood, at least as much as most other big cities, is a place where it’s hard to amass a large collection of specialized artists who all agree on where a timely controversial theme belongs in the importance-hierarchy that naturally grows out of controlling an audience’s attention.

            *Delicate in the sense of being artfully woven into the movie so it isn’t a distraction from the intended direction of the movie, not in the sense of walking on eggshells.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I wish “unashamedly off the wall (fake?) deep sci-fi brooding with a ridiculous premise played straight” got more love, honestly. We’re getting Death Stranding soon, so that’ll be nice, but yeah, like, give me more Dune (book and movie) and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Texhnolyze and Kill Six Billion Demons, please.

      • Lillian says:

        You might enjoy Alejandro Jorodowsky’s Metabarons series, which is an offpring of his failed attempt to adapt Dune into a movie. It is absolutely, over the top, balls to the wall crazy, played completely and utterly straight. Also gloriously epic art by Juan Gimenez.

        You might also enjoy the manwha Tower of God. Frankly just look at the introductory preview, if you feel any spark of interest, then give it a couple of pages. If it grabs you by the eyeballs and doesn’t let go, then you’re in for an epic wild ride.

      • Atlas says:

        give me more Dune (book and movie)

        How about Villeneuve’s upcoming film(s)?

    • Nornagest says:

      I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to see more stuff along the lines of Vance’s Dying Earth books, or Gene Wolfe’s New Sun stories, or William Hope Hodgson’s Night Land. A smattering of examples came out in the Seventies and Eighties (Wolfe’s the most famous one, but there’s also, for example, M. John Harrison’s Viriconium), but there’s very little more recent material.

      Sword-and-planet stuff needs more love too, but there, at least, there’s plenty of older material to read.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        I’ve read Viriconium and New Sun and enjoyed them both, would you recommend Dying Earth and Night Land?

        • Nornagest says:

          Dying Earth, absolutely, although be aware that it’s more on the fantasy side of this subgenre. Night Land is… a bit of an acquired taste. It’s a staggeringly imaginative setting, but the characters are pretty flat and the plot’s nothing special. More importantly, Hodgson in his infinite wisdom decided to use a kind of creaky pseudo-17th-century prose that most people find difficult to excruciating, though some think it helps instill a sense of alien-ness.

          I’d say give it a try, and if you bounce off, you bounce off. There’s also a retelling in more standard prose floating around under the name of “The Night Land: A Story Retold”, or you could try starting with some of the fanfic for it — which is surprisingly abundant, sometimes professionally published, and probably more consistently good than for any other work I’ve seen. Might have something to do with the fact that it’s a book you only hear about if you’re already a pretty serious genre buff.

    • liate says:

      Another possible option for historical theological detective stories, depending on whether fiction written in the past about the author’s present somewhat counts as historical fiction: the Father Brown stories. (If you haven’t read them, do; they’re good.)

      Bouncing off what Hoopyfreud said, I like things like Kill 6 Billion Demons and Dune, science fiction (probably fantasy too) that uses its own lore a lot, where the characters are strongly based in their own rich culture (or at least culture that’s not western, K6BD seems to have a lot of Hindu and Buddhist influences, imho).

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        If you’ve not read Lord of Light and like K6BD I highly recommend it.

      • Nick says:

        Another possible option for historical theological detective stories, depending on whether fiction written in the past about the author’s present somewhat counts as historical fiction: the Father Brown stories. (If you haven’t read them, do; they’re good.)

        Too broad a construal; there’s a lot of stuff that fits this bill, like Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment or (even more loosely) The Man Who Was Thursday. Both of which are very good, but don’t scratch the same itch as The Name of the Rose. And Borges was a big Chesterton fan, and I feel like he might have done some things in this vein too, but all I can think of is “Death and the Compass.”

    • smocc says:

      More Thief / Deus Ex style “immersive sims.” And in a similar vein, more realistic-ish stealth games, like Splinter Cell.

    • RDNinja says:

      1) Post-post-apocalypse stories (a la the last couple of seasons of The Walking Dead), where survivors have to start rebuilding civilization.

      2) Medical mysteries (a la House, MD). There’s plenty of murder mysteries with doctor protagonists, but not many where the mystery is the diagnosis itself.

      3) Dimension-hopping (a la Sliders). Lots of stories of people stuck in specific alternate dimensions, but not many people stuck constantly hopping to new ones.

      4) Secondary World Urban Fantasy. I don’t get the hang-up here; lots of people think that Urban Fantasy is definitionally in “our world” and find the idea of a secondary world with modern technology shocking and revolutionary.

      • Randy M says:

        3) Dimension-hopping (a la Sliders). Lots of stories of people stuck in specific alternate dimensions, but not many people stuck constantly hopping to new ones.

        This premise give the creators so much, too. You take your sci-fi anthology series like Black Mirror or Twlight zone, and you add a recurring cast that also functions as audience surrogate viewpoint characters. Plus, your portals offer pre-paid Deus ex-Machina for any suspenseful situation you can’t write a good escape from.

        • Civilis says:

          This premise give the creators so much, too. You take your sci-fi anthology series like Black Mirror or Twlight zone, and you add a recurring cast that also functions as audience surrogate viewpoint characters. Plus, your portals offer pre-paid Deus ex-Machina for any suspenseful situation you can’t write a good escape from.

          One of the most fun sets of RPG campaigns I’ve ever run in used this as the basis, and I would love to find a group interested in that sort of campaign again.

          The basic premise is as follows: a very Doc Brown-esque good natured mad scientist has a portal mechanism capable of reaching alternate realities and needs to test it out (and hopefully make enough money to keep researching it). One character traditionally was the mad scientist’s much younger and far more adventurous nephew (leading to the campaigns being dubbed the ‘Uncle campaigns’), who was almost always a recently discharged veteran (to explain the combat skills). The game is easily capable of being run one on one, with multiple players the others can be the nephew’s friends or hirelings of Uncle. The dimensional portal has GM defined limitations: can only be opened every so often or on a schedule, can only transport a certain amount of stuff, etc.

          What this allows the GM to do is throw anything and everything at the party; when I was a player, the worlds we explored included a dinosaur filled lost world, a steampunk alternative history, and a zombie apocalypse world. When I had a turn at GM, I threw at them a traditional fantasy dungeon, a post-post-apocalypse cyberpunk dystopia, and a dieselpunk world of adventure.

          Two things I vividly remember from the series of campaigns: as a player, I successfully blackmailed the steampunk world-dominating Science Council with a biology skill check and a PowerPoint presentation. As a GM, the players bribed a faction of the post-post-apocalypse cyberpunk dystopia into backing their plan to technologically boost one of the nations in the dieselpunk world of adventure, which led to such interesting research dives as ‘would it be possible to modify a DeHavilland Mosquito airframe to carry a modern anti-ship missile?’

          There are some drawbacks to this as a campaign. First, it requires a good generic system that can handle just about anything you can throw at it. Second, it gives a lot of power to the players to choose to deeply interact with (or completely ignore) anything you created. Some stuff I spent a lot of time working out got ignored, some things I figured the players would ignore got a lot of focus time.

      • woah77 says:

        Post post apocalypse stories you say? An author I know recently released some books that are in that vein. It’s a bit post-rebuild, but the strains of the apocalypse are still very apparent. The book series in Black Knight and the first book is Awakening, by Christian J. Guilland. I highly recommend them.

        • albatross11 says:

          A good example of a post-post (or maybe post-post-post) apocalypse story is SM Stirling’s _The Peshawar Lancers_. The premise (no spoilers) is that some kind of large comet/asteroid impact wrecked most of North America east of the mississippi, and shut down the gulfstream + induced nuclear winter for several years, leading to starvation and collapse in Europe. 150 or so years later, the dominant power in the world is the British Empire, with its seat moved to India, and other major power centers in South Africa and Australia. Technological progress stalled for quite awhile when the whole Northern hemisphere underwent a massive die-off, so the high end of technology in the story is steampunk-ish.

          The story takes place 150 years after the apocalypse, but the whole world is still massively shaped by it.

          • And there are lots of nods to fun bits of literature, from Kipling to Flashman to John Carter.

          • Atlas says:

            FWIW I second albatross11’s description (and I presume endorsement?) of The Peshawar Lancers. It’s mostly about the titular (near-)apocalypse itself, but there is a good bit of post-post-apocalypse stuff in World War Z (the book) as well.

          • albatross11 says:

            I suppose the Wheel of Time series works as a post-post apocalypse story–the whole history of the world in which the story takes place is shaped by a major civilization-wrecking apocalypse (the war of power + the breaking of the world), as well as a fall-of-Rome level apocalypse (the rise and fall of Hawkwing’s empire).

            A very different take happens in _A Deepness in the Sky_. There, the main characters are interstellar traders spending decades or centuries traveling between stars with ramscoop ships and coldsleep. These traders witness the rise and fall of planetary civilizations all the time–humans get to the limits of our technology, get stuck, and sooner or later they collapse–sometimes back to the stone age, sometimes sterilizing their planet.

            And another take on this comes in _The Mote in Gods Eye_, but explaining the details is spoiler-laden.

    • cassander says:

      Science fiction on TV. We’re starved of this, particularly the running around the galaxy sort, even though it’s been pretty conclusively demonstrated it can be done well on pretty limited budgets. Where’s the modern babylon 5 or BSG that takes advantage of modern CG and online distribution to tell the sort of stories that didn’t used to be possible on TV budgets?

      • woah77 says:

        Answer: I’m waiting for it too.

      • John Schilling says:

        Ditto, but televised science fiction (as opposed to space fantasy) has always been a rare thing, and I’m not sure we’re any more starved of it now than we were at any point in the past. We had some good incarnations of Star Trek, and we had Babylon 5 and Stargate and the good B*G, and I think we had Babylon 5 overlap one of the good incarnations of Star Trek for a while, but did we ever do better than that?

        Here and now we have The Expanse. And we’ve got Discovery doing a half-assed attempt at carrying on the Star Trek name and The Orville doing a quarter-assed attempt at carrying on its ideals. And I wasn’t terribly fond of Nightflyer, but it counts, and we had Altered Carbon and Counterpoint for terrestrially-based Science Fiction last year, and we’ve got The Foundation Trilogy and Patrick Stewart’s Trek spinoff coming up.

        • Randy M says:

          The Foundation Trilogy? Neat.
          I see with a quick search it’s by Apple. What do they produce content for? Is this yet another streaming service to subscribe to? Almost makes one miss the old days of TV when you didn’t have to buy each channel individually. But then, buying channels individually was what people wanted out of Cable TV for awhile.

        • cassander says:

          Ditto, but televised science fiction (as opposed to space fantasy) has always been a rare thing, and I’m not sure we’re any more starved of it now than we were at any point in the past

          Sure, but it also used to be really expensive to do space fights, plausible aliens, advanced technology, etc. Now it’s pretty cheap. And yet we had more in the late 90s/early 2000s than today.

          And we’ve got Discovery doing a half-assed attempt at carrying on the Star Trek name and The Orville doing a quarter-assed attempt at carrying on its ideals.

          I’d reverse those ratios, myself. Discovery isn’t just bad star trek, it’s straight up bad.

        • Deiseach says:

          And we’ve got Discovery doing a half-assed attempt at carrying on the Star Trek name

          Oh gosh, I keep wanting to like it and then they keep pulling silly stunts. I’d like it a whole lot better, to be honest, if they junked all their original characters (can I see Burnham ending up falling into a black hole, pretty please?) and kept the TOS characters that their “we’re gonna do a totally different Trek – oops, looks like we need to include iconic canonical characters to make this mess watchable” show had perforce to include – keep Pike! Keep Baby Spock Teenage Rebel! Do unspeakable things to Tilly so I never have to see or hear her again!

          Just do it over, forget about “original” characters (because they made a steaming mess of that aspect and really poisoned the well for me on that idea) and give us the first voyages of the Enterprise under Pike, okay?

          • cassander says:

            Pike is a great captain. I don’t quite understand what he’s doing on discovery, it’s like he was transported there from a different, much better, show.

          • Nick says:

            Pike is a great captain. I don’t quite understand what he’s doing on discovery, it’s like he was transported there from a different, much better, show.

            Starfleet must desperately have been looking for somebody, anybody who isn’t secretly from the mirror universe.

        • LesHapablap says:

          You can’t swing a dead cat on Netflix without hitting a crappy scifi show. Not many are actually worth watching though, which may be more a problem now than in the past.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Has anybody done a good Plinkett-style postmortem on BSG yet? I’ve never been so badly burned by a show, and I still feel like I need closure.

        • cassander says:

          Hard to do one, because the individual episodes of BSG are all good up until the end, it’s just that the writers had no idea where they were going with the overall plot so the whole things just feels like a giant shaggy dog story, making it immensely unsatisfying.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The cracks in the overall narrative were getting pretty hard to ignore from at least New Caprica onward, and just got worse with the discovery of Earth, and the reveal of the Final Five. The gap in quality between the individual episodes and the overall story is part of what makes it so maddening.

          • albatross11 says:

            Any idea why the original planning of the show didn’t map out some kind of baseline reality and story arc? It seems like that would be a lot better than making it all up as you go along, and like that should have been obvious up front.

          • Nick says:

            @albatross11
            My impression is a lot of shows do this. I think it’s common to have a story bible, but not necessarily a very complete one. Part of it is that the show maintains some flexibility, perhaps, since unlike some other media a show could lose an actor suddenly or between seasons, or get canceled or have its episode count shift. I think Babylon 5 is a big exception, having a five season plot mapped out—it but lost its lead after the first season, had its fifth season compressed awkward into the fourth, then had to scrap together a surprise fifth season.

          • acymetric says:

            Some notable episodic movie franchises don’t even map out their plan from one film to the next 😉

          • cassander says:

            @albatross11

            Nick is basically right, long range plotting of stories is very unusual in american TV and was more so back in 2003. there was a story bible for BSG, but it was more about defining the setting, tone, and aesthetic than plotting. Also, there was a writers strike in the middle of the show’s run, which definitely threw things off but I think it’s questionable how much that mattered in the end.

            What’s less suprising is that more shows aren’t doing long range plotting now, in the golden age of television. At best, we’re getting season long planning, but babylon 5 remains a stunning exception in terms of plotting a whole series.

          • Randy M says:

            I think that’s in part due to the instability of the format. Shows don’t know from the outset how many seasons they will be renewed for. Or how many decades later they’ll get to make those seasons, Arrested Development.

            The best approach would be an expanding onion of plot–each season ends satisfactorily, then the next reveals some deeper mystery or drama that at least appears to conclude at the end of that season, without actually undoing what came before. But that’s not trivial, especially when the show runners themselves can be replaced if the producers want.

          • John Schilling says:

            “Battlestar Galactica” didn’t need a detailed plan outlining the story arc of every character over the N-year run of the series. It just needed the Cylons to have A Plan. That’s explicitly what was promised, and that is what was needed.

            The Cylon plan doesn’t have to work, and it certainly doesn’t have to work by having every expected event come perfectly to fruition like an elaborate clockwork mechanism. The Cylons, like all real planners, can improvise and adapt and make things up as they go. But if there’s a page in the series bible that says “This is what the Cylons really are, and this is what they are trying to accomplish, and these are the resources they have available and this is the tentative plan they had to accomplish their goal with those resources at the outset”, then whatever the showrunners come up with as they improvise and adapt and make it up as they go will be coherent and internally consistent.

            Believing that they could make up everything as they go and it would be retroactively coherent and consistent, was hubris that lead to tragedy. And not the dramatically satisfying sort of fictional tragedy that would have been worth watching.

        • Walter says:

          ‘And they have a plan’…

          No they did not! The credits LIED to us!

          • Jaskologist says:

            And it still pisses me off. Since then, I just don’t have interest in mytharc-heavy shows that haven’t ended yet, because I don’t trust them. That’s also why I never watched Lost.

          • J Mann says:

            They did, but it didn’t survive contact with the enemy. 😉

            I liked New Caprica pretty well, and I thought the idea that there were divisions among the Cylons was great. After that, though, the mythology collapsed, and the final five was a disappointing mess.

          • spkaca says:

            The credits LIED to us!”

            I binge-watched the first season then stopped because this had become apparent. A pity: what might have been…

        • J Mann says:

          I just read this final season interview with Ron Moore, and it made me very angry.

          A couple gems:

          In terms of “Galactica,” how long have you known how you were going to end it?

          In general terms, over the last year and a half, somewhere in the middle of season three I started asking, ‘What’s the shape of the ending? What’s going to happen at the end of the show and what’s going to be the case when they meet up with whoever they meet up with?’ As we got into season three, I started thinking of it more seriously, and last summer, almost a year ago, we had a writer’s summit up in Lake Tahoe and said, “It’s going to end here.” But a lot of the pieces didn’t fall into place until I was sitting at the computer writing the teleplay that I realized exactly how the cards were going to fall for different characters.

          One of the things I find interesting is, on “Lost,” Cuse and Lindelof have always claimed they have a master plan and know where it’s all going, and fandom has been skeptical at times and said, “Yeah, right.” Whereas you’ve been pretty candid about the fact that you’ll throw stuff out there and figure it out later, and yet people assume there’s some cohesive plan to “Galactica.” How do you pull that off to make it seem like there’s a plan?

          To me, that’s the job. The job is to figure a way along in a story but make it all feel like it’s seamless, to make it all make sense. Hopefully, if I’ve done my job right, when all is said and done and the story’s been put to bed and you’ve got the entire set of DVDs before you and you watch them, that it feels like a cohesive narrative — that stuff we just threw up and decided to take a flier on without ultimately knowing where it would pay off, when you look at in hindsight, that it all tracks. You’re painting this large painting on this big canvas, and you may not know what it’s going to look like at the end, but when you’re done, you want it to feel like it’s a cohesive vision and makes perfect sense.

          So, for instance, when you decided who four of the Final Five would be, how much thought did you have to put into it before revealing it in “Crossroads,” and how much was, “Oh, we’ll say this and figure it out over the hiatus”?

          The impulse to do it was literally an impulse. We were in the writers room on the finale of that season, always knew we would end season 3 on trial of Baltar and his acquittal, the writers had worked out a story and a plot, they were pitching it to me in the room. And I had a nagging sense that it wasn’t big enough, on the level of jumping ahead a year or shooting Adama. And I literally made it up in the room, I said, “What if four of our characters walk from different parts of the ship, end up in a room and say, ‘Oh my God, we’re Cylons’? And we leave one for next season.” And everyone said “Oh my God,” and they were scared, and because they were scared, I knew I was right. And then we sat and spent a couple of hours talking about who those four would be. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to lock in who made the most sense and who would make the most story going forward.

          • cassander says:

            He has similar sentiments in the director’s commentary of BSG. Ron Moore was always thinking in terms of what made a good episode rather than what made a good season/show. And it’s a huge shame, because he’s really good at making good episodes. He just never seemed to realize that that wasn’t enough.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I came here seeking closure, but instead I’m filled with more nerd rage than ever.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          *dons internet armor*
          I actually liked BSG up until the second half of the final season, and I liked the Final Five reveal.

          *runs away popping smoke*

          • Jaskologist says:

            You can’t just throw something like that out there and run away. But I don’t even know how to argue with it beyond “it doesn’t make any damn sense.”

            Really, the whole idea of an Earth where hyper-advanced humanoid cylons existed, forgot how to breed, and then made robocylons which killed everybody didn’t make any damn sense. Having most of the main cast turn out to have been ancient cylons was just the icing on that cake. Also, Tigh was an ancient cylon but also a veteran of the First Cylon War? How does this timeline fit together?

    • Plumber says:

      @Nick,
      Well right now I’m in the mood for a cold war era spy thriller film (especially if Helen Mirren is in it, she was great in The Debt!),, something like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Funeral in Berlin, North by Northwest, or From Russia With Love.

      The recent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Gary Oldman was okay, I watched a few episodes of The Americans, but I just couldn’t get into it (nor could I get into Breaking Bad, so maybe I just don’t have the patience for maxi-mini-series).

      For contemporary spy thrillers Casino Royale was okay, but the subsequent Bond films were more forgettable, I saw Sicario (which bored me) the same night as ’71 (which I really thought was good, maybe the best movie that I’ve seen in years), so I seem to clearly prefer cold war era settings for my thrillers, preferably not taking place in North America.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        I thought Tinker Tailor with Oldman was excellent. You may want to check out The Night Manager with Tom Hiddleston. The Man from UNCLE was good, but fairly mainstream.

        All in all, I think I agree that the genre is less supported than I’d like.

      • Walter says:

        I dunno if you can tolerate superhero stuff, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier is often described as being a homage to 70’s style spy flicks.

        • Plumber says:

          @Walter,
          I’m isually not into Marvel movies, but a glance at the Wikipedia entry on Winter Soldier said “A major influence” was Three Days of the Condor, so thanks!

      • cassander says:

        You should watch Counterpart on starz. Captures that spirit in a modern setting.

        • Plumber says:

          @cassander,
          I’m not a subscriber to Starz, but I’ll keep an eye out for DVD’s at the library.

          Thanks!

    • bean says:

      Solid historical naval fiction. Modern stuff wouldn’t go amiss, but there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of WWII stuff going on.

      Actually, what I really want is a big-budget miniseries version of Morison’s History of the United States Navy in WWII.

      I’d set the framing story as the 10-year reunion of the Annapolis class of 1936. Take a group of friends from that class who lost touch, and are running into each other for the first time in a while. The obvious subject of discussion – “What did you do during the war?” They went into different fields, and did different things. Work out plausible careers for each man, and drop them into minor roles in the big battles. One was a surface warfare officer who spent time hunting U-boats in the Atlantic, then was on Washington at Guadalcanal, and went on to command a destroyer off Okinawa. Another was a carrier pilot who fought at Midway and the Philippine Sea. A third was a logistics officer who bounced all over, which lets them shine light on the various minor theaters. “We fought in the Aleutians?” There was one of their number who went into submarines, and was lost with his boat, but enough details got back to one of them that he can tell the story. This also lets the framing story analyze what’s going on for the viewer’s benefit. Particularly if their wives are around. (Which lets you tell home-front stories, too. From my perspective, that’s annoying, but probably necessary.) Depending on the man, his story is either an episode or a couple of episodes. And you could easily have other people drift over if you want to keep going.

      • Atlas says:

        Solid historical naval fiction. Modern stuff wouldn’t go amiss, but there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of WWII stuff going on.

        Did naval fiction (e.g. Patrick O’Brian) use to be more popular? If so, do folks have any thoughts on why it might have declined in popularity?

        Also, while of course from a rationalist/humanitarian perspective I celebrate the Long Peace, I have to imagine that the newspapers, movies and novels would be more interesting if there had been more big wars since WW2.

        • bean says:

          For WWII stuff, I can’t think of any widely-recognized genre classics that are later than the 60s. Stuff like the Cruel Sea and Run Silent, Run Deep doesn’t seem to be written any more. Some of this is the obvious result of veterans dying off, but O’Brian proved you don’t need to have that experience to write well about it. For that matter, The Hunt for Red October proved the same thing.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        Hey, Bean, this seems like a good thing to ask here: any thoughts on Red Storm Rising?

        • bean says:

          An excellent book, probably the best WWIII novel ever. Early Clancy was really, really good. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to keep up the quality up in later years.

          • albatross11 says:

            I remember Red Storm Rising having the feel of being a novelization of a fairly elaborate tabletop wargame.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Albatross

            IIRC it was

          • bean says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            Not quite. A lot of the novel was gamed out in Harpoon, but the story elements were pre-plotted. They certainly didn’t sit down and write whatever the game turned up. The most famous example is “Dance of the Vampires”, when the Soviets attacked the US carriers, and they knew the good guys had to lose, but not get totally destroyed. I suspect it was more useful as a means of keeping track of who, what, and where when Clancy needed that data for the text, and of avoiding plot holes. I could see myself doing something similar with CMANO if I was writing naval fiction.

      • LesHapablap says:

        Bean, that sounds fantastic. Sounds like it would go fairly well within the Band of Brothers / The Pacific series, as long as some of the stories went across multiple episodes.

        edit: I would consider contributing to a kickstarter for the novel as per below.

        • bean says:

          I think I came up with the idea while watching Band of Brothers and trying to figure out how a similar series could be done at sea.

      • johan_larson says:

        If you are determined to make this series happen, the best thing you could do is to write up the stories, put them online, build support, and hope someone in the entertainment industry notices. The print equivalent of a ten-part miniseries is a 500-600 page episodic novel. It’s a hefty project, but plenty of people manage to write novels. This is essentially what the author of “The Martian” did.

        • bean says:

          While I don’t hate the idea, I am not really in a position to do it today for a couple reasons. First, the blog soaks up a lot of time, and this would compete directly with that. Second, it requires a lot of specialist knowledge. Yes, I know where to get after-action reports and deck logs for the parts on ships, but I’d need to figure out where to get a bunch of softer info, like the culture at USNA of that era. I could sort of make that stuff up, but I hate doing that. I’ll put it on my idea list, though.

      • spkaca says:

        I would love to see this. My pet project would be the history of the Royal Navy in the Seven Years’ War told through the framing device of Captain Arthur Gardiner and HMS Monmouth.

    • Atlas says:

      SSC, what is a genre you wish would get more love? In books, games, whatever.

      Dieselpunk is a pretty cool idea that I think, while certainly far from totally unused, hasn’t yet been explored as extensively as I would like. I want my Dieselpunk: 1937!

      I’m not sure if it’s a genre, or if it hasn’t in fact already gotten lots of love, but something that I think is really fascinating is stories of the fall of an old order and the lives of exiles fleeing the new one. For me, this is weirdly totally non-ideological: I find Spanish Civil War veterans/exiles training Castro’s forces and Batista fleeing Cuba to retire to Iberia both really interesting stories. The Russian, Iranian and Cuban revolutions, the fall of Nazi Germany, South Vietnam, the USSR and the Confederacy, etc. Firefly , The Hateful Eight, A Tale of Two Cities, much (most? all?) of Nabokov’s (fiction) writing and SM Stirling’s Draka series all dealt with this to some extent. A personal favorite example of this for me is the Cuba storyline in The Godfather, Part II.

      • woah77 says:

        There is an entire roleplaying game dedicated to Dieselpunk: Mutant Chronicles. The third edition came out a few years ago with modernized rules. It also had a movie in 2008(?) so you can watch a film too.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        100% agree on the pseudo-genre of the exiles/remnants of a fallen order. I don’t know that I’ve ever found something that exactly scratches this itch, but I really like the idea of it.

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      1. As alluded to by Nornagest, I think dying Earth, or more broadly, dying civilization stories are really neat. This probably also links up with Atlas’s suggestion of exiles from a fallen regime. I’m reading Pat Southern’s history of the Crisis of the Second Century right now, and while I’d hate to live through it, there’s something that really captures my imagination about the idea of a collapsing order looking back on a past full of unattainable glory.

      2. Not really a genre, but: work in the style of Russian Cosmism. I like the scientific optimism, tempered by the weird mystical/spiritual overtones. And aesthetically, there’s something that really appeals to me about Nicholas Roerich-type art, whose feeling I’d like to have captured in more works of fiction.

      3. I think as we learn more about prehistoric humanity, there’s a great opportunity for a revival of Hyborean-age-type sword-and-sworcery based loosely on historical fact. I think deep-prehistory stuff is interesting in general, but we are learning so much, so quickly about ancient humanity that it really deserves a good fictional retelling: a world populated by modern humans, and neanderthals, and denisovans, with a setting in Sundaland or somewhere like that, I think would be really neat.

      This could also probably tie in well with lost continent stuff, if you wanted a modern-day setting but to still have the story driven by our encounter with our deep prehistory.

      4. Historical fiction/fantasy set in niche eras/locations.

      5. Theological/metaphysical mystery stories rule. There’s nothing like having someone start off investigating a simple murder, and end up investigating the nature of the cosmos as a whole.

    • Jiro says:

      Lost planet stories are hard to do, because any explanation of how they got there will be contrived, unless your story takes place in a world far enough in the future that you can have lost colonies, in which case the general tone of the story probably won’t be much like a lost continent story anyway.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Real time strategy video games. StarCraft 2, fine, but whatever happened to C&C and Red Alert and Age of Empires and all that? Total Annihilation? Supreme Commander? Warcraft without the World Of? There used to be a half dozen major RTS franchises and they’re pretty much all gone.

      • woah77 says:

        EA happened to them. (At least for the most part).

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          While EA is indeed The Debil, you can only blame them for closing Westwood Studios. Ao[E|K|M] was Microsoft, SC and WC are Blizzard/Activision, TA had nothing to do with EA, and neither did Supreme Commander.

      • greenwoodjw says:

        Warcraft 3 is still online and is being remade right now. TA and Supreme have been dead for decades. AoE was always kinda niche even in RTS.

      • Randy M says:

        I hear you.
        Say, there’s a turn based tactics game on switch featuring mario and some other franchise I don’t know anything about; have you tried it? (If you don’t know what I mean I’ll look it up)

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I bought it for my son and wound up addicted to it. It’s excellent. It’s XCOM, but with Mario and Rabbids. Challenging, too. And the score performed by the Prague Philharmonic is very good and very catchy. Highly recommended.

          • woah77 says:

            Really? I heard disappointing things. That said, this was from the X-Com (and not the XCOM) crowd, so I can’t say that they’re reliable for more mainstream enjoyment. TBH, if you haven’t taken a look at the Open X-Com community, do so, because some of the original work done with that engine is amazing.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Purists gonna purist? I don’t know what criticisms one could make of the game besides it not literally being X-com/XCOM. The characters are fun and funny. The graphics are standard colorful pretty Mario graphics. The sounds was great. The weapons/moves/tactics were fun. The only complaint I could make is that for a game you would think is aimed at kids, it was surprisingly challenging and unforgiving (your health only recovers at certain checkpoints, not between each battle, so if you do lose too much health in one battle you might not be able to beat the next, meaning you need to backtrack and try to improve the first battle which is frustrating for kids). It’s pretty cheap now ($20, or $25 including the expansion pack), so if you have a Switch and like Mario, Rabbids, and/or XCOM, pick it up.

          • woah77 says:

            Number one complaint I heard was it was even more boardgame-y than XCOM 2, which was a chief complaint about XCOM 2 in that crowd. Also, that the power curve after WOTC was wack. Gotta say, that second complaint is entirely legitimate. Rangers in XCOM 2 went from good before WOTC to “Can’t Touch This” after it. Their swords were just obscene.

          • cassander says:

            @woah77

            What do you mean by board-gamey?

          • woah77 says:

            You and the enemy have very well defined tactics that operate in generally predictable ways, based upon the fate of a die roll. Each character has a list of powers governed by his type of piece and functions in a very predictable way. Basically XCOM/XCOM 2 are closer to chess than they are to X-Com:UFO, as the latter had no restrictions on weapons/abilities and was very much a turn based simulator for troops, while to former had several well defined pieces with very predictable patterns of behavior for each.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What do you mean by “based upon the fate of a die roll?” The only things random in Mario + Rabbids is % chance of critical/effect and damage range. One of your guns might be “150-170 damage with 25% chance to knockback.” But the way you move and where you shoot the weapon is entirely determined by you.

            Is it a hyper-realistic combat simulator? No, absolutely not, but it is a good tactical combat game. And entertaining, and Rabbid Peach is hilarious. Maybe watch some game play videos on youtube and judge for yourself.

            ETA: Oh, and partial cover is 50% chance to block.

          • woah77 says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            My comments about the die roll are referencing XCOM 2, not Mario + Rabbids.

            I’m sure it’s a fun game, but when looking for a tactical strategy game, I’m personally enjoying Phoenix Point.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Sure, that looks good, but…Epic timed exclusive…grrrrr…

          • woah77 says:

            I backed it way back when it was a Fig campaign. The game itself has yet to disappoint me. I get the frustration with EGS, but this isn’t a new ploy in the industry, and Steam has many more exclusives because it’s the de facto provider of PC games.

            Perks of Phoenix Point: Bullet physics, free aim, Time units instead of 2AP, everyone can use everything, vehicles, cannons, crabmen.

      • moonfirestorm says:

        I think Warcraft died to a combination of the lore problems of advancing the same universe with two different game series, and Blizzard not wanting to be competing with itself on RTS games. They are remastering Warcraft 3, and I don’t really trust them with making a new game anyway, so that may be for the best.

        Microsoft steered Age of Empires into the online free-to-play model with Age of Empires Online in 2012, and I suspect kind of gave up on that for a while. Age of Empires 4 is supposed to be in development as of 2017, although it’s being made by Relic so I’m not sure if it’ll stay true to the roots of the genre. They did also remaster Age of Mythology, which is by far my favorite incarnation of the series.

        • achenx says:

          The best version of AoE was made by Brian Reynolds and called “Rise of Nations”.

          To the general point, apparently a lot of the air was taken out of the RTS genre by MOBAs.

          A recent RTS though that’s pretty good is Northgard.

          • cassander says:

            you’re forgetting Age of Mythology

          • moonfirestorm says:

            I love Rise of Nations, but I wouldn’t call it an Age of Empires game.

            It’s more like RTS Civilization, with a lot of focus on border placement, developing technology, and varied routes to victory.

            And now I really want to play it again.

      • b_jonas says:

        I like real time strategy games, but I don’t want more than we have. Back in the 1990s, there had to be a lot of these released because we didn’t yet know how they were supposed to work. But eventually game companies figured out how to make sufficiently playable, variable, entertaining and well-balanced games. Those games, Starcraft and Age of Mythology are deep enough that we have been playing them for decades and we’re still not bored, they count as classics. There’s very little room for new ones, such as Starcraft 2. It’s better to stick to the existing good games rather than mix it up with different franchises, until someone figures out actual improvements to the genre rather than just chance for the sake of change or selling new merch.

        • woah77 says:

          There have been some hopeful contenders, but they’ve all fallen a bit short of good. Grey Goo and Planetary Annihilation both come to mind.

    • AG says:

      Genre TV/film musicals

      Most TV shows just toss off single episodes where their characters are contrived to sing their feelings, but I want a full immersion into both genre and musical form, where no one remarks on the fact that they’re in a genre or musical.

      Like, the old “dance with props” numbers of classic musicals are great, often pushing the special effects technology in their own right (such as Royal Wedding’s spinning set to allow ceiling dancing years before Inception), and music videos have plumbed some wild concepts, so I want a film that takes the ability of the musical number to really push the bounds of visual imagery…except that it is also actually happening in the world they’re in, an interaction with their setting and not just a dream sequence.

      The closest we have to this has been “idols as superheroes” anime in the Macross vein, though Symphogear is the actual closest to what I’m getting at.
      In live action, The Greatest Showman had good integration of music video techniques, and Baby Driver kind of did modern noir, but imagine the wonderful absurdities you could accomplish with a magical or sci-fi setting.

      Hopefully the DVDs for Anna and the Apocalypse are available soon. (It’s a zombie musical Christmas film!)

      • cassander says:

        Crazy ex girlfriend has been scratching this itch for me for the last few years.

        • AG says:

          Yeah, I plan on checking CEG out now that it’s complete, but I also want to see musicals in an otherworldly context, and without historical-ish settings resorting to the operetta style.

          I want cool visual world-building through musical numbers. What does Singing In The (Grimy Cyberpunk) Rain 2049 look like?

      • Jiro says:

        For an anime musical you may want to look at Nerima Daikon Brothers.

  2. My friend Muriel Curtis spent ten years as a high school teacher, then ten years as a sailor on tall ships. For the past nineteen years she has been running Station Maine, experiential education, teaching kids to go out on the Atlantic in oversized rowing boats.

    She has now, with some help from me, self-published a book about Station Maine, what is wrong with how we bring up kids and what to do about it. Since I’m not the one selling it I assume this doesn’t count as a classified ad, and I think people here would find it interesting.

    Come to Oars: Experiential Education on the Coast of Maine

    And there will be a kindle of it as soon as I can figure out why Calibre is choking on some of her photos.

  3. South Bay Meetup:

    We are having another one in San Jose this Saturday, starting at 2:00.

  4. johan_larson says:

    Precognition is hard, okay? Typically we only get advance notice of statistical information, and it’s usually weird statistical information at that. But according the the National Center for Esoteric Intelligence, it is likely that something very bad will happen in the US in 2025. We know this because in 2026 and for several years thereafter, more people will move from the US to Canada than the reverse. Typically, net migration is the other way. The question for you worthies is, simply, what is going to happen?

