Open Thread 137.25

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread, but I’m making it visible today so I can make announcements:

1. There’s a new effective altruism survey up by Peter Hurford and Rethink Charity. If you consider yourself interested in or affiliated with EA, please take a look.

2. Sorry I’ve been spamming you all with meetup announcements. I plan to continue to do this for another two weeks or so. Next up are Ann Arbor, Chicago, Austin, Portland, and Seattle. Organizers in these cities, please be prepared for 50 to 100 or more people (if you’re not, let me know and we’ll figure something out). Some groups have had good luck starting at a public place and then having a house/apartment to go to when the public place is closing and the people have thinned out a little. Also please remember to bring a clipboard, paper, and a pen so people interested in future meetups can sign up for a mailing list.

3. Related: the Seoul, South Korea meetup has changed times to Saturday, September 28, 12:30 PM.

4. New advertisement up for the Charter Cities Institute, which is working with developing countries to create special economic zones encouraging innovation and good governance.

5. Comments of the week: CPlusPlusDeveloper explains the case for skepticism in the War on Opiates (I don’t know enough to endorse or deny, but I’m glad to see it put so lucidly). And Theodidactus and AshLael have worked in politics and give insider impressions of how money in politics works (or doesn’t work).

6. SSC-adjacent culture war subreddit r/TheMotte now has its own podcast, The Bailey. Latest episode is on issues surrounding discussing politics at work, with nods to some new Google policy; download it here.

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1,830 Responses to Open Thread 137.25

  1. DragonMilk says:

    What is the most delicious thing you can make in less than 30 minutes?

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I’ll nominate caprese salad– tomato, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. You do need good tomatoes.

      • keaswaran says:

        Ever since moving from California to Texas I’ve found caprese such a letdown. So many restaurants have it on the menu because people know it’s a good item, but it really feels like a cargo cult to do it without the sort of tomatoes that any good place in Los Angeles can come up with.

      • Enkidum says:

        Even simpler is a tomato sauce-type-thing I regularly make. Ripe good tomatoes, lots of fresh basil, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil. Chop everything, stick it in a bowl and leave it to stew for a couple of hours at least (which I guess doesn’t meet the 30 minute criterion, but it takes 15 minutes to chop up a huge batch). Perfection. Can just be eaten by the spoonful, or thrown on pasta.

    • rubberduck says:

      Does it have to be something most people have the ingredients and abilities to make? If not, then sushi.

      • Ketil says:

        Several raw fish dishes can be made quickly and with less fuss than (traditional) sushi. I like to chop up a piece of good quality salmon, and serve with chopped coriander/cilantro, soy sauce (mixed with lime juice), pickled ginger, lightly roasted sesame seeds, wasabi, wakame… generally any sushi condiment.

        There’s also Hawaiian poke and South American ceviche.

        • Ketil says:

          Another favorite: scones. Mix flour and other ingredients while the oven heats up, then bake for 15-20 minutes, and enjoy.

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            … how on earth do you make scones in thirty minutes?

            Mine take 18 to bake (at the usual temperature), and I can’t imagine finishing the complicated process of cut butter into flour —> stir wet ingredients very carefully together with butter/flour mixture in order not to squish the butter and ruin the flaky texture —> pat out into circles and cut into scones in twelve minutes. It takes me at least at hour for a batch, start to finish, and probably more.*

            *Though I usually make a double recipe if I make them at all, so this may be skewing my sense of how long it takes. But… twelve minutes? I suspect we may have very different recipes…

          • JustToSay says:

            @Rebecca Friedman

            I think it takes me around 40 minutes. Mine bake for about 15 minutes, and I don’t think it takes more than 20-25 minutes to make them up.

            I made biscuits for dinner tonight, so I timed myself. Walking-into-kitchen to biscuits-sliding-into-oven was 14 minutes. Scones take longer to prep, but cutting in the butter is the most time-consuming part and is the same either way. I think an extra 5-10 minutes for scone prep over biscuits is about right for me.

            I will say that these days, I do no recreational cooking – I’m basically in crank-it-out mode, so I try for efficiency.

            If you’ve popped the butter in the freezer for a few minutes (even just while you get started), you can use the bigger holes on a cheese grater to grate the butter into the flour. You still have to use a pastry cutter to finish it off, but it’s faster without compromising on flakiness, IMO. I’ve tried using a food processor, but I don’t like the results that gives–the butter pieces are too uniform and you lose the nice layering/flaky result.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Is any good salmon good enough, or do you need suchi grade?

          • mitv150 says:

            Farmed salmon from a good source is pretty safe. The chief issue with raw fish is parasites, and farmed products are significantly less likely to have parasites than wild.

            See this link for an excellent guide to eating raw fish:
            https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/05/how-to-prepare-raw-fish-at-home-sushi-sashimi-food-safety.html

          • Enkidum says:

            I can attest anecdotally to the parasite issue. A friend brought us an entire fresh sockeye salmon, wild-caught by some Native friends. Would have been worth probably a few hundred bucks or more if he’d been allowed to sell it. It looked great, and my wife and I are big fans of sashimi, so… we made sashimi.

            Tasted amazing. We ate a ridiculous quantity, because what else are you going to do with fresh fish that great?

            Somewhere between 4-8 hours later, the puking started, and did not stop for either of us for the next 10 hours.

            I regret nothing.

      • DragonMilk says:

        Skill can be pursued, equipment must be bought :/

        Think straight-forward dishes with minimal equipment

    • Clutzy says:

      Bacon and eggs.

    • blipnickels says:

      Pour a bourbon!

      Realistically, I can grill/fry a burger in hurry and it’ll still be great.

    • Fitzroy says:

      Eggs in purgatory – eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce and served with crusty bread.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I think this kung pao chicken just squeaks in if I work quickly enough in terms of chopping things.

      More simply, there are various pasta sauces that can be made in the time it takes to boil the water and cook pasta- carbonara, for instance.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Prime-grade steak

    • theodidactus says:

      Buy really spicy italian sausages and tomatoes and noodles and butter and red wine and olive oil.

      * Chop up the tomatoes and put them in a pot. Low heat, add the butter and the red wine
      * make the noodles
      * chop up the sausage and pan-fry it in olive oil.

      Resulting dish is very hearty and heavy but tastes as good as anything you can get in an italian restaurant and it’s easy as hell to prepare.

      The secret I think is that the tomatoes need to be fresh tomatoes, not canned things or tomato sauce.

      • Lambert says:

        I’ve heard that
        Freshly picked homegrown tomatoes > good quality whole tinned tomatoes > ‘fresh’ storebought tomatoes

        • mitv150 says:

          This is true for many purposes. But tinned tomatoes are no good on sandwiches or in salads, so there you might be stuck with grocery store tomatoes.

          If I can’t get homegrown tomatoes, I just won’t cook anything that requires freshly cut tomatoes. For me, the difference between homegrown and grocery store tomatoes is so large as to make grocery store tomatoes not even worth buying.

          The disclaimer here is that some grocery stores will carry tomatoes labeled “ugly tomatoes” or “heirloom tomatoes” that are locally grown and have similar qualities to homegrown tomatoes. Those are worth buying.

          • theodidactus says:

            Another example of how rationalists can find one weird trick to succeed maybe? Yes, the “crappy looking” tomatoes seem to taste much better and I’m confident I could taste the difference even if you chopped ’em up.

            Lucky for me I have a nearby farmers market and they sell good tomatoes.

          • acymetric says:

            Is that really a rationalist thing?

          • Nick says:

            Is that really a rationalist thing?

            We should make it one.

          • Randy M says:

            I have seen at least one service specifically market that. It seems like the intersection of hipster and frugal types.

          • mitv150 says:

            Two different things being discussed here re: “ugly tomatoes.”

            There is a significant taste difference between homegrown tomatoes and typical grocery store tomatoes. Grocery store tomatoes are bred to have very thick skins strong internal structure to make them easier to ship. They also tend to be more watery than homegrown varieties.

            Homegrown (or local farmer’s market) varieties are typically much tastier, because they are bred for taste and don’t need to be shipped a long distance. If you’ve ever seen a tomato truck on I-5 in California you’ll understand. The tomatoes are stacked in huge bins. Homegrown tomatoes would be crushed under the weight.

            The typical grocery store tomatoes are also selected for uniformity of shape and look, like most fruit. Homegrown and locally grown tomatoes are not selected for looks, and are thus generally odder looking, or ugly. They also typically cost quite a bit more than the big commercially grown fruit.

            There is a separate, but related, thing where the outcasts from the big commercial growers are sold as “ugly” fruit for less than the good looking fruit. There are services that collect and sell this fruit. In the case of tomatoes, the ugly cast-offs from commercial growers will still taste as bland as the non cast-offs.

            Thus, ugliness is not always a good heuristic for all tomato selection. It works as a heuristic in a grocery store, because grocery stores don’t sell the ugly cast-offs.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            This summer, I’ve been fooled by funny-looking tomatoes which don’t taste like much and are expensive.

            I call it the heirloom tomato apocalypse, and I’ve been expecting it.

            You can escape from Goodhart’s Law, but not for long.

            I recommend choosing tomatoes by smell. I’ve never had a flavorless tomato that smelled good. There are tomatoes with no scent that taste good, but I have no idea how to find them reliably.

      • JayT says:

        I disagree that fresh tomatoes are better than (good quality) canned tomatoes for making sauce quickly. For one, if you don’t peel the tomatoes then you are left with possibly my least favorite food, cooked tomato skins. You also need to cook fresh tomatoes a lot longer to get all that moisture cooked out. So, I don’t see this being a 30 minute dish if you use fresh tomatoes.

        • theodidactus says:

          That might be a taste thing. I like big chunks of tomatoes with the skin still on, if you start with the chopped up tomatoes its soft and buttery by the end, but still tastes like the fruit, rather than just a sauce. I think it goes really well with the spicy meat chunks

          • JayT says:

            For me, a cooked tomato skin is about as appetizing as eating paper. I’ve stopped going to restaurants I otherwise liked because they didn’t peel their cooked tomatoes. I also dislike par-cooked tomatoes in general. I like them raw, and I like them cooked down into nothing, but that middle ground is very unappealing to me. That’s one of the reason I hate having diced tomato on a pizza.

    • mitv150 says:

      30 minutes is a ton of time if you have the ingredients on hand and are familiar with the kitchen… so I’ll answer based on the the most delicious thing you can make in less than 30 minutes with ingredients that don’t require a special shopping trip (thus excluding raw fish dishes and good steak).

      non red sauce pasta dishes:
      spaghetti aglio e olio
      cacio e pepe
      or maybe spaghetti puttanesca

    • broblawsky says:

      Pesto. As long as you have fresh basil and a food processor, you can basically make it in 5 minutes.

    • Ttar says:

      A call to your local Thai takeout place.

    • Zeno of Citium says:

      Me personally? Chocolate souffle, if I work at full speed and have the proper tools. It’s easier than you think.

    • JayT says:

      When I see someone asking for a dish they can make in 30 minutes, I take that to mean they want a dish that they can easily make when they don’t have a lot of time. So I include the amount of cleanup in the calculus for this kind of question, because I could make something like spaghetti and meatballs in less than 30 minutes, I’ll also have a whole bunch of cleanup to do afterwards.

      That said, my favorite dish to make when I’m feeling lazy is to mix brown sugar and dijon mustard together and pour that over a salmon filet. Then you stick it in a 375 oven for about 12 minutes. It turns out perfectly medium rare, has almost no cleanup if you put the fish on parchment paper, and is extremely tasty. You can also put some vegetables coated in olive oil on the side of the baking sheet, and you’ll have a side dish ready to go too.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I tried it out with salmon filet, oregano, dijon mustard, and some raclette cheese on top. It was fast and pretty good.

        I thought raclette was like swiss cheese, but this was more like a mild limburger.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Fake chocolate mousse. Add a packet of chocolate pudding mix to a cup or two of heavy cream, whip until light and airy. Serve with Nilla wafers.

      Bacon and eggs.

      Ramen, with broccoli florets, chopped ginger root, and lemon juice.

      Burger with mayo, grilled onions, melted Monterey Jack, pickles, mustard.

      Tortilla soup – sauteed onion, garlic, kidney beans, black beans, corn, hominy, and chili powder, served with Jack cheese, cilantro, and green onions.

      Creamcheese guacamole.

      Chicago dogs – hot dogs with sliced tomatoes, onions, relish, dill pickle spear, mustard, celery salt, sport peppers.

      • DragonMilk says:

        How do you go about creamcheese guac? Sounds intriguing

        Do you eat it with toast or chips?

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          How do you go about creamcheese guac? Sounds intriguing

          It’s pretty simple. About half a package of creamcheese, two avocados, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, about 1/4 cup lemon juice, and a teaspoon of salt. That’s my current proportions; they’ve adjusted over the months as I experiment. In the past, I’ve used as little as one avocado, yielding a dip with a lot more heft.

          The hardest part is getting the creamcheese to blend thoroughly. This typically requires leaving it out until it’s room temperature first, and then putting a lot of effort into the fork. It also helps if the avocados are ripe enough that almost all the yellow is gone. The lemon juice is essential – just enough to wet everything down, but no further.

          Plain pita chips are probably ideal, but plain crackers or even Ritz are quite good with it.

    • Enkidum says:

      Spaghetti carbonara.
      Omelettes.
      Greek salad.
      A cheese plate.

    • Rana Dexsin says:

      Are we counting cleanup time in this 30 minutes? I notice a lot of people don’t seem to mention it, but I can’t tell whether they’re including it implicitly.

  2. Steve Sailer says:

    “SSC-adjacent culture war subreddit r/TheMotte now has its own podcast, The Bailey”

    I’ve got a question about the term “Motte and Bailey.” I can remember the concept they describe well enough, but I can never remember which is one is the Motte and which one is the Bailey. To me, it’s like Type I and Type II Errors.

