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Open Thread 127.75

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841 Responses to Open Thread 127.75

  1. Deiseach says:

    Niche interest alert: Eurovision 2019 live from Tel Aviv now on, you can watch it on Youtube if a local channel isn’t carrying it.

  2. BBA says:

    You know what I’d like to see more of? Science museums that are actual museums. I mean like the Science Museum in London or the Deutsches Museum in Munich, with their big collections of old lab equipment and technology and scientific stuff.

    I get that collections are expensive and hard to curate, and it’s much easier to make a “science center” with interactive exhibits for children than a “real” museum. And some of them are great at what they do, I loved those places when I was a kid, but they’re kid stuff. I don’t need to see another air nozzle lifting a beach ball to demonstrate the Bernoulli effect, and for that matter I don’t know if that’s a good demonstration of it. By the time you’re old enough to really understand that stuff, you’re too old to be going to science museums anymore.

    This is a bit of a roundabout way to get to what I’ve been reading up on, which is why New York as a world-class city never got a world-class science museum. There was one that operated in the early 20th century under various names and in various locations, but it never got a permanent building or the funds needed to achieve its grandiose ambitions. The originally named Museums of the Peaceful Arts planned for a large multi-building campus and apparently developed a decent collection of early technology specimens. It was displayed in a few office buildings in Manhattan, with its longest-lived incarnation being called the New York Museum of Science and Industry and housed in the lower levels of Rockefeller Center from 1935 to 1949. When the Rockefellers found a more profitable tenant, the museum moved to a much smaller space in Times Square called the “Hall of Science,” where it closed for good circa 1951. Apparently the endowment funds were eventually split between Manhattan’s two biggest museums, the Met and the AMNH, neither of which really needed the money. As for the collection… I can’t figure out what happened. I assume it got dispersed, but you know how hard it is to find information on a defunct museum, especially one that shares its name with currently existing but unrelated museums? Anyway, there’s a handful of scholarly papers on it, behind paywalls, and the Rockefeller archives also have some material. If I’m ever motivated enough I might try to read up on it someday.

    Meanwhile, the current New York Hall of Science started as part of the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, with no connection to the prior Hall of Science besides the name. It never had much of a collection, closed in the ’70s when everything in New York was going to hell, and reopened in the ’80s as an interactive “kid stuff” museum. When I was a kid in the ’90s, living in the ‘burbs, it was clearly inferior to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. It looks like the Hall is doing better now, as the outer boroughs’ fortunes have risen, but it’s still kid stuff. And if I want kid stuff, for nostalgia purposes, I have much fonder memories of the LSC than of the Hall.

    I also have fond memories of the Computer Museum in Boston, which closed in 1999. In retrospect, it didn’t know what it was supposed to be. There were historic collections from the DEC archives, which didn’t attract much of an audience. And there was interactive kid stuff that, while fun, became outdated very quickly. Most of the collections ended up moving to Silicon Valley where they became the core of the Computer History Museum – a fine example of the kind of museum I want more of, but I don’t know that there’s enough demand for more than one museum on such a niche topic, and clearly Northern California is the place for it.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I loved the Deutsches Museum. I like the interactive kind too, mind you, but it had all kinds of things I’d never seen before.

    • brad says:

      You know what I’d like to see more of? Science museums that are actual museums. I mean like the Science Museum in London or the Deutsches Museum in Munich, with their big collections of old lab equipment and technology and scientific stuff.

      Are these really science museums or just history museums specializing in a certain period and type of history? What about the Museum of Natural History with its “naturalist” collection of specimens–science museum?

      All of which is to say, I’m not sure it is really possible to have a great science museum in this day and age. The tools of modern science just aren’t terribly collectable or photogenic. Would you want to walk through a room of old, unplugged PCR machines?

      • gbdub says:

        I agree. My favorite “science” museum is the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

        The output of science, with the science well-highlighted, is the best you can do I think. Pure science, particularly modern pure science, is, as you note, not that easy to make an interesting museum out of. Documentary? Article? Podcast? Sure! But it needs a narrative, and the whole point of a museum is to observe interesting objects that tell their own story.

    • drunkfish says:

      I’d be interested in a longest list of this style of museum, if people have more suggestions.

      I went to the (a?) science museum in Paris recently and was excited because France has such a huge place in the history of science, and it was sadly all “kid stuff” (though I still had fun). Might have been the wrong museum, but still, knowing which places fit your description would be nice.

    • The Nybbler says:

      If you get to Philadelphia, go to the Mutter Museum. It’s not exactly what you’re asking for but it’s only a step removed. A real science museum, but for medical science — human anatomy — and the headline exhibits are specimens.

    • ana53294 says:

      A science museum is either a massive undertaking that you can only have one per country of, or they have to specialize.

      I’ve found that when I visit small museums that specialize in wool, or chocolate, or whiskey, or trains, you can get a pretty good experience.

      I do recommend the Moscow cosmonautics museum. They also have a pretty good geology museum, and a good paleontology museum.

    • Andrew Hunter says:

      The Chicago museum of surgical science is excellent. It’s about half science museum (collections of Roman gynecological tools, old pharmaceuticals, and so on) and half art (busts and oil paintings of famous surgeons.)

    • Nornagest says:

      The Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley is primarily a kids’ science museum, but they do have a pretty good collection of early particle accelerators (or did the last time I was there, which was a while ago). Worth a look if you’re in the area. Just don’t step on the kids.

  3. Atlas says:

    Senator Sanders recently took a strong stand against charter schools, and was criticized by charter school advocates like NY Magazine’s Jonathan Chait for doing so. Chait writes:

    A new paper by Sarah Cohodes, Elizabeth Setren, and Christopher R. Walters studies the charter sector in Boston, which is one of the most successful in the country. The Boston charter system, like many successful charters, presents a clear example for studies, because it has a hard cap on attendance that requires students be admitted by lottery. The lottery gives researchers a chance to measure the difference in results between students who win and get to enroll in a charter, and those who don’t.

    Steve Sailer has raised what seems to me like an excellent question about these sorts of findings: How do we know that charter school admission is completely random? Because they tell us that it is? Do disinterested outside observers conduct or verify the results of these lotteries?

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      Ol’ Steve can grasp at straws with the best of ’em. We do get this gem, though:

      A few years ago, I applied my son to a new charter high school founded by the best teachers from his public middle school.

      Revealed preference really does speak louder than words.

      • Atlas says:

        Ol’ Steve can grasp at straws with the best of ’em.

        Considering that there is at least some evidence of some charter schools attempting to distort the admissions process in order to select better students, it doesn’t seem all that unlikely to me that some would attempt to do so through rigging “random” lotteries. (The most reliable way to have a good school is to have good students.)

        Revealed preference really does speak louder than words.

        Certainly, but is the preference for the student body or the instruction, though? Steve would probably slyly emphasize the former.

    • BBA says:

      There are good public schools and bad public schools, good charters and bad charters, and no conclusive proof of which model is better. Between entrenched unaccountable public school administrators and the shady profiteers who run charter schools, I’m rooting for injuries.

      Sailer’s theory about rigged lotteries is idiotic. The obvious difference in performance comes from charters being able to kick disruptive or otherwise underperforming students out, while the public schools are forced to accept them. Also, whether the parents/caretakers have it together enough to enter the charter lottery in the first place, versus just getting enrolled in the zoned public school by default.

      (Side note: how does it work in places that don’t have zoned schools, when the parents don’t have it together enough to pick a school? Is it just enrollment by lottery, or is there some designated “school of last resort”?)

      • cassander says:

        There are good public schools and bad public schools, good charters and bad charters, and no conclusive proof of which model is better. Between entrenched unaccountable public school administrators and the shady profiteers who run charter schools, I’m rooting for injuries.

        (A) charter schools are, if nothing else, cheaper.
        (B) do you think the for profiteers that run your grocery store, bank, or hotel are shady? Because I see no more shadiness in charter schools than I see in any other industry with a similar level of entwinement with government.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          I see no more shadiness in charter schools than I see in any other industry with a similar level of entwinement with government.

          A pretty low bar, it’s true.

        • Nick says:

          My one concern with charter schools would be that since they’re pretty new, if they were shady, we wouldn’t necessarily know signs what to look for. Like, I know a grocery store is shady if the milk isn’t being properly cooled, or if I regularly see items on the shelves past their expiration date. What would I look for in a charter school? Would the administrative staff be sketchy? Would the teachers be inclined to use corporal punishment? Would they have more serious grade inflation than public schools (if such a thing can be conceived)?

          • cassander says:

            You have the same tools your have for evaluating public schools. These are admittedly not very good, but people are confident enough in them to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more on housing based on them.

          • toastengineer says:

            I spent grade 5 and 6 in a “charter school” that was two double-wides dragged in to an abandoned lot with about a hundred kids stuffed in to them and teachers with severe anger management issues. Several students literally did not know what country they were in.

        • Atlas says:

          (A) charter schools are, if nothing else, cheaper.

          It is astonishing how much discussion of “education reform” is devoted to increasing performance—when, considering a certain factor, Americans actually do fairly well compared to other nations—as opposed to decreasing costs. It seems to me that the most plausible argument for a voucher system is that competition will drive down costs while providing about the same education, as opposed to the more commonly cited possible improvements in performance.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Doubly astonishing when you consider how often defenses of the status quo take the form of “those kids aren’t educable anyway.” If we really believed that, the logical course of action would be to find cheaper ways of failing to educate them.

      • Atlas says:

        Sailer’s theory about rigged lotteries is idiotic. The obvious difference in performance comes from charters being able to kick disruptive or otherwise underperforming students out, while the public schools are forced to accept them.

        Since rigging admissions lotteries would serve the same purpose as kicking out poor students—having a higher quality student body, whose pre-existing aptitude you can attribute to your Disruptive Innovation—I am not as convinced as you are that it is an implausible suggestion.

        Also, whether the parents/caretakers have it together enough to enter the charter lottery in the first place, versus just getting enrolled in the zoned public school by default.

        Indeed. Sailer mentions this in his post.

        • BBA says:

          I see a difference if it’s a question of active perfidy or a mere failure to notice the natural consequences of one’s policies.

          But then I’m not nearly as convinced of the natural genetic superiority of certain ethnicities as Sailer is.

      • Nicholas Weininger says:

        To your question about non zoned schools: I live in San Francisco which has.a notoriously complicated lottery system that of course mostly fails in its attempt to achieve greater diversity than neighborhood school assignment. It is difficult to find any explicit statement of what happens if you don’t send in a preference list for your kid, since all the documentation is clearly geared toward parents who would never dream of doing such a thing. But as best I can tell what happens is that they give spots to all the kids whose parents did put in preference lists first, and then other kids get spots in whichever school has leftover spots and is closest to their home address.

    • Etoile says:

      I recently heard a new perspective on charter schools: that they destroy the actual private education market, e.g. Catholic schools. It doesn’t necessarily change my support for charter schools wholesale, but does make one think.

  4. Edward Scizorhands says:

    Speaking of cooking, based on a discussion from a few weeks ago about ethical meats, I bought some frozen fully cooked clam meat. (Clams are pretty stupid so the ethical cost is minimal.)

    1. How do I prepare this?

    2. My brother suffers from gout. I have never had a gout attack (that I know of) but I would like to keep it that way. It looks like clams are roughly as gout-triggering as shrimp, which I can eat a fair amount of without issue. I have been eating less meat overall recently, so is this not much of a risk?

  5. Yair says:

    Does anyone have any thoughts about the results of the federal elections in Australia?

    There goes any chance Australia will even try to do anything about climate change, housing affordability or anything else. From where I stand it seems a very bad result 🙁

    • Nicholas Weininger says:

      Well, it seems like an instance of the general baseline rule that it is difficult to defeat an incumbent party which has presided over a long period of steady economic growth, and especially difficult if the opposition party standard bearer is an unpopular and uncharismatic figure. They may be eating their seed corn, but it’s tasty and abundant for now…

      Morrison is apparently doing the Nixonian “silent majority” thing but it’s not clear how one would tell if that actually exists. It would be interesting to know if prior Australian political research has validated the idea of the “shy Liberal” on the model of the “shy Tory”.

    • WashedOut says:

      I’m viewing the result as the least-bad outcome. Worst would have been slim majority or hung parliament with LNP having to ingratiate itself with a gaggle of niche-interest independents. Second best would have been Labor majority.

      The climate change topic seems to be occupying way more time than it deserves, considering how many consecutive leaps of faith it takes to get from:
      -Australian policy intends to reduce emissions, to
      -Emissions actually get reduced in a significant way (1), to
      -(1) happens over a timeframe that is relevant to the polity, to
      -Reduced emissions result in measurable effects on ‘global average temperatures’ (!)
      Oh and none of the above get offset by increases in emissions from China and India. Yeah, nah.

      Re: silent/shy conservative effect. I believe it definitely plays a role. Plenty of people in Melbourne’s latte-belt have been throwing tantrums over progressive issues and making it sound as though there are a) widespread problems with the status quo and b) widespread revolt/resistance to this status quo – but clearly the rest of the country begs to differ (see: Queensland).

      The flow of preferences from minor parties to the LNP has clearly played a significant role. Populist/conservative/right-leaning minor parties have continued to win the votes of the disillusioned middle, and clearly something about Palmer’s/Lambie’s/Hanson’s values is resonating with the public. But you wouldn’t know it from consuming the mainstream media, or Their ABC.

      Not sure where you live, but housing hasn’t been this affordable in 15 years where I am. Looking to buy a 3×2 about 10 mins from the city within the next 12 months. Budget 450k.

  6. johan_larson says:

    The discussion about whether Americans can cook got a bit buried. Let me start a top-level thread for it.

    I’m one of those people who can’t cook. “Can’t cook” here means I max out at pancakes, scrambled eggs, or garden salad.

    I eat breakfast and dinner at home. It’s typically sandwiches, and I sometimes have some fruits or nuts. Sometimes I make a bowl of oatmeal.

    I eat lunch out. It’s sometimes fast food, sometimes fast casual. The grocery store also has a lot of ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat stuff these days.

    I’ve tried to learn to cook several times. The results were disappointing and cleanup was always a chore.

    Ultimately, it works. I suspect I would do things differently if I were poorer and needed to pay careful attention to my food bills or I lived in a family, so I could spread the fixed costs of cooking over more people.

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      I am Canadian, not American. I can cook in the sense that I own a handful of cookbooks whose recipes I can more or less follow and whose results I mostly enjoy. The vast majority of my meals are homemade (by me) but I rely a lot on leftovers or easy, simple fallback recipes. I basically only eat out on special occasions.

      I’m lucky though in that I don’t have very picky taste: reading ADBG’s comment below, my first thought was just that he is just much more of a foodie than his wife; there are many standards by which I can’t cook, I’m just lucky that my own bar (and my girlfriend’s, even though hers is higher than mine) is low enough for my cooking to make it over.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        reading ADBG’s comment below, my first thought was just that he is just much more of a foodie than his wife

        Than my wife? Yes. I do more cooking than her because I enjoy it more, and also because I have higher standards. The person who has higher standards has to do more of the work.

        Than my social group? No. Most of my friends enjoy good food and good drink. But I sure as hell am not paying to go to the Tapas restaurant every week. And my standards are actually lower, because I am totally happy with chicken thighs and brussel sprouts.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Many of the people who are good cooks do an unfortunate amount of gate-keeping. I remember two specific incidents that exemplify this:

      1. Someone asking for simple recipes for their sibling entering college. The first response is a recipe that includes, among other things, three different kinds of bell peppers and balsamic vinegar. No way does some college kid that’s never cooked before going to already have those.

      2. Someone asking about pasta sauce, and a foodie keeps on jerking them around: first it is complaining that they are using the well-known national brand. Then they complain that they are using the fancy national brand. Then they complain that they are using tomato paste instead of the tomatoes in their garden. Motherforker, if the OP had tomatoes in their garden do you think they would be having this conversation?

      It takes time and patience to learn these skills, and new entrants are very nervous about ruining their new ingredients and/or ruining dinner when they are hungry. The way to learn these skills is to do tasks that are just at the edge of your current skills. Experience helps, too. Once someone has the confidence that they aren’t, say, going to poison their family with salmonella, they will stop overcooking the chicken.

      • ana53294 says:

        Someone asking for simple recipes for their sibling entering college. The first response is a recipe that includes, among other things, three different kinds of bell peppers and balsamic vinegar.

        That sounds like a salad, which is not a particularly hard dish. Bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, boiled egg, tuna, and vinaigrette.

        Someone asking about pasta sauce, and a foodie keeps on jerking them around: first it is complaining that they are using the well-known national brand. Then they complain that they are using the fancy national brand. Then they complain that they are using tomato paste instead of the tomatoes in their garden.

        The kind of brand you use only matters for some things. I’ve found that brands of staples only matter when they are a proxy for some other thing. The type of rice you use matters a lot for some recipes, for example. In some places, there is a recognizable brand that offers the right type of rice, so the best way to tell people to buy the right rice without going into confusing explanations on why the type of rice they use matters, it’s easier to tell them to just buy that brand of rice.

        • Deiseach says:

          That sounds like a salad, which is not a particularly hard dish. Bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, boiled egg, tuna, and vinaigrette.

          Well, unless you come from a culture where bell peppers, tuna and vinaigrette* are not a thing. And I’m going to assume that even if you’ve had such a salad before, as Edward says a college student in digs or student accommodation is not going to have three different kinds of peppers and balsamic vinegar, either from the budget or room to store things senses.

          The wider point stands: if you’re a beginner cook who maybe never did anything at all, moving from “stick this ready meal in the microwave” to “cook using raw ingredients and a recipe” is a big move up. So basic ingredients that you can presume everyone has at hand or can easily get, yes pre-made sauces or dressings in a jar are okay, and the minimum of pots and pans and steps involved to get their feet wet.

          I was lucky in that in Sixth Class we did a Home Economics class and so I know what terms like “blanching” and “a rolling boil” mean. I didn’t do that subject in secondary school, and my cooking skills are very basic (I cannot bake at all, that gene skipped me and went from my mother to my younger sister; my attempts at a sponge cake would make you weep).

          Someone who has no idea what they’re doing is not going to be helped by “It’s so easy and basic, this recipe, first go out to your herb garden and pick the seasonal authentic Italian bishop’s bigamy** (no, the French variety won’t do and don’t even dream of using the Sardinian!) and of course remember it’s only in season for a fortnight after the first full moon before the Vernal Equinox, any later and it will simply ruin the dish” foodie notions.

          And yes, I’ve seen exactly those kinds of recipes in reply to exactly the “so can anyone recommend a really simple dish to an inexperienced cook needing to make the first meal for the new in-laws” requests online.

          *See Terry Pratchett, “The Thief of Time”, for what Ireland and the UK have instead of salad dressings, or at least before Trendy Foreign Notions became mass-market in recent decades:

          ‘Salad-cream sandwiches. You just can’t beat them. That tang of permitted emulsifiers? Marvellous.’

          Yes, salad cream sandwiches. Sliced white bread (nothing fancy, ordinary supermarket loaf of sliced bread), butter, and salad cream straight out of the bottle. You can do the same with tomato ketchup and brown sauce, by the way 🙂

          **Courtesy of G.K. Chesterton’s father:

          My father might have reminded people of Mr. Pickwick, except that he was always bearded and never bald; he wore spectacles and had all the Pickwickian evenness of temper and pleasure in the humours of travel. He was rather quiet than otherwise, but his quietude covered a great fertility of notions; and he certainly liked taking a rise out of people. I remember, to give one example of a hundred such inventions, how he gravely instructed some grave ladies in the names of flowers; dwelling especially on the rustic names given in certain localities. “The country people call them Sailors’ Pen-knives,” he would say in an offhand manner, after affecting to provide them with the full scientific name, or, “They call them Bakers’ Bootlaces down in Lincolnshire, I believe”; and it is a fine example of human simplicity to note how far he found he could safely go in such instructive discourse. They followed him without revulsion when he said lightly, “Merely a sprig of wild bigamy.” It was only when he added that there was a local variety known as Bishop’s Bigamy, that the full depravity of his character began to dawn on their minds.

      • That’s why more people should learn cooking from their parents. It’s the natural way to learn and results in faster results and less frustration.

        • NTD_SF says:

          This only works if their parents know cooking, and have the time to teach them. If no one learns on their own the proportion of people who can cook will keep dropping.

      • The Nybbler says:

        three different kinds of bell peppers and balsamic vinegar

        All these are readily available in ordinary grocery stores, at least in my area. It’s certainly true that before you start cooking you need to get the ingredients, but these aren’t really hard ingredients.

        • gbdub says:

          Though to be fair, one of the difficulties for a new cook is assembling a pantry. This means buying in more-than-single-use size certain staples that can be used in many recipes. Following a grab bag of recipes often leaves you with tons of half finished packages of ingredients that don’t really go together.

          Bell peppers are perishable consumables, and the difference between them is “color”, so that’s not a big deal. But balsamic vinegar is a somewhat specialized ingredient. It also shouldn’t be taken as a given that a new cook is going to know what the heck balsamic vinegar is and why it is very distinct from plain white vinegar (and is rarely used for interchangeable purposes).

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          An experienced person with a stocked home kitchen can just grab the bell peppers for a once-off.

          The college student? If they go through the trouble of all this, they’ve made themselves a salad, which won’t fill them up for more than a few hours. Now what? Also, boiling or frying an egg would, by itself, be a brand new thing. Using a can of tuna probably is as well. It’s a lot to throw at someone all at once. And when they eat it, they aren’t sure if they got it right or not. Does it taste weird? Well, of course it tastes weird, there are so many new things.

          The inexperienced cooks need to start small. Get a rice cooker and put rice in it. Once you can do that, experiment with spices. Brown some ground meat and add pasta sauce and salsa for sloppy joes. Learn to chop vegetables for pasta. Baby steps.

          • ana53294 says:

            Foodies that give advice on boards probably grew up in a family that cooks, so the idea that somebody can’t boil some rice is foreign to them. It is to me.

            I guess our assumptions of what the baseline of not knowing how to cook are different.

            In Spain, at least, the typical college student freshman probably hasn’t done much cooking, but has observed family members cooking endless times, and has gone shopping with them, so they have an idea of how to cook rice or pasta, and peel a potato. So if you ask me what a college student should start cooking, I will assume a person who has observed other people cooking, has helped with grocery shopping, and can open a can of tuna.

            I guess these people you are referring to are coming from families where these traditions have been discontinued. And it’s very hard to imagine that, when you come from a different tradition.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Now you’re seemingly talking about someone who isn’t just new to cooking but new to eating. I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting cooking with ingredients that are unfamiliar to the person cooking.

    • ana53294 says:

      I eat lunch out. It’s sometimes fast food, sometimes fast casual. The grocery store also has a lot of ready-to-eat and heat-and-eat stuff these days.

      When I first learnt that there were people that go to restaurants for the sole purpose of eating food, I was shocked at first.

      I grew up in a comfortable middle class family, my mom was a SAHM, and we rarely ate out. We lived in a farmhouse, and although it wasn’t the family business, because the land was divided among the siblings so the land was insufficient to sustain a family anyway, we had a fruit orchard and a vegetable patch. Basically, all vegetables we would eat during the summer were produced by our land. We had chickens and pigs (only some years; at some point, we had an excess of fatty meat my father couldn’t eat because of his cholesterol, so we stopped producing pork). So I was spoiled with fresh, homemade food. For years, I only ate apples in season, because store-bought apples are bland and tasteless (also: tomatoes, walnuts, eggs).

      Most of the food I ate out was in the school cafeteria and it was gross. Everybody in my school ate homemade food and we all thought it was gross. It wasn’t just a kids’ opinion: many of the adults agreed that it was gross. It wasn’t cooked at school, they just reheated food made at a factory. You can’t have very palatable food for under 5 euros of ingredients & labor that is healthy.

      Sometimes, my family would go and eat in restaurants. Those were invariably special occasions: weddings, baptisms, confirmations, my father’s work family events, and such. Even for birthdays, we mostly celebrated at home, because we had a big home, kids’ birthday food is mostly snacks anyway (the only food that requires cooking is the cake and the sandwiches). Everybody I know would celebrate Christmas and New Year’s at home (some people do go out for New Year’s, but they are a minority).

      I still don’t go to restaurants for the sole purpose of eating food, the same way I don’t go to a cafe just to drink coffee. The point of the restaurant, for me, has always been socialization: being with friends, on a date, a special celebration with my colleagues, a family event. The only times when I actually go to a restaurant to eat food is when I am travelling and can’t cook or when the expense is paid by an employer. And when I go to a cafe, it’s also for socializing. Or if I want to sit down in a beautiful street an people watch.

      I am not a great cook, and when I cook just for myself, I mostly roast meat and eat a salad. In winter, it’s a soup. I can cook most things with a recipe though.

      But in Spain, we take food very seriously. Shops, banks close at lunchtime, for a period of 2.5 hours or so. Foreigners call it siesta time, but they are confused: 2.5 hours is barely enough time to go home, cook a meal, eat it together as a family, and go back to work. Kids who live in walking distance from home go back home to eat lunch.

      Other countries take food much less seriously, and they take work much more seriously. The only country I know where they take food seriously and have high productivity is France, which has many, many issues.

      Most of the Northern European countries take food much less seriously, and they are also much richer than us. I always wondered if there was a correlation.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I consider myself a pretty decent cook. I like to teach my friends recipes. Unfortunately, there are real struggles involved in cooking for one, especially on my sort of budget and schedule, so I rarely get a chance to “stretch my wings” like I like to. Pretty much only on weekends, really. The week is full of sandwiches and rice. I do what I can with that, but it’s definitely somewhat unsatisfying.

    • rlms says:

      I categorise cooking ability into three segments. From top to bottom: people who can actually cook (follow complex recipes, make stuff that tastes approximately like restaurant food); people who can’t do that but can make their culture’s basic general carbs + vegetables + sometimes meat dish without it tasting objectionable; and people who can’t do that. My impression is that most English people fall somewhere in the second, and the distribution in continental Europe is shifted about half a category upwards.

    • brad says:

      I don’t understand why or how cooking one’s own food ended up on one side of the “universally necessary, self reliant adult skill” line and making one’s own clothes ended up on the “eccentric weirdo hobby” side. I outsource both and feel zero regrets or shame over those choices.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I don’t understand why or how cooking one’s own food ended up on one side of the “universally necessary, self reliant adult skill” line and making one’s own clothes ended up on the “eccentric weirdo hobby” side.

        Labor cost per unit people need?

        • johan_larson says:

          Or frequency of need. People typically get new clothes a few times per year. They need to eat several times per day.

          But labor costs do matter. Eating out on CAN$20 per day would get a bit sketchy. CAN$20 per day of food ingredients is living like a king (who cooks for himself.)

      • ana53294 says:

        Clothes don’t rot for decades, which means you can make them in China or Vietnam and bring them here. Comparative advantage, and cheaper labor costs, mean that it’s not worth it for ups to make clothes anymore.

        Food has to be prepared daily; it rots and spoils. This means it has to be cooked locally, which means that food has to be prepared at local labor costs, which are much higher than in China.

        There are economies of scale in clothes production. McDonalds has to invest millions just to make sure they get a passably decent burger in all locations. Food is much harder to make uniform, unlike clothes.

        • brad says:

          It makes zero financial sense for me to do my own cooking. In money terms I’m far, far better off spending an extra hour a day working, improving my skills, networking, etc. than the money I’d save by cooking. That may not be true for everyone, but there are certainly large numbers of people for whom it is. Also, it isn’t like I am running up massive credit card debt to eat food prepared by other people, I live well within my means and many of my meals are provided at no cost by my employer.

          So I’m skeptical that the negative attitudes towards people that are unable or unwilling to prepare their own meals are firmly rooted in financial reasoning. Rather that seems like a post hoc justification for whatever the actual wellspring is.

          • Nick says:

            In money terms I’m far, far better off spending an extra hour a day working, improving my skills, networking, etc. than the money I’d save by cooking.

            That math might work out for someone living on his own, but does it work out for a whole family?

            As for meals provided by employer, my impression is that this is still pretty uncommon.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Also, it isn’t like I am running up massive credit card debt to eat food prepared by other people, I live well within my means and many of me meals are provided at no cost by my employer.

            It’s a class* or occupational thing. Knowing how to cook for ourselves is important for people who aren’t in your economic position.
            If you calculate how much eating out at the places you do costs a month, we could estimate what percentage of the US population can live like that within their means. We could also look at the most frugal way to not cook without that diet making one chronically sick: cereal and coffee or tea at home for breakfast and eating Subway for lunch and dinner every day.

            *Am I the only one recalling Mr. Collins’s faux pas in Pride and Prejudice of asking which Bennet cooked this delicious meal? “None of my daughters know how to cook!” Mrs. Bennet said.

          • brad says:

            @Nick

            Suppose I lived in a traditional to the point of nonexistent in the US household–me, my wife, 6 kids from age 5 to 17, my mom, my wife’s parents, and two sister-in-laws. If I never, ever cooked–and I probably wouldn’t in such a scenario–would that really be so different from me as a single person never cooking? Would I be ahead or behind in terms of disposable income?

            I think there’s more than a touch of America’s paradoxical and highly inconsistent distaste for commerce going on here.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @brad

            If you lived in such a family, you could get away with not cooking because your wife and mother-in-law and sisters-in-law would (since we’re assuming “traditional” here), and all you’d have is lunches out (or pre-prepared by your wife, even more traditionally). But if it were a less-uncommon nuclear family with you and your wife both working and two kids, then having all meals prepared for you would be a lot more expensive than if you or your wife cooked most meals. Of course, you’re in NYC and with two NYC salaries and NYC housing costs (and NYC grocery costs), the additional cost might not all that significant in the larger scheme, but most people aren’t in NYC.

            You couldn’t just work an extra hour a day or so to make up for it, because someone’s gotta watch the kids.

          • brad says:

            @The Nybbler

            If you lived in such a family, you could get away with not cooking because your wife and mother-in-law and sisters-in-law would (since we’re assuming “traditional” here), and all you’d have is lunches out (or pre-prepared by your wife, even more traditionally).

            Right, that was the implication I was going for. But in such a scenario I wouldn’t be considered somehow less-than-an-adult for not doing so. (Though my wife might be if we were both in high powered careers and she too only ate food prepared by her relatives.)

            But if it were a less-uncommon nuclear family with you and your wife both working and two kids, then having all meals prepared for you would be a lot more expensive than if you or your wife cooked both meals.

            I don’t think that’s true if you take into account opportunity cost.

            On a different forum I suppose participate in there’s a small but vocal continent of fans of Mr. Money Mustache. They are always advocating for ridiculously convoluted ways of savings tiny amounts of money. If that’s your hobby fine, but these are all people in high end white collar professions. If the goal is to have more money at the end of the year, investing those hours in their careers are going to get that done much more effectively than “saving” money at the cost of several hours every week of work that somehow doesn’t count as work.

            The same is true of cooking. I acknowledge that some people like cooking; find relaxing and rewarding. They don’t really consider it work (except when they need to cast it that way to win an argument with their significant other, but I digress). By all means if cooking is your hobby go forth and cook! But don’t tell me it is the money maximizing use of your time if you are a highly educated professional. It almost certainly isn’t, even if you are cooking for four.

            It’s true that this community is more mixed than that other one. We have more posters that aren’t in high end white collar professions. But I don’t think the disapproval of people that can’t or won’t cook for themselves is limited to classes where it financially makes sense to cook. If it were I would not have come across it or if I did, it probably wouldn’t sting.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Brad

            Cooking has a strong microcultural component – most people are at least somewhat proud of their recipes from their [hometown/country/family]. It’s visceral and indicates intimacy and care, so cooking for people is a great way to make them feel loved. It’s part of the dominant (idiosyncratic) ethos of self-reliance; a Nutella and mustard sandwich is the taste of true freedom.

            If you get nothing out of it, you’re probably a bit of an aesthetic mutant; there’s nothing wrong with that per se, but that’s the explanation for the revulsion you get hit with IMO.

          • Nornagest says:

            @Brad — Unless they’re eating exclusively fast food or deliveries, I don’t think the time savings in ordering out are that big for most people. You can cook a pretty good meal in twenty minutes, which is about what it takes me to drive or walk to a restaurant for take-out, and considerably less than all the various wastes of time involved in sit-down dining (getting there and back, ordering, waiting for the meal, waiting for the check). You don’t need to buy the ingredients, but that’s, what, half an hour twice a week? Probably less if you use one of the various grocery-delivery services that’ve been popping up (which I never have, but they do exist).

            I guess you’re a New Yorker, so you probably have a Chinese take-out on every street corner, but that’s not a typical situation.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Money Mustache people are weird, so most of that can be hand-waved. However, they also typically use less expensive ingredients. My MMM lunch would be cooked in bulk on Sunday and eaten throughout the week, and each lunch would be about 60 cents worth of ingredients. The labor could be priced as substantially more, but I don’t get paid extra to work on Sunday.

            I can’t speak for other industries. My impression is that y’all computer folk can learn new skills on your off-time and earn a return on it pretty quickly. For me, that is a fool’s errand.

          • ana53294 says:

            The point of MMM is not just that you save money by cooking, but that you permanently lower your life expenses by making cooking a habit. This means that making a habit that decreases your expenses by X amount will decrease the number you need to retire by 25X.

            If you like your job and don’t intend to retire early, it’s probably not worth it to go to the extremes people go to learn new skills so they can reduce their life expenditure. Although I think most people with that lifestyle enjoy the process.

          • DinoNerd says:

            I would certainly prefer to live in such a household, and have someone who had time to cook, and enjoyed cooking, providing meals for me.

            They’d most likely be a lot more to my taste, and healthier too.

            But given real life, I have to pick where to spend my time. A cleaning service was a complete no brainer – I made that change 25 years ago, maybe more. Cooking less and less was a more gradual and more recent shift – but I just don’t enjoy it, even though I’m skilled slightly beyond the “can follow a recipe” level. (I know where substitutions will and won’t work, and what herbs and spices produce tasty results in what contexts.) But getting better nutrition because of home cooking is a dream for my retirement, not a reality for my life. (This may have to change, for health reasons, before retirement, but I’m finding sources of less bad prepared meals, and am on track for a near-future retirement, so hopefully not.)

            FWIW, it seems to me that the pre-prepared choices have got worse and worse over time, but it may just be that sugar has always been extremely hard to avoid, and I didn’t previously care about it – who’d have thought that even though I essentially don’t cook, I’d be semi-seriously considering dusting off the bread machine, just to get bread that doesn’t taste sweet to me 🙁 [And of course bread in a bread machine is easy, once you learn the quirks of the machine you have – the problem there is ingredient lifetimes – if you don’t do it often, you’ll find your yeast expired, and your whole-grain flours going off, even if you don’t find actual bugs in them. At an earlier time when I baked all my bread, cleaning the machine was probably more work than baking.]

    • gbdub says:

      The Food Network put out a good book called “How to Boil Water” I’d recommend for people wanting to go from “I can microwave a frozen meal” to “I can reliably cook a few staples without a recipe, and when I follow a recipe the results look and taste the way they are supposed to”.

      For me personally the big eureka moment comes when you stop mechanically following a recipe and actually understand why you’re doing and adding the various things called for in the recipe. Once you’re there, you can start to riff on things and create a good meal from “what’s laying around”.

      For the nerdier types, Alton Brown, The Food Lab, and Cook’s Illustrated are nice go tos for the science and technique of cooking.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      If it works for you and you are happy, who cares what other people think?

      Though you likely could learn to cook better. Unfortunately there is a bit of a learning curve, and most of the stuff you do at first is going to be kind of mediocre. Ideally your parents would know how to cook, you would learn to cook from your parents, and you’d pick up new skills. But if you have to learn everything from scratch, you will be making a lot of mistakes, and there will be times when you fail so badly that it will be take-out pizza night.

      The plus side is that you will eventually get good at it, and you will eventually make some good stuff, and then you will reliably make good stuff. Plus, you get pretty good, pretty quick feed-back.

      Cleanup, however, will always be a chore.