    • Randy M says:

      There’s a lot of America, and as much as we might sometimes not like each other much, it’s probably easier to find another part of the country that is more agreeable than the hassle and transition of moving to another country, and even a change in political leadership doesn’t change this much, not quickly. So you’re probably looking for something that would tend to affect the whole country, or a huge part of it.

      Maybe something happens to make NYC uninhabitable, and nearby Canadian cities are inviting to refugees, being similar in culture (… somewhat?) and climate. Also, there’s no longer any Canadian immigration to Canada. Maybe terrorists have poisoned the water or something?

      There’s the obvious yellowstone super volcano, but this would probably negatively affect Canada as well.

      So, politically, maybe there’s a war with China or Russia or another major power which leads to a draft. During vietnam, about 100,000 Americans emigrated to Canada.
      Or perhaps there’s refugees from the resistance when Trump declared himself God-Emperor for life.

      I thought about a medical outbreak, but that seems like Canada would close the border if it got so bad that large numbers were fleeing. Maybe they’re too nice? “Come on in, but make sure you use the hand-sanitizer at the border, eh?”

      But let’s be optimistic and assume it’s something nice for Canada, like massive global warming* from a sudden solar warming or something similar opening up vast areas of tundra to settlement while making the US coastal regions largely uninhabitable.

      *I’m not entirely sure massive global warming will be an absolute boon for Canada, but relative to the US, it seems to benefit.

      • Nick says:

        A disaster in the Northeast is an interesting suggestion. What about Alaska instead? Maybe an ecological catastrophe requires people to steadily leave the Anchorage area, and a big fraction decide it’s easier to settle in Canada than Washington.

      • acymetric says:

        I thought about a medical outbreak, but that seems like Canada would close the border if it got so bad that large numbers were fleeing. Maybe they’re too nice? “Come on in, but make sure you use the hand-sanitizer at the border, eh?”

        It is helpful to know what kind of numbers we’re dealing with. The numbers I found are somewhat dated, but we only need in the ballpark of a net change of 30,000 people give or take (little over 70,000 going from Canada to the US, and a little over 40,000 doing the reverse per year). Of course, this number fluctuates a lot, but Nick’s suggestion of Anchorage probably gets us there without any other changes.

        This also doesn’t require “vast amounts of newly opened land” or anything like that. If the change was reasonably well distributed across all major/semi-major cities in Canada it probably wouldn’t even cause much of a blip in housing supply.

      • Following on Randy’s final suggestion, one should consider that it may have been something good happening to Canada rather than something bad to the U.S.

        I think it likely that Canada will benefit by global warming. Sea level rise at current rates will have a trivially small effect. Warming due to the greenhouse effects tends to be greater in cold times and places than in warm. So I can easily see the effective northern border of Canada moving north, making considerably more usable land available.

        But I can’t see it happening to a significant degree by 2025.

        The only thing that strikes me as plausible that fast is some sort of political breakdown in the U.S., such as a disputed presidential election in which neither side will accept the other’s verdict. Or an expansion of the recent pattern of using law enforcement machinery in political conflicts.

        Suppose the incumbent party charges the presidential candidate of the out party with something and arrests him or her. I could see the outs viewing that, not unreasonably, as a power grab and some of them leaving.

      • aristides says:

        Three possible options, with 30,000 net change being our goal. Trump wins re-election, and Congress goes red, and they pass a comprehensive immigration law, that severely curtails immigration across the board. Same number goes from US to Canada, but we let less Canadians in.

        Boeing is worse than we think, and their CEO, and Board of Directors, and all of upper management knowing broke safety regulations and are, in an unprecedented move, convicted of manslaughter on all the plane deaths, and the entire company goes bankrupt. Washington States economy tanks, causing an exodus to California and Vancouver.

        Congress never passes any healthcare law, and the health care premium death spiral is worse than projected. Health care premiums double once again, and less Canadians want to move here and more Americans consider leaving.

    • Matt says:

      Trump sworn in for 3rd term.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      A depression.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Makes total sense. After the total collapse of the EU, we needed somewhere to put all those refugees, and the best places available were the recently annexed Northern Provinces.

    • Nornagest says:

      Nothing bad, just a uranium rush in Saskatchewan.

    • broblawsky says:

      Something that renders big chunks of the US uninhabitable, I guess? If it was just a question of a city being destroyed, people would just move to other parts of the country. A dirty bomb being detonated seems likely.

    • Tenacious D says:

      A grand political bargain is struck: Canada needs US assistance to push back against Russian and Chinese encroachment on territorial claims in the Arctic; in return, Canada takes some pressure off of the thorny question of illegal immigration by offering permanent residency to individuals who were covered by DACA. The president gets to trot out a compassionate resolution that avoids the land mine of amnesty. Canada gets a way to maintain immigration targets as more applicants from mainland China start getting rejected due to deteriorating relations with the PRC and domestic anger over real estate affordability in the competitive 905 ridings around the GTA.

      Or, more realistically, a very anti-business president gets elected in a post-Trump backlash and a few big companies move their headquarters across the border each quarter as the spectre of punitive regulations and taxes becomes more and more imminent.

    • The Nybbler says:

      AOC lost in the general election. To Trump Jr.

    • albatross11 says:

      A huge economic boom in Canada fueled heavily by immigrant workers from the US?

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      The media hounds on the precog’s impending disaster narrative to such an extent that a plethora of Americans make plans to move to Canada, a long arduous process which only came to fruition around 2026.

      And thus the prophecy was fulfilled.

    • Uribe says:

      I’m guessing the only time in history that this has happened was during the Vietnam war, so I’d bet on history rhyming than some other event: War with China.

      • bullseye says:

        That would be dramatically different war. Even if both sides agree to fight without nukes, it would be World War III.

        • Uribe says:

          Yeah, I was just thinking about that myself. I amend my answer. The war would be a proxy war with Russia in Venezuela.

    • BlindKungFuMaster says:

      After another term for Trump, Yang wins 2024 and introduces UBI for US citizens. The economy takes a hit, while at the same time there is a massive price hike in all basic amenities of life, food, rent and stuff, and many illegal immigrant or non-naturalised legal immigrants move on to Canada.

    • Tarhalindur says:

      Second American Civil War. Next question? (Timing suggests you’re looking at “Trump wins 2020, Democrat – quite possibly AOC – wins 2024, and the most extreme sectors of the American Right go full Second Amendment Solutions immediately thereafter”.)

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Nationwide, tailgate partiers primed for “Super Bowl LIX” (Panthers vs. Jaguars, no less) are justifiably upset when the NFL opts to instead refer to it as Super Bowl 59, to avoid the obvious connotations. The resulting riots combine with ongoing unrest in the wake of the 97th Academy Award nominations to form the biggest Culture War since MarvelGate in ’23.

    • Walter says:

      I’m a conservative, so it probably doesn’t surprise that I see the school and the mom as the worst parts of this situation.

      • acymetric says:

        Well, I think the school is pretty clearly painted as a villain, and the mom by her own admission at best made significant mistakes…I’m not sure your take requires being conservative.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        I get the school – they, the reporter-bait Nazi, and the nazimongler reporters come off worst to me – but why the mom? Is it the (visibly biased) tone? She came off as a good parent to me.

        • Walter says:

          His peers will know him from this story. His behavior throughout gives off ‘kick me’ vibes. They will oblige.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            Justify this conclusion, please.

          • acymetric says:

            Also, the premise needs to be justified. How many of his peers will even have read this article? Of those, how many will have bothered to figure out the identities (which I’m sure will be made public somewhere but are obscured in the article)?

          • Walter says:

            The stuff in the story is super identifiable to anyone who knows ya boi, right? Like “no, it was the other kid who had to publicly apologize and then spent a few months as a nazi”.

            Then she wrote down stuff about how he ‘curled up next to’ his mom, stuff about how he’s ‘sobbing’.

            “Why would adults want to do that?”
            “All I wanted was for people to take me seriously.”

            Like, these are absolutely the last lines a teenage boy would ever want to emit. When you read them, the voice in your mind sounds like the ‘leave Britney alone’ meme. They were voiced to his mother, in private. He’d have been shot before he said that in front of his friends.

            And she wanted some money, so she sold that moment to the internet.

            Look. Dude could come back from a nazi phase. That’s whatever. He was strong for the wrong team. S’all good. It’s 2019, everyone is on the ‘johnny was the REAL Karate Kid’ kick, yeah?

            But this is unfixable. You can brush off evil, you can brush off hateful, but there isn’t a redemption narrative for this flavor of transgression.

            Edit to respond to Acymetric: One figures it out, it goes on the group text. Everyone will know.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            If those kids are reading The Washingtonian, and are sufficiently sociopathic that “locked in a room for 6 hours and forced to write a false apology” inspires anything other than fear, (Writing off sympathy “because kids”) maybe.

            Also “I was 12” is a pretty strong defense even in high school.

          • Nick says:

            If those kids are reading The Washingtonian, and are sufficiently sociopathic that “locked in a room for 6 hours and forced to write a false apology” inspires anything other than fear, (Writing off sympathy “because kids”) maybe.

            If they are kids, they are sufficiently sociopathic. I’d bet the biggest risk is the mom’s friends and family sharing the article on Facebook around and the kid’s friends seeing it, but pace Walter I’m not sure that’s terribly likely.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Walter

            That seems like a pretty wild stance to take, tbh. Kid comes off as having gone through enough to earn those tears to me, you know? Like nobody thinks less of a kid who cries about his dog dying.

          • Walter says:

            @Hoopy:

            We probably won’t be able to bridge this inferential gap, suffice to say that we have different views on how reasonable high school peer circles are.

          • acymetric says:

            I mean, if his peers can recognize him from the story they probably more or less already know it, in which case the kick me sign is already firmly attached. Apparently he’s got a friend group despite that.

            I think you are overestimating how bad high school peer circles are on net (people can have some truly bad experiences, but kids typically just aren’t actually that bad). And this is coming from someone who caught absolute hell through most of high school.

        • Nick says:

          I think Walter means because of the implied condescension toward the son. Like I said below, it sounds to me like she learned a lesson here too; I don’t think she’s a bad parent for it, but it sounds like she was treating his political interest unfairly.

          ETA: Okay, never mind, I was wrong about what Walter thinks. What I get for trying to read minds!

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          She comes off as a pretty decent rich-to-middle-class parent, yeah.
          Thing is, she and her husband laughed at their son’s anti-feminism, laughing him off as a dumb kid when “feminism is a bad, harmful ideology” was a perfectly cromulent explanation for his experiences. She comes off as more concerned with maintaining her social status (which in part derives from holding the right left opinions) than supporting her child.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            Kids that age mostly have dumb political opinions that change weekly. Her reaction is not unreasonable, if a little inconsiderate.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            She pulled him out of school, was ready to drive him to a the_donald meetup, and let him go to a right-wing rally. The worst she’s guilty of is not arguing with her son enough (because her variant of [-ism] obviously isn’t as evil as he’s inferring) because he thought he needed to feel accepted more than he needed to feel respected. Her telling of the story is self-aggrandizing, sure, but I don’t know how you can claim with a straight face that she wasn’t consistently trying her hardest to do right by the kid.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Kids that age mostly have dumb political opinions that change weekly.

            Well, yes. Ceteris parabis, you should laugh off your teenager’s political opinions. Phronensis is a thing. All wasn’t equal here, but it’s hard to call her a bad parent over the mistake.

            @Hoppyfreud:

            Her telling of the story is self-aggrandizing, sure, but I don’t know how you can claim with a straight face that she wasn’t consistently trying her hardest to do right by the kid.

            She was consistently trying to do right by him, yes. Good parents still make mistakes due to cognitive bias.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Then would you still say that

            She comes off as more concerned with maintaining her social status (which in part derives from holding the right left opinions) than supporting her child.

            ?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Hoppyfreud: I think successful Blue people have cognitive biases that generally serve them well in society without being true. It does not surprise me that a good Blue mother would do the best she can by her son short of examining those. I think it’s bias, not a mercenary calculation of the trade-offs.

          • acymetric says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Can you point to which cognitive bias the mom was guilty of? Obviously the bias of “my kid’s political opinions are not significant” which I think was just successfully hashed out, but I don’t think that is a particularly Red/Blue bias so much as a general Adult vs. Kids bias.

          • albatross11 says:

            Kids mostly have dumb political ideas, but if you hope for them to have better ones later, you probably want to actually engage with them. (And also, they’re likely to come to different conclusions than you do, and that’s ok. Nobody’s going to put any 14 year olds in charge of running things, so even if their ideas about how to run things are silly, there’s not much harm done.) And it’s worth noting that in the story (who knows how accurate it is?), his big turnaround came from an interaction where his mom went with him and honestly engaged with him.

            ISTM that this kid got massively kicked in the nuts by the respectable liberal world (his old school and old friends), and not unreasonably figured that this meant that he should look for honesty and support somewhere else. And indeed, he was right to recognize that the people who kicked him in the nuts were not good people to look to for honesty or support, it’s just that he found some other not-so-great people to look to for support online.

          • aristides says:

            Agreed, she is a pretty decent parent, just made an easy mistake. She underestimated how observant her son was that she was dismissive with his opinion and underestimated how much of a void was in his life after leaving school. Her son needed to have someone respect him after his entire school was against him, and it wasn’t his parents, or even another social group, it was the internet. I would also argue she overreacted to his opinions changing, but that’s probably my politics. Good parents make mistakes, and this is a good example.

    • John Schilling says:

      “In an out-of-body moment, I imagined that this very episode would be cited by some future cultural critic on the limits of liberalism”

      Mission accomplished, I guess.

      But this part…

      “He texted more with classmates than with online strangers, and every few weekends I drove him to sleepovers with other kids. ”

      …could use a bit more elaboration. It’s treated as something that just automatically happens unless something is horribly wrong, and really as something that should have just automatically happened to set things right after things did go horribly wrong in the first act, but that’s not how it works. That’s how parents and school administrators all too often want it to work, so that they don’t have to involve themselves in seeing that it does work out that way, but it clearly didn’t happen for Sam at his old school and it didn’t happen when he started at his new school.

      I think understanding why that is, and how it did eventually get fixed in this case, is the most useful insight that could come out of something like this. Instead, we just get a near-tautology about how the ostracized kid joins the pathetic group that at least offers him respect and friendship that he isn’t getting anywhere else.

      • acymetric says:

        Well, the article suggests that it was that way, until it wasn’t (as a result of the harassment accusation) and then was again. I think it was fairly accurately used as a sign of a return to “normalcy” after a period of turbulence that (at least according to the article) stemmed from the problems at the original school.

        It is true that this doesn’t occur for some people, and that is certainly a conversation to be had, but that is kind of a separate conversation.

        • John Schilling says:

          If it had happened anywhere near the beginning of this story, there wouldn’t have been a story. Because it didn’t happen at the beginning, this story or something worse was pretty much inevitable. And only because it happened at the end, does this story have a happy ending.

          How is that a separate conversation?

          • acymetric says:

            It seems to me to be implied that it happened before the story (i.e. that he had a “typical” social life before the incident with school administrators turned things sideways and resulted in his isolation from his peers/previous friend group). The story starts when things went wrong, at which point the social life also went wrong. Are we talking past each other or am I missing something?

          • John Schilling says:

            Sam apparently had a normal social life before all this, yes.

            Then one student and the school administration accused him of Badness, and his friends apparently all desert him. If this hadn’t happened, there probably wouldn’t be a story. And since there is no general rule that teenagers ostracize one of their own just because adult authority decrees him to be Bad, it seems kind of important to understand why that happened here.

            So he transfers to a new school, and he apparently doesn’t find any friends there. Easier to understand, I think – but again, if it doesn’t happen that way, there’s no story beyond “Sam’s principal was a dick so he had to change schools”.

            Then he finds a different set of friends, and later finds that they are a bunch of pathetic losers.

            Then he finds a new set of friends at whatever school he is going to at the end of the tale (same one as #2), and because of that the story has a happy ending. Otherwise he probably drifts back to the alt-right, or goes Antifa-level hard left, or winds up an opioid overdose statistic or something.

            Are we on the same page on all of this?

            It seems to me that every part of this story that matters, is driven by whether or not Sam’s classmates du jour are sharing texts with him and inviting him to sleepovers and the like. The bit where, when he is ostracized by his classmates, he finds pathetic loser friends elsewhere, is boring and inevitable. That those friends happened to come from the alt-right this time, seems irrelevant.

            Unless of course someone is particularly interested in figuring out why teenagers might join the alt-right, e.g. because they want to stop that sort of thing. In which case, the only place they’ll find any actionable lesson in all of this is in figuring out why teenagers sometimes find themselves unable to make friends among their classmates and why that sometimes changes.

          • acymetric says:

            Ok, I get what you’re saying now, but don’t agree with your conclusion. You want an article about a root cause, this article was about the outcome and subsequent turnaround. There is plenty of ink spilled on the former, I don’t think it is a problem for an article that just looks at the latter or that the article is intentionally avoiding it in some attempt to hide something (I get the feeling that you have some agenda/view on the situation that you feel was being intentionally avoided by the article, maybe I am mistaken).

            In other words, not every article needs to be all things to all people.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Then one student and the school administration accused him of Badness, and his friends apparently all desert him. If this hadn’t happened, there probably wouldn’t be a story. And since there is no general rule that teenagers ostracize one of their own just because adult authority decrees him to be Bad, it seems kind of important to understand why that happened here.

            The article doesn’t say that Sam’s friends deserted him (aside from anything else, one of the school instructors “overheard him talking to friends and called me to express concern”, so apparently he had at least some even after the incident), but that the Kafkaesque ordeal the school put him through traumatised Sam and made him depressed and withdrawn. Whilst his friendships would doubtless have suffered, that would be more because Sam was withdrawing, not because his friends were ostracising him.

    • greenwoodjw says:

      That kid has some real steel. He’s going to be something when he gets older. His mom isn’t terrible. Everyone else in the story makes me wish Hell existed.

      • albatross11 says:

        Assuming the description of his old school was correct, his old school’s administrator needs to be doing some other job.

    • Nick says:

      Good God, that school. It seems that boy and mom both learned some lessons from the whole thing. Surprisingly balanced article.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      Having IRL friends is going to socialize a person away from taboo politics, most likely, but the ending confused me:

      “I still think about his words a lot, especially when alt-right figures headline the news. But mostly, I wonder how I could have tried so hard to parent Sam through this crisis and yet tripped up on something as basic as not making my own kid feel small.

      Thankfully, Sam moved on. By the fall of tenth grade, he seemed at peace for the first time since he’d stepped off the bus almost two years earlier, face puffy from crying, to inform me he’d broken the law.

      That’s why my fears came roaring back when Sam and I heard on the radio one day that another Mother of All Rallies was taking place on the Mall that very weekend—and Sam asked if we could go. Together.

      My breath caught. He must have seen my face change.

      “As counterprotesters?” he asked, eyes gleaming.”

      How does someone go from Alt-right to AntiFa in 2 years? I suppose it makes some sense given a 14y/o probably isn’t going to have very strong beliefs to begin with.

      _____

      I also think there’s a false hope here. Presumably this person is going to college in 2 years, he’s going to be subjected to a much more rigorous variant of the moral code that got him in trouble in eighth grade, he’s going to have to terminate a lot of friendships he made in high school and attempt to find new ones in whatever school he finds himself in.

      • greenwoodjw says:

        How does someone go from Alt-right to AntiFa in 2 years? I suppose it makes some sense given a 14y/o probably isn’t going to have very strong beliefs to begin with.

        I doubt he went Antifa, and converts are often the most zealous. I would expect a kid realizing the group he looked up to were a bunch of hateful losers would be opposed to them, instead of just walking away.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          It takes a special someone to want to join a counter protesters. Of course we don’t know what kind of counter-protesters are involved. I’ve come to associate counter-protester with someone who tries to instigate violence to hopefully wrack up as many arrests as possible. So I suppose I tend to assume if someone wants to counter-protest some white nationalists or whatever they would need some deep attachment to the cause of diversity; it’s not enough to think that certain people aren’t cool.

          • acymetric says:

            Your problem is that your perception of counter-protesters is a caricature that only describes a small fraction of them. The majority of counter protesters are just there to hold signs saying “these guys over there are wrong”. This isn’t surprising, because the caricature version is vastly overrepresented in media reports since it is “more interesting”.

          • Nornagest says:

            Don’t take this as an endorsement, because it’s not, but most counterprotestors at contemporary alt-right rallies are not violent, nor are they consciously participating in tactics designed to spark violence. Most of them are just there because they want to Do Something, and the default Thing to Do is to march and wave signs.

            Antifa, which is consciously and explicitly violent, is its own thing, and was around long before counter-protests started making the news.

          • Matt says:

            Antifa… was around long before counter-protests started making the news.

            Antifa is relatively new. Counter-protesting is probably roughly as old as protesting itself.

          • Nornagest says:

            Should have said “this round of counter-protests”; counter-protesting as a concept is ubiquitous but in recent years it was usually left out of the news until the 2016 election cycle started. Antifa isn’t that new, though; it goes back to the aftermath of WWII in Europe (some groups claim continuity with Depression-era ones, but I’m skeptical) and at least the early Eighties in the US, though in the States it was closely linked to punks and skins for most of that time.

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        1 – there’s a difference between counterprotesters and antifa. See: the #brave guy the mom cries about in the article. Presumably it’s something more like that.

        2 – basically nobody anywhere will do anything near as bad as that school did. And if they try, he’ll know his rights. Reread it and ask yourself if he’s likely to ever experience anything like that again.

        • Randy M says:

          basically nobody anywhere will do anything near as bad as that school did.

          I wouldn’t assume this as a given. He was falsely accused of a fairly minor crime, forced to publicly apologize at threat of expulsion. Bad, and a travesty of justice, yes, but not something that can’t happen in college, at a job, or in a court later on.
          He could probably have the same exact thing happen at college, only also be out the semester’s tuition.

          After all,

          Later, from the principal, we learned that school staff had just completed a mandatory training on spotting sexual assault—and the principal acknowledged that perhaps the stress of finishing that course had caused colleagues to overreact.

          Such training is certainly not restricted to this local middle school!

          That said, no, it isn’t likely.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            Sam’s guidance counselor pulled him out of his next class and accused him of “breaking the law.” Before long, he was in the office of a male administrator who informed him that the exchange was “illegal,” hinted that the police were coming, and delivered him into the custody of the school’s resource officer. At the administrator’s instruction, that man ushered Sam into an empty room, handed him a blank sheet of paper, and instructed him to write a “statement of guilt.”

            No one called me as this unfolded, even though Sam cried for about six hours straight as staff members parked him in vacant offices to keep him away from other students.

            I straight-up don’t think this can happen outside of (k-12) school. He will have the vocabulary and legal grounds to demand better treatment than this bullshit.

          • Randy M says:

            I straight-up don’t think this can happen outside of (k-12) school. He will have the vocabulary and legal grounds to demand better treatment than this bullshit.

            Which one? No where else will try this, or it won’t succeed against him again because he’ll know the magic words?

            You have a point that intimidating him into staying inside a room is something a child is uniquely vulnerable to.

            Also, I don’t recall any stories along these lines recently. Maybe things have changed a bit recently?

          • John Schilling says:

            There are legal grounds to demand better treatment from e.g. a college or an employer than “we’ve had a complaint of sexual harassment, we #BelieveAllWomen, grovel or GTFO”? Pretty sure that’s not the case.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Hoppyfreud: Plausible, but the more he exercises foresight for a university treating him like this, the more anti-feminist he’ll be.
            I found really interesting the part where he was interviewing people on the Mall and calling them “intellectually inconsistent” for being Anarchist Nazis or failing to prove that liberals have deprived him of any liberty.
            So he’s not going to grow up to be a Jewish Nazi, but going back to his mom’s ideology would be to ignore any possibility of a repeat in college.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @John

            There are grounds to expect better treatment than being held in a room and threatened with prison unless you confess your guilt, yes. He will get fired at worst, and if he does he will know who to complain to about it.

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Given that his mom appears fully capable of recognizing the injustice of his treatment, why would her ideology preclude that?

          • acymetric says:

            @Randy M

            It is highly unlikely that someone else will try this, simply because while this kind of thing does happen (it shouldn’t) it doesn’t happen very often. This kid will also be uniquely prepared for dealing with it should lightning strike twice for him, because I would guess he has become quite familiar with the relevant laws/policies.

            Also, college students are much more predisposed to say “shove off” to school authority attempting to assert itself in this way than a typical 13 year old.

          • John Schilling says:

            He will get fired at worst, and if he does he will know who to complain to about it.

            Who is that, exactly? It is I believe extremely rare for any court to rule, “The accusation of sexual harassment that was your reason for firing [X] was insufficiently supported; give him his job back or give him lots of money”. With at-will employment (the rule in most states) the issue doesn’t even come up, and “people falsely accused of sexual harassment” is not a legally protected class for employment purposes. That is not a useful avenue of complaint.

            If there is someone else you imagine a person fired due to false accusations of sexual harassment could usefully complain to, I’d like to know who that is.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @John

            OK, we may be cross-talking here. When I say, “know who to complaint to about it” I mean that he’ll probably have a better support network than the_donald, not that he’ll be able to keep his job. I’m saying that if anything like this happens again, it won’t be as bad, and also that if anything like this happens again, he won’t turn into a miserable Extremely Online, depressed alt-righter.

          • Randy M says:

            @acymetric
            If the argument is just that two independent uncommon events happening to the same person is uncommon^2, fine. Maybe Hoopyfreud was simply refuting the narrower point that this guy will have a repeat incident later.
            He did seem to me to be going beyond that to arguing that this kind of pressure, denial of confronting accusers, not getting a chance to argue one’s own side, getting punished without due process, and so forth is absent in other contexts.

            On the point of holding him for six hours against his will, I’ll grant that’s probably confined to the public schools, but holding you for six hours against your will is kinda the business model of public schools, so one can understand why the administrator thought that within his purview.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            I’m arguing that the wirlwind Kafka trap won’t work again. All the individual elements may recur, but I don’t think it’s possible for the pressure, confusion, or pain of that situation to be worse for anyone other than a child in that situation (well, getting that treatment from your parents would be worse, obviously, but that’s already precluded for this dude).

            Like, do you guys remember how fucking scary the police were when you were kids? Or how little you understood about the authority that institutions could hold over you? I’m not nearly as anti-school as some people here, but it’s really fucking intense.

          • John Schilling says:

            I mean that he’ll probably have a better support network than the_donald, not that he’ll be able to keep his job.

            That’s not been my experience with people who have been fired for dubious accusations of sexual harassment or the like. Most adults have a large overlap between their social and professional circles, and even if their former colleagues want to support them, the fact that they are physically separated and out of the loop on major events makes that hard to implement. Most of the rest of their first-tier social support comes from family, and living at home with loving parents should be about as good as it gets in that category. And if e.g. a church were going to fill that role, I expect it already would have.

            It is certainly possible that future!Sam will have e.g. a wife who loves him as much as his mother did in this story but is better at turning that into actual support, but it could just as well go the other way.

          • Randy M says:

            I’m not really sure that he learned anything about how to avoid or disarm these situations, should he find himself in that thankfully unlikely circumstance again. Ultimately, he gave in, avoided more serious administrative discipline, but grew depressed and cynical at the humiliation of it.

            Yeah, kids are especially unaware of how the world works and lack the perspective to see how things usually get better so there’s no need to panic. By virtue of maturity and life experience, he’ll be better equipped to handle unjust persecution.

            But in this particular case, I missed the part where he learned what he should have done to short circuit the interrogation or get out of the laughable charges.
            Maybe you mean he learned that the police won’t be called just because someone allegedly says something mean (in the USA)? True, though there are real charges he could be threatened with in more savvy contexts, and in any case, losing a job or enrollment in a college are more serious consequences that having to move to the High school one town over.

          • quanta413 says:

            Like, do you guys remember how fucking scary the police were when you were kids? Or how little you understood about the authority that institutions could hold over you? I’m not nearly as anti-school as some people here, but it’s really fucking intense.

            I was considerably less afraid of the police or other authority institutions as a child than I am now. And I think that’s an accurate judgement. As a child, I was largely shielded from the full authority of the police, justice system, or other people in general (besides my parents). Now I’m an adult. This has been a great improvement, but one of the few downsides is I have considerably more to lose now if the weight of the world comes crashing down on me specifically (but not my parents) than it did then. My parents can’t shield me now.

            Losing friends for a year is crappy, but not nearly as bad as winding up unwillingly unemployed for a year.

          • The Nybbler says:

            John Schilling is right and a lot of you are just-worlding here.

            The college accusing him of something won’t lock him in a room, no. They’ll tell him, however, if he leaves he is immediately expelled, forfeits all tuition and/or scholarships, and must leave campus immediately, not so much as returning to his dorm to get his stuff. They may or may not have a campus police officer escort him off premises if he calls them on this. What’s he going to do at that point? Sure, he can call his parents. What’s their response going to be?

            A) “Oh no, those unjust school authorities are picking on my boy. Let me call my friend the Senator/Regent/Mossad agent and get it all straightened out”

            B) “AGAIN? What did you do THIS time, boy? I hope you have some plan for the rest of your life, because WE won’t be supporting you. And we’ll be expecting you to pay back those loans!”

            Unless his name is Huffman or Loughlin, “B” is going to be closer to correct, at least for the initial response. The usual response from parents when a child is punished by school authorities is not to back up the child.

            As for work, if he gets fired for unjust accusations of sexual harassment, he does indeed “know who to complain to about it”. If he’s got the money, he can pay a mental health professional to pretend to care. Otherwise, he’s best off talking to a stone wall, or basically anything that can’t repeat the story, so he’s got a chance of gainful employment in the future.

            Like, do you guys remember how fucking scary the police were when you were kids?

            They were a lot scarier when I was an adult being arrested.

            (However, I should probably register my suspicion that the original article is basically a creative writing exercise)

          • greenwoodjw says:

            John Schilling is right and a lot of you are just-worlding here.

            The college accusing him of something won’t lock him in a room, no. They’ll tell him, however, if he leaves he is immediately expelled, forfeits all tuition and/or scholarships, and must leave campus immediately, not so much as returning to his dorm to get his stuff. They may or may not have a campus police officer escort him off premises if he calls them on this. What’s he going to do at that point? Sure, he can call his parents. What’s their response going to be?

            A) “Oh no, those unjust school authorities are picking on my boy. Let me call my friend the Senator/Regent/Mossad agent and get it all straightened out”

            B) “AGAIN? What did you do THIS time, boy? I hope you have some plan for the rest of your life, because WE won’t be supporting you. And we’ll be expecting you to pay back those loans!”

            Unless his name is Huffman or Loughlin, “B” is going to be closer to correct, at least for the initial response. The usual response from parents when a child is punished by school authorities is not to back up the child

            These parents, having gone through it once already, have an almost 100% chance of going with option A. And also suing the school. And getting several hundred thousand dollars from the school in settlement.

            As for work, if he gets fired for unjust accusations of sexual harassment, he does indeed “know who to complain to about it”. If he’s got the money, he can pay a mental health professional to pretend to care. Otherwise, he’s best off talking to a stone wall, or basically anything that can’t repeat the story, so he’s got a chance of gainful employment in the future.

            Having gone through it once, he’ll be in a better position to weather the charge and survive it. Even if he is let go, he can find another position somewhere else, especially since modern businesses won’t even talk about good employees for fear of lawsuits.

            Reality isn’t just, but it’s also not grimdark.

          • acymetric says:

            We aren’t just-worlding, we’re just saying things aren’t quite as bad in American colleges as is being suggested (not that these issues are imagined, just that they are being exaggerated) and emphasizing that the control/power dynamic is very different between a principle/SRO and a 13 year old vs. a Dean of Student Affairs (or whatever) and a college student.

            Take it from someone who was threatened with legal action by their University (which was preposterous) and also faced potential expulsion/loss of full ride (which would have been an overreaction but not entirely unreasonable). That process is nowhere near as intimidating, and does not involve any involuntary confinement.

            These descriptions of what could happen to him in college do not match the actual processes (even for actual sexual assault) at colleges.

            This whole situation is basically only possible at public K-12 schools, unless you are actually arrested (the police can obviously do the same or worse).

          • The Nybbler says:

            These parents, having gone through it once already, have an almost 100% chance of going with option A.

            Nope. Probably not only go for Option B, they’ll reconsider their judgement of the previous school based on the reasoning that the common element between the two situations is the kid.

            And also suing the school. And getting several hundred thousand dollars from the school in settlement.

            Seriously just-worlding here. At best they could get a settlement which allowed the kid to return. Even in cases where there was blatant and recorded misconduct on the part of the school, going for a judgement results in years and years of hearings and appeals to get a decision that provides no monetary compensation.

          • John Schilling says:

            And getting several hundred thousand dollars from the school in settlement.

            Under what legal theory or cause of action, and based on what evidence?

          • acymetric says:

            I will agree that a lawsuit is unlikely.

            I’m also not suggesting that he wouldn’t end up expelled over some accusation (although I think it would need to be a much more serious accusation than what drove this incident).

            I’m certainly not suggesting that certain policies at the university level aren’t draconian (they are), just that they aren’t as draconian as is being suggested. Also that regardless of the policies, universities simply don’t have the same physical control (real or perceived by the student) as school officials/SROs at the middle school level.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            There is not a single “university process” because universities each handle issues differently. There are a number of open lawsuits right now from the ridiculous Kangaroo Courts constructed by some universities for their sexual assault proceedings.

            And, no, the existence of some lawsuits does not mean all universities can be held to account for their crappy processes, anymore than some rapists being in jail means all rapists are held to account. You don’t know how many people were soft-pedalled or managed out or otherwise harassed out of university, and didn’t make any sort of case out of it. For instance, you wouldn’t know about THIS case, but for the fact that someone wrote an article about it.

            Courts are not some magic “instant win! Collect Money now!” button.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            Fire’s won several cases on contract law. I think they’ve won some cash settlements as well, but I can’t remember the details to find it.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            Probably not only go for Option B, they’ll reconsider their judgement of the previous school based on the reasoning that the common element between the two situations is the kid.

            https://www.artforum.com/uploads/upload.001/id10750/article_large.jpg

          • acymetric says:

            I find it interesting that people are throwing around accusations of Just World-ing by providing unsubstantiated just-so stories informed primarily by the axe they have to grind with given institutions (blue tribe, public schools, universities, parents, mean kids, etc.).

            This article is basically the perfect storm for the audience of this blog.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Hoppyfreud:

            Given that his mom appears fully capable of recognizing the injustice of his treatment, why would her ideology preclude that?

            “Those online pals were happy to explain that all girls lie—especially about rape. And they had lots more knowledge to impart. …

            Sam prides himself on questioning conventional wisdom and subjecting claims to intellectual scrutiny. For kids today, that means Googling stuff. One might think these searches would turn up a variety of perspectives, including at least a few compelling counterarguments. One would be wrong. The Google searches flooded his developing brain with endless bias-confirming ‘proof’ to back up whichever specious alt-right standard was being hoisted that week. Each set of results acted like fertilizer sprinkled on weeds: A forest of distortion flourished.”

            She sounds like she didn’t update her political beliefs at all after this experience, and admits to training herself to make a facial expression to falsely convey “it would seem as if I’d actually considered his perspective.” Never anywhere in her writing does she reflect that #believeallwomen could hurt other boys like her son, that while she might have been devestated by the 2016 election, the climate under President Clinton II could have doubled down on Kafkaesque trials of male students…

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m not sure what the Zizek meme is about, but certainly you have heard the bit of folk wisdom “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”

          • acymetric says:

            Nowhere in the article is there anything that would even suggest the author is #believeallwomen. Not being interested in entertaining the idea that girls lie about rape all the time is not enough to make that assumption, nor is the fact that the mother is blue tribe. In fact, the only evidence available (that she did not take seriously the accusation that started the whole thing) suggests exactly the opposite.