    And yet … “Motte and Bailey” has been a wildly successful innovation. Huge numbers of people have no problem with it. In fact, I wonder if the the difficulty of remembering which is which serves as an incentive for people to memorize the terms so that they can distinguish themselves from the masses who don’t know the secret handshake.

    My naive thought has always been than when I need to come up with new jargon, I try to make it as self-evident as possible what it means. But I’m starting to think that what people really like is obscurantist jargon that their tribe knows.

    Any thoughts on jargon design?

    • Falacer says:

      I always found it easy enough by thinking of motte=moat. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the common connection people remember it by.

    • Atlas says:

      I find it hard to remember which one is which, too, but it’s a super-useful concept, which is why it sticks in my head. I usually say “motte and bailey-ing” without specifying which is the motte and which is the bailey.

      I think many (or at least some) of Scott’s mimetic phrases/concepts are relatively straightforward/self-explanatory. Cost disease, Red Tribe/Blue Tribe, etc. (Although in those cases he took sort of already existing ideas and explicated/rephrased them in extremely helpful ways.)

      It’s a mystery to me why more terms/concepts of your own coinage/usage—invade the world/invite the world, who is overtaking whom?, affordable family formation, etc.—haven’t caught on. They’re really useful (and often quite funny).

      To me, it’s like Type I and Type II Errors.

      For my intro statistics exams, I memorized a particular case—e.g. “the boy who cried wolf was leading the villagers to make a type I error”—and reasoned backwards from there.

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      I, on the other hand, found the concept super easy to grasp, because I knew what a motte and bailey were long before I came across this particular usage (hell, considerably longer than this usage exists*). If you’re familiar with this particular castle design, it’s super intuitive to think of the motte as the “easy to defend, but ultimately rather cramped” bit and the bailey as the “bit where all the interesting/useful stuff is, that is harder to defend”. Comparing this with the Type I/Type II nomenclature, the latter naming tells us nothing, other than that one is different from the other.

      I suspect that one reason that the SSC use of motte and bailey caught on is that the core community tends to attract the sort of people who know this sort of trivia. It doesn’t even require being a major history buff: I learned the term playing Lords of the Realm II; others may have picked it up playing D&D or whatever.

      I suppose that for greater clarity we could call it “keep and courtyard” or even “castle and green” (but not Elephant and Castle). It’s just that motte-and-bailey is a pre-existing term.

      * ETA:
      Going back to the Shackel paper, I see it was published in 2005, so not quite as long as I thought, but still.

      • Rachael says:

        I was also familiar with it before encountering the metaphorical usage. I’m not a history buff by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m not a D&D player, but I am British, and it seems to be more common to learn this stuff at school if you live in a country that actually has castles. We learned about motte-and-bailey castles and other kinds of castles in early secondary school (age 11 or 12; early 90s), drew pictures of them, and went to visit one or two. For some reason I found motte-and-bailey a memorable term, to the extent that if you’d asked me (before I read Scott’s essay introducing the metaphorical meaning of motte-and-bailey) to name one thing I remembered from each of geography and history in early secondary school, I’d probably have said ox-bow lakes and motte-and-bailey castles.
        I thought that ox-bow lakes had acquired memetic status as a thing everyone remembers learning about at school and no one needs to know about in later life (although I can’t find any evidence of this atm). To me, motte-and-bailey castles are in a similar category to those.

    • A1987dM says:

      I remember that the bailey is the field because of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

    • Murphy says:

      I always remember it as Bailey = Baile = Home/Town

      Since Baile is irish for Home/Town like Baile Átha Cliath ( Irish for Dublin)

      Funnily enough the name Dublin actually comes from Duibhlinn coming from dubh meaning “black, dark” and linn/lind meaning “pool” which means the capitol of ireland is actually Blackpool.

    • j1000000 says:

      Type I and Type II is annoying, IMO, because you’re generally designating something as one or the other, so the difference matters but is hard to remember (mostly it’s easier to say “false positive” or “false negative”). But I feel like most of the time I see motte-and-bailey people just use them together as a singular noun — as in “that’s a motte-and-bailey” or something.

      • Nick says:

        I can never remember Type I and Type II, either. Honestly, the terms just seem maximally terrible to me. Like, how many other things do we name this way, where descriptive names practically volunteer themselves but we give them nondescript enumerations instead? Should extroverts and introverts be called Type I and Type II personalities, too?

        Never had any problem with motte and bailey, though.

        • Matt says:

          Well we do have Type A and Type B personalities. I have a vague sense of what at Type A personality is, but have never heard discussion of Type B personalities at all, I think.

          • Protagoras says:

            I never remember which is which between the A theory and the B theory of time. Fortunately, these days it has become more common to speak of presentism and fourdimensionalism (which has probably hindered me in ever getting A vs. B straight; I just don’t encounter it enough) but as a specialist in metaphysics, I remain somewhat embarrassed that it takes me a while to figure out what’s going on whenever someone uses the older terminology.

          • Randy M says:

            I only ever hear people talk about Type A, though, and only in contexts that make the meaning clear.
            “She just won’t stop to catch her breath, she’s so Type A”

          • Nick says:

            I never remember which is which between the A theory and the B theory of time.

            That’s funny—despite what I said above, I’ve never have a problem with these. They do cry out for descriptive names in the same way, though. Tensed and tenseless, maybe.

          • AG says:

            Type A/B is evocative because it signals what kind of grades they’d get in school.

    • Rowan says:

      I’ve known what a motte and bailey castle was since I was, like, six? I always considered castles to be a standard geeky kid interest, and it feels to me like a basic level of geek knowledge on the level of what a d20 is, meaning I’m constantly surprised when people in the SSC demographic turn out not to know.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      Motte is the one surrounded by moat, I figure.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Maybe people like the secret handshake of knowing the phrase and maybe they like to pretend that there is special knowledge of which is which, but they don’t have to learn that because they don’t use it. For example, here Scott just uses the phrase, not the components. Or here he uses “motte” three times in the phrase and only once to refer to a specific point.

      Even if someone does say “the motte is X and the bailey is Y,” it’s pretty clear what is the relation between X and Y. If someone said only “the motte is X” without naming Y, then you might have to choose between W which is weaker and Y which is stronger and knowing “the motte” lets you choose. But it’s rare for someone to only name one arm and even then it’s pretty clear whether it’s supposed to be weak or strong.

      (I’ve always said that I prefer bait-and-switch because it’s not a secret handshake. But it really isn’t clear which should be the bait and which should be the switch. Is the bait the motte or the bailey? If people just say “this is a motte-and-bailey” it works just as well to say “this is a bait-and-switch.”)

      Whereas people rarely say “X is a type I error” and if they did, you wouldn’t need to know I from II. The point of “type I error” is that you’re supposed to deduce X from the setup, so you really need to know what type I means. If you just want to say that there’s a tradeoff between I and II, it doesn’t matter which is which. But if you say “In this example, type I errors are more important than type II errors and so we should adjust the system” then it matters which is which.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “Is the bait the motte or the bailey?”

        Right, and which one is the one you most want to defend?

        • Douglas Knight says:

          I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but here are one or two advantages of the metaphor of motte-and-bailey over bait-and-switch. Who is being baited? Is it the allies who are baited with the bailey, or the enemies who are baited with the motte? Whereas, one hopes that the question of which claim is more defensible is more objective.

    • zzzzort says:

      No insight, except that I agree. Poorly choosing a jargon name should henceforth be known as a “Type I/Type II error”, for maximum confusingness.

  3. Atlas says:

    I recently saw someone on Twitter say “no one will have nostalgia for the 2010s.” Do folks think that this is broadly correct? I have to say, this sounds true to me, but I realize that it definitely might be a “grass is greener on the other side” effect/instance of Gell-Man amnesia. While I’m admittedly judging on the basis of cultural osmosis rather than personal experience, most previous decades of the past century or so, with the partial/possible exception of the 1970s, seem like they were more interesting/cooler than the previous 10 years. For instance, is there any aesthetic style of recent vintage that will be as cool to future generations as Art Deco is to us today? (Not a rhetorical question, I don’t know much about the visual arts.)

    Auden famously (though he later retracted the poem he said it in) called the 1930s a “low, dishonest decade.” Yet, I just recently saw O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and it made an idealized version of the ’30s look pretty cool. (By the way, what was that movie saying about American religion? Something about Baptists being working-class but upwardly mobile strivers?) We have steampunk for the 1890s, dieselpunk for the 1930s, atompunk for the 1950s, cyberpunk for the 1980s…what do we have for the 2010s? Ultra-lame cyberpunk?

    I’ll also make a speculative, cowardly conjecture unworthy of being dignified with the title “prediction:” I think that the “Golden Age of TV” is overrated, and that prestige TV will have less influence on future artists than other forms of art did/do/will. (At least some) people are still willing to sit down and watch Citizen Kane, M, The Godfather, Lawrence of Arabia, etc. because they don’t take more than an evening’s time commitment to watch. Whereas I doubt that many people in the future will want to sit through 20+ hours of an old television series without the added inducement of the watercooler network effect. (I forget whether I got this insight from reading Steve Sailer or we developed it independently.)

    I realize from the outside view that every previous generation (except for maybe the Baby Boomers?) has bemoaned how lame and uncool the decades they happened to grow up in were, but from the inside view the past decade or two seem like they’ve been really lame and uncool. (In defense of the outside view: recently, the Now Playing Podcast did a “summer of 1989” series, and lamented how much better that year was at the movies than this one. But looking at the films they covered and previously discussed—Sex, Lies and Videotape, The Abyss, Last Crusade, Batman, When Harry Met Sally, Do the Right Thing, Dead Poets Society, etc.—it doesn’t really seem to me that it was that much of a grand slam year for cinema. And I say this as someone more than happy to be convinced that seeing movies in the summer of 1989 when you were 15 years old was a rare and wondrous earthly delight.)

    • blipnickels says:

      Some candidates:

      I think the Marvel universe will hold up well. The sheer amount of time and talent that got invested is unprecedented and unlikely to be duplicated in my lifetime; there must be $10 billion plus in combined production costs there. Plus they’re good blockbusters, and that’s a strong combination.

      Lots of niche things will be nostalgic, especially memes and Youtube series. I know I get nostalgic for albino blacksheep and, oddly enough, the Nostalgia Critic so I expect future generations to be nostalgic for Pewdepie or galaxy brain memes or whatever.

      It’s weird to think how much Nicki Minaj and Drake dominated music for this decade but they’ve got enough good songs and impact that they’ll hold up.

      On a more CW-angle, I expect a lot more nostalgia for the Obama years, 2010-2015. Not great years, but a nice quiet period between war/recession and whatever our current madness is.

      So, better than the 90’s

      • Atlas says:

        I think the Marvel universe will hold up well. The sheer amount of time and talent that got invested is unprecedented and unlikely to be duplicated in my lifetime; there must be $10 billion plus in combined production costs there. Plus they’re good blockbusters, and that’s a strong combination.

        I’m relatively pro-MCU (or at least anti-anti-MCU), so that seems more plausible to me than it might to some. In particular, I think that Joss Whedon’s Avengers movies could hold up well with future generations. (Although I think that Endgame will fall in stature relatively quickly, because so much of it was about reliving the high points from previous Marvel films, which I think future audiences will find much less interesting.)

        Lots of niche things will be nostalgic, especially memes and Youtube series. I know I get nostalgic for albino blacksheep and, oddly enough, the Nostalgia Critic so I expect future generations to be nostalgic for Pewdepie or galaxy brain memes or whatever.

        Right, kind of like vaporwave? I guess I find it hard to see how people could become nostalgiac for silly memes, but people in the 1930s probably didn’t think that there would be a lot of nostalgia for radio serials, either.

        It’s weird to think how much Nicki Minaj and Drake dominated music for this decade but they’ve got enough good songs and impact that they’ll hold up.

        It depends how future generations feel about hip-hop/rap, I guess.

        On a more CW-angle, I expect a lot more nostalgia for the Obama years, 2010-2015. Not great years, but a nice quiet period between war/recession and whatever our current madness is.

        Yeah, I’ve heard some of that already. The high unemployment rate and political gridlock make it hard for me, at least, to look at those years as nostalgia-worthy. (Even though they didn’t have a lot of relevance to me, personally, I remember seeing a lot of adults looking gloomy and a lot of depressing-seeming newspaper headlines.)

        So, better than the 90’s

        I have to admit, from my POV the 90s seem like an Ovidian Golden Age. Just look at this list of the best movies from 1999!

        • Randy M says:

          Although I think that Endgame will fall in stature relatively quickly, because so much of it was about reliving the high points from previous Marvel films, which I think future audiences will find much less interesting

          In other words, we’re already nostalgic for the early ’10s. Further proof history is speeding up. I anticipate my grandchildren, when grown, will remark, “Wow, do you remember Tuesday? I miss Tuesday. Tuesday has all the best VR programs and holo-music. Thursday is lame.”

        • viVI_IViv says:

          It depends how future generations feel about hip-hop/rap, I guess.

          I don’t know about future generations, but my 12 years old cousin listens to some noise interspersed with lyrics about drugs, apparently called trap “music”. Kids these days. Can you imagine anything like this becoming a cultural landmark? Oh wait

          • Enkidum says:

            I’d guess somewhere around 1/3 of Irish and Scottish folk music is about consuming a widely-available drug, having casual sex, and/or killing cops. Reminds me of how much easier it is to interpret, say, Romeo and Juliet when you realize it’s a play about street gangs.

          • The Nybbler says:

            You mean Shakespeare just adapted West Side Story? The time travelling THIEF!

      • viVI_IViv says:

        I think the Marvel universe will hold up well. The sheer amount of time and talent that got invested is unprecedented and unlikely to be duplicated in my lifetime; there must be $10 billion plus in combined production costs there. Plus they’re good blockbusters, and that’s a strong combination.

        Kinda. Marvel movies are the modern equivalent of Western: mass produced, formulaic cash grabs which look cool and indeed make lots of cash when they are made, but overall don’t really leave a big legacy other than a sense of a general visual style and cliched tropes. How many Western movies can you name off the top of your head?