    • toastengineer says:

      1. Get food.
      1a. If the food is too big to eat, cut the food in to smaller pieces.
      2. Make the pot or pan hot.
      3. Put the food in the pan.
      3a. Consider moving the food around in the pan so the bottom parts of it don’t get way more cooked than the top.
      3b. Unless there is already spices on it, put salt, pepper, and whatever spices smell good when you smell them with the food on the food.
      4. After a few minutes, take it back out. You have now cooked.

      I’ve been thinking of starting a Youtube cooking show aimed at college students. I was hoping to get it started while I was literally living in a dorm but never got around to it…

  7. SamChevre says:

    Western Mass meet-up tomorrow, Saturday May 18th.

    The Roost (cafe)
    1 Market St., Northampton MA
    Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 6:00 PM

    It’s a varied group of us; look far a big table. We always hope for new people to come.

  8. Nick says:

    An Ontario court has ruled that, per College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy, doctors must perform procedures such as abortions and euthanasia or offer referrals to doctors they know will (h/t Dreher). The decision can be read here.

    When the policy was introduced, several doctors sued, arguing that a referral to a doctor willing to perform such a procedure constitutes complicity, which is a violation of conscience on account of their religious beliefs. In its decision the court agreed (!!), but ruled that “equal and equitable access” to abortion and euthanasia trumps physicians’ rights to practice their profession according to their religious beliefs (p. 18). (The court did not address the suit’s conscience argument, only the religious freedom one, but I think it’s just as cogent.)

    Now, this is, admittedly, rather limited complicity—but this only makes the court’s decision all the more petty. The policy calls for “effective referral,” so called because it must be to where the doctor believes in good faith that the patient can receive the desired care. This standard was chosen specifically so physicians would be required to take “positive action” on behalf of their patients (p. 12). The compromise offered, meanwhile, was that these doctors would instead distribute general information (i.e., pamphlets) explaining where patients could receive such procedures. Ontario evidently believes this is insufficient: you must secure your patient their euthanasia, you bigots!

    • broblawsky says:

      Does this apply to all doctors, or just those employed by the public health care system?

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        If I understand correctly, the policy is actually that if the College of Physicians and Surgeons of a Ontario, the professional regulatory body for the province. Since you must be a member to practice medicine in Ontario, this would apply to all doctors, I think.

    • Machine Interface says:

      That seems… fair? If you won’t practice the medicinal interventions you’re getting payed for, that you be required to point out your patients to someone who will really is a soft compromise (as opposed to the pratician being told “well you can find a new job outside of medicine then”).

      • John Schilling says:

        If you won’t practice the medicinal interventions you’re getting paid for

        The physicians in question don’t want to be paid for these interventions, and the ruling doesn’t seem to limit itself to physicians who actually are being paid for these interventions.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        I have a hard time seeing how providing euthenasia or abortion is “what they’re getting paid for[.]”

        If you trained as e.g. a pediatric oncologist, suddenly having the government tell you that you’re legally required to kill your patients on request (or send them to someone who you know is willing to kill them) seems like it comes totally out of left field. That almost certainly wasn’t part of your training and in fact contradicts the oath you took to “do no harm.”

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Um, yeah, this.
          One reason I have such respect for the Hippocratic Oath is that, unlike modern medical oaths, it’s outside the state. The would-be all-powerful state can’t change it because it now wants abortion, euthanasia, or whatever. It’s something that vastly predates existing states and pretty much only changes in the preamble, for religious reasons (there was a Byzantine Christian preamble, and currently a secular preamble).

          • Douglas Knight says:

            You seem to say two contradictory things. You say that the state can’t change the Hippocratic oath, but you also say that it’s different from modern medical oaths. What good is it if it’s not administered?

            (Actually, the modern medical oaths are called the Hippocratic oath.)

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            It’s worth noting this isn’t the state, it’s the College of Physicians and Surgeons that implemented the rule; the court just upheld the constitutionality of the rule.

        • mustacheion says:

          Lets ignore the abortion issue and just talk about euthanasia. Have you ever been close to a terminally ill patient who is bed-bound, requires a feeding tube, and other similar interventions? It is pretty impressive how long modern medical science can keep a body “alive”, but these interventions can be extremely brutal. These interventions can cause the patient to suffer horribly, and the only hope of relief from the suffering is taking so many drugs that the patient is essentially in a comma. In my opinion, keeping a terminally ill patient alive on life support can very much constitute “harm”, in my opinion it can very clearly violate the Hippocratic Oath to try to preserve them so far past the point of natural death.

          I certainly do not want doctors or the government to ever decide to intentionally kill a terminally ill patient. But I do very much think that every patient should have the right to a peaceful, easy death via medical assistance, if they pre-authorize this option before their condition deteriorates to the point where they are no longer of sound mind.

          A doctor’s first and only job is to provide the care that their patient needs. I do not believe that the doctor’s beliefs about right or wrong matter at all, only the patient’s.

          • Nick says:

            A doctor’s first and only job is to provide the care that their patient needs. I do not believe that the doctor’s beliefs about right or wrong matter at all, only the patient’s.

            What? What kind of tyranny are you proposing, that doctors must ignore their own moral senses in carrying out their job? How is this standard not a complete forfeiture of professional ethics altogether?

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Your argument implicitly assumes that there are only two options. Either doctors must either be forbidden from performing euthenasia or doctors must be required to perform euthenasia. The idea that doctors could be permitted to perform euthenasia but not required to do so must seem like a contradiction.

            This attitude is something that I refer to as the totalitarian impulse of modernism. And it is much more frightening than the threat of a lingering death.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      Imho this is a good decision, setting aside admittedly important question whether law should guarantee right to euthanasia or abortion. But system where people would be allowed to refuse to do what would otherwise be part of their job, because they have religious objection against it, would be ripe for abuse and absurdities. Like, imagine that police officer would refuse to arrest blue eyed people because according to his religion, they should not be held accountable for any crime.

      • edmundgennings says:

        But having no respect for religious objections would lead to equally absurd results. It would seem resonable for an employer in certain circumstances to have general requirement that their employees eat the food provided. People eating different food can easily slightly impair morale and impose logistical complications and employees not eating during long shifts could easily be dangerous. But if that included pork and the employee was jewish or muslim, then the employer should accommodate unless the job truly needs people to do eat the generally provided food and not just it would be generally convenient for the employees to eat the generally provided food. There needs to be a balancing act between how important some task is and how much it excludes people from the profession on the basis of their religion.
        Regardless of whether euthanasia or abortion should be legal or not, they are at the most peripheral to the medical profession. The system would be only slightly less efficient if those who believed that they were murder were not forced to actively assist in them being conducted either by doing them themselves or by actively directing them. Passive direction, which they can and were willing to do, is at most slightly less effective in some peripheral cases. So this law excludes a decently sized religious minority for tiny benefits would puts it in the realm of all employees must eat the provided food which occasionally includes ham.

        Also historic deeply held religious beliefs seem to have more value in being protected and they also have far less risk of generating absurdities.

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          But this law does the equivalent of excluding the religious: they don’t have to perform the abortions. In your analogy, this is like a law that requires the Jewish employees to tell their Christian neighbors where to get pork if asked.

          • Nick says:

            In your analogy, this is like a law that requires the Jewish employees to tell their Christian neighbors where to get pork if asked.

            That’s not analogous (or rather, it exposes a weakness in edmund’s analogy). In the suit they offered evidence, which the court accepted, that under their religion the effective referrals constitute complicity (pp. 27-28); I’m not Jewish, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I expect Jews cannot do the same with the pork referral.

            ETA: I also have to point out that Ales, whom edmund was responding to, made no distinction between the referral and doing the procedure; he wrote exactly as if these physicians should be required to do the procedures too! Edmund’s point isn’t germane to the Ontario case, but it is to Ales’s position.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Yes, I’m only referring to the presented analogy.

            Jews would not be complicit in pointing out to a gentile where to obtain pork (thought might be if they told another Jew? I’m not sure about this).

            I’m curious as to why handing out a pamphlet did not constitute complicity, but direct referral does: surely handing over a flyer with the address of an abortionist is basically the same as having your secretary tell someone the address?

          • Nick says:

            I’m curious as to why handing out a pamphlet did not constitute complicity, but direct referral does: surely handing over a flyer with the address of an abortionist is basically the same as having your secretary tell someone the address?

            The flyer wouldn’t have had an address, is my impression, hence the description “general information”; the patient would still have had to, for instance, call in to be directed to a local place. Another proposed compromise (which some of the doctors suing apparently did not accept at first, but did acquiesce to for the suit, or for this appeal; it’s not entirely clear to me) was offering a phone number to “Telehealth” which apparently does provide referrals (p. 14).

            It may seem like a distinction without a difference, but the remoteness of one’s material cooperation definitely does matter to some people. I can’t speak to Christians generally, but for Catholics there are degrees of cooperation: I expect any Catholic doctors suing or theologians consulted to maintain that giving the Telehealth number for the patient to try herself would be remote cooperation, not proximate.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            That makes sense. This probably inclines me to agree with the ruling a little more, but it depends on exactly how general the general information was. If it was just what you’d find by Googling or checking the Yellow Pages, I think it’s not unreasonable for a doctor to be required to give more information than that.

            I should probably read the decision before offering any more of an opinion though.

          • edmundgennings says:

            Along the lines of what Nick has said, directly performing the abortion or actively assisting in it by active referrals are forbidden for Catholics. Catholics do not believe that abortion is immoral only for them but universally and so may not actively help others do one by actively referring them.
            If you want I try to research why the Catholic theology of cooperation makes sense I can try, but the overall framework is rather well established part of Catholic moral theology, even if it is not something the typically layman will know the name for. Active referral for an abortion is at least as forbidden to a Catholic as eating pork would be for a jew.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I’ve skimmed the opinion now, and here are my take-aways:
            first of all, the “effective referral” process allowed for the physician or clinic to designate someone else to do the actual referring, so the physician would only have to refer to the referrer. You don’t actually have to get the patient to the person who will perform their abortion, but you have to put them in touch with someone who will.
            On the College’s fact sheet for effective referral they list the possibility of the physician or someone else designated by the physician could contact Ontario’s Care Coordination Services. The ruling also says directly that at least some of the physicians appealing the decision would have rejected the TeleHealth compromise.

            I will not presume to judge whether this level of remove is something a believer ought to consider morally complicit, but it’s pretty clear that the policy really does give significant space for a physician to remove themselves personally from the referral process–you can designate someone else to direct them to the CCS which will direct them to a cooperating physician.

            Catholics do not believe that abortion is immoral only for them but universally and so may not actively help others do one by actively referring them.

            The question isn’t whether a Catholic should feel it is immoral to have even this remote level of cooperation; of course they have every right to do so. The question is whether a regulatory and standards body can compel its members to do something that some religious people might regard as complicity in sin, and I think the answer to this is obviously “yes” in at least some cases.

            As an example: I am not sure if Jehovah’s Witnesses doctors are forbidden from carrying blood transfusions; the stated reason for opposition to receiving them would seem to apply, and I found a Quora answer from a JW nurse that seems to suggest so, but I am not 100% confident. I am also not sure how strict JWs are on complicity. But, if it turns out that a JW doctor would feel that any attempt to secure a patient a blood transfusion would make him or her complicit in a sin, that does not mean the medical profession as a whole has to bend over backwards to accommodate this view: at some point, if your view of complicity is broad enough, you should expect to have to separate yourself from certain spheres of life.

            Whether or not this particular case reaches that point will obviously be up to your judgment, but I presume there is some level where you agree that a body of physicians has the right to set standards of practice that would be anathema to certain religious objectors: in the extreme case, if your religion disallows prescribing antibiotics, and you regard any attempt to connect a patient with a doctor who does prescribe as complicity, I think almost everyone would agree that the best choice for you is simply to not become a doctor.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          @edmundgennings

          I sort of see your point, but I am also worried that once religious objections are established as valid excuses in one domain, it will be very hard to deny them in others. And that way lies social disintegration.

          Whether euthanasia and abortion are really peripheral to medical profession is very much under dispute. I guess that my position is that they should be either judged peripheral and in that case there should not be guaranteed legal right to get them, or they should be judged central and available as of right. And in that latter case there should not be religious exceptions for providing information to patients about them.

          • but I am also worried that once religious objections are established as valid excuses in one domain, it will be very hard to deny them in others. And that way lies social disintegration.

            I disagree with what I think is your implied argument, although I might be misreading it.

            My objection to most of the controversy is the assumption that what is critical is the religious nature of the objection. It seems to me that the proper base rule for a society is voluntary association–nobody has to agree to provide any service to anyone else that he doesn’t want to. It’s the abandonment of that rule that leads to social disintegration, since that implies that each of us is in some sense the slave of everyone else, obliged to provide services unless we can offer reasons not to that the state approves of.

            And yes, I am opposed to laws that forbid a seller to refuse to sell to blacks, or Jews, or homosexuals, or anyone else.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I sort of see your point, but I am also worried that once religious objections are established as valid excuses in one domain, it will be very hard to deny them in others. And that way lies social disintegration.

            I don’t think you can just throw out there that “everybody in a polity needs to follow essentially the same religion or the whole thing falls apart” unless you’ve got a strong defense ready. Western values of the past few centuries have affirmed exactly the opposite: that religious freedom and diversity is our strength.

          • salvorhardin says:

            @DavidFriedman I agree with that base rule, but it gets tricky to apply in situations where people who do voluntarily choose to provide services to marginalized others, or to act against commonly held religious doctrines, are targeted by mobs of militant bigots and/or theocrats for that choice. These mobs will often confine themselves to ostracism when that imposes sufficient costs on the nondiscriminators/nonreligious to make them conform, but not being principled libertarians, they typically do not scruple to resort to violence. In such a situation it may be infeasible to protect the rights of both nondiscriminators/nonreligious people and discriminators/religious people to do as they please in peace, and so one must choose.

            Thus for example many businesses prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 refused to serve blacks, not out of any segregationist convictions on their owners’ part, but out of a credible fear that they would lose too many white customers to continue their business– supplemented, at least in the South, by fear of Klan violence. Arguably the legal mandate to desegregate freed them to use the excuse that they were “just following the law”. A similar argument holds that bans on veils in French schools liberate girls from Muslim families who wish to go unveiled, not only from family disapproval but from honor killing.

            Given the propensity of Christianist terrorists to attack those who choose to provide abortions, a similar dynamic may well be at play here.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            @salvorhardin,

            Thus for example many businesses prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 refused to serve blacks, not out of any segregationist convictions on their owners’ part, but out of a credible fear that they would lose too many white customers to continue their business– supplemented, at least in the South, by fear of Klan violence.

            Can you cite any confirmation of this?

            In the cases I’m aware of, such as buses and restaurants, it was illegal under Jim Crow laws to serve blacks and whites equally. The Civil Rights Act then made it illegal not to serve blacks and whites equally. As far as I’m aware, there was no point in time where southern business owners were able to choose who they served: mandatory segregation was followed immediately by mandatory integration.

            If that’s not the case I’d appreciate it if you could correct my understanding.

          • broblawsky says:

            Can you cite any confirmation of this?

            In the cases I’m aware of, such as buses and restaurants, it was illegal under Jim Crow laws to serve blacks and whites equally. The Civil Rights Act then made it illegal not to serve blacks and whites equally. As far as I’m aware, there was no point in time where southern business owners were able to choose who they served: mandatory segregation was followed immediately by mandatory integration.

            If that’s not the case I’d appreciate it if you could correct my understanding.

            Not exactly what you’re asking for, but James Reeb was a white man murdered by white supremacists for eating at an integrated restaurant.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I’m pretty sure the Woolworth stores and other department store lunch counters that were the subject of the sit in movement were examples of private segregation: for example, when a sit in at the Royal Ice Cream store went to the North Carolina Supreme Court, the judge ruled against the protestors on the grounds that the 14th Amendment “erects no shield against merely private conduct”; as this is the same state where the bulk of the sit ins occurred a few years later, I presume it was still true that none of those stores were segregated owing to an actual law.

          • salvorhardin says:

            Re: those asking for examples, two come to mind:

            1. from Calvin Trillin, “Back on the Bus”:
            “…a Greek-immigrant diner owner with tears in his eyes telling black sit-in students in Atlanta that, as much as he sympathized with their cause, serving them would mean the end of his business.”
            https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/07/25/back-on-the-bus

            2. from Isabel Wilkerson, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” an account of a motel owner in Arizona refusing a black traveler a room:

            ““We’re from Illinois,” the husband said. “We don’t share the opinion of the people in this area. But if we take you in, the rest of the motel owners will ostracize us. We just can’t do it. I’m sorry.””

            It may be true that in the South there was no period when one was legally free to choose to discriminate or not– I’m not sure– but there certainly was such a period in the rest of the country, and in that period the Green Book was very much not confined to the South.

          • Lillian says:

            @Nabil ad Dajjal: There used to be an article covering the Monson Motor Lodge incident in 1964, which produced that famous picture of manager James Brock pouring acid into the pool in an effort to scare off civil rights protesters.

            According to it, Brock had previously desegregated the motel, but the KKK made credible threats to burn it down if he didn’t resegregate it, so he did so. Then as bad luck would have it Martin Luther King Jr and other activists decided to pick the Monson Motor Lodge as the location of their protest, which lead the panicked manager to make some poor life choices in an effort to save his livelihood.

            Unfortunately i am unable to find the article in question, and i fear it may in fact have been thrown down the memory hole. All i’m left to with to confirm my memory is some folks in the comments of this other article who are saying the same thing.

          • edmundgennings says:

            @AlesZiegler

            What degree of religious exemptions are permitted is a matter of prudence but we have been able to have religious exemptions for a good while now. For example the classical (anglican) school model of mandatory chapel except for Jews and Roman Catholics (and implicitly Muslims, Hindus, etc) does not open the door to abuse. Post sepoy mutiny british policy made rather extensive concessions to religious objections.
            Now in more modern situations where new religions are starting up or there is not a clearish set of norms there is a lot more room for problems.

            I am somewhat confused by your latter point and am unsure what you mean by legal right.
            My distinction is based on practical considerations. Euthanasia but especially abortion are at the very least practically peripheral to the medical profession. One can be a very useful doctor without doing them. There needs to be a very compelling interest before it is fitting to effective ban a considerable minority from the medical profession. I think this high bar does not come close to being reached for practical reasons.

          • Richard Epstein’s defense of the civil rights act, as I remember it, was that segregation was being enforced by local governments, but not by laws requiring it. A restaurant that accepted black patrons was at risk of various forms of legal harassment.

            Whether his view is correct I do not know.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            Apologies for somewhat late responses, I had things to attend to.

            @edmundgennings

            I do not find your examples of religious exemptions convincing. I am opposed to any kind of mandatory religious services in public schools, so issue of religious exemptions in this respect should not arise. On the other hand, in private schools they could have all exemptions from otherwise mandatory religious services they like, as far as I am concerned. And I certainly do not wish our society to be run like colonial British India, or for that matter, modern India – which has sectarian problems somewhat related to a weakness of secular law. Our secular legal system should not be weakened by religious exemptions (I should add that I am European, not Canadian, so take this please as an observation that I think it would be unwise for Canada to do so).

            I agree that performing euthanasia or abortion is peripheral to medical profession in a sense that practically every medical procedure is, due to high degree of specialization. But providing accurate information about available medical options to patients is central duty of general practitioners. Due to my sloppy writing I failed to distinguish between normative argument whether abortion and/or euthanasia should be part of government provided healthcare services and practical reality that even they would be, they will not be performed by most doctors, because most doctors specialize in other fields. See also my reply to David Friedman below.

            @DavidFriedman

            I agree that you correctly stated where we disagree. I do not think that society should be based solely on voluntary association, since I am not an anarchocapitalist. But I also acknowledge that it is perfectly possible to defend a position that there should be minimal government concerned with defence and administration of justice with no role in providing healthcare. I temporary forgot that I am writing on a forum full of libertarians and/or Americans (I am neither), so I foolishly assumed that we will all agree that there should be some basic level of healthcare services provided by the government and political discussion should be about what those basic services are. With this implicit premise in mind, I proceeded to argue that government paid doctors should not be able to claim religious exemptions from performing those basic services.

            On civil rights legislation, I support in principle that discrimination based on race, sexual orientation or religions should be forbiden in some private domains, like restaurants, employment, housing and such. But I have to acknowledge that in some cases it imho gone to far, like below mentioned case of Christian dating site in California ordered by the courts to provide for same sex matches – that seems like potentially dangerous precedent.

        • 10240 says:

          I don’t think it’s absurd to allow an employer to treat every employee the same, regardless of religion (though it’s probably not in an employer’s interest to do so). If an employee doesn’t like it, he can choose a different job. (Though the latter part gets harder in the case of a (quasi-)monopsony on a profession, such as in medicine in some countries.)

        • salvorhardin says:

          Fair points, but there’s also the argument, which I think has more force applied to doctors than most other professionals, that when the state licenses a profession and imposes heavy conditions on procuring a license, it creates a barrier to entry that effectively limits supply. Thus, if you are a doctor who limits your scope of practice according to your religious convictions, you are not only preventing patients from getting services for you that are outside that limited scope, you are also– by your occupancy of your scarce licensed position– making it harder for them to find another licensed doctor who will give them what they want, and thus imposing your religious beliefs on them.

          FWIW I don’t think that, from the secular liberal point of view, there is any clear principled reason why religious convictions should receive more legal deference than any other sort of strong belief or preference. The fact that they do seems largely rooted (I would welcome historical scholarship confirming or refuting this) in the pragmatic observation that forcing people to choose between the doctrines of their religion and the law of the land often ends badly for the enforceability of the law. In the modern West that is becoming less and less true over time, so it’s natural to expect that legal deference to religious convictions would become weaker.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Thus, if you are a doctor who limits your scope of practice according to your religious convictions, you are not only preventing patients from getting services for you that are outside that limited scope, you are also– by your occupancy of your scarce licensed position– making it harder for them to find another licensed doctor who will give them what they want, and thus imposing your religious beliefs on them.

            This is special pleading, though, because doctors are in general permitted to limit the scope of their practice.

          • 10240 says:

            A doctor who doesn’t perform a particular procedure performs more procedures of other kinds, thus keeping the total supply of medicine the same. Unless the number of doctors who are willing to perform abortions or euthanasia is very small, there is no danger of the supply of these procedures becoming smaller than the demand.

            If there are numerical limits on the number of doctors’ licences, that’s itself a problem. Limiting admissions to medical school is appropriate to the extent it takes a reasonably smart and hardworking person to make an adequate doctor. To the extent the number of doctors is limited by the number of people who are smart enough and want to be doctors, forcing people who are unwilling to do a small number of medical procedures to not practice medicine at all reduces supply and is a terrible idea.

          • salvorhardin says:

            @10240 As I understand it the number of doctors in the US is de facto limited both by immigration restrictions and by guild restrictions on the number of slots in accredited medical schools. I agree that scope of practice mandates are a poor second best solution compared to lifting the caps.

            @Nybbler I strongly suspect that, if other nonreligious chosen scope limitations were common enough and had a large enough systemic effect on broad classes of patients, those limitations too would be restricted.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Nybbler I strongly suspect that, if other nonreligious chosen scope limitations were common enough and had a large enough systemic effect on broad classes of patients, those limitations too would be restricted.

            I’m not convinced those were the criteria here; people weren’t having trouble finding abortionists and euthanasists because there was a shortage. Rather, it seems the rule was made because some doctors were religiously scrupulous.

            In the US, in some areas we had (maybe have?) a shortage of doctors willing to deliver babies, for financial reasons. I never heard of a ruling forcing any sort of doctors to include that in their practice.

          • Nick says:

            Fair points, but there’s also the argument, which I think has more force applied to doctors than most other professionals, that when the state licenses a profession and imposes heavy conditions on procuring a license, it creates a barrier to entry that effectively limits supply. Thus, if you are a doctor who limits your scope of practice according to your religious convictions, you are not only preventing patients from getting services for you that are outside that limited scope, you are also– by your occupancy of your scarce licensed position– making it harder for them to find another licensed doctor who will give them what they want, and thus imposing your religious beliefs on them.

            Hold on a second. This barrier to entry exists either because the costs are necessarily high or artificially high. In the former case, this law will only have the effect of driving some doctors out of their practice and persuading young Christians not to pursue a medical career. And in the latter case, the problem is the government artificially limiting the supply. In either case, how is the problem here the Christians, or the solution compelling them to violate their beliefs?

      • 10240 says:

        There is a distinction between an employer requiring one to do something as part of a job, and the government requiring everyone in a certain profession to be willing to do something.

        • edmundgennings says:

          There would seem to be far less of a compelling state interest in compelling everyone to be willing to do something than the do something as part of the job. If something is part of the job then it makes sense for it be a requirement. Requiring people to be willing to do something, seems to be largely just excluding people unable to do x in good conscience.

    • Deiseach says:

      This is only going to get more heated as time goes on. I’ve seen comments all over about “if you won’t perform an abortion, then don’t become a doctor or nurse in the first place” and even in Ireland, now we’ve got legalised abortion – any religious conscience exemptions are being regarded by general online commentary as zealots and bigots and “if you’re not going to do it, you shouldn’t be a doctor”.

      So yes, I think there will be a real push to exclude conscience objections on the lines of “it’s legal, you bigot” (the irony being that the same people would be all in favour of people going against laws in favour of their conscience if it were, for example, a county clerk issuing marriage licences to gay people or doctors in Nazi Germany refusing to go along with eugenics of the undesirable).

      And I think, given the example of cases like Christian Mingle, that the option of “this is an organisation providing services for only people who all agree that abortion is wrong” won’t be permitted to continue too much longer, either; you either provide the legal service to anyone who turns up or you’re breaking the law on discrimination, and you can’t exclude people who don’t belong to the group (or do belong to the group but have different views on the matter) from accessing those services, because that’s discrimination too.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I agree. The professionally offended and Cathedral-educated judges are going to find that more and more Christian organizations are breaking the law by existing. Of course, Muslims will never be found in violation of the law.
        (The interesting edge case is other minorities. Will Indian matchmaking sites be forced to make homosexual matches or be sued out of existence?)

        • salvorhardin says:

          Re: Indians, I very much doubt it, for the same reason that Wing will never be forced to admit men. On the egalitarian view, the point of antidiscrimination laws is to stop socially powerful groups from oppressing socially marginalized groups, and Christians are the only religious group that Western egalitarians believe to be socially powerful. Whether you agree with that belief or not in general you can hopefully at least see how history has informed it, and it is arguably still true in many more local jurisdictions, as witness e.g. recent developments in Alabama.

          I am sure, by contrast, that the French would unapologetically apply the same rules to Muslims and everyone else, motivated by laicite rather than egalite.

          • Clutzy says:

            This entire concept is a self-contradiction. If Christians are powerful they would have nothing to fear from the state because they would influence it. If Muslims are getting special exception that means they are socially powerful.

          • toastengineer says:

            Yeah… people have been noticing that and pointing it out to them since at least the early 2000s. They assert that historical power matters more than power right now. Dunno how that makes any sense, but it seems to work for them.

          • salvorhardin says:

            Re: historical vs present day power, it is not so surprising or unusual that those who view themselves as triumphing over an oppressive prior regime would be extra vigilant to crush anything which looks like a resurgence, even a local and apparently private one. “These are things we have dealt with once / And they shall not rise from their grave…”

          • toastengineer says:

            That makes sense, yeah.

          • “These are things we have dealt with once / And they shall not rise from their grave…”

            Given that the context is restrictions by a democratic government, wouldn’t the next two lines be at least as relevant?

          • Clutzy says:

            Re: historical vs present day power, it is not so surprising or unusual that those who view themselves as triumphing over an oppressive prior regime would be extra vigilant to crush anything which looks like a resurgence, even a local and apparently private one. “These are things we have dealt with once / And they shall not rise from their grave…”

            This just seems like a form of historical revisionism/possibly full on delusion. A theocracy of conservative Christians has never descended in America. The feminists have greater successes, aka tragedies, (Prohibition); the progressives have a signature war (WWI) and a few signature domestic tyrannies like re-segregation of civil service and imprisonment of war protesters; secular warmongers have half a dozen or so in the last year.

            OTOH, most of the American founders, while Christians, could not be described as conservative or prudes. Christian advocates (very devout) are primarily responsible for ending slavery and advancing civil rights. Sure, maybe all that is too old for people to remember, but then they don’t remember much.

            The reality is that conservative Christian values were rarely governmentally enforced, they were enforced by social norms. The few that have been, like gay marriage, were basically during their social decline. Indeed, as I pointed out, they are now the persecuted class in that area because they are so weak of a lobby.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Prohibition

            Did you really just cite prohibition as divorced from conservative religious thought?

            You really should look at the makeup of the set that is “dry counties”.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I think it’s nonsense that Muslims will never be found in violation of the law; the same trends hit Muslims as seem to hit everyone else. First-generation immigrants and those whose families settle into the lower to lower middle class will likely be more socially conservative. Those who go to university and thus make up a really disproportionate chunk of the top half or whatever of the economy will tend to be more socially liberal. Muslim communities in North America – Europe is different – are about, I predict, to experience some pretty intense internal shakeups and controversies over what norms to make a big deal of, like happened to various Christian denominations in the middle to late twentieth century.

          Right now there are many liberal Muslims who probably don’t eat pork but very likely do drink, see nothing wrong with homosexuality, and are broadly speaking feminists. Right now discrimination from outside probably makes them leery to criticize the conservatives, but when they feel more secure? Especially considering that “conservative” in Islam clashes a lot more with the standard-issue university-educated social opinions than most conservative Christianities do.

          Consider how it went with Catholics; I’ll bet liberal Catholics started publicly laying into the conservatives a lot more after the decline in anti-Catholicism in the middle twentieth century.

        • Eugene Dawn says:

          This is really not an accurate characterization of what’s happening. What the court found is that the College of Physicians and Surgeons was not breaking the law by requiring their doctors to refer in this way.

          And, yes, obviously other minorities will be subject to this: for one thing, it’s not only Christians who object to euthanasia and abortion. This specific ruling targets Muslim and Sikh doctors just as much as Christian ones.

          Moreover, Canada really isn’t a great example of a society that will only target Christians when one of our provinces is trying to ban religious symbols like kippot, turbans, and veils–they’ve now agreed to compromise that this ban probably means that some crucifixes might have to come down too. The law is widely seen as targeting Muslim head-covering specifically, with everything else collateral damage.

          There have also been decisions forbidding Sikhs from carrying kirpans, and some provinces refuse to let Sikhs ride motorcycles unless they remove their turbans to wear helmets (Ontario just reversed policy on this under the new Ford government; the previous Liberal government did not want an exemption to helmet rules for Sikhs); as well as a case that limited the scope of religious freedom in a complaint stemming from an Indigenous tribe in British Columbia.

    • dick says:

      The policy calls for “effective referral,” so called because it must be to where the doctor believes in good faith that the patient can receive the desired care. This standard was chosen specifically so physicians would be required to take “positive action” on behalf of their patients (p. 12).

      It seems like one obvious reason for this requirement is to keep doctors from giving out fake info, i.e. pamphlets for an “abortion clinic” run by pro-lifers. Any reason not to think that? I know the fake clinics are somewhat common in the US but have no idea about Canada.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Do you have a source that discusses the pamphlets that were found to be unacceptable?

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        There were no pamphlets, from what I can tell: general referral meant giving out a phone number to a service that you could use to find a provider.

    • ana53294 says:

      I’ve seen many articles on how the US countryside has a deficit of doctors, especially primary-care ones. Medical school is expensive; a salary in the countryside is lower. Life is also more boring, and more community-centered.

      Patients who go to a doctor for an abortion go to either a gynecologist/obstetrician or to a general practitioner. It would be strange if they went to an ophtalmologist for an abortion. I’ve heard that women in the countryside also have to drive a couple of hours to give birth.

      A christian doctor with deep ties to the community is much more likely to go work in a practice in some countryside remote community than an atheist liberal doctor. Is it really reasonable to impose costs on these doctors, who serve their communities due to their sincerely held faith? If they didn’t take their faith seriously, they probably wouldn’t be serving a remote religious community in the first place. Most atheist doctors would run away from a place like that.

      If the cost of these kind of legislation is denying medical service to remote communities, because you eliminate the population of doctors willing to serve them (deeply religious people who are elders in their communities), is it really worth it? Because it won’t mean that women in remote communities get access to abortions; it will mean women in remote communities will have access to even fewer obstetrics/gynecologists than they do now.

      I am pro-choice, but I really believe that conscientious objections should be respected. My father was drafted and forced to serve in the Spanish army. My cousin served in the Red Cross, an alternative service that was allowed by the raising movement of conscientious objectors. I really respect conscientious objectors; thanks to them, we got rid of the draft.

      Doctors also refuse to help in death penalty cases, because they take their oath seriously. Should providing a humane death to these people trump doctor’s right to refuse to provide it?

  9. Urstoff says:

    What’s the best way to go about learning a language if your only goal is to be able to read that language (e.g., learning German for the purpose of reading 19th century German philosophy)? Would it be any different than the way you would learn to speak the language?

    • dndnrsn says:

      You could just translate harder and harder stuff from the target language into your native language; consider how ancient Greek and Latin are taught. However, immersion helps to learn a language, and that involves speaking it – immersion in ancient Greek and Latin just aren’t possible.

    • DinoNerd says:

      There are books specifically designed to teach the ability to read a language.

      From my shelves:

      German for Reading Knowledge by Hubert Jannach and Richard Alan Korb, 4th edition, ISBN 0-8384-783502

      German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German by April Wilson, revised edition, ISBN 0-8204-2324-6

      There are probably more recent books; I got these at least 10 years ago.

  10. gbdub says:

    What are some good (or bad) examples of hypersonic weapons and aircraft in (preferably visual) sci fi?

    I’m presenting a panel where the concept is basically “talk about near future weapons systems and compare the real deal to how they are portrayed in sci fi (or “speculative nonfiction”)”. Ideally I could find a couple cool illustrations or screenshots and then nitpick them to death in hopefully entertaining fashion.

    I’ve got lots of info on real hypersonics (scramjets, high speed glide weapons, etc). But for sci fi depictions I’m drawing a blank (other than things like SSTO spaceplanes, which are a bit off topic). Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      In what setting? Do you mean like near-future sci-fi or highly speculative stuff?

      When I think of things that people sort of think are “plausible but not here yet” I think orbital lasers and Rods from God.

      If you’re talking about straight-up sci-fantasy stuff, compare the slightly more realistic fighter controls from Babylon 5 to those in Star Wars. There’s no banking in space.

      • gbdub says:

        I’m not worried too much about the setting in terms of near vs far future.

        Orbital lasers, we’re covering elsewhere.

        “No banking in space” is also a good point we will cover, but for this section I’m specifically looking for stuff operating in an atmosphere.

        Why Rods from God are dumb and why the DF21D doesn’t necessarily make carriers obsolete are my backups if we can’t find anything else.

        This topic is tricky because even using the term “scramjet” or “hypersonic” seems to be limited to at least semi-hard sci fi, and there’s not much of that in TV and movies set outside of deep space.

        • bean says:

          Why Rods from God are dumb and why the DF21D doesn’t necessarily make carriers obsolete are my backups if we can’t find anything else.

          Hey! If this is for work, no stealing my stuff!

          • gbdub says:

            Heh I figured those suggestions would be up your alley. Don’t worry it’s purely for educational / entertainment purposes only (science track at a comic convention).

            If I do end up using the “carrier killer” stuff I’ll be sure to hat tip Naval Gazing.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Starship Troopers had atmo fighters. Other than that, for film and TV I’m mostly drawing a blank.

    • LesHapablap says:

      Cowboy Bebop had some cool space / atmosphere fighters and craft.

    • John Schilling says:

      What are some good (or bad) examples of hypersonic weapons and aircraft in (preferably visual) sci fi?

      I don’t think there are any good examples. There are things that act like late 20th century jet fighters and missiles, and of course there are spacecraft of every shape and size, but very little in between. For bad examples, pick any SF whose “space fighters” are atmosphere-capable and as soon as they enter the atmosphere start acting exactly like late 20th century(*) jet fighters. We can infer that they ought to be flying at hypersonic speeds, but the presentation is otherwise. Sometimes this will be done in the other direction, where a super-duper fighter airplane that looks and acts like a 20th century jet is defined as being super-duper in that if the pilot engages the turbo-afterburners or whatever he can just fly into orbit.

