SELF-RECOMMENDING!

Open Thread 136

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread (there are also hidden open threads twice a week you can reach through the Open Thread tab on the top of the page). Post about anything you want, but please try to avoid hot-button political and social topics. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server – and also check out the SSC Podcast. Also:

1. Thanks to everyone who’s helped organize upcoming meetups. I still need people to volunteer for the following cities: Cambridge (UK), Detroit, Dublin, Munich, Oxford, Pittsburgh. If you live in those cities and are willing to host an SSC meetup, please post below and/or email me with location, date, and time. I’ll try to have the big list of times and locations up later this week.

2. Related: the Less Wrong team now has a feature where you can add your location onto a world map and see if there are other people in your area interested in meeting up (or get notifications if someone else organizes for your area). See the thing on the top of https://www.lesswrong.com/community.

3. I’ve previously been refraining from enforcing the comment policies too hard on people who otherwise produce good content. And when conversations degenerate and everyone breaks the comment policies in a way where it’s hard to disentangle who started it, I’ve been leaving most of the people involved alone. But I think discussion quality has been degenerating here lately, so I’m revoking both those policies. The following people are now banned for multiple violations of the comment policy (linked after their names):
– Conrad Honcho indefinitely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
– Dick indefinitely (1, 2, 3, 4)
– Matt M for three months (1, 2)
– Deiseach for three months or until you guys whine at me to reinstate her enough (1, 2, 3)

The following people are on thin ice and should consider themselves warned:
– Brad
– Le Maistre Chat
– JPNunez
– EchoChaos

4. AI safety organization Ought is looking for an engineering team lead (and, uh, offering a big referral bonus, so if you apply, mention my name).

5. I got a chance to talk to the author of the Times article I reviewed in Don’t Fear The Simulators. He wants to clarify that the presentation in the Times was necessarily condensed and simplified, and that if you’re really interested in this topic he has a paper, The Termination Risks Of Simulation Science, which explains his arguments in more detail.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

1,245 Responses to Open Thread 136

  1. Daniel Frank says:

    At the beginning of 2019, I quit my job as a lawyer and travelled for 6 months to some unconventional countries.
    I wanted to share my experience with the community here.

    Countries visited (in order): Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Ethiopia, South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Lesotho, Kenya, Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Egypt.

    You can see my favourite photos here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/mmeWJ5M88Pkyt8EWA

    You can see a fun and quick summary of the trip here: http://danfrank.ca/2019-round-the-world-adventure-part-1/

    You can see a long write up on my reflections from the experience: http://danfrank.ca/2019-round-the-world-adventure-part-2/

    If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to answer.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      @Daniel.

      That is fascinating, all kinds of stuff in there I knew nothing about. Most of your comments about particular countries were negative (Ethiopia, Kajikstan, Balkans, Argentina [altho Chile positive]). I find this mostly refreshing because most travelogs always seem to feel obligated to talk about the positive. But it would be good to hear more about positive things. I assume most of the positives would be meeting individuals. Is it true that countries seemed mostly negative, but the people you meet in them mostly positive?

      Do you have more detailed information about your travels? Did you keep a journal while you were traveling? Or maybe you could remember most of it? I don’t know if that would be more writing than you would like to do, but I’d sure love to read more, even a full book about your travels.

      • Daniel Frank says:

        Hi Mark,

        I appreciate your reply.
        It’s particularly interesting to read your comment because I didn’t even realize how negative I sounded.
        I am not trying to judge a country, merely convey what I felt and experienced there. The overall experience everywhere I visited was tremendously positive. I feel enormously privileged to have travelled all the countries I did. I think maybe why I expressed myself the way I did is I believe some of the countries have the potential to improve (in accordance with their own subjective values) to be even more enjoyable to visit and hospitable to live.

        I regretfully did not write a journal. I have been contemplating retroactively writing a diary of what I did everyday for posteriority sake. I wrote something around 30 pages of content for the second blog post, but I ended up deleting almost all of it because I didn’t think anyone would be interested. Maybe I’ll revise it and get it out there in some way.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          I wrote something around 30 pages of content for the second blog post, but I ended up deleting almost all of it because I didn’t think anyone would be interested.

          Well yes more details would kind of inherently be more boring, because you pulled out the most interesting stuff in your first comments. But like you, I am most interested in traveling for what I learn. I am sometimes bored day-by-day but it is still worth it for the increased knowledge at the end. And I feel the same about travel writing. It might be more boring reading it, but I learn so much more about what is going on by hearing about all the boring details than by the highlights you pulled out before. I don’t mean to pressure you to write more, you should only do it if it is worth it to you. But I for one am interested in reading it.

    • Gossage Vardebedian says:

      Thank you, Daniel.

      Some sort of Silk Road-based trip is on my list. I wonder if that seems worthwile to you by comparison to some of the other places you visited. In general, what places you visited would you like to go back to and see more of?

      • Daniel Frank says:

        I highly recommend visiting the Stans! It is a wonderful place to learn.

        For the most part, I am in no rush to revisit any places. I find novelty very stimulating and have many more places I am eager to see for the first time. From previous travels, I would like to revisit Brazil (I spent only two weeks there and it is a huge country) and Japan (just for food and relaxing).

        Due to my enjoyment of Central Asia, I would love to visit Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Iran too if regime falls because I am currently unable to.

    • ChrisA says:

      Hi Dan, I enjoyed your writing. My only concern is the strength of your conclusions versus the relatively short time you must have spent in each country. I am a perennial expat (23 years and counting) in “developing “ countries and usually get to live in a new country for 3 or 4 years but longest was 6 years. I find my impressions of a country changing quite a lot the longer I live there. Positives become negatives and vice versa. Maybe it is Stockholm syndrome but I begin to cherish those differences from the Western normality, even when they are patently stupid.

    • Joseftstadter says:

      I thought that was an interesting idea to use Tinder as a way to find locals to hang out with. I assume that worked better in places like Austria or Slovakia than in Egypt?

      Having lived in Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan, I am not surprised you were underwhelmed. The degree to which the local cultures in Central Asia were destroyed by Soviet occupation cannot be underestimated, and now Western and Chinese influence are making them even less “exotic” from the point of a Western tourist. A lot of the developing world can seem like an undifferentiated cesspool of corruption, exploitative and/or derivative popular culture, cheap Chinese knock-off merchandise and crappy infrastructure, unless you really take the time to immerse yourself. And even if you do, it is not always clear that the rewards are worth it.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      On Hava Nagila as a folk song in non-Jewish places: there is a Cypriot folk song to the tune of Hava Nagila. This is allegedly because it was used in Exodus, which was filmed on location in Cyprus in 1960, and local musicians took the tune and wrote Greek lyrics.

      On Albanian Mercedes: Mercedes models up to and including the W124 (so any “boxy” looking model) are famously reliable- they were engineered up to a quality standard rather than down to a price. They also used to be in very common use as taxis in rural parts of Greece, and still are in Morocco.

      A lot of the theft of such Mercedes in wealthier countries is for spare parts for taxis, often in Africa. I remember seeing a BBC article about a gang in London who were stealing them to send to Nigeria as parts- they could completely dismantle one in two hours.

      Albanian car culture is also weird because, while private cars were difficult to obtain in most Communist countries, in Albania they were outright banned.

    • b_jonas says:

      Thank you for the summaries, they’re interesting. I hope you’ll write and publish more parts. I’d like to find out why you found South Africa so unpleasant (I know very little about that region, so I can’t guess). And of course, I’ll be interested in more about Europe, because that’s what I’m familiar with from inside.

      For the photos, it would be nice if you presented them grouped into some geographical categories. I don’t know most of the places you visited, so I can’t guess the locations, but you likely know approximately where you were on each week. (Yes, I do recognize the Great Sphinx of Giza.)

      So you live in Canada? It may help to mention this early in your summary, since you mention that you travel to “unconventional countries”.

      > Despite how dangerous the roads are, very few drivers in developing countries wear seatbelts

      Wait, that’s only in developing countries? I didn’t know that.

      • Daniel Frank says:

        re: South Africa. While travelling, I enjoy walking around a city for hours and experiencing local culture organically in various ways. Simply put, I did not feel safe walking around Johannesburg. I have travelled in dangerous areas before but never have I felt like I did in Joburg. I also found it difficult to have immersive experiences in South Africa. Even eating local food proved to be difficult for me. While the other cities I visited in South Africa were slightly better, I never felt comfortable or able to enjoy myself.

        I am sorry the photos are not tagged. The photos are arranged chronologically but I appreciate that is not very helpful.

        re: seatbelts. In my experience in developed countries, seatbelts usage is significantly higher than what I observed in Africa and Central Asia. Granted, it is just my observation.

        • b_jonas says:

          South Africa: I see, that combination sounds bad. I imagine you may have been to cities in South America where you didn’t feel safe from muggers with weapons, but it wouldn’t be hard there to have immersive experiences with locals.

          I guess the seatbelts make sense. After all, here in Hungary, when I was born, using seatbelts was mandatory only in the front seats of cars, and they only started to require seatbelts on long distance buses ten or fifteen years ago.

    • eigenmoon says:

      Daniel,

      There’s an alternative explanation to what appears to Western observers as nationalism. Those people are thinking in collectivist terms, that is, your personal respectability is primarily determined by the respectability of your social group. This is kind of how SJWs think, too. When a Balkan dweller tells you that his country is great, what he means is not necessarily “I’m very preoccupied with the greatness of my country and meditate on it every day”, but might be “Please respect me because look how respectable my tribe is”. This is less true in former Yugoslavia which is genuinely nationalistic because nobody cared to deprogram its people from Miloševič’s propaganda.

      The fixation on inventing the Cyrillic alphabet is, I guess, a result of being traumatized by hordes of Russian tourists that fly in and say “Oh look, Bulgarians are using our letters!”. That incantation aggroes all Bulgarians in 20m radius.

      • albatross11 says:

        I think this is probably a human universal. We’re social creatures who have individual lives and interests and brains and experiences, and figuring out how much to be an individualist and how much to be a collectivist in our thinking is always something that’s on our mind. And the right answer is different in different situations–the right balance of individual/collective is probably different in an infantry unit in combat than in a cubicle at some programming job.

        Another constant question is deciding at what level our group affiliations should take precedence. I’m an American, a scientist, a Catholic, white, male, straight, a SF fan, a sort-of libertarian, etc. Which of those binds tightest? To the extent I’m concerned with tribal/collectivist interests, should I be more loyal to and concerned with Americans or whites or Catholics? People have had very different answers to those questions over the centuries, with big consequences for society.

        SJWs are concerned with those questions, but so is everyone else.

      • Aapje says:

        Indeed, I think that extreme nationalism is far more often a symptom than a cause, just like identity politics (of whatever stripe). If you believe your ingroup to be beleaguered, it’s not going to work to say: “stop defending your ingroup for what you perceive as a threat,” without convincing them that the threat is fairly small.

    • Aftagley says:

      Kind of a specific question, but how exactly did you manage to fly everywhere for (roughly) free? Just loads of frequent flier miles?

  2. Randy M says:

    According to Steve Sailer, Peter Turchin wrote a response to your posts.

    • Aftagley says:

      His response reads to me as being kind of strange. If I’m parsing it correctly, his viewpoint seems to be, “my theory is sound, and data that seems to not line up with the theory only does so if you don’t properly understand my theory.” To me, that kind of handwaving “your critique is invalid due to your lack of comprehension” sets off my crackpot alarm. Am I being uncharitable here?

      • Rob K says:

        I read Scott’s review of the first book, and thought it sounded interesting and broadly plausible as a framework for thinking about big-picture historical change; the second sounded like a guy falling in love with his theory and trying to extend it further than it would naturally go, especially once Scott did the pull-quotes post. That post there reinforces the second impression.

        This doesn’t mean there’s nothing there, especially on the long scale proposed by the first book, and especially if the argument is made at a slightly more zoomed-in level that stays in touch with the nuances of the particular situation. It’s actually somewhat reminiscent of the Brenner Debate, which is a good read if you’re interested in seeing this sort of Malthus-informed thing play out between professional historians.

  3. Le Maistre Chat says:

    The following people are on thin ice and should consider themselves warned:
    – Brad
    – Le Maistre Chat

    I don’t know how to stop being on thin ice going forward. You didn’t cite any posts and I’m an Aspie. 🙁

    • Nick says:

      I don’t know what Scott has in mind, but I think you should avoid the Portland and antifa topic going forward. It’s clearly been really bothering you, and that discussion keeps devolving. =/

      ETA: The bans make sense to me, the warnings less so? Could Scott share what posts put these folks on thin ice? EchoChaos in particular makes little sense to me since he’s been very clearly trying to be on best behavior since his unbanning.

    • EchoChaos says:

      I confess to being mystified as well, but I’ll try to be better.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Would it be possible to assert the hypothesis for social-scientific discussion that belief in polyamory is a superstructure on the economic structure of gainfully employed people living in a housing market so expensive that them renting only part of a room occurs? That is, are you treating the content as an attack or was only tone offensive?

        • GearRatio says:

          Conservative here who finds polyamory to be a bad move. I think the problem is that whether or not polyamory is “real”, you are very dismissive of it and simultaneously seem to be calling those who claim it’s a “real” liars.

          So it’s probably the difference between “he’s just poor, so he calls a threesome polyamory” and “I wonder if some of the rise of polyamory is linked to economic conditions – if nothing else, budget-necessary cohabitation seems to be a force that would encourage, not discourage, this practice”.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          Tone and to some extent relevance, I think. By relevance I mean that even if we took it as a given that your position that polyamory is a product of high housing costs is correct, it’s not that relevant to a discussion of “why is the housing market so bad in the bay area” and “how do we make it better” except as a way to say “Yes, indeed the housing market in the bay area is bad”.

          So the effect is that your post in that thread ends up coming across as a drive-by jab/sneer at a lifestyle you disapprove of without any argumentation backing it up and in a place where it’s only tangentially related to the main topic of discussion.

          If you want to make that argument, I think the best way to do it would be to A) spawn a new subthread one level up in the overall topic chain, or maybe even a new thread, and gesture at it in your reply, and B) use that new subthread/top level comment to lay out your argument in its entirety.

        • Murphy says:

          I think it was a mix.

          If I dismissed homosexual marriage with “homosexual? pfff, those guys just can’t get a date so they fuck each other” … I’d be insulting a lot of people by implying that it’s not a real thing that people really care about genuinely.

          And it’s distinct from, say, more authentic discussion about whether some guys sometimes switch to gay sex when they’re isolated from women, like on a ship at sea in the navy.

          Add in that our host gets a bunch of shit about being poly.

        • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

          Tone. Even if it is theoretically possible, I don’t think anyone has ever been banned for content alone. Look at the comment James A. Donald was banned for (the atmosphere around here has certainly changed since then but it’s still illustrative). Then scroll down to the comment where Steve Johnson defends the (vastly more outrageous than anything you or anyone else has posted in the recent past) content of the original comment, and note that he was not banned for that.

          • EchoChaos says:

            I was banned for content alone. The ban was reduced to 3 months at the request of the commentators and I don’t talk about the topic anymore.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            True, I guess things have gotten significantly stricter since the era of Jim. But I think it is true in general that bans for content are very rare. In particular, I’m confident one would be fine expressing heterodox (to the extent that opposition to polyamory is heterodox) opinions about sexuality unless they start getting in the region of Jim-level controversy.

      • potato says:

        I’m confused.

        The black cat makes a post against Swatting and he’s banned?

        Obviously I’ve misread Scott and am missing context.

        The swipe against polyamory is unnecessary but should be an empirical question not an emotional one.

        Run a log regression on probability of joining a lifestyle of polyamory with rent as one of the variables. I’m extremely doubtful that rent is a factor, compared to self selection.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I’m confused.

          The black cat makes a post against Swatting and he’s banned?

          I’m not banned yet, I’m not a he, and I reacted to someone here getting SWATted with sympathy and a statement of belief that this is something online progressives do when very offended by conservative internet posts, due to cases documented in the mass media as far back as 2012. Further clarification hashed out that this is a non-central example, with Central being gamers doing it to streamers and misc. gamers whose addresses they know for the pettiest imaginable reasons.

          • potato says:

            I apologize for misgendering.

            SWATing is overwhelmingly an apolitical phenomenon. Sorry, it’s just not political it’s a weird gamer occurrence that is much more about Troll culture than anything remotely connected to liberalism.

            I’m sorry for interjecting myself. But this isn’t a culture war issue this is a 4chan issue.

            Cheers and I hope you are free to comment!

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @potato:

            SWATing is overwhelmingly an apolitical phenomenon.

            Yes, I agree. Overwhelmingly = “the central example.” Sorry if I was unclear.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            My current hypotheses is that Scott really doesn’t like the conversation to move in the “there are sides” direction instead of “there are phenomena”.

        • gbdub says:

          I’m pretty sure it was Chat’s first post in that thread, not the second, that was more an issue – whether intentional or not the strong implication was that one particular tribe approves of SWATing or is at least indifferent to people getting killed by it. “Just how accepted is it by the political tribe that tries to kill people by it?”

          One/two sentence posts of rhetorical questions with dark implications definitely pattern match to low-grade snark, in my mind.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Huh. That statement may not have been phrased kindly, but I wouldn’t call it unkind, and it was both true (the older are more conservative, the young less so) and necessary (a strong counterpoint in a discussion of how interacting with governmental systems makes one more liberal).

        Is it simply the lack of kindness that is at issue, or is there something else that I have missed?

        • DeWitt says:

          ‘People’s opinions drift rightward as they become older’ is a falsifiable claim that could add something of value to a discussion. Your comment very strongly comes across as ‘young people are dumb because they don’t vote the way I want them to’, and given the phrasing it’s entirely not clear to me, even now, that you intended to come across differently.

          • rho says:

            idk, i think liberalism is foolishness, and i’m still a liberal. I want to alleviate systematic imbalances and i think our efforts might likely fail. Maybe it’s a fools errand. But I can’t change what I want, so…

            i don’t think foolish equates to dumb

          • Aapje says:

            @rho

            I think that progressivism and the left in general tends more to Utopianism than the right*; and that the conflict between Utopianism and reality often results in foolishness (like denying reality).

            * Although the right is obviously not immune to it.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @DeWitt

            Ah, it was the “foolish youth” that makes you think it’s nasty. Thanks, that helps clarify. That was meant lightheartedly. I’m fairly young myself, but tone is hard to convey in Internet posts.

            I’ll try to dial down the sarcasm to only 8 or 9.

        • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

          FWIW I thought it was obvious that “foolish” was lighthearted and therefore the comment was entirely unobjectionable.

      • Murphy says:

        re: Le Maistre Chat on the SWATing thread….

        “This behavior is pure evil. Just how accepted is it by the political tribe that tries to kill people by it?”

        We normally avoid calling things evil… but attempted murder by cop seems a justified case and the question doesn’t seem to be in bad faith looking at the following thread… but may involve a bit of a filter bubble.

        • gbdub says:

          Pretty sure it was sentence two that was the problem.

          • Murphy says:

            That’s what I meant about the filter bubble and from reading the other posts in the thread.

            Depending on the media you watch it’s very very easy to honestly believe that only the other tribe employ a tactic like that or that it’s heavily skewed to one side.

    • brad says:

      To cut against the grain here, I know why I’m on thin ice and it’s probably the right call. I lose my temper and get snarky in some small but steady percent of posts. Of course from the inside the snark seems well deserved but from the blog moderator’s perspective that’s never going to cut it.

  4. johan_larson says:

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to devise a film in which two characters meet who were played by the same actor in other works. So, for example, you could have Oberyn Martell (played by Pedro Pascal in The Game of Thrones) meet Javier Peña (played by Pedro Pascal in Narcos.)

    • The Nybbler says:

      Dirty Harry Callahan sets out to track down a drug mule, who in a twist turns out to be 90-year old Leo Sharp. (Callahan and Sharp played by Clint Eastwood)

      A cheat: An “educational film” consisting of a mishmash of Shakespeare’s plays, narrated by the author (who interjects himself into the plays). Patrick Stewart plays Shakespeare, Macbeth, Marc Antony, Shylock, etc. (The other works were mostly live performances)

      Godfather: Afterlife. The story after the death of Michael Corleone, in which he meets the Devil. Both played by Al Pacino, except for a bizarre vignette about Vito where both are played by Robert DeNiro.

      MIB: The Prequel. The aliens are attacking again. And they’re not the aliens we know and love. Colonel Hiller and Agent J go back in time to meet up with Special Agent James West to ensure some bad aliens don’t mess up the timeline. And to cover it all up, of course. All played by Will Smith.

      Enough silliness for now.

    • Sandpaper26 says:

      This seems like it’d be simplest to accomplish in a superhero franchise/universe. Captain America (Chris Evans) meeting the Human Torch (Chris Evans) immediately comes to mind.

      Outside of this, I feel like really any Statham/Statham, Stallone/Stallone, or Schwarzenegger/Schwarzenegger action crossover would be worth watching, if nonsensical. Christian Bale’s Batman could catch Christian Bale’s American Psycho. Finally, there’s my pet theory that all Tom Cruise movies are sequels to Vanilla Sky (he doesn’t escape the simulation, just runs a different one), so if the simulator starts to break down, there may be a Cruise Collision Event.

      • johan_larson says:

        I guess Arnie could appear as two distinct T-800 units, one from the first movie and one from the second. I don’t offhand remember how many distinct units of that model he has played.

        • The Nybbler says:

          John Matrix, Dutch, and some reprogrammed Terminators against another bunch of Terminators (there’s a T-100, T-800, and a T-850 at least, with as many duplicates as you care for), with the Taskers running the show for Team Human. Linda Hamilton as both Sarah Connor and another Tasker agent: Mary Bartowski.

    • The Nybbler says:

      OK, maybe some more silliness. The Star Wars timeline makes no sense, so there’s no reason Padme Amidala couldn’t retire from politics and dance the Swan Queen. In fact, perhaps the prequels were just part of Nina Sayers delusions.

      Keira Knightly has been in contemporaneous costume dramas. Elizabeth Bennet could meet Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and perhaps the two of them could meet Elizabeth Swann as well.

    • Phigment says:

      Camelot is being menaced by a dragon.

      King Arthur, played by Sean Connery (First Knight) has to figure out what to do about Draco, played by Sean Connery (Dragonheart).

    • Machine Interface says:

      Real life has you covered: Christopher Lee has played both Sherlock Holmes and his brother Mycroft Holmes at different points of his career.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        Also:
        Peter Capaldi has played both the Doctor and Caecilius, whom the Doctor meets (in the Tenth Doctor episode Fires of Pompeii). He’s also played various other historical figures whom the Doctor has either met on-screen (Leonardo da Vinci) or met in non-TV stories that could theoretically be filmed (King Charles I, Cardinal Richelieu).

        • spkaca says:

          On the Doctor Who theme:
          The Master (played by Derek Jacobi in the episode ‘Utopia’) has heard of a bizarre and sinister world he wishes to investigate. He uses his TARDIS to kidnap some of the most brilliant minds in history to aid him: Alan Turing (played by Derek Jacobi in Breaking the Code), Brother Cadfael (played by Derek Jacobi) and Senator Gracchus (played by Derek Jacobi in Gladiator). The travel to the Night Garden where the Narrator is a terrifying disembodied voice played by Derek Jacobi.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      In the 1960s, James Bond meets SAS Captain John Mason (both played by Sean Connery) before the latter goes on his mission to steal a microdot containing various US government secrets, which results in his being captured and imprisoned on Alcatraz as seen in The Rock.

      This may be cheating as I’m fairly sure that Mason is an alternate-universe James Bond with the serial numbers filed off.

    • silver_swift says:

      The Oceans Eleven crew plans a heist on Hawaii where they have a run in with the Five-O task force. Danny Williams (Scott Caan) arrests Turk Malloy (Scott Caan). The resulting interrogation scene is both hilarious and unbelievably frustrating for both characters.

    • Randy M says:

      I believe I saw mention recently of both Bill & Ted and the Matrix getting new sequels, but honestly crossing Bill Ted* and Neo is too easily done for this challenge.

      *Don’t say I never do research for my posts.

      • Phigment says:

        So, the scenes where Bill and Ted meet themselves are glitches in the Matrix?

        Are Evil Robot Bill and Evil Robot Ted agents, or rebels against the system?

        Are the princesses actually human people originally living in a version of the Matrix that simulated medieval Europe, and then got server-migrated to the modern San Dimas Matrix, or are they native computer agents, not humans in pods?

        So many questions.

      • bullseye says:

        I only remember which is Bill and which is Ted because of the scene where Ted is making fun of Bill for having a hot young stepmother and Bill keeps saying, “Shut up, Ted.”

    • baconbits9 says:

      I feel like the pinnacle of such a movie would be an ensemble cast where a dozen different Kevin Bacon character’s meet.

    • Tarpitz says:

      In the dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, Rick Deckard needs detailed information about the inner workings of replicants to better identify them, so he goes to the man whose pioneering work on artificial vascular systems made their creation possible – Dr. Richard Kimble.

    • sentientbeings says:

      1985:

      Winston Smith (of 1984), played by John Hurt, is brought back to Room 101. This time, he is connected to a virtual reality machine, in which he not only witnesses an alternate Britain descend into dystopia, he actively brings it about as High Chancellor Adam Sutler (of V for Vendetta, called Adam Susan in the original material, renamed in the film) only to be assassinated in a conspiracy between his secret police and the terrorist.

      As Smith is alternately subjected to the virtual reality and real-world interrogations and torture, his grasp on which life is real breaks down entirely. He has delusional episodes in which his alternate selves converse with one another and he comes to suspect that he has somehow ordered his own torture.

      Twist: Parallel universe Ministry of Love equivalents have set up a trans-dimensional torture device that connects the minds of the victims of their respective totalitarian dystopias.

    • Anthony says:

      Agent Smith meets Elrond to inform him that Middle-Earth is a simulation.

      Then takes Elrond to see a drag show in Alice Springs.

  5. Le Maistre Chat says:

    This is a consolidated version of my 135.75 effortpost on the genetic history of Europe, based on DNA evidence published the last 5 years or so. To be continued in replies to this post.

    As of 2014, some of the oldest European H. sapiens sapiens DNA was from Kostenki 14 in European Russia, 38,700 to 36,200 years ago [Seguin-Orlando et al].
    “Kostenki 14 shares a close ancestry with the 24,000-year-old Mal’ta boy from central Siberia, European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, some contemporary western Siberians, and many Europeans, but not eastern Asians. Additionally, the Kostenki 14 genome shows evidence of shared ancestry with a population basal to all Eurasians that also relates to later European Neolithic farmers. We find that Kostenki 14 contains more Neandertal DNA that is contained in longer tracts than present Europeans.”
    Before 38.7KYA, you’ll see claims that all non-Africans were one undifferentiated population. That’s getting outside the scope of this effortpost, but I suspect that may be incorrect, there being evidence olf Saharan and boat routes Out Of Africa.
    European early modern humans (EEMH) lineages of 39 to 26 KA (often called Aurignacian after an archaeological horizon) were still part of a large Western Eurasian “meta-population”, related to Central and Western Asian populations. I would surmise that these people should be reconstructed as Cro-Magnon skeletons (as they used to be called: now EEMH) with skin like South Indians of farmer descent (i.e. native Dravidian speakers), except for a northern clinal variation toward fair skin and the red hair of European Neanderthals (not to be confused with West Asian Neanderthals, from whom I don’t think we have any red hair markers).
    So about that skin depigmentation: you can read Beleza et al 2012.
    “Using compound haplotype systems consisting of rapidly evolving microsatellites linked to one single-nucleotide polymorphism in each gene, we estimate that the onset of the sweep shared by Europeans and East Asians at KITLG occurred approximately 30,000 years ago, after the out-of-Africa migration, whereas the selective sweeps for the European-specific alleles at TYRP1, SLC24A5, and SLC45A2 started much later, within the last 11,000–19,000 years, well after the first migrations of modern humans into Europe.” I don’t uncritically agree with this, because that would imply all EEMH redheads, who had “more Neandertal DNA that is contained in longer tracts than present”, being as dark-skinned as tropical East Asians or native Dravidian speakers, lacking all of TYRP1, SLC24A5, and SLC45A2 in the time between our ~39KYA sample and 19KYA or later.

    Anyway, as deglaciation commenced in the Northern Hemisphere ~19KYA, we find founder effects producing the lineage dubbed West European Hunter-Gatherer, which emerged from the Solutrean refugium of the Last Glacial Maximum (see Jones et al 2015).
    “We find that Caucasus hunter-gatherers (CHG) belong to a distinct ancient clade that split from western hunter-gatherers ∼45 kya, shortly after the expansion of anatomically modern humans into Europe and from the ancestors of Neolithic farmers ∼25 kya, around the Last Glacial Maximum. CHG genomes significantly contributed to the Yamnaya steppe herders…” (about whom more later).