        I expect that in 30 years, or even in 10 years, people will have a general sense of what MCU movies used to be, and maybe they’ll watch the first Iron Man or the first Avengers, but that’s it. Nobody will be giving a crap about Infinity War or Endgame, no matter how much money they are making now. (Think of Avatar for another example of a movie that was super cool and made a ton of money when it was released but had no broad cultural impact).

        Lots of niche things will be nostalgic, especially memes and Youtube series.

        Yes. This is where the real pop cultural innovation happens in our era. Especially with the increasing censorship and corporatization of the Internet, the 2010s will be remembered as the Golden Age of Memes.

        • EchoChaos says:

          How many Western movies can you name off the top of your head?

          Dozens, from Tombstone to Shane to The Shootist, but obviously I’m a huge Western fan.

          • FLWAB says:

            I am not a fan of Westerns, but even I can name quite a few. I’ve never even seen any of these, but I know their names.

            The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
            Tombstone
            Shane
            The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

          • EchoChaos says:

            @FLWAB

            All fantastic ones.

            I think comic book movies are the Westerns of our day. There are great ones, there are duds, but they’re clearly a memorable cultural force.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            I have only heard of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, though I’ve never watched it. No idea about the others.

        • Plumber says:

          @viVI_IViv >

          “…How many Western movies can you name off the top of your head?…”

          No Country For Old Men (it is very much a western!),
          Fistfull of Dollars,
          Sicario,
          For a Few Dollars More,
          Hang ’em High!,
          The Hateful Eight,
          The Good the Bad and the Ugly,
          Stagecoach,
          Rio Bravo,
          The Searchers,
          Broken Arrow,
          Winchester ’73,
          The Outlaw Josie Wells,
          Sante Fe Trail,
          The Oxbow Incident,
          Silverado,
          Young Guns,
          Bad Company
          Mad Max
          (damn straight it’s a western!)
          The Road Warrior and,
          Yojimbo (okay technically an Eastern, but close enough)

          I may have misspelled a few.

          Strangely Westerns aren’t my favorite genre, I’d say “Noir” was, but the best movies I’ve seen this decade are Locke, and ’71 (if anyone can name those genres please share!).

          Frankly @viVI_IViv you underestimate the memories of an older Gen X’ers who are almost as old as younger Boomers (such as myself) when it comes to what was on television to watch before VCR’s were popular, conversely I couldn’t tell you how many Avengers movies they’ve been, my post ’80’s popular culture knowledge is weak.

          • Aftagley says:

            he Good the Bad and the Ugly,

            I approve of your recommended title change, and would go so far as to apply it universally. Let’s start calling it “He Good, He Bad, and He Ugly”

          • Plumber says:

            @Aftagley,

            That does work!

          • AG says:

            Is Noir a Western set in the city, or is the Western a Noir set in the country?

            (The correct answer is that both are Samurai films set in ‘Murica.)

          • JayT says:

            I don’t think that’s accurate. Westerns predate samurai movies, and guys like Kurosawa were pretty heavily influenced by early westerns. At some point the influence started passing back and forth, but I think that the westerns were the originals.

          • AG says:

            I mean, Samurai films are just Shakespeare dramas set in Japan, so.

            (As you may tell by now, my comments for this thread are very tongue-in-cheek.)

            On that note, I’m very disappointed that Plumber didn’t remember The Magnificent Seven.

            Also, does anyone here know of actual Singing Cowboy films? Hail, Caesar! and The Librarians both referenced them, but the only ones I can think of are Broadway adaptations (Oklahoma, Paint Your Wagon, Annie Get Your Gun).

        • Atlas says:

          Kinda. Marvel movies are the modern equivalent of Western: mass produced, formulaic cash grabs which look cool and indeed make lots of cash when they are made, but overall don’t really leave a big legacy other than a sense of a general visual style and cliched tropes. How many Western movies can you name off the top of your head?

          I expect that in 30 years, or even in 10 years, people will have a general sense of what MCU movies used to be, and maybe they’ll watch the first Iron Man or the first Avengers, but that’s it. Nobody will be giving a crap about Infinity War or Endgame, no matter how much money they are making now. (Think of Avatar for another example of a movie that was super cool and made a ton of money when it was released but had no broad cultural impact).

          I think the Westerns/Superhero movies comparison is a valid and instructive one. (Although it’s worth noting that superhero movies have been around and popular to some extent in various forms for a long time; from The Adventures of Captain Marvel in 1941 to Superman in 1978 to Batman in 1989.)

          I would differ/expand it by observing that, while pure Westerns fell out of fashion sometime around 1969, they had/have a lot of genealogical influence on later pop culture. Lots of cool recent stuff, from Firefly to Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood to Fallout: New Vegas, has been heavily influenced by Westerns.

    • albertborrow says:

      Yeah, no, this decade will be remembered just as fondly as any of the previous ones. Perhaps more so. The growing presence of the internet, the popularization of smartphones, the dominance of the MCU, and the rise of streaming services are all strong positive memories. It doesn’t matter if these cultural landmarks endure after the death of the people who first enjoyed them, so long as those people remember them fondly. It’s also not just the “golden age of television” – this decade has been the best for video games so far, with the resurgence of independent developers and year after year of hit titles. Amazon’s ebook infrastructure is providing new avenues for self-publishing literature, and at the same time platforms like Patreon are making it easier for an author to survive simply posting their stories online. The same could be said for independent video creators on YouTube, most of whom came around in the last ten years. That kind of exchange of visual information is literally unprecedented.

      I should be getting to bed here, instead of writing, but I think you get my point. There’s a lot of stuff going on right now. At the moment, that’s all it is – because we’re living through it, it feels like the natural state of things. But in thirty years, when we take a look back (assuming we survive that long) we can recognize the history that’s being made right now for what it is: a truly incomparable rise in the availability of entertainment and information.

      • Atlas says:

        Yeah, no, this decade will be remembered just as fondly as any of the previous ones. Perhaps more so. The growing presence of the internet, the popularization of smartphones, the dominance of the MCU, and the rise of streaming services are all strong positive memories. It doesn’t matter if these cultural landmarks endure after the death of the people who first enjoyed them, so long as those people remember them fondly. It’s also not just the “golden age of television” – this decade has been the best for video games so far, with the resurgence of independent developers and year after year of hit titles. Amazon’s ebook infrastructure is providing new avenues for self-publishing literature, and at the same time platforms like Patreon are making it easier for an author to survive simply posting their stories online. The same could be said for independent video creators on YouTube, most of whom came around in the last ten years. That kind of exchange of visual information is literally unprecedented.

        I guess it seems to me that those are all basically (for better or for worse) “looking at screens,” and I find it hard to imagine that we won’t have better screens with as/more interesting stuff on them in the future. Like, in the case of video games, as much as I enjoyed Fallout: New Vegas and The Witcher 3: the Wild Hunt, I’ll probably enjoy The Outer Worlds and Cyberpunk: 2077 as much or more. was about to say “nobody feels nostalgia for Blockbuster now that we have Netflix,” but then I realized that I’m an idiot and tons of people, myself included, as well as a slightly more influential fellow named Quentin Tarantino, feel nostalgia for the age of video rentals, which perhaps supports your point.

        I should be getting to bed here, instead of writing

        Same here.

        There’s a lot of stuff going on right now. At the moment, that’s all it is – because we’re living through it, it feels like the natural state of things. But in thirty years, when we take a look back (assuming we survive that long) we can recognize the history that’s being made right now for what it is: a truly incomparable rise in the availability of entertainment and information.

        There’s something to be said for that, but it also kind of sounds like we’re—again, for better or for worse—approaching the WALL-E world, and I don’t really see why people in that world would care about its previous-gen iteration.

        • j1000000 says:

          Like, in the case of video games, as much as I enjoyed Fallout: New Vegas and The Witcher 3: the Wild Hunt, I’ll probably enjoy The Outer Worlds and Cyberpunk: 2077 as much or more

          You seem to think of nostalgia as a rational feeling. People that I know still feel intense nostalgia for every generation of games prior to PS3. I feel nostalgia for games like The Last of Us and Modern Warfare 2, which I used to play with an old roommate who moved across the country. Hell, I finished Ocarina of Time for the first time last month and I still somehow feel nostalgia for both that playthrough (which only ended a month ago!) and having missed its original release.

          • Atlas says:

            Interesting observation. I personally might feel nostalgia for playing specific games at particular moments in time, but I don’t think I really feel any nostalgia for older “eras” of gaming. OP wasn’t suggesting that no one would feel nostalgia for anything that happened in the 2010s so much as that no one would feel nostalgia for the 2010s qua the 2010s.

        • keaswaran says:

          There’s intense nostalgia for looking at screens.

          Reddit just spent a month of people being nostalgic for the old meme formats of the early 2010’s. We will absolutely have nostalgia for distracted boyfriend or first world problems woman or good guy greg or grumpy cat or maybe one of the others that doesn’t even seem very significant now until it inspires a major art movement of the 2020s.

          • Atlas says:

            Most early 2010s memes strike me as unbearably cringe. But I’ll no doubt rue my lack of taste when rare grumpy cat memes become extremely valuable property in the future.

      • kaakitwitaasota says:

        this decade has been the best for video games so far, with the resurgence of independent developers and year after year of hit titles.

        Has it? Maybe it’s just that my tastes were formed in the mid-2000s (I was born in ’95), but I think of the golden age of video games as the very end of the ’90s and the 2000s–Sim City 3000 and 4, Civ 2/3/4, the first release of Dwarf Fortress…

        I suppose Minecraft was 2011, though?

        • silver_swift says:

          I think this might be more of a personal preferences thing, I think my tastes were formed around the same time and most of my favourite games are definitely from the 2010’s.

          In terms of AAA games this decade had:
          – The best and third-best Civilization games
          – The best Fire Emblem game
          – The best and second best (if you retcon the last half hour) Mass Effect games
          – Both new XCOMs

          And as mentioned, indy gaming really took off this decade, we’ve had:
          – Kerbal Space program (2011)
          – FTL (2012)
          – Darkest Dungeon (2016)
          – Renowned Explorers (2015)
          – Stellaris (2016)
          – Slay the Spire (2017)
          – For the King (2018)
          and probably a whole bunch more that I’m forgetting right now.

          • Peffern says:

            The best and third-best Civilization games

            Surely you are referring to 5, then 4, then 6, yes?

          • achenx says:

            The best … Civilization game

            No, Civ 4 was in 2005.

          • silver_swift says:

            Surely you are referring to 5, then 4, then 6, yes?

            Correct, yes. Civ 6 is a good 4X game, but it isn’t nearly as terrifyingly addictive as 5 and 4 were (at least to me).

          • FLWAB says:

            I agree with that ranking wholeheartedly, with the caveat that the best Civilization game wasn’t in the franchise: Alpha Centauri.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @FLWAB

            That is the correct answer. All will fall before the glory of Sister Miriam Godwinson.

          • Witness says:

            Please don’t go. The drones need you. They look up to you.

          • Nornagest says:

            The only good things about Darkest Dungeon were the art and the voice acting, though. The core gameplay is some of the worst I’ve seen in a similarly prominent game, and the patch updates have made it worse, not better.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            – The best Fire Emblem game

            It’s funny because this could be referring to multiple different games Fire Emblem games that people consider to be the best, yet are still wrong about them being better than Radiant Dawn.

          • silver_swift says:

            @eyeballfrog

            For me, Three Houses finally knocked Radiant Dawn from first place. The plot is probably worse (depends on how you feel about the wannabe Hogwarts thing they have going on), but the mechanics are sufficiently better that I’m now calling it my favorite Fire Emblem game.

          • Kestrellius says:

            The best […] Mass Effect game

            2007 wasn’t in the 10s.

          • aristides says:

            I was so nostalgic for GBA era Fire Emblem, but 3 Houses blows it out of the water. Between that and persona 5, my top games will be from this decade, but I do wonder if they will be replaced quickly or not

      • onyomi says:

        I was born in the 80s and don’t find myself fondly nostalgic for any decade since then. As a teen in the 90s I thought the music of the 90s mostly sucked then and I still think it sucks now. The clothing of the 90s was hideous then and looks even more ridiculous now. I don’t remember much good about the 00s, culturally speaking; hell, I’m still not even sure what to call them. On the world stage it feels mostly like the time everything started to go downhill with 9/11 and reaction to it.

        I still like 80s music (and 70s music and 60s music) better than the music of the 90s, 00s, or past decade, and the same largely goes for the movies, tv, fashion, outside the more extreme Brady Bunch-ish stuff. One is supposed to have a soft spot for the music that was popular when you were a teenager, but I have a soft spot for the music that was popular when I was like 6, so I’m not sure it’s that tightly related to my personal life path (of course I do have some non-rational warm fuzzy halos around the decade of my childhood, but aren’t I supposed to like the music and clothes of my teenagerhood?).

        And by this I don’t at all mean I’m not nostalgic for the parts of my life/people I knew, etc. that occurred in the 90s, 00s, and past decade, only that I don’t see them as culturally rich periods of American history (well, the 90s were great for video games, but mostly Japanese ones…).

        • Atlas says:

          One is supposed to have a soft spot for the music that was popular when you were a teenager, but I have a soft spot for the music that was popular when I was like 6

          The soundtrack to Tarantino’s latest movie, which I assume is mostly stuff he liked when he was 6, is very good (IMHO).

    • Machine Interface says:

      There’s a ton of stuff being made now that I enjoy a lot, and while my tastes have their parochialism, and while taste changes, I can’t imagine that I’m so alien that no one 30 years from will look back fondly at the things I enjoy.

      I enjoy recent films — I don’t even mean the AAA Marvel stuff in which I have relatively little interest, I mean directors like Dennis Villeneuve or James Gray, who are making the movies Ridley Scott or Christopher Nolan should if they had managed to keep their spark lighted. I enjoy the crazy experiments of Panos Costamos, Nicolas Winding Refn or Luca Guadagnino. This is the most I’ve enjoyed movies since the 80s!

