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Open Thread 135.5

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764 Responses to Open Thread 135.5

  1. Aftagley says:

    This just in from The Atlantic’s Department of misleading headlines: Why College Became So Expensive.

    It’s a long interview, yet the answer to this question that was so apparently important that they named the article about it was only brought up once. The answer?

    The shift began in the 1980s, in terms of a changing political philosophy. President Ronald Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, said in 1981, “If people want to go to college bad enough, then there is opportunity and responsibility on their part to finance their way through the best way they can.” When those who argued that college is a private benefit framed it like that, it became logical to say that education should be paid for by the people that it benefits. And so in the 1990s, the vast expansion of loans for higher education began.

    Ok, so costs don’t matter, it’s just Reagan’s fault for not fully covering it? I’ll admit, I don’t know enough about pre-1980s education loans to judge the facts of her claim, but reducing the topic of college debt down to “it’s the republicans fault” seems pretty ill-informed even for the Atlantic.

    • Randy M says:

      It does seem rather facile. That may, possibly, explain why college is an individual responsibility rather than government entitlement like the prior 12-14 years of education–why it costs you so much. But it doesn’t touch on explaining why this particular good costs the consumer as much as it does.

      Part of the reason law, medicine, and education are so expensive is that education costs so much, and these can only (legally? By broad social consensus at least) be provided by people who have endured a great deal of it.

    • Matt M says:

      When those who argued that college is a private benefit framed it like that, it became logical to say that education should be paid for by the people that it benefits.

      Don’t really feel like reading the piece… but I am curious, is their argument that a college education is not a private benefit, or that even though it’s a private benefit, the general public should pay for it anyway?

      • Aftagley says:

        They draw the comparison to k-12 education: our society has deemed it so important for it’s citizenry to possess the skills and knowledge gained in that educational period that we’re willing to shoulder the burden of paying for it. The speaker in this case says college is equally important to future outcomes as high school used to be, so our government should also pay for it.

        edit: relevant quote:

        Even considering that economic objection on its own terms, I would argue that higher education is now necessary for a stable life and a good job, in the way that K–12 education and a high-school degree was necessary 40 years ago. We now have a system that requires K–16 education for financial stability, so it’s important to fund that—we wouldn’t ask people to pay for 5th grade, so we shouldn’t also ask people to be paying for sophomore year.

        • Matt M says:

          The speaker in this case says college is equally important to future outcomes as high school used to be, so our government should also pay for it.

          And see, you could probably talk me into this, if by “government pays for it” you mean something like “government identifies/makes available spots in very cheap state universities in high demand majors that become tuition free.”

          But my impression is that most of the “free college!” people don’t really want that, and what they really want is “You go to whatever college you want, major in whatever you want, and whatever outrageously arbitrary amount they decide to charge you, the government just pays for it instead.” Which is obviously dumb and makes the problem worse, not better.

      • Nick says:

        No, it’s actually dumber than that. Quoting a bit more:

        College used to be a lot cheaper for families, because there was more funding from the government. If you think about the biggest educational systems, like the University of California system or the City University of New York system, these universities were free or practically free for decades. That was in part because of a belief that higher education was essential for the national project of upward mobility, and for having an educated citizenry.

        When those who argued that college is a private benefit framed it like that, it became logical to say that education should be paid for by the people that it benefits. And so in the 1990s, the vast expansion of loans for higher education began.

        The argument is that thanks to Reagan, the government got out of the college funding process, and each family’s loans became its own responsibility, and that’s the reason why college is so expensive now. I can’t even.

        ETA: I think I misunderstood your question. Yeah, the person interviewed appears to believe education is a public good.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      Both private and public post-secondary have gotten more expensive. Absence of sufficient levels of subsidy explain tuition changes in state schools.

      And of course the article ends by calling for more tulip subsidies.

    • littskad says:

      That’s just silly. Federal funding to higher education students, whether grants, loans, work study, or whatever, has increased dramatically and steadily since the 1970s, and Reagan’s administration was no exception to this. It’s the funding from the states, and pretty much all states regardless of politics, which has been drastically and repeatedly lowered.

    • gettin_schwifty says:

      I remember liking some things I read from The Atlantic a while ago, but the only articles worth reading recently (imho) are a couple by Popehat’s Ken White. To be clear, I don’t read nearly every article, but the ones I come across are awful. In particular, they claimed that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch have ruled along precisely partisan lines, which I understand to be false.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      I’ll admit, I don’t know enough about pre-1980s education loans to judge the facts of her claim, but reducing the topic of college debt down to “it’s the republicans fault” seems pretty ill-informed even for the Atlantic.

      What you get from The Atlantic can vary a lot, depending on the writer. At least, it did back when I used to read it. You’d never get a piece like this from Megan McArdle, for example. I don’t know if they still have a libertarian writer on staff.

  2. Buttle says:

    Can we just change it to “leaded?” Had to get that off my chest thanks.

    As in “leaded gasoline”?

  3. j1000000 says:

    I am convinced that the most misspelled (easy) word in the English language is “led.” Even people on this board with otherwise impeccable grammar/spelling misspell it all the time. It infuriates me that English settled on a past tense for “lead” that is a homonym for an unrelated word that is spelled the same way as the present tense. Can we just change it to “leaded?” Had to get that off my chest thanks.

    • Nick says:

      Had to get that off my chest thanks.

      Muphry’s Law strikes again.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      What unrelated homonym do you mean? I’m only aware of it being Light Emitting Diode, which certainly was coined much later than the past tense of “lead”. Also, in my non-native-speaker’s opinion English is so full of homonyms it’s a miracle people can communicate in it at all. Including specifically the type you describe: found/found, saw/saw, bred/bread, dug/dug, lent/lent.

      ETA: disregard the question, I didn’t realize homonyms are also the words that sound the same but spelled differently.

      • tocny says:

        Based on your eta, I’m guessing you get it, but for other people reading who may not be native speakers:

        “led” is the past tense for “lead” – the verb.
        “led” is pronounced the same way as “lead” – the element.

        The verb and the element are spelled the same, which is very confusing.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      Foreigner here. You people have an awful lot of words where one letter repeats itself without any reason. It is really annnnnnoying and easy to get wrong.

      • Nick says:

        Come on, folks, English spelling is quite regular, and you can predict more than 85% of pronunciations with only 56 simple rules!

      • Randy M says:

        Yes! This is a problem for me too, and I’m a native speaker. The problem probably arises as speakers get lazy and slur or mispronounce words over time, leading to silent letters.

        My personal bugaboo is bureaucracy, though. Really isn’t how you’d expect a word pronounced like beerocracy to be spelled. Can I blame this on the French?

        • Nick says:

          Well, bureau is pronounced /ˈbyo͝orō/ and I pronounce bureaucracy /byo͝oˈräkrəsē/, so partly I think this is a u problem.

        • Faza (TCM) says:

          beerocracy

          Am I the only one thinking that this sounds like an improvement?

          • Plumber says:

            @Faza (TCM) says:

            beerocracy

            "Am I the only one thinking that this sounds like an improvement?"

            As long as it isn’t too hoppy, and on that note, it’s been years since I’ve seen a civil servant have a beer at lunch, and that guy was in his 60’s and near retirement, but from the tales alcohol on the job used to be much more common both in government and private employment, and I suppose the lower on-the-job death and injury rates may make up for the loss, but a loss it was.

            It used to be common at union meetings to have a beer before voting, but that’s now just a once a year thing, perhaps a few of the “laboratories of democracy” could have pilot programs of grog barrels in state legislatures and all drinking their fill before voting, or at polling places – think of the increased turnout!

            I’m liking this idea more and more…

          • ana53294 says:

            @Plumber

            I was imagining a swarm of bees controlling the government, with everybody living in little cells of wax…

            The beer version sounds better.

          • Lambert says:

            The Persian were known to make important decisions while drunk, then asess them again once sober.

        • ana53294 says:

          I also never seem to remember how to spell bureaucracy. I keep writing beurocracy, beaurocracy, burocracy, and other variants, and have to google it every time. And I usually don’t have issues like that, but that particular word is hard. And I see many learned people miss-spelling it all the time.

        • Deiseach says:

          The problem probably arises as speakers get lazy and slur or mispronounce words over time, leading to silent letters.

          I think this is becoming a definite problem where I’m seeing online writing where it’s obvious the person has heard the word in everyday speech but has never seen it written, so they go for “I should of done such-and-such” (because that’s what “I should’ve” as the abbreviation of “I should have” sounds like to the ear) and even in an otherwise correctly spelled and good grammar post, “per say” instead of “per se“. (I’m going to wait for the eventual evolution of that last into “percy” and then I’ll throw myself out a window).

          • Randy M says:

            then I’ll throw myself out a window

            That would be quite an intensive purpose.

          • lvlln says:

            Reminds me of how in the early 2000s, my friend wrote “walla” on AOL Instant Messenger to me, and when I asked him what he meant, he said he meant that French word for when you’re showing someone something. Not an unreasonable misspelling of “voila,” but this guy had taken like 3 years of French in high school at that point…

          • Randy M says:

            Nice. I’ve seen one on par with that. The unconjugated verb “To shay”, meaning to score a touch on an opponent.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            A company I worked at for a number years had an abusive CEO. He once wrote a nasty comment to an employee calling him a pre-madonna. I smiled at that one, since I didn’t like the CEO.

        • Deiseach says:

          Really isn’t how you’d expect a word pronounced like beerocracy to be spelled.

          I’ve never heard it pronounced that way, but then again I learned from my granny to pronounce “envelope” and “garage” in the French manner (non-French speakers, it was how such loan-words into English retained their original pronunciation when she was a girl). It’s definitely a generational differentiator when you hear if someone pronounces it “gah-RAHge” or “GARR-adj” 😀

          • dick says:

            Fun factoid – there are a surprising number of small towns in my home state of Illinois with the names of major European cities, except mispronounced. I was told growing up that these were not accidents, they were generally pronounced correctly up until the World Wars and then people changed pronunciations due to some sort of misplaced isolationism. No idea how true that is.

          • albatross11 says:

            Not just European cities. Consider Pekin and Cairo (KAY-roh).

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Also Milan, TN (rhymes with nylon or stylin’ or wilin’ depending on the specific subset of local accent), New Madrid, MO (MAD-rid, and the ‘mad’ rhymes with sad and bad), and so on. These are all fairly close (an hour or so driving time) to Thebes and Cairo, IL.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            You can’t leave out the crown jewel of Versailles (Ver-SAILS), MO!

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Yeah, English spelling is quite difficult to get your head round. It can be mastered through tough, thorough thought, though.

        • Matt M says:

          When I am elected dictator, this sort of thing will be punishable by being shot out of a cannon into the pacific ocean…

        • Deiseach says:

          Brian O’Nolan in some of his columns in “The Irish Times” in the 40s-50s wrote pieces where English was spelled with Irish orthography for the pronunciation, as in the piece below (contrasting English-spelled-as-Irish with actual Irish, and riffing on various figures from Irish poems and ballads of rebellion):

          Sheán Buidhe: lú, Éadhbard Hill fbhait acsplainéisin cean iú gibh for thabhaing des seidisius dochúmaints in iúr poisiéisiun? (You, Edward Hill, what explanation can you give for having these seditious documents in your possession?)

          Eamonn a’ Chnuic: Nil ann acht athchuinge go dtabharfí dúinn cead aighnis. (There is nothing there but a petition that someone would give us leave to speak)

          Sheán O Duibhir: agus radharc ar an gcoróin. (And a sight of the crown)

          Sheán Buidhe: Fbhait ár iúr méin traighing thú sae, Sairdint? (What are your men trying to say, Sergeant?)

          Sairdint Tharbhaigh: Aigh tink dae ár tócuing abamht a bhuman cóld Agnes, a biútiful accomplas eigh supós. (Sergeant Harvey: I think they are talking about a woman called Agnes, a beautiful accomplice I suppose)

          Sheán Buidhe: Méic amht a bharant for thur airéist. Namh deintilmein— (Make out a warrant for her arrest. Now gentlemen – )

          Sheán Ó Duibhir: níor dhubairt mé fhaic i dtaobh Agnes. (I never said a thing about Agnes)

          Sheán Buidhe: Tabh iú famhnd ánaigh mór seidisius dochúmaints bitheighnd deir Teairlí. (Have you found any more seditious documents behind there Charlie?)

          Poiléismeán Bairlí: Bucats obh dem Sur. (Policeman Barley: Buckets of them, Sir)

          Poileismeán Deonson: ond thiar ár mór sur. (Policeman Johnson: And here are more, sir)

    • Deiseach says:

      Can we just change it to “leaded?”

      But is that “lead/leaded” or “lead/leaded” you want to change it to? 🙂

      And I presume the second step of this programme is change “read/read” to “read/readed”?

    • fion says:

      I found this thread very hard to read.

      (And now it bothers me that thread and read don’t rhyme. THANKS GUYS.)

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        (And now it bothers me that thread and read don’t rhyme. THANKS GUYS.)

        that may be true, but at least thread rhymes with read!

    • zenojjones says:

      It has to be lose or loose.

    • A1987dM says:

      Whatever. I live in Italy where there’s a program called “citizenship income” which kept its original name even though from the time it was proposed to when it was actually implemented it had become kind of like food stamps but stupider.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Why screaming? In Europe it’s pretty standard to have mothers receive no strings attached income. In Romania, relatively poor as it is, it’s tied to previous income and there was a huge debate if it’s to be capped or not – there were some instances of 10k a month with people defending this. We have a pattern of college – a few years corporate work – 2 paid years for first child – one year work – another 2 paid years for second children – less taxing corporate work (but strange enough, sometimes management).

      On the other hand we have almost no support for non working mothers, including young ones. I’ve tried to help one at some point and I was actually scared of the lack of options. If anything, I’d cap it at the higher end and add some for non-employed mothers as well. It makes sense from a libertarian PoV as well – raising children is work, and well-raised children make tax-paying adults. Makes sense to invest in them early on – it has a clear positive ROI.

      Now, what I would indeed change, even if it’s probably political suicide, is to set things up so that there is a small incentive for 2 parent families. And this kind of program makes it trivial to do so – keep the average the same, but make it $800 for single mothers and $1200 for 2 parent families. The list of long term advantages is huge.

      • aremi_mande says:

        I agree with the 2 parents thing. It’s a proven fact.

      • MorningGaul says:

        I think the screaming is related to “universal” income being given to “single mother”.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        It’s not a universal basic income, it’s a pilot study for a means-tested cash grant, that’s heavily targeted.

        Might as well call a rowboat a battleship. They both float on water, right?

      • Radu Floricica says:

        Eh, no reason to scream for 10 minutes just because they call everything UBI these days. Two minutes is more than enough.

        • Matt M says:

          What if I scream for 2 hours, but I call it a 5 second scream, and everyone in the media just goes along with it because they know that it will seem more palatable to the general public that way?

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            I’m pretty sure that UBI is much less palatable to the general public than specific benefits; compelling evidence for this is the fact that the latter exist and the former doesn’t. UBI is certainly much cooler though; it makes sense to brand unrelated things as that in order to get media attention but not in order to get them enacted as policy. Indeed, if you want to get voters to support a UBI empirically you are better off calling it a Permanent Fund Dividend.

          • Matt M says:

            Right. The actual policies/details of UBI aren’t popular at all. But the “UBI” brand is much more popular than the “expanded welfare state” brand.

            So people who want to expand the welfare state are calling it UBI in an effort to make it seem more palatable.

            The fact that the UBI “brand” is popular even though the details of it aren’t is precisely because the media keeps lying about what UBI actually is such that most people don’t really know!!!

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Eh, no reason to scream for 10 minutes just because they call everything UBI these days. Two minutes is more than enough.

          You don’t understand: I’m screaming the vocals for a song on the Washington Post’s metal album Democracy Dies in Darkness. Two minutes is not more than enough.

      • gettin_schwifty says:

        The incentive is there to have a child for free money. Free money is a terrible reason to raise a child, as I’m sure we all agree. I don’t know how many will actually become single mothers just to get in on free money, which is why I’m glad it’s just a state.
        This is no universal basic income. Call it single mother assistance or something, but it’s at least not universal

      • Murphy says:

        Because it’s stripping the term of meaning in a way that’s likely to gradually destroy the whole concept.

        someone noticed “UBI” is a popular idea… so they just recycle old ideas with a UBI label slapped on.

        It would be like if someone claimed to have run a “double blinded randomised controlled trial” of a pharma drug… but when you look into it it turns out that it was unblinded, had no controls and was less a trial and more a publicity campain… but the people running it had heard that people like double blinded randomised controlled trials so that’s what they called it.

        it isn’t UBI in any way shape or form.

        It’s just a standard means-tested welfare program only available to low income mothers with exactly nothing related to UBI.

        And that has nothing to with the general merits of standard means-tested welfare programs.

        but most readers won’t know that and will think they’re being told about UBI.

        it’s like politicans and companies sticking the word “green” on everything, even things that have nothing to do with environmentalism.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Why screaming? In Europe it’s pretty standard to have mothers receive no strings attached income.

        As a matter of Truth, they shouldn’t call a private organization giving no-strings-attached income to a select half of low-income black single mothers who apply even a pilot program to test Universal Basic Income. It’s highly targeted (almost comically so) and more or less means-tested.
        But since you brought it up, as a matter of goodness it’s wrong to favor single mothers over married ones. If single ones are a poorer demographic (and they are!), they’re “oppressed” by no one but themselves.

        • Randy M says:

          Oppression isn’t really the criteria for giving out aid, and ultimately this is just the same issue as the child support debate. You want the child to have a minimum standard of life (roof and food, basically) but you cannot provide it without either similarly provisioning the mother or setting up a much more intrusive beerocracy than we want.

          I’d agree with you and prior posters that it does set bad incentives, though, especially since what a married household provides is beyond the material needs that the bureaurogamy provides.

          • ana53294 says:

            especially since what a married household provides is beyond the material needs that the bureaurogamy provides.

            I like the word, but if you’re going to make up a word, why not improve the original? Burogamy is better and simpler.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            Burogamy is better and simpler.

            Yes, but if your finger slips we get burrogamy and I’m sure we don’t want to go there.

          • Randy M says:

            I didn’t make it up, but I can’t find the original source. In any case, I’ll be the last one to fault any particular spelling of that phoneme.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          You make it sound like every single mother was in a stable monogamous at one point and unilaterally decided to separate. (I’m not trying to make a *not all* argument here, but I do want percentages before i make a judgement call)

          I use separate instead of divorce because I can’t even assume in these instances that marriage had taken place.

          I dislike the uncritical lionizing of this demographic but I’m also not keen on the blanket condemnation, at least not without data to support it.

          I don’t like the emphasis on single mothers in a UBI pilot [so called]

        • Nornagest says:

          It’s not Universal, obviously. You could still call it a trial of a Basic Income with a straight face, if it doesn’t turn into a pumpkin if the people involved stop being low-income or single (“black” and “mothers”, presumably, aren’t going away). The proportion of recipients that do might even tell us something interesting about UBI vs. traditional welfare, for better or worse.

          Absent that feature, though, it’s just a regular old welfare payment with trendy billing.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            It’s not Universal, obviously. You could still call it a trial of a Basic Income with a straight face, if it doesn’t turn into a pumpkin if the people involved stop being low-income or single (“black” and “mothers”, presumably, aren’t going away.)

            Sure, I’m actually in favor of private-sector/charity trials for big socio-economic proposals like UBI, but you can’t call it that if you only offer it to single black mothers who are low-income (and when only 38 apply, you reject 18 applications). It’s just crazy.

    • WashedOut says:

      20 African American single mothers living in public housing $1,000 each month for a year

      The main thing wrong with this proposal, to my sensibilities, is how discriminatory it is. The fact that the chosen subgroup are fairly close to the top of the oppression pyramid is the give-away that this is more about symbolism than trialing a potentially viable social-economic policy. I lean heavily fiscal-conservative, but mothers are one group I want to see looked after preferentially – regardless of race, class, and housing situation.

      • Radu Floricica says:

        Oppression pyramid does loosely correlate with actual need. Very loosely, but considering the usual error margins of government programs… *shrug*

        I’m by far more worried about incentivizing the “single” part.

    • baconbits9 says:

      It is actually an unintentionally great article, demonstrating that a UBI even at (nationally fiscal) ruinous rates also would require massive investment in support services, plus massive housing subsidies to make it ‘work’, and that in all likelihood making it work would lead to more bad decisions.

      • Indeed, my favorite part was this:

        In Jackson, Gray just wanted to escape poverty. She had grown up poor and was pregnant at 16, which is when she started hearing people say she’d “never become nothing.”

        “I wanted to show I could do it all on my own,” she said.

        She tried to defy the stereotypes by staying in school and going to Jackson State University. Her bachelor’s degree in social work led her to $40,000 in student loan debt, a busted car and a cleaning job that paid no more than $11 an hour.

        {snip}

        Then there was Gray’s own education. She told the social worker it was still too expensive to carry out her plan to go to school full time. And there was no time to take classes when she was still working two jobs.

        “Maybe you should just take a course,” Johnson suggested.

        “Okay,” Gray said, looking away.

        “You’re saying okay, but your face is not saying okay.”

        “I just think school is down the road,” Gray said.

        Gee, I wonder why she isn’t too enthused about getting another degree? Could it have something to do with the fact that her first degree didn’t give her any benefits? Not only did her degree in social work fail to get her a job, it couldn’t even keep her from requiring the aid of a social worker. No, it must be irrational fears, effects of poverty, we just need more social workers and more “education” to get her to see the light!

    • Plumber says:

      @Le Maistre Chat,

      Interesting article, I was struck that those who were already working got better jobs when given “no strings” cash that wouldn’t be means tested away, but those without jobs stayed jobless.

      As an alternative, as part of the 2009 “stimulus package”, since I had a dependent wife and son, and lived in a county (Alameda) with enough poor people I was enrolled in a wage subsidy program where 50% of wages I earned would be paid by the County from Federal funds (if I lived in a richer county like Marin the he subsidy would’ve been smaller), unfortunately in 2009 and 10 jobs were scarce and temporary, though permanent jobs came back in 2011 the subsidy was over by then.

      IIRC first dibs on enrollment went to those with the most dependents, but a spouse counted as much as a child so it didn’t discourage marriage, as well as encouraging getting employment.

  4. Milo Minderbinder says:

    So now that I’ve read the coverage of British PM Johnson’s wild day, I’m not sure what to think. From what I can tell, the HoC told Johnson he has to ask for an extension if a deal couldn’t be reached. This would be their third extension, and Britain’s public position is seemingly, amazingly, “We want a better deal than anybody else currently has, or [???],” where [???] has been a no-deal all along.

    What confuses me about this whole thing is that, as far as I can tell, this essentially translates to “The PM must propose a deal that is better (i.e., actually acceptable) than any previously proposed deal.” (Unless Johnson gets the election he desires). But what is the EU’s incentive to allow either a better-than-previously-offered deal or another extension? From an outside view, the EU has been extraordinarily patient with this whole thing, and a sweetheart deal would only encourage other countries’ -exit movements.

    Can someone with a better/more intimate understanding of this European affair explain what’s going on? If the EU rejects either the new plan (assuming one can pass) or the extension, does this all become meaningless?

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Completely knee-jerk reaction… but isn’t this good for Boris? Longer he goes without an actual Brexit, longer he can say he wants a hard Brexit without all the troubles of actually having one. That’s the classic “I want to but THEY won’t let me” defense/attack.

      • MorningGaul says:

        By that logic, the last 2 years should have been good for May. But it wasnt, despite the actual efforts to offer a deal to vote on.

      • Aftagley says:

        I agree with Radu. Boris differs from May in that he’s presented himself as being willing to accept a No-Deal Brexit, vs. May who clearly wanted a deal. Instead of having to take responsibility for whatever happens, he can shift blame entirely to Parliament, unlike May who kept putting her reputation on the line.

    • fion says:

      I think your mistake is to think of Britain’s public position as one thing. Public opinion is divided (polls differ on the exact fractions, and it depends on the question you ask anyway) between three large groups: Those who don’t want Brexit at all (this was about half of the voters in the last referendum and it may be even more than half now, depending on which polls you trust), those who want a deal like Theresa May’s, and those who don’t care about leaving with or without a deal but just want to leave. The current government seems and claims to represent this last section.

      My impression is that nobody seriously thinks a new deal has a chance. Johnson says he wants one, but he’s made it clear he’s happy to go for no deal. So the current factions in parliament are Johnson’s faction, gunning for no deal, the Remainers, who want to stop Brexit at all costs (this includes the SNP, Lib Dems, and some Labour MPs but not the Labour leadership), and the Labour leadership, along with a bunch of their MPs, whose position is a little more nuanced. They want to stop “no deal” at all costs, then they want an extension and a general election so that they can try to negotiate a deal that protects workers rights and environmental protections, which they will put to a final, confirmatory referendum with Remain as an option on the ballot paper.

      It seems likely that the EU will allow a second extension if asked for it. They may not want to give the UK a sweetheart deal, but they don’t want them to leave without a deal either, nor do they really want them to leave at all. But if they do reject the extension, then yes, it all becomes meaningless.

      • Murphy says:

        Part of the problem is that so many political parties are internally split on brexit.

        Tories are split between the remain/soft brexit conservative business-type faction who want commerce to run as normal and not upset the apple cart vs the ones who think there’s jolly well to many muslims in the country who don’t care as long as there’s no freedom of movement.

        Labor and it’s base is split between the remainer progressive business-type faction who want commerce to run as normal, the union types who are afraid of the Brexit impact on british industry and jobs and the union types who are afraid of foreigners taking their jobs.

        meanwhile northern ireland’s politicans either don’t want NI to be legally separated from the UK … which makes the north south border issue very hard… vs republican types who gain most if brexit happens and is an utter shitshow because it’s the best chance of a unification vote.

        Scotland, a little bit similarly has a nominally anti-brexit party… but they also want scotland to leave the UK and gain most if brexit happens and is an utter shitshow because it’s the best chance of another vote to leave the UK.

        The lib dems were remainers and remain remainers but are unpopular on the left because of the fallout from a coalition government a few years back but are still collecting support from pissed off remainers who have lost patience with the bigger parties.

        and the brexit party is scooping up support from the former UKIP demographic and brexiters annoyed at the failure of the 2 largest parties to make brexit happen yet.

        • fion says:

          I agree with everything you said, but I think you missed a faction in Labour. You described two Union-types who probably represent different wings of Old Labour, the progressive business types who represent New Labour (which is a tendency now around 25 years old) but you missed the progressive, anti-capitalist types, who are a big fraction of the recently-joined membership, not a big fraction of the PLP, but I would say the leadership mostly represents them. These people seem to be pro-niceness, whether or not it’s thought through and they support the EU because they believe working together is nice. These are the ones probably tempted to vote Green right now.

    • Lambert says:

      Softer/harder is a more important axis than better/worse.
      Boris and the ERG think a hard brexit is batter than a soft one, and the opposition, as well as the majority of MPs, think otherwise.
      Hardcore brexiteers will be willing to make concessions to Europe to have a harder Brexit, while on-the-fence and remainers will be willing to make concessions to soften Brexit.

      Also May was a bit crap at negotiating.
      And you can’t talk about groups as large as ‘the British Public’ as having coherent preferences in this discussion. Everything seems to be driven more by internal infighting than by the actions of the EU.

    • baconbits9 says:

      There is a saying in for bad football (American) teams that the most popular player on the team is the backup QB, this seems to be the near term situation for the British PM.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      This article gives a good overview of what’s happened. Especially of interest:

      Rogers and other British experts were strangely unimpressed by the powerful practical levers their own side disposed of. Britain was the largest importer of cars from Germany. It had a trade deficit with most countries on the continent, which meant that any breakdown in talks would idle more European factories than British ones. It was, with France, one of only two serious military powers in Western Europe. It had an intelligence-gathering relationship with the United States that continental Europe was desperate to preserve the benefits of. It contained 40% of Europe’s data servers. It was due to recover its own rich fishing banks—schools of mackerel north of Scotland, beds of prawns southwest of Cornwall—where E.U. vessels took 59% of the haul. And it was the financial capital of the world. The E.U. would have no choice but to do business with an independent Britain.

      And yet there was a hangdog tone in all elite descriptions of the Article 50 discussions. People were wishing their own country ill in an international negotiation. “If I were an E.U. negotiator,” wrote the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Sir Ed Davey in a fantasy of his own country’s humiliation that appeared in the Independent, “my starting position would be to increase the divorce fee to £50bn, arguing that the U.K. must now pay the E.U.’s cost of handling the no-deal Brexit, after refusing the first deal. Given the severely negative impact of a no-deal Brexit on everything from our sheep farmers to our NHS [National Health Service], I rather think any U.K. government would be so desperate to make some deals that £50bn might suddenly seem a bargain.”

      Remainers’ hearts were with the Europeans at the table, not with the Brexiteers who were supposed to be their countrymen. There may be an innocent “epistemological” explanation for this. When a regime is changing, the old world is made of concrete things that have lost their legitimacy, while the world to come is made up of legitimate things that have not yet become concrete. Rogers hated the whole enterprise of undoing existing E.U. structures: “[W]e are privileging notional autonomy to make our own laws over real power to set the rules by which in practice we shall be governed.” The Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf similarly saw no point in the Brexiteer reluctance to bind Britain’s trade policy to the E.U.’s. “It would only prevent the U.K. from making trade deals that are less important than maintaining good relations with the E.U.,” Wolf wrote in the Financial Times.

      Every negotiator on the British side behaved as if there were nothing more important than maintaining good relations with the E.U. Perhaps that was to be expected. The E.U. pursues the goal of transcending (a fancy way to say “getting rid of”) the nation-states that make it up. As the Union grows ever closer, there must eventually come a moment when the loyalty of subjects is transferred from the institutions of the nation to those of federal Europe. Brexit showed that, for elites to whom the E.U. offers a grand role, that moment has come already. The E.U., not Britain, is their country. They saw Brexit not as most British people did—as a solemn and even sacred uprising by an ancient people against a usurper. No. Elites saw Brexit as a local nuisance in the domestic politics of the only legitimate custodian of Britain’s long-term interests: the E.U.

      Theresa May fell under the influence of these views, particularly after dropping conservative adviser Nick Timothy in the days after her general election loss in 2017. It was Timothy who had written her “Brexit means Brexit” speech. Without him, she, too, lost sight of what Brexit was. Brexit turned into a word that meant its opposite. It was now a “damage-limitation exercise,” as Timothy would later put it. May came to believe that Brexit meant honoring the patriotic emotions that had led to a national temper tantrum, while protecting the country against any foolish actions that might result from such emotions—such as breaking relations with the European Union.

  5. johan_larson says:

    This is the thread where we apologize to each other for nonexistent offences.

    Deiseach, I’m sorry I called you an Englishman. Nobody deserves that.

    • BBA says:

      Once again, I’m sorry for throwing the numbers off and causing the “sex recession.” I thought they were going to disregard me as an outlier, I swear!

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        The “average American has 7.2 sex partners in their lifetime” factoid is a statistical error. The average person has 10 lifetime sex partners. Virgin Georg, who lives in a cave and has had -100,000,000 sex partners, is an outlier and should not have been counted.

        • Faza (TCM) says:

          has had -100,000,000 sex partners

          Ok, I’ve absitively, posilutely got to know: how does that work?

          • Aftagley says:

            He waits in bars, identifies people who look like they’re making a connection, follows them home and right before they are about to do the deed, he shows them a picture of “the dress” and asks them what color it is.

            The ensuing argument ensures copulation doesn’t occur.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            Blue.

            Right. Got it. Thanks!

            A follow up question: does each coitus successfully interruptus count as one or two negative partners?

            If the latter, then I believe we could optimize by targetting swinger communities and orgy porn shoots.

    • johan_larson says:

      Also, John, I’m sorry the cholos I hired used herbicide to draw a picture of a chicken on your front lawn. They were supposed to draw something else but good help is hard to find.

      • Aftagley says:

        Wait, you didn’t want a chicken?

        I’m sorry, I wasn’t really listening when you were explaining the details of this plan.

        • Randy M says:

          I am curious what ‘mission’ goal led to the proposal of this scheme.

          (Also, johan_larson, I’m sorry I pigeonholed you as the guy who makes posts proposing missions)

    • Well... says:

      Apologies to all the eukaryotes I ate. I didn’t mean to cause suffering or experience-analogous-to-suffering in those organisms, but it was unavoidable. At least my pleasure in eating them vastly eclipsed whatever negative things they experienced.

    • Randy M says:

      I apologize for the dry but incisive insults I’ve been flinging about with abandon of late. None of them were meant, regardless of how truthful they were.

    • Lillian says:

      Lent my shotgun to Archy Duke and he shot an ostrich ’cause he was hungry. There may have been some fallout. I’m sorry the poor ol’ ostrich died for nothing.

  6. Deiseach says:

    Brexit being live debated in the House of Commons right now. I’m late to the party, I’ve been told Jacob Rees-Mogg smack talked Charles Stewart Parnell >:-(

    • Aftagley says:

      It’s been amazing.

      Think Boris will make good on his threat to kick them out of the tories if they vote to delay? Less pressingly, how badly do you think Corbyn will screw up this golden opportunity Boris is presenting him with?

      • Deiseach says:

        (1) Think Boris will make good on his threat to kick them out of the tories if they vote to delay?

        This is what scuppered Theresa May, she could not get a solution that a majority would vote to accept. If Boris can’t control his own party, how is he going to stand up to the EU? So I think he’ll have to make at least an example of one or two in order to impose discipline, but this is going to weaken and possibly fracture the Tories, which is the last thing they need if they’re going to go into an election – and Boris has been using the threat of an election as “my way or the highway”.

        (2) how badly do you think Corbyn will screw up this golden opportunity

        Pretty badly due to (a) the vicious and bitter Labour in-fighting where some elements want his head on a spike over the town gate and (b) what can he offer as an alternative? A ‘yes deal’ Brexit, or no Brexit at all? Right now things are a mess, and there has to be a decision one way or the other, and given the result of the original referendum and invoking Article 50 and all the rest of it, Brexit in some form has to happen, so making the best of it with a deal and a soft Brexit is the least worst choice right now (they can’t simply go “let’s pretend the past three years never happened and we’re back to where we were before all this”). But again, parliament cannot bloody well make up their minds what they want, so Labour have no real chance of gaining power and coming up with a solution that everyone will accept.

        I think Boris’ bluff will be called re: discipline and he’ll have to make a few examples, and I think Corbyn has no chance of pulling a rabbit out of a hat whatever happens.

      • Lambert says:

        Aaaaannd the Tories’ working majority has gone from diddley squat to -21.

        Now Labour’s effective veto over a snap election gives them a lot of leverage to rule out no-deal.
        Of course, if parliament rules out no-deal, then Boris does well in a GE, he can repeal that and put no-deal back on the table with a simple majority.

    • broblawsky says:

      The reviews I’ve seen of Rees-Mogg’s weirdly alliteration-heavy speech are less positive, and I personally wasn’t impressed by it. Could you give us your perspective on it if you get a chance to listen to it?

      • Deiseach says:

        That may be tomorrow some time, but gosh darn it Jacob, you’re a conservative Catholic, I’m a conservative Catholic and I even kind of dig the Victorian undertaker chic, so why are you making me want to kick your scrawny backside from here to Bloody Foreland?

        Every time he opens his yap he makes me want to sing along with Martin Brennan to the Wolfe Tones greatest hits, but I’d better stop now before I irritate The Original Mr X with my Anglophobia any more 🙂

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Beyond the constructed, almost comical persona of an old-fashioned chap from rural Somerset is an ardent Brexiter who expressed support for Donald Trump and voted against same-sex marriage.

          Gasp! Speaking of Mogg’s archaic clothing, I’d find leftists like this more sympathetic if they were literally women affecting 1950s dresses and pearls (to clutch).

      • edmundgennings says:

        Do you have a link to the speech? I am finding commentaries on his posture but not this.

    • edmundgennings says:

      He seems to have only alluded unfavorably to Parnell’s procedural trolling. Even if one supports Parnell’s goals and procedural trolling, it can be used to as a criticism.

  7. I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone interested in politics and involved with it at a local level. I was arguing that it was a mistake for the Democrats to nominate a left wing candidate, since, as in the McGovern case, it would result in an unpopular Republican getting reelected.

    His response was that the relevant model had changed. Roughly speaking, there are no more independents, everyone is a Republican or Democrat. What matters is how many of the people on your side turn out to vote, and the more extreme candidate will generate more enthusiasm, more volunteer workers, hence a larger turnout.

    I thought it was an interesting argument on the implications of increased polarization, although I wasn’t convinced it was right. For one thing, the more extreme Democratic candidate will also motivate a higher Republican turnout. And I suspect that, while polarization has increased, it is not as total as his argument assumed.

    • aremi_mande says:

      Long term doesn’t this lead to a polarization death spiral? I think if an anti-trump candidate meaning some sort of left libertarian independent billionaire would do more.

    • cassander says:

      There’s another side to that coin, that if you nominate someone extreme the more moderate voters won’t switch sides, but they might not vote at all. I don’t know how many nominal republicans voted for Hillary over Trump, but I’ll bet a lot more didn’t vote for either of them. I agree that enthusiasm is key, but it has to be broad spectrum enthusiasm.