    All of the successfully tested Mesolithic WHG Y-chromosomes, one from Luxembourg and four from Motala, Sweden, belonged to haplogroup I. Haplogroup I is the main candidate for Europe’s indigenous Y-haplogroup, which is today the most common Y-haplogroup in most of Scandinavia.

    The DNA that’s been extracted from prehistoric farmer skeletons indicates that the Neolithic Revolution in Europe was mostly a story of population replacement, not adoption of new technology. Non-Nordic lineages of WHG appear to have made minimal contributions to the descendants of the invading farmers, who cluster with modern Aegean people: but bear in mind that historical Greeks have a para-Nordic WHG element (Homer mentions white-skinned, red-haired Mycenaean aristoi). For this period, think Native American ancestry as a percentage of heritage among farmers north of the Rio Grande in recent times.
    That Scandinavian WHG heritage survived among Europeans seems to be thanks to the Fertile Crescent agricultural package hitting a wall as it approached the Baltic. The “Danubian cultures” archaeological group produce Early European Farmer bones, and as you can see in yellow on this map, they didn’t reach the Baltic and touch the North Sea only at the mouth of the Rhine. Erteboelle and Comb Ceramic Culture on the same map represent hunter-gatherers selectively adopting technology from the invaders: if they didn’t already have villages, they were producing pottery and settling down, but they were more into intensive fishing than agriculture. It seems that domesticated species of the Fertile Crescent package needed time to be bred for colder conditions, giving the Nordic WHGs time to survive the Neolithic Revolution.

    At ~8400 KYA, the Early European Farmers (EEF), very closely related the Anatolian or Levantine farmers (other offshoots of which are colonizing Mesopotamia and the Nile/Green Sahara), are colonizing the northern margin of Greece*, places like Epirus and Corfu. 1-4 centuries later, their “Cardium pottery culture” is in modern Albania, Croatia, and the Adriatic coast of Italy. Contemporary with this, early examples of their pottery appear in Sardinia, though I don’t know when their “race” colonized the island (21st century Sardinians are >50% EEF). At 5500 cal. BC, the Cardium pottery culture expands into the southern half of France and parts of Spain.
    Analysis for ancient DNA found the rare mtDNA basal haplogroup N*, supporting an early Neolithic maritime colonization of Mainland Europe through Cyprus and the Aegean Islands by Near-Eastern farmers (Fernandez et al 2014).
    By the time farmers reached Spain, they would have encountered a branch of WHGs with darker skin than themselves and the recessive gene for blue eyes. Maybe before that: I need data from outside Iberia.

    *They were in the rest of mainland Greece and Crete somewhat earlier.

    Meanwhile, the Danubian or Linear Pottery Culture (which you’ll encounter abbreviated as LBK) spread from the Hungarian Danube (before 5600 BC) to Austria, central Germany and central Poland circa 5500 BC, spreading east and north over the next three centuries until they hit the aforementioned wall for their domesticates very near the Baltic and somewhat further from the North Sea except along the Rhine. At the former limit is where they would have interacted with Nordic WHGs without replacing them.

    To conclude this summary of the European Neolithic west of the Black Sea, also at circa 5300-5200 BC we find multiple cultures interacting in the Netherlands. Probably the most significant is the Ertebølle-Ellerbek horizon, which had an all-but identical southern form in Limburg, the Netherlands in contact with LBK. Ertebølle-Ellerbek skeletal remains are meager, but some DNA sequences have been collected, showing genetic links between Limburg, northern Germany, Denmark, and peninsular Scandinavia. Farmers make the jump from the mouth of the Rhine or northern France to the British Isles circa 4000 BC, and this population was >50% Early European Farmer (This raises the question of whether they were also <50% para-Nordic WHG like the Luxembourg Mesolithic sample. I still need to find Mesolithic Britain/Ireland/north France data.)

    Looking east of the Black Sea, unter-gatherers of the Caucasus split off from the European hunter-gatherers who would go on to become dark-skinned, blue-eyed Iberians, light-skinned, redheaded Nordics, etc ~45,000 years ago. Until the Last Glacial Maximum ~25 KYA, they remained part of the Anatolian HG population whose descendants would include the first wheat farmers. Post-isolation, they are dubbed CHG, for Caucasian Hunter-Gatherer. Jones et al. (2015) analyzed CHG ancestry as represented by a Upper Palaeolithic male from Satsurblia cave, and a Mesolithic one from Kotias Klde cave, both in the foothills of western Georgia. These two males carried Y-DNA haplogroup J* and J2a. The researchers found that these Caucasus hunters were probably the source of the Near Eastern DNA in the Yamnaya (who I’ll finally get to anon).
    Let’s emphasize “probably” there: this is one paper demurring to claim very high Bayesian probability. A competing claim is that Near Eastern DNA made its way to the Eurasian steppe via farmers from Iran.
    Interesting to note that DNA from the Maykop farming culture of the north Caucasus has been sequenced and found to not be related to the adjacent steppe population.

    Something amazing happened around the middle of the 4th millennium BC. Pictographs of wheeled vehicles appear on clay tablets from Uruk in modern south Iraq dated between 3700-3500 BC. Between 3500-3350 BC, evidence of the wheel suddenly appears all the way from Harappa in India (Ravi phase) to southern Poland (Funnelbeaker culture). We have every reason to suspect that it was invented by a speaker of proto-Indo-European or proto-Semitic, as the common ancestor of all European, Iranian and Indian wheel words is reconstructed by experts as *kʷékʷlos, a proper grammatical “reduplicated derivative” of *kʷel- (“to turn”). It’s also reconstructed as galgal, simply “roll” reduplicated, in Semitic languages. In Sumerian, “chariot” was GIGIR, with no known native source. “Wheel” is *grgar in the reconstructed ancestor of Georgian and the other South Caucasian languages, which likewise looks like a loan.
    Unfortunately, the epistemology of dating in archaeology and genetics are not identical, so we don’t know if the people who first introduced the wheel to India and Eastern Europe changed the areas’s genetic profiles. But change did come from pastoraists who knew how to build wheeled vehicles.
    You see, the most common Y-chromosomal haplogroup in Europe is R1b, with the closely-related R1a a contender for third place after the believed-indigenous (i.e. WHG had it) I1. Here’s a map. As the Bronze Age was starting in civilization to the south, one of the early adopters in the illiterate north was a nomadic culture called Yamnaya. They had carts, to which they yoked horses, a domesticate then unknown in Mesopotamia. They buried elite males with weapons under artificial hills, which we call kurgans. And when DNA from their skeletons is sequenced, the most common Y-haplogroup is R1b. Scientific consensus is that the spread of these genes was caused by the same phenomenon documented archaeologically as the collapse of prehistoric (i.e. illiterate) farming cultures and replacement by pastoralist cultures in Eastern Europe south of the Baltic and north of the Greek peninsula.

    • Aapje says:

      Limburg presumably was very attractive for farming, just like the Ruhr region in Germany, because the surface soil is/was loess/löss, silt-sized sediment that is formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust. This is very easy to farm at first, not requiring advanced farming techniques (in fact, plowing is inferior to easier subsoiling). It is very sensitive to erosion, so more extensive use of slash-and-burn and/or farming large areas can result in rapid loss of the fairly thin loess top layer. Nowadays a lot of loess has been lost, so Limburg and the Ruhr region is less attractive for agriculture than it used to be.

      Limburg and the Ruhr region are hilly*, which provides natural defense against sea and river flooding. Linear Pottery Culture existed during the Atlantic climate period, where temperature and rainfall was high and increasing. This made the wetlands very swampy and not that great for living in. The Dutch wetlands only became very attractive after a fierce struggle, developing advanced techniques and making huge investments, at a high cost.

      Early Roman and Greek sources, who visited the Low Countries before (extensive) diking and poldering, considered the low parts of the Netherlands to be rather wretched places. The Greek geographer Pytheas wrote around 325 BCE, that “more people died in the struggle against water than in the struggle against men“. First-century Roman author Pliny wrote: “There, twice in every twenty-four hours, the ocean’s vast tide sweeps in a flood over a large stretch of land and hides Nature’s everlasting controversy about whether this region belongs to the land or to the sea. There these wretched peoples occupy high ground, or manmade platforms constructed above the level of the highest tide they experience; they live in huts built on the site so chosen and are like sailors in ships when the waters cover the surrounding land, but when the tide has receded they are like shipwrecked victims. Around their huts they catch fish as they try to escape with the ebbing tide. It does not fall to their lot to keep herds and live on milk, like neighboring tribes, nor even to fight with wild animals, since all undergrowth has been pushed far back.

      The above observations were written centuries after Linear Pottery Culture. It seems that initially, people merely occupied sufficiently livable spots, reacting to changing climate by either occupying or abandoning land. Only once they became sufficiently technologically and organizationally capable, could they respond to worsening circumstances by fighting back the water.

      * The latter more so than in the past, because there are a fair number of decent-sized slag heaps.

      PS. Loess map of Europe. Limburg is beneath the text “Schwalbenberg II,” to the top left of the red dot.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Thanks for the details. It sounds like a transitional zone where the higher ground was attractive even for early farming and the first farmers may have encountered sedentary hunter-gatherers utilizing the fish to achieve decent population density. I’d then guess that the two populations interbred rather than the EEFs mostly replacing the WHGs.

        • Aapje says:

          Northern European coastal clay is quite hard to farm. The clay is quite dense. You can’t really work it with wooden light plows that do work for sand and loam (mixture of sand, silt and clay). So metal plows are an immense advantage. Even then, you don’t want the clay too wet, which makes it very sticky or too dry, making it hard as brick. Furthermore, heavy rainfall that saturates the ground doesn’t drain that well, which can kill the plants because of a lack of oxygen in the soil. Watering fields in a dry period is hard, because clay retains water very well, so you need a lot of water for it to get to deeper roots. So you really need human-dug ditches and canals. Once clay soil became properly farmed, it was very productive, but getting there was not easy.

          A large part of The Netherlands was actually covered in peat (wet decaying plant matter). Peat can be burned as fuel or used as fertilizer. If you just remove it, you are typically left with lakes. So if you want to work the clay soil beneath the peat, you have to drain the land quite a bit. Doing that in much of The Netherlands puts you below sea level, so then you need a polder and to pump out the water using windmills.

          You can also drain it without removing the peat layer, which produces meadows, suitable for grazing.

          Peat bogs can be very dangerous, because the puffed up plant matter and living surface plants can make it seem like you are on (very boggy) land, while you are crossing something that is 90% water. So you can drown in it, if you are not careful (and your body can be naturally mummified in the bog, if you do sink through).

          The oldest humanoid remains, are of neanderthals in Limburg. Then nomads hunted for reindeer in east and southeast of The Netherlands (13.000–10.000 BC). Then Swifterbant hunter-gatherers lived along the rivers and lakes (5600 BC). LBK then moved in from the east (between 4800 and 4500 BC), introducing animal husbandry and later farming. Yamnaya pastoralists then arrived in 2950 BC.

          Interesting, in the west of The Netherlands, there was a separate culture from 3500 BC and 2500 BC, called Vlaardingen culture. It’s unclear whether these lived their permanently or whether they were nomads. Finds show that they kept animals and did a bit of farming, but also a lot of hunting and fishing. Their artifacts are very utilitarian, with their pots having very little or no ornamentation. The jewelry that was found consisted of mere animal teeth on a string. To they seemed to be poorer than LBK, which they coexisted with. This suggests to me that they had a very challenging environment. Just like how the Romans and Greeks looked at the people living in the wet Dutch areas, the LBK people might have considered the Vlaardingen people to be wretched poor people, not worth displacing or whatever they did elsewhere to spread their culture.

    • InvalidUsernameAndPassword says:

      Glad to see an effortpost on an obscure topic I enjoy!

      All of the successfully tested Mesolithic WHG Y-chromosomes, one from Luxembourg and four from Motala, Sweden, belonged to haplogroup I.

      I’m afraid this is incorrect, haplogroup C1 was also present, in Iberia and (I think?) Hungary. How exactly it became so rare today while I remains common, is unclear…

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Thank you for the correction! As I mentioned once or twice, Iberian HGs are known to have looked different from Scandinavian HGs, and it’s totally expected that this would correlate with a different haplogroup, in this case C1.

  6. EchoChaos says:

    Unfinished works are sort of a byword in the Western canon.

    From Coleridge to Mozart and beyond, every artist has left behind some pieces.

    What are the greatest pieces of unfinished work that are still able to be appreciated in their unfinished form?

    • Nick says:

      Summa Theologiae, obviously.

      Jane Austen left behind an unfinished novel, Sanditon. I’ve heard it’s not bad, but we only have about 20,000 words.

      Charles Dickens famously died midway through The Mystery of Edwin Drood. We’re pretty sure whodunit, though.

    • liate says:

      Bach’s The Art of Fugue — it’s a collection of fugues on a single theme. The final fugue is cut short, but still can be appreciated. There’s a CC0 recording here that’s good, but I especially like it played by string quartet (eg, here), as the different instruments help seperate out the seperate lines.

    • potato says:

      Kafka.

      Der Schloss.
      The Trial.
      The Penal Colony.

    • cassander says:

      The Silmarillion, arguably.

    • Orlando Innamorato would be one.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        It’s easy to enjoy in its incomplete state because Ariosto completed it until a new title.
        Ariosto started another Charlemagne romance after Orlando furioso, known as Cinque canti due to its short, incomplete state. It starts with Demogorgon summoning the Fae to a parliament and forcing them to agree to his plan to wreck the human world.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      The Aeneid. It was essentially a rough draft at the time of Virgil’s death. (Which is why he reportedly wanted it to be destroyed.)

    • WashedOut says:

      Dostoevsky’s Netochka Nezvanova (or “Nameless Nobody”, roughly).

      It can be enjoyed immensely despite it’s unfinished state, if one elevates style and themes over plot. Super gloomy. total downer.

    • Lambert says:

      Shostakovitch’s Orango.

      One of the librettists got purged, the opera house with a 600 tonne statue of Lenin on top where it was supposed to be performed never got built, and Franco-Soviet relations were mended, making the Opera’s lampooning of the French unnecessary.

      Thus only the prelude was written. But what a prelude it is.

    • Robin says:

      Neuschwanstein. Even better without the ugly fat middle tower which was planned.

    • JPNunez says:

      Asimov ended the Foundation Trilogy at ~400 years of history of the prophetized 1000 years.

      Even if you count the 80s sequels you still only get to ~500 years IIRC.

      • Lasagna says:

        @JPNunez

        Yeah, he kind of just gave up on the Foundation period in order to make a grand unified Asimov world. It was a shame. I felt like he could have done a lot more with it.

        I always thought there was a great opportunity for someone else to come in and continue the series. Just pretend that all the novels written after Foundation’s Edge don’t exist and continue from there. Heck, pretend Foundation’s Edge doesn’t exist either and pick up after The Mule. Everything after that wandered away from psychohistory anyway.

        • JPNunez says:

          I think two things happened:

          (1) he wrote himself into a corner; after the super telepaths / history predictors faked their disappearance, it was hard to come up with something else

          (2) by the 80s, he noticed the super telepaths / history predictors were actually the bad guys, so he uppended them with Gaia / Robots

          then he retreated into the prequels. There is a second trilogy that was written by other authors shortly after his death, but it was all prequel material (I mean, dealing with Hari Seldon’s life) which was missing the point IMHO. I’ve read some summaries and it gets extremely silly.

          I think it is a missed opportunity. I can see an ending where the first foundation finally frees itself of the psychohistorian for good upon founding the second empire, but alas.

          • EchoChaos says:

            A sequel in a second Empire where a citizen of the Empire realizes that the Second Empire is truly ruled by a cabal of mind-readers and historians and trying to rebel would be a fantastic setting for a story.

          • JPNunez says:

            I think this is the plot for Psychohistorical Crisis, the unofficial sequel that filed off the serial numbers.

            But it filed them too much and it is fucking hard to make sense what’s going on. My physical copy of it remains unread after two chapters cause I need to sit down and write the equivalency table to make sense of it.

            One day I will finish it *looks at pile of unread books* hopefully before the second empire itself arrives.

          • Lasagna says:

            That seems about right. The first two novels (collections? I’m not sure what to call them, since they each have a couple of independent stories in them) followed the same formula: (1) describe the state of the Foundation through the main characters; (2) introduce the existential crisis the Foundation faces; (3) describe the panicked responses from the main characters; (4) have one character see through the glass, darkly, and catch a glimpse at what Seldon had put together; (5) show how all the decisions of both the Foundation movers and shakers and their opponents didn’t matter against the larger backdrop of psychohistory. For my money, the series’ apex was “The General” in Foundation and Empire. That was great.

            There are still plenty of stories to be told here. I think you could write dramatic and interesting books that took the reader all the way to the Second Empire. But you’re right; once you’ve explained the super-secret telepaths and delved into their petty infighting you’ve kind of lost the thread.

          • Phigment says:

            Yeah.

            For one thing, the reveal of the secret mind-control conspiracy completely changes the whole premise of the thing. It reframes everything that happened before.

            When the idea is that Hari Seldon, Psychohistorian, has managed to use math to predict the future and set up his secret foundation and pre-recorded a bunch of messages where he explains what’s going on, that’s really spooky and mysterious. Can society really be that deterministic? How can he be so accurate in predictions made centuries out? What about free will and individual decisions? Etc.

            When you learn there’s a secret conspiracy of mind-controllers active at the heart of the galactic power structure pulling strings, well, it changes it from being wondrous magic to a magic trick. It’s the difference between Merlin making the Statue of Liberty disappear, and David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear. They’re both impressive, but one of them is, when you get down to it, showmanship and misdirection.

            A given person may not know how David Copperfield does it, but everyone is pretty sure he’s manipulating the audience, not the universe. All along, it looked like Hari Seldon had unlocked the secrets of history, but he’d actually unlocked the secret of organizing a really effective long-term secret conspiracy, that being psychic powers and a good cover story.

          • Lasagna says:

            @Phigment

            The more we talk about this, the more I think that if someone wanted to “finish” the series by taking it through the establishment of the Second Empire, they’d not only need to ignore everything post Foundation and Empire, they’d need to get rid of the whole mind-controlling cabal of historians.

            Like you pointed out, it just shifts the focus of the story too much. Yeah, sure, The Second Foundation were still psychohistorians with the same aims as at its founding, but they didn’t really NEED to be. They could just shift most everything into whatever form they wanted right away. They’re too Johnny-on-the-spot. It became more about the magic, less about the math.

            It would have been way more interesting, and way more weird, to just keep them as brilliant academics whose modus operandi is playing n-dimensional chess, where the changes they effect in the galaxy are for the purposes of steering outcomes decades down the line, but with little power over Today.

            The Mule was a great idea – what happens when an element gets introduced into the galaxy that DOESN’T conform with the fundamental assumptions of psychohistory? But the resolve was “The Second Foundation waves a magic wand and all is right”. I think a more interesting reveal would have been that the Second Foundation had actually accounted for this possibility a century ago, and you seen their plan slowly work itself out.

            I don’t think, though, that you can have the series without The Second Foundation at all. After all, Hari Seldon didn’t really do all the much – he just founded the Foundation and recorded a few videos. There needed to be more manipulation to create a plan that could believably shorten the Interregnum.

            In other news, this is the geekiest thing I’ve ever written. Fun!

          • mendax says:

            The Mule was a great idea – what happens when an element gets introduced into the galaxy that DOESN’T conform with the fundamental assumptions of psychohistory? But the resolve was “The Second Foundation waves a magic wand and all is right”. I think a more interesting reveal would have been that the Second Foundation had actually accounted for this possibility a century ago, and you seen their plan slowly work itself out.

            Huh, I had to look that up. I didn’t recall that the Second Foundation had anything to do with the defeat of the Mule. Really, they were mostly defending themselves. I’d thought the Mule was mostly defeated (and I think this is in there even if it’s not the whole of it) by regression to the mean. That psycho-history accounts for outliers, even ones as extreme as the Mule.

            Everything about the Second Foundation was un-satisfying.

          • Lasagna says:

            @mendax

            They did. 🙂 I read these books way too much as a child.

            They maneuvered the Mule into meeting their representatives on a distant planet, far removed from the Mule’s center of power, by mind-controlling the Mule’s second in command. The Mule discovered that his second (and many others within his organization) had been put under mind control, and followed the chain to this obscure planet. That these mind-contolled people would be discovered was, of course, part of the Second Foundation’s plan, and wheels-within-wheels and yadda yadda yadda.

            Once there, they took advantage of a moment of emotional weakness in the Mule (which, they of course, had planned for and knew was coming), and took control of his brain and therefore his Empire. After that they were able to point the Galaxy in the direction they wanted.

            And yeah, it was extremely unsatisfying, like everything else about the Second Foundation except for the reveal of its location, which I still think was super cool.

          • Jiro says:

            I[‘m not convinced that the Foundation series could work without a secret cabal of mind-controllers. History is going to have larger-scale irregularities which are less frequent than smaller-scale irregularities, but cause more of a swerve, so the outcome will not be statistically predictable.

            Seriously, suppose someone discovers a 10 times better FTL drive, or space aliens, or a large source of fuel in the wrong part of the galaxy, or nanotech 100 years in. It’s going to ruin all earlier predictions.

            And that doesn’t even consider “ordinary” swerves such as wars that have surprising outcomes because one side only had a 20% chance of winning but won anyway.

          • Randy M says:

            I’m not convinced that the Foundation series could work without a secret cabal of mind-controllers.

            I’d agree that it straddles the line of plausibility, but that was the premise–using math to predict the future enough to alter it ahead of time with careful preparation
            Throwing in mind readers who adapt on the fly seems like it is cheating a bit, or at least acknowledging the incredibility of the idea.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            My impression, though the warrant for it is slight, is that when he was writing “The Mule”, Asimov more or less thought that the Second Foundation’s mind-control powers were just a deep understanding of psychology (together with the thermodynamical science of psychohistory), so that they would be able to say the right word to the right person at the right time in order to nudge things onto the right path. They were Maxwell’s Demon, so to speak. To the extent that they had anything to do with Bayta Darrell’s triumph over The Mule (which I think doesn’t actually appear in the story, tough he might have retconned it in Second Foundation) that was the kind of stuff they did. But even once the Mule had been contained, it was clear he was too powerful to defeat head-to-head by such subtle means, so he had to give them much the same magical psi powers he had. Which is a shame, because the earlier conception of their power was much more interesting — though he sort of brought it back to life in The End of Eternity.

      • EchoChaos says:

        I feel that it can truly said to have been ended after the original trilogy, though. He had to introduce some silliness to make the sequels work because with the final reveal in the original trilogy he really had wrapped up the full story.

    • “Great” might be an overstatement, but Cherryh left her Fortress series, which started out with a very good book, essentially unfinished.

    • mitv150 says:

      The Dune Saga by Herbert. I don’t recognize Christopher’s books as having completed it.

    • J Mann says:

      I don’t know about “great,” but I was looking forward to many more books inthe Master and Commander and Flashman series. I’d say A Song of Ice and Fire is on that levevel, although it’s even more unfinished.

    • terete says:

      The Man Without Qualities.

      It’s up in the modernist pantheon with Proust, Woolf, and the best of Joyce or Mann, but I suspect it’s far less read because it is unfinished (and probably because it takes a lot of reading to get to the lack of an ending.)

    • birdboy2000 says:

      Not a Western work, but Osama Tezuka’s Phoenix is amazing and I wish we saw how it ended. As it stands we have 12 volumes and the stories are self-contained enough to work.

  7. Mark V Anderson says:

    I have somewhat mixed feelings about another reign of terror. With the banning of four prolific commenters, we’ll have fewer comments to read. And I never have time to read them all. Although I will miss all four of them.

    Mostly I feel bad about the bannings. I read all the links, and none of them seemed very bad to me. It seems to me that recently SSC has gotten away from politics a bit and concentrates on stuff like cooking and gaming and movies/TV and books. I’m not much interested in those other things, but all the bannings are about politics, and so I think influences people to no longer do politics. No one is getting banned for remarks about broccoli, which in my opinion is a lot more pernicious than Trump and Brexit :-).

    • eyeballfrog says:

      I thought Dick was being a bit of a dick (a joke which Scott beat me to), and Deiseach was being Deiseach (which is why we love her), but the other two didn’t seem too bad and I’ll definitely miss them. The guys on thin ice also don’t seem like too bad of guys, though LMC comes on a little strong at times.

      • ManyCookies says:

        From Conrad Honcho:

        It’s Pride Month (but only because bigots standing in the way of progress won’t let us have Pride Season yet)

        Maybe we can eek out a Unit of Caring for the smuggled women they rape during the crossing by virtue of their skin tone?

        So it’s the goose egg for Units of Caring for Americans, then? I mean, that’s about what I expected, but it’s nice to know I have an accurate read on the outgroup.

        The snark and the flippant “Well I guess my outgroup sucks” makes for terrible everyone-mad conversations, seems bannable if it’s a regular pattern.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          The unit of caring stuff makes more sense in context, where there was kind of a lot of appeal to emotion going around. Honcho’s getting heated in that second one, but it was a heated topic already. While I could see a stern warning or tempban, an indefinite ban is way too far.

        • Yep. I feel like if you want to not be banned you should always talk about subjects in a neutral tone even if you are supporting a side. Scott recently made a post where the gist is him telling autistics to use more natural and casual terminology in real life, but I think as regards the comment section, it is much better to sound like a robot to be on the safe side.

          A lot of banned comments ring with feelings of persecution that inherently sour debate. Other comments are too aggressive and contain too many pejoratives. More “X is wrong because Y and Z” and fewer “X is really really bad!” comments are needed.

          Probably the reason for the anti-rightist bias people detect is merely that the most prolific commenters are right leaning, while the overall majority is left-leaning, so they feel outnumbered even though they make more comments overall. This spurs them to make more combative and snarky posts. Kill that feeling, please.

    • EchoChaos says:

      No one is getting banned for remarks about broccoli, which in my opinion is a lot more pernicious than Trump and Brexit

      This is the no CW thread, but I break that to point out that you are a monster if you dare besmirch the good name of broccoli.

      • The Nybbler says:

        No monsters here, broccoli does not have a good name to smear. As Dr. Hibbert says, it’s the deadliest of vegetables and warns you with its terrible taste.

        • Nick says:

          This is nonsense; broccoli is lovely compared to spinach.

          • Randy M says:

            You should have heard my family rave about the spinach at dinner tonight.
            Of course, naked vegetables at dinner are about as appetizing as naked dinner guests. In other words, the credit goes to the garlic onion butter.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Wait, why are you attracted to naked people with garlic onion butter on them?

          • Aapje says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Wait, someone is not attracted to that???

          • noyann says:

            @Aapje
            Don’t do that to an Aspie.

          • Aapje says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Do/did you think I was serious?

          • noyann says:

            No. Too meta?

          • b_jonas says:

            Only in average. If you get buy spinach and prepare it well, which admittedly is hard and I can’t do it, then it’s much better than anything you could make from broccoli.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Randy M

            naked vegetables at dinner are about as appetizing as naked dinner guests.

            The highlight of the evening if chosen properly?

          • Aapje says:

            @EchoChaos

            Especially if you have both.

          • Randy M says:

            Wait, why are you attracted to naked people with garlic onion butter on them?

            Didn’t mean to imply that the converse was true!
            But I could be talked into incorporating Kerrygold butter into the foreplay. Garlic probably not.

            The highlight of the evening if chosen properly?

            Also in both cases, improved with recent washing. And the source is extremely important to consider. Preferably not just picking up some from Wal-mart on the way home.

          • albatross11 says:

            LMC:

            A pathological fear of vampires?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            Do/did you think I was serious?

            No! I definitely get jokes.

          • PedroS says:

            Sorry if I am being thick, but what is wrong with any of those vegetables? Broccoli are great aftrr a few minutes boiling with a pinch of salt and spinach are delicious in (for example) sweet potato tortilla. Unless you are attempting to enjoy them raw (and I cannot fathom why anyone would do that) they are great.

            I understand some people (“super-tasters” for example) have weird taste sensitivity and some vegetables taste like soap to them. I do find it hard to believe that they are very numeroua, though the number of people complaining about broccoli gives me pause…

          • EchoChaos says:

            @PedroS

            Broccoli has a strong flavor and is the stereotypical American “kids don’t like it” veggie.

            It is a wonderful vegetable either eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways and probably most of the people here actually enjoy it.

          • Anthony says:

            @noyann – an Aspie, or an asparagus?

          • noyann says:

            @Anthony
            Both. They work well together.
            (edit: I mean, now that we are so deep in nonsequitur territory…)

        • b_jonas says:

          Turnip, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, tapioca all have much worse reputation than broccoli.

      • rho says:

        Are these broccoli references because we all played SimCity as a kid?

      • AlphaGamma says:

        On broccoli: there is a scene in Inside Out where the fact that Riley (a young girl) finds broccoli disgusting is important- she’s sad because her family just moved to San Francisco away from her friends, her mother takes her to get pizza, the hipster pizza place only sells broccoli pizza.