            This seems like choosing a pet narrative and then making giant assumptions or unwarranted inferences to make the story in this article fit them.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I’m not sure what the Zizek meme is about,

            Zizek? Oh! I thought that was Luke Skywalker complaining about the new Star Wars’s writing.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Nowhere in the article is there anything that would even suggest the author is #believeallwomen. Not being interested in entertaining the idea that girls lie about rape all the time is not enough to make that assumption, nor is the fact that the mother is blue tribe.

            Sure, she could definitely be more moderate than that. But everything she says indicates someone invincible against updating her beliefs, however humanely moderate they might be. I mean, her family almost literally got mugged by reality!

          • acymetric says:

            What belief do you feel she is failing to update on? You seem to be assuming what she believes, and assuming that she has failed to update those beliefs, neither of which are supported by the article. This all basically sounds like “boo, outgroup” to me.

            You’re also cherry picking the one viewpoint mentioned in the article that would be reasonable to update on. It is hardly surprising that she (a Jewish mother) would fail to engage in a discussion about or update her beliefs on Jewish conspiracies, right?

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @The Nybbler

            It means that this is the most purely refined ideology I’ve snorted in like the last week.

            Acymetric is making the nice version of this argument, but the abrasive version is: this sounds like a paranoid ideological fantasy with nothing behind it. It’s literally just an assertion that this mother will throw her kid to the wolves, despite her not doing that. Your model for this is prima facie implausible for human beings and implicitly relying on it to do the heavy lifting for your argument drags the level of discourse down. If you don’t show your work when you make a claim like that, expect to be dismissed.

          • aristides says:

            @ RalMirrorAd I think he just changed friends, and his political views went with it. He’s upper middle class or rich, Jewish, and goes to a private school, I’d me shocked if his friend group was anything but liberal, and that will probably continue for years.

            @Hoopyfrued I would estimate that far right news sources post a story equally as bad as this on a weekly basis while college is in session. Now the base rate is 16 million college students, so it is highly, highly unlikely to happen again. If it does, it is likely he goes back to his old ways, but that should never be an assumption.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Aristides

            I would estimate that far right news sources post a story equally as bad as this on a weekly basis while college is in session.

            I will happily update my estimation of the awfulness of current college administrations if you can bear this claim out, but I’m not seeing it.

        • Nick says:

          1 – there’s a difference between counterprotesters and antifa. See: the #brave guy the mom cries about in the article. Presumably it’s something more like that.

          Uh, yeah, this. I have no idea why RalMirrorAd is rounding off the one to the other.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          1. Makes sense enough

          2. The schools actions were rare but not unique. There are universities that take the ‘Always believe the victim’ mantra seriously and some have been involved in false rape or sexual harassment allegations. It’s obviously the tip of the spear and so we don’t expect many people to be subjected to it.

          What’s not rare is that he as a college student is obliged to be taught the moral reasoning behind the kind of treatment he got in middle school. It’s going to be taken very seriously by his instructors and peers and if he doesn’t take it seriously he’s going to find himself in a bad situation, albeit not with the law.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            See the passage I quoted above. His college won’t lock him in a room for 6 hours and refuse to explain anything, and won’t try to convince him that that kind of stasi shit was justified, because it’s cartoonishly evil.

            I’m not saying they won’t go further than is reasonable, but your characterization is histrionic.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            His college won’t lock him in a room for 6 hours and refuse to explain anything, and won’t try to convince him that that kind of stasi shit was justified, because it’s cartoonishly evil.

            And if they do, he’ll be thinking about how he’ll spend his lawsuit settlement, not thinking about how he will survive prison.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            If we’re dealing with the ability to detain someone for a long period of time and convince them that they might find themselves in trouble with the law, then you’re probably correct. I can’t imagine a university having the same legal power over someone as a public school.

            I’m thinking more broadly about the ability of an institution to take a sexual harassment allegation at face value and then retaliate against the accused, in the form of removal or expulsion. (What Randy M describes)

            I’m also thinking in terms of, those things that happen in college are more likely to permanently affect a person’s economic prospects then things that happen prior to high school. Even though something that happens to someone before high school is going to be more psychologically damaging because the person is younger and therefore more vulnerable.

          • John Schilling says:

            His college won’t lock him in a room for 6 hours and refuse to explain anything,

            His high school almost certainly didn’t lock him in a room for six hours either.

            And it’s not illegal and probably not actionably tortious for e.g. a college to say “What you did is illegal, the police are coming to arrest you, and even if they don’t we’re going to expel you and cast you into economic oblivion, and there’s nothing you can do about it but maybe we’ll reconsider if you do everything we say, now go sit in that room.” Possibly this is a lie, but the “we’re going to expel you unless you do everything we say” part may not be. Either way, I doubt there’s a winning lawsuit in it for Sam.

            There’s a good chance that the issue simply doesn’t come up again, of course. It usually doesn’t.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @John

            Accidental report, oops.

            There may not have been a lock on the door, but I’m certain that the school would not allow him to leave. That’s how most schools treat children IME. In the future, he will at least have the option to walk out of the room. He almost certainly won’t be threatened with arrest (because that’s the sort of thing only a kid will believe).

            I’m not saying he’ll be immune to unjust persecution; I’m saying that he won’t be subject to anything more (or even as) rigorous or miserable than what he’s already seen.

          • John Schilling says:

            There may not have been a lock on the door, but I’m certain that the school would not allow him to leave.

            I’d be surprised if any teacher or administrator would have laid a hand on him to stop him if he’d walked out, because that way risks lawsuits once he’s big enough that “make him stop by force” risks injury. And I don’t recall any mention of school police or security being present for that part of the tale. So I expect “not allowing” him to leave would be implemented only by threat of life-ruining levels of punishment for disobedience coupled with trained obedience to authority.

            Which is something any college or university can do, to anyone who has internalized our society’s nigh-unanimous message that you’ll starve in the gutter if you don’t get a degree from a Good University. And if he’s an undergraduate, there’s a good chance that he’s living in campus-owned housing anyway, giving them an avenue of control not open to high school administrators.

          • bean says:

            And I don’t recall any mention of school police or security being present for that part of the tale.

            She did say Resource Officer, which at my high school was what they called the police officer who stayed on campus. (OK, we said Student Resource Officer, but I read that and thought “police”. But who knows how middle schools in DC work.)

          • John Schilling says:

            She did say Resource Officer, which at my high school was what they called the police officer who stayed on campus.

            Good point, so provisionally retracted on my part.

          • acymetric says:

            Resource officer definitely connotates “school police”. They aren’t technically police offers, but do have some of the same authority and middle schoolers probably don’t draw much of a distinction there except for the ones that are particularly saavy regarding law enforcement.

            That said, that a school administrator won’t make physical contact to restrain a student is not a safe assumption (and that is partly what resource officers are there to do, so that the teachers don’t have to) just because they shouldn’t do that.

            Also, how big was this kid at 13 that restraining him risked injury. Even typical athletes at that age aren’t all that big/strong yet.

            People seem to be mixing their ideological complaints about various institutions here.

            It is easy to believe that a 13 year old would fall victim to being inappropriately detained by school officials.

            It is only easy to believe the same would happen to a college student if we assume the student is among the most meek/naive subset of college students. I certainly don’t think this guy will fall into that category at this point. A majority of college students are predisposed to resist that kind of imposition from authority by that time in their lives (more so than the same student would be even a short 5-10 years later post-college).

          • greenwoodjw says:

            SROs are uniformed police in schools. It’s just a euphemism.

          • DeWitt says:

            She did say Resource Officer, which at my high school was what they called the police officer who stayed on campus.

            This is a thing? Commonly? Really?

          • acymetric says:

            From Wikipedia (so grain of salt, but a decent ballpark)

            In the 2015-16 school year, the following percentages of schools reported having one or more SROs at their school at least once per week:[15]

            77% of schools with 1000 or more students
            47% of schools with 500-999 students
            36% of schools with 300-499 students
            24% of schools with fewer than 300 students

            Overall, 42% of public schools host an SRO and an additional 10.9% host a sworn law enforcement officer, as of 2016.

            Keep in mind, many of these schools have more than one resource officer (my highschool with a little over 2,000 students had 3, plus occasional presences actual on-the-job police officers as well).

            3 years later those numbers are almost definitely higher by a decent amount. 52.9% is actually lower than I would have guessed.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            My high school included a police substation. We had two Resource Officers, who were uniformed, sworn police officers armed with handguns. One of them taught a one semester elective I took. I can’t remember the exact name of it, but it was something like “Law Studies” or “Law Enforcement Studies.”

            I don’t see anything weird about this. High school students do dangerous and illegal things on campus, like fighting or selling drugs. If there’s a physical confrontation involved, isn’t that better handled by police than a teacher?

          • John Schilling says:

            High school students do dangerous and illegal things on campus, like fighting or selling drugs.

            Most high school students don’t do those things, except for fairly minor levels of “fighting”. In olden times, the problem of the minority who did was best solved by removing those students. Which, yes, sometimes required the equivalent of “resource officers” in the reform schools where those students wound up, but normal students and teachers didn’t need full-time armed guards to protect them from that sort of crap.

            Now, it’s probably best dealt with by telling parents that if their children’s school has a “resource officer” then it offers nothing better than an old-time reform-school excuse for an education and if they care about their children they should do whatever it takes to get them into a different school that doesn’t come with armed guards. Preemptively, rather than waiting for things to find a way to blow up on them. This should achieve the same end result, though the way we currently go about it will involve a lot of overpriced residential real estate transactions.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Most people don’t commit violent crimes. Yet we have police officers to deal with the small percentage of people who do.

            Most high school students don’t commit violent crimes. Yet we have ROs to deal with the small percentage of students who do.

            My kindergartener goes to the nicest, newest elementary school in the best part of town in a cozy red state suburb, and there’s an armed police officer on campus. So I don’t know where you think I should send him, except maybe Catholic school.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            Now, it’s probably best dealt with by telling parents that if their children’s school has a “resource officer” then it offers nothing better than an old-time reform-school excuse for an education and if they care about their children they should do whatever it takes to get them into a different school that doesn’t come with armed guards.

            Are you suggesting that this is true, or that we try to spin it as being true so as to change behavior?

            I’m pretty sure plenty of quality schools come with a police officer: my high school from ~10 years back had (and presumably still has) one, despite being an upper-middle-class environment, a fairly quality education, and to the best of my knowledge no important reasons to actually have a police officer around. If my parents had moved school districts over that, I don’t think it would have positively affected my education. I’m not even sure there were significantly better school districts in the state.

            And when you’re proposing fairly significant costs in relocating, I’m not sure parents are going to bite without strong backing data that not relocating is going to cause harm.

            I guess maybe now there’s the potential for the Stasi-esque stuff that prompted this thread with the added sting of “and you can’t just leave, because police”, but I’m not sure that’s going to correlate with having a police officer in the school: I would not be surprised at all to see the exact same behavior without the police officer. Because as you mentioned upthread, the school has effective enforcement mechanisms beyond physically preventing you from leaving.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            My kindergartener goes to the nicest, newest elementary school in the best part of town in a cozy red state suburb, and there’s an armed police officer on campus. So I don’t know where you think I should send him, except maybe Catholic school.

            Having a cop in an elementary school is either Potemkin safety or where the school dumps their discipline problems. Either is bad.

          • John Schilling says:

            Most people don’t commit violent crimes. Yet we have police officers to deal with the small percentage of people who do.

            Yes, and we don’t permanently assign police officers to churches, office buildings, movie theaters, etc, or have special church-police, office-police, movie-theater police forces to protect those buildings. What is it about schools that should make them an exception to this pattern?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t know if I’d call it Potemkin safety. While I think fears of another Sandy Hook are blown massively out of proportion, a visible* police officer standing watch every day while the kids file in might persuade a would-be shooter to pick an easier target.

            * an invisible police officer would be awesome, but probably not as good for deterrence.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            What is it about schools that should make them an exception to this pattern?

            Children who can’t defend themselves, or choose not to attend? Also, even at my upper middle class high school fights were a weekly occurrence (usually among the non-upper middle class portion of the student body). No one at my office, church, or movie theater has ever gotten into a fight.

          • acymetric says:

            I think a resource officer at an elementary school is more there to deal with unwanted visitors than problem students. The purpose shifts towards dealing with students in middle school and especially high school.

            This is probably getting more and more common as a (probably unhelpful) response to school shootings.

          • DeWitt says:

            I don’t see anything weird about this.

            I do. I tried looking up what percentage of schools here have permanently stationed police officers, and I can’t even find the statistic; people mostly seem to agree it’s just not a thing. I’m certainly happy that it’s not, because the police isn’t generally lacking for things to do and having an officer stationed at every school(or even half) seems like a very irresponsible use of their manpower.

            This isn’t really a criticism of the US; whatever you people want to do with your police officers is up to you. I’m just happy this isn’t an issue over here.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            High schools have a high concentration of the 16-24 year-old males that commit most of the violent crime.

          • Protagoras says:

            This was just over 30 years ago, but back then my public high school with more than 2000 students got by just fine with zero cops permanently assigned to the school. Count me as one of those with serious doubts that our trend toward making schools more like prisons has made things better in any way.

          • Most people don’t commit violent crimes. Yet we have police officers to deal with the small percentage of people who do.

            Most hotels don’t have a police officer. Most restaurants don’t. Most office buildings don’t. Many (most?) schools do.

            The usual approach is to have police officers somewhere in the city and send them out when there is a problem, not to station them in each building on the assumption that problems requiring their attention will be common enough to make that worth doing.

          • johan_larson says:

            My concern with putting cops in schools is that power that is available tends to be used. This means that some problems that might have been dealt with through ordinary disciplinary measures (detentions, suspensions, expulsions) will be dealt with through arrests. Arresting someone is a very serious matter,, because the agents of the criminal justice system have extremely broad discretion, and can impose severe penalties with life-long consequences. We should not welcome such an institution into any domain of life unless it is obviously needed and all less severe measures have failed.

            I can easily picture my kid getting into an argument with another student, and if both of them are hopped up on youthful masculine vigor both double down repeatedly, so words turn into posturing turns into shoving turns into punching and suddenly one of them is bleeding on the ground. Something is called for, and that is probably a scolding from a vice principal and a suspension. But because a cop is present and cops do what they do, both parties are arrested. And because someone was actually injured, the prosecutor decides to prosecute for felony assault and succeeds. So now my kid’s a felon and probably got kicked out of the middle class for life. Great.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            I’m really late to this discussion, but as someone who works every day in a public school, y’all are blowing the SRO thing way out of proportion.

            I grew up and now work in a couple of the nicest, richest, suburbiest schools in the state. And those districts have literally always had an SRO. The fact that everyone is baffled by this is confusing to me, because I’ve never been in a school without one, and I’ve never had cause to believe that Missouri is unusual in this (in fact, per the statistics listed above, it’s not).

            The SRO is not an “armed guard,” forbiddingly looming over the students like the SS. He’s just another member of staff. In high school, he usually dealt with before and after school traffic, taught classes on things like safety and not doing drugs (DARE was big then), and occasionally rousting miscreants out of the parking lot and other minor disciplinary issues.

            At my present place of work, we get one on loan from the local municipality’s police department, rotating every few years. He splits his time between the middle school and the handful of elementary schools we have, and does mostly the same thing – minor disciplinary things, traffic management, teaching a few seminars on law & crime related topics. Got his own little office in the administrative wing, nice guy.

            Basically, the weird dystopian image of schools conjured in this thread bears no resemblance to my day to day reality. I felt it was worth momentarily ceasing lurking to point that out.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            Count me in as one of the people who find the orwellianly named “Resource Officer” concept to be a bad sign, and a good indicator of a sick society.

            My public school experience spanned over a dozen different schools over three states, and there were *NO* “resource officers”.

      • rubberduck says:

        How does someone go from Alt-right to AntiFa in 2 years?

        I can totally believe this, actually. I have a teenage relative who got into the alt-right in mid-2016, then maybe a year and a half later he suddenly swung around to being really far left, and now he’s drifting towards anarchism. I attribute it to teenagers being very volatile.

        • acymetric says:

          I attribute it to teenagers being very volatile.

          Breaking News!

          This pretty much hits the nail on the head. “It’s just a phase” has become a bit of a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real thing.

        • broblawsky says:

          It’s entirely possible that the events between mid-2016 and the present might have changed his mind about the consequences of policies supported by the alt-right.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          One of my friends in high school used to oscillate between fascism and communism, although TBH I always got the impression that this was mostly just about being edgy rather than seriously wanting to bring about a fascist/communist utopia.

      • albatross11 says:

        I very much doubt that kid is ever going to be easy fodder for any variant of #believeallwomen.

      • Nornagest says:

        Going from alt-right to center-left inside two years is believable; people, especially 14-year-olds, convert like that all the time. (I thought I was some sort of anarchist at 14, IIRC.) But the bit about a meeting with a counterprotester turning his politics around doesn’t ring true to me. Anyone who spends as much time in a political forum as this kid does, has antibodies to that kind of thing.

        It does say that change was slow after that, though, so I expect he just fell in with some new RL friends and adopted their politics, and the mother wrongly identified the counterprotester episode as a turning point after the fact. If it happened at all — it’s got a Hallmark-moment ring to it.

        • acymetric says:

          I didn’t get the impression that there was a direct connection implied between meeting that protester and the change, but maybe I need to re-read the article. I did get the impression that the kid was interested in “studying” attendees from both sides, which I thought was the main point of that part.

          I thought your second paragraph was more or less exactly the explanation posited by the article.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        How does someone go from Alt-right to AntiFa in 2 years? I suppose it makes some sense given a 14y/o probably isn’t going to have very strong beliefs to begin with.

        It’s also worth remembering the kid is Jewish; the alt-right can’t have been an easy fit for him ideologically to begin with.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think it depends on the definition of the alt-right being used. “Alt-right” was coined by Richard Spencer circa 2007 as a rebranding of white nationalism to disassociate pro-white advocacy from anti-other advocacy (KKK, nazis). No one cared because identity politics weren’t as big a thing then, and definitely not white identity politics. The term floated around a little and people took it to mean “right, but not mainstream.” I first heard the term in 2015, applied to Death Eaters.

          By the time Milo Yiannopolous wrote the article about the alt-right on Breitbart in 2016 the term had expanded to be “literally everyone rightish who is not a GOP neocon.” So that was right libertarians, paleocons, edgy internet memsters, and yes, neo-nazis. But then immediately after the election Spencer did his “heil Trump” thing, the definition collapsed back down to “just nazis*” and any e-celeb who wasn’t a nazi who had ever claimed to be alt-right backpedaled hard (Paul Joseph Watson, Cernovich, etc). Now due to rhetorical effectiveness and/or outgroup homogeneity bias, liberals like the mother in the article group everyone who doesn’t hate Trump under “alt-right.” But so long as we’re not talking about the “nazis only” definition of alt-right then there’s no problem with a Jewish kid being a paleocon or a libertarian or an edgy internet memster (what this guy was). After all, Milo is Jewish.

          * Eh, even after the “heil Trump” thing it was possible to extend charity to the alt-right as people who were “advocating for the interests of white people, but not hatefully against other people.” That ended at Charlottesville, though, when they had David Duke and literal Klansmen and Nazis walking around unchallenged. If the goal of creating a new label is to distance yourself from Klansmen and Nazis, you have to actually distance yourself from Klansmen and Nazis.

          • rlms says:

            Good description.

          • acymetric says:

            Well, the kid was peddling in Jewish conspiracy theories, so that informs us a little bit as to which brand of alt-right he was engaged with.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, edgy internet memster. There might be a whiff of two of jewish conspiracy theories on 4chan I hear.

            Also, it depends on what exactly he told his mom. It could be “Jews are disproportionately represented in [high intellectual achievement field]” and mom interprets that as “the Jews run the world.” She said he spent almost all of his time on reddit, and I don’t think there’s much spencer-esque alt-right on reddit. The sub she’s probably talking about is /r/The_Donald which is as pro-Israel as Trump (who is very pro-Israel).

          • albatross11 says:

            I think there are a fair number of Jews who fit broadly in the human b-odiversity world. This fits the usual pattern–it’s an intellectual movement, so the ethnic group in the US that’s a standard deviation smarter than the average tends to show up a lot. Similar things apply to libertarians, socialists, objectivists, neocons, rationalists, etc.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Also, the rally mentioned is the Mother of All Rallies, which was a pro-Trump rally featuring:

            Gays for Trump
            Patriot Prayer
            3 Percenters
            American Guard
            Oath Keepers
            Proud Boys

            This is not Spencer/WN stuff. I don’t know what “American Guard” is but the rest of these are either basic right-wing or e-celeb stuff. Given his interest in anti-feminism, I’m guessing he probably most identified with the Proud Boys.

          • J Mann says:

            The quote on Jews was:

            They told Sam that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that Jews run global financial networks. (We’re Jewish and don’t know anyone who runs anything, but I guess the evidence was convincing.) They insisted that the wage gap is a fallacy, that feminazis are destroying families, that people need guns to protect themselves from government incursions onto private property. They declared that women who abort their babies should be jailed.

            If the statement is “some Jews run global financial networks,” then the fact that the mom doesn’t know them isn’t evidence, but if it’s “all Jews run global financial networks,” then presumably young Sam could determine it was false by self-reflection.

            Without the actual statement, it’s hard to judge, although it sounds like there were a fair number of idiots among Sam’s new friends.

          • Nick says:

            Without the actual statement, it’s hard to judge, although it sounds like there were a fair number of idiots among Sam’s new friends.

            Yeah, even controlling for mom’s bias, they didn’t sound like a good group. Based on the list of rally groups Conrad gave, Proud Boys stuck out to me, but there’s a bunch there I don’t recognize, and if they really were the Proud Boys I’d expect more “we built Western civilization and should be proud of it” in his #brave truthtelling.

            Tangential, but for me the interesting thing about the folks he fell in with is that it’s much more outgroup than fargroup, you know what I mean? Like, when we hear about someone’s 14 year old anarchist phase, we find it adorable. When we hear about someone’s 14 year old antifa phase, we are (rightly) Concerned. I wonder if it’s sheer bad luck that he fell in with this crowd rather than a fargroup mom would have seen as harmless; mom seems to think this is a serious problem right now, but what if there’s 9-1 odds he became a disgruntled abolish-the-department-of-education libertarian instead?

            My takeaway is someone should have introduced the kid to SSC.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Wouldn’t let me edit…

            Anyway, looking at that list we can rule out “Gays for Trump” (she probably would have mentioned if the kid came out as gay), Oath Keepers (not a former police/military), 3 Percenters (she would have mentioned if he got super into guns and joined a militia). I don’t know what “American Guard” is but it sounds like something that’s probably something like 3 Percenters so same logic applies. Maybe Patriot Prayer (pro-1A) but given his experience with feminism and his desire to make (masculine?) bonds, it’s almost certainly Proud Boys that he fell in with. And they’re not alt-right, and definitely not Spencer/WN alt-right. So I think the author is using “alt-right” as a stand-in for “fringe internet right-wing stuff.”

            ETA: @Nick that’s a good point. I’ve thought for awhile that the “edgy internet right-wing nazi LARPers” thing is the modern version of the 14-year-olds in my high school who sat in the back of the class, dressed in all black, drew pentagrams on their notebooks and pretended to hail Satan. When the preachy social group in power is all about Jesus and how the Devil is evil and everywhere, kids are going to LARP as Satanists. When the preachy social group in power is all about Social Justice and how evil Nazis are everywhere, kids are going to LARP as Nazis.

          • Nick says:

            ETA: @Nick that’s a good point. I’ve thought for awhile that the “edgy internet right-wing nazi LARPers” thing is the modern version of the 14-year-olds in my high school who sat in the back of the class, dressed in all black, drew pentagrams on their notebooks and pretended to hail Satan. When the preachy social group in power is all about Jesus and how the Devil is evil and everywhere, kids are going to LARP as Satanists. When the preachy social group is power is all about Social Justice and how evil Nazis are everywhere, kids are going to LARP as Nazis.

            I had a few of those at my school. One engaged in a bit of performative racism, the sort where he’d say the n word or something loud enough for his classmates to hear but not loud enough for the teacher to. This didn’t work on me, so he used Plato’s theory of forms instead, since I was already a dyed in the wool Aristotelian. Another was an obnoxious atheist who carried about Mein Kampf and, when prompted, would say “he was a great leader.”

            And don’t tell anyone, but I had an anarchist phase in college too. I was a little more self-aware than most, I, uh, hope. It was basically Dorothy Day distributism meets James Scott’s two cheers for anarchism.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            This didn’t work on me, so he used Plato’s theory of forms instead, since I was already a dyed in the wool Aristotelian

            This is either a very good joke or you had a very weird high school.

          • Nick says:

            This is either a very good joke or you had a very weird high school.

            It’s a very good joke the universe was playing on me.

          • albatross11 says:

            Most people can’t do statistics or probabilistic reasoning. This leads to the two classic errors:

            I tell you that men are taller than women on average. (Maybe I leave the “on average” implied.)

            a. You decide that I must be wrong because you know a tall woman and a short man.

            b. You decide that anyone who claims that there are tall women or short men must be wrong or lying.

            Error (b) is common among the human b-odiversity adjacent, who will sometimes make some goofy comment about how blacks can’t be physicists because they’re not smart enough, or that women can’t be engineers because they’re not spatial enough.

            Error (a) is common among people responding to the human b-odiversity adjacent.

            The problem is that most people just don’t have the concept of a statistical distribution in their head, nor the difference between a population, the average of the population (mean, median, mode, whatever), and an individual drawn from the population (who may be an outlier). And while a person of normal intelligence can reason his way past that lack of underlying concept, most people find this much harder when they’re reasoning toward an unwanted conclusion–whether that’s “there really are reasons why women and men compete in different sports brackets” or “Neil DeGrasse Tyson really is smarter than me.”

          • albatross11 says:

            Nick:

            +1

            OTOH, I’m not sure introducing a geeky smart idea-driven kid to the rationalist movement is the *optimal* way to improve his popularity at school….

            Principal: What are you in the office for *this* time, Johnson?

            Kid: Ms Saunders didn’t like it when I said her definition of social welfare was a motte-and-bailey.

            Principal: Weren’t you in here last week for accusing the religion teacher of employing the dark arts?

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Obviously there’s no problem with a Jew being a member of the alt-right; there was a notorious article a while back, and I believe the term alt-right derives from Richard Spencer’s mentor, Paul Gottfried. And, as I pointed out below, even full-blown Nazism can still attract Jews.
            But it’s also pretty clear that hanging out with the alt-lite would’ve meant bumping up against the more hardcore alt-right, and it shouldn’t be surprising if a 14-year old was willing to be an edgy meme-lord for a while but formed little lasting attachment to the movement if around the edges of the movement there was plenty of real antisemitism, and if a good portion of the edgy memes were targeted against people like him.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Conrad:

            I think it depends on the definition of the alt-right being used. “Alt-right” was coined by Richard Spencer circa 2007 as a rebranding of white nationalism to disassociate pro-white advocacy from anti-other advocacy (KKK, nazis). No one cared because identity politics weren’t as big a thing then, and definitely not white identity politics. The term floated around a little and people took it to mean “right, but not mainstream.” I first heard the term in 2015, applied to Death Eaters.

            By the time Milo Yiannopolous wrote the article about the alt-right on Breitbart in 2016 the term had expanded to be “literally everyone rightish who is not a GOP neocon.” So that was right libertarians, paleocons, edgy internet memsters, and yes, neo-nazis. But then immediately after the election Spencer did his “heil Trump” thing, the definition collapsed back down to “just nazis*” and any e-celeb who wasn’t a nazi who had ever claimed to be alt-right backpedaled hard (Paul Joseph Watson, Cernovich, etc). Now due to rhetorical effectiveness and/or outgroup homogeneity bias, liberals like the mother in the article group everyone who doesn’t hate Trump under “alt-right.”

            +1
            This mom has the cognitive bias that anyone who doesn’t hate Trump is a Nazi, so when her victimized son replaced his eighth grade sociopath peers with r/thedonald, it feels like her son is becoming a Nazi. When she describes him meeting Nazis face-to-face, he comes across as a smart kid looking for internal inconsistencies in them.
            Him parroting claims from the internet that Jews run the world speaks against that, but she owed it to the god of intellectual honesty to unpack that. After all, their family is Jewish, and a kid this smart shouldn’t have been telling her something like “all Jews are a conspiracy of the richest percent or two of the population.” If he made a truth claim like “a conspiratorial oligarchy of billionaries run the world, and more than 50% are Jewish”, well, uh… maybe? That data may not check out, and people generally take it as a prior that conspiracy theories are false, but her counter-claim doesn’t even mention that, just “well I’m sure not in the conspiracy.” That’s talking past her son with Red Herrings and such.

            @Eugene:

            But it’s also pretty clear that hanging out with the alt-lite would’ve meant bumping up against the more hardcore alt-right, and it shouldn’t be surprising if a 14-year old was willing to be an edgy meme-lord for a while but formed little lasting attachment to the movement if around the edges of the movement there was plenty of real antisemitism, and if a good portion of the edgy memes were targeted against people like him.

            +1
            I can easily see this kid starting with anti-feminism, moving to the larger Trumpenproletariat, taking a deep dive into Anonymous right-wing meme culture, and then outgrowing that phase in part because the antisemitic memes feel hurtful.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nick:

            This didn’t work on me, so he used Plato’s theory of forms instead, since I was already a dyed in the wool Aristotelian.

            What school was this, the School of Athens?

            Plato: points up Forms!
            Aristotle: karate chop hand Them’s fighting words!

          • Nick says:

            @Le Maistre Chat 😀

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            This mom has the cognitive bias that anyone who doesn’t hate Trump is a Nazi, so when her victimized son replaced his eighth grade sociopath peers with r/thedonald, it feels like her son is becoming a Nazi.

            This is really quite a lot to impute to the mom based on…very little, as far as I can tell? We already have her word that her son’s “biggest Reddit hero” was a Nazi; if we’re willing to believe she’s accurately characterizing this guy’s views, then that seems like a not unreasonable basis for her belief that her son is becoming influenced by Nazis.

            More generally, it may shock you to learn, but upper-middle class Jews in big cities almost certainly know many people who not only don’t hate Trump, but even support him, whom they do not consider Nazis. It is certainly possible that the mom is biased, but this sort of caricaturing, armchair psychology of a person based on essentially nothing is not particularly useful.

            EDIT: to add one more thought, that the assumption that the kid was hanging out on /r/the_donald seems to be based on Conrad’s assertion that there isn’t much real Nazi stuff on Reddit…but this would have been in mid-2017, before October 2017 when Reddit banned such subreddits as /r/nazi which I presume was a bit more spicy on the WN front than what remains. It’s possible the kid was on one of the milder forums that survived the ban, but I don’t know if we can be certain of that without more info.

          • quanta413 says:

            His mom wrote that the subreddit he was on gave him a going away gift for camp and implies (although it’s not clear) that they knew it was a Jewish summer camp. I think it’s really unlikely he was hanging out on the nazi subreddit for that as well as other reasons.

            I dunno if it would have been /TheDonald or something else. I’m guessing something edgier. But Jews being edgy about anti-Jewish things is unremarkable. Or past edgy into deeply critical.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            We already have her word that her son’s “biggest Reddit hero” was a Nazi; if we’re willing to believe she’s accurately characterizing this guy’s views, then that seems like a not unreasonable basis for her belief that her son is becoming influenced by Nazis.

            You’re leaving out the part where she said a “black nazi.” That seems like some kind of troll in it for the lulz, not an actual Aryan National Socialist.

            None of the groups attending the MOAR were ethno-nationalist types. If he’d wanted to attend Unite the Right, absolutely, but none of the Unite the Righters were at the MOAR. I think we can safely assume he was “alt-right” like Ben Shapiro is “alt-right.”

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Also, if he were in with the WN type of alt-right, he wouldn’t have stopped at “Jews run global financial networks.” He would have mentioned stuff like “ZOG” (the Zionist Occupied Government). Also Horrible Banned Discourse. Also wouldn’t have been interested in a pro-Trump rally. The WN alt-right does not like Trump, who is the most philosemitic president ever. The WN shooter who attacked the Jews at the synagogue a few weeks ago in his manifesto called Trump a “zionist traitor.”

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            You’re leaving out the part where she said a “black nazi.” That seems like some kind of troll in it for the lulz, not an actual Aryan National Socialist

            .
            As I’ve already pointed out, while it’s unusual, there are indeed people from surprising demographics who become Nazis. What’s more, even if this guy was a troll, he may not have presented as one, and even further, the kinds of forums on which playing as a Nazi counts as “for the lulz” is very plausibly still the kind of forum where you’ll run into actual Nazis.

            None of the groups attending the MOAR were ethno-nationalist types.

            Unless you count the guy with the swastika flag and the black Nazi from Reddit.

            Also, if he were in with the WN type of alt-right, he wouldn’t have stopped at “Jews run global financial networks.”

            The fact that he’s Jewish probably would have inoculated him against the most extreme anti semitism, and anyway, there are absolutely white nationalists who are open to Jews, including if I understand correctly, Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor.

            This is not to say that we have to take the mom’s word at face value about the crowd he fell in with, but we really aren’t given much information beyond what she says, and the idea that we can decide that no, actually, he was just an ordinary Trump supporter and then use this as a basis to psychoanalize the mom is just nuts.

          • Clutzy says:

            What’s more, even if this guy was a troll, he may not have presented as one, and even further, the kinds of forums on which playing as a Nazi counts as “for the lulz” is very plausibly still the kind of forum where you’ll run into actual Nazis.

            I’d like so find out what kind of truth there is to that last part, or if its the kind of thing only people constantly on alert for Nazism see. These special dog-whistle experts find it everywhere despite the total lack of objective evidence. Like, at a Cubs game; at a congressional hearing; in Andrew Yang youtube videos; crappy jokes; and just about everywhere. I don’t have much faith in such assessments without evidence.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            but none of the Unite the Righters were at the MOAR

            For what it’s worth, this also doesn’t appear to be true: American Guard was at both rallies, in particular Brien James. So too were Proud Boys, and the associated Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights though I’m not sure if any notable individuals from these groups attended both rallies.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            None of the groups attending the MOAR were ethno-nationalist types. If he’d wanted to attend Unite the Right, absolutely, but none of the Unite the Righters were at the MOAR. I think we can safely assume he was “alt-right” like Ben Shapiro is “alt-right.”

            Just to follow up on this: at MOAR were:
            3 percenters, American Guard, Oath Keepers, and Proud Boys. In fact, all of those groups were present to some extent at Unite the Right.
            Another group whose members were present at MOAR, though not at Unite the Right, was Aryan Terror Brigade who seem to be pretty unambiguous neo-Nazis.

            In short, while MOAR was less definitively tied to the alt-right than Unite the Right, there seems to have been plenty of presence by people who felt comfortable at UtR, and at least a few open white supremacists; I don’t think we can conclude from his attendance at this rally that the kid was only interacting with the alt-lite.

            @Clutzy
            I don’t understand what you’re asking: are you suggesting I’m wrong that forums where Nazism is acceptable as a joke are more likely to be forums where actual Nazism is present? Or are you suggesting that even the attempt to identify this guy as a Nazi is suspect?

          • rlms says:

            Let’s be charitable, perhaps Aryan Terror Brigade just want to peacefully stand against the more radical claims of the identitarian left!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Proud Boys aren’t “alt-right”? I don’t think that can be correct, as McInnes publically attempted to distance the group from the alt-right in 2017 (meaning they were associated at that time).

            And their stance is explicitly endorsing themes of “Western” supremacy, as well as explicitly endorsing political violence. They claim this has nothing to do with “race or ethnicity”, but … that looks very much like the same thing gussied up.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            OK, I’m trying to look up what the Proud Boys endorse through Wiki-walking that article’s citations. The article claims they explicitly endorse political violence, and it’s not [citation needed]. So I’m looking:


            The Guardian

            Keegan Hankes, an SPLC researcher, said the group had “been open and very consistent about using violence as a tool”. Its use of the footage from Portland, he said, showed how “a good bit of this is about attention-seeking as well. They live on the internet to promote their brands, and that includes Gavin McInnes.”

            McInnes claims his group does not promote violence at all. In a post in which he denied that his group is part of the “alt-right”, he said it was simply “a men’s club that meets about once a month to drink beer”.