      I enjoy the retrowave aesthetics and the electronic bands that embrace it — in the 90s I saw techno/electronica as trash, and now I’m listening to Justice, Carpenter Brut or Le Castle Vania and wondering at which point this stuff suddenly became just right for me.

      I enjoy independent video games. LIMBO, INSIDE, Hyper Light Drifter, Undertale, Night in the Woods, Crypt of the Necrodancer, Nuclear Throne are all well placed in my top 50 and were all made in the last decade.

      I enjoy the board game explosion; there’s never been so many board games than now and they’ve never been of better quality.

      I enjoy modern webcomics, with their wide variety of stories and themes and styles, how they have drastically improved since the beginning of the media (go back and look at where webcomics were 20 years ago, if you want a quick anti-nostalgia reality check).

      Nah, the time to be for me is now, and my only worry is that tastes is going to change, it’s all gonna end, and I’ll have to wait another 25 years for the cycle of nostalgia & revival to do its thing.

      • Tenacious D says:

        What’s your favourite Villeneuve film? I like the ones I’ve seen (“Incendies” packed an emotional punch for sure) and wouldn’t mind exploring his works further.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          I liked Arrival.

          I think Blade Runner 2049 is ok-ish: visually beautiful, but besides the pretty visuals and the nostalgia effect, it is too slowly paced and the plot and characters are weak.

        • Machine Interface says:

          Yeah, Arrival is my favorite, and Blade Runner 2049 suffers from some pacing issues but is otherwise one of the most visually gorgeous sci-fi films ever made.

          • sfoil says:

            I hated Arrival; I thought it was plodding, sentimental garbage, and its central conceit was far less interesting than Ted Chiang’s story. BR 2049 had a few odd pacing choices, but it was far better in that respect than Arrival.

            I’m going to see Dune of course, opening night if I can manage it. I expect it to be exhausting to watch, even aside from the director.

        • Atlas says:

          I would personally highly, highly recommend Blade Runner: 2049. For me, that movie was an instance of the “lightning in a bottle” that can happen with film, where the writing, cinematography, score, acting and set design all cohere into something greater than the sum of their impressive parts. I honestly think that it may be the best science-fiction film since The Matrix.

          I personally didn’t like Arrival all that much. It’s one of those movies, like Fincher’s Zodiac, that I think is well-directed but has a fundamentally lackluster story.

      • Atlas says:

        I enjoy recent films — I don’t even mean the AAA Marvel stuff in which I have relatively little interest, I mean directors like Dennis Villeneuve or James Gray, who are making the movies Ridley Scott or Christopher Nolan should if they had managed to keep their spark lighted. I enjoy the crazy experiments of Panos Costamos, Nicolas Winding Refn or Luca Guadagnino. This is the most I’ve enjoyed movies since the 80s!

        We seem to have similar tastes in cinema, although, on the basis of Dunkirk, I think that Nolan’s still got it. Don’t want to jinx it, but I have very, very high hopes for Tenet. In fact, 2020 looks to be a very good year at the movies, from my point of view, with intriguing new entries from Nolan, Villeneuve, Wes Anderson, Matthew Vaughn and Fukunaga. Heck, I’m even excited for Top Gun 2.

        • John Schilling says:

          We seem to have similar tastes in cinema, although, on the basis of Dunkirk, I think that Nolan’s still got it.

          Nolan’s still got it if he can get someone else to do his worldbuilding and plotting. Getting reality to do your worldbuilding and Winston Churchill to do your plotting almost counts as cheating, but the results are spectacular.

    • EchoChaos says:

      There will always be nostalgia for the peaceful days of youth. All my kids so far were born in the 2010s, so they will almost certainly remember it as an idyll, because they don’t know the culture war exists and the 2010s were just a fantastic decade to be a kid because of how peaceful and safe they are.

      Teenagers (kids a decade older than my kids) will almost certainly have the same feeling, but increased because of the glut of fantastic video games and mass media.

      I don’t think “the golden age of TV series” will be something that is big, other than old crotchety Gen Xers and Millennials telling Zoomers how great TV was in their day.

      • acymetric says:

        I wonder if we need to separate personal nostalgia from cultural nostalgia. I’ll be nostalgic for the 2010s (at least the first half) because it included my final college years and my mid-late 20s post-college years which I enjoyed quite a bit. On the other hand, I won’t really be nostalgic for anything that was going on culturally at the time except possibly the very different landscape/culture of the Internet in 2010-2012 (approx).

        • Atlas says:

          Yeah, precisely what I was going to say. I think it’s common for people to feel nostalgia for personally being young, but I think there’s some variation in what eras are deemed more broadly worthy of nostalgia.

    • Baeraad says:

      I find myself nostalgic for the 90s, with their lukewarm political correctness and their blithe conviction that our current system was either a) perfect and infallible and the ultimate form of society or b) so utterly corrupt and broken that you could never hope to improve it, just try to avoid it. They seem really nice in comparison to the present day, where everyone is competing for who can be the most hateful and insisting that everything could be perfect if we could just get the outgroup out of politics so that our ingroup could legislate Utopia into existence.

      Considering how much I recall hating the 90s while they were going on, this leads me to conclude that twenty years from now, I’m definitely going to be nostalgic for the 10s. Whatever will have replaced the current zeigeist by then, I’m going to have learned to be thoroughly sick of it.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Hmmmm, are there any decades where we haven’t seen nostalgia? It’s hard for me to see the ’10s, ’30s,’ and ’40s as having any sort of serious nostalgia, but maybe we had some a few decades ago.

      Out of the post-war decades, I only see the 70s as having a real dearth of nostalgia. Oil crises, urban crime, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” etc.

      Between the 00s and the 2010s, I see the 00s as less likely to have major nostalgia. The 10s were a time period of recovery and relative peace with a massive proliferation of smart phone apps. I can entirely imagine nostalgia about Tinder in 20 years.

      • EchoChaos says:

        I only see the 70s as having a real dearth of nostalgia.

        It’s the decade that had such an untapped nostalgia for it that “That 70s show” became one of the biggest shows of the late 90s/early 2000s.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Yeah, but compare the “That 70 Show” to the insane nostalgia for practically every other post-war decade. The 50s are the cleavers, the 60s are Mad Men, the 80s is practically everything, the 90s are the Boy Bands, and the 70s is Topher Grace.

          Been a while since I watched it, but That 70s Show seemed to have stopped having anything to do with the 70s after a few seasons.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Hrm, I must have phrased that badly.

            I think that there are about the same number nostalgic for the 70s as any other decade, but there isn’t the mass media support for it because it’s all Gen X who are nostalgic, and we’re a much smaller generation without as much media power as the Boomers and Millennials.

            So we get fewer things targeted to that specific decade.

            But nostalgia for that decade is huge. M*A*S*H, for example, is a regular in the nostalgia rotation of Boomers and Gen X.

          • gbdub says:

            M*A*S*H is from the 70s but it’s set in the 50s – which decade does it count as nostalgia for?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @gbdub

            Modern nostalgia for M*A*S*H counts as 70s.

            My favorite fact about it is that the show lasted longer than the war it was putatively about.

          • gbdub says:

            “Retro”, at that time meaning a vague mash of 60s and 70s earth tones and hippie stereotypes, was huge in the mid 90s to early 2000s. That 70s Show was cashing in, not pushing a trend. See also the revival of the VW Beetle.

          • acymetric says:

            Yeah, the idea that there isn’t any nostalgia for the 70s is wild to me. There is so much nostalgia for the 70s that people who weren’t even alive yet are nostalgic for the 70s.

          • gbdub says:

            @Echo – I guess, but I feel like there are a lot of shows from the 70s that people have nostalgia for that are not strictly period pieces and thus make better examples (granted M*A*S*H was hitting some cultural themes more relevant to the 70s but still – one of those themes was nostalgia for the pre ‘nam era )

            Like, if my favorite movies were Titanic and Saving Private Ryan, would that make me necessarily nostalgic for the 90s? It would be more like I’m nostalgic for the things people in the 90s were nostalgic for.

      • Murphy says:

        People who lived through the 70’s rarely seem too keen on them.

        As one parody song put it

        “Oh the 70’s were crap
        Can we please not bring them back.”

        • Plumber says:

          @Murphy,
          As I recall it most of the ’70’s was a decade where things got worse, but things were still better than the godawful ’80’s!

      • Plumber says:

        @A Definite Beta Guy >

        Hmmmm, are there any decades where we haven’t seen nostalgia? It’s hard for me to see the ’10s, ’30s,’ and ’40s as having any sort of serious nostalgia, but maybe we had some a few decades ago…”

        Judging from the movies made then the 1940’s had nostalgia for the 1890’s (The Naughty Nineties, et cetera), afterwatds the ’50’s, and the ’60’s had nostalgia for the ’20’s, the ‘early 70’s for the ’30’s (The Sting, Paper Moon, etc), otherwise the ’70’s for the ’50’s and early 60’s (American Graffiti, Happy Days), the ’80’s for the ’60’s, (The Big Chill, Return of the Secaucus 7).

        As for me: I was born in ’68 (so early “Gen X”), and I remember far more pre ’90’s books, films, and music than post ’90’s stuff (and I’ll say it right now: I just don’t get youngsters love of The Matrix, that movie bored me, and besides I thought Dark City did the same themes better), where the ’90’s shined was television (multiple Star Trek‘s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and while I never watched it I heard good things about Babylon 5), otherwise the ’90’s stands out as the decade during my lifetime where things got better for a while instead of worse.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        On a personal level, Nov 8th and Nov 9th, 2016, were absolutely glorious. It’ll be hard not to be nostalgic about those days.

      • keaswaran says:

        Good observation on the decades that lack nostalgia! Those are the decades with major global wars or major global depressions. They seem to have left art and culture relatively untouched, compared to the decades before or after. (Though I can’t really distinguish 1900’s retro from 1890s retro, so maybe 1900’s is also a decade without much nostalgia.)

        • JayT says:

          I don’t know, there was a ton of nostalgia about the 40s in the 1990s. It seemed like half the movies made were World War II movies, there was all that talk about the “Greatest Generation”, and the lead-up to the year 2000 was mostly a bunch of lists talking about how important WWII was.

    • j1000000 says:

      I agree with everyone else — kids growing up now will soon enough have plenty of nostalgia for Juuling, Fortnite, “hoverboards,” tons of YouTube celebrities I don’t know exist, Supreme clothes, mumble rap, and a million other trends I’m unaware of.

      People who are 32 and spend their time arguing about liberal politics on Twitter will probably not feel nostalgia, but all the same, it could certainly get much much worse than this in short order, and then they’d be “nostalgic” for the Trump era in the same way they’re “nostalgic” for the Bush era. Conservatives (both moderate and extreme) may eventually feel nostalgic for this era and think back fondly on when Trump was the last man to speak the politically incorrect truth and stand athwart history and also we had a thriving stock market, dunno about that.

    • hls2003 says:

      I don’t remember where I heard it, but I’ve heard it said that everyone is nostalgic for the first time they fell in love. (The cruder version was “first time they got laid.”) There will be a time when lots of people are nostalgic for the 2010’s – even if those same people think they are finding the 2010’s awful right now.

      • ec429 says:

        The classic example of this I’ve seen given is Ostalgie — East Germans nostalgic for the days of the DDR. Most of whom were young, and protesting in the streets (always romantic!), in 1989, and are now middle-aged and jaded.

    • Zeno of Citium says:

      If people have nostalgia for the 1980s of all decades, they’ll probably have nostalgia for the 2010s.

      • Urstoff says:

        I think people always post-hoc justify their nostalgia; every cohort will be nostalgic, but what they’re nostalgic for will be different. People are nostalgic for the 90’s because of it’s supposed stability and optimism. In contrast, people are nostalgic for the 60’s for the cultural changes that happened (disregarding the incredible amounts of social instability). People are nostalgic for the 80’s because (among other reasons) that’s when pop-culture started to embrace nerd culture (and now pop-culture and nerd-culture are indistinguishable).

    • AG says:

      There’s already a contingent of people nostalgic for the glory days of SSC and before that, LW…

    • Enkidum says:

      I think games (both video and board, for that matter) are in a completely unmatched golden age. There’s been nothing like the quantity of incredible games of every variety than there has in the past decade.

      I don’t think your water cooler effect is that important regarding TV any longer. People still go back and binge-watch entire series, especially the recognized greats (The Wire, of course). Watching habits have changed drastically.

      Popcorn movies are as good as they’ve ever been, and more arty stuff seems to have been having a good decade as well.

      I don’t really read new fiction much, so can’t comment.

      Music… I’m no longer capable of making reasonable judgments. I will say that the later 90’s was one of the worst eras for popular music I know of (Limp Bizkit, QED), and both the periods before and after that were some of the best (say, 1990-1997, and 2005-2010). I can name quite a few modern artists I think are doing very cool work, but they’re mostly very consciously retro in some way. So… *shrugs*.

      But all in all, I think there’s good reason to think that there’s a strong component of get-off-my-lawn guiding your feelings. It’s natural, I think, to feel that way about one’s own era, but I think it’s probably just factually wrong. (Also, artistically, we clearly have very different tastes – I thought it was generally accepted that the 70’s was the best era for American cinema, at least, and musically 65-75 is usually considered pretty great.)

      • Urstoff says:

        If only that unmatched golden age of video games would revive campaign-based flight/space sims and RTS’s. But that’s just nostalgia for the games of my teen years (Tie Fighter, Descent: Freespace, Age of Empires, etc.).

      • Atlas says:

        I think games (both video and board, for that matter) are in a completely unmatched golden age. There’s been nothing like the quantity of incredible games of every variety than there has in the past decade.