        Apparently Japanese children don’t find broccoli that bad, so in the Japanese dub it was replaced with green bell peppers (which Japanese children do find disgusting).

      • albatross11 says:

        The late president Bush’s ghost would like a word with you.

    • Atlas says:

      I’ll add that, for whatever it’s worth, I find the list of new/threatened bans surprising and regrettable. I’ve found all the cited commenters to consistently make valuable contributions to the discussions here, and I think the comments section will be less interesting with them gone/self-censoring.

    • Placid Platypus says:

      I’m gonna come out in favor of the bannings or at least some punishment for the targets. All the linked posts seemed distinctly out of line and not the sort of thing that makes the discussion better.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      We might be getting away from politics and more towards other things because the political discussion often becomes toxic, quickly. Why talk about that when you can talk about something less confrontational and more enjoyable?

      Also, the nice thing about talking about Sunday Tea Time topics is that people here are smart enough to tell me how to properly cook swordfish, rather than telling me they found this great swordfish recipe on Pinterest that involves throwing it into a Crockpot with a can of mushroom soup.

    • gbdub says:

      I’m going to push back strongly on the “oh, they were prolific commenters so we should let them go” vibe. Absolutely not, the longer you are here and the more prolific you are, the higher standard you should hold yourself to.

      The prolific commenters set the tone and set the example. Basically everyone who was banned or warned is a repeat offender in the “significantly degraded the quality of a conversation” (or “continued in-kind to feed a train wreck”) category, either through culture-warry derailment or mean-spirited sarcasm. This was sprinkled among tons of good contribution, to be sure, but still.

      Wrt Deiseach in particular, as fun as it is to have a cranky old Irish Catholic lady around, this is like what her third or fourth warning/ban? She knows better and keeps pushing anyway, at some point Scott has to pull the trigger. To some degree I can understand one off shots of brief snark as moments of weakness… but multi-paragraph rants are the sort of thing that eventually you just have to write to get off your chest, then delete without posting and move on, and Scott has given plenty of opportunity for that lesson to sink in.

      • Randy M says:

        Absolutely not, the longer you are here and the more prolific you are, the higher standard you should hold yourself to.

        True, but from the converse side there is more of a record to establish what you can expect in the future.
        Someone who comes in and leads with a rant first post can be expected to do it again. Someone with a history of kind, insightful posts who makes a rant can probably be assumed to be having a bad day and safely let off with a warning. (This description isn’t meant to align perfectly with anyone in question but address the principle)

        • gbdub says:

          I agree that the principle of “forgive a bad day” should apply to frequent contributors. But I think Scott is judging these commenters on their body of work – I think Scott believes that the linked comments are very much in character for the posters in question. We may agree or disagree with that, but I think reading the individual linked comments and saying “well that one comment didn’t seem ban worthy” is the wrong criticism.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Oh no way, regular commenters always get more lee-way. That doesn’t mean they get more lee-way if every single one of their posts is garbage posts, it means they get more lee-way if they sometimes act like a total jerk because they are usually good.

        Newcomers acting like total jerks get perma-banned. If your first impression is crapping all over threads, you get the boot.

        That’s just bog standard internet moderation.

        • gbdub says:

          More leeway for an occasional out of character one-off bad comment to be forgiven, if the poster is contrite about it. Absolutely. And punishment should, for regulars, lean more toward “take a short time out and come back better” rather than permaban.

          But if you make pushing the limit a habit, if you make “unkind but you get away with it because it’s arguably true or at least unique and interesting, and we feel bad banning a regular” part of your character, that needs to be nipped. Not to speak too much ill of the dead, but e.g. Conrad was a chronic limit-pusher and tone-lowerer on basically all CW adjacent topics. I think most of these bans / warnings are of that sort – not any one particular truly egregious comment, but just generally people who chronically helped feed more-heat-than-light threads.

          It’s like the terrible driver who never actually crashes but causes a lot of people to crash trying to avoid them – at some point you have to take them off the road even if you can’t point to a specific bannable offense.

  8. jw says:

    You blog has been getting less and less interesting to me lately. You seem trapped in a spiral towards harder and harder progressivism. Every poster being banned seems to be posting arguments from the conservative side. Their “crimes” against he policy seem incredibly mild. If that’s the freest speech you can stand, then you’re not much for free speech anymore.

    One of your best posts is about ingroup/outgroup bias, but I think you’ve now succumbed fully to the progressive ingroup bias. As a result, I see less rigor in your attempts (or even belief that you need to attempt) to understand conservative concepts.

    In addition to your obsessive campaign against eating meat, which, sorry you’re going to need a totalitarian government to force me to do, your blog really doesn’t have much for me anymore.

    I’m checking out. You’re out of my news feed.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Every poster being banned seems to be posting arguments from the conservative side.

      Er, what? It’s 1 and 1 for the indefinite bannings, 1 conservative and Deiseach for 3-month bannings, and 2 and 2 for the thin ice warnings. So only slightly tilted conservative.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        1 conservative and Deiseach for 3-month bannings,

        Which equals >2 conservatives, since Deiseach is an anti-SJ Catholic who prefers the Pope Emeritus to the current Pope.

        • quanta413 says:

          Yeah , but there are more conservatives and libertarians than left wing people. Especially by prolificness. It’s important to crack down on regulars breaking rules sometimes. We have much more effect on the tone long term than a random drive by poster.

    • Urstoff says:

      Base-rate fallacy. The most active commenters in the last few months (year?) tend to be conservative, as far as I can tell (in open threads, at least).

    • ManyCookies says:

      Scott has written thousands of words and multiple articles indirectly and directly about how progressives are not his ingroup, and he’s not tepid about the subject. Heck that was literally the personal example he used when he first brought up ingroup-outgroup-fargroup.

      In addition to your obsessive campaign against eating meat

      Wait where was this?

      • Has he written any of those since his move to the Bay Area?

      • Aapje says:

        @ManyCookies

        He can be becoming more progressive and still consider himself to be sufficiently far from his progressive peers to not consider themselves his ingroup, if his progressive peers are radicalizing.

        The evidence suggests that progressives are radicalizing in general and Scott has moved to a more radically progressive area, suggesting that his progressive peers have become more progressive.

    • Enkidum says:

      Obsessive campaign against eating meat?

      • The Nybbler says:

        There’s a lot of talk, especially in EA threads, which just kind of assumes vegetarianism or veganism is morally superior. I tend to avoid those threads as I simply do not share the basic assumptions.

    • Bugmaster says:

      I agree, FWIW. The comment sections are getting more bland, and the post topics themselves, while occasionally still interesting, appear to be picked solely maximum for inoffensiveness.

      Banning someone like Deiseach for occasionally getting heated in her comments is basically a signal that says, “I will tolerate no more than epsilon controversy”. Which is fine, I guess; I understand the motivation — the outrage mobs are vicious and they are coming for your job, so staying under their radar makes sense.

      However, totally non-controversial blog posts and comments are also totally boring. This blog’s entire appeal used to be focused on providing a place for reasonable people to discuss controversial ideas; but it’s turning into basically yet another by-the-numbers news aggregator.

      • DeWitt says:

        Given the posts about the subreddit policy change and how Scott has been treated on account of his more controversial posts, I don’t know that I can really blame him. It looked terribly stressful even from this large a distance and I wouldn’t wish that kind of shunning on someone so kind at all.

      • Ouroborobot says:

        I haven’t seen any indication that Scott is cracking down on controversial posts or attempting to limit the scope of discussion within the open threads, so long as posts are make in good faith and grounded in reason and facts. It seems like most of the ban-inducing comments were snarky clapbacks or phrased in a needlessly inflammatory manner. As a frequent lurker and occasional commenter, I appreciate that the community is meant to be a place for high-quality discussion and not just sarcastic slapfests. It makes me sad because some of those commenters had many valuable posts, but I get where he is coming from.

      • Randy M says:

        I don’t agree with the “progressive spiral” or such, but I do think Scotts best posts tend towards the earlier period of the blog, and the open threads have, hmm, tended to tread familiar ground of late. But, eh, I still haven’t found a great second best internet hangout, so…

        • James says:

          but I do think Scotts best posts tend towards the earlier period of the blog

          I feel like this is a common pattern for blogs, though. I feel like most people only have a finite number of original and interesting ideas, and getting these down on paper seems to take about a couple of years. Once they’ve expressed those ideas—the broad principles of their worldview—it only remains to apply them to new cases, the latest current affairs, etc., and the blog sort of stays in some kind of holding pattern.

      • Aapje says:

        @Bugmaster

        Deiseach’s ban is not a very strong indicator that Scott has changed, since Scott has already banned Deiseach permanently quite some time ago, shortening that ban after community outcry.

    • Plumber says:

      @jw says:

      “You blog has been getting less and less interesting to me lately. You seem trapped in a spiral towards harder and harder progressivism. Every poster being banned seems to be posting arguments from the conservative side…”

      FWLIW, the indefinite bans looked like one “conservative” and one “progressive” to me (sorry to see them go and wish it wasn’t so), the 3 month bans looked like 1.5 conservatives and 0.5 progressives to me, the warnings looked like 2.25 conservatives and 1.75 progressives to me, so a bit more conservatives than progressives, but not all and only.

      Some over the top posts were cited (but not the worse I’ve seen) and what it mostly looked like to me was the banning of and warnings to the most frequent commenters.

      Maybe our host wants more new voices and less old ones?

    • Radu Floricica says:

      I took a glance at the offending comments. The common thread I can find is that they encourage polarization, and more specifically seeing the other side as… well, the other side. This is not very constructive and incredibly slippery.

      Things like the charity principle and steelmanning are powerful things, both in constructive conversation and (if properly used) in winning debates. But they take effort to be used. And they take an environment where others don’t go for cheap shots or labeling. There was a post on ssc I can’t find now on the levels of conversation – and the upper half was _only_ possible in a certain environment. We’re pretty close to that here – which for an online forum is not a small miracle.

    • Two McMillion says:

      Do you remember Scott’s post about how much social pressure he was taking for running his blog with even the attempt towards being fair that he historically has? It’s not unreasonable to try and relieve some of that pressure. Almost anyone would. Maybe that’s not fair to conservatives, but when has life been fair? I’ve enjoyed the recent posts, and I hope Scott keeps producing them.

  9. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Say I was writing a story and wanted to introduce a prehistoric population with genes for a skin color that no longer exists. How much would it break your suspension of disbelief to have blue people who are as healthy as everyone else, or Green Skinned Earth Babes?

    • rho says:

      They couldn’t be full on blue, but they could be blueish. Some of the awoken skin tones from Destiny are plausible (as in non-immersion breaking) to me. Same thing for green

    • For prehistoric humans, I would find it hard to believe–are there any mammals with either of those colors? Close to us?

      • Shion Arita says:

        Mandrills are quite close to us, and the males have very blue faces and butts.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Mandrills and other monkeys with blue balls get the color from light-scattering, so it should be biologically possible for humans to have bright blue skin, or at least patches of bright blue skin.

          However, it might be one of those things which is quite possible but not plausible in fiction.

    • noyann says:

      (EDIT: better wording)
      I’d find it very implausible, with a feeling of “author uses cheap device to enforce sensation of strangeness”. Might work for an audience that does not think about evolution in a given environment, e.g. because it is overwhelmed with 3D effects.
      Unless you drop out of the sky on your prey, or live a fish-like life, blue is not camouflaging. And it can’t be signalling much if there is so much of it in the sky (a signalling effect in Mandrills might only be enabled by the already meaningful location of the blue spots).

      • Incurian says:

        Would hair be more plausible?

        • noyann says:

          Blue hair would need a strong social reason, or intentional breeding, because the biological/biological-signalling would be the same. And then the reason for the blue hair needs explaining, which itself might feel lengthy to the reader.

          What are you aiming for with “genes for a skin color that no longer exists”? Maybe there’s a way that reads easier.

          Or you go deep into poetry/dream land where anything is possible, if that fits the rest of the work.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            What are you aiming for with “genes for a skin color that no longer exists”? Maybe there’s a way that reads easier.

            That feeling of “Our world used to be richer. What forces caused it to change?” The same feeling one gets from the 20 recently-recovered lines of Gilgamesh Tablet V where Cedar Forest Land (the Syrian Euphrates and west to Lebanon/the coast) was full of monkeys and many species of birds. Except such a simple environmentalist frission would be old hat from a new story.

          • noyann says:

            @ Le Maistre Chat
            That feeling of “Our world used to be richer. What forces caused it to change?”

            If the text is for people who explode a concept into its ramifications and consequences, the genes might be sufficient. For the average reader (like me, I guess), these currently unexpressed genes are quite abstract entities and won’t convey much feeling. They, and similar stuff, would require a ‘Jurassic Park’-like re-vitalization to get at readers’ gut feelings.

            Had to look up the Gilgamesh Tablet V text, and it has some sensory, or at least concrete, descriptions:

            …Across the face of the mountain the Cedar brought forth luxurious foliage, its shade was good, extremely pleasant. The thornbushes were matted together, the woods(?) were a thicket … among the Cedars,… the boxwood, the forest was surrounded by a ravine two leagues long,

            IANAWriter, but immersing readers through sensual detail, evoked affects, feelings, musings, etc. looks more promising for a general audience. You’d basically have to make them experience what is gone forever (what they have lost, in a way, so that they want to know why it’s gone).

            (HTH a little)

    • herbert herberson says:

      I would use domestic animals as your inspiration. This suggests either red (actual red, not just Native American tanned, like an irish setter or red angus) or some form of patterning. Any color that is rare or non-existent in mammals is would completely break suspension of belief for me.

      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        Ooh, I like patterning as an idea. Not sure if it serves OP’s needs, but my gut reaction is that it’s both perfectly plausible and as about as dramatically different as blue or green skin would be.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        How about people with a Siamese cat gene so that cooler parts of their bodies are various colors of dark and the warmer parts are light?

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      People who eat enough silver get bluish skin, and I don’t think there are major health effects.

      • Jake says:

        It is amazing that silver can do that to you. While googling for pictures of that, I also came across the Blue Fugates of Kentucky, who had a genetic condition called methemoglobinemia which led to them being tinged blue as well. Definitely leads me to believe that this would be a possible condition. But, to echo some earlier comments, I’m not sure that even knowing this has actually happened, it would be a positive thing to add to a story, unless there was some reason for it beyond just making people a bit strange.

    • Gerry Quinn says:

      Interesting though not really relevant: in Irish “a black man” is “fear gorm”; literally “a blue man”.

      Personally I’d be fine with it in a pulp-style adventure, but it would seem a bit odd if you are going for a harder mode of SF (realistic time-travelling anthropologists?)

      If you are writing from the perspective of contemporaneous hominids, you could leave it pretty ambiguous whether the green people get that name from their skill at hiding in vegetation, or paint themselves green, or their skin really is tinted that colour.

  10. gettin_schwifty says:

    Official thread for whining for Deiseach to be reinstated!

    I don’t know, she certainly crosses the line but it reads as ornery/cranky to me. I can’t be mad, you know?

    In any case, the Reign Of Terror begins anew, long live the king.
    “Pull the trigger, drop the blade and watch the rolling heads”

    Edit: Thoughts on Matt M and #MeToo removed because I just remembered it’s the visible thread, and while I tried to be respectful, gender talk is freebased culture war

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Official thread for whining for Deiseach to be reinstated!

      I don’t know, she certainly crosses the line but it reads as ornery/cranky to me. I can’t be mad, you know?

      Seconded!

    • Ouroborobot says:

      I had to re-read this to make sure I wasn’t misinterpreting it, but I don’t think I am. You just went full Leeroy Jenkins into CW in a non-CW open thread – one that also happened to announce several new bans for not following commenting policy. An interesting strategy. Edit: you fixed it. NM.

    • cassander says:

      thirded. It’s our fault for not getting off her lawn…

    • birdboy2000 says:

      Also against the bans, on the grounds that you banned or warned the most prolific posters, and they didn’t on the whole seem like particularly bad apples. These threads could start getting very quiet, leaving me with a great deal less timewasting to fill the hours.

      I get wanting to shift things in a more civil direction but three month bans are grossly excessive for that goal.

      • Secretly French says:

        I get wanting to shift things in a more civil direction

        I don’t. If Scott wants all his comments to be on the same page as him, instead of coming from weird old catholic irish women who never married, maybe he should go full New York Times and turn off comments altogether, and just re-read his old articles instead. Ah, see, this guy knows what he’s talking about!

        • Joseph Greenwood says:

          This comment seems quite unfair. There is a large gap between banning a few people that in Scott’s eyes have been needlessly provocative and uncharitable, and wanting to shut down all conversation that challenges his preconceptions. (We have seen Scott respond to feedback and revise his judgments as a result of what people post here, so this doesn’t seem to be a tenable accusation) If you don’t think Scott is aiming at the right goals, or that his actions here are ineffectual at achieving them because of trade offs or his own biases, then that’s reasonable (meaning, not obviously wrong). But on the other hand, the actions Scott have taken are likewise reasonable (not obviously wrong), and you do not need to share the goal of civility in conversation to “get” why it might be something that some people value.

    • rho says:

      Well, hmmm. I think at least in the case of the 3 month bans, it’s a case of extreme snarkiness? I’m surprised that those offenses were enough…

      I’m pretty cynical and elitist when my empathy module is offline for repairs (which is pretty frequent nowadays [Did you know humans are pretty shitty? Here’s your daily reminder]) so I could conceive of myself stumbling into a 3 month ban on accident

    • Plumber says:

      I’ll throw in my whining in as well, @Deiseach’s views are unique, and I’ve seen far worse.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Shortened, maybe, not rescinded. I quite like her posts, but I also think allowing a popularity contest to sway moderation rules is a bad idea and a bad precedent, even in cases where I think the popularity is well-earned and I trust the judgement of the person doing the moderating.

      • Robert Jones says:

        I think it was an error for Scott to set himself up for this.

        • bean says:

          Scott was referring to the fact that this is Deisach’s third or fourth ban, at least one of which was supposed to be indefinite before we managed to talk him into bringing her back. I’d suggest shortening it as a reminder to cool off.

      • James says:

        Seconded. She seems to spend a lot of her time sitting at a pretty gratuitous level of uncharitability and snark. It would degrade the standard of discourse appallingly if everyone was as uncharitable and I don’t condone making an exception for her just because it’s Deiseach/that’s her schtick/it’s entertaining (on which question I will only say that that’s, uh, a matter of personal taste).

      • Error says:

        Yeah, this. A pattern of letting a particular person skirt the rules because she’s popular is probably a bad idea.

        (That being said, I’m glad it was a temp ban and not a perm one. I rarely agree with her but I like her anyway.)

    • Purplehermann says:

      I kinda enjoy her comments in topics I’m interested in, and from what I remember she’s an addition to threads she’s part of, not a negative

    • noyann says:

      How about probation?
      Unban Deiseach on condition of a [bi-?]weekly post (for three months tops), to give an analysis, opinion, explanation, snark, or rant about things, events, or persons in the UK-GB-IRL tangle.
      Could be fun for everyone, enlightening for some.

    • a real dog says:

      +1 for Deiseach.

      I’m pretty sure this is just Scott baiting us, much like performers making the audience demand an encore.

    • gettin_schwifty says:

      After sleeping on it and thinking a bit more, I find myself falling on the shortened ban side of things. People could be more civil, so I agree with the bans if not with their length. Despite my object level disagreement, I support your pruning of your garden however you see fit. “Long live the king” was unironic.

    • Aftagley says:

      +1

      I’ve come to strongly admirer her harangues. Unlike the majority of the bans (which I think are rightly placed and serve to enforce positive norms) I feel like she’s harmless just adds culture.

      Provided for posterity, a condensed version of a recent interaction with Mr. X (the original one, not version 2.0):

      Deiseach: …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…

      X: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.

      Deiseach: 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!

      Ice. Cold.

    • Berna says:

      Adding my voice to the whiny chorus: please unban Deiseach.

    • PedroS says:

      I am on Deiseach’s side of the culture war but I admit the quality of her contributions has declined and that she has too often been posting her exasperation at the outgroup in an unproductive manner. I hope that the cooling off trimester will bring her back to her best self.

    • hls2003 says:

      I think the issue with banning Deiseach is that, in my opinion, her biggest unique contribution is her inimitable dyspeptic style. I don’t mean to be insulting to her substance – I very much enjoy many of her contributions, have a lot of sympathy for her views, and overlap substantially in her favorite authors – but there are several other posters here who are very traditionally Catholic; who love the same authors; who look at life through a literary lens. In contrast, I think Conrad Honcho is just about the only strong Trumpist that posts here. Really, the most unique substantive (vs. stylistic) contribution I regularly see from Deiseach is about her work as a cog in the Irish* bureaucracy. That’s not something we hear a lot about from others. Her unique voice, to me, is based in style, including occasional get-off-my-lawn invective and things like her curse-feud with the Indian guy (name escapes me). Because of that, I think it is almost unfair (though certainly understandable) for Scott to judge her under the same standard of tone-policing as others, because her tone is a big part of her overall contribution.

      *Edited to eliminate the (I’m sure to her) insulting mind-fart of “UK” bureaucracy instead of Irish, thanks to Aftagley.

      • Randy M says:

        My favorite Deiseach stories were the bureaucrat’s* view of public dysfunction. I think we’re actually rather short of anyone in government work or who has a job regularly interacting with the underclass, Scott excepted on the latter.

        *C’mon, we just talked about it and I still had to look it up.

        • Nick says:

          You’ve got to remember those were years ago now. I’ve been wishing she would write more about the subject.

          I’ll bet we have a few more folks in government work—@aristides I think is one, based on my HR thread a while back? and @FLWAB has written about working for the National Park Service, I believe?—but it’s definitely been lacking from the conversation.

          • Randy M says:

            There is a Michigan based guy who runs local elections or something whose name I am shamefully failing to recall who posts from time to time. Jewish fellow, I think?

          • Nick says:

            You’re thinking of @Larry Kestenbaum. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen him post in ages.

          • Randy M says:

            Thanks, yes.

            I haven’t seen him post in ages.

            Spoken like a kid. Seems like just yesterday we were talking about Abraham Lincoln, Necromancer.

          • Plumber says:

            @Nick says:

            “…I’ll bet we have a few more folks in government work…”

            I work for a municipal government mostly doing plumbing repairs in one of the jails now, but I’ve been under piers, autopsy rooms, hospitals, libraries, police and fire stations, et cetera.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Plumber:

            I work for a municipal government mostly doing plumbing repairs in one of the jails now, but I’ve been under piers, autopsy rooms, hospitals, libraries, police and fire stations, et cetera.

            Do any of these places have monsters and treasure under them?

          • Nick says:

            @Plumber
            How could I forget you!! Sorry.

          • Plumber says:

            @Le Maistre Chat says: "Do any of these places have monsters and treasure under them?

            Yes.

            And on that note:

            A dungeon is a room or cell in which prisoners are held, especially underground

            So for my employer (The City and County of San Francisco, A.K.A. Lankhmar),

            I have:
            Gone on quests (searched for any remaining intact plumbing under the piers),

            Explored ruins (the former Naval base, shipyards, and let’s face it most of the rest of the buildings are “well used”)

            Seeking treasure (looking for plumbing fixtures to steal/salvage from the abandoned 6th floor Jail, for use on the 7th floor Jail).

            Also, I’ve encountered monsters (had Sea Lions surface next to me under the piers, one seemed to be the size of a VW Microbus!, plus… well the inmates), crawled through underground tunnels, entered crypts (I’ve had many jobs in the autopsy room), looted dark passageways (the Jail cell plumbing chases looking for parts to use for the occupied cells), and I’m a Guild member (Plumbers and Steamfitters, Local 38!)

            Seems that I’m a dungeon delving Guild Thief (I hope Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser don’t slay me)!

            @Nick says: "How could I forget you!! Sorry"

            No worries, I’ll just keep doing my part to expand bureaucracy beerocracy

          • Nick says:

            @Plumber

            No worries, I’ll just keep doing my part to expand bureaucracy beerocracy

            I’ll drink to that!

          • Randy M says:

            No worries, I’ll just keep doing my part to expand bureaucracy beerocracy

            The beerocracy is expanding to meet the waistline of the expanding beerocracy.

          • Enkidum says:

            @Plumber – when you say under piers, are you doing underwater plumbing? That stuff seems hardcore.

          • hls2003 says:

            Updating mental image of Plumber…

          • Plumber says:

            Enkidum says: "when you say under piers, are you doing underwater plumbing? That stuff seems hardcore"

            They were a couple of divers on the crew during the 10 months I was assigned to the Port, but my under the piers work was with wading boots, rafts, and small boats, and about two hours out of most days was pretty “hardcore” (dangerous), but much of our time was spent hiding until the tide was right and we could do the work.

            Our immediate supervisor had us do two deceptions:
            1) How much of our time was idle.
            2) How incredibly against safety rules other parts of our time were (and unfortunately none of us could figure out a way to do the work that wasn’t dangerous, and previous experience had taught us that involving upper management and the “safety professionals” would just put us in a “fired if you do”, “fired if you don’t” position”, most weeks I’d get cuts on my arms from barnacles, typically we’d wade or boat in during low tide to assess, then come back during high enough tide that we could reach the work (hoping for calm waves), and try our best to do it fast before the waves got too high to escape, often particular jobs would be scheduled months in advance so the tide would be right and we’d have good conditions longer, but rush jobs could be pretty perilous, and at least once a month we’d have to disconnect the boat motor, lay it and ourselves flat, and squeeze out from under the pier. Twice it wasn’t a fellow plumber but an Engineering college student intern who was sent to sketch out the pipe layout under Fisherman’s Wharf, and it was gratifying to see him as scared of the sea lions as I had been a few months earlier, unfortunately he wouldn’t believe me about how fast the tide would come in (“just give me a few more minutes”), and I had to tie the raft, we waded a bit, and climbed out of a hatch that if someone had parked on we’d have had to swim out. He listened to me the next day about when we had to stop and get out.

          • aristides says:

            @Nick you are right about me working as a government bureaucrat, but I don’t have nearly as much experience as Deiseach, nor can I hope to match her comment volume. I agreed with many of her opinions, and she is probably my favorite commenter, but I do agree with Scott’s 3 month ban. Deiseach is one of those commenters whose first post is usually high quality, but her responses are low value and encourage the Flame war. She had come a long way since “when you are howling with the misery of the damned” but she still gets too aggressive, so 3 months is fair. I just hope the other indefinite ban only lasts 3 months as well.

          • Anthony says:

            What makes Deiseach’s viewpoint unique isn’t being a government bureaucrat, but being one who works with the “underclass” in a way which gives her a great deal of insight into what really goes on among them.

            Of all the other frequent commenters, Plumber seems to be the one with the most contact with the underclass, but he’s there to fix the pipes, not the people.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Anthony: Fix the pipes, fight barnacles, sea lions and other monsters, and eventually Bowser to save the Princess.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          There’s probably a lot of useful knowledge about both government/industry knowledge here that you won’t find in too many other places. The Internet’s Comment section has a LCD that falls to the knowledge and experience level of the typical young 20s adult. See any Reddit thread from some of the larger subreddits…amusing hearing stories of management told almost exclusively from the POV of retail or fast food managers.

      • Aftagley says:

        the most unique substantive contribution I regularly see from Deiseach is about her work as a cog in the UK bureaucracy.

        UK Bureaucracy? I thought she was a card-carrying member of the Irish Bureaucracy.

    • I love to see Deiseach post, but I also think those posts are probably really off-putting to people who haven’t had the time to get used to her. I’m okay with her being banned, even if I’ll miss her.

      • mtl1882 says:

        I think this dynamic is a big problem in life, and it is getting to be a huge problem due to the interconnected-ness and increased size of organizations/interactions. There are people whose styles or personalities are off-putting to people of another personality, most especially when they are new. A lot of the time, most of the unique style or tone is inseparable from their contribution, which most recognize as very valuable. Conventional wisdom seems to be that these people have to go, because of the constant problems caused by the conflict. This is quite understandable, but even if there is a very high cost to retaining them, I by no means think it is clear that there is lower cost to losing them. It’s an awkward issue, but a common and predictable one.

        Obviously, this does not mean anything goes, but if a person has been respected for a long time despite a seemingly alienating approach, that means there is a good chance they have quite a lot to offer, not that simply they’ve got both good and bad ideas. Most people with any alienating tendencies get knocked out early. It also may mean that the ideas and style are connected, and that is why people are able to tolerate it–they don’t see it as having an unnecessary mix of insults in otherwise good work. It probably means they are perceived as generally in good faith, but have a weird worldview and sense of appropriateness. I think, as a society, we’re putting way too much emphasis on a certain appealing personality style, and not having a deep enough conversation about how to deal with certain things. The choice isn’t between banning and “stop being so sensitive”–I think it is possible to acknowledge that there’s not a set of universal standards that works well on all personalities. You have to look at the situation as a whole.