      • Well... says:

        I don’t know how many nominal republicans voted for Hillary over Trump, but I’ll bet a lot more didn’t vote for either of them.

        Hi!

    • herbert herberson says:

      This is a pretty basic pitch. If it is novel to you, you’re in a significant bubble.

      The corollaries, btw, are
      – that the penalty in increasing the other side’s turnout are comparatively small because that base already believes all the worst. Look at how much Obama galvanized the right, or imagine how little difference it would make if Trump’s Trumpiness were boosted up to the level of, e.g., a Duterte or a Bolsonaro
      – departing from the middle-of-the-road Washington consensus is a relatively good way to reach non-voters even if they’re not particularly ideological–if said consensus appealed to them they wouldn’t be non-voters, so Bernie-tier leftism or Trump-tier rightism can’t do any worse

      • Matt M says:

        Look at how much Obama galvanized the right

        Not enough to actually defeat him in an election.

        IMO this argument is somewhat plausible, but way overblown. The most “extreme” Republican to run for President recently is probably Ron Paul. He inspired a ton of reverence and dedicated volunteers and passionate support and large individual donations. He didn’t win. He didn’t even come close to winning. Because it turns out that “actually holding positions that the public generally agrees with” matters. A whole lot of Republicans looked at positions like “End the fed. End the drug war. Bring all the troops home.” and said “Yeesh, I wanted extreme, but not, like, that extreme!”

        And the same could happen on the left. Arguably, it already did in the 2016 primary. Bernie had a lot of grass roots enthusiasm. But ultimately, a lot of the Democratic electorate said something like “Eh, I want extreme, but not that extreme.” And Joe Biden is leading in the polls right now for similar reasons.

        • herbert herberson says:

          The point isn’t extremity for extremity’s sake, it’s to do what your base wants without compromise towards a middle that is highly represented within the elites and media but may not actually have that many votes (especially in electorally competitive states not named Virginia).

          Ron Paul’s libertarian agenda had some big fans, but it was not really any closer to the red meat the right-wing base was looking for the Mitt Romney was. To get that, they had to wait for Trump.

          As for Bernie, the thought is that he did remarkably well considering the institutional disadvantages he faced. It’s also a uniquely post-Trump hypothesis. Personally, I was not a Bernie supporter during the primary, even though I certainly preferred his policies and character, and did not vote for him (instead, I crossed over in my battleground state’s open primary in hopes that a vote for Kasich would hurt Trump and the GOP). I felt the Dems probably needed to go with the “safe bet” and avoid alienating centrists. I believe Trump’s election proved me wrong.

          Its certainly an untested theory that could go down in flames… but I think there’s a strong argument to be made that it’s worth testing.

          • Matt M says:

            The point isn’t extremity for extremity’s sake, it’s to do what your base wants without compromise towards a middle that is highly represented within the elites and media but may not actually have that many votes

            Yes, I agree this is the right way of looking at it. My point is that I think a lot of people have swung too far and think it really is extremism for extremism’s sake. And they will be pretty disappointed when it turns out that plain vanilla “everything proceeds as it was” Joe Biden is, in fact, more popular with the actual DNC electorate than “green new deal and reparations for slavery and ban all guns” is…

          • herbert herberson says:

            The interesting thing is that as we’ve seen polls that appear to show Biden losing support amid stories suggesting senility, it’s largely been rebounding to the benefit of Liz Warren, while more obvious heirs to the centrist position like Buttigeig and Harris stay stable at best (and ditto the more obvious heir to the “just picking the name I recognize” position, Bernie).

            It is, of course, all tea leaves at this point.

          • Clutzy says:

            The interesting thing is that as we’ve seen polls that appear to show Biden losing support amid stories suggesting senility, it’s largely been rebounding to the benefit of Liz Warren, while more obvious heirs to the centrist position like Buttigeig and Harris stay stable at best (and ditto the more obvious heir to the “just picking the name I recognize” position, Bernie).

            To me that is probably about the people who are hearing senility stories: highly political and involved Dems. These people are very concentrated in Acela, and probably were picking Biden because “he can beat trump”. As they peel off, they go to Warren because she is the Acela candidate. OTOH, Biden’s key support is the black, Obama coattails vote, which Warren has almost 0% support from. I find her unlikely to pick that up even if Biden dropped out.

          • Matt M says:

            In that sense, Biden seems to have set himself up pretty well to be a kingmaker.

            If he decides he doesn’t really want this, he can drop out, and tell all his supporters to go to X instead, and I suspect most of them will.

        • JPNunez says:

          I think the problem is that the election is skewed due to the electoral college; then again Hillary did win the popular vote so maybe this theory about galvanizing and polarizing is not gonna produce accurate results.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Didn’t Bernie win the primaries? Honest question. I mean, I think that’s a pretty important point to get right, historically. Otherwise it feels like the bad guys win in more ways than one.

          • Aapje says:

            No, he lost.

          • John Schilling says:

            What Aapje says. Bernie Sanders got 43.1% of the popular vote in the 2016 Democratic primary, and 44.5% of the pledged delegates. He just plain lost. Some of his supporters claim that the election was “stolen”, but I think few of them are alleging actual vote fraud or the like – mostly they are complaining that the DNC was not-very-secretly campaigning for Hillary when they “should” have been neutral or campaigning for Bernie.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            Well, yeah, but that’s my point. 40+ with that DNC can’t be counted as a win for Hilary, in the context of the conversation above. I may have been a bit too much inside the reddit bubble, but stuff like giving the questions ahead of time to one candidate isn’t exactly kosher, and it seemed more like the rule than the exception. Free elections require more than just fair counting of the votes. I’d know – I’ve counted votes in the last election here and they were as correct as can be, and still somehow half the working population can’t vote, except in the most technical sense.

            So – again, in the context of the conversation above – can we call Bernie’s bid a failure? Did he lose because he wasn’t good enough, or solely because the deck was stacked? As a historical question regarding the popularity of his ideology I think it’s relevant.

          • BBA says:

            As I recall, part of that was Sanders running up the count in the late primaries when Clinton already had the nomination locked down.

            From the Reddit bubble it may appear that “nobody liked Hillary” but I assure you the Pantsuit Nation is real. They’re not a majority of the party, or even a majority of people who voted Clinton in the primaries, but there is a large bloc of people who consider her a genuinely inspirational and charismatic figure. I can’t understand it myself, but I got used to biting my tongue and nodding along when they told me that “unlikable” is a misogynistic slur, or whatever. Besides, Sanders was such an obvious idiot that what other choice did I have?

            Most of the Pantsuiters ended up becoming Russiagate obsessives – naturally, if Hillary can do no wrong, her “loss” had to be the result of foreign interference. I was expecting them to back Harris 2020 hard, but so far that hasn’t happened yet – but we’re still five months from the first vote, so wait and see.

          • John Schilling says:

            Well, yeah, but that’s my point. 40+ with that DNC can’t be counted as a win for Hilary, in the context of the conversation above.

            Hillary Clinton secured a majority of the votes cast, was officially and generally recognized as the winner, was confirmed as the Democratic nominee for POTUS in 2016, and actually ran for President at the top of the Democratic ticket. That’s the very definition of winning a (primary) election. What Bernie Sanders did, which is the opposite of all that, is also the opposite of winning.

            So the answer to your question, “Didn’t Bernie win the primaries?”, is a simple and absolute “No, he lost”. Unless you’re using a very idiosyncratic definition of “win”, in which case you really need to spell that out to make whatever point you are trying to make. Also, probably best to find word other than “win”.

          • acymetric says:

            I would be mildly surprised if Harris is on a primary ballot next year.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @John everything you said is equally valid for Kim Jong Un or Josef Stalin. I agree that english is limited – because they obviously won. But in some sense of the word.. I don’t know. Feels like they didn’t something, even if they won the vote.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Radu Floricica

            Bernie won the media attention and internet buzz primary, I suppose.

            That and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. Hillary won in every sense, and even had a more unified party appearance at her convention than the Republicans. Sanders unequivocally endorsed her, while Cruz gave a milquetoast “vote your conscience” speech in support of Trump.

            This seems a really bubble thing.

          • Aftagley says:

            Clinton fan here. Radu, as John Schilling points out, you’re completely wrong.

            Well, yeah, but that’s my point. 40+ with that DNC can’t be counted as a win for Hilary, in the context of the conversation above.

            Barak Obama only recieved 47% of the popular vote in 2008 compared with Clinton winning 48%. Barack Obama, however, ended up winning the primary and no one looks back on that primary and asks “can it be counted as a win” for him. Our system is “winner take all”, not “winner takes all for a while unless later we decide we didn’t actually like you.”

            The high numbers for Bernie are also a bit misleading: he stayed in the race long after Clinton had already won it which inflates his vote total versus what you normally see (eg 2000, 2004 dem primaries).

            I may have been a bit too much inside the reddit bubble, but stuff like giving the questions ahead of time to one candidate isn’t exactly kosher, and it seemed more like the rule than the exception.

            Look, the question leaking was stupid on Brazile’s part, but there’s absolutely no evidence it had any impact in favor of Clinton. The two questions that were supposedly leaked were on death penalty and the Flint water crisis. Both of these were talking points in HRC’s campaign before Brazile interjected herself. It’s hard to imagine that Clinton wouldn’t have been prepared to to talk about some of the most hot button issues in politics w/out the leaks.

            So – again, in the context of the conversation above – can we call Bernie’s bid a failure? Did he lose because he wasn’t good enough, or solely because the deck was stacked?

            How would you even answer this question? He lost because he didn’t get as many votes as his primary competitor. Can we test this against the hypothetical scenario in which his opponent didn’t find out about a couple debate questions? no. We can look at the fact that throughout the entirety of the primary, he never polled nationally as being more popular than Clinton, however.

            As a historical question regarding the popularity of his ideology I think it’s relevant.

            Thankfully, he’s running again so we have some good data to test the popularity of his ideology. Recent polls have him at around ~15%. If the legacy of his ideology was as important as you seem to think it was, this number would be higher, right?

            @John everything you said is equally valid for Kim Jong Un or Josef Stalin. I agree that english is limited – because they obviously won. But in some sense of the word.. I don’t know. Feels like they didn’t something, even if they won the vote.

            Except there’s no evidence that the democratic primaries of 2016 weren’t free and fair, vs. what you see in these countries. What exactly are you alleging took place?

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            1) The outcome is fair because the votes were accurately counted
            2) The outcome is fair because the conduct of the DNC towards sanders/clinton did not affect the outcome
            3) The outcome was unfair because the conduct of the DNC towards sanders/clinton did affect the outcome

            I don’t agree with #1, merely achieving the number of votes and having them counted doesn’t necessarily make an election fair as is commonly understood.

            Between 2 and 3, I’m not sure.

            My understanding is you gain in primary polls through name recognition and media coverage [any coverage, positive or negative]

            For the democratic primary I *think* given that it was *relatively* close between the two, if the media really wanted Sanders to win, they could have made it happen by covering him more than clinton, but that’s not the same thing as the DNC.

          • acymetric says:

            A lot of the fairness complaints are connected to the super delegates. Even they didn’t change the outcome of the primary, it wasn’t a great look.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            What RalMirrorAd said.

            @Aftagley Not much point debating me, I don’t have a horse in that race 🙂 And definitely wasn’t insinuating anything, god forbid. I am saying a literal truth: counting a fair win by the criteria listed by John makes quite a lot of elections fair, including those I listed.

            I am saying however that you americans may have a (small) blindspot regarding a certain kind of election manipulation, probably because of the “free country” mythos. I’m raised in a “it matters who’s counting the votes” mythos, so stuff like that is probably more obviously fishy to me. I’m saying, loudly, that you can have elections in which votes were counted perfectly and yet are as crooked as they come. I’m NOT saying that’s what happened in the last primaries – that was actually what I was asking.

          • Aftagley says:

            Right, sorry for going to 11 so quickly. I’m just sick of democrats constantly re-litigating the “Bernie should have won” fight.

            I agree that Bernie entered the race as a definite underdog. Prior to entering the race, he wasn’t even a member of the democratic party; it’s natural and obvious to everyone that he wasn’t the one the party insiders wanted to see on the ticket. I just don’t think that their personal antipathy towards him was enough to swing the needle away from where it would have been had both Bernie and HRC entered on even ground.

          • acymetric says:

            @Aftagley

            Our system is “winner take all”

            It should be noted that this is not true for primaries.

          • Aftagley says:

            It should be noted that this is not true for primaries.

            I meant in the sense that if you win the primary with “only” 52% of the popular vote or 60% of the delegates, you aren’t 52% or 60% the democratic nominee, you ARE the democratic nominee. The results of winning the contest aren’t proportional to your votes.

            But yes, poorly written.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I am saying however that you americans may have a (small) blindspot regarding a certain kind of election manipulation, probably because of the “free country” mythos. I’m raised in a “it matters who’s counting the votes” mythos, so stuff like that is probably more obviously fishy to me.

            The free country mythos in America is not a ‘our democracy is the best at county votes’, its a ‘our constitution + democracy prevent the government from oppressing us’ kind of mythos, so we have freedom despite, not because of, voter outcomes.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            The free country mythos in America is not a ‘our democracy is the best at county votes’, its a ‘our constitution + democracy prevent the government from oppressing us’ kind of mythos, so we have freedom despite, not because of, voter outcomes.

            Exactly. And that’s just what was/seemed compromised by the DNC.

            (coming from a bubble so not saying it was. but that’s what I am talking about, at least)

          • Jaskologist says:

            Hillary and the DNC cheated, but she would have won anyway.

            The bigger cheat was really the pre-primary work in making sure nobody ran against her except Sanders, who they knew wouldn’t win.

    • Aftagley says:

      I don’t know if you’re colleague is necessarily correct, but he’s definitely not in the minority with that viewpoint. As someone who consumes meta-level democratic messaging, I can tell you that the “extreme positions drive enthusiasm which will drive turnout” meme is immensely popular right now. Pretty much the entire B-tier of candidates right now is using it as a counterpoint to the “joe biden is more electable” meme that’s keeping him at the head of the polls.

    • Plumber says:

      @DavidFriedman, 
      I’m inclined to agree with you on this, and that there’s only so far Left Democrats can go before a reaction that moves the Nation further Right, but from what I’ve read and heard my views on this are typical for Democrats my age and older, and younger Democrats tend to subscribe more to the “…more extreme candidate will generate more enthusiasm, more volunteer workers, hence a larger turnout…” view of the person you talked to, the youngsters also seem to believe that “moving the Overton window“ is more important than achieving actual immediade progress, as put by new Congreewomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “…When it comes to defending why we don’t . . . push visionary legislation, I hear the line so frequently from senior members, ‘I want to win, but what they mean by that is, ‘I only want to introduce bills that have a 100 percent chance of passing almost unanimously.’ But for new members, what’s important isn’t just winning but fighting. I don’t care about losing in the short term, because we know we’re fighting for the long term.”, and by Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez “The greatest threat to mankind is the cowardice of the Democratic Party”, ultimately as my and older generations of Democrats die off the youngsters will win, they’ll have a purged and more Left Democratic Party, and maybe after a couple more generations of Republican rule they’ll come to realize that half-a-loaf-is-better-than-none and they should have listened to Pelosi.

    • John Schilling says:

      Yeah, this is not a new thing and I’m genuinely surprised you haven’t encountered it before. I’m pretty sure we’ve discussed it here before.

      It is almost certainly a wrong thing. In a country where “everyone is a Republican or a Democrat”, more people explicitly identify as “Independent” than as either Republican or Democrat. Possibly your correspondent believes they were all lying?

      And it is a particularly indefensible view since 2016. One of the most important features of that election was the large-scale defection of blue-collar working men and women, a traditionally reliable Democratic constituency, to one particular republican. Another, was wishy-washy #NeverTrump Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents, holding their nose and voting GOP after all because they felt that Hillary Clinton was Literally Worse than Trump. A Biden or an O’Malley would almost certainly have been able to hold on to enough of those to swing the critical states.

      And, in a nation where “Everyone is a Republican or a Democrat”, neither party’s candidate won a majority of the popular vote because an unprecedented seven million Americans actually cast their ballots for a candidate who was neither a Republican nor a Democrat – enough by far to have swung the election, and more than in the last three elections combined. This I do not believe was the result of Jill Stein’s great charisma or Gary Johnson’s deep geopolitical knowledge. It is demonstrably possible to nominate a candidate who will be so hated and/or feared(*), by people who would have voted for a generic moderate of that party, that they will defect in election-losing numbers.

      By contrast, objective evidence for your correspondent’s theory is slim. But if you live in a deep partisan bubble, everyone you know is e.g. a Democrat and there are no Independents to be found, and typical-minding from that means that everybody knows either only-Democrats or only-Republicans and nobody knows a genuine Independent. And if you live in a deep partisan bubble, almost certainly the mean of your and your friends’ political views is farther from the center than those of an election-winning moderate. In which case, the things you want to believe, are falsely predicted to be the optimal election-winning strategy.

      And if both sides at adopt that strategy in part but not in whole, the most comfortable belief for those in the winning bubble is “we won because we did it my way!” and the most comfortable belief for those in the losing bubble is “we lost because those wimps in the R/DNC didn’t go far enough!”, and so all signal is interpreted as confirmation of the theory.

      * Not necessarily for being an extremist, again e.g. 2016, but that’s the most common way to pull it off.

      • albatross11 says:

        Gary Johnson’s deep geopolitical knowledge

        Hey, if you don’t know where Aleppo is, at least you probably won’t order it bombed or invaded….

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          It’s true. Dionysus was only able to invade Aleppo in my D&D game because he knew where to find it. Very important for a pre-industrial army, considering how arid the area is!

      • Matt M says:

        Possibly your correspondent believes they were all lying?

        I believe at least 50% of them are lying. I have no real proof, other than the fact that anecdotally, I know plenty of people who describe themselves this way, but have universally D OR R opinions, across the board, and have literally never voted for the “other” party in their lives.

        And the absolutely pitiful performance of third parties would tend to support this view. I’m not saying “If they were telling the truth, Gary Johnson would have won,” because obviously, not every independent is a libertarian. But I think I *am* saying that “If they were telling the truth, Gary Johnson would have done better than 2% in an election where both candidates were eminently hateable people.”

        • herbert herberson says:

          This is also my experience. Additionally, a lot of the rest of the 50 percent aren’t independents because they’re halfway between Dem and Republican, but because they mix and match relatively extreme Dem and Republican positions. If there are voters out there who want single payer health care and mass deportations (and note there’s at least some data out there suggesting that these “fiscally liberal/socially conservative” types are far more common than you would ever guess by surveying more elite opinions), then you’ll have a lot better change picking them up with a Bernie or a Trump than with a Romney or a Biden

          • Matt M says:

            and note there’s at least some data out there suggesting that these “fiscally liberal/socially conservative” types are far more common than you would ever guess by surveying more elite opinions

            Remember: About 10 years ago, 30 Rock tried to make a joke by assigning this political position to Dennis Duffy, implying that it was something so ridiculous that no actual person could possibly hold it.

            Who’s laughing now, Tina Fey?

          • Plumber says:

            @herbert herberson says: “….note there’s at least some data out there suggesting that these “fiscally liberal/socially conservative” types are far more common than you would ever guess by surveying more elite opinions…”

            From the same survey that made the chart you linked to, while voters who are both “fiscally liberal” and “socially conservative” are only 28.9% of the electorate, all socially conservative voters are 51.6% of the electorate, and all fiscally liberal voters are 73.5% of the electorate, so that is the majority position of voters, just not of most major donors.

          • mtl1882 says:

            This is also my experience. Additionally, a lot of the rest of the 50 percent aren’t independents because they’re halfway between Dem and Republican, but because they mix and match relatively extreme Dem and Republican positions. If there are voters out there who want single payer health care and mass deportations (and note there’s at least some data out there suggesting that these “fiscally liberal/socially conservative” types are far more common than you would ever guess by surveying more elite opinions), then you’ll have a lot better change picking them up with a Bernie or a Trump than with a Romney or a Biden.

            This is how I see things, also, but it doesn’t seem to be a popular discussion. Probably because it is scary to the class that is “chattiest” and most visible, who want to believe the middle class is more cosmopolitan. But right now seems like such a good opening to reshuffle that I’m surprised we aren’t seeing more of it–Trump showed there was opportunity here, but people seem to be doubling down on the opposite. The whole concept of being a centrist, as associated with being “moderate,” has become too abstract, because it is dependent on where you draw the extremes. A lot of political issues cannot be solved by averaging the endpoints–a choice must be made, and going halfway can make things worse or simply not make sense. There is room for a *practical* position, that keeps things going relatively smoothly, but that may look more like combining extremes from each sides.

        • John Schilling says:

          I believe at least 50% of them are lying. I have no real proof, other than the fact that anecdotally

          If 80% of them are lying, then the ones who aren’t still cover the popular-vote spread of any election of this century.

          • Matt M says:

            So what?

            My point is that someone referring to themselves as “independent” is practically valueless information. That calling yourself independent does not actually indicate your vote is any more “up for grabs/in play” than someone calling themselves a Democrat or Republican. That even people who self-identify as Democrat or Republican sometimes cross party lines.

            “Independent” is basically a big black box. For the purposes of political analysis, it might as well be called “No data available.” You can’t design a campaign to appeal to “independents” unless you know what it is they actually want. And right now, the only thing we know they want is to not call themselves a Democrat or a Republican. But that’s really not an actionable item for Trump or Biden or anyone. It provides no useful information regarding whether, say, a softer stance on immigration would increase or decrease Trump’s odds of re-election…

          • Dan L says:

            You can’t design a campaign to appeal to “independents” unless you know what it is they actually want. And right now, the only thing we know they want is to not call themselves a Democrat or a Republican. But that’s really not an actionable item for Trump or Biden or anyone.

            It tells you you’re unlikely to win their support by merely doubling down on the existing platform, which conflicts with a turn-out-the-base strategy. Trump arguably squared that circle in 2016, but probably not in a way that’s sustainable and definitely one that relied on having an unpopular opponent.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Dan L

            Trump very much didn’t double down on current Republican orthodoxy in 2016. He broke with the party in some major ways, most notably being not nearly as pro-war as the mainstream.

            He has even governed that way. Mattis left because Trump wasn’t going into Syria as hard as Mattis wanted him to.

            On some points he was to the right of Republican orthodoxy (building the wall), but on some he broke wildly (tariffs) or was to the left (war).

          • Matt M says:

            It tells you you’re unlikely to win their support by merely doubling down on the existing platform, which conflicts with a turn-out-the-base strategy.

            I mean, sure, I guess I agree with that, but with two big qualifiers:

            1. It still doesn’t tell you what you should do on any given position. Take foreign policy, as EchoChaos outlines below. Let’s say that we know saying “Let’s keep everything going right as it is” is unlikely to win you over any new independent voters. So what should you do? One option is to do what Trump did, and say “These wars are stupid, let’s stop having them.” Which seems to have worked, to the great surprise of most. Another strategy though, would have been to go the other way, and say “These wars are great, let’s have a lot more of them. Nuke Iran now!” Doing that may have hurt Trump incredibly. We don’t really know (and we certainly wouldn’t have known ahead of time!)

            2. In these elections, all positions are relative to the opponent. So if independents want less war, and Hillary comes out as pro-nuking-Iran, Trump probably can win over independents by saying “Nah, that’s going too far, let’s just stay the course!” But it depends entirely on what self-described independents actually want on this specific issue, which we don’t really know…

          • Plumber says:

            Something I read around 2012 that sticks in my mind is that on a dozen Democratic Party platform issues the majority of voters agreed with Democrats on each of the issues, so win for Dems?
            Not quite.
            The percentage of voters who agreed with all of the platform was very small, and for quite a few voters, even if they agreed with most of the platform, the areas of disagreement were what individual voters felt most strongly about.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Plumber: I could agree with Democrats on most things,[1] but some of the warm fuzzy things they want create incompatible incentives that they refuse to acknowledge. Generous social safety net? OK. Unlimited immigration from Mexico? OK, they seem like nice traditional people who simply don’t speak our language. Both? Um, hang on a sec…

            [1]If they’d support a Muslim ban[2] and denounce abortion and postmodernism.

            [2] You can’t honestly tell me that this is Unconstitutional unless you’re also a free speech/free press absolutist and Second Amendment absolutist.

          • John Schilling says:

            If you mean “Winning fair and square”, you kind of have to say so. Just plain “winning” is a broader thing. If you win by cheating, and get away with it, you still win. It doesn’t even matter whether some other people think or know you cheated. If you got the prize, and kept it, you won. The prize was the opportunity to contend for POTUS in 2016 under the Democratc Party banner. Hillary got and kept the prize for as long as the prize was a thing. Arguing about whether she won fair and square is legitimate, but it doesn’t change the fact that she won. That’s what the word means.

            If you were to have argued that point before the 2016 Democratic Convention and convinced them to give the prize to Bernie instead, then he’d have won, but you didn’t and so he didn’t.

            Maybe you think we should tweak the language so the narrow concept gets the one-word term and the broader concept is the one that has to be spelled out, but you’re not going to communicate effectively if you just go ahead with the non-standard usage without explaining yourself.

          • Plumber says:

            @Le Maistre Chat,

            I believe you, I also believe that most voters aren’t straight Party platform believers,:and the minority that are tend to have more annual income and years of schooling than most other Americans, most do however have a few core beliefs that drive their votes, but swing voters still exist, enough voted for Obama and then Trump to make him President, and I’m doubtful that “fire up the base” is a winning strategy.

      • Atlas says:

        It is almost certainly a wrong thing. In a country where “everyone is a Republican or a Democrat”, more people explicitly identify as “Independent” than as either Republican or Democrat. Possibly your correspondent believes they were all lying?

        From what I can tell, the political science research seems to suggest that “independent voters” are largely fictitious and/or irrelevant, and certainly not a coherent major political bloc the way “Democrats” and “Republicans” (or subsets thereof) are. Self-identification is of little value if it doesn’t predict material behavior.

        • Dan L says:

          “independent voters” are largely fictitious and/or irrelevant, and certainly not a coherent major political bloc the way “Democrats” and “Republicans” (or subsets thereof) are.

          There is quite a lot of sleight of hand used in that definition of “independent voters”; your first claim is inconsistent with the discussion in much of the linked articles.

        • Plumber says:

          @Atlas,

          They’re less than they used to be, but “swing” voters still exist (they’re about 10% of the electorate), and that’s enough to decide the Presidential election.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        This

        Especially given how elections are [for now at least] decided by a few key locales.

        Being War weary and publically skeptical of free trade [as it is labeled and practiced in real life by real countries outside the US] is an extreme position, but maybe not extreme relative to the geo-demographic that tends to decide presidential elections.

        If your “extreme” blue candidate promises something like medicare for all, that would pay dividends. If they promise something like a green new deal, open borders, and free health care for new arrivals, not so much.

      • Dan L says:

        Strongly endorsed, with the quibble that “election-winning moderate” is not necessarily a well-supported concept. (But it’s probably decisive at the tipping point anyway)

    • Lambert says:

      >more extreme candidate will generate more enthusiasm, more volunteer workers, hence a larger turnout

      I suspect this effect is much stronger in Primaries etc. than the actual election. So you might get party members selecting candidates too extreme for the general populace to vote for.
      (See: Boris, Corbyn)

      • Thomas Jorgensen says:

        Corbyn polls for shit, but note that the one time labor ran an election with him in charge, they overperformed pre-election polls by an enormous margin. I would hesitate to call him “too extreme for voters”.

    • gettin_schwifty says:

      Around here some lefties are planning to vote Trump because they don’t want to mess up the economic gains. Granted, I live in a solid red state in the Midwest, but I don’t think this is unique to my area.

    • ana53294 says:

      There are two important axes on deciding who to vote for, at least the main ones for me: how much you think the party aligns with your values, and how much you think they will actually do (i.e., how much you trust them).

      I am libertarian-ish: more fiscally conservative and pro-liberalization than the centre, but not to the extreme of wanting to eliminate driving licenses and such. Also, very socially liberal. As the socially liberal agenda seems to be overwhelmingly winning, I think I would vote for a conservative party, if I could trust them to actually do the fiscally conservative part, instead of abandoning it for stupid fights with feminists and animal right activists.

      Radical politicians of either side don’t seem like they will actually achieve stuff, so in many cases it’s a knowingly losing vote. Whereas in a more moderate platform, you get some of the things you want, achieved by people who have an expertise in handling political matters.

  8. Machine Interface says:

    Long shot, but here we go:

    I am looking for books on non-western perspectives on fiction writing; more precisely I am looking for “this is the structure of a story/this is how you write a story” type material (so concrete, hands-on stuff, not the more theoretical, academic literature) by non western authors (particularly interested in Russian and Japanese perspectives but I am open to other cultures).

    The reason for this demand is that I have already access to material of the kind by western authors, but I find it hard to disentangle what are objective, universal observations about how a story is constructed, and what is just the author’s blind spots/bias/parochialism/trivia collecting coming through — understandable since I am of western cultural extraction myself and so it’s not easy to tell which of the things I take for granted are truly universal, if any. So I am hoping that material from separate traditions would shed a bit more light on these questions.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Do you speak any languages other than English?

      Because anyone publishing a book on writing advice in English is going to be steeped in English literature. And anyone translating a book on writing advice into English is going to inform their choice of which books to translate by how good the writing advice sounds to someone steeped in English literature.

      If you are literate in a non-western language that wouldn’t be a problem. Every literate culture will produce some kind of advice on storytelling in their own language. But if you aren’t, you’re going to have a very hard time finding something sufficiently alien which is also available in English.

      • Machine Interface says:

        Unfortunately I only speak French and English to the level where I can read without difficulty. I guess I could try to take up Russian again…

    • Randy M says:

      No help from me, but I’d be interested to see your conclusions if you find some.

    • aho bata says:

      The Natyashastra (written sometime between 500 BC and 500 AD) is a Sanskrit treatise on drama with prescriptions on things like how different genres of play should be structured, the dramatis personae appropriate to each genre, the “sentiments” and “durable psychological states” appropriate to different character archetypes in given narrative situations, instructions for how each psychological state is to be physically enacted (with differing instructions depending on the gender/personality of the character), etc. There is also a long section on diction — largely a classification of figures of speech and other utterances in terms of their rhetorical effect — which is partly descriptive. Much of the work is concerned with instructions for dancers and musicians, but those chapters can be skipped if they are of lesser interest.

      I’m not sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for — while there is some content pertaining to plot structure, it’s pretty threadbare, and the author doesn’t attempt to articulate any unified “theory” of drama — but it gives a sense of what Indian playwrights thought a play was supposed to accomplish and how, which can be directly contrasted with more familiar forms of storytelling. If you’re interested, an English translation can be found here.

    • jml says:

      This was a blog post on the topic I read a long time ago, maybe it can function as a useful starting off point (at least to provide some searchable terms).

      https://stilleatingoranges.tumblr.com/post/25153960313/the-significance-of-plot-without-conflict

      • Machine Interface says:

        Ah, this is really interesting, this is exactly the kind of stuff I was wondering about, thank you!

    • It isn’t exactly what you are asking for, but Van Gulik somewhere, probably in an introduction to one of his Judge Dee books, discusses the difference between Chinese and western mystery literature. In the Chinese mystery, the reader knows early on who committed the crime. The story is about how the detective figures it out.

      • Machine Interface says:

        So Chinese mystery writers invented Columbo? That’s pretty interesting. See this is why this stuff is eye-opening, when you learn about other perspective on story, you realise that these different stories often do exist in the west too, but are often pretty marked and marginal, or restricted to a very specific format (eg: the west as plenty of stories without conflict, they’re called “jokes”).

    • onyomi says:

      Another Chinese example which may not, unfortunately yet exist in a full English translation: the 17th-century playwright and self-publisher Li Yu 李漁 (Liweng 笠翁–author of genuinely and intentionally funny erotic novella The Carnal Prayer Mat) devotes a good chunk of his collection of lifestyle essays, Xianqing ouji 閒情偶寄 (Idle Jottings of Casual Sentiment) to the theory of play writing and staging, including a number of matters of plotting and structure. His advice seems very sensible to a modern perspective, I’d say, though this is also around the time when Chinese literature rather suddenly becomes very “relatable,” perhaps due to a boom in commercial publishing. He seems to suggest something like “Chekhov’s gun,” for example.

      If you can read German there’s apparently a pretty extensive translation by Helmut Martin titled Li Li-weng über das Theater. I actually know someone who said they were working on a full translation; if that person doesn’t get around to it I might do it myself at some point, actually.

      • Machine Interface says:

        Thanks. My German reading level is nowhere near close to be able to read this in translation, but that’s an excuse to try to brush it up, I guess.

  9. aremi_mande says:

    Are there any physicist in the room? Could you make a laser based on the dynamic Casimir effect using SQUIDs
    link to textusing a squid to produce microwaves with such. What about a hydrogen maser?

    • imoimo says:

      This is not at all my field, but I doubt such a small, delicate effect could make a reasonably powerful laser. And if it could, it would likely be horribly inefficient to do so.

      Glancing at recent literature, the only application I see being explored is for entanglement.

  10. Aapje says:

    It seems to me that the kind of media that tries to write true things, typically expresses their biases by accidentally slanting their reporting. The more incidental to an in depth article something is, the more likely it is false, because reporters do research into the core claims and do report that mostly honestly, but at the edges, they fill in the gaps with unresearched ‘common knowledge.’ In reality, this common knowledge is what their subculture considered unquestionably true.

    Reactive news stories are worse, because there is less time for research. The deadline is coming up. So reporters tend to fact check and rebut quotes that they already believed to be false before they did research, but not do the same for quotes that they agree with. So you get a big asymmetry where one side gets to make false claims with little fact checking.

    However, what is interesting is that criticisms of this bias do seem to hit home, somewhat, as you regularly see media make separate stories where they address falsehoods that they normally let pass. Because these stories are relatively rare, you can then get a situation where they help convince their readers of a falsehood by letting sympathetic people get away with claiming this falsehood, but the actual claims by their reporters are not false.

    So then we get the current situation, where critics claim that the media spreads lies, while the reporters claim that they do not; and where they may both be correct, in a sense.

    • EchoChaos says:

      I see bias as far more picking which stories to report.

      For example, if the media relentlessly talks up mass shootings by white Americans (see the recent shooting in Texas) but not black Americans (the recent school shooting in Alabama), then people get incorrect ideas about trends. I have seen many people make claims about mass shootings being a “young angry white guy” problem, which is clearly false. 75% of mass shootings are by blacks, mostly gang on gang violence. But because of a news focus, you get lots of people who believe the opposite.

      The problems with facts during rapid-fire breaking stories are somewhat related, but more minor because most people at this point understand that facts during those events are liable to shift rapidly.

      • MorningGaul says:

        I have seen many people make claims about mass shootings being a “young angry white guy” problem, which is clearly false. 75% of mass shootings are by blacks, mostly gang on gang violence. But because of a news focus, you get lots of people who believe the opposite.

        That’s because you take “mass shootings” at face value, when really, it means “mass shooting of non-gang-nor-marginal peoples”.

        I dont think people really give a damn if a few gang members shot each others, as long as nobody gets caught in the middle

        • The Nybbler says:

          That’s because you take “mass shootings” at face value, when really, it means “mass shooting of non-gang-nor-marginal peoples”.

          If you go by the Mother Jones list (which excludes ordinary criminal shootings), you find it roughly matches the racial demographics of the US. Nobody seems to realize that, though, probably because either the incident itself or the race of the perpetrator gets downplayed when he’s not white.

        • Enkidum says:

          This, with a somewhat less negative slant than I think you’re placing on it. What people are worried about when they discuss mass shootings is usually people who deliberately target innocents or random people. This is not gang-related.

          • Matt M says:

            But even with that qualifier, it is still true that the media hypes up shootings committed by white conservatives, and downplays shootings carried out by anyone who counts as properly “diverse.”

            The fact that the transgender student who shot up a STEM school in Colorado is atypical of shooters doesn’t justify ignoring the entire event and refusing to cover it.

            You can cover every school shooting that happens, and if the majority are evil white male conservatives, the audience will pick up on that if you just report the facts as they are. The fact that they go out of their way to ignore the ones that don’t “fit the narrative” is worthy of condemnation, even if the narrative is still largely correct.

          • quanta413 says:

            What people are worried about when they discuss mass shootings is usually people who deliberately target innocents or random people.

            It’s not like gang shootings are known for their excellent aim or careful targeting. Or caring about details like innocence. One of my friends families move out of their neighborhood when he was little because some person X meant to open fire at some person Y’s grandma.

            Grandma wasn’t guilty of anything. Also, they opened fire on the wrong address. I think it might have even been the wrong block.

            Reasonably, my friend’s Mom and Dad decided bullets zipping through the apartment building once was enough and moved out.

            Not a mass shooting, but I doubt the typical gang related mass shooting is much different.

        • Matt M says:

          Modern society is so confusing. At one point I would have told you “Gang violence doesn’t really matter and isn’t worth paying attention to because it only kills poor and marginal people who happen to be black” was the position a racist person would hold.