        I agree that video games are extremely good right now, and I’m happy to take your word for it regarding board games. However, it’s not clear to me that this is a golden age rather than a step on a ladder. It seems to me that video games keep getting better and better, and, while people have nostalgia for their youth and by extension the games they played in it, I’m not sure that there’s a lot of nostalgia for “eras” of gaming. Like, Campster had a really cool video on how Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch, despite having a lot of obvious similarities, differ profoundly, and how he missed the old days of TF2…but playing Overwatch is still a lot of fun, perhaps even more so than TF2.

        I don’t think your water cooler effect is that important regarding TV any longer. People still go back and binge-watch entire series, especially the recognized greats (The Wire, of course). Watching habits have changed drastically.

        I think there’s still something of a water cooler effect with shows that came out in the past 20 years that are available on streaming services. The Office is off the air by now at this point, right? But, in my anecdotal experience, people still (sadly) talk about it a lot.

        • Enkidum says:

          The Office is off the air by now at this point, right? But, in my anecdotal experience, people still (sadly) talk about it a lot.

          But isn’t that the opposite of a water cooler effect? I’d always understood that to be that everyone talks about a show at the moment of release.

          If all you mean is that people talk about it, period, even decades later, then sure, but I’m not sure why that would decrease viewership, quite the opposite.

    • Urstoff says:

      We’re already at the late 90’s in terms of nostalgia. 20-25 years seems about to be the usual nostalgia gap. It’s hard to imagine what would have to happen for people not to be nostalgic of their formative years.

    • Sankt Gallus says:

      I already find myself nostalgic for internet culture 2010-2012. It was a very specific two years.

      • BBA says:

        The old culture war (Christian moralists vs irreverent seculars) had just been conclusively won, the new one (SJW vs Nazis) hadn’t started yet. Online culture was united and nobody could stop us…good times, man, good times.

        • kaakitwitaasota says:

          Yes, I feel a particular fondness for the period from about 2006 to 2015-2016–my teen years and first three years of college (the fourth felt like kind of a pointless coda).

          It’s bizarre to remember how placid the culture wars were–I recall going to a party at a Democratic congressman’s house and mostly making semi-racist jokes with the other Very Blue Tribe smart kids there. In fact, I can date the start of the culture wars to some time in 2013, when I posted a rather innocuous status poking mild fun at otherkin and got chewed out with hyperbole by two of these Very Blue Tribe smart kids.

          • mtl1882 says:

            Yes, things distinctly went off the rails at that point. I remember how before the 2016 presidential stuff even got going, I ended up having to block keywords in Twitter — “breaking news,” “outrage,” etc. It was just way too much. I’d loved Twitter, an then it was all junk. I loved following current events and celebrity news, but they just became mixed into each other, with everything turned up to 11, and lost all their fun. Everything was now a *big deal,* but not even in a compelling way. It happened so fast and it confused me that no one else commented on it.

    • mtl1882 says:

      Right now, I cannot see myself, personally, ever having nostalgia for the 2010s. Definitely the 90s and 2000s, but the 2010s have had a pretty nightmarish feel to them that I can’t quite convey. Probably related to this, I don’t feel like there is much of a consistent mood over the course of them. It feels entirely fractured and uncertain, and I went from a pop culture junkie to tuning out completely, largely because I feel the media has become intolerable since around the mid-2010s. There is some early 2010s music, before I tuned out fully in 2014 (for music/TV–I kept up with current events through 2015, and followed major politics until 2017), that I could be nostalgic for. But I hope to god the 2020s allow me to feel a sense of anticipation again. I don’t know if it is all in my head, but I would never have believed ahead of time that this decade would be so disorienting and unhappy for me. And, again, it doesn’t even seem like a decade–the last five years seem like random, unmoored time to me, and I kept thinking I would snap out of it and get back on a roll. Guess not. The changes in lifestyle must have been more intense in the 2000s, but they were way more manageable for me.

  4. Atlas says:

    Some wisdom from Thomas Babbington Macaulay (I hope it isn’t a faux pas to post such a long block of text, but I found it really insightful and think it could inspire some good discussion) :

    In the first place, the arguments which are urged in favour of Elizabeth apply with much greater force to the case of her sister Mary. The Catholics did not, at the time of Elizabeth’s accession, rise in arms to seat a Pretender on her throne. But before Mary had given, or could give, provocation, the most distinguished Protestants attempted to set aside her rights in favour of the Lady Jane. That attempt, and the subsequent insurrection of Wyatt, furnished at least as good a plea for the burning of Protestants, as the conspiracies against Elizabeth furnish for the hanging and embowelling of Papists.

    The fact is that both pleas are worthless alike. If such arguments are to pass current, it will be easy to prove that there was never such a thing as religious persecution since the creation. For there never was a religious persecution in which some odious crime was not, justly or unjustly, said to be obviously deducible from the doctrines of the persecuted party. We might say, that the Caesars did not persecute the Christians; that they only punished men who were charged, rightly or wrongly, with burning Rome, and with committing the foulest abominations in secret assemblies; and that the refusal to throw frankincense on the altar of Jupiter was not the crime, but only evidence of the crime. We might say, that the massacre of St. Bartholomew was intended to extirpate, not a religious sect, but a political party. For, beyond all doubt, the proceedings of the Huguenots, from the conspiracy of Amboise to the battle of Moncontour, had given much more trouble to the French monarchy than the Catholics have ever given to the English monarchy since the Reformation; and that too with much less excuse.

    The true distinction is perfectly obvious. To punish a man because he has committed a crime, or because he is believed, though unjustly, to have committed a crime, is not persecution. To punish a man, because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked.

    When Elizabeth put Ballard and Babington to death, she was not persecuting. Nor should we have accused her government of persecution for passing any law, however severe, against overt acts of sedition. But to argue that, because a man is a Catholic, he must think it right to murder a heretical sovereign, and that because he thinks it right, he will attempt to do it, and then, to found on this conclusion a law for punishing him as if he had done it, is plain persecution.

    If, indeed, all men reasoned in the same manner on the same data, and always did what they thought it their duty to do, this mode of dispensing punishment might be extremely judicious. But as people who agree about premises often disagree about conclusions, and as no man in the world acts up to his own standard of right, there are two enormous gaps in the logic by which alone penalties for opinions can be defended. The doctrine of reprobation, in the judgment of many very able men, follows by syllogistic necessity from the doctrine of election. Others conceive that the Antinomian heresy directly follows from the doctrine of reprobation; and it is very generally thought that licentiousness and cruelty of the worst description are likely to be the fruits, as they often have been the fruits, of Antinomian opinions. This chain of reasoning, we think, is as perfect in all its parts as that which makes out a Papist to be necessarily a traitor. Yet it would be rather a strong measure to hang all the Calvinists, on the ground that if they were spared, they would infallibly commit all the atrocities of Matthias and Knipperdoling. For, reason the matter as we may, experience shows us that a man may believe in election without believing in reprobation, that he may believe in reprobation without being an Antinomian, and that he may be an Antinomian without being a bad citizen. Man, in short, is so inconsistent a creature that it is impossible to reason from his belief to his conduct, or from one part of his belief to another.

    We do not believe that every Englishman who was reconciled to the Catholic Church would, as a necessary consequence, have thought himself justified in deposing or assassinating Elizabeth. It is not sufficient to say that the convert must have acknowledged the authority of the Pope, and that the Pope had issued a bull against the Queen. We know through what strange loopholes the human mind contrives to escape, when it wishes to avoid a disagreeable inference from an admitted proposition. We know how long the Jansenists contrived to believe the Pope infallible in matters of doctrine, and at the same time to believe doctrines which he pronounced to be heretical. Let it pass, however, that every Catholic in the kingdom thought that Elizabeth might be lawfully murdered. Still the old maxim, that what is the business of everybody is the business of nobody, is particularly likely to hold good in a case in which a cruel death is the almost inevitable consequence of making any attempt.

    Of the ten thousand clergymen of the Church of England, there is scarcely one who would not say that a man who should leave his country and friends to preach the Gospel among savages, and who should, after labouring indefatigably without any hope of reward, terminate his life by martyrdom, would deserve the warmest admiration. Yet we can doubt whether ten of the ten thousand ever thought of going on such an expedition. Why should we suppose that conscientious motives, feeble as they are constantly found to be in a good cause, should be omnipotent for evil? Doubtless there was many a jolly Popish priest in the old manor-houses of the northern counties, who would have admitted, in theory, the deposing power of the Pope, but who would not have been ambitious to be stretched on the rack, even though it were to be used, according to the benevolent proviso of Lord Burleigh, “as charitably as such a thing can be,” or to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, even though, by that rare indulgence which the Queen, of her special grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, sometimes extended to very mitigated cases, he were allowed a fair time to choke before the hangman began to grabble in his entrails.

    I think this applies quite neatly to some contemporary New Atheist (notably e.g. Sam Harris) arguments about religion, particularly regarding the nature of the alleged link between terrorism and Islam. Although I do think that one could validly challenge parts of this and make a case for “profiling,” broadly speaking, as sometimes wise and just.

    • Ttar says:

      There’s a big difference between executing Catholics on the assumption of treason and looking at a wave of treason and noticing that Catholics are 6:1 more likely to commit treason, and arguing that we shouldn’t all pretend Catholicism doesn’t encourage treason.

      • HowardHolmes says:

        Such a conclusion would be misleading. It ignores the fact that a protestant is on the throne. Put a Catholic on the throne, and protestants might be the majority of persons trying to commit treason. Neither Catholics nor protestants need to be inclined to encourage treason. Treason is supported by the opposition party whoever that chance happens to be

  5. blipnickels says:

    Can anyone recommend forgotten websites with good material?

    For example, Miracle of Science was a webcomic that ran from 2002-2007 that I really enjoyed. Ugly art but great world-building and characters.

    It occurred to me today that I had no idea if it even still existed (it does) but someday they’ll stop paying for hosting and I kind of wish there was a way to save it.

    • habu71 says:

      XKCD’s What if
      He’s stopped making them, but the archives are all still there.

    • noyann says:

      For art folks with weird humor: The Museum of Depressionist Art and its Gallery of the Unidentifyable. May require drugs to fully appreciate…

      Exhibit,
      cw exhibit,
      exhibit,
      exhibit,
      cw exhibit.

    • Kestrellius says:

      Seems like a good time to recommend “Ow, My Sanity.” Cthulhu-Mythos-as-harem-romance-anime, but played seriously, not as a joke. It’s a very heartfelt story with excellent art and good character work. Unfortunately, what there is is pretty short, and it went on hiatus way back in 2011.

      I do recall seeing posts by the writer on Deviantart from fairly recently indicating that he hasn’t completely forgotten about the project and may return to it someday, so maybe there’s hope. In the meantime, give the archives a read. Unless my memory is deceiving me (it’s been quite a while since I read it), it’s something pretty special.

    • SamChevre says:

      Sheldon Brown’s Bicycle Technical Info – the go-to source if you are repairing an older bike

      The New Pantagruel archives – short-lived web magazine of Christian conservatism (think Rob Dreher and Wendell Berry, or people who love the Babylon Bee). “My Faith is in the Rock and My Name is on the Roll” is hilarious.

      Making Light: best comment section on the web until 2007 or so, and still strong until the puppy debacle. Still going, but little interesting. Look at the first-aid posts, the histories of disasters, and the poetry competitions – Composing the Rejected Canon is a particular favorite of mine. (I was an active commenter for years.)

    • Jaskologist says:

      If you’re looking for old webcomics, Fluble is an old favorite, with an absurdist sense of humor and a frenetic art style.

      • Protagoras says:

        Ninja’d! I was particularly going to recommend that one as the author is a friend of mine. He was also responsible for the sadly also no longer active fafblog.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I just discovered that Odd Fish is no longer on line.

        If you want skilled drawing and mind-blastingly stupid puns, a book is still available.

    • Paper Rat says:

      Here’s a collection of webcomics by Ryan Armand. The archive was restored by fans:

      https://kiwisbybeat.net/

      Notable entries:
      “Modern Fried Snake” – most recent series, very solid and unusual art (ink/brush, stark black and white with no gradients), story is set in a small village in a pseudo-Japan/China, that recently went through a people’s revolution (think early 20th century), characters are a delight, slightly odd (in a good way) humor.

      “Minus” – probably the most famous of Armand’s series, beautiful watercolor comic about a little omnipotent girl, occasionally sweet, occasionally dark.

      “Great!” – this one’s about a man down on his luck, who sets himself a goal of becoming the best ramen chef in the world. Story is a real epic spanning decades and goes to some very unusual places.

      Other stuff on the site is also very good, in my opinion, it’s a shame that the author doesn’t do comics anymore.

    • AG says:

      RIP Fanwank.

      Book-a-minute
      There also used to be some sort of “What if romance book titles described their book covers?” website that I can’t find anymore. AHA! (1, 2)

    • bean says:

      yarchive.net is a collection of old usenet posts on all sorts of stuff. Lots of interesting info.

      • ec429 says:

        Heartily seconded.
        (Also, as well as usenet posts, there’s an LKML section with some top-quality Linus rants.)

    • Soy Lecithin says:

      Some old internet favorites:

      Math puzzles and simulations
      http://www.cut-the-knot.org/

      Quizzes and commentary on art and stuff
      reverent.org

    • Doctor Mist says:

      Spamusement: “Poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines!” There is a certain amount of progression, so start at the beginning and move forward. There’s only 330 of them; that might seem a lot but you’ll wish there were more. Part of the charm is the pathetic or baffling tricks spammers used to make their subject lines pass through spam filters. Some are stupid, some are genius, none take more than three seconds to read.

      Some of my favorites:
      you were wrong cabinet sanchez (I actually bought the T-shirt.)
      Enhance your anatomy
      quantities of a ruddy-brown fluid were spurting up in noisy jets out of the
      You won’t believe what you can get for a buck
      and of course
      Have zex tonight

    • dweezle says:

      steve oedekirk used to have a website with super early flash games of the wierdest variety, i can find almost no mention of it online.

      heres a terrible video of a game from that site. you play as hotsy, a gumby OC parody that secretly makes people’s food spicy.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      Bud Uggly Design came out in the early days of the internet.