        Deisach’s general tone is a separate issue from a few of the remarks that seemed designed to derail a thread and end discussion. I think she could keep her general style without doing that, and a distinction should be drawn between those two problems. People with a very polite, normal style can make comments that have the exact same function of killing debate. The issue is not tone—it is closer to good faith, or intellectual laziness. It is inherently subjective to judge, but I think that is what Scott is approximating. My opinions on the actual bans vary, but I think it is important not to focus mainly on tone or style, and I don’t think Scott is doing that.

  11. Le Maistre Chat says:

    This is a game where we link a still image of an ad, note how it doesn’t make sense, and the person replying has to rationalize it, allowing them to repeat the process.

    Ghostbusters Fire House Headquarters toy
    This ad depicts a child in the khaki shirt and tie of a WWII American soldier, yet he’s clearly much too young to be in the Army and the toy is based on a movie that didn’t come out until 1984l

    • Nick says:

      Ghostbusters is set in September-November 1984. Obviously the boy is simply dressed up in a Halloween costume.

      This ad asks us to trust this lawyer because his dogs do. But how could his dogs ever be his clients?

      • WashedOut says:

        This ad asks us to trust this lawyer because his dogs do. But how could his dogs ever be his clients?

        Of course we are not being asked to believe his dogs trust his abilities as a lawyer. The billboard actually just contains a formatting error – it is supposed to read:

        Trust me, I’m a lawyer!
        My dogs do free consulting for:
        -Truck, car and motorcycle crashes
        -Wrongful death

        His dogs are the consultants, and their rate is free because they are dogs, and the potential unreliability of their advice is priced-in.

  12. chrisminor0008 says:

    @scott: Is the comment policy posted anywhere? The comments you cited are civil explanations of honest and considered opinions. It sure looks like you’re banning people for conservative political opinions.

    Given the good company, I am a little sad that I didn’t at least get a mention in the warnings, but I don’t post as much as I could. I’ll try to do better in the future.

    • gettin_schwifty says:

      Kind, true, necessary, at least 2/3. The bitch of it is that “harsh truths” seem untrue and unnecessary if you don’t agree with them.

      The real policy is “Whatever Scott won’t ban” which is better than any set of rules, in my opinion. I’ll miss all of the banned, but I also get it, even if I have some disagreements. Well, I suppose I agree with the dick ban, I haven’t seen much productive commenting from him.

      • albatross11 says:

        If you’re expressing a harsh truth and intending for anyone who needs to hear it to hear it, you really need to express it in a non-snarky, non-attacking way.

      • Nick says:

        The bitch of it is that “harsh truths” seem untrue and unnecessary if you don’t agree with them.

        There is no bitch of it. Scott explains what he means by “true” in the comments page:

        Recognizing that nobody can be totally sure what is or isn’t true, if you want to say something that might not be true – anything controversial, speculative, or highly opinionated – then you had better make sure it is both kind and necessary.

        And in the case of discarding kindness:

        You had better be delivering a very well-deserved smackdown against someone who is uncontroversially and obviously wrong, in a way you can back up with universally agreed-upon statistics. I feel like I tried this here and though a lot of people disagreed with my tone, not one person accused me of getting the math wrong. That’s the standard I’m holding commenters to as well.

        It’s not enough that God contemplating His creation knows it to be true. You’ve got to give us a really strong case that it’s true!

    • Plumber says:

      chrisminor0008 says:

      “…Is the comment policy posted anywhere?…”

      At the top of the page the “Comments” link, has the policy and previous examples of bans.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      The comments policy is in https://slatestarcodex.com/comments/ . Brad and Dick aren’t conservatives. I like (or at least find interesting) the posts of most of the people affected by the recent set of bannings/temp bans/warnings, and I think it’s fair to say I’m on the conservative/libertarian side of the posters here, but I still understand or at least think I understand Scott’s thinking and actions in terms of previous statements and the policies he’s clearly articulated. I don’t think “banning people with conservative opinions” is at all what’s going on.

    • Aapje says:

      @chrisminor0008

      I think that many of these comments were not sufficiently civil, having unnecessary swipes at the outgroup of the writer.

    • MartMart says:

      There is a difference in the way Americans and Russians speak, made obvious to me by the speeches or Russian bad guys before and after the collapse of the iron curtain (with some delay). Before, actors said Russian words, but speech patter was clearly American. After words, that isn’t always the case.
      If an American wishes to sound intimidating (as bad guys tend to), they speak slowly. Slow speech projects power and confidence. Fast speech projects nervousness and evasiveness.
      Russians, on the other hand, tend to speak quickly when they try to intimidate. Fast speech projects intelligence and the ability to adapt, while speaking slowly just makes one sound dim witted. At least, that’s been my experience.
      Getting back to Scott’s “True, Necessarily, and Kind” rules. Snark is almost never kind. Often it isn’t necessary, since it’s hard to make a nuanced point with snark. Relying strictly on truth is a dangerous gambit, since one might always be wrong, or risk that the moderator is wrong and doesn’t realize it.
      However, the lack of kindness seems exaggerated to me by the way blue and red tribes use snark (they both do). In my experience, blue tribe uses snark primarily to signal tribe loyalty. Tribe is most often used to highlight or shame what could be termed as blasphemy. Red tribe tends to use snark to signal intelligence, or the lack of it in the opposing argument.
      So snark tends to read very different to different readers.
      All which is to say that from my reading of the comments, one can get away with virtually any political opinion, so long as there is sufficient kindness in the post.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        In my experience, blue tribe uses snark primarily to signal tribe loyalty. Tribe is most often used to highlight or shame what could be termed as blasphemy. Red tribe tends to use snark to signal intelligence, or the lack of it in the opposing argument.

        My initial reaction to this is that it is correct. But I will be on the lookout to see the extent to which it is confirmed.

        Typical blue tribe snark that I can conjure from the top of my head:
        yes because casual transphobia is fine as long as your logo is a rainbow during pride month. ugh.

        Typical red tribe snark (from one of Conrad Honcho’s comments that got him banned):
        Do they not understand we are currently governed by Literally Hitler 2.0, who is going to holocaust all non-whites any day now?

        These two seem to fit. Granted, the first one was made up, but not completely, I have seen 100s and 100s of these types of comments online.

  13. Jeremiah says:

    As part of the SSC Podcast project, every fortnight we take one of the posts from the archive and create an audio version.

    This time around we did Book Review: Seeing Like a State (Original Post.)

    Next up will be Against Tulip Subsidies. After that I’m still open to requests.

  14. In World of Warcraft, which I am now playing again because Blizzard brought back the original version, which turns out to be much more fun than the current version, members of a group can see each other’s location on the map. Spending much of yesterday with my wife and daughter wandering around a local wine and art festival, it occurred to me that a realspace equivalent would be very useful.

    Currently, I can see my location on the map on my cell phone. Is there any reason why one could not have an app that let multiple people share their location over the cell network? Does such a thing exist?

    • rho says:

      Find Friends on iPhone?

      or lynq when phones fail

    • Radu Floricica says:

      It was one of the first features in Google Location, first when Android was young. Turns out people are pretty paranoid about having their location shared non-stop, so either it didn’t take off or was disabled. For everyday use you can share either your current location or live location (for 1-8h) with whatsapp, facebook messenger and probably most other messaging apps as well. Just go to “send attachment”, like you’d send a picture, and it’s there. I think knows to display multiple people if they all share their location in a group.

    • eigenmoon says:

      In Google Maps, try Menu -> Location Sharing. See this Google’s support answer for more details.

      • Radu Floricica says:

        Huh, so it’s still there. Cool. They keep disabling it though, EU got all location services turned off when GDPR went live and I had to re-enable manually (one year later…). Personally, I like to keep it on. I figure “they” already know where I’ve been, this way at least I have access to it as well.

    • Lambert says:

      There’s a feature like that in snapchat or something.
      Snapmaps, i believe it’s called.
      It also overlays a heatmap of… something?

      Source: family member uses it.

    • sohois says:

      Wechat has such a feature, though I’m sure many would be nervous about location sharing given the proximity of the Chinese government to the app

    • flauschi says:

      Android/Google: If you do not need live updates, but location on demand only, then a simple solution is to create a new Google account (call it X), add this account to all devices you want to locate, and install the standard google “find my device” (or similar) app, run it as user X (and make it remember the credentials). Then whenever you open this app you can select any of X’s devices and locate it (or make it ring etc).

      But as others have pointed out, there is a live location sharing for google maps too (I find it annoying, though, as it regularly sends you reminders and requests confirmation that you allowed location sharing)

    • Randy M says:

      I had this idea before for amusement parks. Make maps with indicators (now an app would be better) along with accompanying RFID (or something, not my field exactly) pins so parents can know exactly where their children are.
      Only works on cooperating children, of course.

  15. While playing WoW, it occurred to me that WoW in particular, and the internet more generally, might be in part responsible for the large increase over the past couple of decades in the number of people who identify with the opposite of their biological sex. It’s common in WoW for men to play female characters or women to play male characters. More generally, on the internet nobody knows you are a dog — or a man, or a woman. The experience of being free to interact, if you want to, as the opposite gender, might plausibly result in lots of people thinking they liked it and wanting to expand the pattern to realspace.

  16. Wandering around a Silicon Valley art and wine festival, I was struck by how superstitious blue tribe is — lots of crystals with implausible accounts of their magical properties (not even historically correct, as best I could tell), an emphasis on how natural things are (soybean soap, if I remember correctly, and lots of other examples).

    I live in a blue tribe area, so don’t see the equivalent for red tribe. Are the superstitions the same? Are red tribe people as likely to think that crystals are magic and that adding irrelevant natural ingredients to things makes them better?

    Alternatively, do they have a different set of superstitions? I didn’t notice any references to astrology — are the believers in that mostly from the other tribe?

    • Snickering Citadel says:

      If we don’t count religion as a superstition would religion remove a person’s reason for superstition? Like if a religious person has good luck, maybe they attribute it to praying and would therefore not attribute it to a horseshoe or whatever?

      • Radu Floricica says:

        Religion also tends to see superstition as competition and either actively fights it (“pagan gods”, “idolatry”) or takes it over (christmas, easter).

        So it makes sense that in places with more active institutional religion you’d see less superstition. Plus, the psychological/social needs are already fulfilled – no need for yoga classes if you go to sunday church.

      • Unirt says:

        I’ve met many people who are both religious and superstitious at the same time quite happily, so I think the “competition” between conventional religion and new-age type superstitions may perhaps be real in some populations, but definitely not everywhere. Where I live, folks who are thus inclined, typically make up their own version of religion by combining elements of their liking from Christianity, New Age and animism. It doesn’t have to make coherent sense, it needs to feel good. They are not at all troubled if some clergyman speaks up against casual superstition, they just dismiss this unpleasant part of Christianity and keep the pleasant parts.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Oh, it’s definitely messy. Here we have orthodox christianity, and there is a very funny dynamic in the rural areas between old ladies and priests. Sometimes the priests are offended by superstitions and chastise the old ladies, sometimes they embrace or encourage them. Partly because they’re raised in the countryside themselves, but partly because some amount of superstition enlarges the mythos that makes people respect the church.

          Lately I think it’s gone more in the way of encouragement, but I haven’t been involved with that worlds so I’m not sure.

      • HomarusSimpson says:

        Yes if you file both religion & superstition under ‘agency attribution error’ the distinction disappears. Religion seems to have a secondary function of social/ moral cohesion that superstition doesn’t have, but maybe that’s just because I live in a place that has been largely formed on the back of religious based social cohesion (depending how you view it: UK/ the west/ mostly the world)

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I’ve seen various stuff about angels which I suspect is more red-tribe.

    • brad says:

      Sports fans seem to be an especially superstitious bunch. It’s a little hard to tell from the outside how much is affectation though.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      What comes to mind for me is the number of times I was told “you know most UFO sightings happen over Jerusalem. Think about it.” And various theories about angels and demon sightings.

      Astrology was not popular among my teachers but was known by heart in my family and among my friends, but we were all on the less religious side.

      The weirder aspects of the anti-vaccine movement also found fertile ground among what I’d call the Mid Level Marketing set of the Red Tribe. Whole food movements and essential oils and the government is poisoning our children etc etc.

      I also remember one of my mother’s friends announcing with glee as she dropped off some elk burgers for us “you know you can reiki your wine.” More proof that the Blue Tribe Red Tribe divide runs across the human heart moreso than any map.

    • albatross11 says:

      Where I grew up, there was (and I think still is) some superstition surrounding religion, but not necessarily associated with any formal religious doctrine. Thinking some symbol is associated with devil-worship, for example.

    • Hackworth says:

      The superstitions are congruent, if not identical. Going by sites like http://www.infowarsshop.com/ the (marketable) superstitions seem to be very similar, except for the branding. You have your essential oils, you have your ancient herbal wisdom (“Tongkat Ali is an ancient Malaysian herb that has been used for thousands of years traditionally to support fertility and libido.”, from the “Ultimate Female Force” blurb), you have your body enhancement products of questionable provenance and effectiveness.

      Where the stereotypical hippie wisdom says there will be a time when all humanity becomes one, the right-wing fantasy is the opposite side of the coin – breakdown of civilization, global nuclear war, the second coming of christ, essentially everyone for themselves. By buying the offered prepper and body-enhancement paraphernalia, people subscribing to those beliefs seem to feel like they will be on the winning side when it comes to that.

      Consequently, the chosen words focus on competition, supremacy, and protection. You will notice an inflation of words like “Turbo”, “Force”, “Super”, “Knockout”, “Ultimate”, “Fusion”, “Guardian”, “Shield”, “Survival”, etc. in the product names. Directly tying into the civilization breakdown theme you have protective and outdoors gear in the “Blackout Edition”.

      Surprisingly enough, you can even get water filters integrated into showerheads, which seems more appropriate to defend against the ravages of unchecked capitalism (think Flint, MI) rather than those of the usual suspects Russia, United Nations, or the actual Apocalypse.

      You can also get “Wake Up America”, Patriot Blend coffee. Interestingly enough, they source it from Mexico rather than from the USA (apparently you can commercially grow coffee in Hawaii and California), and they go to great pains to explain that the coffee is fair trade, GMO-free, and was “raised [..] in harmony with the existing forest canopy”. So I suppose Moloch does not stop swimming ever leftward even for Alex Jones.

      • Aftagley says:

        You can also get “Wake Up America”, Patriot Blend coffee. Interestingly enough, they source it from Mexico rather than from the USA (apparently you can commercially grow coffee in Hawaii and California), and they go to great pains to explain that the coffee is fair trade, GMO-free, and was “raised [..] in harmony with the existing forest canopy”. So I suppose Moloch does not stop swimming ever leftward even for Alex Jones.

        When did not wanting to drink distilled suffering every morning become an example of Moloch?

      • Anthony says:

        apparently you can commercially grow coffee in Hawaii and California

        Hawaii, yes. California is doubtful. Coffee trees really don’t like any cold at all. One source says any significant time at less than 7 degrees C is bad for production, and the plant doesn’t like very warm (>35oC) temperatures, either.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Coffee is grown in Puerto Rico also, though Puerto Rico had managed to maintain a coffee shortage for years before Hurricane Maria.

      • onyomi says:

        This is quite interesting to me in a way I probably can’t go into much in a CW-free OT because of my efforts to understand what “really” drives Red-Blue divisions, at least in the US (and quite possibly elsewhere, though I won’t be greedy and look for a universal cause of political bifurcation): my working theory is that Red Tribe’s highest value is something like “civilization,” while Blue Tribe’s highest value is something like “justice for the downtrodden.”

        Where this gets interesting to me is that a lot of Red Tribe seems to have a weird fantasy of breakdown of civilization that functions as both their worst nightmare and, weirdly, something to be longed for in the way one might long for judgment day/rapture–a kind of ultimate vindication when the forces of pro-civilization can struggle head-on against the forces of chaos.

        This also makes sense to me of a lot of weirdness I see in Blue Tribe, whose logical worst nightmare according to my above formulation should be some sort of fascist holocaust perpetrated against vulnerable minorities. This is something that they both dread (and seemingly think much more likely than the Red Tribers they fear might perpetrate it) and weirdly also seem to kind of long for, for same reasons as above (see e.g. Days of Rage and people trying to precipitate a race war).

    • Jon S says:

      I think fluoride conspiracies are more of a red tribe thing, but I could be wrong about that. That one’s not exactly a superstition, but seems similar to blue tribe fear of GMO’s/etc.

    • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

      A lot of them believe these really implausible things about some ancient guy from Galilee.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I don’t spend much time with the US “red tribe”, but the one proud Trump supporter I spend time with is an anti-vaxxer, uses and recommends various types of “alternative medicine”, and devotes a lot of time to religion. (I don’t know if his particular church is big on things like praying for people, and expecting that to affect their lives/fix their problems, but I count that as just as superstitious as avoiding black cats.)

  17. Your number 4 link for Dick goes to a Wikipedia article on nominative determinism. I assume that is a joke, but after following the other three links I don’t think it is a fair comment. At worst, he is being mildly unfriendly.

    I now conclude that both your indefinite suspensions are overreactions (I had a reasonable idea of Conrad’s style, didn’t have one of Dick’s).

    Your first link for Matt goes to a statement that is almost certainly false but he probably believed it to be true and, given that, he was making a legitimate (but I think mistaken) argument in a somewhat aggressive fashion. So I think you are over reacting to him and Deiseach as well.

    If those four are the worst you could find the blog is in pretty good shape, so far as rudeness and hostility are concerned.

    • sty_silver says:

      I strongly disagree. I’m sure Matt thought that what he said was true, but the standard is not “speak what you think is true and necessary”

      if you are going to be angry or sarcastic, what you say had better be both true and necessary. You had better be delivering a very well-deserved smackdown against someone who is uncontroversially and obviously wrong, in a way you can back up with universally agreed-upon statistics.

      His comment clearly violates that standard.

      Also disagree on both people who were banned indefinitely. I think the comments linked are more than bad enough to warrant it.

    • Aapje says:

      I think that Scott typically both underreacts and overreacts. He seems to dislike moderating so much that he lets a lot of things slide, but then he overreacts when he does intervene, presumably so he doesn’t have to deal with those people again soon.

    • James says:

      Were Conrad Honcho and Dick warned before? It seems a little harsh to jump straight to an indefinite ban. (Wait, now I can’t remember whether ‘indefinitely’ has usually tended to mean ‘forever’ or ‘until I say so’.)

      I do agree that they could both behave pretty egregiously.

      • EchoChaos says:

        It usually means either “forever” or “unless the commentators vehemently react”.

        He’s been talked out of indefinite bans on Deiseach before (hence his comment) and on me. Commentator reaction is something he will consider if it is well reasoned.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          Dick is the person I want to wheedle Scott into reinstating, if I only get to pick one.

        • onyomi says:

          At this point I feel like Deiseach should just get a special papal dispensation for her unique brand of cantankerousness. No one else can cite it as grounds for additional exceptions because no one’s posting style is anything like Deiseach, which is why no one really wants to see her go each time she gets banned.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            At this point I feel like Deiseach should just get a special papal dispensation for her unique brand of cantankerousness.

            Treat some papal different from others?

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Any argument for unbanning Deiseach will, I think, need to factor in the possibility that she was banned for being less than her usual uniquely cantankerous self. Bad Anthony Hopkins might still be a much better actor than you, but is he then worth all the money you’re paying?

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        I don’t think they were warned (at least it’s not mentioned on the comments page) and I agree that makes it a bit harsh. I’m going to be a bit unsportsmanlike and break with convention by saying I did not generally find Conrad Honcho’s comments to be valuable and would have been happy to see him banned after a warning, but I still think this is too severe.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I come to defend Honcho as well. I believe it is unjust to ban somebody without warning who has been commenting here a while and making a good-faith effort to keep within the rules.

        Where the rules are clear, Honcho has been careful not only to follow the rules but also remind others to do so as well (1, 2, 3).

        Much as you may not like the direction comment threads have been going lately, letting them do so without saying anything does amount to tacitly sending the message that this is acceptable. It’s not fair to then indefinitely ban people for trying to follow your spoken rules because they broke an unspoken one.

        I believe the just course would be either red-text warnings or 1 month timeouts for both Honcho and Mr. Nominative Determination. If they violate after that, it’s fair to ban indefinitely.

        Bark before you bite, basically.

        • Corey says:

          The red-text warnings have a failure mode though: Scott can’t keep up and AFAIK we don’t have email notification of replies.

          Anecdote: I didn’t see my warning for several months, and saw it while browsing the comment-policy page, because it came long after my post and I wasn’t reading that thread anymore. I wasn’t commenting much and don’t care about the relevant issue anymore, so I coincidentally didn’t do the stuff warned against.

          As best as I can tell, the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” checkbox will notify you of every comment on that particular (in this case, the whole of the Open Thread), which isn’t useful.

          • liate says:

            SSC does have email notification of replies, but it’s a service external to the ssc wordpress site and not very well publicized.

            Go to https://sscnotify.bakkot.com/subscribe?author_name= <username> (ie, https://sscnotify.bakkot.com/subscribe?author_name=Corey. (Then, presumably, there’s something you put your email into to get the emails?) Then any time someone replies to you or has @<username> (ie @Corey) in their comment, you get emailed.

            Edit: forgot how html works

            @Scott
            Could you put links to all the useful comments scripts in the Comments page linked in the top of the page? It’d be nice not to have to go trolling through years-old open threads every time we want to tell someone about the only showing new comments script, or the reply notifications.

          • Jaskologist says:

            I agree; that’s a failure mode. Mentioning the warning in an OT would go a long way towards mitigating it.

            There seems to be a general consensus in the ratsphere that swifter, smaller, more certain punishments are much more effective than infrequent, uncertain but very harsh punishments. Our moderation policy is currently the latter, and indeed seems to be failing to achieve the desired results. I’m saying we move to the former, which I think is both more effective and more just.

          • Randy M says:

            I three day ban and note on the comment page would be sufficiently long to be noticed and sufficiently short to count as a warning. In most cases, imo.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            three day ban and note on the comment page would be sufficiently long to be noticed and sufficiently short to count as a warning. In most cases, imo

            IMO, I would go with one week. A three day ban often squeezes between two OTs, making it close to meaningless. One week seems sufficiently long to not fail to get the user’s attention.

    • peterj says:

      Whether it was appropriate or not, Scott’s reference to “Nominative determinism” was far too great of an opportunity to pass up

    • albatross11 says:

      I think Conrad adds a fair bit to the discussions here, and I’d like to suggest reducing his ban to a fixed time (maybe three months?) instead of indefinite. Unnecessary snark while honestly expressing interesting (often interestingly wrong, IMO) views seems like a problem that’s corrected by telling the poster to dial back the snark, rather than by permabanning them.

      • J Mann says:

        Seconded.

        It’s Scott’s blog, but it feels a little unfair to ban people who, as Scott says and I agree “otherwise produce good content” without a warning.

        • salvorhardin says:

          Thirded. As a strongly anti-{religious,nationalist,traditionalist, authoritarian} Grey Triber I have plenty of deep disagreements with CH and often thought him wrong on empirics, but I value greatly the opportunity this blog affords to engage with much stronger than usual arguments for views very different from mine.

          A ban of some term is reasonable. I also value the strong enforcement of civility norms without which such engagement would not be productive or pleasant. But indefinite is too strong here.

          • AliceToBob says:

            Fourth-ed!

            Conrad’s posts were often excellent examples of how to argue convincingly for unpopular points of view (even ones that I am uneasy about).

            I’m a working father on the tenure track, and I feel strongly enough about this that I would happily write a 4-5 page document with examples, including why I found those contributions valuable, if such a document had a non-zero chance of reducing his ban to a finite duration (hopefully measured in months, not years).

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        Since we seem to be counting up, here, I will be fifth. I will miss Conrad more than the other three just because he had a more unique point of view. He is consistently pro-Trump without being inane (I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone else like that), and he argued well for other conservative points of view. Much like we could use more leftists here, the truly conservative point of view (non-libertarian) is somewhat rare here.

    • Enkidum says:

      I think all the examples were things that Scott is right to want to avoid. I do think a 3-month ban for both Conrad (with whom I almost never agree on content) and Dick (with whom I usually do agree) would be better than permanent.

      • Randy M says:

        Scott should auction back the offenders return date to them or their friends (or enemies). Increase the reserve bid with each ban, and give the proceeds to charity.
        It’s the optimal utilitarian solution.
        (For superficial, straw versions of utilitarianism that may overlook the possibility of backfiring hilariously)

        • AliceToBob says:

          I would go for that idea too.

          Another way of putting our money (or time) where our mouth is: I posted elsewhere that I’d be willing to write a 4-5 page document about why I have found Conrad’s posts useful, if such a document had a non-zero chance of reducing his ban to a finite duration (hopefully measured in months, not years).

    • Eternaltraveler says:

      I agree with David. I do not think either Dick or Conrad should have indefinite bans. Conrad is basically the only one here who represents a mainstream pro Trump perspective and he defends this position reliably. This is a major loss and will lose us all a very important perspective.

      These bans also seem to represent a major risk to being a prolific commenter. Everyone is not going to always recognize in every moment when they say something they perhaps should word differently and a high frequency of participation is going to greatly increase the risk that will happen. A three month ban should be more than sufficient to communicate that such behavior should be reined in.

    • JohnBuridan says:

      Conrad Honcho has repeatedly floored me by the lack of charity in his comments and arguments with other commenters. I think the ban is well deserved. His attitude is not kind. Although some people want to see a “full throated Trumpism” defended, too often the full throat requires insinuating that “outgroup deserves evil things to happen to them” and several lumps of abominably, infelicitous phrasing.

      I don’t like seeing people banned. But I also think Conrad merits correction.

  18. Clutzy says:

    Another data point has emerged in the conspiracy theory space that is, IMO, another strong data point against the anti-conspiracy theorist talking points which boil down to: 1. “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” and 2. “There is no way this wouldn’t have leaked.” This event is:

    Antonio Brown to the Patriots.

    • Secretly French says:

      Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

      This phrase was injected into the english language by people who were not stupid, and who definitely were malicious, and who wanted to be able to plead to a lesser charge if and when caught plying their sinful trade.

      • Joseph Greenwood says:

        I assumed on first reading that this was a clever conspiracy theory joke, but having read your jab against Scott downthread I am revising my estimates of your tone. Do you have any sources, or are you making fun here?

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Unsourced knowledge of a Napoleon-related conspiracy against anglophones… As they say on Reddit, username checks out.

        • Secretly French says:

          Alas you’re right, I don’t have a source wherein someone credibly claims to have uncovered the origin of that phrase having been a masterful long-game inception of an idea into a civilisation as the set up to a subsequent deception, I’m just presenting an idea. Please don’t mistake me for actually believing what I said literally, it was meant to be amusing and ironic for sure; nevertheless I am also not kidding in the least when I say that if I were evil, and I were caught being evil, and I knew that I’d be punished less severely if my judges thought I were merely stupid and not evil, that yeah I would pretend to be stupid, and so would all smart evil people. To spell out my idea and ruin the joke, I would caution you that when you claim publicly that you “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”, you are kind of giving away the keys to your castle in that sense.

          • Nick says:

            nevertheless I am also not kidding in the least when I say that if I were evil, and I were caught being evil, and I knew that I’d be punished less severely if my judges thought I were merely stupid and not evil, that yeah I would pretend to be stupid, and so would all smart evil people.

            Fortunately, lots of smart evil people are too full of themselves to pass as stupid. Vices have a way of compounding.

            you are kind of giving away the keys to your castle in that sense.

            Not necessarily. Law has practiced “innocent until proven guilty” for a very long time, but we still catch thieves.

      • rubberduck says:

        I was about to ask for a source, since Wikipedia says there are a few possibilities for the origin of the phrase, but then I realized that that I would be asking you not to attribute to malice something adequately explained by stupidity. Well played. (But if you’re serious then source?)

        EDIT: nvm, I posted before refreshing the comments and have read your response above.

    • Tarpitz says:

      An unusual case, in that the question is not “conspiracy or cock-up” but “conspiracy or Sith mind control powers”.

    • Aftagley says:

      Antonio Brown to the Patriots.

      Could we get context on this for the non-sportsball literate among us?

      • hls2003 says:

        Antonio Brown is an aging wide receiver in the NFL. He was one of the top WR’s in the league with the Pittsburgh Steelers, until he acted obnoxiously and forced his way to the Raiders and signed a moderately lucrative new contract this past offseason. He then behaved even more obnoxiously, including weird stuff about wearing his old helmet, having frost-bitten feet, and threatening to punch his general manager who (I think) he called a “cracker.” Following these issues, the Raiders released him too and cancelled his contract. He then was signed by the New England Patriots, at a cheaper rate, on a “prove it” contract; New England has a reputation for taming talented but problematic personalities due to the gravitas of Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady.

        The end result is that the Patriots get (arguably) a still-top-end wide receiver at a bargain price, when they are already coming off a Super Bowl win with a talented team.

        • Aftagley says:

          Ok, where’s the conspiracy in this?

