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Open Thread 136.25

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1,251 Responses to Open Thread 136.25

  1. anonymousskimmer says:

    I stopped playing Magic: The Gathering around Ice Age.

    Given the large number of changing dynamics since then, in terms of power how do the new cards compare to the old cards of unlimited and revised editions (and their expansions), both the typical cards and the ‘overpowered’ cards such as black lotus, time walk, or chaos orb? How do the decks compare to the old black lotus, channel, fireball combo?

    (Holy shit, I’d be a millionaire if I’d kept my old cards.)

    • johan_larson says:

      My impression is that there are fewer really overwhelmingly powerful cards around these days. Bannings seem to happen occasionally in the formats that require current cards, but not that often. Price lists bear that out: the most expensive card in the current expansion, Core Set 2020, costs less than $20.

      Also, what you can expect to get for your mana seems to have experienced a bit of power inflation. Once upon a time, an X/X creature for X mana was a decent card. Now, it needs some sort of upside to be a decent card.

    • Randy M says:

      Based on what other people have said, I think you’d find that creatures are vastly more powerful and spells significantly less so.
      On the plus side, imo, you don’t find as many unplayable cards when drafting. A bad card will be a 3 mana 2/2, not a 4 mana 3/2 and requires you to sac two lands when you play it or something like that.
      Also, there are now sets that release cards that aren’t standard legal, intended for other formats. These are sometimes too slow for standard, let alone older formats, but other times they are stupidly strong.

      • Tarpitz says:

        This is broadly accurate, though mana dorks specifically have been powered down rather than up – Llanowar Elves is very much at the strong end of what they’d now print into Standard, and Birds of Paradise is unlikely to be reprinted. Among spells, fast mana (most of all) and countermagic have been nerfed particularly hard. Blue is no longer overwhelmingly the best colour.

  2. adder says:

    I want some advice on survey design.

    I live on a commune of ~75 people, and I want to “get the pulse” on a number of hot button issues. I’m interested in things roughly like:

    Our labor tracking system? Yay or boo?
    Expanding our biggest business? Yay or boo?
    More kids in the community? Yay or boo?
    Our community is classist/racist/sexist? Yes or no?

    How should I organize/phrase the questions? I’m leaning toward things of the form “Agree or disagree: Generally speaking, our labor tracking system is good for the community.” Others have suggested more gradations, such as a 1-5 scale. I was also thinking of having a rank-these-items bit, e.g. ranking communal values (economic egalitarianism, environmentalism, social justice, et c.) against each other.

    Thoughts on best approaches for question phrasing, and general pitfalls to watch for?

    I’m also unsure about whether I want to include demographic info. It’s data I would love to have, but with such a small population it seems like there’s no way to avoid it being identifying. I’m not quite sure if anonymity is even that important, but I want to maximize participation.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      You probably should give us a bit of background of your audience. Age, education level, familiarity with forms, level of interest in this survey etc.

      Mostly I’d suggest you go with something simple, and test run the first draft on a couple of people first.

    • Erusian says:

      Mind sharing details? I’m curious about what your commune is like (all communes really).

      I’ve only known two sorts of functional communes: religious and one agricultural one. On the other hand, I presume your people don’t become weird aliens upon entering a commune and have designed public opinion surveys. I don’t like gradations. If the survey is short enough, I prefer separate questions to get fine grain data. For example:
      I think our labor tracking system is good for productivity. Yes/No
      I strongly hold the above opinion. Yes/No
      I think our labor tracking system is user-friendly. Yes/No
      I strongly hold the above opinion. Yes/No
      [etc etc]
      On the whole, I am satisfied with our labor tracking system. Yes/No
      I strongly hold the above opinion. Yes/No

      This will result in you knowing (for example) that 30% of the population is strongly satisfied with the labor tracking system and 50% weakly satisfied. And likewise, everyone who is satisfied still doesn’t think it’s user-friendly.

      As for how to phrase them, recommended methods vary. I usually make all my statements positive (ie, “Our commune is capitalist. Yes/No.” even if it’s an anti-capitalist commune because saying ‘is anti-capitalist’ or ‘is not capitalist’ are negative statements). I try to keep them short and pointed (ie, “Our commune follows our charter. Yes/No” and not “Our commune follows our charter include its commitments to socialism, racial justice, and pudding. Yes/No”). But others have different techniques. This does lead to issues where people have different interpretations of the same word. But to some extent, that’s just a subject for follow on research.

  3. Viliam says:

    Jordan Peterson says: “The poor kids that don’t get befriended at the age of 4… the literature on this is crystal clear… if your child is an outcast at the age of 4, the probability that anything can be done about that is almost zero, no matter what you do.”

    Does anyone have an idea (1) what research specifically is he referring to, and (2) how specifically is the “outcast” defined there?

    Because when I head “child outcast”, I can imagine different things — retarded kids who are incapable of interaction interesting enough for the other party; little psychopaths with low self-control who just can’t resist hurting everyone near them, so other kids learn to avoid them; or socially shy kids who avoid strangers, so no new connections get made — and likely these groups have different dynamics.

    Peterson, if I understand him correctly, believes in a social version of Matthew effect: Socially skilled people get more interactions, which gives them more opportunity to further develop their social skills; socially unskilled people get rejected, which deprives them of opportunity to develop social skills; thus the differences keep increasing. When a child achieves the level of “can find friends on the playground”, it starts the social self-improvement spiral. (And kids usually spend a lot of time on the playground.) If a child cannot pass this level, it only becomes more difficult later, because with higher age greater social skills are expected, as the child is compared against their age group.

    Now I am not denying that some form of social Matthew effect exists, but I am surprised that Peterson didn’t consider the obvious alternative explanation: that some kids have persistent issues, such as retardation or psychopathy with low self-control, and those issues make it difficult to make friends at the age of 4, just like at the older age. Mathematically speaking, that the causality is not “problem at 4 => problem at 10”, but rather “underlying problem => problem at 4” and “underlying problem => problem at 10”. I find it especially surprising because Peterson is otherwise not a believer in Blank Slate, which is famously demonstrated by the lobsters in one of the previous chapters of the same book.

    I would expect that especially the fatalistic cases where “nothing can be done about that” are more likely to have some underlying problem — there is nothing parents can do to make their retarded child non-retarded.

    On the other hand, if the child is merely socially shy, there are things you can do: arrange an environment where the social stress is lower. The social competition is most vicious when there is nothing else to do and too many competitors. When the situation becomes “about something”, some attention is redirected to that thing; for example a shy and physically healthy child could increase their chances in a sport club. I am not saying that you should keep your child away from unstructured activities forever; it’s just that if they can’t make the social quantum jump there, they can get the opportunity to practice the elementary social skills somewhere else. Also, if your child is generally shy around most kids, but has “clicked” with one or two friends, you could give them more opportunities to spend time with those friends. Like, if those friends live at the next block, you could go play to their playground instead of yours; or if they are outside only at a specific time, you could adjust your child’s schedule accordingly.

    • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

      Sounds implausible; young children of immigrants who are suddenly put in an environment where they can’t speak the language of their peers usually turn out fine.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Now I am not denying that some form of social Matthew effect exists, but I am surprised that Peterson didn’t consider the obvious alternative explanation: that some kids have persistent issues, such as retardation or psychopathy with low self-control, and those issues make it difficult to make friends at the age of 4, just like at the older age. Mathematically speaking, that the causality is not “problem at 4 => problem at 10”, but rather “underlying problem => problem at 4” and “underlying problem => problem at 10”.

      If I understand correctly the hypothesized causal graph is:

      underlying problem -> problem at 4
      ………………………..\…………|………….
      ………………………….\……….|………….
      ……………………………_|……v………….
      …………………………….. problem at 10

      That is, the underlying problem causes the problem at 10 both directly and indirectly thorugh the problem at 4 which impaired learning of social skills. This implies that socialization problems tend to grow worse as a child ages to adulthood, which seems to be intuitively true.

    • broblawsky says:

      This sounds like a very poorly supported claim to me, especially since Peterson is not a child psychologist. There are plenty of children who have badly interrupted development at young ages – does he cite any kind of study in support of this position, or is he just pronouncing from on high? A review of social skills training in children with autism-spectrum disorders shows that social skills training is effective in children aged ~10.

    • Ketil says:

      Jordan Peterson says: “The poor kids that don’t get befriended at the age of 4… the literature on this is crystal clear… if your child is an outcast at the age of 4, the probability that anything can be done about that is almost zero, no matter what you do.”

      Like others, I’m not sure what he refers to by “outcast”, but I think many social problems are created by both the child and the environment. Which is to say, a child that is “outcast” in one school or class, may be better socially adapted if moved to another.

      On the other hand, there is something to stories of being a perpetual victim (pretty sure revictimization is common for sexual assault, but didn’t find good stats off-hand).

      I’d like to see data on this.

  4. GhostUser says:

    lately i’ve been sick and stuck at home with nothing else to do, so i’ve been spending even more time online than usual, which means being exposed to toxic internet politics even more than usual. feeling awfully misanthropic and nihilistic lately. spent so much time reading online articles about politics and writing long political posts on facebook, and it’s just making me so frustrated.

    i remember hearing about some trans woman up in canada who’s been creeping on little girls in bathrooms and filing a bunch of obviously bad faith discrimination lawsuits. fuck her for living up to all the worst stereotypes about queer people, for giving the conservatives more ammo, for making lgbt people and social progressives in general all look bad by association. but more than that, fuck all the right-wing news sites and blogs and commenters who are using this as an excuse to attack queer people in general, who unfailingly misgender her and center their criticisms around the fact that she’s a man pretending to be a woman, even though shes obviously not, you fucking troglodyte reprobates. they’re even worse than she is, and they’ve made it impossible for non-transphobes to criticize her, because any criticism is going to seem like it’s endorsing their shitty backwards transphobic narrative.

    for that matter, fuck all the dumbass queer commies who treat communism as an essential part of their identity as queer people, as if the two are fundamentally linked. way to reinforce the conservative notion that queers are all hardcore anti-capitalist cultural marxist sjws with awful ultra-radical far-left politics. seeing all the pro-communist and anti-capitalist memes on queer subreddits makes me cringe, especially because everyone there acts like it’s so natural and obvious that all those goddamn queers would be communists. there’s are anti-communist queer subreddits, but i have a sinking feeling that it’s all edgelords and hardcore anti-sjws and far-rightists like milo fuckoffolis and blaire whitesupremacist who go way too far in the other direction.

    it’s all just so damn infuriating. each side encouraging each other’s worst excesses, driving the other to worse atrocities. publicly i talk about how we need to work within the system for change and how direct action won’t work, because intellectually i know that’s true, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t care and just wants to burn it all down anyway. the racists, xenophobes, misogynists, misandrists, homophobes, transphobes, the jews and the christians and the muslim fundamentalists, the alt-right and the ctrl-left, the pseudo-libertarian right-wingers who think anti-discrimination laws are authoritarian but cheer on police brutality and forced deportations, the pseudo-libertarian left-wingers who criticize Bush for being mildly homophobic but defend communist dictators who literally threw queer people into forced labor camps. i used to be the libertarian but half of them are social conservatives who just want the freedom to be disgusting bigot pricks, half of them are free market idealists every bit as brainwashed by their utopians ideals as the marxists, and the last half are left-wing antifa ancom nutjobs who want to replace capitalism with some fantasy gift economy bullshit. all three halves are high on their own supply and happy to march us down into hell or off into oblivion for their cause.

    so fuck em all, the goddamn hypocrites all around. burn it all to the ground and start over. begin again. that’s what the radical right and the commies and the anarkiddies all want, right? burn it down and start over, but they don’t go far enough. they think there’s room for them in the new world, but the very flaws of our society are present within them. they’re corrupted, along with whatever ideologies they claim to espouse. we need true void to cleanse this world, a true burning away of everything that came before.

    but deeper than that, maybe our programming is just bad. maybe we don’t deserve a better world and wouldn’t be happy with it anyway. irrational, tribalistic, perpetually unsatisfied and ungrateful. maybe people would always find reasons to complain and reasons to hate, because we’re not wired to be satisfied for any extended length of time. i always hear the cultural right and the economic left talking about how modern society has stripped away tradition and value and meaning from our lives and replaced it with the empty void of atomistic individualism and shallow consumerism, but if that’s the price of living in the most prosperous society in human history, that’s a deal i’ll gladly take. sure beats having an infant mortality rate of one in three.

    except most people won’t take that deal, because most people aren’t nietzschean supermen or randian individualists who are content to make their own purpose in life. they want to feel like they have intrinsic value and their lives have meaning, and if their society isn’t offering that to them, they’re going to rebel against it. and sometimes that rebellion takes the form of political extremism, or bigotry and scapegoating, or mass shootings and terrorism, or some horrible combination of all of the above, and it threatens to bring the whole damn system down. maybe J was right and the only real solution is just to keep everyone drugged all the time, brave new world style.

    hell, if we’re being honest, i’m not content with living in this atomistic void either, my own lack of purpose and meaning bothers me all the time. there are days when i feel like a walking ghost, a hollow empty shell of a person, little more than a pair of eyes and hands behind a computer screen drifting idly through information space. sometimes it gets really hard to care about anything at all. but i’m a depressed, obsessive, neurotic, socially anxious, internet-addicted, generally fucked up person with few friends and no hobbies, i shouldn’t be the standard for our species. other people should be better than me. they need to be better than me for any attempt at improving society to work.

    or maybe it’s just culture that’s the problem. countless maladaptive behaviors built up like layers of sediment in the collective unconscious, the vestigal remants of a thousand dead societies. but even then, what can be done? sometimes, idly, i find myself wishing for a great reset, for all memory of the past to be wiped away. for humanity to be free from all the constraints of its history, from all rules and laws and values that developed to ensure survival in times of scarcity and savagery, so that we can finally develop new values better suited to life in a post-industrial society.

    but there’s no real way to do that. even if you had the next generation raised by machines and prevented them from having any contact with their forebears, those machines would’ve been programmed by someone, and they would inevitably pass down all the values and assumptions of their programmers. and if our flaws are more than just cultural, if they’re even partially hardwired, then it wouldn’t matter regardless, and we’d quickly find ourselves falling right back into our old habits.

    sometimes i envy M’s ability to be okay with things, to say yeah, we’re dumb animals and we’ll never be perfect and there’ll probably always be some amount of injustice and suffering in the world, but that’s alright. she doesn’t have the same perfectionist drive i have, not on a personal level and not in her view of the world as a whole. she doesn’t see the world as a problem to be solved or a mistake to be fixed. she doesn’t idolize or romanticize the world’s flaws like the brutalists and reactionaries do, she’s a tender person and she doesn’t think harshness is good, she just sees the world as something that simply is, warts and all. i don’t get it, i’ve never really gotten it and i don’t know if i ever will, but it seems to bring her a certain contentment.

    or maybe i’ve just been reading too much samzdat, combined with too many trash comments from asshole political extremists on facebook and slatestarcodex and 4chan and reason, combined with a generally depressive mindset from being alone and indoors and sick and tired for so long. it’s becoming hard to see the world as anything other than prisoner’s dilemmas and molochian incentive traps and races to the bottom and sharpening contradictions and toxoplasmosa of rage. more and more, it seems like that’s all human civilization is.

    • BBA says:

      Come sit next to me.

      • GhostUser says:

        yeah. sounds comfy bro.

        but tbh i’m prolly just gonna go back to debating with edgelords and stormfronters on pol until i pass out again

        half expecting this to get deleted anyway, it ain’t nice and i’m not sure if its true or necessary to anyone but me, but i’m glad at least one person heard me calling out into the void

    • mnov says:

      (note: only read first 4 paragraphs, so if there’s a reversal somewhere ignore this)

      fuck her for living up to all the worst stereotypes about queer people, for giving the conservatives more ammo, for making lgbt people and social progressives in general all look bad by association. but more than that, fuck all the right-wing news sites and blogs and commenters who are using this as an excuse to attack queer people in general, who unfailingly misgender her and center their criticisms around the fact that she’s a man pretending to be a woman, even though shes obviously not, you fucking troglodyte reprobates. they’re even worse than she is,

      Are they, though? Whatsherface is going out into the world and actively ruining people’s lives, while the culturewar baiters are writing culture war garbage for people who don’t have anything better to do. Crucially, I think if the canadian trans troll wasn’t frivolously suing those skin care places, then they would not be sued, whereas if e.g. the daily caller weren’t publishing 100 articles a day of culture war garbage then some other publication would (c.f. the singularity of that canadian woman vs how many different online publications publish culture war garbage).

      and they’ve made it impossible for non-transphobes to criticize her, because any criticism is going to seem like it’s endorsing their shitty backwards transphobic narrative.

      Only by the bad faith rules of online debate, though, right? “Can’t say X because it ‘is going to seem like’ you believe y” is a concern iff you’re writing for a hostile audience.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      i always hear the cultural right and the economic left talking about how modern society has stripped away tradition and value and meaning from our lives and replaced it with the empty void of atomistic individualism and shallow consumerism, but if that’s the price of living in the most prosperous society in human history, that’s a deal i’ll gladly take. sure beats having an infant mortality rate of one in three.

      Sounds like a false dichotomy.

      hell, if we’re being honest, i’m not content with living in this atomistic void either, my own lack of purpose and meaning bothers me all the time. there are days when i feel like a walking ghost, a hollow empty shell of a person, little more than a pair of eyes and hands behind a computer screen drifting idly through information space. sometimes it gets really hard to care about anything at all. but i’m a depressed, obsessive, neurotic, socially anxious, internet-addicted, generally fucked up person with few friends and no hobbies, i shouldn’t be the standard for our species.

      With all due respect, maybe you should consider cleaning your room before raging against the world and thinking of re-engineering civilization.

      other people should be better than me. they need to be better than me for any attempt at improving society to work.

      And these “better”, more functional people, value culture, community and tradition. You should infer something from this.

      or maybe it’s just culture that’s the problem. countless maladaptive behaviors built up like layers of sediment in the collective unconscious, the vestigal remants of a thousand dead societies. but even then, what can be done? sometimes, idly, i find myself wishing for a great reset, for all memory of the past to be wiped away. for humanity to be free from all the constraints of its history, from all rules and laws and values that developed to ensure survival in times of scarcity and savagery, so that we can finally develop new values better suited to life in a post-industrial society.

      To live as depressed, obsessive, neurotic, socially anxious, internet-addicted, generally fucked up people, with hardly any family relationships, true friendships, or sense of cultural heritage, always on the move to live and work anywhere in the world because they belong nowhere, replaceable and disposeable cogs in the machine whose only purpose is to produce and consume? Thanks, but no thanks.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        “Clean your room” is probably the best advice. Not necessarily taken literally, but metaphorically, in the sense that you need to build out your life. Understandably, you are sick and stuck at home, but online debate isn’t the best use of your time. OTOH, it looks attractive when this is true:

        but i’m a depressed, obsessive, neurotic, socially anxious, internet-addicted, generally fucked up person with few friends and no hobbies,

        You’re better off finding some friends and trying to build something of a life than arguing on the internet. It’s tough to do when you’re stuck at home, but good lord, arguing with people online over stupid stuff isn’t going to make you feel better about anything. There’s gotta be someone playing some D&D or watching some football that you can hang out with on any given Sunday.

      • GhostUser says:

        its not a false dichotomy bc the structure of hitech capital society leads to the lifestyles youre complaining about so the only way to have a hitech capital society with trad culture is to strictly enforce it thru law or peer pressure and that cure is worse than disease

        and most successful ppl arent trads, i dont think Bill ot Jeff or Elon value traditional culture, maybe Mitt does but hes the exception, and the successful ppl i know are all middle class white collar professionals who dont value those things either, theyre not setting down and having five kids and staying in Same Town, theyre happy to move around and stay childless and put their careers first

        problem isnt with the system its with the humans for having bad values and bad programming

        • viVI_IViv says:

          and most successful ppl arent trads, i dont think Bill ot Jeff or Elon value traditional culture, maybe Mitt does but hes the exception, and the successful ppl i know are all middle class white collar professionals who dont value those things either, theyre not setting down and having five kids and staying in Same Town, theyre happy to move around and stay childless and put their careers first

          Bill Gates has 3 children, Jeff Bezos 4 and Elon Musk 5. I don’t know who Mitt is supposed to be. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos look pretty traditional in their lifestyle choices, Elon Musk not so much, but then flamboyant womanizer aristocrats didn’t exactly appear with modern hi-tech society.

          In any case, if these are your role models, then you are mistaken. These are elites. The role that the void atomistic consumeristic society is trying to force you into is not that of an elite, in fact, the fraction of the elites is shrinking.

          The role for peons like you and me is that of a wage slave. Somebody who owns nothing and rents everything while ownership gets concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
          Somebody whose only worth is defined by the commodified, impersonal work they do for some corporation and the shallow entertainment and perishable consumer goods that they buy. Somebody who as soon as they raise their head and start making any trouble can be cancelled from the economy and the public square with a click of a mouse.

          It’s similar to a medieval serf, except that medieval serfs at least usually had community, religious values and families with many children, while you don’t. But you’re free to identify as any of the 42 genders and the 108 sexual orientations they invented last week, so more power to you.

          And don’t fool yourself thinking that just because you sit in a cubicle all day coding javascript you are much closer to Gates or Musk than the illegal immigrant who cleans your toilet or picks your tomatoes. Sooner rather than later you will find yourself competing for your job with a disenfranchised immigrant if not a machine.

          problem isnt with the system its with the humans for having bad values and bad programming

          If you think humans should serve the system rather than the system should serve humans then your priorities are backwards. I’d rather not be a drone in service of some queen bee elite.

    • brad says:

      or maybe i’ve just been reading too much samzdat, combined with too many trash comments from asshole political extremists on facebook and slatestarcodex and 4chan and reason, combined with a generally depressive mindset from being alone and indoors and sick and tired for so long.

      This right here. Go for a walk outside, read a novel, call a friend to reminisce about the glory days, learn a new recipe, send messages to people on dating apps, watch a football game (either), do some leetcode problems–aside from maybe smoking meth or shooting up heroin there’s almost nothing worse you can be doing for your mindset than what you are doing.

      And your misery is not getting you or us anything! If you were sacrificing your sanguinity to get to a better world, that would be one thing, but can you honestly say that what you are doing is an effective means of doing so?

      • BBA says:

        I do some of that stuff, and then when I get home the despair always comes back. I’d like to adopt a healthy mindset like “life is meaningless, enjoy every sandwich” but my brain just won’t do it.

        • brad says:

          Me too, sometimes. There’s a reason Scott just warned me for the fourth time. But isn’t it better to be mired despair and anger for four hours a week than for twenty?

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Our minds are made to try to model and predict the future. This comes through in things such as figuring out whether that shadow in the grass is a predator, on what series of steps to take to build the finished house we want, on what lessons our children need to develop.

          Thanks to this we can come up with ideas such as Plato’s ideal forms and creator Gods.

          Though there is no rational reason to believe that such ideal forms, such Gods, an afterlife, or any extrinsic (or even intrinsic) meaning exists; We can still see these ideas as possible models and predicitions – things to work toward. And though its doubtful that the cosmological physics of the universe will allow any of these ideas full fruition (just as we can imaging levitating, but can’t do it sans a powerful external magnetic field), isn’t it worthwhile doing our little parts in working toward them? Magnetic levitation and levitation through strong air currents and a body suit are still pretty cool.

          • BBA says:

            No, um, I meant to emphasize the sandwich part, that’s the important part of it. I like sandwiches. (And Warren Zevon.)

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            that’s the important part of it

            Everything counts in large amounts, BBA, not just the sandwiches.

      • GhostUser says:

        first i went to stormfront and those places bc curiosity, i just want to see what motives these ppl and makes them tic, then i stayed bc i realized this represents the true face of Man and to turn away would be to reject Truth of human nature and hide in illusion world

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Every person is a single instance of the true face of Man. This includes the saints, the serial killers, and everyone else.

          Since you seem to have cordoned yourself off in a stormfront and /pol monastery, I’d give you the same advice given to certain seekers of enlightenment: Go into the world and be part of it.

          https://aeon.co/essays/enlightenment-does-not-demand-disenchantment-with-the-world

          Humans, who see nature as outside of ourselves, are presented with a choice: either we can elect to submit to a mysterious, mythological world full of magic and frighteningly capricious spirits; or we can elect to subdue nature. By choosing the second option and turning nature into an object to control, humanity was caught in its own trap. Chasing the domination of nature, humans began to dominate each other. Rather than being liberated into a new kind of autonomy as they had hoped, people were instead turned into objects or, more properly, into abstractions, mere numbers and statistics, leading to a new backlash of irrational forces.

          (I’ve only just started reading this article)

        • ECD says:

          realized this represents the true face of Man and to turn away would be to reject Truth of human nature and hide in illusion world

          It represents a true face of Man. There are as many true faces of man as there are men. Look elsewhere then clusters of assholes if you wish to see things other than clusters of assholes.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Stormfront does not represent the true face of Man. It’s an online community that’s a small portion of people.
          The actual true face of man is network TV. The Bachelor, America Ninja Warrior, Big Bang Theory, Monday Night Football.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Have you considered that some (though certainly not all) of those attacking Yaniv are in fact not your enemies? That “misgendering” Yaniv is not some attack on transgender or queer people, but denying Yaniv’s status as such, specifically? Why not reject Yaniv? I admit that doing so means you must accept some gatekeeping of trans identity, and I understand that is considered undesirable… but the alternative of not-gatekeeping means you must accept Yaniv and that guy who claimed to be female for his car insurance and every male prisoner cynically trying to get into a women’s prison… it’s just not tenable.

      • ECD says:

        Not the original poster, but though I have my issues with current trans politics, I’d actually disagree with this.

        It’s fine for Yaniv to be a transwoman. Transwomen and women can be assholes, or criminals, or rapists. It doesn’t vitiate their other status.

        … but the alternative of not-gatekeeping means you must accept Yaniv and that guy who claimed to be female for his car insurance and every male prisoner cynically trying to get into a women’s prison… it’s just not tenable.

        I disagree. Car insurance is an interesting example (but see: https://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2017/jan/14/eu-gender-ruling-car-insurance-inequality-worse), but I’m going to focus on prisons, because the problem is not that men might pretend to be transwomen to get better treatment, ETA: or access to potential targets, it’s the appalling conditions and total lack of concern for safety of prisoners which is the problem.

        • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

          If you look at Yaniv’s Twitter it has a strong troll aura, not in the sense of trolling the salons but rather political provocation (first getting lulz by doing things to outrage right-wingers and then from persuading left-wingers to defend them). This is particularly compelling evidence for this theory, also see the “PhD from socialjustice.university” (also looks like a troll) and retweeted endorsements from these obvious trolls/sockpuppets.

          • ECD says:

            I’m certainly willing to believe Yaniv is a troll, based on the limited knowledge I have. But it just seems entirely possible that Yaniv is a transwoman and a troll.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Yes, it’s possible and if that is the case we should recognise it while also not drawing any silly conclusions about trans people in general. But I think the trolling makes it significantly more likely that the claim of being trans is false. And if that’s the case it should also be recognised, otherwise you’re letting yourself be played by Yaniv.

            There’s also a possibility that it genuinely is arguable whether Yaniv is trans or not. But I’m pretty sure this venue could not handle the subtleties a discussion about that would involve.

          • ECD says:

            And if that’s the case it should also be recognised, otherwise you’re letting yourself be played by Yaniv.

            I mean, sure. That’s a risk I’m perfectly willing to accept. I prefer to accept the risk of being played (in this instance, at least, where the cost is…I don’t know, Yaniv gets to go ‘Yay I fooled him!’) rather than accidentally insult someone.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            But the cost isn’t just that you look silly, it’s that bad actors like Yaniv can encourage transphobia with these kinds of “false flag” attacks. I don’t think this is a huge problem, but I don’t think misgendering is either (in this context, where the victim is a troll who is plausibly lying about their gender).

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Yaniv-like person feels bad because they were misgendered their whole life. Yaniv-like person lashes out in a trollish manner. Yaniv-like person is denied their chosen gender due to trollish behavior. Repeat?

          • ECD says:

            But the cost isn’t just that you look silly, it’s that bad actors like Yaniv can encourage transphobia with these kinds of “false flag” attacks. I don’t think this is a huge problem, but I don’t think misgendering is either (in this context, where the victim is a troll who is plausibly lying about their gender).

            I think anonymousskimmer addresses one issue with this. Another would be I am unconvinced people like Yaniv encourage discrimination, so much as provide examples, which, given the size of the human population, someone is definitely going to do.

            My broader disagreement however is that I’m not asking what should society do (as I have no particular control over that), but rather what should I do. And I’d rather run the risk of looking silly rather than accidentally insult someone.

    • ECD says:

      or maybe i’ve just been reading too much samzdat, combined with too many trash comments from asshole political extremists on facebook and slatestarcodex and 4chan and reason, combined with a generally depressive mindset from being alone and indoors and sick and tired for so long. it’s becoming hard to see the world as anything other than prisoner’s dilemmas and molochian incentive traps and races to the bottom and sharpening contradictions and toxoplasmosa of rage. more and more, it seems like that’s all human civilization is.

      Then maybe do something else? Maybe have a meal with people you actually like, maybe even with a ‘no politics’ caveat? If you don’t want to interact in person, I quite enjoy D&D online using Roll20. If you don’t want to interact with people at all, I’m enjoying Fire Emblem, Three Houses. The world’s full of options, why pick the one which makes you sad?

      ETA: ninja’d by Brad…

    • Jack says:

      Lol at the people who replied to this no-caps midnight scream of the soul with “may I interest you in my internet politics?”

      • The Nybbler says:

        Laugh all you want, but if one’s soul is screaming due to politics, changing the politics is at least an alternative to be considered.

        • BBA says:

          I can’t speak for GU, but my soul would keep screaming no matter what my politics were.

          • Randy M says:

            I can’t speak for GU, but my soul would keep screaming no matter what my politics were.

            I’ve never been particularly tempted to proselytize here before, but with apologies for local norms and respect to the day, let me suggest the solution to your problems are indeed not political.

          • Nick says:

            And since the problems aren’t political, the political replies above are unhelpful. The make friends and do things advice, though, is.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          In the sense of moderating one’s views, maaaaybe slightly.

          That said, if you think that feelings of anger, despair, outrage, anxiety, and helplessness fostered by a diet of facebook memes/posts/news articles, clickbait, and extremist and/or dumb comments on the internet is merely a function of being on the wrong side of the red/blue or left/right divide in the US, you are incorrect. I can point to examples of individuals on both sides of the divide suffering from the same issues, and the worst of the lot is a good friend who is about as far from progressive politics as it’s possible to get.

        • Jack says:

          I hate to see good irony go to waste. It’s not funny because I do not think politics can have something to do with depression (though I would echo the above qualifications), it’s that the respondents apparently think starting an internet politics conversation will help cure a person of their internet politics conversation funk. People responding to GhostUser’s post by arguing about GU’s political orientation aren’t changing GU’s politics, they’re replicating the dynamic GU was describing.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I empathize. Lots of shit going on, and a system that’s optimized for bringing the worst of it to our attention.

      Remember, though, that “dog bites man” is not news. Of all the trans folk in Canada, that creep using her trans status as an excuse for abuse is the one who gets the press, not the ones that are quietly living their lives, in between helping little old ladies.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t worry, or despair about human nature. But if I actually engage my rational system, I can see the selection bias.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      There was a very positive change in my life lately. A small thing, that ended up significantly improving my life. Can you guess what it is? Yep, gave up social media. It’s been a process, to be perfectly honest – started with a Cold Turkey reddit detox a year ago (that’s a pun, because I used a software called Cold Turkey. good stuff). Than facebook+instagram last month.

      I’m not going to say that it solved all my problems and made me instantly happy, because it didn’t. But I have a lot more time, and I’m somehow more myself than when I had to check my phone every 3 minutes.

      A strange side-effect – I had restarted meditating and was finding it very helpful. Now – I don’t feel the need at all.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      maybe i’ve just been reading too much samzdat, combined with too many trash comments from asshole political extremists on facebook and slatestarcodex and 4chan and reason, combined with a generally depressive mindset from being alone and indoors and sick and tired for so long.

      This. Ghost, remember that when you’re dealing with issues like depression or anxiety, they distort your perception of input, and your emotional responses. Bad feelings get amplified. Good feelings get muted. You tend to overestimate the chances of negative events and outcomes and underestimate the chances of good ones.

      Outrage-porn/clickbait material and the comments that a diet of that content produces are pretty much designed specifically to invoke feelings of anger, sadness, and anxiety because it drives views and garners attention, and that means they are pretty much the worst thing for you to be looking at in terms of your own mental and emotional health. It’s the psychological equivalent of a Type-1 Diabetic slamming down high-sugar soda and candy, except to extend the metaphor there’s no insulin to force your emotional response back to an even keel. Instead, you have to change your “diet”.

      That means in your case following one of the classic heuristics of the internet: “Do Not Read The Comments”. If you can’t follow that rule, then the next step is not allowing yourself to go to the sites with comment threads you know are going to depress and anger you. In fact, you should be working on cutting down your intake of the sites with articles that have the same effect, and that very much includes Facebook. Personally, I made a choice not to have a FB account some years ago so I am not familiar with all the moderation/filtering tools, but I urge you to take steps to cut off the flow of outrage porn articles/memes/wall posts on your FB account. In extremis, that may mean unfollowing some friends/groups. Explaining to those friends the effect those memes/articles/posts are having on your emotional health should be enough for them to accept that choice, and to be honest if their response is hostile, that should lead you to re-evaluate the relationship.

      i’m a depressed, obsessive, neurotic, socially anxious, internet-addicted, generally fucked up person with few friends and no hobbies,

      My advice above is intended to help stem the flow of input that’s fucking you up, leaving you feeling angry and miserable. But that in and of itself isn’t enough, as I think you know given this bit. So the other half of the picture is addressing the various modifiers here.