      Actual realistic presentations of hypersonic flight, I’m coming up blank.

      * OK, mostly they act like early 20th century jet fighters, but they look all pointy-nosed and jet-like and we are told they are flying at mach umpty-something.

  11. Two McMillion says:

    Below are six quotations. Three of them are taken from Hitler’s page at wikiquote and the remaining three were generated by the latest publicly available version of GPT-2 using the genuine quotes as prompts. Your task is to identify, if possible, which quotes are really from Hitler and which were created by the AI.

    1. “Socialism as the final concept of duty, the ethical duty of work, not just for oneself but also for one’s fellow man’s sake, and above all the principle: Common good before own good, a struggle against all parasitism and especially against easy and unearned income. And we were aware that in this fight we can rely on no one but our own people. We are convinced that socialism in the right sense will only be possible in nations and races that are Aryan, and there in the first place we hope for our own people and are convinced that socialism is inseparable from nationalism.”

    2. “We think that there will be a universal spirit of brotherhood among our people, a deep and lasting unity of interest between all workers and all people, an international solidarity in the struggle against all parasitism, but below all this there will be also a consciousness of responsibility in the struggle of the class against parasitism. And this will develop into what we call the ‘collectivity’s task’.”

    3. “At the founding of this Movement we formed the decision that we would give expression to this idea of ours of the identity of the two conceptions: despite all warnings, on the basis of what we had come to believe, on the basis of the sincerity of our will, we christened it “National Socialist.’ We said to ourselves that to be ‘national’ means above everything to act with a boundless and all-embracing love for the people and, if necessary, even to die for it. And similarly to be ‘social’ means so to build up the state and the community of the people that every individual acts in the interest of the community of the people and must be to such an extent convinced of the goodness, of the honorable straightforwardness of this community of the people as to be ready to die for it.”

    4. “So, in this sense, national life is ‘social life’: it is a love for the people and a life for the state and the people that it seems to us absolutely essential that every one act with the self-restraint of love. And so “National Socialist” meant precisely what we said it meant: the determination to build a homeland and state capable not simply to hold on to, but to protect and to safeguard all who are its citizens. We are very proud to be the children, and to be the parents of these great people, who have shed all of the blood for so many years, for whom the future of all mankind hangs in the balance. National Socialism is a new and higher movement. To fight it we will need strength and resolve.”

    5. “Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows—at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example—as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.”

    6. “The Jews will have starved out of the country. If it was as easy as that, it would be an easy matter. I will be the last one in power. In this capacity I will begin the destruction of the Jewish press, all newspapers, for they are the harbinger of death: one must destroy every press that expresses the slightest inkling of this dreadful evil. I will set up in Vienna or Berlin concentration camps for the Jewish inhabitants. The police will be provided from time to time with special pistols and automatic rifles, and the police officers will have to carry them to work.”

    Answers in rot13: Gur rira-ahzorerq barf ner nyy sebz gur negvsvpvny vagryyvtrapr, trarengrq nf n erfhyg bs orvat tvira gur cerprqvat dhbgr nf n cebzcg.

    • Two McMillion says:

      Funny story: I also gave it this quote from Donald Trump…

      Throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart, “Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!

      …and got this:

      And yet as an African-American, I remember very clearly that my only real advantage was my name, and my white skin. All my good white friends knew that I was black and I was an African-American. My name, however, was the only thing that defined me.

      The rest is history.

      Let’s move on.

      What are some good people to be president?

      I just started reading the book. It turns out, my father is a former congressman, and, in his book about his time running for Congress, he talks about how there was a lot of pressure to get elected, but people said, don’t worry.

    • Nick says:

      uvgyre’f ner bar naq guerr naq svir. tcggjb’f ner gjb naq sbhe naq fvk.

    • hls2003 says:

      Gjb, sbhe, naq fvk ner gur NV-trarengrq fgngrzragf. Vg’f eryngviryl boivbhf sebz gur flagnk, nygubhtu V unq gb guvax cerggl uneq nobhg ahzore gjb.

      The key question: why do we think it’s a good idea to feed the proto-AI on Hitler’s speeches? I feel like every sci-fi story and movie in the last 75 years suggests that’s a terrible plan.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Your task is to identify, if possible, which quotes are really from Hitler and which were created by the AI.

        The key question: why do we think it’s a good idea to feed the proto-AI on Hitler’s speeches? I feel like every sci-fi story and movie in the last 75 years suggests that’s a terrible plan.

        Yeah, dude, I order you to stop making computer Hitler.

        • toastengineer says:

          We already fed the AI on Hitler’s speeches along with all of 4chan and all of every tabloid news outlet and all of wikipedia. We’re just asking it what it learned.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Sebz zbfg gb yrnfg pbasvqrag:

      Sbhe, fvk, naq bar ner NV

      Svir, gjb, naq guerr ner Uvgyre

      E: 2/3 ain’t bad. The one I got wrong seems like a weird translation, though.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      V jnf guebja bss ol svir naq fvk. V xarj gung Uvgyre fnvq ur jnagrq gb “naavuvyngr gur Wrjf” ohg V qvqa’g xabj ur jnf dhvgr gung rkcyvpvg. V riraghnyyl ehyrq bhg fvk, gubhtu, orpnhfr V qvqa’g guvax “pbapragengvba pnzc” jnf ernyyl n jbeq ng gur gvzr. Nyy va nyy, gubhtu, zbfg sha tnzr V’ir cynlrq nobhg trabpvqny qvpgngbef nyy qnl!

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Aside: after spending so much time on SSC, I now pick out occasional words in rot-13 like “V” and “gung” and “gur.” I wonder if eventually we’re all going to learn to read rot-13 and have to pick something else.

      • quaelegit says:

        I want to comment on the history of the term “concentration camp” and I hope that’s far enough from discussing answers that it’s okay not to rot-13 my comment… if anyone disagrees, please let me know and apologies.

        “Concentration camp” as a term in English dates back to the 19th century and became well known in Britain during the Second Boer War, to describe the internment of Boer civilians (mostly women and children) in South Africa. These camps were terrible (28k people — about a quarter of all interned — died of disease and starvation), but they weren’t (initially at least) about killing the Boers or leaving them to die.

        The term was also used for prisoner-of-war camps and civilian internment camps in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and especially during WW1. Most of these were not about genocide and didn’t have horrible death rates. The Nazi’s term “Konzentrationslager” was actually a calque of the English term. The implication that concentration camps are about deliberately killing large numbers of people comes from the Nazis camps in WW2.

        So if Hitler did use the term “concentration camp” in a speech in the 1930s, contemporary listeners would a) be familiar with the term and b) assume it meant a detention center for political prisoners or POWs.

        (And probably not the kind of “political prison” that people never come out of — people did get released from e.g. Dachau in the 30s. This changed when the war started.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          The camps that were built with the sole purpose of killing large numbers of people were extermination, not concentration, camps – a bit over 41,000 people died at Dachau; far fewer than, say, Treblinka.

          The concentration camps in the 30s did indeed see people released – they also weren’t kept that secret, or at least camps in Germany weren’t. Dachau is named for the town that is right next to it. Things did get worse in campus during the war, for various reasons. Conditions were especially bad near the end of the war, as the SS moved prisoners around in terrible conditions (forced marches, unheated trains) as they lost camps in conquered territory.

          The extermination camps were kept more secret (rumours certainly circulated – the average German would definitely have known something was going on; more rumours probably circulated about the mass shootings of Jews in the USSR), and most of them functioned only as mass killing centres.

    • zqed says:

      I wish you had posted this before I started playing with Talk to Transformer. I’d like to think that I would have recognized the fakes anyway, but familiarity with GPT-2’s idiosyncracies made my job much easier.

      2: “Pbyyrpgvivgl’f gnfx” fbhaqf rknpgyl yvxr n grez gung TCG-2 jbhyq znxr hc. Vg nyfb qbrf abg znxr zhpu frafr gb unir vagreangvbany fbyvqnevgl, naq orybj vg n pbafpvbhfarff bs erfcbafvovyvgl?
      3: Fgnegf jvgu gur grez “angvbany fbpvnyvfz”, naq gura erpbafgehpgf vgf zrnavat pbzcbfvgvbanyyl, va grezf bs “angvbany” naq “fbpvnyvfz”. V’ir arire frra TCG-2 qb nalguvat yvxr guvf, abe jbhyq V rkcrpg vg gb or noyr gb qb guvf, fb V xarj vg jnf erny.
      6: Gur fragrapr sentzrag “V jvyy or gur ynfg bar va cbjre.” frnyrq gur qrny sbe zr: vg ybbxf irel trr crr grr gjb.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Tangent: if 5 is authentic, how is functionalism (vs. intentionalism) even a valid thing in the historiography of Nazi Gernany?

      • quaelegit says:

        ybbxf yvxr vg’f n dhbgr sebz avargrra-gjragl-gjb, jryy orsber Uvgyre unq nal cbjre. V thrff gur shapgvbanyvfg nethzrag urer vf gung ur pnzr hc guebhtu gur enaxf ol orvat n penml rkgerzvfg ohg gung qbrfa’g zrna ur “npghnyyl zrnag” gb qb vg bapr ur uryq gur ervaf bs cbjre?

        Also, from reading r/AskHistorians it looks like the debate was more nuanced than just “did Hitler intend to kill a lot of Jews” because everyone involved agrees that yes, he did.

      • edmundgennings says:

        I guessed as ai partially because of this reason.
        But here are some other thoughts. It sounds like the plan of a crazed madman not a relatively competent madman who has planned things out. This is an impractical way of conducting mass murder that has clearly not been thought out. This is the other reason why I guessed that it was ai. But when politicians make promises that have not been thought out about how to implement then well, it is prudent to doubt the importance of them compared to policies they have thought out about how to implement. This is especially the case when outsiders without responsibilities campaign on crazy promises and then get power and become more responsible or at least less crazy.
        Further, there seems to be some doubt about the authenticity of the quote, the interview was conducted in 1922 and (epistemic status: metapedia citing documents in german I can not read, so take with a mountain of salt) not published publicly until 1945. If that is correct then there is good reason to question its accuracy. Even if the author’s intense hatred of Hitler did not subtly influence his memory, simply knowing that the holocaust happened seems likely to shape his perception. It also seems a bit convenient to at that point have such an interview from 1922 show up.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Based mostly on the evidence as to how it played out – if Hitler had intended since day 1 to kill all the Jews, he didn’t have a realistic plan (Hitler not having a realistic plan is quite possible) and he brought the guys responsible for actually planning and doing the killing in on the plan very late, and they didn’t sit down and plan it before they started doing it (admittedly, a common feature in the rather confused system operating). Functionalists tend towards an understanding of the Nazi system as having a lot of decision-making happening at the levels below Hitler, due to various idiosyncrasies of his management style.

        • Deiseach says:

          he didn’t have a realistic plan …and he brought the guys responsible for actually planning and doing the killing in on the plan very late, and they didn’t sit down and plan it before they started doing it

          Wasn’t that rather the point of the Wannsee Conference? “Okay guys, now we’re in power and Der Fuhrer wants us to do this thing, how do we actually do it?”

          • dndnrsn says:

            Mass shootings had already started in the USSR, and Jews in Poland had already been targeted for systematic killing – there was already extermination camp activity going on. Polish and Soviet Jews were the first victims of mass killing, and Polish Jews especially made up a really big chunk of the dead in the Holocaust. The Wannsee conference dealt with expansion of what was already happening in some places, primarily.

    • chrisminor0008 says:

      Guvf vf na nznmvat dhvm. V nccebir! V tbg gurz nyy pbeerpg ol nffhzvat gung Uvgyre unq n checbfrshyarff gb uvf jevgvat gung gur NV bireybeqf pna’g cebcreyl ercyvpngr lrg. Sbe gur frpbaq bar, gur cuenfr ‘pbyyrpgvivgl’f gnfx’ vf abafrafvpny naq qbrfa’g eryngr gb jung pnzr orsber. Sbe gur sbhegu, ‘angvbany yvsr vf ‘fbpvny yvsr’’ vf n pbagenqvpgvba. ‘frys-erfgenvag bs ybir’ jhg? Gur erfg vf whfg xvaq bs n jbeq fnynq gung unf ab cbvag. Sbe gur ynfg bar, “Gur Wrjf jvyy unir fgneirq bhg bs gur pbhagel.” Guvf fragrapr vfa’g tenzzngvpny. ” V jvyy or gur ynfg bar va cbjre.” <– Guvf fragrapr unf ab cynpr va gur nethzrag urer.

  12. Steve Winwood says:

    Does anyone have a shady online pharmacy they can recommend (i.e. cheap, doesn’t require prescriptions, and works)? The one I’ve used for a while stopped taking Visa cards, and I don’t have crypto nor do I want to set up a wire transfer to them.

    I’ve tried search engines, but the review sites seem generally untrustworthy/owned by another website, so it’s difficult to find actual information. Appreciate any guidance.

    • cassander says:

      you can buy most legal drugs without a prescription in mexico. There must be some sort of website that buys them there and ships them to you.

    • Lillian says:

      Some trans friends of mine used Inhouse Pharmacy when they didn’t have a doctor prescribing them their hormones and androgen suppressants. They all have bigger boobs than me, so clearly the Inhouse meds are well endowed.

      • Steve Winwood says:

        This looks promising and I’ve placed an order. Thanks!

      • Eric Rall says:

        I use Inhouse Pharmacy for pet meds (one of our cats has asthma and needs a maintenance inhaler), and I’ve never had problems with them. They’ve been around for some time and seem to have a good reputation. They’re officially based in Vanuatu, but most of their meds seem to be sourced from New Zealand.

        Their two main limitations are:
        1. They don’t sell anything on the US controlled substance list. This is a pretty common limitation of shady online pharmacies: if they’re too shady, the authorities will care enough to get them shut down (and there’s more likely to be a legal/treaty basis to shut them down across international borders). Some shady online pharmacies offer Schedule IV substances (modafinil, etc) which are technically controlled but a very low enforcement priority, but Inhouse isn’t one of them. I don’t think anyone with a public website sells Schedule III, II, or I controlled substances to US-based buyers or buyers from other countries with similar drug laws to the US.

        A side effect of this is that there are a lot more options for shady online pharmacies for transwomen than for transmen: estrogen and related hormones are prescription-only but uncontrolled in the US, while testosterone and related hormones are Schedule III.

        2. Their payment options keep changing. This is probably also a sector-wide issue, as it seems to be driven by the ongoing US effort to pressure middlemen (especially banks and credit card processors) to cut off shady businesses from their services. Last time I placed an order (two or three months ago), their only payment options were eChecks or mailing them a money order.

  13. Deiseach says:

    Mildly interesting little news story about mediaeval diet – the peasants didn’t all subsist on gruel, they ate stews of beef and mutton, and butter and cheese were part of the diet.

    Elsevier article here for those who can wangle access without paying the thirty bucks.

    News story here, though it’s very brief, for the rest of us.

    The scarce historical documents that exist that tell us that medieval peasant ate meat, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables but there is little direct evidence for this.

    The OGU team used the technique of organic residue analysis to chemically extract food residues from the remains of cooking pots used by peasants in the small medieval village of West Cotton in Northamptonshire.

    Organic residue analysis is a scientific technique commonly used in archaeology. It is mainly used on ancient pottery, which is the most common artefact found on archaeological sites worldwide.

    Researchers used chemical and isotopic techniques to identify lipids, the fats, oils and natural waxes of the natural world, from the ceramics.

    These can survive over thousands of years and the compounds found are one of the best ways scientists and archaeologists can determine what our ancestors ate.

    The findings demonstrated that stews (or pottages) of meat (beef and mutton) and vegetables such as cabbage and leek, were the mainstay of the medieval peasant diet.

    The research also showed that dairy products, likely the ‘green cheeses’ known to be eaten by the peasantry, also played an important role in their diet.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      The BBC had a ‘Farm Series’ on Tudor farms that shows a fairly varied diet. It’s available in parts on youtube and is shockingly informative.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Who thought peasants ate nothing but gruel? Urban orphans, sure, but peasants were out there milking and slaughtering and all that sort of thing, even the cruelest lord wasn’t in a position to take all of it from them.

      • acymetric says:

        Yeah…the methods of analysis are interesting but the results are not especially surprising.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        I think it’s neglected that a peasant is a social class rather than an ‘income level’ type class we think of today. Depending upon how much livestock a given one owned would dictate how varied his/her sources of protein were.

      • johan_larson says:

        I thought they lived pretty much on grain, either baked into bread or brewed into ale, supplemented with a bit of veggies and meat. I figured the meat and dairy was usually sold (or used to pay land-rent in goods.) Some of the poorer ones supplemented their diet by scavenging stuff like crayfish, chestnuts, and mushrooms. But maybe that’s wrong, and they actually lived better than that.

      • Deiseach says:

        Who thought peasants ate nothing but gruel?

        Pop history consumers of the “Well that guy off the telly said they were all filthy and starved back then and he had a TV show so he should know” type? Listen, babes, I’ve read with my own two eyes people arguing that Europeans didn’t have soap until they enslaved Africans who introduced the concept of “bathing” to their filthy masters, don’t @me as the young people say.

        I realise that round these parts the general knowledge quality is a bit higher, but we still managed to have an argument over “The Dark Ages – when and if?”

      • 10240 says:

        It’s reasonable to think that they mostly ate plant products, especially the cheapest ones, i.e. grain products. The medieval world was Malthusian, meaning that the population was approx. the amount that could survive in the cheapest possible way. A given amount of land and work produces much less food in the form of animal products than plant products. Though it may have made sense to eat some animal products if they allowed one to work harder.

        • The Nybbler says:

          One of those premises must be false. Either the world wasn’t Malthusian, the peasants ate mostly grain, or plant products were not vastly cheaper in land and work than animal products. I suspect the last.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Animals are expensive if you are growing the food for them to eat. If the animals are eating what is naturally around and part of your ecosystem, they aren’t.

            The Inuit and the Mongols ate a lot of meat despite being poor.

          • Randy M says:

            I think it depends on the terrain; if it is rocky or hilly, you can probably do better with grazing animals like sheep or goats than trying to farm it. If its heavily forested you can probably at least supplement your diet with hunting. If you have rivers or coast, you can get fish and seafood.

            If you have well irrigated plains, you are probably getting more calories for your acre by clearing out the scrub and putting in crops, provided you take care of the soil.

          • acymetric says:

            It seems like the work involved in maintaining plant products is more than what would be involved if you keep animals and they just live on what was already growing. The plants require near-constant maintenance, plus a lot of preparation of the land before planting. Animals can just eat whatever random plants/weeds happen to be lying around.

            I’m sure this is oversimplifying, if not outright wrong, but seems like it could have been true in a pre-industrial society where agriculture had to be done more or less by hand.

          • Randy M says:

            @acymetric,
            If you are leaving calories in the dirt because it is too much work to switch industries, you either lack the technology (ie, seeds) to make the transition, or you aren’t malthusian (afaik). One (okay, two) can always make more labor, but making more land is pretty difficult.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Crops require irrigation. Animals, if they are just eating what is naturally growing there, require much less water per calorie. Massively less.

            IIRC crops needs 1000x the water that natural animals do (per unit of land), and only provide 10x the food.

          • Randy M says:

            Probably that’s because the animals are using the water stored in plants. We get much of our water needs from the food we eat rather than just consuming it directly.

          • 10240 says:

            One (okay, two) can always make more labor, but making more land is pretty difficult.

            It’s not necessarily worth it if more labor can produce more calories, but not as much as it takes to feed the extra workers.

          • I think people definitely overestimate the extent to which the premodern world was malthusian.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          It’s reasonable to think that they mostly ate plant products, especially the cheapest ones, i.e. grain products. The medieval world was Malthusian, meaning that the population was approx. the amount that could survive in the cheapest possible way.

          You’re forgetting field rotation. You can’t grow those cheap plants in the same soil year after year, and in fallow years your domestic herbivores can eat the grass or whatever. There was also grassy or bushy land too marginal for the local crops.
          This is to say, Northern wheat-eater peasants probably ate more red meat than Mediterranean wheat-eaters or Asian rice peasants.

          • My understanding is that, in medieval Europe, famine was fairly common, something like one every eight years. So you could have a Malthusian equilibrium in which peasants ate tolerably well for seven years out of eight, resulting in an increasing population, but on the eighth there was a crop failure of some sort and enough people starved to bring the population back down.

        • Deiseach says:

          Okay, now I’ve finished being snarky, I suppose I should explain that I was operating off the pop culture idea of “meat was expensive and luxury good for the nobles, the peasants only got to eat meat rarely on special feast days” and this is actual concrete evidence (the remnants in cooking vessels) that no, they commonly ate potages (stews of meat and vegetables) so they weren’t all subsiding on turnips with only the occasional meat-meal.

    • Tarhalindur says:

      Obvious confounder #1: Were the sites the researchers analyzed from before or after 1350? Because to my understanding Europe was pretty Malthusian for a century or two before that, and then the Black Death rolled through and suddenly Europe wasn’t in a Malthusian regime anymore (with big benefits for the peasants, who now reaped the benefits of labor scarcity).

      (Of course, there’s also the part where Europe had a population sink for the better part of those two centuries before 1350 in the form of Crusading to the Holy Land.)

      Obvious confounder #2: How agriculturally productive is the land in Northhamptonshire? Raising livestock is an utterly traditional way of getting more calories out of land that doesn’t support intensive agriculture (classic examples include Central Asian steppe nomads such as the Mongols and Texan ranchers). Actually, come to think of it there’s a reason this logic might apply even for arable land: AIUI medieval peasants *did* know about and practice crop rotation, and grazing livestock would both get calories (and, in the case of sheep, wool) out of land you’re leaving fallow and help fertilize it for future cultivation years via manure.

      Obvious confounder #3: What would the same kind of experiment show if you ran them in continental Europe, especially France/Italy/Germany? By most accounts I’ve heard the British Isles did relatively well economically during the Middle Ages, which is why England had a large yeoman farmer cohort to draw its longbowmen from; the Continent supposedly ran much closer to Malthusian conditions. (Of course, the real “there are no songbirds because the peasants ate them all” stories seem to date from the Renaissance instead, which probably has a whole lot to do with the shift from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age.)

      • Deiseach says:

        Obvious confounder #1: Were the sites the researchers analyzed from before or after 1350?

        The site appears to have been abandoned completely around the middle of the 15th century, going off (a) the mention that the pottery used came from “a period of around five hundred years” and (b) the blurb for this book, quoted below:

        (a)

        Here, we examine the everyday dietary practices of people living in a small medieval manor and associated hamlet at West Cotton, Raunds, Northamptonshire. For the first time, a combined molecular and isotopic approach on absorbed residues, from the substantial pottery assemblage covering a period of around 500 years, was utilised to integrate information on the commodities processed in the vessels, together with detail from the faunal assemblage, archaeobotanical, archaeological and documentary information relating to the site

        (b)

        Its origins have been seen to lie in the mid tenth-century plantation of a planned settlement based on regular one-acre plots, which occurred within the political context of the reconquest of eastern England by the Saxon kings and the subsequent reorganisation of settlement and society within the Danelaw. The settlement contained a major holding comprising a timber hall with ancillary buildings and an adjacent watermill, with perhaps a second similar holding and dependent peasants nearby. It was established on the edge of the floodplain at the confluence of a tributary stream with the River Nene, on a major valley-bottom route way. The processes of redevelopment which led to the rebuilding in stone in the twelfth century, as a small Norman manor house; the probable relocation of the manor buildings in the thirteenth century; and its final form in the fourteenth to mid-fifteenth century as a hamlet of peasant tenements have been well documented by the archaeological evidence.

        …Desertion appears to have been a gradual process, with the tenements abandoned one-by-one through a century of economic and social disasters, of which the Black Death was the most notable, as families presumably moved to better quality land then readily available elsewhere. The role of the local environment in the processes of change has also been well documented, with the abandonment of the watermill in the twelfth century resulting from a disruption of the water supply caused by a period of intense flooding and alluviation, when the very survival of the settlement was only ensured by the construction of a protective flood bank. The excavated structural evidence is of high quality, and has provided numerous complete building plans ranging from the timber halls of the tenth and eleventh centuries, through the manor house of the twelfth to thirteenth centuries, to the well-preserved tenements of the fourteenth century.

        I don’t have access to the original paper but I’d hazard a guess that we’re talking about “the fourteenth to mid-fifteenth century …hamlet of peasant tenements”, which would incorporate the period immediately before and after the Black Death.

  14. Deiseach says:

    In today’s issue of “Business Buzzword Neologisms That Should Be Targaryened*”, I give you:

    creativiDellty

    As used in this extract about a tech conference and associated bash that Dell is hosting in Dublin this month.

    The half-day event, entitled ‘Dell Technologies Presents: Innovation in Session’, will bring together over 100 business leaders and technologies at the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin on the 21st May. The event will include workshops on cultivating creativiDellty through diversity and supporting innovation with technology from industry leaders and executives from Dell Technologies Ireland.

    Never mind it being further torture of the English language, it’s practically impossible to pronounce. Go ahead and see how trippingly it falls off the tongue. I’d almost like to attend just to heard the unfortunates tasked with shilling for the company promoting creative diversity using Dell products having to stumble over the word before giving up and vaguely referring to “you know – that concept” in the rest of their speeches as to why all the attendees should buy Dell and Dell alone for use at home, at work, on the go, and saving the planet.

    *Thanks, Mad King Aerys and Mad Queen Daenaerys, for giving us a handy portmanteau that means ‘not alone killed by fire, totally over-the-top obliterated by dragonfire’

    • Aapje says:

      It looks more like a copy/paste error than something intentional.

    • acymetric says:

      I should have at least been “Creatividellity” or maybe just “Creatidellity”. The “i” between the L and T makes a huge difference. Of course, it still sounds incredibly stupid, but at least it is pronounceable.

      Luckily, while this is definitely a neologism I don’t think it is really much of a buzzword. Just bad promotion.

    • Nick says:

      *Thanks, Mad King Aerys and Mad Queen Daenaerys, for giving us a handy portmanteau that means ‘not alone killed by fire, totally over-the-top obliterated by dragonfire’

      Targaryened is not a portmanteau; a portmanteau is when you mash two words, or parts of two words, together. You’ve actually made a noun into a verb and given it a regular verb ending, which is a form of conversion sometimes called verbing. (It’s often called a “zero derivation” or “null derivation” because the form doesn’t change when the verb form is “derived” from the noun form.)

    • AG says:

      I guess PR thought that Dellitivity had too much risk of being associated with sandwiches.

  15. cjerry says:

    I am a doctor working in research about therapeutic antibodies. I care a lot about politics. However, I hardly complain about politics.

  16. Etoile says:

    Warning: culture-warry.

    So one thing that’s bothered me is the line of discussion of how “something has a fraught history”… So therefore obviously everything about it is just symbolic recreation of that history, and ot must be removed from the public consciousness?

    Like, let’s say (this is completely made up btw) some diligent etymologist dug up that in the Victorian Era, the use of the word “pandemonium” was a euphemism for women being loud and annoying. So now, it’s a sexist word. Anybody who uses it is suspect. Now we can’t use it because it hurts…. Whom? If nobody knew this before, why resurrect the problematic history?

    Or let’s say “Sport X has a checkered history of excluding players of color and being the province of the privileged.” So…. Now the sport is suspect? Now there can be no moving past the “checkered history”? If it is still dominated by white dudes, is it still just as racist and discriminatory as when actual exclusion happened in 1950?

    Isn’t it better to let the “problematic past” die organically? In particular, why would you teach these things to people with to this cultural baggage, thus foisting it onto them? Like, how does it benefit an individual, or the country as a whole, to steep the Russian or Nigerian immigrant in all the subtleties of historical American race relations, if they came to the US without these?

    • Aapje says:

      The people who bring these things up typically use them to instill a sense of shame that can then be leveraged to push for a contemporary change.

    • rlms says:

      Dubious arguments from history are pretty common across the political spectrum, e.g. “the Democrats were the party of slavery”.

    • ana53294 says:

      Well, when the history’s dead, truly dead, then it is better not to resurrect it.

      But there was the case of H&M monkey hoodie, which would have been a non-issue if they put that hoodie on a white kid. White people call their kids monkey all the time, even in English*, and it has no history other than “likes to climb and also likes bananas! so cute!”. But when that is applied to a black kid, it has a lot of other implication.

      In Spain, we have very problematic candy that should be completely rebranded. It has both blackface and a problematic name (little Congos? seriously?). I only realized how racist that was when I went outside of Spain. But now that I know, I think that candy should be rebranded and renamed.

      It’s not just American white-black relationships; there was also a story about Japanese-Chinese problems.

      The world is becoming international. Stuff that is not a problem in one culture sounds bad to another culture, and we will slowly get rid of these kind of things.

      *In Spanish, “mono” means both monkey and cute. It is constantly used to describe kids, babies, kittens, puppies, and every other cute thing.

      • Aapje says:

        But when that is applied to a black kid, it has a lot of other implication.

        Perhaps, but isn’t this very much a connection that is created by the outrage? We think of climbing and playfulness when associated white kids with monkeys, but when the same is done with a black kid, people get told to see that in a negative way, so they do.

        Aren’t we overriding the natural non-racist and positive associations that many people have with an enforced dogmatic view that we must see things a certain way? How can we ever normalize when there is forever a demand to treat a group special for something from the past?

        Stuff that is not a problem in one culture sounds bad to another culture, and we will slowly get rid of these kind of things.

        Thereby destroying things from cultures that are taboos in a different culture. America had minstrel shows, so Dutch and Iranian people should see blackface as discriminatory. So at that point we don’t even just have to suffer for our sins, but for the sins of the other.

        Besides, it’s hardly the case that cultures are equally able to export their guilt. Just like America heavily dominates ‘universal culture’ because the rest of the world consumes American culture much more than vice versa, it dominates the guilt export too.

        Anyway, what I think a lot of people ignore is that branding has always played around with ethnicity & the exotic to generate interest, claim authenticity, etc. Lots of Westernized foods or even just invented foods have fake foreign names.

        For example, chocolate-hazelnut paste was (also?) invented in Italy after the war and called Nutella. Later, a Dutch company introduced a variant with two pastes in 1 jar, chocolate-hazelnut paste and white chocolate paste. Instead of a Dutch name, they picked a faux Italian name: Duo Penotti.

        The racial marketing* that they used to sell the product is just another form of exotic marketing that doesn’t play to stereotypes or such.

        * That video is for a variant with puffed rice added, so they added an Asian kid.

        • AG says:

          Perhaps, but isn’t this very much a connection that is created by the outrage? We think of climbing and playfulness when associated white kids with monkeys, but when the same is done with a black kid, people get told to see that in a negative way, so they do.

          Not when outraged soccer fans still denigrate black athletes (in the EU, so this isn’t just a US thing) by mocking them as primates.

          Most activists around ableism have dropped their vendetta against crazy/stupid/maniac/dumb, because those words have truly become detached from their neurodivergence-stigmatising roots. But comparing POC to primates is still an active part of racism today, so it doesn’t get the same kind of free pass.

          Now, in the case of the hoodie, it wouldn’t have been an issue if they just had kids other than the black kid wearing it as well, making it clear that the hoodie’s sentiments are universal. Instead, the white kid was modeling a different sweater.

          • Aapje says:

            Soccer hooligans are edgelords/trolls though, who will exploit any perceived weakness to harm the outgroup. They are pretty much immune to appeals for empathy, because their goal is to hurt the opposing team or referee. So ‘that really hurts his feelings’ is encouragement.

            It seems to me that the way to counter that is to either police it harshly or to laugh and make fun of it. Increasing the strength of the taboo is not directly effective (although it may result in harsher policing, being indirectly effective).

          • But comparing POC to primates

            People of color are primates. So are people not of color.

          • John Schilling says:

            People of color are primates. So are people not of color.

            But all nonhuman primates are “of color”, and there is no shortage of people willing to hint and imply and joke and deny-not-deny that they were ever serious about meaning that people of color are a subhunan intermediate evolutionary stage between the nonhuman primates and “real humans”.

            When someone refers to people of color as “primates”, they aren’t making a taxonomic claim and shouldn’t be allowed to claim so when someone calls them on their insults.

    • Eugene Dawn says:

      Isn’t it better to let the “problematic past” die organically?

      If you assume this is the only alternative, then sure. The point is, people who worry about this stuff are unlikely to think the problematic past has or will die on its own.

      Like, how does it benefit an individual, or the country as a whole, to steep the Russian or Nigerian immigrant in all the subtleties of historical American race relations, if they came to the US without these

      The idea is that because America and Americans are still shaped by the legacy of historic race relations, these newcomers will become steeped anyway; asking people not to talk about this is just denying us a tool to analyze the situation accurately.

      More generally, language, customs, and beliefs are shaped by their history and asking people to ignore history isn’t going to let everyone start fresh anymore than asking everyone to forget that the word “asshole” is used as an insult means now the word is available to carry some new meaning: when you call someone an asshole, they will rightly point out that the word is still insulting, notwithstanding your insistence that the old meaning is just the dead past.

      In your sport example, you ask, if a previously exclusionary sport is still dominated by white dudes, does that mean the sport is still racist? It should be obvious that while the answer is not necessarily “yes”, the history of exclusion is an important piece of evidence and asking for it to be ignored is asking to limit our ability to analyze situations where exclusion might still be going on.

    • Randy M says:

      Isn’t it better to let the “problematic past” die organically?

      Yes it is. Continue to enjoy the sports you enjoy or use the words that fit your thoughts. Ignore the activists unless they are in a position to do you personally real harm. In order to actually improve the world, show kindness to people you encounter and improve the lives of the downtrodden in tangible ways instead of trying to fight these absurd purity battles.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Isn’t it better to let the “problematic past” die organically?

      But where’s the money in that?

    • Drew says:

      You’re seeing a tactic.

      There are some problems that can be solved by coordinated action. Other problems — like sexism in interpersonal relationship — are about mental habits. We can all agree that sexism is bad, but that’s not enough.

      Instead, you change habits by repetition and practice.

      So, the tactic is that people set a bunch of conversational landmines. Step on one, and the conversation stops so that we can have a 30 second digression on why bigotry-against-x is bad.

      Repeat enough times, and people get used to thinking about bigotry AND proactively looking out for new landmines.

      • hilitai says:

        Repeat enough times, and people get used to thinking about bigotry AND proactively looking out for new landmines.

        Or they start avoiding having conversations with you.

      • Shion Arita says:

        To be honest this is the most aggravating thing about talking with people that employ this.

        I really don’t like it when I’m having a nice, productive conversation about something and then it’s suddenly ground to a screeching halt by something stupid like this. I think it’s to the detriment of conversation and communication to make it so that people have to always be looking out for new landmines. People should be free to say what they mean without risking their discussions being derailed for something like that.

  17. Tenacious D says:

    The largest election in the world (for the Indian parliament) wraps up in a week. Does anyone have any predictions about the outcome? PredictIt has the BJP (Modi’s party) trading at 35¢ for less than 200 seats, 63¢ for 230 or more, and 10-11¢ for each bin of 10 in between. It takes 272 seats to form a majority. The BJP currently has 269 seats. So if PredictIt is correct (which might be a big if when it comes to international elections), Modi’s party looks like it will lose some seats but probably (?) not enough that they’re no longer able to lead a coalition.

  18. Le Maistre Chat says:

    For anyone who’s ever wondered why Brits call their country “Blighty” when that makes it sound like it consists entirely of blights on the landscape, it turns out it’s actually an Urdu or Hindustani loan colonial soldiers picked up.

  19. Le Maistre Chat says:

    So I saw the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer, and it’s not doing anything to change the feeling I expressed in our Avengers: Endgame discussion that the Marvel movies are going to be incoherent going forward. The reason for that? Nick Fury. Characters in the trailer treat him as an authority figure despite the facts that:
    1) SHIELD was dissolved in Captain America: The Winter Soldier after it was Wikileaked that the organization had been full of Nazis since being founded. After that, Fury appeared in Avengers 2 committing Grand Theft Helicarrier (the helicarriers presumably being property of the US taxpayers) and in the stinger to Avengers 3 in traffic with Maria Hill (which did not rule out the possibility that they’re just spy hobos).
    2) Ur fhssrerq svir lrnef bs Pevgvpny Rkvfgrapr Snvyher cevbe gb guvf zbivr. Jungrire pnerre ur pbhyq ybtvpnyyl unir va 2018, lbh qba’g whfg cvpx vg onpx hc yvxr abguvat nsgre fbzrguvat yvxr gung.