          But I guess now that’s what woke people believe?

          • DeWitt says:

            Charity. Charity. Charity.

            Find a woke person and ask, or stop assuming the worst.

          • Chalid says:

            What? Believing “society cares more about problems where the victims are white” is obviously consistent with wokeness. It’s descriptive not normative.

          • RalMirrorAd says:

            @Chalid

            What Matt M means (I think) is that it’s woke to oneself disregard (and do so intentionally) that kind of violence
            Not that *saying* that kind of violence is disregarded is woke.

            Depending on your point of view it’s:
            1. uncharitable to let a phenomenon go unabated when the victims are of a particular stripe,
            2. uncharitable to target said phenomenon (try to abate it) because:
            a. Doing so calls attention to it thus promotes negative stereotypes
            b. incacerates people of a particular stripe.

            So you have a situation where two people are accusing the others of being racists precisely because one can argue either position is such.

          • Chalid says:

            What Matt M means (I think) is that it’s woke to oneself disregard (and do so intentionally) that kind of violence

            I’m guessing this is a tiny minority position at best.

            you have a situation where two people are accusing the others of being racists

            I’d put it a bit differently – if in general black killers kill black people and white killers kill white people, and the media pays more attention to the white version, then depending on your prejudices you can pick a narrative that the media only pays attention to white killers or that the media only cares about white victims.

      • Enkidum says:

        I think media bias as picking what to report (not just stories, but also particular facts within stories) is exactly the main issue. Chomsky has been very clear about this since the early 80’s, for example.

      • DragonMilk says:

        Along these lines, I have a confession. I like Fox News.

        Not because I think it’s fair and balanced. But because it’s different. It’s like the carrot to rice and beans. I prefer rice and beans to carrots, but boy would I get tired of it if that’s all I had.

        • Lambert says:

          I know people who watch RT and Al Jazeera sometimes for this reason.

          It’s like historians say: all sources are biased, but that doesn’t make them useless. At the very least, it’ll tell you about the writer’s bias.

          • ana53294 says:

            Al Jazeera English is quite OK (I’ve been told that the Arabic version has a more political bent), as long as you don’t go to Al Jazeera for Middle Eastern topics.

            They have quite decent reports about Asia (as long as you ignore Pakistan – India related topics).

          • Enkidum says:

            I’ve never seen anything much from RT that wasn’t transparent nonsense, but I haven’t looked that hard. (I have a very low threshold for woo, and RT is full of it, so I threw that baby out with the bathwater long ago.)

            Al Jazeera has had some truly excellent reporting. Like ana#####, I have heard the Arabic version is much more biased. Contra ana#####, I think there’s a great deal of good stuff about the Middle East and Pakistan, but the biases are obvious.

          • ana53294 says:

            Agree with Enkidum: RT is mostly crap. Never seen them even trying to be unbiased.

            The only thing RT could be plausibly useful for is that they tend to frequently interview people who don’t get interviewed on CNN, lest their opinions get amplified. So if you want to see what people on the fringes of society think, RT will show you the subset of those they think are good at destabilising the different countries.

          • Aftagley says:

            Signal boosting what Enkidum said: if you want in-depth reporting in the middle east, Al Jazeera is your best source. They’re really the only well-funded operation in the region with long-term sources built up.

    • Well... says:

      I think a more fundamental problem is the irrational expectation that newsmedia are supposed to be a reliable source of information in the first place. Why do we grant them this make-believe power?

      The English and Acting majors who got together to put on the shows in which they pose as disinterested arbiters of truth use lots of smoke and mirror techniques to appear authoritative: they open their programs with regal fanfare, they wear fancy suits, they make sure to talk or write in a way that mimics the disinterestedness of scholarly expertise, they appear with spinning globes or dozens of screens behind them as if they’re omniscient, they adorn their publications in fancy black-letter typefaces and give them names like “Sentinel” and “Observer” and “Inquirer” and “Plain Dealer”, they invented for themselves the title of “journalists” as if they take part in some kind of peer review process… But why do these silly tricks work?

      • AlesZiegler says:

        They don´t. People believe biased media sources because of their own confirmation bias.

        Claims that “media are supposed to be unbiased source of information” are virtually always followed up by outrage that they are not, in fact, an unbiased source of information.

        • Well... says:

          You’re talking about only half of what I’m talking about. Sure, the news looks like a BS show when it’s not agreeing with you. But it’s still BS even when it is agreeing with you. It’s BS-ness doesn’t flow from what it says or how, it’s from the essence of what purports to be doing the saying.

      • DragonMilk says:

        There’s state propaganda and private propaganda. Pick your poison.

        The value of free press is not in the lack of bias, but the diversity in the bias…until there are calls to shun/shame outgroup thoughts

        • DeWitt says:

          until there are calls to shun/shame outgroup thoughts

          This is part of the human condition. I don’t know that societies without such calls exist.

          • quanta413 says:

            I think that’s what DragonMilk is saying. Diversity of bias is the valuable part of a free press, but inevitably it comes with a not valuable part.

        • Well... says:

          But what is “press” and why is it conceived the way it is?

          “Propaganda” can be anything from a state-funded billboard to your buddy trying to talk you into joining his nutrient-selling pyramid scheme. The “press” isn’t inherently propaganda (sometimes it’s intended that way, and it often ends up that way, but that’s almost irrelevant); what makes the press “the press” is the little game of make-believe we play where an English or Acting major puts on a suit, talks with a funny cadence in his voice, sits in a movie set that looks like God’s Control Room, or writes in a certain format, using pseudo-academic language and symbols, and calls himself a “journalist” and we all pretend this person is somehow qualified to tell us what is going on in the world.

          Even when the “journalist” is saying things we agree with, why do we participate in this ridiculous charade? Here are my guesses:

          (By the way, all these bullet points go for journalists themselves, too.)

          – Habit. Since the first generation after journalism was invented, we’ve grown up with journalists being basically equated with some level of respectability (to the point where a headline of “Journalist attacked by protesters” gives us a different feeling from “Youtuber attacked by protesters”) and like many things, not questioned it.

          – Journalists have successfully tricked us. We really are gullible enough to be taken in by the suits and the vocal cadence and the God’s Control Room movie set and the blackletter fonts at the top of the page and all that jazz, to see and hear all that and figure “Wow, those guys really are, or seem like they ought to be, the credible experts on All That’s Fit to Print.”

          – Journalism just scratches the same itch as stand-up comedy, but inverted. Just as we need comedians to tell us the things we can or will not say ourselves, but mediated through laughter, we need journalists to tell us the things we would say or have said ourselves, but mediated through highly articulate pseudo-intellectualism.

          – Journalism is itself a kind of signaling product. It’s a peacock feather we can wear to show how in-the-know and with-it we are (among our ingroup at least), and various journalism sources are just different types of feathers. The sources that are the most sought-after are those that look the most expensive to produce while still aligning closely with our desired identities. You get a journalism feather by consuming it and internalizing its narrative, and you show off a journalism feather by linking to or quoting from articles or repeating points of view you came across from some journalist or another.

          • RobJ says:

            It’s a profession. People tend to trust professionals to perform the duties of their profession. You can definitely find plenty of faults with the culture of journalism, but that doesn’t mean the job of journalism is a figment. To some extent anybody can find information on topics they are interested in through other ways, but there is definite value in a profession that has:

            – access to people and places most don’t have
            – contacts among newsmakers/people surrounding them/experts, etc…
            – skill at performing research
            – interviewing skills
            – ability to summarize information concisely and write/speak well
            – just being a known outlet for the release of important information where people will see it

            Social media and primary sources can get you some of this stuff, and maybe it’ll keep getting better with more sophisticated algorithms and such, but I don’t think the press has anywhere near outlived it’s usefulness.

          • Well... says:

            I agree about the usefulness of professionals who have access and can do the things you listed. To me the issue is the way they organize and present themselves as “journalists”. It’d be nice if they were organized differently, in a way that was more transparent and not based around pretending to be some kind of authority on things. I doubt it could have happened differently up till now but with modern technology I think there’s the possibility that the model of “information dissemination” can change going forward, but traditional journalism has to first be recognized for what it is.

            Whether the news itself is valuable is a different matter. I think at least 95% of what we currently think of as “stuff that’s important to stay informed about” really isn’t; instead it could either be called “stuff that gives you a status boost to feel informed about” or “stuff you’re just interested in/fascinated by but which isn’t actually important for you to know”.

          • Dan L says:

            Even when the “journalist” is saying things we agree with, why do we participate in this ridiculous charade?

            What do you mean “we”, kemo sabe?

            A lot of your stance seems to rely on the assumption that the general public gives its blind trust to a unified collective of undeserving journalists. That’s a shaky proposition to begin with, and falls apart completely when you start identifying specific (competing!) organizations and their distinct audiences.

            Whether the news itself is valuable is a different matter. I think at least 95% of what we currently think of as “stuff that’s important to stay informed about” really isn’t; instead it could either be called “stuff that gives you a status boost to feel informed about” or “stuff you’re just interested in/fascinated by but which isn’t actually important for you to know”.

            How might you increase this number in your own reading? Is “sign up for Twitter” one of the steps?

          • Well... says:

            A lot of your stance seems to rely on the assumption that the general public gives its blind trust to a unified collective of undeserving journalists. That’s a shaky proposition to begin with, and falls apart completely when you start identifying specific (competing!) organizations and their distinct audiences.

            Obviously what I said applies most readily at the level of target segments of the general public. But even when it comes to the way a person on the Red Team regards news targeted for the Blue Team or vice versa, they still tend to be outraged about the “bias” or general content, rather than see through the charade of pretending to be authoritative.

            How might you increase this number in your own reading? Is “sign up for Twitter” one of the steps?

            That number referred to the percentage of things people feel like they should be informed about but which are really not important. You mean how might you decrease it?

          • Dan L says:

            see through the charade of pretending to be authoritative

            This still feels like a really weird framing – are you guessing as to what the desired effect on the audience must be, or are you speaking for yourself? Did you once view the news this way?

            Jumping back a bit:

            what makes the press “the press” is the little game of make-believe we play where an English or Acting major puts on a suit, talks with a funny cadence in his voice, sits in a movie set that looks like God’s Control Room, or writes in a certain format, using pseudo-academic language and symbols, and calls himself a “journalist” and we all pretend this person is somehow qualified to tell us what is going on in the world.

            There definitely are common aesthetic and stylistic approaches used for a combination of noble and commercial reasons, but that’s true about almost any field. Why are you giving them so much weight here, to the point of defining the profession around them? Why is this more of a “charade” than any other organization with a frontman?

            If we stripped away all the polish and spectacle and just watched a broadcast of a guy in a cheap polo stumble through an explanation of that thing he talked to people about could we drop the scare quotes around “journalist”?

            I’m not against punditry or people putting together a platform to talk about things that happen. I’m against people with few skills other than “good storyteller” or “good writer” doing this while painting themselves as “can be trusted to tell you everything you need to know about anything”.

            …are you just against the concept of rhetoric? I guess I could see that from an epistemic perspective, but it’s weird to get mad at journalism specifically about it.

            That number referred to the percentage of things people feel like they should be informed about but which are really not important. You mean how might you decrease it?

            Right, that.

      • Aftagley says:

        I think a more fundamental problem is the irrational expectation that newsmedia are supposed to be a reliable source of information in the first place. Why do we grant them this make-believe power?

        I want to find out what happened in X location today. I am not currently located in X location, nor do I have any friends who live there and traveling there to ask the people directly involved would be overly time consuming and there’s a chance I wouldn’t know who to ask/be able to communicate with them at all. Other than utilizing the newsmedia, there’s no way I can fill this need in my life.

        IMO, people who hold this kind of opinion have an unreasonably low opinion of the profession of journalism. The existence of punditry doesn’t invalidate the tangible contributions of public media.

        • Well... says:

          I want to find out what happened in X location today. […] there’s no way I can fill this need in my life.

          A want became a need there. But I get what you mean: in a best case scenario (not the more typical one where you’re just signaling your in-the-know-ness) you’re genuinely curious about stuff that goes on and want to learn more, and journalism is a convenient way for you to get that information. It’s not the only way, though. And now with the internet it’s not even the only convenient way, and might be less convenient than other ways. But we are kidding ourselves if we say it’s a reliable way.

          I’m not against punditry or people putting together a platform to talk about things that happen. I’m against people with few skills other than “good storyteller” or “good writer” doing this while painting themselves as “can be trusted to tell you everything you need to know about anything”.

          • Aftagley says:

            A want became a need there.

            Yep, I caught it after writing but didn’t want to ninja-edit. I both enjoy knowing what’s going on in the world and a portion of my job is being able to cogently answer someone asking “what’s going on in X location right now?” Thus it’s both a personal want and a professional need.

            t’s not the only way, though. And now with the internet it’s not even the only convenient way, and might be less convenient than other ways. But we are kidding ourselves if we say it’s a reliable way.

            ok, what is a better way? I’m not being snarky, I’m honestly curious. Right now I’m following what’s going on in parliament with this whole Brexit thing, but can’t dedicate the time to watch the full live coverage. My current solution to this problem is identify a news outlet which has been accurate and nuanced in the past, and read their summaries of events. I’ll probably also read one or two other trusted outlets just to ensure that my primary one hasn’t gone off the rails.

            I’m against people with few skills other than “good storyteller” or “good writer” doing this while painting themselves as “can be trusted to tell you everything you need to know about anything”.

            Right, and that can be a problem, but you’re discounting the fact that some journalists are also fantastic researchers. Having worked adjacent to newsrooms several times over my career, that’s a skillset that is common place in that profession.

          • Well... says:

            I both enjoy knowing what’s going on in the world and a portion of my job is being able to cogently answer someone asking “what’s going on in X location right now?”

            Huh. What kind of job is that? I think for the vast majority of people, almost all news is not really important or worthwhile for them to know, and the reason they insist on keeping up with it is because it’s part of a kind of status game about who’s the most in-the-know on the latest gossip.

            As RobJ wrote above and as you wrote at the end of your comment, journalists do have a useful skillset that could be put to more productive applications if the field was based on a different model. Right now it seems to be based on putting on publications meant to convince people that they are authoritative, omniscient, unbiased (or as close to unbiased as you can get), etc. You could probably come up with lots of new configurations that avoid that rather obvious epistemological trap.

            One possibility is that news reporters still go out and cover things (such as the parliamentary Brexit stuff) but then instead of writing articles that go straight to end-consumers, the articles go to panels of people who actually have expertise on whatever the topic is, and based on that they talk about what they think is going on, and THAT is what end consumers get.

            Now, I just came up with that off the top of my head and there are probably much better ideas, but my point is that we should avoid the trap of having “outlets” that brand themselves as objective and authoritative etc.

      • Look, *nothing* is a reliable source. Everything must be read critically, whether it’s gutter journalism, peer-reviewed papers in *Nature* or books by eminent intellectuals. Everybody’s thought is suffused with the biasing effect of their personal experience and proclivities.

        In journalism there is at least an ideal of reporting in such a way as to give a complete and accurate picture of what is going on, even though nobody can perfectly live up to it. The signalling you talk about is part of the maintenance of that ideal. Some journalists may be dishonest and not attempt to live up to this, but honest people also exist; as long as everybody has to signal honesty, there will be people who take those signals at face value and choose to live up to them.

        I’m deeply suspicious of the way in which people heap scorn upon journalism in particular as if it’s not just the human condition to be deeply uncertain about anything sufficiently complex. Often these people seem to place their trust in what their small friendship group or community chooses to comment on instead, which seems far more likely to lead to a blinkered worldview.

        • albatross11 says:

          It’s a commonplace (something I heard from my father as a kid, in fact) that whenever you were personally involved or a witness to some event, the newspaper account of it inevitably gets a bunch of stuff wrong. Similarly, whenever I know enough to independently evaluate what a mainstream news source is reporting on, I notice errors and misunderstandings and distortions that may be bias or may just be honest lack of understanding.

          I don’t have a good sense of whether journalism has gotten worse over time, or its failures are just more widely known and discussed. It *should* be getting worse, because the newspapers and news magazines(who traditionally were the most serious on-the-ground reporters) have lost most of their advertising revenue and have laid off a lot of their staff. Intuitively, the stuff written by a 23-year-old unpaid intern ought not to be as well-reported as the stuff written by a 50-year-old lifelong reporter who knows where the bodies are buried. On the other hand, the news was always bad at getting the facts straight. Thirty years ago, when you noticed this, you complained to your friends but the wider world never heard it; now, it’s common for everyone to hear about the latest journalistic screw-up.

          It’s possible that this is one of those places where making everything more transparent has made it worse–we could have a news media that portrayed a shared worldview (even if it was often wrong) as long as nobody could see inside the sausage factory, but now everyone knows how lousy the news is, and so there’s no longer a shared worldview we can all assume everyone believes.

          • Enkidum says:

            It *should* be getting worse, because the newspapers and news magazines(who traditionally were the most serious on-the-ground reporters) have lost most of their advertising revenue and have laid off a lot of their staff. Intuitively, the stuff written by a 23-year-old unpaid intern ought not to be as well-reported as the stuff written by a 50-year-old lifelong reporter who knows where the bodies are buried.

            This, which I think accounts for almost all the supposedly evil acts of the media that I keep seeing various people here and elsewhere complaining about. I think there’s just a lot of institutional knowledge that’s disappeared.

            Season V of The Wire is worth watching for this point alone (although it’s the weakest season by far, and the newspaper segments are the worst part of it).

          • Plumber says:

            @albatross11 says: "It’s a commonplace (something I heard from my father as a kid, in fact) that whenever you were personally involved or a witness to some event, the newspaper account of it inevitably gets a bunch of stuff wrong..."

            Yep, of events I’ve seen first-hand that the press reports on, the press gets a one sentence description mostly like the real facts, but the more details they add the more they get wrong, in some ways just reading the headlines is more accurate as a lot of “deep reporting” is just transcribing the words of people making wrong guesses and “spin”.

            It’s hard but I try to keep that in mind while reading the newspaper.

          • Well... says:

            @albatross:

            I think the news has gotten better, mainly because more people now know how the sausage gets made, though also probably because reporters and their critics now have access to the internet.

            Compare any NYT article today to one from 100 years ago; it seems inconceivable some of the stuff “respectable” newspapers used to say.

          • Matt M says:

            I think the news has gotten better, mainly because more people now know how the sausage gets made, though also probably because reporters and their critics now have access to the internet.

            Honestly… one of the things that had most radicalized me against journalism is SSC, and other similar rationalist-adjacent blogs.

            To see Scott approach an issue from the perspective of “Here’s what I thought going into this. Here’s an argument some people have made. Here is the evidence to support that argument. Here are some counter-arguments critics have made. Here is the evidence they have in favor of their criticism. Here is the data I’ve found that lands on one side or the other. Here are the remaining questions that need to be answered.” is just so…. radically refreshing.

            To see that it can be this way. That we can have nice things… just makes what happens in nearly all mainstream media look like an unmitigated dumpster fire in comparison.

            And Scott isn’t even trying to be a “professional journalist.” He’s just a fair minded, intelligent, and intellectually curious person. Those three qualities seem very necessary to me to succeed in this sort of field, and as far as I can tell, most “professional journalists” are 0/3.

          • Aftagley says:

            To see Scott approach an issue from the perspective of “Here’s what I thought going into this. Here’s an argument some people have made. Here is the evidence to support that argument. Here are some counter-arguments critics have made. Here is the evidence they have in favor of their criticism.

            This is punditry and the analysis thereof, not news. This type of thoughtful coverage is great when discussing society-wide long-term trends, but really terrible if I want to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world. The majority of what goes on in the world doesn’t require SSC levels of analysis.

            Picking a current topic, it appears like the US has solidified a negotiation framework with the Taliban. I was able to read in the news this morning that if the deal goes through, the US will begin removing up to 5400 troops from Afghanistan over the next year. Ignore for a moment whether or not you think this is a good thing, it’s a fact that I wouldn’t be able to know if not for a robust news media.

          • albatross11 says:

            Matt M:

            One important difference is that Scott is trying to summarize existing evidence and studies and such. It’s hard to find a news source that does that, and it’s definitely not newspapers or TV news. Some high-end magazines try to do this–you might see it in the Atlantic or something.

            The place where newspapers and TV news and such are really critical is, IMO, reporting the facts as they become available.

            Ideally, the local newspaper has a guy who goes to every single city council meeting, knows all the major players in city politics, reads through the budget every year, etc. That guy is in an excellent position to tell the citizens stuff they need to know about what their government is doing.

            Another reporter covers the local schools, and she knows everyone on the school board and in the school administration, has lots of teachers she talks to for background, goes to the school board meetings, knows what’s going on with the school budget and test scores and new educational reforms and such. Again, she’s in a great position to tell us what’s going on with the public schools.

            And then, when something happens that becomes a big story–a questionable police shooting, a politician getting caught visiting his mistress, an executive arrested for bribing regulators–we need someone to go find out what happened and report them to us. It’s really important that they do their best to tell us the truth, rather than make things up or lie or leave critical details out. This works best when they’ve been reporting the relevant area for a few years and know whom to talk to, which people will give them the straight story and which ones will lie or exaggerate, etc.

            That function is very different from the one of integrating evidence and coming to some big-picture conclusions. There’s no reason to think a good big city crime reporter will also be good at that kind of thing–instead, he’ll probably be good at finding out what happened w.r.t. the latest gang shooting or police beating. But we need that function. We need someone who can be reasonably trusted to go to some town in Florida and find out what happened with this hispanic neighborhood watch guy who shot a black kid, or to go to California and report what’s going on with the wildfires. ISTM that news sources often screw this job up, probably because it’s expensive and unglamorous and doesn’t pay, relative to clickbait headlines that find a way to work Trump’s name into the story somehow.

          • Matt M says:

            And what good does that fact do you, without any other analysis?

            Is 5,400 a lot? Why were they there in the first place? What has changed to enable these peace talks? What can we expect to happen when they leave? Why has Trump agreed to these conditions when other Presidents did not?

            The number of troops that might leave is pure trivia. It’s useless, in and of itself, divorced from context and analysis and implications.

          • Aftagley says:

            The number of troops that might leave is pure trivia. It’s useless, in and of itself, divorced from context and analysis and implications.

            I mean, yes. If I’m an alien who just came down from space yesterday and have 0 context around this issue, then reading an isolated article about troop movements likely wouldn’t be helpful.

            If, on the other hand, you’ve been paying attention to this topic for the last coming up on 18 years next week and have a pretty decent handle on the implications of a peace deal with the Taliban backed up by the US with troop withdrawals, then this information is very useful.

            I’m not sure I get what you’re advocating for here. Are you proposing a system whereby no one learns anything about current events until enough time has passed for experts of every affiliation to weigh in and a general consensus to emerge? Because that just sounds like you’re advocating for a system whereby news is entirely replaced by punditry.

          • Matt M says:

            I guess what I’d prefer to see is a very strict and clear and obvious segregation between punditry and reporting.

            As it stands today, most people get their news from pundits. These are the most popular shows, by far. Opinion pieces in the NYT/WaPo/WSJ get far more clicks/comments/whatever than hard news does.

            Of course, the “hard news” shows are also full of punditry themselves. Editorializing is now common. And bias in terms of what is covered and what is not, as we’ve already discussed, is prevalent.

            So if people are only going to listen to pundits, and if non-pundit reporters are going to editorialize and try to sneak their punditry into their hard news stories anyway, we might as well ignore the so called reporters, and stick with the pundits, and favor the good/fair ones over the propagandists.

          • Matt M says:

            So, if you want a specific example of the sort of thing that enrages me, see LMC’s recent link above to a news story (not “opinion” or “commentary” or “editorial”) by prestigious respectable outlet The Washington Post (who assures us, at the very top, that their mission is to save our very democracy from the dark and evil threat of public ignorance), describing a “universal basic income” program that is not, by any reasonable definition, a universal basic income program.

            Now, I don’t doubt that within the text of the article, when it describes the features of how the program works, those facts are basically correct. Nor do I claim that it isn’t useful for the public to have access to those facts. But the framing of the story and the headline are pure propaganda. They are 100% false and misleading. Non-experts will read this story and will take away false information regarding what UBI is and how it works. This story will increase, not decrease, public ignorance.

            And it’s completely indefensible. There’s no reason the Washington Post should call this program UBI when it isn’t, except for propagandistic purposes. There’s no reason they couldn’t include a detailed description of what UBI technically means, and how this program differs from that so much that it cannot be fairly described as such. Scott would do that, right in the first paragraph. Any fair minded person would. But our heroic firefighters from the Washington Post, the ones we rely on to save democracy, will not. And it’s completely unsurprising that they will not. This example isn’t exceptional in any way. It’s par for the course.

          • Well... says:

            There’s no reason the Washington Post should call this program UBI when it isn’t, except for propagandistic purposes.

            Sure there is: UBI is a buzzy keyword that they know will get lots of people’s attention. They have no enforceable commitment to being factual or accurate; such a commitment exists only insofar as it’s part of their brand (as it is part of the brand of every journalism outlet), but then we’re merely talking about appearances and veneers.

          • Matt M says:

            Sure. They also could have described it as a “Trump Russian collusion spy sex-ring program.” That’d probably help out their SEO quite a lot, too. And hey, if anyone tried to complain “Wait a minute, this story doesn’t have anything to do with Trump, Russia, collusion, spies, or sex-rings at all!” they could just shrug and say “Whatever, we have no particular obligation to be truthful.” right?

            Would you still defend them if they did that? Would you still insist that it doesn’t really matter because after all they are providing us with valuable facts about the bill?

          • baconbits9 says:

            Sure there is: UBI is a buzzy keyword that they know will get lots of people’s attention.

            You could call it a precursor to a UBI, or a proto UBI or an experiment to show how a UBI could work. Saying that it is X when it is not X is straight forward 1984 style propaganda where you attempt to push language in a direction rather than truth.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Matt M

            This example isn’t exceptional in any way. It’s par for the course.

            Fully agree, headlines in general are a curse upon the world. I don’t mean to imply that journalism is perfect; its mission to inform the populace has always sat uneasily in a market where it needs to make money and it’s perceived as a platform for power in public thought. I’d just advise you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

          • Well... says:

            @Matt M:

            Would you still defend them if they did that? Would you still insist that it doesn’t really matter because after all they are providing us with valuable facts about the bill?

            Inasumuch as what I’m doing can be called “defending” them, I’d “defend” them not because they are providing us with valuable facts (ha!) but because they don’t owe us facts, or anything coherent, in the first place. It’s not like they’re some kind of official facts-providing service. They just put on clothes to look like one. Don’t be fooled.

            @Baconbits9:

            Saying that it is X when it is not X is straight forward 1984 style propaganda where you attempt to push language in a direction rather than truth.

            I think that relies on a lot of inferring negative intent where none need exist. Journalists believe their own BS too.

          • Matt M says:

            I think that relies on a lot of inferring negative intent where none need exist. Journalists believe their own BS too.

            A journalist who is assigned to write about UBI and welfare policy and who actually believes this program is UBI should be fired for gross negligence and incompetence.

            Believing they are trying to trick us and spew propaganda is the charitable explanation. The alternative is that they’re shockingly ignorant of even the most basic definition of the foundational term of the field they are reporting on.

          • Well... says:

            Believing they are trying to trick us and spew propaganda is the charitable explanation. The alternative is that they’re shockingly ignorant of even the most basic definition of the foundational term of the field they are reporting on.

            Key word there is “shockingly”. Why would you be shocked that some English major whose job is to sound smart doesn’t know that stuff?

            It’d be like being shocked that Sandra Bullock doesn’t actually have the tacit knowledge necessary to be a mission specialist on the ISS.

          • Matt M says:

            Because the best way to sound smart is to actually be smart?

            Because I’m not asking them to learn orbital dynamics, but rather, to take 5 minutes and look up the actual definition of a term they plan on using in THE TITLE?

          • Well... says:

            I guess my Sandra Bullock analogy was too generous. Sandra Bullock had to convincingly act as if she knew orbital dynamics for 90 minutes. A journalist only has to drop the term “UBI” into a headline to get you to click on it.

            But OK, I agree it’s sloppy journalism even by my standards.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I think that relies on a lot of inferring negative intent where none need exist. Journalists believe their own BS too.

            You don’t think the upper echelon government workers in 1984 were perfect cynics do you?

          • Dan L says:

            @ Matt M:

            Now, I don’t doubt that within the text of the article, when it describes the features of how the program works, those facts are basically correct. Nor do I claim that it isn’t useful for the public to have access to those facts. But the framing of the story and the headline are pure propaganda. They are 100% false and misleading. Non-experts will read this story and will take away false information regarding what UBI is and how it works. This story will increase, not decrease, public ignorance.

            Headlines are clickbait and suck as a general rule. This is why it is important to convince non-experts to read the damn article for a change, and crucify evil editors and the credulous morons who enable them by failing to follow through and click the link.

        • Well... says:

          I’m deeply suspicious of the way in which people heap scorn upon journalism in particular as if it’s not just the human condition to be deeply uncertain about anything sufficiently complex.

          Journalism is what you get if you are really good at talking or writing as though you’re not uncertain about anything sufficiently complex.

          I agree, all media has to be read critically. The problem is that journalism is essentially the distillation of any effort on the part of the author to not be read critically. Anything that frames itself as just another voice at the table isn’t journalism; journalism is unique in being structured and designed to say “This is the real honest to goodness truth right here, look no further.” Even academic writing includes a “Discussion” section, and gets heavily beaten up if it doesn’t address major counter-theories or if it doesn’t properly qualify novel concepts.

          You might be right about other people who criticize journalism for all I know; I haven’t found anyone else making the particular argument I’m making.

          • mtl1882 says:

            @Well…

            You might be right about other people who criticize journalism for all I know; I haven’t found anyone else making the particular argument I’m making.

            For what it’s worth, I agree 100% with your particular argument. I’ve seen it elsewhere (assuming I understand your argument correctly), but it is definitely not common, because the debate over this is usually focused on superficial results. I believe that if the underlying dynamics of the conversation aren’t healthy and sound, nothing else is. People have to know *who* is talking, etc.–as you put it:

            But it’s still BS even when it is agreeing with you. It’s BS-ness doesn’t flow from what it says or how, it’s from the essence of what purports to be doing the saying.

            There is *one* sentence I disagree with you on, but that is its own discussion:

            Since the first generation after journalism was invented, we’ve grown up with journalists being basically equated with some level of respectability (to the point where a headline of “Journalist attacked by protesters” gives us a different feeling from “Youtuber attacked by protesters”) and like many things, not questioned it.

            This was much less the case early on–personal journalism of the early-mid 1800s was, IMO, a healthier example of mass media. This was so because the editors (reporters themselves were not high status–the editor was the paper, and almost none of the big ones were formally educated) were the papers, and everyone knew it. They were rockstars in terms of fame and influence, but they were not automatically respected and trusted. They commanded attention through their convincing editorial voice and analysis, and their ability to get the latest, most interesting news. But they were not accepted on faith–they were usually highly logical, but not fact-centric. They did not pretend to be capable of objectivity, but they were brilliant in their subjectivity, and the competition among them meant that the audience got able explanations and defenses of the positions. Their readers had to think, or at least be aware to whom they had farmed out their opinion. My reaction to reading papers of that time was what @MattM described here:

            To see that it can be this way. That we can have nice things… just makes what happens in nearly all mainstream media look like an unmitigated dumpster fire in comparison.

            And Scott isn’t even trying to be a “professional journalist.” He’s just a fair minded, intelligent, and intellectually curious person. Those three qualities seem very necessary to me to succeed in this sort of field, and as far as I can tell, most “professional journalists” are 0/3.

            We’re making it harder than it needs to be because we cannot imagine an alternative. A lot of it isn’t *that* complicated, but it does require some thoughtful context. It requires thoughtfulness, good faith, and humility more than complex training in journalistic ethics and vetting sources (both of those are procedural controls for thoughtlessness etc., IMO).

            Not everyone will agree with my admiration of mid-1800s journalism–very few will, in fact, but I do think we need to be aware of the trade offs involved in each system, instead of assuming we’ve been on a non-stop march of improvement. It is hard to articulate, but I sometimes come across comments like this one, in a biography of one of those editors published in 1921. It captures the strange feeling that while those practices were obviously unacceptable, and their eradication is a point of pride, the overall atmosphere had vitality and truth that is refreshing.

            “There were verbal savageries practised, too, in those days, on the disappearance of which the historian now looks with a certain philosophic complacence. We have changed all that. Personal slang-whanging is pretty nearly as dead as the duello. But there was a biting freshness in the air which was not unwholesome.”

            This is usually about as far as it goes, because it is hard to reconcile the fact that the quality of the public conversation was at times indisputably higher despite this. Most people think having the editor/journalist front and center is the opposite of good journalism, but I think pretending we can ignore the person speaking in favor of some neutral judgment specific to the profession can be just as dangerous, or more so. Especially as journalists become more similar in background and worldview.

          • Dan L says:

            Most people think having the editor/journalist front and center is the opposite of good journalism, but I think pretending we can ignore the person speaking in favor of some neutral judgment specific to the profession can be just as dangerous, or more so.

            +1. As general policy, if you do not recognize the name on the byline then you should treat anything beyond the driest fact-based reporting with a good deal of healthy skepticism.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        If we think about scientific studies, people who have backgrounds in statistics and are accustomed to looking at studies and picking apart methodological flaws can often get good at identifying what should be but is missing from the study that would more definitively prove or disprove the abstract/conclusion

        People I know who have gotten sour with professional journalism have gotten acustomed to reading articles where, much like a scientific study:

        The author’s implied or explicit position is well understood (What is sometimes called the bias, but bias of this kind can’t really be avoided)

        Information that is decisive to answering a question or understanding an issue is concealed in the language of the article or ommited entirely. The information that does get presented is rarely false but very different conclusions are drawn.

        “Ideal” journalism might be nothing but bullets of known facts and data tables are given for the readers consumption. Such Journalism would be highly unprofitable. It’s also possibly insulting to the professional self-perception insofar as they care about being seen as great writers and story-tellers.

        ‘Bias’ is a bad word and should be avoided, because people can and often are called biased for:

        1. Having a certain tone [And tones are only biased relative to the assumptions of the reader]
        2. Inclusion or certain facts the reader thinks should be ommited
        3. Ommitting certian facts the reader should be included
        4. Outright falsification [uncommon]

        • Well... says:

          I agree.

          I also agree about “ideal” journalism, but a possible solution is for journalists to go ahead and compile those kinds of artifacts, but deliver them not to the public but to experts who can draw conclusions and disagree with each other.

          One of my favorite Joe Rogan podcast episodes was the one where they debated pot, because both sides had a wealth of access to information and statistics (one was himself a journalist, but more the kind who’s heavy into research and writes books at the end) but were also able to convey their ideas in a way that is consumable by Joe Rogan’s millions of listeners.

          But I don’t think something like that could happen in a vacuum, either. People would also need to somehow reassess the importance of consuming “news” in the first place. As I’ve said numerous times above, I don’t think nearly as much of what we consider important to know about actually is. There’s a kind of stigma against people who are ignorant of “big newsworthy events” but I think this stigma is wrong. If you’re particularly interested in something, go ahead and do what you need to do to learn about it. If something is really important to the point where it affects your life (e.g. a food recall on some item you just bought from the grocery store) you will likely be notified one way or the other. But aside from those kinds of things it’s mostly just gossip and people consume it for the status boost of being in-the-know.

        • Matt M says:

          One of my basic heuristics for consuming “journalism” is basically making a list of all the very obvious questions I have after having read the article, and assuming that the reason they weren’t answered is because the answer would be harmful to the narrative that the author is trying to convey.

          I don’t always research and check, but whenever I do, it basically always holds true.

          • John Schilling says:

            Another useful heuristic is to always ask, “How did the writer of this story even know there was a story worth writing”?

            The answer is almost never “A reporter on the beat got a lead and chased it down”. That used to happen, sometimes, but is now rare. It’s simply not a cost-effective use of a reporter’s time, and newspapers are no longer funded to the level where they can tolerate that inefficiency. Maximize the clicks-per-reporter-hour or you’re done for.

            Sometimes it is because a reporter with an agenda and a bit of credit with their employer decides to go out and find a story to fit that agenda. A fair bit of long-form journalism is still done that way.

            Most headlines, though, start as a press release, a press conference, or a prearranged interview. Someone who isn’t a reporter, thinks their agenda would be served by an appropriate news story, creates that story, and gives it to a reporter (or a room full of reporters). Who then tweaks the wording, and maybe checks that it isn’t so obviously false as to end their career, and runs with it. Quick, easy, and on to the next story.

            But you really want to understand who issued the press release, and why, and what reporters have to do if they expect to keep getting press releases like that rather than having to go out and chase down leads by themselves.

          • Aapje says:

            @John Schilling

            I would more generically argue that most reporting is event-driven & that journalists don’t just respond to spontaneous events, but also to manufactured ones.

            I would also add that journalists tend to filter events, based on narratives that they think are important, what their audience wants to hear, what favors their politics, etc.