          Is the allegation that he secretly wanted to be on the Patriots the whole time and acted like a dick until he could get a less-profitable contract?

          Or is the conspiracy that somehow that Pats engineered this whole situation?

          • hls2003 says:

            In the Antonio Brown instance the statement is (mostly) tongue-in-cheek. Belichick has sort of an evil-genius schtick going on, and the Patriots have previously been punished for allegedly cheating in various ways (e.g. illegally filming opponents’ practices). So when a gift-wrapped talented and relatively cheap WR falls into their lap, the dark humor is to say Belichick must have masterminded the whole thing. In truth, AB seems to just be basically a borderline personality disorder headcase. Also, the Raiders are pretty dysfunctional, so AB may have snatched the money, then thought better of it and tantrum-like-a-fox’d his way to a more winning situation. But mostly I think he’s just a headcase.

          • Protagoras says:

            Brown was traded from the Steelers to the Raiders. It is unlikely the Steelers would have agreed to a trade directly to the Patriots (bad blood between the two), and anyway the Raiders had to give the Steelers something (though admittedly it wasn’t very much; a third and a fifth round draft pick) in the trade. The Raiders cut Brown, which allowed the Patriots to sign him without having to negotiate with anybody else or giving up anything. So it works out well for the Pats. As to why Brown might want it that way, if he wants to play for a winning team, the Pats are a much, much better bet than the Raiders, though as you say the conspiracy theory implausibly has him giving up on a substantial amount of money. Though Brown’s contract with the Patriots isn’t that stingy; he’s not playing for league minimum or anything. Could make $15 million this year, which I believe is close to what he would have made for the year playing for the Raiders, though his Pats deal isn’t multi-year.

          • Anthony says:

            Adding to the conspiracy is the fact that due to the timing, Brown wasn’t allowed to play with the Patriots this past Sunday, which gives him an extra week to learn how to catch deflated balls.

          • Clutzy says:

            Adding further is that there are fairly reliable sources that the Patriots offered decent assets for Brown, but the Steelers were mortified of him going there, so instead took much less from the Raiders.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            AB is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and adding him to the Patriots – certainly the best team in the NFL – makes a monster team even more monstrous. So, when the Patriots offered the Steelers a first-round pick in the draft in return for Brown last year, the Steelers said no. Instead, they sent him to the non-contending Oakland Raiders for a 3rd round and a 5th round pick.

            Now, Brown had always been a locker room cancer, but things got even more cancerous in Oakland this summer. There was a series of bizarre events, involving frozen feet, non-regulation helmets, a racial slur, an illegally taped phone call, and probably more that I’ve forgotten. Finally, the Raiders had no choice but to cut Brown.

            Within an hour of being cut by the Raiders, Brown had signed with the Patriots – where he’d indicated last year was where he always wanted to end up. His deal is structured so most of his money comes in future years, so he doesn’t give up that much money, and he makes the best team in the league even better. And to top it off, there’s rumors – I’m not certain how credible – that he hired a social media consultant to coach him on getting cut by the Raiders in order to free him up for the Patriots.

            So basically the conspiracy is that AB deliberately acted like a dick until he was cut and could join the Pats, with the Pats secretly conniving the entire time to pick up a great WR for peanuts AND they keep the 1st round pick they initially offered for him. The Steelers are out the 1st round pick but still have the less-valuable 3rd and 5th round picks, while the Raiders, already one of the bottom-dwelling teams, just lost draft picks for no return at all. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer in the NFL.

  19. James says:

    I asked a few weeks ago for advice on prepping for a trial week as a contractor as a React Native developer at an app development agency. In return for the helpful advice I got, it’s only fair to let you know how I got on. (Fair warning: I suspect this will only be of interest to software developers.)

    First things first: I guess I passed the evaluation; they liked me and want me back for more. They have about three weeks’ work for me starting next week, and I think some bigger projects further in the future. The pay is good and the contract-based nature of the work suits me well. (I’m a musician, so periods of paid work with long gaps inbetween which I can devote to my little musical pet project suit me well.) So I’m happy with this result.

    Someone here (I’m sorry, I don’t remember who) expressed that it sounded like I was probably well-equipped enough for the job and my freaking out was just some form of imposter syndrome. This was probably true as far as my technical skills in the very narrow sense of coding itself were concerned, and I was able to pick things up quickly enough on that front. Where I felt not quite up to speed was in the tools, workflow, and process surrounding the coding itself—using an issue tracker and submitting patches against it, code review, etc. My last job was one of those weird, dead-end dev roles working on a bespoke in-house application as the only technical person in a non-tech organisation, and before that, I was freelancing on web stuff. I liked that work, but it probably didn’t leave me properly prepared for working as part of a team—I felt a bit like I’d fallen out of touch with the shared tools and culture of my profession. On the other hand, everywhere has their own set-up for this stuff, so it would be insane to expect an outsider to already know it all.

    The other part of the reason I was freaking out about being well-prepared came from a sense that that they might have different expectations for a ‘contractor’ (whom one might expect to hit the ground running) than for an ’employee’ (in whom one might be willing to invest a bit more time while they learn the ropes). But ultimately they didn’t seem unhappy with how long it took me to pick this stuff up.

    I also felt a bit outsiderish when I turned up. It’s hard to explain exactly, but I had a vaue sense of coming from a slightly different background to the other devs at the company—a linuxy, command-line-y, vim-using geek, surrounded by macbook-y, vscode-using geeks. But as my week with them went on, those differences came to seem only skin-deep. (When I turned up with my boxy, linux-running thinkpad, they had to lend me a macbook, as the project I was working on was only set up for iOS. I’ll have to get my own for the next block of work I do for them. Never thought I’d become a macbook guy.)

    • JPNunez says:

      Macbooks are lovely unix machines underneath.

      Chances are you won’t stray far from having a terminal open at all times.

      • James says:

        Yeah, I’m no fan of Apple, but I found myself quite liking the OS when I had to use one at a previous job. With the terminal, gvim, firefox, and brew, I’m 90% of the way to my usual linux experience.

        The thing I’ll miss most is my window manager.

  20. rubberduck says:

    What are your guys’ favorite and least favorite map projections?

    I’ll start. (Disclaimer: I am not a cartographer nor mathematician and deciding mostly based on aesthetics.)

    Favorite: Winkel-Tripel. Nice compromise on shape and size distortion, if I had to hang a map of the world on my wall it would be this projection.

    Also, honorable mention to the Hammer Retroazimuthal for shear weirdness.

    Least favorite: Gall-Peters. If you MUST go with an equal-area projection, why this one? Africa stretched out vertically while Greenland is stretched out horizontally! Nobody wins with this projection. Horrible. There are uglier/worse projections out there but this one is unexpectedly popular.

    • Lillian says:

      As is often the case, there is a relevant xkcd. In my case my favourite is the Robinson projection which is just obviously the best looking one of the lot. Like when i picture a globe flattened unto a map, it’s Robinson that i’m expecting, it just looks right. Winkel-Tripel by comparison looks slightly off, the pinched tops might cause less distortion but it’s just weird. And yes i do in fact wear comfortable running shoes everywhere, like coffee, and enjoy the Beatles.

      The worst looking one, obviously Gall-Peters. Seriously, is the anyone who likes that thing?

      • James says:

        One of the small number of actually funny XKCDs. It’s hard to put my finger on what’s so good about it, though.

      • Secretly French says:

        I like it. I like it for being equal-area without being a stupid lozenge shape. I think the lozenge undermines the point of equal-area, psychologically. I don’t care about shape distortion because unlike you americans, I don’t live in a country with perfectly straight 2000 mile long roads.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          But why is equal-area desirable to begin with?

          • EchoChaos says:

            It’s nice to be able to visually compare how big something is when looking at a map.

            There are lots of people who don’t realize how big Africa really is, to use the most common example.

          • Secretly French says:

            Equal area is desirable because what’s the point of a map? You may as well just be looking at a list of places, unless the spatial relationship between them is relevant. If you are trying to pretend that you don’t think it’s outrageous that a generation of plebs grew up thinking Greenland was as big as Africa, well I don’t believe you.

          • bean says:

            Equal area is desirable because what’s the point of a map? You may as well just be looking at a list of places, unless the spatial relationship between them is relevant.

            But why does that mean equal-area is the right answer? Yes, the areas are correct, but why is area inherently more important than shape, which is preserved pretty well by a lot of projections, but horribly by Gall-Peters. If I was teaching geography, I’d probably talk about projections early on, but the main map would be something like Robinson or Winkel Triple.

            If you are trying to pretend that you don’t think it’s outrageous that a generation of plebs grew up thinking Greenland was as big as Africa, well I don’t believe you.

            If I was going through my list of outrages at geography education, that wouldn’t make the top 20.

        • bean says:

          Gall-Peters is merely one of a large number of similar projections, several of which (Hobo-Dyer, for instance) don’t distort the area near the equator nearly as much. This is perhaps the most annoying thing about Peters and his campaign. His map isn’t unique by any means, and even if you insist on square world maps (which I think is bad practice) there are better options.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Secretly French

            Is this a joke I am missing or are you culture-warring intentionally in the no-CW thread?

          • Aftagley says:

            If I remember my cartographic kerfuffles, when Gall-Peters’ map was roundly ignored by the geographic community, the GPer’s claimed it was only because of antipathy towards non-whites.

            I also can’t tell if Secretly French is referencing that debacle, or claiming it as being true. Principle of charity dictates that I proceed as if it’s the former.

          • bean says:

            I have absolutely no problem with it being 45° whatsoever, since then vertical stretching and horizontal stretching are balanced.

            1. What does “balanced” even mean in this context? Selection of a parallel for this is going to be primarily aesthetic, and while there are lots of good-looking equal-area cylindrical projections, Gall-Peters isn’t among them.
            2. There’s a lot more territory near the equator than near the poles.

            but if you hate Gall-Peters, I am forced to infer that you’re just a white supremacist, I’m sorry.

            Hate is somewhat strong to describe my feelings towards that projection, but I do strongly dislike it. Not out of any feelings of white supremacy or whatever Peters and his followers ascribe to their opponents. I’m very much in favor of clever maps as tools for challenging geographic thought. One of my favorites, which isn’t currently on my wall but has been in the past, is “The US as seen from Canada”. It’s upside-down.

            The problem is that Peters has picked an ugly projection, and then followed it up with a bunch of unjust and idiotic attacks upon the cartographic community. I’m no more in favor of Mercator as a decorative/teaching map than anyone else with the slightest acquaintance with cartography. It’s idiotic publishers who keep the thing alive. Nor is his projection particularly special. It’s a case of a well-known class, and the technical claims made about it are either false or shared by other members of that class.

          • Secretly French says:

            @bean

            Selection of a parallel for this is going to be primarily aesthetic

            Is that a fact is it now, o pontificater? I choose 45° because then half the area of the resulting map is stretched vertically, and half is stretched horizontally. This is the sense in which I use the word “balanced”, and it isn’t primarily aesthetic, it’s based on my intuition about how to present distortion in a plain fashion, so it can be understood consciously, and not bypassed unconsciously. It’s the same line of reasoning which gives me to reject perfidious lozenge maps.

            @Aftagley

            You are very charitable and you are right, but I am also angling a little bit to be banned, in solidarity with Deiseach.

          • bean says:

            Is that a fact is it now, o pontificater? I choose 45° because then half the area of the resulting map is stretched vertically, and half is stretched horizontally.

            For someone who is so strongly in favor of equal-area maps, you’re not considering how such maps work. 45 degrees may be halfway between the equator and the poles along a given meridian, but that doesn’t mean half of the Earth’s surface is above that line. In fact, I think the map projection you should be advocating is the Behrmann, which is 30 degrees instead of 45. You’re welcome.

            This is the sense in which I use the word “balanced”, and it isn’t primarily aesthetic, it’s based on my intuition about how to present distortion in a plain fashion, so it can be understood consciously, and not bypassed unconsciously.

            There are lots of ways to present distortion. One is to declare one map the “true and best”. Another is to make sure that we use a variety of projections based on what we’re trying to do. Seriously, if I was to become a geography teacher, cartography would be close to the top of my lesson plan.

            It’s the same line of reasoning which gives me to reject perfidious lozenge maps.

            Care to remind me what perfidity I’m committing by favoring those?

            Edited to remove something that was probably uncharitable.

          • Lambert says:

            You can hate equal area maps without being a white supremacist.

            I, for an example, am an Inuit, Saami and Emperor Penguin supremacist.
            /s

      • Anthony says:

        Because of relevant xkcd, I am now a big fan of the Peirce Quincuncial projection.

        I think the administration of the Galapagos should use it for their world maps, with the centers at 0, 90 E/W and 180 longitudes.

      • In an interesting coincidence, that comic was published in 2011. At the time, I was living in graduate student housing, and the community center there had (has?) a prominently displayed Gall-Peters map complete with sidebar explaining how it was the only true anti-colonialist map projection.

        My opinions on politically correct cartography are best left to a non-integral OT…

    • Lambert says:

      Azimuthals and retroazimuthals are popular amongst Muslims, so they know which direction Mecca is in.
      Might get one centred on my house.

      The Euler Spiral projection nice because you can make it arbitarily conformal and equal-area.

      Obligatory XKCD

    • Peter says:

      Possibly controversial opinion: I like a good old-fashioned plate carrée. Only slightly less than 2000 years old, originally just the obvious way to do things, but I think in these days of fiddly “compromise” projections like Robinson and Winkel-Tripel, it’s a marvelously non-fiddly compromise projection.

      A while back, prompted initially by the relevant xkcd, I read Rhumb Lines and Map Wars by Mark Monmonier. It’s a good read, especially on the Peters phenomenon.

      Anyway, Monmonier does not like the plate carrée at all and expresses his annoyance at it cropping up again in various places. I don’t know how widespread this opinion in.

      My inner conspiracy nut says the ugliness of Gall-Peters is actually a feature, considered the right way. Consider: a lot of the time we don’t look at a whole world map, but at a map of some selected country or continent or whatever. Generally[1] this is done in a projection optimised for the thing you’re looking at. So we’re pretty familiar with low-distortion shapes of things – but we see them at various scales, so we’re less familiar with sizes. So a projection that preserves shape well but distorts size (e.g. Mercator) will look more familiar than one that distorts shape but preserves size (e.g. Gall-Peters). So when someone says “you’ve been seeing things all wrong, this is what things are really like” and shows a Gall-Peters, it, err, makes quite a statement.

      (All that said, there was a time I was wondering about the north of Canada and Greenland, saying “the Mercator makes them look mega-pointy, let’s see what they look like on a globe”. It turns out, a lot pointier than I was expecting. It’s not just Gall-Peters here – a lot of our favourite compromise projections squish down the tops there too. So maybe my familiarity theory isn’t the whole story)

      Honourable mention: Mollwiede for equal area.

      [1] A while back there were cases of British weather maps in an orthographic projection – basically, looking at a globe from far away, with the equator viewed side-on to be a flat line. This squashed down Scotland but left England relatively undistorted…

    • johan_larson says:

      I don’t have a strong preference among Robinson, Eckert IV and Winkel-Tripel. I agree Gall-Peters is ugly. The equatorial areas look squashed from the sides, and the polar regions look squashed from the top.

    • eremetic says:

      Favorite: the Mercator. Maps are for navigation, and the Mercator is a navigator’s map.

      Least favorite: Nobody likes Gall-Peters. My theory is that Peters chose an ugly projection intentionally to increase the signaling factor of choosing the “unbiased” morally superior map.

    • Machine Interface says:

      Favorite: Dymaxion. Very little distorsion, less culturally biased, adaptable for many different purposes.

      Least favorite, I don’t know. Most projections look goofy in some way.

    • EchoChaos says:

      Maps! My absolute favorite topic. My walls are decorated with antique maps and I can usually detect the age of a map to within a decade based on geography.

      The Winkel-Tripel is lovely, but I actually don’t have any. Mercator is the one that dominates my walls because it was most common in the mid-century. I do have a couple of Toblers and really want a Goode homolosine.

      I hadn’t seen the Hammer Retroazimuthal and now I’m tempted to get one as well.

      I have tons of globes, which is what I always bring down to instruct my kids, and they’re my only “modern and normal” maps. All the rest are either old or weird stuff like the Atlas of True Names.

      Being against Gall-Peters is right and just.

      • Enkidum says:

        My walls are decorated with antique maps and I can usually detect the age of a map to within a decade based on geography.

        One of my most successful renovation jobs involved buying a few old atlases and wallpapering my bathroom with them, then varnishing the whole thing. Looked cool as hell.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Brilliant! BRB, pitching to my wife for future use.

        • Lambert says:

          I’m entirely unsurprised that the SSC commentariat is full of people who put antique maps on their walls.

          Which reminds me, I’ve got a Patrick Moore lunar map poster that probably came with the Radio Times or Sky at Night magazine years back. Ought to put that up.

      • I’ve got a great 19th-century map framed (one frame per hemisphere) next to my dining room table. (xkcd says it’s from 1854-1856.) I will never get tired of looking at Central Africa and reading “Unexplored Regions.”

        The adjoining wall has a map of Middle-Earth.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Getting a high quality map of Middle Earth is on my list as well. It’s my desktop background.

          I have a mirror whose reflective surface is the continents on a replica of a map from 1754.

        • Corey says:

          Described in a Discworld book is a map of a city with “Here Be Dragons” labeled on one lot – home to a lady who breeds and trains dragons.

      • What kind of globes do you have?

        • EchoChaos says:

          My favorites are Cram’s Universals, but I generally teach my kids on a nice Rand McNally from 1983 because it’s close enough to today’s boundaries.

          My absolute favorite is a Cram’s Universal 9 inch from 1939, just after the annexation of Czechoslovakia because it’s such an interesting find to have a map from such a precise period.

          I also have a Cram’s 12 inch from the 1950s and a 16 inch.

    • bean says:

      I like maps and map projections a lot, but my favorite depends on what I’m doing. For world maps, I think I’d probably say Winkel, although Waterman is cool, too. Mercator is great if I’m navigating, but should not be used for world maps. Gall-Peters is an unimaginative and slightly ugly projection that has acquired unfortunate political overtones.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      Equirectangular, not because it has any redeeming qualities, but because when I was trying to make a map and weather system for my fantasy world as a kid it was the easiest for me to understand working with Microsoft paint. It’s easily pixelated. So I could overlay my world on ours and torture it until the sizes made sense. I also eventually found GIMP, and an app that let you change equirectangular maps into globes which was truly the apex of my world building career.

      This reminds me though how much I loved globes, and how I always wanted one. And now I have my own house and I can get a globe. Can I hijack this thread and get globe recommendations? Gotta be a desktop model. Those big floor ones are cool but were never really the object of my desire. What a weirdly attainable goal I’ve put off until now…

      No points for the Mercator globe.

    • Infrared Wayne says:

      I’ve always been partial to Cahill-Keyes. Surprised nobody has mentioned it yet.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Any recommendations for a map optimized for the ocean floors rather than the continents?

    • I quite like the Boggs eumorphic projection (which is conceptually similar to the Goode homolosine projection). I can’t say much in its defence other than that I just happen to like the aesthetics of it.

    • Tatterdemalion says:

      I’m fond of the Pierce Quincuncial – any map from a sphere to a plane is going to involve distortion, and getting around that by hiding as much of it as possible in the sea is a clever solution. The tesselating property is cool too.

      Controversially, I dislike a lot of the heavily non-convex maps like the Waterman and the Dymaxion that map geeks go in for – I think the purpose of a map should be either navigation (in which case you want Mercator) or illustration (in which case I think you want something convex, either an ellipse or a rectangle).

    • phi says:

      Surprised no one has mentioned the stereographic projection: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereographic_projection#Cartography

      It would require an infinite map to display the entire Earth, and it messes with areas like heck, but hey, at least it’s mathematically elegant.

    • johan_larson says:

      This thread deserves some sort of award for deep geekery.

      In future installments, we will discuss our favorite bible translations, musical temperaments, Magic: The Gathering color combinations, functional programming languages, spelling reforms, and Byzantine emperors.

      • Peter says:

        Byzantine Emperors, yay! I’m gonna have to decide between Irene and Basil I – or maybe Zoe. Chosen for interesting stories, rather than things like competence or morality or whatever.

        Musical temperaments – the more I look into all of this xenharmonic stuff and all the old tuning systems, the more I get an appreciation for equal temperament, especially when I actually do some listening. Gotta love the way chords shimmer and vibrate due to the ratios being not quite exact.

        So, yeah, sounds like a good plan.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Come on, best Byzantine Emperor is obviously Justinian, which can be stated in a CW Free thread because it’s obviously correct.

        The only bible translation is the Authorized Version, given to King James by the divine writ itself.

        And if you’re not Blue/White, frankly you’re garbage.

        🙂

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Blue is brokenly good, but it’s not obvious to me how White is its best synergy.

          • EchoChaos says:

            I haven’t played seriously since Fourth Edition, but it used to be that Blue/White was an incredibly strong turtle deck that just outwore and outlasted the opposition.

            I haven’t the least idea where the meta stands now.

          • Aftagley says:

            Blue is brokenly good, but it’s not obvious to me how White is its best synergy.

            Speaking in highly general terms here, there are of course exceptions to everything I’m saying. This also focuses on eternal formats, not standard:

            Blue, as a color, is designed around two strengths – Tempo and Control. Most successful blue decks are going to lean into one of those two options and capitalize on them. For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll be focusing on control, since that’s what most almost all blue/white decks are.

            Blue is the dominant control color because of its fantastic ability to draw cards. No other color in the game lets you draw as much as blue. Blue also has access to amazing disruption in the form of counterspells. What blue is bad at, however, is dealing with threats once they’re on the board. Sure, you can bounce them (send them back to your opponents hand) but that puts you down a card and doesn’t solve your problem. Blue lacks any good “kill that creature” or even better “kill every creature” options.

            Enter white: depending on how you judge it, white has either the second or third best removal in the game. It tends to be more expensive and less utilitarian than red’s removal (which can also go upstairs and deal direct damage if it’s not needed) but red struggles at dealing with big threats. White doesn’t have this problem, since it’s most powerful removal tends to exile or kill instead of do damage.

            Black’s removal is great, but black doesn’t normally pair well with other colors, it’s pretty mana intensive and doesn’t have that many synergies, especially in control. White on the other hand tends to have minimal mana requirements. White also has some of the best sweepers (full board clearing cards) in the game. This is great for control, which doesn’t really want to play anything early game anyway.

            Thus, blue pairs with white. You’re average BW deck is going to want to spend the first 4 turns countering anything that looks like it might be a threat. Any mana they have left over will be spent playing instant-speed card draw spells. As soon as they have the ability to safely do so, they’ll cast a board-sweeper spell, then go back to countering everything. Eventually, they play a single threat and ride it to victory.

            This was fun to write. If you’d like an effort post on MTG strategies, let me know.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            @Aftagley:

            average BW deck is going to want to spend the first 4 turns countering anything that looks like it might be a threat.

            Just a note: in standard Magic terminology, blue is repesented by U rather than B, since black is also B. So it would be a UW deck.

            @EchoChaos:

            I haven’t played seriously since Fourth Edition, but it used to be that Blue/White was an incredibly strong turtle deck that just outwore and outlasted the opposition.

            I haven’t the least idea where the meta stands now.

            Note that the meta is totally different depending on what format you’re playing. But many blue-white decks generally work pretty much on those exact principles: blue’s draw and counterspells let you be pretty sure you’ll win the long game, so your goal with the rest of the deck is to make sure you get to the long game game.

            One principle we look at in the Magic metagame is “who’s the beatdown”. In any two-player Magic game, one of the players will do better in the endgame. Since only one player can win, that means that the other player, who we term “the beatdown” since his deck will usually be more creature-heavy and attacky, will be looking to end the game before that point. UW decks are usually not the beatdown.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Moonfirestorm

            Yeah, I struggled between using an abbreviation that is correct but would look like a typo to a layperson and one that would be more generally readable, but look like a mistake to an insider.

            In retrospect, I should have just written out Blue/White.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            In my case, the best control deck I had, back around Unlimited, wasn’t blue-white. It was blue-artifact.

            It centered around four Nevinyrral’s Disks, and ways to protect them and bring them back. Almost everything else was various counterspells. If I didn’t like something you brought out, it got Power Sunk, Spell Blasted, or Counterspelled, depending on what I had. If I had nothing, you got it out, but you often didn’t get to use it before it went into the Disk. Sideboard had Control Magic (blue DOES have a cheap way to counter creature threats!) and Magical Hack (for that one guy who likes Tsunamis a little too much). As foretold, I eventually ride one single threat to victory, and it was Mishra’s Workshops – lands that became creatures, attacked, then went back to being lands.

            As simple as it was, it ended up winning tournaments, so I think it did the trick. Although now, some twenty or so expansions later, I’m sure modern decks would eat it alive.

          • ECD says:

            Wow, this thread makes me feel old (ETA: this is a joke, not a complaint). My last magic deck relied heavily on a combination of banding and trample to crush my ‘enemies’ (well, friends, as none of my ‘enemies’ played magic, or accepted it as an appropriate means of dispute resolution) underfoot (ETA: this is not a joke, or a complaint, but fond memories).

          • Aftagley says:

            My last magic deck relied heavily on a combination of banding and trample to crush my ‘enemies’

            This is literally the first time I’ve ever heard someone say something nice about banding. I don’t know if you still follow magic, but banding has turned into something of a meme in the past decade or so.

            Was it fun? Did it work? (legitimately curious. As a someone who started within the last half decade, I love hearing “old magic” stories)

          • ECD says:

            Banding worked pretty well, the combination of a rule (at the time, I believe, it may have been changed, or my local group may have just misinterpreted) that allowed the player controlling the banded block to pick where the damage went, meant I could block most creatures and keep all of mine alive, then allocate the damage on attacking so that any blocked damage was from the non-trample creatures.

            Our decks were mostly built out of stuff we got for holidays, or traded with each other, so we didn’t have great decks, but it was pretty successful.

            Now that I think about it, I also had a green and red deck that was mostly just elves to produce mana and fireballs to use the ridiculous amount of mana it could produce to fry people. That worked okay. Would have worked better with something that allowed me to draw more than one card a turn…

          • moonfirestorm says:

            Banding worked pretty well, the combination of a rule (at the time, I believe, it may have been changed, or my local group may have just misinterpreted) that allowed the player controlling the banded block to pick where the damage went, meant I could block most creatures and keep all of mine alive, then allocate the damage on attacking so that any blocked damage was from the non-trample creatures.

            Banding still works that way (Comp Rules 702.21j), and it lets you overkill the creature and assign no damage to yourself even if the attacker has trample, as the game does not force you to efficiently distribute damage among blockers.

            That was part of why banding was so confusing: it had completely different mechanics based on whether the banding creature was attacking or blocking. They kind of worked similarly thematically, that the creature with banding is working together with other creatures and thus has more control over how combat works. But the mechanics were totally different.

            Most of my complaints with banding are that it’s such a pain to understand, and it’s almost not worth explaining how it works because they’re going to think you’re trying to cheat them, especially when you get through the attacking bits and then go “ok, so forget all that because I’m blocking now and it works completely differently” .

            It’s not that bad of a mechanic. When blocking, it lets you block a large creature with your bander + some other guys + a cheap creature you don’t care about, and then dump all the damage on the cheap creature, so you can reliably get favorable trades against large creatures. But most of the instances of it are on creatures from the early ages of the game, which are usually terribly costed by modern standards. Helm of Chatzuk and Baton of Courage could be ok though, likely in a token-heavy list where you have plenty of 1/1s to eat the damage.

            The attacking bits are somewhat limited by the fact that you can only have one non-banding creature in a band, so you’d need to spend a lot of mana banding up all your creatures to build the “supercreature” banding seems to want you to make. And you don’t really benefit from that, because now they can block your whole band with one creature, and they still get to assign their full damage across your band. It would be more useful if you could assign the blocker’s damage the same way blocking creatures with banding assign the attacker’s damage, so at least you can pull a similar trick to the blocking use and throw it all into a sacrificial token.

          • ECD says:

            Oh, yeah, the rules were super complicated, especially the offense vs. defense shifts. Honestly, thinking back at it, and remembering what I was like at that age, it may just be that I won because no one else wanted to figure out how it worked and I thought it worked better than it did.

            I certainly thought that regardless of attacking or defending, the banded block got to choose where the damage went. And, at least on the cards I had, there was no mana cost to activating banding, or anything. Though there was an opportunity cost, as the cards were more expensive (sometimes, costs vs power vs rarity could produce some weird results).

          • moonfirestorm says:

            I certainly thought that regardless of attacking or defending, the banded block got to choose where the damage went

            Attacking with banding: attacker chooses how attacker’s damage is distributed, blocker chooses how blocker’s damage is distributed. Blocker likely takes out several creatures in the band, making an even trade. Net loss for guy with banding, since he spent something to give them banding or used native-banding creatures that are weaker than the same creatures without banding.