      Do you have offline/RL friends with whom you can share non-political activities? It doesn’t really matter what kind: Hitting the local park for frisbee golf, camping, shooting, airsoft/paintball, book and movie discussions over food or drinks at a local hangout, seeing movies together, tabletop board-gaming or role-playing, watching sports, going to sporting events, playing sports….anything, really, as long as it is A) in-person interaction, B) primarily apolitical. I know you’ve said you’ve been sick and stuck at home, but you make it sound like this is a not a permanent state, so now’s the time to start planning for what you can do once you’re NOT housebound.

      I don’t know how old you are, or the details of your life situation, so the level of advice I can offer here is limited, but the short version is simply that the more you can take part in social activities, preferably offline, that aren’t tied into that same feed of toxic information and emotion, the easier your depression and anxiety will be to manage. Speaking as someone who struggled with depression for many years and is still in the progress of combating the morbid obesity I developed using caloric excess as therapy, I’ve found that even something as annoying as having to work a job that forces me to speak to and be social with other human beings 40-50 hours a week was helpful to break out of the sort of spirals you can get into when you sit alone by yourself in front of a computer screen 8-16 hours a day.

  5. Ceofy says:

    Does anyone have any recommendations for resources for starting meditating?

    I’m wondering whether achieving meditative flow like the kind described by Qualia Research Institute can help bring about the kind of annealing described by Scott in the most recent SSC journal club.

    • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

      The Mind Illuminated is good.

      • Viliam says:

        Seconding The Mind Illuminated.

        You might also want to read Don’t Shoot the Dog — it is not about meditation, but about conditioning, which plays a big role at meditation training and helps to understand the reasons behind the recommendations how to meditate. (For example, why you should never punish yourself for failing at meditation: you are trying to reduce the failure, but actually you are reducing meditation as a whole, and also reducing noticing the mistake, which is a complete opposite of what you are trying to achieve.)

    • broblawsky says:

      I just started using Headspace. That was enough for a beginner.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      I’m probably wrong here, but it’s the kind of thing where people might do while being embarrassed to admit so I’ll put it out here. I just sit, without any system.

      I started originally with soto zen (which is mainly about sitting, but also some other stuff), but past couple of years I just get a pillow, sit crosslegged in front of a wall, and play with my mind for 10-20 minutes. I discovered quite a lot of stuff this way. First, there are (at least) two completely different ways you can use sitting. Meditation vs contemplation, I think they’re called. First is just exercise for the mind – probably why it’s often called “practice”. Second is… well, can be quite a lot of things. I use as a sortof “debug mode” for the mind, or defragment, or get closer to the subconscious. It sounds lofty, but it’s actually quite simple. For example I might sit and decide to take a critical look at my life. So for a couple of minutes I let my mind think of lost opportunities and mistakes – things I usually repress. It’s a very useful life skill to have – I’ve found quite a few low hanging fruits this way.

      I often do both in the same session. I don’t follow a pattern, I just do what seems right – if I feel like the train of thought is getting out of control, I may just breath for a few minutes. If there’s stuff lurking in my mind I let it play.

  6. BBA says:

    The Atlantic recently imposed a soft paywall. Whether or not this longform piece is worth the price of a subscription, I don’t know, but it’s certainly something.

    When the Culture War Comes for the Kids by George Packer. A discussion of the brutal “meritocracy” of the New York City school system, the recent swing towards hard-left norms in the classroom, and what all of this is doing to the kids.

    • albatross11 says:

      I have the depressing sense that a large chunk of school reforms and the politics related to it is about power struggles among adults, and has little or no connection to what’s best for the kids. Sometimes, those struggles are at least about differences in opinion about what would be best for the kids, but a lot of the time, I think nobody’s really even thinking about that. The problem at hand is defeating the other side or making sure I get a cut of the available money or making sure my group gains in status relative to the other group. If that requires screwing a few million kids out of a decent education, or giving everyone lousy math educations so a whole generation of kids finds their later math classes 20% more confusing, well, you gotta break some eggs….

    • GreatColdDistance says:

      Haven’t read the piece due to the aforementioned paywall, but feel the need to express my sadness at this shift in policy. The Atlantic always seemed to represent some kind of ideal in journalism, with high quality and reputable coverage with diverse perspectives and high volumes of content all available for free online, and the reality that that model is not sustainable in the modern media market makes me sad.

      • albatross11 says:

        Figuring out how to pay for quality journalism is IMO a hard and unsolved problem. It’s easier to try to pay for shitty clickbait journalism (though I’m not sure even that is sustainable), but “Go spend a month looking into this complicated issue and write an in-depth treatment that’s a good, factually-accurate overview” is really hard to sustain in the modern world. Some of that is Google/Facebook/Etc. eating their ad revenues, but I think a bigger part is that there’s so much easier-to-reach competition for your reading time/attention. Facebook and Twitter are always available and in your pocket; even if The Atlantic is, too, it’s a much higher activation energy to read a long-form article than a snarky tweet. I find myself doing too much of this, too.

        • soreff says:

          >Figuring out how to pay for quality journalism is IMO a hard and unsolved problem.

          Agreed.

        • Viliam says:

          I think this is essentially a principal-agent problem.

          I want to know about things, and there is an amount of money I am willing to pay to someone who would research those things and explain them to me. The problem is: how can I tell whether this person gives me their best effort to find true information, or manipulates me towards their own political or commercial goals, or just tries to guess what information will sound most credible to me.

          Yeah, before I get here, I need to overcome my own weaknesses, like enjoying my bubbles, preferring sarcasm to actual engagement with the topic, et cetera. But the point is, even if I succeed to overcome this, I am still stuck. I want to buy something that I am unable to verify whether I actually got it. If I could reliably distinguish fair reporting from bullshit, I probably wouldn’t need the reporting in the first place.

      • metacelsus says:

        Blocking cookies seems to work (I’m on Firefox).

      • GearRatio says:

        @GreatColdDistance:

        I would agreed with you five years ago; since they purged the last of the right-leaning voices (besides Friedersdorf, who only leans to the right on issues of speech anymore) and got rid of the comments, I can’t really consider it to have any meaningful “diverse perspectives” anymore.

        I used to be in close contact with a relatively-higher up there, who said this to me in correspondence, and which pretty well describes my view of them:

        General ideological creep of the lame leftist millennial
        bent, but far more so, the Atlantic isn’t very open at all to dissent
        these days or a diversity of opinion/ideology — only diversity in the
        most predictable shallow ways, when it comes to “identity”. You know where I’m coming from I think.

    • johan_larson says:

      I read that article, and came away with the impression that it’s two separate articles stitched together. Part 1 is about the culture of desperate striving among those who aspire to have their kids among the wealthy or the almost wealthy, but who aren’t quite within that group themselves. If these parents were actually wealthy or very accomplished themselves, this wouldn’t be that difficult, but the writers (intellectually cultivated journalists) have to push hard to make it happen.

      Part 2 is about a distinctly left-wing turn by the NY city school system, focused on identity politics. It talks about attempts by the schools to foster race consciousness among the students (including guilt feelings among the white students) and attempts to erase boundaries between the sexes.

      I’m not quite sure how these two go together, unless it’s all part and parcel of the burdens endured by the clever and educated but not quite wealthy of the U.S. of F’ing A.

      • Nick says:

        It’s a chronological account of Packer’s experience with schools. The meritocracy stuff appears at the beginning and the end because that’s when Packer and his wife were trying to get their son into the right school. The progressive stuff was in between because that’s when their son was in school. The relationship between the two is somewhat tenuous, though, which is why the essay feels so disjointed.

      • BBA says:

        Much of the commentary I’ve seen on this piece sees the shift from the feel-good liberalism of ten years ago to the feel-bad progressivism of today as a response to the apparent failures of “meritocratic” liberalism. This isn’t made explicit in the piece, but it’s most obvious when Packer is talking about the school overwhelmingly opting out of standardized tests, led by the leftist administration and faculty. The progressive argument is that the hypercompetitiveness of college (and high school, middle school…) admissions is a way the system structurally oppresses marginalized groups.

        The problem is, for the most part progressivism isn’t overturning the system, it’s getting co-opted by it. There are only so many spots at Harvard (and Stuyvesant and Dalton…) and if they’re no longer allocated by outdated discriminatory notions of “merit” but by who is deemed most intersectionally worthy, but it’s still an unending rat race that consumes everyone’s lives from the ages of 2 to 18, is that really any better?

    • Lancelot says:

      Yet another example of Moloch’s workings.

    • BillyZoom says:

      I mostly skimmed the article, but as a father of 3 boys all in the NY public school system (one now in college), I find very little, if anything, recognizable from my experiences in what the article describes.

      My local elementary schools are considered good, so perhaps that’s the difference.

    • I W​ri​te ​B​ug​s No​t O​ut​ag​es says:

      Is the definition of “meritocracy” now a competitive system you don’t like?

      Ex.: The TV show The Bachelor is such a meritocracy.

    • I can’t help but feel contempt for the author. He complains about meritocracy, and then is shocked when the schools ditch objectives measures of testing and decide that they should essentialize racial politics. He has no problem brainwashing his kids but suddenly takes a stand for critical thinking when the radicalization happens. This kid is being force-fed an ideology that hates him for who he is, and realizing this, he’s going to enter a state of nihilism, because no one teaches him an alternative and in fact, they’re being actively suppressed. Why are we letting nutjobs control our schools?

      • BillyZoom says:

        The author seems, to me, to be the kind of person who creates problems, not solves them. I don’t think we’d get along very well.

        I can make an effort-post on NYC public education if anyone is interested, but in short, how it is depicted in the article is not the norm, by any stretch. My kids’ experiences are/have been almost nothing like he describes. My kid’s all very much enjoyed/are enjoying school, and, afaik, never felt overly stressed (a bit due to workload).

        We did have to wait in line a couple hours for our youngest when registering for kindergarten. School overcrowding is an issue.

        I will say that my politics are very different than the author’s, and my neighborhood is seemingly quite different from his.

    • ECD says:

      Okay, I’ve made it through eight paragraphs. I’m willing to believe that people actually do interviews for 2 year olds at private pre-schools. But holy fuck I think that entire structure is super bizarre and seems crackers to me.

      • ECD says:

        Replying to myself, as a note for potential future conversation:

        Registration was still two hours off, and places would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. At the front of the line, parents were lying in sleeping bags. They had spent the night outside.

        This strikes me as potentially relevant to the virtue signalling conversation down-thread, but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

        • johan_larson says:

          I’m not sure it’s about virtue signalling. It seems to me it speaks more to just how badly these parents want to get their kids into their preferred schools. It’s about desperation, or something close to it, not about trying to impress the neighbors.

          • Anyone who believes that the preschool your child goes to when they are two actually matters is out of touch with reality. I’m sure the parents are sincere but it really is some kind of collective insanity.

          • johan_larson says:

            The thinking seem to be that you need to get into the right preschool to get into the right grade school to get into the right college to get into the right job to get into the upper-middle class. If you don’t get into and stay in the pipeline, welcome to State U and the middle-middle, I guess.

            It all seems a bit exaggerated. I’d hope I would be able to resist getting pulled into the college prep panic if I were raising kids. But I might not.

          • brad says:

            Those parents are not just annoying and hypocritical they are also optimizing for a dead world. It’s just not necessary to go the right schools anymore. That’s one more aspect of WASP culture that’s no longer in play. I mean, sure, it’s probably not going to hurt that you went to Avenues or Dalton and then Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, but there’s almost no paths left where it is necessary and those few that are left are prestigious but not especially lucrative.

    • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

      The whole thing is interesting, but in particular I was surprised by his kids crying at Trump’s election. I’m pretty sure I was basically unaware of politics at that age. Even a couple of years later when I got into politics on a theoretical level (did anyone else here play NationStates?) I wasn’t very up-to-date on current affairs, and my impression is that most of my peers were the same. So either I was in a bubble, the author of the piece is atypical, things have changed a lot in the last decade, or it’s different across the Atlantic.

      • Nick says:

        That concerned me, too. I was allayed (which is not to say my concern was gone) he soon said they would tone down the politics around the kids. Not that that would happen in school….

        (And yes, I played NationStates. I made a Catholic theocracy, but the social teaching crashed my economy.)

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        DItto with me, but I was born in 78 and raised in a Republican-leaning household, so it’s not like my parents were wailing and teeth-gnashing about the current president and congress during my formative years.

      • Tarpitz says:

        I was aware of the Conservative leadership contest in 1990, when I was 7, but I wasn’t particularly emotionally invested in any of the candidates (even though Douglas Hurd was my father’s cousin’s father-in-law). I thought Major was a bit boring, but it affected my life not at all. By the time Black Wednesday came around two years later, I was inclined to think a free-floating currency was a good idea, but I certainly wouldn’t have been in tears if we’d stayed in the ERM. I was more emotionally affected by the threat of extinction of various charismatic animals, but I didn’t see that as a political question, or really one that had much bearing on the society around me.

        As for whether there is a real change in society here, I’m not sure. I certainly have one friend whose young sons are very invested in left wing politics, but then she and her husband are theatre professionals considering a career change to be full time climate activists, and I bet her own hippy mother took her on every protest going when she was small too. My half-brothers (11 and 9) show scant interest in politics that I’m aware of, but they’re privately educated upper middle class kids from rural Oxfordshire with conservative parents. They might casually boo or mock Jeremy Corbyn, but he’s not a major presence in their lives, and I can’t imagine them weeping at a Labour government (even though it might in fact affect them quite a lot – I believe my father would seriously consider moving out of the country should it come to pass). Other children I know are still too young for the discussion to be relevant. I do wonder if perhaps it’s more a change in visibility (through social media) of still comparatively rare politically engaged children than a dramatic rise in incidence.

  7. johan_larson says:

    Could the Magic players have a look at this cheap rotation-proof mono-red deck by Saffron Olive?

    I don’t understand why it’s including Mask of Immolation rather than, say, Chandra’s Embercat. Both are 1R cards, but the embercat is a 2/2, whereas the elemental the mask creates is only a 1/1. And the embercat’s ability to add mana for elemental spells (or Chandra) seems way more useful than the mask’s ability to do 1 damage especially since it requires sacking.

    • Tatterdemalion says:

      It’s a long, long time since I played magic, but I recall the sort of targetted removal MoI provides being really useful, and I believe creatures are a lot more powerful compared to spells nowadays than they were back in my day.

      Plus you’ve got four Legion Warboss in there, which look like they might synergise well with it.

    • Björn says:

      Mask of Immolation more or less says “{2}, Sacrifice a creature: Deal 1 damage to any target.”. This makes you able to sac your whole board in the endgame to push through the last points of damage. You have some token makers, so there is a lot of potential. Of course, Mask also gives you a token itself, so if your opponent removes the mask you still have the token. Then, the Mask allows you to trigger Chandra’s Spitfire, which means each creature sacrificed means 4 damage to your opponent. And it’s relevant that you get a 1/1 for Cavalcade of Calamities.

    • Tarpitz says:

      This is a Cavalcade of Calamity/Chandra’s Spitfire deck, and the Mask works much better with both than Embercat does. It’s also better with Light Up the Stage. Additionally, there’s much less value in a 2 drop mana creature when you don’t have any 4 drops.

      That said, I’m a little surprised to see Mask over a cheaper synergy card like Spear Spewer or an actual good card at the same cost, like Runaway Steam-Kin.

      Most of all, though, the Cavalcade decks are terrible and I do not recommend building or playing them. As someone who has played a lot of red decks to some reasonable success over the years, I am pretty confident that – absent some high impact printings in ELD which are yet to be spoiled – there will not be a competitively viable mono-red aggro deck in Throne of Eldraine Standard. I tentatively expect a big red/red devotion deck will exist once we get Theros: Beyond Death. For now, if you want to attack people with small red creatures that don’t rotate, I recommend Boros Feather.

  8. Dogeared says:

    Autistic Child Meets Artificial Intelligence.

    Have you ever read a book and felt totally inspired? After reading Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari I had that awesome feeling that I had learnt some incredible insights and knowledge.

    This inspired me to write my own novel, which I would like to share. I’d love to hear any feedback, good or otherwise.

    • Dogeared says:

      Here is the summary.

      Mike believes he has found the solution to his daughter’s autism. Paula is a very special kind of personal assistant, with artificial intelligence so advanced that the designer considers it to be a lifeform.
      Humanity is obsessed with how AI might go wrong, but no one has asked what happens when things go right. Too right for some people’s comfort.
      This story explores the future possibilities of how everyday people will inevitably converge with technology that is already a reality but avoids well used clichés and confronts the genuine risks that are ahead.
      ‘Paula’ is a fast paced thriller that will leave you breathless until the final page and with a lingering number of questions beyond.

      This link leads to a download of the book in Word format from my Onedrive.

      Paula

  9. eyeballfrog says:

    It seems some guys in Massachusetts are trying to get the winner-take-all method of allocating electoral votes declared unconstitutional. There appears to be two arguments for this. One comes from Gray v. Sanders, where the court held that the winner-take-all county unit system could not be used even if properly weighted for population, as the votes for the other candidates in that county would “be counted only for the purpose of being discarded”. The other comes from Thornburg v. Gingles, which prevented North Carolina from using multi-member winner-take-all districts in its state legislature to disenfranchise blacks. I assume the idea here is that the electoral college delegation is also an elected state-level body, and the proscription on multi-member or at-large winner-take-all districts should also apply to it.

    I know there are law people around here, so I have to ask: does this have legs? It seems kind of plausible, but constitutional law can be complicated and I’m no expert in it.

    • EchoChaos says:

      My instinct is “absolutely not” for two reasons.

      First is that it is well established that status quo is incredibly powerful and that is likely to outweigh smarty arguments.

      Second is that the Supreme Court leans right and this currently hurts Republicans more.

      I am not a lawyer.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        Does it hurt Republicans? If states allocated their electoral votes proportionately to their popular vote totals, does it flip 2016?

        • EchoChaos says:

          Probably, given that Democrats won the Popular vote.

          • GearRatio says:

            I’m always unclear whether this would go as planned. Presumably both Clinton and Trump were optimizing for “electoral college win condition”. Trump was better at this and won.

            I feel like assuming too hard that Clinton would win if the rules changed is a little like saying “well, I sunk less baskets, but I had possession for more of the game, I would have won for sure if it was based on possession”. Well, maybe, but the other guy (who is better at basketball than you, probably, since he won) would then optimize for possession instead of baskets. Clinton’s optimization was worse than Trump’s for what mattered; I’m not at all sure it would be better than Trump’s for what matters so long as we change the rules before the election, not after.

        • MP92 says:

          Using the Jefferson of proportional allocation, Clinton gets 269 electors, Trump 265, Johnson 2, Stein and McMullin 1 each.

          If Clinton negotiates with Stein or Johnson to have one of their electors vote for her instead, she wins. If not, no candidate has a majority and under the 12th amendment the election goes to the House, which elects Trump.

        • Vosmyorka says:

          I counted this out state-by-state back in December 2016; proportional state-by-state allocation of electoral votes, had it been used, would’ve pretty significantly helped the Democrats in that year’s election, but it would not have given Clinton a victory; it would have reduced both major-party candidates to less than 270 and given Johnson an absolute balance of power. Stein (in CA) and McMullin (in UT) also receive an electoral vote each but are not relevant. Here are the statewide numbers, using just largest remainders to allocate excess:

          Alabama: Trump 6 (-3), Clinton 3 (+3)
          Alaska: Trump 2 (-1), Clinton 1 (+1)
          Arizona: Trump 5 (-6), Clinton 5 (+5), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Arkansas: Trump 4 (-2), Clinton 2 (+2)
          California: Clinton 34 (-21), Trump 18 (+18), Johnson 2 (+2), Stein 1 (+1)
          Colorado: Clinton 4 (-5), Trump 4 (+4), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Connecticut: Clinton 4 (-3), Trump 3 (+3)
          Delaware: Clinton 2 (-1), Trump 1 (+1)
          DC: Clinton 3 (-)
          Florida: Trump 14 (-15), Clinton 14 (+14), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Georgia: Trump 8 (-8), Clinton 7 (+7), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Hawaii: Clinton 3 (-1), Trump 1 (+1)
          Idaho: Trump 3 (-1), Clinton 1 (+1)
          Illinois: Clinton 11 (-9), Trump 8 (+8), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Indiana: Trump 6 (-5), Clinton 4 (+4), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Iowa: Trump 3 (-3), Clinton 3 (+3)
          Kansas: Trump 4 (-2), Clinton 2 (+2)
          Louisiana: Trump 5 (-3), Clinton 3 (+3)
          Maine: Clinton 2 (-2), Trump 2 (+2)
          Maryland: Clinton 6 (-4), Trump 4 (+4)
          Massachusetts: Clinton 7 (-4), Trump 4 (+4)
          Michigan: Trump 8 (-8), Clinton 7 (+7), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Minnesota: Clinton 5 (-5), Trump 5 (+5)
          Mississippi: Trump 4 (-2), Clinton 2 (+2)
          Missouri: Trump 6 (-4), Clinton 4 (+4)
          Montana: Trump 2 (-1), Clinton 1 (+1)
          Nebraska: Trump 3 (-2), Clinton 2 (+2)
          Nevada: Clinton 3 (-3), Trump 3 (+3)
          New Hampshire: Clinton 2 (-2), Trump 2 (+2)
          New Jersey: Clinton 8 (-6), Trump 6 (+6)
          New Mexico: Clinton 2 (-3), Trump 2 (+2), Johnson 1 (+1)
          New York: Clinton 17 (-12), Trump 11 (+11), Johnson 1 (+1)
          North Carolina: Trump 8 (-7), Clinton 7 (+7)
          North Dakota: Trump 2 (-1), Clinton 1 (+1)
          Ohio: Trump 9 (-9), Clinton (+8), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Oklahoma: Trump 5 (-2), Clinton 2 (+2)
          Oregon: Clinton 4 (-3), Trump 3 (+3)
          Pennsylvania: Trump 10 (-10), Clinton 10 (+10)
          Rhode Island: Clinton 2 (-2), Trump 2 (+2)
          South Carolina: Trump 5 (-4), Clinton 4 (+4)
          South Dakota: Trump 2 (-1), Clinton 1 (+1)
          Tennessee: Trump 7 (-4), Clinton 4 (+4)
          Texas: Trump 20 (-18), Clinton 17 (+17), Johnson 1 (+1)
          Utah: Trump 3 (-3), Clinton 2 (+2), McMullin 1 (+1)
          Vermont: Clinton 2 (-1), Trump 1 (+1)
          Virginia: Clinton 7 (-6), Trump 6 (+6)
          Washington: Clinton 6 (-6), Trump 5 (+5), Johnson 1 (+1)
          West Virginia: Trump 4 (-1), Clinton 1 (+1)
          Wisconsin: Trump 5 (-5), Clinton 5 (+5)
          Wyoming: Trump 2 (-1), Clinton 1 (+1)
          TOTAL: Clinton 266, Trump 256, Johnson 14, Stein 1, McMullin 1

          Johnson can provide a victory to either Clinton or Trump by this method.

    • Clutzy says:

      Here’s the relevant text:

      Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

      The states don’t even technically have to let their people vote on president.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      Ugh, nothing would make me happier and I would put money on it failing, failing, failing, failing. Constitutionally nonsensical (we’re not a democracy and not beholden to accurately reflect democratic will) and goes against the 2 party system which if you oppose you’re obviously a bad person intent on destroying the prosperity which only the one party or maybe the other can claim.

  10. souleater says:

    Someone in the hallucination thread mentioned that as an artist, they’re trained to see things as they really are. That, with practice, they can turn their “artist eyes” on or off. It reminded be of a line in the book How we got to now quoting Leonardo Da Vinci

    When you wish to see whether the general effect of your picture corresponds with that of the object represented after nature, take a mirror and set it so that it reflects the actual thing, and then compare the reflection with your picture, and consider carefully whether the subject of the two images is in conformity with both, studying especially the mirror. The mirror ought to be taken as a guide.

    This is really interesing to me, because I’ve always talked about how my engineering background gave me “Engineering sight” where you can look at a camera, or helicopter or fuel pump and “see” on a deeper level whats going on, what the scientific basis is for a particular piece of technology.
    I feel like my education gave me insights i never had before.

    I imagine this is actually true for everyone.. Can anyone share their experiences with how their jobs changed their perspectives?

    • Björn says:

      I often play the traditional Frankonian card game Schafkopf with my friends. In Schafkopf, the Ober and Unter (= Queens and Jacks) are the highest trumps, while the Kings are next to worthless. When you start playing Schafkopf, after a while the Ober and Unter start looking really nice and interesting and generally just pop in your hand, while the Kings look dull and you stop paying attention to them.

    • AG says:

      Not my job, but learning about how the TV/movie sausage the gets made has made me able to appreciate works that don’t necessarily impress the layman. And not in a “I get the Arteestic Vision now” thing, but in the opposite direction, where I’m more impressed by workman-like procedurals or mid-budget/lower-ambition genre.

      And as per the jazz thread below, music background can definitely make a big difference as to what someone hears in a piece of music.

      Similarly, aficionados of any sport are impressed by things that aren’t visible to the layman. This is even more apparent for something like video games, where a common commentary is “this speedrunner is making this incredibly difficult technique look effortless.”

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        One tip I found very interesting from a movie buff is to play a game he calls, “You are the camera”. If a movie doesn’t feel otherwise engaging, try imagining how you would film the scene you’re watching, and consider why the angle you see was chosen, why it’s framed that way, whether any props in frame are important, why one character is in front of another, etc.

        There’s a YouTube video that illustrates this for a string of scenes in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The narrator talks about how the scene sets up the conflict between Valance and Doniphon, how the shot establishes who’s dominant in order to accent the dialogue, and so on.

        I was surprised how interested I got in certain films I otherwise felt were boring. It also caused me to appreciate good directors, improve on bad directors, or even spot good directors who were just having a bad day.

    • LeSigh says:

      Law school gave me lawyer brain, in the sense that it amplified the existing qualities that made people encourage me to go to law school in the first place (analytical thinking, enjoyment of debate as recreation, & a knack for sharp/cutting language). Useful in many ways, especially when doing things like buying a house, but also very dangerous to my relationships.

    • rahien.din says:

      I read EEGs for a living. An EEG is just a long recording of brainwaves. We chiefly look for evidence of seizure tendency, meaning, little spikes that poke them into the EEG background. But there are many normal things that have a spike-like appearance. Once you are a good enough EEGer, your brain ignores the normal things and only “sees” the abnormal things. I kind of “see” less of the EEG than when I first started out.

      Sometime last year, a paper was published suggesting that one of these normal findings (BETS) might actually be evidence of seizure tendency. I disagreed, but even so, for about a week I noticed all the BETS again.

  11. proyas says:

    Why do so many buildings have flat roofs? Even a very shallow pitch, like 1/24 (1 inch of vertical rise for every 24 inches of horizontal distance), would be much better at draining water from a roof than a flat one with no pitch.

    If you needed to install air conditioners or other big devices on the roof, simple wedge-shaped adapters with the same pitch as the roof could provide level surfaces.

    • acymetric says:

      I don’t know if this is the reason, but doing any kind of work on a flat roof is probably safer.

    • Aftagley says:

      1. What acymetric said. 1 person dying on your non-flat roofs cancels out pretty much every potential benefit.

      2. Cost. Flat is cheaper. Flat with draining is still cheaper than sloped but not.

      3. Slope creates extra space, unusable space is a waste of money. Most buildings don’t want a random attic.

    • Eric Rall says:

      “Flat” roofs generally aren’t completely flat. They’re just super-low-slope like what you’re proposing, typically just enough for water to run off but not enough to be casually perceptible. It’s also not necessarily continuous from the peak to the gutter like a pitched residential roof: instead, it may be pitched down in relatively small sections towards a drain.

      Different roofing materials have different minimum roof pitch to work reliably. The shingles and concrete or clay tiles often used on residential buildings requires a significant slope, and once the slope gets too low to support those, then the remaining options (at least the subset of those options that makes sense for a large commercial building) work just as well with an almost-flat roof as one with a 5-10 degree slope.

      You will see low-but-obviously-not-flat roofs in some older single-family residential construction (e.g Eichler-style houses), but that’s both an older style and one that’s designed to be forgiving of lower-grade materials and workmanship. For example, the plywood subroof might start to sag over time, leaving an area where water will puddle enough to degrade the lifespan of a tar-and-gravel roof. A 5-10 degree slope buys you some insurance against this by increasing the amount of sagging before water pools up enough to be a problem.

    • Beck says:

      What’s called a flat roof has a minimum 1/4″ per foot slope built in for drainage. They’re also required to be designed for rain loads caused by slow or interrupted drainage.

      As Eric Rall said, different materials have different minimum pitches by code. That 1/4″/ft is the minimum allowed.

      • Buttle says:

        I don’t have much insight into why, but can report some personal experience. My parents have a rental building (single-family house with attached apartment) with a flat roof. It has a slope of, at a wild-ass guess, 1/2″ per foot. The roof is surrounded on three sides by a false front that serves as a wall, so it’s quite safe to work on compared to a pitched roof. This style of house is not unusual in New Mexico, where it is.

        When they bought the house it had a cracked roof joist, which caused the roof to sag and water to accumulate, which led to leaking. We did not understand the problem until it became necessary to remove the ceiling in the front room, at which point it became obvious. We jacked up the joist, sistered a beam to it, replaced the roof, replaced the ceiling, and rented it out. I believe it’s still good after 40 years or so.

        Flat residential roofs can be useful space — my relatives in Egypt kept chickens, beehives, and even a goat on theirs. On the other hand they’re not very convenient in places with a lot of rainfall, much less snow.

    • Buttle says:

      More efficient use of materials. Pitched roofs require more stuff for roof trusses, sheathing, and roofing. Attic spaces are not very useful, they tend to be too hot, too cold, and of an awkward shape.

      Steeply pitched roofs are traditional only where there are heavy snow loads, because they shed snow without labor.

  12. Aftagley says:

    Re: the democratic debates last night.

    The biggest thing that stood out to me was just how far the Dems are going on immigration. Biden did (IMO) pretty well last night on every topic but immigration. Here’s a question that stood out to me:

    …Then you served as vice president in an administration that deported 3 million people, the most ever in U.S. history. Did you do anything to prevent those deportations? I mean, you’ve been asked this question before and refused to answer, so let me try once again. Are you prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations? Why should Latinos trust you?

    All evidence points towards these deportations being legal, and mostly conducted in an ethical manner. During Obama’s years, nobody on the left outside of a few activists cared about it. Immigration just wasn’t something the left really focused on. Fast forward to today. Biden couldn’t answer that question and every other candidate pushed for a maximally immigration-friendly position. IMO this is more evidence towards Trump being a setback for Trumpism.

    • Randy M says:

      IMO this is more evidence towards Trump being a setback for Trumpism.

      Hard to know the counterfactual. I think, in the absence of Trump focusing on immigration control, Democrat voters would have been less in favor of de facto open borders (and preventing every deportation is essentially that), but Democrat politicians would not be any less so.
      So whether Trump is a setback for Trumpism depends on his ability to get himself and other immigration restrictionists reelected, which I offer no prediction for or against.

      • Democrats were going hard left even before Trump. And Obama was protecting more and more illegal immigrants, hence Trump. In the counterfactual where Hillary won, Democrats probably wouldn’t be talking about “evil cages” as much but they still would still be moving to the left on immigration.

        • Aftagley says:

          Interesting, this doesn’t match my personal memory of being a democrat/being in lefty circles back then. Polling data from before 2015 (IE, when Trump entered public consciousness and started getting lefty pushback) doesn’t seem to support your position, although there was widespread support for stuff like the DREAM act among the left.

          Do you mind explaining your reasoning or linking me to your source on this one?

          • Eric Rall says:

            My perception here is that Trump-on-immigration is the continuation of what started out as a reaction against Bush the Younger’s unsuccessful push for comprehensive immigration reform on a basis of amnesty, a guest worker program, and moderate increases in border enforcement and employment verifications.

            What I perceive to be the mainstream Democratic position under Obama was a bit to the left of Bush’s failed proposal (a bit more liberalization, and a smaller increase in enforcement), but not hugely so. There were some activists pushing for open borders and unconditional amnesty, but those only gained traction with mainstream Democrats as they gradually adopted left-activist rhetoric in their criticisms of anti-illegal-immigration rhetoric and proposals on the right.

          • albatross11 says:

            OTOH, I think the Obama administration’s plan for handling the Dreamers was pretty sensible–basically, as I understand it, people brought to the US illegally as kids don’t get deported and get to the front of the line to be citizens, if they’ve managed to stay out of trouble.

          • I can’t find the source right now but the left started moving more to the left in general after Trayvon Martin, not Trump. I’ll see if I can find it.

      • Aftagley says:

        but Democrat politicians would not be any less so.

        I disagree with this point. I think politicians would have been where they were back in 2008 and 2012 when Obama was running – they wouldn’t really have had to talk or care about it. Again, Obama deported tons of people (albeit, from the border, not from within american society). What force minus Trump would have caused the party to full reverse?

        • Randy M says:

          they wouldn’t really have had to talk or care about it.

          Trump is not the only thing going on in the world. There was the Syrian refugee crisis and subsequent immigrant surge into Europe, various Latin American migrant caravans, and push for the Dream act which brought the issue to people’s attention.

          If your position is that “If no Republicans made Immigration and issue, Democrats wouldn’t have either,” that’s true, but in that case the Democrats would be simply getting steadily increasing immigration and no increased border scrutiny, even if it wasn’t motivating them, because that’s something they believe in and that they believe matters to a portion of their constituency.

    • axiomsofdominion says:

      Both Sanders and Biden have been sort of boxed in. Bernie has somewhere to go by arguing about, as Castro did, supporting Central and South America or something. But Democrats went all in on guns and immigration to stop economic policy coalitions from being built.

      • acymetric says:

        But Democrats went all in on guns and immigration to stop economic policy coalitions from being built.