            I think we should believe the leader of any organization over what the Southern Poverty Law Center says about them, because the SPLC is just the cult of Morris Dees and whichever of his friends he likes enough to give high-paid non-profit jobs to. This has been extensively documented as far back as 1994!
            “Montgomery Advertiser (Volume 167 Issue 45). The Advertiser Co. p. 1A. ‘Some who’ve worked with Mr. Dees call him phony, the television evangelist of civil rights who misleads donors into thinking the center desperately needs their money.'”

            Next link is the National Review, which manages to do better:

            McInnes is open about his glorification of violence. In a speech, he described a clash with Antifa outside a talk he gave at NYU last year: “My guys are left to fight. And here’s the crucial part: We do. And we beat the crap out of them.” He related what a Proud Boy who got arrested told him afterward: “It was really, really fun.” According to McInnes: “Violence doesn’t feel good. Justified violence feels great. And fighting solves everything.”

            So it looks like McInnes considers violence a sometimes food (most charitable guess: only in self-defense). With the Proud Boys being as decentralized as they are, it’s likely that there’s a consensus of endorsing political violence just like Antifa that McInnes couldn’t stop when he feels like eating vegetables instead.

          • Clutzy says:

            I’m wrong that forums where Nazism is acceptable as a joke are more likely to be forums where actual Nazism is present? Or are you suggesting that even the attempt to identify this guy as a Nazi is suspect?

            Im saying there is little evidence for assertion 1, and there is massive evidence for assertion 2.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Again, the way the Proud Boys are doing it is with a wink and a nod. They say they are for something, then claim they have been taken out of context. Their hazing initiation seems to involve being “beaten in” . There is an embrace of violence that seems intrinsic.

            We can also look at McInnes’ own words:

            “Yes, I do bear any responsibility. I’m not guilt-free in this,” adding, “There’s culpability there. I shouldn’t have said ‘violence solves everything’ or something like that without making the context clear and I regret saying things like that.”

            This in an effort of distancing himself from what he perceives the group has become. He disavowed the Unite the Right rally, but when he left the new chairman is someone who did attend but now claims “they didn’t inhale participate” in the really bad stuff.

            To me this looks like the desire to walk right up to the line and mock people as you put one foot over, pull it back and then claim you weren’t ever over the line.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @HBC: That seems a fairly accurate appraisal.

          • albatross11 says:

            Le Mastre Chat:

            My not-so-informed take is that SPLC labeling someone a racist or purveyor of hatred is approximately as meaningful as the John Birch society labeling someone as a communist in, say, 1970.

          • albatross11 says:

            I thought the Proud Boys were basically the right-wing version of antifas, and typically both groups showed up at a protest to get into a fight with one another. Which would be fine if they didn’t get other people caught up in it, but of course, the kind of guys who show up to a political rally looking for a fight usually aren’t going to be careful about whose head they bash in.

            Antifas and proud boys both seem like exactly the sort of people we employ policemen, prosecutors, and jailers for.

          • Nick says:

            I actually had no idea until this thread that the Proud Boys engaged in violence. I thought they were a more ideologically focused alt-right group who engaged in “it’s okay to be white”–type lib-bait. TIL, I guess.

          • albatross11 says:

            I’m not terribly informed here–this is my impression.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I stand corrected. I did not know Proud Boys were right-wing antifa.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            I did not know Proud Boys were right-wing antifa

            I can’t stand McGinnis but I don’t think that’s fair. As far as I know, the Proud Boys only show up to events branded as “right-wing” to beat up Antifa that try to attack the event. That’s entirely defensive behavior, and largely the opposite of Antifa.

    • paulharvey165 says:

      After reading the whole thing it strikes me as a little far fetched. The characters (especially the school & alt right) are painted in broad strokes, the turnaround is so immediate, and of course it wraps up with the son firmly committed to the correct cause. The way it ends especially reminds me of the tweets where someone’s 4 year old says something profound. It just rings false to me.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        The story of him being at the protest is the only part that strikes me as absolutely ridiculous. Yeah, I am trying to be cool, so I brought my Mom to the Protest and bonded with her. The bullcrap meter is off the charts on that one.

        • Nornagest says:

          I’m willing to believe that the broad strokes of the story happened.

          “Did you hate me when I was hostage to the cult?”

          But this definitely didn’t. I can buy “cult”, but not “hostage”.

          • J Mann says:

            That reads really weird. If he actually said it, I wonder if he’s fishing for his mom’s approval.

          • albatross11 says:

            I strongly suspect that the original sequence of events that led to this article have been transformed to make it a better story.

      • Plumber says:

        @paulharvey165

        “After reading the whole thing it strikes me as a little far fetched…”

        That was my take as well, maybe there’s a kernel of truth lodged deep, but it just read too much like a narrative rather than a report, and I just found it too hard to credit much of it.

      • greenwoodjw says:

        You are quite correct that it is suspicious. But it could both be true, and suspicious anyway, so I’ll assume it’s legit until evidence suggests otherwise.

      • LesHapablap says:

        It all read true to me until the visits to the protests. Everything after that seems like wish-fulfillment and their are a few very suspicious bits that are totally out of character for a young teenager:
        -She clips out a bunch of articles detailing how he was suckered in by a cult, and he laps it up. If you know a teenager who you think needs some advice, try this and report back.

        We talked about it every day for the next few weeks. He helped me understand how his anger and confusion over being falsely accused had fueled everything that happened next.

        What kid would want to talk about this every day for weeks?

        But one mystery remained. I asked him, point-blank, why he’d finally broken from the online alt-right.

        They talked every day for weeks about this, but this part never came up?

        That’s why my fears came roaring back when Sam and I heard on the radio one day that another Mother of All Rallies was taking place on the Mall that very weekend—and Sam asked if we could go. Together.

        My breath caught. He must have seen my face change.

        “As counterprotesters?” he asked, eyes gleaming.

        He’s now in 10th grade, and he wants to go with his mom to a protest? This comes across like the closing line to a Lifetime movie or after-school special.

        • aristides says:

          I think the mom thinks this is exactly what happened, but is wrong on the causes. He changed his mind because he changed his friends. Once the Redditors knew he was a kid, they treated him differently, and he didn’t get the same respect. Some probably started to bully him. Then he made friends with very liberal, private school friends, and changed his politics to match them. It’s the peers that is important to the story, not the mother, the mother just thinks she is responsible, as most parents would.

        • 10240 says:

          She clips out a bunch of articles detailing how he was suckered in by a cult, and he laps it up.

          It’s reverse conspiracy theories, basically the same thing he’d lapped up in the first place (“the normies are misleading you”). Might work.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          It all read true to me until the visits to the protests. Everything after that seems like wish-fulfillment and their are a few very suspicious bits that are totally out of character for a young teenager:

          Yeah, that was my reaction too. I suspect that what actually happened was more along the lines of him getting some actual friends at school and spending less time online (and therefore less time parroting stuff he’d seen on Reddit), but that didn’t make a good enough story so the mum reworked the ending to make it more pat.

      • Walter says:

        That’s actually a really good point. I hadn’t considered that maybe the whole thing is fabricated, but I could definitely see it. Very plausible.

    • Deiseach says:

      The mother seems to be losing her mind over this, and I wonder if the kid really was in danger of ending up as a Nazi or was just falling amongst very right-wing types. It’s hard to tell.

      The school needed a good kick up the transom, and I’m surprised the parents rolled over so easily – maybe it was for the sake of “don’t rock the boat or you’ll get tagged as a troublemaker, just get out quietly”. But good God, my late mother would have eaten their hearts raw if we were accused without cause (if we were in the wrong, she’d have supported the school, but if the school was blaming us for nothing then she would not have backed down like this).

      So if you’re thirteen, you’ve been railroaded on a fake charge, and your parents are imitating doormats instead of defending you yeah I think it’s very likely you’ll turn to other sources of validation and support. And maybe those other sources won’t be nice.

      EDIT: All that being said, I agree with the other people saying the story is a little bit too neat and tidy in some aspects; I wonder if it’s more fiction than reality in order to make a point (if Mommy is a freelance journalist looking to get her foot in the door being commissioned for articles, then this is the kind of irresistible clickbait as an “Anonymous Washington Family This Totally Happened To Them, It Could Happen To Your Kid Too!” angle). I’ve read some articles where I’ve had the reaction “yeah, that happened” because the situation described was just too pat.

      Though maybe I’m unsympathetic becaase people who go about constantly finding it “hard to choke out the words because I started crying” when they see “hand-drawn heart” on home-made posters just rub me up the wrong way.

      • acymetric says:

        The school needed a good kick up the transom, and I’m surprised the parents rolled over so easily – maybe it was for the sake of “don’t rock the boat or you’ll get tagged as a troublemaker, just get out quietly”. But good God, my late mother would have eaten their hearts raw if we were accused without cause (if we were in the wrong, she’d have supported the school, but if the school was blaming us for nothing then she would not have backed down like this).

        The only real way to fight against the school in this case would have been to do so very publicly through the media. It is fairly easy to see why that might not have great appeal, especially without any assurance that the media would even portray the family and their plight in a positive way.

        The parents said “F you” and left the school. I think you are underestimating the potential toll that actually taking the fight to them could have had.

        The mother seems to be losing her mind over this, and I wonder if the kid really was in danger of ending up as a Nazi or was just falling amongst very right-wing types. It’s hard to tell.

        Based on some of the views mentioned, there was at least an openly “Nazi” element to the groups he was in, even if the groups weren’t explicitly or unilaterally Nazi across the board.

        • greenwoodjw says:

          Yeah, in the US schools are basically invincible.

          • Clutzy says:

            Legally they are from actual liability, but their suspension/expulsion choices are constantly questioned, oft delayed, and commonly overturned.

            The problem, quite frankly, is the parents failure to respond with overwhelming rage at the administrators, and the child anticipated this meekness, and he did not respond with the appropriate vigor in defending himself. If the kid was a proper shit, he would likely have walked over the admin. These mini tyrants who are jealous of their fiefdoms are paper tyrants.

            EX: In HS a bunch of us got called in for egging, the quiet kid was treated similarly put in a room for several hours, two other cheeky asses and I were back in class before the period ended. Had it gone further my dad would have laughed at them for wasting his time.

        • LesHapablap says:

          The father walked out of the meeting with the administrator, leaving his wife and son. That is 100% inexcusable. His son was being threatened with criminal prosecution, and he just walked out! They needed to absolutely get a lawyer and refuse to say anything until they had legal representation for him.

          It is an extremely important thing to teach your kids: if you’re put in a situation like that, get your parents there to help. Only really works if your parents are smart enough to understand when they need legal representation though.

          The old blog ThisIsIOZ (now defunct) had some important advice:
          If you’re being questioned by some authority and they tell you you don’t need a lawyer: get a lawyer. If the authority tells you that “you don’t want to bring lawyers into this because that’ll make this confrontational,” you are being railroaded and you ABSOLUTELY need a lawyer.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            The old blog ThisIsIOZ (now defunct) had some important advice:
            If you’re being questioned by some authority and they tell you you don’t need a lawyer: get a lawyer. If the authority tells you that “you don’t want to bring lawyers into this because that’ll make this confrontational,” you are being railroaded and you ABSOLUTELY need a lawyer.

            +100

          • albatross11 says:

            Walking out *with his kid*, however, would have been entirely reasonable. “We’re done here. Any further conversation on this matter will happen through our lawyer.”

          • LesHapablap says:

            albatross11,

            Yep, totally. As soon as he feels the admin is not being reasonable, then it is time to get out of there and get a lawyer involved.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        So if you’re thirteen, you’ve been railroaded on a fake charge, and your parents are imitating doormats instead of defending you yeah I think it’s very likely you’ll turn to other sources of validation and support. And maybe those other sources won’t be nice.

        The world is only nice to an elect. The rest of us have to fight for everything we have. 2019 America is more like Cobra Kai than Blue people are raised to/want to believe.

        • acymetric says:

          This seems like a non-sequitor…what does the quoted portion have to do with red vs. blue ideology?

          (I will also re-register my objection that the parents didn’t “lay down like doormats” and that any fight against the school system on this would almost certainly have been worse for the kid)

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            So if you’re thirteen, you’ve been railroaded on a fake charge, (in the name of feminism) and your parents are imitating doormats instead of defending you yeah I think it’s very likely you’ll turn to other sources of validation and support. And maybe those other sources won’t be nice.

            What it has to do with ideology is who hurt him. If he’d been railroaded on a fake charge in turn-of-the-20th-century Prussia and his parents hadn’t fought authority harder, I’d expect him to join one of those Marxist/anarchist/nihilist/etc. sitting room societies out of Oscar Wilde’s Vera.

          • acymetric says:

            Well sure, I don’t disagree with that line of thinking at all, but you said

            The world is only nice to an elect. The rest of us have to fight for everything we have. 2019 America is more like Cobra Kai than Blue people are raised to/want to believe.

            and I swear I’m not being intentionally obtuse but I don’t really see the connection between that statement and the quoted one above.

          • albatross11 says:

            Yeah, responding by saying “Screw this, we’re pulling you out of this school and moving you to a private school where they’ll treat you properly” doesn’t sound like imitating a doormat, it sounds like a very sensible thing to do. The alternative would have been to take their kid out of the meeting and do all further communication with the school admins via a lawyer, but that’s likely to cost a ton of money and end up with a “victory” where your kid gets put through the wringer.

          • Clutzy says:

            @albatross

            The “screw this” came far too late. The minute their kid is being interrogated he should have been conditioned into “screw this” mode by his parents. His parents should have come in and threatened everything (it works mostly, unless your kid is documented groping other kids). This tactic works even for guilty kids most the time.

            Given his alleged ostracism, the kid probably didn’t have any real friends. If we are being charitable and assuming the story isn’t false or grossly exaggerated, this would explain it all. The girl felt comfortable accusing him because he is a creepy kid that the kids already thought was creepy. The school put him in a room because he was unable to articulate any defense because he lacks any self confidence. His parents didn’t know what to do because they also lack any awareness of how to deal with social conflict, so they ran and hid. Then he didn’t make new friends quickly because, creepy. He made online friends instead, this appears to have increased his assertiveness all over, thereby developing friends at the new place because he’s not as creepy anymore.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The girl felt comfortable accusing him because he is a creepy kid that the kids already thought was creepy.

            This is a very good point. I miss having DrBeat here to tell us “everything is popularity.”

            Oblig. “All Is Lost.”

          • acymetric says:

            I don’t think assuming story is true is “charitable”. That is just “the default position in absence of contrary evidence”.

            Someone else at some point mentioned that it may have been less that he was ostracized and more that he withdrew as a result of depression/emotional distress/whatever.

            People are also underestimating how common it is to lose or become distant from friends who were legitimately friends at some point in the past. It can even happen without any major catalyzing incident.

          • Nick says:

            @acymetric
            It’s one thing if you lose touch over the summer and get put in all different classes the next year, but from the sounds of it this happened in the middle of the year, sometime during first semester, hence the mid year transfer. I think that’s a much stranger time to suddenly lose all one’s friends.

            The theory that he withdrew from them is a good one, though; it didn’t occur to me when I first read it.

          • Clutzy says:

            It’s one thing if you lose touch over the summer and get put in all different classes the next year, but from the sounds of it this happened in the middle of the year, sometime during first semester, hence the mid year transfer. I think that’s a much stranger time to suddenly lose all one’s friends.

            This is my read as well. It is, in particular, a basically unheard of turn of events in males. The complete opposite, a bunker mentality, is what you would expect. I’d also consider a friend group schism if there was an insider snitch, but unless middle school kids have turned into a new species losing a popularity contest to a snitch is a nuclear level event. There was a kid at our sister school who basically lost personhood and was known solely as, “the snitch”.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            and I swear I’m not being intentionally obtuse but I don’t really see the connection between that statement and the quoted one above.

            Let me try to clarify my thought process: there are affluent Blue people who have the moral luck, or whatever X factor, to go their whole lives without the Powers That Be kicking them in the balls/ovaries hard enough to mess up their life. Others get victimized and don’t see it coming, like this Jewish family. Others might get so woke they know they’ll go broke (like the opera singer whose child shamed her into giving up her career). There’s an elite that navigates the progressive hegemony of our society successfully, maybe by a combination of skill and dumb luck, and then there’s the Blue tribe’s broken ones, and then the Red tribe.

        • ilikekittycat says:

          Howard Zinn, Heather has two Mommies, Tucson Unified Mexican American Studies ring any bells? Hell, within my lifetime, in the 21st Century, whether or not everyone should shift to having totally racially integrated proms was a live issue.

          You are deeply, sorely mistaken if you think trying to explore Blue Tribe values in school systems isn’t a constant struggle, or if you don’t think that a core part of being Blue Tribe is recognizing nothing is as fair or just as the myths and legends you were taught about your society when you were younger.

          • quanta413 says:

            I think there’s a conflation going on in Le Maistre’s comment between blue tribe and upper middle class blue tribe. The blue/red tribe split is crappy terminology anyways though.

            I’d say a lot of the upper middle class whether blue or red tribe has a stronger belief in the niceness of the world to them and people like them than is probably accurate. A blue tribe person who gets railroaded by a purity spiral or office politics and suddenly realizes that being white, moderately successful, and having the right politics is not a magic shield against spurious accusations seems like a similar realization to a red tribe person who gets laid off during a recession and suddenly realizes that working hard, being moderately successful, and having the right politics will not guarantee a good life in the market economy.

            Most people are too busy or lazy to do the first thing to others much fortunately. But when the eye of sauron hits you, boy…

            Getting laid off is probably a more common experience, but that may mean people are a little more prepared for it when it happens.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I think there’s a conflation going on in Le Maistre’s comment between blue tribe and upper middle class blue tribe. The blue/red tribe split is crappy terminology anyways though.

            I’d say a lot of the upper middle class whether blue or red tribe has a stronger belief in the niceness of the world to them and people like them than is probably accurate.

            Yes, this. Upper middle class people assume life will be fine, the Powers That Be will never crush someone like them.

          • acymetric says:

            Well yeah, but that isn’t unique to the blue upper middle class folks. That’s upper middle class folks generally. Which dangers/risks are underestimated might vary by political leaning (although I’m pretty sure it makes a nice Venn diagram with lots of overlap), but if you’re going to suggest that blue tribe people are uniquely vulnerable to this among the UMC generally you’re going to need to show your work.

            Also worth remembering that Blue/Red tribes are not monoliths, and the fact that someone is aligned with either does not mean all the varied beliefs held by various people along that spectrum are held by a given individual.

            In summary, this seems like the worst kind of strawmanning/weakmanning to me.

    • Jiro says:

      Those African American Nazis are getting to be a real problem.

      (Seriously, what?)

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I mean, they’re a thing in Call of Duty: World War II. Though it’s easier/funnier to be a black Nazi there than in real life…

      • albatross11 says:

        I assumed this was someone doing a first-rate job of trolling, assuming it described some real person instead of someone made up to create a better story.

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          I’ve mentioned before the two most well-known Jewish Nazis; it’s obviously unlikely and bizarre, but America is a big place, and you should expect at least a handful of weirdos to end up adopting ideologies completely at odds with their background.

          • Jiro says:

            Yes, America is a big place, but the article wasn’t “my son was caught up in the alt right by very unusual circumstances which probably wouldn’t have happened to anyone else in the whole country”. It was clearly trying to say that that wasn’t an unusual thing.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Trying to be, but failed.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I’m talking about the black Nazi albatross and the others mention upthread, not the kid himself: he gets only a single mention in the article, and there is no suggestion that he is anything other than unusual.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I’m assuming a black nazi would be one espousing the benefits of National Socialism for black people, and not one extolling the superiority of the Aryan race.

          • albatross11 says:

            Having some agreement on ideas or theory of government with Nazis is not all that uncommon. (I think you can find some black nationalists whose ideology isn’t all that distant from ideological Nazism.) Adopting the trappings and symbols of Nazis (which signals “scary evil nutcase” in modern American culture) is much, much more rare. For good reason–most people don’t want to be taken as scary evil nutcases. Also, the real Nazis and most of the people who now adopt those trappings and symbols hated/hate blacks, so black Nazis aren’t even going to get the few allies that those trappings might otherwise have won them, to make up for the enemies.

            But really, this guy was probably putting on an act for attention/lulz. It’s possible he was sincere, but that’s not the way to bet.

          • Anthony says:

            I ran into a bizarre little corner of Twitter where it seems that there are Somali Nazis, or at least Fascists. Fascists capitalized, because they carry around pictures of Il Duce.

            Apparently there’s some nice Fascist/Futurist architecture in Somalia and Ethiopia, and some nostalgia for the Italians.

          • Nornagest says:

            Bizarre racial theories weren’t anywhere near as central to Italian Fascism as they were to Nazism, so that’s not quite as weird as Somali Nazis would be.

            There are Slavic Nazis, though, and that’s not far off.

          • albatross11 says:

            Fascism as a theory of government doesn’t need to have any racial basis, and there’s no reason at all it would be exclusive to whites.

        • J Mann says:

          The article says the African-American Nazi was a reddit hero of Sam’s and posed with him for a selfie at the Mother of All Rallies.

          Is there any evidence that there’a black nazi redditor, ideally one who attended the MOAR? You would think the guy would stand out.

          • Nick says:

            There could be MOAR news stories mentioning him (though it sounds like the media was more interested in the guy dressed in swastikas).

  5. James says:

    Following from the discussion of architecture in OT127, I thought some might be interested in this discussion between Christopher Alexander and Peter Eisenman, which touches on some of what was being discussed there: Contrasting Concepts of Harmony in Architecture

    Eisenman is very much of the architect-as-rockstar school of thought, and he seems to defend a point of view whereby ‘disharmony’ and discomfort in buildings is justified as a response to disharmony in ‘the cosmology we live in’. Christopher Alexander is much more of the architect-as-craftsman school, and seems much more humble in his aims and in his view of the architect’s role—he seems merely to want to create comfortable, human spaces.

    CA: Don’t you think there is enough anxiety at present? Do you really think we need to manufacture more anxiety in the form of buildings?

    PE: Let me see if I can get it to you another way. Tolstoy wrote about the man who had so many modern conveniences in Russia that when he was adjusting the chair and the furniture, etc., that he was so comfortable and so nice and so pleasant that he didn’t know — he lost all control of his physical and mental reality. There was nothing. What I’m suggesting is that if we make people so comfortable in these nice little structures of yours, that we might lull them into thinking that everything’s all right, Jack, which it isn’t. And so the role of art or architecture might be just to remind people that everything wasn’t all right. And I’m not convinced, by the way, that it is all right.

    CA: I can’t, as a maker of things, I just can’t understand it. I do not have a concept of things in which I can even talk about making something in the frame of mind you are describing. I mean, to take a simple example, when I make a table I say to myself: “All right, I’m going to make a table, and I’m going to try to make a good table”. And of course, then from there on I go to the ultimate resources I have and what I know, how well I can make it. But for me to then introduce some kind of little edge, which starts trying to be a literary comment, and then somehow the table is supposed to be at the same time a good table, but it also is supposed to be I don’t know what; a comment on nuclear warfare, making a little joke, doing various other things … I’m practically naive; it doesn’t make sense to me.

    Christopher Alexander is of course well known to programmers as the author of A Pattern Language, in which he created the concept of patterns which was later borrowed by the programming community, in the Gang of Four’s Design Patterns and ever after (though if you ask me, the concept as programmers apply it has only a little to do with what he was talking about.)

    It’s a fascinating discussion.

    • Nick says:

      I wrote a big summary of this discussion for last thread and ended up not posting it. It is interesting, but unfortunately it doesn’t go anywhere; while it’s very revealing of Eisenman, if you ask me, I would have liked to hear more about the clash between these cosmologies, and in the end Alexander just couldn’t do that.

    • greenwoodjw says:

      …Was he the intellectual model for Steinman?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LroGw9nCjXw

      (Note: Adam is not a person, but an organic compound that allows for extensive genetic modification while cementing genetic instability in the user)

  6. hash872 says:

    Do people have general thoughts around our present combination of job growth, high economic growth, and low inflation? Specifically as it relates to inflation, which has been the scary boogeyman that policy makers/central banks have been terrified of since the 80s.

    There is/was a whole belief system around x amount of economic growth leading to inflation, and also the ‘natural rate of unemployment’, below which wage growth and inflation would supposedly spike. Even doves like Yellen believed this. And yet, it seems like this belief system has been or is in the process of being debunked now?

    General thoughts I’m thinking these days:

    Developed countries were terrified of inflation, and may have shot themselves short in terms of job creation and overall growth to avoid it (wasn’t the 2008 crisis aided by a rise in rates to ward off inflation?). How much higher could economic growth have been in the past if we weren’t so afraid of inflation?

    Is believing in a ‘natural rate of unemployment’ sort of like austerity- a pointless, self-destructive & punitive belief system that harmed nations and workers for- no reason whatsoever? (Sociological note- are these self-flagellating belief systems just a holdover from US/UK Puritan influences on culture? A la Weber, etc.)

    Why is inflation so low in developed countries overall? I’ve heard arguments ranging from the weak bargaining position of labor, to Amazon and other hyper-efficient retailers driving general prices of ordinary goods down.

    Are Powell’s rates decisions a triumph of data-driven wonkery over macroeconomic theory? As a non-PhD economist, he supposedly (according to the media, I dunno) makes decisions based on data and not ‘theory says we have a natural rate of unemployment so I must do x’, as even Yellen was doing. Which is why his decision making has jumped around a bit during his term. (Full disclosure, I have a kinda low opinion of rigid macroeconomic theory, which I once called ‘astrology for dudes’ on this site, though I was kinda being tongue-in-cheek. I have noticed that many SSCers really believe passionately that macroeconomics is like an actual empirical field instead of a bunch of models programmed with whatever assumptions the model builders wanted to put in there)

    What are the long-term consequences to society of perma-low inflation rates? Asset bubbles? Something deeper?

    • greenwoodjw says:

      Keynesian economics is completely wrong but everyone relies on it because it justifies central power? Just a guess.

    • Jon S says:

      I could be wrong, but my impression has been that the Fed under Powell has not made any significant deviations from what the Fed would have done under Yellen.

    • broblawsky says:

      Powell’s decision to pause rate hikes is rank cowardice, IMHO, and one that history will judge him harshly for.

      • hash872 says:

        You think he should *raise* rates now? When inflation is 1.3% or whatever? Why?

        The whole point of my post was to question the idea that we have to raise rates because OMG teh evil inflation is just around the corner. What if…. we can have economic growth and job growth and low inflation all at once?

      • What exactly do you think is going to happen?

      • broblawsky says:

        What exactly do you think is going to happen?

        I think we’re going to end up in a recession with no ammunition to use to dig ourselves out, at least without going to negative interest rates. (Note that I am not making a specific recession call, just saying that one will happen eventually.)

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      There seems to be one school of thought that says ‘interest rates should go up because they’ve been low for a long time’ and another school of thought that says ‘if the fed is targeting inflation, if there’s no sign of inflation the fed shouldn’t tighten’

    • John Schilling says:

      Do people have general thoughts around our present combination of job growth, high economic growth, and low inflation?

      Has anybody pulled this off without continuously increasing their debt-to-GDP ratio?

      • hash872 says:

        Why would it increase debt? I mean, the US is certainly on that path, but in theory one wouldn’t have to be- unless you mean that the deficit spending is what’s driving both growth & low inflation

        • John Schilling says:

          Right. Deficit spending to drive growth is about the oldest trick in the book; doing it without concurrent inflation requires some skill but is definitely easier than growth + full employment with neither inflation nor debt.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            I was of the impression we were talking about Powell and the Fed. The fed only indirectly affects the US deficit via interest rates.

            Though you use the term ‘deficit spending’ and when I read your first post I thought ‘debt to gdp ratio’ may have meant the overall level of indebtedness not just US Gvt debt. (so includes credit cards, student loans, etc)

            One would think that deficits at some point either raise real interest rates or raise inflation. In the US at least this has failed to materialize. It’s always been a mystery since there’s no constituency for balanced budgets and its not like reasonable assumptions of growth could outgrow reasonable assumptions of debt growth.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I was of the impression we were talking about Powell and the Fed. The fed only indirectly affects the US deficit via interest rates.

            Not true, the Fed has remitted significantly more to the US treasury since the beginning of the GR than it would have done before it expanded its balance sheet. It has literally kept a few hundred billion in debt off the books for the Treasury.

          • John Schilling says:

            I was of the impression we were talking about Powell and the Fed.

            What baconbits says, but more importantly: If you’re talking about “job growth and high economic growth”, you’re talking about more than just the Fed. All of government economic policy gets stirred into that pot, and an awful lot of non-economic policy as well.

    • Clutzy says:

      Interest rates have been low because wages were fairly stagnant, and/or inflation hasn’t been showing up in the CPI because almost all the “inflation” is going on in Tuition, Medicine, and Housing prices.

      Wages are currently increasing in the US, but are increasing along with productivity, so it shouldn’t have much of an affect on inflation.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Inflation rates are ultra-low in part because most developed nations have made credible commitments to fighting inflation. Inflation is in part an expectations game, so as soon as you decide “eh, let’s have some inflation,” you are unanchoring pre-existing expectations and setting yourself up for God Only Knows in the future.

      I would not describe the natural rate of unemployment as quackery akin to austerity. You can see here wage growth clearly starting to rise in recent years:
      https://www.frbatlanta.org/chcs/wage-growth-tracker.aspx
      And an increase in your prime-age workforce employment:
      https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS12300060

      Also, while PRIME age workers have returned to their pre-recession levels, overall civilian-employment dropped from 63% to a bit south of 61% right now. We were at 64% prior to 2000. Granted demographics are different now, but there’s still a lot of additional labor you can add from 55-70, or 16-25.

      I’d say we are too paranoid of inflation, but I did not live through the 1970s. I’d rather not have to deal with getting credit in that kind of economy.

      As a side-note, I have no idea why you would think either austerity or natural rate (or NAIRU or whatever) are linked to Puritanism. Europe is way worse on this than the US. And Natural Rate theories gain more credit after Stagflation: it isn’t Puritan thinking driving it. Even if they got the theory wrong, they are responding to a perceived reality, not a desire to self-flagellate. I would not describe Lerner or Friedman or Modigliani as “Puritan,” even if certain political commentators and pundits might more closely match that description.

      • Thomas Jorgensen says:

        Stagflation was a child of the oil crisis – Suddenly, a huge portion of the actual wealth produced by the economies of the west / wealthy world had to be shipped to the middle east in exchange for a good which had previously been much cheaper. That, in real terms, made the west poorer. Which showed up as inflation. Less goods/services to go around, same monetary base.

        Note that this is an inflationary impetus which is predictably going to go away – Rising productivity will eventually reach a point where shipping cars and blue jeans to arabia no longer means the west has to wait a bit longer between purchases, and the previous growth should resume. Faster if we had made moves to replace opec oil with cheaper solutions. Except… inflation was stopped by deliberately inducing unemployment before that could happen, which is just straight up self sabotage, and the west has paused every few years to shoot itself in the foot ever since. And yes, europe has been doing that with larger caliber weaponry.

        Getting economic theory wrong is catastrophic.

    • Are you assuming that there is a tradeoff between inflation and unemployment in the long run–that by maintaining a higher inflation rate one can maintain a lower unemployment rate? That was the orthodoxy c. 1960, as per the Phillips Curve, but I don’t think many serious economists believe it now.

    • sharper13 says:

      combination of job growth, high economic growth, and low inflation

      Inflation is primarily a monetary phenomenon, i.e. the size and velocity of the monetary base. Everything below is a little simplified, but AFAIK, accurate. If David (who I’m somewhat quoting his Dad, here), or another “real” economist, wants to correct me, they should feel free, I’m just a well-read amateur, but I like attempting to explain because it potentially exposes holes in my own understanding. 🙂

      More money chasing the same amount of production equals higher inflation. More production being chased by the same amount of money equals lower inflation. (You can derive the other similar related statements pretty easily).

      A central bank like the Fed, with control of the related levers, can make inflation pretty much whatever they want it to be. Recently, they’ve generally stated they wanted it to average 2%, but acted as if they wanted it to stay under 2%.

      Jobs
      It doesn’t matter for inflation what job growth is, the speculated interaction is reversed, meaning that if you have deflation, it has been speculated that sticky wages (tougher to reduce people’s pay than to just fire someone to save the same amount of money) causes more unemployment than would otherwise occur, but you might be suspicious about that once you start talking about nominal vs. real inflation.

      Economic Growth
      The interaction with economic growth is the “more or less production” mentioned above. If 2% more is produced, ideally you want to also have about 2% more money available to chase the results of that production in order to keep inflation level. As the Fed can effectively cause the size and velocity of the monetary base to be whatever they want, if growth is 2% and they want 2% inflation, they just increase it by 4%. So you can see that while this sort-of affects inflation in theory, in practice, whatever the Fed decides is really what affects it. There is no tie between what must happen with inflation because of X amount of economic growth, because the Fed is there deciding what really happens.

      There is a theory out there that increasing government spending/lowering taxes (i.e. expansionary fiscal policy), can cause higher inflation (because now there is more money out there chasing the same production). Again, in theory, perhaps, but back in reality, the Fed still decides in the end. If more money is dumped into the economy by fiscal policy, their monetary policy wins and removes the monetary effects leaving a net of whatever inflation level they decided it should be.

      Nominal vs Real?
      Final note for understanding it all… inflation is a nominal effect. Nominal effects can impact real effects (i.e. people don’t like getting a wage cut, while they’re okay with a regular wage increase, for example, or with steady inflation each year people find it easier to adapt expectations within contracts which last longer time periods), but mostly they don’t. So outside some well known examples, the inflation level doesn’t otherwise normally affect how the economy is doing for real, in terms of economic growth. If the real economic growth (actual production in the real world) rate is 3%, then the nominal rate will be that plus the inflation rate. So inflation 3% = 6% nominal growth, but inflation 10% = nominal 13% growth. The key is that the latter doesn’t imply any additional real wealth existing, just that in the 10% case (vs. 3%) you have 7% more dollars which are worth about 7% less in real terms.

      Why target the inflation rate with monetary policy?
      Inflation also affects various prices of stuff at differing speeds (remember the wage example… deflation on wages is perhaps the slowest effect), which is the main artificial distortion effect on the real economy (and economic distortions are almost always a bad thing), so the ideal is for everyone to know in advance what the inflation rate is going to be and for the inflation rate to be relatively stable over long periods of times. Thus minimizing the impact inflation has on the real economy because “everyone knows” what to expect. That’s more important than if the Fed is targeting 1%, 2%, 5% or 8%. When you get wild swings or very large increases in inflation, that causes additional negative impacts to the real economy, because now no one wants to hold money, they want buy something with it as fast as possible to avoid the effects of inflation, so that leads to people making financial decisions they otherwise wouldn’t and we’re back to one of those negative distortions of the economy.

      Hopefully you can see now why if the Fed has led everyone to believe they will create an average of 2% inflation every year, then they actually deliver between 1.5% and 2% (because they never let it go above 2%, even after it’s fallen below 2%), more sophisticated economists will start complaining they aren’t doing their job right, but there are also lots of people who lived through the 70s and are afraid inflation will rise way too fast (leading to that negative scenario above), which influences the Fed to be a bit paranoid and end up undershooting their target. The inflation issues in the 70s were somewhat caused by the Fed not understanding what to do. They were corrected relatively quickly by the Fed under new Chair Volcker in 1980-83 when he sucked money out of the economy and the inflation rate dropped like a rock (relatively speaking).

      I deliberately left out of this post a discussion of the tools the Fed has available to it to accomplish monetary changes, because that’s actually a much larger discussion and a subject of more debate along the edge cases. The important part for the purposes of this discussion is that the Fed is the “last mover”, meaning it gets to make adjustments to the inflation rate after everyone else (government, private businesses, individuals, banks, etc…) have all had their effect, so the inflation rate over time ends up being whatever the Fed decides by its actions to make it end up as.

      • hash872 says:

        A central bank like the Fed, with control of the related levers, can make inflation pretty much whatever they want it to be

        This seems to be central to your thesis here, but I don’t see how it’s even remotely true. Japan in particular is the great counterexample- they’ve been struggling to get, well, any inflation for years now. It’s been an entire massive program, Abenomics. Europe is stuck at 1% or lower inflation. The US Fed has openly discussed his frustration at below 2% rates.