            Blocking with banding: blocker chooses how both attacker and blocker’s damage is distributed. Blocker can dump all the damage onto one little creature, getting a nice trade to make up for the resources he spent to use banding.

            And, at least on the cards I had, there was no mana cost to activating banding, or anything.

            Yeah, I was really referring specifically to Helm of Chatzuk and Baton of Courage, and really just Baton of Courage since Helm taps. if you wanted to use banding now, you really wouldn’t want to use creatures that have it natively, because they’re horribly underpowered for their cost due to all the creature power creep. The only way you’re going to be able to use it effectively is giving it to a bunch of modern creatures.

          • ECD says:

            Ah, thanks for the explanation. At this remove, I can’t recall if we played that rule correctly or not. The power creep problem hadn’t really (to my knowledge) at least, started then and we were a bunch of kids who had to rely on what we got out of the random packs, so deck building was always a bit: who’s got what and who’ll trade what?

      • Jaskologist says:

        The best Bible translation, like the best music, is the one I was exposed to when I was young.

      • Randy M says:

        spelling reforms

        I think we covered this last thread, in which I successfully lobbied to change the spelling of bureaucracy*. If you missed it, that’s why we’re talking about government by brewers now.
        (*still had to look it up.)

        Magic: The Gathering color combinations

        Bant, UG for effects, white for aesthetics.

        • moonfirestorm says:

          Bant, UG for effects, white for aesthetics.

          Context: casual tables, EDH.

          The problem with UG has always been that green has no real creature removal suite, and blue’s is often clunky unless you’re aiming to go full control and counter anything remotely threatening.

          The real reason you go Bant is for white’s removal, which is fantastic if you’re playing old cards and quite serviceable even on new cards. White often has a lot of little value creatures that go well with green.

          Another way to think of it is that you’re shoring up white’s weaknesses, which are generally ramp and draw. Its individual cards are very strong but it has issues supporting them sometimes. So you take blue for draw and green for ramp, and going three colors helps you take only the best white cards since white can run a little thin in a format like EDH where you need to come up with a lot of cards.

          • Randy M says:

            Fair enough, but adding black or red would also increase the decks options, especially when swords and paths are too expensive to fill decks with, and the reason I tend to like white are for gallant characters on cards like Knight Exemplar or Angel of Serenity.
            My favorite edh deck was a Roon of the hidden realms deck that used blue cards like stolen identity or progenitor mimic to create tokens of creatures (like that angel) and green and white cards like growing ranks and Trostani to populate those tokens, quite similar to the recent Naya deck that swaps red for blue.

          • Aftagley says:

            white’s weaknesses, which are generally ramp and draw

            Not saying your wrong moonfire, but I think you value ramp more than I/my playgroup does. In general I’ve found that white’s taxation effects and ability to hate out enough of the competition means that it has staying power to negate it’s lack of ramp.

            That being said, approximately 90% of my games I’m piloting either RDW or mono-red goblins, so I might just be biased against spells that cost more than 3 mana to cast.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            @Randy:
            Red has a pretty weak removal suite, at least for the endgame where blue and green tend to shine. White has plenty of cheap options as well: Valorous Stance, Condemn, and Soul Snare are all dirt cheap spot removal that will work for most situations you really want to kill a creature in.

            I agree that blue-green-black is a strong combination as well, particularly since green-black has a few almost-universal removal cards. You don’t get green and white’s synergy with small creatures though, and black tends to do fine on its own as a color so there’s less need to shore it up: it overlaps a lot with blue on draw, so I prefer just pairing it with green, especially since two colors makes Cabal Coffers still viable.

            My favorite edh deck was a Roon of the hidden realms deck that used blue cards like stolen identity or progenitor mimic to create tokens of creatures

            Oh man, I’ve been doing this with everything using Helm of the Host, which also has the nice property of making the tokens nonlegendary. Plus you can animate other types of permanents and start making copies of those. Ever have 8 Gaea’s Cradles in play? Completely unnecessary, but amazing.

            And then if you’re feeling particularly degenerate use something to animate Helm of the Host, copy it, equip the copy to the original, and start making exponentially more and more Helms of the Host.

          • Jake R says:

            @moonfirestorm

            Forerunner of the Empire + Polyraptor is a much easier way to get exponential growth. It’s still completely impractical. I only ever got it off once, but it was legendary.

          • Randy M says:

            Red has a pretty weak removal suite, at least for the endgame where blue and green tend to shine.

            If red shines in the early game, that would complement UG’s late game, wouldn’t it?
            I think you mean in high life/mana formats Red’s removal doesn’t keep pace with large creatures dropped after ramping.

            Valorous Stance

            I love that card, modal spells are tight. Especially for cube, where your card slots are tight.

            Oh man, I’ve been doing this with everything using Helm of the Host, which also has the nice property of making the tokens nonlegendary.

            Drafted Dominaria once in person and was passed, pack one third pick, a pack with two HotH in it. The two guys prior, somewhat newer players, were laughing about the pack having two of the same garbage card in it. I turned to the one who gave it to me and–possibly breaking some draft etiquette–said, “No, no, you’re supposed to take this card. It looks expensive, and at some point you were told high equip cost means a card is bad, but this is a major wincon.” I did not convince them until the game play, but my cubes very much appreciated it.

            If you pick up this guy and get him so equipped, you can make token copies of him that populate themselves to make more token copies of themselves for an exponential increase (edit: although not immediately as in the polyraptor scenario). Hopefully the next Ravnica set is built around Ghired filling up the entire plane, Agent Smith style.

            I only ever got it off once, but it was legendary.

            If it was legendary, it wouldn’t work.

            I’ll show myself out.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            Not saying your wrong moonfire, but I think you value ramp more than I/my playgroup does. In general I’ve found that white’s taxation effects and ability to hate out enough of the competition means that it has staying power to negate it’s lack of ramp.

            Depends on the format a lot I think. The more competitive you get and the tighter the mana curve, the less white’s ramp problems are relevant. In that situation I’d expect a Bant deck to be more of an aggro-control list.

            Legacy used to have a UGW Aether Vial Sliver list called Meathooks that was pretty solid before Merfolk picked up enough extra lords to take that niche over, and I was having fun with a non-tribal variant of that list at some point that just used raw power like Tarmogoyf, Noble Hierarch, and Knight of the Reliquary to make up for the lords. Was powerful enough to beat a professional player at a local tournament, and contributed to her giving up on whatever she was playing at the time (poor girl got matched against my friend playing Dredge the next round).

            Multiplayer versus single-player matters too: using taxation to slow your opponents down works for a while, but it’ll eventually run out. If you just have to take out one person that works fine, but if you’re in a 4 player game it’ll make way more sense to speed yourself up than to slow everyone else down.

            If you’re talking RDW (“red deck wins”- a very aggressive and fast mono-red archetype, for those of you with less Magic familiarity) you’re probably talking a fairly competitive group in single-player, since you’ll almost certainly run out of steam before you get through another life total in even a three-player game, and few casual decks would have any sort of interesting game against RDW.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            @JakeR:

            Forerunner of the Empire + Polyraptor is a much easier way to get exponential growth. It’s still completely impractical. I only ever got it off once, but it was legendary.

            The big problem with that is that all you have to show for it is 5/5s. What are you going to do with it, win the game? Boring!

            With Helm, you can make copies of anything, so you can start multiplying continuous effects and triggers. Play your opponent’s whole deck with Gonti, Lord of Luxury! Give everything -30/-30 with Elesh Norn! Play a single artifact and deck yourself with Jhoira! Make 50 copies of Forerunner of the Empire, 50 copies of Polyraptor, use a Deathless Angel to give a random number of them indestructible, and call a judge to ask how many tokens you have when the dust settles!

          • moonfirestorm says:

            @Randy

            If red shines in the early game, that would complement UG’s late game, wouldn’t it?
            I think you mean in high life/mana formats Red’s removal doesn’t keep pace with large creatures dropped after ramping.

            I agree with that statement. I edited shortly after posting to mention the context I’m talking from, because different cards work so differently with different formats. The combination you’re talking about sometimes works, but you don’t want your deck pulling in a lot of different directions in a tight format, and if you’re using low-cost early-game red removal combined with blue’s long-game card draw it more or less guarantees a lot of dead cards in your hand at some point (which will be compounded if you’re using green ramp, which is generally dead after you have enough mana for your top end).

            And if you’re playing a long-game deck with UG, you’re generally only worried about huge creatures that can outclass your guys, or fast stuff that will kill you before you can set up. Conveniently, that’s exactly where white removal is most effective: attacking creatures and big creatures.

            The one solid competitive URG deck I’ve seen was Canadian Threshold in Legacy, which is basically Force of Will + Bolt + Tarmogoyf. No late game or draw, all tempo, counters, and efficient beaters where you try to keep the opponent from doing anything relevant until their life total’s gone. Eventually I believe green gave way to black, when Delver of Secrets meant you no longer needed Goyf for your clock.

            Counterfire (UR burn-removal-control) has shown up a few times, but it usually needs a format where red removal is particularly strong, or when the creature base is particularly vulnerable to 3-4 damage and thus red removal is more globally effective.

          • Aftagley says:

            If you’re talking RDW (“red deck wins”- a very aggressive and fast mono-red archetype, for those of you with less Magic familiarity) you’re probably talking a fairly competitive group in single-player, since you’ll almost certainly run out of steam before you get through another life total in even a three-player game, and few casual decks would have any sort of interesting game against RDW.

            Yep! I normally play Canadian Highlander, (1v1 100 card singleton, no commander). Multiplayer games are what I have have my mono-red goblins deck for.

          • Randy M says:

            The combination you’re talking about sometimes works, but you don’t want your deck pulling in a lot of different directions in a tight format, and if you’re using low-cost early-game red removal combined with blue’s long-game card draw it more or less guarantees a lot of dead cards in your hand at some point (which will be compounded if you’re using green ramp, which is generally dead after you have enough mana for your top end).

            I don’t know what commander you’re using, but my thought is that that is what Guttersnipe, Talrand, and Young Pyromancer are for. 🙂
            edit: I think you are playing Riku in that deck, and it sounds like a blast.
            (Any chance you are in So. California?)

            One time I played a Temur deck was the exact opposite of that, a Surrak all creature deck to foil my friend playing a Rashmi deck with almost all instants, heavy on the counter spells.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            @Randy:

            I don’t know what commander you’re using, but my thought is that that is what Guttersnipe, Talrand, and Young Pyromancer are for. 🙂
            edit: I think you are playing Riku in that deck, and it sounds like a blast.
            (Any chance you are in So. California?)

            The problem with all of those is that they have to stay on the board, and are clearly significant and easily-removable threats. They also require a pretty heavy focus in instants and sorceries, which a lot of URG commanders won’t play well with. And they still don’t actually solve the problem: a bunch of tokens or some player damage will solve some of the same problems reliable creature removal will since you can just quadruple-block or whatever, but sometimes you’re dealing with an evasive or overly-powerful creature. They also make you a much larger threat to other players, and politics is everything in a multiplayer game.

            I wasn’t referring to specific decks, but deckbuilding problems I have when in those colors. I’ve built Riku a few times, as well as Maelstrom Wanderer, Yasova, Omnath, and (less relevantly) Animar.

            I am not in or near Southern California, unfortunately.

      • Lambert says:

        NIV, 22-EDO, no opinion, λ calculus, Zweite Orthographische Konferenz, The Empress who did the things with the geese.

    • Gerry Quinn says:

      Perhaps we should just look at global projections more. At one time every home had a globe, and I see Google Maps has a globe option.

      Of course unless it’s a VR version we’ll see it in 2D, but presumably our depth perception functions can still be activated, especially when we spin it.

    • I see a few people defending Mercator because of navigation but that defense seems off base because most of these maps are hanging on people’s walls and who is just using maps to navigate now anyways?

      • S_J says:

        Mercator projection has one large positive for long-distance navigation: a straight line on the Mercator projection is a line of constant bearing.

        If I understand it correctly, a ship traveling along a course with a specific bearing relative to the geographic North Pole will travel a path that looks like a straight line on a Mercator projection. That path, if extended far enough, will be a rhumb-line. Such lines are not the best routes to travel, if a navigator desires a shortest-path. But it is the easiest route to describe in sailing instructions, and it is also an easy route to draw on a Mercator projection.

        This is likely the reason why Mercator projection was so common during the age of navigation-by-compass-and-star-chart. The fact that the Mercator projection was widely used for Navigation purposes may have made it the most-commonly-produced-projection.

      • Peter says:

        Navigation – quite a lot of people use Mercators – well, Web Mercators (there’s a minor sphere-vs-elipsoid difference) to navigate. Applications like Google Maps. If you want a great big map that encompases the world, but which you can zoom into deep enough to find your way around town, then conformality is the property you need. Or the almost-conformality of Web Mercator.

        I notice that these days if you zoom Google Maps out far enough it shows a globe, so at least on large scales they’ve abandoned the idea of one big flat map.

        Anyway, I take the “it’s a navigation chart” defense more as an explanation of how the features that Peters et al. complain about came to be, it explains the origin but not widespread use and persistence of Mercators. When accusations are being flung around, it’s worth seeing in detail (including: with attention to motives) which are well-founded and which aren’t.

        Random Mercator side note – when I see a Mercator I often like to see where the centre of the map is – or at least what latitude it is. You have to crop a Mercator, and due to the way that landmasses are arranged it’s very tempting to crop one to cut out Antarctica (a continent that seems to exist in order to make map projections look foolish) but leave in a lot of the pointy bits in the Arctic Circle – this has a tendency to put the equator more than halfway down the map. The standard anti-Mercator line is this is Eurocentric, it puts Europe in the middle. My experience with actually measuring such Mercators as I find says this is not so, yes the equator is below the centre, but the centre is in, or at the latitude of, Africa. Incidentally this seems not to correlate too strongly with how old or imperialistic or colonialistic the map is; I’ve seen an old Mercator from the days when openly celebrating “Her Majesty’s Dominions” was a thing, and the centre was at African latitudes, I’ve seen much more recent Mercators with no such theme (it was on a news site, giving links to regions of world news) with a centre at European latitudes.

        • Gerry Quinn says:

          Another advantage of Mercator is that regions – so long as they are not too large – are the right shape. If you are not assuming a global distance scale, then if you look at a typical country on a Mercator map, you are getting something about as accurate as a 2D map can give you.

  21. Rebecca Friedman says:

    Help request: does anyone know a good, reliable computer repair shop or person in the South Bay?

    Background: I have a rather large, formerly high-end (about 4 years old) gaming PC laptop that is having various problems, but last time I took it to a (well-reviewed!) shop, they spent two weeks breaking it worse, so I’m… currently a little jumpy about just trying places. Anyone have any recommendations for someplace, or someone, really trustworthy?

    • Incurian says:

      If you were to shout “Does anyone know how to fix a computer? It’s for a girl,” at the next less wrong meetup, your problem would become preventing a stampede.

      That being said, what’s wrong with your computer?

      • Error says:

        The problem with that is distinguishing the people who know what they’re doing from the people who only think they do.

        You could maybe filter for the necessary skills by people who actually work in ops (*not* dev). But really, learning to self-repair is the best repair.

        (I’m not in the bay area so have no shop recommendations)

        • Rebecca Friedman says:

          I tried that! I fixed the major problem (computer won’t charge) and caused a minor one (ATM only one of my USB slots is working). Unfortunately, my diagnosis efforts are completely failing to work out what is causing the current problem; I could replace the wifi card, and that would help, but it still throws up errors when I use a USB-connecting wifi device, so it seems unlikely that replacing the wifi card will solve all the problems. (Already tried reinstalling drivers, no dice.) So I defaulted to “OK, I actually need an expert for this one.”

          But thank you for the recommendation! My ultimate goal is to be able to do everything myself, this problem is just significantly above my current skill level.

          • Error says:

            Well, props for aiming in the right place then. 🙂 Wish I could help. I used to work in PC repair, but I’m not sure I want to try to troubleshoot weird hardware issues remotely.

            One simple-ish diagnostic aid is to get a live CD or USB image (Knoppix used to be the best, not sure if it still is), boot off it, and see if the problem still manifests. The idea being to determine whether the issue is something to do with the installed OS/drivers (in which case it will go away when they’re not in use) or something physically wrong with the part (in which case it will still be there).

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            Actually, that’s really helpful. I don’t know how to do it, but it sounds like something I can google how to do, and it would (should, hopefully) solve one of my big diagnostic puzzles. Thank you very much!

      • Rebecca Friedman says:

        To be fair, I’ve never been to a Less Wrong meetup, but if our SSC meetups are representative you may be exaggerating slightly. A quarter of our attendees are girls!

        That said – mostly explained below, but: Several minor things that are the result of my trying to fix it myself, most of which I can live with (out of the original generous five USB slots, currently only one works; that’s probably the worst, but I can just trade things out; etc.) and one major wifi error. Every so often (usually minutes to days, occasionally lately it’s been seconds) the wifi declares that the network it’s connected to has no connection. If refreshed (ie tap the button again), it stops seeing all possible connections other than the one it’s connected to, which remains “no internet” even if everyone else is connecting via the same wifi network just fine. Resetting the wifi card (ie bring up Device Manager, turn off and then on again) fixes it, so presumably replacing the wifi card would work, clearly that’s what’s causing the problem…

        … except that running wifi through an attached USB device doesn’t fix it; I get a less bad (you only have to reset wifi, not the wifi card, and it doesn’t fight you so hard; also, it’s slower about disconnecting, there’s sometimes a very slow phase before the no connection phase) version of the same problem. However, plug a USB connection in (say, a phone tether) and all problems appear to disappear completely (I haven’t tried ethernet yet; I probably should, but the house isn’t very well set up for it, and I actually do need wifi functional). At which point I gave up on diagnosis and decided I needed to ask an expert. Obviously I’d be happy to hear if you have suggestions for anything else I (low-skill, beginner!) could/should try, either for diagnosis or repair. I’m just guessing it’s out of my class.

  22. rho says:

    Belated update to the library of rho

    I’m uploading 3 major works of Von Neumann, his “First Draft Report on the EDVAC” described by Alan Turing as “the definitive source for understanding the nature and design of a general-purpose digital computer.”

    Also included is Von Neumann’s and Oskar Morganstern’s “Theory of Games,” as well as a shorter piece, Von Neumann’s “Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata”

    • b_jonas says:

      Thank you for Neumann’s Automata article. It has historical relevance, even if no practical relevance anymore, and your version is better than the one we had “https://archive.org/download/theoryofselfrepr00vonn_0/theoryofselfrepr00vonn_0.pdf” . If you happen to have a copy of Böhm, C.: “On a family of Turing machines and the related programming language”, ICC Bull. 3, (July 1964), 187-194, we’d be grateful if you could share.

      • rho says:

        Sorry! I don’t seem to have it. But if I ever get back into hunting down rare manuscripts i’ll give that one a go. Not that i’ve added anything particularly rare to this github so far <___<.

        I'm thinking maybe some early quantum mechanics documents or some recreational mathematics next

  23. ask says:

    I made an account just to comment on the reign of terror.
    One thing I have noticed in the comment section is that comments need not meet 2 of 3 conditions, but 2 of 4, where the fourth is “directed at Scott”. I suspect Scott wants to be more lenient with comments that criticise him or his posts, but I think that these comments still degrade conversation quality and often get lots of replies, and if Scott could stomach it I’d like to see less of them.

  24. Murphy says:

    Chiming in to whine on Deiseach’s behalf… those don’t actually seem so bad. A bit sarky and bitter but not OTT.

  25. N Zohar says:

    For anyone who’s been reading and leaving comments on my writing, thank you! There is a new short story up, sort of a fun riff on the simulation hypothesis.

  26. Kuiperdolin says:

    Thought experiment : it’s now scientifically proven that some people are genuinely able to predict the future better than luck (and beyond just what observation/logic gives you). Scientists still argue on the how, but rigourous studies have proven that a few people can instinctly and blindly predict the result of a random event with say 95% accuracy, and the scientific consensus is that such “prophets”, while rare, exist. Even the most skeptic of skeptics admit it, and the news is widely published and publicized.

    However, there is no easy way to certify one of those, because there are only maybe a hundred of them on earth, so even a test that gives 1% false positives will net you almost exclusively non-prophets, plus the field naturally attracts all sorts of charlatans and scammers. So it takes a long, costly trial with lots of clever tests to make sure you are the real deal. A handful go through that process and start consulting with big firms for salaries roughly equals to top CEOs’. But most don’t bother. They may not even know they have the gift.

    In this situation, and all else being equal, do the number of fake fortune-tellers increase or decrease? I can see it going both ways :
    * they now have a legit cover story, even Dawkins admit prophets are a thing.
    * but at the same time they now have the legit thing to compete against.

    So which effect wins? I’m really unsure what I myself think.

    • Enkidum says:

      Just to spoil the fun… this:

      a few people can instinctly and blindly predict the result of a random event with say 95% accuracy

      Is not consistent with this:

      So it takes a long, costly trial with lots of clever tests to make sure you are the real deal.

      Someone with a decent understanding of experimental psychology, statistics, and magic (not real magic, but stage magic, to weed out deliberate frauds) could design a cheap test very easily. Hell, I know very little about magic, but I’ve got the first two, and I’m pretty sure I could do it.

      To answer your question, though, I think the numbers of charlatans stay about the same, with a slight tendency to increase. People have never been all that interested in letting reality impede on their fantasies.

      • Tatterdemalion says:

        The trick here will be cut-down.

        There are seven billion people in the world. Putting seven billion people through a really rigorous test would be incredibly expensive. but putting seven billion people through a “predict the outcome of these 20 coin flips while I watch” test, then putting the one in 776 who got 17 or more right through a “predict the outcome of these 100 coin flips under moderately rigorous scrutiny” test and rejecting anyone who doesn’t get at least 80 will weed you down to the point where you have no-one except for true prophets and skillfull scam artists, and there will be few enough left at that point to test them as rigorously as you like.

        • Nick says:

          Yeah, it seems to me this is the sort of test a government could administer to schoolchildren. And every government in the world would have reason to do it and do it right.

          • baconbits9 says:

            That depends on the frequency (also governments don’t have good incentives), if there are 100 prophets in the world at any one time then a country needs ~ 70 million people to expect to have 1 prophet in its population at any time. If you are testing every 5 year old in a country with 5 million people with a life expectancy of 80 then you have a pretty tiny chance of finding a prophet each year.

            Further than that a large chunk of the population will simply test their kids at home ahead of time, so unless you are looking to institute travel bans for every family with a child between 1 and 5 who hasn’t been tested many of those who find prophets will be moving to avoid detection.

          • albatross11 says:

            Find the first prophet, then have him predict when/where the next prophets will be born.

        • baconbits9 says:

          but putting seven billion people through a “predict the outcome of these 20 coin flips while I watch” test,

          So in other words an impossible to administer test?

          • SnapDragon says:

            In Larry Niven’s Ringworld (minor spoilers), this test was secretly administered via Birthright Lottery. One of the characters was the result of six generations of winning a lottery that allows a couple to have extra children. And in-universe, she really did have observably improbably good luck.

          • chrisminor0008 says:

            Was it their luck that allowed them to win the birthright lottery? If so that’s wonderfully recursive.

          • John Schilling says:

            Not only that, but the birthright lottery was secretly established as a very long-term eugenics program to breed exceptionally lucky humans. For a dubious definition of “lucky”.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            It’s been a while since I’ve read Ringworld, but I think Niven made it ambiguous about whether Teela Brown’s luck was a real force or just a bunch of unlikely coincidences.

          • Protagoras says:

            My recollection is that Niven eventually went with the notion that Teela’s luck mostly wasn’t really hers; a lot of lucky people would benefit from her being on the Ringworld expedition, and most of what appeared to be luck was their luck. Which went away when she had accomplished what was needed from her.

          • Aftagley says:

            It’s been a while since I’ve read Ringworld, but I think Niven made it ambiguous about whether Teela Brown’s luck was a real force or just a bunch of unlikely coincidences.

            If I’m remembering the book correctly, much of the first half of the novel is spent trying to figure out if it’s luck vs. coincidence, but by the end pretty much everyone realizes that there’s some underlying force.

            Wikipedia claims (although I can’t see the original source) that Niven even complained about the character, feeling like the need for everything to work out for her severely limited his authorial options.

        • Enkidum says:

          You would only give the test to those who explicitly claim to be fortunetellers. If it’s really as clear-cut a case of precognition as described (95% accuracy), it would be easy to do, and would take maybe an hour, with time included for coffee and bathroom breaks.

          Hell, if someone could predict the outcome of a coin I flip 19 out of 20 times, I would be pretty strongly inclined to revise my beliefs about the existence of precognition. That takes maybe a minute and thirty seconds. Double or triple that for good measure, and do it in several different domains.

          If you want to administer this to everyone in the world, yes, this would be expensive. But why bother, unless you’re Professor X and want to create your team of supermen?

          • baconbits9 says:

            What actually happens in the scenario is something like

            1. Precogs get paid millions to 10s of millions a year
            2. It takes only a few mins to a few hours of guessing coinflips to maybe become a multi millionaire.
            3. Every scumbag/down on his luck/overly optimistic person shows up for the test, some of whom multiple times with as many different identities at as many different testing centers as they can.
            4. The people administering the tests have to be competent and scrupulous so as not to give in to bribes or to be fooled by some oversight.
            5. The competition between companies or countries will mean testing earlier and earlier for precogs with gains going to those who actually find them which means set ups for false positives will be selected for against false negatives.

          • Phigment says:

            6. Some bright person hires a precog to find other precogs.

            Since you don’t actually have to administer any tests, this is surprisingly affordable, and allows you to screen people who wouldn’t come in for testing anyhow.

            7. Hire some of these newly found precogs to find other precogs. Bootstrap into total precognitive dominance.

            8. Since now the main evidence for being a precog is the agreement of other precogs, corrupt the whole edifice into an elitist signalling system where “precogs” are the elites and firmly control entry into the elite class and a life of wealth and power on the basis of opaque and unreplicatable traits.

            9. Make sure to personally get in on the ground floor, because that sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

          • baconbits9 says:

            6. Some bright person hires a precog to find other precogs.

            If we are assuming that being able to predict 50/50 coin flips that are about to happen right in front of you means you can predict 1/700 million shots that could happen at any time and any place on the planet. Its a big jump from ‘some people can tell the future about some things’ to ‘some people can answer any question about the future’.

    • albatross11 says:

      I propose that we find these people by offering millions of ordinary Americans all-expense-paid vacations to Vegas with a few hundred dollars each specifically allocated to playing roulette.

    • Lambert says:

      Is this a metaphor for Warren Buffet, or something?

      Also, this is pretty much what the Scientific Method was built to do.
      7 sigmas should be more than enough to weed out any randomness.

      • Kuiperdolin says:

        “Is this a metaphor for Warren Buffet, or something? ”

        Feel free to take it as such (death of the author) but I don’t know anything about Warren Buffet, beyond him being some rich guy.

    • noyann says:

      do the number of fake fortune-tellers increase or decrease?

      Because “there are only maybe a hundred of them on earth,” there will be no effectual competition with the real thing, but a grain of “this exists” will make the false prophets number explode. For a while, then market saturation and reality checks will decrease them again.

    • Aftagley says:

      Thought experiment : it’s now scientifically proven that some people are genuinely able to predict the future better than luck (and beyond just what observation/logic gives you). Scientists still argue on the how, but rigourous studies have proven that a few people can instinctly and blindly predict the result of a random event with say 95% accuracy, and the scientific consensus is that such “prophets”, while rare, exist. Even the most skeptic of skeptics admit it, and the news is widely published and publicized.

      Care to link any of these sources/evidence of said scientific consensus?

  27. jermo sapiens says:

    I would like to register my dismay at the mildness of the comments that got people banned indefinitely. I understand that this is Scott’s garden, and he may run it as he sees fit, but it’s still shocking. I also understand that Scott is under immense pressure to comply with blue/grey tribe hygiene such that any hint of red-tribe allegiance is to be quashed mercilessly, but it is Scott’s longstanding resistance against that pressure that made this blog worth reading, for me at least.

    From my point of view, it seems that red-tribe comments which are written with a bit of flair/sarcasm/humor are deemed to be over the line, which would be very unfortunate, as it would leave us with asymmetric weapons in one of the last places on the web where discussion between the tribes occur. I hope Im wrong.

    • Garrett says:

      To provide a countering opinion, I will note that I was surprised that comments of such tenor were made, despite agreeing with a substantial number of them. My surprise wasn’t based on the content itself – I don’t believe that this is a content-based purge. Instead, these come across to me as tone-based. That is, of the “kind, necessary, true” they came across as unkind. Even fully accepting that they are true, it’s very, very difficult to illustrate that a particular comment is “necessary” and thus fulfilling at least 2/3 of the required attributes.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        They do come across as tone-based. And I understand the need to police the tone of a comment section which allows discussion on controversial topics. But the distinction between having a tone and writing with flair can be blurry at times, and I respectfully submit that some level of fun should be allowed in the comments.