            Many an organization’s press releases will be ignored, because it doesn’t fit the criteria of ‘being relevant.’

            What is and what is not ignored results in a bias.

  11. ana53294 says:

    About school desegregation between rich and not rich – is it even desirable? I don’t mean middle class, I mean really rich, 2 SD from the median wage.

    I in general don’t like school and prefer homeschooling. I attended a school with middle and working class people. I got bullied, but for reasons that had nothing to do with my family’s economic situation (ASD, physical clumsiness, etc.). My family can afford nice things, but we always had to prioritize; so we would go see the Colosseum and attend music classes, but no brand clothing. I never felt uncomfortable seeing other kids with iPhones while I had a flip phone, because it was always clear to me that my family could afford that, but at the cost of something else I valued more highly.

    I personally would have hated going to a rich kids’ school (as opposed to gifted school; that would have been great). Seeing kids whose families have access to so much more opportunities, visiting their homes, inviting them to mine – wouldn’t I feel quite inferior? And it’s not like rich kids have to be jerks for the poor kid to feel terrible. Kids are actually quite observant and can see what happens. They also care about status quite a bit.

    I think some of the not keeping up with the Joneses is to realize that the Joneses cannot really afford that lifestyle at an income similar to yours. But what about being surrounded with Joneses who really can afford their lifestyle, while you can’t?

    • Enkidum says:

      There’s never been a question of the uber-rich attending the same schools as the rest of us. I don’t know that it’s ever happened, since there were schools, really.

      But I suppose I’m an old-school (pun not intended) progressive who believes that yes, public schools mixing economic classes is a Good Thing. I think you do get a lot of self-sorting along lines of race and class, but to whatever extent that there is some mixing going on, it’s a positive. The fact that many people in charge of our lives have absolutely no idea what everyday life for most people is like is not a good thing.

      • Tarpitz says:

        Depends what you mean by “the rest of us”. There are definitely private schools that number among their pupils a majority of upper middle class/low end rich kids alongside minorities of both middle or lower middle class scholarship/bursary kids and authentic ultra-rich. Eton, most obviously. So in that sense (some) people from fairly average backgrounds attend school with (some) people from extremely wealthy backgrounds.

    • metacelsus says:

      Nitpick: income isn’t normally distributed, so +2SD from median doesn’t say much.

      • chrisminor0008 says:

        Did you forget about the one-sided Chebyshev’s Inequality? 2 standard deviations above the mean at least the 80th percentile.

        • quanta413 says:

          You’re looking at the problem on the wrong side. Metacelsus is right that there’s a problem. If the income distribution is fat enough and long enough tail (say the tail of the distribution only declines as 1/income^2), the standard deviation isn’t defined. There’s a finite number of people, so the sample has some standard deviation, but it may be totally uninformative. The standard deviation could be 10 million a year or something absurd like that. The problem is 2 S.D. may cut off almost the entire population.

    • EchoChaos says:

      Assuming by 2 SD you mean the 95th percentile, it really depends on where you live. For example, in Kansas, the 95th Percentile is ~180k a year. I know people making that, and many of them send their kids to public schools with people making 60k.

      So this situation is not uncommon in Middle America. It may be rarer in the coasts.

      • quanta413 says:

        It’s not that uncommon inland in California either. And not far inland. 30 miles is probably far enough outside of maybe L.A. There’s certainly a skew, but there’s probably quite a few children with parents with that much income or wealth in most schools.

        I get the impression the skew is indeed more extreme on the coast itself.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I get the impression the skew is indeed more extreme on the coast itself.

          Anecdata: Portland, OR isn’t literally on the coast (the Oregon coast is dotted by towns of ~5,000 people), but it tries to copy the Bay Area and Seattle in all things except good jobs.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Economic class is very difficult to discern from the outside* for most people. Two quick examples:

      My wife thought she grew up lower middle class, she attended a high level private high school which her parents cleaned after hours. Her parents owned and operated the small cleaning company that held the cleaning contract, and are moving toward a fairly comfortable retirement. In high school her parents bought a summer beach house at a nearby beach, which she thought was just standard middle class stuff for her area. Because she was going to school with top quintile income kids that she viewed as middle to upper middle class she misplaced her own experiences. My FiL likes to tell the story about how the administrator that he dealt with for that contract treated him with a reserve and coldness up until she found out that they owned vacation homes in the same town.

      #2: 10 years ago my wife and I bought a twin home, and we qualified for a FHA loan because we had below the median income where we bought (which was right around the median US income and still is). This past year we moved into the top quintile for income (counting only her income and not our rental income), but we live in the same house. There are a lot of outward signs of being in a similar economic class as our tenants who live right next door. Both families have 3 kids and two cars, with both pairs of cars being older (ours are 14 and 19 years old), and the major difference between our two homes is that we put a 2nd bathroom on ours last year. The outward signs of being in a similar economic class are so strong that they give us the clothes their kids have grown out of (we happily take them, and their middle and our middle child are nicely synced up in age/gender that some go right into our daughters rotation), despite the fact that we are earning somewhere between 50-100% more in (pretax) income from one income than they earn from two.

      Functionally cross economic class interactions happen all the time, simply the fact that people move up the income ladder* as they age shifts the demographics of neighborhoods constantly and also invisibly. Our kids aren’t going to school with our neighbors because we are homeschooling, but if we weren’t their wouldn’t be any obvious markers that they were in the 1% of the elementary school in terms of income, and 3 quintiles above the bottom income level for that school.

      *outside of ‘to poor to afford food/clothes’ and ‘so rich we can buy anything’

      *One of my ‘not yet backed by data ‘opinions’ is that welfare is particularly pernicious in that it keeps this progression from happening, causing neighborhoods to stagnate and decline.

    • Plumber says:

      @ana53294 says:

      “About school desegregation between rich and not rich – is it even desirable? I don’t mean middle class, I mean really rich, 2 SD from the median wage..

      …I personally would have hated going to a rich kids’ school (as opposed to gifted school; that would have been great). Seeing kids whose families have access to so much more opportunities, visiting their homes, inviting them to mine – wouldn’t I feel quite inferior? And it’s not like rich kids have to be jerks for the poor kid to feel terrible. Kids are actually quite observant and can see what happens. They also care about status quite a bit…

      …what about being surrounded with Joneses who really can afford their lifestyle, while you can’t?”

      I did go to a large High School and had folks in my close social circle who’s parents were “top 1% (or so it seemed, maybe they were just top 10%) and those who were poorer, including the son of a single Mom who became a homeless junkie (and he moved into my bedroom at my Mom’s house so I went to live with my Dad instead).

      So…

      ….the son of the junkie joined the Marine Corps and I don’t know what happened to him after that, the adopted son of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab researcher with a house in the  Berkeley hills now manages a car dealership, the biological son who grew up in the hills moved to Hawaii, and I don’t know any details of his life beyond that, the cousins of the hills guys grew up in a crowded house in the flats near my Mom’s house and among them was my best friend in 6th grade who did well academically and became a research scientist (like his uncle), had an enviable life until he died young of cancer, one older brother of his joined the Army after high school, then became an electrician, then suffered a job injury and has lived on disability and odd jobs ever since, the other older brother did well academically, worked tech for a while, and then went back to school to become a cancer researcher, my girlfriend of that time grew up in a “UMC” neighborhood of Oakland and became an academic (like her father was), and rents near the house she grew up, I grew up in a house in the BerKelley flats (when staying with my Mom), and also in poor neighborhoods in Oakland (when with my Dad), and became a plumber like my Dad’s half-brother, lived real poor for 25 years, but now live in a small.house in a “UMC” neighborhood, and with our fates in mind (and of others I knew and know that I won’t detail in an already overly long post) I have these conclusions:

      1) Falling from your parents class status is more likely than rising above it.

      2) People do rise above their parents class, but they usually had a mentor and role-model (typically an uncle) and a lot of work, luck, and/or smarts is involved.

      3) Mostly “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, rising from the upper third of the bottom to the middle third happens, rising from the bottom half of the bottom third to the middle third seldom does, people fall from the upper third to the middle third but if those from the upper third fall to the bottom third they don’t stay long and tend to rise to at least middle, social class is pretty “sticky” and there’s a lot more movement from poor to middle, rich to middle, and middle to poor than there is poor to rich, rich to poor, and even middle to rich (amongst those I’ve known and know).

      4) Those from the upper third who had family in the bottom third were usually nice, those from the upper third who didn’t have poor relatives usually weren’t. 

      5) Drug addiction can make you fall in social class fast.

      6) Class correlates strongly with Race, but not absolutely, and poor whites living in the flats was far more common than rich blacks living in the hills (though a few existed).

      I’d say that in my High School roughly 40% were poorer than my family, and roughly 50% were richer, if 80% were richer I may have been even more bitter than I am, but maybe not, I really don’t know, in the case of my childhood best friend his knowing his richer cousins probably helped him, as I remember him he was bitter about his absent father, but otherwise pretty optimistic, the junkies son had a lot of aggression in him (and an attraction to violence that manifested in his reading “Soldier of Fortune” and joining the Marines), his absent Dad was white, and his Mom was black, and he was sensitive to such things as how black characters were written in the old films from the ’40’s that were still being broadcast on television in the ’80’s, but he didn’t speak of resenting a lack of money, I remember that I was bitter about class, but that was from not going to the private school that my best friend went to (for only a year), and that both his girlfriend and my girlfriend went to for most of their highschool years, and from my being in a class that was mostly hills kids, one of whom decided to “prove” that I wasn’t “really a Berkeley kid” by questioning me about various haunts that I was ignorant of such as a skiing equipment shop, come to think of it, the “AP” classes kids in my public high school seemed on average richer than the kids in the nearby private school, as well as most of the rest of us at my high school. 

      I imagine that if I grew up knowing less richer than me kids, or if I was more interested in sports and less interested in debate and music and hung out with more poorer than me kids, I’d be less pro-redistribution now,  but I can’t tell for sure.

      • quanta413 says:

        1) Falling from your parents class status is more likely than rising above it.

        Shouldn’t somebody rise in status in order for someone else to fall in status? Roughly speaking. Although what you say may explain why it feels that way.

        5) Drug addiction can make you fall in social class fast.

        Anything like that means you fall a lot in the social ranking. The many other people who now rank above you probably each only go up a very little bit in social class.

        So it feels like rising is hard and falling is easy because big falls happen more than big rises while small rises happen more than small falls. The big things are more noticeable and more important to any one person than the small things. And it takes work to stay in place or rise, whereas falling only requires bad luck. You could get in a car accident or the company you work for could go under during a recession or a hundred other things.

        • Randy M says:

          Shouldn’t somebody rise in status in order for someone else to fall in status?

          Exact position in a hierarchy is probably governed by an uncertainty principle, especially in a society where you cannot personally know everyone relevant, and especially when many factors are relevant (profession, income, manners, connections, family success, etc.). So you’ll know approximately where people are, but there’s room for little bulges here and there on the ladder.
          “Wow, Bob got a promotion. Is he now above Alice, who is planning on retiring soon but still gives the parties everyone wants to attend?”
          This seems like it might be related to the “over production of elites” from the current post on cycles.

        • Matt M says:

          5) Drug addiction can make you fall in social class fast.

          Tell that to Keith Richards. Or Robert Downey Jr.

          Drug addiction is just highly correlated with becoming sick/poor/incarcerated, which are things that affect your social status. Drug use, in and of itself, does not.

        • Ketil says:

          1) Falling from your parents class status is more likely than rising above it.

          Shouldn’t somebody rise in status in order for someone else to fall in status?

          Example: One person rises from #100 to #1. 99 persons drop one level. 1% chance of vastly increased status, 99% chance of a small reduction.

          • albatross11 says:

            But I don’t think the actual income statistics look much like that. People rise and fall relative to their parents all the time.

          • quanta413 says:

            I wasn’t saying the numbers have to be equal.

            My claim was the opposite way is probably more typical and psychologically feels like people sometimes go down but rarely up. So in the inverse of your scenario, #1 falls to #100 and everyone else moves up. But my thoughts were not #1 and #100. More like #150 million falls by 100 million spots and everyone else moves up.

            Former #150 million is sure as hell going to notice that. But everyone moving up one spot can’t possibly detect that.

            It’s like what Randy M said about there probably being some sort of uncertainty below which changes in status simply aren’t detected.

          • Chalid says:

            Another example: the status distribution becomes more skewed, and so more people shift to be further below the mean.

            Extreme case – imagine you go from a normal society to one with a dictator who runs everything and everyone else is a peasant; all but one person falls in status.

    • quanta413 says:

      2 S.D. may be absurdly rich because income is distributed with a fat tail.

      But if you pick something like top 1% or top 5%, it’s definitely true that lots of people with parents from that class go to public schools with people whose parents are in the bottom 50%. My social groups in high school probably spanned from bottom 20% to top 5% in income/wealth. But that’s more of a minimum range than a best estimate. I knew kids who had spent time in homeless shelters and kids whose parents or grandparents had school buildings named after them.

      Seeing kids whose families have access to so much more opportunities, visiting their homes, inviting them to mine – wouldn’t I feel quite inferior? And it’s not like rich kids have to be jerks for the poor kid to feel terrible. Kids are actually quite observant and can see what happens. They also care about status quite a bit.

      Maybe? But a lot of people who are pretty rich (let’s say a few hundred thousand in income and multiple millions of wealth) have houses that feel mostly like somewhat bigger middle class houses.

      I’d guess the gap between lower-class (say trouble even keeping enough food in the fridge) and middle-class (fridge is always full and occasionally you even go out to eat) would feel bigger. But I’ve never lived having to worry whether there’s enough in the fridge, so I don’t know.

  12. MissingNo says:

    Who once wanted videogames to look like reality….only to eventually hate the Oculus Rift because it trips out your meta-reality sense?

    • Is is really that realistic?

    • Enkidum says:

      You’re really going to have to be a LOT more specific about what you’re actually trying to say about this stuff. Is it just “I feel like we’re living in a simulation because our ability to simulate is getting much better”? In which case, I think there’s a whole lot wrong with your logic, but at least we’d get a handle on what you’re talking about.

    • Well... says:

      I was never very interested in video games. Back in the early 2000s I saw my friends playing Madden or some first-person shooter or something and I’d say “Eh…when this looks indistinguishable from live-action then I might be interested.”

      Now that it’s approaching that point, I’m even less interested. But I think it has to do with all the other advances that have led up to it, from broadband and social media to deep-fakes and the subscription model being applied to everything.

    • Aftagley says:

      I was excited for reality-level videogames until the tech came out and was only marginally well reviewed, cost almost $1000 and then got only a very small selection of games.

      Honestly, if there were more or better VR games I’d probably take the plunge, but I just can’t justify the expense yet.

  13. salvorhardin says:

    It is a commonplace in some cultural circles that Western societies have gotten far more risk-averse over the past century or so, and that this has had all sorts of downsides, from slower economic growth to less ability for kids to be “free-range”.

    Seems plausible. But what do people think are the best studies on the question of

    1. whether this has actually happened
    2. why it happened
    3. whether it caused the commonly attributed downsides?

    • Enkidum says:

      In terms of children, absolutely. A good article in The Atlantic about the differences between modern play and that of the 1970’s. Also an article from The Guardian describing a study on the amount of playtime outside compared to the same era. So you’ve got pretty strong indications that this was a thing that actually happened, in answer to your 1.

      As for why it happened, I think there are a number of factors, but a lot of them boil down to “it became possible to control childrens’ time”. For the large majority of human history, there wasn’t time or money for most people to do much other than let their children be feral. All of a sudden, there was, and immediately all these businesses sprung up to make sure your child never had an unscheduled moment.

      In terms of #3, I think it’s generally been pretty negative. There’s an obvious connection to obesity and poor eyesight (you specifically mentioned the western world, but in places like Singapore, the large majority of kids are nearsighted, because they don’t spend enough time in natural sunlight). And I think in general a poor ability to navigate the world independently, and to adapt to surprising circumstances. I suppose the main positive would be a much safer environment.

      Not precisely the studies you asked for, but I think there’s something there.

      • Randy M says:

        For the large majority of human history, there wasn’t time or money for most people to do much other than let their children be feral.

        Not sure about this. In hunter-gatherer culture, it seems like there would have been time for supervision by a nearby adult, at least if we buy at all that pre-agrarian society was less demanding, if harsher. Whether or not they chose to so supervise is another question.

        More recently, in pre-modern times, children often worked closely with parents at home once they were capable, putting the years for behavior feral at maybe 5-10, with probably rather strict discipline thereafter.

        The fraction of the population which utilized child labor has thankfully decreased over time, but if it tracks agriculture sector, was probably quite large for most of human history.

        • Enkidum says:

          I think you’re right, but 5-10 (really, more like 5-12) is more or less the age range I was talking about.

          That Atlantic piece really is quite interesting, with a detailed discussion of what kids used to do, just 50 years ago, which they would never let their own children do any longer. My experiences growing up in hick Quebec were much the same, and though I would have happily let my kids have similar experiences, they grew up in Vancouver and in our social circles at least, there wasn’t the same opportunity for just rampaging around on your own.

          • Randy M says:

            I would have happily let my kids have similar experiences

            I wonder how common this sentiment is. It’s mine as well, and it seems to me common, but for fear of cps, or social shaming for bad parenting, or fears which statistics belie.

            Is this bias on my part, or is there a majority that would prefer more autonomy/responsibility on the part of preteens? Would this be equally safe now for the majority (my impression) or have we lost the social structure (or even physical/civil infrastructure) to support it?
            (edit: Did I just rephrase the original question? Yeah, I think I did. Well. It was a good question).

      • I wonder how universal the tendency towards heavily scheduled timetables for children is. When I was a child in the 2000s, I had basically no scheduled time outside of school. Once I got home, I was free to do as I pleased. As far as I remember, my friends were largely the same way.

        Many of my peers did have an activity or two outside of school they went to, but it didn’t seem like their free time was being overwhelmed with activities. I personally never got into doing anything organized outside of school on a regular basis. My parents would suggest such activities for me to do occasionally, but I’d try them out for a few weeks and then get bored and stop.

        I wonder if it might be a particularly American thing, because American colleges take extracurricular activities into account when reviewing applications as a measure of “well-roundedness”, so doing extracurricular activities that look good on the resume is seen as essential for getting into a good college. On the other hand, in England where I grow up, university applications are overwhelmingly evaluated on the basis of exam results rather than anything else.

        There could also be a class element—it’s typical of the upper middle class with high aspirations to be so concerned about preparing for their kids’ higher education from such an early age. My parents were more lower middle class and there was less of an emphasis on that sort of thing.

        I am very grateful for my parents for largely letting me be myself as a child rather than trying to shape and direct me. A lot of the time when I read people talking on the Internet about how they’d parent their kids it makes me think, “Man, being their kid sounds like it would be exhausting, to be so controlled and captive”.

        • Nornagest says:

          American here; growing up middle-class in the ’90s, I had a similar experience to yours. Though, by my high school years, there was a perception that a strong extracurricular resume was essential to getting into a good college, and I’d probably have gotten into a better school with one (or even if I’d been more diligent about describing the mostly self-directed activities that I did have running).

        • j1000000 says:

          I’m an older American who has friends with kids as well as nieces/nephews — my sense is that the extensively scheduled extracurriculars are basically just for kids who are into sports. Travel teams, camps, coaches, etc. A lot of that was already in place when I was a kid, but it seems to be to a greater degree, and often more specialized at a younger age in a particular sport.

          Kids that don’t play sports I think mostly just play Fortnite and make YouTubes.

          • Randy M says:

            Or theater or music.

          • baconbits9 says:

            There are tons of other extra curricular activities people obsess over.

          • acymetric says:

            Add to the list:

            Volunteer work, Scouts, yearbook committee, student UN, various tutoring/supplements to school, religious activities (Young Life, Youth Group, etc) and about a million other activities/clubs that aren’t relate to sports.

            Not exactly the same, but maintaining a job year-round might count as well.

          • ana53294 says:

            Playing any kind of music instrument – especially classical music.

          • Aftagley says:

            I’m around a decade out from high school at this point, but between school, sports, clubs, academic teams, student leadership events and the like I was pretty much fully scheduled from 0700-1800 practically every weekday. Add in homework and I’d say I was busy around 15 hours a day.

            Normally I’d have some kind of extracurricular event that took up most of Saturday, and approximately once every other month I’d have my entire weekend eaten up by some activity or another.

        • Enkidum says:

          It’s not just extracurricular activities – what proportion of time do you think your parents were not aware of your current location to within about a five metre radius? (Or another adult who they were explicitly aware had this knowledge about you.)

          I’m going to guess it was <5% of the time. This wasn't the case where and when I grew up, which wasn't that long ago (I'm in my mid-40's).

    • nadbor says:

      Tyler Cowen has an entire book about this – “The Complacent Class”. He argues that yes it did happen and over the past 50 years rather than a century and he discusses the downsides. I couldn’t glean one coherent explanation of why all of this has happened but as a description of what happened it’s pretty good. Overall, I would recommend.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I haven’t read the book, but “complacent” seems unfair. How about cautious?

        • Matt M says:

          I haven’t read the book – but I don’t think complacent and cautious are synonyms.

          “Cautious” means something like “takes risks only if they are carefully considered”

          “Complacent” means something closer to “doesn’t consider certain types of risks at all.”

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Yes, and when Cowan talks about people being less likely to move, I think cautious is more plausible than complacent.

          • Matt M says:

            My point is that it depends more on the process than the result.

            Someone who constantly looks for opportunities to move, and regularly evaluates them making a conscious effort to consider the pros, cons, risks, rewards, etc. and ultimately falls on the side of choosing not to move is being cautious.

            Someone who never entertains the prospect of moving at all, who immediately dismisses it because “I don’t want to be away from my family” or “my kids would have to change schools” or whatever is being complacent.

            And I know people like this exist, because I have a ton of them in my extended family. It’s not that they’ve carefully considered moving and decided against it, it’s that moving has not even occurred to them as a possible thing they might do.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      #2

      In liability insurance there was a phenomenon called ‘social inflation’ where courts were awarding ruinously high damages to plaintiffs. Someone [i don’t recall who] pointed out that this roughly corresponded to the time at which a mass of people who entered lawschool to avoid being drafted into vietnam would have become professionals.

      Tort reform, supposedly, had curbed this somewhat but insofar as lawsuits played a role in changing people’s attitudes the social expectations have already been anchored.

      The problem is it’s unclear how much impact this would have for the whole of the western world since this was a mostly US centric phenomenon.

      Another [not mutually exclusive] possibility is that it’s part and parcel of the credentials arms race of the upper middle class; getting into that elite preschool requiring micromanagement of free time.

      • ana53294 says:

        Has this really changed?

        The recent court case against Monsanto was 2 $ billion.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          I don’t know. My knowledge on social inflation comes from insurance courses which are often dated. Tort reform was something that was done in the 90s. The courses made it sound like they had a non-negligible effect but i don’t know to what degree and for how long.

    • LesHapablap says:

      I don’t have any studies to share. However it would be helpful to know how the labor requirements to run a typical business have changed over the years. I think this is a big part of why wages decoupled from productivity: productivity has decreased in lots of ways because we are much more risk-averse.

      Anecdotally, an engineer of ours here in NZ visited a home depot in the US recently, and saw a sight that astounded him: a forklift was driving down one of the aisles, and another worker was walking in front with safety flags. So in that instance, productivity has basically been cut in half.

      My uncle was an anesthesiologist in the UK, and mentioned to me that rules around certain routine procedures now dictated that two doctors be present instead of one, or a nurse has to monitor the doctor doing the routine. Also that rule changes with duty time limits have cut the number of some specific routine procedure that each doctor performs down by 70% per year (this was in the context of junior doctors not getting as much experience as their predecessors).

      From this blog and others I hear that doctors in the US now spend a lot more time doing billing paperwork than they used to. A lot of this is tied to risk aversion and liability.

      The teaching profession appears to be the same, with the amount of paperwork involved increasing dramatically over the last few decades. Not sure if this is related to risk aversion or not.

      In aircraft manufacturing: in 1966 you could purchase a new Cessna 172 for $12,450, or $88,000 in 2012 dollars. In 2012 a new Cessna 172, largely unchanged, went for $307,500. In the 30s and 40s, many many aircraft were brought to market successfully which would be impossible today. There were all manner and sizes of passenger seaplanes: in particular several popular models by Grumman and by Short. The market for these aircraft would be larger today than back then, but for the much higher cost due to the expense of certifying aircraft, and many more regulatory hurdles for operators who would purchase them.

      • albatross11 says:

        Is the issue with the aircraft mainly certification cost, or liability?

        • John Schilling says:

          Prior to 1994, the issue was primarily liability. Since 1994, it has been primarily certification and other regulatory costs, aggravated by the requirement to amortize these up-front costs over small production volumes because the market never really recovered from the pre-1994 liability crisis.

          In 2016, the FAA issued what was supposed to be a more flexible and less expensive certification process for smaller aircraft, but it’s been less than three years so it’s too early to tell how that will work out.

          All of this is US-centric, but the US dominates the market for light aircraft so it’s not going to matter much what anyone else does.

      • LesHapablap says:

        Liability is part of it. In 1986 all production of cessna 172s stopped because cessna was being hammered with frivolous lawsuits. Then: “the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 (“GARA”) is an American federal statute that imposes an 18-year final limitation period on all civil actions against certain aviation manufacturers.” It is still a problem, but now cessna can’t be sued by the family when some muppet flies a perfectly good 40 year old airplane into the side of a mountain.

        To give a bit of perspective about how this is viewed in aviation, here’s an article about a company taking the Grumman Goose, a 1930s seaplane, and upgrading it with modern engines and avionics. The reasons you’d do that instead of just making a new airplane are stated in the article: because it is a previously certified aircraft, it doesn’t need a new type certificate, which “avoids a costly and risky airworthiness certification process for the new product, and limits development costs to under $20 million, he says.”

        Redner, whose aircraft has flown 7,000 hours since it was converted in 1970, says the Super Goose still has modern seaplanes beat. “It flies further than modern seaplanes, it’s faster and carries more – it’s wonderful,” he says.

        Just think of the absurdity of that for a moment: an aircraft built in the 30s, with an engine upgrade in the 70s, outperforms modern seaplanes. (He is likely referring to floatplanes like the converted cessna caravan or the converted Dehavilland Single/Twin Otter, 80s and 50s vintage respectively. These are landplanes with the wheels removed and floats added).

        The above article is from 2008, and I don’t believe the project ever went anywhere.

  14. albatross11 says:

    Very interesting op ed in the NYT.

    I’ve linked several times to op eds by SJW-aligned people I thought were all wrong. Here’s an op-ed from the same side, who seems to me to be getting a lot right. I doubt Ross and I agree on a lot of object-level issues. In this essay, though, she makes a case for civility that I think is spot on.

    • JPNunez says:

      For callout culture to end, something has to take its place. Think about what social objective this fulfills. If albatross is sexually assaulted at work by JPnunez, handsome star programmer at SSC software, albatross will probably go to HR, where several things can happen, like JP can be fired or reprimended, or also albatross can be fired or reprimended herself.

      So going to HR with the complaint is a coin toss. Yes, I know that the first job of HR is protecting the company, that only makes this issue worse.

      So if you want callout culture to die out, you gotta provide some other social mechanism for poor albatross to keep her job and the handsome JP to meet an adequate punishment. Right now there’s a move towards laws against harassment for this, but dunno if they are enough.

      • zqed says:

        If albatross is sexually assaulted at work by JPnunez, handsome star programmer at SSC software, albatross will probably go to HR,

        Sexual assault is an indictable offence pretty much everywhere in the world. HR does not normally deal with criminal matters; albatross should probably go to the police instead.

        Firing people for calling the cops is against the law as well, so it seems that the social mechanisms for poor albatross to keep her job and the handsome JP to meet an adequate punishment already exist.

        • brad says:

          Firing people for calling the cops is against the law as well,

          I don’t think it is (in most/all us jurisdictions), at least unless it’s a whistleblower situation where the company itself is committing a crime.

          • zqed says:

            Firing someone for talking to the police about sexual harrassment is pretty much the textbook example of retaliatory discharge. Itbdoes not matter that the employee was the person committing the harrassment, and not the company itself.

            The real problem is that wrongful dismissal is really difficult to prove, but I don’t think the social norms mentioned above protect against wrongful dismissal anyway.

        • JPNunez says:

          But maybe it hasn’t scalated to sexual assault yet, what if handsome JP is just really insistent that albatross dates him, and keeps pestering her. There are other situations, where sexual encounters are quid pro quo other benefits. Besides, tons of rape or sexual assault lawsuits end up with a no guilty verdict, cause, for good reasons, proving rape is hard. So HR or the cops may look at the facts and go, hey albatross, you have an uphill battle against JP here, maybe just drop the issue and move on.

          Women in the past have endured these conditions, but, for whatever reason, in the 2010s they decided it was enough and took to social media to complain. The “whatever reason” is probably the social media itself.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think this is a noncentral example of callout culture, and not what the author of the linked op-ed was mainly talking about. I think her main focus was about calling out ideological differences, offensive political or social beliefs, outdated terminology, etc., rather than charitably engaging with those things. Engaging might actually change someone’s mind, whereas calling them a bigot for using the wrong term never will.

            Also, I don’t see much reason to expect that callout culture leads to more justice being done overall in cases like you describe. In most cases, I complain about you on social media and nobody much cares and you can retaliate at work; in a few cases, maybe you get social-media-mobbed. And in some cases, I complain about you because you’re sexually harassing me and I don’t see how to get anyone to care, but in other cases, I complain about you because you passed me over for a promotion, or are about to fire me for coming into work drunk, or because you dumped me for another person and I’m mad about it. HR is probably not great at untangling what’s going on there, but they’ll at least *try*–an angry online mob can’t and won’t.

          • JPNunez says:

            Most def it doesn’t work in all cases, I agree.

            As I said on another reply, it will probably work better if handsome JP has harrassed a few more women, or if JP works on a v public company.

            I don’t think it’s a good system, but it’s what those people have, and I don’t think it’s a good thing to remove it without providing better ways to handle the problems that caused it.

            Dunno about cancel culture in general. Not too worried about it, honestly. It’s too general and vague to discuss in one sitting, which is why I put a more precise example about sexual harrassment.

      • Aapje says:

        @JPNunez

        You ignore that SJ culture is built on an ideology that strongly encourages judging people’s guilt and innocence by their (supposed) position in the hierarchy (which is nearly always judged by applying stereotypes), rather than judging the individual case by its individual merits. For example, in SJ writing you often see a two-step process of first defining the benefits of a privilege (of being male, white, etc) and/or the downsides of an ‘axis of oppression’ & then assuming that all who have that trait, have those benefits or are ‘oppressed*’ that way. An individualist, not so stereotypy approach would be to to measure the extent to which either the individual or group actually has those benefits or those forms of ‘oppression’, where the supposedly oppressed group or person also gets their privilege measured & the supposedly privileged group or person also gets their level of ‘oppression’ measured. This would result in far more nuance.

        The logical result of the lack of nuance in judging people that is endemic in SJ is an unwillingness to make both positive and negative judgments of each side in a conflict and rejection of ‘fact of the case’-based judgments, innocence until proven guilty, etc.

        Call-out culture follows from SJ culture having a sense of justice that is incompatible with the kind of justice that legal scholars have developed over many centuries, where they tried to find a good balance between various interests and power differences.

        * Quotes because actual oppression often gets conflated with a mere lack of benefits.

        The irony of it all is that callout culture seems to result from women losing some of their female privileges due to gender equality and wanting to get them back. Under traditionalist rules, wronged women complain to their male protector(s) who then take personal risk to avenge the wrong committed to the woman or to enforce good behavior from the perpetrator. Due to individualism (also due to city living), women not living with their parents until marriage, women being single for much longer, etc; women now less often have the option of sending out a man to avenge them.

        The legal system places burdens on people to actually prove their case, rather than being believed through nepotism or by virtue of being a woman. I’ve seen SJ articles & tweets that consider this burden to be too high and even more SJ articles and tweets that (implicitly or explicitly) reject the very idea that women should have to prove their case.

        Callout culture seems to be an attempt to restore this element of the patriarchy for women, where they can call in a mob (of typically men) to avenge them. Similarly, changes that SJ advocates propose to the legal system or features of parallel SJ legal systems typically seek to reduce the burdens of the legal system, at a cost of having less correct decisions.

        It all suggests a preference for the trade-off of mob-based justice*.

        * Not that SJ advocates are the only ones that tend to be in favor of it, of course.

        • JPNunez says:

          You ignore that SJ culture is built on an ideology that strongly encourages judging people’s guilt and innocence by their (supposed) position in the hierarchy (which is nearly always judged by applying stereotypes), rather than judging the individual case by its individual merits.

          Well dunno. Obviously if handsome JP gets to keep his job and albatross gets fired, there was a privilege in the first place. Maybe JP wasn’t white, but he was a male and was the star programmer of the company, or maybe he is just the boss’ favorite cause he is an old employee or whatever. If the situation ends with albatross out of a job and JP still employed, you gotta admit in this individual situation there was some imbalance. Call it privilege, oppresion, whatever, but the issue is that the victim of sexual harrassment got the short end of the stick.

          Call-out culture follows from SJ culture having a sense of justice that is incompatible with the kind of justice that legal scholars have developed over many centuries, where they tried to find a good balance between various interests and power differences.

          Yes. That’s my point. Society has failed these people.

          Callout culture seems to be an attempt to restore this element of the patriarchy for women, where they can call in a mob (of typically men) to avenge them. Similarly, changes that SJ advocates propose to the legal system or features of parallel SJ legal systems typically seek to reduce the burdens of the legal system, at a cost of having less correct decisions.

          It all suggests a preference for the trade-off of mob-based justice*.

          I don’t disagree, but again, you gotta provide an out for albatross, to whom the handsome JP won’t stop pestering and accidentally touching innappropiately.

          It’s possible that the end result is that the handsome JPs of the world will learn to keep their hands to themselves and call out culture dies just because there’s nothing to call out, and the legal system goes largely unchanged. But this may take time, decades maybe.

          • Aapje says:

            Society has failed these people.

            Any system of justice will fail people and will be seen as resulting in unjust outcomes*, because the truth is often not entirely clear or entirely unclear.

            Even if you’d film people 24/7, from all angles, you’d still not solve the problem, since intent also matters.

            Any person who demands perfect justice in general is delusional and a dangerous extremist. Any person who demands perfect justice for themselves and/or those like themselves, but not for (some) others, is abusive and will accept extreme injustice to others, for a relatively minor benefit to themselves/their ingroup.

            * Even in cases where it didn’t in fact fail people, but where people have a wrong belief about what actually happened.

            Obviously if handsome JP gets to keep his job and albatross gets fired, there was a privilege in the first place.

            Unless you are an unreliable narrator, who (unknowingly) misrepresents the situation. Where did you get your information from? Albatross? Did you believe albatross because he is your friend or because of some other bias; or do you actually have objective information?

            The legal system is intended to minimize these biases, although it is hard. Even criminal investigators, who get trained to uncover the actual truth, commonly succumb to ‘tunnel vision’. For example, by initially believing the first narrative they are told and then disbelieving evidence that conflicts with that narrative and believing evidence that matches it.

            I don’t disagree, but again, you gotta provide an out for albatross, to whom the handsome JP won’t stop pestering and accidentally touching inappropriately.

            If JP keeps doing it, then surely evidence can be collected that shows that the accusations are true beyond a reasonable doubt? Like witnesses or secret video/audio recordings.

            Ultimately, the current situation provides several outs. The employer has obligations to provide a safe work space. The police may be able to help. None of it is perfect, but perfection is impossible. You can always find situations where the solution fails. The existence of injustice doesn’t mean that the system is unjust, but can merely be because the system is imperfect.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            How do you feel about people making recordings without consent?

          • JPNunez says:

            Any system of justice will fail people and will be seen as resulting in unjust outcomes*, because the truth is often not entirely clear or entirely unclear.

            Even if you’d film people 24/7, from all angles, you’d still not solve the problem, since intent also matters.

            Any person who demands perfect justice in general is delusional and a dangerous extremist. Any person who demands perfect justice for themselves and/or those like themselves, but not for (some) others, is abusive and will accept extreme injustice to others, for a relatively minor benefit to themselves/their ingroup.

            Dunno what to tell you. Obviously I don’t want a panopticon state, but clearly between the world before 2010 and just full on 1984 state, there must be a point where victims of sexual harrassment can live in peace without further harrassment. Maybe it is, yes, more video vigilance, because nowadays everyone carries a camera everywhere, maybe it is different systems of punishment when the judicial system fails to adjudicate in favor of the victims, dunno.

            You are happily declaring there is no problem whatsoever, yet the victims disagree. As long as the system does not provide for the victims, the victims will look for other solutions, outside the system. There can be no perfect justice, but clearly there are a lot of space for improvement.

            Unless you are an unreliable narrator, who (unknowingly) misrepresents the situation. Where did you get your information from? Albatross? Did you believe albatross because he is your friend or because of some other bias; or do you actually have objective information?