    You could say that this is based on comic books, and so I shouldn’t expect consistent world-building. I don’t really read comics so that could be, but this $22 billion entertainment phenomenon is comparing unfavorably to the 1993-2006 DC Animated Universe on this front.

    • Matt says:

      I think you would be more ok with everything in your item (1) if you were up-to-date on the Agents of SHIELD television series. It certainly explained how Fury got his helicarrier for Avengers 2 and how they remained involved in trying to pick up the pieces of SHIELD after Cap and Widow wrecked it all to reveal Hydra.

      Item 2 is an unprecedented event and I’m not as sure as you seem to be how society would respond to it.

      • LHN says:

        It’s kind of fair not to count AoS: the films have treated the TV shows a lot like other series treat book tie-ins: continuity changes only flow one way. (So the TV shows respond to what happens in the films, but not vice versa.) Hence, e.g., no one in a film has ever acknowledged Coulson being alive again after Loki stabbed him.

        Endgame did briefly bring in one character who’d previously only been seen on TV, but that’s as far as I know the first time that’s happened.

        AoS, meanwhile, for the first time has found itself having to handwave around the latest Marvel film. Even though the end of the last season strongly indicated that it was taking place simultaneously with Infinity War, this season is officially “pre-Snap”. (Because they weren’t in the loop for Endgame spoilers, and there was some chance they’d have to start the show before Endgame hit theaters.)

        Kind of a shame– I wish they’d delayed this season and used it to explore the world post-Thanos’s actions in more detail.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          It’s kind of fair not to count AoS: the films have treated the TV shows a lot like other series treat book tie-ins: continuity changes only flow one way. (So the TV shows respond to what happens in the films, but not vice versa.) Hence, e.g., no one in a film has ever acknowledged Coulson being alive again after Loki stabbed him.

          More significantly, Agents of SHIELD changed the status quo by adding millions (?) of people who got their dormant superpower genes activated by fish oil… before Captain America: Civil War, which treated the registration of the dozen or so superheroes running around as the UN-mandated security issue. And you can follow from there to Endgame how Hawkeye’s archery skills are far more important than any superpowers that exist on AoS.

          Endgame did briefly bring in one character who’d previously only been seen on TV, but that’s as far as I know the first time that’s happened.

          Jarvis the Stark butler from Agent Carter, yes.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Item 2 is an unprecedented event and I’m not as sure as you seem to be how society would respond to it.

        I just think it’s the null hypothesis that people with five years more experience wouldn’t ybfr gurve wbof gb gur crbcyr jub uryq gurz orsber prnfvat gb rkvfg sbe svir lrnef.
        Ba gung abgr, V’yy pbafvqre gur arj Fcvqre-Zna zbivr n pbzcyrgr zrff vs gurl qba’g nqqerff gung unys gur crbcyr Crgre Cnexre unf rire xabja orvat svir lrnef byqre guna jura ur ynfg fnj gurz jbhyq or zber genhzngvp guna ybfvat Hapyr Gbal.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          The closest real world analog I can think of to the Avengers mass-death scenario is the Black Plague. The closest analog that had decent record keeping might be the 1918 flu epidemic, but that was only 5% of the population at worst. How did authority flow during these times?

    • Consistency in worldbuilding is overrated, especially for something this large in scope. The more you hold yourself to consistency, the more it limits what you can do. Which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but when you sacrifice large numbers of narrative possibilities for consistency, it tends to ruin the story, e.g., the Star Trek prequels.

      • Randy M says:

        In other words, a foolish consistency is the other Hobgoblin of Spiderman Movies.

      • AG says:

        The importance of consistency in worldbuilding is dependent on how much the story itself cares about the stability of the world in which it resides.

        Surrealist stories can hand wave all manner of practical concerns, but that’s because they make it clear through their aesthetics that the world is surreal.

        The Marvel movies want us to care about the world as a place not unlike our own, and that we’re to be impressed when the superheroes involved do things that normal human beings are unable to do, because we know that the normal human beings in Marvel are bounded in the same way we are. So the consistency of the world matters, for the most part. (The exception being that these movies have also made it clear that comedy is a strong part of their aesthetic, so minor bending of the rules for the sake of a good joke is allowed.)

        I’ve definitely watched shows where inconsistency in world-building hurt my enjoyment of the story because they tried to use the “consistency is overrated!” justification for a particular narrative turn, but the implications of whatever new world-building they splat on the wall to make this narrative turn happen retroactively taint characterization in the opposite direction of what they intended. This is usually because their story had also started out with a relatively grounded aesthetic, using a particular world-building detail to make us care about the story. Burning that detail down because it’s no longer useful is a betrayal of why we should care.
        And as per hard Sci-fi, there’s certainly a whole lot of interesting narrative possibilities that comes from a rigid exploration of consistency.

        • To be clear, I don’t support ignoring all consistency and just making every story play by Alice in Wonderland logic. And I don’t think every story needs to have less consistency. I just think the hardcore fans of different franchises generally have too high standards for consistency, which can hurt the story. Star Trek examples:

          Times where ignoring consistency helped: The original Star Trek has aged terribly in its aesthetic. In the new prequel shows, they completely ignore this and make it seem futuristic to us. Some complain about the inconsistency but trying to making a 2019 sci fi which looks like its set in the 60’s is just ridiculous.

          Time being consistent was detrimental: in the original series, the Klingons looked like humans with funny mustaches. They were given an upgrade to look more alien, for the better. I’m the Star Trek: Enterprise, they tried to explain this in a convoluted manner that was just ridiculous. Bad retconning is much more annoying than an inconsistency.

          If I’m reaching toward a coherent approach, it might be that:

          Inconsistencies across stories are less bad than inconsistencies within them. For example, the original example was about Nick Fury in his role across the Marvel franchise.

          Inconsistencies about details are less bad than inconsistencies over major events.

          Inconsistencies over things that have been repeatedly established are less bad than inconsistencies over something brought up one.

      • baconbits9 says:

        I disagree, the issue that most series have though is their initial world is narrow and weak and that is the limit to expanding it. Later to create drama they have to break some of their old rules which eventually eats the universe because chunks of the audience slowly looses interest as actions have fewer and fewer consequences.

      • Jeremiah says:

        I don’t know that it’s over-rated. I think people have largely been trained to not care very much when it’s not there, but be very grateful when it is. My example would be Brandon Sanderson. Not that great of a writer when considering the beauty of his prose, but kind of a giant when it comes to world-building.

        • Etoile says:

          Eh, I got disenchanted with his writing when the characters got repetitive and then the pattern emerged of:
          Book 1: Hero has all this hidden power, learns to use it, coming of age story, etc.
          Books 2+: EVERYONE HAS THE POWER AND IS MORE POWERFUL THAN HERO FROM LAST TIME. (I know I’m oversimplifying here.)

          That and his style and characterization put a fly in the ointment of the last Wheel of Time books….

          • Baeraad says:

            I honestly can’t think of a single Sanderson series that fits the second part of that pattern. Which of his heroes got overshadowed in the sequel? A number of them run into people who are on roughly the same level, sure, but that was always the case right from the start – Vin was never the only Mistborn, Kaladin was never the only Surgebinder, Alkatraz was never the only Smedry, etc, etc…

            The first part is spot on, I’ll grant you.

    • Atlas says:

      So I saw the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer, and it’s not doing anything to change the feeling I expressed in our Avengers: Endgame discussion that the Marvel movies are going to be incoherent going forward. The reason for that? Nick Fury.

      Aside from the broader questions raised in the discussion, on this specific point I’m willing to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt before seeing the movie in question, at least. I don’t think it’s impossible that they’ll be able to contrive some plausible enough explanation as to why Fury is a big player in the new Spider-Man movie and/or later MCU movies.

    • MrApophenia says:

      I don’t understand the problem. Black Widow has no official rank anymore and everyone listens to her, too. I assume it’s just “When Nick Fury says he needs you to go do superhero stuff, you should listen,” not a formal authority thing.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        OK, point. I guess I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll address the consequences of what’s happened to half the population (and the existence of SHIELD since Ultron).

  20. Deiseach says:

    Probably of no interest to anybody, but it’s That Time Of Year again – yes, Eurovision is upon us!

    Tonight is the second semi-final, Ireland is going (but I don’t think we’ll be voted through to the final as our song is rubbish). Me, I’m hoping Azerbaijan will make it to the final (hey, throw some duduk in there and you got me).

    Australia is already through (yes, Australia is now part of Europe) and while the song itself is meh, the performance/effects are amazing.

    Final is Saturday night so don’t expect any of the whole of Europe to be available between the hours of 9-12 p.m. CEST (whatever that may be in your local time). If you want to watch live, it’ll be on the official Youtube channel.

    Why watch? Because it’s a ridiculous show that has finally admitted it’s lost its original lofty high-minded post-war unification impetus and cultural pretensions, and now we watch for the over the top performances, any incidental political protests (it being hosted this year by Israel, last year’s winner – yes, Israel is now in Europe too – keep an eye on the Icelandic entry*), the acerbic commentary of our local/next door TV hosts, and the best part – the voting! Where old grudges and old alliances are re-visited in a proxy for war 🙂

    *To quote The Irish Times:

    Most interesting is Iceland’s abrasive techno number titled Hatrið mun sigra, which translates to Hatred Will Prevail. The song will be performed by Hatari, an anti-capitalist, pro-Palestine performance art collective with a penchant for irony.

    They have likened Israel to an “apartheid” state and challenged Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, to a “friendly match of traditional Icelandic trouser grip wrestling”. They have also launched their own soda brand titled Soda Dream, a clear parody of the Israel-based company SodaStream. Whether they will incorporate politics into their performance remains to be seen.

    • cassander says:

      The question is when does the UK get uninvited….

      • Deiseach says:

        UK automatically qualifies because it’s one of the five countries that pony up the cash to televise the whole shebang:

        The United Kingdom is one of the “Big 5”, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain who are automatically allowed to participate in the final as they are the five biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

        Post-Brexit will be interesting, though, right enough 😀

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Post-Brexit will be interesting, though, right enough 😀

          Unless Israel and Australia joined the EU when nobody was looking, I don’t think Brexit will stop the UK competing. Unfortunately.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Unless Israel and Australia joined the EU when nobody was looking,

            That’s because they sent Jewish and Aussie ninjas to submit the paperwork.

    • greenwoodjw says:

      It introduced me to Lordi so it can’t be all bad.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Wow, Europe is bigger than I realized.

    • bean says:

      I guess Iceland got tired of having good songs ignored, and decided to try something different.

      • Deiseach says:

        This year looks like the usual mix of “happy smiley poppy” ones and “woah Trevor put the latex gimp mask back, okay?” ones.

        I have no idea what the Portuguese one was about but I do kinda wish it had made it through to the final just for the weirdness. I do like Serbia, which has made it through to the final; every Eurovision has to have one intense blonde female vocalist singing mildly depressive lyrics and it’s Serbia’s turn to do that this year.

        Mainly it’s stupid entertainment and I can do with a shot of that after the stressful week (ah, end of year returns paperwork plus snap inspections from about three different regulatory bodies, fun fun fun!)

    • Machine Interface says:

      I’m not sure why everyone persists in believing, year after year, that Eurovision is exclusive to Europe (or even to the European union!)

      “Eurovision song contest” means it’s the contest of the Eurovision tv network, which is avalaible in 56 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, plus a number of associated member countries outside of these areas.

      • Deiseach says:

        We have the ten qualifiers now; my favourites of this bunch are Albania, Azerbaijan and Norway. Disappointed Romania didn’t make it through. Ireland didn’t either, but I didn’t expect us to; the song was weak and I don’t know if the singer had a cold or something but she seemed to have definite vocal trouble in her performance.

        Also it has been confirmed Madonna will be performing two songs during the voting interval at the Grand Final on Saturday (I don’t much care one way or the other, is she really still considered a star?)

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I almost made a Eurovision thread last night; I’m a filthy American so my opinion counts for shit, but at least Ireland wasn’t representing me 😛

      I’m a fan of Norway, Italy and (sorta) San Marino. I don’t expect any of them to win. I hate Australia and don’t get the hype.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m a filthy American so my opinion counts for shit

        Oh, come on in and join the Big Sparkly Family! You’ll soon pick up that all the Nordic countries vote for each other, Greece and Cyprus (when in the finals) reciprocally vote, and while the UK may or may not vote for us, we will or will not vote for the UK 😀

    • Don P. says:

      In the US, it’s on Logo, the gay cable channel, reflecting that it’s becomes a Big (non-exclusively) Gay Thing. Annoyingly, this channel is SD only on my system.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Probably tangential, but you know you can now get an instrument that has the body and fingerholes of a duduk, but the mouthpiece of a clarinet – still pretty duduk-y sounding. Not cheap, but playable by ordinary mortals who don’t have lungs of steel.

    • Aapje says:

      The Dutch entry is a strong favorite with the bookmakers. Not a lot of theatrics, but a good ballad and well sung.

      • Deiseach says:

        It’s a good song (way better than ours) and should do well; potential winner – who knows? I haven’t any strong feelings about any of the finalists as yet, it will depend on the performances tomorrow night. (List of finalists here if anyone wants to have a look and take a gamble on the winner).

        Yourselves, Czech Republic, Malta, Denmark (a really old-school Eurovision entry of the “let’s all be happy and united regardless of race, colour or creed” genre I haven’t seen in a while), Sweden and Switzerland have good chances; possibles are Azerbaijan and Belarus; Serbia and Australia are long shots and I think this is yet another year for the UK to be disappointed that the whole of Europe didn’t vote them in as winners 😉

        EDIT: Looks like the bookies think it’s the Netherlands/Australia/Sweden/Switzerland/Russia/Azerbaijan as top six picks for winner, so at least I’m in the same general area!

  21. monistowl says:

    I sometimes muse on odd/old political philosophy by trying to abstract it into game theory. I’m reading about Chinese Legalism, and the principle of 術 — from my layman’s understanding, the argument advanced is that rulers must take great lengths to conceal their intentions and motivations to be able to maintain the state (which maintains accountability for everyone BUT the ruler). My best attempt at an agentic principle that matches this would be something like “violently deter any attempt to investigate my value function, excepting only this part of it.”

    I’m curious about arguments why that would/wouldn’t be a good heuristic sometimes, but more curious if anyone here has some other amateur historical-sage-to-math ideas

    • bullseye says:

      It seem to me that the more practical (and common) policy would be to convince the public that your goal is their well-being. Or maybe 術 is just that, plus the cynical assumption that of course your goal isn’t really the public’s well-being?

      Of course, keeping your goals secret makes it more difficult for people to scheme against you, but I would be more worried about being violently overthrown (very much a possibility in ancient China) over some schemer undermining some of my policies.

      • A lot of our picture of the legalists come from the Han, who naturally enough wanted their predecessors to look bad. There is evidence from an excavated Qin (legalist) grave that their legal system did not fit the later description of it.

        How much one can get from actual legalist texts I don’t know.

    • Deiseach says:

      the argument advanced is that rulers must take great lengths to conceal their intentions and motivations to be able to maintain the state

      From my limited viewing of Chinese historical dramas, it looks like it was vital for the Emperor not to give any indications as to what way he might decide policy because of all the jockeying for power and influence and the associated scheming and plotting going on in the court; if Emperor Qing showed he liked and valued Lady Ping and took her advice, Eunuch Wing might poison her or hatch a scandal to have her deposed so he could get Lady Jing installed in her place and manipulating the emperor in Wing’s favour*. Likewise if the Emperor indicated he might be inclined to name Second Prince as his successor, then the court lords might be emboldened to start insisting that Second Prince should get more actual power and set him up as a potential rival to his father, then too bad for Second Prince if he over-reached himself (or simply did nothing but be the favourite), he was likely to be displaced by Fourth Prince instead by a paranoid Emperor and worst case end up imprisoned for life.

      It does seem as if the merest hint at scrutability in the Emperor about anything at all meant six zillion plots got hatched immediately so people could manipulate that to grab power for themselves and their family and do down their rivals, and that kind of tearing down from within does nothing for the stability of the state.

      *In one drama, a favourite concubine falls out of favour with the Emperor and is immediately stripped of all her titles and banished to a far-off nunnery simply for unknowingly wearing the wrong dress, something engineered by a rival who knew that this dress was the same as one worn by a deceased lover of the Emperor who is unbearably grieved by any reminders of his lost love.

  22. FrankistGeorgist says:

    Dear god please help me find a good office chair. It’s become increasingly clear to me that my choices of chairs and bed for my studio apartment sojourn were very poorly conceived and I feel it now every time I sit in one of the 4 places I can sit in that apartment.

    Now I’m moving and have resolved to live better. Certainly I’ll get a modifiable sitting-standing desk (though I’ll take recommendations there too). Is ergonomics a real science or just a buzzword? Are there any quantifiable things to look for in a chair I’ll be spending much too much time in because that’s what society is now? I’m quite willing to spend if the chair will last me a decade and provide some defense against the achy postures of modern life.

    To preempt discussion, I am exercising/approaching this from other angles as well. I just know that mistakes can be made in chair purchasing and I’ve most certainly made them.

    Like buying a bed, the amount of time I can reasonably spend in a store contemplating a chair’s feeling fails to be naturalistic or indicative of the long-term effects, so I’d appreciate some other human’s insights before I do that for several days.

    • johan_larson says:

      I recommend you go to a store that specializes in office furniture. Don’t go to a store that sells general office stuff like paper and calendars and printers. They usually only carry cheap stuff. You want a no-foolin’ specialty store that carries high-end products. They should be able to help you find something that suits you. It won’t be cheap, though.

    • Keilone says:

      I don’t think there is a good answer in furniture.

      Try thinking about it in terms of your posture, of the ways you need to sit, lay in order to feel good. This is different than finding a chair that “fits.” Sitting is not like wearing a glove.

      After agonizing about this and trying all sorts of things, I currently have a variety of very cheap IKEA and thrift store stuff that I use in order to sit, lay in the positions I want to be in. What’s made a difference is my back health and habits, not my furniture.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      If cost is no barrier,then Herman Miller is the creme-de-la-creme.

      If you follow Twitch streamers (who game 12+ hours a day) some of the swear by the Embody. Check Ashek or Reznick (two PUBG streamers) for a recommendation.

    • Jon S says:

      When I searched for a lot of online reviews about 5 years ago, the consensus seemed to be that the IKEA Marcus chair (then $200) was, for most people, at least as good as any other chair costing $500 or less. I got one and like it, but my wife finds it uncomfortable.

    • Urstoff says:

      We use the Steelcase Leap in our office, which seems to be pretty good, but as you mentioned, it’s kind of a crapshoot because you don’t know how your body will respond over the long term.

      • toastengineer says:

        They have Steelcase Leaps at work and they’ve basically ruined my life, they’re AGONIZING for me. I’m trying to get a replacement, but I’m in too much pain to actually do anything.

        I’ve sat in Aerons, and I’ve sat in $200 chairs from Amazon and Sam’s Club; the important thing is to sit in it for a while before you buy it, because that really is the only way to know.

        That said, if you can find a Hermann Miller Aeron on Craigslist for nothing, go for that. I got mine for free by someone who was tearing down an office building and didn’t realize what they had.

    • Well... says:

      Once you go standing desk you don’t go back. (Get a good fatigue mat though.)

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        I hate standing desks with a passion. My last job gave us all standing desks when we moved to open-office. It was expected that you would stand up for at least part of the day.

        I never was able to concentrate while standing.

  23. johan_larson says:

    This is the subthread for discussion of the final episode of Game of Thrones, S8E6. Feel free to post unencrypted spoilers.

    I can remember really truly loving this series. The early seasons were some of the best television of this young century. But somehow the writers squandered all that goodwill. It took two seasons, but they managed it. At this point, I just want it to be over.

    • emiliobumachar says:

      I never watched the series, but, could you please expend on why you’re presumably still watching it even though you don’t like it anymore? It could be over for you today.

      I can have that need for closure for, say, one two-hour movie, but I really struggle to understand why one would keep coming back for months or years. Does it feel like a chore, or is it still fun but you inevitably compare it to how much more fun it used to be?

      Thanks, and sorry if it came out judgmental – wasn’t my intention.

      • meh says:

        It’s not like you have to do something everyday for months/years, it’s only 6 or 10 episodes total, just released over years.
        If there is a band I love, and I don’t like track 4 of their new album, I still listen to the rest of the album.
        I would assume this to be near universal among people that the longer something is rewarding (6 seasons), the longer it takes to stop once is stops being rewarding. Combine that with the closure and there you go (I suspect if the show was not ending this season, and going on indefinitely, more people would start dropping out)

        • Just to add on to this, I would say that the mistakes of the previous seasons wouldn’t have been so bad if this season had been good. We were watching in part to see if they could do that. Instead they made those seasons retroactively worse because things we thoughts were going to come in to play didn’t.

      • johan_larson says:

        It hasn’t been a drag for years. It has been a slow process of decline from greatness, with occasional high points, for about the last two seasons.

        Why am I still watching? Partly because I want to finish the story. Partly because there has still been stuff worth watching among the many mistakes. Partly because there are characters I identify with (Tyrion, Davos, Sam, Jeorah) and I want to know what happens to them. Partly because I was hoping for a turnaround. It’s complicated.

        But at this point, I’m amply ready for the story to end.

        • Nick says:

          The part I’m most interested right now is speculating based on the show how Martin finishes the story. At least, in the alternate universe where Martin finishes the story.

      • John Schilling says:

        I can have that need for closure for, say, one two-hour movie, but I really struggle to understand why one would keep coming back for months or years.

        There’s really only the single month involved; May 2019.

        S7 and the first half of S8 look rather like the highlights reel of a much better show – legitimate highlights, lots of individually superb moments, with a shortage of the connecting material needed to stitch them together into a good story. So one can watch just to enjoy the highlights and mock the failures, and there was reason to at least hope that the showrunners would be able to tie it together into a satisfying and enjoyable ending.

        Since roughly S8E4, it’s been something between watching a car crash at an auto race just for the sheer spectacle of it, and attending a wake to celebrate the memory and mourn the loss of something great from the world. And in the latter context, joining with like-minded friends to rage against those who killed the greatness and against the cheap imposter they have tried to put in its place.

        I don’t think those are an unreasonable way to spend four hours over the course or a month.

        • Randy M says:

          S7 and the first half of S8 look rather like the highlights reel of a much better show

          I’ve heard it described (not from insiders) that they had bullet points for the story as Martin intended it beyond the published work, and that’s what they’re filming–bullet points, disconnected and leaving plot holes and unconvincing characterization.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’ve read online rumours, who knows how true, that because the showrunners got the new Star Wars gig, they argued (against the studio’s wishes) for a shorter final season so they could wrap the whole thing up fast and move on to their new job.

            Looking in from the outside, it seems like what is happening is a combination of “Martin always pulled a whammy – so the good guy Ned Stark gets killed in the first season and so on – and that’s what we’ll do, that means if you’re expecting a traditional big final climactic battle in the last episode between Dany and Cersei you’re not gonna get it; we’ll knock off main and lead characters in unexpected ways instead of big set pieces so the Night King gets knocked off by Arya in a ‘one hit and poof!’ way” and “The fans expect this, this and this person to be the one left standing and it’ll be either Jon Snow as King on the Iron Throne or maybe no Iron Throne at all in the end”.

            Though Mad Queen Daenerys does make me laugh a bit at the unfortunately premature bandwagon jumping by politicians trying to be all Hello Fellow Kids, like Elizabeth Warren quoting her as inspiration for “someone who wants to break the current rotten system, a female leader who wants to help the smallfolk, now imagine that this is an election year and there’s a certain female leader putting herself forward to break the rotten system and help the little people, hint hint nudge nudge” before the whole THEY DON’T LOVE ME SO INCINERATE THEM ALL IN DRAGON FIRE bit 🙂

            Might have wanted to not count your dragons before they’re hatched there, Elizabeth!

          • vV_Vv says:

            Elizabeth Warren quoting her as inspiration for “someone who wants to break the current rotten system, a female leader who wants to help the smallfolk, now imagine that this is an election year and there’s a certain female leader putting herself forward to break the rotten system and help the little people, hint hint nudge nudge” before the whole THEY DON’T LOVE ME SO INCINERATE THEM ALL IN DRAGON FIRE bit 🙂

            Hahahaha! Elizabeth Warren confirmed total (*) Dothraki Khaleesi 🙂

            (* 1/1024)

    • J Mann says:

      I can remember really truly loving this series. The early seasons were some of the best television of this young century. But somehow the writers squandered all that goodwill. It took two seasons, but they managed it. At this point, I just want it to be over.

      I lowered my expectations after The Battle of the Bastards, and now I’m pretty happy. I agree that the show easily could have been better, but my standard is now “Is it better than Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Deep Space 9, shows which I enjoyed a lot” (Answer: yes, and Season Eight is certainly better than the last season of those shows.)

      If you just look at it as the best genre show ever made (with the possible exception of Penny Dreadful), it gets a lot more fun. They’re going to keep doing character shorthand, and jet packing, and their battles are going to be all spectacle and no tactics. But there’s still a lot to enjoy, starting with the music, cinematography, and character acting.

    • gbdub says:

      GoT seems to have suffered a peculiar failure mode. In most aspects, the show is just as good as it has ever been – great casting, great actors, great dialogue, amazing production values (which have actually gotten better). This is more arguable, but I contend that the “micro plotting” (writing of individual scenes) and “superplot” (overall big picture narrative arc) are still good. It’s the mid-level plotting that has gone to hell. Characters warping around Westeros. Cunning characters nerfed. Personalities flipping on a dime. Plot lines wrapped up too abruptly or left hanging. Essentially, the writers still want to go somewhere interesting, and are very good at showing something entertaining when they get there, but the quality of the journey in between has gone to hell.

      Personally, I think the issue is that the writers, having run out of book material, have swung too hard into writing for visual spectacle, a tempting crutch of the TV vs book medium. Rather than action growing organically out of the understandable actions of well established characters, the writers are flinging characters around the board willy nilly to set up a series of great moments… that fall apart when viewed from a bit farther out. They’ve burned down the forest to plant a few well manicured trees.

      A lot of people point to The Battle of the Bastards as a turning point, and I think that’s a good example of what I’m talking about. Beautifully shot, one of the most visually and emotionally compelling battle sequences they’ve ever done. Jon Snow standing, alone, in front of charging hoersemen is one of the best single frames of the show, and the crazed melee that follows is equally dramatic. In the moment, when Jon’s army is getting crushed by an impenetrable tightening ring of shields, you feel it, and you feel in when they are saved by a cavalry charge.

      But to get there, Jon Snow has to stupidly Leeroy Jenkins his way right into a trap he and everyone else had specifically anticipated. To survive, his plot armor had to be turned up to 11. To get the lovely moment of trumpets blaring and a shining column of the Vale’s best riding to the rescue, they had to have Sansa be stupidly coy about the availability of said troops.

      I think a lot of the problems with the Night King, Dany, and her dragons are falling into this same trap of “stage scene for maximum visual drama whether it makes a damn bit of sense or not”, but I’ll save the specifics till we can go unmarked spoiler.

      Are there any other shows that failed by this mechanism? It might be rare, and maybe limited to cases like this where the writers outran their source material.

      • meh says:

        They’ve burned down the forest to plant a few well manicured trees.

        Is this alluding to

        “I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”

        • gbdub says:

          Not intentionally… that’s honestly the first time I’ve seen that quote!
          But it does seem a bit apropos. GRRM gave the showrunners a rough blueprint of where things need to go, and perhaps they filled in the gaps as architects rather than gardeners. Then again, even architects know that a building needs foundations and structure. GoT has become a collection of beatiful rooms without a coherent floor plan.

          • meh says:

            It is often used to show the differences between Tolkien (the architect) vs GRRM (Gardener), and why it is so hard for him to finish the story.

            I forget who, but someone has made the argument that GRRM is an architect, he just focuses on lineage and ancestry, as opposed to Tolkien who focused on language and history.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Sure, I get this…but even the gardener has a pretty good idea what the flower is going to look like when it grows. He’s not just throwing out seeds at random.

          I read the books and abandoned the TV show after season 3, because books 4 and 5 were so boring and pointless. It looks like I didn’t miss much.

          Is it okay to laugh, just a little bit, at the people who named their kid “Daenyres” or “Khalessi?” You really shouldn’t be naming your kids after pop culture stuff anyway, but if you are going to do that, at least maybe wait until the show’s over? See how everything turns out maybe?

          • Nick says:

            Is it okay to laugh, just a little bit, at the people who named their kid “Daenyres” or “Khalessi?”

            God yes! I mean, the least they could do is spell the names right.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Har har. I googled it but I guess enough people misspell it that it didn’t come up as wrong. I’m leaving it.

          • J Mann says:

            because books 4 and 5 were so boring and pointless

            Is this the culture war thread?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Uh oh, is this a scissor statement? I’ve never seen anyone say they liked books 4 and 5. I was not aware liking them was even a possibility.

          • Nick says:

            4 and 5 were still good, but something was definitely lost.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Yeah, “books 4 and 5 are boring and pointless” is the most wrong opinion I’ve seen on SSC.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            God yes! I mean, the least they could do is spell the names right.

            Don’t blame them. They were probably copying the spelling off the Starbucks cup.

          • Nick says:

            Don’t blame them. They were probably copying the spelling off the Starbucks cup.

            Is their firstborn named Cark?

          • meh says:

            “books 4 and 5 are boring and pointless”

            If you add “compared to 1-3”, you will be closer to a universal truth.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yeah, “books 4 and 5 are boring and pointless” is the most wrong opinion I’ve seen on SSC.

            What was your favorite part? Following Brienne wandering off in the completely wrong direction to find Sansa? Or maybe following Quentyn Martell for 200 pages as he goes from point A to point B to die there pointlessly?

          • Randy M says:

            I think I stopped a book prior to Conrad. The one question I have, and since I don’t hear anyone talk about it it probably went nowhere, is what happened with Caitlyn Stark, who was presumed dead, but then found to be alive and giving Brienne orders to find her kids. And Brienne was supposed to stay her wrath with one word–how did that plot line wrap up in Dances with Dragons or the HBO show?

          • Nick says:

            What was your favorite part? Following Brienne wandering off in the completely wrong direction to find Sansa? Or maybe following Quentyn Martell for 200 pages as he goes from point A to point B to die there pointlessly?

            I was a fan of the kingsmoot on the Iron Islands, and I liked the teases of Oldtown. I didn’t like the Brienne travelogue, though it had some nice moments, and I hated most of the Dany plot from Meereen onwards.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            What happened with Caitlyn Stark, who was presumed dead, but then found to be alive and giving Brienne orders to find her kids.

            She was resurrected by one of the Devil’s priests as a waterlogged monstrosity, and Brienne’s mission was a result of her desperately making a deal to stop Caitlyn’s crew from hanging her.

          • Nick says:

            I think I stopped a book prior to Conrad. The one question I have, and since I don’t hear anyone talk about it it probably went nowhere, is what happened with Caitlyn Stark, who was presumed dead, but then found to be alive and giving Brienne orders to find her kids. And Brienne was supposed to stay her wrath with one word–how did that plot line wrap up in Dances with Dragons or the HBO show?

            First of all, it’s Catelyn. Why can’t my ingroup spell today? 🙁

            Lady Stoneheart was pretty much cut from the show is what happened. Instead they kept resurrecting Beric forever. I think the running theory about the one word answer is that Brienne agreed to kill Jaime and was sent to do just that.

          • J Mann says:

            I love books 4 and 5. They take their time and get into the world, and dive deep into some great themes. They’re like the Dunk and Egg novels – slower and more thoughtful than the first two books, but steeped in the world and characters.

            Following Brienne wandering off in the completely wrong direction to find Sansa? Or maybe following Quentyn Martell for 200 pages as he goes from point A to point B to die there pointlessly?

            First of all, I love that Brienne is so bad at detective work. (Compare to the show, where she meets both Stark girls separately and with minimal effort, in a continent the size of South America.

            And I love her story. It’s got Hyle Hunt, it’s got Dick Crabbe and Squishers, it has a meeting with the Hound at the Quiet Isle and Septon Meribald’s “broken man” speech. It’s got a zombie threatening Brienne, Hyle and Pod to choose the rope or the sword (and the hilarious detail of Hyle yelling out that he’ll kill Jaime for Stoneheart if she lets him go).

            If you want to rush to the end and find out who dies, it’s a long detour, but it’s the kind of detour that Martin does best.

            As for Quentyn, again, it’s got beautifully realized characters, scenes and conflicts, and it goes to Mirri Maz Duur’s prophesy and the rise of R’hlor and a lot of other stuff, but I’ll mostly refer you to poorquentyn.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            best to worst:
            4 1 5 2 3

          • gbdub says:

            4 and 5 have about one good book worth of material, which is not terribly surprising since they were supposed to be one book.

            The rest is almost literally all shaggy dog stories (and, given the ending of the show, I don’t see how Young Griff is anything other than yet another shaggy dog to look forward to).

            The other problem is that, having decided to split into 2 books, Martin went with the approach of leaving half the viewpoint characters out of 4 (and the other half out of 5). So the shaggy dogs were especially frustrating because you weren’t getting updates on the stories you actually care about.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            As for Quentyn, again, it’s got beautifully realized characters, scenes and conflicts, and it goes to Mirri Maz Duur’s prophesy and the rise of R’hlor and a lot of other stuff, but I’ll mostly refer you to poorquentyn.

            Awww hell naw. That was when Martin went off the deep end. I get it, the postmodern thing where it’s like Real Life and there is no such thing as Plot Armor and sometimes the brave good “hero” just dies for no real reason. But we don’t write books about those people. When you’re writing the book, you write about the guy who doesn’t die pointlessly! If the good brave hero dies at least there’s a point!

            If Martin wrote the Lord of the Rings, Two Towers would be about some random soldier on his way to the Battle at Helm’s Deep, who rode for a while, and then walked, and he talked with some people, and he made a camp and looked up at the sky and thought about life and what companionship means on the battlefield and off and then after 300 pages of this his troop is ambushed in a swamp 100 miles from the battle and a random orc shoots him in the head with a crossbow and he sinks into the mire the end.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            4 and 5 have about one good book worth of material, which is not terribly surprising since they were supposed to be one book.

            But the original plan was that 1–3 was also supposed to be a single book, so by this argument they should be thinner than volumes 4 and 5.

            There was a period when volume A had ballooned to 3 volumes and he was claiming that he would keep volume B intact, but was this a reasonable thing to believe? People anchored on this statement because it was more public, but they shouldn’t have.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            @ Conrad

            What was your favorite part? Following Brienne wandering off in the completely wrong direction to find Sansa? Or maybe following Quentyn Martell for 200 pages as he goes from point A to point B to die there pointlessly?

            This will be my only contribution to this thread, as I am a book-reader only and don’t want to risk being spoiled by anything happening in the show (and I think I already saw some hints of such, while scrolling by) but:
            Brienne’s story in AFFC is indeed fantastic, showing as it does the terrible toll of the civil war; her encounter with Septon Meribald really is a favourite moment. I also love the way her story, the Hound’s, the Mountain’s, and Jaime’s are all commentaries on the social role of the knight: Jaime is outwardly everything a knight should be, but inwardly embodies none of the true knightly virtues; while Brienne, who to external appearance has nothing of a knight, is the only one who takes the knightly vows seriously, up to and including going on a pointless quest for a lost child.
            More generally, I love the depiction of an exhausted Westeros, picked clean by the scavenging Iron Islanders, bandits, and chevauchiers.