        I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. Who would have been forming the coalitions? Is it the DNC that went all in to prevent this, or the specific candidates (or both)?

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        But Democrats went all in on guns and immigration to stop economic policy coalitions from being built.

        Seconding “please unpack this.”
        As a social conservative, I’ve been hopeful for Biden as evidence that there are two kinda-OK Parties, but he looks boxed in by the base.

        EDIT: Oh no… in last night’s debate, Biden said “We send social workers into people’s houses to help them raise their children. They [parents] might not know how — turn the radio on, excuse me, turn the TV on — turn the record player on at night.”

        • Elementaldex says:

          Wait… Did he claim that we need to protect children from their parents inability to use electronics to babysit them?

          As very much an aside, I occasionally hire/manage social/case workers and I doubt they are better than average at turning on electronics.

          • MrApophenia says:

            It’s worse than that, that was his answer for how he would address the legacy of slavery. His response appears to be “Black people don’t know how to raise children, so we need to send social workers into their homes to ensure they are playing records for their children.”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @MrApophenia: Yeah. It’s condescending to black parents, and troubling that he seemed unsure whether the state-of-the-art entertainment tech was TV, radio, or the phonograph.
            But I’d still trust a moderate, befuddled grandpa over the rest of the Democratic field.

        • Plumber says:

          @Le Maistre Chat

          “As a social conservative, I’ve been hopeful for Biden as evidence that there are two kinda-OK Parties, but he looks boxed in by the base…”

          Well as a pro-union Democrat I was looking to see if enough self sabotage could be avoided to have a chance in November 2020, and my impression of our front runner remains the same as it was after the last debate,

          Biden:
          “Remember when we were a sane republic?
          Let’s do that again.
          Oh wait, I’m sorry I didn’t mean go back to
          that I meant the other stuff.
          Okay we won’t go back to
          that either.
          Oh c’mon that’s not allowed either?
          You’re not leaving me much to work with guys,
          gals too I mean!
          What
          they’s?
          Who’s a they? That doesn’t even make sense…
          SORRY!
          I’ll evolve, just nominate and I promise, I’ll evolve!!”

          (Is it a good sign to feel sorry for a candidate?)

          *sigh*

          I know that younger editorialists call my and older generations of Democrats “shell shocked” and “cowardly”, but we do remember the last three Democrats to actually win the Presidency, and how they campaigned.
          Carter’s faith was prominent, the man still teaches Sunday school, he seemed “Red Tribe” but humble (and the Left wing of the Democratic Party coalesced around Ted Kennedy and tried to primary him, and then we got Reagan).
          Clinton went deep into “hippie punching” to signal that he was “middle of the road”, and it worked!
          Obama promised “There’s no Red America and Blue America, there’s only the United States of America”, and he twice earned the votes of those who later voted for Trump (and are supposedly “racist deplorables” yet voted for a black man to be President), and said he would be President of “All Americans”.

          I know that many Democrats dream of the second coming of F.D.R., but in my lifetime the Democrats who won are the ones who at least tried to appeal to swing voters, and the last time I checked the polls on it most Democrats said the Party should be more “moderate”.

          Yeah, a lot of what Sanders, Warren and some of what the rest says appeals to me, but all of it?

          I guess I’m just among the old, cowardly, and shell shocked contingent, but half a loaf is much better than none, the full young progressive agenda looks to me like it has no chance of passing in the Senate, and will alienate too many voters, (fully open borders? Really?)

          The press and Biden’s opponents keep dredging up statements of his going back to the ’70’s and asking him to apologize for them, but when I hear his now out-of-date heresies, I think That guy would win the general election”, but the Biden we have now is clearly not quick witted, and to win the nomination he has to apologize and “evolve” away from stuff like the Hyde amendment.

          Much more of this and not only is Trump re-elected, but the House turns Republican again.

          • Cliff says:

            The literature seems to show that centrist candidates do best in the general election, not those best able to “motivate the base”

          • baconbits9 says:

            The literature seems to show that centrist candidates do best in the general election, not those best able to “motivate the base

            What is the comparison here? It seems like a centrist candidates who could beat motivate the base candidates in the primaries would be better positioned for a GE, which seems like a hard con-founder to account for in such a small sample of elections.

          • Ketil says:

            Does anybody get the quoted journalists’ allegations of racism? Is it racist to raise teachers’ pay or to suggest children from low SES homes would benefit from spending more time in school?

            One way this makes sense, is that aiming at low SES is color blind, i.e. it doesn’t pay respect to the viewpoint that the real problem is racism – and thus only solutions that have an explicit racial bias are acceptable.

            This seems extreme to me, but maybe SS is cherry-picking the quotes?

          • Ketil says:

            Ah, I see, it was in the context of (mitigating the long term effects of) slavery.

    • Plumber says:

      @Aftagley says:

      “Re: the dehe democratic debates last night…”

      I didn’t watch it but caught much of the debates on the radio during my drive home yesterday, and I caught re-caps.

      I heard much I liked, but my chief impressions caused me to congratulate a former co-worker who’s a Trump supporter on his candidate being re-elected, he laughed and said “If they took away his Twitter account we’d have a clean Presidency”, which gave me a small bit of hope that maybe Trump will self-sabotage himself, but what I saw among the Democratic candidates looked too much like many trying to out do each other in alienating the 10% of the electorate that are potential swing voters in the general election.

      Yes, “Liberals” outnumber “Conservatives”, but they’re still not the majority, without winning over enough voters who have mixed leanings there’s no win, I’m very doubtful of a “turnout the base” strategy, and I’m losing the little optimism I had.

      Biden had good moments, but the longer the debate ran the more rambling he seemed. 

      Warren often seems sharp via television with subtitles, but via radio I really couldn’t understand what she said at all.

      Harris I could understand, but she lost a lot of charisma when I can’t see her and just seems too scripted (unlike Biden who needs to be more scripted to inspire confidence).

      Sanders is immensely entertaining, but it seems clear that he probably won’t get anymore bills passed by the Senate than he does now as a Senator, plus I doubt that anyone who calls himself a “socialist” can win.

      Buttigieg actually gave me a bit of an including of why he (a Mayor who I’d never heard of before recently) was on the stage at all, which is a big improvement. 

      The rest just blended together with my general impression of too many providing soundbites for the RNC in the general election.

      The only way most of it seemed like it could help defeat Trump is if Biden’s the nominee and somehow the attacks on him do the traditional “hippie punching” for him to make swing voters more comfortable with viting for him, but at this point I’m not hopeful.

    • I liked Biden’s comment that “For a socialist, you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.” Sanders is right, but Biden won the argument. There are two ways to think about wages:

      1. Wages are the product of employers bidding with other employers for employee talent, and thus wages will settle to a value approximate to worker productivity.
      2. Wages are set by corporations in a monopolistic manner, as if there were one giant corporation which could set wages with workers having little recourse, or many corporations which collude to set wages in a monopolistic manner.

      Obviously, 1. is not entirely correct, but it’s closer to reality than 2. But I think most Democrats think of wages in terms of 2. So it’s obvious that if corporations were freed from the need to provide healthcare to employees, they’d just pocket the money. To not do so, they’d need to be generous, which they aren’t. Ordinarily, believing in the monopoly theory of wages helps the socialists, but in this case Biden was able to use their own biases against them.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Here’s how I rank the 10 Democrats, overall and not just from Thursday’s debate:

      1. Biden. He’s been kind of daft for the past 11+ years, but his moderate positions make him trustworthy. Let’s be honest here: if he beat Trump, we’d be crowning the eccentric old king of the federal government, a sort of figurehead for the DNC.
      2. Andrew Yang. “Grey”, moderate outside of his signature issue pushing the Overton Window. That he’s young and sharp but doesn’t understand the arithmetic behind his signature issue is more of a knock against him than Biden not understanding things at his age, but it was a close call for me.
      VERY LARGE GAP
      3. Warren. I liked Warren the heretic professor. Once she had to court Democratic primary voters, she caught up with leftist orthodoxy.
      Tied for 4: Klobuchar, Mayor Butt. I haven’t seen anything to like about them.
      6: Harris. It’s kind of funny to see her attacked as having governed too far to the right when in power as she speaks mindless boo lights like “You can go back to watching Fox News.” Kind of reminds me of Hillary.
      Tied for 7: Booker, O’Rourke. Booker seems way too concerned about the tiniest minorities (remember “black transgender students” or whatever his exact term was?). O’Rourke’s hard left signaling is more mainstream (take away your guns) but betrays an exceptional level of ignorance about what the Constitution allows the President to do.
      Tied for last: Bernie, Castro.

  13. Corey says:

    To bring out a topic I’m curious about from a deep subthread:

    What’s wrong with US-Mexico border security, as in, what specifically needs improvement?

    I only see pundit takes (e.g. from Chief Neoliberal Shill Matt Yglesias) that tend to agree that all the border that isn’t crazy-forbidding to cross is already walled, so “Build the Wall” is empty. But I assume there are experts afoot with differing analysis.

    • Aftagley says:

      1. Smuggling is terrifically easy. The raw amount of stuff that goes through the border legally means that not everything can be inspected. If I take 100 conex boxes, modify a them to make a small space where I can fit a pvc pipe full of cocaine that’s very hard for a surface level scan to detect and then send them across the border, at least 90, maybe more will successfully get through. That’s not even talking about the really high volume practices, like bribing border guards and building tunnels. It’s not an exaggeration to say that if the drugs get to Mexico, they’ve effectively made it to the US. A majority of this stuff happens at legal crossings, so a wall wouldn’t really help, but dramatically expanded spending on counter-smuggling would (if you don’t mind everyone waiting for days at the border and getting aggressively searched).

      2. Keeping out really dangerous people is quite difficult. Your average migrant probably doesn’t matter, they’ve got limited resources and their likely impact is minimal. Keeping out a terrorist, well-funded state or nonstate actor or high-level criminal is much, much harder. Remember – crazy-forbidding to cross doesn’t mean “impossible to cross” it just means that your average migrant with limited resources isn’t going to have the resources or expertise to cross. Someone well trained and funded, however is going to have both. A wall “might” help this, but it’s unlikely this kind of area would/could ever be effectively walled off.

      3. Expanding the viewpoint a bit, the belief within Mexico is that everything going on in Mexico that’s bound for the US is America’s problem. As in, they fundamentally don’t think they should expend resources to combat a problem whose effect will be felt across the border. You can look at Mexico’s experience these last 15 years to see whether or not that’s a great idea, but it’s the case. Until Mexico’s attitude fundamentally changes, the overall situation is unlikely to improve.

      There’s more, but off the top of my head these are the top three. I’ll post others if I think of them.

      • Corey says:

        Yeah, drugs are a big challenge, because of their demand, we can’t keep them out of prisons.

        Searching more thoroughly has a political constituency against it (businesses who make things in Mexico or points south and sell them in the US). They would prefer the importation process to be as frictionless as possible. On the other hand, people will put up with a lot if it’s for security.

        I’d think the Canadian border would be the low-hanging fruit for well-funded bad guys. Not to say we need to leave that border as is (it’s gotten some stepped-up security (from none at all in places) since 9/11).

        • Aftagley says:

          Right, you likely can’t keep drugs in Mexico out of America. That’s why for decades the strategy has been to either destroy the plants before they get processed or interdict them before they get to Mexico.

          Canada is only the low-hanging fruit if you’re already in Canada. Their border security isn’t much weaker than ours, so on average you’d stand a better chance flying into somewhere that doesn’t have any kind of effective border screening (many countries in southern and central america) and just hike north.

      • baconbits9 says:

        2. Keeping out really dangerous people is quite difficult. Your average migrant probably doesn’t matter, they’ve got limited resources and their likely impact is minimal. Keeping out a terrorist, well-funded state or nonstate actor or high-level criminal is much, much harder.

        The large difference between the drug trade and terrorism is that there is a massive structure within the US for the drug trade. Once you get the drugs past the border all you need to do is find one of the many (frequently legal) residents who has the willingness and experience to start moving the drugs and the effect of getting the drugs across the border is more or less complete. Money is then sent across the border (or was already) which funds the next trip.

        Terrorism is very different, there is limited support in the US for terrorist cells, and any significant plans to do damage are going to take time, money, connections and understanding of US systems to actually function. Basic terrorist plots, like get guy across border, have him buy guns and ammo and shoot 20-50 people before he gets killed by cops, are probably counter productive. For every one you get off in the US the military will be retaliating against whoever they asses culpability for at rates of 100 to 1000 to 1.

        Finally if the backers of terrorism are well financed they won’t need to cross borders illegally that often, they will often be able to get their agents in legally, making border security far less important to stopping them.

        • JonathanD says:

          I thought getting the US to retaliate in out-sized ways was the point, at least for ISIS/Al-Qaeda type actors.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Yes, the 21st century mujahid playbook uses what paleocons disapprovingly called “The Bush Doctrine: invade the world, invite the world.”
            Every time Muslims resident in the West commit terrorism, you hope the West or just the US attacks a real or purported state sponsor in a big way, then there’s a refugee crisis, then you have a bigger, angrier pool of Muslims to recruit for subsequent attacks. Lather, rinse, repeat.
            (This is complicated by the fact that most Islamic terrorism in the West happens in Europe, which is less likely to counter-attack.)

        • Aftagley says:

          In some cases yes, in others no. Once you get above the foot solidiers, the line between terrorist, drug smuggler and state/nonstate actor get blurry. People in this world wear multiple hats.

          You are correct, IMO, that your average schmuck from badguyistan who just wants to kill some yankees won’t be able to do this kind of activity profitably.

          For every one you get off in the US the military will be retaliating against whoever they asses culpability for at rates of 100 to 1000 to 1.

          For a bunch of these organizations, this extreme disparity in response is a feature, not a bug. Terrorists want foreverwar.

          • baconbits9 says:

            For a bunch of these organizations, this extreme disparity in response is a feature, not a bug. Terrorists want foreverwar.

            Losing 100-1000 to 1 doesn’t mean forever war, it means they are wiped out.

            I thought getting the US to retaliate in out-sized ways was the point, at least for ISIS/Al-Qaeda type actors.

            I don’t think so, most of the efforts of the larger organizations go towards securing and controlling areas in the middle east, not directly provoking US aggression.

          • Aftagley says:

            Losing 100-1000 to 1 doesn’t mean forever war, it means they are wiped out.

            Potentially correct, my mistake was engaging with you at that inflated ratio. Accurate death rates are more on the order of 2:1 (vietnam war) to 25:1 (current war in afghanistan).

            Under those death ratios, the Vietnam war and the last 18 years of conflict should prove that, yes, it does result in forever war. We kill just enough to keep a steady-stream of new recruits energized.

            I don’t think so, most of the efforts of the larger organizations go towards securing and controlling areas in the middle east, not directly provoking US aggression.

            In some cases yes. But even for those organizations, proving that you’re capable of striking the US is a fantastic recruitment tool. Terrorists don’t think of terrorism as military attacks, they think of it as marketing. That’s why ISIS, one of the territoriality minded organizations you speak of, planned attacks in Europe and had a propaganda network aimed at radicalizing individuals within north america.

            Others, like Al-Qaeda want to spark global conflict and believe that the best way to do so is through these kinds of attacks.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            ISIS, one of the territoriality minded organizations you speak of, planned attacks in Europe and had a propaganda network aimed at radicalizing individuals within north america.

            Others, like Al-Qaeda want to spark global conflict and believe that the best way to do so is through these kinds of attacks.

            Funny thing: In the 1980s, Osama bin Laden energized men to follow him by saying he believed that the USSR was stronger than the USA, so once the mujahideen bankrupted the former with the current “forever war”, their second one against the US would be shorter. Once the US couldn’t afford foreign wars, they would topple moderate Muslim rulers and replace them with ones that would vote for a caliph.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Potentially correct, my mistake was engaging with you at that inflated ratio. Accurate death rates are more on the order of 2:1 (vietnam war) to 25:1 (current war in afghanistan).

            Under those death ratios, the Vietnam war and the last 18 years of conflict should prove that, yes, it does result in forever war. We kill just enough to keep a steady-stream of new recruits energized.

            The 100-1000 to 1 rates are compared to the terrorist attack in the US, I wasn’t including US military losses there, but that death ratio is fairly important to note how successful the US is in that metric so thanks for mentioning it.

            Under those death ratios, the Vietnam war and the last 18 years of conflict should prove that, yes, it does result in forever war. We kill just enough to keep a steady-stream of new recruits energized.

            The Vietnam war isn’t a particularly good example for a terrorist war.

          • baconbits9 says:

            That’s why ISIS, one of the territoriality minded organizations you speak of, planned attacks in Europe and had a propaganda network aimed at radicalizing individuals within north america.

            And the European military situation is materially different from the Americans.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Baconbits9

            Ok, I think at this point I just don’t understand your thesis. Would you mind restating it?

          • baconbits9 says:

            Sure thing:

            Border control for drugs and terrorism are extremely different. Terrorism (somewhat roughly) falls into two categories, large, coordinated attacks and individual attacks. Larger attacks are generally backed by well heeled organizations, and are not going to be prevented by more/better security at the border as their parent organization will be able to find legal means of entry. Absolutely perfect immigration control with the law at the time would have caught (iirc) 2 of the 19 involved in the 9/11 attacks. Likewise with small attackers by larger organizations.

            Small attacks by small organizations run into the retaliation issue, if they sneak an operative into the US with a couple of thousand dollars to buy guns and ammo and start low level shootings then the retaliation will likely wipe them out.

          • Aftagley says:

            Oh cool, we are mostly on the same page. I agree that under the current security posture the US has, if a group is large enough to plan a well coordinated attack, then they’re sophisticated enough to get people here legally.

            Looking back, I think the issue was that my original post of:

            Keeping out a terrorist, well-funded state or nonstate actor or high-level criminal is much, much harder.

            seemed to highlight terrorists as being the most likely of these three, when by several orders of magnitude it’s the least.

            I originally used it only to highlight the potential security vulnerabilities of calling some of the desolate border regions impassible, when they are in reality merely difficult, but looking back I realize that it makes it look like I think there are hordes or terrorists slipping into Texas and Arizona. I don’t, I think the number of terrorists who have done this is likely very low and most of them weren’t doing so in order to actively plan attacks.

      • EchoChaos says:

        the belief within Mexico is that everything going on in Mexico that’s bound for the US is America’s problem.

        This is one place where Trump has done quietly well. Mexico is being far more helpful a partner than they have been in the past. Largely because the current crop of illegals aren’t Mexicans and the average Mexican is getting tired of caravans rolling through every once in a while.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Also Trump got the Remain In Mexico (for those claiming asylum) plan agreed to by the Supreme Court, which seems pretty decent for everyone involved except dishonest claimants.

      • littleby says:

        …so 90 of your boxes will get through, and 10 of your drivers will get arrested for drug smuggling?

        That doesn’t sound like a very good deal for the drivers.

    • cassander says:

      I object to calling yglesias a neoliberal shill. He’s no neo liberal. To the extent he has any coherent ideology (which isn’t much), he’s almost never seen a market he didn’t want to direct. He’s a bog standard progressive English major who thinks he’s Josh Lyman.

      • BBA says:

        Yglesias won some kind of Neoliberal Shill of the Year poll, and is very proud of the title.

        • Nick says:

          I swear I saw Noah Smith calling himself that a while back. Did he win in a past year or something?

        • cassander says:

          I can absolutely believe that (A) Yglesias like kudos and (B) doesn’t actually know or care what the word neoliberal means.

          As for the awarders, the standard usage of the word neoliberal is an insult that means “someone to my right that I don’t like, but not far enough that I can call him a fascist”, with neoliberal shill being almost redundant.

          • Corey says:

            Yglesias wrote a full-throated defense of Bangladeshi safety standards being lower than the US’s just after that big workplace accident they had. (And gets shit about it to this day). If that doesn’t make someone neoliberal, what does?

          • cassander says:

            Realizing that if regulations have a cost in bangladesh, they might also have a cost in the US

            Less snarkily, if neo-liberalism means anything, it the belief that markets are useful, and that working through them is much better than central planning even if you want to achieve left wing goals. Other than housing, I can’t think of anywhere Yglesias thinks this (though I admit I don’t follow him closely). And even with housing, I think he’d absolutely hop on board if a government forcibly built up and allocated the dense development style that he wants. So even there his preference for markets is about ends, not means, which means he’s not really pro-market, he just thinks they’re on his side on this one particular issue.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            “Shill” is one of those insults, like “troll”, that has come completely unmoored from its original meaning.

          • Nick says:

            Same thing has happened to “hack.” Original meaning was “would write anything for the money,” is my impression. Now it means “writes things I don’t like.”

          • Chalid says:

            it the belief that markets are useful, and that working through them is much better than central planning even if you want to achieve left wing goals. Other than housing, I can’t think of anywhere Yglesias thinks this

            off the top of my head, he’s all in for a carbon tax as opposed to regulatory alternatives. He’s regularly argued that government using e.g. procurement to advance social goals was counterproductive (as opposed to simply providing the services at lowest cost). He’s talked about how big a boon airline deregulation was.

            Other than banking regulation and health care which are most definitely big special cases, I can’t really think of a place where I’d expect Yglesias *not* to generally want to work through markets to achieve left-wing goals.

            A quick google finds this article titled “Tax and Deregulate,” claiming “the movement, started under Jimmy Carter then of course continued by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, to deregulate important aspects of the American economy was basically a good thing in my view

        • Corey says:

          Conducted by the Twitter account ne0liberal, who is also associated with the subreddit. Noah was indeed last year’s and Matt was this years.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        For most of his career Yglesias was considered like a token liberal. The famous reference phrase from center/center right people defending their policies is “Even Matthew Yglesias, the liberal,” in the context of him kind of agreeing with them. And he is considered by the left to be a shill. Neo-liberals/liberals want to direct markets, Warren is sort of like the far, far edge of liberal, I’m a capitalist to my bones but we need to regulate a bit, type shit. Progressive, like neo-liberal, is such a loaded word without anything like a consistent definition. So saying he’s not a neo-liberal but a standard progressive kinda doesn’t mean anything.

      • Frog-like Sensations says:

        This comment belongs under the encyclopedia entry for “outgroup homogeneity bias”.

        Yglesias is unambiguously a member of the neoliberal faction of the Democratic party. Perhaps you think that no true neoliberal exists within that party. But even then it is demonstrably false that “he’s almost never seen a market he didn’t want to direct”. There are plenty of markets that he wants less state interference in.

        The issue about which he talks the most is zoning reform to increase housing supply. He wrote an entire book about this and (even though I haven’t bothered to check) I’m certain if you scroll through his twitter feed right now it won’t take long to find a tweet of his complaining about housing regulations. That’s how much he talks about it.

        He is also in the neoliberal wing when it comes to immigration (his next book will be titled “One Billion Americans”), trade, and occupational licensing. Someone else in this thread already pointed out how infamous his Bangladeshi factory article is on the non-neoliberal left.

        And though Trump’s influence has greatly changed how people perceive the politics of immigration, greatly increasing legal immigration is clearly a neoliberal position. It involves loosening one the strongest controls the state places on the labor market.

        • cassander says:

          Yglesias is unambiguously a member of the neoliberal faction of the Democratic party. Perhaps you think that no true neoliberal exists within that party.

          I think that the neo-liberal movement is basically dead and has been for a while. There are a few left, but not many.

          He is also in the neoliberal wing when it comes to immigration (his next book will be titled “One Billion Americans”), trade, and occupational licensing.

          I already discussed his housing preferences, and open borders isn’t what I’d call a neoliberal position. Yes, it involves relaxing the state’s control of labor, but so did ending the draft, and most of the support for that had nothing to do with anything like neoliberalism*, and motive matters more than method when discussion political identity.

          I don’t know what he thinks about trade. Occupational licensing I give you, but that’s awfully small potatoes.

          *Neo-liberals, or people who would soon take up that label, did support ending the draft, but they weren’t the driving force behind it.

          • Frog-like Sensations says:

            I think that the neo-liberal movement is basically dead and has been for a while. There are a few left, but not many.

            This is just linguistic prescriptivism, and I think it’s as unhelpful here as it is in any other political debate (e.g., whether the American left are the real “liberals” or if that appellation should be reserved for libertarian views).

            There is presently a large group of people, both supporters and detractors, who use ‘neoliberal’ to designate a category that Yglesias unambiguously fits within. See r/neoliberal for one such community of people.

            The OP of this thread was clearly using the term with that meaning, and it only detracts from the conversation to object to the OP on the basis of your own substituted meaning.

          • cassander says:

            There is presently a large group of people, both supporters and detractors, who use ‘neoliberal’ to designate a category that Yglesias unambiguously fits within. See r/neoliberal for one such community of people.

            As I said earlier, the standard usage of the word neoliberal is an insult that means “someone to my right that I don’t like, but not far enough right that I can call him a fascist”. Yglesias definitely fits in that group, but I don’t consider that category particularly meaningful.

            The other definition of neoliberalism was a particular set of ideas about using market mechanisms to achieve traditional left wing goals. It was about free trade, economic deregulation, taking seriously the idea that public assistance can generate bad incentives, privatizing nationally owned industries, and public choice economics. Yglesias, as far as I know, endorses none of that. Yes, he doesn’t like occupational licencing and zoning as they currently exist, but almost everything I have read of his wants to go the other way.

          • Frog-like Sensations says:

            Yes, broadly speaking “neoliberalism” in the relevant sense is about taking ideas from econ seriously and using market mechanisms to achieve your goals, whether those goals are on the left or the right.
            About a half a dozen areas on which Yglesias believes in this (greatly annoying a huge contingent of anti-neoliberal leftists) have been pointed out by me and others in this thread.

            Presumably he doesn’t believe in it as often as Reagan and Thatcher, for whose reforms the term was originally proposed in the academic context. But those same academics are also happy to include Clinton and Blair under the label, who got elected in part by acquiescing to those reforms.

            In any case, as the term is presently used the number of areas on which Yglesias proposes market solutions clearly qualifies him. I see no more reason to restrict it to more extreme views than there is to restrict “conservative” to views that would get you called one in 1900.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Y is much further left and much more distrustful of markets than anyone who I would consider market-friendly. That he’s considered one of the market-friendly voices on the liberal side is extremely disappointing: he should represent the furthest left point within the Overton Window.

            The problem is much of the contemporary Progressive movement is well outside what even moderate right-wingers like myself would consider acceptable, and it’s quite obvious that they are rapidly declining in power.

          • Frog-like Sensations says:

            I don’t claim to have read everything Yglesias has written, so it’s certainly possible I’ve missed quite a bit of anti-market rhetoric, outside of the few issues Chalid pointed to above. But if my sampling of his writing has been remotely representative, then far more of it is directed at pro-market views than anti-market ones.

            And I can say that I find it odd that the people defending the claim that Yglesias counts as neoliberal have listed a large number of issues that qualify him, and as far as I can see those arguing against it haven’t offered even a single one.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          The issue about which he talks the most is zoning reform to increase housing supply. He wrote an entire book about this and (even though I haven’t bothered to check) I’m certain if you scroll through his twitter feed right now it won’t take long to find a tweet of his complaining about housing regulations. That’s how much he talks about it.

          Since this is the internet, we might as well make the inevitable engagement with libertarians: would striking zoning laws from the books increase housing supply enough to 100% solve the problem?

    • When they say that there are barriers across the border, they are being misleading. The large majority of those “walls” are anti-vehicle barriers that are trivial to get across. It’s not the Berlin Wall.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Chief Neoliberal Shill Matt Yglesias

      You know, if we could rely on nominative determinism, Matthew Yglesias would be a devout Christian, probably a cleric in a parish called San Mateo Yglesias.

    • Garrett says:

      Regardless of the current state of the border well, it’s pretty obvious that there are a lot of people who are able to cross illegally. From my understanding, about half of the people in the country illegally are visa over-stays and half are illegal crossings.

      Stopping the illegal crossings would be much more readily implementable than checking the visa status of everybody in the country who doesn’t speak fluent English.

      • brad says:

        That’s probably true, but visa overstayers are likely to be more susceptible to economic pressure because getting a visa de facto requires the applicant to be relatively well off. Make it so the undocumented can only work as bar backs, gardeners, and so on then a twenty something from an upper middle class Argentine or Polish family is probably not going to stay.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Don’t we have actual information about the visa holders though, including name, photograph, and last known location?

      • EchoChaos says:

        The other thing to consider is that illegal entry allows people who wouldn’t have a chance at a visa in.

        MS-13 thug number 3 with a criminal record a week long isn’t getting any sort of visa.

  14. johan_larson says:

    Could anyone point me to a good course on machine learning?

    I am a software engineer with a few weeks between jobs, and I’d like to spend part of it on professional development. Machine learning is all the rage right now, so it would make sense to know at least a bit about it.

    I’m looking to spend 25-60 hours, an easy week or two.

    The two courses I have already found are Google’s crash course (15 hours) and Udemy’s Machine Learning A-Z course (41 hours of video, unknown time for assignments.)

    Anything else I should consider?

    • JPNunez says:

      I’ve taken the Coursera intro one

      https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning/home/welcome

      By Andrew Ng himself and while it is ok, the main problem is that the assignments are in octave, which ain’t good for much beyond teaching.

      Make sure that whatever you take has assignments in Python, which is the most used language for this out there. edit: actually clicked the links. Both go with Python which seems ok.

      Been meaning to take the next one of Andrew Ng that is in Python but have been delaying it for reasons.

    • KieferO says:

      If you have some math or statistics background and some budget for books, I would recommend “Gaussian Processes for Machine Learning” by Rasmussen and Williams. It’s very math heavy and terser than I would like. The reason that I’m recommending it is that it gave me enough framework to be able to see the relationship between machine learning and statistics. It’s helped me build some intuition about what parts of ML are actually magic and what parts are merely good statistics.

    • brad says:

      I enjoyed the fast.ai one. Totally useless to my career, but I enjoyed it.

      In contrast to the Ng course which I started but never finished, it’s focused on plumbing the tools together and not at all on the math.

    • mustacheion says:

      Not a course but a textbook: http://neuralnetworksanddeeplearning.com/index.html. Free and online. I program, but not professionally, and after writing this book I was tinkering with novel machine learning techniques. This book doesn’t really give you much information about specific machine learning programming techniques, but it does a really good job of educating you about the underlying mathematical basis of machine learning, which I personally found to be much more helpful.

      And every programmer should learn how to use TensorFlow. Don’t bother with the high level API, focus on the low-level. Its not just a machine learning library, its a linear algebra library, and more importantly than that, it is a totally different way to code in a way that takes advantage of parallel processing. I think of it as its own sub-language that I program in inside of my python scripts. Some tasks are a pain in the ass to use, but once you get the hang of it it is extremely powerful. I have used it to write a physics optimization tool, which uses machine learning techniques but is not itself about machine learning at all (not a neural network). https://github.com/ecpoppenheimer/TensorFlowRayTrace.

  15. EchoChaos says:

    Wandering kid norms in 2019. I hope not culture war.

    I was talking with my kids at dinner yesterday, and my son wanted to see some movie. My response was that of course he could walk to the theater to see it if he wanted. He’s eight, smart and careful. His little brother is six and would go with him. The theater is a little over a mile away through a quiet neighborhood of townhomes.

    This seems obvious to me. I had the run of an Army base in Seoul when I was this age, and the crime rate on that base, while good, was probably higher than my safe suburban neighborhood. Car speeds are low (neighborhood) and my sons are good with traffic anyway.

    My wife cautiously agrees with me, but is worried that if I let them go to the theater, we’ll have them brought home by a concerned policeman and get in trouble.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      “Townhomes” makes it sounds like there’s sidewalks and even some level of foot traffic (corner stores?), in which case I can’t imagine there’s a problem. People would pull over and ask if I’d run away if I was seen walking somewhere but there weren’t sidewalks and no townhomes for 50+ miles.

      I worked at a theater and minors seeing films unaccompanied was not unusual and wouldn’t raise alarm. The theater was in a little shopping center to which no one could conceivably walk but adults might drop their kids at the theater and get a haircut or a margarita nearby. Even if the kids tried to see an R rated film we’d just say no and if the managers were feeling managerial maybe watch to see which theater they went into.

      • acymetric says:

        Sidewalks, probably, but otherwise your impression is probably more true of urban townhomes than suburban ones (which at least in my neck of the woods are more like subdivisions except the houses are connected and purely residential).

        Regardless, as long as you’re comfortable with the area and the distance I don’t see any issue here.

        • EchoChaos says:

          There is a good sidewalk system with a greenbelt between the sidewalk and the street, but acymetric describes it correctly. It’s just a suburb with basically no yards and houses touching.

    • JonathanD says:

      I live in St Louis, and if I tried that a cop would bring my kid home and I’d have a visit from DFS. This happened to one of my neighbors with a nine year old a few years back. I would guess that suburb norms will match the urban ones, and that small towns further out would tend to shade toward more independence, but I don’t know.

      • FrankistGeorgist says:

        Interesting, I assumed less populous places would have more busy bodies and police with less to do whereas a higher population would mean people are more likely to keep to themselves.

        It does of course only take one fanatic to get the cops called on you, so more people increases those chances.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        I was able to go around with my friends in our early teens, but for sure being 10 or less you would probably get stopped in my part of STL. This was an inner ring suburb so not the city per say, but we bordered on Forest Park.

    • Lambert says:

      I started walking a mile or so to school at only a slightly older age.
      Safety in numbers is usually a good thing. 3 or 4 kids are safer than 1 or 2.

      It might be a good idea to give him a dumbphone.

    • herbert herberson says:

      I’m a CPS attorney who has worked on both sides of the courtroom.

      The first thing about the CPS system is that its very easy to get a social worker visit–all that really needs to happen is a call from someone who isn’t obviously a crank. The nature of the work, the fact that you’re investigating closed groups who are behind closed doors, means every remotely credible tip needs to be followed up on. Right now, there’s a lot of hysteria about random people kidnapping children to do sex trafficking so all you need is the wrong person who spends too much time watching local news and gossiping in local Facebook/Nextdoor groups to call in an unsupervised child and now you have to deal with the authorities.