            The legal system is intended to minimize these biases, although it is hard. Even criminal investigators, who get trained to uncover the actual truth, commonly succumb to ‘tunnel vision’. For example, by initially believing the first narrative they are told and then disbelieving evidence that conflicts with that narrative and believing evidence that matches it.

            Normally what happens in these cases is that, once albatross takes to social media with her declarations against the very handsome JP, other ex coworkers start corroborating the accussations. Maybe Aapje had an unpleasant encounter with JP years ago, then changed jobs when complaining to HR didn’t get anywhere, and then more and more people come up against JP. Is Aapje also unreliable? The third woman that appeared? fourth? What are the chances all these women are unreliable narrators? These cases go viral precisely because the harrassers are serial harrassers, and have attacked many women during their careers.

            If JP keeps doing it, then surely evidence can be collected that shows that the accusations are true beyond a reasonable doubt? Like witnesses or secret video/audio recordings.

            Ultimately, the current situation provides several outs. The employer has obligations to provide a safe work space. The police may be able to help. None of it is perfect, but perfection is impossible. You can always find situations where the solution fails. The existence of injustice doesn’t mean that the system is unjust, but can merely be because the system is imperfect.

            Well if you admit the system is imperfect, then don’t complain when the people left behind by it are unhappy and take matters in their own hands. Particularly if the system is imperfect in a biased way against a group. If the system was just randomly, evenly imperfect, then you’d have a point, but if there’s a group clearly discriminated, well, that group should not take the injustice as part of life.

            Normally the police or HR aren’t able to help, for whatever reason. HR is normally more worried about protecting the company, so unless more laws punishing the companies for these behaviors are enacted, they have no incentive to change their ways. Cops or the justice system may not be all that receptive to the charges, particularly if the charge is not full out rape.

            Again, maybe the legal system provides some coverage for rape victims, but sexual harrassment is wide enough before actual bonafide rape happens. The legal system probably does not provide enough cover for those, and the victims decided this particular injustice was not stomachable.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            EU law is that secret recordings in the workplace have to be temporary, there has to be a good reason for them, less invasive methods can’t achieve that goal and a data protection impact assessment has to be done. Furthermore, the surveilled person has to be notified after the fact and has to be made aware of the possibility of covert recordings beforehand.

            That doesn’t seem excessive to me.

            Of course, nowadays it’s not that hard to ‘accidentally’ record a fellow worker with your smartphone, at least with audio.

            @JPNunez

            Ultimately, people have to accept that ‘shit happens.’

            It is not realistic to live in a world where all accidents are prevented, all abuse is prevented, no one is ever sad, we all find a perfect partner, no one gets sick, etc.

            People who believe in a just world have a completely unrealistic world view. That the world view is so attractive makes it the more dangerous, as the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The very ignorance that makes people ignore complexities that prevent a just world from existing, can make them ignore the complexities that make their plans much more unjust than plans that accept* imperfection.

            * And I mean ‘accept’ here as in ‘accepting mortality,’ not in the sense that you allow it to happen when there are alternatives.

            These cases go viral precisely because the harrassers are serial harrassers, and have attacked many women during their careers.

            Bullshit.

            There have been quite a few viral stories where there were no collaborators. For example, Donglegate. Or the accusation against Aziz Ansari. Or the accusation of Woody Allen.

            You seem to have a narrative in mind, where you want to judge the fairness of the system exclusively by how well it deals with one specific narrative. That is no way to design a system that is fair over a large range of scenario’s, not just one where the guilt of the accused is extremely clear.

            Well if you admit the system is imperfect, then don’t complain when the people left behind by it are unhappy and take matters in their own hands.

            The irony is this is traditionally a very far-right sentiment. “If no one is going to be stopping that there negro from touching my daughter, I’ll gonna do me some lynchin’.”

            That’s the sentiment that you are defending…

            Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird?

          • JPNunez says:

            Ultimately, people have to accept that ‘shit happens.’

            If this is your answer, you gotta also accept that shit happens to the harrassers that are called out on social media.

            People who believe in a just world have a completely unrealistic world view. That the world view is so attractive makes it the more dangerous, as the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

            These are just empty platitudes and the victims had enough of those.

            Unrealistic: every injustice ever will be solved

            Realistic: the sexual harrassment that the judicial system refuses to stop will be handled in other ways, up to call out culture. Because real people sometimes get tired of “shit happening” just to them and never to the harrasser.

          • albatross11 says:

            Just as an aside: I’m pretty sure it’s routine for HR doing an investigation to go to other women who’ve worked with an alleged sexual harasser and ask them if they’ve had any problems with him. My wife was once interviewed by HR at her organization in such a case. (She responded that the guy was a jerk, but had never sexually harassed her or anyone else in her sight.)

          • zqed says:

            @JPNunez:

            If this is your answer, you gotta also accept that shit happens to the harrassers that are called out on social media.

            Aapje argues that “we have to accept that the justice system will sometimes not be able to right wrongs”, while you say “we have to accept that the victims will look for other solutions, outside the legal system”.

            These are independent claims. The latter is vigilantism, which society tends to look down upon, even in far more serious cases than someone who is “really insistent that albatross date him, and keeps pestering her”.

          • albatross11 says:

            More to the point, there’s no mechanism for sorting out true from false accusations on social media. Even if three or four social media accounts of people you don’t know personally all claim Joe Biden (or Joe from Accounting) abducted them into his UFO and anally probed them, that’s not really much evidence, since they could all be sockpuppets of one crazy person/troll/vengeful ex/etc.

          • JPNunez says:

            @zqed

            Aapje argues that “we have to accept that the justice system will sometimes not be able to right wrongs”, while you say “we have to accept that the victims will look for other solutions, outside the legal system”.

            Then maybe aapje should write that instead of using some zen-lite quote from the 80s (?) as an answer. If that’s your interpretation then my answer is the same:

            -it’s unreasonable and maybe even wrong to ask perfection of the judicial system? yes, I agree

            -however, the imperfection should be randomly, evenly distributed, not allocated to benefit one group and punish another.

            These are independent claims. The latter is vigilantism, which society tends to look down upon, even in far more serious cases than someone who is “really insistent that albatross date him, and keeps pestering her”.

            The latter is vigilantism but, once more, if the system (not just judicial, but society in general) refuses to provide one, then vigilantism it is.

            Because the alternative is that the victims suffer in silence.

            More to the point, there’s no mechanism for sorting out true from false accusations on social media. Even if three or four social media accounts of people you don’t know personally all claim Joe Biden (or Joe from Accounting) abducted them into his UFO and anally probed them, that’s not really much evidence, since they could all be sockpuppets of one crazy person/troll/vengeful ex/etc.

            All the more reason to improve existing institutions and create new ones to handle the problems that call out culture exists to battle. But people demanding the end of call out culture are not providing alternatives, so vigilantism it is.

          • Randy M says:

            -however, the imperfection should be randomly, evenly distributed, not allocated to benefit one group and punish another.

            The justice system is designed to give benefit of doubt to the accused. This seems like a prime area where we should seek to understand the fence before removing it.

          • lvlln says:

            The latter is vigilantism but, once more, if the system (not just judicial, but society in general) refuses to provide one, then vigilantism it is.

            Because the alternative is that the victims suffer in silence.

            This is a fully general argument to justify any extralegal action including, say, the Christchurch murders, though. It’s an expression about power, rather than about justice.

            Perhaps you’re making a statement about what is rather than what ought to be, which is fair enough. But then one of the main ways people argue for changing what is is by arguing for what ought to be. It may be the case that people will take vigilante action under the true or untrue belief that the system is victimizing them and giving them no recourse, and it can also be the case that other people will attempt to stop them from taking vigilante action by pointing out that such actions are unjust.

            It seems that people are pointing out here that vigilante action is unjust, and you keep just coming back with arguing that it will happen anyway, which is actually just a completely different and unrelated point. And it’s not the case that it’s necessarily doomed to just keep happening; if the people committing these vigilante actions can be convinced of the injustice of their behavior, then they can be motivated to stop their vigilante actions.

          • albatross11 says:

            The power of social media mobbing and anonymous accusations depends on people in realspace taking it seriously. If a bunch of randos on Twitter say you’re a terrible racist bastard, and your employer, friends, coworkers, and neighbors all ignore them because everyone knows you can’t trust a bunch of randos on Twitter, then it doesn’t really matter all that much. They have power because people react to them.

            So it’s worth trying to work out how we should react to anonymous accusations on the internet. My first intuition is to be extremely skeptical of such accusations, and to recognize that having those accusations be full of lies or just flat made-up is pretty common. If enough people do this, then this kind of callout won’t have much impact.

            I don’t think this is the main kind of callout Ross was thinking about, though.

          • JPNunez says:

            @Randy

            I think that a problem is that a lot of call outs aren’t intended to get people in jail, just out them from certain circles, jobs, etc, thus the judicial system isn’t adequate for it anyway.

            Maybe the final effect will be to make clear to society that sexual harrassment isn’t accepted, even when it’s not a prosecutable crime.

            Perhaps you’re making a statement about what is rather than what ought to be, which is fair enough.

            Yes. Women having to call out abusers in public is bad, but the alternative, they just having to accept abuse in silence is worse, and thus, when you, aapje and albatross or the woman in the article linked offer no useful alternative, I gotta side with call out culture.

            This is a fully general argument to justify any extralegal action including, say, the Christchurch murders, though. It’s an expression about power, rather than about justice.
            […]
            But then one of the main ways people argue for changing what is is by arguing for what ought to be. It may be the case that people will take vigilante action under the true or untrue belief that the system is victimizing them and giving them no recourse, and it can also be the case that other people will attempt to stop them from taking vigilante action by pointing out that such actions are unjust.

            It seems that people are pointing out here that vigilante action is unjust, and you keep just coming back with arguing that it will happen anyway, which is actually just a completely different and unrelated point. And it’s not the case that it’s necessarily doomed to just keep happening; if the people committing these vigilante actions can be convinced of the injustice of their behavior, then they can be motivated to stop their vigilante actions.

            Ok let’s be clear about what’s _really_ happening here.

            Women are not dressing up as Batman and going to beat clowns in the middle of the night. Violence against clowns while dressed as bats is clearly illegal and bad. Women are not shooting the church of man and streaming their shooting.

            So maybe let’s keep a sane perspective on what’s happening.

            Saying “hey, lvlln touched me inappropiately when we worked together at SSC inc, heads up” on twitter and then retweeting when other women mention similar things is not a mass shooting.

          • JPNunez says:

            @aapje

            The irony is this is traditionally a very far-right sentiment. “If no one is going to be stopping that there negro from touching my daughter, I’ll gonna do me some lynchin’.”

            That’s the sentiment that you are defending…

            Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird?

            You’ve gone off the rails here.

            A tweet storm is not a lynching.

            Don’t start comparing social media call outs to actual violence against oppressed groups. This is a stupid argument. See the above post. Check out what is really happening, women are not lynching men for touching them.

            Please keep things in perspective.

            So it’s worth trying to work out how we should react to anonymous accusations on the internet. My first intuition is to be extremely skeptical of such accusations, and to recognize that having those accusations be full of lies or just flat made-up is pretty common. If enough people do this, then this kind of callout won’t have much impact.

            Dunno what to tell you; generally when accussations like this go viral, known women in social media, with actual checkable pasts, go public and support the accusation. If a false accusation happens, then what would happen is that no other women would support it with their own experiences with the accussed, and thus skepticism is advisable.

            Not that this is a perfect mechanism, but then again, aapje argued a lot against perfect mechanisms anyway.

          • Matt M says:

            The power of social media mobbing and anonymous accusations depends on people in realspace taking it seriously. If a bunch of randos on Twitter say you’re a terrible racist bastard, and your employer, friends, coworkers, and neighbors all ignore them because everyone knows you can’t trust a bunch of randos on Twitter, then it doesn’t really matter all that much. They have power because people react to them.

            I saw a discussion recently that places the blame for most of this on the “customer is always right” attitude. And, in fairness, for most of the boomers who are running our large corporations today, that was an effective strategy that helped them get to the top.

            But maybe that worked better in a high-trust society where public complaining wasn’t easily weaponized against your political enemies. Maybe the basic insight behind that philosophy was never meant to imply “if some rando accuses a single employee of racism, the correct response is to immediately fire the employee and shut down your entire nationwide chain for a day to take part in mandatory diversity training.”

          • Randy M says:

            I think that a problem is that a lot of call outs aren’t intended to get people in jail, just out them from certain circles, jobs, etc, thus the judicial system isn’t adequate for it anyway.

            Causing people to lose friends or jobs is still a pretty serious punishment to risk to the judgement of a mob which is unlikely to be just or consistent. Especially when the offense in question covers a wide range of behavior, from unconvicted rape to lack of social awareness.

            I don’t think the danger lies in trying to convince others to shun someone; this has probably been done since the advent of language. The trouble is that social media magnifies the reach far beyond those who have knowledge of the individual in question, and involves bringing people in for boycotts or harassment who join in for the thrill of power, not because they have any special knowledge of the individual.

          • lvlln says:

            Yes. Women having to call out abusers in public is bad, but the alternative, they just having to accept abuse in silence is worse, and thus, when you, aapje and albatross or the woman in the article linked offer no useful alternative, I gotta side with call out culture.

            But there already is a useful alternative that’s better than a vigilante system, which is the existing legal system.

            Now, you and some activists might claim that the existing legal system is worse than a vigilante system, but some activists claiming something doesn’t make it true. Literally every system will have people who will be unfairly victimized, and a few of them can speak out and perhaps even convince a large proportion of people to support their cause; this doesn’t mean that this is such a big problem that a vigilante system is a better alternative, no matter how much activists or you insist that it is.

            I could be incorrect, and the activists could be correct, but for that, we’d have to actually delve into the details and the pros and cons of the various systems. What argument absolutely doesn’t fly is saying that since this system creates people who genuinely believe they’re being victimized by the system, then those people are justified in wanting a different system.

            Ok let’s be clear about what’s _really_ happening here.

            Women are not dressing up as Batman and going to beat clowns in the middle of the night. Violence against clowns while dressed as bats is clearly illegal and bad. Women are not shooting the church of man and streaming their shooting.

            So maybe let’s keep a sane perspective on what’s happening.

            Saying “hey, lvlln touched me inappropiately when we worked together at SSC inc, heads up” on twitter and then retweeting when other women mention similar things is not a mass shooting.

            Er… so…? The fact that we aren’t discussing mass shootings doesn’t change the problem that the reasoning you’re using to justify vigilante actions can justify mass shootings just as well as it justifies other vigilante actions. If you want to argue that there’s some threshold of severity by which vigilante actions can be justified and that ostracization via social media is below that threshold, then you should argue that. Instead, you’ve been making arguments having to do with any and all vigilante actions on the basis that the people taking these vigilante actions genuinely believe that the system is screwing them over.

          • JPNunez says:

            @Randy

            You are not wrong; Samzdat has a post that was linked here recently, about how the left wing uses social capital to achieve its goals, and this is exactly that. At some point call out culture will run out of capital, but probably not before modifying social customs enough that a lot of call out culture becomes unnecessary.

            In the end the main effect will be that women in general won’t be willing to silently accept known abusers in their circles, and will openly talk about this. The silence is what allowed the abusers to run rampant, and maybe this is overcompensation.

            Dunno about the vague call out culture Ross talks in the article; then again purity tests are nothing new.

            Er… so…? The fact that we aren’t discussing mass shootings doesn’t change the problem that the reasoning you’re using to justify vigilante actions can justify mass shootings just as well as it justifies other vigilante actions. If you want to argue that there’s some threshold of severity by which vigilante actions can be justified and that ostracization via social media is below that threshold, then you should argue that. Instead, you’ve been making arguments having to do with any and all vigilante actions on the basis that the people taking these vigilante actions genuinely believe that the system is screwing them over.

            I should not go around annotating every paragraph I write to say “this argument is not in support of any form of violence up to lynching, or dressing as batman and hitting clowns, or genocide, or rape despite whatever argument justifying those may be misconstrued to be parallel and similar to this paragraph”.

            This is a ridiculous standard; if we are talking about social media vigilantism, then the “vigilantism” remains limited to that social media.

            I am sorry that your argument relies on you expecting me to ride my argument until whatever consequence you imagine and then chastising me because my argument may be used to justify the Christchurch shooting. Sorry, Einstein, but I will obviously stop supporting the argument long before it’s used to justify the Christchurch argument.

          • lvlln says:

            I should not go around annotating every paragraph I write to say “this argument is not in support of any form of violence up to lynching, or genocide, or rape despite whatever argument justifying those may be misconstrued to be parallel and similar to this paragraph”.

            Well first of all, such a statement wouldn’t help you out at all. Just saying “this argument is not in support of X” doesn’t actually mean the argument doesn’t support X.

            And second, you shouldn’t go around with such annotations because the argument in your paragraph should already convey that it doesn’t support X.

            If Nigel Farage followed one of his pro-Brexit arguments with “this argument is not in support of Britain leaving the EU,” it wouldn’t actually change the fact that he literally argued for Britain leaving the EU; the actual contents of his argument are what would have to be different.

            If you argue in more words that people perceiving rightly or wrongly that the current system screws them over is a correct justification for pursuing vigilante action, then following it up with “this argument doesn’t support violence” doesn’t make the argument suddenly not support violence. It just means you said contradictory statements. You’d have to actually encode within your argument reasoning for why non-violent vigilante behavior X is supported by your argument, whereas violent vigilante behavior Y is not supported.

            This is a ridiculous standard; if we are talking about social media vigilantism, then the “vigilantism” remains limited to that social media.

            That’s not clear at all. Social media isn’t an obvious and clear category by which to cleave “vigilantism” by the joints.

            I am sorry that your argument relies on you expecting me to ride my argument until whatever consequence you imagine and then chastising me because my argument may be used to justify the Christchurch shooting. Sorry, Einstein, but I will obviously stop supporting the argument long before it’s used to support the Christchurch argument.

            No, I’m not expecting you to ride your argument until some consequence; rather, I’m engaging with the immediate, literal consequences of the exact argument you’re putting forward. If you don’t like those consequences, then adjust your argument. Which you partly did with this post, by clarifying that you meant only limited to vigilantism in social media, but you still haven’t explained what makes social media vigilantism distinct from other types of vigilantism such as literal violence in a way you find meaningful here.

          • JPNunez says:

            This is silly. I don’t keep a monolythic set of infallible beliefs that should be followed to the end for precisely this reason. If a certain belief is followed to a point where I am doing violence I stop and reconsider. Sometimes violence is the answer? Obviously the actual legal system you defend is backed up by violence. Don’t think the MeToo movement has gotten to that point, tho.

            So yeah, no. The argument that if the existing legal system fails women then they are justified in vigilantism only extends to social media bandwagoning, not into shooting churches. I assumed it went without saying, yet here we are.

          • Nick says:

            It wasn’t particularly charitable of @lvlln to jump straight to “your argument licenses mass shooters,” but dude, you have to actually give us a limiting reason or principle of some kind or it just sounds like you don’t have any principles.

          • Nornagest says:

            @JPNunez:

            You may think it’s obvious that your support for vigilantism doesn’t extend beyond some cutoff point — I don’t know exactly where, and it doesn’t really matter — but it’s naive to assume that the vigilante culture you support will just automatically self-limit before it gets there. Where social pressure fails, systems of informal justice usually end up including hard coercive force. Acid attacks, honor killings, lynchings, witch burnings, or just good old-fashioned ass-kickings that all the witnesses mysteriously can’t recall: pick a culture with an informal justice tradition and you’ll probably find some. There are exceptions, but they’re generally held back by strong, culture-wide ideological prohibitions.

            I don’t see any such prohibitions here. I believe you when you say your own personal ethics call for reconsidering it, but that doesn’t actually matter: as long as there might be people under your broader normative tent who’re willing to resort to violence, supporting social mobbing implicitly enables them despite whatever disapproving noises you make.

          • JPNunez says:

            @Mastre Chat

            I don’t have many principles beyond a respect for human rights, tho, I think. This is what I normally go from and other arguments are taken and dropped as necessary.

            You may think it’s obvious that your support for vigilantism doesn’t extend beyond some cutoff point — I don’t know exactly where, and it doesn’t really matter — but it’s naive to assume that the vigilante culture you support will just automatically self-limit before it gets there. Where social pressure fails, systems of informal justice usually end up including hard coercive force. Acid attacks, honor killings, lynchings, witch burnings, or just good old-fashioned ass-kickings that all the witnesses mysteriously can’t recall: pick a culture with an informal justice tradition and you’ll probably find some. There are exceptions, but they’re generally held back by strong, culture-wide ideological prohibitions.

            I don’t see any such prohibitions here. I believe you when you say your own personal ethics call for reconsidering it, but that doesn’t actually matter: as long as there might be people under your broader normative tent who’re willing to resort to violence, supporting social mobbing implicitly enables them despite whatever disapproving noises you make.

            Ok, this is a fair argument.

            Let’s say that I don’t really support whoever is calling out if they actually break the laws. Legal vigilantism then. Vigilantism is taking the law in your own hands, but that does not mean actually breaking the law, just that you mete out the punishment without the legal sanction of the society. The actual punishment may be legal. Of course, in some jurisdiction, calling out someone may be illegal depending on libel laws; then I support that illegality.

            Haven’t seen women call out for lynching yet, and have some confidence it won’t get to an actual lynching. Lynching is not the only way of violent vigilante justice tho. Maybe we will see some actual bonafide violence, lesser than lynching/christchurch violence.

            Not that I have a lot of respect for legality. Slavery was legal, the holocaust was legal, etc, etc.

          • Aapje says:

            @JPNunez

            If this is your answer, you gotta also accept that shit happens to the harrassers that are called out on social media.

            No, accepting that there is a limit to the harms that can be prevented and/or punished doesn’t mean that you have to accept unjust systems that cause far more harm than necessary. It means that you can’t argue that the mere existence of bad outcomes means that the system is (extremely) broken and it means that you actually need to make a case that the alternative is better.

            But people demanding the end of call out culture are not providing alternatives, so vigilantism it is.

            In my experience, they pretty much all point to the legal system and many are not opposed to moderate improvements of that system. You keep saying that the legal system is not a good alternative and then falsely claim that people are not providing an alternative, because you don’t believe it is one. Yet the legal system was the alternative that people invented to get rid of the horrors of vigilantism, that caused Jews to be killed in pogroms, blacks to be lynched, etc.

            You complain that I’m being extreme by referring to such things, but you ignore the possible consequences if you get your way and the legal system is destroyed in favor of call out culture. Extreme vigilantism like swatting and trying to get people fired from their jobs is already happening. By arguing that the legal system is unjust and favoring vigilantism, you are normalizing such behavior.

            You are really naive if you think that you can make people limit themselves to exactly the level and kind of vigilantism that you think is valid, when you tear down trust in the legal system and advocate vigilantism. Especially when you already seem to be ignoring vigilantism that goes beyond what you argue is reasonable, rather than condemning it.

            however, the imperfection should be randomly, evenly distributed, not allocated to benefit one group and punish another.

            Call out culture distributes the imperfection far more unevenly than the legal system. It heavily favors stories that fit stereotypes (in the nature of the accusation, the traits of the victim and of the perpetrator). It heavily favors those with high status or other forms of power. It favors women due to gender roles. Etc.

            Call out culture results in greater imperfections, because it lacks an advanced investigative process. The flawed investigative process of call out culture has a huge risk of generating false recollections and causing people to coordinate their testimony, can cause great harm to accused people who are innocent or less guilty than alleged, but can also harm the accuser, by making her a target. Making the accusation public often causes severe privacy violations. It can cause immense damage when simple mistakes (by the accused or accuser) get interpreted by the mob as being lies.

            Call out culture lacks the standardized vocabulary of the legal system, that reduces miscommunication, by having standard definitions.

            Dunno what to tell you; generally when accusations like this go viral, known women in social media, with actual checkable pasts, go public and support the accusation.

            Rose McGowan certainly does so when the alleged victim is a woman, but when the alleged victim is a man and the accused is her friend, not so much. It seems that these celebrities that you seem to trust as judges, aren’t actually all that impartial and unbiased.

            If a false accusation happens, then what would happen is that no other women would support it with their own experiences with the accused, and thus skepticism is advisable.

            False accusations can actually be contagious. At the last Salem Witch trial, there were 21 witnesses who testified that Daniel Spofford practiced witchcraft. Is it your opinion that the judge erred in dismissing the case, rather than convicting Spofford, given that according to you, multiple witnesses can’t be wrong?

            Most of your arguments in favor of call out culture are based on falsehoods. You claimed that accusations only have consequences when there are multiple accusations, seemingly so you can argue that call outs rarely harm innocents. Yet I provided multiple examples where there was only a single accuser and yet people harmed or tried to harm the accused. Another example: Tim Hunt.

            In general, you privilege the accuser, which seems to be a bias that you have, because you keep assuming that the alleged victim is an actual victim of what (s)he alleges and don’t seem to want to consider alternatives.

            If you ignore all the failure modes of your solution, then of course it seems that your solution is great…

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Aapje:

            Yet the legal system was the alternative that people invented to get rid of the horrors of vigilantism, that caused Jews to be killed in pogroms, blacks to be lynched, etc.

            Daughters to be killed by fathers, husbands to be killed by wives, mothers to be killed by sons, sons to be killed by elder gods…

          • JPNunez says:

            had a longer response but the browser ate it or was deleted. didn’t write it on a text editor so the short ver

            re: pogroms: the holocaust and slavery were legal, so v convenient to ignore the failure modes of legal systems

            re: rest: rape convictions are convicted a p low rates, so yeah, I say the system is failing, probably at a bigger rate that the metoo movement. Not gonna answer to anything related to sommers, Tim hunt haven’t looked into it but cursory google says you may be right?

            you keep mentioning acceptable alternatives to the legal system but fail to mention them?

          • Aapje says:

            @JPNunez

            the holocaust and slavery were legal

            Pogroms are not the same as the Holocaust and lynchings were not part of legalized slavery, nor were they limited to the period when slavery was legal. The (seemingly poor) records suggest that during slavery, whites were more commonly lynched than blacks and that this changed after slavery was abolished.

            Note that vigilante violence became normalized in the Weimar Republic, not just from the far-right, but also from communists and anarchists. Hitler was the dark phoenix that rose up once many had lost faith in the institutions of the state and many believed that only ‘might makes right’ could work. I think that most of the commies and anarchists who destroyed that faith never wanted what they helped make possible, yet they did.

            Similarly, I think that you don’t understand what forces you help to unleash, if you truly get your way. From what you’ve said, your position seems to be that random individuals may decide that the system failed them and, rather than seek to make the legal system behave differently through democratic means, form mobs to punish what they see as transgressive behavior. In my eyes, you have completely failed to address how your desired solution will result in a reasonably consistent and fair standard of what is a (serious) transgression & reasonably consistent and fair punishment, rather than in various groups applying their biased and ingroup-specific judgment, as happened during the Weimar republic or by the KKK. You and/or your ingroup have one standard, but what is to stop another group from deciding that uppity blacks deserve punishment or that women in short skirts deserve to be raped? Or that a man who asks a woman out at work once is guilty of sexual harassment and should be fired?

            Once you allow minorities in society to enforce their own judgment and decide what punishment is reasonable, you no longer have any high ground over all the fools and crazies in society. Why would they accept your standards over theirs?

            rape convictions are convicted a p low rates, so yeah, I say the system is failing

            My understanding is that these convictions are not particularly low when compared to other crimes that are also hard to prove. Feminist claims of low rape convictions typically compare self-reported rape rates to convictions, ignoring that most of these are never reported to the police. Does the system truly fail people when they don’t seek it out?

            you keep mentioning acceptable alternatives to the legal system but fail to mention them?

            I do believe that there are acceptable alternatives (and improvements), but I can’t recall repeatedly mentioning that, as you claim I did. But I’ll address it:

            One issue I see is that many people don’t want to appeal to the legal system, for a variety of reasons, like:
            – they believe that the transgression is too small to make the burden worth it
            – they believe that the legal system has too high a (potential) punishment for the crime and don’t want the perpetrator to be punished that much
            – they don’t like the type of punishment and/or want a different resolution
            – they don’t trust the legal system

            That lack of trust is sometimes justified and I do support evolutionary improvements to policing, etc. For example, discouraging the police to apply stereotypes to decide whether the complaint is reasonable and focusing more on whether the accuser’s claims describe a violation of the law and whether the claims can be substantiated. Or having specialized investigators that can interrogate people in a way that minimizes extra trauma. However, an expectation that the legal system will do the will of the accuser is neither realistic nor desirable, because the interest of society/the state is to set a general standard, not to enforce individual standards.

            For moderate transgressions, there is the option for interventions without the threat of severe sanctions, like the accuser or a semi-authority (a boss, HR, teacher, etc) addressing the accused. If the evidence is sufficient in the eyes of the courts, such authorities can also apply certain sanctions. A relatively recent development is that many Dutch organisations seem to have designated & trained a confidential counsellor, whose job is to:
            – help and advise employees/students/etc with a complaint
            – direct the person to professional help
            – register the complaints and give feedback to management and the organization as a whole

            So that is a fairly recent improvement and one that may still be made at various organizations.

            There are also people advocating restorative justice, which can be a good voluntary solution for moderate transgressions. Some non-Western legal systems incorporate such solutions within their legal system. For example, they can allow the victim to prevent the perpetrator from being punished, after being convicted, which allows the victim to make demands from the perpetrator in return for preventing the official punishment from happening. However, such solutions seem to have severe downsides, that I won’t get into right now.

            Ultimately, the fact remains that some sexual accusations lack sufficiently strong evidence to convince an impartial observer that a crime happened. Some people have extreme definitions of what is a sexual crime, where the sexual norms of much or most of society are considered to be criminal. Some accusations are by people who lowered their boundaries with alcohol/drugs and argue that they were too impaired to consent, but where the other person was also impaired and the decision of who is a ‘criminal’ depends on the technicality of who ‘initiated’ (in a situation where both impaired people wanted sex). Some accusations happen when both sides communicate poorly, where one person thinks that they clearly indicated a lack of consent, while the other interpreted the behavior/words as consent & where the accused was not really being more unreasonable than the accuser in how they interpreted the communication. Etc, etc.

            There is a large grey area where people often place themselves in ambiguous situations, either knowingly or due to incompetence. I think that it is absurd to expect the legal system to eradicate this through harsh punishment; or to expect it to know what happened once in someone’s bedroom; or to be able to reliably distinguish dark grey from a little lighter grey.

            You keep going back to your favorite scenario where multiple accusers point to the same person & claim that call out culture is necessary to stop serial rapists; yet that scenario is exactly where the legal system does tend to convict the person very often, when various accusers corroborate each other’s claims, for example by describing a similar modus operandi. This doesn’t work if people refuse to go to the police, but I don’t see how the legal system is to blame for that.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Having a legal right of residence is something which I think has no downside, but SJ doesn’t hammer on it too hard. I suspect this is because it would mean that African Americans wouldn’t be at the top of concern if legal right of residence was the most important thing.

          • albatross11 says:

            Steve Sailer often points out that hispanics are mostly invisible to a lot of the media class and people at the top. They don’t make up an outsized fraction of athletes or entertainers (blacks) or scientists or engineers (Asians). They mostly don’t organize politically as a bloc, since the interests and culture and personal identity of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Cubans, etc., don’t overlap all that much.

            I suspect this pattern you’re recognizing may be more of the same.

    • cassander says:

      On the one hand, I don’t exactly disagree, but on the other hand, the author comes across to me as an old revolutionary annoyed at kids these days. The phrase “They barely understood what it meant to be white women in the system of white supremacy. ” particularly rankles, but an attitude of moral superiority pervades the entire piece. The author seems to blame this culture entirely on others, with zero acknowledgement of the groundwork that she laid.

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      I always find pieces like this a bit depressing.

      On the one hand, anything that might get people to stop shouting at one another and start talking is more than welcome.

      On the other hand, the piece is laden with so much incendiary and tone-deaf language that I’m finding it really difficult to assume good faith – in fact, the only way I can do so is by adopting the additional assumption that Ross is suffering a (probably chronic) attack of the stupids that no friend has been kind enough to gently point out to her in private.

      no[t] every racially challenged white person is a Trump supporter

      Really? That’s how you propose to start closing the divisions, Ms Ross?

      A-less-than charitable explanation of this inconsistency is that the aim of the article is to admonish the Left to lay-off the in-fighting so they can better lay into the Right. The charitable explanation is that Ross has been so thoroughly marinated in conflict discourse that she can scarce imagine any other view of the world.

      I really would love to be more upbeat about the whole thing, but what presumably well-meaning people like Ross really need right now is a friend they can trust, who’ll read article drafts and say: “This makes you sound like an asshole. Don’t be an asshole.”

  15. Dino says:

    Article in Prospect Magazine –
    link text
    about an association of “trainspotting” with left wing. Is this just a British thing? Here in the states I only know of 2 train buffs (myself and a former employer), both qualify as left wing. My small sample size is also confounded by my being in a liberal bubble.

  16. MissingNo says:

    https://markspivakbooks.com/is-joe-biden-senile/

    “If you’ve ever had a loved one with dementia (as I have), you know this is a painful conversation and not one to be taken lightly. Even so, it’s a conversation we need to have—particularly when we’re dealing with someone running for President of the United States.”

    “He has a vacant, muddled look around the eyes. His speech, once self-confident nearly to the point of bravado, is now hesitant and stumbling.”

    Thoughts?

    • drh3x says:

      If he is truly demented, it will soon become obvious. Very hard if not impossible to survive a rigorous debate process with a failing short term memory….could get ugly…but should further the drive to cure this horrible disease…

    • MissingNo says:

      Is it just politeness that prevents people from pointing this out?

      What is it?

    • DeWitt says:

      I think the Goldwater rule exists for good reason, and that there isn’t a person on this blog qualified to comment beyond ‘I’m not sure.’

      • quanta413 says:

        I think it’s been discussed here before although maybe not for Biden and a common thought (that I among others held although not everyone agreed) was “if you can win the election, that’s good enough”.

        • MissingNo says:

          I don’t agree.

          Humans are social mammals that group in hierarchies. It can be very hard for an idealistic member of a tribe to break out of the mold and size up each candidate effectively, especially when there is an election going on and all those group Dynamics happen.

          He will be 80 his second-third year in office if elected, and he has already shown signs of confusion.

          You can use fluid/long term memory metrics and age related trends to calculate various general probabilities of his possible level of decline.

          There is also the note that as Mr. Alexander wrote in his ADHD primer, these traits which form a diagnosis in psychology are approximated by a bell-curve.

          There is thus no clear diagnosis. Just noticing the guy now has these weird memory gaps which increase in frequency.

          • quanta413 says:

            The difference between us may be that I’m not actually too worried if the President turns out to be developing full-blown dementia.

            While it’s not yet too bad, his advisers and subordinates will pick up the slack and if it progresses to full blown dementia we have a succession process.

            I figure the plausible worst case scenario screw ups of a confused old person who is surrounded by a cabinet and the entire executive apparatus are incredibly minor compared to the intentional screw ups we already get.

            he has already shown signs of confusion

            I’m only 30, and I sometimes show signs of confusion. And I’m not under the same stress as Joe Biden. I’d show a hell of a lot more confusion if I was.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I’m only 30, and I sometimes show signs of confusion. And I’m not under the same stress as Joe Biden. I’d show a hell of a lot more confusion if I was.

            Then you probably aren’t a good candidate for president are you?

          • and he has already shown signs of confusion.

            He showed signs of confusion eleven years ago. My guess is that it isn’t age related, that he doesn’t pay close attention to facts of reality outside his immediate concerns and probably never did. Sort of tunnel vision.

            We observe high level politicians through a filter of speechwriters, editors, press agents and the like that can make them look more intelligent and well informed than they actually are. Part of the reason that Trump sometimes looks like such an idiot is that we are seeing him through unfiltered Twitter.

          • albatross11 says:

            +1

            Every politician sometimes says tone-deaf things, or dumb things, or misremembers something, or misspeaks in some embarrassing way. Which ones are widely reported/quoted seems to have a lot to do with the existing public image/stereotype of the politician in question. If the public image is “dumb good-ole-boy,” then everyone will mostly remember/quote things that fit that image and ignore/forget the ones that don’t.

            This presumably has an element of opposition research incorporated into it–when you make a funny sounding scream at a political rally and one of your opponents has the right media connections, the funny-sounding scream can become the top political news story for a few days even from relatively serious outlets. I imagine a lot of the stories now expressing concern over Biden’s mental sharpness are driven by media types who are on the side of one of his current opponents, or who see him as the likely opponent to Trump and want to weaken him a bit.

            The way public image shapes what gets reported and quoted and talked about is a really nice illustration of how confirmation bias works, even though in this case it’s a social process rather than an individual one.

          • Matt M says:

            Which ones are widely reported/quoted seems to have a lot to do with the existing public image/stereotype of the politician in question.

            If the public perception is strong enough, you can even make things up outright (e.g. Sarah Palin saying she could see Russia from her house, Donald Trump calling neo-nazis “very fine people”, etc.)

          • albatross11 says:

            Yep. I think something like this happens with all sorts of stories. There’s a narrative people expect to see, and facts that agree with that narrative/set of background assumptions are just assumed to be true without checking.