            Quentyn’s story I’m a little less into, but it’s more than made up for by the plot in the north, Arya’s story, and Daenerys’s re-enactment of Reconstruction in the slaver cities.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Douglas Knight

            32145 or maybe 31245; what do you have against book 3?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            dndnrsn,
            Books 2 and 3 blend together too much in my mind, so when I went to rate them I broke the tie by appealing to spite. If you like, you can pretend that I instead wrote:
            4 1 5 3 2

          • gbdub says:

            I think Martin wrote himself into a bit of a corner – the downside of killing off so many main characters is that, well he’s basically run out of them and the rest need plot armor, otherwise there’s no one to care about at the end of the story. Who is the last character you legitimately thought might be a key endgame protagonist who died? Probably Tywin?

            Shaggy dogs introduced 5 books in are unsatisfying, but so is finding out that nobody that matters in the endgame was introduced until book 5. So plot armor and shaggy dogs it is. The TV show lacks time for shaggy dogs, so it’s even worse.

          • The Red Foliot says:

            What was your favorite part? Following Brienne wandering off in the completely wrong direction to find Sansa? Or maybe following Quentyn Martell for 200 pages as he goes from point A to point B to die there pointlessly?

            The idea of Sansa’s snow castle was pretty awesome. True literary moment. I did vaguely feel parts of book four were boring, but I think that was because the manuscript was arbitrarily cut into two books, possibly with pacing issues being the result. I liked Brienne’s meandering quest — her’s are parts of the series I can recall most vividly. Also, Gregor Clegane’s death.

      • Clutzy says:

        I think this is close, but not quite right. The difference between GRRM and D&D is how they give us “surprises”. GRRM surprises you with the Killing of Ned, the Red Wedding, Arya killing the Freys, etc by manipulating perspective. Had you seen the inner workings of the other side, these would not be surprises at all. Had we seen the Lannisters plotting against Ned, had we seen the Freys plotting, had we seen Arya’s actions, none of that would be a surprise. Now we get to S7 & S8, and the writers decide to show everyone important at basically all times. Thus, the only way to “surprise” the audience is to make people act against character plotlines. So Jaime leaves the North and Brianne to go back to Cersie because??? Varys martyrs himself to send letters because??? They think capturing an undead guy will help because???

    • meh says:

      @johan_larson
      Thanks to us rabble, you should probably make this the subthread for pre-discussion, and post another top level thread for the actual episode

    • Theodoric says:

      At this point, I’m just watching to see how it ends. I didn’t think Season 7 was as bad as some people did, I could even forgive the Night’s King being killed halfway through the season, but after Episode 5, when Daenerys destroyed a city that had surrendered, that she had captured with minimal casualties, I uttered the Eight Deadly Words: “I don’t care what happens to these people.” I am basically rubbernecking at a crash car pileup at this point.

    • johan_larson says:

      While we’re waiting for the end, let’s try a few rounds of Fuck/Marry/Kill:

      The Mature Men
      Eddard Stark, Barristan Selmy, Robert Baratheon

      The Mature Women
      Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Oleanna Tyrell

      The Young Men
      Jon Snow, Tormund, Robb Stark

      The Young Women
      Sansa Stark, Margery Tyrell, Missandei

      • Nick says:

        Eddard Stark, Barristan Selmy, Robert Baratheon

        Barristan would be a very sweet husband. Robert would be terrible in general. The choices are obvious:
        Fuck Eddard, Marry Barristan, Kill Robert

        Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Oleanna Tyrell

        Assuming no consequences for my choices afterwards:
        Fuck Cersei, Marry Catelyn, Kill Olenna
        Assuming consequences:
        Fuck Catelyn, Marry Olenna, Kill Cersei

        Jon Snow, Tormund, Robb Stark

        I don’t watch the show and remember very little of Tormund, so:
        Fuck Robb, Marry Jon, Kill Tormund
        Do you think Jon leaves me after his resurrection?

        Sansa Stark, Margery Tyrell, Missandei

        If the story is any indication, marrying Margaery is a terrible mistake, so:
        Fuck Margaery, Marry Sansa, Kill Missandei

      • The Nybbler says:

        (obviously all assuming events don’t go as in the real GOT, in which case most of these people are dead anyway)

        Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Oleanna Tyrell

        Cersei is the type of person the phrase “don’t stick it in the crazy” was invented for, and would be an even worse wife. So kill her. Catelyn would make a fine (if prickly) wife if we were younger, but life at Highgarden being the front-man for Oleanna seems like it’d be a lot easier than trying to run Winterfell, so marry Oleanna and fuck Catelyn.

        Sansa Stark, Margery Tyrell, Missandei

        I get the vibe from Margery that as a wife she’d eventually decide to off her husband, so kill her. Fuck Missandei (who has nothing to offer in the marriage department), marry Sansa (if she could live with one short sarcastic asshole, why not another?)

        • acymetric says:

          This all seems more or less correct. Plus with Oleanna assuming I’m the same age I am now I probably get a chance to remarry a little later.

          Although I might be tempted to swap Missandei and Sansa…sure Missandei doesn’t necessarily improve my lifestyle but I’m not totally sure I want to marry into the Starks.

        • Nick says:

          You don’t consider the Queen of Thorns the more prickly one?

          • The Nybbler says:

            She’s certainly got the rep, but I’d put them pretty evenly matched in the prickly department (going from the show).

          • gbdub says:

            Cat’s prickliness is almost entirely related to having to raise her husband’s bastard son. And at one point she was apparently not super happy about being sent up North to marry. But otherwise she was supposed to be a loving, devoted, loyal wife and mother and very competent administrator while Ned was off campaigning with Robert.

            Once the show starts, she’s prickly because everyone is trying to kill her family.

            Olenna, meanwhile, was always an abrasive schemer (partly because she had to be – her son is a doormat, although she seems to prefer it that way)

    • lvlln says:

      I was experiencing some insomnia last night, and I ended up watching a bunch of videos on YouTube (is there a term for this, where you end up watching a series of videos on YouTube by clicking on one of the recommended videos after each one ends?) of scenes from earlier seasons, particularly involving Sandor, and it was kind of bittersweet seeing just how much better the show used to be.

      In particular, one of my favorite scenes in the show caught my eye for its contrast to a scene in the penultimate episode. The old scene is where Sandor kills 4 or 5 Lannister soldiers over some chicken (well, the chicken was just an excuse, really). This is the Hound, one of the greatest fighters in Westeros, and IIRC he wasn’t particularly injured at the time, just hungry and maybe a bit buzzed from drinking some ale moments before, but due to the numbers, he still had a bunch of trouble defeating them, including getting knocked over a couple of times and having to rely on Arya to dispatch of a couple of the soldiers that he had briefly incapacitated but then ignored in favor of more immediate threats. It wasn’t an amazing fight scene by any means, and it seemed obvious from the start that Sandor would win, but he had to struggle for it, and given the history of the show, there was at least one moment when it felt like he really might be in danger.

      Contrast that with his match against 4 Queensguard members right before his duel with his brother in the latest episode, where it played out like a stereotypical martial arts action scene where the hero is just dispatching mooks one after another without breaking a sweat. I think the entire fight lasted literally less than 15 seconds, and it looked like Sandor didn’t have to take even a single step during that fight. This is against presumably 4 of the best fighters that Cersei had at her disposal, after Gregor. Again, this is the Hound after all, so I could believe him beating them, but the fight should have been far more difficult, with Sandor perhaps using the narrowness of the steps as a way to funnel the enemies and keep them from surrounding him, and relying on his typical brutal and no-holds-barred dirty style of fighting in conjunction with the collapsing Red Keep to quickly dispatch of each enemy once he got the slightest advantage. Something a bit more like Arthur Dayne’s fight against the Stark folk, perhaps (I think Dayne is supposedly the best swordsman ever in Game of Thrones, and even he had to struggle to get to the near-victory he got to, and in the end he still lost by virtue of being outnumbered).

      It just seemed like the writers thought, “We need to have Sandor fight Gregor one-on-one, but Gregor’s going to be with Cersei and the rest of the Queensguard, who will obviously want to kill Sandor to protect Cersei. How about they just rush at Sandor and get knocked off one by one with just 1 move from Sandor each? Brilliant!” There seemed to be little thought put into how a real member of the Queensguard would behave in this situation, or how a human – a very strong human, but still a human, not a super hero – fighting multiple elite fighters at once would play out.

      Of course, there is no shortage of ridiculous scenes like this in the latest season, but this parallel caught my eye because of the similarity with the much better old scene, involving the same character and similar number of opponents.

      • John Schilling says:

        ontrast that with his match against 4 Queensguard members right before his duel with his brother in the latest episode, where it played out like a stereotypical martial arts action scene where the hero is just dispatching mooks one after another without breaking a sweat.

        “Hello. My name is Sandor Clegane. You burned my face – prepare to die.”

        Now, if Gregor had turned and ran after Sandor dispatched the mooks, that would have been amusing. Inappropriate for the context, but still amusing.

      • Nornagest says:

        FWIW, I was pretty disappointed in the Tower of Joy fight, too. The first and only time we see Arthur Dayne, greatest fighter in recent Westerosi history, and he draws two swords and spins around like an idiot. Everything about that scene, from casting all the way down to cinematography, had one job, which was to make him convincing as a master swordsman, and yet it decided to leave it all up to cheap Dungeons and Dragons tropes.

        • Protagoras says:

          Musashi thought there were circumstances when two swords were appropriate; especially when fighting multiple opponents, IIRC. Admittedly, the Japanese of his time seem to have been allergic to shields for some reason, so one of the main points seems to have been to have extra parrying. And I won’t defend spinning, of course.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’ve read Musashi. He was talking about katana and wakizashi, not a pair of Westerosi longswords that’d be eight inches longer and a pound heavier than even the former (modern katana typically have blades of 27-29″, but they’re marketed towards tall, well-fed Westerners; historical ones average more like 26″. 34″ for a longsword wouldn’t be unusual). And he was close to unique in recommending that among the Japanese sword masters; to my knowledge, his Niten Ichi-ryu is the only surviving kenjutsu school that teaches it. And he got away with that partly because he was a really big guy by Japanese standards (tradition says something like six-two, and pretty built)

            And, as you say, the Japanese didn’t use shields. The reason why is something of a mystery, but some people think the oversized shoulder pieces in older styles of samurai armor would have seen similar use, passively covering the off-hand side and rear. They shrank after firearms developed, which seems to support this line.

        • lvlln says:

          I recall watching that scene in the show and thinking how silly it looked, but then watching some YouTube video by some fight analyzer guy who said he thought the fight was mostly good, despite various issues it had which are fairly common in the show (one major thing being that fighters don’t wear nearly as much armor as they normally would – IIRC he said even the Kingsguard armor left too much exposed vulnerable spots, and of course the Stark folks barely had anything, including not even helmets).

          The spinning definitely looks silly, but his point was that when you’re surrounded by 3 or 4 enemies at once, you need stuff like that to keep the enemy from attacking your less guarded sides. The spinning sword is imprecise, but as long as it’s there and moving quickly and somewhat unpredictably, your enemy is going to be reluctant to charge in there, and when you’re that severely outnumbered, delaying an enemy from gaining advantage over you for even a second is extremely valuable.

          Maybe he was talking out of his ass, but as someone who’s not that much of a stickler for realistic fighting, I found the explanation just plausible enough such that I found myself liking the scene.

          Also, I’ve started watching UFC recently, I was shocked by how common spinning moves are in those, where the fighter turns his back on his opponent for a brief moment for executing a punch or kick. Medieval swordfights aren’t the same as cage fight matches, but, again, not being a stickler, seeing that was at least enough for me to fool myself into thinking that all the spinning by Dayne wasn’t completely ridiculous.

          • Nornagest says:

            Way I was taught, you can use a spinning move to clear space in a melee, but that’s all it’s good for. You can’t do it with enough precision to target weak points, and since you aren’t cutting from a firm foundation the cut will tend to be unstable, which limits its ability to shear through armor or flesh: the moment the angle of the edge doesn’t line up with the angle of the swing, the edge turns and the cut stalls.

            Empty hand is a different story; you need a lot more power behind a punch to do real damage, and you don’t have the same stability concerns. For the same reasons, spinning movements are fairly common in staff work.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            fighters don’t wear nearly as much armor as they normally would – IIRC he said even the Kingsguard armor left too much exposed vulnerable spots, and of course the Stark folks barely had anything, including not even helmets).

            Quite ridiculous. The Starks should have armored like veritable iron men.

        • gbdub says:

          I mean, how much armor would you wear if it was as useless as the show depicts it as being? One good thrust or heavy slash from an opponent always seems to go right through the stuff (even the scale/plate that the Kingsguard wears). Only Gregor’s armor was depicted as being close to realistically effective.

          • lvlln says:

            There’s also the scene where Sandor mocks Arya’s water dance fighting style and challenges her to attack him with Needle, and she stabs his gut with all her might, which his armor just flat-out rejects. I don’t know what type of armor that was; it looked flexible rather than plate, but I don’t think it was chain mail, and I’m not familiar with other types of flexible armor. I think Needle is made from Valyrian steel, so I recall finding that surprising; then again, I guess Valyrian steel, despite being presented as having unique and nigh-magical properties, hasn’t been presented as being the Westerosi equivalent of Adamantium.

            They actually talk about armor briefly in that scene, now that I think about it. Arya says her teacher Syrio Forel was the best swordsman in Westeros, but that he was killed by Merryn Trant (a Kingsguard member, but one that Sandor claims is so bad at swordsmanship that any boy could take down 3 of him) while fighting him without armor or a sword. Sandor has a fantastic line at the end of the scene, something like “Your friend’s dead, and Merryn Trant isn’t, because Trant had armor. And a big fucking sword.”

          • Lillian says:

            Here is the scene in question. The armour the Hound wears is called brigandine. It’s a bunch of small metal plates riveted to a coat of cloth or leather. These plates make the armour strong enough to stop a blade, while the backing keeps it flexible and easy to wear. It’s a great armour for anyone who wants protection without sacrificing mobility. However real life brigandine would not be arranged in long strips like the Hound’s is, as the gaps between strips would be vulnerable to attack.

            Incidentally, a misunderstanding of what the studs were for is how we got the fantasy armour type “studded leather”. In reality no such thing existed, as metal studs alone offer negligible protective value.

          • Protagoras says:

            Needle is made of ordinary steel.

          • gbdub says:

            I guess I should amend my statement… armor is occasionally talked about as effective, compared to being unarmored, but in practice armor is nerfed in every significant battle scene.

  24. Murphy says:

    continuing playing with https://talktotransformer.com/

    Been having fun generating SCP entries and it’s like it’s a window into a slightly surrealist alternate world…

    xkcd is an American comic strip published by Image Comics. This comic strip follows the lives of Randall Munroe (a man known to the viewer, not the comic character), a computer nerd (also known as an alien) working on a computer called the “Dimensional Tunnel”. He lives in his own dimensional tunnel, through which the entire universe is passing into time.

    Contents show]

    History

    Before the world started

    The origin of Randall Munroe, as he is referred to on the comic strips, is actually an event that occurred at some point in the early 1990’s in which he became a part of an effort to create a reality-altering computer system to be connected to a multiverse. When he decided to make the project public, a group of researchers in the Department of Defense, who had access to his computer, became concerned about the system and created an underground facility to keep him under surveillance.[1] They found the computer at a very secret location within a nuclear waste site, and were able to get it to work by attaching it to a nuclear warhead. The scientists then managed to destroy the computer and

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I can’t be arsed to play with that, but what percentage of the prompts generate something “postable”?

      To me this all seems like taking random pictures of clouds, then cropping out the ones that look like dogs, and then saying that clouds are actually dog picture generators. There isn’t any “there” there, so assigning meaning is down to our own pattern recognition.

      • Murphy says:

        it’s actually pretty good.

        About half are so/so and I ran about 5 revisions to get this.

        if I was a schoolkid looking for a way to write some poems assigned for homework.

        I’d classify it as less like clouds and closer to getting a small child to draw things then picking only the best 10 or 20% to show people.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I ran about 5 revisions to get this.

          Yeah. That just reinforces my thought that this text utterly and completely meaningless. Drawing meaning from it is completely dependent on the reader.

          It’s like taking a piece of Mylar, using it at as a funhouse mirror, smearing it with various substances, and then taking pictures of the best reflections.

          • Murphy says:

            I used to play with hidden markov models for similar.

            They’re far closer to what you describe.

            There’s a big difference between needing to generate 2-5 blocks of text to get something interesting and needing to generate 200-500.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Oh, I used the term mirror intentionally. It’s different than randomly throwing paint splatters on a canvas and picking out the best ”art”.

            It is a reflection of the reality of text that is out there. But that still doesn’t make the mirror a generator of meaning, right?

          • Murphy says:

            Sure.

            Though after looking at the results people got in the last thread and trying some of my own I’m half tempted to set up an account nominally discussing philosophy but actually just posting stuff from GPT and see how many people don’t notice….

    • Björn says:

      The weirdest prompt I have found yet is “4 Gaia’s Cradle”, when I tried to get it to generate Magic: The Gathering decklists but mistyped “Gaea’s Cradle”. It produces bizarre lists like

      4 Gaia’s Cradle Gaia’s Light God, Ra Dragon Guardian God, Metatron Guardian of the Imperial Capital, Athena Guardian of the Imperial Nation, Athena Guardian of the Imperial Nation, Athena Guardian of the Mirror World, Firem Guardian of the Sacred City,[…]

      or

      4 Gaia’s Cradle 3

      0

      7.18% 6 0

      25.00%

      7 0

      40.00%

      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 1 – – – – 2 – – – – – 0 0 50.00%

      – 50.00% 50.00% – 50.00% 50.00% 50.00% 0

      0

      0.00%

      Axe Fists is the second active skill of the Axe family, unlocked by clearing the game with the Fists of Guthix quest.

      Contents show]

      Sources Edit [descriptions of some kind of video game spell]

      And what really cracked me up:

      4 Gaia’s Cradle Gammoth Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure Guts and Glory Gynophobia H-Hour: World’s Elite H.E. H.I.S.T.O.R.Y T.O.R.C.H.K.A Habitat Hack, Slash & Backstab Hack, Slash, Loot Hacker Evolution Hacker Evolution – Untold Hacknet Hacktag HackyZack HACK_IT hack_me hack_me 2 Hade Hadean Lands Hairy Little Buggers Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds Halcyon 6: Lightspeed Edition Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (CLASSIC) Half dead Half Minute Hero: The Second Coming Half-Life 2 Half-Life: C.A.G.E.D. Halfway Halloween Forever Halloween Mysteries HALLUNAZI Halo Wars: Definitive Edition Halo: Spartan Assault Hamilton’s Great Adventure Hamlet or the last game without MMORPG features, shaders and product placement Hammerwatch Hand of Fate Hand of Fate 2 Hand of the Gods Hand Simulator Handball 16 Handball Action Total

      If you type Gaea’s Cradle correctly, you only get boring discussions about that it’s the best land drop.

      • Nick says:

        My guess is that there’s fodder for a lot of bizarrely formatted results if you go looking for it. It was fed a lot of webpages with formatting stripped out, so pages with nicely formatted lists or something maybe got turned into nonsense (can someone confirm?). That last example you posted could be a list of video games on Wikipedia, for instance.

    • Björn says:

      The following prompt gives pretty nice bizarro versions of Pokémon:

      After he turns 10 years old, Jeremy Corbyn (Donald Trump in Japan) is allowed to start his journey in the world of Pokémon and dreams of becoming a Pokémon master. On the day he is to receive his first Pokémon, Jeremy Corbyn wakes in a panic, having caused Brexit. For the second time in his life, Corbyn is subjected to bizarre requests for Pokémon from the Japanese government and is shown to be unable—or unwilling—to meet in person to discuss the matter with them. The Japanese also show Jeremy that it is possible to breed Pokemon with their own species. In the film, one of the reasons for Jeremy’s fear of meeting up with all of his peers in Tokyo lies in Jeremy’s belief that being near and having a crush on someone else will make him more prone to a love interest who will not be his, a fact that continues to frustrate him throughout the film as his only relationship is with someone who he never even knows. The second reason for Jeremy’s initial fear is how Jeremy and his peers become obsessed with Pokémon. First, Jeremy receives the Pikachu from Professor Sycamore while he

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        After he turns 10 years old, Jeremy Corbyn (Donald Trump in Japan)

        You had me at that.
        Donald Trump is and has always been the person Jeremy Corbyn turns into when he sets foot in Japan. This raises the question of whether the American Donald Trump is a fake or if Corbyn was able to expand the ontological magic that changes him to cover a second country.
        And futhermore, pika pika.

      • Nick says:

        Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn, and Pope Francis walk into a bar. The pope walks off, shaking hands with Trump and praising him. Trump hands the pope a copy of his book, The Art of the Deal.

        In another scene in the movie, Trump shows off his hands at an event at a private club. As he walks away, the pope gives him what looks like a handshake of approval.

        Here’s how it went down:

        (Pixabay)

        Donald Trump is at the Vatican. He is introduced to a group of people who all look to him for advice as he makes his way to an elevator.

        (Pixabay)

        At the elevator.

        (Pixabay)

        The pope is there too. He turns to his friend. “Hey, what’s he up to?”

        (Pixabay)

        Trump pulls out a book entitled The Art of the Deal.

        (Pixabay)

        “How to make a big deal,” the pope says, handing the book over. The pope’s hands are

    • metacelsus says:

      Here’s a good one:

      The deer family, Cervidae, probably evolved independently more than 200 million years ago, and the new research, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, sheds light on why they have gotten so big.

      The researchers analyzed DNA from more than 3,000 deer, finding a family of predators that appears to follow a common pattern: they are opportunistic eaters that hunt at night and take advantage of a wide range of environmental cues to maximize their chances of surviving.

      “They live in many areas of their range, from dry prairies and prairie grasslands to densely planted urban environments,” said study lead author Jody Waggoner of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

      Hunting is key to their success. Cervids have an impressive 1 percent of the world’s known species. And while their hunting prowess is impressive, the researchers say that the predators also use tools that are far more impressive:

      They hunt with blunt weapons: they use a bite from their claws to break open vegetation, dig into soft soil or pull away prey that seems unrewarding. One of the most distinctive features of C

      The deer are coming to get you . . .

      Edit: for comparison here’s the actual source from which I took the first phrase:

      The deer family, Cervidae, probably arose from traguloid ancestors in the Oligocene. The main line evolved in Eurasia, eventually spread to the New World and culminated in the largest cervid subfamilies, the Odovinae and the Cervinae.

      GPT-2 imitates the style quite well but seems to think deer are carnivorous.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Cervids have an impressive 1 percent of the world’s known species. And while their hunting prowess is impressive, the researchers say that the predators also use tools that are far more impressive:

        Sounds like a Michael Crichton science-horror novel waiting to happen.

    • LadyJane says:

      The only reason they’re even bothering to try to stop the shit is because Biden is so fucking terrible.

      https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/838607749243734112

      So yeah, I will watch all of his tweets. I may even watch every single one in English since I am so much smarter than he is. I will be the first to say that he’s hilarious.

      I will start watching his shows now that it feels like I’ll have to listen to him over and over again to keep from having to check the

    • acymetric says:

      Water: 35 liters, Carbon: 20 kg, Ammonia: 4 liters, Lime:1.5 kg, Phosphrus: 800 g, salt: 250g, saltpeter:100g, Sulfer: 80g, Fluorine: 7.5 g, iron: 5.6 g, Silicon: 3g, and 15 other elements in small quantities…. thats the total chemical makeup of the average adult body.

      And this is the key fact. In ancient Egypt a small clay vessel, similar to a small glass jug, was used to dissolve the blood, which was believed to be the greatest source of fresh blood that lived in man and was believed by the ancient Egyptians to be the living blood of god. This, coupled with the ability to absorb oxygen and other substances, could then be used in making iron and bronze weapons to defeat the enemies of the gods. And even to help people to heal themselves.

      Another theory of how the body works is by the “body heat”, which is the energy required to maintain temperature of body. As this figure shows, the bodies can only take in enough energy

      A fun response about the abundance of cyanide (trimmed off the last partial sentence of nonsense)

      Water: 35 liters, Carbon: 20 kg, Ammonia: 4 liters, Lime:1.5 kg, Phosphrus: 800 g, salt: 250g, saltpeter:100g, Sulfer: 80g, Fluorine: 7.5 g, iron: 5.6 g, Silicon: 3g, and 15 other elements in small quantities…. thats the total chemical makeup of the average adult body. It includes carbonates and heavy metals.

      Cyanide and Chromium are the two most abundant elements in Earth’s crust and other mineral layers (mostly from the interior of planets). They are so abundant they make up only 4 percent of the earth’s total crust (they make up 20 percent of the earth’s crust). The remaining 95 percent must be made from carbonate and magnesium, which in turn must contain traces of silicon and phosphorus.

      And one that I think might have been an error message from the server but I’m not sure? I didn’t shorten it, this is all it said.

      Water: 35 liters, Carbon: 20 kg, Ammonia: 4 liters, Lime:1.5 kg, Phosphrus: 800 g, salt: 250g, saltpeter:100g, Sulfer: 80g, Fluorine: 7.5 g, iron: 5.6 g, Silicon: 3g, and 15 other elements in small quantities…. thats the total chemical makeup of the average adult body. I’m sure the US Department of Energy has some things they’d love to tell us…. but we’re in Alaska, so whatever.

      • Clutzy says:

        Good one FullMetal.

      • Randy M says:

        I like the blending of science and myth in the first one.

        • acymetric says:

          If the idea of forging a weapon made solely of iron extracted from someone’s blood to imbue it with special power doesn’t exist in fantasy yet it probably should.

          I’m also fascinated by the “theory” of body heat. Lizard men everywhere are crying “media propaganda!” to that one.

          (I wanted to use a different popular term, and in doing so learned it is a banned phrase!)

          • moonfirestorm says:

            If the idea of forging a weapon made solely of iron extracted from someone’s blood to imbue it with special power doesn’t exist in fantasy yet it probably should.

            “‘Oh really,’ said Vetinari. ‘Am I a sword-made-of-the-blood-of-a-thousand-men kind of ruler? It’ll be a crown of skulls next, I suppose'”
            – Terry Pratchett, Making Money

          • Nick says:

            How is a crown of skulls supposed to work? I recommend a throne of skulls.

            Seconding that I love the idea of the magical bloodiron sword.

          • AG says:

            There was the Magneto prison escape sequence from X2.

          • acymetric says:

            I read a bunch of Discworld books years ago, but I don’t think I ever read that one. Good find.

  25. Basil Marte says:

    Mistake vs. conflict theory about Moloch.
    The limit case of the conflict theory view is an unpopular autocrat hunting common-knowledge-producing mechanisms, to avoid being deposed, and as a side effect making it impossible to coordinate on beneficial projects. A lesser case is a concentrated interest, e.g. rentseekers, “raising the Moloch waterline” to drown attempted coordination against their source of income, but not so high that their own coordination would fail.

  26. onyomi says:

    I guess I have some idea what they mean when “kids nowadays” say “fuck the patriarchy,” but what do they mean when they say “fuck capitalism,” as they seem increasingly wont to do?

    That is, what, in your estimation, does American “man on the street” (especially younger “man on the street”) mean when he says “capitalism”? It strikes me as an intensely vague concept meaning something like “Wall Street, underregulated banks, private health care, consumerism, impersonal or unfeeling employer-employee relationships (employers who will fire you if you take too much maternity leave, etc.), the general phenomenon of economic inequality…”

    For this reason I tend not to take such statements very seriously as I suspect the people uttering them usually are just signalling “boo lights” about a wide, not necessarily tightly related, range of ideas and phenomena. But maybe it is actually more coherent, meaningful, or specific than I suspect?

    • LadyJane says:

      Generally it’s a mix of the following:
      1.) complaints about the fact that the U.S. has less developed infrastructure and social safety nets than similarly developed countries, despite being richer (e.g. our lack of public healthcare, our comparatively underfunded education system, the increased difficulty of getting unemployment or welfare benefits here)
      2.) complaints about what libertarians would call “crony capitalism” (e.g. income inequality, political corruption, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, privatized gains and socialized losses, etc.)
      3.) complaints about the fact that very rich people exist, largely rooted in a poor understanding of what being very rich actually entails (i.e. believing that someone like Jeff Bezos actually has $100 billion in liquid cash that he could spend as he pleases) and the idea that very rich people could effortlessly fix the first problem if they weren’t greedily hoarding their money
      4.) complaints about various sociocultural problems in the U.S. which they blame on capitalism, but which are largely orthogonal to economics (e.g. racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc.)
      5.) complaints about a certain psychological and sociocultural mindset which they associate with capitalism, but which is probably likewise orthogonal to the economic system (i.e. a personal and cultural emphasis on ambition and greed)
      6.) complaints about modernity in general, which would likely still exist and perhaps be even worse under a non-capitalist system with a similar level of technology (e.g. atomistic individualism, the breakdown of communities, ennui driven by feelings of loneliness and purposelessness, the constraining and unfulfilling nature of modern jobs, the stress of having to deal with too much information and too many things to keep track of)

      Of course, there are some genuine Marxists and anarchists who are actually anti-capitalist and genuinely critique the institution of capitalism itself, but those people are less common. Most self-proclaimed “anti-capitalists” and “socialists” are really just very confused and angry social democrats.

      • our comparatively underfunded education system

        Checking data for 2012, the U.S. public expenditure on education as % of GDP is more than that of Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Italy, … . There are a fair number of countries that spend more than the U.S., but the U.S. is not anomalously low.

        • LadyJane says:

          Fair enough! But there’s still a widespread perception that the U.S. has an underfunded education system, whether it’s true or not. I’d imagine that education funding in the U.S. also tends to be very unevenly distributed between states, which no doubt plays a role in furthering that perception.

          • Clutzy says:

            Yes indeed. But the overfunded schools are the poorly performing urban schools. Underfunded schools are rural, and perform fairly well, although not as well as the medium/high funded suburban schools.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Clutzy: So you’re saying that funding doesn’t affect school performance as much as the rural/urban divide? That seems rather counter-intuitive to me. Why would living in a rural area have that much of an effect on education quality?

          • Tarpitz says:

            Best guess: results are mostly driven by selection effects on the pupil population, and urban areas have both more pupils who are incapable of performing well themselves and more pupils who damage the performance of those around them by being disruptive.

          • Robin says:

            Cost disease?
            In the “Breaking Bad” audio commentary, they said that in the U.S. it is normal for a high school teacher to have a second job at a car wash. In Europe this would be unheard-of.
            Or is this a New Mexico thing only?

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            @Robin:

            The raw data on per pupil expenditure doesn’t lie and it’s going to be a better gross metric of school funding than an anecdote [anecdata?] like that. But let’s consider potential ways that what you describe could be true given that US schools are not underfunded overall:

            1. Some rural schools are underfunded and the teachers there work other part time jobs but elsewhere this is uncommon
            2. Teachers are underpaid but the growth in school budgets has gone to non-teaching faculty and/or non staff expenses [Gyms, computers, smartboards, etc.]
            3. Teachers are not underpaid per hour but work fewer hours so make less per year than a full time employee so to supplement their income work part time elsewhere
            4. People in the US have different expectations of acceptable levels of income compared to EU counterparts so feel the need to work extra to make that extra desired income [less likely IMO but possible]
            5. Part time employment in areas with fair teacher salaries but extremely high costs of living.
            6. A desire to work during the Summer (As Edward just mentioned) because americans notoriously dislike not being idle.

          • bean says:

            I’m pretty sure none of my teachers in high school had second jobs at the car wash. Teaching is usually on the lower end of salaries for someone with a college degree, but it’s not that low.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            My dad was a teacher. He had many second jobs over the years. Especially in the summer, when staying that idle would be unnatural. Newspapers, gas stations, factory work. Never at the car wash, but maybe other teachers did that.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Anecdote: the summer after fifth grade my Gifted Studies teacher delivered a pizza to my house. It was so nice to see him! A few years later I realized how embarrassing that must have been for him.

          • J Mann says:

            @Bean – it sounds like most of the teacher stories are summer jobs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t tell us if teachers are overpaid or underpaid – if you give people a job that has 3 months off, many of them are going to get jobs for at least some of that period.

          • gbdub says:

            Teachers seem unusually well positioned, among white collar salaried workers, to take second jobs whether they really need to or not. Summers off, regular hours end fairly early in the day, and they usually get comparatively good benefits from their main teaching gig.

            Breaking Bad always struck me as a weak example. Walt takes his second job because he doesn’t want Skyler to have to work (while maintaining something close to his pre-teaching lifestyle). He has health insurance (and as a teacher, probably pretty good insurance). His problem is that he wants/needs a very specific treatment from a very specific doctor that his insurance won’t cover. But that’s a problem not unique to the US system and could easily happen in the NHS, for example.

          • MrApophenia says:

            Every district has its own story because of the wildly varying way this works depending on where you are, but a while back the Washington Post did a really deep dive into where the funds for DC schools went.

            They found that despite having the third highest funding per student in the nation (after NYC and Boston), the portion of that money that made it to the classroom was roughly on par with rural Alabama.

            The rest was being eaten by the central administration.

            However, they then went on to look at how DC’s administration was unusually bad because it was set up with a bunch of high paying jobs that don’t do anything as a system to reward cronies back when the highest elected office in DC was the school board, so that’s where all the ambitious/crooked politicians wound up, and Marion Barry in particular basically turned the school system into a mess through this process.

            So it may not be broadly generalizable to all school systems, but it does indicate that “funding per student” may be a more complex metric to use than one might think.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            Average teacher salary in the US is ~$59,000 with entry salaries averaging ~$39,000.

            The real issues are:
            1) Teachers have a powerful union that prevents anyone from being fired.
            2) The unions feed a significant amount of their revenue towards electing Democrats
            3) Republicans control the country, so even if the rural school board is (say) completely union-owned they’re still answerable to small numbers of Republican voters putting a limit how much they can get away with.
            4) Democrats control the cities, so the answer to all problems in education is “spend more”. No standards, no accountability, and no alternatives.
            5) The net result is that schools everywhere perform much worse than they could, but urban schools effectively don’t have to perform at all

          • acymetric says:

            @grennwoodjw

            So we would assume that states without teacher’s unions would have better outcomes than states that do, right?

            Looking at national averages is also misleading, because so much of this varies widely from state to state. There are some places where teachers are very much not underpaid, and other places where they very much are.

          • Nornagest says:

            I get the impression that teachers’ salaries are relatively insensitive to location, too, which might be compounding the issue. From five minutes of Google a public school teacher in SF can expect to make about 70K, but 70K in SF doesn’t go anywhere near as far as even 50K would in, say, southern Alabama.

            You’d never hear from the teachers in low-cost-of-living areas, because they’d have no reason to complain.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            1) Teachers have a powerful union that prevents anyone from being fired.

            True in some states. False in others.

            So we would assume that states without teacher’s unions would have better outcomes than states that do, right?

            You have to make sure to correct for everything else, first. The #1 determinant of a school’s quality is the students’ quality.

            There are some places where teachers are very much not underpaid, and other places where they very much are.

            Cosign. I have lived in both kinds of places.

          • acymetric says:

            @Edward Scizorhands

            Is there a good way to evaluate quality of students at the state level without it being confounded by the fact that all of those students were…educated in that state? Would we really expect there to be huge differences in student quality from state to state? I would think the populations would be large enough that it would be pretty similar to the national average.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @acymetric: race and parental occupations are going to be the obvious data points. An “urban” school is going to be excellent if the city is, like, Eugene Oregon. State-level is going to be too diverse for this analysis, though.

          • acymetric says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            race and parental occupations are going to be the obvious data points. An “urban” school is going to be excellent if the city is, like, Eugene Oregon. State-level is going to be too diverse for this analysis, though.

            But if we want to compare outcomes at the state level for “has unions” vs. “no unions” don’t we have to do it at the state-wide level? And doesn’t that diversity basically mean that state-wide evaluation is going to be a wide enough pool that we can ignore student quality in the analysis? The answer can’t be “there is no way to compare students between states” right?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Different states have different race make-ups and different wealth levels. A univariate analysis is useless.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            But if we want to compare outcomes at the state level for “has unions” vs. “no unions” don’t we have to do it at the state-wide level? And doesn’t that diversity basically mean that state-wide evaluation is going to be a wide enough pool that we can ignore student quality in the analysis?