        No offense, but it seems like you’re mostly reiterating Economics 101 theory stuff. My point is that actual IRL evidence in developed countries in the 21st century seems to be contradicting those theories

        • sharper13 says:

          It is mostly Econ 101, or maybe 201 stuff. That’s an argument that it’s widely accepted as accurate by economists, not the opposite. 🙂

          Now nuanced, it’s not as nuanced, perhaps. I went out of my way to avoid controversial explanations. As I stated, I deliberately left out a discussion of the monetary policy tools available to the Fed and how they work because there is certainly some debate around that. I’m happy to discuss monetary tools as well, but that wasn’t the question I was originally answering.

          In terms of Abenomics, here’s some good analysis, by someone who has made the issue one of the pillars of his career. Not being willing to hit an inflation target (because you want something else more, like to target interest rates for some reason) isn’t the same as not being able to hit an inflation target.

          To get started in general, here’s a recent working paper on the topic of how choices in monetary regimes affect the available tools.

          • baconbits9 says:

            It is mostly Econ 101, or maybe 201 stuff. That’s an argument that it’s widely accepted as accurate by economists, not the opposite.

            Its not. First off Keynesian models typically limit the Fed’s ability to control inflation at ZIRP, which is a large portion of the macro community right there. Additionally even among those who believe it there are major divisions, Neo-Fisherians believe that you have to raise interest rates to push up inflation, not lower them (oversimplified).

            What is near universal is that the Fed has some control over the economy, but there is avast amount of disagreement within the Macro community of how much control they have.

          • sharper13 says:

            @baconbits9,

            Sure, there is a view that a central bank can’t manage inflation solely using interest rates. That’s Krugman post-2002 (pre-2002, when it was the BOJ and not the Fed under discussion, he claimed a different view). I don’t think there is an internally consistent view out there that that a central bank can’t manage inflation by using every tool available to them.

            Say what you want about models, but in terms of Keynes, you’re talking about an argument which is over:

            Some decades ago, economists heatedly debated the relative strengths of monetary and fiscal policies, with some Keynesians arguing that monetary policy is powerless, and some monetarists arguing that fiscal policy is powerless. Both of these are essentially dead issues today. Nearly all Keynesians and monetarists now believe that both fiscal and monetary policies affect aggregate demand.

            To repeat what I stated earlier in this thread, there is a difference between not being willing to hit an inflation target and not being able to hit an inflation target. If you think hitting an inflation target will cause negative effects to your employment target, or your interest rate target, or whatever, then you’re just prioritizing something else, not making an argument that if even if you wanted to, you couldn’t hit an inflation target.

            Even when the BOJ is apologizing for pushing back its inflation target, the bank Governor still:

            … dismissed the view the BOJ was running out of policy ammunition …

            Unless you’re arguing that a central bank can’t continue to print more money and purchase assets (bonds, stocks, foreign currency, the whole world of available assets out there), then they have at least one monetary policy tool still available to them. They may not choose to use it (for “reasons”), but that’s not the same as not having it available.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Say what you want about models, but in terms of Keynes, you’re talking about an argument which is over:

            No, what is over is the simplistic argument of ‘does the CB 100% control inflation or does the fiscal authority’, not the nuances of what happens at ZIRP and if monetary offset is partial or full, and a whole slew of other issues.

            Unless you’re arguing that a central bank can’t continue to print more money and purchase assets (bonds, stocks, foreign currency, the whole world of available assets out there), then they have at least one monetary policy tool still available to them. They may not choose to use it (for “reasons”), but that’s not the same as not having it available.

            There is no evidence that purchasing paper assets boosts inflation, logically this makes a lot of sense given basic economic theory. Furthermore the position you describe does not depend on a CB being able to create more inflation than it currently does, it depends on a CB being able to create a precise amount of inflation. The latter does not automatically flow from the former.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Occam’s Razor is that none of the Central Banks actually want higher inflation, especially in the case of Japan. Them complaining about not being able to reach their inflation target is like me complaining about not hitting my weight loss target.

          They can’t exactly set their target at EXACTLY what they want, but Central Banks are traditionally risk averse entities, so if they aren’t hitting their stated inflation targets, it’s probably because that inflation target is really a limit, and not actually a target.

          • baconbits9 says:

            No, Occam’s Razor is that CBs cant control inflation, not that they can, say they can, say they want to do x, but really don’t want to do x.

          • J Mann says:

            ADBG – as I understand it, the conventional wisdom regarding Japan is that a permanent increase in the money supply would be inflationary, but an increase that’s expected to be temporary won’t, and that while Japan is starting to get traction, they’ve had a lot of trouble convincing the markets that increases are permanent.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The simplest hypothesis is that central banks are bad at arithmetic.

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      The natural rate of unemployment is not a thing. We know this from the “30 glorious years” where unemployment to a first approximation just did not exist, and labor participation kept growing as more and more people were mobilized into the labor force.

      So yes, exactly like austerity. There is some limit, which you can prove by the reduction to absurdity where firms are scouring retirement communities and grade schools to find more labor, but the only way to know you have hit it is to wait for wage driven inflation to actually be a thing.

      As for whether it is some kind of data driven Triumph.. No. It is Trump. It seems to me that what is actually happening is that conventional economic wisdom is just wrong, and you are getting correct policy entirely by accident on account of having a current government that routinely ignores all expert advice.

      … And yes, it is by accident, not because the republicans “understand economics” or whatever – The very people who are signing off on the present monetary expansion were hysterical inflation scolds under Obama in the middle of a major economic crisis flirting with deflation.

      • The Nybbler says:

        As it turns out, FRED has some data for the tail end of the Trente Glorieuses

        Unemployment was not zero. It was a bit over half the current US unemployment rate, though it’s likely the figures are not strictly comparable.

      • baconbits9 says:

        The natural rate of unemployment is not a thing. We know this from the “30 glorious years” where unemployment to a first approximation just did not exist, and labor participation kept growing as more and more people were mobilized into the labor force.

        The natural rate of unemployment is not refuted in the historical record. The NRU is the level of UE that a country will hit at full employment, ie when the only issue left is the friction people face in matching employees with employers. It clearly exists conceptually and in reality and the 30 glorious years doesn’t refute it at all. Perhaps you meant that ‘full employment’ isn’t correct as you (iirc) have previously stated, and the 30 years would be a small piece of evidence that might be the case, but hardly definitive as FE is defined by the conditions of the economy and the post WW2 world was highly dynamic.

        • Thomas Jorgensen says:

          A highly dynamic economy should have higher frictional unemployment, not lower.

          All right, let me put it more bluntly. The natural rate of unemployment is irrefutable as a concept – clearly, some number of people will be unemployed, just because they are currently riding their bike from the proverbial buggy whip factory to the space ship fabrication yards.

          But in actual practice, the concept has been extremely frequently used to argue that whatever the current rate of unemployment is, is the natural rate. Even if currently ten percent more of the work-force is unemployed than last year!

          That is not a theoretical example. The Baltic nations went from “very low unemployment” to “OH my merciless goddess” and back to low unemployment in really rapid succession as a result of the global financial crisis, and all the pundits were, in the middle of a mass unemployment caused by an entirely external shock arguing that “15 % of the work force involuntarily unemployed is the structural unemployment rate of the Baltic”, and that clearly their previous much better performance was a sign of an overheated economy.

          And none of that economic “wisdom” got reconsidered when those “structurally unemployed” workers got back to work.

          So, I started just utterly discounting it as a concept. It is a buzz word designed to induce learned helplessness in governments everywhere.

          “The natural rate of unemployment is zero” might not, strictly, be factual. But it is a lot more factual than the way it usually gets used, and it is pithy.

          • baconbits9 says:

            A highly dynamic economy should have higher frictional unemployment, not lower.

            No. The NRU is a function of job turnover plus duration of UE, a highly dynamic economy could easily have higher, lower or the same rate of NRU as a less dynamic economy, there is no reason to default to higher frictional UE.

            But in actual practice, the concept has been extremely frequently used to argue that whatever the current rate of unemployment is, is the natural rate. Even if currently ten percent more of the work-force is unemployed than last year!

            No, you have it backwards. Institutions like the Fed use their estimates of the NRU (among other things) to set monetary policy, of course they say stuff like that, if they thought it was different they would have a different policy stance.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            … again, central banks are pulling these estimates out of a dark and dank cavern. It is, in practice, nothing but a rhetorical excuse for inaction.

            This might be clearer from a european perspective because on this side of the ocean we have so many central banks pulling this con.

            Pre crisis: “This is the natural rate”.
            The us banking sector explodes all over the place: “No, that was too optimistic, this is the natural rate”.
            Economy eventually recovers, no thanks to central banks: “This is the natural rate”.

            The estimate appears to be nothing more than “Last years unemployment”. If the bank is really conscientious, perhaps the average of the last two years.

            And at no point does any introspection happen.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Pre crisis: “This is the natural rate”.
            The us banking sector explodes all over the place: “No, that was too optimistic, this is the natural rate”.

            No, the natural rate is different, not ‘that was too optimistic’. What would you expect to happen during a financial crisis?

          • baconbits9 says:

            The estimate appears to be nothing more than “Last years unemployment”. If the bank is really conscientious, perhaps the average of the last two years.

            Clearly you don’t know what you are talking about. Here is the UE rate minus the NRU, and here is the natural rate of UE. The NRU never breaks above 5.1%, up from 4.8%, despite the UE rate jumping as high as 10%, the natural rate will get pushed up under extreme circumstances, but it is not simply ‘last year’s UE’, not even close.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The US had a similar but smaller unemployment spike, going from 4.5% to 10% and back as a result of the financial crisis. And while it was high you had pundits declaring this the “new normal” and the previous low unemployment some sort of fairy dream. All this proves is there’s plenty of bad pundits out there, not that the opposite of the theories they were misapplying is true.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      Most likely explanation is imho that inflation accelerating level of employment exists, but it is much higher than Fed thought.

      Decline of unions also likely has some effect – theoretically it should mean lower inflation with given level of employment, since it gives employers more power to supress wage growth.

      This only applies to the US, eurozone is a land of very tight monetary and fiscal policies, no more explanations needed.

    • baconbits9 says:

      There are some misconceptions in here.

      wasn’t the 2008 crisis aided by a rise in rates to ward off inflation?

      No, in the US the Fed started cutting rates in July of 2007 and cut them well into 2008, check out the federal funds rate and check out 5 year inflation expectations. The claim that is most commonly made is that the Fed didn’t cut fast enough, that the pause in rate cuts in mid 2008 was a major causal factor which is different from the Fed raising rates to fight inflation.

      Do people have general thoughts around our present combination of job growth, high economic growth, and low inflation?

      I wouldn’t characterize economic growth as ‘high’, its moderate for the last 30 years and low for the last 70 which changes the discussion quite a bit.

      How much higher could economic growth have been in the past if we weren’t so afraid of inflation?

      There is no real reason to believe that higher inflation would have lead to higher growth during the GR.

      Why is inflation so low in developed countries overall? I’ve heard arguments ranging from the weak bargaining position of labor, to Amazon and other hyper-efficient retailers driving general prices of ordinary goods down.

      Figure it out and you can go collect an almost Nobel Prize.

      • hash872 says:

        I wouldn’t characterize economic growth as ‘high’

        It’s been highish for a developed country, late Obama years through now. Hitting 2.9% in a couple of years there and 3ish in some quarters is pretty good. I dunno, typing that out and looking at it makes me think maybe our expectations are just low. Anyways, I guess Europe & Japan have had some similarities (extremely low inflation/flirting with deflation), but without the economic growth the US has had.

        There is no real reason to believe that higher inflation would have lead to higher growth during the GR

        I guess I meant overall, not just post-2008- that the Fed has been too quick to take away the punch bowl in fear of inflation, when we could have had economic growth & higher employment a number of times. I think it’s kinda indubitable that the Fed has prioritized the inflation part of their mandate more than the ‘full employment’ piece- and even Yellen openly discussed NAIRU, which is now not looking so hot as a concept

        • baconbits9 says:

          I dunno, typing that out and looking at it makes me think maybe our expectations are just low

          That is sort of my point, its high for the last 10 years, but once you are taking the last 10 years as your marker you are building all kinds of other assumptions in.

        • baconbits9 says:

          I guess I meant overall, not just post-2008- that the Fed has been too quick to take away the punch bowl in fear of inflation, when we could have had economic growth & higher employment a number of times.

          Its possible, but seems extremely unlikely to me, the Fed has been lowering rates, conventionally ‘loosening’, on average for almost 30 years now, and there isn’t a lot of consistency between these explanations and reality. The worst excesses of the housing bubble occurred while the Fed was raising rates, not lowering them, not holding them constant, and the collapse didn’t come until after the Fed had been cutting rates for a year.

          What time period prior to September 2008 counts as the Fed taking away the punch bowl? How about prior to the 2001 recession?

          • sharper13 says:

            I agree with Sumner on this. His views have stood the test of time and argumentation very well, to the point where he seems to be winning over the Central Bankers. At some point, some public policy economists seemed to temporarily stop believing their own textbooks, for no apparent better reason than it wasn’t convenient to their other views.

            As the above article quotes from Mishkin’s monetary economics textbook, “It is dangerous always to associate the easing or the tightening of monetary policy with a fall or a rise in short-term nominal interest rates.”

            Stop focusing on interest rate changes. You can’t reason from a price change that way.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Stop focusing on interest rate changes. You can’t reason from a price change that way.

            Decreasing interest rates is, compared to not decreasing them, conventionally loosening. Sumner even recognizes this, his position is that you cannot tell that policy is to loose or to tight based in interest rates which is a different position from the ‘taking away the punch bowl’ crowd.

            Sumner’s track record is poor when he discusses real word events. Take his archive and his posts on Japan and Abenomics.

            So Japan’s hit almost exactly 2% inflation on Japanese produced goods and services, after decades of steady 1% deflation. Unemployment has fallen to a multi-decade low. Labor force participation is soaring. And yet we are to believe that Abenomics has failed solely because Japanese motorists are suffering from dramatically cheaper imported oil, and as a result Japanese real wages are rising strongly? This stuff is so silly I couldn’t make it up if I tried. Whenever I read someone suggest that Abenomics has failed I immediately write them off as non-serious.

            Japan’s GDP deflator has been flat since that period, but the employment rate has continued to grow as has the labor force participation rate, both of which started their uptrends in the 2012/2013 period when the GDP deflator was falling, and has continued with the short term increase in GDP deflator, and then the flattening.

            In short there is no correlation between employment, lfpr, hours worked and the GDP deflator in Japan* between 2010 and 2019. This is trivially obvious when looking at the data, and is a major empirical hole in SS’s argument.

            *The increase in GDP deflator during this period is almost certainly due to a sales tax increase instituted at the same time given the size and timing matches very closely.

  7. rubberduck says:

    You have an alien calculator. It can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and you know which button does which operation. It contains the digits 0-9; however, both the display and the keys use alien symbols, and you don’t know if the keys are arranged in numerical order. How can you figure out which symbol is which digit?

    The catch: you can only do a maximum of two problems, and each problem can only include two numbers (no (A + B)*C or anything like that), though of course the number you use can have more than one digit. If you accidentally divide by zero you can get a do-over.

    The solution: Svefg, qvivqr nal ahzore ol vgfrys gb qrgrezvar juvpu flzoby ercerfragf gur ahzore bar. Gura zhygvcyl bar uhaqerq ryrira zvyyvba, bar uhaqerq ryrira gubhfnaq, bar uhaqerq ryrira ol vgfrys. Gur nafjre jvyy unir gur qvtvgf bar guebhtu avar yvarq hc va nfpraqvat beqre.

    My question for you guys: Are there any other possible solutions?

    • smocc says:

      Can you use the result of the first calculation in the second?

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      How many digits wide is my display? As wide as I need it?

      • rubberduck says:

        Yes.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I might be able to do it in one go, but I have not finalized that yet.

          Here is a start:

          Glcr rnpu qvtvg sbhe gvzrf[1]. Nqq vg gb vgfrys.

          0000777788885555222299993333444466661111 qbhoyrq
          0001555577771110444599986666888933322222

          Jr pna qvfgvathvfu 0-4 sebz 5-9 orpnhfr 0-4 jvyy abg “biresybj”[3] gb gur yrsg, naq “5-9” jvyy. Jungrire vf ng gur evtug-zbfg fvqr trgf ab biresybj, naq vs jr ner yhpxl rabhtu gb cvpx 5-9 sbe gung, jr trg bar rkgen cvrpr bs vasbezngvba.

          0 fgnlf 0. Vg orpbzrf “1” jvgu na biresybj sebz gur evtug.
          1 tbrf gb 2, be “3” …
          2 tbrf gb 4, be “5” …
          3 tbrf gb 6, be “7”
          4 tbrf gb 8, be “9”
          5 tbrf gb 1, jvgu “0” jvgu ab biresybj sebz gur evtug.
          6 tbrf gb 3, jvgu “2” …
          7 tbrf gb 5, jvgu “4” …
          8 tbrf gb 7, jvgu “6” …
          9 fgnlf 9, jvgu “8” …

          Orfvqrf gur yrsg- naq evtug-zbfg frg, jr pna bayl gryy vs *obgu/arvgure* bar frg bs ahzoref naq gur frg gb gur evtug biresybj, be *whfg bar*. Ohg jr pna fraq va rnpu frg zhygvcyr gvzrf va zhygvcyr beqref:

          883300449922667711552299007755448866331100992288336677554411 [2]

          Fvapr jr pna gryy vs gur evtug-zbfg frg vf va 0-4 be 5-9, jr pna, jvgu bar tb, qrsvavgryl oernx rnpu ahzore vagb gur tebhcf 0-4 naq 5-9 jvgu bar ernyyl ovt ercrngrq ahzore.

          Guvf zrnaf jr pna qrsvavgryl gryy jung vf 0, naq jung vf 9. Jr unir n 9 jvgubhg biresybj, jvgu tvirf hf 8, naq 0 jvgu biresybj, juvpu tvirf hf 1. Fvapr jr abj unir 8 naq 1, jr pna trg 6 naq 3. Fvapr jr unir 6 naq 3, jr pna trg 2 naq 7. Fvapr jr unir 2 naq 7, jr pna trg 5 naq 4. Naq gung jencf hf nebhaq pbzcyrgryl.

          [1] Lbh pna cebonoyl trg njnl jvgu zhpu srjre guna 4.

          [2] V gevzzrq qbja gb 2 qvtvgf sbe ernqnovyvgl.

          [3] V fubhyq unir pnyyrq guvf “pneelvat” ohg V’z gbb ynml gb rqvg guvf pbzzrag.

    • aphyer says:

      If you have a computer, and the calculator display is reasonably sized, I’m pretty sure you can do it in one go? Like, there are 10! possible arrangements of characters, but if you mash in two random 30-digit numbers in and multiply them to get a 60-digit number there are 10^60 possible outputs. Pick two long numbers at random, feed them through a computer algorithm to verify that the output will be different for each of the 10! possible permutations of digits (if not make your numbers longer and try again), feed them into the alien calculator, and look up which permutation of digits gave that result?

      • rubberduck says:

        Yeah, I was wondering about that myself so I asked in a previous open thread . Tl;dr: no, it cannot be done, because there are combinations of pairs of numbers for which the digits will be rearranged the same way to get the product.

        • aphyer says:

          I might be missing something, but as far as I can see the answer there is referring to pairs of numbers which contain each digit exactly once. So if you type:

          ‘ABCDE * FGHIJ’

          and get out

          ‘BFCHHGICAI’

          either of these is possible:

          21367 * 90584 = 1935508328
          64812 * 73905 = 4789930860

          But that is somewhat unsurprising. There are 10! possible arrangements of digits, and 10^10 possible 10-digit outputs, so it is unsurprising that there are a few duplicates. If you instead enter

          ‘ABCDEFGHIJ*BCDEFGHIJA’

          you are expecting an output with around 20 digits, you have squared the space of conceivable outputs to around 10^20, but you still have the same 10! possible permutations of digits.

          It’s possible that 10-digit numbers aren’t enough, but if your calculator has no size limits it would really really surprise me to hear that you could not get an unambiguous result by multiplying two sufficiently large numbers together. I’ll see if I can get a script to give me some example inputs, but no promises.

          • rubberduck says:

            I’m not a mathematician/statistician, so I could be wrong about this, but I think using longer numbers would give you more duplicates, not fewer. Longer numbers give you far more possible combinations of numbers to multiply. If multiplying 5-digit numbers like in the original thread somebody found >300 pairs of pairs that satisfy the prompt, I would expect far more hits for multiplying 10-digit numbers.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          Of arbitrary length?

        • aphyer says:

          Here’s some quick Python code for the base6 case (sorry about the pasting of code here, not sure if there’s a better way):

          import itertools
          mappings = list(itertools.permutations([‘A’,’B’,’C’,’D’,’E’,’F’]))
          outputs = []
          base = 6

          def stringToNum( string, charMap, base ):
          num = 0
          for char in string:
          num = num * base
          num = num + charMap.index(char)
          return(num)

          def numToString( num, charMap, base ):
          string = “”
          while num != 0:
          lastDigit = int(num % base)
          string = charMap[lastDigit] + string
          num = num – lastDigit
          num = num / base
          return(string)

          for charMap in mappings:
          numA = stringToNum(‘ABC’, charMap, base)
          numB = stringToNum(‘DEF’, charMap, base)
          #numA = stringToNum(‘ABCDEF’, charMap, base)
          #numB = stringToNum(‘ABCDEF’, charMap, base)
          numC = numA*numB
          outputString = numToString(numC, charMap, base)
          if outputString in outputs:
          previousMap = mappings[outputs.index(outputString)]
          currentMap = mappings[len(outputs)]
          print(“These two maps:”)
          print(previousMap)
          print(currentMap)
          print(“Both give this result:”)
          print(outputString)
          raise Exception(“Found a duplicate!”)
          outputs.append(outputString)

          With the two lines commented out, this tries all permutations with ABC*DEF, and does indeed find a duplicate. With the two lines uncommented, it tries all permutations with ABCDEF*ABCDEF, and finds that all outputs there are unique.

          I’ll tweak and run the base-10 case, but will take a bit to run because 10! is a lot bigger and my code isn’t exactly optimized.

          (Any less lazy programmers than me are welcome to explain in great detail how I could get a four-orders-of-magnitude speedup and be done the base-10 case in less than a second)

          • aphyer says:

            And on reflection if you really have no limits of size you can make life much simpler if you use addition, since addition is mostly local. Create a number by concatenating all pairs of numbers:

            AAABACADAE….BABBBCBD….

            Add this 200-digit number to itself.

            The resulting number has 200 or 201 digits. If 201, A is >=5. If 200, A is <5.

            The digits in the same position as any given character in the original number (e.g. all the digits in the positions that held 'A' in the original number) contain exactly two characters: one is 2A mod 10 (when there is no carryover from the digit after A), and the other is one greater than that (when there is carryover).

            Since we know whether A is >=5 or not, we can figure out which of each pair of numbers involved a carryover and which didn't — for example, if A is <5, the numbers in the positions that used to contains Cs are now either F or G, and the number in the position that used to contain a C followed by an A is F, this lets us know that G=F+1.

            This should let us work out all numbers in a way that doesn't involve a computer (but I think it will require more space on the calculator than the multiplication option).

    • eyeballfrog says:

      You can optimize your method by dividing ABA/AB. This is guaranteed to find you the digits 1 and 0, but if you happen to choose an AB with a long enough repeating decimal, you might get all digits at once.

      Here’s the start of a method that doesn’t use the divide button:

      Multiply AAAAAA x AAAAAA and note the pattern

      A: A = 0
      ABCDEFEDCBA: A = 1
      BCDEFGHIFEB: H = 1
      BBBBBCDDDDDE: B = 1
      BCDEFGAHCBFH: B = 1
      BCDEFGBADHIA: G = 1
      BBBBBCDDDDDA: A = 6, B = 4, C = 3, D = 5
      BCDEFACGAHE: G = 1
      BCDEFEABGHII: E = 1
      AAAAABCCCCCD: D = 1

      If you know 1, then you can get them all from the method in your post. If you have A = 6, then you can use 6543^2 = 42810849 to get the remaining digits.

      If A = 0, there’s *probably* a pair of numbers X and Y whose digits are only 1s and 0s such that for each possible digit B, B^2*X*Y gives a unique digit string for each B and enough unique digits to determine the remainder of the symbols, but I’m having trouble finding it.

      Now for the big challenge: what’s the fewest number of operations without being allowed to use the multiplication button?

    • Murphy says:

      you didn’t specify that we know the aliens order of digits, you assume left to right biggest, next biggest, … smallest.

      Number systems don’t have to be that straightforward. Hell look at human dates and times.

      3:34:22 05/09/2019

      order counting from smallest:

      3:2:1 5/4/6

      with varying bases… even if the digits are all 0-9

      You also don’t specify that you do know the alien symbols for add, subtract, multiply, and divide

      • rubberduck says:

        You also don’t specify that you do know the alien symbols for add, subtract, multiply, and divide

        I did though!

        you know which button does which operation.

        Also, you can think of it as a human calculator from a foreign country if that makes more sense.

    • helloo says:

      Can’t you do it in 1?

      Just have a really big number with a format of ABC * AAAAAAABBBBBBBBCCC… with all possible neighbors of digits. It’s long enough so that there are chains with digits equal to the sum of ABC * X. (Has to be ABC as A or AB could just be 1 or 01)
      There’s probably enough tricks to then find the individual digits.
      For example, 0 should be easy enough by finding a chain of itself in the products.
      Following that you can check out all the XXXX000 products and in the product Y0000 to find out which digits are even, odd, 5.

    • Taleuntum says:

      I will give you a mathematician’s answer. It is probably useless in practice, but might be interesting.
      It is possible to do it in 1, if you are allowed to use arbitrary long numbers. I will show this by adding a large number to itself.

      The key points I want to prove:

      1. Your requirements allow us to do the equivalent of simultaneously adding arbitrary many numbers to itself and see the answer, not just two.
      2. If 1. is given, you can even do the subsequent additions with the knowledge coming from the previous additions, ie: the additions can be sequintelly processed and not necessarily simultaneously.

      The key observations:
      Adding numbers is a very local operation. The maximal carry possible is 1 and because of this, if you have two zeros anywhere in the number, the zero on the higher place will stay zero.

      Proof for the first key point:
      Symbols:
      capital letters are the alien symbols
      X([captial letter]) is the additions I want to make separated by two [capital letter], for example
      if I want to make the additions AC+AC and BD+BD and BB+BB, then X(E) is: ACEEBDEEBB

      Construction: I add this number to itself: AAX(A)AA BBX(B)BB CCX(C)CC…
      Why does this work? One of the alien symbols will mean zero, and I can easily find which it is, because of my previously mentioned key observation: after doubling, it is the only number which will stay the same. After I get the answer, I first find which alien symbol is zero, then I ignore every X([capital letter]) part, except the X([capital letter meaning 0])

      With this I’ve proven my first point. Now only the second point remains: If I can do simultaneously arbitrary many additions, it is possible to do them sequentially using what I learned in earlier operations.

      Easy: just do every possibility. Eg if you have an addition which will give you the information that A is 1 or B is 1 depending on the result, and then you want to add 1 to 1, then add A to A and also B to B simultaneously and choose the correct branch and ignore the other after you get the answer.

      Now what remains is to show that you can solve the problem with using arbitrary many sequential doublings, which is pretty easy and I won’t insult your intelligence by showing one such solution.

      Furthermore it is even possible to do arbitrary many sequintial additions (not necessary adding a number to itself), but it was easier to explain the method by only using doublings.

      • Taleuntum says:

        Made a mistake:

        after doubling, [zero] is the only number which will stay the same

        False, the 9 on the higher decimal place also stays 9 because of the carry. So to separate 9 from 0, append my large number with this 20 character: AA BA CA DA EA FA GA HA IA JA

        Because A is the symbol on the highest decimal place, you can decide from the answer whether it is greater (or equal) than 5 or less than 5 (less if there is no new digit). So you know whether there will be a carry when adding A+A.

        0+0+no carry=0 -> same symbol
        9+9+no carry=8 -> not the same symbol
        0+0+carry=1 -> not the same symbol
        9+9+carry=9 -> same symbol

        This means that you can differentiate between 0 and 9 with the help of the new 20 symbol in the case of A>=5 and also in the case of A<5.

    • Hey says:

      I’m pretty sure you can do it in 1 : add AABBCCDDEEFFGGHHIIJJ to itself.
      First determine which letters correspond to numbers between 0-4 and which correspond to 5-9 by looking at whether there are carries.
      Then you can know what the doubles of the numbers between 0 and 4 are (since there are no carries), and you can identify which is which (0 is its own double, 2 is both the half and the double of other numbers in 0-4, 1 is half of 2, 4 is the double of 2, 3 remains). Also you can find 6 and 8.
      You can finish by looking at the double of 8 with a carry (which will be 7) and the double of 7 with a carry (which will be 5).

      Example : you get BBFFIEEEGFDJAHHACCJD.
      J and D are different, so J>=5
      C and C are the same, and we know there was a carry for the second C, so I>=5
      H and A are different, and there was a carry for the A, so H=5
      F=5
      D>=5
      C<5
      B<5
      A<5

      So A,B,C,F and H are 0-4. We also have
      2*A=B
      2*B=F
      2*C=I
      2*F=D
      2*H=H
      so H=0, B=2, A=1, F=4 and C=3.
      From that, we can find that I=6 and D=8.
      The double of D with a carry is E, so E=7, and the double of E with a carry is G, so G=5.
      Only J remains, so J=9.

      • Taleuntum says:

        Very nice! This is the first solution using only one addition which I would actually type irl.

        If we are going for the shortest solution and we don’t care about how elegant it is, I would omit the first A in your solution, because you can still decide whether A carries or not from how many digit is your answer.

        If A is carrying (>=5, ie there is new digit), then you have it easy, because you may only lose a not really important information: what is the double of A with a carry. You can get 0-4 the same way as before, and then you can get the rest by inspecting what you get by adding a digit to itself. For every digit you know either what you get from doubling without carry or what you get from doubling with carry. Ie: first you get 5 (its double is 0 or 1), then 6 (its double is 2 or 3), etc…

        If A is not carrying (less than 5), its a bit trickier: You may lose one information which is important: what is the double of A without carry. 0 is the symbol which has the same double, if there is no such number, A is 0. Then you have your chain of numbers in 0-4: 1->2->4. If you can’t decide these, then A is either 1 or 2 and you know A’s double with carry, else you are finished, because you can do the same thing as before. In the remaining case inspect whether A’s double with a carry is in {0-4}: If it is in there, A is 1, else it is 2. If A is 1, you can see the 2->4 chain and you are can do the same as before. If A is 2, then you know which symbol is 1: its double is A and you also know which symbol is 3: its double’s double with a carry is 3, so you are finished.

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      What does the calculator display for a division that results in a non-integer? e.g. 1 / 3

      or 2 / 999999

  8. FrankistGeorgist says:

    De gustibus non disputandum est

    What is your preferred birthday cake?

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Carrot cake, as it is for all occasions that call for cake.

      • acymetric says:

        Ugh, the only way this could be a worse answer is if you used frosting with shredded coconut in it.

        Red velvet cake is a good choice. If I’m allowed to with non-traditional options, cheesecake.

    • johan_larson says:

      On the traditional side, Black Forest Cake.

      If I may deviate, Key Lime Pie. On the tart side, please.

    • John Schilling says:

      Chocolate Cassata, to the Schilling family recipe.

    • greenwoodjw says:

      Ice Cream Cake is the only correct answer. Everyone else has wrong opinions.

      😉

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        This is the right answer. My only demand on my birthday is to get an ice cream cake. No presents or anything else is necessary. I would probably also get an ice cream cake every other day of the year if I was willing to go to 400 pounds.

      • Well... says:

        +1.

        I’m not a cake guy, although certain other cakes people have mentioned are delicious, but ice cream cake is the correct answer to the question in the OP.

      • Jon S says:

        +1. Specifically, Cold Stone makes much better cakes than any other mass produced ice cream cakes that I’m aware of. Cold Stone >> Baskin Robbins >> Carvel and others that use cookie crumbs for the cake layer. Oddly, the predefined Cold Stone cake flavors, while great, are not as good as what most people would come up with themselves as custom cakes with a couple of tries.

        • Well... says:

          Huh? Dairy Queen’s cakes have the cookie crumb layer and that’s the treasure in the middle that takes it to the next level.

          • Jon S says:

            I don’t think I’ve specifically tried DQ’s, I’ll keep an eye out for it. Carvel specifically also does a bad job IMO with the icing – I’ve had some other cookie-crumb cakes that I’d put in the middle tier.

      • b_jonas says:

        My best birthday cakes were all ice cream cakes. I don’t think that’s the only correct answer, because some people have their birthdays during winter, and an ice cream cake is less pleasant then.

    • Matt says:

      Pineapple upside down

      But I prefer sweetened fruit toppings to frosting.

      Favorite cake is strawberry angelfood, but that wouldn’t be great for a birthday.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Chocolate. With extra chocolate. And additional chocolate. GIVE ME CHOCOLATE!

    • My wife’s very rich chocolate cake.

    • smocc says:

      Chocolate Texas sheet cake with chocolate frosting, ideally with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. No other cake ever really satisfies in comparison.

    • littskad says:

      German chocolate cake

    • Andrew Hunter says:

      Apple pie or peach cobbler.

    • Atlas says:

      I am a weirdo who would prefer a different form of sweet—ice cream, cookies, etc.—on my birthday instead of cake.

      • Jon S says:

        That’s not very weird. Only the best of cakes can hold their own vs other desserts.

    • brad says:

      A layer cake with firm chocolate outside, chocolate buttercream mortar, and yellow cake layers.

    • Aapje says:

      My favorite birthday pastry is a Bossche bol: a large profiterole filled with whipped cream and covered with high quality chocolate. It’s two of the nicest sweets, where the whole is even better than the sum of its parts. It’s almost impossible to eat in a dignified way, but the best things in life require a willingness to get dirty.

      Runner ups:

      Crumb pie: a streusel-topped vanilla pudding pie.

      Pie with milk rice filling: rice pudding as a cake.

    • Lillian says:

      The only reason i ever liked cake was as a vehicle for frosting, and because i’m now an adult i can just buy jars of frosting for myself. Therefore i demand a tart, preferably cheesecake, specifically every single cheesecake in the Cheesecake Factory menu. Yes all of them, i intend to take a sample of every one, and i wish for my guests to be able to do so as well.

      • greenwoodjw says:

        Try cake frosting on saltines.

        • Nick says:

          I think using a cookie, maybe a sugar cookie, would work better. A saltine doesn’t sound appetizing.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            Trust me and try it. Worst case, you’ll be out about $2.

          • Lillian says:

            Tried it, not bad. The crackers give the frosting more body, and the salt takes some of the punch out of the sugar, making it less overwhelming. Not the way to go if you just want to be orally assaulted by creamy sweetness, but an interesting hack for highlighting the flavour.

    • AG says:

      Y’all with your “favorites” nonsense. Diversity is where it’s at! A different cake for every event! Multiple selections at one event!

      Cheesecake! Sticky cake! Mooncake! Eight treasure rice! Salted egg yolk layer cake!

      Also, pastries and baked buns are superior to cakes, anyways. Smh at this pie erasure.

    • Lord Nelson says:

      Apple cinnamon, though I usually make them as cupcakes so I can share them.

      Duncan Hines butter cake is my backup option, for when I’m lazy and want to use a mix.

  9. Lillian says:

    The October 1st, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas has come up in /TheMotte/ a few times, with people commenting and speculating about it. These discussions are frustrating to read because nobody in them seems to be aware that the full report by the Las Vegas police is freely available online, but i cannot be arsed to make a Reddit account just to point that out. However since many posters there also read and post here, i am providing the following public service announcement: The full report by Las Vegas police on the shooting is freely available online.