            The example that always comes to mind here is the Michael Brown shooting–even when an official investigation from the DOJ determined that there was evidence that Brown had attacked the cop who shot him and no evidence that the cop acted wrongly, the narrative had already been established that the cop murdered this black kid for evil racist reasons. Presumably individual reporters knew that the narrative was wrong, but somehow that didn’t seem to shift the reporting, and also didn’t seem to shift the public’s view of what had happened.

            To be fair, though, I expect that the public is just usually confused. There’s probably a large set of people who think Brown was murdered by a vicious racist cop, there was a fraternity initiation gangrape at UVA, Saddam was behind 9/11, etc. Most people aren’t really paying all that much attention, so if the first two or three days of headlines say X and the later reporting says not-X, most people who know anything about the story think X is the real story.

          • quanta413 says:

            Then you probably aren’t a good candidate for president are you?

            Among many other reasons! I’ve got to be bottom 25% maybe bottom 10% of the entire U.S. population as presidential candidate material.

            If I really put some effort into it, I could maybe fail as a candidate in a local race and I mean really local, but that’s probably still beyond my ability.

    • Skeptical Wolf says:

      I think we had this discussion last election cycle and the conclusion was “Dementia cannot be competently diagnosed by laypeople watching television appearances.”

      Personally, age-based performance degradation is so far down my list of things to think about when choosing where to throw my vote that it’s basically not worth considering. My problems with our current president are not explained or excused by his age, and I seriously doubt that will be any different for the next one.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Personally, age-based performance degradation is so far down my list of things to think about when choosing where to throw my vote that it’s basically not worth considering.

        That’s interesting to me, because it was the one serious reservation I had about Trump, and it would make Biden a non-starter.

        We have had way too many too-old politicians who are essentially run by their staffs.

        • John Schilling says:

          We have had way too many too-old politicians who are essentially run by their staffs.

          You say that like it’s a bad thing. What if I were to say that, e.g., the problem with the UK government is that they’ve got a batty old Queen who has essentially left the whole process to her Ministers and other staff?

          Having a head of state who is just a figurehead (formally or informally) and leaves the affairs of state to the staff, is a perfectly reasonable way to run a government. The United States has done it in the past with good results, usually only for a partial term of office but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for a candidate to explicitly run on that platform.

          One of the more properly serious reservations about Trump is that he had pretty much cut himself off from all sources of competent staff before he was even elected – by declaring himself the enemy of the RNC and its deep talent pool, by demanding personal loyalty over technical competence, and by conducting his entire pre-presidential life in a way that might as well have been calculated not to earn the personal loyalty of competent staff in relevant fields. Even if he had been as personally omnicompetent as he believed himself to be, that was going to be a source of crippling failure.

          Biden, if he is the nominee, will come with the best staff the DNC can arrange.

          • EchoChaos says:

            What if I were to say that, e.g., the problem with the UK government is that they’ve got a batty old Queen who has essentially left the whole process to her Ministers and other staff?

            There was actually a good discussion downthread about the tendencies of the British ministries to become completely controlled by the career bureaucrats.

            This is a very seriously bad thing from the perspective of people like me who believe that democratic (small d) representation is a good thing, because such rule by bureaucrats is one of the things that has produced the anti-elite backlashes of today.

            It is certainly the case that every government is too big to be run by any one man, and Trump’s difficulties in recruiting people who buck elite consensus has been documented, but that means we are close to reaching a worrying point where your votes don’t actually matter because the staff that come with are going to be the same whether you vote Biden, Harris, Beto, etc. If the only thing we’re voting on is whether you have Republican elite staff or Democrat elite staff, we’re already not much of a democracy.

            And while I’m not a Democrat, it would really bother me if I was just voting for the pretty figurehead that was going to stand in front of the same DNC staff.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            And while I’m not a Democrat, it would really bother me if I was just voting for the pretty figurehead that was going to stand in front of the same DNC staff.

            Let’s not forget that when Antifa assaulted Andy Ngo so badly his brain bled, Joe Biden was, with Andrew Yang, one of the only candidates to make a statement condemning them[1]. I thought that mattered.

            [1] Of course there are so bloody many of them that some lesser ones could have condemned Antifa assault without news sites covering it. Tulsi Gabbard, for one, seems like she’d be horrified by violently silencing Republicans when she’s buddies with Tucker Carlson.

          • John Schilling says:

            If the only thing we’re voting on is whether you have Republican elite staff or Democrat elite staff, we’re already not much of a democracy.

            But that’s not what we’re voting for. At least in the United States, each party’s primary almost always (barring incumbency) includes an assembly-line DNC/RNC candidate and one or more candidates promising something different.

            What we are voting for, is a guy who is going to hire a bunch of staffers and a Supreme Court justice or two, and give some speeches, and probably nothing else of great candidates. So if you’re going to vote for something other than the assembly-line DNC/RNC candidate, you do have to ask where the staff is going to come from. I’m fairly certain that e.g. Elizabeth Warren has a Rolodex full of people who share her goals and understand how Washington works, in a way that e.g. Donald Trump doesn’t.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @John Schilling

            Now that IS a valid point, and one which I strongly agree with. You are hiring essentially the chief executive of the “Executive Branch” company, and his hiring and managerial skills are an essential part of that package.

            But just as with companies, figurehead chief executives can survive in the short term but do quite badly in general.

            And if Biden is going to run as “I am doing absolutely nothing but farming out staff to the ‘DNC Elites'” he’s welcome to, but I think we all agree he’d get killed on that platform.

          • albatross11 says:

            You’re definitely voting for a staff when you vote for a president. However, different choices of staff can matter quite a bit, and different candidates are likely to hire/fire staff members who will do different things. And there are times when the president actually has to make some policy decisions, when his advisors disagree with one another or when he wants to overrule his advisors for some bigger policy goal. If the president is too befuddled to do that, then I think there will be times when a coherent policy can’t be reached, and times when the advisors make decisions that are sensible for their part of the world but harmful overall. (I’d put the torture program and a lot of the domestic surveillance going on since 9/11 into that category.).

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            If the only thing we’re voting on is whether you have Republican elite staff or Democrat elite staff, we’re already not much of a democracy.

            Hmm. That is essentially my position. I don’t care a whole lot who the Dems nominate, because I don’t think it will affect their actual policy very much. Trump may be a bit of an outlier on this, but I can’t think of any other president that has defied the prevailing views of their party to any great degree. You have extreme leftists and moderate leftists running for the Democratic nomination. But that is just rhetoric, I doubt it has much effect on the actual administration.

  17. Well... says:

    Update on the food processor saga: made hummus, and it was gritty. Chickpea granules big enough you can feel them with your tongue, suspended in hummus that is somewhere between the proper texture and slightly too runny. (Slightly too runny is probably my fault, but that’s at least better than too viscous, like what you get if you buy it in tubs from the big chain grocery store.)

    The grittiness is concerning. Either I needed to keep pulsing for another half hour in which case come on now that’s ridiculous, or my food processor isn’t powerful enough to make hummus that isn’t gritty, in which case dang that sucks.

    So I guess the question for the group is, does anyone know if there is some minimum level of food processing power required for making hummus that isn’t gritty? Or do you really need to stand there with your finger on the button for 45 minutes?

    • March says:

      What kind of chickpeas did you use? A recipe I found recently (and which resulted in delicious non-gritty hummus) advised boiling them for 20 mins or so in water with some baking soda. The last 20 mins for dried chickpeas, and just 20 mins for canned.

      • Well... says:

        They were from a can. Goya brand. (Which by the way I don’t normally buy; normally I get them from Aldi, whatever brand they sell.)

        I did not understand your last sentence.

        • March says:

          If you use dried chickpeas you have to cook them for ages, but don’t add the baking soda early on. Only the last 20 mins or so.

          If you use canned chickpeas, they’re technically already cooked but boil them for an extra 20 mins in water with some baking soda anyway.

          • I have done it with both canned and dried chickpeas. With the dried, I soak them overnight, then simmer about an hour. The canned don’t need any cooking.

            I don’t pulse for nearly 45 minutes, and they don’t end up gritty. You may want to add a little extra liquid–either some of the liquid from the can, or olive oil–to make the food processor handle the chickpeas better. I also put the lemon juice in at the beginning, which is a little extra liquid.

          • Well... says:

            You may want to add a little extra liquid–either some of the liquid from the can, or olive oil–to make the food processor handle the chickpeas better. I also put the lemon juice in at the beginning, which is a little extra liquid.

            This is exactly what I did. Like I said, the hummus actually came out too runny, but the chickpeas were still not fully broken down.

    • Lambert says:

      Were they dry chickpeas you soaked, or from a can?
      Maybe more soaking would help soften them.
      But yeah, chickpeas are a pain to homogenise. I broke a spoon while trying to make falafel once.

    • gdepasamonte says:

      Canned chickpeas suck, they are usually undercooked. Use the dried ones, and boil them with the baking soda trick mentioned above until mushy, not “just cooked”. Optional but recommended: push it through a sieve with a big spoon after blending for a better texture. This also works to make the canned version appetising, but you tend to lose quite a lot because of the grittiness.

      Optional and not recommended: peel the skins before blending (useful as a punishment for children, it really is a bit better). Alternatively, if you can find cooked ones in jars and are willing to pay for them, they are usually pretty good.

      • Clutzy says:

        This reply is onto something. I had always thought homemade hummus was a disaster until today. Went for a BBQ and someone made hummus that was smooth. I was amazed. The trick, essentially, was dried chickpeas soaked. Replace water and boil. Then roasted in the oven with the olive oil. Then the blending. Apparently extra cooking, not blending, is the key.

      • onyomi says:

        I have made very smooth, delicious hummus using canned chickpeas (Goya brand is a good one). For me the key is the quality of the tahini (different brands vary a lot, those from Israel and Lebanon and which come in opaque, plastic containers rather than glass seem to be the best) and also food processing for a rather long time, adding reserved liquid as necessary to get the consistency you want.

        One very delicious hummus topping is a mixture of pre-roasted jalapenos (can roast over any gas flame, cool, peel off most burned bits, remove seeds) and raw garlic blended together in the food processor before making the hummus itself. Reserve and sprinkle on at the end along with olive oil, a bit of lemon juice and sumac powder.

        Personally I have never found cooking the dried chickpeas to be worth the effort, though maybe I’m just doing it wrong somehow.

  18. benjdenny says:

    On recently getting SWATted:

    A few weeks ago, my wife had gone out for a run and I was watching-not-watching the kids play video games, as is my usual fathering style. Hearing a very soft knock on the front door, I went to find the keys to unlock it and on doing so was faced with four cops spread out oyster-style around my door (but not directly in front of it, as I suppose the training is so you don’t get shot through the door when visiting houses).

    All of their drawin’ hands were more-or-less near their guns and a certain “we might shoot this fella but let’s see first” tension was in the air. I said something mumbling-in-surprise equivilent to “hey, what’s up, fellas?”. I was informed there had been a 911 call where they were given my address, but that the call had cut out so they were coming to check. The cop said he thought my house was a “bad location”, a term I initially panic-took to mean “a drug house filled with hostages” but eventually realized meant he noticed I don’t look particularly crime-y and that they were probably at a place where no crimes were happening.

    “Are there any problems here?” leader-cop asked. “No, not that I know of. The wife is out for a run. Do you want to come in?” I said, waiving my 4th and such. As they walked in, the tension diffused as I had two small boys playing video games so hard on wicker chairs that they didn’t even notice the cops, really. One of the officers, attempting to do the whole PR with kids thing, said “Hey! Playing video games? What game are you playing?” to my 8 year old; he replied “Goat Simulator!”. The officer blinked, and said “Oh.” Thus ended the PR section of the visit.

    By this time the officers had poked some heads around corners and figured out I wasn’t cutting off fingers in a back room or anything and had calmed down. One of the officers was like 6’8″, appeared to be 18 years old, and was lanky like a drinking straw. I said “You are the tallest police officer I’ve ever seen. God Bless you. God Bless Criminals in trees”. Tiring of me at this point, they left.

    I later on checked with a cop buddy who knew one of the cops, and the general consensus was I had been SWATted, I.E. that someone had tried to murder me by throwing cops at me. Given that this seems likely to them, I’m glad that they are now pretty well trained to recognize some of the signs of this – blocked numbers, calls cutting out, horrifying things happening in nicer neighborhoods at a house that seems silent and calm as they walk up, etc. I’m glad the cops stayed calm and didn’t shoot me for no reason, which with qualified they are pretty much legally allowed to do with few/no repercussions. It wasn’t a bad thing overall, and it was pretty much how you hope the police will work in that kind of situation.

    Besides this being a story I think is interesting, I bring it up here for one reason: I’m pretty mild mannered in my work life and in-person social life, and I haven’t been in a big argument in either of those realms in years. On the internet I’m mostly anonymous, with the exceptions being here and Twitter. The side of the political spectrum I’m not on being what it is, I don’t normally get in arguments on twitter because I like having a job.

    The one place I’m not anonymous and have been in arguments lately is here. My address is easy to find once you know my name. That doesn’t mean anyone here did anything, or that I have good evidence pointing that way, but there is a non-zero chance someone here tried to kill me. So to the extent I post here after today/this thread I’ll be doing so on a new, anonymous account.

    • Enkidum says:

      That’s a horrible story, very sorry it happened to you. I can’t imagine someone doing that to you for anything you’ve said or done here – you’re far from aggressive on here either. But apparently it did happen, so I’m out of ideas.

      Glad you made it out ok.

      • benjdenny says:

        Thanks! I’m certainly not sure it came from here, it’s just the only thing I can think of after a week or so of thought.

        • dick says:

          Yikes, sorry this happened to you as well. If it’s any consolation, I get the impression that they’re very good at tracing these back to their sources nowadays (although it takes days or weeks) so hopefully whoever’s responsible will get caught. As to the cause, I wonder if it’s mistaken identity? As in, the target was someone who shares a name with you, or a previous occupant of your house, or someone with the same outbound IP as you…

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Jesus, you dodged a bullet there. Increased anonymity is definitely understandable.

      One thing that occurs to me is that the SWATing may have been targeted at your kids rather than you. If they play online games it’s not unheard of for sore losers and/or trolls to call the police on opposing players. It’s pretty rare but you hear about it a lot.

      • ana53294 says:

        It’s a horrible situation and people doing those prank calls should be prosecuted for attempted homicide.

        Yeah, there are many youtube videos of even very small kids playing video games being swatted and accused of murdering their family/planning to do so.

        So maybe OP should also make sure his kids maintain anonymity.

        • benjdenny says:

          They do; I monitor them close enough to know to a reasonable level of certainty this wasn’t related to them.

      • Peffern says:

        This was my suspicion as well. In my mind I associate SWATting more with angry trolls than with explicit directed violence.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      This behavior is pure evil. Just how accepted is it by the political tribe that tries to kill people by it?

      • benjdenny says:

        To be fair, as far as I know SWATting doesn’t know party lines as far as I know. When I was talking about party lines, that was my perception of people getting dragged on twitter.

      • quanta413 says:

        Well, the Anonymous Shitlord tribe is known for a distinct lack of principle other than “For the lulz”.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Are you treating Anonymous as right-wing? Because the number of conservative bloggers who got SWATted by leftists in 2012 alone appears to have been 10+.
          To CNN’s credit, they allowed SWATting victim Erick Erickson on that year to signal-boost the problem.

          • quanta413 says:

            No, I’m pointing out that the only group that could reasonably be argued to be really into this tactic is largely unprincipled young men. They’ll SWAT each other over video games or on a dare.

            Because the number of conservative bloggers who got SWATted by leftists in 2012 alone appears to have been 10+.

            Ok. Why pick 7 years ago? How many people total got SWATted in the last 7 years? And how do you know many of them weren’t SWATted by anons because anons like stirring the pot (including by SWATting people).

            Or maybe whoever made the calls in 2012 was like the crazy guy threatening American synagogues from all the way over in Israel. It only takes one person to create a string of 10 or even 100 incidents, and it’s not indicative of broader political beliefs in a tribe any more than a mass shooting is a sign that anyone who owns a .22 is suddenly going to go postal.

          • CatCube says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Even your own link points out swatting incidents to people such as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Ashton Kutcher. Talking about any “tribe” doing this as we use the term here is probably not fruitful.

            I get the sense that you’re having a tough time IRL in Portland (which, being here too, I understand your frustration) but maybe take a step back and reanalyze if your heuristics are casting too broad a net here?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @CatCube: I’m trying to take a step back and move in November. Hopefully things will get mentally healthier for me.
            It’s a shame, because this place had a left-wing reputation when I bought real estate here in 2011, yet it was a nice place to live. It shared the Seattle Freeze, but it was very walkable, green and safe, and I learned to turn people friendly by adopting a dog to walk. Quality of Life has been going down since the five-Democrat clique that runs the city let the homeless problem spiral out of control from 2015 on and since Antifa started successfully flexing their muscles at the beginning of 2017.

          • CatCube says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            I think it’s worth considering that the mentally-unhealthy environment is affecting your posts here, maybe not for the better.

            That aside, have you considered the suburbs out west? That would at least allow you to remain in the same general area where you have occupational connections, and the problem doesn’t seem nearly so bad out here. The MAX is irritating when crowded, but still beats trying to drive on the Sunset. I’ve got a 37 minute commute, and it’s generally reliable in the mornings. The evenings, after there’s been a whole day for things to go wrong, is somewhat more of a crapshoot.

            Of course, for me the homeless problem is an annoyance when I’m in the city, as I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been made uncomfortable. I’m male, former military, and about average size, so that probably has a lot to do with it. I’ve had female coworkers complain (who also live outside the city center), so the problem may be worse than I’m making it, even living out of the city.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Catcube: I get that.

            That aside, have you considered the suburbs out west? That would at least allow you to remain in the same general area where you have occupational connections, and the problem doesn’t seem nearly so bad out here. The MAX is irritating when crowded, but still beats trying to drive on the Sunset.

            I considered Beaverton specifically, for having a much lower crime rate than the city (and the legible crime rate is perhaps waaay lower than the real one, due to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s malicious mishandling of policing. I tried using the women’s room in a public park only to be confronted by a naked homeless man living in it, which could have been a documented crime if a different PD had responded to my 911 call.) However, Monsieur Chat is not a good place work-wise and we’re both interested in changing careers, and there are safe cities with a public university out in the Midwest and South, where house prices start at half or less Portland’s west suburbs.

          • Andrew Hunter says:

            @Le Maistre Chat: Year and change ago I left seattle and went to the East Coast (NYC for me, but there are so many good choices.) I cannot overstate how good this was for me, how much I like it, and how pissed I am I didn’t do this five years ago.

            Would highly recommend.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Jewish Community Centers, not synagogues.

            And I didn’t know about the African-American journalist.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Jewish_Community_Center_bomb_threats

          • quanta413 says:

            Thanks for correction Nancy. And it was possibly more than I remember. It sounds like ~100 known and maybe as many as thousands of threats since he apparently also ran a business of making threats to schools for $30.

            Goes to show how easy it is with a little determination to do incredible amounts of damage monetarily and psychologically. Civilization is held together by goodwill or at least apathy.

      • ana53294 says:

        Although swatting is used for political reasons, it is not limited to politics.

        Little kids get swatted over video games; that certainly is not about politics. It seems to have become just a shitty thing people do to their enemies, not just political ones.

        I won’t be surprised if jealous lovers/exes soon start swatting people, although I haven’t seen such a case yet. But considering the extremes that are reached by jealousy, it does seem like a very small step.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I won’t be surprised if jealous lovers/exes soon start swatting people, although I haven’t seen such a case yet.

          According to A Brief History of SWATting, the earliest case may have been a 15-year-old blind incel* trying to get an unrequited love to consent to phone sex in 2005, which would perhaps predate political SWATting by seven years.

          *This raises the question of whether members of some marginalized identity group have a right to be loved romantically. I’m not really interested in answers from religions other than Leftism, because I think I already know them.

          • Well... says:

            That seems like it would be suspicious.

            “Hey, let’s have phone sex.”
            “Ew, no!”
            “Ugh…but my poor blue ba— Hey, I’ve, uh, I’ve gotta make another call. Bye”
            (13 minutes later)
            “POLICE! OPEN UP! WE GOT A CALL SAYING YOU’RE COOKING METH AND TORTURING MISSING CHILDREN IN HERE!”

          • JPNunez says:

            Nobody has the right to _have at least one person_ who loves them romantically, cause that would be forcing that “at least one” to love the person. That’d be … emotional slavery? I don’t think we have a word for something like that.

            Everyone has the right to be loved, which is to say, the government should not…forcibly stop people from loving someone? we don’t have a word for that either, probably cause both concepts are alien.

            The government does not stop people from falling in love with whatever serial killer is in prison nowadays, which seems to be in vogue from time to time, which tells me this is not a thing that is happening.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            People don’t have a right to be loved, but I think it’s wrong for there to be propaganda that they shouldn’t be loved.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @JPNunez:

            Nobody has the right to _have at least one person_ who loves them romantically, cause that would be forcing that “at least one” to love the person. That’d be … emotional slavery? I don’t think we have a word for something like that.

            But it seems like some IdPol groups are formulating the belief that [demographic] who are attracted to their non-marginalized equivalent are bigots if they don’t give them romantic love. Have you not seen this argument from transgender people who identify as straight?
            Also I could swear that I read a fat-acceptance article where the author complains that society taught her that she didn’t deserve a hot boyfriend, but Google is failing me.

          • JPNunez says:

            I’ve seen the argument about ginephiles dating transwomen, I mean, that people who are attracted to women shouldn’t discriminate against transwomen in this respect, tho I don’t think I’ve seen the argument that all transwomen who are attracted to men should have a boyfriend.

            Eh about the fat girl demanding a hot boyfriend. Gonna discount it as some crazy datapoint and delete it from whatever sample.

          • albatross11 says:

            JP Nunez:

            I feel like at least one of us missed the point of the linked post, but I’m not 100% sure which one….

          • JPNunez says:

            @albatross

            I didn’t read “A brief history of swatting” because I felt the later half of the maistre chat’s post wasn’t really related.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            For what it’s worth, I’ve seen a couple of accounts by fat women who said they were harassed for having hot boyfriends.

    • quanta413 says:

      I’m glad it didn’t go any more wrong. Switching handles is a good precaution.

      I’d like to think a SWATter got the wrong address rather than that someone posting or lurking here did it, but both possibilities are pretty unlikely before you got SWATted yet one has to be true so… yeah.

    • John Schilling says:

      It wasn’t a bad thing overall, and it was pretty much how you hope the police will work in that kind of situation.

      No, if someone sent armed men to your home to murder you, or even just to terrorize you, that’s a very bad thing overall. And the way I hope the police will work in that kind of situation, is to turn around and make a vigorous attempt to find the person responsible. But for jurisdictional reasons, that’s almost certainly not going to happen – at least not until a few dozen sympathetic victims have been killed by it.

      Very glad you weren’t one of those. Stay safe, even if it means we can’t see you here under your old name.

      • benjdenny says:

        I think what I mean is the police were reasonable; I’d certainly hope they’d find the person and burn them to death or something but they showed up to a 911 call, exercised judgement and minimized the necessary damage. For me that’s a good outcome, considering the spectrum of outcomes.

      • Dino says:

        But for jurisdictional reasons, that’s almost certainly not going to happen

        It’s worse than that. All the cops have to go on is 1 phone call. With caller ID spoofing, SWATter doesn’t even need a cash bought cheap burner phone.

        • Caller, however, may not know that.

        • John Schilling says:

          It is actually rather difficult to spoof caller ID at a level that will fool someone who can e.g. subpoena phone company billing records. And it isn’t trivial to buy a burner phone that will remain anonymous when the police subpoena the security camera footage at the shop which sold it. These things can be done, but most wannabe SWATters aren’t working at that level. Which means the police, collectively, could catch a fair fraction of them. Just not the police department on the receiving end acting alone, and unless someone actually gets killed they mostly don’t care enough to try.

          • b_jonas says:

            I don’t think that second part is quite right. SIM cards I buy in a store can last for two years in my drawer before I start using them, so there’ll be no security camera footage to look up.

          • acymetric says:

            That requires SWATters to plan years in advance, though. Some may, but most likely do not. Some are probably too young to have had the opportunity to plan for years to begin with.

          • John Schilling says:

            As acymetric says, if you’re trying to evaluate based on what a covert-ops team with perfect tradecraft could do, you’re not going to get the right answer. Almost all SWATting is done by people who know maybe one way but not the best way to spoof caller ID, and decided maybe two days ago that someone urgently needs a SWATting, and probably didn’t even think about the police getting the security-camera records at the SIM card store.

            In the gaming community, there are some semi-professional SWATters who will do a little bit better than that if you’re willing to pay, but they’re still mostly twenty-something slackers living in their parents’ basement rather than elite hackers or ex-Mossad agents or whatnot. They still screw up. And I don’t think even that sort of mediocrity has spread outside the gaming community (yet).

    • Deiseach says:

      That’s a nasty experience. I certainly hope it wasn’t through here that some idiot thought this would be a great thing to do, but who knows nowadays? I honestly can’t see any of the regulars doing such a thing, maybe someone dropping by who was led here by the “it’s a nest of alt-right vipers” blah elsewhere and picked someone at random, but then again I could just be sticking my head in the sand about that.

      Stay safe and good luck!

    • Plumber says:

      @benjdenny says:

      “On recently getting SWATted….”

      I’ve never seen the term “SWATted” before, and I’m horrified to learn it!

    • j1000000 says:

      Boy that’s nuts and sorry you went through that. Do you get into intense arguments around here much? Because I don’t recognize your handle from doing that. And the sort of vindictive leftist types that would do such a thing don’t strike me as the type of leftists who hang around here, but who knows.

      • acymetric says:

        It should be noted that SWATting is not a leftist thing.

        • j1000000 says:

          Didn’t mean to imply that generally — I thought he was saying that he was right wing and was worried a left-wing person he’d argued with around here had done it. In general I only associate swatting with video games and trolls, not with people of any political bent.

          I misunderstood this sentence: “The side of the political spectrum I’m not on being what it is, I don’t normally get in arguments on twitter because I like having a job.” I took that as indicating he was conservative, since in my mind it’s most often leftist Twitter mobs trying to get people fired for saying non-PC things. But apparently I was projecting.

      • Aftagley says:

        +1 it’s an internet troll thing. It’s normally directed against gamers and streamers who do something their audience doesn’t approve of.

        Please don’t generalize all bad behavior onto the particular group you don’t like.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          A ton of gamers are minors. Do they SWAT fellow gamers over such trivialities, and if so, how are they punished by the legal system?

          • Aftagley says:

            Yes they do, it’s common enough that pretty much all popular streamers will have it happen to them at one point or another. Probably the most trivial example of swatting is Andrew Finch. He won a bet for $1.50 against a fellow gamer while playing Call of Duty, and, in response, the other guy in response swatted Finch. Finch was shot and killed by police.

            I don’t know the breakdown of minors swatting eachother vs. adults, but I do know that most of the cases that end up getting solved involved adults. From what I understand, however, most of the time these people are using spoofed numbers and tracking down the culprit is difficult.

      • CatCube says:

        It’d be especially weird for the leftists here to SWAT @benjdenny, considering he’s one of them.

        Seriously, read a timeline about this tactic (one was posted elsewhere in the thread). There’s no obvious particular political bent to the victims or perpetrators, and it seems to be really popular among online gamers for gaming reasons (somebody got a beatdown and is seeking revenge) or spectacular asshole reasons (they do it so they can see the cops bust into the room on the Twitch stream).

        • ana53294 says:

          spectacular asshole reasons (they do it so they can see the cops bust into the room on the Twitch stream).

          I really don’t get that. Do they not understand the seriousness of swatting, or realize somebody might die, or are the bloodthirsty Roman circus observers who want for somebody to get killed?

          Considering that somebody got swatted and killed over 1.5$, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I just don’t get it.

          Is it that the internet makes it all seem less real?

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            I lean towards bloodthirsty Roman coliseum (my memory is that the circus was for races, and the coliseum for blood sports) observers.

            Internet anonymity is a kind of crappy discount Ring of Gyges. You get to see how people behave when they don’t think that anyone can see them. It’s not always pretty but I do think that the good outweighs the bad overall.

          • albatross11 says:

            My guess is it’s mostl;y a lot of dumbass boys/young men who don’t really get, all the way down, how serious all this is. And in fact, 99% of the time, it doesn’t seem to have any consequences.

            Also, there is a fraction of the population who are crazy in ways that mean that their interaction with their fellow man is going to be pretty unpleasant. And there’s another fraction who are sociopaths, and hurting other people doesn’t really matter much to them. Still another fraction have had their morals swamped by group approval and broken social systems. Anonymous consequence-free misbehavior on the internet makes it easy for all those people to show their true selves without any concern about the shunning, ass-kicking, or arrest that would follow behaving that way in realspace.

            Swatting (and a lot of telephone spam) is IMO largely a consequence of having screwed up in how our phone system works. Having caller ID be spoofable is not consistent with using caller ID for safety-critical stuff like 911 calls.

          • ana53294 says:

            I lean towards bloodthirsty Roman coliseum

            You’re right, my mistake.

            I just wonder whether informing people about how serious this is would work, or give ideas to idiots who don’t read the news.

            I remember, as a kid, a common prank was using a payphone, and calling 911 (112 in Spain), and pretending somebody was injured. I never understood it – what if their response prevented from somebody actually being rescued? But I always put it up to kids being stupid and not realizing what they’re doing. Most of them grew up to be responsible adults who don’t do such things anymore.

  19. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    When there’s a vortex draining from a bathtub (presumably other vortexes too), the center casts a solid shadow. How does this happen?

    Why is the foam on a wave white? After all, it’s water bubbles, and water is transparent.

    Why does water make paper towels and cloth darker?

    Extra credit: Which science fiction author raised the question about water and paper towels?

    • metacelsus says:

      1) The light is refracted by the curved surface of the vortex.

      2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mie_scattering
      (and more specifically, the Debye approximation since the foam bubbles will be much larger than the light’s wavelength)

      3) It’s a better match than air for the index of refraction of cellulose, which reduces scattering of incident light.

      No idea for the extra credit question.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        3. You seem to be saying that water doesn’t make paper towels dark, it makes them transparent. Which is easily tested and … true.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Wet paper towels get dark– this is conspicuous on light brown paper. Maybe they get dark *and* transparent.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Sure, we could say that wet paper towels become dark and become bright and become green and become pink. Or we could just say that they become transparent.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            See also the “water-writing paper” used in China for calligraphy practice, which essentially changes from white to black when wet (and turns white again after drying).

    • Vitor says:

      1. While air and water are both transparent, they have different densities. Thus, light rays reflect and refract on the air/water boundary, changing their angle. This causes some points of the bathtub behind the vortex (from the POV of the light source) to receive less light than the surrounding points, which you could call being in shadow (see also: caustics, which are “anti-shadows” in this sense). This strikes me as no more mysterious than transparent things not being invisible in general. Lenses, wine glasses etc are known to create weird and beautiful patterns when shining light through them.

      2. Not sure, but I have two plausible explanations. First, bubbles made out of pure water are indeed transparent. However, ocean waves are not made of pure water, so their bubbles might contain other substances (and due to wave physics, those substances occur at a higher concentration in the foam?). Second, bubbles are roughly spherical: there is guaranteed to be a point on the bubble where sunlight is reflected or refracted directly towards your eyes, no matter the direction you’re looking from. There are many such points, and they are very bright, making the bubbles appear white. Note that the sun’s reflection on still water would not lead you to conclude that the water is white, so this is basically a consequence of the geometry being too complex for us to intuitively understand what we’re seeing.

      3. The third one is harder, but let’s remember that color is just the macroscopic consequence of the microscopic properties of matter: this is mostly about which wavelengths are absorbed, but the geometry itself is responsible for the statistical distribution of diffuse reflections, subsurface scattering, etc (the kind of stuff that causes iridescence and similar phenomena). Thus, it shouldn’t be very surprising that a material which readily absorbs water (thus changing its geometric structure significantly) would change color when this happens. I don’t have a more specific explanation, sorry.

      4. No idea.

      NB: I’m not a physicist, just a dabbler in computer graphics. Confidence in my answer: 80%

      • soreff says:

        3 is basically the inverse of 2:
        Adding roughly-index-matching water to e.g. kraft paper reduces surface scattering,
        so that component of the brightness of light reflected (well, scattered) by the paper
        goes down. The light that now isn’t scattered by the surface goes further into the
        paper, and has more opportunity to be absorbed (Beer’s law, with an increasing
        path length through the absorber before it finally gets backscattered to the observer)

        [slightly different physics if the paper is thin enough that the incident light on the
        wet paper goes all the way through. In that case, it looks dark depending on whether
        there are any light sources behind it. If not, then it looks dark for the same reason
        a hole into a large cool cavity (classic blackbody) looks dark – it bounces around until
        one of the bounces absorbs it – or, to put it another way, till the light is in equilibrium
        with thermal radiation from the cavity (which is tiny for visible light and room temperature)]

        4. Larry Niven “On a foggy night”

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I think “On a Foggy Night” addresses why fog is opaque while water is clear rather than any of my specific questions.

          I got a very fast answer on facebook– Theodore Sturgeon’s “And My Fear is Great”. I was thinking of his “The Claustrophile”, but I’m sure he’s used the bit about paper towels more than once. And also the mystery of why postage stamps are unlikely to tear on the perforation. (I think US stamps are all peel-off these days.)

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

          It makes sense that someone would be more likely to recognize the reference on facebook– I expect there are a lot more older people on my friendslist there than here.

          “The Claustrophile” is a remarkable nerd wish fulfillment story, and the wish fulfillment isn’t about becoming an action hero.

  20. aremi_mande says:

    If it were me I’d settle on predicting primes and trying to deconstruct my consciousness.
    Anyone here know anything about nuclear science
    Is it possible for the following device to work? Starting from the core; a lithium 6 deuteride target surrounded by a thorium 232 tamper whose interior is plated with beryllium the two layers separated by a thin coating of hmx around 5mm. The tamper assembly is suspended in a cage of U 238 tubes around which are copper or YBCO coils insulated from the tubes. Inside the tubes is hmx. The coils are connected to a hpm circuit with w-cockcroft generators vircator capacitors etc. So the idea is that upon detonation the circuit dumps all the power into the coils which are explosively pumped generating a massive z pinch on the DU plasma. The pinching plasma and explosives implodes the tamper which explodes the hmx and pushes the beryllium onto the target. This creates x rays triggering fusion but only at the surface. The neutrons created activate the beryllium generating even more neutrons. Ignition should happen at the center of the target. The neutrons irradiate the tamper creating U 233 at critical mass…the DU also creates pu 238 mostly. Theoratically at least

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      Thorium to uranium is short-hand. The actual reaction is thorium 232 to 233 beta decay to protactinum 233 beta decay to uranium 233. Last step has a half life of 27 days, you cant use it in an explosive device.

  21. fion says:

    Imagine a person who spent a long time (decades) living in a sort of very vivid lucid dream. They can do anything they want – create a whole idyllic world for themselves, decide whether or not to feel hungry and eat, perhaps even create apparently living creatures. But they can’t “wake up” and there are no other “real” people there (maybe they can imagine some people, but they’re p-zombies or something).

    What would this person be like after several decades? I’m not talking about waking them up and seeing how they interact with the real world; I’m talking about while they’re in their fantasy world. What would they do with their time? What oddities would their psyche acquire from the isolation? Would they create other “people”? What do you think you would do?

    Also, can you think of any works of fiction that have touched on this? The closest I can think of is Inception, in which (spoilers) characters spend decades in a dream world called Limbo and then return to the real world with only minutes or hours having passed. The only real psychological aspect of Inception that I picked up on, though, was the idea of being unsure what’s a dream and what’s reality. But what else would go on in their head while they were there? Any other examples in fiction?

    • bullseye says:

      I think they would make other people. I wouldn’t want to live in a world with no one else, so if I control my environment completely I’d make other people.

      I also think the fantasy would get less coherent as time went on and the person gradually forgot the real world. Eventually it would get really abstract and make no sense at all to an outsider.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Depends a lot on their mental discipline. It’s a bit similar to being able to close facebook and open a book, except the scale of possible distractions is a hell of a lot larger. Get to used to using your fantasy creating powers, and waking up would be a major trauma.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      “Hell Is Forever” by Alfred Bester includes a character becoming God for his pocket universe, which is not quite the same thing as being a person in a pocket universe you control.

      In any case, he discovers to his horror that he has lousy taste and a subconscious he doesn’t approve of.

    • hls2003 says:

      H.P. Lovecraft had a character named Kuranes who was a bit like this in the short story Celephais, and part of his Dream Cycle. In the short story, the main character has dreams of an achingly beautiful city of which he is king. He eventually finds his way into the dream world permanently to escape this world and live in Celephais. That story has a more or less happy ending, but later in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, Randolph Carter encounters Kuranes, and the former mortal is terribly depressed and homesick for the real world and advises Carter to abandon his quest for his own dream city.