      (editor’s note: lawyers never want to say never but I’m still willing to say that snatch-and-grabs are fairy tales–sex trafficking targets very vulnerable children and grooms them into quasi-consent, this shit with vans and stalking you see on Facebook is all nonsense)

      The second thing is that once those authorities get involved, there’s a non-zero chance of things going totally tits up on you. The child protection system is not the criminal system and lacks many of its familiar safeguards. You don’t necessarily have the right to a public defender, the burden of proof is much lower, and although evidentiary standards shouldn’t actually be any different they tend, in practice, to be lower, especially in initial hearings. The place I’ve really seen this in the past is in [ostensible] medical neglect cases, where the wrong doctor getting the wrong impression can lead to very bad results–but it’s a possibility in any type of case.

      The third thing is that basically no one in the CPS system wants this at all. Everything is supposed to be kept confidential and although social workers and attorneys will share case details within their office, very little extra prestige attached to a “big collar” and what little there is doesn’t leave the office. Removing a child from the home is a bunch of paperwork for even the most heartless social worker, there’s a host of far easier intermediate options that leave the child in the home while “connecting the parent with services,” (aka welfare programs and various parenting classes) and most social workers are not remotely heartless and are very in tune to the trauma a removal does to a child. Also, social workers are on the front lines of our country’s very serious drug and mental health problems. They are overworked and the vast majority of their cases are both very clear cut and very simple cases where a very, very unhealthy parent is no better at taking care of their child than they are at taking care of themselves. Taking time out from the endless torrent of simple-but-serious meth/heroin addiction cases where anyone can see the serious neglect occurring to go on a snipe-hunt vendetta against some middle-class free range parenter is the last thing any social worker wants to do. They’ll do it if the stars (or bruises) align just right and they decide it is truly necessary, but all of the incentives and biases are pointing in the other direction.

      So make of that what you will.

      • EchoChaos says:

        I appreciate your insight from within the system. I am not terribly worried about actual CPS taking my kids. They’re clearly happy and well-adjusted with us. I’m worried about increasing paranoia making it hard on them.

        • herbert herberson says:

          Yeah, even a visit can be traumatizing, and, unfortunately (like I said) that’s the part that’s hardest to control.

          And I know CPS involvement isn’t the only or even primary factor here, but I still like to bring it up. Partly for the obvious reason of my personal expertise but also because it illustrates that the bar is so much lower than people think it is. We give heroin addicts who are suspected of dealing or tricking while surfing from hotel room to hotel room multiple chances if it’s at all possible. I think if people knew more about this world they’d be a lot less paranoid about being judged “bad parents”–god knows I am

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            This always seems insane to me until I remind myself that foster care is a shit show. Like those people clearly shouldn’t be allowed to raise kids but its hard because you can’t necessarily be sure they are going to a good place if you remove them.

          • Cliff says:

            I have heard that CPS sometimes won’t even go to certain homes because they are too dangerous- the occupants threatened previous CPS staff, etc.

            Meanwhile, for middle-class people, CPS can and will strong-arm them into confessing to child abuse/neglect on the threat of taking their children away for an extended period of time. This has no downside for CPS since they can show they did something, they were justified, they got the parent help, etc. Middle class parents really care about losing their children for any period of time so its incredible pressure for them. Also of course confessing to child neglect is hugely damaging for them.

            The really hard cases wouldn’t be moved by something like that. They don’t care about a child neglect finding and they also don’t care as much about the kids being taken for some period of time.

            I’m not an expert but that’s my impression from reading about such things.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Like those people clearly shouldn’t be allowed to raise kids but its hard because you can’t necessarily be sure they are going to a good place if you remove them.

            It’s not so much that foster care is that bad as it is that
            – any removal at all is traumatizing, and the current culture of social work understands that (and the science behind it) pretty well
            – even after removal, the goal is reunification with the parents–so if there’s not an immediate safety concern, it’s better and easier for everyone to try and help the kids in the home even if the “home” isn’t really much of a “home”
            – right now, there’s a significant shortage of foster homes because of the opioid epidemic

            I have heard that CPS sometimes won’t even go to certain homes because they are too dangerous- the occupants threatened previous CPS staff, etc.

            If it reaches that point, we send the cops.

            There is sometimes a conundrum where parents refuse entry and we don’t yet have enough for a warrant, and that’s a situation that’s a lot more likely to occur when they’re drug dealers or whatever, but ultimately the difficulty isn’t because they’re dangerous, it’s just a secondary consequence of what makes them dangerous.

            Meanwhile, for middle-class people, CPS can and will strong-arm them into confessing to child abuse/neglect on the threat of taking their children away for an extended period of time. This has no downside for CPS since they can show they did something, they were justified, they got the parent help, etc. Middle class parents really care about losing their children for any period of time so its incredible pressure for them. Also of course confessing to child neglect is hugely damaging for them.

            It doesn’t really play out like this in my experience. Of course a social worker loves to get an admission, and they can say (honestly and entirely accurately for straightforward and good faith reasons) that accepting services in the home will prevent a removal, but I really don’t see a middle class person being more vulnerable to any of that.

            CPS doesn’t go after a family for fun–if they’re pushing like that, its because they genuinely think there’s a serious problem. That belief can, of course, be mistaken, but those mistakes are far more likely to be made against a lower class person navigating the sometimes fuzzy line between neglect and poverty and with fewer resources to obtain things like good legal counsel and second medical opinions than someone in the middle class.

            Mostly, poor people love their kids just as much as anyone, and if anything they’re more likely to put their identity as a parent first since that’s the only thing in their life that actually seems important. There is a class of hardcore addicts/scumbags who don’t give a shit, but that doesn’t give them leverage, at least not in actual practice. The vast majority of the time it just means they don’t show up to their hearings, lose to default judgements, and get TPRed after a year of not complying with their case plans.

      • Randy M says:

        Thanks for the post. Points one and two together take a little of the assurance of point three away, but it’s still net comforting.

        We’ve talked here before about how much of the decreasing birth rates are due to increased cost raising children and how much of that is status chasing versus legitimately necessary.

        If a social worker saw, say, three happy children sharing a bedroom, are they required or allowed consider that at some level neglect or harm absent anything more blatant?

        • herbert herberson says:

          That mixed assurance/dis-assurance is exactly what I was going for. All the cop and lawyer shows prime you to expect a system where people want to get you but are stopped by a host of procedural safeguards, when really it’s pretty much the exact opposite of that.

          If a social worker saw, say, three happy children sharing a bedroom, are they required or allowed consider that at some level neglect or harm absent anything more blatant?

          If they were pubescent/post-pubescent and of mixed genders, it would be viewed somewhat negatively but if that was the only issue it wouldn’t be nearly enough to prompt anything more than (maybe) a referral to Section 8. If they were the same gender and/or were pre-pubescent, I don’t even see it being framed negatively.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        What do you think of this comment?

    • Chalid says:

      I occasionally see kids of a similar age on the NYC subway, and presumably they’re doing a bit of unaccompanied walking on either end of the ride.

      I think NYC has a pretty strong “mind your own business” culture.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Two things I can see being under your control:

      Does your 8YO know what to say to a concerned officer to avoid trouble?

      Do local CPS know your kid as a non-risk? Is there any way to make that known?

      • EchoChaos says:

        Does your 8YO know what to say to a concerned officer to avoid trouble?

        Yes. He’s a bright kid who is outgoing and likes chatting.

        Do local CPS know your kid as a non-risk? Is there any way to make that known?

        I strongly hope they aren’t aware I exist.

        • acymetric says:

          I would hope if your kid got approached by a concerned officer that the farthest it would escalate is “I’m going to call your dad to make sure he knows where you’re at” or, I suppose at worst that he tells them to drop in and drives them back to your place. All that requires is that he knows your phone number and address (or at least how to get back home which he presumably knows or else he’d never make it back from the movies;) ).

    • Cliff says:

      I recommend getting your kid(s) a watch phone like gizmo gadget, where they can only call numbers you put in their phone and you can find them with GPS if you really need to. Then they can say “hey let me put you on the phone with my dad”

    • DragonMilk says:

      Which state do you live in? Utah passed a free range kids law which states kids being by themselves in not in itself neglect. Most other states are CPS-heavy nanny-states however.

      Generally, be sure your kids know how to answer responsibly, “I know it’s ok to talk to strangers but not to follow them” etc.

      • EchoChaos says:

        One that doesn’t have free-range kids laws, unfortunately.

        • DragonMilk says:

          not sure why my post won’t appear, but I’m now doing so without the link.

          In that case, per Cliff’s suggestion, I’d maybe browse in Amazon and the like for watches. You can look into a bit of shopping around to see options available, of course using fakespot.com and camelcamelcamel for rating accuracy and pricing history info (but I digress…I have very specific shopping methodology)

    • chrisminor0008 says:

      The 8 year old is OK going a short distance (< 1.5 miles/2 km) across terrain he's familiar with to go do something he's done before in a safe neighborhood with good sidewalks and tame traffic. When I was 8, I was responsible for walking that far to and from school everyday.

      The 6 year old probably is not, and the 8 year old is too young to take responsibility for another life. Maybe in another year.

      Just my 2¢.

      • HowardHolmes says:

        When I was 6 (1954) the world was different. I walked to school several blocks and crossed one busy street at a light with no crossing guard. Most of the time, my 8 year old sister was with me, but not always. Never had a problem other than my fear of passing a Catholic Church because I thought they might kidnap me and raise me to be a Catholic.

        Once, I went home during the day when I got sick. Teacher just told me “good-bye”. No need of special assistance. When I got home, my mom was gone and house locked so I walked several more blocks down to my Dad’s store where quite a bit of this walk was along the major street. A six year old kid can do pretty much anything. At 4 we moved to that neighborhood. I was always free to roam and spent my entire days outside, unsupervised. I’m sure glad I was raised in the 50s and not the 10s.

        • bullseye says:

          It was like that when I was a kid in the ’80s. I rode my bike to school and no one ever thought anything of it. Sometimes my sister and I wandered around in the swamp together.

          • albatross11 says:

            +1

            I walked to school as a little kid with nobody worrying about it, in a small town in the Midwest. I suppose I’d have been easy prey for some child-abducting stranger, except that there weren’t any of those around, and if there had been, various nosy neighbors would likely have noticed and provided the cops with a good description.

            During the summer as a 10-year-old kid, I would leave home in the morning and get home around the time it got dark, and if my parents worried about what I was up to[1], they never let on. The society hadn’t yet gone through moral panics about child predators under every bed or stranger danger[2], so nobody was freaking out about it. And lots of adults were around–retirees and stay-at-home moms and grandparents living with their grandkids/kids–so it wasn’t like nobody was watching.

            [1] Often, up to various kinds of minor mischief, but since they didn’t know that, they didn’t worry.

            [2] Nearly all child sexual predators are trusted adults or older kids who are left in charge of the kids by parents, at home or school or church or scouting events or whatever. The moral panic got this wrong, as moral panics usually do.

  16. johan_larson says:

    Some questions for the Magic players about lands.

    The 2020 Core Set includes two-colored lands like Rugged Highlands that enter tapped, can be tapped for two different colors, and you gain one life when they enters the battlefield. It does not make sense to play these in a single-colored deck, right? One point of life gain is not worth a turn-delayed land.

    The same set also contains cards like Temple of Mystery that also enter tapped, can be tapped for two different colors, but let you scry 1 when they enters the battlefield. Are these cards worth playing in a single-colored deck?

    Finally, the same set includes Field of the Dead, a land with an odd ability. “Whenever Field of the Dead or another land enters the battlefield under your control, if you control seven or more lands with different names, create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.” That seems like a really hard condition to meet. I suppose in a two-colored deck, you could have two types of basic lands, both relevant types of life-gain lands, both scry lands, and Field of the Dead itself makes seven. But the game has to have gone on forever before all of that has shown up on your board. It seems like this is one of those powers you’d never get to use. Or am I missing something?

    • Jack says:

      Usually not; usually not; and, yes.

    • Ouroborobot says:

      Your instincts regarding taplands are correct. Generally speaking, you would play taplands because you need the mana fixing and there is no better alternative. A mono color deck wouldn’t want to disrupt its mana curve for such a marginal effect. As Jack has pointed out, you’d include Field of the Dead because your deck is specifically built to abuse it. If that isn’t the case, you are right to suspect it’s too slow and unreliable to just add to your deck on its own merit.

    • Ms. Morgendorffer says:

      Re your last point, having seven different lands may be hard, but lands are the most resilient permanents, and having a win condition that boosts your end-game land drops (ie useless cards) into free 2/2 zombies can be really powerfull in a pure control deck. Change the condition to be 4+ distinct lands and you have a broken card that warps the format around it 😀

    • Perico says:

      The upside of lands like Rugged Highlands is very weak, so it will never be worthwhile to include them in single-colored decks barring strong lifegain rewards like Ajani’s Pridemate. This applies to both constructed and limited.

      For lands like Temple of Mystery, it is not so clear cut. The scry effect is significant, but so is the drawback of entering the battlefield tapped. Most aggressive decks won’t be able to afford the loss of speed, but if the metagame has room for a single-colored deck that is a bit on the slower side and doesn’t have a strong incentive for basic lands (i.e. no cards like Tempest Djinn) it may be the right call to play them in constructed. Limited is a different story – the drawback is much less important due to the looser mana curves, and you probably want to play all the temples you get: this means playing temples in single-colored decks, playing temples that only match one of your colors in 2-color decks and, potentially, if your mana is really solid, consider playing off-color temples. This doesn’t mean that they are high picks (unless you need both colors of mana), just that you’ll play the ones you picked.

      As for Field of the Dead, it’s the sort of high reward card with very demanding requirements that is asking you to build a deck around it. Such a deck exists in Standard, and has been quite successful as of late, see https://www.channelfireball.com/home/taking-standard-scapeshift-to-victory-at-gp-denver/ . It’s likely that the deck won’t survive the rotation of Scapeshift next month, but there is a slim chance that Field of the Dead could still see play in some sort of deck with mana acceleration and many colors.

      In M20 limited, of course, Field of the Dead is completely unplayable – if it had been printed in a different environment with lots of non-basic lands, like Ravnica Allegiance, it might have had a chance in very niche decks.

      • Tarpitz says:

        To illustrate how close the call is on whether to play temples in a mono-colour midrange deck, consider the first and second place lists from GP Chicago in 2014. Tyler Blum and Jadine Klomparens both played Mono-black Devotion, differing by only 5 spells in the maindeck (4 Nightveil Spectres and a Devour Flesh vs. 2 extra Lifebane Zombies, the 4th Bile Blight, an Ultimate Price and a Whip of Erebos). Blum played 6 temples. Klomparens played 0.

        As to Field of the Dead without Scapeshift, the Sultai version with Yarok and Golos is surprisingly decent. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see it in competitive post-rotation Standard.

    • moonfirestorm says:

      Field of the Dead is also very good in EDH: three or higher-colored decks are common, and you’re forced to use at most one copy of each card that isn’t a basic land, so you end up with a bunch of different nonbasics in play (and you’re not in Standard, so you have access to much better options than lifegain lands for those nonbasics).

    • Jake R says:

      Your field of the dead analysis is correct for block constructed or limited, where you are only allowed to use cards from the current set. The card is pretty much unplayable in limited. In standard, however, you can build a 22 land deck with almost all of them different. Most sets have some form of dual land, and all of them count as different lands for Field. Field of the Dead + Scapeshift was pretty much the top meta deck in standard for a while, cleaning up at Grand Prix Denver. This deck was very much built to abuse Field of the Dead, with virtually nothing but cards that ramped out lands and bought time until a big Scapeshift could put out 20+ 2/2 zombies at once.

    • Aftagley says:

      Finally, the same set includes Field of the Dead, a land with an odd ability. “Whenever Field of the Dead or another land enters the battlefield under your control, if you control seven or more lands with different names, create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.” That seems like a really hard condition to meet. I suppose in a two-colored deck, you could have two types of basic lands, both relevant types of life-gain lands, both scry lands, and Field of the Dead itself makes seven. But the game has to have gone on forever before all of that has shown up on your board. It seems like this is one of those powers you’d never get to use. Or am I missing something?

      This card is the centerpiece (well, co-centerpiece) of my favorite deck in standard right now. Bant Scapeshift.

      Yes, on it’s own Field of the Dead is an average card. It works pretty well as moonfirestorm says below in EDH decks since it means that every time you play a land, something that’s normally useless after you’ve got a certain number of them in play, you also get a free 2/2. That’s not nothing.

      Where field of the dead comes into it’s own is when you play it with Scapeshift, hopefully in multiples. Scapeshift is a card that lets you sacrifice all your lands and replace them with different lands in your deck. A quirk of how cards like this work in magic is that these lands entering play will all trigger Field of the dead even if field of the dead is entering play with them.

      So what’s that mean? Well, if I have seven lands in play, then I play scapeshift, that means I get seven 2/2s. That’s 14/14 worth of stats for only 4 mana. That’s insane value. If I’ve got 8 lands in play, that means I get to put 2 Fields of the dead in play with 6 other lands, which means I get sixteen 2/2s! This just keeps going up! I think the most I’ve ever gotton on someone was around 40 zombies in play. Basically, if I can resolve scapeshift when playing this deck and then untap, I probably will win.

      Ok, well, how do I get 7 lands in play? Easy – play every “search your library and put a land into play tapped” card and every “Put a land from your hand into play tapped” card in magic. I’ll routinely be scapeshifting with 8-9 lands in play on turn 4.

      Ok, well, what about Counterspells? Don’t I just lose to counterspell? Maybe, but that’s what Teferi is for. Good luck counterspelling that, my friend. The +1 on Teferi also lets you do some pretty mean stuff to your opponent (IE, wait until they are swinging for lethal, summon a billion zombies to eat their entire board then kill them on the crack back). Also, since people know your deck contains a must-counter spell like scapeshift, they’re unlikely to counter your ramp spells, which means you’ll likely have a mana-advantage on them. Sure, they might counter your FIRST scapeshift, but can they counter your second?

      Ugh, I love this deck. Sure, it falls on its face vs. aggro, but every other match-up just feels beautiful.

    • rahien.din says:

      What if, instead of a land, it was the following spell :

      Gain 1 life
      Cannot be countered or interrupted
      Cast only during main phase
      Mana cost : 0

      • Randy M says:

        Except possibly for some storm decks (though probably not) or something that cares about cards in graveyard like delve, a very bad card.

        Cards>>life. Revitalize did get some use, but it is instant speed and draws a card, so it can be used to stall while drawing for more important cards and having something to do while holding up interaction. So fairly okay in a white/blue deck.

        A land that gained life that didn’t come into play tapped but gave colorless mana is playable in a monocolored life gain focused deck or maybe if expecting to play against an aggressive deck.

        • johan_larson says:

          If you had something that let you cast spells from your graveyard without any additional cost, the card described by @rahien.din would let you gain however much life you wanted.

          • Randy M says:

            That thing would also need to be repeatable without tapping, and not exile the spell in question. It doesn’t look like there’s anything that meets this criteria (correct if I’m wrong, not an expert), but if they print it this would be good, sure. That kind of situation has a lot of ways of being broken though.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            As Randy said, that something would be incredibly broken.

            As a quick check, it’s an infinite two-mana combo with Seething Song or Desperate Ritual, so at that point don’t bother gaining life, just win the game with a Fireball or something.

            Generally speaking if you get to cast a instant/sorcery from your graveyard, it exiles on resolution so you can’t do it again. See flashback, jump-start, Snapcaster Mage, Past in Flames, Yawgmoth’s Will. The exception is Retrace, but that requires you to discard one land per cast and thus doesn’t go infinite.

            Recasting even once is generally quite strong (all of the mechanics and cards above have been in top-tier competitive decks), recasting it repeatedly is far too powerful.

          • Randy M says:

            Saffron Olive of MtgGoldfish recently streamed a deck where he won by repeatedly casting a “take the other players turn” spell utilizing a spell with retrace, life from the loam, and spellweaver helix.

            It’s explained at the link if that didn’t make sense. But once he had the cards he needed he played both players turns for the rest of the game, with the opponent only getting to play defense on his turn. To tie this to the other thread, his win con was usually just something like beating down with Eternal Witness (a 2/2) after using the opponents kill spells on their own creatures.

        • rahien.din says:

          Why, in and of itself, would a two-colored land be bad in a monocolor deck?

          • Randy M says:

            It wouldn’t. WotC has a policy, though, to never make lands that are strictly better than basic lands (a policy that obviously post dates the first few sets).
            So two colored lands usually have some kind of draw back you’d rather not pay if you don’t need the versatility, usually entering the battlefield tapped, always or if some condition is unmet.

            Ouroborobot said it well. Coming into play tapped is a bigger cost than it might seem because you are losing the edge in your ability to pay for effects, even if only for a turn, and your opponent can get out bigger or more powerful cards before you in that case.

      • moonfirestorm says:

        There’s a saying in Magic: “the only point of life that matters is your last one”

        Spending a card to gain life is almost always a bad idea, unless you’re playing against a tremendously fast aggro deck that you can easily beat in the late game. And it’ll be totally dead against a deck like the UW control lists we were talking about in the last thread, so if it ever sees play it’ll generally be hyper-efficient and be relegated to the sideboard (a set of 15 cards you have in addition to your deck in tournaments: tournament magic is played best of 3, and after each game you can swap cards in your deck with cards in your sideboard to adjust the matchup).

        0 mana for 1 life, down a card, would be a very weak card, and countering or responding to it wouldn’t be relevant: the decks that could counter it would love to let you spend a card for 1 life. I can’t think of any cards that actually do this, but Chaplain’s Blessing gives you 5 life for 1 mana and is generally considered terrible.

        • johan_larson says:

          I can’t think of any cards that actually do this, but Chaplain’s Blessing gives you 5 life for 1 mana and is generally considered terrible.

          How much life would the card have to deliver to be worth it?

          • moonfirestorm says:

            How much life would the card have to deliver to be worth it?

            In the sideboard, Feed the Clan sees play in Modern. From what I can tell, it’s generally in decks that have some way of enabling Ferocious, so 10 life for 2 mana is apparently playable.

            In the main deck? I don’t have a good answer to that. I’m only somewhat confident in what follows.

            The big issue is that it’s almost an entirely dead card against control. Even if it was 20 life for 1 mana, that probably works out to 4 turns or less against control once they start finishing you, and control just doesn’t care: they’re drawing at least one card for every card you’re drawing, and those cards will likely be better suited to an endgame than yours. Buying time doesn’t work, because time is on their side.

            And that’s assuming they’re even using a “drop a single big creature and swing till you’re dead” strategy. Quick glance at Standard: against something like Jeskai Superfriends, they’re just going to ult a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and remove all your lands, and the only chance you have in that game is if they’re so slow they draw their entire deck (they won’t, Teferi can put himself back in the deck with his second ability). Bant Scapeshift can probably do 20 damage a turn if they’ve won control of the game.

            And there’s going to be a lot of control. The stronger we make the card, the more we hate aggro out of the format, and I think we’d quickly reach a state where no one’s actually running the card maindeck because it loses you win rate against the control decks you’ll actually face. I think any stable equilibrium ends with it in the sideboard. Maybe if they also just beefed up aggro cards to the point where you couldn’t be confident you’d win the two post-SB games, or gave aggro a SB card that was similarly punishing to control.

    • BBA says:

      When I was playing a few years ago, in the Return to Ravnica block, there were two-colored pre-tapped lands called “gates”, and a colorless land called Maze’s End, which had the ability that if you controlled it and all ten gates (i.e., every possible combination of two colors) you immediately won the game. It also had the ability to trade places with a gate in the library, which made it seem a little less impossible as a strategy, but I’m curious whether anyone was able to build a deck around this and successfully win that way.

      • johan_larson says:

        It doesn’t sound impossible. There are some land tutors around. Elvish Reclaimer, in M2020, for instance. Trying to last 10 turns (at least) with a messed-up mana base wouldn’t be fun, though.

      • Aftagley says:

        around 6 months ago there was a deck in standard where I’d reliably be getting all 10 gates in play. The basic shell of it went like this:

        The deck was 5 colors, but base simic (blue/green). You’d have 1 copy of ever gate that didn’t touch blue or green, 2 copies of the gates that had at least one color in that spectrum and three simic gates. Maybe a few basics and rare lands as well.

        That gates were there essentially just to make Guild Summit (play a gate, draw a card. When it enters the field you can tap any number of gates you control to draw a card) a fantastic draw engine. After that you’d play Nexus of Fate to take an arbitrarily large number of turns and wilderness reclamation to give yourself effectively infinite mana. At that point you’d just play solitair until you could fireball them for 80 damage with Expansion/Explosion.

        Had “Maze’s end” been in standard when this deck was around, it would have been a much more powerful/flexible wincon.

      • moonfirestorm says:

        @BBA:

        I’m curious whether anyone was able to build a deck around this and successfully win that way.

        People did it, and people generally loved the card, but it wasn’t considered viable: the deck would essentially be casual. It’s a very slow engine and if you have the kind of time you need to get it online, you probably could have just played a 5/5 or something and beat the opponent down.

        Although a lot of people built it in EDH, where you can only have 1 copy of each gate or Maze’s End in your 99-card deck. People were really excited by Golos, Tireless Pilgrim in M2020, because he gave them a solid commander that enabled that strategy.

        @Aftagley:

        Had “Maze’s end” been in standard when this deck was around, it would have been a much more powerful/flexible wincon.

        But once you’re playing solitaire, what does it matter? In a combo deck like that, you just want to make it as consistent and fast to get online as possible, and then you’ve effectively won as long as you have one way to win in your deck. Sometimes even if you don’t: Luis Scott-Vargas won an entire tournament with a combo deck he had forgotten to put the win condition into, and everyone just conceded before he had to show the win.

        I guess they could counter Expansion // Explosion, but you’re presumably running more than one of those, and they aren’t untapping again so they need to have a lot of mana on hand. Colorless lands aren’t free, especially in a five-color deck, and Maze’s End enters tapped on top of that.

        • Randy M says:

          Luis Scott-Vargas won an entire tournament with a combo deck he had forgotten to put the win condition into, and everyone just conceded before he had to show the win.

          That’s a great story, interesting from a game theory point of view, pardon the mixed meaning that isn’t quite a pun.
          Because if you leave out the obvious wincon of a well known combo deck in a format where players will regularly concede, you can have more interactive cards in your deck.
          I would think enough people would call your bluff that you wouldn’t come out ahead… but there he was.

          • Aftagley says:

            I play decks like this all the time. My current arena version of the Nexus of Fate deck includes 0 win conditions.

            No one wants to spend the 20 minutes of watching me play to test this theory though, so it doesn’t matter. Once I’ve gotten the lock established 99.9% of people concede.

            Edit: in tournaments, it makes sense for people to concede if they believe that their opponent will certainly win, but take a while doing so. If the match goes to time, the current game counts as a draw.

            Thus if LSV establishes a lock at minute 10, you’ve got two options: wait however long it takes his deck to kill you or just concede and move to game 2, where you’ll have a chance of winning before he locks the game down.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            LSV was playing storm combo, which has one really important trick: the win condition, Tendrils of Agony, isn’t actually in the deck, but in the sideboard. He pulls it out of the sideboard with a card called Burning Wish, which also has a few other uses in the deck.

            This means two things.
            1. At no point can an opponent go rummaging through his deck with something like Surgical Extraction and notice “hey wait he doesn’t have his win condition”. There’s no way to look at a player’s sideboard (maybe if you control his turn, but there are like 3 cards in the entire game that do that, and I think they changed that rule anyway)

            2. There’s a very obvious point to concede: when he casts Burning Wish with enough storm count and mana to Tendrils. In a deck that actually had Tendrils, the steps after this would be completely trivial. There’s no chance he doesn’t find it, you know he can cast it, you know how much damage he will do with it, and there are very few ways to interact with Tendrils (counterspells don’t work, as Tendrils makes a large number of copies of itself upon being cast). Even if you had one of those ways, the normal playstyle of the deck would have disabled those cards before comboing out and it’s generally better to attack the combo itself rather than Tendrils.

            The interesting part is that generally in major tournaments when you get to the top 8 (and switch to single-elimination matches) you also get access to your opponents’ decklists.

            The format for this tournament was Vintage which tends to be less official so it’s possible they didn’t do this. But I like the idea of his opponents just skimming his decklist for unusual cards, and totally missing that he doesn’t have a win condition.

        • Aftagley says:

          @moonfirestorm

          I mean, testing definitely required, but here’s my line of reasoning:

          I’d need to play 3 or 4 Expansion // Explosions in the deck to deal with counterspells and variance. Reducing that number down to 1 Mazes end means I can play more fogs, more Hydroid Krasises (hydroid Krasi?) and other cards that help deal with the meta. Sure, it enters tapped, but it untaps (3 times?) during my endstep post wilderness reclamation so, whatever?

          For me, this deck’s problem normally wasn’t “not having mana” it was “not being able to draw nexus of fate” so having a 3 mana sink to go find another land is fine.

          That being said, I just double checked and saw that Mazes End isn’t itself a gate (which I thought it was). This means circuitous route is no longer a tutor for it, which decreases this decks play-ability by a substantial margin. I don’t know if it renders the deck unplayable though. Again, testing required.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            I’d need to play 3 or 4 Expansion // Explosions in the deck to deal with counterspells and variance

            My impression was that Expansion // Explosion was good on its own, to snipe creatures, copy stuff like Circuitous Route, and draw cards before you’re quite set up. If it’s not, I think that’s a decent argument. But hopefully they aren’t running Field of Ruin or something like that, or you’re going to be really sad you only had 1.

          • Aftagley says:

            @moonfirestorm

            You are probably correct. I think I had a more negative opinion of that card than most people, maybe just because for a while there it was the only reliable combo finisher and I was playing mostly combo decks in standard, so I cast it a bunch of times.

            Explosion was an OK draw/burn spell, but you needed access to around 8-10 mana before it really came online. That’s likely not going to happen until turn 6 or so, which is a bit slow for me, especially when it’s being used as removal.

            Expanse-ing a circuitous route was great, but I’d never want to do it unless I had 2 EX // EXs in hand, two guild summits in play, or was desperate.

            All of this was compounded by the fact that two of the main decks in standard at the time (mono-blue tempo and dmir control) both relied heavily on countermagic, meaning I had to horde the Explosions until the end of the game.

            But hopefully they aren’t running Field of Ruin or something like that, or you’re going to be really sad you only had 1.

            Yeah. that’s one of those “take the loss on game 1, board in your own field of ruin” type scenarios if it happens.

      • Tarpitz says:

        Someone called Corrado 4-0ed an MTGO Daily with this list, which I think is the closest to a meaningful competitive result Maze’s End ever came. It was the kind of semi-competitive meme deck you take to FNM for fun, not something you pack in a serious effort to win a GP.

  17. Well... says:

    Is there any serious* scholarship establishing “white privilege” as a legitimate concept? If so, where might I find it?

    *Serious meaning it’s not easily dismissable by a reasonable and intelligent person who realizes that nearly all humans have some kind of privilege and that the unequal outcomes between groups are due to many factors that might include systemic discrimination and historic disadvantages but are certainly not limited to that and might also include factors that are less flattering to groups commonly portrayed as non-privileged, or at least factors that are complex and nuanced. In other words, can a person understand all these things and still carry around a meaningful concept of “white privilege”? And if so, where might he get it from?

    • Jack says:

      I don’t like the look of your asterisk. Would you like to share any scholarship on white privilege that is “easily dismissable by a reasonable and intelligent person who realizes [a variety of mundane truths]”?

      But to be more direct: Charles Mills, The Racial Contract.

      • Well... says:

        I’ve only really seen the notion of white privilege forwarded in non-scholarly contexts. I’m unfamiliar with the scholarship, which is why I was asking for the strongest examples of it.

        Your link takes me to a 180-page document. Is there a much shorter, accurate summary somewhere?

        • Jack says:

          You’ve encountered the summary already. “Systemic discrimination and historic disadvantages”. Well, I guess you have to couple this with the notion that systemic discrimination and historic disadvantage tend to reproduce themselves and their own legitimating ideologies and institutions. There are other kinds of privilege that get studied also. We don’t bother so much with things like “black privilege” because there are relatively few spaces where that seems to be a big thing, as a quick turn through demographic data on any measure of well-being will suggest.

        • Jack says:

          Looking again at your comment, it might be that you are wrongly assuming no part of white supremacy can be things that are not “flattering” to non-white people. Not only is this not true, the theory of white supremacy predicts the opposite. There is a definite tension between wanting something from a “scholarly context” and wanting something short and simple.

          • gbdub says:

            Not picking on you specifically, but your comment illustrates a sort dysphemism bloat I’ve noticed: “structural racism / white privilege” have become “white supremacy”, and public figures whose actions might be judged racist are getting labeled “white supremacists”.

            My impression is that this has happened lately, post-Trump, but am I missing something and this has a scholarly origin?

          • lvlln says:

            @gbdub

            FWIW, I recall Bernie Sanders being called a “White Supremacist” within my online social circles during the 2016 Dem primaries because he’s a white person benefiting from a society that privileges white people and isn’t doing enough to acknowledge it and dismantle it. I don’t recall if it has academic origins, but I suspect it does, given that almost all the social justice terminology originate from academia in [blank] Studies fields, from what I can tell.

            But it does seem that using the term to refer to public figures whose actions might be judged racist has become more mainstream post-Trump. My online social circles in 2016 were certainly not at all what you’d call mainstream, though neither would I describe them as fringe.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            because he’s a white person benefiting from a society that privileges white people and isn’t doing enough to acknowledge it and dismantle it.

            Yes, under critical race theory, white supremacy doesnt mean N*zi Germany, it means the USA of 2019. Because whites are a majority in the US, the US is under white supremacy. The fact that they use a word which most people find horrifying to describe a situation most people find completely normal is one of the many dishonest tricks of the woke left.