      If you looking for an internet presenace look no further thann the bud uglly website design company, here at bud uglly we can create for you absolutly the most cutting edge design available in the market todaysee our list of exiting features and satisfied customers below.!

      Some of the humor is how visually awful websites were in those days. Some of it was the earnest depiction of how the (clueless) Bud Uggly team operated. Here is their newsletter, which “for your convenience” scrolls sideways.

      From the FAK:

      You DO realize that your page features spelling
      worse than my worst 6th graders?!?
      form Danièle Bucar

      While, this is not actually a question, it is a fact that many people
      have commentid about the spelling at the Bud Uglly site but
      they nevir tell us whitch word is spellid incorrectly
      so we havent fixit it yet.

      My wife and I still regularly crack each other up by saying, “While, this is not actually a question.”

  6. Clutzy says:

    I’m gonna be the one.

    Trump-Ukraine

    Re-register your predictions from the previous thread. Mine will be right below.

    • Clutzy says:

      JJust based on statistics,, I guess the underlying details of the complaint are a nothing. Less than 10% chance it’s a something.

      However that doesn’t mean it can’t be made whole cloth. The whistleblower made the complaint knowing the President could never actually release it. 90% chance of that being known to the employee.

      Full details leaking I’d put at less than 25%, as I would guess the complaint is the story, and leaking full details likely eliminates the story (like when BuzzFeed went yolo with the whole Steele dossier).

      Chance it involves Russia 51%. I assume this because its meta to make sinister insinuations about Russia, which the complainant knows.

      That is me before:

      I guess the underlying details of the complaint are a nothing. Less than 10% chance it’s a something.
      Now: 95%

      New addendum, leaker was wrong, >95%

      Full details leaking I’d put at less than 25%,.
      Now: 1%

      Chance it involves Russia 51%.
      Now: 5%

      • EchoChaos says:

        I guess the underlying details of the complaint are a nothing. Less than 10% chance it’s a something.
        Now: 95%

        95% chance of nothing or 95% chance of something? It reads like the former, but the number in the first is the latter.

        I didn’t register the first time, but it seems to me that Pelosi knows that impeachment is bad politics, but her base really, REALLY wants it, so she’s been sort of forced into a corner here.

        • Clutzy says:

          Right. Now we have the transcript. Its 100% a nothing.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Yep. Pelosi’s instincts were the right ones (always the way to bet) and her base is committing political suicide while she stands athwart history yelling “STOP”.

          • Aftagley says:

            Right. Now we have the transcript. Its 100% a nothing.

            Eh, there’s some life here, IMO. Remember, he personally blocked aid before the phone call. He doesn’t bring this up, but everyone on the call knows the state of play.

            He also brings the Biden thing up a bunch of times and states that Giuliani and Barr will call Zelenskyy several times during the conversation.

          • Oscar Sebastian says:

            We do not have the transcript. We have a document released by the White House, which is known to alter documents illegally anyway and thus cannot be trusted, that says very clearly that it is not a transcript.

          • Mustard Tiger says:

            @Aftagley

            I don’t see him bringing up Biden a bunch of times. I see 2-3 sentences in the same paragraph at the top of page 4, and that’s all. Did I miss it elsewhere?

            I agree about him mentioning the phone calls from Giuliani and Barr repeatedly, but that was brought up before Biden, and seemed to be about the firing of their investigator and other things.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Oscar Sebastian

            The Ukrainian President has confirmed that the transcript released is accurate and that Trump never pressured him.

          • Oscar Sebastian says:

            @ EchoChaos

            “I think you read everything. I think you read text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections of USA. We had, I think, good phone call. It was normal,” is not the sort of statement that is especially convincing. It seems very clear to me that the President of Ukraine wishes not to be involved because pissing off one or both political parties in the US is only gonna come back to bite Ukraine later.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Oscar Sebastian

            I am not sure how “Nobody pressured me” can be read as anything but a complete denial.

            And “I think you read everything. I think you read text.” pretty clearly says that he is confirming the text is accurate and doesn’t want to discuss if there was any subtext.

            To read it differently requires assumptions that aren’t present in either place.

          • Oscar Sebastian says:

            @EchoChaos

            If you’re not sure how a politician might say something that isn’t 100% true, you aren’t trying very hard.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Oscar Sebastian

            I am fully aware that politicians can lie.

            But that is a different statement. The transcript, Trump and Zelensky are in agreement that there was no pressure or quid pro quo.

            To assume otherwise requires evidence not submitted.

          • Oscar Sebastian says:

            No. Trump is such a habitual liar that it requires no evidence whatsoever to assume he’s lying.

          • ECD says:

            @EchoChaos

            The Ukrainian President has confirmed that the transcript released is accurate and that Trump never pressured him.

            I’m going to ask for a source for that, because what I can find is the foreign minister saying

            “I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” Prystaiko said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers.”

            Link

            Which is rather a different thing, though intended to give the impression you draw.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @ECD

            No, I was referring to the joint appearance that Trump and Zelensky had.

            https://ktla.com/2019/09/25/trump-set-to-meet-with-ukraines-president-on-wednesday-amid-whistleblower-controversy/

            That Ukraine’s consistent stance has been that Trump did not pressure Zelensky is another sign that he is not lying.

          • ECD says:

            @EchoChaos

            Thanks for the link. I believe the whole quote is:

            “I think you read everything. I think you read text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic open … elections. Elections of USA. No. Sure, we had … I think good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things, and I … so I think and you read it that nobody pushed me,”

            This is in the press conference which began with President Trump saying “We’re doing very well in every respect and I have a feeling that your country is going to do fantastically well and whatever we can do [then what sounds like ‘just take care of yourself’ but I can’t be sure of]”

            A lot is going to depend on viewpoint here, but no, I don’t view that statement as evidence of anything beyond the fact that President Zelensky said it.

          • tocny says:

            Zelensky currently has an interest currently in bending the truth, since coming out and saying that Trump is lying will piss off his benefactor. I’m not saying he’s lying, but it shouldn’t be discounted that he’s predisposed not to do so.

          • Protagoras says:

            Surely if Zelensky was pressured it would be in his best interest to say that he wasn’t, both because admitting to being pressured looks weak, and because if he was concerned with keeping Trump’s good will, obviously saying he was pressured loses that. So his saying he wasn’t pressured hardly seems to have any value.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @all

            Sure, everyone could be lying. But now we’re back where we started before this was even alleged.

            Nobody has any evidence that Trump did anything wrong and all the evidence is in Trump’s favor.

            You may not believe the evidence, but there isn’t any evidence against Trump.

          • ECD says:

            @EchoChaos

            I address the evidence President Trump chose to release and what I believe it indicates below. Discounting a non-sworn statement by a politician about the most powerful person on the planet, while dependent upon his country for support and sitting next to him does not, actually, convince me of anything.

            That does not, however, leave us with no evidence of anything else.

          • Oscar Sebastian says:

            In fact, there’s further evidence it’s all a lie in the form of the Ukrainian president’s aid, who says the whole phone call was reliant on the expectation of quid pro quo.

            And I find it hilarious that when the evidence is that, Trump’s released statement (the accused says he’s innocent? SHOCKER!), and all the rest of the whistleblower crap – plus more to come over today and who knows how many other days — you go:

            The only evidence that I’m willing to acknowledge we have is the accused’s testimony and that should be enough for everyone. Not Guilty!

            On what planet is that a good approach to weighing evidence?

    • blipnickels says:

      Trump transcript will be ambiguous enough for everyone to feel vindicated, 95%

      Trump did something uncouth, 95%

      Trump did something impeachable by the standards of a better time, 20%

      House will impeach, 33%

      Senate will convict, 1%

      Trump will spend his entire presidency under some kind of investigation, 80%

      I will be able to successfully ignore this tomorrow, 50% (I failed today)

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Trump did something impeachable by the standards of a better time, 20%

        House will impeach, 33%

        I’m wryly amused by this juxtaposition.

        • Aftagley says:

          Trump did something impeachable by the standards of a better time, 20%

          Senate will convict, 1%

          This is the one that got me.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Yeah, that one’s also hilarious.
            Really, if we want to go for maximum partisan hackery, the Senate Republicans’s position would be: help Trump get re-elected. When Congress goes into session after the 2022 midterms, vote to convict him. Mike Pence is now eligible to rule for 10 years minus a few days.

      • The Nybbler says:

        There have only been two impeachments ever, three if you count Nixon’s aborted impeachment. The first was a straight-up power struggle; Andrew Johnson fired his Secretary of War despite a law (the Tenure of Office Act) saying he couldn’t. The third was Bill Clinton; as with Johnson he did what they said he did, but the main motive was clearly pure power struggle. I don’t know when this better time was; the only clearly “good” impeachment was Nixon’s.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          The first was a straight-up power struggle; Andrew Johnson fired his Secretary of War despite a law (the Tenure of Office Act) saying he couldn’t. The third was Bill Clinton; as with Johnson he did what they said he did, but the main motive was clearly pure power struggle.

          It’s kind of crazy how ugly a power struggle impeaching a President for breaking a law is in practice.
          Hmm, maybe that’s because the other Party is, Constitutionally, overreacting to one crime? Section 4 of Article Two states “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” So by strict construction, impeachment and removal requires 1) Treason 2) Bribery OR 3) no fewer than two other high crimes and two misdemeanors? 😀

      • EchoChaos says:

        Trump transcript will be ambiguous enough for everyone to feel vindicated, 95%

        Apparently so, although I hope the more reasonable on the other side will admit that this one was a miss.

        Trump did something uncouth, 95%

        This is pretty interpretation specific. If it’s uncouth, it’s a pretty gentle uncouth.

        Trump did something impeachable by the standards of a better time, 20%

        Pretty clearly right on this one. This isn’t impeachable in the standards of a better time.

        House will impeach, 33%

        I am more confident than before that Pelosi doesn’t allow this to happen.

        Senate will convict, 1%

        Still good.

        Trump will spend his entire presidency under some kind of investigation, 80%

        This really depends on if he gets re-election. He 100% spends the rest of his first term under investigation, but if he wins and Republicans get the House back, he won’t be investigated.

        I will be able to successfully ignore this tomorrow, 50% (I failed today)

        I hope my reply doesn’t hurt your odds!

        • ECD says:

          Trump transcript will be ambiguous enough for everyone to feel vindicated, 95%

          Apparently so, although I hope the more reasonable on the other side will admit that this one was a miss.

          Okay, my understanding of the sequence of events.
          President Trump withholds military aid to Ukraine.

          This call occurs. In this call, the Ukranian President says: “I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”

          President Trump Responds: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike…I guess you have one of your wealthy people…The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on,the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like to get to the bottom of it.” Then he goes on to talk about the Mueller report.

          They go back and forth a little about the ambassador (still unclear on this), then the president of the Ukraine says “I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliai will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine…[THESE ARE MY ELLIPSES, not in original, cutting short because stupid SCRIBD won’t let me copy paste] I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.”

          President Trump: “Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut down your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy…[my ellipses again] The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me.”

          I don’t know how reasonable I am, but from the perspective of someone on the other side, this looks really bad to me. All the references to Giuliani, whose only role is attorney and attack dog for the president, plus the shift from ‘let’s talk defense’ (not a quote) to “I would like you to do us a favor though..” (yes a quote) looks really bad. Even assuming all the ellipses in the original are pauses, not extractions (which seems unclear, especially given that they all appear to be from President Trump’s text), this looks really bad to me (also assuming this five page not-transcript covers everything in the 30 minute conversation).

          • EchoChaos says:

            @ECD

            The first part is apparently wrong:

            https://twitter.com/kenvogel/status/1176882766597767168

            I don’t know if that will hold up, since it’s the first time I’ve seen that, but if it is true that the Ukrainians weren’t aware of delayed aid, it can’t be the “hidden quid pro quo” here, and the entire conversation becomes innocuous.

          • ECD says:

            @EchoChaose

            If that’s true, and I’m not seeing a citation for it, beyond his unadorned statement, I’m a little confused. What is the point of withholding aid without telling the party you’re withholding aid from?

            Also, I don’t know the underlying timing, but back when I was a kid, if I went to my parents but if the aid was supposed to be paid out beforehand and wasn’t, you get the same effect. Now, if it wasn’t supposed to be paid out and despite OMB telling DOD and State that it was on hold, it hadn’t leaked out, then the conversation does become somewhat more innocent.

            I don’t think it becomes innocent, it’s just not, ‘do what I say or I won’t release the aid,’ it’s ‘remember all that aid you’re going to get? Do me a favor, all right?’ which is still a quid-pro-quo, just a different one.

          • Aapje says:

            @ECD

            There are reasons to delay/review aid for reasons other than trying to change the behavior of others. For example, you can change/review your own policies about what aid you want to give.

          • ECD says:

            There are reasons to delay/review aid for reasons other than trying to change the behavior of others. For example, you can change/review your own policies about what aid you want to give.

            Do you believe that is the case here, or are we shifting topics?

          • Aapje says:

            You seem(ed) to disbelieve the tweet based on the idea that withholding aid is always coercive. I gave a (realistic) example of how this may not be the case.

            I have not seen any credible evidence showing why the aid was being withheld/reviewed, one way or the other.

            My point is not that you should believe that the aid was being withheld/reviewed for innocent reasons, but rather, that you shouldn’t assume that the aid was being withheld/reviewed to coerce Ukraine, with the only question being what the quid-pro-quo was, but that it isn’t yet established that there was a quid-pro-quo in the first place.

    • Watchman says:

      This will hurt the Democrats, as they are seen to be playing partisan politics (fairly or unfairly) >60%.

      • keaswaran says:

        What would settle this bet for you as true or false? Approval rating of Congressional Democrats goes down by a certain amount for a sustained period of time? Approval rating of particular Democratic politicians goes down? Approval rating of Trump goes up by a certain amount for a sustained period of time?

        I imagine that Biden and Trump’s approval ratings could both go up, both go down, or one go up and the other go down. They could even stay pretty constant, given how constant they’ve stayed through everything else in the past few years!