        As for a “necessary” internet comment, I’m afraid there is no such thing.

        This is from a comment that got Conrad Honcho banned:

        Do they not understand we are currently governed by Literally Hitler 2.0, who is going to holocaust all non-whites any day now? Shouldn’t the left be desperately trying to keep these poor migrants out before Trump murders them all?

        I agree with it 100% and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why this point isnt hammered home constantly by Trump supporters, or even people who just oppose open borders. AOC calls ICE detention centers “concentration camps”, and highlighting the absurdity of that claim colorfully is now a bannable offense here. We are all a little poorer for it. Should CH had said:

        The hypothesis that Donald Trump is literally Hitler has been falsified by recent data showing an increase in illegal immigration.

        maybe he wouldnt be banned but at the cost of being boring and therefore ignored.

        • Urstoff says:

          I believe it’s Scott’s hope that productive conversation can come out of being “boring” instead of ramping up the tribal snark in order to get someone to reply to you. Twitter provides plenty of opportunities to be snarky and then get yelled at if that’s what you so desire.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            It’s a fine line. We should all be respectful and never insulting towards others. But, in my view, little jabs that are not in bad taste and that are made when the context allows it add to the discussion rather than take away from it. Some points are better made through humor.

          • Randy M says:

            @jermo
            That’s not unreasonable on the face of it, but keep in mind it’s a text only discussion that strips out all the non-verbal cues and that posters include people from other cultures and non-native speakers–not to mention the charged topics, so ‘little jabs’ are unlikely to be perceived as such.

            It’s not the kind of thing I want quick moderation for, but it’s the kind of thing I try to avoid for those reasons.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            it’s a text only discussion that strips out all the non-verbal cues and that posters include people from other cultures and non-native speakers–not to mention the charged topics, so ‘little jabs’ are unlikely to be perceived as such.

            That’s a very good point.

          • albatross11 says:

            I’ve mostly abandoned sarcasm in any kind of serious online discussion after seeing a pretty convincing argument against using it by (I think) Paul Crowley. It’s too easy to be slippery in what you’re actually arguing for, it’s too easy for people not to quite understand what you’re saying or arguing for/against, sometimes people totally miss the sarcasm because your point-of-view is too foreign. More fundamentally, making a serious point with sarcasm is like making it with overly-clever word games–it increases the cognitive complexity of someone trying to understand what I’m saying. I’d rather my readers spend their brainpower on understanding my point and maybe critiquing my argument, rather than trying to figure out what I’m really trying to say.

          • Randy M says:

            @albatross11
            Thanks for corroborating my instincts with an example from your own experience.
            (Sweet Blessed Bayes, Scott, can I get a medal for avoiding meta-humor here? )

        • Gurkenglas says:

          I didn’t get that joke. Whoever uses rogues’ cant runs the risk of being judged a rogue. We must forbid rogues’ cant, tolerate rogues or suffer asymmetry.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Personally I find that kind of sarcasm pretty boring and the underlying argument pretty interesting.

        • Nick says:

          As for a “necessary” internet comment, I’m afraid there is no such thing.

          Please stop this. Scott lays out exactly what he means by necessary in the comments page:

          Necessary in that it’s on topic, and not only contributes something to the discussion but contributes more to the discussion than it’s likely to take away through starting a fight.

          And in the case of a post where kindness is the one discarded:

          And it had better be necessary, in that you are quashing a false opinion which is doing real damage and which is so persistent that you don’t think any more measured refutation would be effective.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            The problem, as ever, is that those standards are way stricter than the ones that are actually used. People make comments that fail to meet those standards almost constantly; in fact I think you’d struggle to find a comment that can be classed as unkind but still true and necessary.

        • J Mann says:

          I’m strongly in favor of commuting Conrad and Dick’s bans to three months or less, but I disagree with your point.

          Vigorous brio and style can be delightful, and I enjoy poison pen movie and theater reviews (and Kevin Williamson in politics) at least as much as the next guy, but I think it’s disruptive here. It’s a short trip from delightful elbow jabs to full-on name calling, and as much as I’ll miss the jabs, I think this space is better off without them.

          (Or possibly exempting solely Deiseach, but I can see how that is a hard line to hold).

        • Eigengrau says:

          The comment was not just inflammatory in tone but also in my opinion a fairly obvious strawman. Here is the same argument with the snark removed:

          1) Critics of Trump’s immigration policies are largely of the opinion that Trump will most likely slaughter all illegal immigrants, because they think he is a genocidal maniac on the level of Hitler and has the intent and means to carry out his own mass killings in short order.

          2) Clearly, whatever conditions migrants face in their own countries are not as bad as genocide, so they should not enter the US.

          3) Therefore, if Trump critics were honest and consistent in their professed empathy for migrants, they would try to stop any migrants from entering the US such that the scale of the impending genocide is diminished.

          The main problem is that hardly anyone believes the first point. Most would say that the conditions in the detention centers are cruel and unnecessary, but not as frightening as starvation and murder in the migrants’ violence and poverty-stricken places of origin.

          I contend that if Trump actually began operating death camps somehow (note: death camps are not the same as concentration camps), his critics would in fact discourage migrants from entering America. Also there would probably be civil war.

          It’s the same flavour argument as “if you don’t like it, leave” — a curt dismissal of those who are trying to follow a better maxim: “if you don’t like it, change it”.

    • EchoChaos says:

      My guess is that it seems that Scott wants snark tuned down, especially snark that hit the outgroup even if objectively true, but ESPECIALLY uncharitable takes on the outgroup.

      I understand this, even if I rather find snark enjoyable (even when directed at me, I had several good discussions with dick).

    • Randy M says:

      would leave us with asymmetric weapons in one of the last places on the web where discussion between the tribes occur.

      I found your problem.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        Yes, sorry. I garbled Scott’s analogy. But I believe Scott’s point was that in discussions, the side with the truth has an automatic advantage, which is a good thing. I meant to say that regardless of truth, is one side is allowed to engage in more snark than another, they have an unfair advantage.

        • Randy M says:

          I mean, I won’t lie, there are sides, even if shifting per issue, and they we do try to score points. But this isn’t the dynamic Scott wants to encourage, rather people who have biases but want to come to the truth together in mutually respectful ways that include puns that make smart people laugh don’t portray each other as the enemy.

        • Aapje says:

          @jermo sapiens

          Snark doesn’t get closer to the truth, but closer to group conformity.

    • jgr314 says:

      I don’t have an opinion about the actual bans, but I agree with the overall observation in 3. I was on the cusp of abandoning SSC entirely. I will stick around for a while longer to see how things go.

      And yes, I know that the comments on SSC are better than 90% or more of the internet.

    • souleater says:

      I’ve previously been refraining from enforcing the comment policies too hard on people who otherwise produce good content.

      Some of the people banned were producing 50-100 comments a week. Banning a prolific commenter over 3-5 violations seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I love this blog, and so maybe I shouldn’t be too critical of the moderation policy, but I would prefer to see indefinite bans be reserved for those who consistently don’t add anything to a conversation. As opposed to those who sometimes get too snarky.

    • Lasagna says:

      Seconded. I was surprised at these bans.

      Deiseach in particular. Between the rarity of her perspective online and her interesting and provocative writing style, she should be given a bit more leeway (my opinion, obviously). The same holds true to a lesser extent for the others.

      This is just constructive criticism, Scott. You’ve built the best community that exists on the internet. That’s not hyperbole, so you obviously know what you’re doing. But I DO think that most of the listed offenders are pretty solidly on the “colorful” rather than “obnoxious” side of the line.

    • DeWitt says:

      There’d be more bans of prolific left-wing people acting the asshat’s part if there were more people here doing so. There aren’t, so they(we, I guess) aren’t getting banned. The base-rate fallacy mentioned downthread is correct, in that Scott doesn’t have the means to ban people that aren’t there any more than he has the means to ban ghosts.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        That might be the case, and I cant say that I conducted a full audit of SSC comments to see whether blue/grey tribe snark is more tolerated than red tribe snark. However, I can say that from now on I will be more on the lookout for blue/grey tribe snark when reading the comments.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          There have been numerous discussions about the lack of prolific truly left wing commentators. And of the ones that have existed in the past, several were banned at least temporarily and would likely be banned now by the same standard as the recent bans. The ratio of grey and red is perhaps pretty even but blue, or even say green for true lefties rather than HRC supporters, are incredibly uncommon.

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      I would like to register my dismay at the mildness of the comments that got people banned indefinitely.

      I’ll second that. The examples provided look pretty weaksauce to me, though I’ll admit I don’t have much of an ear for these things.

      It seems to me that most of these were lapses in “kindness”, with “truth” and “necessity” up for debate – but that’s pretty much the default on the internet. They (mostly) don’t seem like flaming for the sake of flaming, but usually contain at least a kernal of an interesting object-level proposition.

      For example, I found dick’s observation that his five-year-old daughter would have fit right in here because of her capability to reach logical conclusions from what she has been told (circumstances notwithstanding) a bit amusing and quite accurate. It can be seen as both a reminder to not overdo it with the rules-lawyering and – more importantly – not to assume too much shared context (such as: “when I say ‘don’t do x’ I obviously don’t actually mean ‘don’t do y’ even though y is strictly speaking a subset of x, because not doing y would be silly, innit?”)

      Not sure why that particular comment was considered an example ban-worthiness. The others linked are also kinda… meh. Deserving of a Talking-To-In-Red-Lettered-Moderator-Voice, perhaps. I had noticed dick had been a bit deterministic in the past couple of OTs, but a permaban?

      I could make a similar case for the rest but I enjoy (and agree with) their comments a lot more often than dick’s, and I don’t want to sound partial.

  28. JPNunez says:

    welp, will consider myself warned

  29. baconbits9 says:

    Since this is turning into the discussion of bans thread: I would like to register my appreciation for Scott’s moderation, this place has avoided all of the worst aspects of internet comment sections for years now, despite significant presence and regular linking from larger publications that funnel new visitors. So thanks Scott, my individual assessment of which bans are deserved/un-deserved is generally meaningless compared to the overall end result here. Good job, and keep it up.

  30. Majuscule says:

    I came across this while Googling for god knows what a few weeks ago and thought this crowd might have greater-than-average appreciation for exquisitely crafted math puzzles. So here is a “Towers of Hanoi” puzzle rendered in solid silver, made for the private yacht of a Gilded Age industrialist. Blog post is from a few years ago, but does a tiny silver bear in a jaunty sailor suit ever go out of style?

    http://aestheticusrex.blogspot.com/2011/10/silver-dreamer-at-sothebys.html?m=1

  31. Nabil ad Dajjal says:

    Free Deiseach and Conrad Honcho! Deiseach has a really interesting perspective and while she’s definitely crotchety that’s a lot better than being smarmy like many non-banned posters. Conrad is also a good poster and he increases my productivity at work by posting responses that I would have otherwise made, thus saving me the effort of writing in culture war threads and letting me focus on vapid media criticism.

    On a completely unrelated topic, I finally saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood this weekend. I suspect that this movie was a lot more enjoyable for Quentin Tarantino to make than it was for me to watch. It’s not bad, it’s just incredibly indulgent. The film would probably have benefited from being an hour and a half shorter.

    Anyway, the most interesting thing for me was how much the film relies on the audience walking into the theater with a detailed knowledge of the Manson Family and their crimes. I watched it with my ABC girlfriend, and while I could more-or-less follow the plot she was completely lost because she had no idea who any of these hippies were or what they were doing. Given that it’s been sixty years since Sharon Tate was murdered, that’s a hell of a gamble that the moviegoing audience would know or care enough to build tension towards the climax.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        If I recall aright from his past references to her, “American-Born Chinese.”

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        As LMC said it’s a shorthand for Chinese-American, typically second-generation.

        I brought it up in this case because my boomer parents referenced Charles Manson a lot so it was part of the cultural milieu I was exposed to. Her parents were still in China at the time and she didn’t really get that much exposure to that stuff growing up (she had never even heard the song Helter Skelter, much less knowing about the related murders).

        • Nick says:

          Are you going to do a “you’re one of today’s lucky 10,000” and introduce her to some of the milieu now? Kyle Smith said in his review that this is the only film about the events, but you could show her more of the music or something.

          Then again, killers are really depressing compared to the Diet Coke and Mentos thing. 🙁

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            I sort of did, although more of a summary than a super-detailed play-by-play.

            One nice thing about our relationship is that even within Americana we’ve managed to have very little overlap in what we’ve seen before. I got to show her Star Wars for the first time, and she showed me the Godfather for the first time.

            Plus obviously she’s more plugged into Chinese culture than I am, while I’ve been actively trying to dig into my German cultural heritage. So I get to see Red Cliff and she gets to see Goodbye Lenin.

          • Randy M says:

            @Nabil ad Dajjal

            Plus obviously she’s more plugged into Chinese culture than I am, while I’ve been actively trying to dig into my German cultural heritage.

            Do you find any culture clashes between western and Chinese outlooks, or is the Chinese part too distant due to the American birth?
            My story features a European biologist who marries a Chinese scholar (… in Space!), but I’m not expert on the latter so it’s of some particular curiosity to me.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            Eh I mean somewhat?

            She’s fairly Americanized, hard to avoid when you grow up here your whole life, plus I’ve dated mainland Chinese girls before so it’s not like I’m totally unfamiliar with the culture.

            The real thing that throws us off is manners. In China there’s no such thing as saying Gesundheit when someone sneezes. Western table manners and even the place settings / utensils can be intimidating, especially at the high end with e.g. different glasses for red and white wine or figuring out which spoon is the soup spoon. At the same time, outside of eating Chinese culture is way more formal or overtly status-focused than American culture e.g. the expectation that I would call her parents Mr and Mrs LastName. Also my more Midwestern politeness (IRL I’m much more courteous) bumps up against Chinese bluntness, standard guess vs ask culture confusion.

            The biggest cultural argument we had was about changing her maiden name when we get married. It’s just not a thing that’s really done in Chinese culture and comes off as insulting to the in-laws, whereas here obviously it’s still customary even if it’s more controversial. Ultimately the question of whose tradition we would follow was moot because changing her name would be bad for her academic career.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The biggest cultural argument we had was about changing her maiden names in marriage. It’s just not a thing that’s really done in Chinese culture and comes off as insulting, whereas here obviously it’s still customary even if it’s more controversial.

            Chinese culture is still patriarchal under the Communist Dynasty, right (in that Industrial Era way where everyone works for wages, women aren’t homemakers)? Interesting how an old custom of a much more feminist culture can still come off as an insult.

          • Randy M says:

            At the same time, outside of eating Chinese culture is way more formal or overtly status-focused than American culture e.g. the expectation that I would call her parents Mr and Mrs LastName. Also my more Midwestern politeness (IRL I’m much more courteous) bumps up against Chinese bluntness, standard guess vs ask culture confusion.

            This is useful actually. Conveying a focus on manners yet blunt speech is a bit alien. Western manners are more hedging, using euphemisms and prizing feelings over status, I think.

    • Aftagley says:

      I watched it with my ABC girlfriend, and while I could more-or-less follow the plot she was completely lost because she had no idea who any of these hippies were or what they were doing.

      I don’t know what an ABC GF is, but this scenario applied strongly to me. I don’t know/care about Manson, Tate or her husband. Before this I could honestly say that I’d loved ever movie made by Tarantino, but this flick just seemed like a succession of random events without any overarching narrative structure. I don’t know if prior knowledge of the Manson Family would have helped.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        I think that it would have helped, but only somewhat.

        In real life, the Manson Family killed Sharon Tate and the other people at the house in a deliberately over-the-top way, including writing on the walls with blood (Tex’s line “make it look witchy”). And at the time of the murders, both of the movie’s protagonists are placed in positions where they shouldn’t be able to notice the murders much less prevent them from happening. So for the last thirty minutes or so of the movie you’re supposed to be waiting for the murders to happen right up until the climax.

        The problem is that the hour or so of Manson build-up is spread out over two and a half hours of meandering exploration of the 1950s-1960’s Hollywood film and television scene. So even if you’re pretty clued in and actually anticipating what’s going to happen it’s easy to forget or lose interest in it.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      I do think it squandered my goodwill by being so long. I also hate westerns, so even spending time in that world (and to what end?) annoyed me. I knew some of the Manson-Tate story, but it was decidedly not fresh in my mind when I saw the film.

      I sort of get it as something in the vein of Inglorious Basterds, a cinema fairy tale where fantasy, history, and film meld and become myth, but all I could think at the end was “so?”. Indulgent indeed.

      There’s nothing in the movie’s play space more interesting than the Manson family actually living on an old movie set – that’s peak California Orphism gone rotten in the most delicious way. Fictionalizing it only detracts.

      I will also give it points for depicting male friendship/platonic love in a way I find really lacking in the modern world. Sadly I didn’t care for either character involved.

    • hls2003 says:

      I think Conrad is one of the only folks – or at least prolific commenters – who will full-throatedly defend Trumpism in this space. There are other political conservatives, cultural conservatives, and religious conservatives (and lots of libertarians), but few if any other unabashed pro-Trumpers. That perspective is one I would miss very much, and which I think is a legitimate loss in this comments section specifically because it’s so rare here but common in 40+% of the country. There isn’t a progressive bubble in the comments by any means, but there seems a very hard-shelled and nigh impenetrable anti-Trump bubble. It was useful to see that interrogated by Conrad Honcho.

      • EchoChaos says:

        This is a good point. Rare viewpoints articulated well are incredibly valuable.

        I will have to step up my defense of Trumpism.

        • Aftagley says:

          I was about to say. I don’t think you or Matt M are 100% on team Trump, but you are both definitely on the train. I think there’s an anon# floating around that also reliably pipes up in Trump’s defense.

      • Plumber says:

        @hls2003 says:

        “I think Conrad is one of the only folks – or at least prolific commenters – who will full-throatedly defend Trumpism in this space…”

        Agreed, IRL I encounter “I’m against abortion” and “I hate paying taxes” Republicans, but vocally full Trump agenda supporters are rare (such are bubbles) so some insight to thst point of view was informative.

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        Perhaps Trumpism is rare here in comparison to people on the right-libertarian to libertarian-libertarian spectrum. But it’s definitely not rare in comparison to say full-throated HR-C support, which I have seen literally never.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          I can defend Warren but not HRC. I could only defend HRC in the context of Trump, I can’t make her stand on her own. HRC support has virtually no crossover with the grey tribe demographics of this site.

        • JonathanD says:

          I mean, I liked her, I voted for her in the primary and the general, and genuinely think she would have been a good president. But her career is over. She’s yesterday’s news. How often has she been discussed at all since the Nov 2016, other than to bag on her for losing?

          Of course, I rarely comment, so even if she has come up I might not have said anything.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Fair enough, consider my views about the number of HRC-primary-voting commenters updated. But as you say, you are not a particularly prolific commenter.

          • Aftagley says:

            For whatever it’s worth, add me to the list. I thought she was perfectly fine. Not the best candidate ever to run, but she would have done a decent job.

            I think if, minus 2016, she was running now she’d easily out compete all but one or two candidates in the primary on pure qualifications/competence.

            Edit: it wasn’t clear from my writing, but above I’m referring to the 2020 primary. I think HRC was the best 2016 candidate by a mile.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            I was intending to point at people who would’ve e.g. enthusiastically voted for her in the primary rather than people who would’ve voted for as a generic Democrat (or generic not-Trump) in the general; I’m sure there are several of the latter around.

          • Aftagley says:

            Well, I did vote for her enthusiastically in the 2016 primary. Just, like JonathanD said, it’s hard to be excited about someone whose career is over.

          • cassander says:

            >I mean, I liked her, I voted for her in the primary and the general, and genuinely think she would have been a good president.

            Why? I mean this question sincerely. I can understand preferring her to Trump, but actually liking her? She was been prominent national positions for over 2 decades, what has she actually accomplished besides self promotion? She made an absolute mess of the one thing she was put in charge of as first lady, did nothing of substance as a senator, lost a primary election to barack Obama, destroyed Libya for no purpose as Secretary of State, and than lost an election to the least popular presidential candidate in history. She has consistently demonstrated poor managerial ability, and descriptions of the mismanagement of her campaign are strikingly similar to those of her mismanagement of healthcare. Now, all of those descriptions were written after the fact, so perhaps they can’t be trusted, but I fail to see what anyone could like about someone who has so consistently been so unimpressive.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            I mean if you took out 2016 of course she’d out compete most people. She’d be in exactly the same situation as she was in 2016. Using her behind the scenes power to keep most people out of the race.

          • JonathanD says:

            @cassander,

            Look, a big reason I don’t post a lot is time, and spending 20 min defending Hillary Clinton’s career just doesn’t seem like an interesting use of 20 min. Briefly, her career looks different when you more or less agree with her. For one example, losing the healthcare fight in the early 90s was rough, with ugly generational consequences, but I don’t hold being on the right side, thinking big, and losing, against her in the way you seem to think I should.

            I could go fisking through your list of her faults and find similar answers to your other points, but you wouldn’t find them convincing and I’ve only got 40 min of lunch left.

            Broadly, Hillary’s brand was an experienced, knowledgeable bureaucrat who would keep incrementally moving the country along in the direction I want it to go. I want strong social safety nets, family leave, national daycare, better healthcare (cheaper, easy, truly universal), better infrastructure, mostly free trade, strong environmental regulations, a good enough military but for God’s sake let’s cut it, and so on. And I want it carefully. I don’t want to blow everything up and start over, I want to tune things, see the results, and tune again.

            I’m sure you won’t agree with the characterization, but that was HRC to me, and I really, really wish she had won. I think if she’d managed to eek out the first term people would have liked her, and she’d have gotten the second in a walk.

          • jgr314 says:

            @JonathanD
            To give you a little emotional return on the time you invested, thanks for even those comments. It helped me understand an actively pro-HRC perspective and was pleasant to read.

          • cassander says:

            @JonathanD

            For one example, losing the healthcare fight in the early 90s was rough, with ugly generational consequences, but I don’t hold being on the right side, thinking big, and losing, against her in the way you seem to think I should.

            Have you read any histories of that fight? She didn’t lose because she thought big. She lost because she had no idea what she was doing, didn’t know how to run her staff, and alienated so many people that ought to have been her allies that it almost seems deliberate. If you truly think that losing that fight had awful, generational consequences, then why on earth would you want to give power someone with a demonstrated record of failure? You’ll note that I’ve said nothing about the advisability of the policies she was pursuing, my critique is solely confined to the inept way that she went about pursuing them. I find it quite telling that her husband, who actually has a record as an effective politician, never put her in charge of anything again.

            I understand that, as generic democrat, she is preferable very preferable to trump, or any republican. That’s a given, and I tend to feel the same way about generic republican. But I separate that preference from my evaluation of the individual candidate. I wanted a republican to win in 2008, but that didn’t make me think more highly of John McCain’s presidential timber. I didn’t think that McCain was going to rack of a lot of wins for team red, but at least he wasn’t going to be trying to push the needle in the other direction.

            And for what it’s worth, military spending fell 15% between 2011 and 2016. Those are actual cuts in the budget from year to year, not the reductions against the baseline that pass as “cuts” in most budgetary debates. For god sake let’s cut it is not really a sensible attitude towards the part of the budget that, by far, gets the most scrutiny.

        • albatross11 says:

          I think Trump’s image and style (and probably substance, but I don’t really know that) is largely anti-intellectal. (Note: that doesn’t mean non-intelligent.). That is, Trump is willing to say something like “these experts/elites don’t know what they’re talking about and we should do something different and commonsense that I can see.” (Except that he’ll usually tweet it in some way that causes two or three angry media firestorms over Orange Man Bad that swamp any discussion of the actual policy he’s changing.)

          I think most of us on SSC tend to be intellectuals and like at least some kinds of expert. I mean, I think a lot of elites/experts are overpromoted and/or self-dealing, but I still tend to value scholarship and research and knowledge and such, whereas I think Trump appeals to a very long line of anti-intellectualism in American politics. (Often, IMO, anti-intellectualism is driven by intellectuals/elites being massively out of touch and pushing really bad policies.).

          Now, sometimes, the anti-intellectualism is really about a different set of elites with different intellectual commitments, expressed in a good-ole-boy accent for public support (Clinton and Bush, Jr). Sometimes, it’s a whole different intellectual framework invading/challenging the dominant one. (Reagan/Thatcher, perhaps Trump but I don’t think so).

          Elites in finance, politics, government, and academia utterly screwed the pooch w.r.t. the Iraq War and the 2008 meltdown, and largely saw to it that their friends were sheltered from any consequences for their failures. They’ve overseen and sometimes shoved through social and economic changes that have hurt a lot of people. They’ve gotten us into a bunch of wars that are really hard to justify in terms of American interests or well-being. This really undermined confidence in those elites. Obama came to power with a mandate to overrule the elites, but that’s not remotely his style–he’s an intellectual by nature himself.

          And so, here’s Trump. His inclination is the slag on intellectuals and scientists and subject-matter experts, and we’re mostly a community of intellectuals and scientists and subject-matter experts. His whole lifetime suggests that he massively values image over substance, and that he doesn’t care very much about understanding things or getting the facts straight. This is almost tailor-made to repel most SSC types, including those on the right.

          • S_J says:

            Elites in finance, politics, government, and academia utterly screwed the pooch …, and largely saw to it that their friends were sheltered from any consequences for their failures… Obama came to power with a mandate to overrule the elites, but that’s not remotely his style–he’s an intellectual by nature himself.

            And so, here’s Trump. His inclination is the slag on intellectuals and scientists and subject-matter experts, and we’re mostly a community of intellectuals and scientists and subject-matter experts. His whole lifetime suggests that he massively values image over substance, and that he doesn’t care very much about understanding things or getting the facts straight. This is almost tailor-made to repel most SSC types, including those on the right.

            In hopes of signal-boosting an idea linked to this statement:

            Obama and Trump have more similarities in their electoral success than is commonly admitted.

            Both Obama and Trump appeal to populists within their party; both depend heavily on a core of people who like their style of speech; both generate tremendous (and unthinking) revulsion among their core political enemies.

            Both rely heavily on image, and were willing to do so whether or not there was any substance to the image.

            This is not to detract from the differences between Trump and Obama: one of them has the grace and tact of a huckster at a carnival…the other has a college-professor’s ability to make anything sound profound.

            The success of both is a sign of the weakness of the cultural elites.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            As a leftist my view is that Obama was so popular for 2 reasons. One, the whole Bush war drama and two, here was a man the elites could support and pat themselves on the back for even though on the substance he and Clinton and Edwards were basically identical. The media boost that this produced gave him his stratospheric boost, beating McCain by 10 million votes. The establishment adored Obama to the shock of no one he was therefore super popular. Elite propaganda is stupendously powerful in politics.

          • cassander says:

            @axiomsofdominion says:

            As a leftist my view is that Obama was so popular for 2 reasons. One, the whole Bush war drama and two, here was a man the elites could support and pat themselves on the back for even though on the substance he and Clinton and Edwards were basically identical.

            Not just elites. In his own words, Obama had a gift for “Serv[ing] as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Go back to 2008 and look at opinion columns endorsing him. Most of them hit the same note, a vast swathe of opinions, but everyone essentially arguing “Trust me, deep down he’s one of us.”

            Of course, once he’s president and had to actually make decisions and do things, he could no longer be all things to all people, and the gloss began to wear off almost immediately.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Elites in finance, politics, government, and academia utterly screwed the pooch w.r.t. the Iraq War and the 2008 meltdown, and largely saw to it that their friends were sheltered from any consequences for their failures.

            What “elites”? George W Bush was remembered as “Is Our Children Learning” and “Bush Lied, People Died.” The popular conception was that Bush was corrupt, incompetent rube that took pleasure in being an idiot, and that was the country was so bad. That leaving aside the people who believed (and still believe) that Bush essentially lied us into Iraq, and the non-trivial fraction of Americans that still think Bush knew about 9/11.

            Obama wasn’t anti-elite. He was the epitome of the elite. He was supposed to be the West Wing made flesh. He was supposed to be racial and intellectual vindication after the long Bush years, when the US become Gilelad and was run by Halliburton. That’s why he was so insanely popular. The only Presidents even remotely comparable that early on were JFK and Eisenhower, and Eisenhower freakin’ beat the Nazis.

        • John Schilling says:

          There is such a thing as a “full-throated HRC supporter”? OK, I kid, a little, but I think her political persona wasn’t the sort to generate fervent and unconditional support. She was the skilled and competent politician people trusted to win elections and implement the DNC platform in a way that e.g. Bernie wouldn’t, and she was certainly the lesser evil in any election involving Trump. But she had obvious shortfalls in likeability and arrogance, and she didn’t have a personal brand or ideology distinct from the Democratic party in general.

          Except, of course, for “first woman president ever!”, which yeah, definitely a real and sometimes mind-killingly real thing in the world at large. But in the tiny subset of the world that is going to chose to post regularly on SSC, I’d expect about zero or one “full-throated HRC supporter” in about the same way I’d expect either zero or one hardcore Trumpist.