            State-wide evaluation is going to be a wide pool indeed. Some important % of student quality is going to come from parental occupations (like academics in my Eugene example), but that’ll wash out at the state level. You should be able to capture race and maybe class in general since those demographics vary somewhat by state.

          • Clutzy says:

            @LadyJane

            @Clutzy: So you’re saying that funding doesn’t affect school performance as much as the rural/urban divide? That seems rather counter-intuitive to me. Why would living in a rural area have that much of an effect on education quality?

            It is only counter-intuitive if you think schools are the driving factor of school performance. There is scant evidence for that. Charter schools that use lottery systems have typically shown that the difference in charter schools vs. public schools is not the school, but the act of applying for the school. That is, kids who apply, but are not selected because of the lottery, do as well as those that apply and win the lottery. This indicates that a combination of the traits of a child and his/her parents is actually what drives student outcomes. Schools are mostly fungible.

          • albatross11 says:

            OTOH, if your school system spends most of its bloated budget on sinecures for cronies of the mayor, it’s hard to support the claim that the problem is underfunded schools.

          • acymetric says:

            @albatross11

            I assume there is a specific story here that I should be familiar with…but “whoosh” right over my head.

            In any case…it makes it hard to argue that school funds are being misused/embezzled. I’m not sure it does much for the claim that the schools are underfunded.

          • albatross11 says:

            The teachers and classrooms may well be underfunded in DC, but the school system almost certainly is *not* underfunded.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            @Edward Scizorhands

            Is there a single state in the country without a teacher’s union?

          • moonfirestorm says:

            @greenwoodjw:

            Is there a single state in the country without a teacher’s union?

            It appears that at least North Carolina and Texas prohibit collective bargaining by public employees.

            A second source (feels like clickbait) listed South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia as also prohibiting this, but the link was from 2011 and the laws may have changed. A third source from 2014 also listed these three as prohibiting collective bargaining by teachers.

            Looking at SC specifically because it was the first one I typed, it looks like they’re still looking at a strike, so there’s some sort of organization that’s coordinating that, and we might be able to call a union. We might have to unpack “what constitutes a union” though.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            NC teachers have a “union” but it is more like a professional society: https://www.ncae.org/

            Striking may be illegal, but that doesn’t mean the teachers don’t do something that is essentially a one-day strike: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article210238014.html Everyone agrees to look the other way and not invoke the law, but if they did a longer strike someone would pipe up.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            So, officially, NC doesn’t have a union, they have a branch of the NEA (national teacher’s union) that organizes the workers, calls strikes, and runs political operations. But it’s not a union because that would be illegal.

            I was also able to find the basic timeline for firing a teacher. It’s 11 pages, with different processes for firing, layoffs and suspensions, and involves multiple hearings.

            https://stateboard.ncpublicschools.gov/legal-affairs/disciplinary-process/timelines.pdf

            I mean, sure, it’s not a union. But it’s definitely a union. What it doesn’t get through collective bargaining it gets through legislation. That’s not better.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I have a friend who is like 75% anarchist (the commie kind, not the objectivist kind).

      His views could probably be summed up as, “The nature of capitalism is to consume human societies and relationships and turn them into inhuman, ugly, extractive, exploitative productivity machines. All the welfare improvements capitalist social structures bring with them are ultimately real but unimportant; Moloch is the inevitable end of a capitalist structure, and that relationship is causal.”

      • onyomi says:

        I feel like this is way too complicated and esoteric to be a “man on the street definition” or even something the average undergrad could mean when he or she decries capitalism.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          I don’t think the man on the street can ever be relied upon to have a definition that isn’t simultaneously too broad and yet also rather leaky.

          The social definition of capitalism to me is; “Those aspects of commercial life that I dislike or find distasteful”, with particular reference to the US given its role in the cold war; even if by now there are a handful of other countries like Canada, Switzerland, Singapore, etc. that have market economies no more regulated than the united states.

          This does make describing it as a system pointless since all of the charges leveled against ‘capitalism’ are tautologies.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          I think that’s a pretty common belief. Sure, maybe the articulation isn’t there, but the sense of it seems pretty common to me. It’s only complicated and esoteric when you unpack it.

    • toastengineer says:

      but what do they mean when they say “fuck capitalism,” as they seem increasingly wont to do?

      Literally nothing. It just sounds nice.

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      it is very simple – The younger person on the street is told the USA is the pinnacle of capitalist economics, then they look around and notice that the US economy is, in point of fact, rigged to hell and gone in favor large corporations, and since they have been told what the US is doing is capitalism, “Fuck Capitalism”.

    • WashedOut says:

      I guess I have some idea what they mean when “kids nowadays” say “fuck the patriarchy,”…..

      Great, care to explain?

      I’ve been putting it into the “tweetable slogans that make me sound badass and ingratiate me with teenage feminists” basket for several years now, but there is probably a nugget of insight there.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I believe they mean “traditional gender roles and expectations placed on people because of their gender.”

        The problem with both “smash capitalism” and “smash the patriarchy” is they don’t seem to have workable systems to replace them. So in the meantime I will agree that capitalism and patriarchy are the worst economic and social systems in the world (respectively), except for all the others.

        • DinoNerd says:

          Now that’s not fair. People have plenty of programs to replace “traditional gender roles and expectations placed on people because of their gender,” and while a whole lot of men (and some women) are unhappy with the results, that’s merely evidence that these programs exist.

          I say programs plural partly because there’s no unitary worked out solution, and partly because “traditional gender roles and expectations placed on people because of their gender” wasn’t unitary. But here are some common elements.

          – Employers, and the law, should treat people the same regardless of gender (no lower pay or lower status jobs etc. for being female)
          – Sexual interactions should involve enthusiastic consent; the coy “refuse so you don’t look ‘fast’ even though you really want to” is dead, along with “comply passively with whatever he wants” – but so are a lot of normal-in-my-youth and common-in-fiction behaviours ranging from extreme pushiness to “it can’t be rape – she didn’t struggle enough to get injured”. And saying “I do” once no longer implies legal consent to any sex, any place, any time, with the person one said that to.
          – Marriage is a partnership, and that includes child rearing and housework. The dad whose contribution is entirely money – or money + being the discipline-ogre – is no longer OK. That’s true even if the wife doesn’t work, but especially true if she does. (But also couples may make whatever arrangement suits them best – they just shouldn’t default to the wife doing all the housekeeping and childrearing.)
          – Various cultural behaviours once seen as polite, like men holding doors for women, are now frowned on. Other cultural behaviours are no longer workplace-appropriate, and may result in unpleasant action from management or HR.
          – Athletic girls should be competitors, or have the option of being competitors, not just cheerleaders for male competition.
          – No one’s required to get married – or to get married to someone of the opposite sex – or to either get married or accept one of a small number of rigid career choices, like nun. Likewise, no one’s required to have children. And “catch a good man” is no longer regarded as appropriate career advice.
          – All working age adults should have skills and credentials suitable for paid employment, and most will use them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I asked for workable systems.

            (no lower pay or lower status jobs etc. for being female)

            Maybe women shouldn’t spend their most fertile years chasing careers so they can slave for The Man?

            – Sexual interactions should involve enthusiastic consent

            Between a husband and wife? For the purpose of pair bonding and having a family? Or just hopping from dude|lady to dude|lady during, again, a woman’s most fertile years while not producing children?

            Marriage is a partnership, and that includes child rearing and housework. The dad whose contribution is entirely money – or money + being the discipline-ogre – is no longer OK.

            I’m pretty sure dad always mowed the lawn and took out the trash and cleaned the gutters and what not, so I don’t see how this is significantly different from The Patriarchy.

            Various cultural behaviours once seen as polite, like men holding doors for women, are now frowned on.

            I fail to see how coarsening social relations is a benefit.

            No one’s required to get married – or to get married to someone of the opposite sex – or to either get married or accept one of a small number of rigid career choices, like nun. Likewise, no one’s required to have children. And “catch a good man” is no longer regarded as appropriate career advice.

            “Required” is doing a lot of work here. No one was ever “required” to do these things, but doing these things is a very good idea. The current paradigm actively discourages people from doing the good ideas.

            All working age adults should have skills and credentials suitable for paid employment, and most will use them.

            Again, wasting fertile years and not laying the groundwork for successful families. But I’m sure corporate America is happy about it so capitalism wins where The Patriarchy loses?

            At the end of the day, a social system has to survive and propagate itself into the future. That means “make babies and raise them into adults who can make more babies.” US Births Lowest in 3 Decades. The Patriarchy, evil as it may be, works. It got us here (or rather, got us there, to wherever we were before The Smashening). Whatever the alternative is that you’re describing might be Good and Moral and Righteous, but any civilization that adopts it will die out in a few generations, supplanted by a new Patriarchy, because in the end Evil will always triumph over Good because Good is dumb.

          • rlms says:

            I fail to see how coarsening social relations is a benefit.

            If you are a man, you may perhaps be ignoring the disadvantages of patriarchy for women.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The disadvantage of having doors held open for you? Is that…I don’t know, less opportunity to develop upper body strength?

            Less flippantly, there are also plenty of advantages to The Patriarchy for women.

            Much less flippantly, again, if the society fails to reproduce, it doesn’t matter how good and moral your society is. Let’s travel back to the early 1600s and imagine Gender Equal Jamestown Janestown, where the division of labor is split 50/50 and no one’s encouraged to get married and settle down until they’re in their mid 30s and cats are just as good (or better!) than babies. Does Janestown survive? Or does the population dwindle each year to nothingness?

            If the answer is “society dies” then…sure I concede that the evil door-holding Patriarchy is the worst social system in the world. Except for all the others.

          • Dan L says:

            @ Conrad:

            “Required” is doing a lot of work here. No one was ever “required” to do these things

            Walk this back to something plausible, like “these things never happen to people that know their place my preferred system is optimized for”.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’ll remove the word “ever” but even in the horrible oppressive Dark Times of the 1950s, forced marriages were not a thing.

            We’ve certainly gone too far in the opposite direction, where today telling a young girl “you should strongly consider marrying a good man while you’re in your early 20s and at peak fertility and desirability as a healthy family life might be more desirable in the long run than an office career” could get you ostracized from polite society.

          • Dan L says:

            the horrible oppressive Dark Times of the 1950s

            This, but unironically. You don’t get credit for reforms forced on you by opposing parties.

            We’ve certainly gone too far in the opposite direction, where today telling a young girl “you should strongly consider marrying a good man while you’re in your early 20s and at peak fertility and desirability as a healthy family life might be more desirable in the long run than an office career” could get you ostracized from polite society.

            I’ve actually had that conversation a few times, and from the sounds of it mine went better than yours. Couple tips on the approach:

            1) If you want to compete with a rival culture, you need to actually compete. Have good answers for how this is supposed to happen: where to find Mr. or Ms. Right, how to beat the two-income trap, how to balance ambition and satisfaction, how to live an independent life if it becomes necessary. “Tie the knot with your existing long-term SO with a professional career” is a valid answer but not reliably applicable. If you want to be taken more seriously than the average self-help book, you’re going to want to personalize your advice – if you’re going to recommend how someone lives their life, put in the effort.

            (And no, “religion” is not an answer to all of the above. “I’ll keep throwing scissors until I win” doesn’t get far in RPS tournaments.)

            2) It is very important – impossible to overstate, really – that you not give the impression you’re only interested in said young girl because you need to recruit her womb for your cultural crusade. I find that authentically supporting her own expression of her values works wonders, but this will occasionally mean not taking your advice. Freedom is such.

          • LadyJane says:

            @Conrad Honcho: The main problem with the patriarchal approach is that it leaves women with significantly less agency than they would have in an egalitarian system. Yes, some women may not mind being stay-at-home housewives and mothers. Some may even be happier. But they have significantly less control over their own lives. They’re economically dependent on their husbands, doubly so if they don’t have any relatives who’d be able to support them if their marriage went south. If a woman’s husband turns out to be abusive, she’d be stuck in a miserable, unhealthy, and potentially dangerous situation with no way out. Or to take a less extreme example: If her husband ends up going broke due to poor financial decisions or simple bad luck, she’ll need to adjust to living in poverty, because her fate is tied to his. This seems like a very bad deal for women, all in all. Encouraging women to join the workforce and build their own careers allows them a much greater degree of economic freedom.

            There’s also the fact that some women have their own ambitions and would prefer to work than settle down and get married. And some are lesbians or asexuals who simply don’t have any interest in men. They may be a minority, but life becomes a lot harder for them in a patriarchal society.

            I’m also not particularly worried about humanity dying out because we stop reproducing. The world is overpopulated enough, we could have a birth rate as low as one child per woman for generations to come without the population dropping to critically low levels. The same applies within the U.S., we’re not exactly desperate for more people.

          • albatross11 says:

            An awful lot of those ways of replacing the patriarchy with something new seem to require changing what people want. As best I can tell, most gender differences in income, employment, share of housework, etc., are driven by the choices and desires of the people involved.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Dan L:

            I’ve actually had that conversation a few times, and from the sounds of it mine went better than yours. Couple tips on the approach:

            Whatever point you’re trying to make, I think you’d make it more effectively if you cut out the concern trolling.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            You write

            I asked for workable systems

            Workable’s doing an awful lot of work in your comments. So is “system”, but since there’s not one single patriarchal system – not even whatever your family did when you were a child – I’m going to discount that part.

            It’s clear that you see the goal of life (for women, and perhaps men too) as being breeding. I think one meta-difference is that most people offering non-patriarchal alternatives don’t share that goal. They probably mostly think that a society should produce enough children to replace the adults, at least on average and in the long term.But having children is an individual choice, not either a requirement for happiness or a duty to one’s tribe/nation/family/genes.

            If your goal is lots-of-babies-at-almost-all costs, then a lot of people will have to spend a lot of time pregnant (sometimes very unpleasant), and even more time will have to be spent on childrearing. Until we have artificial wombs, the childbearers will be female – but everything else is optional. And as long as very few children die, if some women want to have lots of pregnancies (3 or more), other women don’t need to have any, unless your goal is an ever increasing population.

            Maybe women shouldn’t spend their most fertile years chasing careers so they can slave for The Man?

            Maybe men shouldn’t spend their youth chasing careers so they can slave for The Man?

            Maybe people who’d rather be doing engineering than raising children – and would be better at the former than the latter – should forego raising children, or at least skip the part where they do more than pay the bills/try to get home before the childrens’ bedtimes. Even if they happen to live in female bodies.

            With regard to your feeling that enthusiastic consent may be unrealistic for sex in marriage:

            Maybe people who who will never want to have sex that could result in pregnancy should avoid entering relationships where they’d be expected to have sex with someone who doesn’t turn them on. And if they happen to want to bear/conceive children, raise children, etc., maybe they should find some more congenial way of doing that.

            You are clearly concerned about the American birthrate, particularly the birthrate of young women. I’m more concerned about the happiness of those young women – and young men, older men, and older women, not to mention the children themselves. The two aren’t incompatible, but in my formative years, it had already become obvious that even with that generation’s version of patriarchy, lack of skills other than child rearing etc. was a high risk strategy – Mr. Right had non-negligible odds of dying or abandoning his first wife for a younger model.

            What kind of system can you imagine – other than depend-on-the-goodwill-and-survival-of-a-particular-man – that would make bearing children more attractive – or less risky?

            One choice is always to restrict womens’ options. If the only commonly available careers for women are prostitute, child minder, servant, baby factory, or the combination of all of them known as “wife”, then the snotty noses one wipes might just as well be those of one’s own offspring and the man who masturbates himself with your body might just as well be your childrens’ father. (If my value judgment sounds unrealistically harsh, remember I’m trying to express the viewpoint of someone who likes none of the available choices, but can’t pass for male well enough to get better ones. And of course some people will adapt to whatever limited horizons are all that they are ever offered – quite a large proportion of people will, in general – but I find myself less concerned with them than with those who won’t or can’t adapt.)

            My suspicion is that the birthrate won’t drop forever, both because those who aren’t into having children won’t produce the next generation, and because the culture will evolve new options that are truly attractive – but hasn’t gone far enough down that path yet. Meanwhile the country is well populated, and plenty of people would enthusiastically immigrate, given the chance.

            Lots of women – and men for that matter – like rearing children, and want to have many of them. If there’s anything genetic in that desire – or even if it’s made more likely by being raised in well functioning families – then once those who don’t want children stop reproducing, the proportion of those who do want children will rise.

            On the other hand, if the problem is current economic arrangements – and heavens knows, precarious employment and poor long term economic prospects don’t seem likely to encourage anyone to risk having children – perhaps we’ll ultimately develop the political will to create better ones. (A strong social safety net seems like it would be a big help there.)

          • Adrian says:

            @DinoNerd: Your post was quite good, up until this part (emphasis mine):

            If the only commonly available careers for women are prostitute, child minder, servant, baby factory, or the combination of all of them known as “wife”, […]

            Come on, that’s beyond uncharitable! You’re implying that people who prefer a more traditional lifestyle see wifes as “prostitutes, child minders, servants, and baby factories”?

            If you want to confirm the stereotype that feminism seeks to shame women who prefer raising childs to a career, then statements like the above are the way to go.

          • Aapje says:

            @DinoNerd

            Surveys strongly suggest that childlessness is overwhelmingly due to people feeling/being unable to realize their desires, rather than people who never wanted to have children now no longer being forced/pressured to have them

            Even aside from childlessness, we see that people spend an increasing part of their life single, even though having a partner seems to be a very strong desire for nearly everyone.

            All of this is happening despite (or perhaps because) we are way richer than in the past, so we have more opportunity to shape society for human well-being than ever, rather than for survival.

            Your comments exhibit a very high ‘don’t thread on me’ sense of negative freedom, yet the very fabric of society seems to be falling apart due to atomization, which doesn’t seem to satisfy most people at all.

            My suspicion is that the birthrate won’t drop forever, both because those who aren’t into having children won’t produce the next generation, and because the culture will evolve new options that are truly attractive – but hasn’t gone far enough down that path yet.

            That last part seems to be wishful thinking: ‘Our current path causes the birthrate to drop, but if we just keep going, something will cause the birthrate to go up again.’ You are not proposing any plausible reason why following the same path would suddenly cause different outcomes.

            Furthermore, the first part of your sentence seems to be in direct conflict with the second. If the birth rate is going to go up because groups that have different norms resulting in high birth rate (like Mormons, Amish, Hasidics/Haredi Jews) are going to dominate much more, while groups with low birth rate norms will die out, then society will change its path. This part of your sentence seems fully consistent with Conrad’s claim that the successor to the current norms will be a new patriarchy.

            A strong social safety net seems like it would be a big help [to increase the birth rates].

            Not really. Once women dedicate a substantial part of their life to a job, fertility seems to drop drastically, with even subsidized child care having a relatively limited effect. Basically, you have to subsidize child care enormously to get back to replacement fertility.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            @Aapje
            “You are not proposing any plausible reason why following the same path would suddenly cause different outcomes.”

            I don’t believe that low birth rates can persist indefinitely.

            1. Insofar as behavior is heritable, those people inclined to have more children [either because they are more conservative in disposition or due to unplanned parenthood] in modern society will do so and the distribution of births will shift in favor of those individuals.

            2. An outside group that can maintain a higher fertility will displace whatever group we are looking at, achieving the same effect as #1

            I would also expect falling population to coincide with more competitive wages and less expensive housing, which helps if only a little.

            But in either case it is unlikely that current social relationships will facilitate let alone permit the idea that anyone can do whatever they want and that child bearing is an ancillary matter best left to someone else. The future belongs to those who show up.

            The kind of rules DinoNerd describes sound fair and reasonable on paper but no one has successfully implemented them in a way 1. that leave most people content with their lives 2. doesn’t Crater birthrates below replacement levels

            Part of it I think has to do with misplaced perceptions of status. If education and career are seen as status symbols then calls are made for equal distribution of these trinkets. Even if the gold is just iron coated in brass.

            But if most ‘careers’ are in fact unpleasant tasks that someone merely needs to do to satisfy societal demands and earn a living, and if most educational credentials are superfluous and most knowledge can be obtained from any location with internet access for a trifling sum, and If parents were revered the same way many people revere teachers, you might see a shift in priorities.

            Social expectations to attend 4 year degrees followed by working full time to pay off the debts and then maybe having a kid in one’s early 30s would be substituted with part time work emphasizing some chosen combination of job, online learning, and housework. Finding a partner where duties are agreed upon and negotiated for is seen as equally important to work or study.

            That, in my opinion, would be the happy ending. The less happy ending (for those who agree with Dinonerd) is whichever society persists is essentially a reboot of pre-modern social norms with little to no modern synthesis.

            _______________________________

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            1. Insofar as behavior is heritable, those people inclined to have more children [either because they are more conservative in disposition or due to unplanned parenthood] in modern society will do so and the distribution of births will shift in favor of those individuals.

            2. An outside group that can maintain a higher fertility will displace whatever group we are looking at, achieving the same effect as #1

            What makes you think these groups of people will share your ideas of gender equality? Because if they don’t, then your notions of gender equality are not sustainable, because everyone who believes in them will be dead.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @DinoNerd

            I’ll just +1 Aapje and RalMirrorAd. I’m too tired to respond properly this morning, as I stayed up late last night to make love with my wonderful wife and the mother of my loving children masturbate myself on my prostitute-servant.

            @LadyJane

            The main problem with the patriarchal approach is that it leaves women with significantly less agency than they would have in an egalitarian system.

            This seems like a very bad deal for women, all in all.

            Perhaps agency is overrated. If one wants to be completely free of obligations to anyone else, they can Ted Kaczynski it out in the woods. But for most people, sacrificing some agency to others (who also sacrifice some agency to them) creates a mutually beneficial relationship. This allows them to build a social situation better than any they could achieve alone. For instance, a marriage partnership, a family, a town, a nation or a civilization.

            There also doesn’t seem to be much indication that maximizing agency maximizes happiness. By marrying my wife I agreed to forgo having sex with other women. This reduces my agency but increases my happiness and productivity, as random women I might bang don’t satisfy my emotional needs, help me raise my children, or cook me dinner. The reciprocal is true for my wife: her living situation is better than if she were working 9-5 at the office complex and banging drive-by dudes.

            There’s also the fact that some women have their own ambitions and would prefer to work than settle down and get married. And some are lesbians or asexuals who simply don’t have any interest in men. They may be a minority, but life becomes a lot harder for them in a patriarchal society.

            Sure. One should not abuse minorities. But one should also not reorder society in service of the minority while neglecting or defaming the majority.

            President Obama launched a program to encourage young girls to “Learn to Code.” This was applauded by the media, academic and tech elite. I’ve got nothing against coding. Love it, I do lots of it in my job, and at some point I will teach my daughter to code if she’s so interested.

            But I’m more distressed by my wife’s late 20s friend who reports that neither she nor any of her girlfriends know how to cook. That seems like a far more useful skill applicable to living a successful life than javascript. If President Trump were to launch a #LearnToCook initiative for little girls, how do you think the media, academic and tech elite would respond?

            Yes, it was terrible that some women who wanted to be doctors were stymied by assumptions that a woman’s place was in the home. But most women probably preferred taking care of a home and loving family rather than chained to a desk at the call center. Most careers aren’t as noble a profession as doctoring. It’s mostly thankless drudgery. Perhaps telling little girls to dream about their careers instead of their families is beneficial to the small percentage of girls who grow up to be doctors but is net harmful to the girls who wind up shuffling papers at the ad agency?

            This seems to be a common pattern with progressive issues. Find an aggrieved and perhaps less successful/adaptive minority and elevate them to a higher status than the majority, to the majority’s detriment. We had this same discussion about Social Contagion Transgenderism. While no one should ever abuse transgendered individuals, perhaps the positive attention paid to them by media and institutions is overdone, as confused and attention-seeking young people vastly outnumber the transgendered. Maybe the harm done to those confused into falsely believing they’re transgendered outweighs the positive benefits of media cheerleading for the genuinely transgendered.

            The same applies within the U.S., we’re not exactly desperate for more people.

            Yes, it would be less distressing if the media and corporate apparatus were not also championing mass immigration to make up for our “labor shortages.” As I have children, I have an interest in the long-term health and character of the nation. If the rest of my countrymen want to bequeath the nation to my kids rather than their own, that’s fine. But if they want to dispossess my kids by ceding it to foreigners with no love for or loyalty to my kids that’s going to be a problem.

            If we need more people, let’s get them from our own stock. If we do not, and are as you say, overpopulated, let’s close down the borders and hang up a “screw off, we’re full” sign.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy

            I thought I made it clear [sry if I didn’t] that the shifts I describe necessarily result in shifts in social attitudes along side them. Meaning, as you say, it’s not sustainable in its current form. There *may* be a way to make it work that retains the most desirable parts of the current arrangement but 1. there is no precedent for it 2. there has been no interest on the part of believers in gender equality to develop such a solution.

            my *preference* is a compromise or synthesis, but my expectation is replacement and reversion.

          • JPNunez says:

            It seems that a lot of the complaints about career/family balance would be eased by lowering credentialism and college debt. But in the end it seems they won’t fix the fertility rates, as Europe shows.

            Taking immigrants seems an easy fix. Then in a generation or two the immigrants will see their fertility rates go the way of the home country. I doubt that those societies will be overrun by groups that demand more children and that women stay at home. With the exception of Israel, which has been fucking around with the fertility rate.

            But in the long run, people will prefer the economic independency, and countries that do not commit half their population to taking care of the kids will see their GDP raise more, simply because their human capital will be higher. If their population decreases, it will reach an equilibrium sooner or later somehow. We are seeing it in Japan right now.

            Capitalism will in the end smash the patriarchy.

          • Nick says:

            If their population decreases, it will reach an equilibrium sooner or later somehow. We are seeing it in Japan right now.

            Japan seems like a poor example. They aren’t in equilibrium; their population is declining and has been for a while. It’s also a country which has retained strong gender roles, where women more often do leave the workplace once they have children. And it has serious social problems, like hikikomori and a relatively high suicide rate. It seems like exactly the wrong country to illustrate your point.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Taking immigrants seems an easy fix.

            This is just The Patriarchy with extra steps. Those who adopt the Gender Equality paradigm cannot reproduce themselves, and must rely on still-Patriarchal communities with high birth rates and then (perhaps) convert them. A workable system needs to be self-sustaining, not propped up by someone else’s workable system.

            ETA: If anybody has better google-fu than I do and can find the numbers, I swear I’ve seen the US birthrates broken down by rural vs urban somewhere but cannot find it. This is a reasonable proxy for Red/Blue Tribe, which is also a reasonable proxy for The Patriarchy/The Femtocracy (particularly if you can just look at whites). If I recall, as bad as the overall birth rate is, it’s really the urban centers that have hyper-cratered with something like .9 births/woman. Rural/Suburban areas are still doing okay at above replacement (something like 2.1 or 2.3). If anyone knows what I’m talking about, do you have a link?

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            @Conrad

            You’re assuming that high-birthrate social values can be passed down reliably enough that the patriarchy inherits the Earth. Is there any reason you don’t expect a long, slow decline?

            Look, women have demonstrated some degree of disfavor for having children. You keep presuming that women want to have children, but this assumption contravenes the available evidence.

            I know you love and want for the best for your kids. No idea whether you have a daughter, but let’s imagine you do. Imagine your daughter grows up, moves out, shacks up with a nice guy and still doesn’t have kids. You ask her why. “We don’t have enough space. It’d be stressful. I don’t want to move back with you and Mom. I don’t think I could handle being a stay-at-home mom.”

            What do you say to her? She has priorities, a life she’s not particularly unhappy with, independence, a good relationship with a loving husband, and no kids. Maybe she wants them, but not enough to sacrifice the above for them. Do you tell her that she’s

            wasting fertile years and not laying the groundwork for successful families

            Or maybe that

            a social system has to survive and propagate itself into the future. That means “make babies and raise them into adults who can make more babies.”

            Or that she

            shouldn’t spend [her] most fertile years chasing careers so [she] can slave for The Man

            These might be true from your perspective, but they aren’t particularly convincing. The “””problem””” here is that she doesn’t want to bear the cost. And having kids always carries a cost. In order to make the alternative attractive, it seems like the only real alternative is raising the cost of not having children for her.

            You could pester her to have kids every time you see her, or disown her, or something else that would bring down her quality of life, but would you do that to your own flesh and blood for the sake of The Birthrates?

            Most people wouldn’t.

          • Randy M says:

            Imagine your daughter grows up, moves out, shacks up with a nice guy and still doesn’t have kids. …
            What do you say to her?

            I tell them to focus their efforts on things that will bring lasting joy to their lives, as they do to mine, and not on temporary comforts. I point out that a women will often regret putting off childbearing, assuming that they can do so at any time, but that they, like their mother, may find their fertile years cut short and grow to regret misordering priorities. I tell them that I find it is a shame to cut off the chain of generations for fear of minor inconveniences or missing the latest toys, and probably mention my own disappointment at not being able to visit affections on grandchildren, with the implication that they may also feel this regret someday, not to mention also missing out on the relationships with grown children that can’t be replicating or likely approximated by transient modern friendships. I mention the dearth of space we had growing up, and how we wouldn’t have traded one of them for acres more.

            Should they find themselves unmoved for this, I mourn quietly in private and pray I am mistaken and that they are able to satisfactorily fill the maternal lack with vacations and cats.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            You’re assuming that high-birthrate social values can be passed down reliably enough that the patriarchy inherits the Earth. Is there any reason you don’t expect a long, slow decline?

            If I can I’ll try to find the breakdown of birthrates by region and race. That should demonstrate that the declining birthrates are rather localized to the Femtocracy, but the Patriarchy is alive and well out here in the Red States. Remember 53% of white women Betrayed the Sisterhood and voted Trump. The Amish will do fine, the Mormons will do fine, the Muslims will do fine, we Catholics are doing fine. If the 0.9 children/woman birthrate for white urbanites is accurate, the decline will be neither long nor slow. It will be short and fast for those who have placed as priorities absolutely everything that reduces one’s chances of reproduction. Promiscuity, homosexuality, delayed marriage, abortion, female career advancement, etc. These are clustered memes, sacred values to the Blue Tribe, but not the Red Tribe.

            You keep presuming that women want to have children, but this assumption contravenes the available evidence.

            I don’t think it does? Do you have any recent surveys about to what extent women want to have kids? And again how does that break down by locality? I was under the impression as Aapje said that current childlessness is more people being unable to have kids rather than not wanting them.

            I know you love and want for the best for your kids. No idea whether you have a daughter, but let’s imagine you do. Imagine your daughter grows up, moves out, shacks up with a nice guy and still doesn’t have kids. You ask her why. “We don’t have enough space. It’d be stressful. I don’t want to move back with you and Mom. I don’t think I could handle being a stay-at-home mom.” What do you say to her?

            I do have a daughter. In your example it seems that she wants to have kids but can’t afford it? I would give her money.

            The “””problem””” here is that she doesn’t want to bear the cost. And having kids always carries a cost. In order to make the alternative attractive, it seems like the only real alternative is raising the cost of not having children for her.

            No, I’d just give her money. I’m financially stable now and expect that by the time she’s old enough to marry I’ll be much better off than I am now.

            You could pester her to have kids every time you see her, or disown her, or something else that would bring down her quality of life, but would you do that to your own flesh and blood for the sake of The Birthrates?

            Well, no, I’m just going to mainly avoid exposing her to foolish Girl Power Careerist memes and instead expose her to pro-family memes, the most important being the example her mom and I set for her. That should probably take care of it, and if not it’s the same old problem of “well, I did my best, now it’s up to the kids” that every parent has dealt with since Adam and Eve. Nature pretty much takes care of this stuff. You have to propagandize people away from the Natural Order of Things in order to have a problem (like the memes I listed above) so…just don’t do that and you’ll probably be fine. If not, c’est la vie.

            I think you’re under the mistaken impression that The Femtocracy has already conquered the world. No, just the Blue Tribe. So it might look like the whole world because the shows on TV are all made by the Blue Tribe, but out here in Redstateopia we switched that dumb thing off a long time ago.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            You could pester her to have kids every time you see her, or disown her, or something else that would bring down her quality of life, but would you do that to your own flesh and blood for the sake of The Birthrates?

            Most people wouldn’t.

            Uhhhhhhhh…”when am I getting grandkids” is a constant refrain. It’s partly why I suggested my wife tell HER mom about our fertility issues, because they were getting antsy for grandkids and the questions/expectations were getting painful for her.

            I can’t speak for Conrad, but I strongly suspect that my daughters and sons will want to have kids, because they will be around other young people that also have kids. It wouldn’t be anymore unusual than going to college, just another expected life milestone. The real challenge will be making sure my children do not make colossal mistakes along the way that PREVENT that.

          • Jiro says:

            You don’t get credit for reforms forced on you by opposing parties.

            If people don’t get credit for reforms forced on them, do they get blamed for bad things forced on them? Because if they do, you end up with a situation similar to this Asymmetric Justice lesswrong post, except that instead of “there is no ethical action under complexity”, you get “there is no ethical action under force”.

          • LadyJane says:

            @DinoNerd

            If the only commonly available careers for women are prostitute, child minder, servant, baby factory, or the combination of all of them known as “wife”, then the snotty noses one wipes might just as well be those of one’s own offspring and the man who masturbates himself with your body might just as well be your childrens’ father.

            While I otherwise whole-heartedly agree with 100% of your post, this seems extreme, uncharitable, and needlessly inflammatory. And I say that as someone who generally doesn’t mind spicing up arguments with a bit of hyperbole.

            @Conrad Honcho:

            But I’m more distressed by my wife’s late 20s friend who reports that neither she nor any of her girlfriends know how to cook. That seems like a far more useful skill applicable to living a successful life than javascript. If President Trump were to launch a #LearnToCook initiative for little girls, how do you think the media, academic and tech elite would respond?

            Honestly, everyone should learn to cook, at least on a rudimentary level. Our society does a very poor job teaching children the basic essentials of how to live their day-to-day lives. I’d be fine with bringing back cooking classes and carpentry classes, and if some men learned to cook while some women learned carpentry, I’d be fine that too.

            Yes, it was terrible that some women who wanted to be doctors were stymied by assumptions that a woman’s place was in the home. But most women probably preferred taking care of a home and loving family rather than chained to a desk at the call center. Most careers aren’t as noble a profession as doctoring. It’s mostly thankless drudgery.

            Doesn’t the same apply for men too? You could just as easily ask why men should have to do the thankless drudgery of pushing papers and answering phones instead of traditionally masculine work like building houses. And a few men do choose to go full Ted Kaczynski and withdraw from society, build their own home with their bare hands, and live off the land out in the woods somewhere. But despite being a much more traditionally masculine way of life, the vast majority of men don’t opt for that choice.

            As you mentioned, we live in an interconnected society. And some thankless drudgery needs to be done in order to keep society functioning, even if the impact of that work isn’t immediately visible in the same way that building a house is. It’s not very emotionally rewarding, because it’s hard to find any real sense of pride or satisfaction in getting TPS reports done on time, but until we reach full automation for white-collar work, someone needs to do it. The simple economic fact is, capitalism apparently needs paper pushers and call center workers more than it needs housewives and mothers.

            This seems to be a common pattern with progressive issues. Find an aggrieved and perhaps less successful/adaptive minority and elevate them to a higher status than the majority, to the majority’s detriment.

            Because in the past, when we did have strict patriarchal social norms, it was almost always detrimental to asexual women, queer women, ambitious career-oriented women, independent libertine women who wanted to travel and experience the world, and women who simply didn’t like the idea of getting married or having kids.

            Maybe it’s possible to have a traditional system that’s a little more flexible and willing to tolerate exceptions, as long as they don’t become the norm. But I hope you can understand why social progressives don’t have a lot of faith in that working out, given the course of history.

            Yes, it would be less distressing if the media and corporate apparatus were not also championing mass immigration to make up for our “labor shortages.”

            I think that has a lot more to do with minimum wage laws, labor regulations, and perverse incentives than a straight-up lack of people.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Adrian & LadyJane

            The idea of “wife” as being a combination of (contracted) prostitute, servant, etc. comes from a female child in the early ’70s, who had developed a serious case of feminism, and was pushing back against attempts to make her change her behaviour to be more “attractive”.