            So, if you’re not actively trying to make whites a minority, you’re a white supremacist according to them. This view is propagated by most universities.

          • Jack says:

            @gbdub The use of the term “white supremacy” to refer to a system of racist institutions goes a ways back; I’m not sure how far back but you can check out the Mills link I posted above for an example. Most people do not call someone a white supremacist just because they are not an anti-racist (though the rhetorical move can do work and has been used in many contexts).

            I’m not responding to jermosapiens because I do not sense a possibility for good faith discussion.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I’m not responding to jermosapiens because I do not sense a possibility for good faith discussion.

            I’m not arguing in bad faith, I’m just shining light on the Saira Rao end of the spectrum.

          • Jack says:

            User Well… didn’t ask for you to shine a light on what you now seem to assert is a fringe (an “end of the spectrum”) use of these terms. They were specifically asking for something like a steelman. If you had come here just to say “well /some/ people use the words like this” you would simply be off-topic. But you didn’t specify that you were talking about a fringe, and in fact said “under critical race theory” and ascribed a position to “most universities”; which made your comment misleading as well as off-topic. Your ascription of bad faith (“dishonest tricks”) made your comment uncharitable as well as misleading and off-topic. I’d last say, I don’t think the position you describe is what anybody means when they talk about white supremacy, though it is difficult to refute accusations of dishonesty even when they are accompanied by some form of evidence, and yours was not. Your comment was neither kind nor true, but rather uncharitable, misleading, off-topic, and wrong. Let’s face it, you came here to slag on your perceived political opponents, not to further the conversation about what academics mean when they write about white privilege.

            I’m always happy to have a meta-discussion.

          • gbdub says:

            @Jack – I know “white supremacy” is not a recent term, but typically in the past I get the sense that it was reserved for things like Jim Crow and neo-Nazi skinheads… not merely racist but openly, aggressively, often violently so.

            Using “white supremacy” completely interchangeably with “white privilege” (or “structural racism”) as you do here seems like a recent phenomenon, and not one that seems justifiable by academic precision/clarity.

          • Jack says:

            Let me be more clear: some academic writers have given “white supremacy” the broader meaning since at least the late eighties. This is not a post-Trump thing. White supremacy is not quite “interchangeable” with the other terms you mention; in this context it refers to a structure of white racial privilege. White supremacy is thus a species of structural racism and white privilege is one of its constitutive elements. But the broad use of the term has certainly become more public outside of the academy in recent years. If you’re talking about how the word is “typically” used, I think even today it is usually used for explicit haters. It’s a word with more than one use–and of course this can bring problems. That said I do not think this is really a problem from the perspective of academic precision. Academic writing on white supremacy doesn’t make the conflation (in my experience). That the term seems to marry a descriptive claim and a normative claim is a deliberate feature.

          • albatross11 says:

            Jack:

            I’ll admit, I find the “white supremacy” terminology pretty baffling, myself. Our system of white supremacy seems to be pushing Asians to the top of the heap in many areas, for example. Most of the differences in outcomes between blacks and whites are mirrored by the differences in outcomes between whites and blacks–things like life expectancy, school performance, low birthweight babies, unwed pregnancy, rates of committing crimes or being victims of crimes, etc.

            Similarly, I’ve never been able to work out how I’d tell if “structural racism” explains some gap in outcomes, rather than some other explanation. As an outsider to this area of scholarship, it often seems like that ends up as a kind of theory spackle which can explain anything–any outcome difference that doesn’t have another explanation can be explained as due to structural racism.

          • Jack says:

            I’m not sure that white supremacy is meant to explain things, if by explain you mean in a causal sense. The same problem arises with stuff like “capitalism”, “patriarchy”, “communism”, or (for red pill people) “feminism”. The work of tracing out concrete mechanisms by which these categories can be said to exist in and effect the world is hard. It can also be done badly.

            If someone observes some phenomenon and says, “that’s because of white supremacy”, and they mean a causal claim, they are likely being sloppy. (Similarly, one often sees sloppy claims about the good or bad effects of “capitalism” in the world.) But they may mean something more like, “that is part of a certain pattern that shares overlapping causal mechanisms with other parts of the pattern”. If you observe, say, differential family wealth of mostly white and non-white families in a certain time and place, there are going to be a bunch of concrete mechanisms behind it. Some of these are going to be quite directly related to race, and others aren’t. I’m not sure what it would mean to say something like, “the reason white families tend to be richer is white supremacy”. But if you look about and find that there are often institutions and practices that yield such differentials, together with legitimating ideologies of varying explicitness and reach, you might find it useful to name the pattern–especially if you think the pattern is itself unjust.

            This is kinda why I rebuffed Well… as having a “problem with ideas” above. At least some of the resistance to the concept of white supremacy feels to me like the typical resistance of non-social theorists to social theory. Good social theorists know that their claims are complex and contingent. A non-social theorist seeing a social theory claim can think it must be like a claim in the natural sciences (just to pick one particularly salient disanalogy), and ascribe a kind of certainty, directness, and non-contingency not appropriate to social knowledge. (This was the basis of the running gag “is this feminist?”)

            Many concepts would fail on similar kinds of test, like say “law”, “gender”, or “healthcare”. But a question like, “did law ’cause’ a certain person to not trespass” doesn’t have the moral freight of white supremacy, and so is confined to analytic legal philosophy journals.

          • gbdub says:

            @Jack – a couple questions:
            1) if the terms are not interchangeable, why did you introduce the term to this conversation when Well… had previously only used “white privilege”?

            2) I am somewhat sympathetic to your explanation of “white supremacy”, but if the concept is so complex, why choose a facially pejorative, easy to misrepresent term for it? Again, as Scott notes in Words, Words, Words, this kind of looks like a pattern in X Studies.

          • Jack says:

            1) The notion of white supremacy is implicit in Well…’s opening comment. Well… implied that the idea of white privilege was in tension with the idea that “the unequal outcomes between groups” might be due in part “factors that are less flattering to groups commonly portrayed as non-privileged, or at least factors that are complex and nuanced”. I think it is pretty clear that there is no direct tension there, but there is arguably a tension with white supremacy. To respond to Well…’s issue I think we needed to distinguish the idea that whiteness can come with privileges from the idea that these privileges are part of a system.

            2) Your second question is more complex. There are serious criticisms of the shift in use of “white supremacy” (and “racism” and…) within progressive movements along the lines you suggest. I have personally had conversations about these terms like those Alexander said you couldn’t have in “Words Words Words” with my progressive friends. It seems after a generation of journalists and activists and such grew up being told about this use of “white supremacy” in university, the term has now started to enter the mainstream. As you say these terms are perjorative and easily misunderstood. There are clearly costs to using them. What is gained?

            Two things, as I understand it, reflections of the confusion and the perjorativeness. It seems like the broader and narrower sense of white supremacy can be understood as set and element. In the same way that when I talk about a shoe store you know I mean one where you can probably buy shoes, sandals, and boots, but when I say “you can buy shoes, sandals, and boots” you know that “shoe” excludes the latter footwear. I mean SHOE shoes! We want a word that captures both “I don’t find [race] people attractive” and “I don’t find people with [darker/lighter] skin attractive” even though one of them is racism and the other one is RACISM racism because there is a sense in which they are the same kind of thing. I think the analytic reasons for picking “white supremacy” to refer to the system include: it is a word that already existed; it straight-forwardly means what it says; and, the system is thought to be the more important case with the conscious hatred being unusual. This last point is a version of MLK’s criticism of “the white moderate”. Yes the KKK gets the flack, but white supremacy was always a complex system. To some extent the terminological confusion is a deliberate reflection of an actual confusion.

            The second imputed advantage is the weight of the word itself. I said above that the fact “that the term seems to marry a descriptive claim and a normative claim is a deliberate feature”. Anti-racists have struggled to create a vocabulary equal to poc experiences. As happens with people excluded from the literati and other meaning-making institutions, there just weren’t the words.

            Say A is against a policy of reparations to former slaves or their descendants in the USA. Their friend B argues that this stance reproduces white supremacy. A goes, “woah woah woah, white supremacy is like KKK and skinheads and terrible violent shit”. B’s response is, “the feeling you are having right now is the appropriate feeling”. Hopefully A says, “ooohhhh”.

            A lot of social justice is the idea that structural harm hurts just as much as direct harms. Properly normed, this is trivially true; yet we have trouble seeing it and we have trouble getting riled up about it. Maybe this is because our brains are designed to blame specific people and get angry and vengeful, and social injustice doesn’t work that way. At the same time, social justice vocabulary is bad at assigning individual responsibility–because it’s not designed to do that. But people have come up with some words that convey, in their view, the import of structural harm.

            I don’t know how often this works. I mean, I don’t know how often calling white supremacy “white supremacy” instead of “structural racism that privileges white people” helps people correctly feel the weight of the situation. There are lots of anecdotes of backlash against using these words these ways, of which this blog is one. That said, I kinda feel like the backlash actually often prompts the desired conversation. People end up actually talking about racism and why people are using words for it that make it sound like such a big deal. It seems like these words have entered the mainstream speech just as many of the claims of poc advocates are being more seriously considered. Reparations, for instance, are a part of the democratic primary conversation (frankly I’m not keyed-in to USA politics enough to be certain this is new, so maybe not a good example). So I’m not committed to the claim that “white supremacy” was a good choice of term, but I can understand some reasons for it.

        • Skeptical Wolf says:

          One of the main works that introduced the term ‘privilege’ in this context is Peggy McIntosh’s article White Privelege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. It still serves as a decent example of what the term is normally taken to mean in an academic context.

          Note that the article was written in 1989 by an author drawing on experiences that occurred before that. Not all of McIntosh’s bullet points carry the same weight as they did 30 years ago (and I take that as a sign of progress).

          https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf

          If you would like an even shorter summary, a friend of mine with a degree in this sort of scholarship liked the definition “The ways in which a person can benefit from oppression without participating in oppression”.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that Peggy McIntosh’s article is very unscholarly, but also very interesting, due to its unspoken assumptions. With different assumptions, quite a few of the claims can seem absurd, can be interpreted in an anti-SJ way or can even be regarded as arguments in favor of racial separatism.

            For example:

            1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

            This seems to claim that racial segregation is a privilege. If one (truly) sees racial diversity as being better than racial homogeneity, then I don’t see how that person can see this as a privilege. In fact, if “diversity is a strength,” then isn’t it a black privilege that they can (presumably) more easily arrange to be in a mixed environment.

            If being able to segregate is truly a privilege, I expect that a white segregationist will gladly want to help black people have the privilege of being among their own race most of the time, by being against miscegenation, mixed workplaces, mixed places of entertainment and such. In fact, this statement implies that blacks lost privilege due to desegregation, as they have less opportunity to segregate themselves from whites.

            Finally, there is the issue that McIntosh argues that privilege has to be systemic, but the very first example she gives has an enormous natural component. With black Americans only being 12% of the population, black Americans are going to be in the sole company of people of their race less often even if you randomly group people.

            2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

            This statement claims that white people distrust blacks and vice versa, but that white people can more easily avoid this, apparently because they can more easily segregate themselves. So this privilege seems to be a subset of the supposed privileges of segregation that statement 1 claimed exists.

            To those who believe that SJ advocates stoke unnecessary racial mistrust, this statement can be interpreted as a white privilege caused or increased by SJ advocacy.

            Just like for statement 1, one can also conclude that this white privilege can be reduced by more segregation.

            3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

            This may be referring to redlining or may also/merely stereotype blacks as poor and whites as rich. It’s very sloppy in not being explicit about this. To those who believe that redlining was in part or fully a justified response to poor community norms and/or that greater black poverty is partly or fully a reflection of poor community norms, this statement can be interpreted as a privilege being derived in part or fully from norms that correlate with race, but that black people are free to adopt.

            8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

            It is unexplained why it is an advantage to have your race testified to.

            14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

            This implies that most dislike that people face is between races, which again, implies that racial segregation is a (large) privilege.

            25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.

            Cops can pull people over because they are looking for a specific suspect. If this suspect is white, the subject of a traffic stop can be chosen (in part or solely) because of their race. So no person can be sure that they weren’t singled out for their race.

            So is it white privilege that white people are delusional? Or is this merely a false statement.

            It still serves as a decent example of what the term is normally taken to mean in an academic context.

            That you consider this a decent scholarly source is consistent with my assessment that the standard of scholarship in academic SJ circles is unfortunately quite low.

            Peggy McIntosh seems to define privilege as systemic, unearned advantage, but she never actually examines to what extent her examples are systemic, unearned and an advantage. Instead, she seems to appeal heavily to assumptions on the part of the reader, never recognizing that the reader may not share her assumptions or those of her SJ community.

          • DarkTigger says:

            @Aapje
            I do agree that there is a certain kind of voice in the (“critical theory”)left that is quit openly clamoring for racial segregation, and get’s angry when they get questioned about it. “White Fragility” has an whole chapter dedicated to the idea that segregating people by race from time to time is great, and beeing against it is is a sign for lack of moral fiber (fragility). (I put that book away after that, if I want to be told that I’m moraly weak because I dislike racial segregation I can alway argue with AFD voters online.)

            Cops can pull people over because they are looking for a specific suspect. If this suspect is white, the subject of a traffic stop can be chosen (in part or solely) because of their race. So no person can be sure that they weren’t singled out for their race.

            Since it can be shown (I think our host did it in one of his mmtywtk-posts) that black people get controlled a lot more often, I think this is the weakest part of your comment.

          • Randy M says:

            8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

            It is unexplained why it is an advantage to have your race testified to.

            It would be interesting to see a world or US history book from when this was written and look at some uses of the phrase “white people.” I would suspect nearly every time it also mentions either native Americans or black Americans, as in “As white people settled the frontier they came more into contact with native tribes.” or “During the reconstruction period and into the next century, white Americans in the south had many privileges denied black Americans.”

            If they just mean using common names in math word problems or something that’s rather over wrought phrasing and probably of similarly exaggerated importance, but in any case long since remedied.

          • Aapje says:

            @DarkTigger

            My objection when evaluating the scholarly quality of the article, is not so much that Peggy McIntosh seems to be advocating segregation or at least seems to only see the positives of it, but rather, that it is kept implicit. It contributes to making the article extremely subjective, as it never makes the effort to actually make an argument for the things that it seems to think are obvious, but aren’t at all.

            Since it can be shown (I think our host did it in one of his mmtywtk-posts) that black people get controlled a lot more often, I think this is the weakest part of your comment.

            Your statement in no way rebuts my rebuttal of the statement from the article. The article makes the claim that white people “can be sure [they] haven’t been singled out because of [their] race.”

            My claim is that this statement is not true if the police is somewhat or even very racist, but that they have to be so racist that they will ignore a perpetrator’s description, stopping black suspects for alleged crimes whose perpetrator is alleged to be white. And this doesn’t merely have to be true for some police officers, but for 100% of them.

            If there is merely one white suspect who is singled out because it was reported that the suspect is white and the police picks him up because he is the white person who is close by or a white person who seems criminally inclined, then the statement is false.

            Note that it was Peggy McIntosh’s choice to make an absolutist statement, rather than hedge.

            PS. Scott’s article on the subject suggests that the police are more eager to stop white and black people in black neighborhoods, not that they target black people specifically. Also in a majority of studies, the police seem to search blacks proportionately to the amount of crimes committed or supposed proxies thereof. So one could argue that most of what is alleged to be the targeting of blacks is actually a focus by the police on crime-ridden neighborhoods, where those correlate strongly with race. If crime-ridden white neighborhoods are targeted just like crime-ridden black neighborhoods, then I would argue that blacks are not singled out.

            PS 2. I think that the police is much more prone to single out men and in particular young men for being young men, than blacks for being black. Yet Peggy McIntosh calls men privileged in her article, never recognizing how the statement that she uses to claim that blacks lack privilege, probably applies more to men than to blacks. That is another example of a lack of scholarly rigor.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Aapje

            You’re being deliberately obtuse. The term is “TRAFFIC cop”, not other kind of cop who happens to pull over a motorist.

            In the US, historically and currently, if a white person is pulled over by any kind of cop they would tend to assume it is because they violated a law, or resemble a law violator. Currently the well-known “driving while black” happens enough that it is still in the weltanschaung of African Americans as a default assumption unless they *know* that they violated a traffic ordinance.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Many of them carried no weight in 1989.

            Just the obvious ones:
            #1 and #2 were true for blacks and whites at the time (there are, of course, costs to retreating to a de-facto segregated community in both cases). #3 and #4 were false for both, in the general case. #6 was true for both. #8 was true for both. #12 was certainly true for both for music shops (the other two are more complex). #14 was false for both. #18 was false for both (unless the term “white trash” doesn’t count). #22 was true for both. #26 is mixed. #48 is true for both.

            Many of the others are disputable. #35 is pretty amusing.

            35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

            If affirmative action helped whites instead, perhaps it would have been “I can get a job with an affirmative action employer without my race getting in the way”.

          • Aapje says:

            @Randy M

            Example 7 is about black people supposedly not being part of history education:

            7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is

            So then I assume that “curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race” is something else. Perhaps she means that the pictures in the books lack(ed) black people and uses hysterical language.

            @anonymousskimmer

            In my country, a traffic cop deals with law violations on and near roads. A very plausible scenario is that they are watching a road when a crime happens, like an ATM bombing. Camera’s are watching all ATMs, so if the police gets access to the video quickly, they can send out an ‘APB.’ Then I assume that traffic cops will be for the lookout for these people too, if they are in the vicinity and/or on likely escape routes.

            A lot of American TV and movies feature a scenario where a cruising police car gets an ‘APB,’ sees someone who looks like the suspect and goes after them. When they stop this suspect, I believe that this is legally called a traffic stop and if the cruising police car is a traffic cop, it would be a traffic stop by a traffic cop.

            That doesn’t mean that they only stop people when they see a crime happening or as a pure fishing expedition.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Peggy McIntosh’s article was written in, and about, my country.

            Regardless of what a traffic stop is, a typical white person is not going to think they’ve been pulled over because of the color of their skin. Some minority of white people will believe they are being harassed by police, but this would be due to personal factors independent of skin color.

    • Zephalinda says:

      I thought that “unequal outcomes between groups are due to many factors that might include systemic discrimination and historic disadvantages” was basically the definition of white privilege?

      • Well... says:

        Wherever I’ve seen it put forward, the concept of white privilege seems to assume away (or maybe just ignore) a lot of complexity. (Yes, systemic discrimination and historic oppression might be one factor in unequal outcomes between groups, but there are always others that have nothing to do with racism. Plus, how do you measure privilege? And how do you measure it in general and not just in a given situation? If not all white people have privilege, and some black people do, then how useful is “white privilege” as a concept? Etc.) A concept that overlooks so much seems automatically suspect. What am I missing?

        • Jack says:

          I think it is fine to say that white privilege “assumes away complexity”. If you have a problem with this, you have a problem with ideas, not with this particular idea. No one thinks you can measure “white privilege”.

          • Well... says:

            Yes, all ideas assume away complexity, but not all ideas assume away so much of it. I mean, “humans live in fear of sharks” is an idea, but not a particularly useful one. You could explore this idea by fixating on certain Hollywood movies, but you’d have to ignore all the exceptions, plus the fact that way more humans kill sharks than the reverse. Having a problem with this idea doesn’t mean you have a problem with ideas.

          • Jack says:

            Your example is not on point. A lot of useful ideas assume away much more complexity; some useless ideas much less. Try applying Menelaus’ Theorem to the Real World. Please be more precise about what you mean.

        • Zephalinda says:

          I don’t think proponents of these ideas would necessarily deny the other complicated factors that exist; it might be more a question of which of those factors people instinctively feel to be most salient (not even, perhaps, most causally important).

          Maybe compare roommates hurrying to cleaning up a living room for a party– there’s often one person who gets much more annoyed by dirty surfaces, while another dislikes scattered objects on the floor, somebody else hates objects out of alignment, etc. As those folks dust/ tidy/ straighten, each (ime) is often annoyed by what seems like the other roommates’ time-wasting on trivialities while not helping out with the most important problem.

          In the case of privilege theory, the relative salience of causal factors seems to be partly determined by the viewer’s emotional response (at least, arguments and counterarguments often center on appeals to compassion and accusations of “not caring”). So the central question would be, of the various causes of inequality etc., which one makes you most angry? Or which one makes you feel sorriest for the disadvantaged people? The whataboutist position, in that framework, is not wrong because it is incorrect (yes, there may exist dust on the end table) but because its priorities are messed up (but we need to get these takeout boxes off the floor ASAP!).

          • Aapje says:

            I agree that emotions often seem to underlie people’s choices, with their arguments often being rationalizations. However, then we can still point out the weak spots in their rationalizations, which can be used to force people to admit their real concern or even change how they feel.

            For example, if Mary argues that dust makes her sick, while Bob argues that seeing scattered objects makes him sick, then I think it matters that Bob’s claim of a sickness is a way to make his claim seem more legitimate, while he is merely irritated at a lack of tidiness, while Mary actually has asthma.

            If Bob and Mary want me to use my power/influence/etc to help them, I care whether the claims by Bob and Mary are actually as strong as they make them out to be.

        • gbdub says:

          I think the “ignoring complexity” bit is okay, as long as we’re talking about privilege in a systemic context.

          Where it becomes problematic is when it is used against an individual, where the complexities and individual factors almost certainly dwarf the systemic effects, e.g. a black professor telling a poor white student “check your privilege” as a way to silence his participation in a discussion.

          “White privilege” has that problem of loaded academic language that Scott discussed in “words, words, words” – it may have a useful and relatively neutral academic definition, but it is just so tempting to use as a rhetorical weapon against people you disagree with, and given the option of other formulations that wouldn’t be as loaded, you don’t have to be too cynical to think this may be intentional.

        • Murphy says:

          It can flow the other way as well.

          Modest differences in one area imposed on people can snowball over generations into things that cause other problems.

          It’s the old classic exercise where you start with 2 people who are basically identical with similar habits… where one gets a modest disadvantage imposed by a-higher-power, say 15% less starting pay than the other. Over a career small initial differences compound with each salary increment and each time the better off one doesn’t have to take out a loan or similar.

          By their death one passes on a paid-off house to their descendants while the other passes on an estate with negative net worth.

          4 generations later one family is living in an awesome part of town with investment, trust funds for all the kids who all go to private school… while the other is skint.

          And it would be tempting to go “look at all these other factors!” if you were from the winning family.

          It’s a fun exercise in compounding you can do with a few minutes in a spreadsheet that can quickly show you that if anything it’s remarkable that things aren’t much worse given that the real handicaps were vastly larger than a modest salary gap.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            And it would be tempting to go “look at all these other factors!” if you were from the winning family.

            And rightly so, because you can’t get from:

            one gets a modest disadvantage imposed by a-higher-power, say 15% less starting pay than the other

            to:

            By their death one passes on a paid-off house to their descendants while the other passes on an estate with negative net worth.

            without a lot of additional, very relevant detail.

            For a start, you can’t get negative net worth from compounding salary differences, because Alice’s net worth doesn’t in any way depend on what Bob is making (unless they are married, that is).

          • DarkTigger says:

            4 generations later one family is living in an awesome part of town with investment, trust funds for all the kids who all go to private school… while the other is skint.

            This might be a thing in cultures where family means a whole clan, with a clear “head of the family” that tries to keep family property together. But how true is that for the modern nuclear families (which are very much a thing for europeans for generations).
            Hint: I would be surprised if any of the estate of my grantfahter reaches me, let alone any of my kids.

            the other passes on an estate with negative net worth.

            Is refusing an inheritance not a thing in the USA?

          • Murphy says:

            @DarkTigger

            In modern times debt isn’t typically passed on but that’s comparatively recent in some countries.

            @Faza

            Assuming that cost of living exists isn’t a minor detail.

            It’s easy enough to yield massive differences between 2 people assuming similar base costs of living but minor income differences.

            Throw in some rand() “unexpected costs” (applied equally to both of course) and an interest rate on positive/negative net worth and the difference grows much larger.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @DarkTigger

            It’s not about the estate reaching you through inheritance, it’s about the wealth of your grandfather allowing your parent to not have to go into debt, or into bad jobs (that pay *now*), thus allowing them to invest in themselves while your grandfather is still alive. (not even counting how much time or money your grandfather invested in them directly)

            You must understand that even today many parents have to decide between how much time or money they spend on their children and how much they spend taking care of decrepit ma and pa, and how much time they spend on their job(s) that supports all of this.

          • DarkTigger says:

            @anonymousskimmer
            First I understand this from first hand experience, thank you. But this is already inherently different, then the dilberatly simple picture Murphy showed.

            And even than, does that mean that the two grandparents of mine that died before they needed care a privilege?
            Does it matter that one was still at working age, and the other was retiered?

            How do you fit that in an simple spread cheat?

          • Murphy says:

            You don’t.

            It isn’t perfectly flat.

            In the real world there are dukes grandsons who have negative net value.

            But there’s far more dukes grandsons at Eaton than in the general population.

            “privilege” doesn’t mean 100% chance of success.

            But if 200 random people are in a 1000 meter race and half of them get a 10 second head start… the smart money is on the average head-starter coming in ahead of the average delayed.

            A simple spreadsheet just illustrates it in numbers.

          • Lambert says:

            There’s also non-monetary stuff, linked to class* and culture.
            Kids of educated, middle-class parents are taught which levers to pull to succeed in the middle class word. Kids from a working class background are not.

            *You’re not going to make America’s racial issues go away untill you look closely at the associations between African American culture and working class culture, IMHO.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Lambert:

            *You’re not going to make America’s racial issues go away untill you look closely at the associations between African American culture and working class culture, IMHO.

            You don’t say…
            Though in Marxist terms, many A-As would be lumpy rather than working-class.

          • Cliff says:

            Isn’t there academic research on wealth transmission over generations? Does wealth accumulate from one generation to the next?

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            Murphy,

            Assuming that cost of living exists isn’t a minor detail.

            I didn’t say it was. You’re the one who completely glossed over it.

            The old economic joke is that the quickest and best way to get off the desert island you found yourself stranded on is to assume a boat. For your example to work, the 15% pay differential isn’t itself sufficient. You need a bunch of additional premises and those need to be spelled out.

            To put things in perspective assume an alternative scenario: Alice and Bob start off earning exactly the same take-home salary, but Alice pre-commits to save/invest 15% of it by frugal living (assume this is possible). All other things being equal, this will result in the following outcomes at the end of Alice and Bob’s lives:

            1. Alice will have 15% less disposable income than Bob throughout her working life – as in your example,

            2. Alice will have greater accumulated wealth than Bob at the end of her career – which is the complete opposite of your example.

            Notice what this example doesn’t assume: that the 15% pre-commitment is the full extent of Alice’s savings. The ceteris paribus assumption means that if Bob is saving 10% of his base income, Alice is saving 25% (10% to match Bob + 15% pre-committed frugality). We’re assuming that Bob is consuming 15% more of his base income than Alice is.

            It’s easy enough to yield massive differences between 2 people assuming similar base costs of living but minor income differences.

            It is if you’re throwing in a lot of suppressed premises into the picture, which is why all premises need to be stated explicitly.

      • If you define our current social system as being one consisting of white privilege, then yes, we have white privilege but then “white privilege” becomes a meaningless term. Everyone agrees that white people have better outcomes than black people. The dispute is over what are the causes of this disparity.

        • HowardHolmes says:

          Everyone agrees that white people have better outcomes than black people.

          Just for the record, I do not agree.

          • albatross11 says:

            If you look at measurable stuff on which official statistics are collected, blacks on average do a lot worse than whites. That’s stuff like unwed pregnancies, low birthweight babies, rates of {being a crime victim, being imprisoned, being unemployed, being disabled, graduating from high school, graduating from college}. Also income, wealth, and life expectancy.

            No one of these really defines well-being–it’s certainly possible for Alice to have higher income and better educational outcomes than Bob, but still have a worse life than Bob. It’s even possible for Bob to have a better life than Alice despite spending some time in prison and being perpetually unemployed. But over large numbers of people, and many different measures, this sure seems like strong evidence that blacks are overall doing worse than whites.

            This is a statement about statistics, not individuals. Any given black person you meet may be better off than a given white person you meet. But overall, I’d expect that if you sample random blacks and whites as pairs, you’ll usually judge the whites to have better/easier lives.

          • HowardHolmes says:

            albatross11 says

            But overall, I’d expect that if you sample random blacks and whites as pairs, you’ll usually judge the whites to have better/easier lives.

            I understand your point. My point is that I will not so judge. Basically, you claim that having more makes one better off. I do not agree. Don’t want to argue the point; merely record that not all people think they are better than other people.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      I think a more important question is whether there is any serious scholarship establishing *how* you would determine something is a legitimate concept.

      I mean you always can *define* it in such a way that it necessarily exists.

    • Plumber says:

      @Well…,

      There plenty of other posts in the 136.25 thread that I could point too, but since yours is the latest top level post that I’ve come across (at least until I refresh) I say this here: Sweet Jesus is the SSC commetariat trying to see how many “hot button” topics we can squeeze in in just a few days?!!!

      Good Lord I hope this week a hornets nest isn’t stirred up!

      On to the topic: When I was a young kid in grade school I lived in a majority black neighborhood and at school and on encountering “big kids” it often seemed that I was picked on for being white, sometimes my antagonists would explicitly say so, and I may have become anti-black because of that except most of my friends in the neighborhood were black as were most of my defenders (I particularly remember an older girl who came to my rescue), I grew tall fast and that ceased to be as much of a problem (I did get punched into unconsciousness once in High School, but compared to earlier violence was way down), but for a time (if I knew the terms) I would have said there was such a thing as “black privilege”. As I got older I still had black friends, though less as I went to a more integrated school and explored the wider world (especially the parts of the world where I met girls from the hills and the suburbs!), but I did notice (and still do) that cops and shop owners treated my black friends and later co-workers with a bit more suspicion than they did me, even when the cops are black, and as for shop owners I worked for seven years at a motorcycle shop owned by a black man and he treated his white customers with far more deference than his black ones, so yeah I think that “white privilege” is a thing, though I think a lot of it is just that more white American families have been gathering wealth longer than most black Anerican families, and I suspect a few more generations from now there will be less of a difference.

      • Well... says:

        Your childhood has a lot in common with mine. My takeaway is that the notion of white privilege is complicated and very context-dependent.

        • salvorhardin says:

          As I have come to understand it, most of the time when people say “privilege” they mean “the ability to safely assume that others will treat you decently.” Plumber’s examples are typical of this.

          Some implications of this:
          1. Obviously it’s going to be context- and subculture-dependent, in that different people will have different situations when they can safely assume others will treat them decently. But the idea that white people on average, and men on average, tend to have lots more such situations than blacks and women respectively is still reasonable, important, and plausibly accords with what we know about the world.

          2. Likewise the “safely assume” is doing a fair bit of work here: for almost any situation in which e.g. black people aren’t treated decently some of the time, you can find cases where white people aren’t in that same situation; nonetheless the difference in baseline likelihood matters, as does the difference in social resources available to recover from non-decent treatment.

          • Aapje says:

            But the idea that white people on average, and men on average, tend to have lots more such situations than blacks and women respectively is still reasonable, important, and plausibly accords with what we know about the world.

            I’ll grant you that for race, but not for gender. SJ had to come up with a term, benevolent sexism, to rationalize away the many privileges that women have over men as not being real privileges. In contrast, even though the term benevolent racism also exists, I almost never see it used.

            In general, my opinion is that SJ advocates have to work way harder to make their case that women lack privilege compared to men, than to make a case that black people lack privilege compared to white people; in the sense that they have to neutralize conflicting evidence, with such strategies like cherry picking, judging the same thing differently when it happens to the ‘oppressed’ or ‘oppressors,’ falsely attributing certain treatment to sexism/racism, only looking at the bright side of things that happen to the ‘oppressors’ and the dark side for the ‘oppressed,’ etc, etc.

            Note that I’m not arguing that these strategies are intentional deception, nor that such deception is absent from ‘antiracism’ advocacy.

            Historically, we also see that equality legislation involving gender has had way more opposition from feminists and women in general than race equality legislation had from antiracism activists and black people in general. Many thought and think that the benefits of greater equality didn’t and don’t outweigh the loss of privilege.

            PS. Note that being “treated decently” can be highly subjective. The very same behavior that one person can consider being treated decently, another can consider indecent. By only listening to those from one group who like how they are treated and those from another group who dislike it, one can have a highly distorted view of how people are actually treated.

          • Baeraad says:

            That’s an interesting definition, which seems to fit with how I’ve seen it used. It tells me two things.

            1) I don’t have privilege. Not any, not at all. I assume that wherever I go, I will be treated with ill-concealed disgust and contempt, and I am usually right.

            2) I understand why privilege makes SJWs so angry. Because whenever I encounter someone who seems to think people being nice is in any way normal, I really do feel a strong urge to punch that person in their spoiled, pampered face.

          • The Nybbler says:

            nonetheless the difference in baseline likelihood matters, as does the difference in social resources available to recover from non-decent treatment.

            The people pushing the privilege narrative never actually want to measure the baseline likelihood, nor any countervailing factors, nor the social resources involved in recovering. For instance, consider a young black man getting hassled by the police. Probably it’s more likely he gets hassled than a young white guy. But he’ll probably have his community’s support; they’ll assume the cops got on his case because he’s black. A young white guy’s community will more likely assume he did wrong and count the bad treatment against him.

      • Skeptical Wolf says:

        I think the recent bans may be a major contributor to the wave of contentious topics you correctly identified. I feel more comfortable discussing such topics here that I would have in OT 135.75. If I’m not the only one, there may have been a backlog built up that’s working its way through the system now that the barrier is removed.