    • benjdenny says:

      “Long Dream” by Junji Ito covers this in a horror setting. It is appropriately horrifying.

      Bonus: “The Enigma of Amigara Fault” is also by Junji Ito and will ruin your whole life if you have even a hint of claustrophobia.

    • b4mgh says:

      I think the answer to your question depends on three factors: the developmental stage in which the person was when they entered the dream, the person’s personality, and the person’s intelligence. The person’s intelligence will determine their understanding of the rules of the dream, of their own mental state and needs (though self-awareness is also part of the personality), and of the causal relationship between their actions and the satisfaction of their needs/desires. The person’s personality will determine their specific needs, desires, and preferences. Ultimately, I think the ability of the person of coping with this would depend on their creativity and their capacity to deal with solipsism. For the purposes of this scenario, I’ll model both intelligence and personality on my own. There is also the matter of whether or not the person’s body continues to age. Let me preclude what I’m about to say with the caveat that I have only a basic understanding of psychology/psychiatry.

      If the mind went from womb straight to dream without going through the process of birth, I think that the dream would consist of a permanence in the womb, without them ever truly awakening. This is so alien to me that I can’t really develop on it.

      If the individual was a baby or toddler I think that the most important change is that they wouldn’t necessarily develop spoken or written language. If the satisfaction of every need, even the need for communication, was only a thought away, then I don’t see why they wouldn’t just telepathically communicate with the entities that they created without actually using words. And what would these entities be like? Most of them would be physically larger than the person, since that is their experience, and there would be little difference between the behavior of human-like and non-human like entities, given small children’s tendency of personification of animals and objects. The fact that the demand for affection would have to come from beings created by such an undeveloped mind would probably lead to some crude solutions that would soon become unsatisfactory. I have a hard time imagining more than that.

      If the individual was a pre-pubescent child they would already have spoken and written language, which would probably develop further. The entities they created would be modeled both on real people they knew and on fictional (mostly cartoon) characters. Over time the distinction between the two would blur, except for the strongest memories of humans (parents, siblings, close friends). The realization of their total control over the environment would lead to roleplaying like what we see among children in a playground, though with the materialization of everything in their imagination. Assuming this is a person-in-a-coma scenario and that the body continues to age, the arrival of puberty would lead to a search for the satisfaction of sexual urges, probably leading to some rule 34 stuff with the aforementioned entities and a very strange view of how sex works or how the opposite-sex entities behave. The increase in aggression (again, based on my own experiences) would make the cartoon world more grim-dark, though without any personal consequences (such as permanent death of a character; the person wouldn’t question if a character brought back to life after a violent session of play was the actual character). Over time the person would hopefully mellow out and things would become less extreme in every way. If the body doesn’t age, I predict a continuation of the cartoon role-play scenario. This is as far as I can speculate.

      If the individual was a teenager already in the middle of puberty most of the entities they created would be humans, though for me the creation of entities that almost perfectly simulated real people would be too unsettling. 16-year-old-me would alternate between fantasy fulfilment and somewhat systematic experimentation and search for answers about the dream. A failure on that last part would lead to alternating seasons of existential agony and resigned (perhaps even happy) acceptance of the condition. Which one would eventually become the default is unknown. At this stage enters the problem of fiction. By that age I was already a voracious consumer of fiction, mostly literature, so would it be possible for my brain to create stories that would surprise me and fulfil that need? If not, that would be a massive disappointment, and this would extend to scenarios where the entry into the dream happened later in life. The same question applies to randomness and the general unknown. If there was no uncertainty in the dream then I suppose I would eventually mentally degrade into apathy and inaction over the years, though it is possible that I would find a solution to that given enough time and the considerate resources at my disposal.

      • b4mgh says:

        What do you think you would do?

        Now, as a young adult with my personality mostly settled, I would also engage in experimentation and fantasy-fulfilment, though at first much more of the former than of the latter. As long as I wasn’t omniscient things would be pleasant enough. Activities in which I would engage include:
        >Designing places of dwelling that would become progressively more detached from what was architecturally possible, and occasionally I wouldn’t have a material body at all.
        >Consuming art that was tailor-made for my interests, as well as that which could have been created by totally alien cultures.
        >Playing video-game-like scenarios, ranging from FPS to 4x –the latter would involve actually creating massive civilizations that I would control as some kind of deity.
        >Creating worlds and peoples and chronicle their histories across the ages.
        >Temporarily limiting my memories and my powers and putting myself on fantasy isekai adventures.
        >Going on long travels across these worlds I created.
        When I became lonely I would create a companion, probably a romantic one, with whom I would share these adventures. And when I got fed up I would just start all over again and do things differently. I don’t know what would happen to my mind after decades of this, but overall I think I would learn to enjoy it.

        • fion says:

          Thanks for your detailed thoughts! Some of those child-created worlds sound as horrifying as I’m sure they would be…

    • Robin says:

      The giant Rübezahl has kidnapped a princess, kept her in a beautiful palace, and since she missed her friends, he gave her a wand which turned turnips into “people”, who would wither away as quickly as turnips do.
      Does this count?
      The psychological effect on her is limited, because in old fairytales psychology wasn’t invented yet, and also she escapes quickly.

    • chrisminor0008 says:

      A guy on reddit claimed to have lived 10 years while unconscious from an assault for no more than a few minutes. Upon waking he spent years grieving the loss of his imagined wife and children.

      https://old.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/oc7rc/have_you_ever_felt_a_deep_personal_connection_to/c3g4ot3/?st=k03zpv1q&sh=e1c012b3

    • fion says:

      Thanks to everyone for replying. I enjoyed reading your suggestions.

  22. Aapje says:

    Short story: Max

    Hi, I’m Max and I’m a dog, living in a wild pack of dogs. Our home is Alaska. The pack consists of many different breeds. I’m a small dog, which makes it a challenge to keep up with the pack while hunting. Then again, the other dogs of my size have a much easier time of it. Their endurance is a lot better, although I can sprint better than anyone. I’m always running at the back of the pack, not being much help. I also rarely catch the smell of prey, as my sense of smell is poor.

    I grew up with the pack, being taken in as a puppy. Growing with the other pups was tough, because I was always just a bit different. I sometimes hurt the other pups with my paws while playing. So it was hard for me to find friends to play with, which was understandable, because they didn’t want to get hurt, but I didn’t do it on purpose and it made me a bit lonely. I got bullied a lot as a pup as well.

    Sometimes I go hunt on my own, catching squirrels that the other dogs never seem to be able to catch. Now and then, I play with the squirrels before killing them, but always outside of the sight of the other dogs, as I know they don’t approve.

    I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to start a family. The bitches don’t seem very interested in me. My small size and poor hunting skills don’t seem to do me any favors.

    Yesterday, something weird happened while we were out on a hunt. We saw an animal that looked like a small dog, but it seemed to have lost it pack. When our leader went to talk to him, he couldn’t understand the small dog, which spoke a weird language. The small dog then ran off. As a lark, our pack tried to mimic those weird sounds, but none came close. It all sounded like a weird bark: ‘Mioof.’ Yet when I tried, I could mimic it perfectly. I never expected that, because I’ve always had a bit of a speech impediment. Apparently, my impediment makes me better at speaking that weird language.

    …Why am I talking to tree? It’s time to hunt, back to the pack I go.

    • Aapje says:

      Feedback appreciated. The true essence of Max too unclear or too easy to discern? Allegory too much on the snout?

      • gettin_schwifty says:

        Sounds like life has been ruff for little Max!

        I have no substantive criticism, all I can say is Max seems like a cat.

      • Watchman says:

        Not sure about the nature being too easy to discern (who is the target audience) but I figured it two paragraphs in. Problem might be, if this is not intentional, that the story seems to have keyed me to addressing it as a puzzle to solve: it’s written as much as a long-form riddle as a narrative with a hidden reveal.

        If you want this to be a story with a reveal coming later I think there are two issues. One is simply that Max’s dog-like characteristics are not emphasised so all we have is his assertion at the beginning and no reason to trust it: there’s no facts about which we have to change our perception other than a label, before Max’s outsider status is brought up. The other might be a personal judgement but I think your plan (the increasingly-obvious pointers) is too clear as well: I’d like to see the points presented in a more narrative fashion. Perhaps start by explaining why he is talking to a tree/observer.

        That said, I felt happy after reading it, so the story has value. I’m no expert but I wonder if this would be good for children around 8 who are learning to pattern match and picking up the first inkling of the complexity of literature, and who might benefit from the increasingly-clear pointers, and who might enjoy the dog changing his nature. I could see me reading something like this to my son in a few years and us both enjoying it.

        • Aapje says:

          The reason for the tree is because I wanted it to be a first person narrative, but there is no plausible third party for Max to talk to. So I imagined Max being a bit frustrated and full of doubt & in need of clarity. Given that dogs (presumably) lack psychiatrists, Max used ‘rubber ducking,’ with the tree in the place of the rubber duck.

          I’d like to see the points presented in a more narrative fashion.

          This grew from me coming up with an allegory and trying to make it more interesting by turning it into a bit of a riddle.

          But I agree that it is lacking as a proper story: too many bullet points as in a presentation, rather than a flowing narrative structure. Perhaps this is actually better for young children, preventing them from getting lost in details. I didn’t think of that, thanks for the interesting observation(s).

          • J says:

            Perhaps Max should be talking to the other one like him, rather than having the other one exit stage left.

      • fion says:

        I still don’t know what Max is. I imagined him as a terrier in the first paragraph, was vaguely confused in the second paragraph, thought he was a bit of a hippy in the third paragraph. The fourth paragraph makes perfect sense for any odd dog. The fifth paragraph I thought it sounded like they found a fox and then I thought “Is Max a fox?”. I think that was the first time I thought he wasn’t a dog. I don’t get the bit about talking to a tree.

        Watchman says it’s obvious but doesn’t say the answer. gettin_schwifty suggests cat, but even re-reading the story with that in mind it doesn’t seem obvious to me. Certainly they’re small, but I didn’t know they were better sprinters, had sharper paws, or worse sense of smell. I’ve never heard of a cat killing a squirrel either, though they are known for playing with their victims before killing them.

        I’ve never had pets, so I wonder if that’s part of the reason I don’t know this stuff.

        For what it’s worth, though, I think you have a typo in paragraph 5: “but it seemed to have lost it pack” should probably be “its pack”.

        • bullseye says:

          I don’t know that cats are better sprinters than dogs, but dogs certainly have better stamina.

          Cats have sharp claws while dogs’ claws are blunt.

          I would guess that Max is better at hunting squirrels because he can climb trees.

          It seemed very obvious to me that the “Mioof” is Meow, but maybe that’s just because I had already decided it was a cat?

          • DarkTigger says:

            It seemed very obvious to me that the “Mioof” is Meow, but maybe that’s just because I had already decided it was a cat?

            Nope, that was the place where it occured to me that Max might be a cat.

          • March says:

            Dogs’ claws are blunt, pups’ claws are very much not.

            (Cheetahs, another guess, actually can’t retract their claws. More like dogs than like cats. And, like the song goes: What does the fox (even) say? Might be ‘Mioof’.)

        • Aapje says:

          @fion

          A requirement for the premise to hold and the allegory to work is that Max can be confused for a dog. My idea was that he is a cat and “mioof” doesn’t make much sense for a fox. However, otherwise Max being a fox is perfectly cromulent, as it works for the allegory.

          I’m happy to see that some people didn’t get it right away, which suggests that it’s not that easy.

          Dogs’ claws are not retractable, so they get worn down much more than cat claws.

          PS. Arguable there is another typo. Cats say “miauw” in Dutch, so “mioof” is a bit of a Dutch-English hybrid. Perhaps it should have been “meoof.” Then again, phonetically it works.

      • Deiseach says:

        The true essence of Max too unclear or too easy to discern? Allegory too much on the snout?

        I believe the last time I read this story, Max would have been a weird kind of duckling 🙂

        How obvious do you want to be? If it’s an allegory, then hitting the reader with an anvil over the head is the way to go. If you want to keep it more uncertain until nearer the end, then a bit more obscurity is needed.

      • Murphy says:

        needs more ambiguity. By paragraph 2 the cat’s out of the bag.

        Also not sure if the childlike voice works.

      • Radu Floricica says:

        I sometimes hurt the other pups with my paws while playing.

        This turned the story into a puzzle, to the point I actually stopped and re-read everything, and then read each following sentence twice to make sure I solve it before the reveal. Got it at the squirrels.

        It was very enjoyable as a puzzle. Depending on your intention you may want to make it a bit more subtle and maybe add some stuff before squirrel to make it slower.

        The “Mioof” counts as a reveal, not matter what fion says.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I realized “not dog” right away. My first thought was “cheetah” for out-of-story reasons. Then I was thinking “fox” until ‘Mioof’ which said “cat”.

        • Evan Þ says:

          +1, except I never thought “fox”; I continued thinking “cheetah” until the cat showed up. (Playing with squirrels made me think “definitely feline,” but cheetahs are felines and might do it too?)

      • b_jonas says:

        It was obvious to me (without reading the other replies) that Max was a cat. The smaller size, “Mioof” sound and talking to a tree points to a cat. I wasn’t thinking of the ugly duckling story until a comment below points them out, rather, I was thinking of the Ice Age 2 movie. Other dogs not playing with Max because of his sharp claws is oddly the opposite of other wolves preferring to play with Mowgli because he can remove spikes from their paws with his hand.

        • acymetric says:

          What about talking to a tree points to cat?

          • b_jonas says:

            Dogs and wolves can’t climb a tree. Max wanted half an hour of peace from the pack, to think about his life and monologue, so he climbed on a tree where he’d be alone.

          • acymetric says:

            Aha. Why did you assume he climbed the tree prior to talking to it? You can just as easily talk to a tree from the ground.

          • Aapje says:

            I was worried that people would be wondering who Max was talking to, so I added this, based on the idea that Max had wandered away from the pack and was reflecting on his life by talking aloud to a tree.

            It was not intended as a clue.

    • Max is obviously a cat. Possibly inspired by a picture someone linked to, I think here, of a dog and a dog-sized feline looking very similar, with some text about the feline (I forget the species) being brought up with dogs.

    • Well... says:

      Max is obviously* a cat. But if it’s allegory for something I don’t really get it beyond that.

      Find your tribe and stick to them, don’t try to fit in where you’re different? But Max didn’t join the dog pack for fun. I dunno.

      *Added “obviously” later, in agreement with David Friedman.

      • Aapje says:

        I intended it as an allegory for people who are different enough to have great trouble fitting in, but not clearly different enough to be (fully) rejected. Like introverts, contrarians, strong systematizers, autistics, trans people, people with ‘extreme’ political beliefs, etc, etc.

        In the allegory, the misfit tries to measure up to the standards of those around him, becoming a failure at their standards, while also not being appreciated for his talents. His effort to adapt causes him to end up in limbo. When the cat who got to live a cat’s life shows up, Max doesn’t recognize that he is the same, nor is able to speak his language. So is Max too much socialized as a dog to be able to live as a cat anymore? Can he even be called a cat or has he become a hybrid?

        Note that I didn’t call my story a fable, as the allegory was not intended as a moral lesson, but merely to illustrate what can happen to a person.

        • Well... says:

          I think there’s more that can be said about such a situation. You’ve set it up to say something but haven’t said much.

          To me, the situation is ripe for showing how Max is in a uniquely advantageous situation. As an outsider who’s also trying to do what his pack is doing but can’t do it the same way because of his individual qualities, he brings a unique set of talents and experience that can be leveraged to take the whole pack forward in a far greater leap than they otherwise might have if Max was just another dog.

          What I described above has many corollaries in human history, from Newton and Einstein to Stevie Wonder and Ada Lovelace.

          • Aapje says:

            It can go both ways, but where I left the story, Max didn’t become a hero, nor are they any signs of him becoming one.

            In reality, I think that only a small minority of the outsiders become heroes. It’s a bad cliche to stereotype all people with a trait as having a superpower. Most autistic people don’t help you win in the casino.

          • Well... says:

            Yes, but it’s a unique advantage if you can leverage it. Personally, I think that is a more interesting and worthwhile thing to talk about than “hopefully one day by chance you’ll meet people just like you who you can be all in-group-y with.”

          • Aapje says:

            Max didn’t become ingroupy, though. IMO, my story leaves doubt whether he even can.

    • Deiseach says:

      Hey, Aapje, it just struck me: there is only one possible musical accompaniment to this story, The Cramps and Can Your Pussy Do The Dog? 😀

    • DinoNerd says:

      I didn’t guess cat until the ‘Mioof’. But I suspected “not dog” fairly early – perhaps at the point of this runt being able to catch squirrels. I entirely missed the bit about hurting other puppies with claws, or I’d have suspected “cat” a lot sooner.

    • aristides says:

      Congratulations, you rewrote the ugly duckling! I mean that in all earnest, the Ugly Duckling has been a classic children’s tale since the 1800s, and it’s no small feat to accidentally write the same story. There are plenty of aspects I like about your story better, since it’s less appearance focused and more ability focused.

      • Aapje says:

        The Ugly Duckling is a coming of age story, appealing to children who are rejected by their peers and telling them that it will turn out all right & they will become like their peers at a later age. My story has a lot more nuance, IMO, and throws up the question whether it will actually be all right.

        My impression is that the ugly ducklings who blossom into a pleasing adult still tend to be scarred, so even if one ignores the ugly ducklings that stay ‘ugly,’ the story still seems like a manipulative lie.

        • PedroS says:

          Actually the original ugly duckling story by HC Andersen is quite ambivalent about that: the beautiful swan ends up shot by a hunter

          Edited: Apparently my recollection was quite wrong. Sorry for the brainfart

          • Aapje says:

            That still wouldn’t address my criticism, as the hunter is an outside force. That there are limits to privilege/status due to causes that are not (intentionally) caused by humans, like getting cancer, is a far different issue than the consequences of being bullied as a youth on those who are no longer bullied as an adult.

            I wonder how the ugly duckling story would be different if it were written by a Russian (HC Andersov?), who are typically a little pessimistic.

    • Elementaldex says:

      Data point: I never got that it was cat even with some rereading. I got that it was not a dog about halfway through but did not arrive at the correct conclusion infernally. My reading comprehension is quantifiably extremely good (though this is not a shining moment for it).

  23. onyomi says:

    So has there been a discussion yet about the Hong Kong situation and where it’s likely to go in the near-to-mid-term? I’m living here right now and it’s really hard to see a way out that makes much sense. Factors to consider:

    Most HK natives, though they may think of themselves as ethnically Chinese, do not identify strongly, or at all, with the culture or politics of the Mainland (if the PLA rolls in with force it will not be seen by HKers as “our army putting down a rebellion,” but as “foreign army invading”).

    Most mainlanders do seem to mistakenly think either that HKers do identify with them as one culture and one state or at least should (if the PLA rolls in with force they will see it as “our army putting down a rebellion within our borders”).

    The current leadership within HK is massively unpopular as it grows increasingly clear they can’t do anything without Beijing’s say-so.

    Beijing has taken a hard-line stance of no compromise that seems hard to back down from now in a face-saving way. If they could go back in time and do-over I wonder if they wouldn’t have just withdrawn the extradition bill officially in June. Now I guess they’re afraid of sending the message “protest wins concessions.”

    Best guess about Beijing’s current strategy is one I’ve seen described as “attrition,” and which seemingly worked a few years back with the Umbrella Movement: roughly, don’t massively escalate and put down the protests (Tiananmen), but also don’t concede anything and gradually ramp up the perceived cost of participating by e.g. jailing people. In other words, outlast the protesters.

    I can see how this is a powerful strategy and seems to be, in some sense, the bigger strategy more generally between now and 2047. However, here in HK there seems to be no sign of protests losing energy as each week brings new stories of police brutality, new martyrs, and more feckless non-statements from the HK leadership that deligitimizes them in peoples’ eyes.

    Moreover, the 70th anniversary for the PRC is coming up Oct. 1st and rumor has it they want badly to have this matter sorted before then because they don’t want the eyes of the world or, even worse, of their own people, on this HK business when they should be celebrating the CCP’s great accomplishments. Nightmare scenario for the PRC is that their own citizens start supporting the HK protesters, which there are some signs of (the mainland chat channels and friends I’m in contact with do seem dominated by anti-protest voices, but there seem to be some cracks in that facade as well).

    I think this ended up a bad miscalculation for the CCP: basically you were boiling a frog quite nicely but got impatient and turned the heat up too high causing the frog to hop out of the pot and now he’s jumping all over the kitchen making a mess.

    Really hard to see where it goes from here or how it ends: HK independence is still pretty unthinkable but truly free elections must be prevented if that road is to be avoided and it isn’t clear protesters will stop short of that now. Tiananmen style crack-down is conceivable but, as above, would be seen by locals as invading force and world outrage would be intense, as would e.g. flight of people and capital from this important financial center. It’s hard to imagine HKers accepting something like martial law as the new normal. At same time, can’t see e.g. US going to war with PRC over HK either. Best guess is some more minor concessions (new Chief Executive, officially withdraw and promise to rethink extradition bill, promise investigation into police brutality) will finally be made and things will revert to a slightly tenser status quo for a while, but so far there’s still no hint of that.

    • The Nybbler says:

      The Chinese will shoot as many people as necessary, the rest of the world will cluck their tongues (except Trump who will seem to support it, then object rather more loudly, then do nothing anyway) and HK will continue as an integrated part of China.

      • onyomi says:

        I agree that the rest of the world is probably not going to do more than tongue-clucking, but I’m not sure there is a number of people one can shoot to fix this problem the way the CCP wants to, or even close. Sure you can keep people in their houses by rolling tanks, but you can’t make the place go back to business as usual, or force the locals to accept it as a legitimate long-term state of affairs. You can genocide the local inhabitants, but I’m not sure even the state-educated and propagandized mainlanders will be able to accept that as a legitimate cost. Yes they have state-run media but they also have the internet and VPNs and a rapidly more cosmopolitan populace. You can’t so thoroughly pull the wool over their eyes as you can in e.g. North Korea.

        They’ve managed to portray Uyghurs as terrorists, but comparatively poor Uyghurs way out in western China and wealthy, educated Han Chinese right across the border from Shenzhen are two different kettles of fish from the perspective of the Han Chinese mainstream. Their long-term game-plan there is more to replace the local population and culture with Han Chinese rather than to convert it. Much harder to do with this super-crowded urban center of already mostly Han Chinese. Of course, more and more mainlanders are coming here, but it’s not even close to approaching the levels where they’d start to outnumber the locals any time in the next few decades.

        • We have a recent example of this working, Tiananmen Square.

          • onyomi says:

            That is the example people point to, and it’s not inconceivable there would be a repeat, but there are also a lot of important differences, such as: I think the mainland Chinese at the time viewed tanks rolling through Beijing as a much more legitimate use of govmt force then than HKers would perceive similar action today (as above, there’s a huge difference, to my mind, between “our” army suppressing the protests and a “foreign” army doing so).

            Also, cell phones cameras, internet, etc. make a big difference in how such things are perceived.

          • Tiananmen Square was happening as the Soviet Union was breaking down so I’m not convinced the crackdown was considered legitimate by the citizens.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If the CCP shoots and keeps shooting the visible protestors, HK will run out of brave fools before the CCP runs out of bullets.

          • onyomi says:

            Yeah, like I said, they can succeed in making everyone hide in their homes if they want to, but not in getting everyone to go back to business as usual. An HK in which free assembly and freedom of speech gets bullet is so far from “normal” that it’s hard to imagine it being accepted as a “new normal” on any time horizon shorter than decades. There are ways to protest other than marching in the streets, e.g. causing everything to grind to a halt by not showing up for work.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Most people aren’t that stubborn when the bullets start flying. They’ll capitulate, and if they don’t do so immediately, the CCP will make examples until they do. It won’t take decades; more like weeks or months.

          • Aftagley says:

            Right, if that happens, HK will have now transitioned from a wealthy, western style metropolis that China is attempting to integrate into a war zone.

            The multinational companies will be out of their pretty much immediately, unless China is willing to use force and/or massive bribes to keep them. Anyone with any money will try and get out. Like Onyomi has said repeatedly, the people may capitulate and stop protesting, but you can’t shoot someone into going back to work and creating value.

            I don’t see a fair way out for China here expect by making some kind of token concession (sack the current leader, replace her with another toady?) or by just settling in for the long haul.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          Are Han HK residents generally in favor of the protest or against it?

          • onyomi says:

            My subjective impression from friends, coworkers, and e.g. conversations with cab drivers is one of widespread support among those who grew up here (there have also been major public displays of support by e.g. the legal profession, so it is definitely not confined to student radicals).

            That said, within the bigger group, Han Chinese, that make up 90%+ of HK residents, there are finer-grained, if significant, divisions like historically Cantonese-speaking “locals,” Hakka, and historically Min-speaking Teochew and “Hoklo” (people who trace ancestry to Fujian). I have heard, for example, that there is less support for the protesters among groups, like the Hoklo, with historically closer ties to the mainland and/or who feel something like outsiders vis-a-vis the Cantonese majority.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        My thought is that China is much more concerned about the state of Hong Kong as a financial center. As Nybbler says, global governments won’t do anything no matter what terrible thing the Chinese do. But ongoing protests and crackdowns by China will greatly spook the financial world, and they will move to Tokyo and Singapore if it keeps up. I think that is what China is worried about.

        • onyomi says:

          It’s definitely rumored that many Chinese oligarchs avail themselves of HK financial services. Is it important enough to enough of them that CCP leadership will feel pressure to ease up if it looks like this is at risk? Not sure.

      • BBA says:

        Holy shit. I agree with Nybbler. This must be the end times.

      • Luke the CIA Stooge says:

        The CCP is dependant on the rest of the world being willing to tacitly support their gun laws.

        As soon as the US or japan decides to support or subsidize gun runners into the mainland its all over.

        The CCP is nervous with a disarmed population, as soon as the US declares everyone deserves a second Amendment (almost as if it were a right) then they’re screwed and the entire thing collapses.

        There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11? -Lord of War

        • DeWitt says:

          Do you have literally anything that’s not edgy Nicholas Cage movies to support this?

        • John Schilling says:

          As soon as the US or japan decides to support or subsidize gun runners into the mainland its all over.

          1860 was a long time ago. China has a real navy now, one with more warships than the United States Navy. Granted, most of those are coast-defense craft, but that’s exactly what this mission calls for.

          Also a couple hundred thermonuclear missiles, which are strictly for use in case of existential threat to the CCP, but that’s exactly what you are proposing here.

          And, the support of basically every other nation on the face of the Earth, because the conflict you are proposing is one of the United States of America forcibly exporting American-style Gun Violence ™ to a nation that is trying to keep that out, and have you read a foreign newspaper, ever?

          Please don’t propose plans that A: are likely to lead to World War III and B: with the nation I live in standing alone against all the nations of the Earth.

        • Aapje says:

          @Luke the CIA Stooge

          There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11? -Lord of War

          Note that this quote is dumb, because many people own multiple guns.

          China is, like most of the world, urbanizing. Non-criminal urban people tend to not want guns.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      Beijing has taken a hard-line stance of no compromise that seems hard to back down from now in a face-saving way. If they could go back in time and do-over I wonder if they wouldn’t have just withdrawn the extradition bill officially in June. Now I guess they’re afraid of sending the message “protest wins concessions.”

      Isn’t withdrawing the extradition bill a compromise? I am having a hard time understanding what the protesters are asking for. What compromise could China make to stop the protests? IS there anything?

      I would certainly like to see some local democracy in Hong Kong, but it seems very unlikely that China would allow that. Are the protesters asking for anything like that? Maybe it’s just poor journalism in the US, or maybe I have missed it, but I have no idea how this could be resolved. I think the only way for this to end is for the protesters to simply stop protesting.

      • onyomi says:

        They haven’t officially withdrawn the bill. Rather the Chief Executive has repeatedly described it as “dead.” Pressed on the question of whether she has the power to officially “withdraw” it, she was evasive. If “dead” were just a synonym for the language the protesters were using (“withdraw”) then she’d have no problem “withdrawing” it.

        Recently it’s come out that she had submitted proposals for compromise to CCP higher ups earlier this summer (the two most feasible of the “five demands” being “officially withdraw extradition bill” and “promise independent investigation into police use of force”) and they were rejected. There’s really nothing anyone can point to as evidence of the CCP compromising on anything.

        As for what could satisfy protesters, I imagine picking a new Chief Executive (the current one, Carrie Lam, is now widely loathed and viewed as ineffectual), officially “withdrawing” the extradition bill, and promising investigation into police use of force would satisfy the moderates enough to allow things to return to something like normal.

      • chrisminor0008 says:

        I’m not sure if this answers your question, but the protestor have 5 demands:

        1. Withdraw the extradition bill completely.
        2. Retract the characterization of the June 12 protest as a riot.
        3. Release all arrested protesters against the extradition bill without charges.
        4. Set up an independent commission of inquiry into police violence and abuse of power.
        5. Dissolve the Legislative Council by executive order and implement full universal suffrage at once.

    • cassander says:

      It seems to me that the important issue with regards to public opinion isn’t that in HK, but that in the mainland, and I have a hard time imagining that the mainlanders see the Hong Kongers as anything but the fat, spoiled stepchild in a house that has very real memories of not getting enough to eat not all that long ago. I don’t think this will end well for HK.

      • onyomi says:

        I feel like that might be the view of the lower and middle classes of middle age and above. But it’s also surprising how quickly comparatively well-off young people can forget lean times, and how comparatively lame appeals to simple material well-being can sound relative to appeals to fine ideals (you’re right that the primary argument aimed at mainlanders right now, besides “foreign interference!” and “the CIA!” is “look at how far we’ve come under the steady leadership of the CCP these past 30 years, you ingrates”).

        • cassander says:

          Hong Kong incomes are still, what, like 5x or more than mainland? Maybe double that of Beijing or Shanghai? I don’t think that the mainland will be passionate about a crackdown, just that if there was one most mainlanders will shrug and say “spoiled brats had it coming.” And if the CCP caves, then they have a billion mainlanders thinking “well, if those spoiled brats can get away with defying the CCP, maybe I can too…”

    • John Schilling says:

      It seems unlikely that Hong Kong’s special role as the mercantile hub where Westerners can gain access to Chinese markets while safely under a rule-of-law capitalist system, will long survive this and other related developments. Really, that bit was on increasingly shaky ground as A: trade and commerce partially decoupled from geography due to improved technology and B: the Chinese government made places like Shanghai increasingly capitalist-friendly (so long as the capitalists stayed apolitical).

      So once the capitalists who used to find Hong Kong a uniquely favorable environment have decamped to Singapore or Shanghai, China will have no more reason to favor Hong Kong than it does e.g. Urumqi, or any other city with a population of single-digit millions and no irreplaceable economic value. And the best guess is that 6-7% of the former population of Urumqi has dissapeared into camps of a somewhat concentrated nature on account of their perceived troublesomeness. The residents of Hong Kong are, from mainland Chinese perspective, a bunch of spoiled-brat troublemakers who don’t even speak the same language; nobody who matters is going to miss them or complain about them.

      Well, OK, lots of people in the West are going to miss them and complain about it, on account of Hong Kong’s disproportionate role in the Western pop culture version of China. But, those people aren’t going to matter, any more than the westerners who complained about how the Tibetans have been mistreated for half a century or so ever mattered. Approximately none of them are going to stop buying Chinese apparel. The Democrats among them will vaguely care but note that Beijing is at odds with Trump; the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and Trump is the outgroup whereas anything Chinese is fargroup, so priorities. The Republicans, will mostly note that Beijing is at odds with Trump and so they should be to, but for economic reasons having nothing to do with Hong Kong. And none of them will be up for doing anything that would hurt the CCP more than they fear the harmful consequences of being seen to kowtow to a bunch of rebellious spoiled brats in a second-rate barely-Chinese city.

      London is not going to take notice that Beijing is using the 1997 accord as toilet paper and send the Royal Navy to set things right. China has a veto in the UN security council, an arsenal of thermonuclear missiles, and a trillion or so dollars in T-bills. This is not going to end well for the protesters in Hong Kong.

      • onyomi says:

        The residents of Hong Kong are, from mainland Chinese perspective, a bunch of spoiled-brat troublemakers who don’t even speak the same language; nobody who matters is going to miss them or complain about them.

        They read and write basically the same language and a large percentage of HKers speak passable Mandarin as a second language, as tens of millions of mainlanders speak dialects mutually intelligible with HK Cantonese. It’s not inconceivable mainlanders will ultimately be okay with throwing HKers and HK culture under the bus, but HKers are a lot more relatable to your average resident of Shanghai or Chongqing than are Uyghurs or Tibetans.

      • Lillian says:

        It wouldn’t much matter even if America was unified about wanting to help Hong Kong, as we have very limited levers to use with respect to China’s internal affairs. As far as the People’s Republic is concerned, Hong Kong is as integral a part of China as Guangzhou and they are going to take as dim a view of America trying to tell them how to rule one as they would the other. There’s just not a lot of cards to play here, we could threaten to recognize the Republic of China, but that’s a very dangerous move that we really want to be saving for something that presses against our interests more than this. China is also one of the great powers which means there are no military options short of threatening global thermonuclear war, and China would call that bluff.

        • onyomi says:

          @Lillian

          Yeah, as much as I’m mostly on the side of the protesters in spirit, I wouldn’t think it advisable, even if I thought it likely, for the US or other foreign power to try to intervene.

          I think HKers’ best hope is to try to influence public opinion in the mainland. For this reason I’m more supportive of those protesters who appeal, even if somewhat mockingly, to mainlanders’ sympathies than those who write “fuck Chinazis,” etc. (have seen a lot of both). (The bigger picture of Winnie the Pooh, while intended to make fun of Xi Jinping, is also written in simplified characters and quoting pro-democracy language of Hu Jintao, plus a cute 2nd person pronoun used primarily in mainland).

          • onyomi says:

            I would add that some kind of pressure related to e.g. trade deals might be desirable and advisable, just not actual military force or threats thereof.

        • John Schilling says:

          I think HKers’ best hope is to try to influence public opinion in the mainland.

          Insofar as China is not a democracy, how does this help the Hong Kong protesters? Are you imagining that workers across China are going to go on strike out of solidarity with the people of Hong Kong, that Beijing is going to see Tienanmen square filled with easily-smooshable students waving “Free Hong Kong Now” placards?

          The Chinese government’s position is that the people of Hong Kong should live under the same laws as everybody else in China. It may come to pass that the mainlanders feel the CCP is being excessively brutal in delivering that message, but they are not going to risk their lives, their fortunes, their sacred social credit for the sake of maintaining in Hong Kong special privileges that they do not and never will share.

          • Insofar as China is not a democracy, how does this help the Hong Kong protesters?

            China is not a democracy, but in any political system the attitude of the masses matters to the rulers. They don’t want to lose the mandate of heaven.

      • Odovacer says:

        . And none of them will be up for doing anything that would hurt the CCP more than they fear the harmful consequences of being seen to kowtow to a bunch of rebellious spoiled brats in a second-rate barely-Chinese city.

        This is the second reference to Mainlanders viewing HKers as “spoiled brats”. Does anyone have any data about this? Is this just common knowledge/opinion in China?

      • Statismagician says:

        This, exactly this. There’s no plausible path to anything beside the obvious outcome, barring something very weird happening in the next US election.

      • Deiseach says:

        London is not going to take notice that Beijing is using the 1997 accord as toilet paper and send the Royal Navy to set things right.

        That’s for very damn sure. Post-Brexit, they’re pinning their hopes on expanding their trade to whole new markets on terms outside the deals the EU has made, and no way are they going to risk pissing off mainland China with its hundreds of millions of potential customers. See the Good Friday Agreement for how fast anything inconvenient to their interests gets scrapped.

        As for the overseas passport holders as mentioned further down? No luck there – remember in the immediate aftermath of the handover how something like this was discussed and dismissed, because nobody wanted thousands of Hong Kong Chinese turning up acting like they were citizens with rights. One of the big points of Brexit is “control of our borders, stop all these immigrants coming in”. And eaten bread is soon forgotten as far as the Brits are concerned, look at the recent Windrush scandal. “Hi! You came here as part of the immigrant movement encouraged by us due to a labour shortage after the war, settled here, had kids, and thought that as citizens of former colonies you had legal rights? Well here’s your deportation order, now that you’re coming up to pensionable age you can just feck right off back where you came from!”

        Hong Kong is going to get a colder shoulder than that if any of its people try “But I have British nationality“.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          And eaten bread is soon forgotten as far as the Brits are concerned, look at the recent Windrush scandal.

          You mean that thing that only became a scandal because so many of “the Brits” strongly disagreed with their government’s decision?

          I generally appreciate your perspective, but holy sh*t, your Anglophobia has been through the roof recently. Maybe next time you’re tempted to make a sweeping negative judgement about a whole country’s worth of people, you should think twice. Or however many times is necessary to stop you posting.

          • Machine Interface says:

            Hm, it seems clear that Deisach here meant “the Brits” as a shortcut for “the British government”, not “the British people”.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Hm, it seems clear that Deisach here meant “the Brits” as a shortcut for “the British government”, not “the British people”.