          Pragmatic, qualified HRC supporters who voted for her in the 2016 primary and general election and would tell you so when it was relevant but not shout it from the rooftops at every opportunity, we’ve got plenty of those. As JD notes, she hasn’t been relevant and you haven’t heard from them in almost three years.

          • BBA says:

            Hillary stans are out there – to me the central example is a suburban mom who uses phrases like “wine o’clock” – but I can’t imagine many of them have interest in places like this. Whenever I express a dissenting opinion in their presence, they dismiss me as a Russian bot.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @BBA: Ah, people not smart enough to have learned the difference between Arctic Russians and Antarctic penguins.

      • Eigengrau says:

        I think perhaps it is just nigh-impossible to be an unabashed pro-Trumper without violating the true/kind/necessary rules.

        Maybe I don’t live in the same anti-Trump bubble as the rest of you, but I do not find that viewpoint rare, nor particularly valuable. I come here for the high sanity waterline. Consistency check: do you yearn for the perspective of Young Earth Creationists? They also comprise ~40% of the United States. Do you feel like you need to step up your defense of Young Earth Creationism on SSC due to lack of representation?

        • EchoChaos says:

          Smart, engaged and intellectual YECs are really useful to engage with.

          My father is a Young Earth Creationist (I am not) and he has multiple advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. He is one of the smartest people I have ever engaged with, and I work in a very advanced field.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            But is his YEC useful or is it orthogonal? I could easily imagine a brilliant YEC but I would be far less interested in engaging them on that topic than on the kinds of topics I would engage any brilliant person on.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @axiomsofdominion

            I am not sure I understand the question. He is a professional pastor and theologian, so it is definitely useful to him in a career sense, and he genuinely believes it.

          • Corey says:

            I found the effect of YEC varies by field.

            I work in an ordinary programming job (not any kind of religious organization) and some of my immediate coworkers are YEC. This doesn’t cause problems with work stuff because everything’s modern – nobody argues that C++ virtual destructors were invented before the Fall of Man but not useful until afterwards. They’re perfectly capable programmers.

            But discussing anything pre-written-history is right out. So is biology. Health stuff (e.g. should you eat artificial sweeteners) is biology-adjacent enough to sometimes be problematic. Astrophysics is problematic, etc. It leaves us without much to talk about outside of work but I’m OK with that.

          • Randy M says:

            It leaves us without much to talk about outside of work but I’m OK with that.

            You must be quite envious of other people who spend their time bonding over astrophysics and prehistory.
            😉

          • EchoChaos says:

            Added to clarify,

            My father’s Ph.D. is in a hard science where the age of the earth is directly applicable (hydrology). He became a pastor later in life.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I feel no intellectual duty to step up my defense of that demographic in their absence, but if we did have to do the talk.origins mental dance, I think it would be more useful than getting to mindlessly accept evo-by-natural-selection.

        • Lasagna says:

          I think it would be valuable for you (and me) to hear the perspective of Young Earth Creationists, yes.

          My grandfather was the wisest, most intellectually curious man I’ve ever known. Immigrated from Sicily at 8, served in the infantry in WW2 then college on the GI Bill for engineering. He and I spent years translating Dante’s Inferno because he loved it, and he felt that he could bring something interesting to the process. And kind – everyone loved my grandfather, and he was fun to (and worth) listening to. Smart, smart as could be.

          He also believed firmly in transubstantiation. You could be a jerk and make fun of him if you like, I guess, but since you didn’t know him – or, I suspect, know many of the 40% of the population who are Young Earth Creationists – it might be beneficial for you to speak with them before writing them off as not having anything useful to add to SSC conversations.

          • EchoChaos says:

            +1

          • albatross11 says:

            Transubstantiation isn’t (and can’t be) contradicted by observable facts. Young-Earth creationism contradicts observable facts all over the place. Some kind of subtle version of creationism where God occasionally runs a divine eugenics program to get things to come out the way He wants probably won’t ever contradict observable facts, but anything close to literal truth of Genesis can’t be made to fit with known facts short of our world being a divine practical joke designed to fool us. (Basically the Good Omens solution.)

            When we’re talking about questions about observable reality, actual observable reality trumps even the most elegant and intelligent argument.

            Any number of smart people can come up with interesting and clever arguments for things that are observably false. I think it’s worth listening to them on factual questions only to the extent that they might shine some light on something new, not when they’re just very dedicated to some factually incorrect view.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            All of their value is separate from YEC or TS, though. And it has virtually no impact on daily life.

            It is very common for people separate ideas indoctrinated into their minds before they were cognitively mature from any other aspect of their life.

            People who believe these obviously ridiculous things, like believers in astrology or Hellenistic paganism are valuable for their views on many things. They are not valuable for their perspective on the things they believe that are obviously ridiculous.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          I rate the “importance” of an ideaspace by the practical and contemporary relevance it has, and that usually has to do with what’s being put into law. For instance, flat-earthism seems to have had something of a revival in recent years. Despite this i don’t see much value in arguing for or against the shape of the earth, until these ideas credibly threaten to negatively affect, say, aerospace engineers, or space exploration, I just don’t see the value of it.

          In contrast, you have a trade-war so-called between the US and China, you also have very fierce battles between factions in the government and factions outside of the government both trying to prevent/facilitate the flow of foreign citizens into the united states for temporary or permanent settlement.

          The closest thing to practical import creatonism has is the battle of what gets taught in schools.

          ____________

        • J Mann says:

          I would be interested in hearing from a thoughtful YEC proponent, particularly if we were discussing YEC theories. (It would be more interesting than just hearing someone else agree with me).

          If we’re going to discuss Trump, it’s nice to have a steelman to keep me honest.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Ask the same question in a CW thread and I’ll answer.
          Much agree that it’s a rare viewpoint. And rare viewpoints are precious – I asked here and was answered about reasons for brexit, and it changed my pov about it.

        • albatross11 says:

          Eigengrau:

          Trump’s rhetorical style is unkind, but I don’t know that it’s notably worse than, say, Al Franken’s. The policy issues he champions (to the extent he champions issues) are pretty bog-standard ones we should be able to discuss in the context of normal politics.

        • Eigengrau says:

          I should clarify. Do you yearn for the perspective of YEC on the subject of the age of the earth?. I should think not, particularly if they are derailing otherwise productive conversations about e.g. biology.

          Maybe it would be better if we banned individuals from discussing particular subjects in which they’ve displayed a lack of reasonableness, but that could be too onerous to moderate.

          I found CH’s posts to be much less reasonable and less kind than the typical SSC user, regardless of political orientation. Heck, I probably even created this account just to argue with him. I will not miss his perspectives. There are many other places on the internet I can go to hear pro-Trump arguments.

          • Corey says:

            Derailment is an important factor, and makes YEC a good example of when it’s appropriate to ban posters for content.

            This depends on your forum of course, but if you want to have productive discussions about biology, endless “what use is half an eye?” is just going to suck time and energy and drive people away. It basically becomes a form of trolling (even if the proponents sincerely believe it and aren’t trying to troll).

            It’s not for nothing that the central example (including in Scott’s post on the subject) of unproductive low-level argument is “Checkmate atheists”.

            Yes you create a bubble (of “evolutionists” in this case) but that can be worth the sacrifice in order to not have the same pointless arguments over and over.

        • I think perhaps it is just nigh-impossible to be an unabashed pro-Trumper without violating the true/kind/necessary rules.

          Someone earlier quoted Scott to the effect that the “true” part meant true beyond any reasonable dispute. By that standard, it is pretty nearly impossible to be an unabashed supporter of any presidential candidate, president, or high profile member of Congress, without violating that part, since all such people take positions most of which can reasonably be disagreed with. That assumes that “unabashed supporter” means someone who supports the politician’s positions in his comments, not just someone commenting who tells us that he is an unabashed supporter of the candidate.

          But I don’t see why one could not be an unabashed pro-Trumper (or pro-Sanders or even AOC for that matter) while being both kind and only saying things that were necessary. And things that were true, such as “Trump didn’t say X, he said Y,” but were not supporting the actual positions.

          • aristides says:

            I was going to comment something similar to the this, so I’ll add that I know we severalTrump supporters that supported him in the primary that would never comment something that wasn’t necessary and kind. The main difference isn’t they support trumps policies but not his persona. They considered Trump the best republican because they considered him the only candidate that would even trying to build the wall.

        • The Nybbler says:

          This, IMO, is the exact sort of sneering dismissal that lowers the quality of discussion, both by doing so itself and by provoking responses in kind.

        • Garrett says:

          do you yearn for the perspective of Young Earth Creationists

          Maybe? What I’ve found is that far too often the positions which are mocked and/or ignored are weak-man or straw-man versions of actual positions which might have better argumentation behind them. This is closely related to nut-picking where the positions presented on TV/radio/Facebook are those held by the least-informed supporters. Given the level of derision around young-earth creationism, I would at least be interested in an intellectually-robust argument in its favor.

          • I agree.

            My example would be the global warming controversy, but an explanation would probably carry us into CW territory.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Put a pin in it. I’ll try to get a summary version from my father to put into the next thread. Again, I’m not a YEC, but I know some very smart ones.

          • FLWAB says:

            I really didn’t want to get into this but…

            I have been (still am?) a YEC, and I got pretty deep into the arguments on an intellectual level. A few years ago I came to the conclusion that while I hadn’t stopped believing in YEC, advocating for it was making me look like a nut. It was not helpful, in other words. Plus I found some arguments that, while they didn’t convince me that YEC was wrong, increased my doubts. So now I don’t talk about it. If next open thread people do want to talk about it I can throw in my two cents.

          • Corey says:

            There’s an entire intellectual edifice, look up “baramin” for example (the study of how the limited number of species on the Ark grew into the number of species observed today).

            But I think, to people who think an ideology is obviously ridiculous, then the arguments will look like strawmen even if they’re not. Take the idea that the “firmament” mentioned in Genesis was a sea covering the sky, which blocked out cosmic rays, allowing the long lifespans mentioned in the Bible. Is this “mainstream”? Widely believed? A caricature? We have no way of knowing (you can’t know what’s mainstream in an outgroup).

            You can ask outgroup members, but they may not be representative. And looking around the Internet, it’s easy to nutpick without realizing you’re doing so (it’s a big world, and for any possible position you can find a bunch of adherents).

      • Jack says:

        40%+ of those who voted or get polled voted for Trump or say they like him. The banned commenter you name perhaps has this in common with those people (I do not have a considered view on their politics because I don’t follow all these threads and remember people’s names). That doesn’t mean that Honcho represents the perspective of “Trumpists”. I imagine supporters of Trump have many different perspectives, and the kind of hyper-rationalized Trumpism you get in certain internet spaces is probably not common. The conservative-populist perspectives I sometimes read here feel more like an evolved response to analytical challenges to conservative politics, rather than the conservative politics itself or any of its underlying material or affective bases.

      • I don’t think you can say that 40+% of the country are “unabashed pro-Trumpers.” They just think he’s less crazy than the other side:

        https://www.kqed.org/futureofyou/440851/can-you-really-know-that-a-3-year-old-is-transgender

        It’s hard to think of anyone who was supportive of Trump at the begging of his campaign who is still a believer in the n-dimensional chess theory today. Almost all of them have either condemned him outright or maintain he’s simply better than the alternative. I will probably end up voting for him, but it won’t be with a drop of enthusiasm.

    • Incurian says:

      I liked the movie a lot, but I was somewhat familiar with the Manson stuff and I grew up in the area.

    • James says:

      Moderate Once Upon a Time spoilers.

      I saw it last week. I didn’t know anything about the Tate murders (though I did know who Charles Manson is, obviously, and a little about the Manson Family). I didn’t realise the creepy hippie community was the Manson Family until the credits rolled—I took them as being a fictional creepy hippie community, vaguely referencing the Manson Family, but also in a more general way emblematic of the Heavy Shit that was in the air at the time. (Actually, I sorta preferred it that way, tbh.) I had also been rigorously avoiding spoilers—defined in the broad sense of ‘any information about the film whatsoever’—before seeing it, as is my wont with films I already know I intend to see. (I recommend this very strongly, by the way.) So I also hadn’t heard that any of that stuff would feature.

      I found it possible to enjoy the film without all that context. I definitely felt a strong sense of dread in the few scenes leading up to the climax, so I don’t think you needed the background to get that, and I enjoyed the meandering plot in the meantime. (I’m usually bored by meandering plots, so it’s hard to say why this is. Maybe Tarantino really does just write them that much better?) It did have the effect of making me think ‘Roman Polanski, huh? That’s an… interesting choice of cameo nextdoor neighbour’.

      Maybe I’m just more up for a pointless-seeming ramble than your gf (and the other commenters above)? (At least in Tarantino’s hands—I was deeply frustrated with the Coen Brother’s pointless-seeming ramble through golden age Hollywood, Hail Caesar.)

      And the jailbait hippie chick was great.

      • mendax says:

        I had also been rigorously avoiding spoilers—defined in the broad sense of ‘any information about the film whatsoever’—before seeing it, as is my wont with films I already know I intend to see. (I recommend this very strongly, by the way.)

        I share this policy, but our course might not be supported by evidence. (Warning, article contains spoilers for The Usual Suspects and some others.)

        I’ll agree with the others: the film was long and meandering. I enjoyed it, but it likely would have been better with some big cuts. Enjoyment of westerns and general knowledge of the murders, I suspect, would enhance one’s experience.

      • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

        I’m usually bored by meandering plots, so it’s hard to say why this is. Maybe Tarantino really does just write them that much better?

        I mean that’s undoubtedly true. Every time we saw a clip of some fictional show or movie I actually wanted to see the “full version” which is legitimately hard to pull off. It’s a testament to his skill that the fictional and real elements blended so seamlessly, that you could imagine that there actually was a show called Bounty Law that ran for five seasons in the 1950’s.

        And the jailbait hippie chick was great.

        Hard disagree.

        For one, she was responsible for about half of the gratuitous foot shots in the movie. I had to look at her grimy toes for entirely longer than necessary, and nobody is hot enough to offset that.

        For another, I get that Griff is supposed to basically be a cowboy character in real life with his code of honor or whatever but it still broke my suspension of disbelief that he didn’t fuck her. I’m sorry but it’s the summer of love in LA, he’s living alone with his dog in a trailer, and she even lied that she was 18 the first time he asked. It’s just such a “oh come on” moment, like we can watch a girl get barbequed with a flamethrower but a late teen can’t give a guy road head.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          For one, she was responsible for about half of the gratuitous foot shots in the movie. I had to look at her grimy toes for entirely longer than necessary, and nobody is hot enough to offset that.

          Thanks for confirming that Quentin Tarantino directed the new Quentin Tarantino movie.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          Tarantino purposefully amped up foot shots and the actress, who was 24 amusingly, was partially picked because of her beat up feet from dance, and he wrote entire fresh scenes just for her and he didn’t cut any of her stuff even as he cut other characters’ scenes.

          Dude is such a creep honestly, but then again, compared to Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, I guess he isn’t that bad.

        • James says:

          For one, she was responsible for about half of the gratuitous foot shots in the movie. I had to look at her grimy toes for entirely longer than necessary, and nobody is hot enough to offset that.

          Didn’t bother me, but I’m untroubled by gratuitous foot shots. Here I think we arrive deep into de gustibus non est disputandum if we weren’t already.

          For another, I get that Griff is supposed to basically be a cowboy character in real life with his code of honor or whatever but it still broke my suspension of disbelief that he didn’t fuck her. I’m sorry but it’s the summer of love in LA, he’s living alone with his dog in a trailer, and she even lied that she was 18 the first time he asked. It’s just such a “oh come on” moment, like we can watch a girl get barbequed with a flamethrower but a late teen can’t give a guy road head.

          Didn’t strike me that way when I was watching it, but sure, I guess. Though I don’t see the version of the movie where they do screw playing well in 2019 or, really, any year but the summer of love.

          Anyway, I just meant her youthful, uncynical, girlish enthusiasm. I thought the actress pulled it off nicely.

          Thanks for confirming that Quentin Tarantino directed the new Quentin Tarantino movie.

          It really is ridiculous. As if the guy didn’t have enough calling cards already.

          Have you guys seen the clips where some cute french journalist is interviewing him and says ‘I wanted to get you a present, but I didn’t know what to get you, so you can have these’, and puts her feet in his lap for the whole interview? I think she has him give her a foot massage. Totally wanton, but I have to admire her brazenness.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I disagree! I looked up the Manson family story only after watching it, and I felt it was a great movie regardless of my lack of historical knowledge, although admittedly in a “not sure whether it would hold up on second view” sort of way.

    • broblawsky says:

      I liked it, but seeing it on a relaxed Sunday morning via a cheap matinee probably made me give it a lot of leeway. If I’d paid $15+ to see it, I might have expected more movie for my money.

    • suitengu says:

      Banning Deiseach doesn’t make too much sense. Isn’t she basically our court jester?

      I’m joking. Mostly. Please don’t ban me. -______-

  32. DragonMilk says:

    Anyone know of an easy way to search if the plot of a story already exists?

    I think my capricious “original” ideas are probably unwittingly derivative, and my current one goes as follows:

    Single guy with normal desk job at insurance company has lucid dreams that always end when he goes to sleep in the dream, and vice versa. Turns out it’s always the same dream and it continues where it leaves off (different time/place), and along the way he realizes his real life friends are in-dream enemies, his parents are in-dream kids, boss in-dream servants, etc.

    Slowly discovers the counterparts are having dreams from their POVs and would revolve around the dreaming is affecting his “real”-world relationships and eventually starts questioning if the dreams are real or everything is but a dream…

    • souleater says:

      If I were you I would go to literature.stackexchange.com and put in a question about story identification as if your plot were a real story you were trying to identify. You should get all sorts of responses for similar stories.

      I’m not sure that that is entirely ethical, and that’s definitely not the intended purpose of the site, but I bet you would get a useful answer.

      • b_jonas says:

        Sorry, but no. We specifically disallow open-ended speculative id questions, we allow only ones desribing a single story you’ve read. You can ask that sort of thing in the chatrooms associated with the site though.

        • souleater says:

          Yup, I realize open-ended speculative id questions are disallowed. I’m saying that if DragonMilk wanted to he/she could frame it as a specific story, to skirt that restriction.

          I read a book in the early 2010s about [SLIGHTLY VAGUE DESCRIPTION] This book was around the length of a novel or novella, written in english, and I think it takes place in the US, but could be a different western nation. the setting was very modern, so it was definitely written within the last 20 years or so.

          To the extent its unethical, its the low level unethical that people constantly engage in, probably happens all the time on that site, and nobody gets hurt. I’ll leave it to DragonMilks discretion if that’s something they feel comfortable with doing.

    • Snickering Citadel says:

      Maybe TVtropes can help? Here is a page about somewhat similar ideas:https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SchrodingersButterfly

    • Randy M says:

      Anyone know of an easy way to search if the plot of a story already exists?

      The easy way I know is to simply assume it does. Especially if you expand the scope to one-off twilight zone or black mirror style television series or collections of sci-fi short stories or magazines.

      Fortunately from a writers point of view, it doesn’t matter. The execution will make the difference, and the details are bound to differ from what’s been done before enough to prove compelling if well done.

      FWIW (not that much) I don’t know of anything that closely matches that description.

    • SnapDragon says:

      Most likely anything’s been done, but it might not have been done well. So don’t (unreasonably) despair. 🙂 Your plot reminds me a little of the short-lived TV series Awake, featuring somebody living two closely-related lives that alternate any time he goes to sleep. There are differences in the details, of course.

    • Well... says:

      Echoing SnapDragon, I would say the awake/dreaming divide has been well explored in fiction, and so probably someone somewhere has done something like this — but I don’t think it should stop you from pursuing the story idea if you think you can write it well.

      Personally, I think the “what if our waking life is actually a dream and our dreams are actually reality” trope is boring because in my experience dreams are not just like another life you go to while you’re sleeping, but rather they are fundamentally different kinds of experiences from waking reality. Dreams are so disjointed and strange yet powerful and vivid that, to me anyway, they are interesting enough on their own without having to play around with their ontological status. BUT, like I said, if you can do something interesting and of quality with this trope, I’d still probably find it enjoyable to read. I liked the movie “Inception”, not because I thought the premise was particularly profound or original but because the movie was compelling and well-made. (Though it isn’t one I’d rush out and buy on DVD so I could watch it over and over again.)

      • Randy M says:

        Man, though, I had a weird experience last weekend where I woke up crying from a dream. And, like I said up thread, I’m not the most emotional person, but it was so vivid and depressing I was crying for five minutes after (which sounds like not much, but you know how quickly dreams fade). Even now describing it makes me shudder.

        • Well... says:

          Yes, I’ve had a rare few dreams that were both vivid and “realist” (for lack of a better term). I’ve also had some that were extremely emotionally powerful, to where I could easily still feel it after I woke up and recall the feeling days or years later, as you did. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a dream that’s all three though.

    • aristides says:

      The TV show Awake had a similar premise, but it was cancelled after one season, so there is still plenty to explore. I say write it, everything is a little derivative

  33. Majuscule says:

    It looks like most of these bans involve tone more than content, which personally I favor. I’ve openly mused about how my ideal blog would reserve the right to police the hell out of people’s tone. I’ve gotten into several arguments over the years about the potential detriment of snark and other instances of lashing out that seem minor taken individually, but which inevitably drag down the level of discussion, usually without propelling it anywhere useful. It certainly feels good and can be entertaining, but I’ve defended the idea that it is a hazard. I applaud the commenters cited who have responded for seeming genuinely concerned and open to constructive criticism.

    Speaking of, does anyone know what happened to the comments section on Marginal Revolution? I checked back recently after not looking for a few years, and for the few posts I looked at it seemed like 90% of the comments were just undiluted content-free snark. I recall it wasn’t always like that, and I’m not sure how Tyler Cowen runs his moderation policy, but it felt like a cautionary tale.

    • albatross11 says:

      Marginal Revolution’s comment threads have been mostly taken over by obsessive crazies and trolls–it used to be possible to have interesting discussions there, but now having a serious discussion there is like having a serious discussion in a back alley while a couple crazy homeless guys scream back at the little voices.

      • baconbits9 says:

        I have found MR’s moderation to be the most bizarre on the internet. At first it appears as if there is no moderation outside of spam deleting, but then you hear about people getting posts deleted, and also see Cowen replying sometimes so he is reading some number of them. It seems as if this is an intentionally curated comment section making it all the more bizarre.

        • albatross11 says:

          I’ve had inoffensive posts deleted on Marginal Revolution in threads where one of the local obsessive crazies had posted a bunch of profane rants under the names of other posters. As best I can tell, this must have been some kind of malfunction, because any moderation at all would have deleted those.

          It’s a pity, because MR comment threads used to be pretty good, and now they’re a complete sewer.

    • Urstoff says:

      Tyler doesn’t have a moderation policy as far as I can tell. MR comments are the poster child for the bad driving out the god.

    • Lasagna says:

      I came to Tyler’s blog late, so I never experienced the comment section as any different than it is now – depressing, hateful, boring. You know, the internet. Keep SSC vibrant!! This is it, people. The only place left that still exemplifies the web we were promised.

      I miss The Dish.

  34. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    I’ve been having less fun at ssc, and I’m not sure what the problem is– it isn’t so much a matter of difficult posters, though the comments tend to be more rightwing than I like, it’s a loss of bounce and sparkle. The big problem isn’t too much bad, it’s insufficient good.

    Perhaps the problem is just people running out of new ideas. Perhaps the lightning comes down in a place but it doesn’t stay there.

    Perhaps it’s realizing that becoming more rational doesn’t do as much good as one might have hoped– once you’re fairly rational, the improvements come from more conscientiousness and more knowledge.

    • Lambert says:

      Reversion to the mean+Sturgeon’s law means that nothing isn’t crap for a long time/

    • albatross11 says:

      I also think the general nature of public discussions has gotten worse over the last few years. The rhetoric is hyped up to 11, Orange Man Bad is in the white house, and a bunch of hungry ambitious companies have figured out that they can monetize outrage. That’s probably bleeding over into SSC, as I think it also bled over into the Making Light comment threads over time.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        albatross11, I don’t think those specific problems have hit ssc especially hard, but it’s possible people who don’t want to get caught up in the emotional maelstrom are tired and depressed.

        Making Light seems to have settled down into a reasonably good moderate traffic place.

      • Nornagest says:

        Making Light got intolerably political for me as early as, like, 2009? Whenever RaceFail happened, anyway. I gave up on it about the time I discovered Less Wrong.

      • Mark Atwood says:

        Since when was Making Light ever good?

        It arguably is the exact precise pinpoint epicenter of how and when and where Everything Went Wrong. It was the spark of the match that became Racefail. It was the first reenforced rebout of online SJ. Making Light was created because someone with some small amount of community cred (they had less than they thought, and also thought they deserved more than they had) thought “its really fun to have a forum where geeky people chat with each other, but only if those Bad People who have Bad Thoughts that make The People That I Like have the Feel Bads are excluded by mockery”.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Making Light is a matter of taste– so is here, and I’m generally not going to post links from one at the other.

          However, I’ll put up with a fair amount (possibly too much) if people are interesting.

    • baconbits9 says:

      Perhaps the problem is just people running out of new ideas. Perhaps the lightning comes down in a place but it doesn’t stay there.

      Or perhaps you have been here long enough that there are no ‘old ideas’ left that are new to you, plus you know some posters well enough that you can see where they are going sooner and so the post itself sounds less new.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      I have had the feeling that Scott is making fewer interesting, to me, posts, but it is also possible I caught up on the backlog. I only check here once or twice a week now and even then I’m usually not met with new interesting content. The culture war to me hasn’t really gotten much worse, so I concur with Nancy that it is less about being put off and more about being not sucked in.

      I’ve also become more and more certain of my belief in the essential statistical nature of the world. That to me explains most of why rationality isn’t as valuable as it should be, or rather its very useful on the societal level to have more and more rational members but the individual benefit of becoming more rational is largely subject to extreme diminishing returns. Random factors are simply too significant.

      For instance I was given a reference to get me an interview at Google, and this was primarily based on luck in connecting with someone from an unrelated activity I was engaged in. I declined because I know myself well enough to know I would not succeed at Google but it certainly greatly expanded my feeling of the lack of structure in human affairs. Nearly anyone here could have engaged successfully in the actions I engaged in to impress the person who gave me the reference if they had the opportunity.

      • Majuscule says:

        Funny, I’ve been rather enjoying the posts lately. I think this might be because there have been several about history, which is my thing. I know a lot of other folks might favor the posts about AI and futurism, which I still find interesting but less so. One of my favorite parts of this blog is the analysis of methodologies behind scientific studies, something I always wonder about but am not quantitatively equipped to do myself. History doesn’t lend itself to that too well, so maybe you’re missing some of the great back-and-forth from the many science-minded readers who comment on those posts? I do wonder if the kind of bold and eloquent social analysis that put this blog on the map simply doesn’t bear repeating when you get it so right the first time. I also wonder if blazing new trails in that area might feel a bit fraught given the exhausting-sounding scrutiny Scott apparently received last year. In any case, I’m hoping this place can last and that we can keep it the rare corner of the internet with enough “ambient civility” to examine genuinely fraught scientific and social questions.

        • axiomsofdominion says:

          I love history but the specific analysis both by book authors and by Scott recently do nothing for me. The theories involved to me are both unprovable and uninteresting.

    • Freddie deBoer says:

      I’m afraid this is a common dynamic/arc to internet communities.

    • Viliam says:

      I think that a political debate becomes boring after some time when you realize that no one is actually updating on any information.

      Initially, you have some hopes that perhaps there is some important X that you are missing that could change your view, or perhaps the other side didn’t hear Y sufficiently well explained and you are going to do the job. What actually happens is that the other side gives you the same old unconvincing arguments, and remains unimpressed by your arguments. After enough time has passed, you realize it is very unlikely that an exception from this should happen right now. Both listening and explaining feel futile. Some people react by becoming aggressive, other people just give up.

      (No specific examples because this is a CW-free thread.)

      • Plumber says:

        @Viliam

        “…No specific examples because this is a CW-free thread…”

        On specific policies have my opinions changed much from discussions with folks from “the other side’?

        I really don’t know, I suspect my mind ‘ret-cons’ many opinions so I think I always had them, and I know I’ve been registered to different political parties than I am now in the past so I must’ve had different political opinions than I do now, but I have few memories, and fewer strong memories of them.

        What the more in-deph discussions at SSC have given me is a better sense of the common humanity I share with my ‘opponents’, they have different ideas and priorities, but not entirely different ways of thinking, and getting a sense of the different priorities makes me optimistic that there’s room for compromises that me and some commenters that support the other Party would both prefer to the status quo (if we were both legislators that is!), ‘course that’s not all commenters on ‘their’ or ‘my’ side, but I’ll take what excusrs for optimism I can find.