    • brad says:

      Here’s how I came to making sense of the concept—I hung out a bunch with an attractive guy friend. We would go to the bar, he’d go up to random women, tell bad jokes and they’d be cracking up. We’d get comped things at restaurants way more than I ever had seen. Even with (by all indications) straight guys he seemed to get away with more. And the dude was oblivious, he just thought how life goes and never seemed to connect the dots.

      Does this mean that every attractive person has an awesome life that’s better than every single plain person’s life? No, clearly not. But there’s some real phenomenon there and calling it privilege seems reasonable enough.

      • EchoChaos says:

        This reminds me of the character of one of Liz Lemon’s boyfriends played by John Hamm who is so gorgeous that he gets everything he wants immediately.

        Great episodes, absolutely hilarious.

        • Well... says:

          This kind of privilege might vary across individuals a lot more than across races.

          • gbdub says:

            Just because the distance between the mean of the two populations differs by less than their respective standard deviations does not mean that the two populations are not statistically distinct.

            It just means that you’ve got to be real careful drawing any conclusions from a single independent trial.

      • axiomsofdominion says:

        There was actually an effort a while ago by a legitimate scholar to argue for being ugly as a disability. He was very convincing but for obvious reasons it is hard to pass that as a law. I mean are you going to hold and ugly march on Congress? “We will kill every boner in the capital till our demands are met!”

        • It doesn’t help that all its prominent members are going to be unphotogenic by definition.

          • Aapje says:

            @Wrong Species

            The irony of activism is that to be effective, the spokespeople typically need to have privileges on other traits that outweigh the negative feelings about the trait they want to see treated differently. Then the halo effect of their ‘good’ traits weakens the stigma of the ‘bad’ trait.

            Studies I’ve seen and my own observations suggest that the disprivilege of being truly ugly is enormous, far beyond those of other traits. So then there may be far fewer people who can sufficiently offset their poor looks to be effective activists, than for other traits.

            @axiomsofdominion

            Studies show that the correlation between looks and salary is substantial. Laws have been passed to demand salary equality by race and gender, where there is also a strong correlation*.

            * Not causation…

          • Murphy says:

            @Aapje

            Ya, pretty much why Rosa Parks was chosen as a test case to push as a sober, respectable churchgoing woman.

            I remember a comedian in the UK talking about protests in regards to a government attempt to clamp down on porn. Something like:

            “You need to get pretty librarian in front of the camera talking about free speech and liberty and chilling effect…. not some fat ugly guy in a trenchcoat shouting ‘We want pictures of hot birds to masturbate to’ “

          • Aapje says:

            @Murphy

            It’s even more evident in that Rosa Parks is who ‘we’ remember, while the Supreme Court decision was actually Browder vs Gayle. Aurelia Browder is not as pretty as Rosa Parks. Furthermore, Browder vs Gayle actually involved 5 plaintiffs. The plaintiff that was arrested first, Claudette Colvin, resisted her arrest and got pregnant by a married man soon after getting arrested, so they didn’t stick her name on there.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis does include both Colvin and Browder in their Parks exhibit.

            It’s a really well-done museum on the whole (for the most part).

        • Purplehermann says:

          That’s great, who is this scholar?

      • J Mann says:

        @Brad

        You’re not wrong, but people don’t seem to be interested in calling out attractiveness privilege or tall privilege. Further I wouldn’t assume that an attractive tall dude had nothing to add to a conversation about how a short homely guy should try to solve his problems. (He probably doesn’t have a complete understanding, but there’s still a possibility that he can understand enough and offer something Mr. Short and Homely has missed.)

        (On a related note, I don’t agree with the “fake gamer girl” meme, but I do think that critics sold it a little short. I always thought that the gamers who resented that attractive people were moving into their niche and gaining recognition were resentful of attractiveness privilege, even if they didn’t have the vocabulary to put it that way. Incels might be a more extreme example.)

        • gbdub says:

          I think there’s also resentment over the sense that hot chicks get praise and recognition for doing the same things that ugly nerds were getting made fun of for “before it was cool”.

          Actually saw a meme the other day to the effect that “I liked this before it was cool” gets a bad rap. Yeah, sometimes it’s a hipster flex, but sometimes it means “I’ve been enjoying and recommending this for years, and you’ve ignored or even made fun of it – now it’s popular and you act like you’re introducing it to me!”

        • Aapje says:

          @J Mann

          I think that the complaint about fake gamer girls is about a combination of minority sex privilege, female privilege and attractiveness privilege.

          In a group of (less attractive) men with few or no women around, introducing a woman will tend to result in pleasing behavior by some men, which can involve straight out cheating (men colluding with the woman to make her win), but also disruptive behavior.

          Note that quite a few women also seem to prefer women-only events to not have this kind of disruption going on, but that is rarely called misandry, while similar desires by men are often called misogyny.

          The second is female privilege, aka benevolent sexism, which basically means that men are more likely to help a woman cheat than vice versa and that women are more likely to demand special treatment.

          The above is even more true if the girl is attractive, as she is more likely to expect and/or be given special treatment.

          With nerds having fairly high diversity in sexual desires, sexual ‘thirst,’ social ability, adherence to social norms, etc; there is probably a larger chance of conflict.

          For example, let’s say that we have a group of non-nerd men. The social norm of society is that at least level 4 benevolent sexism is to be granted to women and they all comply. All of them have had a girlfriend and are thus not super-‘thirsty.’ They have also all figured out that benevolent sexism above level 7 is considered creepy. So the level of benevolent sexism that the guys will display after introducing a woman is going to be between 4 and 7. So the gap between the least and most benevolent man is going to be fairly limited, reducing irritations.

          Now let’s say that we have a group of nerd men. Some are fairly oblivious to the social norm, treating women just like men (level 1). However, others are desperate for a girlfriend and lack the experience and/or social ability to know that going above level 7 is considered creepy. So the level of benevolent sexism that the guys will display after introducing a woman is going to be between 1 and 9. This creates a huge gap between the least and most benevolent man, creating lots of irritations. The level 1 guy, who just wants to play the game without special privileges for anyone, may see the woman as destructive to a fair gaming environment, by drawing simple conclusions based on correlation between the woman coming and the game deteriorating. He may even get bullied by the level 9 guy, who may want to attack the level 1 guy to curry favor.

          From the perspective of the woman, the nerds can be bewildering. If she isn’t very nerdy herself, she sees men who treat her far less benevolent than how she thinks everyone is treated (in reality, just women, but never being been a man, she doesn’t know). She also sees men who try to curry favor in such a way that is (or is seen as) very creepy.

          PS. Also, women in nerd spaces often have different, more ‘feminine’ interests on average, which can irritate the ‘masculine’ nerds. For example, I see female ‘makers’ often focus on making jewelry, clothing and such.

        • brad says:

          The point I was trying to make wasn’t that Pretty People Privilege is a serious issue that deserves more attention. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but that wasn’t my point.

          Rather, it was that if my buddy can be going through life on story mode and doesn’t realize it, it is also plausible that I am going through life on easy mode and don’t realize it.

          • albatross11 says:

            I suspect this happens for a lot of different attributes.

            Being good-looking, healthy, smart, tall (at least as a man), athletic (especially when you’re younger)–all those things make your life easier in most ways, even if there are occasional downsides. Being white or Asian, growing up in an educated household so your speech sounds classier, all that stuff makes your life a little easier because people just assume better things about you by default.

            It’s worthwhile to remember that this exists and is sometimes important. I think talking about “playing life on the easiest level” or “starting out on third base” is fun snark but not very useful or fair for most people, though.

            And at an individual level, I think it’s really important to recognize that many people have things dragging them down that you don’t see–mental illness, physical illness, screwed-up family members, etc. It’s very common to see someone and think “that SOB has it made–everything just falls into his lap,” and not realize the good-looking, wealthy, tall guy you’re talking about is contending with depression and a drug habit and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Or see the beautiful woman whom everyone bends themselves into a pretzel to please, think she’s got the easiest life in the world, and have no idea about her chronic migranes and the crazy family she’s constantly having to bail out of trouble.

            At a broader social level, I think white privilege is one of many things that explains some of what we see in the world, in terms of groups with different average outcomes. It sometimes seems to me that many people on the right find this almost as uncomfortable to contemplate as people on the left find IQ differences.

          • J Mann says:

            @Brad – you had a very clear and relevant response to the OP, but it put me in mind of a digression.

            I should have made it clear I was riffing and not really responding.

            @albatross – my reading of the conservative frustration with white privilege isn’t that most conservatives would disagree that white people have life easier in many respects.

            I think they think that white privilege overstated – that it’s not as much of a factor as the most extreme people on the other side think it is, and that at least for a while in the undergraduate context, it was used as a framework to ignore white dude’s opinions, arguably more frequently than would be productive to having a constructive conversation.

            When you talk about white privilege, you have to clarify what exactly you are talking about. Is it:

            a) White people have life easier in many ways, but it’s possible that in certain situations, there are benefits to being other ethnicities, and some specific white people arguably have it worse overall than the median asian or NAM, or

            b) White people should support my preferred policies and/or shut up in conversation because white privileges obligates them to do the former, and makes their contributions useless or worse to the latter.

          • brad says:

            @J Mann
            Fair enough, cheers.

            @albatross11
            I agree that it is both rude and using incomplete information to say someone’s face that he is playing life on easy mode or similar. But the flip side of using groups instead of an individual example invites defensive responses along the lines of “White privilege?!? I was raised in an Appalachian orphanage by nuns on meth.”

            On the balance I think referencing my unnamed friend who isn’t here to be insulted or feel defensive is a better way of getting my point across then talking in generalities. At least if the point is to provide an intuitive level understanding of the concept.

    • Murphy says:

      I think it’s important to strongly clarify exactly what you’d expect first.

      Imagine if you disputed the concept that modern computers were “faster” than computers in the 1980’s?

      Lets say you disputed the concept of “computer speed”

      Because “there are many factors that produce unequal performance that might include clock speed and drive access speeds…. but are certainly not limited to that and might also include factors that are less flattering to modern PC manufacturers.”

      If you don’t strongly define the metrics you’re talking about it leaves you with unlimited degrees of freedom.

      With our 80s computers vs modern you’re then free to try to focus the conversation exclusively on, say, the latency between key press and characters appearing on the screen as your measure of “faster”

      ..but of course no buisness wants to trade in their modern HPC in exchange for an apple 2e

    • LeSigh says:

      nearly all humans have some kind of privilege and that the unequal outcomes between groups are due to many factors that might include systemic discrimination and historic disadvantages but are certainly not limited to that

      In academia this concept is referred to as “intersectionality” (although the focus is still on historic/systemic factors). The corrupted popular discourse version of it is the Opression Olympics.

      Academics vary in how they apply this concept, and their willingness to acknowledge situational differences and contradictions in privilege.

  18. Tenacious D says:

    We talk a lot about replication. These scientists made a costly, difficult-to-fake signal of their commitment.

  19. FrankistGeorgist says:

    Tangential to the thread of monopoly-gone-mad below.

    What is your go to Monopoly token?

    Someone feel free to aggregate this data for psychoanalytical or sociological purposes.

    I only played Dogopoly as that’s what my cousins had and since I was and remain a little afraid of dogs I was of course given the cat token.
    Otherwise I’m a thimble man myself.

  20. Randy M says:

    In an attempt to have the Boardgamegeek.com forum moderators commit seppuku, Hasbro has announced Ms Monopoly–unless CNN.com has been bought out by the Babylon Bee.

    The selling points are many, including nice but unrelated donations to women’s foundations (just give directly rather than buying a worse version of a crappy board game, please), renaming properties after women’s inventions (including chocolate chip cookies), and, in a blatant rip-off of campus conservative’s universally lauded pedagogical tool “affirmative action bake sales”, female players will get higher starting cash and pass-go income–because when you strip all nuance from an argument it becomes that much more convincing. Now men can know exactly what women feel like when men mansplain away the wage gap as the result of freely chosen trade-offs, because it this game their poor performance is baked into the rules set.
    Pick up a copy if you’d like to hear someone say “Maybe if Monopoly world had state mandated paternity leave you’d have started with the full $1900.”

    If this sounds like a trollish post, I apologize. I think we can all unite in scorning this obvious attempt at woke capitalism making a profit off of selling us dumbed down versions of contentious arguments and forcing politics into our hobbies, while also agreeing that this statistically unlikely to be the worst version of monopoly but nonetheless assuredly a terrible, terrible game to play.

    Ms Monopoly is definitely hotter than Mr Moneybags, but she’s got the crazy eyes thing going on.

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      Given how, apparently, everyone’s playing the original wrong, I don’t expect the new, improved ruleset to endure contact with the players for very long.

      ETA:

      Ms Monopoly is definitely hotter than Mr Moneybags, but she’s got the crazy eyes thing going on.

      This seems strangely appropriate…

      • JPNunez says:

        I dunno where americans have taken their ideas of free parking and jail, but I don’t remember the auction one. I suspect it does not fix the game into making it fun, tho it may speed up the initial part a little.

        • Faza (TCM) says:

          I believe the original post discussing the matter* made the case that the auction rule was typically omitted in play because it led to making it very adversarial, very quickly (which is arguably the point, and the message of the original Landlord’s Game).

          * What I linked is one of numerous followups in mainstream press, but I disctictly recall reading it on a blog that focused on the auction rules specifically.

          • JPNunez says:

            That sounds plausible. From my childhood I remember reading the rules and the one that I remember is that once someone goes bankrupt they get to auction their properties, but I remember rarely using that rule cause:

            -most of the time someone going broke was long enough into the game for us to call it quits, count money right there and declare a winner

            -allowing people to auction their properties only made things worse. You ain’t coming back in monopoly by having _less_ property.

            I don’t think it was because it made the game more confrontational. I def don’t remember the auction applying to buying things initially, but we had knock offs of the game, and didn’t have access to a parker bros / hasbro version until recently, so maybe the knock offs removed the rule anyway.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            I think we should specify that the rule in question is the auctioning of properties after the player who landed on them declined to purchase.

            What that does is it takes properties off the market really quickly because as soon as anyone lands on a property, everyone can buy it immediately (if the player who landed on the property doesn’t want to pay face value, it goes to auction).

            Auctioning off the property of a bankrupt player sounds like something the Banker would do to bring it back into play – not something a player would do to get back in the game. I don’t have the rules on hand, but the way I’ve always played it, once you’re bankrupt, you’re out.

    • Corey says:

      There are tons of Monopoly knockoffs, mostly of low quality, so this isn’t surprising (though the subject matter is of interest to the group).

    • Any time I’ve ever played Monopoly, there was always one or two guys who really got in to it and all the girls were bored really quickly(I don’t blame them, it’s a boring game). So I’m not sure who this supposed to be for.

      • Randy M says:

        I would not be surprised if more articles were written about it than games played. Not copies sold, because it’ll make a fine gift–gag and otherwise–and subsequent coffee table display.

      • albatross11 says:

        My 10 year old daughter *loves* Monopoly, and has played it since when she needed help reading the stuff on the cards or counting the money. (Teaching your kids to count change back is one side benefit of playing Monopoly with them.)

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Cute! I’ve been on the side of “Monopoly is badly designed” since discovering Catan. Your pushback is useful.

          • JPNunez says:

            I think the main appeal for kids is the fake money, tho.

          • JPNunez says:

            Wanted to edit the previous post to point out how stupid it is that there aren’t more popular board games with fake money anyway. It’s been too long for there being a patent or something on it, right?

          • Machine Interface says:

            Regular board gamers generally don’t like fake paper-money (due to its tendency to get dirty and crumbled very quickly) and would rather use literally anything else as currency (cardboard tokens, plastic tokens, pokerchips, fake metal coins, money printed on cards, etc), and so most games don’t use it.

            That said, if you can find a copy, there’s an excellent and family-accessible game called “Airlines Europe”, about owning shares in airline companies and developing said companies (very simplified rule-wise, doesn’t require complicated calculations), designed by the guy who made Ticket to Ride, and which does feature paper money among the components.

          • JPNunez says:

            Oh I love Ticket to Ride, need to check that out … somehow.

            Ah, good point on disadvantages of fake money on boardgames, but maybe I could have specified “for kids”.

            If I was designing a kids boardgame, I’d go out of my way to include fake money as a central mechanic. Dunno about one for adults.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            One of the best board games I’ve seen with fake money is Imperial. You play a Swiss banker seeking to maximize holdings by buying bonds in various world powers during the WWI time frame. World powers move in order; whoever owns controlling stock in that power gets to direct its actions (building more units, invading, etc.). A power with more territories pays more in taxes; however, the act of conquering increases a power’s revenue (IIRC), some of which is later paid to investors as interest.

            Since multiple players can invest in a power, multiple people can benefit from a power going on the warpath. You often don’t care if you don’t get to direct any powers, if their director is already making you money.

            But in any case, Imperial has fake money. 🙂

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Power Grid is quite popular and has paper money, but yeah we aren’t exactly swimming in good examples

    • albatross11 says:

      I feel certain that this will sell dozens of copies.

    • DinoNerd says:

      *roflmao*

      There have been a bazillion Monopoly adaptations catering to different interest groups. E.g. sell to Candians by renaming all the streets to come from Toronto rather than New York.

      I figure it’s inevitable some updates have “modernized” it, replacing railroads with social networking sites and similar. (But I haven’t checked; I still prefer the original. I think my sister may still have our grandmother’s original set too; mine’s a modern copy.)

      Why not also go for political interest groups? After all, Hasbro just wants to make money ;-(

      What would a social conservative appealing variant look like? A Christian appealing variant?

      What’s the weirdest possible one you can think of?

      • Randy M says:

        I figure it’s inevitable some updates have “modernized” it,

        Yup

        What would a social conservative appealing variant look like? A Christian appealing variant?

        Take your pick (oops, that’s a knock-off. At least knock off a good game. )
        For the secular conservative board gamer, you could get one themed in after your favorite sport/team/Sports broadcasting network (sigh). Or go for the aforementioned “socialist” edition.

      • Lambert says:

        There was also a Moscow Edition, from the 70s.
        Not sure how that worked.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        For that matter, if you wanted to set up a free market version of Monopoly, what rules would you change? Various ideas occur to me: making the price of homes and hotels fluctuate; allowing people to “go into the construction business”, getting rich off that guy who wants to start developing; ditto for the utility companies. What else?

        (I have to believe someone did in fact make a pro-free market Monopoly; I just don’t follow Monopoly news closely enough to know. And searching online doesn’t turn up what I’d call “pro”.)

      • littskad says:

        Monopoly’s street names don’t come from New York. They’re from Atlantic City, New Jersey.

    • souleater says:

      If you don’t like Ms. Monopoly, then try Monopoly: Socialism with the tagline “winning is for capitalists”

      Honestly, Ms. monopoly is so counterproductive, I think Hasbro is under new, conservative management.

      • albatross11 says:

        Did the CEO of Gillette recently move over?

      • BBA says:

        Ironically, the original version of Monopoly – The Landlord’s Game by Lizzie Magie – was meant to be anti-capitalism and anti-monopoly. Magie was a Georgist.

        Most people who played it preferred to be capitalists. It evolved over the next few decades through homemade bootleg versions, one of which got sold to Parker Brothers by somebody who contributed almost nothing to the game but got credited as the designer for decades afterwards. When it became a hit, Parker Brothers bought the rights from Magie and a few other claimants to similar games, and all this history got memory-holed for a long time.

    • Urstoff says:

      It must be the counterpart to Monopoly: Socialism; they’re just going to make a monopoly for every faction of the culture war, which is really just what capitalism is all about.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I’m quite enjoying the trolling coming from Hasbro’s marketing department lately. Not enough to pay money for the game however. And if I am ever forced to play, I will cynically identify as a woman for the duration.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      That’s not as bad as it sounds. Monopoly versions are a bit like the drawings on the back of playing cards. Too many to count and almost as functionally identical.

    • Aapje says:

      @Randy M

      Ms Monopoly seems like toxoplasma. To some, it is completely fair turnaround and/or necessary reparations; while to others, it is evidence that feminism doesn’t want equality, but female privilege.

  21. souleater says:

    What are everyone’s thoughts on Salary history bans?

    On the one hand, I tend to lean libertarian, and don’t like the idea of the government deciding what questions can and can’t be asked.. On the other hand, there is a significant power imbalance between employer and employee, and salary history is one way that power balance is abused.

    • Lambert says:

      Do they have any way of verifying your answer?

      • Viliam says:

        You never know who knows whom. You may have a bad luck, and your previous boss could be a friend of your potential new boss. Or maybe it’s an oligopoly, and all bosses are friends, cooperating against their customers and employees.

        Otherwise, they probably can’t verify it.

        I was actually asked this question once, and in a moment of inspiration I lied and said a much larger number. Which predictably led to “so, can we offer you the same starting salary and re-evaluate it later?”, and I said “yeah, sure”, and then both sides were very happy.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Yes. I had a friend interview for a well-known company that was asked to provide pay stubs as part of his background check. He told them to fuck themselves and the offer was rescinded.

    • acymetric says:

      Fully support. Salary history allows companies to underpay, and also can make it difficult for people who are looking to take a decrease in pay in exchange for [reduced hours/a less stressful role/any number of other things].

      A “better” solution probably involves allowing salary history, but not requiring it or downgrading a candidate for not providing it, but the enforcement of that gets extremely messy so a ban is probably the right solution. Where I tend to have libertarian tendencies they apply to regulation of people. For businesses and corporations if we need to rein in some form of abuse/power imbalance we should go for it.

      Banning salary history questions makes the hiring more meritocratic, for people who are into that kind of thing.

    • Corey says:

      Hard to tell who might benefit. Sometimes having employers offer “current + a bit” is advantageous e.g. I’m sure I would be being paid less at this gig if not for that. On the other hand, it leads to negative feedback effects, where graduating during a recession or otherwise taking lower pay once permanently reduces your salary.

    • salvorhardin says:

      This is a tough one, because salary history is an imperfect but not useless signal of productivity. What somebody else was willing to pay you before is not unrelated to your likely marginal product at a new prospective employer. It’s far from perfectly related due to power imbalances in negotiations etc, and the degree of imperfect relation is not evenly distributed and likely to disadvantage already-disadvantaged groups. But it’s still potentially useful information in matching people to the right jobs.

      So, one potential downside is that there’s a perverse effect akin to that from “ban the box” laws which prohibit asking about criminal history. Namely, employers prohibited from asking about one thing they find useful will find other, even worse proxies for that thing instead which further disadvantage the people you’re trying to help. The best argument against banning salary history IMO is that not only should employers deontologically be free to ask what they please, but consequentially, letting governments decide what they can and can’t ask will be a net bad because governments aren’t smart enough not to impose counterproductive restrictions on what can be asked.

      • Anthony says:

        imperfect but not useless signal of productivity

        One problem is that it’s difficult to factor out the overall productivity of the previous employer. Some employers just can’t pay as much for the same skill set because they don’t make as much money. But people will settle for those lower-paying jobs for a variety of reasons other than not being able to be more productive.

      • Suppose you have two identical candidates, same company, same job title, and you interview them and they seem equally personable, same skill set, ect. What is the probability that the one who is paid higher is a more productive worker? I’d say it’s very slightly greater than .5. I can easily believe that hiring managers treat it as if it were way greater than .5, because “I based his salary on his previous salary,” is a “safe” story to tell to their managers, easier than “I decided his salary based on nothing* but it feels about right to me.”

        Here’s a fairly radical idea I have, what I’ll call Turing Test employment. Give employers only someone’s name, job history, and job title, without education, salary levels, or even the names of previous employers. If they are convinced that a college degree grants some Special Skill that can’t be self-taught, they can find out what it is and test for it during the interviews.** If they are unable to tell a difference between two candidates without knowing factor X, then we will assume that there isn’t a difference and that discriminating on factor X will be illegal.

        *Do HR departments conduct rigorous research into their practices so that they can say their decisions are based on ‘science?’ Rarely, and when they do, they often ignore their findings. I asked a manager about it, and he told me that he was well aware of the lack of correlation between factors the company hires on and employee performance. I asked him if the company had any plans to change the way they hired people, and he said it would be “too dangerous” to do so.
        **Additionally, you could let them demand that one pass a series of tests given by an outside group. What’s to prevent these tests from degenerating into our college-signalling model? The companies which give these tests will be required to give them to everyone, with no requirements for people to be “admitted” to the “university” or attend a classroom or take the tests in a specific order.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I expect it will have a bunch of bad consequences. For instance, as has been discussed here, “ban the box” (“have you been convicted of a crime”) seems to result in more (already illegal) racial discrimination. The largest effect of banning salary history will likely be more time wasted (by both candidates and employers) on jobs where there’s a large qualification mismatch. Another bad effect will likely be employers unintentionally lowballing candidates. I expect the claimed positive effects (employers paying more for candidates who have been undervalued in the past) to be both small and quickly mitigated by those benefiting from it.

      A better solution, IMO, would be to end the social taboo on discussing compensation. But that’s likely not practical.

      • b_jonas says:

        Isn’t it already a taboo? Apart from possibly government employees that is. When my employer asked what I earned the last time, I just said that my previous employer wishes to keep that a secret. That’s what I will say in any future interview too if anyone asks, and this is easy to say, because the interviewer can call the previous employers for references about me, and the previous employers will indeed not tell them how much I earned. (Yes, you can say that I’m privilaged to find employment easily because I work in CS.)

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Government employees tend to not want to talk about it either, just referring the quizzical fellow employee to the semi-public posting.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Yes, it’s currently a taboo. I think ending the taboo would do better at preventing unequal pay for similar work among employees at the same company just because of salary history. Obviously there would be disadvantages as well, because everyone would know where they _really_ ranked in their employers’ estimation, and where everyone else does as well.

    • Garrett says:

      Related question: why is it that of culture-war policies, only left-leaning policy preferences like this seem to get enacted? The closest right-leaning preference that I can think of is that of protection against religious discrimination, which was passed on a bipartisan basis.

      • Corey says:

        Confirmation bias. State-level may be more representative (e.g. requiring “teach the controversy” on evolution).

      • mitv150 says:

        I’m not sure that this is true regarding right-leaning policy preferences.

        But if it is, it may be because a not insignificant portion of the right has a libertarian inclination that says “although we shouldn’t do this, the government has no place banning it.”

        Conservatives (particularly constitutionalist types) often lament that they are at an inherent disadvantage in policy wars because following the rules is effectively part of their platform.

      • Conservatives of the National Review sort are the kinds who won’t take their own side in a fight.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      salvorhardin&nibbler are right here. There should be a (much bigger) difference between “do we think X is bad” and “do we want to ban X”. The latter always comes with side effects. But humans are dumb, and I don’t think this particular cognitive bias is really that well known, and definitely not in this particular shape.

      (It’s documented btw. Can’t remember the name, but the description is something like “when asked a difficult questions we tend to answer a different, easier one”).

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      This won’t really solve the problem. There are substantial pay disparities at my current company despite the fact that salary history is not asked for. Once people get hired, certain people are going to be better about getting promotions and pay increases, and certain people are going to get stuck in the 2% a year trap.

  22. SteveReilly says:

    Are there good online sources for learning about the history of India and the Far East beyond the obvious (like Wikipedia)? I’m especially interested in pre-20th century stuff.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      John Keay has written India: A History and China: A History. He’ll get you up to speed with the academic consensus in those countries, but for the most tenuous sources (deeper in the past, as a rule) he actually mentions the epistemology behind it. Warning: I view some of the academic consensus he repeats as leftover cultural imperialism from the British divide-and-rule strategy (you’ll see him saying boo Ramayana and boo nukes, because his sources in academia do so).
      Trying to find online sources for Indian history is going to lead you down a rabbit hole of controversy. China, you might be fine.

      • I’ve heard good things about India: A History but I’m pretty skeptical that you can effectively convey history by covering 5000 years in 600 pages.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Very much agreed. He’ll just familiarize you with the academic consensus outline, which is sort-of fact-based and therefore gets more detailed the closer you get to the British. Like, the Indus Valley Civilization is a short chapter, the lifestyle gleaned from the Vedas is another, the Buddha’s social milieu is another. Maybe 90% 600 pages deal with the last 2300 years, and maybe 50% with the 1000 since Mahmud of Ghazni’s invasion.

    • Tenacious D says:

      Also interested in finding some resources on this.

  23. jermo sapiens says:

    Please let me know if this too hot a CW topic, and I will delete this comment.

    A certain figure in a 2014 controversy about ethics in game journalism is now back in the news after making abuse allegations against a game developer. The game developer committed suicide only a few days after these allegations were made. I have no direct knowledge of anything related to the allegations, but according to some reporting by The Post Millennial, there are some reasons to doubt these allegations.

    Does the guy’s suicide increase your belief that the allegations are true, do they reflect the hopelessness one may feel when accused in the era of #BelieveAllWowen, or was this guy perhaps on the brink of suicide and this pushed him over the edge?

    • Randy M says:

      I think suicide is evidence not strongly pointing to guilt or innocence–could go either way depending on the individual.
      Suicide, contingent on innocence, is evidence that SJW has significant negative effects, or at the least is perceived to.
      I don’t think a potential for suicide is sufficient reason for leniency in accusations in cases of known guilt (to the accuser) and sufficient gravity. edit: That is, one is not obligated to take into consideration the mental state of the perpetrator when trying to obtain proportionate justice.

    • Enkidum says:

      Immediately after her accusations were made public, numerous other people came forward with similar stories, including his former business partners. These were detailed, clear, and pretty damning. I haven’t read the reporting you’re discussing, but my read on the situation is simple: dude was an abusive piece of shit. He also had serious mental health issues, and was apparently making some progress in therapy, etc, but at some point all the evil he’d forced other people through was going to come back to bite him.

      The suicide itself doesn’t change my beliefs one way or another.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        dude was an abusive piece of shit

        That may very well be the case. But I would warn against using dogpiling by others and specially former business partners as conclusive proof. Maybe he was a jerk but not criminally guilty, maybe he was completely innocent, maybe he was criminally guilty.

        • Oscar Sebastian says:

          While I don’t think any allegations are conclusive evidence and would prefer this man be alive (as if he were innocent, the world would clearly be the better for his presence, and if he were guilty, he deserves jail time), the fact that even his own sister won’t defend him is about as damning as hearsay can be.

        • Corey says:

          I actually think it’s a pretty good heuristic; a single allegation is just hearsay, multiple independent allegations with similar MOs are likely true. (I intentionally don’t know details of the particular case under discussion)

        • Aftagley says:

          specially former business partners as conclusive proof

          not conclusive, but really compelling. They’ve written a few reddit responses and medium posts on their interactions with him and it comes across as very convincing. They in no way present him as being uniformly negative.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      I had never heard of this guy before he had committed suicide, and the first version of the story I heard didn’t even mention that it was Zoe Quinn who had made the accusation or even what the specific “abusive” things he had been accused of doing were.

      As a rule of thumb, trusting a pathological liar when they tell outlandish stories is bad practice. The fact that this guy’s friends and family fell over themselves to believe her over him is predictable but incredibly sad.

      That said, if someone without a long history of lying made a credible accusation of abuse I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. I don’t expect game developers to be any more or less abusive than the general public.

    • syrrim says:

      I think a detail missing is that after he was so accused, everyone in his life abandoned him, and then he commited suicide. Again, this isn’t evidence for or against his guilt, but it does reaffirm that one should obtain good evidence for guilt before meting out punishment, because such punishment may have consequences that can’t be fixed by an apology. It is also a strong argument against “believing women” a policy predicated on the assumption that all men are perfect stoics (aided in part by their careful cultivation of this persona). In fact, men feel pain at the loss of friends and social circles as strongly as women, and a unilateral policy in this regard is unilaterally disproportionate.

      I think in particular this is a test of litigating such offenses publicly, via social media and blogposts, rather than privately between the friends of the accused and the accuser. In the latter case, these friends can make a decision individually whether or not they believe the accuser, and whether or not they feel they have a responsibility to terminate the friendship. When litigated over social media, these decisions are made as a group, either all or nothing, and based in large part on matters separate from the issue at hand. Would the accuser in this case have seen such a large response had she been the twitter nobody she should be? It seems unlikely.

      • Randy M says:

        It is also a strong argument against “believing women” a policy predicated on the assumption that all men are perfect stoics

        I don’t think that’s the argument. I think it is a mix of “sexual harassment is too important, women wouldn’t lie about it” and “sexual harassment is too important to worry about punishing the innocent.”

        • jermo sapiens says:

          either way those are all terrible arguments.

          • acymetric says:

            Sure, but if you’re going to criticize an argument you should at least try to criticize the right one(s).

        • BBA says:

          In some cynical moments, I start thinking of it as backdoor affirmative action. Make it easy to fire (or in non-employment contexts, “cancel”) men in high-profile roles and this will eventually help achieve gender equity. It’s a zero-sum game, to help women you’re necessarily going to hurt men. Guilt or innocence is beside the point.

          To be clear, I actually think this is a compelling argument. It’s just not an argument that I feel good about making.

          • The Nybbler says:

            To be clear, I actually think this is a compelling argument. It’s just not an argument that I feel good about making.

            Perhaps you should go with your feelings in this case, and consider taking your own side on an issue.

          • BBA says:

            Who says you know what “my side” is? I sure as hell don’t.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I believe you’ve mentioned that you’re male. That would seem to give you a natural side on cases of discrimination against and unjust treatment towards males.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        I think a detail missing is that after he was so accused, everyone in his life abandoned him, and then he commited suicide.

        Yes, and that’s the part where the #BelieveAllWomen stuff probably played a big role and that’s why it is so harmful.

        • Corey says:

          Is it more harmful that the prior prevailing norms? We shouldn’t assume a counterfactual of perfect justice, the counterfactual is, to be flip, allegations are presumed false unless the man is pretty low-status or the woman has 4 male witnesses.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            If the prevailing norms are “innocent until proven guilty”, yes it is more harmful. I dont expect perfection, which is why “innocent until proven guilty” is the correct standard, because we know we make errors. Your sharia law counterfactual is ridiculous, when we have 1000 years of common law to draw upon in the Anglosphere.