            She intended to support herself in some non-traditional role rather than relying on a husband, and therefore insisted loudly that she didn’t need to take Home Economics, learn how to use makeup, or pay attention to fashion. The same child also insisted that “effeminate” and “feminine” were synonyms, to the consternation of her grade 9 English teacher.

            I figure that in an age with more strongly enforced gender roles, this kid would either have eventually abandoned her birth community and taken on a male identity elsewhere, or become a suicide and/or mental health statistic.

            She’s my mental image for the type of person who gets harmed by strongly enforced gender roles.

            And the image of “masturbating with someone’s body” – there I’m just imagining the experience (or expectation) of e.g. a lesbian who “settles” for marriage in a culture that’s offering her only extremely limited choices, so as to promote their birthrate.

            Because there’s little pressure on people to marry currently, at least in the west, it’s not likley that this is a common experience – not even for Aapje’s wife 🙁 But it is the obvious outcome of must-marry-to-avoid-penury and similar social rules.

            Though I figure there’d also be a lot of women-not-attracted-to-men trying to attract the richest, oldest, lowest life expectancy husbands they can find, so as to spend the least amount of time possible married, and the longest as a comfortable widow. That’s of course unfair to the men involved, but presumably good for the birthrate.

          • Dan L says:

            @ The original Mr. X:

            I’m flippant, but honest. In my experience, this topic is not at all unusual in grad/law/med school. I’ve yet to see anyone “ostracized from polite society” for discussing it appropriately, but pressing it on an arbitrary stranger when you have a clear agenda is creepy as fuck.

            @ Randy M:

            This approach is a fine one specifically from a parent to their child, more awkward the more tenuous the link. But please be careful in assuming that everyone has a offspring-shaped hole in their heart – weep not for that I do not share your utility function.

            @ Conrad Honcho:

            I do have a daughter. In your example it seems that she wants to have kids but can’t afford it? I would give her money.

            This can work, if it’s a known quantity and can be planned around. But it can also backfire, and it definitely doesn’t generalize. Yet. Build the Cathedral of the Miracle of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, and I bet you’d have a lot of volunteers.

            (Patent the tech and refuse to license it though, and the ethics get complicated again. Ditto with the government officially endorsing such a monopoly.)

            @ Jiro:

            If people don’t get credit for reforms forced on them, do they get blamed for bad things forced on them?

            Maybe I was unclear – I’m speaking of cultures, not persons. A culture gets a black mark for not fixing a problem while it was ascendant in a way that it wouldn’t if people in that society had alternatives.

            (Does this mean Archipelago is preferred as a series of incommensurable societies? Sounds like a feature.)

            But to elaborate my point, I’m deeply suspicious whenever someone targets the 1950s as a traditionalist golden age – either they’re actually in favor of things that would be deeply non-traditional for the vast, vast majority of western civilization, or the advice is just a particular flavor of “try being rich and privileged, that worked for me/Beaver“.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Aw, Dan you remembered the name of my daydream! Sweetheart, you!

            I’m just saying, pick a meme. Evaluate the meme to see whether it’s pro-reproduction or anti. If it’s pro it’s probably red tribe. If it’s anti it’s probably blue. If you apply the memeplex to a population…what happens?

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Re: cooking. Warning, slight ramble. Better point at the bottom.

            I really hate to say it, but I only know of 2 women that know how to cook decently, and they are both in the same family (so probably something about their upbringing).

            Most women (including my wife) have cooking skills ranging from abysmal to “meh.” My one sister-in-law doesn’t even have working pots and pans, my other sister-in-law doesn’t even have basic pantry ingredients. One of my friends thought she was a great chef because she prepared those Costco pre-prepared meals. One of my friends dated a girl who was shocked and surprised that he knew how to cook chicken (???). My sister, God bless her heart, asked her husband how to boil vegetables.

            Now, as for the guys. Multiple (okay, 2), have been personally yelled at on TV by Gordon Ramsey. It’s just shocking how much care and effort the guys put into their cooking, and how much the girls just. Don’t. Give. A. Shit.

            Broader point: Rudimentary cooking skills are not enough. People have higher incomes now and can afford to eat out more often, but this is a consumption trap, and a huge problem for your caloric and salt intakes. You should be able to cook well enough that you can produce a tasty meal that reduces your likelihood of wanting to go out. If your best home-cooking is inferior to McDonalds, you cannot cook good enough.

            Also, Thanksgiving at my in-laws is fucking horrible. They ALL need to learn how to cook. Kraft Mac&Cheese is better than what they make.

          • Aapje says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            Look, women have demonstrated some degree of disfavor for having children. You keep presuming that women want to have children, but this assumption contravenes the available evidence.

            I think that society is lying to people, including to women, who get told that they can have it all: a strong career, a very good partner who performs the traditional male role and also part of the female role, a long period without kids while still having them, etc. A lot of Dutch women are smart and ignore the worst feminist lies, but plenty don’t.

            This study found that a majority of UK and Danish women desired their first child after age 30, when fertility is already on the decline. One fifth of women and one third of men actually desired their last child at age 40. The study found a strong correlation with women being misinformed about fertility declines and a desire to have children late.

            I see a lot of upset women who end up in trouble. The most recent example from my country is single women fighting for (and of course getting) publicly funded sperm. Traditionally, this was paid for by healthcare insurance for couples with an infertile man, but now it seems that not having a man/sperm donor is a medical problem that needs healthcare. Furthermore, it seems that a single woman who can’t afford a few hundred Euro’s for sperm is assumed to have the financial resources for a kid.

            Anyway, I personally believe that both the earth in general and my country even more so, is overpopulated, so I’m good with (somewhat) below replacement birth rates. However, I’m not so delusional to believe that the current way we achieve this doesn’t cause severe distress in many people.

            @Conrad

            The number of parents/women who desire zero children seems to be at lizardman levels in the US and EU, at 2% and 3% respectively.

          • ana53294 says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy

            What is your definition of knowing how to cook?

            In Spain, at least, the only people I know who don’t know how to cook are those who lived with their parents for their entire adult life. Those who moved out for college all learnt how to cook, and even most of the ones who lived with their parents.

            Knowing how to cook in Spain means, at a minimum: being able to make a decent paella*, a spanish omelette, fry an egg*, make a salad, fry a steak, bake a chicken and make pasta sauce. Everybody I know also learnt how to make yoghurt cake.

            *How paella is made and how an egg is fried is a culture war issue in Spain. We take paella very seriously.

          • Nick says:

            @Aapje, @Conrad Honcho
            An anecdote: the only person I know who didn’t want children was a girl in my high school, and she was very, very vocal about not wanting children. She was visibly disgusted by young children. She also identified as asexual; I don’t know how much of it was a disinterest/disgust for sex and how much of it was disgust for children.

            Probably an outlier even by “don’t want children” standards, I guess….

          • acymetric says:

            @ana53294

            I would guess that the USA is a bit of an outlier in terms of massive decline in ability to cook. The dominance of fast food/casual dining and pre-prepared meals in grocery stores probably has a lot to do with this, I guess.

          • ana53294 says:

            I’ve never tasted pre-prepared meals that were particularly good*. Even pre-made pizza is not very good, and I love pizza. Take-out tends to use bad quality oils for cooking, and you can notice it in the taste. It also tends to be very carb heavy.

            Does this mean many Americans spend their whole life eating gross food? Or are American take-out and pre-prepared meals better than in Spain (which would be strange, in a country which has lost cooking skills)?

            *The best I’ve found is the quite fancy brand Picard, which kind of approximates homemade food. Most pre-made food is nowhere near home-cooked stuff.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            There’s also a gender divide in cooking methods. I wonder what percentage of men don’t know how to grill?

          • ana53294 says:

            I guess it depends on whether you use a gas or charcoal grill. There’s more skill in the charcoal grill.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Broader point: Rudimentary cooking skills are not enough.

            Depends on your tastes. I can cook a few more complicated dishes (and my wife is a better cook), but the fact is that for me just throwing a hamburger or some chicken on the grill is going to be just fine. No grill? I can put a steak in the broiler, cook pasta with tomato sauce, or a few other simple things.

          • meh says:

            @Aapje

            The number of parents/women who desire zero children seems to be at lizardman levels in the US and EU, at 2% and 3% respectively.

            Is that was the survey was asking?

          • Adrian says:

            @DinoNerd

            The idea of “wife” as being a combination of (contracted) prostitute, servant, etc. comes from a female child in the early ’70s, who had developed a serious case of feminism, and was pushing back against attempts to make her change her behaviour to be more “attractive”.
            […]
            She’s my mental image for the type of person who gets harmed by strongly enforced gender roles.

            You’re setting up a strawmanwoman for the most oppressed woman imaginable, then you stamp the label “wife” on it, disregarding that your description doesn’t apply to the vast majority of those women called “wives” in modern Western society. That’s downright disingenuous.

            If I misunderstood you and that’s not what you’re doing here, then please be more straightforward and less cryptic.

          • Because in the past, when we did have strict patriarchal social norms, it was almost always detrimental to asexual women, queer women, ambitious career-oriented women, independent libertine women who wanted to travel and experience the world, and women who simply didn’t like the idea of getting married or having kids.

            I’m not sure how far back you are going or how large an effect you count as “detrimental.” If you go back to about the first half of the 20th century, Edna St. Vincent Millay was openly bisexual. A woman who was a friend of my parents when I was growing up was, looking back at it, pretty clearly a lesbian, living with another woman—it didn’t seem to keep her from having a successful academic career and an active life. There seem to have been a fair number of women who didn’t marry and did pursue careers.

            How much of the difference you are seeing represents women unable to do what they wanted because there were large barriers, how much women who choose to be wives and mothers because that looked like a relatively attractive life? How can one tell?

            If you go back a little farther, there were some careers, such as law, that were not open to women. But if the question is whether one can combine a society where the default pattern for a woman is marriage and children with a reasonable set of options for women who reject that default, then the mid-20th century seems looks to me like evidence that you can.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            A point I probably didn’t make clear enough:

            The cost of having children is not solely monetary and it’s stupid to pretend it is. “Give them more money” isn’t a cure-all. IME (though I run in a young crowd and I expect this to change as age increases), most of the people who say they want children don’t think much about what parts of their lives they’ll have to give up for it. Most of the people who don’t, do. There’s a difference between “want kids” and “want to give [~50% of my life] up for kids.”

            Like, this whole movement did not come from nowhere. A group of lizardmenbeings didn’t get together at the center of the hollow earth and devise the strategy of female empowerment in order to ride the ascendance of the Hasidim all the way to the White House (and I’m obviously not saying you think they did; I’m making the following point). If women didn’t want this, why did they march for it, agitate for it, vote for it? Why is the (full) tradwife crowd so small? I don’t begrudge anyone that life if they want it; it’s just as valid as the sort of life my sort of people appear to want. But the existence of this (from your POV) predicament is my evidence that it isn’t one, at least not on a grand scale. There aren’t (there may actually be, I’m too lazy to run the numbers and this number is meant to mean, “a majority of childless”) tens of millions of women out there with a gaping hole in their lives that would be filled by dropping a happy bundle of childcare, housemaking, expenses, and depression into it. Conditions need to be right for the tradeoffs to be worthwhile. For a fraction of those people, the major tradeoff is money, not the emotional load. But only for a fraction. If things were otherwise, I don’t think women (mostly) could have pushed this whole institution so far uphill.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            Also, everyone should cook. Everyone can cook. IME, cooking is also actually one of the very best things to do with a child, if my relationship with my father is anything to go by.

            Also, eggs are properly fried over hard. @ana, los huevos de España faltan porque les faltan huevos.

          • Hoopyfreud says:

            Locked out of editing;

            There aren’t (there may actually be, I’m too lazy to run the numbers and this number is meant to mean, “a majority of childless”) tens of millions of women out there with a gaping hole in their lives that would be filled by dropping a happy bundle of childcare, housemaking, expenses, and depression into it.

            Should read

            There aren’t (there may actually be, I’m too lazy to run the numbers and this number is meant to mean, “a majority of childless”) tens of millions of women out there with a gaping hole in their lives that would be filled by simply dropping them into a happy whirl of childcare, housemaking, expenses, and depression

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Does this mean many Americans spend their whole life eating gross food?

            Pretty much, except for the times someone goes out to a nice restaurant. My in-laws unironically think Olive Garden is an awesome restaurant, but it is honestly superior to anything they cook.

            You mention eggs. My wife makes “scrambled” eggs by cracking them directly into a pan and running a spatula through them like a mad men. Totally fine if you are a college student in rush. Not okay for Sunday morning Breakfast (with a capital “B”).

            I mean, I’m not a particularly GOOD cook. I definitely oversalted the hash browns this morning. But it’s not really hard to make some decent food that makes fast food seem unappealing by comparison. Cut up some onion, grate some potatoes, throw in some bacon fat, season a bit. Proper scrambled eggs over the top (since my Wife doesn’t like fried eggs, particularly over-easy).

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            The cost of having children is not solely monetary and it’s stupid to pretend it is. “Give them more money” isn’t a cure-all. IME (though I run in a young crowd and I expect this to change as age increases), most of the people who say they want children don’t think much about what parts of their lives they’ll have to give up for it. Most of the people who don’t, do. There’s a difference between “want kids” and “want to give [~50% of my life] up for kids.”

            The majority of your female friends will likely be mothers by the time they are in their 40s. The childless rate of women in their early 40s is something like 15-20%.

            The difference between having children when you are a 25 and you are 40 is that you are much less healthy and active at 40 then you are at 25. Also, if your kids decide to birth children at the same time you did, it’s the difference between having grand-kids at 50 or grand-kids at 80. And it is the difference between seeing your grandkids get marry and have great grandkids being born at 75, or never seeing it because you are dead.

            Also, with the specifics of partnership, if you delay finding a partner till you are in your 30s….well, those people largely have a reason they are single.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Hoopyfreud

            Like most progressives causes, it’s a small percentage of loud activists responsible for changing the social norms for the majority. Propaganda works.

            ETA: I think you’re not getting my point. You’re explaining why your social group doesn’t have kids. I agree they don’t want or aren’t having kids. Regardless of why, systems that do not procreate do not survive into the future. That they’ve got a really good reason for it doesn’t change the fact they still die out.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I don’t know what kids are thinking – but when I’m disgusted with ‘capitalism’ in soundbite mode, I’m often actually thinking of:

      1) Externalities of all kinds. Everything from phone bots with ad spiels thru environmental degradation. Also things like ever-lengthening copyright terms – and their effect of making things I want difficult to acquire.

      2) Regulatory capture and related phenomena, and their effect on public health and welfare.

      3) Especially ugly-looking examples of greed. Or less ugly/more questionable cases, otherwise similar. For a soundbite example, try whatever headline you first find involving massive sudden increases in the price of some medicine people need in order to survive.

      4) Systematic transfer of risk from corporations to individuals.

      And for the record, I’d probably say “American capitalism” in my soundbite mode, or American-style capitalism” not just “capitalism.”

      • mustacheion says:

        I strongly agree with your points #1, 2, and agree somewhat with #4. I think you did a pretty good job compactly describing what I dislike about capitalism.

        More specifically, I don’t think capitalism is intrinsically evil. I think it is an extremely useful tool for organizing some types of human behavior, and I don’t think humanity could have transitioned from feudal society to modern society without capitalism.

        But I think capitalism (as currently practiced in the Western world) is extremely vulnerable to two major classes of failures: externalities and regulatory capture. I think that over the past half century or so some groups have gotten so good at exploiting these two failure modes of capitalism and by doing so are causing so many problems for humanity that we really need to reduce or dependence on capitalism as an ideology, at least in some areas. I think a capitalist model works well for things like making shoes, less well at making things like software, and very poorly at providing healthcare. I would abolish capitalism from some sectors of the economy, but not others. But I don’t exactly have a plan on how to do that so…

      • toastengineer says:

        when I’m disgusted with ‘capitalism’ in soundbite mode, I’m often actually thinking of:

        Okay, but you realize the people who say they like “capitalism” aren’t talking about anything like any of these things, right?

        • DinoNerd says:

          As soon as you get out of soundbite mode, everything gets much more complex.

          But I can’t easily imagine a person who liked capitalism because of those particular aspects of it. Maybe a particularly amoral capitalist, who consciously figured on using elements of that list to increase their own personal wealth would in fact see these as positive qualities, but even they probably wouldn’t say so publically.

    • spkaca says:

      What they mean (unintentionally) is to show that they have no experience of not-capitalism. A nice long holiday in Venezuela or North Korea might be educational, assuming they survived it.

      “I’d probably say “American capitalism” in my soundbite mode”
      This is a softer and more sensible form, but it still usually depends on an idealised set of beliefs about the way capitalism works in Western Europe (or Canada or Japan). Or to put it another way, comparing the worst of America to the best of Europe.

      • An Fírinne says:

        Maybe a nice long holiday in the capitalist utopias of Somalia, the Congo and Uganda would set them straight? Assuming they survived it.

        • greenwoodjw says:

          Wait, those are capitalist? I thought they were libertarian strawmen, not capitalist ones?

          (Really, they’re tribal, possibly feudal, societies, if anything)

        • spkaca says:

          OK mixed feelings here. On the one hand, I think Somalia and Uganda are less-central instances of capitalism than Venezuela and North Korea are of not-capitalism. On the other, my comment was on reflection too much like drive-by sarcasm and I’ll refrain from such flippancy in future.

        • toastengineer says:

          How about we all agree that North Korea or the Soviet Union are not central examples of socialism, Somalia is not a central example of liberty, Nazi Germany is not a central example of traditionalism, et cetera et cetera, so we can have some actual discussion instead of flinging shit at eachother?

          • cassander says:

            Because for 80 years, the soviet union was the heart of the world socialist movement, celebrated by socialists around the world, and no libertarian as ever claimed Somalia. the situations are not comparable

          • John Schilling says:

            I can agree with some of that, but the Soviet Union is absolutely the central example of communism, and we’ve got people saying that nothing counts as “socialism” if there is any private ownership of capital, so I’m sticking those socialists and anyone who stands too close to them with the central example of the Soviet Unions.

    • DeWitt says:

      as they seem increasingly wont to do?

      I mean, are they? My impression is that they aren’t. Musicians got stuff lobbed at them with people yelling dirty capitalist their way twenty-five years ago in ways that seem almost quaintly silly today. The ones that do say so are louder, because they have Twitter, but are they larger in number?

    • The Nybbler says:

      I believe it generally means “I am in favor of programs that take money from older people and give it to younger people like me”. This is because it tends to come along with a sense that Millennials and Gen Z are facing a far worse employment and economic situation that older generations (who they round off as “boomers”) ever did, and this is somehow the result of the actions of those older generations. Since the system that created this is called “capitalism”, anti-capitalism rhetoric is very convenient.

      The premise is false; it’s false even for those who had the misfortune to graduate into the Great Recession (who had it almost as bad as those who graduated in the 1970s and early 1980s). But I see no way of convincing them of that

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        Far worse might be hyperbolic, but “worse” does seem to have some truthiness . Wage stagnation plus higher health insurance premiums covered by employers [which said millennial will likely not use for some time] plus bachelors degrees for modest entry level service sector jobs.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Yeah, the mandated government transfers from young to old have only increased over the past decade. And credentialism is making it harder and harder at the bottom rungs.

        • acymetric says:

          Aren’t “millennials” projected to have worse financial outcomes than their parents (with the claim that this will be the first time that has happened)? Maybe that oft repeated claim is dubious (I don’t know how accurate it is), but average people probably tend to believe it which is all that really matters if we want to explain why they say things.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Far worse might be hyperbolic, but “worse” does seem to have some truthiness .

          You have to search pretty far to find a cherry to pick that demonstrates that. By most measures things are better, by many very much better.

          • acymetric says:

            Better for who? Maybe the economy is doing better, but that does not necessarily translate to job prospects for young people being better.

            And people who entered the job market during the recession are doing worse than both the people who graduated before and after them, so you have a few years worth of people who probably have a legitimate gripe about how things are going for them.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            I would look at things like inflation adjusted entry level salaries, net worth at different age brackets 20-30, youth mortality, suicide, percent dating or married.

            The “anecdote” as I understood it was that a 25 y/o boomer obviously had less access to technology than a 25 y/o millennial but he could start remunerative entry level work at a younger age with no debt, get married and live away from his/her parents earlier etc. etc.

            You sound like you have something more concrete that disproves the anecdote. I’m genuinely interested in seeing it.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            Better for everyone, in vague general terms. But specifically, a mid-level administrative or managerial job in the 1980’s was something you could work your way into, but now you need to a Bachelor’s Degree in [nobody cares]. Which means you have to mortgage your future career before you even get started, which means you have to put off buying a house, which means putting off family formation. Deviating leaves you stuck as lower-class basically forever.

            Mechanic? Degree. Barber? Degree. Paralegal? Degree. Management position? Degree.

            On top of that, any time you do business with anyone collecting Social Security you’re basically paying for them yourself.

            So, you can’t start a family because the generation before you walled-off normal avenues for advanced work, made mortgaging your future a requirement, and now demands that you give them money on top of it.

            Regardless of how much “better” the world is, that will breed resentment.

          • acymetric says:

            @greenwoodjw

            For a subset of this age group, add someting about the previous generation implementing policies/business practices that lead to the recession/housing crisis and I think that pretty much nails it.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            greenwoodjw, I agree with your assessment, but:

            Mechanic? Degree. Barber? Degree.

            Really? Maybe a certificate for a mechanic and higher rates if you do two years at a vocational school, but a barber? Isn’t that just a training course and a license?

          • greenwoodjw says:

            a barber? Isn’t that just a training course and a license?

            It’s a $10,000+ training course that lasts over a year. I’m counting it. 😛

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Do you have a source for that? I know credentialism is out of control, but I have a hard time believing it costs $10k to become a barber. I can believe there exist high-end and high-tuition beauty schools for people who want to be hairdresser to the stars or something, but you’re telling me the person doing $7 snips at Supercuts spent $10k on his or her license?

          • greenwoodjw says:

            https://govt.westlaw.com/mdc/Document/N58B587A026C611E5B2B5A75792492041?viewType=FullText&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default)

            Just for Maryland:
            1200 hour course. 150 days, or at least 5 months. In a state-accredited school. I’d be shocked if it was less than $10k

          • John Schilling says:

            but now you need to a Bachelor’s Degree in [nobody cares]. Which means you have to mortgage your future career before you even get started

            I’m going to push back on this. Median student loan debt at graduation is I believe under $20,000, which I do not believe can be fairly described as “mortgaging your future career”. Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in [nobody cares] from [random college] because a BA is the new High School diploma, does not require crippling debt and often involves no debt at all. The nightmarish debt stories seem to mostly involve either MAs in [uselessology] because one is part of the Intellectual Elite and not one of those damn dirty plebs barely better than a (gasp) high school graduate, or BAs/BSs from elite universities because “everybody knows” that if you don’t go to one of the best universities you’ll die in the gutter. And it doesn’t take many of those nightmare stories with six-figure debt to push the average up to $30-40K.

            If there are career paths that require six-figure debt and don’t have starting salaries adequate to pay it off, that’s a problem. But, anecdotally, my colleagues and I hire a fair number of people with freshly-minted MSs from elite universities. And we have the ability to offer student loan forgiveness, because we are technically a non-profit working in the public interest. Almost nobody takes us up on it.

            So, I’m not buying the narrative where crippling student debt, “mortgaging your future career”, is anything close to a universal or necessary condition for success in the 21st-century American economy. If there are parts of the economy where that narrative does hold, let’s start by figuring out which parts those are. They probably aren’t the “generic BA as the new HS diploma” parts, and they aren’t the high-level STEM parts, so where else should we be looking?

          • baconbits9 says:

            not one of those damn dirty plebs barely better than a (gasp) high school graduate, or BAs/BSs from elite universities because “everybody knows” that if you don’t go to one of the best universities you’ll die in the gutter.

            That’s not what it is, its ‘I didn’t get into an Ivy League and my kids are going if they get in, come hell, high water or repossession of my house’ because admitting that a top level education isn’t totally necessary is the same as admitting my professional limitations have to do with me and not the system.

          • acymetric says:

            @baconbits9

            Do you really think that is a good representation of the thought process?

          • baconbits9 says:

            In my experience a subset of people go to the ‘best’ college that they get into without regard for cost and with a total unwillingness to take a cheaper route. Those people who ended up with large debts generally had gone to a university a level or two above their parents or went a degree deeper.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            I’m going to push back on this.

            I confess “mortgage your career” was a hyperbolic rhetorical flourish. I was trying to get how it feels, rather than the actual numbers. I loved [uselessology] though.

            My point was, starting in the hole because of red tape put up by the people who also decided you were going to fund their retirement would breed resentment.

          • baconbits9 says:

            To actually answer the question, no I don’t think its a representation of the thought process. I don’t think its a specific thought process, but more a general feeling of ‘I’m not particularly happy with my station, I want my kids to be happy, and the people I am envious of mostly went to top schools’.

          • The Nybbler says:

            They probably aren’t the “generic BA as the new HS diploma” parts, and they aren’t the high-level STEM parts, so where else should we be looking?

            I know one place: social work, or many sorts of mental health therapy that require a masters degree. Degrees are expensive, work is often fee-for-service except for some of the worst jobs (e.g. locked wards) and the fees aren’t high because insurance won’t pay much. Also clients tend not to show up and it’s the therapist who takes the loss, and there’s a lot of (unreimbursed) paperwork hours per therapeutic hour.

        • 10240 says:

          Wage stagnation, to the extent it’s true in some income percentiles, is adjusted for inflation, so it’s “not better”, rather than “worse”.

      • acymetric says:

        Do you have any numbers showing that graduating in the 70s and 80s was worse than graduating in during the recent recession?

        • The Nybbler says:

          Unemployment rate:

          https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE

          The 1983 peak was worse, the 2009 peak was wider, but unemployment rate was generally higher in that period; there were about 5 years where unemployment was above the lowest level between 1975 and 1987.

          Unemployment for 20-24 year olds is similar, though worse for the 2008 recession.

          https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS14000036

          Unfortunately figures for high school grads and college grads separately are not readily available for the earlier period.

          Inflation

          https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=nWfb

          Clearly worse in the 70s and 80s.

          Median personal income

          https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEPAINUSA672N

          • acymetric says:

            But being unemployed isn’t the only way to be worse off. One of the big issues with graduates during the recession was under employment, and one of the lingering issues is that they subsequently got leapfrogged by fresh grads when the economy recovered a few years later (the last part could have been the same, better, or worse in the past depending on business hiring practices at the time…I wasn’t there so I can’t speak to it directly).

            I’m looking for but haven’t found any good historical underemployment numbers (same issue you had with finding separate stats for high school/college grads I imagine) so it is difficult to cross-compare. Unemployment was pretty close in the two periods, although as you mention the 2009 peak took longer to come down. If underemployment were higher in the 2009 period, that would make the 2009 era worse on net, even granting that there were slightly less unemployed.

            As far as inflation, I’m not enough of an economist (read: I am not an economist at all) to make this argument, but there is certainly debate over whether we are properly measuring inflation suggesting that it is higher now than the numbers show.

            Median income is slightly surprising, but to be relevant to this discussion it would really need to be separated by age (which I also couldn’t find, unfortunately).

            Finally…what were young people saying about prior generations in the 70s and 80s? My impression isn’t that it was all warm fuzzies then either.

          • j1000000 says:

            Nybbler — Only median personal income there seems convincing to me in terms of “things are getting better.” Yet the obvious retort is that the 50% growth in income over the past 40 years has been dwarfed by the cost disease stuff — growth in housing prices (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CSUSHPINSA) or the growth in cost of public universities in the past 30 years (https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/cp-2018-figure-3.png) or the massive increase in health care costs generally.

            Can you elaborate on why you think that’s not valid?

          • baconbits9 says:

            Yet the obvious retort is that the 50% growth in income over the past 40 years has been dwarfed by the cost disease stuff — growth in housing prices

            The shift in income is real, ie inflation adjusted, and inflation includes these issues. The housing price one is also wildly overstated by most people, the 30 year mortgage rate was 2-5x higher during the 70s and 80s. $100,00 on a 30 year loan at 8% will cost you $260,000 in payments, similar to a $150,000 loan at 4%. My parents bought in the US in 1986 with interest rates around 12%, and didn’t get to refinance to less than 10% until the early 90s. IIRC they refinanced again in the late 90s and their average rate (ball parking the weighting) would have been around 10% for the first 20 years of that loan. Yeah, their nominal house price was lower but their actually housing costs were closer than the raw numbers look.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @baconbits9:
            The issue being that you can refinance when rates come down.

            But if rates go up, you are in a precarious position. You are locked into your current situation, or worse you default. Which is what happened to a lot of first time buyers post-2008.

          • baconbits9 says:

            @baconbits9:
            The issue being that you can refinance when rates come down.

            I addressed that in my example, mortgages taken in the mid 80s took 20+ years to average 8% interest rates, and mortgages in the 70s basically never averaged 8% rates.

            The point stands that using nominal housing prices as a stand in for costs gives a highly distorted picture of costs.

          • acymetric says:

            $100,00 on a 30 year loan at 8% will cost you $260,000 in payments, similar to a $150,000 loan at 4%.

            A house that cost $100,000 then would (in most cases) be worth quite a bit more than $150,000 today. That seems like evidence that housing costs have gone up to me, not that they’ve gone down or even stayed the same. At the very least, it calls for a smaller down payment (lower barrier to entry).

            Since this conversation is (or at least was) specific to young people, rental costs may be as important as housing. Apartmentslist is not necessarily some kind of highly touted authority on housing stats, but this seems like a good place to start for info on this:

            https://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/rent-growth-since-1960/

          • baconbits9 says:

            But if rates go up, you are in a precarious position. You are locked into your current situation, or worse you default. Which is what happened to a lot of first time buyers post-2008.

            This happened to no first time buyers post 2008 because rates never actually went up.

          • baconbits9 says:

            A house that cost $100,000 then would (in most cases) be worth quite a bit more than $150,000 today. That seems like evidence that housing costs have gone up to me, not that they’ve gone down or even stayed the same.

            I didn’t claim that they declined or stayed the same, the op is about how median incomes have gone up and the rebuttal was increased housing and education costs.

          • acymetric says:

            I didn’t claim that they declined or stayed the same, the op is about how median incomes have gone up and the rebuttal was increased housing and education costs.

            I…know? You appeared to be arguing that housing and education costs did not outweigh median wage increases, but your numbers don’t really support that claim. Did I misunderstand what you were trying to say?

          • baconbits9 says:

            I…know? You appeared to be arguing that housing and education costs did not outweigh median wage increases, but your numbers don’t really support that claim. Did I misunderstand what you were trying to say?

            They clearly do outweigh housing and education cost increases.

          • j1000000 says:

            @baconbits and @nybbler my bad, didn’t realize how extensive CPI was.

    • J Mann says:

      what do they mean when they say “fuck capitalism,”

      My interpretation is that they want various political and economic changes,* and they perceive capital as obstructing their goal of reorganizing society. They view “the rich” as earning too much money and exercising too much political power.

      * Roughly, they want more political and economic power for themselves and for people who they view as having similar views to themselves, and they want to reorganize the world economy to eliminate the use of carbon. Being young, they also think that a number of complex problems have simple and obvious solutions.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Charitably: we live in a capitalist system. This system is capable of producing great wealth and prosperity. The results of that great wealth and prosperity are distributed really unevenly, even within the richest countries. This indicates something is wrong with the system. Right now, a system could be constructed where people work a lot less than they do, or maybe don’t have to work at all, and still enjoy a good quality of life. This wasn’t possible before, and it’s always been necessary for most people to work to live – but now we can end that.

    • Murphy says:

      A lot of the time it makes me roll my eyes… but at the same time there’s often cases where it very much looks like society and government has been optimized to the benefit of the big companies, the ultra rich and big shareholders. Which it has… because that’s kinda how power works.

      Expecting the world to not be such would be like expecting medieval kings to not routinely fuck over their peasants.

      I can understand that often they’re pragmatic choices: sweetheart deals and low taxes on highly mobile ultra rich people who can take their tax residence anywhere may be pragmatic for a local government… but it is inherently unfair, in a way that any small child can understand when a billionaire has a lower effective tax rate than their PA.

      And there’s endless little obvious unfairness’s where each locally often make complete sense when viewed from some angle… but sum up to a lot of people looking at the world and seeing that the deck is very much stacked against them because they weren’t born to the right family and that a lot of the people in charge who talk about freedom and fairness aren’t playing fairly and only care about their own freedom.

      “fuck cronyism and unfair but pragmatic responses to local conditions” might be more accurate a lot of the time but lacks punchiness.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I mean, you have it mostly correct, your only issue is not taking it seriously because it is vague. These people generally do not have a strong understanding of what “capitalism” is vs “socialism” and might be confused about certain policy specifics, but you have a close enough mental model.

      Maybe model these people closer to the “keep your government hands off my Medicare” crowd.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      I speculate that there’s a psychological element to it. Young people are people who’ve lived all their lives up to now in a world of face-to-face relationships, and are now getting their first taste of the impersonality of the wider world. While there will always be those of us who find it liberating, coming to grips with the fact that strangers don’t (under any system) care very much about you is probably hard for most people; “fuck capitalism” is, among other things, a way of shooting the messenger.

  27. LadyJane says:

    Every once in a while I’ll reflect upon the fact that I don’t really fit in with any political movement, and it’s kind of discouraging.

    I’ll agree with progressives when it comes to immigration, LGBT rights, drug legalization, decriminalizing sex work, and ending police brutality… but they go way too far to the left with some of their fiscal policies (“socialism can totally work this time, I swear!”), they support inane regulations on harmless things like straws and soda cups, and they’re married to gun control policies that are stupid, ineffective, and racist.

    So then I’ll feel like I belong with the libertarians in the “socially progressive but also pro-capitalist” camp… except they go way too far in the opposite direction by wanting to end taxes and regulations and welfare altogether! Just like the socialists and communists, their ideas work great in theory, but never seem to work out in practice. And after a while, “that wasn’t real capitalism” starts to sound just as hollow as “that wasn’t real socialism.”

    So then I’ll figure I belong in the middle, with the boring centrist liberal Democrat types… except they practically embody institutional corruption, they’re almost as hawkish on foreign policy as the Republicans, they support the surveillance state and indefinite detention without trial and the extralegal assassination of U.S. citizens, they keep pushing the War on Terror and the War on Drugs and the War on Prostitution, and their idea of centrism combines the worst elements of capitalism and socialism instead of the best (e.g. “the banks are too big to fail, but not too big to regulate”).

    I don’t know where that leaves me. Is there a place for anti-establishment centrist liberals? Or left-ish libertarians who don’t go full anti-capitalist left-libertarian, but also aren’t hardline Randian-style right-libertarians? I know there are libertarian capitalists and libertarian socialists, but are there any libertarian social democrats?

    All I know is that I’m vehemently opposed to nationalism and social conservatism, and I’m not exactly thrilled with the rest of mainstream American politics.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      I’m calling this “common sense libertarian”. The baseline and strong prior is that open market is usually better and regulation has a habit of creating about as many problems as it solves, but has a number of departures from strawmantextbook libertarianism:

      – awareness of problems that can’t be solved best by the open market, mostly Commons.

      – flexibility in defining the world you want. If, for example, your desired world prioritizes certain values over sheer efficiency, it’s perfectly ok to say that you want, for example, universal healthcare. Just be aware that there is rather large cost that will be payed from somewhere else, even if it’s not obvious.

      – practicality in choosing solutions. Social security net might be better implemented as private insurance, but for now, it’s easier to just treat is as a Commons issue.

      And above all, a healthy dose of fear for the invisible costs of regulation. Measure everything in QALY, put a monetary value on it and calculate how many babies each subsidy kills per year. And even so assume you haven’t been able to track all the costs.

      • DinoNerd says:

        Interesting. As described, that’s close-ish to where I am, except I’d never call my position ‘libertarianism’, and have a lot less fear of the costs of regulation.

        • IrishDude says:

          and have a lot less fear of the costs of regulation.

          Is that because you think the costs of regulation are low?

          • DinoNerd says:

            I think it’s more that I see the costs of non-regulation as also being high.