        • Watchman says:

          I was going to say electoral performance, but there’s no useful baseline available for that considering other factors. So probably a difficult prediction to prove.

    • gbdub says:

      But what are the odds that this ends up killing Biden’s candidacy?

      • EchoChaos says:

        This assumes that Biden wasn’t running a zombie candidacy anyway.

        Warren or Harris would’ve overtaken Biden regardless. This just speeds it up.

        • JPNunez says:

          The stupid thing is that some democrats will see this as an attack on Biden and start to support him.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Maybe. More likely it’s seen by most as a way of clearing out both Trump and Biden, clearing the way for the far leftists.

    • broblawsky says:

      At least one of the transcripts of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky has Trump proposing an explicit quid-pro-quo: ~75%

      More than one of the transcripts: ~60%

      Trump makes it explicit in the transcripts that he’s withholding Ukrainian aid for personal gain: ~60%

      Basically, I don’t think this would’ve gotten so big so fast unless those transcripts included Trump doing something deeply, deeply stupid.

      • gbdub says:

        I mean, the Mueller saga kind of kills the idea that this necessarily has to be an obvious smoking gun, right?
        EDIT: and for what it’s worth I think Trump is dumb enough to say something that sounds very very much like a quid pro quo (then again, Biden probably is too).

        But it’s going to be very hard to prove that it was for strictly “personal gain”, because that would require demonstrating that the suspicions about Joe and Hunter were so outlandish as to not have any legitimate cause to investigate (and Hunter’s $50k a month sinecure does seem fishy as hell and Joe’s claim he never talked to him about it is implausible)

        Really the whole thing stinks but I think Ukrainian attempts at meddling in US politics have been under scrutinized in general.

        • broblawsky says:

          All “personal gain” means to me, for the purposes of this, is that Trump says something along the lines of “this investigation would be really good for me”.

      • JPNunez says:

        Technically it’s not a transcript, but a memorandum of telephone communication, which is not verbatim.

    • Aftagley says:

      Here are mine
      – this will be a medium deal, on the level of sharpie gate (takes up around 2 weeks of media attention, quickly forgotten thereafter). – 60% confidence
      – Full details of the situation will eventually leak out – 75% confidence
      – It involves Russia in some way – 30% confidence

      Updates to previous confidence:
      – it will be a medium deal with a time horizon of around 2 weeks: Negligible
      -Full details of the situation will eventually leak out – 90% confidence
      It involves Russia in some way – depends on whether the holdup of military aid to Ukraine is a strong enough connection to Russia or not.

      Future Predictions:
      – The transcript released by the White House will differ in some way from the transcript/testimony that is eventually uncovered. (This counts both redaction and edits) – 60%
      -People will still be talking about this story in 2020 – 75%
      – Joe Biden and his son will not be revealed to have conducted any legitimate wrongdoing… – 75%
      – …Except among Trump’s base who are going to wholeheartedly support these accusations – 60%
      – The House will vote to impeach – 70%
      – The senate will vote to impeach – 30%

    • The Nybbler says:

      Nothingburger for Trump. Joe Biden will be hurt the most.

      Honestly, this is pretty much based on priors. Back at the beginning of the administration I’d have entertained more possibility that he blatantly screwed up this way. Now… “This will surely stop Trump” is a meme for a reason.

      Time is running a headline “Trump Is Leaving Congress No Choice But to Impeach”… before even seeing the transcript. This is Trump Derangement Syndrome at its finest.

      • Aftagley says:

        Time is running a headline “Trump Is Leaving Congress No Choice But to Impeach”… before even seeing the transcript. This is Trump Derangement Syndrome at its finest.

        Hold up. Dems aren’t threatening impeaching because they haven’t seen the transcript, Dems are doing so because the whistleblower report continues to be supressed by the white house in violation of law.

        Transcript != whistleblower report.

      • broblawsky says:

        This is Trump Derangement Syndrome at its finest.

        Less of this, please. Insisting that your political opponents are insane is deeply disrespectful.

      • John Schilling says:

        Time is running a headline “Trump Is Leaving Congress No Choice But to Impeach”… before even seeing the transcript.

        Why would anyone need a transcript when they’ve got the President’s personal attorney monologuing like a comic-book supervilliain on live TV?

        And Congress isn’t impeaching, they are opening a formal inquiry. Between the suppressed whistleblower report and Giuliani’s bragging about how he and Trump did stuff that looks an awful lot like crimes, it is in no way “deranged” to open an inquiry. Which will, among other things, look at the actual transcript and then decide whether to impeach.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Dems are doing so because the whistleblower report continues to be supressed by the white house in violation of law.

        In any other administration, that would not even come close to giving rise to cause for impeachment. This is hardly the first time the executive has refused to provide information to Congress right away.

    • S_J says:

      I predict that lots of speeches and TV-news presentations about Impeachment will be made, but I predict (at greater than 70% confidence) that articles of impeachment will not be passed in the House of Representatives.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      I slept through another Trump scandal again, it seems, did Democrats seamlessly transition from Russian collusion to Ukrainian collusion now? Does it not bother anyone that Russia and Ukraine are rivals right now?

      • EchoChaos says:

        I slept through another Trump scandal again, it seems, did Democrats seamlessly transition from Russian collusion to Ukrainian collusion now?

        Not collusion in this case. The allegation is that Trump offered a quid pro quo that the Ukrainians had to investigate his political opponents in order to receive aid.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          The allegation is that Trump offered a quid pro quo that the Ukrainians had to investigate his political opponents in order to receive aid.

          And not only that, his political opponents (i.e., Joe Biden), should be investigated for offering a quid pro quo that the Ukrainians should stop investigating companies whose board Joe Biden’s son sat on for $50k/month.

          So, the Democratic position seems to be:
          -Joe Biden threatening to withdraw $1 billion in aid if a prosecutor investigating a company where his son sits on the board is not fired is A-OK
          -Trump threatening to withdraw $250 million in aid if that investigation is not re-opened is an impeachable offense.

          Do I have this right? Is there an important distinction between these two things that I’m missing?

          • EchoChaos says:

            I suspect that the Democrats are fully willing to throw Biden under the bus to get Trump, so I don’t think that they’ll hold position 1 with much strength.

          • Aftagley says:

            -Joe Biden threatening to withdraw $1 billion in aid if a prosecutor investigating a company where his son sits on the board is not fired is A-OK

            This is propaganda. There has been no credible evidence that Biden sought to oust Shokin as a result of his investigations into Burisma.

            On the other hand, there is substantial evidence that: Shokin was corrupt, wans’t investigating other instances of corruption, that other forces within the Obama administration wanted to get Shokin out of the office and that Bidens threat of withholding aid was perfectly in line with his previously established policies in Ukraine.

          • Randy M says:

            I suspect that the Democrats are fully willing to throw Biden under the bus to get Trump

            Strictly from a tactical point of view, that seems sensible. Incumbent has a much bigger advantage than former VP.
            That’s assuming the method of getting Trump doesn’t swing the public either way much, which granted isn’t probably true.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I suspect that the Democrats are fully willing to throw Biden under the bus to get Trump, so I don’t think that they’ll hold position 1 with much strength.

            I agree but there’s still something that is off. Biden did what he did for monetary gain for a member of his family. Trump could at least argue he wants to see justice done. Wanting your political opponents investigated for their crimes is not the same thing as wanting to enrich oneself (or one’s son). Indeed, Democrats have been investigating their political opponent for his supposed crimes for years now.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            This is propaganda. There has been no credible evidence that Biden sought to oust Shokin as a result of his investigations into Burisma.

            Ok thanks for that I was not aware of this. But is it still established that Shokin was investigating Burisma and that Biden’s son sat on Burisma’s board at $50k/month?

          • Aftagley says:

            Biden’s son sat on Burisma’s board at $50k/month?

            Yes. This was almost certainly a sleazy way of Burisma to try and influence US opinion. It reflects very poorly on Hunter Biden and somewhat poorly on Joe Biden that Hunter accepted this position. Hunter says he took the position as a way of improving the company’s ethics and transparancy, but, come on…

            is it still established that Shokin was investigating Burisma

            Kind of, but he was doing a really, really bad job which is why the US pushed to get him fired. Burisma’s former head was a guy named Zlochevsky who was corrupt and tied to the former, ousted, President. The UK and Ukraine were trying to investigate Zlochevsky and Burisma, but the investigation was being blocked by Shokin. Shokin had a habit of slowballing pretty much every anti-corruption investigation, much to the consternation of the west.

            Eventually, the US embassy in Ukraine recommended that Obama freeze aid until the country’s anti corruption efforts improved. As the point man in Ukraine, Biden took on this role.

            So, yes, biden did push to get Shokin fired and yes, shokin was purportedly investigating Burisma/Zlochevsky – but the all evidence indicates that the intent of Biden’s action was to increase anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine and there’s no evidence that, bad optics aside, Hunter was involved in anything untoward in Ukraine.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Aftagley

            There has been no credible evidence that Biden sought to oust Shokin as a result of his investigations into Burisma.

            The word credible is doing a lot of work here. Who or what anyone finds credible is pretty up to them, as the relentless use of it during the Kavanaugh hearings attests.

            Note: This isn’t a strong assertion of if any wrongdoing occurred, which I genuinely have no opinion on.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            there’s no evidence that, bad optics aside, Hunter was involved in anything untoward in Ukraine

            Ok, fair enough. But the optics are pretty bad. Is it unlawful for Trump to request an investigation into something with bad optics where his political opponent is involved?

          • Jaskologist says:

            This is propaganda. There has been no credible evidence that Biden sought to oust Shokin as a result of his investigations into Burisma.

            I think “credible” is doing a lot of work here.

            So far, all of the following look to be true:

            1. Shokin was corrupt.
            2. Shokin was investigating Hunter Biden.
            3. Hunter’s position was corrupt; he’s getting paid large sums of money basically for being Joe’s son. This is pretty garden-variety corruption, and presumably they are smart enough not to have an explicit quid-pro-quo written out (but you never know).
            4. Joe Biden got Shokin fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid. He is on record as bragging about this, so I figure it counts even if that turns out to be another false memory.

            That’s enough for “credible” evidence and it’s certainly a conflict of interest. I don’t know how we’d ply into his heart of hearts to see if he actually did it to protect his son.

          • Aftagley says:

            @EchoChaos

            Roger. I’ll stand by the previous sentence if you mentally remove the word credible. As far as I’ve seen, the allegations against Biden start and end at “his son was on the board when the prosecutor was fired.” There’s no evidence that his son’s position influenced his behavior, and given Shokin’s unwillingness to investigate, if covering up corruption was Biden’s intent, it would have made more sense for him to not have wanted Shokin to get the boot.

            @ jermo sapiens
            Yep! The optics are terrible and this whole event is going to suck for everyone.

            Is it unlawful for Trump to request an investigation into something with bad optics where his political opponent is involved?

            The transcript is out now (see link above) and Trump references that AG Barr will be calling Zelenskyy. This may indicate that the justice department is/intends to launch an official investigation into Hunter/Joe’s behavior. This is almost certainly legal, but will (accurately IMO) look like Trump is using his power to go after his political opponents.

            That being said though, withholding aid approved by congress until a foreign leader investigates Joe is likely close enough to being illegal that something will stick to him.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            This is almost certainly legal, but will (accurately IMO) look like Trump is using his power to go after his political opponents.

            The Democrats have been using their power to go after Trump since day 1. Anybody who doesnt already believe that would never vote for Trump anyways.

            withholding aid approved by congress until a foreign leader investigates Joe is likely close enough to being illegal that something will stick to him

            Is it the withholding aid, or is it the investigation of Joe Biden? In either case, the theory falls apart. If withholding aid is wrong, Biden did it too, if it’s investigating political opponents, Democrats have been doing it since the inauguration. If it’s a combination, Biden’s apparent reason for withholding aid is much much worse than Trump’s.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Jacksologist
            Point 2 is the stumbling block for this argument. Shokin wasn’t investigating Hunter Biden, Shokin was investigating Zlochevsky primarily and Burisma as it related to Zlochevsky’s corruption.

            Nowhere in this is Hunter Biden accused of either doing anything illegal or the Shokin’s investigation was going anywhere near Hunter. Even the argument that this was Biden’s attempt to cover up his son’s involvement with the company doesn’t make sense as it was already public knowledge at this point.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            jermo sapiens

            “And not only that, his political opponents (i.e., Joe Biden), should be investigated for offering a quid pro quo that the Ukrainians should stop investigating companies whose board Joe Biden’s son sat on for $50k/month.”

            So why *weren’t* the Republicans investigating this?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            So why *weren’t* the Republicans investigating this?

            I dont know. Some comments above suggest that there is nothing wrong with what Biden did, other than having his son sit on the board for his “expertise” in running Ukrainian gas companies. I really have no idea.

            My point is just that whatever Trump is accused of doing is something that Biden did, just much worse. I have a feeling this “impeachment” wont work out so well for the Democrats, but we’ll see.

      • gbdub says:

        No, this time Trump is accused of strong arming Ukraine, via threats of withheld aid, into investigating possible meddling and influence peddling (“collusion”) by Ukrainians on behalf of Joe Biden.

        No prize for guessing which half of that equation the media and Dems in Congress are insisting requires a deep and thorough investigation until the full truth is laid bare.

      • keaswaran says:

        It’s quite possible to illegally collude with two rivals.

        Also, “rival” is a hard word to apply to countries and leaders. I don’t know how the current Ukrainian government feels about the previous pro-Russian government or the later anti-Russian government whose replacement of the pro-Russian one prompted the Russian intervention.

        And would you characterize Kim Jong Un as a rival or an ally of Trump, for instance? And what about North Korea and the United States? Or Saudi Arabia and the United States?