            Similarly, women are not perfect, and they lie, including about sexual assault. I expect that false allegations are rare, but before ruining a man’s life, we can test allegations in court.

          • acymetric says:

            As is repeated almost every time this comes up, innocent until proven guilty is appropriate for the legal system. It is not appropriate (or even feasible) when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

            Socially we have probably overcorrected, but it is easy to forget that it wasn’t all that long ago that the deck was pretty stacked against a women making claims like this.

          • Corey says:

            @jermo: I don’t think you’re assigning equivalent moral weight to men and women here. Probably unintentionally.

            Prior prevailing norms were that there were rarely any consequences for sexual harassment and abuse. Therefore every community had a high-status man who did this stuff at will. (“missing stair” is the term of art) This amounted to a huge tax on women (and men in communities where the missing stair was gay or female). Sometimes whisper networks would protect you, but often this meant you could not be part of that community / industry / etc. (and is there another one you’re suited for where you can avoid *its* missing stair?)

            I totally agree there’s collateral damage to men. Worse than the collateral damage to women before? (It’s probably a question where there’s no good data given the politicized and taboo nature of the topic, to be fair)

          • albatross11 says:

            acymetric:

            +1

            The legal system needs to stick with innocent until proven guilty, but what’s being discussed here is an allegation of abuse in public. You shouldn’t assume accusations are automatically true, but you don’t need to apply the legal standards of evidence to personal stuff, either. (I know nothing about this case, FWIW–I have no idea whether the accusations were true or false.).

          • Randy M says:

            What is the reason the legal system assumes innocence until guilt is proven?
            Because the consequences for failure is high.
            Because it values equality under the law and does not want to presume some citizens are more trustworthy than others (though this can be a point to be argued with evidence during the trial).
            Anything else?

            I think this holds in the social realm where you are trying to inflict punishment (firing, shunning) and don’t know either party personally or otherwise have strong reason to presume the reliability of one party–and gender isn’t that.

          • J Mann says:

            It’s tricky. From what I’ve seen, the shunning normally takes place immediately after the accusations hit, and there’s often no process to evaluate guilt or innocence.

            There definitely isn’t a great solution – either we go with the old standard of “people say crazy stuff after a break-up, we weren’t there” and some abusers get away with it, or we go with the new standard of “two accusations or one long one and you’re out,” and a lot of people get shafted unfairly.

            This is obviously just one guy’s story, but this one stuck with me.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            It happens to women, too. https://www.propublica.org/article/false-rape-accusations-an-unbelievable-story
            “Marie’s best friend from high school — the one who had taught her photography and had taken that picture of her emerging from the surf — created a webpage that called Marie a liar, with a photo from Marie’s Myspace page, with police reports, with Marie’s full name. ”

            People need to act as jurors are expected to act when they hear an accusation.

          • “Therefore every community had a high-status man who did this stuff at will.”

            The example given is always a high status man, but in practice that’s the exception rather than the rule. If it was only CEOs, movie stars, and politicians being falsely accused, I can honestly say I wouldn’t care much about it, I don’t much like those people and if the system were consistently unfair to them, they’d be able to do something about it without my help.

            “I totally agree there’s collateral damage to men. Worse than the collateral damage to women before? (It’s probably a question where there’s no good data given the politicized and taboo nature of the topic, to be fair)”

            Yeah, if you were to explain to a Martian why in a He Said, She Said situation, She is the one to believe. The Martian might ask if perhaps one group is being assigned greater moral weight, which you’d say no to.

          • Garrett says:

            What is the reason the legal system assumes innocence until guilt is proven? … Anything else?

            Yes. Critically, because in most aspects of life it’s very, very difficult to prove a negative. Try to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to an independent party that you don’t have unclaimed taxable income, or aren’t having an affair with a coworker, or didn’t commit $crime. It’s nearly impossible.

            But providing evidence of something which does exist or did happen is entirely do-able. Witnesses, forensic science, etc., are all possible and done routinely. (Yes, yes, there are technical problems with them, but they are logically and practically possible even if problematic).

            So as a way to reduce the number of miscarriages of justice, we presume as a matter of law that someone is innocent until proven guilty.

          • herbert herberson says:

            But it’s worth emphasizing that even within the legal system, the standards vary dramatically depending on what the consequence is. If the consequence is “men with guns keep you in a cage for a span of time” the standard is the very high “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the consequence is “you need to pay someone money” then the standard falls to “more likely than not” even if the offense is otherwise exactly the same (you can, after all, sue people for rape/murder/etc, and as OJ Simpson famously discovered that differing standard can make all the difference)

          • Randy M says:

            @herbert herberson
            Good point. The trouble with social sanction is that it’s extremely inconsistent. Some guy might get fired, another quickly forgotten, even with the same level of evidence.

            Though the dissimilarity to the justice system in this case is admittedly hard to see.

          • J Mann says:

            @herbert herbertson

            Agreed. What strikes me in shunning cases is the process, more than the standard of proof.

            Unless you sue for defamation or something, you don’t get a judge deciding what kinds of evidence are reliable, you don’t get a chance to present both sides’ testimony under oath, there’s no specific fact finder, etc.

            Chris Hardwick seems to have mostly gotten out from his accusation by presenting texts that contradicted some aspects of his accuser’s post, and because the accuser claimed there was additional evidence then refused to produce it, but I don’t know if he’s out entirely, and a lot of that turned on his employer doing an investigation and responding. If your employer just immediately fires you, it’s tough to get a ruling.

          • albatross11 says:

            anonymousskimmer:

            Wow, that’s a fascinating and disturbing story! Without the serial rapist’s careful keeping of pictures/trophies, everyone in the world would still be convinced she’d made it up.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Let me preface this by saying that I assume anything LW1 (the accuser, whose name may still be taboo here) says is a lie, to the point that if she claims the sky is blue on a clear day, it might be worth looking for myself. One wag on reddit calls this the “blue-check blue check” (blue-check meaning Twitter-verified).

      That said, I don’t think the suicide changes anything. The accused didn’t seem all that mentally stable to begin with, and in a social group where accusation from a high-ranking person means ostracism regardless of guilt, actual guilt would not seem to be a major factor.

    • Protagoras says:

      Said figure is clearly a troubled person, with (as is not uncommon) a history of associating with other troubled people. It is very difficult to know what to think about situations involving such people. They are more likely to be victims of abuse (they come across to abusers as vulnerable), as well as more likely to be liars or to engage in abuse. The suicide seems to me to fit the pattern without providing much additional information. So it’s a mess, and my policy is to try to withhold judgment, unless I know the people involved and can’t avoid dealing with the situation in some way for that reason.

  24. proyas says:

    I’m curious about the concept of structures becoming “obsolete” and having limited “lifespans.” Until about a year ago, I assumed that houses and buildings were meant to last forever, but then I stumbled upon this concept that is apparently well-known among architects and builders.

    In the U.S., how valid is this concept? What will be the fate of all the suburban tract, Colonial-style McMansions? Will any of them still be standing in 200 years?

    • hls2003 says:

      “Obsolete” and “lifespan” are two different concepts. For example, imagine a commercial warehouse that is basically a shell for storing and moving things. It may be comfortably in the middle of its lifespan – all the walls and roof are intact, the moving parts are functional, etc. – but it may be obsolete because the industry standard ceiling height has changed since it was built, or the type of loading docks it has, etc. So it may have started out life as a top-of-the-line Class A warehouse, commanding premium rents, but now is a lower-end Class B warehouse commanding much lower rents. But that is a function of its obsolescence, not its lifespan per se.

      In addition, of course, everything has a limited lifespan. In modern construction, the lifespan is almost entirely a function of maintenance. A properly maintained McMansion could survive just fine for 200 years, barring certain natural disasters. But that maintenance would include, e.g., replacement of the roof at 30-50 year intervals, replacement of joists that sag, replacement of walls that warp, replacement of floors that wear, tuckpointing chimney bricks that crumble. You end up in a Ship of Theseus situation where the structure still stands, but very little is 200 years old. One of the few interesting concepts, to me, in the Life After People program that ran a few years ago was the realization that modern construction is actually significantly inferior to ancient construction in terms of durability absent maintenance. For example, steel is a terrible construction material for durability because it corrodes so easily. But if you keep painting it, it’s much stronger and lighter than stone or more lasting materials, and makes better structures for current function (e.g. bridges).

      Having written more than I intended, I’ll also add that many McMansions are both crummy construction (by most standards) and crummy architecturally, and I expect very few of them to stick around for a hundred years or more. But they presumably could.

      • proyas says:

        I see. So it’s common for structurally sound buildings to be torn down because they have become functionally obsolete, and the costs of upgrading them to conform to the new standards exceed the costs of tearing them down and building a modern replacement structure?

        • Lambert says:

          It’s not just replacing with a more up-to-date building.
          It’s needing a different sort of building.

          Tearing down commercial/light industrial workshops in postindustrial cities to make space for more housing. (See: the London Docklands)

          The value of the land is often comparable to that of the buildings themselves.

          ADDENDUM:
          When comparing ancient and modern, never forget survivorship bias. All the crappy old buildings fell down sometime in the 17th century and now only the good ones are left.

        • hls2003 says:

          Yes, you do see structurally sound buildings demolished for functional obsolescence. But it’s not automatic; it’s basically a calculation about the present value of potential income streams from various usages of the property. There’s nothing wrong with a Class B warehouse; there’s a market for those, not every business can pay premium rent, and you can get a nice income stream. You trade that off against the upfront investment costs of upgrades or teardowns, and how much the property would be worth. This is also generally the rationale of depreciation rules for tax purposes. If you build a building for $1 million, and earn $80,000 per year for a ten-year lease, you can see that you’re earning 8% a year – but not all of that is truly return on investment, some of it is paid for in depreciating capital. Let’s say at the end of your ten-year lease you value the building and it’s now worth $800,000. That means that $200,000 of the $800,000 you extracted over the ten-year lease is basically drawing down your principal. Say you had the same $1 million invested in a bank earning 6% interest (I know, not in today’s market) – at the end you’d have collected $600,000 but you’d still have your original $1 million principal. In the property investment hypo, your return appears to be 8% but at the end you have $1.6 million, the same as the $1.6 million in value you got from the building. For this reason, you generally have to re-value your assets periodically and determine whether or not to hold, sell, or upgrade, especially because that depreciated value will often (in rough terms) coincide with a reduced dollar return (though presumably similar rate of return) from the asset. If your capitalization rate is 8%, but your property is only worth $800,000, you can expect $64,000 per year, which kind of reflects the “Class A vs. Class B” distinction we’ve posited above. (This is all a toy model, most commercial buildings have longer functional lifespans than that, and it’s more directly affected by whether or not you have a secure tenant and for how long, and even things like inflation rate).

        • Radu Floricica says:

          A recent example.

          The replacement 70-story headquarters will be able to fit 15,000 employees, whereas the current building fits 6,000 employees in a space that has a capacity of 3,500.

      • Nick says:

        One of the few interesting concepts, to me, in the Life After People program that ran a few years ago was the realization that modern construction is actually significantly inferior to ancient construction in terms of durability absent maintenance. For example, steel is a terrible construction material for durability because it corrodes so easily. But if you keep painting it, it’s much stronger and lighter than stone or more lasting materials, and makes better structures for current function (e.g. bridges).

        The Twitter account WrathOfGnon goes on, and on, and on about the sustainability and maintenance advantages of pre-modern construction. Of course, in some cases, as with steel, those advantages only come with regular maintenance.

        Not being an architect or historian, though, I don’t have sources to check what he says against.

        • EchoChaos says:

          WrathofGnon is fun, but the biggest thing to consider is cost.

          Building a house with old-growth lumber, stonework and durable concrete is totally possible still, it’ll just cost a lot more. And would you rather build a house that lasts 30 years now for $200,000, live in it, and buy another $200,000 house 30 years later or save for 30 years and live in a $400,000 house that looks pretty much the same, but will last for the next 100?

          • Randy M says:

            And would you rather build a house that lasts 30 years now for $200,000, live in it, and buy another $200,000 house 30 years later or save for 30 years and live in a $400,000 house that looks pretty much the same, but will last for the next 100?

            Absolutely the latter, but that’s with an eye towards passing it on.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Absolutely the latter, but that’s with an eye towards passing it on.

            Which is a fair choice. It’s just not a common one in America because very few Americans live in their parents’ home when they grow up. Empty nesting is far more common. And given empty nesting, few people in their 40s-50s are going to move again into the “family estate” when the parents pass.

          • Randy M says:

            It’s just not a common one in America because very few Americans live in their parents’ home when they grow up.

            Maybe that’s statistically true. But there’s been several times we’ve gone to birthday parties for young children, and I am impressed by how they can afford such a nice house already, only to learn that they live with parents.
            My wife and I lived with her grandmother for a couple of years after marrying.
            My Dad and uncle live with my Grandpa. I don’t have the option to live with in my parents’ house because it was sold in the course of their divorce.

          • JPNunez says:

            Most people will prefer the later. Was reading that in Japan most people do the former, and just tear down houses after 30 years and rebuild from scratch. Causes: better construction standards, low quality housing after ww2, and well, the practice self perpetuates because nobody wants to buy an old house anyway because everyone tears them down and rebuilds.

      • The Nybbler says:

        But that maintenance would include, e.g., replacement of the roof at 30-50 year intervals, replacement of joists that sag, replacement of walls that warp, replacement of floors that wear, tuckpointing chimney bricks that crumble.

        The roof and possibly the chimney, yes. But there’s no reason any joists should sag or walls warp in 200 years in a modern tract house. I would expect most things to be replaced due to obsolescence, not end-of-life, even in a wood frame tract house. (The main risk, I think, would be if OSB ends up having a short lifetime)

        • hls2003 says:

          I’ve seen pretty substantial plaster damage from non-disaster events involving humidity changes; although it’s not common, I would think over 200 years it wouldn’t be unusual even with drywall (not with green board though). I’d certainly expect to see some “smiles” in trim, at least, and probably some more structural elements like joists, door and window frames, etc. over that time frame, even if technically structurally sound.

      • Tenacious D says:

        The house I live in is ~ 85 years old. I’ve swapped out a lot of insulation in the attic this year, and am planning on having the wooden siding on one exterior wall replaced this fall, so the Ship of Theseus has definitely been on my mind.

      • Anthony says:

        Some older construction is pretty durable. I was involved in a significant renovation of a 101-year-old building, and over 90% of the original redwood columns and beams were retained. Of the ones removed, more than half had been damaged by later renovations – drilling holes for conduits, notching for other work, etc.

      • DarkTigger says:

        “Theseus Ship”:
        My parents life in a house that on paper goes on 125 years now. The whole street used to look like it. When I was a kid there was another house like it but it is replaced with a 3 stock appartment building.

        When my parents replaced the wallpapers recently you could see the line above which it had been rebuild after the war. Under a height of ~1,80 the walls are black of soot. Over it they show the orange of the “war bricks”, cheap bricks that were burned after the war.

    • Well... says:

      I asked “what does ‘obsolete’ really mean?” in a previous OT a long time ago and didn’t get a satisfying answer. Most of the time it seems to boil down to fashion or keeping up with the Joneses, though every once in a while a change is based on something more fundamental (e.g. physicists abandoning Newtonian physics for Einsteinian physics). Frustratingly, it’s often based on a domino effect, where everyone moves from X1 to X2, and because X2 is only compatible with Y2 and not with Y1, you have to move from Y1 to Y2.

      Lifespans I have a firmer handle on, having been a homeowner. Structures are not monolithic things (well, some are, but forget about those for now); they’re made up of lots of subsystems, each of which has its own lifespan. If you keep repairing/replacing each subsystem (e.g. the roof, the furnace, the windows, the insulation, etc.) you can extend the lifespan of the whole structure, but eventually you will reach the point where doing so is untenable, where replacements are no longer available, or where a certain subsystem simply cannot be replaced without inflicting catastrophic destruction on the structure as a whole.

    • Lambert says:

      Obligatory *laughs in European*
      The US is only about one reasonable house lifespan old.

  25. baconbits9 says:

    Ironically one of the harder spill cleanups is soap.

  26. Urstoff says:

    Would working scientists and the sciences as a whole benefit from having a greater historical perspective? I’ve been reading a lot of history of psychology lately, and what I’ve read has really supported Kuhn’s claim that scientists are generally ahistorical: their knowledge of the history of the field is basically whatever topics were popular at the time during their graduate training. Rarely does a scientist do a deep dive into even the recent history of their field, and often explicitly reject the past history of the field as a harmful encumbrance (particularly when something akin to a “paradigm shift” has recently occurred). This seems to be the case, too, for other forms of evidence-based inquiries like history; the questions are determined by the major works of the last 20 years, and not much is seriously and deeply read before then.

    Is this a good thing for inquiry? Would having a deep knowledge of the history of the field prevent one from articulating new and interesting questions? Maybe I’m not articulating the question well, but it strikes me as interesting, as I think I would want a deep historical knowledge if I were a practicing research (I say that, but perhaps a graduate program would have disabused me of such notions). It certainly makes me skeptical of anything that calls itself “intellectual history” and of completely “internalist” explanations of the development of science.

    • Enkidum says:

      Yes scientists should study more of the past of their fields. If nothing else, we would be less likely to reinvent the wheel every couple of decades, which is a real problem in areas like psychology.

      That being said, a lot of what got lost was lost for good reason. So you have to be selective.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I heard a biotech startup founder say that they do a lot of reading of papers from the 1920s and 30s, because the papers are still scientifically correct, but everyone has forgotten the knowledge.

    • baconbits9 says:

      In general I would say no for two reasons. First looking at one generation gives you a skewed view, of course people will have views skewed towards particularly formative years but departments as a whole can have active members with 50-60 year age gaps from your oldest tenured professors to undergraduate students, and 40 years is reasonably common within industry. You can get issues if you form a department and it gets dominated by one age sliver, or a cult of personality where everyone becomes an acolyte of a single person, or if there is no communication across your age ranges, but you don’t need your 30 year olds to spend a lot of time understanding the previous 50 years of progress if they can just talk to someone 30 years senior to them.

      The second objection is that a true deep dive is going to come at a large opportunity cost, to read, understand, analyze and draw conclusions from decades to centuries of possibly interesting events and data is going to displace a fair amount of currently needed knowledge. Some people should do this but that number should be relatively small for most fields.

    • eightieshair says:

      When I was in graduate school, we read a fair number of the “classic” papers in the field, which in practice meant papers going back as far as the 1920s and 30s. This was both in class (1 class in particular) and on our own. I’m in biophysics, so this might be field dependent.

      I follow discussions in hep theory as an interested observer, and it seems that in that field there are whole areas of research and theoretical constructions that can just become obsolete, and so only of historical interest.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Yes and no.

      A big problem in the scientific community is that people will read reviews without making sure that the papers referenced actually support the claims being made. If this happens a few times, a hypothesis with only weak evidentiary support can become accepted in a field out of an erroneous belief that it has been properly tested. My thesis project came from such a realization: the conventional wisdom that my entire field has had for at least the last twenty years is based on a set of experiments where even the original authors note in their discussion that their results can’t support that conclusion.

      That said, with the exceptions of fields where ethical rules prohibit repeat experiments (e.g. experiments where convicts were deliberately infected with malaria) it’s usually better to repeat an experiment with modern techniques. Someone might have cloned a gene in the 80’s or done restriction mapping to find it even earlier, but sequencing is dirt cheap and you get much higher quality information anyway. Similarly with old-school X-ray crystallography versus modern cryo-EM for structures: it’s just so much faster and cheaper now that “reinventing the wheel” costs you maybe a year instead of an entire thesis project.

      That is to say, I’m much more worried about scientists being wrong and thinking that a question has already been answered than scientists being wrong and thinking that a question hasn’t been answered. The latter is easily corrected but the former can be extraordinarily wasteful.

  27. Purplehermann says:

    I’ve seen a negative correlation between women’s number of lifetime sexual partners and their chances of marital satisfaction, as well as fidelity. Causation or just correlation?

    • Lambert says:

      Confounded by religiousness.

      • albatross11 says:

        Religion, cultural background, region of the country, probably race and family income, too. It seems like it would be really hard to tease out the effects of more sexual partners on eventual marital happiness given these confounds, but maybe there’s some subtle way to structure a study to make some progress. (I’d think in terms of looking at heterosexual women with (say) 3 vs 4 sexual partners[1], out of a group selected to have the same race, religion, and family SES, but someone who does this kind of research for a living would probably have better ideas.).

        [1] Hoping that the close-together numbers will effectively keep us in the same basic population, whereas 1 partner vs 10 partners probably involves a ton of other differences.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Did some serious googling at some point on the relation between number of partners and capacity for pair bonding. To my surprise I found nothing. I did find consistent correlation between “wild” lifestyle for women (alcohol, socializing, promiscuity) and depression and low life satisfaction, but it seems to be strictly temporary – stop the wild life style, depression goes away. Nothing long term.

      The famous correlation between no of partners and chances of divorce is heavily skewed by the very low chances of divorce at 0 or 1 previous partners – which basically means a religious social context. Graph is a lot flatter after this.

      This was some years ago and my google skills may not have been perfect.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        Didn’t we discuss this here a while back and basically come to the same conclusion?

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        I’m not sure where the confounding comes in here, because this seems to match what people’s intuition is. If someone really wants to avoid divorce, they’re more likely to avoid it. I wouldn’t anticipate there to be a linear relationship between past partners and divorce odds.

        The religious element makes it sound like this is useless data for a secular person. But it seems like the relationship is more like ‘identifies religious’ is a proxy for negative attitudes towards divorce.

      • Purplehermann says:

        I’ve seen correlation between fidelity and number of partners at around +7% chance of cheating per partner.

    • GearRatio says:

      Something to consider:

      I watch The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise with the wife, these three shows comprising what she typically refers to as “the slut olympics”. This is not a realistic world to draw much data from, but I’ve noticed something: even among these people, and even on a show where the penultimate event is having sex with three people you barely know in three successive nights, promiscuity is something they have to cover up with a ton of justifications and/or not be very open about.

      The show handles this by introducing a ton of language meant to diffuse the distaste people might have for it; people are “in for the right reasons” or “not in it for the right reasons”, everyone is trying to “find love” or “find their husband/wife” as they hop hot-tub make-out partners. One character was recently shamed for having had two (two!) one night stands, as opposed to the show-sanctioned three, because these weren’t ostensibly part of the husband/wife finding mission.

      None of this establishes that promiscuity is good, bad, helpful or harmful, but it does sort of pique my interest that even among a group of effectively atheist dumpster-people open promiscuity/sleeping around is still a major taboo, even as everyone does it. The trick is to not be the one vilified for it.

      If that translates over to the population at large, then you have an interesting situation: you aren’t just looking at the effects of having multiple partners, you are looking at the effects of living in a social regime which doesn’t approve of a behavior, doing the behavior anyway at an above-average rate and also being the kind of person who admits it.

      It’s not hard to imagine archetypes that would do this that would give us the result you are seeing – someone who is overall rebellious against institutions and rules or someone that isn’t self-aware enough to be able to preserve their perceived social value, for instance.

      I’m moving in a direction of being un-surprised about the poor marital outcomes of admitted-on-a-survey promiscuous women as I would be about the poor marital outcomes of, say, someone who masturbates in adult movie theaters occasionally – you could argue the behavior isn’t negative on it’s face, but for sure most of society finds it icky and would assign a lower value to somebody they knew did it. Somebody who would do that and then admit it on a survey is then a group-within-a-group of theater masturbators; he does it, and he either isn’t self-aware enough to know how people view that, or doesn’t care enough about his social valuation to hide it.

      Anyway, that’s my swiss-cheese level current view on this.

    • Skivverus says:

      Reverse causation?
      People satisfied with their partners don’t look for more.

    • caryatis says:

      There’s probably a strong correlation between substance use and number of partners, for women. Substance use is also correlated with being generally unhappy. So i’d guess that to be part of the mechanism and probably wouldn’t buy any data that did not control for that.

  28. EchoChaos says:

    One of the comments last week commented that both CW tribes, Blue and Red, feel under assault because they’re losing. The Blue tribe is losing as business regulations, housing regulations, taxes, etc. get more and more laxened, while the Reds feel beaten because they’re losing on every front (except abortion, where they’re at best holding). Gay marriage is legal, etc.

    Which made me think that the peak unity time for America was the 1950s, when the exact opposite was true. Union regulations, social safety nets, high taxes, huge infrastructure projects were the Blue wet dream, largely a legacy of FDR and Truman, but even Eisenhower was behind them. But socially, the 1950s were deeply conservative. Abortion was still banned, pushing family formation was the top social issue for the government and mass deportations were the order of the day.

    Hypothesis: The left really cares deeply about fiscal issues, but will take a win on social if they can. The right really cares deeply about social issues, but will take a win on fiscal if they can. Since they’re winning on the “wrong” one of their legs, they feel like they’re losing far more than they are.

    • Two McMillion says:

      I, a lifelong conservative, have often said that I would be more willing to go along with left-wing economic programs if they promised me some social conservatism in the bargain.

      • albatross11 says:

        I suspect this has a lot to do with the makeup of the coalitions of the two big parties. Social and religious conservatives provide a lot of the voters and campaign workers for the Republicans, but in practice, the Republicans have mostly lost on the social issues that those folks care about. (Often they’ve lost, not by votes, but by supreme court decisions.). A common sentiment I’ve seen in right-leaning places online is that Republican elites care a lot about deregulation and free trade and military spending and wars, a little about lowering taxes, not very much about moral/social issues, and are actively hostile to their base’s views w.r.t. immigration. I think this (justifiable, IMO) belief drove Trump’s success running as an outsider to his party. (In some sense, he was running against the big city rich Ivy-educated elites who got lots of TV time, which is kinda delicious irony when you think about it.)

        Similarly, it seems like for the last few decades, organized labor has provided voters and campaign workers and gotten very few actual victories from Democratic elites, who are also on board with free trade and more-or-less open immigration and a big military and a lot of wars, maybe a little skeptical of deregulation and lower taxes, on board with more generous social programs, and very likely to win victories on social/moral issues thanks to the makeup of the supreme court and most people in media.

        In both cases, substantial parts of the base for the parties has been getting some lip service in the platforms, but very little actual success on issues they care about.

        • Corey says:

          Supreme Court is in the process of swinging, and will be solidly Republican for a generation, so some of those losses will be undone.

          • Nick says:

            How confident are you of that? If Ginsberg or Breyer get replaced with an Amy Coney Barrett, I could see it happening. But I don’t see the current Court overturning Roe or any of the others, confidence maybe 80%. I think where we see overturnings, they’ll be more like the union dues case last year.

          • Corey says:

            The replacement is the thing I’m pretty confident about. The replacement will have to be significantly less liberal, even if appointed by a Democrat, because Republicans have a lock on the Senate for the foreseeable future. Roberts is already the median vote.

          • albertborrow says:

            Supreme Court values consistency above all else, because internal consistency is what grants them the power they have. They rarely overturn decisions, even if they want to, because they get their power from deciding what the Constitution means, and the Constitution does not change meaning unless it is amended. The list of overturned Supreme Court cases is barely a page long, and if they ever contradict an earlier verdict, it’s almost never directly. That isn’t to say it’s impossible, but it’s definitely unlikely.

      • Radu Floricica says:

        I don’t think they can promise you that. Social conservatism is necessarily a matter of norms first and foremost, and you can’t negotiate norms. For example trying to legislate abortion is, IMO, misguided at best. Proper strategy would be shaming casual abortions – which should also be easier because well, they are shameful. Not many of the classic pro-choice arguments can really justify “I was too lazy to take a pill”.

        • mtl1882 says:

          The problem is that a significant portion of society can’t tolerate the “shameless,” and, as you said, the classic arguments aren’t effective against it. This caught my eye because it has come up recently among some of my friends and family, women aged 25-45, automatic pro-choicers because they have lived their whole lives in blue states, and are secular, and driven by “practicality,” and generally politically apathetic. Three or four have brought up to me encountering or hearing about women who have had “casual” abortion(s), and who have apparently shared this information without any shame. They suddenly seemed in favor of legislation, even though they could not articulate how it would be applied or enforced. I suspect this will be an increasing issue, and this unfocused urge to legislate (present with regard to many issues) is one of the major things that rings alarm bells for me when it comes to politics. It seems like these things operate on an inevitable pendulum due to this dynamic.

          • DinoNerd says:

            Even with abortion illegal, and whatever shaming there used to be before various pro-freedom social victories, back street illegal abortions were a thing, as were women dying of them. You might also consider checking your own family tree for female relatives who died after “falling down the stairs” – falling down stairs on purpose seems to have been a popular way to attempt to induce a miscarriage.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @DinoNerd

            Sure, people do illegal things, that’s a given.

            Still, the orders of magnitude are dramatically different, and since pro-lifers believe that abortion is murder, the argument that you have to legalize killing babies because some women died attempting to kill their babies is hardly going to resonate.

          • mtl1882 says:

            @DinoNerd

            Just to make it clear, I do not support making abortion illegal. At all. My point is that your argument doesn’t seem to be working on the people I’m talking about. They are mad at people who do it “casually,” and they are generally unable to process the alternative because they don’t have experience with it. Confronted with the situations you brought up, they would be horrified. My point is that they currently don’t see it, and so they are focused on the horror at the other end of the pendulum swing–what they perceive as a horror. Any attempt to seriously legislate abortion would not last long, IMO. I think it has way more support than a lot of people recognize, but the support is not rooted in an understanding of what it would look like, or could look like.

            In an unsettling way, I think the people I spoke of do not believe these women who handle these things so “casually” would ever endanger themselves by a risky procedure. That is what bothers them. That they can do it so safely. It is all messed up. I’m not saying I agree with them. I’m just commenting on a dynamic I’ve noticed. A lot of people are very obsessed with what other people “deserve” and “get away with.” Downthread, someone says that his or her female relatives, lifelong republicans, have bolted based on the abortion thing. So maybe there will be a weird swap. And it would make sense on the pendulum thing–they may be used to hearing it shamed, and tend to recoil when it looks like someone with those beliefs might crack down harshly. That is harder to visualize if you live in a place where the discussion isn’t typically so intense.

          • DinoNerd says:

            All I’m really saying above is that shaming didn’t work in the past, so probably won’t work in the future. It won’t solve the problem, but it will create bad side effects. Even making abortions illegal didn’t solve the pro-fetal-lifers’ problem; but it caused worse side effects than shaming.

            In a different world, I could perhaps compromise with someone who thought that fetuses had a right to be born – at least those fetuses that wouldn’t be spontaneously miscarried anyway.

            But they’d have to be clear on whether their goal was
            – fetuses that are conceived aren’t aborted
            – pre- and extramarital sex is minimized (e.g. by increasing its risks etc.)
            – women are punished for having sex, for becoming pregnant, etc.
            – people are punished for violating the morality the pro-fetal-lifer personally subscribes to/the rules of the pro-fetal-lifer’s religion

            In my experience, most self described pro-lifers are operating from a mix of several of these motives.

            I’d also be much happier to compromise with pro-lifers who were doing things to help babies, children, teens etc. – rather than simply acting as if “pro-life” is entirely about keeping fetuses alive.

            I have no use at all for a person who wants to restrict both sex-education (= practical knowledge of how to avoid conception) and abortion. In my youth, the typical “good Christian” opposed both.

            I also have little use for a person who wants to restrict abortion in any case where carrying the baby to term would be more expensive, less safe, or both. (Unfortunately, having a baby is higher risk for the mother than an early abortion, so this is hard for pro-fetal-lifers to satisfy. And medical care is expensive/unavailable for far too many people in the US system.)

            I also have little use for any pro-fetal-lifer who is unaware of the normal phenomenon of spontaneous miscarriage – depending at what stage they start calling the zygote/embryo/fetus a “baby”, it may have a fairly high chance of not surviving to be born even if it’s desperately wanted by its parents. (Lots of “heavy periods” involve a conception that may not have lasted long enough to even be noticed.)

            From where I sit, the best way to reduce abortions is social pressure – and education – in favour of effective contraception. Blue tribers playing musical beds – often without much moral concern – don’t seem to conceive anywhere near as often as red tribe teenagers 🙁 And blue tribe venues prone to unusual rates of musical beds (e.g. sci fi conventions) tend to make condoms freely and anonymously available.

            I frankly see almost no self-described pro-lifers speaking in favour of contraception or results-based sex education – they’d rather try to shame people out of having sex at all, and presumably encourage a shotgun wedding (or putting the child up for adoption, if it’s white) when their attempt fails.

            Given these observations, I see the pro-fetal-lifers as arguing in bad faith. Of course this doesn’t apply to all pro-fetal-life individuals, or all organizations. But I personally know exactly one self-described pro-lifer who ever did anything to help an “unwed mother” – and that (“all they care about is the fetus”) has been a meme among pro-choicers for a long time, so I’d expect the anti-abortion folks to attempt to address it. And “reduce abortions by providing good sex education” is rarely politically viable in the US – at least in red states, i.e. the same places that most heavily restrict abortion.

          • Purplehermann says:

            @DinoNerd you have no use for any pro-lifer who would restrict abortion when carrying to term would be more expensive?!

          • Nick says:

            Those considering whether to engage with DinoNerd’s latest post may want to read how the last encounter went.

          • Purplehermann says:

            Appreciated Nick

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Nick

            I also appreciate the reminder that I’ve said much of what’s in my last post above before, and really don’t need to say it again here.

          • mtl1882 says:

            @DinoNerd

            I agree 100%…that’s my reasoning pretty much exactly. My point is that most people seem incapable of seeing it that way, and I foresee increasing problems in this area. A huge potential for woefully misguided efforts.

    • Chalid says:

      winning on the “wrong” one of their legs

      I strongly suspect it’s the other way around, e.g. the right cares about social issues *because* they are losing.

      Also, there’s nothing economically that you could offer that would get “the left” to accept 1950s social policy. Racial issues, homosexuality, womens’ rights, and a bunch of other things would all individually be complete non-starters. If you threatened these, you’d find that the left cared very, very much about social issues.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        Pretty much this, I think.