    Pretty much everything there is to know about the shooting is there. There is a full and coherent timeline of events, there are pictures of Stephen Paddock’s room, there are pictures of all the guns, pictures of the van he used to get them to the hotel, and pictures of him moving large numbers of suitcases over multiple days. It lists and shows every single gun he had with him, including the make, model, serial number, and how many bullets he fired out of each one. It has the full autopsy report on Stephen Paddock, as well as all relevant background information on him. There are diagrams of the layout of the hotel floor, and pictures of the event ground from multiple vantage points, including Paddock’s. Hell they included the full records of the electronic locks on the room doors.

    Just about the only detail i wanted to know the report didn’t answer is what kinds of bullets he used. That and his motivation. The only person who could answer why he did it embedded a pistol round into the inside of his skull, but the evidence does suggest Paddock simply wanted to go down in a blaze of infamy.

    • Eltargrim says:

      Thank you for sharing; it’s important that primary sources be as accessible as possible.

  10. sandoratthezoo says:

    Skepticism about technological growth thread!

    Here’s a hobby-horse: Bolt Threads. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-03/a-bay-area-startup-spins-lab-grown-silk

    This is an article from 2015 about how Bolt Threads was really close to making spidersilk textiles a reality. In 2017, they apparently started selling some knit ties (like, men’s neck decorations, not any other meaning of “tie”) that, I don’t know, maybe they feel good? There don’t seem to be any magical properties of them. I just visited their website again (https://boltthreads.com), and they seem to have pivoted to making faux leather from mushrooms. The result of that product is a Kickstarter for a limited run of 135 $400 tote bags.

    Automation! https://www.forbes.com/sites/gilpress/2017/11/12/forrester-predicts-that-ai-enabled-automation-will-eliminate-9-of-us-jobs-in-2018/#11bc369312b0

    So this report, from 2017, predicted that 9% of all US jobs would be eliminated in 2018 by automation (okay, net 7%). In actuality, unemployment fell (and total workforce participation) rose steadily from the creation of that report to today.

    Driverless cars!

    https://www.driverless-future.com/?p=678

    Here’s a cool article from 2014 laying out a then-future timeline of how driverless cars were going to work. Some highlights:

    2017 Major road infrastructure projects are downsized because autonomous and connected vehicle technology have reduced the expectations on future transportation demands. (ed: That’s a weird claim. Driverless cars would increase road infrastructure usage. Drastically.)

    2017 Google moves their autonomous vehicle operations into a subsidiary which then merges with Uber and starts to roll out local autonomous vehicle mobility services in many more US cities.

    2018 Experience with autonomous vehicles shows that they are indeed much safer than the average human driver. People feel safe and comfortable in fully autonomous vehicles and there is no longer any question of user acceptance. No phenomenon similar to the ‘fear of flying’ can be found among users of self-driving cars.

    2019 Autonomous vehicles now operate in over 50 cities worldwide.

    2019 Rapid growth for autonomous trucks on specific routes. In many countries, truck drivers protest but this can only delay their adoption slightly.

    I’m picking on this guy, but honestly I don’t feel like his views were terribly unusual in 2014. I remember a lot of people saying things like, “Automation fully solved in 2-3 years in 2014-2015.” Certainly not everyone was, but automation is moving a lot more slowly than the broad middle of observers of the industry expected. In 2017, Ars Technica reported that Google going to launch a no-driver-in-vehicle service in Phoenix by the end of the year. Nope!

    In 2017, Kevin Drum says in this article https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/you-will-lose-your-job-to-a-robot-and-sooner-than-you-think/ that “Consider: Last October, an Uber trucking subsidiary named Otto delivered 2,000 cases of Budweiser 120 miles from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Colorado Springs—without a driver at the wheel. Within a few years, this technology will go from prototype to full production, and that means millions of truck drivers will be out of a job.”

    Here’s my favorite RPG.net thread ever: https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/necro-ten-year-technology-forecasts.37562/page-5

    It was created in 2003, asking for people to make predictions (in the context of an RPG) for the then-future of 2012. I revived it in 2012 and asked people for predictions about 2022. It’s got a lot of interesting stuff — mostly wrong, but some quite correct and helpful for remembering the zeitgeist of, now, 7 and 16 years ago.

    • Randy M says:

      Here’s my favorite RPG.net thread ever

      Those people sure seem to over estimate a decade.

      • sandoratthezoo says:

        I mean, they were also, at least initially, trying to provide grist for a game. Going larger-than-life is pretty normal.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Never forget that we’re in a competitive game, so low hanging fruits are picked. Best insight on the issue is that technology keeps evolving even in ways we don’t see, so there are no big advances, just a constant wave that keeps averaging around 1.5% growth per year for a century or so (huge, considering human history).

      As for driverless cars, that’s the new AI. It works, but it’s such a bad case of Dunning–Kruger that you probably have to be way deep inside the industry to grok how difficult it is. Uber was a very low hanging fruit compared to that, it was practically ripe and dangling.

    • sorrento says:

      I enjoy contrarian takes, but this is kind of weak. Sure some people were wrong about what tech would be big in 2018, but that’s the same every year.

      I actually remember a lot of skepticism about self-driving cars by people who thought that the legal obstacles were insurmountable. I guess maybe I live in a skeptical bubble? I agree that the self-driving folks got some very rich people very excited, but that’s not new either. There’s a fine line between visionaries and scam artists.

      I agree that more “long bets” threads would be entertaining, and probably hilarious in a few years. People always overestimate short term change and underestimate long term change.

  11. bullseye says:

    I’ve read that some European countries don’t officially recognize titles of nobility anymore, but the families still keep track of who has what title. To the best of my knowledge this has not happened in the U.S., and I’m American.

    I figure we never had as many lords as England, and the ones we had would have been mostly Tories (and therefore encouraged to relocate), but surely somebody stayed. Did they just stop claiming the title? Or maybe they do still claim the title but they’re very quiet about it and don’t associate with the likes of me?

    There are also parts of the country that seem like they might have French or Spanish nobility.

    The only example I know of is the royal family of Hawaii, who from what I understand don’t claim any title but do keep track of who would have had it.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      The US takes a very dim view of titles of nobility. The US constitution bans the government from giving them out, and there was nearly an amendment added that strips you of your citizenship if you have one from a foreign country. So you can see why people would give up on tracking who has what title.

    • b_jonas says:

      I think that’s just a matter of years? Like eyeballfrog says, the U. S. has decided around 1788 that they don’t want heritable nobility titles. In contrast, in Hungary they were abolished only after world war II, so there are still a few people alive who had the right to wear a title before that. The United Kingdom still has nobility titles as far as I’m aware.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        The UK still does have titles of nobility, though in practice new hereditary titles are not granted to non-royals (though old ones continue to be inherited). I think the only European countries still creating new hereditary titles are Belgium and Spain.

        • ana53294 says:

          In Spain new titles are given, but inheriting a title means a taxable event.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            How does this work? Is a title of nobility assigned a monetary value and taxed with the rest of the estate, or is there a fixed inheriting-a-title tax?

            Given that I assume titles can’t be sold, does the title go extinct if the heir can’t or won’t pay? Or does it go into abeyance until a new heir pays to claim it?

          • Protagoras says:

            According to Wikipedia, the title does not pass automatically, but must be claimed by the heir (though only the heir can make a claim, apparently). There are large fees for claiming a title (presumably for, among other things, the expenses of verifying that the claimant really is the heir), and apparently if a period of 40 years goes by without anybody claiming the title, it becomes extinct.

          • ana53294 says:

            When the possessor of the title dies, their direct progeny have to claim it. Primogeniture is still a thing, so the eldest child (they removed the gender requirements), claims it and pays the tax. If the rightful heir does not claim it within a certain period, the title is declared vacant, after what other heirs can claim it and rehabilitate the title. If 45 years have passed since the title was last used, the title is declared extinct.

            When the previous Ducchess of Alba died, she split her 46 titles among her children, so primogeniture is not an absolute requirement. But if the current Duke of Alba did question it, it could lead to a very long court battle.

            There are three types of taxes, which depend on whether the title has a Grande de España attached to it, or whether it’s a grandeeship alone (superior to any title except the duchal one without grandeeship).

            A title with Grande de España: 2,775.39 €
            A grandeeship: 1,968.14 €
            A title without grandeeship: 807.25 €

            These are taxes for direct transmission; from ascendants to descendants, or between siblings, as long as their parent held the title.

            For transversal transmission, the tax is higher. For rehabilitation, it’s even higher.

            The tax is paid once, when the title is acquired, and no more tax has to be paid.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            The ability of the holder of multiple titles to split their subsidiary titles among their children during their lifetime is another major difference between the UK and Spain.

          • ana53294 says:

            They weren’t subsidiary titles. They were duchies and other full, independent titles.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            @ana53294- In England, a subsidiary title is any title held by a person with more than one title, other than the most senior one. For instance, one of the Duke of Norfolk’s subsidiary titles is Earl of Arundel. This is a full, independent title- in fact, it has existed for longer than the Dukedom of Norfolk has, and there have been periods of time when the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Arundel were separate people.

        • b_jonas says:

          Oh yeah, that part must have been pretty much automatic. Bestowing new nobility titles is something that usually only monarchs do. Since there was no king of Hungary after 1920, I presume that no new titles could be created.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      The British government do not care where a peer lives, it does not affect their ability to inherit the title. For instance, the current (12th) Duke of Atholl has lived his entire life in South Africa, as did his father the 11th Duke, who inherited the title from his second cousin once removed.

      So if there was somebody in America with the right to a British hereditary title, and the relevant offices were aware of their existence, they would have the title, even if they chose not to use it (as many peers resident in the UK choose not to).

      The numbers may just be smaller than you think, though. Peerages do become extinct. While there are about 800 living hereditary peers, a great many of them hold titles created after American independence.

      EDIT: On checking, there are people in the US with British hereditary titles. The Earl of Wharncliffe is a construction worker in Maine (though that family were first ennobled in 1826) and the heir to the Earldom of Essex is a retired grocery store worker in California. But in both those cases they have an ancestor who emigrated to the US after independence. I think there simply weren’t enough (or any?!) peers in the colonies who stayed.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      Just found one, at least in the past. The Lords* Fairfax of Cameron (as in Fairfax County, VA) were American for several generations.

      Thomas, 6th Lord Fairfax, was apparently (per Wikipedia) “the only resident peer in late colonial America”. He inherited huge amounts of land in Virginia in 1719, and moved there in 1747. His lands were confiscated by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1779, and he died in 1781.

      There were other relatives of the Fairfax family in Virginia, including Thomas’s cousin William who acted as his land agent in Virginia from 1732. As both Thomas Fairfax and his brother died without heirs (the latter in 1793), the peerage passed to William’s son Bryan. Bryan, when in England in 1798, claimed the title but then didn’t use it again.

      The 9th, 10th, and 11th Lords Fairfax appear to have lived in America all their lives and never used the title. Albert, the 12th Lord Fairfax (Bryan’s great-great-great-grandson) decided for some reason to move to England and become a naturalised British citizen so he could sit in the House of Lords. The current Lord Fairfax is Nicholas, 14th Lord Fairfax, Albert’s grandson.

      *They are Lords of Parliament, a Scottish title equivalent to an English or British baron- baron in Scotland being a lower title. This allowed them to sit in the Scottish Parliament until it abolished itself in 1707. They then had some right to sit in the British House of Lords, either as Scottish Representative Peers (until 1963), automatically (until 1999) or as representative hereditary peers (currently).

      • Protagoras says:

        Adam Smith claimed that the Spanish tried to maintain a hereditary aristocracy in their American colonies, while the British did not, and that this accounted for the much greater wealth of the American colonies. This historical tidbit certainly highlights how dramatic the difference in policies was. And the name made me check, and this was a the same Fairfax family as the Thomas Fairfax who was for a time leader of the Parliamentary faction in the English Civil war. So the only resident peer in late colonial America was from a family with a history of Puritan and pro-democratic sentiment.

      • achenx says:

        I thought of the Lords Fairfax as well though I was under the impression they moved back to England earlier than that. Thanks for pointing out that history.

      • bullseye says:

        Thank you, that is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

  12. Tenacious D says:

    In a recent discussion about sports it was noted that athletes from East Africa dominate sports that are quite different from those that athletes from West Africa (or ancestry from there) generally excel at. I know clusters of high achievement (e.g. Hungarian high schools) is a topic of interest at SSC in general. So it seems like someone here might know the answer to something I’m curious about: spelling bees these days feature a disproportionate number of students with South Asian backgrounds, but is it more specific than that? That is, do the spelling bee champions tend to have their family background in a certain region of the subcontinent? Or a certain caste? Or is it something about the schools they attend after immigrating to America?

    • Anthony says:

      I would guess that spelling bee winners cluster within certain higher castes. Anyone familiar with the spatial and caste geography of Indian surnames could collect lists of spelling bee winners and make pretty good guesses just from last names. This seems like obvious Steve Sailer bait.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        Although of course you then need to compare it with the surname distribution in Indian immigrants to America to see whether part of that effect is because people from certain castes/regions are more likely to immigrate in the first place.

  13. danridge says:

    I posted a sort of music theory puzzle in the last open thread, but I guess a bit late in its lifecycle; in short form, white keys on a piano are a major scale on C, black keys are major pentatonic scale on F#, meaning in general the complement of a major scale is a major pentatonic scale rooted a tritone away. Why would that be, and does this have significance for the relation between the scales? Some people got some really good analysis of it, and I actually hadn’t visualized constructing the scales as filling in the circle of fifths before a couple people analyzed it this way. Since that thread is superseded, I’ll put a cap on it by pointing out something about transpositions which I didn’t see mentioned.

    Distance along the circle of fifths is the best measure of ‘distance’ between keys, and you might think that the best argument for this is that keys adjacent on the circle share 6 out of 7 of their notes, the maximum without the scale just being identical. If this were the only justification, then only the most distant key on the other side of the circle should share the smallest amount of notes, but the smallest possible overlap between two sets of seven things chosen out of a possible 12 is 2, and three scales will share that: the one a tritone away, and the two a fifth away from that on either side, e.g. for C major, F#/Gb B and Db major all share two notes. However, if we treat the modulation as a transposition of each note, we can see a difference. When you transpose by one half step, there will be two notes which map onto notes already in the scale, because each scale has two half steps in it (in C these are B->C and E->F). However, when you modulate a tritone away, the two notes that are shared are the only two in the scale that are a tritone away from each other, and these map onto each other. So, if we wanted to come up with a distance function for keys which would assign a greater distance between C and F#/Gb than between C and B, it could be: the number of unordered pairs of notes which map onto notes already in the scale when you move from one to the other; to make it run the right direction and map mostly to the shared notes, just use the 7 minus the number of unordered pairs for the distance. Because the pairs are unordered, BF and FB are not distinct, and so the transposition C->F# has one unordered pair while C->B has two (BC and EF). Note that these two keys MUST be a tritone apart because a tritone, as 6 semitones, bisects the 12 ordered notes, and thus is the only interval that inverts to itself (if you’re not familiar with inversion, a major third (four semitones, e.g. C->E) inverts to a minor sixth (8 semitones, e.g. E->C), according to the formula inverse=-original mod 12).

    Anyway, what does this mean for the relation of the scales? Well as @Anatoly mentioned, the tritone is a good interval to avoid in constructing a pentatonic scale. If I asked you to construct pentatonic scale by removing two notes of the heptatonic scale, and you wanted more consonant intervallic content, you’d quickly realize you wanted to get rid of the tritone; of course, this realization only implies that you should choose ONE of the two notes which form the tritone in order to eliminate it; the implications for choosing other second notes and calling THAT the major pentatonic scale is a good exercise to work through. I found it cool to approach this again with the method of selecting the notes by filling in the circle of fifths; also note that both of the notes in the tritone are parts of one of the two pairs of notes a half step apart in the heptatonic scale. But in any case, take it as proven that to form the major pentatonic scale, we will remove the two notes a tritone apart in the major scale.

    So, given this and the discussion of distance between scales, we can see that the two notes which are shared by C major and F# major are also the two notes which would be removed to form either of their major pentatonic scales, thus the complement of C major pentatonic + F# major pentatonic is the two notes which overlap between C major heptatonic and F# major heptatonic, and this is a consequence of them being the most distant keys along the circle of fifths, a tritone apart.

    Hopefully that is somewhat interesting to mathematically inclined musicians, which I think are probably represented here at least more than mathematically uninclined musicians. I’m going to take this as fulfilling my promise to keep rambling about music theory last thread, but if anyone had questions or something specific they wanted to discuss, I’d be happy to do that.

  14. danridge says:

    Well, I posted a followup to my music theory discussion from last thread, but I DEFINITELY tripped some spam filters by accidentally including markup by using (less than)-(greater than) to indicate an unordered pair, noticing this wasn’t displaying correctly and trying to edit, not seeing the post show up at all afterwards, then trying to repost twice because I didn’t see it after the first time. I don’t know if it’s in some sort of moderation and maybe it’ll get approved and show up later, if it just got swallowed I have it saved and I could try reposting later.

    • liate says:

      For greater-than and less-than signs:
      > – &gt;
      < – &lt;
      (These comments just use html, I assume with some kind of security stuff to make sure you can’t just use script tags, etc; those are just html entities for characters which have special meaning in anything XML-based.)

      • danridge says:

        Yeah, right as I figured that out the post started disappearing when I tried editing it…the downside of my ‘try random changes until you stop getting compilation errors’ coding style when applied in production I suppose.

  15. greenwoodjw says:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/05/08/heroic-details-emerge-colorado-school-shooting

    Very excited to see people abandon the “hide and wait to die” lockdown model as a response to rampage attacks. The people who rise up and fight against the monsters aren’t just saving the lives of the people around them, but also reducing the number of future attacks by making them less advantageous.

    • The Nybbler says:

      There’s a three-day rule against politicizing tragedies here.

      • greenwoodjw says:

        I’m not talking about this specific shooting, but the larger pattern. And I thought this piece was a retrospective on a recent one, not today’s, but the edit window is passed

        • John Schilling says:

          Taking advantage of the fact that people are focused on a particular instance of tragedy, to promote your policy of how people ought to deal with the larger pattern of similar tragedies, is pretty much the definition of “politicizing a tragedy”. And it is tactically effective in the short term, which is why every mass shooting is followed by countless newspaper stories and editorials about how we as a nation ought to deal with the larger pattern of mass shootings. But it tends to short-circuit rationality and it erodes civility in the long term, which is why we generally don’t do it here.

          Anything that’s not politicizing a tragedy, works just as well next week as this.

    • hash872 says:

      Tell us about the active shooter situation where you behaved bravely & nobly

      • greenwoodjw says:

        Never been in one. I can only hope that I would have the same level of courage as displayed by some of the heroes in recent events.

        But that’s really outside of my point.

      • Plumber says:

        @hash872,
        I can’t, but there’s been a couple of times that I’ve been stunned and stupid when shots were fired:
        Twice in the ’90’s I’ve been near gunfire on city streets where I could see muzzle flash, once when I was in a car with my wife at the corner of Ashby and Sacramento in Berkeley where she yelled for me to drive through the red light, and once when I entered the parking lot of the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland at night, several shots were fired, I saw the large mass of taxis waiting there take off fast, and I briefly considered walking to the next BART station, but I was really tired after work, so I just waited in the lot without getting closer to where the shots were fired for some minutes until impatience got the best of me and I walked the rest of the way to the station.

        The only times that I can think of that I acted anything vaguely “nobly” around guns was when I was a child in the 1970’s when our dog got loose, and I went to fetch him and found him barking at a neighbor keeping him from coming down the stairs, I tried to lead our dog away and the neighbor announced that “I’m going to get my gun” and I hugged our dog and begged and cried for him not to shoot it, the second time was when I was a teenager in the ’80’s snd I was in my room reading and my brother came in and looked up to see hom pointing a rifle at me while smiling, later that night our father said “Don’t mess with the guns in my closet, they’re loaded”, and I didn’t tell on my brother.

        Thankfully I’ve only had a gun pointed directly at me once more in my lifetime (by a police officer who pulled me over).

      • Incurian says:

        hash872, I think he is approving of a change in policy/strategy rather than questioning the courage of past victims.

        • greenwoodjw says:

          Yes. The decades of “active compliance” and “passive resistance” have resulted in mass shootings and high-crime areas, and people are starting to ignore the Official Advice because it’s so obviously wrong. It’s not the fault of the people who reacted according to what they were taught, but of the people doing the teaching.

          • Shion Arita says:

            Well, you want to comply if you believe the crime in progress is about something other than the violence itself. For example, if what’s going on is you’re being robbed, give them the money, and they are extremely unlikely to shoot you. If they just want to kill you, well then, it’s time to go to no quarter.

      • aristides says:

        Personally, my ex-military father gave me and my brother active shooter training, complete with mock exercises, and advocated providing similar training to all high schoolers after Kent State, but I’m sure I’m in the minority. If I remember right the teachers called his suggested mandatory training dystopian. Note he actually was in favor of repealing the second amendment, he just thought training high schoolers was more realistic. Instead we just locked down the schools and put at least one armed officer at every school at all times. Much less dystopian.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          Aristides remember that at one point students in school were taught duck and cover. And more recently most schools have some form of lock-down drill. And of course fire drills are a thing and have been for quite awhile. Mind you these are all different kinds of tail risk.

          My old place of work had a learning module on ‘active shooter’ situation — something like ‘run, hide, fight’ [in that order] but no drill associated with it.

          I don’t think most young people can be relied upon to defend themselves in a situation like this, even if they were trained to do so. Teaching them how to quickly barricade themselves will probably have a more reliable outcome but that only buys time. It does no one any good unless there’s someone armed willing and able to engage the shooter.

        • acymetric says:

          Kent State is…kind of a weird example isn’t it? Very different from “typical” active shooter situations.

          • aristides says:

            Agreed, that was probably the one where active shooter training would have helped the most, but more recent shooters are much more sophisticated. I’m not sure what the best policy is, though I think some training would be useful. Run, hide, and fight was basically my training from my father and workplace, but I don’t know how effective it is. It’ll at least be more useful than duck and cover.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            aristides,
            What specifically should the students have done differently at Kent State?

          • John Schilling says:

            What specifically should the students have done differently at Kent State?

            Niven’s first law would have been appropriate there, both parts.

            More generally, if there are men with guns promising violence, and you aren’t prepared to win a gunfight or die a martyr, try really hard to Be Someplace Else. AFIK, nobody at Kent State was stopping students from individually or collectively leaving. Not sure how many of the students were trying to die as martyrs.

          • aristides says:

            I am an idiot. I got Kent State confused with Virginia Tech. I’m glad I looked up a citation before giving my explanation. I think my comments will make more sense for Virginia Tech, and probably don’t need as much of an explanation as to how active shooter training would have helped there. Though now that I read the after fact reports, it actually looks like the narrative I heard from the media was wrong. I heard that the students lined up against a wall when threatened, but it looks like that was inaccurate. I’ll have to do more research some time.

          • John Schilling says:

            I am an idiot. I got Kent State confused with Virginia Tech.

            Honest mistake, no problem. And yes, the standard active-shooter doctrine would probably have been appropriate at Virginia Tech.

      • I didn’t.

        When I was living in Philadelphia, about 1975, my then wife and I were witnesses to a shooting at the corner where our house was. I was outside for some reason. The shooter ran down the street towards me. He waved his gun at me and I got out of the way.

        I think the prudent decision under the circumstances.

        • greenwoodjw says:

          Yeah, unarmed people shouldn’t go chasing down armed murderers fleeing a sense. Rampage killers are very different.

    • LesHapablap says:

      It seems like for an overall strategy we should lavish huge rewards on anyone who acts heroically in these situations. At the very least their name should be in all the headlines about the incident instead of the shooter’s.

      • albatross11 says:

        The one thing I’m pretty sure of is that the shooters’ names, faces, and manifestoes should not be trumpeted by news outlets. Ideally, you’d bury the f–kers in an unmarked grave and never mention them again.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I have a vague feeling we are turning the corner on this, ever since New Zealand.

          (Ironically, there were attempts to criminalize the possession of the killer’s manifesto/livestream, and attempts to use government force to censor people on the Internet who made it available. Which is completely the wrong response. I sort of wanted to mirror the manifesto as a fuck-you to the censors.)

          But, at least the media wasn’t playing his livestream 24/7 on the news networks.

          • albatross11 says:

            Yeah, suppressing and censoring information is a terrible idea, and I’m completely opposed to it.

            But there’s something crazy about having all the high-prestige voices in the society announce that if you take a gun and murder half a dozen strangers, they will devote a week or two to making you famous and publicizing all your grievances, all the injustices done to you, and your most controversial political and social views.

            I suspect one thing that’s going on here w.r.t various attempts to censor footage/manifestos/etc., is an attempt to get ahead of a race-to-the-bottom. There’s always an incentive to run with the most outrageous, sensational, horrible thing you can find. The latest spree killer’s blood-curdling pre-massacre pictures posted to Facebook and his unhinged manifesto are industrial-strength clickbait. If the big news sources refuse to run that stuff, but the Buzzfeeds and Enquirers do run it, they may make a ton of money and increase their standing until they’re also the big boys. For that matter, Twitter users / Youtubers who want a wider audience have a similar incentive. I have no good idea how to push back on that, though I agree that putting the state (or a coalition of tech companies) into the role of deciding what anyone’s allowed to read/watch is a really bad idea.

  16. BBA says:

    While doing one of my deep dives into obscure topics, I discovered these remarkable descriptions of what getting a degree from Oxford was like in the late 18th century:

    Mr. John Scott took his Bachelor’s Degree in Hilary Term on the 20th February 1770. “An examination for a Degree at Oxford,” he used to say, “was a farce in my time. I was examined in Hebrew and in History. ‘What is the Hebrew for the place of a skull?’ I replied, ‘Golgotha.’ ‘Who founded University College?’ I stated (though, by the way, the point is sometimes doubted) that King Alfred founded it. ‘Very well, Sir,’ said the Examiner, ‘you are competent for your Degree.'”

    Every Candidate is obliged to be examined in the whole circle of the sciences by three Masters of Arts, of his own choice. The examination is to be holden in one of the public schools and to continue from nine o’clock till eleven. The Masters take a most solemn oath that they will examine properly and impartially. Dreadful as all this appears, there is always found to be more of appearance in it than reality, for the greatest dunce usually gets his testimonium signed with as much ease and credit as the finest genius. The manner of proceeding is as follows: The poor young man to be examined in the sciences often knows no more of them than his bed-maker, and the Masters who examine are sometimes equally unacquainted with such mysteries. But schemes, as they are called, or little books, containing 40 or 50 questions in each science, are handed down from age to age, from one to another. The Candidate to be examined employs three or four days in learning these by heart, and the Examiners, having done the same before him when they were examined, know what questions to ask, and so all goes on smoothly. When the Candidate has displayed his universal knowledge of the sciences, he is to display his skill in Philology. One of the Masters, therefore, desires him to construe a passage in some Greek or Latin classic, which he does with no interruption, just as he pleases, and as well as he can. The Statutes next require that he should translate familiar English phrases into Latin. And now is the time when the Masters show their wit and jocularity. Droll questions are put on any subject, and the puzzled Candidate furnishes diversion in his awkward embarrassment. I have known the questions on this occasion to consist of an inquiry into the pedigree of a race-horse.

    It might have been added that at this time the Examiners were chosen by the Candidate himself from among his friends, and he was expected to provide a dinner for them after the Examination was over.

    These come from from the 1852 report of a royal commission on reforming the university’s then 300-year-old statutes. I find the rest of the report pretty interesting too – it shows how this ancient guild of scholastics started to look like a modern place of higher learning. The report comments that, following an early 19th century reform that made the examinations meaningful again, it was found impractical to examine all students on all subjects, so the B.A. degree was divided into “classical” and “mathematical” examinations. The commission suggested adding further subdivisions, and of course now you can get a degree in any subject you can think of.

    The other thing I’d like to note is that it shows what a university looked like before the introduction of the Ph.D.: there were very few graduate students, and higher degrees were a formality. Notably, only a handful of students took medical degrees, as they were not a requirement to practice medicine at the time (but that’s a whole other post). The other doctorates were in divinity and civil law, only useful for attaining higher offices in the university and the church, and only granted to those who had already proven themselves worthy of those higher offices. Today the “LL.D.”/”D.C.L.” are common designations for honorary degrees in America, in a link back to the time when the great English universities had entire faculties in a legal system that their country has never used.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I am intrigued by the use of ”bed-maker”, as that term has survived, though usually shortened to ”bedder”, in Cambridge where it is used to refer to cleaners in student accommodation (who do not make students’ beds). In Oxford the same people are called ”scouts” and have been since at least the 1930s- one is a character in Dorothy L. Sayers’ 1935 mystery novel Gaudy Night, set in a fictional Oxford college modelled on the one she attended from 1912 to 1915.

      • BBA says:

        Always hard to tell with these terminology and other oddities, if the difference is 19th/21st century, or Britain/America, or Oxbridge/everywhere else.

  17. tossrock says:

    Once again, China surges past the US in a STEM field, and this time it’s… literal wireheading?

    The next day, he sat across from Dr. Li, who used a tablet computer to remotely adjust the machine thrumming inside Yan’s head.

    “Cheerful?” Li asked as the touched the controls on the tablet.

    “Yes,” Yan answered.

    Li changed the settings. “Now?”

    “Agitated,” Yan said. He felt heat in his chest, then a beating sensation, numbness and fatigue. Yan began to sweat.

    Li made a few more modifications. “Any feelings now?”

    “Pretty happy now,” Yan said.

    He was in high spirits. “This machine is pretty magical. He adjusts it to make you happy and you’re happy, to make you nervous and you’re nervous,” Yan said. “It controls your happiness, anger, grief and joy.”

    On the one hand, yes, the opiod epidemic is a modern scourge, and novel approaches to combatting it are good. On the other, China’s historical lack of respect for human rights, and ethically atrocious medical procedures involving prisoners. And also the literal wireheading.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the decade ending in 2017 — increasingly, from synthetic opioids that come mainly from China, U.S. officials say. That’s more than the number of U.S. soldiers who died in World War II and Vietnam combined.

      At least two U.S. laboratories dropped clinical trials of DBS for treating alcoholism over concerns about study design and preliminary results that didn’t seem to justify the risks, investigators who led the studies told The Associated Press.

      I wonder, in a future where you’d prosecute and shoot people for this, what would the charges be?

    • Walter says:

      Woah, this seems like a really big deal. I didn’t realize that such things could be real so soon.

    • Plumber says:

      @tossrock,
      “I have seen the future and it works” – and it’s terrifying!

      • SamChevre says:

        A quote from one of my favorite authors–Lincoln Steffens. (I recommend his autobiography frequently.)

  18. Nick says:

    Let’s talk division of labor in the home, SSC!

    I was prompted by this op-ed from the New York Times. While men took up a more equal share of responsibilities at home in the 80s and 90s, that has since leveled off, and women still do 65% of the work. Researchers have concluded it is because men continue to resist doing an equal share. The writer, a mother, says that when she became a parent with her progressive husband, she expected they would fall easily into an equal division—but that hasn’t happened, and other progressive couples face the same. She concludes that men have to accept that the world has been built for their needs, comforts, and desires, and that they have to “stop resisting” when their wives tell them things are unfair.

    This is the Times, so they do bring up male perspectives on the discrepancy in the latter half of the article. And this is the Times, so a lampshade is being hung. Our writer, Lockman, interviews several couples, with fathers suggesting explanations for the discrepancy. Three are proposed but go unexplored:
    1) mothers take over certain tasks because fathers do not share the same priorities about when to do them
    2) mothers do certain tasks that fathers feel are valuable but unnecessary
    3) mothers do more because they feel a need to do more, as a matter of personality

    It would be really easy for Lockman to provide some data for (3); she doesn’t. For example, are women more conscientious, as far as Big Five traits? That may explain the feeling of greater urgency/desire to keep working. I believe there are studies indicating women have higher conscientiousness; how reliable are those? Do they explain the discrepancy, or is the effect too small, or am I misunderstanding the trait?

    The article mentions another bit of research: that wives “who view their household responsibilities ‘as unjust are more likely to suffer from depression than those who do not'” (quoting a study). If the explanation is a discrepancy in Big Five traits then this is really a complaint about, like, discrimination against high conscientiousness folks or whatever. This is grounds for a funny image of the next big social cause. Maybe in 2025 folks will be explicitly writing op-eds about Big Five discrimination, shaming low conscientiousness people for making us do all the work, shaming low neuroticism people for making us anxious all the time, shaming extroverts for dragging us to everyth—wait, hold on, I agree with that one. *cough*

    Anyway, the research question is interesting, but so is anecdata. How equal is your own division of labor, couples of SSC? Does your wife or husband grumble about doing all the work? How equal is it for same-sex couples here? I’m single and live alone, but I hear this sort of talk at the office all the time; a major topic for married men in male environments is complaining about their wives. Not having the other perspective on this, I take these things with a grain of salt, but at least complaints about unfairness can be found on both sides!

    • Butlerian says:

      I sit around with my feet up while my girlfriend does all the chores, because my chore is “Paying the rent”.

      I feel this is unfair on me, as the 50% of the rent that she doesn’t pay is substantially more than the cost of hiring a professional maid to give the place a regular clean, but what can I say, I’m a man, Jedi mind tricks DO work on me.

      It is astonishing to me that she would occasionally grumble about this arrangement, but, nevertheless, she does. On such occasions I offer to switch her from rent payment in kind to rent payment in cash, which tends to lead her to rapidly reconsider the topic of conversation.

    • March says:

      Anecdata point.

      I think our division of labor is pretty equitable. M/F couple with one toddler and hopes for a second if the stars ever align. I’m the F. We’re ‘older’ parents – he was 38 and I was 34 when kid was born.

      I cook more and research parenting things, because I like those things. He takes the car to the garage, drills the occasional hole and researches household appliances, because he likes those things. We take each other’s advice on the things we researched and have similar values anyway. Neither of us win any prizes in terms of keeping the house spotless, but it’s definitely not a pig sty either. I’m a Pareto cleaner who gets the whole house ‘done’ in two hours, he’s a perfectionist who gets fewer things done but leaves them cleaner than I have the patience for.

      We both work 4 days a week. We use Google Calendar and Google Keep to maintain schedules and shopping lists, so there’s none of that ‘oh, what do you mean there’s no school tomorrow’ shit going on in our house. On daycare days, he does the drop-off and I do the pick-up or the other way around. We have fixed days for that but adjust as needed. He works a 20-min drive from home and I have a home office, so that’s all really convenient. Daycare has his phone number as first contact, just to push back against the culture of ‘but can’t your wife pick up sick baby from daycare?’, but his office building is where cell signals go to die so they usually end up contacting me anyway.

      We do grocery shopping as a family. When one person cooks, the other entertains kiddo/enlists kiddo to do some cleanup. We both do laundry/dishes/etc and toss in at least one load of laundry on each of our free days. (He’s got Wed, I’ve got Fri.) The one who does daycare drop-off is usually also on dressing and breakfast duty – on ‘my’ days he leaves early to beat traffic, on ‘his’ days I occasionally sleep in. If we try to put an item of cloting on baby and it turns out to be too small, we toss it in a box. Every now and then one of us will say ‘that box is getting kinda full, let’s go clothes shopping for kiddo,’ and put ‘baby clothes’ on the shopping list. Neither of us judges the other person’s outfit choices for baby. We both do about half the bedtimes; if the other person is at home, they take that time to clean up dinner and reset the living room.

      We do have a Roomba, which I credit for about half of our marital satisfaction, since we both hate vacuuming but also hate sandy floors.

      He has his weekly nights away, I have mine. On my nights away, he cooks simple meals but I really couldn’t care less about that – he’s better about making fruit and veg for kiddo than he is for himself. (And besides, I also cook simple meals when he’s away now – baby is in a picky phase so there’s no point in being fancy.) We both try to let the other have their way of doing things anyway, though he’s kind of a busybody (see also: perfectionist) who is often halfway through taking things over before he even realizes. I do grumble about that; he is getting better at sitting on his hands.

      I used to want to be the kind of Independent Woman who would ALSO drill the holes and take the car to the garage and what have you, but the older I get (and definitely after baby), the clearer it became that that only works if you marry an Independent Man who ALSO cares about food and reading all the parenting books and what have you. I didn’t, and ain’t nobody got time to do EVERYTHING. He’s taller and stronger, he can drill the damn holes. He is the one who takes the car to work – he can swing by the garage.