            Well then, she should have said “The British government”, rather than using a term that, in normal English, refers to the people as a whole.

            If I made a statement like “The Irish go around committing acts of terrorism when they don’t get their way”, or “The Americans think they have a right to invade other countries to spread their political system”, or “The Muslims think they have a right to live by their own laws, even when these contradict the laws of the land”, would people here think that that was acceptable? What if I later tried to claim that, actually, I didn’t really mean “The Irish” (etc.), just a subset thereof? Would anybody take that defence seriously?

          • Machine Interface says:

            Americans/Brits do not have the same value as Irish/Muslims here. It is common and normal to use a national demonym to refer to the actions of the government of that demonym, whereas it is marked to use a national or religious demonym to refer to a subgroup within that demonym that doesn’t have any specific authority over the group as a whole.

            If I say “the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003”, everybody understand that I do not mean that all 300 million american citizens as a whole showed up on the Turkish border.

            The British people obviously do not have the power, as a people, to renegate on treaties involving passports and citizenship of the members of former British colonies, so that this refered to the actions of the British government is not ambiguous in the slightest.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The British people obviously do not have the power, as a people, to renegate on treaties involving passports and citizenship of the members of former British colonies, so that this refered to the actions of the British government is not ambiguous in the slightest.

            “Eaten bread is soon forgotten as far as the Brits are concerned” doesn’t refer to any specific action or policy; it’s an ascription of an attitude, pure and simple, and attitudes do often get ascribed to countries as a whole.

            If I say “the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003”, everybody understand that I do not mean that all 300 million american citizens as a whole showed up on the Turkish border.

            And if I say “The Yanks treat going to war like a game of Call of Duty”, would everybody understand that I was only referring to the US government, not the American people in general? At the very least, it seems like I’d be guilty of using sloppy and unclear language.

          • Deiseach says:

            Hello, The Original Mr. X. How are you doing? Weather is very seasonable for the time of year, but the evenings are starting to draw in. Before we know it, Christmas will be upon us!

            Things going okay at work? How’s the family? Well, this has been a nice little chat, got to go now, hope you’re all keeping well!

          • Tarpitz says:

            so many of “the Brits” strongly disagreed with their government’s decision

            I’m not even sure you can really characterise it as a government decision. As best I can make out, minister or ministers said “crack down on illegal immigration” and Home Office penpushers concluded that the easiest way to produce some positive-sounding statistics was to go after legal immigrants whose paperwork wasn’t 100% in order (in some cases because other Home Office penpushers had shredded it a couple of years earlier) instead.

          • Aapje says:

            @Tarpitz

            One of the interesting parts of Dominic Cummings blog/memoirs was when he recalled the TV in Gove’s office showing the BBC with the news ticker “New disaster as Gove announces XXX.” When Cummings got angry at Gove, he said that he didn’t authorize that announcement and didn’t have a clue about what he supposedly announced.

            So apparently the British bureaucracy even autonomously generates official announcements in the name of their Secretary of State. Creatively interpreting demands from politicians is much more mundane than that.

      • bean says:

        So once the capitalists who used to find Hong Kong a uniquely favorable environment have decamped to Singapore or Shanghai, China will have no more reason to favor Hong Kong than it does e.g. Urumqi, or any other city with a population of single-digit millions and no irreplaceable economic value.

        It may not have irreplaceable economic value, but replacement is going to take a lot of effort. Hong Kong is still the world’s 5th-busiest port, and while capital is more mobile than it used to be, there’s still a lot of infrastructure in Hong Kong they can’t duplicate overnight. Which isn’t to say that Hong Kong won’t get swatted if the PRC thinks it’s worth the cost, but the cost is a lot higher than going after Urumqi.

        (Also, Singapore may be ethnically Chinese, but it’s not part of China.)

    • ana53294 says:

      There seem to be demands by HK British overseas passport holders to recognize their right of abode.

      I can see the 170,000 HKers given those rights after a crackdown.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        The UK government is currently in headless chicken mode because of brexit, and this is probably going to last for years in the likely case of no deal brexit, so I can’t see them agreeing on anything like this in the foreseable future.

        • Watchman says:

          I can see this being agreed easily enough actually. Where would the opposition be?

          • Deiseach says:

            Where would the opposition be?

            The same place as after the handover in 1997, with the Little Englander streak of UKIP and Brexit on top, with the very important consideration that mainland China would not like this at all, and as a potential market after leaving the EU, the UK does not want to make them angry and shut off access, the global ‘mad cow disease’ ban on beef was hard enough. From Wikipedia:

            Despite petitions from Governors David Wilson and Chris Patten asking for full citizenship to be conferred on the colony’s residents, Parliament ultimately refused to grant all Hongkongers right of abode in the United Kingdom, citing difficulty in absorbing a large number of new citizens and that doing so would contradict the Joint Declaration. Instead, it offered citizenship to only 50,000 qualified residents and their dependents, through the British Nationality Selection Scheme. Because many departing residents were well-educated and held critical positions in medicine, finance, and engineering, the intention of the plan was to convince people within this professional core of Hong Kong’s economy to remain in the territory after 1997. This limited grant of citizenship, along with the fact that the provision for nationality without UK right of abode was included in a memorandum of the Joint Declaration and not in the treaty text, has been used by proponents for conferring citizenship on BN(O)s to argue that granting it would not be a violation of that agreement. On the other hand, the Chinese government considers even these restricted grants to be a breach of the treaty and specifically disregards the British citizenship of those who obtained it under the Selection Scheme.

            The British government does not act on principle, it acts out of interest.

        • ana53294 says:

          It would be the morally responsible thing for a co-signatory of the HK deal with China, but you’re right about lack of leadership capabilities in Westminster.

    • chrisminor0008 says:

      I don’t know where the situation is going in the near-to-mid term, but long term is clear. The only possible thing that would keep Hong Kong free in perpetuity is the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party. It doesn’t look like the CCP is capable of backing down, and no one has the ability to stand up to them. I am very ashamed that the the president of my country, Trump, seems to feel more affinity to fascist dictators that citizens yearning for freedom.

      Individually, the best option for any Hong Konger is to leave the country. Collectively, if everyone does that, it spells the end of that culture. I suspect that this process already started as early as the the 90s. Smart people saw the writing on the wall and got out while the getting out was good. The smartest, most adventurous, and those with the strongest desire for freedom have gotten out or are making plans to get out as we speak. Unfortunately, there’s a form of evaporative cooling where those who are still there in 10 years time will be the least capable to leave and the least interested in leaving.

      My heart goes out to you and all people living in Hong Kong, as it goes out to people living in all fascist authoritarian dictatorships. But I just don’t see any hope long term.

      • onyomi says:

        A lot of people did move to places like Vancouver right before the handover. Gradually a lot of them trickled back as it appeared the CCP had largely respected the promise of “one country, two systems.” Recently there’s a renewed outflux, or at least rumblings of a significant one.

      • Lillian says:

        America could have guaranteed a free and independent Hong Kong by setting up a nuclear tripwire. That is to say a credible commitment to at minimum nuke the Guangzhou to take out the PLA’s Southern Theatre Command if Chinese tanks roll over the border. That commitment would only be credible if there are US troops guarding the border, such that tripping the wire requires shedding American blood, and even then you might still need the theatre level command to have launch authorization. As you can imagine this is an extremely dangerous posture to take, but Hong Kong’s strategic depth is so tiny there is really no other way to defend it.

        Of course we couldn’t possibly do that now, we would have do it before 1997, long before in fact. If it’s 1995 and word gets out to the Chinese that America is negotiating with Hong Kong independists to bring in US troops to secure the border before an official declaration is made, then they are simply sending the People’s Liberation Army in first. Honestly i don’t really think there’s any point in which America would be willing to do such a thing. Starting in the 70s America undertakes a long project to try and normalize relations with the ChiComs, which taking measures to guarantee an future independent Hong Kong would seriously undermine. We might be inclined to do it earlier except we wouldn’t need to because Britain has it covered, and we contribute simply by being an ally.

        Frankly when some friends of mine and i decided to try and wargame out a scenario where an independent Hong Kong can exist, the starting premise was that the Republic of China survives on the mainland. To get that we had to go back to like the 18th century to have more British influence in Yunnan, in order to have more successful Yui rebellions, in order to have a Muslim Sultanate there so there’s someone backing the Koumintang who are not a dysfunctional clusterfuck and can provide enough actually useful troops to hold the line at the Pearl River long enough for Western aid to make a difference. Even then as you can imagine there was more than a bit of handwaving involved.

        So as you can see not only is there not much that can be done going forward, there wasn’t much that could have plausibly been done going back.

    • An Fírinne says:

      >The current leadership within HK is massively unpopular as it grows increasingly clear they can’t do anything without Beijing’s say-so.

      This is the western propaganda line but its false. There’s a significant minority who supports the government. In the the 2016 election pro-Beijing parties won 40% of the vote.

    • James Miller says:

      Taiwan might save Hong Kong from a massacre. China wants Taiwan to surrender sovereignty to it. The worse China treats Hong Kong, the greater the cost the Taiwanese will pay to stay independent.

    • drh3x says:

      I would guess that this will end very, very badly for a lot of idealistic Hong Kongers.

      Attempting total mind control over 1.2Billion people means that President Xi CANNOT be defied publicly. There are a lot of factors to consider, but when push really comes to shove, if HK can stand up to a living god, then others can, thus, this movement must be crushed above all else. What the student journalists don’t get is; filming police beatings, etc, actually HELPS the regime, because it demonstrates that force can, and will, be used with impunity.

      Most importantly, there is no one coming to HK’s rescue. The Communists that run China posses a devastating nuclear arsenal, not to mention a heavily armed army of 1 million men+, so even in the face of total genocide, (such as what is happening to the uighurs) foreign intervention cannot happen.

      Of course, crushing descent in HK, which will eventually happen by brute force, will be a Pyrrhic victory of Beijing; the frail illusion of democracy and due process will be snuffed out once and for all, and international capital and business will flee to more free shores forever. But President for Life Xi will have made an outstanding example of HK, and all Chinese will understand explicitly what happens if they step out of line….

      • quanta413 says:

        international capital and business will flee to more free shores forever.

        I roughly agree with the rest of what you said, but I disagree about this. I think international capital and business will stay in China (maybe relocate some stuff from Hong Kong either to China or to somewhere else) in order to maintain access to its enormous growing market. The Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping do not strike me as self destructive, deeply ideological, or stupid. And few businesses are going to quit doing business and give up a huge amount of money in protest. They’ll trade what they have to maintain access to China as long as it doesn’t make them worse off, and the fate of a few million in Hong Kong means less to them than giving up technology or trade secrets does.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          And few businesses are going to quit doing business and give up a huge amount of money in protest.

          I don’t think the claim is that they’re going to quit doing business *in protest*, but that the end of Hong Kong’s special legal status will make the city a worse place to do business in, causing commercial activity to move elsewhere. I don’t know whether this is true, or where the activity would relocate to (if it goes to somewhere else in China, it wouldn’t be too bad for the CCP).

          • quanta413 says:

            I don’t think the CCP would cause much economic damage; it’s made internal special economic zones with different rules in China before and does tons of business with international corporations. On the things that have to change, how many businesses benefit much from Hong Kong criminal law being different from Chinese criminal law for example? I’d be surprised if it was much.

            On the other hand, Hong Kong citizens themselves could attempt to get out or refuse to work as hard in protest. But I have a tough time imagining enough people managing to flee to make a big difference or the second lasting long.

            My belief is that a lot of what’s in Hong Kong probably doesn’t want to move very far. So likely worst case is a few decamp, some just to China proper. But only if they really have to.

          • John Schilling says:

            how many businesses benefit much from Hong Kong criminal law being different from Chinese criminal law for example?

            Businesses benefit greatly from criminal law being “if you’re actually guilty of breaking a clearly-defined law, you go to jail” rather than “that, plus if the CCP wants to make a point they’ll make up something so that one of your executives goes to jail until you make nice with the CCP”. Until recently, the perception was that such things were far less likely to happen in Hong Kong than Shanghai. If there’s no difference between the two, then Shanghai is probably closer to the market and to the politicians whose favor you need to curry, and if that’s not good enough then you have to back off all the way to Singapore.

    • onyomi says:

      Some interesting audio came out today of the Chief Executive speaking in a more candid manner at some sort of semi-private gathering. Basically it seems to confirm the “attrition” strategy: Beijing is not too worried about National Day (according to her) and intends to just play a long game of neither cracking down from the outside nor allowing any concessions. The implication is they won’t even allow her to quit.

      I disagree with Nybbler and others above about Beijing’s willingness to just keep shooting until people shut up; not saying it’s impossible, but not a likely scenario in my mind. The “just keep letting HK suffer socially and economically until everyone’s exhausted” scenario, however, seems much more likely. I think Mainlanders would care in a way that would hurt the legitimacy of the government at home if they saw cell phone videos of the PLA firing real guns at peaceful protesters. They won’t care about news reports showing continued economic pain and disruption of daily life caused by people obstructing the subway in Special Autonomous Region. The CCP may be willing to tolerate that almost indefinitely.

      Of course, there’s a scenario in which HKers literally take up arms against the central government to try to win independence; in that case I don’t think the PLA would have qualms about shooting people who did that. But I think HKers know how hopeless that would be (plus nobody but gangsters has guns), hence the appeals to foreign powers (who also probably aren’t going to do anything except, maybe, I hope, apply some economic pressures).

    • onyomi says:

      So not “no concessions,” after all: in breaking news it seems Lam is planning to formally withdraw the contentious bill, effectively meeting one of protesters’ five demands.

      I kind of figured this would be the best way of calming things down without actually changing the status quo too much (remains to be seen whether it’s enough; I figure this plus a new chief executive plus vague promises to investigate police brutality may be enough to satisfy most moderates), but am also sort of pleasantly surprised that even this little concession is possible (that is, that Beijing, which presumably okayed this plan, is not taking a 100% hardline stance).

  24. EchoChaos says:

    Ilhan Omar has been accused, in a divorce filing in Minnesota, of having an affair with a married man to whom she funneled almost a quarter of a million in campaign cash.

    This is especially human-interest because she heavily focuses on her faith as a selling point for her political career, and her faith takes an especially dim view of adulterous women.

    • quanta413 says:

      Having an affair is bad, but too common at this point to be a big concern of mine. Also, either or both accusations could be false. Wait and see if it pans out.

      • Deiseach says:

        The aggrieved soon to be ex-wife of the guy in question is pretty clear Omar is a home-wrecker.

        As to whether accusations of an affair are going to harm her politically, I think I agree that probably not; society has moved on and there have been so many politicians unable to keep it in their pants that yet another “politician has affair with staffer” story is not going to set the Thames on fire.

        • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

          so many politicians unable to keep it in their pants

          Those are typically men though.

          • Deiseach says:

            There have been a few women politicians who got involved in playing away from home; Edwina Currie boasted (if that’s the right term) in her memoirs of having had a four year long affair with John Major (a mental image that makes the mind wince).

            Anyway, in this day and age, all these limiting gender roles are cast aside, it’s no longer the preserve of male politicians to get a rush of hormones and stupidity!

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Her affair wasn’t revealed while she was in office though. And I think the more interesting here is how attitudes vary towards adultery depending on the gender of the perpetrator, rather than how propensity towards it does.

          • Clutzy says:

            That seems to be working in her favor, no? I’d say a man in her position would be in a lot of trouble.

            First, the media always love the hypocrite angle. Most don’t survive this, religious politician + affair = done most of the time.

            Second she’s got the immigration fraud and tax fraud issues. Tax fraud has been evade by politicians before, immigration fraud is a new one.

            Third she has the campaign finance thing. This is Edwards-like accusations.

            All the signs point to her being in the gutter alongside Franken 2 scandals ago if she was a normal congressman.

    • albatross11 says:

      Accusations are cheap. If she really funneled campaign money to him in some corrupt way (as opposed to sleeping with her campaign strategist or something), that could plausibly bring her down/send her to jail, but who knows whether any of that’s true?

      • I haven’t seen anything implying that she funneled money to him in a corrupt way, just that her campaign paid his firm for consulting and travel expenses. I’m not sure whether her having an affair with a married man and breaking up his marriage, if true, would be a serious political liability for her.

        • Deiseach says:

          I haven’t seen anything implying that she funneled money to him in a corrupt way

          Probably no more corrupt than the usual run of how politicians and their advisers get entangled. Tim Mynett, the man in question, worked for Keith Ellison and it looks like he simply moved smoothly over to Omar when she took Ellison’s seat. I imagine it was the usual “this is the firm we use, they’re good supporters, we do them favours and they do us favours, just sign him on to your campaign now” kind of transaction that goes on everywhere in every country where politics goes on.

        • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

          I haven’t seen anything implying that she funneled money to him in a corrupt way

          In other words, she didn’t funnel money to him at all, since that has connotations of corruption, and it was dishonest of EchoChaos to describe things that way.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Just because DavidFriedman hasn’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            https://nypost.com/2019/08/28/ilhan-omars-alleged-affair-with-consultant-sparks-calls-for-ethics-probe/

            I am sure we all agree that an ethics probe into paying your paramour is reasonable, which will entirely clear up whether it was in fact corrupt.

            Please retract your statement that I was dishonest.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Certainly if there are credible accusations of corruption they should be investigated. I didn’t realise there were accusations of illegal activity, and so perhaps calling you dishonest was unfair. But in your original comment, you only qualified “having an affair” and not “funnelled cash” with “accused”, which is misleading if read literally.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @thisheavenlyconjugation

            They were both part of the same sentence, so I am not clear how I could be read to qualify one and not the other.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Consider “you are accused of killing the President for whom you voted”. This does not imply you are accused of voting for the President, rather it is stated as fact.

          • Aftagley says:

            Just because DavidFriedman hasn’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

            https://nypost.com/2019/08/28/ilhan-omars-alleged-affair-with-consultant-sparks-calls-for-ethics-probe/

            Hold up, quotes from the NYPost article you linked:

            Ethics experts and watchdogs agreed Wednesday with the FEC’s position that the arrangement was technically aboveboard, so long as Mynett was actually doing work for the money — though the optics remain troubling.

            and

            “It looks like on the surface that she used campaign finance funds to benefit her paramour,” said Tom Fitton, head of conservative oversight group Judicial Watch, which last month asked the House Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate unsubstantiated claims that Omar (D – Minn.) married her brother to get him a green card.

            “The new reporting is additional reason for an ethics investigation,” said Fitton, adding that, in light of The Post’s exclusive reporting, he plans to file a supplemental complaint with the OCE — and may also ask the Federal Election Commission to eye the arrangement. “This would be par for the course for Ilhan Omar.”

            The source you linked says that general consensus is that she didn’t do anything illegal, but one partisan group is planning on asking the FEC to investigate her. There is currently no evidence the FEC plans to do so.

            From the article you linked and a few others I’ve seen, there is currently no evidence that her romantic involvement with this individual predated the financial relationship OR that the romantic involvement unduly influenced the financial relationship.

            Based on the totality of available evidence, saying she “funneled money” seems overblown. I don’t know if it counts as being dishonest, but it’s at least massively uncharitable.

    • broblawsky says:

      In a just world, anyone making this accusation who voted for Trump would explode from the overload of hypocrisy. Sadly, we’re well past the point where a history of marital infidelity is disqualifying in an elected official.

      • EchoChaos says:

        @broblawsky

        Trump has, to my knowledge, not committed adultery with his campaign manager while paying her.

        • eric23 says:

          No, just grabbed women by the pussy.

          • Watchman says:

            From a UK perspective can I add allegedly. He didn’t boast of a particular incident and I’m not aware of any credible accusations.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            No evidence that he actually did it, but he tried to make it sound cool.

            He did talk about hanging out in the dressing room for Miss Universe contestants even though he knew they didn’t like it.

      • John Schilling says:

        Has Trump ever practiced a faith which prohibited adultery, or had anything bad to say about the practice?

        Granted, many of the people who voted for him do fit into one or both of those categories, but not all. There’s room for an honest “adultery, shmadultery” Trumpist voting for an openly adulterous Trump.

        • Lillian says:

          Honestly i don’t see any hypocrisy in devout Christians voting for Trump. They’re not electing him Pope they’re electing him President. From the point of view of an American Christian the job of the President is not to embody Christian values, it’s to protect them. Sure a person who embodies Christian values is more likely to protect them, but that is not necessarily always the case. If the lying, self-important, serial adulterer is going to do a better job of protecting what you values than a woman who has shown the Christian virtues of temperance and forgiveness, then obviously the proper thing to do is vote for the serial adulterer.

          • JPNunez says:

            Christianity has been used to justify everything up to slavery, and the biggest christian denomination is basically a big pedophilia ring, so I think you are right.

            There can be no hypocrisy if there are no values to measure it against in the first place.

          • Kuiperdolin says:

            Yes.

            Even if the wildest accusations against President Trump were true, he’s still not as bad as Constantine, a bloke who had his wife boiled alive. We’ve ridden the tiger before.

          • eric23 says:

            a bloke who had his wife boiled alive

            Wikipedia suggests that possibly he executed her because she cheated on him. If so, it changes things a lot…

          • Kuiperdolin says:

            I’d still call that excessive.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Wikipedia suggests that possibly he executed her because she cheated on him. If so, it changes things a lot…

            There have been various claims made, including that she had been plotting against him, or that she’d tried to seduce his son, falsely accused him of rape when he rebuffed her, and then committed suicide when it looked like Constantine suspected the truth. I’ve never heard anything about her being boiled alive, though.

          • eric23 says:

            I’d still call it excessive, but it seems within the normal range for dictators when facing extreme provocation. Not evidence that he was crueler than dictators in general.

        • Kindly says:

          You seem to be saying that “does a bad thing, but has a system of belief that condemns it” is worse than just “does a bad thing”, because they’re being hypocritical.

          Isn’t it better, because at least they have correct beliefs?

        • JPNunez says:

          CNN reports that he is a presbyterian

          https://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/28/politics/donald-trump-church-member/index.html

          He baptized a kid on a NY church, but he does not seem to be an active member of that church.

      • quanta413 says:

        Sadly, we’re well past the point where a history of marital infidelity is disqualifying in an elected official.

        Weren’t we past that in 1884 when Grover Cleveland won?

        Likely, we were past that point with Thomas Jefferson, but my vague memory is it’s possible the Hemings are actually descendants of his brother rather than him.

        I’m probably unaware of some other cases too.

        Well, anyways, this isn’t just a dead horse. It’s been flogged after death too. And then burnt and the ashes scattered.

      • In a just world, anyone making this accusation who voted for Trump would explode from the overload of hypocrisy.

        I don’t see why. Someone decides whom to vote for by adding up all the pluses and minuses for each candidate and comparing the sums. Someone could honestly believe that adultery is a bad thing, believe Trump is an adulterer, and still vote for him in the belief that he is, on net, the better candidate. That same person could say of another adulterous politician that adultery is a major negative that should count against him or her.

        Your comment seems to assume that the decision whom to vote for is made on a single characteristic, which makes very little sense.

        Biden has famously demonstrated a striking level of historical ignorance. Do you conclude that anyone who supports Biden and complains about Trump’s bizarre view of reality is being hypocritical?

        • John Schilling says:

          I don’t see why. Someone decides whom to vote for by adding up all the pluses and minuses for each candidate and comparing the sums.

          If someone is a three-sigma nerd, yes. Well, two-sigma at least. Otherwise, someone decides whom to vote for by whether they have a (D) or an (R) next to their name, by force of habit, by televised charisma, and by what won’t get them laughed at or scorned by friends and family.

          Why people whose friends and family join them in the belief that adultery is serious wrongdoing, were and are so confident that voting for a blatant adulterer won’t get them laughed at or scorned, is an interesting question.

          • Watchman says:

            You know that people can choose to vote for someone and then not tell their friends and family. That’s the point of a secret ballot (and the reason why people who publish photos of their ballots on social media should be punished: they’re normalising the requirement to tell others who you voted for honestly).

          • Deiseach says:

            Why people whose friends and family join them in the belief that adultery is serious wrongdoing, were and are so confident that voting for a blatant adulterer won’t get them laughed at or scorned, is an interesting question.

            (1) They were getting laughed at anyway, no matter what candidate they chose if that candidate did not have the initials “H.C.”

            (2) If we’re talking the Evangelical vote, as has been explained elsewhere, this was split: there were the “no way, this guy is toxic” serious Evangelicals, the “hold our noses and vote for the lesser of two evils” Evangelicals who would have preferred any other Republican than Trump and would maybe have gone with Hillary if she could only have cooled it on the triumphalist Planned Parenthood stuff, and the ‘cultural Evangelicals’ who probably haven’t darkened the door of a church in decades but were enthusiastic supporters and didn’t care a straw about any alleged sinfulness because they don’t think those things are sins either.

          • Aapje says:

            @eric23

            Possible explanations:
            1. they considered Obama very bad
            2. they considered Clinton very bad
            3. they considered contemporary Democrats very bad
            4. they considered the situation they are to be very bad and were thus more motivated to vote
            5. they liked Trump

            Of course, multiple reason may apply for the same person and different reasons for different people.

          • bean says:

            @eric

            I’d like to see the actual numbers there, not just “here are cherry-picked quotes from 50 evangelicals we interviewed”. Specifically, I wonder how many of the evangelicals who crossed over were driven by religious motives, as opposed to working-class evangelicals who crossed over for economic reasons. Because my experience is split between “hold our nose and vote for him” and “don’t vote for him at all”.

          • eric23 says:

            “1. they considered Obama very bad”

            But they voted for Trump in higher numbers than they voted for Obama’s opponents.

            “2. they considered Clinton very bad”

            In terms of policies, I don’t see why. Her policies seem pretty normal and boring for a Democrat.

            “3. they considered contemporary Democrats very bad”
            “4. they considered the situation they are to be very bad and were thus more motivated to vote”

            I would like an explanation of why they considered this to suddenly be worse in 2016 than 2012.

          • Aapje says:

            @eric23

            But they voted for Trump in higher numbers than they voted for Obama’s opponents.

            Which may be because they also dislike Mitt Romney.

            A common criticism is that most elite Democrats and Republicans have commonalities that mismatch with the desires of many people. For example, having both of them favor (too) lax border control (in their eyes).

            So they may prefer Trump over other candidates and over non-voting for having different beliefs from other politicians…which doesn’t mean that they prefer Trump over another person with similar politics.

            In terms of policies, I don’t see why. Her policies seem pretty normal and boring for a Democrat.

            The LA Times asked people to describe Hillary and the 10 negative words most used were:
            liar
            corrupt
            war
            dnc
            money
            fraud
            foundation
            criminal
            democracy
            primary

            None of these really describe her proposed policies, but rather, her track record. Note that the Podesta mails uncovered some scheming by her campaign, like when she consciously inserted a banker-critical section into a speech for German bankers, to defend against accusations of being on their side:

            Dan Schwerin (dschwerin@hillaryclinton.com) wrote: […] In October 2014, HRC did a paid speech in NYC for Deutsche Bank. I wrote her a long riff about economic fairness and how the financial industry has lost its way, precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those fat cats. […] Perhaps at some point there will be value in sharing this with a reporter and getting a story written. Upside would be that when people say she’s too close to Wall Street and has taken too much money from bankers, we can point to evidence that she wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power. Downside would be that we could then be pushed to release transcripts from all her paid speeches, which would be less helpful (although probably not disastrous).

            I especially like the “probably not disastrous,” where he seems to argue that the other speeches might just be bad, not horrible.

            “3. they considered contemporary Democrats very bad”
            “4. they considered the situation they are to be very bad and were thus more motivated to vote”

            I would like an explanation of why they considered this to suddenly be worse in 2016 than 2012.

            Rural problems and stagnating wages for the less educated seem to be getting gradually worse. Also, people commonly get more upset the longer their concerns get ignored.

            If I am kept waiting for 5 minutes and don’t get upset over that, am I a hypocrite if I do get upset if I am kept waiting for an hour?

          • EchoChaos says:

            The reason more Evangelicals voted for Trump than Romney or McCain is simple.

            Almost all Evangelicals are deep Red Tribe. Trump is Red Tribe. Romney and McCain were both Blue Tribe, although Republican.

            Trump has governed as our first really Red Tribe President since the tribes became this deeply divided. Reagan is pre-division (he won 49 states), Bush I and II were Blue, Clinton was Blue, although surprisingly Red-ish Blue, Obama was Blue.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Normal people may not add up literal lists of pluses and minuses, but they do keep an informal tally of “bad features on my guy which don’t count because they’re cancelled out by your guy’s bad feature.”

            Clinton was unique in that she matched all of Trump’s problems with some of her own. People who didn’t like Trump’s adultery would look over at the adultery and literal rape on the Clinton side and conclude that it was a wash, and since there’s only two choices, the decision would have to be made on other factors.

            This worked for pretty much all of the ethical qualms. Both candidates even had diploma mill scandals to their name.

          • bean says:

            A common criticism is that most elite Democrats and Republicans have commonalities that mismatch with the desires of many people. For example, having both of them favor (too) lax border control (in their eyes).

            But border control isn’t in the pantheon of people who vote evangelical. Those people are very concerned about abortion and gay marriage. I suspect that Trump did moderately worse among those people than Romney or McCain, but a lot better among the people who sit next to them in church and vote on border issues and trade restrictions. It’s hard to sort these two groups out in a poll, so they all get lumped together as Evangelicals in the polling data. Not everyone who goes to an evangelical church votes on abortion and gay marriage. (This is me, although I vote on security and economics first, not border control.)

          • aristides says:

            @eric23. In talking with my many Evangelical friends and family members, the most sited reason was Scalia’s seat. They thought Hillary and Trump were both horrible human beings, but they new Trump would put better people on the Supreme Court, which with Masterpieces Cakeshop in the air seemed like it would force many evangelicals to dismantle their entire business and find a new career.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @EchoChaos:

            Bush I and II were Blue, Clinton was Blue,

            If Trump can be an adopted Red Triber, why not Bush II? His family was New England Blue GOP, but he chose to live in Texas and become an Evangelical Protestant, on William James-ian pragmatic grounds (the conversion experience let him overcome alcoholism).
            Bill Clinton is an interesting case, because he was a Good Ol’ Boy given rare educational opportunities because of his smarts and was quite capable of code-switching from apolitical Southern English to urban Democratic cant, so I wonder if what you’re saying would reduce to “There are no Red elites, because the G&T all become City Mice”?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            FWIW, here is the Pew Poll that WaPo is (correctly) quoting.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Trump is not adopted Red Tribe. He’s Red Tribe born, bred and lived. He’s from the Red Tribe part of New York, acted Red Tribe growing up (private military school, multiple divorces, object focused career, etc). Once he got rich he lived “Red Tribe Rich”.

            Literally the only Red Tribe signifier he doesn’t have from Scott’s list is religiosity.

            Bush tried to adopt Red Tribe and seemed fairly sincere, but was never truly Red Tribe.

            Clinton was born Red Tribe and could affect it, but his heart was clearly mostly Blue. Still, he was the Red-est before Trump.

    • Cliff says:

      It also seems quite likely that she married her brother as an immigration scam, based on my review of the evidence.

      • Statismagician says:

        … Say more? This seems like almost the textbook example of an extraordinary claim, at least without rather a lot more support.

        • JulieK says:

          Omar has been married three times: to Ahmed Hirsi, to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, and again to Hirsi.

          Her second marriage seems rather dodgy and may be some sort of immigration scam, but I haven’t seen strong evidence that Elmi is in fact her brother. More here: https://www.businessinsider.com/unproven-allegations-ilhan-omar-married-her-brother-explained-2019-7

          • Deiseach says:

            I thought she hadn’t been married to Hirsi before she took up with Elmi? It’s a tangled situation; one version is the “married Hirsi – divorced him and married Elmi – divorced him and got back with Hirsi and re-married him” story and the other is “Relationship but not married to Hirsi – split with him and married Elmi – divorced him and got back with Hirsi and married him” version, and I have no idea which is correct.

            It’s made more complicated by the fact that all three of them seem to have been sharing a house at some time, and that allegedly she was filing joint tax returns with Hirsi when she was supposedly married to Elmi, though that may be partly explained by, as I read in one article, that she and Elmi divorced by Muslim law in 2011 but did not get a civil divorce until 2017. So she would still have been legally by American law married to Elmi while free under Muslim law to marry Hirsi.

            Confusing! And you can see where “didn’t bother to get a civil divorce from second (or first) husband for six years while involved with first boyfriend/husband during that time” makes it more plausibly look like “married the guy for immigration scam as he was family member/friend of family in old country”.

          • Does she claim to be a practicing Muslim?

            I ask because, under Islamic law, if a man divorces his wife, he cannot remarry her until she has married someone else and that marriage has been consummated. That could be a problem for a bogus marriage immigration scam by an initially married woman.

            Especially if the intermediate husband is her brother.

          • JulieK says:

            @DavidFriedman:
            Curious; that’s the exact opposite of the Jewish law, which is that a divorced couple can get remarried only if the ex-wife did *not* marry someone else in the interim.

        • Enkidum says:

          It’s about 2 steps above qAnon.

        • Cliff says:

          It’s very easy to find the details online. From what I recall, she refuses to provide any information relating to the person she married, that guy refers in his social media posts to Ilhan’s nieces as his nieces, the guy listed Ilhan’s father’s house as his address in high school, he has a very similar name to Ilhan which suggests he is a family member due to naming traditions, etc.

          She continued to live with her previous “Islamic husband” for most or all of the time she was married to the other guy and they fathered a child during that time as well. In a court filing, she said it was impossible for the child to have been the child of her husband because she had no contact with him for a long period before the conception.

      • herbert herberson says:

        It doesn’t make any sense if it was her brother. Siblings can’t get green cards quite as easily as spouses, but they can get them easily enough. Fast tracking immigration by a few years doesn’t seem remotely worth the risk even without it the queasiness of the quasi-incest and the potential impacts to a future political career (assuming she was contemplating one in at least the back of her mind).

        If it was a stranger and she did it for cash, or a mere friend, that at least passes basic logic (although the one time I looked it up, the person in question had already been a British citizen and had ended up spending very little time in America, which also throws off the cost-benefit calculation).

        • Aftagley says:

          although the one time I looked it up, the person in question had already been a British citizen and had ended up spending very little time in America, which also throws off the cost-benefit calculation

          This is the biggest stumbling block in the conspiracy. The guy was a British citizen and after he split up with her, but 6 years before the divorce was finalized, he went back to England and still lives there.

          In summary, there’s no direct evidence of them being siblings and claims that he benefited from this arrangement are dubious at best.

          • hls2003 says:

            I haven’t been following this closely but I did read the summary by the (?Powerline?) blogger who had been researching it. If I recall correctly, the key conclusion – which may not be correct, but seems to be the crux of the matter – is that Omar’s father had more children than Omar and her acknowledged siblings at the time they left the camps. Maybe half-siblings? I don’t recall that part. Anyway, allegedly the family was broken up so that Omar’s father was sponsored by some Somalis in the U.S., and the other siblings ended up accepted in England. The “British siblings” (if that speculation is correct) were of substantially different age, such that the female “sibling” acted as something of a mother to the youngest son. I believe records do show that Elmi, the ex-husband, enrolled in college immediately after marrying Omar, and returned to the UK afterwards. So the logic, such as it is, would be that her younger brother wanted to go to college in the States; his older sisters arranged for him to get residency for his college term; and eventually he went home.

    • MorningGaul says:

      That’s funny how the accusation of funneling money seemed more harmful to me. I guess some cultural differences have not yet been erased by globalization.

        • Deiseach says:

          It’s a nice judgement to make, isn’t it? Which is worse: funnelling funds and breaking campaign funding law for under-the-table payments in the ordinary way of political corruption, or funnelling funds and breaking the law because you’re paying for your lover’s lifestyle on top of the ordinary way of political corruption? 🙂

          • Enkidum says:

            They are equal. The lover is irrelevant.

          • quanta413 says:

            From the voter’s point of view, it’s better if any corruption is due to an affair rather than as some sort of quid pro quo. Hell, if that’s the only corruption a politician engaged in, that’d be amazing. If some politician was literally unaffected by who donated to them and was otherwise impossible to influence, a few hundred thousand they spend on a lover would make them one of the straightest shooters in existence.

            But for the spouse, it’s probably the opposite.

    • James Miller says:

      My guess is that married women have an intense hatred of attractive women who steal husbands, so yes this will hurt Omar.

  25. proyas says:

    If this procedure is so simple and so beneficial, why don’t all women get it?
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/aug/04/medical-procedure-delay-menopause

    • DinoNerd says:

      Well …

      We don’t know the long term effects.

      We do know that hormone replacement therapy has unfortunate side effects and/or doesn’t have all the intended benefits. This method *might* avoid some of those. But it would take some huge, extremely long running tests to establish this.

      And then there are other possibilities: E.g. given that a woman’s body is programmed for menopause, perhaps keeping it pre-menopausal for x additional years has unfortunate side effects like causing the woman to also die x years younger than she otherwise would have.

      But if it works, and if the woman remains fertile beyond the normal age, and ideally fertile like a younger woman, it would be a huge help for women wanting to become established in their careers before starting a family.