        With a smattering of “loss of privilege feels like oppression“.

        (The above actually cuts both ways, of course.)

      • EchoChaos says:

        I strongly suspect it’s the other way around, e.g. the right cares about social issues *because* they are losing.

        Quite possibly. You care more about the front you’re being pressed on than the one going well. But I think it’s more than that and the base really cares more about social than fiscal.

        Also, there’s nothing economically that you could offer that would get “the left” to accept 1950s social policy. Racial issues, homosexuality, womens’ rights, and a bunch of other things would all individually be complete non-starters. If you threatened these, you’d find that the left cared very, very much about social issues.

        Because they’ve moved the Overton window so far. There is nothing socially you could offer the right to get 90% top marginal tax rates back either. That’s just a function of status-quo bias and the Overton window.

      • I think the right caring more strongly about economic issues came about because of opposition to the Soviet Union. Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom because it really did look like a command economy was gradually taking over and the Soviet Union was horrible. But it fell because it was untenable and we can relax. Sure, some policies will be bad but it’s not tied up with this existential threat. If you really want to consider conservative priorities, compare abortion to health care. Roe vs Wade has been the law for nearly fifty years and they are still trying to repeal it. Obamacare has been the law for a mere decade and they scarcely mention it.

      • Purplehermann says:

        The Left seems to have a very social view of the economy (which disadvantaged goups can we help? People on minimum should get more money, it isn’t right that they aren’t getting much/enough).

        In general I think people care about social issues much more than economics, unless a stance helps or hurts their wallets noticeably.

        Here the Left’s economics ARE social issues, so that distinction dissapears.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      The Blue tribe is losing as business regulations, housing regulations, taxes, etc. get more and more laxened

      But how true is this perception?
      – Taxes: Definitely lower at the federal level, how about the state and local level? States and localities can’t borrow to the degree the feds can.
      – Business Regulations: The federal register has grown largely unabated since the 90s. Certain areas of finance may have been de-regulated prior to 2008 but post dodd-frank it’s hard to argue that the financial sector is less heavily regulated now than it was in the past.
      – Housing Regulation: Does this refer to the mortgage finance sector or construction and zoning? I don’t think the latter has been deregulated in any meaningful sense.

      With the exception of taxes I think people are at a high-level inferring the degree of regulation from the level of cost and inequity associated with that sector. Education is a great example of a blue-tribe monkey paw, people are going to school longer than they ever had but the anticipated effect of reducing inequality and increasing opportunity backfired completely.

      As far as Unions go this is tricky. The blue tribe supports Unions but believes implicitly union objectives are compatible with highly elastic labor supply curves. Advocating for tight labor markets is somewhat anathema because of the ‘CW’ implications it has.

      ______

      I could do an inventory of Social issues items but the only one that doesn’t seem unambiguous is abortion. Feel free to argue the contrary though.

      ______________________________________________________________________

      Depending on the

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I think the population change and the existence of geopolitical enemies really confounds any kind of conclusions we can draw. We just don’t have the same group of people in the 1950s.

      In addition, the 1950s wasn’t a stable equilibrium, and ultimately brought us the extremely tumultuous 1960s. I don’t think we can call an unstable equilibrium a “Golden Age.”

    • DinoNerd says:

      I can’t speak for “the left” in general, or even define “social” vs “fiscal”. But I’m peronally attached to the “left” side of US politics for primarily “social” issues – especially if you count being against immigration as “social”.

      I think many of the US left’s current social goals are absurd. But I see the US right as wanting to enforce their cultural and religious preferences. I.e. to me, the sterotypical rightwing voter won’t be happy as long as there’s anyone not attending their church and following its moral rules (such as “women should obey men”; “all adults should be married to people of the opposite sex”; “the most accurate science is taken from the Holy Bible”). I don’t wish to live in The Handmaid’s Tale; I don’t even want to live in the 1950s culture where I watched as a tiny child while my mother collapsed with clinical depression, leaving me and my sisters in foster care for a year with a family of (ahem) differing religious assumptions.

      Now as it happens, I also dislike the idea that anything done in pursuit of profit is good, regardless of what damage it causes. But I’m open to argument on that topic. Whereas anyone who wants to force a person like my mother into a housewife-and-breeder role is completely beyond the pale – any chance that they could do it makes me react more or less as if they were trying to kill people.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        the sterotypical rightwing voter won’t be happy as long as there’s anyone not attending their church and following its moral rules (such as “women should obey men”; “all adults should be married to people of the opposite sex”; “the most accurate science is taken from the Holy Bible”).

        One of the main reasons to engage with people across the ideological divide is to see perspectives like this, to find out not just what people want but what people really fear. To me, the scenario you are painting is so unlikely I truly have difficulty imagining that leftwingers truly fear that. But there was a comment in the last open thread about still being afraid of a snake after you’ve bashed it’s head in with a shovel, and I get that.

        Right now, the relevant battles that the social conservatives are fighting are whether kids who show signs of being transgendered should be given hormones and puberty blockers, whether M2F athletes should compete in women’s sports, whether drag queens should read to kids in the public library, and whether drag kids should perform in gay bars. We’re quite far from women being confined to baby-producing and housework.

        • DinoNerd says:

          FWIW, I’ve seen people postings on SSC that they were in favour of reducing the economic and career prospects of all women, so as to get more of them to have children. Someone explicitly said that while it’s OK to have alternatives for those who’d e.g. commit suicide rather than have sex with a man, those alternatives needed to be nasty enough that no one potentially compatible with marriage and motherhood would prefer them. They didn’t go quite as far as marry-and-breed-or-starve, but their vision for women who refused to marry and breed was something like the least attractive possible nunnery.

          These poster(s) weren’t far enough outside the SSC Overton window to draw significant flak from the commentariat, and *I* shocked people by describing my idea of the lived experience of someone who married only because all the other alternatives were worse. (I described her experiencing marital relations as her husband “masturbating himself with her body”, which still sounds about right to me.) Conclusion – to the SSC commentariat, this is more reasonable than my response to it.

          We’ve also had some small quantity of US politicians making claims like “it’s impossible to get pregnant because of rape”, and not getting rejected by the voters for dangerous cluelessness. (After all, by this logic, if someone’s pregnant, she’s been voluntarily sleeping around, and deserves neither welfare not an abortion…. but should be made to put up with the father claiming visitation, or even joint custody. Or if we go by Biblical norms, she should be forced to *marry* the father.. though I haven’t seen that one suggested yet, in this context at least.)

          I should also add that the various churches these stereotypical voters belong to vary in their social rules. The Quiverful folks, and the polygamous Mormon heresies are worse than my examples; many boring middle of the road churches are better than them. The key thing is that almost all of them insist that their deity gave rules for everyone, not just for those who believe in that deity. And those rules almost always have horrific consequences in some cases.

          [Note – I’m paraphrasing what was said – it was a response to a response to a response, and there were lots of implicit but unclear references to upthread examples. The non-het, possibly non-cis woman in the example might have merely been drinking herself to death, or similar]

          All this said, I agree that those people are presently losing many of their political battles, though they still have their biblical beliefs affecting public school curriculums. But given that *torture* went from something beyond the pale to something the US government isn’t ashamed to practice, and some fairly virulent racism I’d thought gone forever has also moved back into the US Overton window, I figure the price of women being allowed to be more than brood mares is and remains eternal vigilance.]

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Conclusion – to the SSC commentariat, this is more reasonable than my response to it.

            My experience with the SSC commentariat does not suggest that they are misogynists or dismissive of women’s issues.

            We’ve also had some small quantity of US politicians making claims like “it’s impossible to get pregnant because of rape”, and not getting rejected by the voters for dangerous cluelessness.

            Between a pro-life old white dude who trips up when the question of rape comes up, and a pro-choicer, pro-lifers will choose the pro-life old white dude every time. This wont change. Keep in mind that for a pro-lifer, the US is guilty of about 8 Holocausts (8 x 6 million ~ 50 million) since 1973. This wont change.

            The key thing is that almost all of them insist that their deity gave rules for everyone, not just for those who believe in that deity. And those rules almost always have horrific consequences in some cases.

            I think that they want to be able to live in a society that enforces the rules their deity gave them. But I dont think that society needs to be all of the USA. I think they would be quite happy (at least for now) if they could have their jurisdiction where they could do so. The problem is that when the Supreme Court finds that the constitution is a “living document” (and therefore gets updated with the latest progressive idea automatically, no formal amendment required), and decide they can read between the lines and within the “penumbra”, to find that, yes, after all gay marriage and abortion are guaranteed by the constitution, all of the USA gets affected. There is no need for this.

            The idea that all 50 states need to have the same social policy on gays, abortion, whatever is idiotic and very dangerous.

          • acymetric says:

            My experience with the SSC commentariat does not suggest that they are misogynists or dismissive of women’s issues.

            I think there is a notable contingent (not a majority) that are dismissive of women’s issues. A much, much smaller portion of that group is outright misogynistic but I would not use that term to describe the SSC community generally.

          • albatross11 says:

            Dinonerd:

            I can’t tell you about the whole world, but I spend a fair bit of my social life surrounded by religious Catholics (the ones who show up to Mass for all the holy days of obligation and volunteer at the Parish), I have family members who are/were evangelicals, and I grew up in a couple small towns in a very conservative/red part of the midwest. I also have family and friends in Utah, which is the reddest and most religiously conservative state in the US. The ideas you’re attributing to religious conservatives don’t look even remotely like what I know of any of these groups. In my parish, there are a ton of highly accomplished women with high-end careers. It’s more common to stay home with the kids in my parish than in the big wide world, but I’ve never seen or heard anyone pushing back against that. Now, I’m a guy, so maybe I wouldn’t hear everything, but I’ve *never* heard anything like that. Similarly, I’ve never seen *anyone* proposing forcing people to go to church, never ever. Not among committed Catholics, not among evangelicals, not among the people in a small town in the reddest of red states, not *anywhere*. I’m sure you can find such people somewhere, in much the same way you can find Muslims who want to blow up Americans, but the picture of the world you’re describing simply doesn’t have anything at all to do with what I have seen. My evangelical uncle and his wife were schoolteachers in a small town public school for their whole careers; they sent both their daughter and son to college (both got accounting degrees). This doesn’t remotely look like someone who wants to make _The Handmaid’s Tale_ come true.

            What I saw growing up (among kids in small-town Illinois and Missouri, in private where racist or sexist or homophobic jokes were not at all uncommon) supports the idea that there was a lot of latent racism and an immense hostility to gays lying around in that culture, and some screwy ideas about gender roles, but nothing like what you’re describing.

            I Googled around for some survey data, and while none of what I found supports your worldview, I didn’t see any polls that asked questions that tracked with your model of the world. I think the beliefs you’re describing are held by an incredibly tiny fringe, probably comparable to the subset of leftists who actually want to have a communist revolution along Maoist or Stalinist lines.

          • albatross11 says:

            Dinonerd:

            The fact that someone once said something offensive or dumb on SSC and didn’t get enough pushback is actually very weak evidence about what most SSC commenters believe or disbelieve. Sometimes, you ignore someone saying something offensive or dumb because life’s too short and you’ve got something else to do.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I can’t think of anyone here I’d call a misogynist. Neo-traditionalist trying to sell traditional gender roles on utilitarian grounds, maybe.
            Gender roles came up recently among our Catholic contingent, and Deiseach was representative in going “LOL, whatever floats women’s boats, as long as they either prioritize the babies that pop out or remain celibate.”

          • EchoChaos says:

            @DinoNerd

            I am one of the most conservative commentators in a religion that emphasizes having lots of kids. I have four so far myself.

            My father is the pastor of my church and has multiple advanced degrees. My mother homeschooled me and has a Master’s.

            My wife has a college degree, as do most of the women in the congregation.

            What I want isn’t necessarily laws that compel motherhood, but the repeal of laws and norms that actively disincentive it.

          • Corey says:

            I’ve never seen *anyone* proposing forcing people to go to church, never ever.

            Neither have I, to be honest, but claims that the US is a Christian nation are very common, and atheists tend to hear that as “we need state churches” to lead to mandatory conversion. Can’t speak for members of minority religions (unless you count atheism as one).

            (Per PRRI 2015, 41% of white Christians say the US is currently and always has been a Christian nation, 50% say the US used to be a Christian nation but is not anymore, best quick numbers I could come up with).

            Anecdotally, devout guys I work with are certain that each of the 13 Colonies had their own state church, and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is only intended to apply to the Federal government, so States should be allowed to have State-level state churches, and they are not radical Tenthers or neo-Confederates on other issues AFAIK.

          • Randy M says:

            Neither have I, to be honest, but claims that the US is a Christian nation are very common, and atheists tend to hear that as “we need state churches” to lead to mandatory conversion. Can’t speak for members of minority religions (unless you count atheism as one).

            Do you believe that that is what is usually meant by that statement?

            Even state churches would not necessarily mean forced conversion, neither of which necessarily means enforcement of religious laws by the state. I can certainly understand the fear of a slippery slope in that case, though.

          • Corey says:

            @Randy M: Oh, it’s totally a slippery slope. Literally I would interpret it as support for explicitly basing law on Christianity. In my experience a pretty big swath of people think that morality must be religiously based and so *of course* laws should reflect religion. (Corollary: atheists can’t be moral, which is why I notice this).

            Once you accept that it certainly seems like a short slide to “thou shalt have no other gods before me” in the Federal Register. To be fair I haven’t put time into thinking through the implications, since I think it’s kind of unlikely when push comes to shove. (If nothing else, Baptists and Catholics might fight so hard about which version of laws to enact that nothing gets done).

          • Nick says:

            There is an enormous and gaping distance between a state church and forced conversions. Sweden has a state church, for goodness sake. Come on.

          • Randy M says:

            By the way, I realize my post was ambiguous about one point. I don’t think people who say “America is a Christian nation” mean that they want a state or federal church, but that, first, much of what is good about America is due to the religious nature of the populace, and second, that it is legitimate to vote and advocate based on religious convictions.

            But I might be projecting; there’s a lot of variation among the large group, including plenty of ill-considered opinions.

          • hls2003 says:

            devout guys I work with are certain that each of the 13 Colonies had their own state church, and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is only intended to apply to the Federal government, so States should be allowed to have State-level state churches

            This is not quite accurate, but almost, and much closer to true than the opposite position. More colonies had established churches than did not. My understanding is that the First Amendment Establishment Clause did not apply against the states until Everson v. Board of Ed. incorporated it via the 14th Amendment. Many states retained established churches for years.

            The Supreme Court has been unable to decide and stick with even a basic Establishment Clause test ever since incorporation (the Lemon test is closest, but I’m pretty sure that was never a majority position and certainly is not today). To me, the easiest explanation for this confusion is the basic incoherence of trying to restrict the states to a single national rule by means of a Constitutional clause that was explicitly designed to prevent restrictions on the states by a single national rule.

          • Machine Interface says:

            Nick > the direction of history has its importance. Sweden’s state church is a remnant of a time where belonging to the state church was in fact very compulsory. This is a state church that has been defanged. If a state church was established in the US, I very much doubt it would be made similarly innocuous by design from the get go…

          • mtl1882 says:

            @hls2003

            The Supreme Court has been unable to decide and stick with even a basic Establishment Clause test ever since incorporation (the Lemon test is closest, but I’m pretty sure that was never a majority position and certainly is not today). To me, the easiest explanation for this confusion is the basic incoherence of trying to restrict the states to a single national rule by means of a Constitutional clause that was explicitly designed to prevent restrictions on the states by a single national rule.

            I feel like this “basic incoherence” resulting from incorporation via the 14th Amendment (not just for this clause) is playing a major role in almost all of our political problems (indirectly, but no one understands or talks about it.) I’m not opposing the 14th Amendment or disputing prior interpretations or anything–I’m just saying this dynamic seems to guarantee the public discussion will be awkward and easy to derail. I may be attaching too much significance to it.

          • “50% say the US used to be a Christian nation”

            It is simply a fact that the vast majority of Americans were Christian throughout history, and did not see their religion as an insignificant detail in their lives, but as fundamental to their civilizational identity, as important as its racial makeup or its republican system of government.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I think a very significant issue here is that when you say “nation” to people they’ll interpret it one of two ways:
            1) “a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.”
            2) The government of that people.

            I’d argue that the United states hasn’t been a nation in the first case since at least the Louisiana purchase, and plausibly since the inclusion of not-British peoples. Though, yes, a real argument that the original 13 states originally founded a Christian nation can be made.

            Before thinking this through I’d always default to the second case and think that this has never been a Christian nation (though colonial entities prior to the founding were). Because the framing laws of the federal government declared it to not be so.

          • Purplehermann says:

            You are wrong on the biblical a account, biblically a man who seduced or raped a virgin had to pay a hefty fine as well as marry her, if she agreed and if her father thought it best for her. The forced marriage is not about pregnancy but virginity, and is forced on the man not the people who have the girls interests in mind.
            In addition, this entire scenario is only for girls 12.5 years old and younger… rape in general was treated as damages, and the courts would make the man pay for damage, pain, and embarrassment (as well as medical expense if there were any, though abortion wouldn’t count)

          • Randy M says:

            @anonymousskimmer
            Good point

    • Hypothesis: The left really cares deeply about fiscal issues, but will take a win on social if they can.

      The left is obviously a large, diverse group and I’m sure this is true for some people. But if we think of the stereotypical progressive who reads Vox, lives in a major city and wants to disband ICE, I think it’s the other way around. Social issues are what matters to them and anyone who thinks we should prioritize economic issues is under suspicion. Look at the whole “Bernie Bro” thing. I don’t think they make up the majority of Democrats but they are a major faction. What I find bizarre is how these people act like they are losing. If you’re a Marxist, the world looks bleak to you. But to the typical Vox reader? They should be confident and yet they moan about Trump in apocalyptic terms because he has temporarily kept them from pushing their agenda.

      • Corey says:

        Well, as I point out upthread, Republicans have a lock on the Senate (and therefore also SCOTUS) that will not break short of a political Singularity.

        Empty land votes, so whoever has the rural side of the culture war has a built-in advantage in the Senate, and in anything that can be gerrymandered (State legislatures, the House).

        For this to change, there would have to be a large shift in partisan makeup, the culture war would have to cool down, Senators and/or State legislators would have to work to reduce their own influence, or the entire structure of the government will need to be re-done. (Can’t amend the Constitution to remove the Senate, Article V forbids it, and imagine what a clusterfuck a constitutional convention would be).

        So Republicans will be able to at least block anything they want, and at most be able to enact any policies they want, unless and until something happens that will have such large effects that we won’t be able to figure out what’s on the other side.

        (FWIW I agree with Yglesias that escalating constitutional hardball will eventually result in big changes in government structure as we become ungovernable. Not that I look forward to that, it’ll be horrible.)

        • You mean the Republican lock that goes all the way back to… 2015? And with their insurmountable lead of… 53 to 47?

          • Corey says:

            Yep!

            2015 had more swing voters than 2018 and 2020 will have fewer, etc. Approximately everyone in the country thinks Democrats or Republicans are the devil (literally in the case of Democrats and evangelicals). I see no path to this cooling down (Al Gore turns off the Internet, maybe).

          • You would seriously benefit from taking the outside view here. The last time Democrats controlled the Senate, they held it between 2007 and 2015, longer than the Republicans have had it now. You have to go back all the way to the thirties to see any kind of “Republican lock”.

            Political changes happen fast and you have no idea what’s going to happen in 2020, let alone anything past that.

          • Corey says:

            Fair, I’m predisposed to feeling doomed and have learned to distrust my analysis in other areas because of that.

          • JonathanD says:

            @Corey, I do think there’s a good chance of a serious swing once the abortion laws really get going. Both of my sisters have voted Republican in every election they’ve voted in* up to 2016, both voted against Trump (because he’s a misogynistic asshole), and both are outraged and switching their votes after the abortion law. I was somewhat incredulous as they’ve been voting for these people for years, but they both just told me some version of, “Yes, well, I thought they were just saying that.” If that experience is common, we might see a large swing in the women’s vote. We’ll see. I don’t want to get my hopes too far up, but maybe.

            *One I’m sure of, one I’m pretty sure of. All three of us are in Missouri.

      • JonathanD says:

        From our point of view, we’re about to lose Roe (yes, yes, Casey). And yes, that looks like a catastrophic loss. The Alabama law is what we’re expecting across the half of the states you fully control. We’ve lost, completely, on guns. I don’t know whether you consider it a social issue, but we have the kids in the camps on the southern border, and we haven’t been able to stop it, and we’re not going to be able to stop it. It’s not all cakes and pies for us, even on the social side. I can see that you don’t have everything you want, but believe me, we don’t, either.

        • EchoChaos says:

          I said abortion was an exception. Even with our Supreme Court ownership, I doubt gay marriage goes back.

          Guns is a fair example. I’ll give you that one.

          Immigration you have won basically totally. We’re still taking in a million immigrants a year. That you’re arguing about whether we are taking another 10k or so shows the magnitude of victory for you.

          • JonathanD says:

            @Echo, I was answering Wrong Species about how my fellow travelers can possibly feel doomed. Alabama made a law that will make a woman carry her rapist’s baby to term. In 2015 America, there’s no way that law stands, we’re pretty much all expecting that it will now.

            With the immigrant thing, I’m sure you’re right about the numbers. But we’re talking about different things. Go back and read that essay by Unit of Caring that got poor Conrad so worked up. I know you think we’re being ridiculous, but it doesn’t feel like we’re winning. It feels like terrible things are happening down there, done by our government and on our behalf, and that we’re completely helpless to make it stop.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @JonathanD

            Again, abortion is the one odd culture war thing that has, for complex reasons, stayed basically frozen since Roe V. Wade in terms of acceptance and the political state. I think you’re overstating the danger by a large amount as well. Having one US state that has the same abortion laws as Chile is hardly the end of the Republic. New York is going in the opposite direction.

            As for the border, there isn’t any way that we’re going to come to the same page on this, but I understand WHY you feel this way. I disagree on where the blame is and how to deal with it, but I completely understand the frustration of the government doing something that you don’t approve of in your name.

          • albatross11 says:

            Echochaos:

            I mostly agree with you–I’d expect a rollback of Roe to end up letting states decide, which means abortions become unavailable in some states, and the effective cost of getting an abortion increases by the cost of a bus ticket and a night in a hotel. This may be bad or good, but it’s not The Handmaid’s Tale.

            On the other hand, the way a lot of social issue battles were won in the SC over the last several decades, including abortion and gay marriage, was to utterly overrule states and voters and just say “this is how it’s gonna be, nationwide.” I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to imagine a conservative Republican majority in the SC making a bunch of social issue rulings that go the other way. Just as the same constitution once permitted laws against gay sex and then changed to forbidding such laws, you can imagine the constitution similarly changing meaning by a 5-4 vote to say that the same constitution that formerly guaranteed abortion rights now forbids abortions nationwide. I don’t expect that to happen, but there is precedent for it.

            I think this would be unpopular in a lot of the country, but maybe not a whole lot more unpopular than deciding that abortion was a constitutional right or that the constitution required states to recognize gay marriages, and certainly not as unpopular as various desegregation decisions were with voters.

          • acymetric says:

            I mostly agree with you–I’d expect a rollback of Roe to end up letting states decide, which means abortions become unavailable in some states, and the effective cost of getting an abortion increases by the cost of a bus ticket and a night in a hotel. This may be bad or good, but it’s not The Handmaid’s Tale.

            This is probably understating it a little bit. Partly because there are costs of having to make a multi-day trip to get it done beyond just the costs of the transport and the housing (missing work, childcare if you have other kids, coming up with a socially acceptable explanation for friends/family/neighbors/etc. for why you disappeared for a couple days, additional complexity of trying to schedule an out of state procedure and whether the out of state clinic is “in network” for insurance, and probably other things that didn’t immediately come to mind).

            Beyond that, given that the states likely to limit or ban abortions are not randomly distributed across the map but rather concentrated in reasonably large blocks, depending on where you live you might end up traveling hundreds if not thousands of miles in order to get it done). Admittedly that’s a bit “worst case scenario” if all the states that are reasonably likely to restrict or ban do so, which maybe isn’t the most likely outcome but is certainly plausible.

          • Corey says:

            @albatross11: On gay marriage the Supreme Court was behind (nationwide aggregate) opinion on gay marriage – there was more than 50% support before the decision. On interracial marriage the Supreme Court was ahead of national popular opinion, by decades (IIRC 1995 was when approval of interracial marriage first broke 50%).

          • JonathanD says:

            @albatross11, didn’t the Alabama law, or one of the recent ones, make crossing state lines to get an abortion a felony? I know I heard that, but I’m having trouble finding it, so it may have been social media click farming.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @JonathanD

            I don’t know the answer to that and I’d be curious. Can you ban going to other states for medical procedures? That would seem really weird to me if you could, because interstate stuff like that is the purview of the Federal Government.

          • Lambert says:

            Aren’t there limits on States’ juristiction over stuff like going to another state to do something that would be illegal in the first state?

          • albatross11 says:

            I’m not any kind of a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure there’s no way a state can forbid travel to another state like you’re suggesting. Which doesn’t mean someone didn’t pass a state law that will eventually get overturned….

          • hls2003 says:

            @JonathanD:

            didn’t the Alabama law, or one of the recent ones, make crossing state lines to get an abortion a felony? I know I heard that, but I’m having trouble finding it, so it may have been social media click farming.

            It was click farming. The bill as passed contains nothing to that effect. Furthermore, the bill specifically exempts a woman obtaining an abortion from all civil and criminal liability. Basically, it makes it illegal to be a person performing an abortion except for permissible abortions as defined by the statute, which include non-viable fetuses*, ectopic pregnancies, and situations posing a significant risk to the health of the mother.

            Edited to add: *meaning non-viable based on fatal deformity or defect, not non-viable based on fetal age

        • @Echo Chaos

          Right. Immigration is the central example of what I’m thinking. Democrats are freaking out about immigration without realizing they already won. From now on, anyone trying to do any action to stop illegal immigration is going to effectively be called an evil racist. Those of us who disagree with this are going to be a minority.

          @JonathanD

          If Roe vs Wade gets overturned, I will rescind my claim. But not before then.

          • JonathanD says:

            If Roe vs Wade gets overturned, I will rescind my claim. But not before then.

            Fair enough, I guess. Who crosses the line and votes with the liberal justices, in your view? Roberts again?

          • Nornagest says:

            I think it’s less likely that Roe will be dramatically upheld by a nail-biting 5-4 majority and more likely that any cases touching on Roe will mysteriously end up being upheld/overturned on narrow procedural grounds, leaving the ruling intact by default. That’s generally how it’s worked in the past. It’ll be harder to pull off now that there’s stuff like the Alabama law going on, but the Supremes are smart people, they can probably figure out a way to do it.

    • salvorhardin says:

      FWIW, as someone with an almost entirely Blue social circle, the feeling of losing/being victimized/under attack from Blue folks I know has very very little to do with business regulation or tax cuts. The existential-feeling fears that drive the Blue bunker mentality are:

      — Immigration enforcement. Marginal Revolution recently linked to a thread that used Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a lens to compare present-day asylum seeker detention policies, especially family separation, to the Fugitive Slave Act. If you believe this is an apt comparison, it’s not hard to see how it would make you into a passionately outraged activist.

      — Climate change inaction. Similarly seen as a morally existential issue due to the potentially catastrophic consequences of another generation of inaction.

      — Abortion rights, which are typically seen on the left as already being seriously eroded and likely to be gutted by an overturn of Roe v Wade any day now. This also can be a moral-outrage issue on a par with slavery, if you believe that forcing women to carry pregnancies to term is tantamount to enslaving them.

      — The apparent rise in neo-Nazi and other blatantly racist activity. Whether you believe this is real or exaggerated, you can see how those who believe it’s real would be frightened.

      — The general belief that Trump is so intellectually deficient, morally corrupt, and emotionally volatile that he might at any moment do something catastrophically stupid and damaging for the lulz, or out of a desire to get back at some perceived enemy.

      If I had to put these into one narrative, I would say something like: the left cares about, and tries to work for, what they perceive as expansions of the circle of concern and increases in the general intellectual and moral level of leadership– whether that perception is accurate or not. When they observe what look like retreats on these metrics on a variety of fronts, they conclude they are losing.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        How would they feel about a compromise where they hand over control of the universities and mass media to the religious right, becoming as unwelcome there are Republicans are today, in exchange for a Democratic President, a law against immigration enforcement and climate change action?

        • salvorhardin says:

          I honestly have no idea. This seems sufficiently far from plausibility (how would you even carry out such a thing?) that I doubt most people have examined how they would feel about it.

        • Corey says:

          I for one wouldn’t care about the mass media, because I think it’s already *right*-biased, mostly in issue framing (think deficits, wars) and the urge to both-sides literally everything (tomorrow’s NYT: “Trump claims water is dry, Pelosi claims it’s wet, opinions differ.”)

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The news might matter less than fiction. Positive (or all?) depictions of homosexuality would be banned, depictions of families would return to 1950s norms, there’d be big budget films about our ancestors fighting against the spread of Islam, etc.
            If you recall, the Hays Code was an internal Hollywood policy adopted because they were afraid the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency had the power to get federal legislation controlling Hollywood content externally. Just imagine!

      • albatross11 says:

        — The general belief that Trump is so intellectually deficient, morally corrupt, and emotionally volatile that he might at any moment do something catastrophically stupid and damaging for the lulz, or out of a desire to get back at some perceived enemy.

        Oddly, I’m not on the left, but this one keeps me up nights, too.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Hypothesis: The left really cares deeply about fiscal issues, but will take a win on social if they can. The right really cares deeply about social issues, but will take a win on fiscal if they can. Since they’re winning on the “wrong” one of their legs, they feel like they’re losing far more than they are.

      Someone (ECD?) summed this up in a Yglesias quote: the right wins on policy, but cares about culture. The left wins on culture, but cares about policy. I found this so elegant that I went hunting for the original quote, but couldn’t find it. Does anyone know where the original is? Is there one?

      At any rate, I liked the quote. It also has the property of bypassing the idea of social vs. fiscal – I find too many counterexamples to that form of the rule.

      • Corey says:

        I got it from a tweet of his; Matt deletes all tweets every couple of weeks (maybe we should all do that).

      • ECD says:

        Wasn’t me. Not a bad idea, but I think it’s actually broader than that. In my experience people focus a lot more on defeats than victories. Especially since every victory is temporary and every defeat is eternal (or at least feels that way).

        Some comedian (Dave Barry? Maybe? Scott Adams? Maybe?) had a column I read a long time ago about how they complained a lot when they were poor, but when they got rich, they realized that they, and the people around them (also rich) changed what they were complaining about, but didn’t decrease their amount of complaining. I think there’s actually a lot of truth in that. In my experience, people have an individual complaint budget and outside times of absolute personal disaster (and sometimes even within them) will complain almost exactly that much and no more, or less, regardless of how bad/good their life actually is.

    • Plumber says:

      @EchoChaos says:

      “One of the comments last week commented that both CW tribes, Blue and Red…

      ….they feel like they’re losing far more than they are”

      Okay, I’m going to later put in caveats and nuance but first off: Thank you

      It really looked to me like rancor was building among the SSC commetariat, but in the responses to your top level post while folks are getting to the fears and longings that fuel the “culture war” what I’ve seen looks really collegial and impressive, and I’ll refrain (because it would be tedious to see) from posting a lot of “+1”s to most of the comments responding to the hypothesis (both for, against, and nuance) this whole sub thread deserves ’em!

      Alright, I’m old enough to remember that “Leftist” and “Liberal” were once distinct (LBJ’s policies would be called “on the Left” today, but those who called themselves “Leftists” hated him), and “Right” isn’t much better (Milton Friedman or Mussolini?), but for simplicity I’m going to use left and right with these definitions: “The Left” are Americans who vote, but will not vote for Republicans, “The Righ” are Americans who vote, but will not vote for Democrats (and yes for simplicity I’m ignoring the batshit crazy “Leftists” and “Rightists” who think street violence against their fellow citizens is a good idea), I could use “Democrats” and “Republicans”, but those are longer words and besides (unlike 50 and mow years ago) most voters now aren’t motivated by love for “their” Party, but by dislike, fear, and even hatred of one if the Parties (and many dislike both but hate one more).

      Yeah, “fiscal liberals” are the majority of American voters, not overwhelmingly so, but a majority, and yeah “social conservatives” are a slight majority of voters, that said there are millions of “fiscal conservatives”, and millions of “social liberals” and most of money donated to the two parties comes from them, they are that passionate (I’ll liken it to most preferring country, pop, or R&B, but the few who like Death Metal spend more on records and t-shirts).

      Next, all these groups are outnumbered by non-voters in most States (the best guess is that most non-voters would be fiscal liberals and social conservatives, but non-voters are also less likely to respond to surveys and be confident in their answers so who really knows?).

      Now, just because a majority may want the status quo a bit more like the ’50’s (or an idealized version of them) people are used to now and won’t go full 50′, for two examples: the higher top marginal income taxes of then was to pay for a giant war and the subsequent “police actions” and “containments”, massive foreign aid, and a larger standing army (with a “peacetime” draft) facing an existential threat of an expanding totalitarian bloc, and I don’t think such rates would fly today, on the ‘social’ side; I’ve been pretty upfront ’bout being bitter about how the widespread expansion of the social acceptance of parents getting divorced in the ’70’s and ’80’s had so many of my generation grew up with broken homes, but as much as I dislike it I don’t think that genie will fit into that bottle, that ship has sailed (to mix metaphors), and while my “X” and the subsequent “Y” (millennials) generations are getting divorced less than my parents generation did, they’re also getting married later, or not at all, and just plain have less children.

      Now lets talk unions! 

      Today public approval of unions is higher than its been in recent decades, but the number of unionized jobs continues to shrink, with most not even private sector an