      One source of inequality in our relationship is that he IS better at just deciding to do something and then doing it without checking with me whether I’m actually in a spot where I can watch baby for the next hour. He’s very reasonable if I go after him, so I can’t hold that too much against him.

      • BlindKungFuMaster says:

        Sounds in many respects pretty similar to my marriage, except in your case it seems to work. Possibly, because if the man is the perfectionist, he nevertheless doesn’t nag all the f***g time.

        • March says:

          Ohhh he nags. In this insufferable male way of saying ‘it’s not that I WANT this to be done X, it’s simply more logical that it be done X.’

          I just made that my hill to die on and push back on that a LOT. I was nagged half to death by my mother as a kid and made a solemn vow not to nag myself, and I’m definitely not going to take it. On the other hand (and despite this hard line, ha), I’m a pretty agreeable person so if he wants something done he can just say ‘could you do me a favor?’ or ‘hey, can we brainstorm something about this thing that’s annoying me?’ After almost 2 decades of a relationship, we hardly ever fight about that anymore, ha.

      • J Mann says:

        Do you need to Roomba-proof your house? We got a robot vacuum as a gift, saw that the instructions said “no cords on the floor, and no fringe rugs” and have literally never taken it out of the box. Do people with Roombas not have floor lamps?

        • March says:

          Not really. We don’t have floor lamps, that’s true. Nor fringe rugs. Thick cords don’t tend to be a problem, and we hide them/stick them behind furniture anyway. The Roomba can tackle my office with four computers and six screens and a bunch of audio equipment with no problem.

          It does tend to do a worse job underneath the kitchen table because chair legs, so every now and then we put the chairs in a cleaner spot. And it gets stuck on this one chair, so we put something on the spot that it gets stuck on.

    • albatross11 says:

      Did the article mention the division of outside-the-home labor?

      • Nick says:

        Dammit, when I wrote that at home I could read the article incognito fine, but at work it’s auto hidden. Maybe they’re trying some sort of scattershot approach against nonpaying readers now. Sorry; if I’d known this would be a problem, I’d have put it in pastebin or something.

        ETA: Try this. I added the links in, too. She mentions early on that both her and her husband work. She later produces research that men not picking up the slack impacts women’s earnings and health. She doesn’t mention any discrepancy between how much men and women work outside the home.

        • John Schilling says:

          She doesn’t mention any discrepancy between how much men and women work outside the home.

          Here you go. Working men spend an average of 5.6 more hours per week on the job than working women. Not counting commuting, which is another 0.9 hours per week for the men. Harder to quantify is the greater propensity for men to work physically demanding jobs that require longer post-work recovery periods.

          • Matt says:

            I think we actually need the discrepancy between how much men and women work outside the home for all men and women, not just those couples where both work.

          • John Schilling says:

            People who don’t work, don’t work outside the home. And labor force participation rates by gender should be easy to find. But the original article is talking about a couple where both parties are employed, and that’s really the only place where it at all interesting to discuss domestic labor participation. “Should a non-working domestic partner do a disproportionate share of the housework?” is trivial and boring.

          • Matt says:

            …But the original article is talking about a couple where both parties are employed

            Mothers still shoulder 65 percent of child-care work.

            By passively refusing to take an equal role, men are reinforcing “a separation of spheres that underpins masculine ideals and perpetuates a gender order privileging men over women.”

            Yet at the current rate of change, MenCare, a group that promotes equal involvement in caregiving, estimates that it will be about 75 more years before men worldwide assume half of the unpaid work that domesticity requires.

            I submit that these statements from the article are not specific to couples where both are employed.

        • pqjk2 says:

          Dammit, when I wrote that at home I could read the article incognito fine, but at work it’s auto hidden

          Try this:
          https://www.zdnet.com/article/how-to-enable-google-chrome-incognito-mode-detection-blocking/

      • March says:

        @albatross11,

        Indirectly, in that women married to conservative men also don’t have an equitable childcare distribution but do not consider that unjust/do not get depressed about it. That may be because they both think the man should work outside the house and the women inside of it.

        Still, many women take a step back from work because they can’t keep up with working full time while also doing the lion’s share of childcare (on top of the lion’s share of housework? that tends to get conflated but are two different things). So cause and effect may be difficult to determine.

      • IrishDude says:

        An EconTalk episode indicated that when summing up paid work and home production time, women work about an hour more each week than men. Close, but a slight edge to women.

        Russ Roberts: It was striking in your book that when you sum up work time plus home production time, women work a little bit more, but it’s a very small difference that is dramatically–the mix has obviously changed, as you said, but they are quite similarly. And I don’t know if those are correctly defined in the survey results. But I was struck by that, that they were relatively close.

        Daniel Hamermesh: It’s about an hour difference each week, maybe at most an hour difference in the United States. In some other countries, like the Netherlands or Norway or Sweden, they are almost identical. I think it’s a fascinating result. I call it ‘iso-work’–they are about the same in total. This doesn’t mean they are doing the same things. If you think of home production–walking the dog, cleaning the car, doing the dishes, shopping–

        Russ Roberts: carpool–

        Daniel Hamermesh: as work–carpool; all kinds of child care, I would argue–all those together, they are work to me. They are not something you would choose to do if you had huge amounts of money. Most of them, anyway. And the same thing for paid work. So, I think making this addition–getting total work and finding they are pretty similar–is just an absolutely striking result. And it holds up in most rich countries. Much less so in poorer countries. In poorer countries, no question women are doing more work in total than men.

    • woah77 says:

      So in my house, I go to work and she stays at home. She probably does close to 80% of the chores, especially on a weekly basis. I do dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc, if asked (which annoys her, but she has a schedule and plans and such, and I’m not inside her head) and we share in taking care of the toddler when I’m home. Of the unusual/infrequent work, I probably do closer to 80%, things like lawn care, car maintenance, assembling the new thing, etc. One of the biggest issues we’ve had is that I spend 10 hours out of the house every day (between commuting, lunch and work) and have no idea what the state of the house is when I get home. I’m not insensitive to her needs for various tasks to get done, but she has a lot of anxiety about asking me, and if I don’t know it needs to be done, I’m not going to realize it on my own very quickly.

    • aristides says:

      My wife and I like to approach the issue as if the main unit is the family, not the individual. We don’t have any kids yet, but we try to do what we are best at, with the flexibility to pick up the slack when the other isn’t feeling well or needs extra help. In practice this means my wife cooks most dinners, though I help with prep, and when I cook I just make Trader Joe’s frozen meals; but I do the dishes either way. My wife cleans constantly during the week, and I help her about every other weekend for a deep clean. I do the laundry, and she folds it, and I put it away. I make phone calls, she send emails. She drives, but we do groceries and shopping together. I assemble furniture, either of us drills holes unless she has trouble reaching. I work 45 hours a week at a desk job, she tries hobbies that are currently a net loss, but has the potential to turn into a profitable business one day. She walks the pets while I’m at work, I walk the other times. She keeps them clean and entertained and I clean the litter box. With a division of labor like this it is impossible and indeed harmful to calculate what percent of the work each spouse is doing. Some chores are harder for others, some people are better at other things. Calculating it would only create unnecessary resentment.

      • spkaca says:

        “With a division of labor like this it is impossible and indeed harmful to calculate what percent of the work each spouse is doing. Some chores are harder for others, some people are better at other things. Calculating it would only create unnecessary resentment.”
        This +1. I recall reading somewhere that in every relationship both of the partners thinks they are doing 70% of the work.

    • acymetric says:

      Disclaimer: I am not trying to play Devil’s Advocate here, but something close to that. I certainly don’t dispute that there are issues related to traditional gender roles and distribution of household responsibilities. I just want to highlight some things that I think may make it appear worse than it is (for the “typical” case, not looking at the extremes where something is clearly wrong).

      The article mentions another bit of research: that wives “who view their household responsibilities ‘as unjust are more likely to suffer from depression than those who do not’” (quoting a study).

      I don’t have access to the paper cited here, and my thought is so obvious that I have to believe it is addressed, but this quote implies a causation of unjust responsibilities leads to depression. Isn’t it fairly possible, even somewhat likely, that it could work the other way (that someone suffering from depression would be inclined to see their situation as unjust regardless of whether that was objectively true)?

      More importantly, it seems that a lot of the issues brought up about household responsibilities are the exact same issues that non-romantically involved roommates have with division of labor, but since marriage is involved people try to bring gender roles into all of it instead of focusing on the places where it is actually a key factor (like child care).

      • March says:

        Gender roles definitely aren’t just a key factor in child care. You can have different gender roles in childcare, like ‘moms do arts and crafts and dads take kids to the batting cage’ or ‘moms kiss booboos and dads give lectures’, without creating unequal workloads.

        The causality of depression & injustice doesn’t seem that much more obvious the way you put it. In most cases, these are straight, married couples who had a ‘just-seeming’ division of labor before kids that only started feeling ‘unjust’ after kids.

        There are definitely similarities with roommate household negotiations, except that with an annoying slob of a roommate you can much more easily move, hoard all your silverware in your own room/locker, kick them out, play a game of housework chicken etc.

        • acymetric says:

          Gender roles definitely aren’t just a key factor in child care.

          I said “like childcare” because childcare is an easy example. I did not say “only and exclusively childcare” and I didn’t say that on purpose.

          The causality of depression & injustice doesn’t seem that much more obvious the way you put it.

          I’m not saying it is obviously the other way. I’m saying it is plausible either direction (more to the point, that in practice it can and does happen either direction, but to imply as the article does that the causation is always in the direction that matches the viewpoint of the writer needs some support). Incorrectly identifying the cause of depression to a person can be actively harmful to them, so I think this is important.

          In most cases, these are straight, married couples who had a ‘just-seeming’ division of labor before kids that only started feeling ‘unjust’ after kids.

          Didn’t I specifically say that division of labor as it relates to kids is one of the main places to look for problems that are clearly gender-role related? I don’t think anything I said contradicts this. That said, the quote related to that study didn’t mention kids at all, so while what you say is certainly a thing that happens, that isn’t what the article was saying. Again, I don’t know what the actual study said because I don’t have access…maybe the study does say or address difference between pre and post kids.

          There are definitely similarities with roommate household negotiations, except that with an annoying slob of a roommate you can much more easily move, hoard all your silverware in your own room/locker, kick them out, play a game of housework chicken etc.

          Yes, it is a harder problem than a typical roommate situation, because it is harder to get out of. No, that doesn’t mean that any time an issue like this arises it is always related to gender issues/gender roles. Of course sometimes it is, but not always. Pretending otherwise makes it harder to actually address real issues with gender role imbalance. Also, worth noting that it isn’t even always necessarily the man who benefits and the woman who is harmed by the imbalance, it can work the other way.

          I think we can find common ground in that there are problems with gender roles in society and in long term relationships specifically. I am totally on board with that. I just making that the root of anything that involves people of different genders confuses the issue and makes it harder to actually make positive cultural changes.

          • March says:

            Sure, the imbalance can be harmful both ways. I definitely know some scum women.

            And I guess I consider the difference between ‘division of labor after kids’ and ‘division of labor as relates to kids’ and ‘division of childcare labor’ very significant, while perhaps you don’t.

          • acymetric says:

            And I guess I consider the difference between ‘division of labor after kids’ and ‘division of labor as relates to kids’ and ‘division of childcare labor’ very significant, while perhaps you don’t.

            It depends on what conversation we’re having, and what our goal is in terms of division of labor. If we just want “equal amount of labor” generally it is less important. If we want “equal amount of labor for each type of task” (50/50 baths, 50/50 cleaning, 50/50 lawn mowing, etc) then the distinction is definitely important.

            In other words, if we’re looking at “who does more work” it is less important. If we’re looking at “who does more of x type of work” the distinction basically is the conversation so it isn’t just significant, it’s the central matter being discussed.

            Maybe we’re in agreement, and were just having different conversations?

      • Viliam says:

        Isn’t it fairly possible, even somewhat likely, that it could work the other way (that someone suffering from depression would be inclined to see their situation as unjust regardless of whether that was objectively true)?

        Or perhaps people suffering from depression are likely to do things slowly, and that increases the time spent doing domestic work. With a job and kids, there is not much time left, so an extra hour a day can make a great difference.

        In case of more serious depression, you also have to consider the time spent in therapy, and the fact that the money spent on therapy cannot be spent e.g. on babysitting.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        I don’t think the issue requires a whole lot of inspired guesswork. Going by the quoted passage it’s wives who view their household responsibilities as unjust that are a depression risk.

        Let’s try to break down what’s being said here:
        1. Someone thinks their life is unfair,
        2. Someone is subsequently depressed.

        Sounds like a paper I wrote a while back, entitled “Duh!”

        The fact that people who aren’t satisified with their lives are at risk of depression is so stupidly obvious, that words fail me.

        However, “someone’s household responsibilities are unjust” does not follow from “someone views their household responsibilities as unjust” – which the article seems to assume implicitly.

        It gets even funnier when we realize that “someone views their household responsibilities as unjust” doesn’t follow from “someone’s household responsibilities are unjust”, either – someone may very well be perfectly content with their unfair burden, for other reasons.

        Those people, presumably, aren’t at risk of depression.

        • acymetric says:

          So I pretty much fully agree with this, maybe this is a better version of what I was trying to say, except:

          I don’t think the issue requires a whole lot of inspired guesswork. Going by the quoted passage it’s wives who view their household responsibilities as unjust that are a depression risk.

          I’m just pointing out that this may be correlation as opposed to causation. The paper may actually address that, but the article appears to just assume it.

          Person is depressed for Reasons. Person (or people around said person) identify cause x as the reason for the depression. That doesn’t mean x actually caused the depression…depression is complicated and people are often wrong about these things!

          Are people who view their household duties as unfair at higher risk for depression, or are people who are depressed more likely to view things in their life as unfair in an attempt to pinpoint why they feel the way they do? I could believe either way, but if someone is going to claim one or the other as correct I would hope that would be supported by someone (or else acknowledge that it is just unsupported intuition).

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            Why not both?

            The point is that this is not, in any way, an unanticipated result.

            More importantly, however, it tells us nothing about whether the division of labour is in fact unjust – which is the only thing the article cares about (the thrust being “it’s not just unfair, it’s a health risk, too!”)

          • Nick says:

            If it helps, the pastebin link I gave albatross above has links to all the research that the article gave. Just awkwardly inlined because pastebin is plaintext. Here’s the paper; I don’t have access to it, but some people here probably do.

          • acymetric says:

            @Faza

            At this point I think we’re actually in agreement and either I’m not writing clearly or you misread something.

            “Why not both?” Exactly. My complaint is framing it as one-directional (feels unfair leads to depression in all cases) when likely the opposite is also true (depression leads to feelings that x is unfair) in at least some, and probably a significant number of, cases. I’m also not attributing that framing to you, it is a gripe I have with the article. I agree with the article’s general premise but disagree on the specifics, analysis, and presentation.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            @acymetric

            My complaint is framing it as one-directional (feels unfair leads to depression in all cases)

            This is a claim that I did not actually make.

            My claim is that if someone has a reason for emotional distress (they feel stuck in an unfair situation), it is not surprising in the slightest that they may become depressed. It is not impossible that the causality goes the other way in some cases, but I’m not convinced that this is a useful line of inquiry when considering the big picture (when we’re looking at individual cases, definitely!)

            The difference as I see it in differentiating between the two lines of causality is as follows:
            1. If perceived injustice causes depression, we would expect to see some people who perceive injustice become depressed,

            2. If depression causes the perception of injustice, we would expect all (or rather: most) people who perceive injustice to be depressed.

            I realize this sounds like I’m stacking the deck in my favour, because of a more rigorous demand made for 2. (depression tends to be the result of numerous factors), but this is because of the nature of the proposition. If the feeling of injustice is the result of pre-existing depression – a plausible line of causality – we would expect a much tighter correlation between depression and perception of injustice (people won’t be perceiving injustice unless they are depressed) than when perception of injustice is a contributing cause of depression (which is the claim made in the article, and taken up by myself) – which also happens to be a good enough line of causality for politics (again, individual cases should be examined and treated individually).

          • acymetric says:

            @Faza

            I know you didn’t make it. I even said you didn’t:

            I’m also not attributing that framing to you, it is a gripe I have with the article.

            I attribute that claim (or at least implication) to the article.

            As far as the rest, I don’t think your point two necessarily follows.

            2. If depression causes the perception of injustice, we would expect all (or rather: most) people who perceive injustice to be depressed.

            This is backwards. If depression causes perception of injustice, we would expect depressed people to be more likely to perceive injustice. There are lots of other reasons to perceive injustice other than being depressed, so it doesn’t really follow that most people who perceive injustice would be depressed. For an analogy, consider that drunk driving causes car crashes, but that does not mean that most car crashes are the result of drunk driving (they aren’t) because lots of things cause car crashes.

            I think we agree that the causation could plausibly go either way. I think we probably even agree that it does work both ways in practice. We just disagree on the ratio between the two. I think it is probably relatively balanced (not necessarily 50/50, but not like 90/10 either). You seem to think it is heavily weighted towards #1.

            I don’t think we’re going to be able to hash that out using our competing intuitions, and I don’t know that there is good data readily at hand to get an actual, scientifically sound answer. At the very least, I think even if we’re not on the same page we aren’t exactly miles apart, either?

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            @acymetric

            I think we’re as close to being on the same page as is possible (si duo dicunt idem, non est idem).

            To be clear: I don’t disagree with anything you wrote. My position here is mostly based on Occam – it’s simply unnecassary to posit the reverse causality (depression->perception of injustice), because the intially proposed explanation is perfectly sufficient.

            Having gotten that out of the way, I’d like to ask you why you think an examination of that angle is important, looking at the big picture?

            This being the internet, I want to stress that I really am interested in what you think. In a previous comment you mentioned concerns about misdiagnosing the causes in an individual case – concerns that I share – but we aren’t looking at individuals here. We’re asking whether a specific social phenomenon has implications for mental health in society at large, what those are and why do they arise.

            Do you see what I mean?

          • acymetric says:

            Mostly from the angle of “depression is a Big Deal.” Depression is frequently attributed to the wrong things, both by the people suffering from it and the people around them. If the cause of the depression is a sense of unfairness around the household, then either correcting the imbalance (if the unfairness is real) or correcting the perception (if the unfairness is imagined) is a good course of action.

            If it is the other way, though, and we assume the sense of unfairness is causing the depression when in reality something else is causing the state of depression, efforts to fix the situation by dealing with the sense of unfairness directly are likely to be unsuccessful, and maybe even counter-productive.

            Hard to think of something worse for someone with a good home life/family/partner who is suffering from depression than saying “you know what your problem is? Your husband.”

            Your clear distinction between “perceived unfairness” and “actual unfairness” alleviates this to a great extent (though not fully), but when I wrote my original post I wrote it with the idea that not everyone would make that distinction (which I think is true, although obviously you yourself did make it).

        • Randy M says:

          And I’d wager that articles with the premise of “Household chores still not shared 50/50! Women hardest hit!” are probably on net spurring more depression and arguments than they are a more harmonious balance of chores.

        • 10240 says:

          It’s also plausible that there are couples where the distribution of labor is unjust (for some definition of unjust), and those against whom it’s unjust are more likely to be depressed, even though, based on the statistics cited above, the division of labor is not significantly unjust on average (measured in time worked).

    • Matt says:

      My situation

      I married a woman with 3 kids and a career. When we were both working, I did all of the traditionally ‘male’ chores / maintenance / heavy lifting, and we split the other chores about 60% her / 30% me / 10% kids. How much the kids help with these tasks is a bit of an issue between us – she insists that they need time to do homework and participate in sports. My position is that if they had more ‘skin in the game’ they would grow up to be more responsible.

      She has been laid off now for a couple of years, and I do less now, with she and the kids (mostly the girls) picking up my slack. The oldest child, my stepson, used to take out the trash and recycling, but he couldn’t really be relied on so now I mostly do it to make sure it gets done.

      One of the girls is a fantastic cook, and is always helping my wife out with that. She also keeps her room clean. The other two have to be nagged into doing pretty much anything, but my wife would rather nag them until they do the chores than set expectations and punish failure to perform.

      One of the compromises I made when I married a woman with 2 teenagers and a preteen was that she would set the tone on that sort of thing, so mostly I try to resist taking up the tasks she won’t assign to the kids. Except the trash.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      2a) Mothers do certain tasks that fathers feel are an utter waste of time but don’t want to fight about.

    • Viliam says:

      Mothers still shoulder 65 percent of child-care work.

      Does this study control for the fact that men on average work longer hours at job? If the wife is a stay-at-home mom or a part-time worker, while the husband is a full-time worker, it would be very myopic definition of fairness to expect the husband to also do 50% of all domestic work.

      Let’s do some math:

      For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume the day has 24 hours, everyone spends 8 hours sleeping and 16 awake. That gives you 16×7 = 112 awake hours a week.

      A full time job takes 8 hours a day, plus 30 minutes of lunch break, and let’s say 30+30 minutes of commute to+from the work. That makes (8+0.5+0.5+0.5)×5 = 47.5 hours a week. Let’s round it to 48 hours.

      Child-care is most time costly when the kid is too small to attend school or kindergarten. But even if the child is of school age, this calculation can describe days when the child is sick (at kindergarten, half the time), or during school vacation (two months a year). Then you need 112 hours of child care a week.

      So, if the man works full time, and you want to split child care equally, the man has 112/2 = 56 hours of child care and 48 hours of job (plus lunch and commute) a week. That is 56+48 = 104 of 112 awake hours; in other words, he has 8 hours a week left for everything other than job and kids. — That includes his fair share of domestic work (half of shopping and cooking and cleaning and washing and …?), duties other than job (random pleasures of life such as doing taxes), self-care, social life, and reading Slate Star Codex.

      Now, these numbers are not exact. For example, kids sometimes sleep after lunch, that time interval does not require babysitting. On the other hand, sometimes both parents do child care at the same time: a family dinner, a trip; or the time when you need to do different things with different kids. You can pay for babysitting, or sometimes grandparents do it for free. Some people have shorter commute, some have longer. Some people work more than 40 hours a week (and then they are expected to work on their GitHub portfolio during their free time, heh).

      • acymetric says:

        everyone spends 8 hours sleeping

        Is this part of that post-scarcity utopia everyone keeps talking about? 😉

        • woah77 says:

          Right? My own sleeping habit is closer to 5-6 hours a night, if I’m lucky. Once in a while (like once a month) I get closer to 8 hours. But that’s anomalous, not the rule.

        • greenwoodjw says:

          You should make an effort to achieve that. It’s good for almost everyone.

          • Butlerian says:

            I put this advice in the same bucket as “You sould make an effort to be fabulously wealthy too, that’s good for almost everyone”.

            Justified true beliefs that X is good does not, alas, translate to getting X.

        • acymetric says:

          Oh, for sure. I was just making a joke about how most of us don’t.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            I figured, I just wanted to push back a little against the normalization. 🙂

      • Nick says:

        The linked study is here. I don’t have access, but others might.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I do basically everything. My Wife helps somewhat with laundry, occasionally irons, and cleans the bathrooms. I’m not really sure yet about whether bathroom cleaning chemicals can have an adverse effect on pregnancies, so I’ve been picking up bathroom cleaning.

      My wife will clean prior to someone coming over, and when she has an occasional spurt of productivity. She sometimes takes on a project, like putting in some edging in the garden, or painting a small room.

      This is not really a gender role issue, all the kids on my in-laws side are shockingly lazy. Like, “I will put dirty dishes back in the cabinet before I clean them” level of lazy.

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      We both work, but my hours are more flexible and I am more capable of working from home, so I tend to do a lot of the day-to-day stuff, especially during the week: I cook most weeknight dinners and do the dishes plus the necessary sweeping and cleaning to keep the place livable. On the weekend though, she tends to do more thorough tidying up. I’d say maybe that I clean and she tidies: she does major organizing and putting stuff away where it properly belongs, while I wipe down the surfaces and vacuum and sweep.

      I probably end up doing a little more, but it’s hard to be certain.

      Some of this reflects our preferences as well: I don’t mind washing dishes and she hates it, while I find tidying and organizing to be absolutely excruciating, while she thrives on it, but stuff like cooking I think is just a matter of what’s more convenient.

    • J Mann says:

      Regarding your alternate explanations, I think they explain part of it. That’s standard roommate politics – unless there’s a specific agreement, the roommate who prefers a cleaner common space almost always does more cleaning work and resents it.

      And IMHO I don’t think the resentment is unreasonable. If one person prefers a cleaner home, there should be a discussion that takes into account the difference in priorities and comes to some kind of resolution. It’s not fair for Felix to make Oscar clean the house to Felix’s satisfaction, but it’s also not fair for Oscar to shoulder Felix with all the cleaning – presumably, you can reach some agreement in the middle, or that compensates somewhere else.

      Our home:

      My wife and I both work full time. She works from a home office and I commute, so my guess is that sort of evens out – the extra time I spend commuting is balanced by domestic stuff she does like getting the kids snacks, picking them up when necessary, letting the dog in and out, etc.

      During the rest of the time, most of our division is based on comparative advantage and preference. I do most of the cooking, grocery shopping, repair, finances, de-clutter when I notice it, and mow, and other services as requested. She does cleaning, laundry, organizes the calendar, school paperwork, gardening, and most of the kid transportation.

      Still, my guess is she probably does 60-70% of the actual domestic work, and that spurs me to clean more than i otherwise would. We should probably get someone to do the light cleaning.

      • woah77 says:

        The answer I’ve had, for quite some time, is you can tell me a task and let me do it, or you can supervise me and tell me how. You cannot expect me to both take the initiative to do a task you’ve made me aware of and to do it your way. Either I own the task, or you are going to be involved in the task.

      • Randy M says:

        And IMHO I don’t think the resentment is unreasonable.

        Obviously it’s only unreasonable if their standards are unreasonable–ie, different from mine 😉
        Its easy to outline obviously unreasonable behavior that is held by someone–ie, leaving dirty dishes on the table overnight for the bugs to enjoy vs insisting on dusting every surface daily.
        The sweet spot is going to vary wildly, though.

        • acymetric says:

          As an example of this variance: my roommate complains about dog hair and dishes (these are fair, although somewhat exaggerated, complaints).

          On the other hand, when I first moved in (he had lived there for a couple years) the bathroom was like 90% mold which I think is a much bigger deal.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Some combination of #1 and #3 are major causes of issues in a lot of marriages.

      My wife does more work than I do in total, her time at work + time with the kids + chores exceeds my time. However there is no individual thing, or set of things that I can realistically do to reduce the amount of time she works, she rejects my offers to take specific chores (ie putting the kids to bed is the most common) off her plate about half of the time. If she came home and the house was in literally perfect order she would go outside and work on one of the projects in the yard.

      Simply put I cannot, due to her personality, work situation and the nature of the universe, cut her sense of responsibility down. The only thing I could do in the near term is simply take on her personality and priorities and put the same number of hours in as she does. This was a reasonable position when we were less financially secure years ago, and what I did for a short period, but now that would simply be a one sided sacrifice.

      We are still working this out, but there can’t be literal equality between us because aspects of our personalities are so different. Either we work different amounts or one of us has to swallow their preferences and match the other, perhaps in a few years we will be in a place where she can cut back her working hours and then her home chores will feel more like leisure to her.

    • Erusian says:

      I make enough money that I can pay for rent in a major city, utilities, insurance, a car, etc on my own. And I can afford weekly maid service and a few other regular services. I also have a Roomba. So household chores basically consist of walking my dog twice a day and cooking. And the irregular stuff.

      My feeling has always been that means there aren’t that many chores to do in my house to begin with. But my general rule has always been that if my girlfriend contributes half of upkeep, then we split it evenly. If she contributes less than half, we split it fairly (leaning towards her) but I have preferential option to say that work calls or that I need to work instead. If she doesn’t pay in anything or almost nothing then it’s mostly on her as effectively a stay at home.

      I have a relatively small sample size, naturally. But my experience is that feminist women with unimpressive or activist careers (even if those activist careers are impressive) tend to object most strongly. Women who would describe themselves as not feminists with impressive careers, even if those careers pay poorly, tend to have the fewest issues with this. Usually not at all. Though I do bias the sample by breaking up with any woman who insists I foot the entire bill and split the chores 50/50. I could tell you of some truly absurd fights, including one woman who accused me of treating her like a maid while the actual maid was recleaning something because she wasn’t satisfied with the maid’s work.

      What I’ve concluded is that it’s mostly a self-esteem thing. Women who derive their self-worth from independence or feminist credentials will see it as an issue. Women who don’t, or who actually derive their self-worth from fulfilling traditional gender roles, won’t.

    • achenx says:

      I haven’t read this specific article but a lot of similar pieces in outlets like the Times end up reading like “I’m unhappy with my relationship so I’m going to tell everybody in the world about it while generalizing my specific relationship to everyone’s.” Remind me to never marry a journalist.

      I’ve been living with my wife for 15 years, about half of that with no kids and then an increasing number of kids. Roles shift all the time based on current situation. At the moment there’s a lot that just doesn’t really get done because it’s hard for us chasing after multiple young kids and keeping up with cleaning and such. We have a large yard now and ended up paying a mowing service who are much faster and much better at it than I am when I tried to do it myself. As the kids start to get older they’re getting involved more. TBH right now I’m handling most things myself, but when I think something needs to change, I talk with my wife about it rather than writing an article in the Times.

    • Randy M says:

      I don’t know how much we should count–we are single income, and live in an apartment. So there is less chores and more man- (or at least woman)-hours. Though she’s not exactly stay-at-home; much of the day time is used for various activities for our homeschooled trio.
      My wife often makes me breakfast and lunch in the mornings, though I try to let her sleep in if she doesn’t wake on her own for it. She’ll do shopping and make dinners, unless she’s running around to an activity, tutoring (a side job) or just wants me to grill the meat. I usually do breakfast on the weekends.
      She does the laundry, partly because we use her mother’s facilities. In return, I make liberal use of the smell test on my own clothes before tossing them into the hamper.
      Whoever notices the dust or remembers the company first will do the vacuuming and ‘straightening up.’
      Children do the dishes.
      When we had babies, we both did diapers (including rinsing the cloth); she breast fed. There was much more work from both back then, of course.
      Occasionally I’ll nag her (and children) about clutter on their desks and surrounding areas, as I find the visual mess irritating. I track the finances.
      She does most of the interaction chores–buying gifts, scheduling appointments, and so on.

      edit: Oh, and we both contribute to putting children to bed, but I don’t consider that a chore–it’s vital relationship building that perhaps we weren’t in the mood for at the moment but brings satisfaction long term. Okay, fine, maybe that’s a lot like a chore.

      So while I’m really not concerned with ‘equality’ in such matters, we make up for it in concern for each other and haven’t argued about it much to date.

    • quanta413 says:

      My fiancee and I work roughly equal amounts. She’s the brains and handles more of the long term planning like vacations, moves, our wedding, etc. She also does more of the occasional cleaning. We go grocery shopping together. We split the bills currently, but the bills will all be mine soon since she’s going to get another degree while I work. We might switch years from now although I’d just go part time and take over more housework; I never want to get another degree. I try to do more of the daily chores like cooking, dishes, cleaning the kitchen countertops, and laundry because I’m so bad about long term plans. But it varies a lot from week to week depending on who is busy. At best I’m probably getting to 55 or 60% of daily chores instead of 50%.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      My wife does the lion’s share of housework but she’s mostly a stay-at-home mom. I go to work every day to pay for everything. She hasn’t complained, and if she did I would do more (but not 50% because come on, I’m not the one home all day).

      She’s about to apply for a full-time job (it’s really right up her alley, and the pretty soon the kids will all be in school), so we’ll see how that changes when we’re both working.

    • JonathanD says:

      Our division:

      My wife does almost all of the planning and organizing, because I tend to be flaky. That conversation where I’m surprised the kids are off of school today has totally happened in my household, despite a shared google calendar.

      I manage the money, because I’m cheap and that way we get to have nice vacations.

      I do most of the laundry, because I don’t like how my wife folds or hangs stuff.

      She does most of the tidying up, because she’s less tolerant of ambient mess than I am. This reverses when we’re having company, as I have a very strong “clean up for company” imperative from my childhood.

      Dishes are, I think, mostly even.

      Time with the kids is even, I think. (Bed, bath, reading, homework) Maybe shading towards her, but not egregiously so.

      In general, I’m satisfied with out division of labor. I think she is too, though it’s probably worth a conversation.

    • honoredb says:

      My wife and I often drift into lifestyles where she’s doing too much of the household labor, due to a combination of her having higher cleanliness standards and me being selfish/negligent without noticing. I think there’s a lot going on there: gendered differences in social desirability bias/preferences, difference in conscientiousness levels that might be gender-correlated, and just random different preferences (my brother’s much neater than I am). I don’t believe in justice as an end goal but I value my wife’s happiness and effectiveness equal to mine, and my wife does believe in justice, so I basically just try to be extra conscientious about the chores that I do value and cheerfully pitch in with the ones that I don’t.

      Right now we’re in a phase where division of labor works out pretty well because we have a new chore, walking our loud excitable dog, that I enjoy and she often hates, so I can just always be the one to do it when we’re both home, and currently we’re on similar schedules so that’s almost all walks.

    • Clutzy says:

      It is my opinion that this article, and all similar articles are typically built on a bed of lies that they incorporate into assumptions (and they often ignore pay and commute disparities). But I have charitably assume they are the first ever to do this methodology correctly and will directly address the main points.

      1) mothers take over certain tasks because fathers do not share the same priorities about when to do them

      Probably true. But its also likely that this is most likely because of time shifting of when a hobby/entertainment must be done. Its not great to go to the gym or play pickup at 10 PM after the kids are asleep. Also related, lots of women seem to do working out/hobbies in the middle of the day, even if they work full time jobs. Spin classes are the common example. So, yes, obviously if the dishes need cleaning, the man gets back an hour later because he did his hobby/exercise after work instead of midday, and sports TV is the only thing you gotta watch live, then yes he has greater time preferences. Not understanding that is being dumb.

      2) mothers do certain tasks that fathers feel are valuable but unnecessary

      A concept I’ve referred to as the Chore-Hobby duality. Any chore overly done is actually a hobby (some hobbies are never chores). I will personally say in our household, I consider a majority (no kids) of the “chores” done by the other person to be mostly useless. For instance, she bakes, takes care of plants (that produce no food!), and decorates. In other households I know some wives vacuum daily, or more than that. Those are hobbies! We dont give a man credit for the 5th hour he’s spend repairing his motorcycle that day. If I did some woodworking and made a bunch of weird statues to display in the house no one would count those hours!

      3) mothers do more because they feel a need to do more, as a matter of personality

      Probably true in 2 spaces, cleaning and childcare. Cleaning is a neuroticism thing which most men are lower on, and childcare I think is a thing where its evidence that having a man and a woman in the household is usually good for children. There are 2 parenting techniques, and they are both needed.

    • Plumber says:

      @Nick

      “Let’s talk division of labor in the home…”

      (Full disclosure: I didn’t read the linked essay, as it didn’t seem like it’d be anything new, and I’ve seen other essays on that topic over the decades, women do more hours of hoisework, men die or get crippled at work more, what else is new?)
      Anyway, I work outside the home and driving to and from the job and home is a blight I deeply resent (a bit less hours at work would be nice as well, but it’s the driving that frustrates me more).
      My wife is a “stay-at-home-mom” and she resents how much of her time is soent doing childcare (after are second son waa born and my job looked more secure I started bringing home more take out so she resents cooking less now).
      Last night when I came home she expounded for many minutes about how hard it was looking after our almost 3 year-old son (especially now that our older son is taking more classes) while I tried to look like I was listening and sympathetic, but within an hour the little guy said something cute, and she smiled and said “I always want a little kid in the house”.
      Aa to who has it better or worse I can’t tell, when part of my day is soent at Lefty O’Doul’s I’d say I have it better, but when part of it us spent pulling hair out of the drains in the autopsy room I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying: “You think you have it hard, let me tell you what I did today”.
      Mostly, I don’t think we resent each other for not picking up more slack, it’s fate we curse and/or are grateful to.