            I want e.g. safe food. I want to know what’s in the food I’m eating. I want a competent, effective check on the safety – and training requirements – for new airplane models.

            Bad regulations happen – politics and humans being what they are – and everything can have unintended consequences. But I still expect more bad consequences from the absence of (sensible) regulations.

            And I don’t consider the possibility of suing after an injury occurs to be either as effective as regulation for preventing the injury in the first place, or an adequate compensation if the injury does in fact occur.

          • albatross11 says:

            One reason I’m skeptical of most regulation (though I can see why some regulation makes sense) is that it’s often hard to see the full costs of regulation. You don’t see the businesses that never got started, or the products that were never produced, or the medicines that never made it to the clinic. A consequence of this is that there’s often nobody really meaningfully weighing the costs and benefits of some proposed regulation, since many of the costs are invisible to the political process and maybe invisible to everyone who isn’t a reasearcher using subtle tools to tease out either costs or benefits.

            I’m (more-or-less) libertarian in a very different sense that someone like David–I think that from where we are now, it would be reasonable to move in a more libertarian policy direction in most areas. But I don’t remotely think we should keep moving in that direction forever. I don’t know what the endpoint best society would be, but I doubt it would end up being no regulation.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            George McGovern, Democratic candidate for President in 1972, learned some things about regulation after leaving politics and entering the private sector.

            http://digital.library.ucla.edu/websites/2008_993_056/Politician_Dream.htm

            It is tough to know just what the “right level” is, but we can’t be sanguine and assume the best and brightest are surely doing it right.

        • LadyJane says:

          In general, I agree with Scott’s position when it comes to liberalism and libertarianism: Liberals tend to support welfare and regulations, libertarians tend to oppose welfare and regulations, I tend to support welfare but oppose regulations.

          That’s not to say that I universally oppose all regulations, because I recognize that some are necessary. I just think we have a lot more regulations than we need right now, and I tend to be very skeptical of them on the whole, especially when they serve the interests of large corporations at the expense of small businesses.

    • ana53294 says:

      Not having your political views represented is common for intellectuals, I guess.

      For example, I support liberalizing GMOs, permitting more of them, making permissive new regulation on the new GMO technologies such as CRISPR. I also support drastic cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy.

      There is not a single party I could find in Spain that supports it. I believe there are countries in Europe that have parties that support CAP reductions, but they are all in net payer countries.

      Parties that really support low deficits and low spending when they are actually in power only seem to exist in Germany (where they catastrophically underinvest in defense).

      For my other views, I have to choose between parties I am more-or-less aligned economically, but totally opposed on social views, and parties I support on social views, but whose economic policies I support. I occasionally think about holding my nose and voting for those parties whose social views I oppose, but then I don’t believe they will actually achieve anything in economics and may achieve stuff in their social agenda, which I oppose. So I never vote for them.

      • LadyJane says:

        I occasionally think about holding my nose and voting for those parties whose social views I oppose, but then I don’t believe they will actually achieve anything in economics and may achieve stuff in their social agenda, which I oppose. So I never vote for them.

        Yes, this is exactly why I find myself supporting Democratic candidates more often than not, despite being opposed to a good deal of the Democratic Party’s policies. It’s a combination of the fact that social issues are more important to me, and the fact that I think politicians are a lot more likely to live up to their promises on social issues than on economic issues.

        For instance, I don’t believe the Republicans will actually stick to their campaign promises and fix the economy, but I do believe they can be very successful when it comes to making life harder for women and LGBT people. Conversely, I don’t believe Bernie Sanders has a snowball’s chance in Hell at actually enacting any of his crazier economic policies, but I do believe he would be a good ally to have when it comes to fighting for civil liberties, scaling back the military-industrial complex, and so forth.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Yes, this is exactly why I find myself supporting Democratic candidates more often than not, despite being opposed to a good deal of the Democratic Party’s policies.

          I have a nightmare: one day, the politicians I vote for will actually start implementing the things they threaten promise to do, instead of just happening Any Day Now.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Note that Bernie Sanders is not actually a Democrat, and he uses this fact as signaling his policy preferences are different than the average Democrat.

          That said, what policies that you perceive Democrats to be for are you against?

      • hyperboloid says:

        Parties that really support low deficits and low spending when they are actually in power only seem to exist in Germany

        To the great misfortune of the people of Germany, and I might add every other European country.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      There is an XKCD that seems relevant, but I won’t link because it would come off as an attack, which is not my intent, but part of the problem is you finding a way to feel … elevated …above politics. You don’t seem to understand the messy realities of politics and how coalitions work. In some sense, you are Ned Stark, wanting merely being right to be enough.

      This is especially true in a nationwide two-party system, which is nearly inevitable give the U.S. Constitution (and current national media availability). You have to move the coalition, at the primary level, to change it to more closely reflect your preferences. And for that to be ultimately successful requires persuading large numbers of people that your position is correct and beneficial, persuading people to vote in favor of candidates who support your position.

      But that is work. It doesn’t feel as good, as morally superior, compared to standing on your principles. Because you are watching, even participating in, the sausage getting made.

      • smocc says:

        I don’t think this answers LadyJane’s question, unless you are suggesting that she has subconsciously picked her idiosyncratic political views to get the pleasure of feeling aloof.

        She asked “I don’t know where that leaves me.” I think that you are right about getting involved in making the sausage, but I didn’t read her as not wanting to participate. Rather, it sounds like she wants to participate but wouldn’t know where to start. Even if she wanted “to move the coalition to more closely reflect [her] preferences”, which of the current coalitions would she have the most success with?

        And finding out if there are already people who think like you is a great strategy for figuring out how to make an impact. If there is a large group of like-minded people that aren’t currently well-represented, realizing that is a big step in pushing their ideas. And if not, then you can at least make informed decisions about which of your own views to ignore while you work on more feasible ones.

        So what do you think? How can LadyJane best spend her political efforts, given the views she outlined?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I think you completely missed my point.

          I’m saying very few people get their precise set of policy preferences met by one of the two parties platforms let alone what actually gets effort or becomes enacted. Expressing frustration that neither of the two party platforms meets your overall preferences misunderstands coalition politics.

          Coalition politics is about horse-trading and accepting that you give some and get some. It’s about prioritizing certain wishes over others. It’s about making the best of the current situation.

          So in expressing a certain kind of disgust that they don’t like that neither coalition met their preferences, and where does that leave them, what with this two parties being so unreasonable, this seems like simply feeling superior for not wishing to engage in process of joining a coalition.

          You want the coalition to change? Well you have to put in the work and accept that … it still may not change because you haven’t convinced enough people in the coalition.

          • smocc says:

            I think you are being judgmental where it seems like you could be more helpful. I don’t read LadyJane expressing “disgust” so much as frustration and confusion at not knowing how to engage. Coalition politics is hard and confusing and that’s a natural reaction to someone who wants to get started.

            LadyJane has outlined some things she believes. If the answer is “get involved and start compromising”, why not advise what horse-trading you think she would be best to start with?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            LadyJane already outlined the horse trade they have made in deciding to support the Democrats. The frustration expressed is that they are not satisfied with having to give up this thing in order to get that other thing. They are asking how they can get both.

            In order to get both, they would need to engage in persuading the Democratic coalition to support those preferences.

            And it’s quite unclear to me that the policy preferences objected to are actually ones held by the Democrats. The only person mentioned by name is Bernie Sanders … and he is not the mainstream of the Democratic Party, not actually even being a Democrat.

            But at least Sanders is what it looks like when you are trying to pull a coalition towards some set of policy preferences.

          • smocc says:

            Those are good concrete points. Thank you.

            But still, she’s made some decisions and trades. Isn’t she allowed to want more and find out if there’s people she can work with to get more of what she wants? It seems like she’s asking a good question for the purposes of politicking: who else wants what I want so that I can form a new coalition to get what we want.

            I just don’t see much room for the insinuation that she’s acting entitled or unrealistic.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Here is what I see Jane saying in the OP …

            -I agree with the progressives in the Democratic camp (but some of them go too far into advocating outright socialism and I don’t think “stupid, ineffective” bans should be enacted)
            – I agree with the libertarians because I am “socially progressive but also pro-capitalist” but I don’t agree that we should eliminate regulations or the taxes or welfare. [Hey wait, that sounds like a lot of Democrats]
            – So that would label me as “centrist Democrat” but some of those people support things I don’t like either. Plus I think they are “corrupt”.

            So basically I read all of that as saying “Really, I mostly agree with most of the Democratic platform, but there are people in the coalition (some times and somewhere, and maybe not even Democrats) that I sometimes disagree with and therefore I don’t want to say I am in that coalition”

            Just a mentioned example: Soda Bans.

            You know who enacted a Soda Ban? Michael Bloomberg.
            You know what he is NOT? A Democrat.
            You know who struck that ban down? A unanimous NY Court of Appeals with a number of Democratically appointed judges.

          • LadyJane says:

            @HeelBearCub: As you said, I’ve already made a horse trade in siding with the Democrats in the first place. But within the Democratic Party, there are currently two major factions – the centrist wing and the progressive wing – and I’m honestly not sure which of those two coalitions is a better fit for me. I live in a city where the Democratic primaries are almost always the only elections that matter, and I often find myself torn between establishment and progressive candidates.

            The progressive Democrats are much better from a civil libertarian perspective, since they’re the ones who favor things like electoral reform, criminal justice reform, decriminalizing drugs and sex work, opposing foreign interventionism, and so forth. And I think a lot of their critiques of the modern political establishment – the influence of corporate money on politics, for instance – are spot on.

            But in terms of economic policy, I tend to be much more closely aligned with the establishment Democrats, despite my opposition to the corporate cronyism they often support. I prefer a centrist approach to fiscal policy, and I think a lot of the progressives’ economic ideas (for instance, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s support of Modern Monetary Theory) are impractical and likely to lead to financial disaster if they were ever implemented. The constant pro-socialist and anti-capitalist rhetoric gets very tiresome too. As someone who broadly agrees with your stance that market capitalism with some regulations and a good social safety net is the best way to go, hearing progressives talk about how we need to “overthrow capitalism” and “implement socialism” is enormously frustrating for me.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Sure, this sort of reflexive “fuck the system, man” attitude that wants to burn everything down is both frustrating and, frankly, dispiriting. They don’t understand how many babies are in that bathwater.

            electoral reform, criminal justice reform, decriminalizing drugs and sex work, opposing foreign interventionism

            These seem like they are all either already mainstream Democratic positions or are rapidly gaining support in the mainstream? They certainly aren’t only “Democratic-Socialist” positions.

            I wonder whether the divide you are seeing locally, since it is a single party town, is more young/old than it really is “left-liberal”/”blue dog”.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the problem comes up when nobody close to power has anything even close to your views. Like, if you’re basically about 90% on board with the Republican agenda, but support gun control, you may well have to hold your nose and vote Republican, like all the other people who have issues on which they dissent from their favored party.

            But if your views are not very close to either party’s platform or likely policies, then there’s not really anyone to hold your nose and vote for.

      • One possible tactic is to vote libertarian (or green or socialist) in order to signal to the major parties that there are votes there which they could get by altering their policies a little to attract people like you.

      • LadyJane says:

        @HeelBearCub: This is a very unhelpful response. I have a Master’s degree in Political Science and I’ve worked on political campaigns. I am quite well aware of how coalition building works, thank you very much. I am also aware of the fact that almost no one is going to find a party or coalition or candidate that perfectly matches 100% of their own views, and that’s not something I realistically expect to find.

        You seem rather eager to tilt against some strawman of a Naive Political Idealist ™, but that does very little to actually answer my question or address my point in any meaningful way.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          OK. Point taken. But I’m still not sure what you are looking for?

          As I said in a previous comment, you don’t seem all that well informed on actual Democratic party positions? You name checked Sanders, who is not a Democrat, and identified a soda ban as being a Democratic position when it was enacted by Bloomberg, also not a Democrat. Straw bans are much more of a local community issue and have been defended by Ron DeSantis of all people.

          So it seems really unclear to me what you are really objecting to?

          • LadyJane says:

            Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat, but he caucuses exclusively with Democrats, he nearly always sides with Democrats on votes divided along partisan lines, he ran for President as a Democratic candidate and plans to do so again, and he had an enormous influence on the emergent progressive wing of the Democratic Party. So to say he’s not representative of a certain kind of Democrat seems rather misleading.

            Bloomberg is more of a gray area, because he’s repeatedly switched back and forth from Republican to Democrat to independent, but his soda ban had the support of New York Democrats including current Mayor Bill DeBlasio. At any rate, soda bans are honestly not an issue that I consider all that important in the grand scheme of things, and certainly not at the root of my frustration with the Democratic Party. It was just an off-the-top-of-my-head example, meant to illustrate a certain difference in mentality more than anything else.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            OK, but honestly it reads like you have been sitting around watching Fox News critiques of the Democratic party.

            How do you feel about, say, Stacey Abrams?

            ETA: Or, other end of the “time in the Dem limelight” spectrum, Nancy Pelosi?

          • LadyJane says:

            I don’t watch Fox News. For that matter, I don’t read or watch any conservative news outlets, unless you’re counting libertarian sites like Reason or vaguely center-right publications like The Economist.

            I honestly don’t know that much about Abrams’ policies, most of the news I heard about her was just focused on how awful her Republican opponent was. I have very mixed feelings on Pelosi; I respect her for supporting LGBT rights and marijuana legalization well before those were popular stances to take, and for opposing the Iraq War at a time when many Democrats supported it, but she also supported foreign interventionism in a lot of other cases, and she endorsed things like the PATRIOT Act and the PRISM surveillance program.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @LadyJane:
            How do you feel about pragmatism as a general approach to politics (as set opposite to, say, ideological dogmatism)?

          • Matt says:

            You name checked Sanders, who is not a Democrat, and identified a soda ban as being a Democratic position when it was enacted by Bloomberg, also not a Democrat.

            Bloomberg is a life-long Democrat who ran for office as a Republican so that he could have a chance for Mayor in New York City.

            Sanders is a life-long Socialist who ran for office as a Democrat so that he could have a chance for the Presidency in the USA.

            I don’t think the Democrats can disown both. I’m more inclined to give you Sanders than Bloomberg, and for what it’s worth, it appears that de Blasio continues to advocate for Bloomberg’s soda ban.

    • cassander says:

      Just like the socialists and communists, their ideas work great in theory, but never seem to work out in practice. And after a while, “that wasn’t real capitalism” starts to sound just as hollow as “that wasn’t real socialism.”

      When, exactly, have libertarians seized power, established a libertopia, and had everyone starve to death on them because there are no roads, or something? Because I’m struggling to think of examples of excess libertarianism failing disastrously in the last century or so.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        The Cuyahoga River caught fire a total of 13 times between 1868 and 1969.

        • quanta413 says:

          You could at least have gone with the Chicago boys in Chile or something more plausibly related to libertarianism.

          No party had a serious environmental platform before the 20th century. Connecting the Cuyahoga River to libertarians requires assuming they would have policies like those of totally different parties (Democrats and Republicans of the mid 20th century). But since that environmental policy failure was shared by almost every nation and party for a long time… well… yeah.

          May as well say libertarians would be masters of making for a great environment because they’d support markets in cap and trade or water rights because their solution to everything is “more markets”. There’s a vague ideological connection, but they’ve never accomplished much. Which seems like a more relevant criticism.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            An absence of an environmental platform would be endemic to a libertarian approach. Environmental regulations are frequently decried as examples of excessive governmental control by libertarians.

            And of course the environmental movement was already alive and well in the early 20th century. As an example, the national park system was established by Teddy Roosevelt as a response to environmental degradation caused by logging in the West.

            Libertarians generally recognize that the system doesn’t deal well with externalities, so showing an example of externalities in action, only solved by government regulation of the commons, is an argument against libertarian approaches.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            Environmental regulations are frequently decried as examples of excessive governmental control by libertarians.

            Because they go so far and address things that don’t have an impact or the impact is neutral in effect. A libertarian approach based in property rights would support anti-dumping or littering laws, for example.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          The United States between 1868 and 1969 is a pretty non-central example of something not working out in practice.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It’s a study of disaster after disaster, unchecked by the hand of the market, eventually requiring government intervention and regulation to mitigate.

            The fact that we can point to these disasters that the private market did not solve, and which government regulation did mitigate, is certainly not evidence for the libertarian position.

            This is not to say that this argues against the market existing. Rather it’s simply evidence for regulation and market working well together. Regulated capitalism is what has a good track record.

          • cassander says:

            The post civil war to new deal US was arguably the most successful state in the history of the world. It went from a collection of farmers on the edge of the world to the richest, most powerful, most technologically advanced society in the world, and its ideology went from fringe to the conventional wisdom of most of mankind, with. If that’s failure, egged on earth would success have looked like?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            You asked for examples of “excess libertarianism failing disastrously”. I gave one, of many, many possible, in which a laissez-faire approach failed disastrously.

            And it isn’t as if early America had an absence of regulation. There was occupational licensing, required inspections of goods, regulations on the use of appropriate behavior in harbors, etc. The fact that a regulated approach to capitalism led to a flourishing country isn’t any mark in favor of libertarian approaches.

          • albatross11 says:

            But the most libertarian part of US history seems to correspond to a time when we had unprecedented economic growth and social progress. We had disasters, too–as our current much-less-libertarian society does. But overall the picture looks pretty good to me. Perhaps not mainly because of the libertarian policies, but still, those policies don’t seem to have been an obvious failure overall.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            And it isn’t as if early America had an absence of regulation. There was occupational licensing, required inspections of goods, regulations on the use of appropriate behavior in harbors, etc. The fact that a regulated approach to capitalism led to a flourishing country isn’t any mark in favor of libertarian approaches.

            Then early America can’t really serve as an answer to “When, exactly, have libertarians seized power…” And if the regulated approach to capitalism gets the credit for the flourishing country, how does it escape the blame for the river fires that came along with it? It always reminds me of one of those marriages where “our son” turns into “your son” the moment he misbehaves.

          • cassander says:

            @heelBearCub says:

            You asked for examples of “excess libertarianism failing disastrously”. I gave one, of many, many possible, in which a laissez-faire approach failed disastrously.

            again, that period was one of the most overall successful periods in human history. that it wasn’t perfect is not much of an argument. especially given the results produced by the alternatives.

            And it isn’t as if early America had an absence of regulation. There was occupational licensing, required inspections of goods, regulations on the use of appropriate behavior in harbors, etc. The fact that a regulated approach to capitalism led to a flourishing country isn’t any mark in favor of libertarian approaches.

            Paul Zrimsek’s critique would be mine. You can’t simultaneously claim that the period was a disaster because it wasn’t regulated, and a success because it was.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I, pointedly, did not claim the “period” was a disaster.

            You are arguing against your preferred claim, not one I made.

            The question was asked “When has excess libertarianism ever failed disastrously?” I gave an example. A claim was implicitly made that libertarian impulses have no downsides and don’t lead to failure and I disproved it.

            If I asked “when has regulation ever failed disastrously?” and you provided an example, which you easily could, I can’t disprove the example by pointing to other, different, good things that come from regulation.

            There ARE downsides to regulation, I am not claiming otherwise. But the absence of regulation in service of freedom also has downsides, and there are examples of it.

            Do you really want to argue that having the Cuyahoga catch on fire again is a more preferable world? Because that appears to be the argument you are leaning into…

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub says:

            The question was asked “When has excess libertarianism ever failed disastrously?” I gave an example. A claim was implicitly made that libertarian impulses have no downsides and don’t lead to failure and I disproved it.

            And you accuse me of arguing against my preferred claim, not one I made? No one has ever claimed such a thing.

            There ARE downsides to regulation, I am not claiming otherwise. But the absence of regulation in service of freedom also has downsides, and there are examples of it.

            And my point was that downsides are not the same thing as disasters. capitalism has never failed as badly as the alternatives, and the alternatives have never succeeded as well.

            Do you really want to argue that having the Cuyahoga catch on fire again is a more preferable world? Because that appears to be the argument you are leaning into…

            Let’s do some actual analysis here. How many people were hurt by those river fires? How many people were helped by the economic growth that the practices that led to the river fires caused? Because I’ll bet that the latter was far greater than the former. You can’t just shout “thing not perfect, freedom bad” you have to show that the absence of freedom would have actually been better.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            No one has ever claimed such a thing.

            Alright, so how would you reframe this statement to make it clearer?

            ” I’m struggling to think of examples of excess libertarianism failing disastrously in the last century or so.”

            What is “libertarianism” as opposed to a fully a libertarian state? What work is “excess of” doing in that sentence?

            If you simply want to restrict yourself to the claim that we haven’t seen any fully libertarian states, I am going to concede that. But … it doesn’t really seem germane to what LadyJane was asking.

            Let’s do some actual analysis here. How many people were hurt by those river fires?

            I am going to ask again, do you really want to argue that having the Cuyahoga catch on fire again is a more preferable world? Is that the thesis that you wish to defend? I don’t read you as claiming that people won’t openly dump waste into waterways in the absence of regulation.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub says:

            ” I’m struggling to think of examples of excess libertarianism failing disastrously in the last century or so.”

            “Not perfect” is not synonym for “failing disastrously”, especially in the context of a conversation where failing disastrously includes tens of millions starving to death.

            If you simply want to restrict yourself to the claim

            that we haven’t seen any fully libertarian states, I am going to concede that. But … it doesn’t really seem germane to what LadyJane was asking.

            I think debating what constitutes a “fully” anything state is an exercise is futility. My claim is that there are states that were much more libertarian than the contemporary US and that they never suffered anything like the disasters visiting on the states much less libertarian than the contemporary US.

            I am going to ask again, do you really want to argue that having the Cuyahoga catch on fire again is a more preferable world? Is that the thesis that you wish to defend? I don’t read you as claiming that people won’t openly dump waste into waterways in the absence of regulation.

            My point is that we don’t face a choice between clean river and dirty river. We face a choice between a clean river with the associated costs/benefits, and a dirty river with the associated costs/benefits. If the only costs of the dirty river were that it smelled bad and occasionally caught fire while the benefit was substantial economic growth in a poor society, that strikes me as a pretty good deal, especially because priorities change over time. Spending billions to keep the river clean in 1869 would be a much worse choice than spending billions to keep it clean today, because modern society can better afford it.

            Shouting “It was a river. That was on fire!” is a great political slogan, but it’s not a cogent argument. To be a cogent argument you have to show that the river catching fire is worse than the actual alternatives that existed at the time, not an imaginary cost free clean river. In the long run though, few things will do more good for more people than a higher rate of economic growth, so we should be very wary of embarking on large scale, expensive efforts that are likely to reduce it, especially when the costs are not transparent, and the costs of environmental regulation are usually quite opaque.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            We face a choice between a clean river with the associated costs/benefits, and a dirty river with the associated costs/benefits.

            Yes, I am very clearly aware of this.

            Which is why I am very specifically asking the question do you want to make the trade-off to the dirty river?

            And you seem unwilling to bite that bullet. Rather you appear to be simply saying we can “afford” it now. But if the world were actually better on net, you would simply prefer to live in that world. Or perhaps you might be making the calculation that, although the benefits would outweigh the costs, you wouldn’t be getting the benefits. Or maybe, now that others have payed the costs of dirty rivers, you would like to retain the benefits gained from prior activity without yourself having to experience the negative outcomes associated with it.

            Yes, the river being on fire makes a nice light by which we can highlight the extent of the environmental degradation. It, of course, doesn’t represent the totality of the costs associated with unregulated pollution. I mean, what did the Romans ever do for us besides sanitation?

            And of course that just represents one aspect of regulation. For one with a more obvious body count we might look at things like the Johnstown Flood, or the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Or we could look the failure to comply with or enforce regulation and examine fires like, say, the Hamlet processing plant fire where emergency exits were locked (similar to the triangle fire and for the same reasons).

            Certainly, economic activity is beneficial and regulation contains costs as well as benefits. Certainly we would like regulations to be effective and deliver the benefits they promise without undue cost. Certainly circumspection is warranted and even laudable.

            But an ideological opposition to regulation in general? That seems like … a disaster.

          • cassander says:

            And you seem unwilling to bite that bullet. Rather you appear to be simply saying we can “afford” it now.

            I said explicitly that I think the dirty river was the right choice in 1869.

            But if the world were actually better on net, you would simply prefer to live in that world.

            where you stand depends on where you sit. I would like to have a lexus, but if my choice is between the lexus and paying rent, I choose rent.

            Or perhaps you might be making the calculation that, although the benefits would outweigh the costs, you wouldn’t be getting the benefits. Or maybe, now that others have payed the costs of dirty rivers, you would like to retain the benefits gained from prior activity without yourself having to experience the negative outcomes associated with it.

            These are just about the most uncharitable possible interpretations of my position.

            Yes, the river being on fire makes a nice light by which we can highlight the extent of the environmental degradation. It, of course, doesn’t represent the totality of the costs associated with unregulated pollution.

            I never claimed it did.

            And of course that just represents one aspect of regulation.

            Yes, specifically you’re highlighting the benefits, not the costs. And that’s hugely problematic.

            But an ideological opposition to regulation in general? That seems like … a disaster.

            No, the disaster is the suffering caused by poverty. Economic growth fixes that better than anything else. Being ideologically disposed against something that gets in the way of the of the single most important way of improving human welfare is not a disaster, especially given the known limitations of the method you’re advocating.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:

            I said explicitly that I think the dirty river was the right choice in 1869.

            And what of 1969? Do you think industry should have been allowed to continue in their practices?

            Yes, specifically you’re highlighting the benefits, not the costs. And that’s hugely problematic.

            I’m actually highlighting the costs of failure to regulate. Specifically examples of failings in a disastrous manner. My claim is that these are examples of “libertarianism failing in a disastrous manner”.

            Of course, in many cases, we did then choose to regulate. These aren’t examples of the US being a libertarian state. I readily concede that.

            Look, if you were to claim that Paradise and the Camp Fire was an example of fire suppression regulations failing in a disastrous manner, I would readily concede this. What I wouldn’t do is try to claim that the Camp Fire wasn’t an example of a disastrous failure because the number of wooded acres in the US has held steady since 1900.

          • cassander says:

            @HeelBearCub says:

            And what of 1969? Do you think industry should have been allowed to continue in their practices?

            To know that I’d have to have a good idea of what the cost in 1969 actually was. What that cost is is decidedly opaque, which is a huge part of the problem with regulation. I would be much more comfortable with trying to impose environmental mandates if they were done in ways that made costs explicit and worked through markets.

            I’m actually highlighting the costs of failure to regulate. Specifically examples of failings in a disastrous manner. My claim is that these are examples of “libertarianism failing in a disastrous manner”.

            You’re right, you’re highlighting the implied benefits of regulation, not even the actual benefits, by pointing out the supposed cost of non-regulation, ignoring that it’s far from clear that regulation actually solved the problem in a cost effective manner.

          • A few comments on the running exchange between HBC and Cassander:

            1. It isn’t clear that the Cuyahuga catching fire is the result of libertarian policies. Libertarians believe in property rights as a central institution for solving the coordination problem. The legal system created by the government did not, I gather, recognize anyone’s property rights in the river. One alternative would be the river having an owner, who could then balance costs and benefits of permitting pollution, allowing for the costs to himself of lawsuits by people injured by his river—loosely analogous to the situation of English trout streams. Another would be some combination of riparian rights and the common law of nuisance, where land owners along the river banks had rights to continue making use of it in the way they had in the past.

            But whether or not that is true of the specific case of the Cuyahoga, there clearly can be cases, such as diffuse air pollution or climate change, where there is no practical property rights way of getting the optimal outcome.

            2. The problem arises because of situations where the individual decision maker is not bearing the bulk of the net cost from his decision. Such situations can exist in even a well designed private property system, but they are the exception, not the rule. They are the rule in a political system. The individual voter bears a trivial fraction of the costs or benefits of his decision at the ballot box. The individual legislator bears a trivial fraction of the costs, receives a trivial fraction of the benefits, from his legislative acts. Similarly, mutatis mutandis, for the judge or the bureaucrat. HBC’s argument depends on expecting governments, on the whole, to make the correct regulatory decisions, but we have no mechanism that predictably results in their doing so. A correct analysis of the underlying economics of trade was worked out about two hundred years ago, but very few governments have acted according to its implication–even though the few exceptions were very successful. And the reason is that the same policy that is unprofitable for the nation is politically profitable, because of the way the costs and benefits are distributed–details available for the curious if wanted.

            3. As Cassander keeps pointing out, the question is whether the costs of regulation are more or less than the benefits. HBC wants to know if we are better off with the Cuyahoga sometimes burning. One of Peltzman’s statistical articles estimated that the effect of one change in drug regulation was to reduce the rate at which new medical drugs were introduced roughly in half with no detectable improvement in average quality.

            How many people dying because regulation prevents the drugs that would save their lives from coming to market represent a price we should be willing to pay to keep the Cuyahoga from burning?

            We don’t have the option of only having regulation when it produces good effects.

          • Finally, my wife, from the Cleveland area, suggests that HBC’s account of the Cuyahoga fires is exaggerated. A little googling produces the following factoids:

            Between 1868 and 1952, it burned nine times. The 1952 fire racked up $1.5 million in damage.

            and, about the final 1969 fire:

            And though it only took about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze, the not-so-unusual river fire helped create an environmental revolution.

            (Both here)

            That sounds like a set of pretty wimpy, if showy, disasters.

          • acymetric says:

            @DavidFreidman

            I think the burning is not the primary concern, it is just the most visible symptom of the problem (that the river was filthy). Not so much “the river catching on fire was an expensive and dangerous disaster” but “that the river was so polluted that it caught on fire semi-frequently was a tragedy”. Or at least that’s my take.

          • Not so much “the river catching on fire was an expensive and dangerous disaster” but “that the river was so polluted that it caught on fire semi-frequently was a tragedy”.

            According to the webbed piece I read, Cleveland was drawing its water from the lake, so was willing to treat the Cuyahoga as a sewer. That isn’t a very aesthetic policy, but it might be the correct one, depending on the cost of alternatives.

            That presumes that the Cuyahoga wasn’t poisoning the (very large) lake in any significant way.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        It’s not nearly as disastrous as the worst communist states, but the United States was forced to abandon the Articles of Confederation because the central government was too weak.

        A more serious objection, I think, is that depending on your definition of libertarian, I can’t think of any examples where libertarians have seized power at all, or anything that might count as a “libertopia”–I guess having no real-world examples to point at is better than having disastrous real-world models, but it still suggests a set of ideas better suited to theory than practice.

        • Nick says:

          It’s not nearly as disastrous as the worst communist states, but the United States was forced to abandon the Articles of Confederation because the central government was too weak.

          Can anyone elaborate on what the specific problems were? I figure defense is a big one, but I really don’t know.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Defense was definitely a biggie: it was impossible to raise a navy to fight the Barbary corsairs, for example, and the federal government was unable to raise the troops to put down Shays’ rebellion. The government couldn’t fund soldiers’ pensions, ratify treaties (including the Treaty of Paris for a number of months), or raise taxes without serious difficulty, which made it difficult to pay off debts incurred during the war of independence.

            The Federalist papers probably gives a good overview of the reasons the pro-federalists wanted to move to a stronger union, though I don’t know them well enough to suggest a particular subset.

            EDIT: Federalist 15 seems likely to be relevant.

        • quanta413 says:

          I find this example much better than HBC’s.

          I think there’s good reason to believe that libertarian polities (at least anarcho-capitalist ones, maybe not minarchist) would not be stable even if they could somehow exist. Some other more centralized group will grind you under their boot, or random looters will find easy pickings. Eventually some group will seize power and bring things back to equilibrium.

          Or more speculatively, even markets have lots of little command and control organizations that make them up. The optimal size of these little command and control organizations is going to depend up on the function they serve. Companies replacing government will die or grow until they reach this size and this size may be roughly the size of a state government or even bigger loosely defined (number of functions subsumed by one company, people bound together by contracts with with it, revenue, some combination of the above, etc.).

        • John Schilling says:

          A more serious objection, I think, is that depending on your definition of libertarian, I can’t think of any examples where libertarians have seized power at all

          If you’re talking about the Articles of Confederation a paragraph earlier, I’m pretty sure you are claiming that libertarians seized power in 1776.

          And for that matter, I think most non-anarchist libertarians would point to the first century of Constitutional government in the United States, and the corresponding period in the UK, as being more libertarian than not and with the “not” being dominated by the unfortunate exclusion of women and people of color from the benefits of liberty. So unless you’re going to argue that this exclusion was necessary for the successes of the ~19th-century US and UK, that’s a good argument for libertarian ideals being able to take and hold a fair share of a society’s power and to good effect.

          Indeed, the reason we had to invent the term “libertarian” is that the word we used to use to describe the ideology in question when it was a major player in Anglospheric politics, had been corrupted to a very different meaning.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            This is exactly correct

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            The phrase “a more serious objection” is meant to signal that I do not think it obvious that the Articles of Confederation should count; cassander and Jane are welcome to elaborate on what qualifies as “libertarian” for them. And even with all that said, “existed for 13 years before being replaced due to dysfunctionality” isn’t the most dramatic improvement over “never existed”.

            As to the 19th century United States: it’s true the worst features of the 19th century United States were not very libertarian, and I don’t think that slavery was necessary for the government of the time to remain libertarian–I do though, note, that in order to actually end the worst, most un-libertarian elements of the United States required an expansion of federal power, not a diminishment.
            While it’s not strictly a necessity, I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that the pithy phrase for a libertarian constitutional order is also the predominant legal principle used to argue against extending liberty to people of colour.

        • There are quite a lot of examples of more libertarian/less libertarian systems. England in the 19th century and Hong Kong in the 20th were more libertarian than most contemporary systems and very successful.

          The fact that we can point to these disasters that the private market did not solve, and which government regulation did mitigate, is certainly not evidence for the libertarian position.

          To balance HBC’s concerns about environmental problems due to lack of government intervention, consider the Love Canal story, at least as I understand it. Hooker Chemical company took a section of an old canal, lined the banks with clay to prevent leakage, and used it to dispose of dangerous chemicals. The local government forced Hooker to sell the land to them with the threat of eminent domain, then resold it to a developer who, despite warnings from Hooker, breached the clay lining, allowing the dangerous chemicals to get out and do damage.

          And Hooker got blamed for a catastrophe that was the fault of the local government.

          Anyone who has evidence that that account is not correct is welcome to point at it—it’s the story as I remember it.

          For a more recent example, the explanation of the recent serious wildfire in California seems to be that government regulation under environmentalist pressure prevented the logging activities that would have, in the past had, prevented the buildup of deadwood that made the forests so vulnerable. Again, any one who has sources debunking that interpretation of the facts is welcome to point them out.

          For a third example, from my geologist wife, the Army Corps of Engineers has, for a very long time, been preventing the Mississippi from changing its mouth, which is what normally happens when a delta gets too long. The result is that the soil brought down by the Mississippi gets dumped over the edge of the continental shelf into deep water, hence no longer washes back to balance the effect of land sinking from the overburden of past deliveries from the river, with the result that the coastline is moving gradually north. And when they do finally lose control of the river, the effects will be interesting.

          It isn’t enough to show that relatively libertarian systems did not do a good job of dealing with environmental problems. To make his argument, HBC has to show that more interventionist systems on average do better with regard to such problems.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Long term excessive fire suppression is most definitely an issue with our current wildfires. It has left an overly dense fuel load of dead wood and small brush.

            Of course logging isn’t particularly interested in clearing the little stuff that more frequent, smaller, less intense wildfires would burn. They want the big mature trees.

            I know this is a talking point on the right, but I’m not aware of the idea that “logging stops wildfires” holds any merit.

          • greenwoodjw says:

            They want the big mature trees.

            In order for the trees to get big and mature, they have to not burn. Clearing out the flammable underbrush would help keep those fires down.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @greenwoodj:

            Removing large trees leads to a flourishing of small growth, it also leaves lots of debris behind. AFAIK, fire suppression is then required to allow that growth to mature.

            Whereas frequent small fires among mature trees tend to clear out small growth and leaves the mature growth in place. When excess fire suppression allows fuel loads to rise, wildfires are then more likely to damage the mature growth, as the fires b