      • Randy M says:

        Are you unclogging the drain at Lefty’s, knocking back a pint, or both?

        • Plumber says:

          @Randy M,
          Just corned beef and cabbage for me, and that was some years ago when the crew was mostly born in either the Philippines or the Soviet Union, about twice a year we’d go together and have a meal, it was a left over tradition from when the crew was of mostly Irish descent from which only one guy in his 60’s was left by then.
          In some ways we’ve come full circle as now most of the Filipinos are retired, as are half of the Russians, unlike five years ago most of my co-workers are now U.S. born (thought their paremts are immigrants), and both the blue-collar new Superintendent is Irish-American as is the new white-collar Manager (one to direct the trades, the other to interact with the “tenants” which are the cops, courts, et cetera. In theory they’re of co-equal status), though now we go to an Italian restaurant twice a year instead.

          I think that I’ve mentioned this before but, even though the plurality of city staff is now of Asian descent, celebrations are still had at the Irish Cultural Center, and the Italian Athletic Club – just like when those were the dominant ethnicities fifty years ago.

          If you’re temperamentally conservative I highly recommend government building repair work, as unlike the private sector resistance to change is normal despite “new initiatives” from the white-collar side, in my bosses words “Take those new computers they issued us and put ’em in you’re lockers and leave them there, what we do works and we’re not changing anything”.

      • Nick says:

        (Full disclosure: I didn’t read the linked essay, as it didn’t seem like it’d be anything new, and I’ve seen other essays on that topic over the decades, women do more hours of hoisework, men die or get crippled at work more, what else is new?)

        Don’t feel bad; it really wasn’t anything new, although the explanations proposed by the men interested me. I mostly wanted to see anecdata from folks here.

    • J.R. says:

      Another anecdote. I’m the M half of a M/F marriage, American, in our late-20s. We don’t have kids yet.

      Our split is about me 75%, her 25%. It works.

      Some notes for context:

      -We both work full-time, white-collar jobs. I have a more demanding job and a longer commute, so I am usually home ~2 hours later than her on weeknights.

      -Since we don’t have kids and don’t entertain during the week, we push off our major housecleaning items until the weekend. During the week, I do close to 100% of the housework, which is mostly dishwashing every night and doing the trash on trash day.

      -Why do I do ~100% of the dishwashing? My wife has a relatively small appetite and eats very small portions, which means she cooks infrequently. She skips breakfast and eats lunch at her work cafeteria, while I always make a big breakfast and take my lunch to work. I cook dinner ~2-3 times per week, too. Add this up and 80% of the dirty dishes are mine. When we moved in together, it felt awkward to nag my wife to wash the 1 plate she ate dinner off of and her tea mug when I was washing a sink full of dishes that I soiled. In the time it would take for me to ask her to clean up after herself, I could just wash her plate since I was already standing in front of the sink. (She does 100% of the cleaning of cooking utensils, pans, etc. when she cooks, though)

      -When we clean during the weekend, we split the division of labor evenly. I take some of the more masculine-coded (“gross”) chores like cleaning the shower or toilets, while she vacuums.

      -I’m more of a perfectionist, so I do more of the tidying up during the week too. Still, we have a similar tolerance for messiness, which is an underrated component to having a harmonious relationship. As a side note, I seem to enjoy housework more than my wife.

      Overall, I’m fine with the arrangement. I would prefer to do less — who wouldn’t? — but I am responsible for most of the messes I have to clean up.

    • nadbor says:

      Our dynamic is that my wife spontaneously does most of the work and then is exhausted by it and complains. Meanwhile I always try to do my fair share, always fall short and feel guilty about it. It’s the perfect system.

      • nadbor says:

        It’s not that there is a big pile of dirty dishes waiting to be washed – if there was I’d just do them to lighten her load. Besides, we have a lady come over and clean up twice a week (she also does school drop-offs and pick-ups for our two daughters). It’s just that when a child needs new shoes, my wife is always the one to remember about it. When we’re going on vacation she always insists that she packs the bags because I would forget something important (I wouldn’t). Any school and after-school activities for the children, doctor appointments, etc. – she’s on top of that. This stuff adds up.

        There are several reasons for this state of affairs:
        – partly it’s because I’m lazy and not proactive enough about those things.
        – Partly it’s because for her it’s a compulsion. Like – out of her own free will, unprompted she spends time online researching home decor until late at night. Not because she enjoys it, just because she feels she has to do it.
        – for children-related chores a big factor is the fact that she feels guilty about working full time and not spending more time with our daughters. So she compensates by being extra conscientious about child stuff by and attending every school non-event
        – in a small part it is because I’m making more money than she does and if one of us needs to take time off work it makes more sense for it to be her (especially since I’m self employed). But this is more an excuse than a reason. If anything, causation may be in the other direction. It’s not a big deal anyway. We could afford for both of us to take the day off when a child is sick if we wanted to. I always volunteer that I do it and she always refuses.

    • g says:

      Late-40s MF couple, one school-age child. I (husband) work full-time, my wife works from home ~50% time. I’m paid a lot more than her per hour so this sort of division makes sense. My wife does a lot more of the chores than I do. Analysing exactly why is difficult but I assume it’s a combination of (1) that’s reasonable since I’m out working when she isn’t, (2) she cares more than I do about (e.g.) tidiness, and (3) sexism. (I try to avoid #3 but I dare say not perfectly.)

      More specifically, my wife does almost all the cleaning and tidying, most of the cooking (weekday evening meals are hers, weekend meals are mine), almost all the childcare, a minority of the gardening (I do all the mowing and most of the weeding; other garden things are roughly equal), about half the shopping, most of the admin, approximately none of the DIY (not that we do very much of that), approximately none of the car/bike maintenance. Note that the things she does more of are the things that need doing more often and take up more time on net.

      I don’t think either of us feels terribly hard-done-by, on balance. I don’t complain about her to others; whether she complains about me to others, I don’t know :-).

    • Nicholas Weininger says:

      M in MF marriage, one kid, both spouses have demanding full-time jobs. I think we end up splitting approx. 50/50 overall, but the big caveat is that we outsource a lot of traditional housework (we have a nanny and a weekly cleaning-and-laundry service and eat takeout a lot) which we are lucky enough to be able to do because of said demanding full-time jobs. I do most non-outsourced dishes and laundry; my wife probably does about 2/3 of the non-outsourced cooking. We try and split the day-to-day non-outsourced childcare (kid transportation, bath and bedtime routine) equally, but my wife ends up doing most of the kid project management (buying clothes, planning parties, playdates etc) while I do almost all of the home repair project management. One of the glaring omissions in the article’s analysis is any discussion of how level of outsourcing (which of course depends largely on income) affects division of non-outsourced work.

  19. fion says:

    I was really surprised to see, further down this thread, what seemed to be a general consensus that austerity (in the economic sense) was foolish. I also think austerity is bad, but I didn’t expect you guys to think so.

    My bias is that of a left-winger in the UK. In the aftermath of 2008 pretty much every political party seemed to agree that austerity was the way out of our economic problems. There was a debate in my party, the Labour Party, about it, with the left fringe (including me) being opposed to austerity and the right fringe being in favour. One of the big shocks of Jeremy Corbyn being elected Labour leader in 2015 was that we finally had an anti-austerity politician at the forefront of British politics.

    So that’s one reason why I’m surprised: if the right, the centre and even the centre-left in the UK are in favour of austerity, the right-wingers who comment on SSC should certainly be! (I realise this is somewhat naive, but to be fair to me, “the SSC commentariat will agree more with David Cameron than Jeremy Corbyn” is a pretty good rule of thumb most of the time.)

    The other reason is that to me, austerity looks more capitalistic and less social-democratic. It’s basically been a decade of cuts to public services and welfare. Isn’t that what believers in the free market should be in favour of?

    I guess my confusion probably comes down to not understanding what austerity really means and how it’s different from free-market capitalism. I’d be grateful if somebody could help me understand this.

      • cassander says:

        Just as democrats stopped criticizing deficits when Obama got into power. Remember when he was promising a net spending cut? Politicians are mendacious, news at 11!

        • Plumber says:

          @cassander,
          Obama himself is supposed to have come close to a “grand bargain” with Boehner for austerity (which if he had would’ve killed Democrats electoral chances).

          And I recall that “blue dog democrats” were more “fiscally conservative” (and they were overwhelmingly voted out in 2010 leaving only liberal Democrats in congress), on the Republican side the rise of Trump killed any “fiscal conservatism” there (a few Democrats complained about the tax cuts driving up the debt, but the majority response has been “If they can do it so can we!”).

          “Fiscal conservatism” never had broad electoral support, as that spending is high voters acknowledged, but where most spending already is most voters didn’t w ant cut, the only thing that most voters ctied as what should be cut (“foreign aid”) was already a small part of the federal budget, and where most Federal spending is (checks to the elderly, their hospitals and their nursing homes, and the military) most voters didn’t want cut (“The Federsl government is an insurance company with an army”).

          • cassander says:

            Obama himself is supposed to have come close to a “grand bargain” with Boehner for austerity

            A deal he didn’t want and ultimately pulled out of, ruining his relationship with Boehner. I tend not to rate highly the things people almost did when they tell a different story than the things they actually did. And given the fate of democratic party since then, an austerity deal could hardly have been worse for their electoral results.

            “Fiscal conservatism” never had broad electoral support, as that spending is high voters acknowledged, but where most spending already is most voters didn’t w ant cut, the only thing that most voters ctied as what should be cut (“foreign aid”) was already a small part of the federal budget, and where most Federal spending is (checks to the elderly, their hospitals and their nursing homes, and the military) most voters didn’t want cut (“The Federsl government is an insurance company with an army”).

            I agree completely. Meaningful fiscal conservatism is not popular among voters. A small number of republican lawmakers like Paul Ryan actually believe in it, but are invariably powerless to act on it in the face of actual opinion. What is popular is the idea of fiscal conservatism free of consequences, hence the popularity of beating the party in power over the head with charges of reckless spending.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          I’m not a democrat, but I do think they have the better of this argument.

          Usually the criticism involves tax cuts in the face of an already existing deficit, enacted by people by who claim to care about deficits. You don’t need to care about fiscal responsibility to have cause to criticize someone that doesn’t care about fiscal responsibility. And since the bush years involved both tax cuts and spending increases making such criticisms is fairly easy.

          My recollection of 2008-2016 was you had a one time stimulus bill, and thereafter a slow down in the growth of spending enough to gradually shrink the deficit.

          Of course this outcome was probably only made possible by a split-government gridlock.

          The only *really* mendacious part is the misleading of voters into just how much deficit reduction narrowly focused tax increases would provide, since most deficits most of the time are driven by year after year spending growth. (As a single tax cut in absolute terms don’t usually cost you 1-1 year over year)

          • cassander says:

            Usually the criticism involves tax cuts in the face of an already existing deficit, enacted by people by who claim to care about deficits.

            Everyone cares about deficits….when they aren’t in power. ANd no one cares when in power.

            My recollection of 2008-2016 was you had a one time stimulus bill, and thereafter a slow down in the growth of spending enough to gradually shrink the deficit.

            A slow down in spending that was opposed by the obama administration and decried by his party.

            The only *really* mendacious part is the misleading of voters into just how much deficit reduction narrowly focused tax increases would provide, since most deficits most of the time are driven by year after year spending growth. (As a single tax cut in absolute terms don’t usually cost you 1-1 year over year)

            there’s also a fair bit of mendacity around how much various proposals will cost, be it tax cuts pay for themselves, the ACA reducing the deficit, or the million other examples. I’d say the democrats are worse about this, but only because the lying is generally far worse for spending proposals than tax cuts.

      • Incurian says:

        As Vice-President Dick Cheney once said “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter“.

        Does that imply that the Soviets lost the cold war because they couldn’t run a budget deficit?

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          They couldn’t run as large a budget deficit, in all likelihood. Military spending was already a large % of USSR GDP iirc.

          I believe Cheney wanted to be understood as saying that deficits don’t matter as long as the country in question isn’t overwhelmed by the interest payments associated with the debt.

          • Incurian says:

            That seems tautological, no?

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            Incurian – perhaps, but the implication is that deficits can in absolute terms either remain or grow but as long as interest payments relative to tax outlays remain flat [or shrink] the deficits can continue indefinitely.

            Large increases in spending or increases in interest rates will usually violate this condition.

        • baconbits9 says:

          I thought Cheney’s comments were about deficits not mattering for re-election.

      • J Mann says:

        Krugman has the most famous deficit flip-flop I know. His explanation, as I understand it, is that Democrats can be trusted to have only temporary deficits that are well-targeted to grow the economy, and certainly will turn to fiscal virtue in a while, unlike Republicans who are greedy mendacious knaves and probably smell bad.

        More generally, I think everyone agrees that deficits matter at some amount, the question is at what amount, and if you’re sailing too close to that amount, does that limit your ability to respond to crises that arise in the future?

        • There’s also the less mendacious explanation that he was just wrong in 2003, and acknowledged his mistake, which is what the bottom link of that article says.

          • John Schilling says:

            Right, but he didn’t “acknowledge that mistake” until seven years later, when the dangerous incompetent spendthrift president racking up debt was safely out of office and the wise prudent responsible president could use Krugman’s seal of approval to start investing in America’s future.

            “Acknowledging a mistake” counts for a whole lot more if you do it when the targets of your mistake are still in a position to benefit from the acknowledgement.

          • J Mann says:

            As opposed to his Republican opponents, who are despicable knaves.

    • cassander says:

      there was no austerity in the UK. Government spending rose from 40% of GDP in 2008 to 45% of GDP in 2012, and only very gradually fell back down to 40%. Spending in actual pounds, of course, grew every single year, even accounting for inflation.

      • g says:

        Government welfare spending was just over 7% of GDP in 2010, just over 5% now. It was just over £120B (in 2005-£) in 2010, just over £100B now. It was £2000 (in 2005-£) per capita in 2010, £1500 now.

        No austerity, my arse.

        (Total government spending doesn’t show that clear decrease, but “austerity” in the UK typically refers specifically to welfare spending, something the Conservatives have always been keen to reduce.)

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          What of all spending? What portion of the total budget is welfare? Does Welfare include schools and healthcare?

        • cassander says:

          I have no idea what they are counting in “welfare” spending, but given that it that doesn’t seem to include pensions and healthcare, I suspect it’s substantially unemployment spending, which would of course fall when unemployment did in 2012. And if you look, those curves seem similar.

        • Nicholas Weininger says:

          So if welfare spending fell as a % of GDP but overall spending did not, what other category of spending rose to take the place of welfare?

        • g says:

          To answer the various questions and comments:

          1. Those links take you to a tool that lets you experiment for yourself: you can switch between “welfare”, “total government”, “pensions”, etc., switch between “%GDP”, “2005-£”, etc., look at different time periods, and so forth. I already provided three different views of what seems to me the most relevant figure for measuring “austerity”.

          2. Total spending is about £12k per capita (in 2005-£) and has gone down only modestly since 2012. Welfare spending has gone from about £2000 of that to about £1500, which actually isn’t so different from the total decrease. Pensions have gone up by about the same amount, education has gone down by about the same amount, other things have stayed roughly the same.

          3. Yes, unemployment is some of it. I assume it also includes tax credits (for people who are employed but poorly paid), income support (ditto), disability living allowance, housing benefit, etc.

          (Having said all of which, comparing the numbers in those graphs from the ones in the government statistical reports they say they get their data from, it’s not obvious how one corresponds to the other — e.g., the term “welfare” appears not to be used in those government reports at all; make of that what you will.)

    • The Nybbler says:

      “Austerity”, used to mean more taxes and less government spending, is “deficit hawking” over on this side of the Atlantic. Supporting it is a sucker’s game, because the politics of compromise mean you don’t actually get it — instead, your opposition gets all the funding for programs they want, you get funding cut for programs you want, and the blame for the tax increases.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Most of the complaints downthread seem to be about monetary contractionism, which isn’t the same thing as all. Fiscal austerity can take the form of either tax increases or spending cuts, and so (as we have been seeing lately) needn’t have any particular political valence.

    • Civilis says:

      A lot of the right-wing people on SSC are Americans, and ‘austerity’ as such isn’t really a term Americans generally use; Americans discuss the budget deficit instead. Partly, this is in reflection that ‘austerity’ is a politically loaded term. One definition of ‘austerity’ is ‘enforced or extreme economy especially on a national scale‘; that might be an apt description of, say, the rationing and other measures taken by the US and UK during the second world war. However, it’s come to be used when discussing government to mean any attempt to reduce spending. If the government planned to spend $12 million to upgrade the furniture in an undersecretary’s office and the budget is reduced to $11 million, this is an ‘austerity measure’; true austerity would involve the undersecretary put off the furniture upgrade until the government has excess money.

      Austerity also implies that any cuts are a temporary measure required until the government’s coffers are full again or the revenue is back in the black. To most libertarians, almost anything the government can put off is something the government shouldn’t be spending money on in the first place.

      Finally, “capitalism” only indirectly connects with government spending. Free-market thinking tends to be far more concerned with the costs of government regulations than with government spending. It’s perfectly possible for governments to spend money in ways that do not interfere with the economy under all but the most broad definitions. Of course if the government throws enough money around there will be economic distortions and advocates for government spending are almost always advocates for government regulations (and vice versa), so there is a political correlation, and at the most basic level a dollar/Euro the government is spending is a dollar/Euro that the public can’t spend on what it wants. Still, most advocacy for “austerity” or government spending reductions is not based on its effects on the market but on the government’s waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

      • Anthony says:

        Austerity, or “budget cuts” in American, is when this year’s furniture budget is $11 million, and would have gone to $11.5 million, but instead is only increased to $11.2 million.

      • fion says:

        Thanks for this explanation.

    • J Mann says:

      I’m an SSC right-winger who will defend austerity, sort of!

      1) If the argument against austerity is that it will cause a recession as a Keynsian market reaction to the reduced spending (similar to arguments that the US economy would take a hit when we shut down WWII spending), then I think that argument is almost certainly wrong – it’s pretty clear that if your monetary policy responds, you can avoid contractionary effects. Tim Worstall and the articles he links summarizes it.

      2) In addition, it’s often unclear how much austerity there actually is in practice – in most cases, government spending continues to increase under an “austerity” budget, just not as much as the anti-austerity people would prefer.

      3) On the other hand, if the argument is that austerity cuts spending that shouldn’t be cut, that’s a policy discussion, and really depends on the cuts.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I am not really sure you can conclude that the SSC right-wingers are opposed or are in favor of austerity based on simple comments to the below thread. I expect that most SSC right-wingers actually believe one or a combination of:
      1. Western governments aren’t seriously engaging in austerity, by and large
      2. Counter-cyclical policy is a fool’s game
      3. Counter-cyclical policy done by the government is largely ineffective
      4. Counter-cyclical policy done by the government is an excuse for permanently largely government
      5. Counter-cycical policy is best handled by the Fed through monetary stimulus, not the government through fiscal stimulus

      I suspect that most right-wingers here are not going to agree with Krugman et all on the center-left, that suggested we needed a 2nd stimulus of comparable size to the 1st stimulus.

      Also, I don’t see “austerity” as having a direct relation to “free-market economics.” There’s also a difference between austerity in the sense of “The government should spend less money on social programs” vs austerity in the sense of “Government needs to tighten its belt during the recession.”

    • albatross11 says:

      My biggest bias is that the 2008 meltdown seems to me to have demonstrated that the serious macroeconomists who were driving and advising policy knew a lot less than they claimed, and similarly that the companies full of smart financial analysts and traders making big investment decisions were less smart and understood less than they claimed. I feel like one result of watching that is that I have a great deal less faith in pronouncements by experts in macroeconomics, beyond really simple stuff.

  20. Keilone says:

    Alternatives for daily news?
    For years, I have been a subscribing reader to the NY Times. I just ended my subscription because I can no longer tolerate the editorial perspective. I was wondering what other SSC readers use as a main news source or how you build your news reading from multiple sources. This would be for core news, not specialty subjects. Can you list what you read? Has there been a thread on this in past, if so, can you link? Many thanks!

    • marthinwurer says:

      My main go-to is Reuters. It’s a news wire service, so things are pretty brief and to the point. Not too much editorial stuff, aside from their deeper pieces.

    • Urstoff says:

      I find too much news to be a bad thing, so I just listen to NPR’s Up First podcast (70% US Politics) and read The Economist’s Espresso app (a mix of world politics and business) and consider that sufficient. Both present natural stopping points, so there’s no psychological question about how much news to consume on a website or in a newspaper.

    • achenx says:

      Took me awhile of trying different sources but I have settled on Reuters as well. Seem to resist the clickbait style headlines and generally keep editorial perspectives out.

    • DinoNerd says:

      My main site is the BBC, even though I live in the US. I chose it because it’s less attached to US politics, and has more world news than I’d get from a typical US news source.

      I supplement this with Apple News, which selects from a broad range of sources, giving me a potential check on BBC biases and blind spots.

      And I listen to enough CBC podcasts to become aware of major Canadian news issues – beyond the very few that make it into world news. (I’m Canadian.)

    • I read Google News. It selects from a substantial range of sources.

      • Jon S says:

        Same. When a story has multiple sources showing up on Google, I’ll frequently seek out the WSJ (specifically for news, their opinion pieces are sometimes terrible) or Bloomberg.

    • AG says:

      Daily news is bad, incentivizes hot takes. I’d like it if all news was obligated to a 5-day delay.

      I’ve promoted The Week’s print edition before (their web articles are garbage hot takes), as they compile the news to get you reactions from various sides on each story. The cool down from having to wait to publish helps get perspective and additional context, not getting thrown by Brand New Twist Information. Waiting for a week also allows them to filter to what’s actually important, instead of need to puff up some fluff to make the daily quota.

      Ignoring the news (outside of a controlled less frequent update) is great for mental health.

    • Well... says:

      The news is what happens when a bunch of English and Acting majors get together and put on a show where they pretend to be experts on everything. I recommend avoiding journalism products as much as you can. In fact, the whole notion of “being up to date on what’s going on in the world” is overblown, and is really just a dressed up form of gossip, with a weird status signalling aspect mixed in.

      “But what about important things that might affect me?”

      The more a given event is likely to affect you, especially if it’s something you can take action in response to, the more likely you will find out about it in other ways. Same goes for if the event is of global importance.

      “What about staying up to date in a given area of interest?”

      There probably was a time when the news was critical for this, but now we have access (via the internet) to so many communities of people who actually know what they’re talking about, there’s no reason not to go there instead. There are forums, discussion groups, and direct sources through which you can get a constant feed of the information you want.

      BTW, sometimes someone will link to a journalism piece, and it’s OK to go and read/listen to/watch it — sometimes you even get lucky and you find a rare instance of genuinely high quality reporting — but having a default of “no journalism in my daily life” will (IMO) help give you a more critical eye toward what you’re consuming in those cases.

    • Joseph Greenwood says:

      I recently came across The New Paper (thenewpaper.co/r/?r=e95206), which is (at least for now) free, terse, and fairly even-handed:

      I also am subscribed to Geopolitical Futures.

    • Plumber says:

      @Keilone

      “…how you build your news reading from multiple sources. This would be for core news, not specialty subjects. Can you list what you read?”

      Besides reading SSC?

      The times when I have most avidly followed the news this last decade was for when Obamacare was being voted on in Congress and during the Presidential primaries.

      I’d recommend checking out the polls from Gallup and Pew research.

      Mostly I just go to the snack counter at the building where most of my Service Orders are and look at the front pages of the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, and buy a copy if anything looks interesting (they used to also have the Wall Street Journal as well but not lately). Online I regularly read the opinion columns of Ross Douthat and Paul Krugman (who I suppose both serve to confirm my biases), and follow the links from there, a little less regularly I follow David Brooks and Thomas Edsall (both NYT), E.J. Dionne Jr., and George Will (both Washington Post). Based on previous SSC recommendations I sometimes remember to look at Vox.com, and I sometimes watch the PBS Newshour, and there’s what I catch from the radio when I commute, and sometimes at lunch the crew at work puts on local TV news instead of game shows.

      Usually two to three days after “breaking news” starts being discussed at SSC it gets to newspaper opinion pages and the radio (if it ever does), unfortunately SSC commenters often seem to assume prior knowledge of the “breaking news”, when I asked “Where did you learn that?” the answer was usually “Facebook”.

      (With hyperbole) I’d break down the “breaking news” discussions I see and hear as:

      Guys at work: “What about that [latest grisly crime]?”

      SSC: “What about the actions/statements of [‘SJW’ I’m ignorant of]?”

      Ross Douthat: “Maybe this time abortion will get banned? Otherwise birthrates will plummet and we’re doomed I tell you DOOMED!”

      Paul Krugman: “The Republicans are lying stealing liars I tell you, and if we don’t stop them we’re doomed, DOOMED I say”.

      Radio: “What till you hear about what Trump just tweeted!”.

      Local TV news: “Latest grisly crime and stories about ‘Apps’ that you don’t care about!”

      I think I get pretty balanced reporting overall.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        The problem of getting broad information is it generally requires consulting multiple sources and having to filter through an enormous amount of hysteria and punditry, since no one source is willing to provide all key and relevant information.

        Even sources that try to report in a non-hysterical way have a habit of omitting important details because they often share different priors from the you [or the reader]

        I can liken it to judge judy, for a given case you [judy] know what key facts are relevant to come to a sound judgement whilst the plaintiff/defendant are both attempting to derail you with tangential but ultimately irrelevant details.

        • albatross11 says:

          Also, when there’s a coordinated PR push on some story, it’s often really interesting to see how that story is reported in, say, NPR and the Economist. The payload is the same, but the villains/good guys/reasons why are often rearranged to suit the audience. (Is the villain the prison guards’ union or the private prison owners?)

    • albatross11 says:

      My normal news diet is NPR for headlines and articles, WSJ for some in-depth stories. As others have commented, most day-to-day news is about things that are *urgent* but not *important*[1]–very often the latest scandal/outrage/Thing We’re All Supposed to Care About. I will sometimes read something on BBC, but it seems like it’s about 50/50 split between news and clickbait at this point. When I’ve got time, I try to read some articles in El Pais, and about half of my mornings, I’ll at least watch the headlines from TVE in Spain–this is partly to get more information about the world, and partly to practice my Spanish.

      I get a moderate amount of news from reading Twitter feeds, and reflecting on it, I think they’re about 90% bad for me–things that get me angry or engage my tribal circuitry, rather than things that inform me about something worthwhile. I am going to try to consume less Twitter overall, though there are some people whose feeds are pretty worthwhile. But the medium rewards snark and hot-takes and omitted context, so the most successful people there are the ones who do those things, and even the high-quality people there are incentivized toward those things.

      Podcasts are a big part of my long-form news intake, for some value of “news” that mainly involves in-depth discussions about serious issues and deep dives into some areas of biology. But the ones I’m listening to focus on *important* and usually ignore *urgent*.

      There are also very high quality reports put out by The Pew Center(summaries of polling), the Department of Justice (crime statistics plus summary and explanation), CDC (mortality statistics), etc. In my experience, you can often learn way, way more about the world from spending 30 minutes reading one of these reports than from reading news coverage. Also, it’s a bit shocking, at first, how *different* a picture of the world you get looking at actual data/statistics from what you get when reading even pretty serious news coverage. Journalists are very much herd animals, and it shows in their stories. OTOH. the Washington Post’s police shooting database is a wonderful resource–spending 20 minutes making queries and looking at results is worth more than reading a dozen articles on the latest questionable police shooting.

      I’d love to see other recommendations for high quality information sources that are more-or-less nonpartisan /non culture-warry and are also more focused on important things than urgent things.

      [1] I find this distinction very useful in my life. Important things are things you’ll care about in a year or ten years; urgent things are things that need a response right now. Some things are both–if someone’s having a heart attack, it’s important *and* urgent. But most news is focused on the urgent stuff–the latest plane crash or mass shooting or political gaffe. A steady diet of headline news, especially, is likely to be all urgent and seldom important.

  21. broblawsky says:

    Can anyone explain to me why some organic compounds are much, much more expensive than others? I’m specifically interested in LiTFSI, but a general explanation would be great too.

    • Anthony says:

      Most likely, the synthesis is that much harder.

    • rubberduck says:

      It’s a combination of supply/demand, difficulty of synthesis, and supply of precursors. The more steps synthesizing the compound takes, the higher the price, and the cheapest organic compounds are those that are a) widespread in industry (so they have high production and highly efficient industrial processes to be made), and b) made from a cheap or unwanted precursor. The price will also depend on the difficulty of purification, and on the purity you need. To a lesser extent, you also have to consider the stability and storage.

      In practice, you can get just about any small molecule if you’re willing to shell out for it. I hear there are labs in China that will custom-synthesize a large variety of molecules.

      I don’t know much about LiTFSI in particular but just from a glance, the high price is probably due to:

      a) Fluorination being difficult and dangerous and requiring really specialized equipment (you have to work with fluorine gas or hydrogen fluoride)
      b) The recent interest in lithium battery research and also ionic liquids.

      Interestingly, the sodium salt is even more expensive. I didn’t expect that.

      Out of curiosity, why are you interested in LiTFSI?

    • Eric Rall says:

      The first part of the answer is that some compounds (organic or otherwise) are much, much harder to synthesize (or extract from natural sources) than others. Sucrose, for example, is dirt cheap because there are domesticated plants which make it for us and it’s relatively simple to extract and purify it. Similarly for ethanol, which is made for us by yeast fermentation of any of a number of sugary/starchy vegetable/grain mashes and readily purified by distillation and filtering. There are other organic molecules that occur naturally (e.g. hemoglobin or insulin) but in much lower concentrations and in company of other molecules that make them relatively hard to purify; my two examples here are further complicated because they’re long-chain polypeptides (proteins), which limits options for purifying because heat and many solvents will denature them and make them useless for the purposes we want to use them for. And then there are molecules that aren’t produced by biological systems at all and must be synthesized, and difficulty of synthesis tends to go up with the complexity of the molecule (methane is very easy to synthesize, but a custom protein-like molecule is extremely difficult) and the amount of energy that goes into the molecule’s chemical bonds.

      The next part is quantity and economies/diseconomies of scale. Things that have lots and lots of uses (or a few uses that have demand for large quantities at plausible prices) tend to get produced in quantity, which produces economies of scale, but at extremes may run into bottlenecks (e.g. chocolate is more expensive than it would be at lower demand because we’ve saturated the areas where cacao cultivation is commercially viable). Whereas a specialized chemical only used by research chemists in minute quantities have little or no opportunity to benefit from economies of scale and research into how to produce it cheaply in bulk.

      And then there’s “what is it used for”, and complications stemming from the answers to that question. Just about everything will produce at least trace levels of impurities, and depending on what the impurities are and what you’re using the thing for, the acceptable quantities of the impurities will vary wildly. And if you need a very low level of impurities (because it will interfere with a reaction you’re trying to feed with the compound, or because it’s a deadly toxin in a compound you want to use as food or medicine), then that means you need to do more work to purify to a higher level and do more quality control (testing impurity levels, then dumping or reprocessing batches that don’t meet standards), which runs into money.

      And some uses run into legal and regulatory complications. In particular, pharmaceuticals are heavily regulated (see many, many articles Scott has written about this for a start), and some organic compounds (e.g. cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine) are outright illegal for their main uses and governments go through a lot of effort and expense to suppress their production and distribution, which drive up prices.

      I can’t help you on LiTFSI in particular, since I’ve never heard of it before today. My guess is that 1) it’s probably fairly specialized, with little economy of scale, and 2) it’s moderately complicated (not a protein, but not methane or glucose), doesn’t look likely to occurs naturally at reasonable concentrations, and has several fluorine atoms (fluorine compounds tend to be hard to work with, since many forms of fluorine and fluorine compounds are highly toxic, highly corrosive, massive fire hazards, or in some cases all three).

      I did notice that your link lists several different variations of it, with order-of-magnitude differences in prices for the same compound. The difference there is that the different LiTFSI products all specify different levels of purity and different types of acceptable impurities. Part of the price difference is likely driven by the costs of manufacturing and certifying the material to a higher standard, and part of it is likely price discrimination (people who need the higher guaranteed purity are likely to be less price sensitive because the costs of a bad material are likely higher for them).

    • Shion Arita says:

      Organic chemist here: Basically there are two factors in the price. The first is difficulty of the synthesis, which is based on how many steps you have to take and how difficult they are to execute in terms of setup, purification, availability of starting materials/reagents, etc.

      The second factor is supply/demand. If fewer people want it, economy of scale is working against you, so you have to pay more for it to be worth it to them to make the thing.

      LiTFSI is also not particularly expensive as far as specialty chemicals goes; that’s pretty middle of the road. 10G for ~US60 is far from the cheapest, and far from the most expensive thing I’ve ever ordered.

  22. J Mann says:

    A funny Onion piece about how the patriarchy harms women by making men tell them about their feelings too much, unlike women, who apparently don’t tell their male partners about their feelings and issues.

    A bunch of random thoughts:

    – Because of the atomization of society (maybe?), it does feel like I know more and more people, male and female, whose only friend close enough to confide in is their romantic partner. If you’re not comfortable processing your deepest traumas with your parents or siblings, and don’t have a therapist or a minister, who’s left?

    – It’s probably broadly true that more women have a close friend they can meet and discuss their problems with then men.

    – On the other hand, one easy response to this is men’s groups – fraternal societies like the Elks or the Knights of Columbus, or church prayer groups. (I do endorse them if you can find a good one, FWIW).

    • baconbits9 says:

      Why take responsibility for your own flaws when the system can be blamed for everything?

    • Randy M says:

      Is that what’s meant by the phrase ’emotional labor’?

      • Eric Rall says:

        The phrase seems to be overloaded. I’ve heard it to mean that, but I’ve also heard it to mean executive and administrative responsibilities in a social or household context: keeping track of appointments and schedules; identifying the need for chores and errands and deciding when, how, and by whom they should be done (and following up to make sure they get done); choosing gifts and writing cards; etc.

        This can get confusing, since the two different definitions are only very tangentially related.

        • roystgnr says:

          IIRC the oldest definition was “emotional self-regulation required by the labor market”, e.g. your cashiers or waitstaff being required to smile and act chipper even when they actually feel awful.

          So that’s three definitions, no pair of which are closely related, despite all being natural interpretations of the same phrase. I’m not sure whether the newer definitions were misinterpretations of or deliberate expansions of or unintentional collisions with the older uses.

        • Randy M says:

          executive and administrative responsibilities

          I think you are right it is used this way, but that’s a bad use of the term. The problem with that labor isn’t that it makes you feel sad any more than digging a ditch does. Administrative tasks fall more into categories like “working memory labor” or “cognitive drain labor”. Having to remember a large number of tasks is a mental task, not an emotional one.
          Okay, so this is SSC, and obviously we know emotions are mental (and hormonal); let me refine that and say that having to remember things is taxing a different portion of the brain than is called on when required to be empathetic.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          The phrase seems to be overloaded. I’ve heard it to mean that, but I’ve also heard it to mean executive and administrative responsibilities in a social or household context: keeping track of appointments and schedules; identifying the need for chores and errands and deciding when, how, and by whom they should be done (and following up to make sure they get done); choosing gifts and writing cards; etc.

          Also, it’s used inconsistently depending on the sex of the emotional labourer. A wife who decides which chores her husband does, and when and how he does them, is shouldering a burden of emotional labour and her husband’s a bad person for making her do so; a husband who decides which chores his wife does, and when and how she does them, is controlling and misogynistic and generally a bad person.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Yes, this.

          • g says:

            That makes it sound as if genuinely symmetrical situations are being described in radically different ways, but I’m not convinced. My impression is that the two things that commonly occur are:

            (1) Wife does the great majority of the chores. Without intervention by the wife, the husband would do approximately none of them, but there are some he will do if reminded, so the wife keeps track of when they need doing and reminds him. Some people complain that the wife is shouldering a burden of emotional labour and the husband is bad for making her do so.

            (2) Wife does the great majority of the chores. Without intervention by the husband, she would do approximately half of them, but if pushed she will do more, so the husband pushes. Some people complain that the husband is being controlling and misogynistic.

            Those complaints don’t seem unreasonable to me, and the two situations aren’t symmetrical. The actual symmetrical equival