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Chances anything going to change the needle – 5%
      Chances of Impeachment – 90%
      Chances of Conviction – 1%
      Chances everyone will claim vindication – 90%

      I strongly suspect this will be actual bad behavior, but it’s not going to change anyone’s mind. I suspect that we are reaching critical mass where impeachment is going to happen: I think something like 180-190 Dems are already on board, and the remaining stragglers are going to get pulled along. Too much momentum moving in that direction.

      • hls2003 says:

        Looks to me like both sides will claim vindication.

        There is no statement, not even a suggestion, that the U.S. is withholding or would withhold aid, or any quid pro quo on investigation-for-aid. So if the alleged whistleblower claimed a quid pro quo, that seems discredited to me.

        Trump does seem pretty focused on the investigation. He names Biden at least twice.
        That seems like the main thing he wanted to talk about, while the Ukrainian president steered the conversation to other matters.

        All in all, it doesn’t really paint a terribly flattering picture of Trump’s diplomacy. If nothing else, the Ukrainian president seems to think that the way to deal with Trump is by flattering him and saying how much he admires Trump and has learned from his methods. It doesn’t say great things if that’s how foreign leaders think they need to approach him.

        I also don’t love that it was declassified and released at all. I understand why and I don’t think it’s terribly damaging, but there’s some denigration of Angela Merkel and Germany that will somewhat complicate that relationship, and any future leader conversing with the President will guard their words more carefully.

        • Aftagley says:

          Trump is by flattering him and saying how much he admires Trump and has learned from his methods

          Also by saying, unprompted, that he stays at Trump Towers. That made me roll my eyes.

          I also don’t love that it was declassified and released at all. I understand why and I don’t think it’s terribly damaging, but there’s some denigration of Angela Merkel and Germany that will somewhat complicate that relationship, and any future leader conversing with the President will guard their words more carefully.

          Yeah. They should have redacted that.

          • hls2003 says:

            Also by saying, unprompted, that he stays at Trump Towers. That made me roll my eyes.

            Yes, although from my perspective that looks more like the Ukrainian president shoehorning in one more butter-up of Trump than any financial effort to influence him. It seems much more to me another species of feeding his ego (“your hotels are great just like you”) rather than feeding his wallet.

          • Aftagley says:

            Concur, less financial impropriety and just ass kissing.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Looks to me like both sides will claim vindication.

          I think my side’s vindication is a lot stronger here. The conversation as presented contains absolutely nothing illegal or no direct suggestions of quid pro quo.

          . If nothing else, the Ukrainian president seems to think that the way to deal with Trump is by flattering him and saying how much he admires Trump and has learned from his methods.

          Given that Zelensky has been called the Ukrainian Trump, it’s entirely possible that he is just stating facts that happen to be flattering.

          • hls2003 says:

            I do not like, at all, that politics has gotten to the point that Democrats would seize on something this anodyne to push for something as radical as impeachment; nor that Republicans would pay enough attention to it to declassify it just to satisfy the media baying for half a news cycle. But I’ll give a 100% confidence prediction that releasing the transcript will not quell the story or prevent Democrats / media from talking about it as though it is something. What percentage of people will ever read the transcript anyway, even four pages’ worth? If it’s as high as 1% of voters I’d be completely shocked.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @hls2003

            Completely agree.

            If it’s as high as 1% of voters I’d be completely shocked.

            Agreed. the other 99% will hear about it from their preferred news source, which will only entrench their current position.

          • But I’ll give a 100% confidence prediction that releasing the transcript will not quell the story or prevent Democrats / media from talking about it as though it is something.

            They did try to impeach Trump over his “intent” to obstruct an investigation in to a crime he didn’t commit, so that sounds about right.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If nothing else, the Ukrainian president seems to think that the way to deal with Trump is by flattering him and saying how much he admires Trump and has learned from his methods.

          We’d need to invent a new classification level several levels less confidential than UNCLASSIFIED in order to properly categorize how much of a secret that is.

      • ana53294 says:

        There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.

        This is a memo, so not a literal transcription of the conversation. But at the moment, it sounds like Trump heard there was something untoward in Biden’s actions, and asks Zelensky to investigate, in cooperation with the Attorney General. No quid pro quo offered. Nothing untoward in this conversation; just typical Trump bragging.

      • Aftagley says:

        Not related to the overall scandal, here’s some weird stuff I picked out of the transcript after giving it a second read:

        1. The first thing Trump brought up in his talk wasn’t the hunter biden thing, it was

        I would like you to find out what happened with the whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike…. I guess you have one of your wealthy people… the server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation

        He then brings up Mueller and his reports. Does anyone here more familiar with right-wing talking points than I know what he’s talking about?

        2. It seems like trump is calling for the Ukranian government to investigate their former ambassador to the Ukraine for… something? It’s not clear, but read pages 3-4. Trump treats the investigation of the former ambassador as a separate issue than the Biden thing, but seems just as interested in it. It seems like Rudy G. is also involved in this matter. It also seems like Trump was the initial impetus for the former ukranian ambassador getting recalled:

        Zellenskyy: It was great that you were the first one who told me she was a bad ambassador…

        Does anyone know anything about a prior bad relationship between trump and the former ambassador? I don’t remember reading about that anywhere.

        3. General question – Was this typed on a typewriter? If so, why?

        • ana53294 says:

          It’s the other way; Trump told Zelensky that the Ukrainian ambassador was bad, and he should investigate.

          President Zelensky: […] For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so.

          Trump did recall the former US ambassador to the Ukraine, but there he’s talking about the Ukrainian ambassador. I don’t think that is something related to US politics; it’s probably garden variety Ukrainian corrupt politics.

          It seems perfectly reasonable for a US president to ask an ally’s government to recall an ambassador that does not align with the desired, more closer relationship between two countries.

          Was this typed on a typewriter? If so, why?

          No idea, but if so, probably for security reasons: no way to copy to USB, no metadata, no way to copy from deleted files on computer, no internet access. The only way to get a copy of the file is to get a physical copy of the file.

          Reasonable security stuff.

          • Aftagley says:

            Your right! I misread it. He is talking about the ambassador to the Ukraine from the US. Holy crap, this means that Trump was trashing his own ambassador to a foreign leader? and now Trump is saying that

            She’s going to go through some things

            Damn. Poor woman.

            Right, but they’ve got SIPRnet/JWICs. Classified computer systems exist. I agree that, yes, typewriters can be more secure, but it’s still weird to see them used.

          • ana53294 says:

            Nah, the whole conversation is mostly about the Ukrainian ambassador, with surname Ivanovich (?), gender unknown (they keep misgendering the ambassador).

            President Zelensky: [...] On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would_be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regards to the Ambassadorto the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.

            President Trump: Well, she' s going to go through some things.

            When he says some things, I assume investigation for corruption based on info shared by the US department. It’s an internal Ukraine matter, so I don’t see anything wrong with the US providing info.

            The only part where Trump mentions the US ambassador is here:

            President Trump: [...] The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.

          • John Schilling says:

            Reasonable security stuff.

            As Aftagley notes, that’s not how we do things now. We use computers with no USB ports, no internet access, and “trusted download” procedures to produce bare .txt files and other metadata-free formats. These then go to optical drives or to laser printers.

          • ana53294 says:

            @John Schilling

            Does the output of one of those safe computer look like typewriter print, or was this written in a typewriter then?

          • Aftagley says:

            Nah, the whole conversation is mostly about the Ukrainian ambassador

            Is it though? I’m honestly curious, and the writing is unclear enough to, IMO, be evidence of poor transcription.

            Their former ambassador to the US is a man named Valeriy Chaly. No Ivonovich in the name. The former US ambassador, however, is a woman named Marie Yovanovitch which is sound similar enough that I could see someone writing Ivonovich instead of it.

            I think they were talking about her and that “do not prosecute” (different than the biden one) conspiracy theory.

          • Aftagley says:

            @ana53294

            They look like regular printouts, unless someone purposely picks a font and format to make it look typewritten.

          • ana53294 says:

            I must admit I’m a bit confused, but it does seem to talk about the Ukrainian ambassador. Why would Zelensky say he recalled the US ambassador?

          • Paper Rat says:

            @ana53294

            Does the output of one of those safe computer look like typewriter print, or was this written in a typewriter then?

            It’s a font called Courier, notable for all symbols being the same width and for being adapted from a typewriter font.

          • John Schilling says:

            Does the output of one of those safe computer look like typewriter print, or was this written in a typewriter then?

            Usually looks like it was done on a word processor with no fancy features enabled. On close examination, the “Caution” disclaimer and the “Classified by” block on the first page are in conspicuously different fonts, implying word processor. On the other hand, the “SECRET//ORCON/NOFORN” headers and footers are aligned slightly differently across pages, which suggests typewriter. The main text is superficially indistinguishable between a clean typewriter and a word processor using a fixed-width font. So this just looks a little bit weird-weird, rather than suspicious-weird.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I think the misaligned headers are a result of the document being scanned after printing; the margins aren’t even straight. So, word processor, printed, modified (UNCLASSIFIED stamps, strikeouts of caveats, “Declassified by order of the President”) by hand, scanned back in (and OCRed, since the text is selectable)

            Possibly the “Declassified by order of the President” and date was added after the scanning rather than typed on the scan.

            Another clue to “word processor” is the “[PkgNumberShort]”, which is probably a word processing directive that didn’t quite work for some reason.

          • Dan L says:

            @ Aftagley:

            3. General question – Was this typed on a typewriter? If so, why?

            Is it though? I’m honestly curious, and the writing is unclear enough to, IMO, be evidence of poor transcription.

            Congratulations on appropriately noticing confusion. Go back and re-read the first word of the linked document, and make note of what it isn’t.

          • Aftagley says:

            Congratulations on appropriately noticing confusion. Go back and re-read the first word of the linked document, and make note of what it isn’t.

            I realize this isn’t a direct transcription. I read the first word as well as the block on the first page.

            But, it’s clear that someone was transcribing notes over the course of this call. They couldn’t have made this memorandum in such detail without such a transcription. I’m postulating that during section on page 4, it’s unclear which ambassador is being talking about, and it looks like the name of the former ambassador may have been misspelled, hence a transcription error in the base notes used to develop this memorandum.

            @thenybbler
            Hmm, good point. That also might explain why the “UNCLASSIFIED” stamp looks off.

            Additional weird things – the classification date is wrong. It should be 25 years from the date it this document was originally created (presumably OOA July 12th.) Therefore the line should read Declassify On: 2044071X (X being whatever day the document was finished)

            Also the overall classification is SECRET//ORCON/NOFORN but looking through it, none of the line items in this document are ORCON.

          • ana53294 says:

            If they are indeed talking about the US ambassador, then the quotes are misattributed.

            If, as Aftagley says, they took notes during the conversation, how likely is it that they got confused whether President Trump or Zelensky said that?

            Now that I look at it by attributing quotes differently, it could make sense for Trump to say bad things about the ambassador. But it’s still weird.

          • Dan L says:

            @ Aftagley:

            There were an unknown number of steps between the audio conversation and this document – you’ve pointed out a few issues that would make sense if they were inherited from prior written documents, or “2354726” could simply have been blisteringly incompetent. (I hesitate to say I’d be fired for making this many mistakes in a published document, because the chance they’d have slipped through peer review is infinitesimal.) I’m particularly annoyed by the incorrect declassification date (as you pointed out), as it neatly obfuscates the actual date of creation of this document.

            The legal obligations of this document to give an unvarnished account of true events are shaky at best. Though very much not marketed that way, its disclosure is functionally a press release.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Dan L

            Roger, I think we mostly agree then?

            What’s your estimation on when this document was actually created? Despite looking contemporaneous, I’m guessing within the past week.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @ana53294

            Very unlikely that they misattributed it. The disclaimer is so that nobody is looking at exactly picking words, but it’s 99% a transcript.

          • Dan L says:

            @ Aftagley:

            What’s your estimation on when this document was actually created? Despite looking contemporaneous, I’m guessing within the past week.

            That seems like the the most likely single case, sure – recent creation cooked up from older source documentation. That said, I could see a sycophantic aide putting together a relatively contemporaneous memorandum for Trump’s personal consumption at a later date, and if that happened it’d be pretty much identical to this. Seriously, look at Zelenskiyy’s word choice and tell me that’s not written by someone used to transcribing Trump.

            @ EchoChaos:

            it’s 99% a transcript

            Cool story. Get someone to say that under oath and I might even take it seriously.

            (Alternatively, put on your Bayesian hat – what are the odds this administration would have volunteered a smoking gun transcript? Multiply that by the inverted prior shift, and you’ll see why I’m giving this epsilon significance.)

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Dan L

            My priors also said Don Jr. wouldn’t get indicted by Mueller, so they’re pretty good.

            So here, I’m registering a prediction. No evidence will emerge that this is altered in any meaningful way. It is a basically accurate transcription of the conversation.

            what are the odds this administration would have volunteered a smoking gun transcript?

            Low, just like any administration. That isn’t evidence that there IS a smoking gun. And the fact they were able to so easily produce a transcript implies that there is in fact no smoking gun.

        • hls2003 says:

          On 1., it’s not entirely clear, but I would guess he’s referring to the fact that Crowdstrike was the cyber-security firm that investigated the DNC hack / download of Podesta’s files. The DNC refused to allow the FBI access to the DNC server that had been hacked; instead they insisted that the Crowdstrike report should stand as the only independent assessment of the hack’s origin. Right-wing media finds this to be suspicious, and I’ve seen claims that the DNC hack wasn’t even a Russian operation at all (there was some discussion about whether the download speed suggested an on-network download rather than internet, for example). I don’t know what aspect of that Trump is looking for, or the exact Ukrainian connection, and I almost can’t blame him – without being a computer guy he (like me) probably has no clue other than that some people have said that Crowdstrike was biased and apparently has some connection to Ukraine.

          On 3., I don’t know about the typewriter, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s something like an electric typewriter. When you do transcription, for example court reporting, it’s typically done with a shorthand machine that then gets translated by a program into a standardized transcript format. It’s not Microsoft Word.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Does anyone here more familiar with right-wing talking points than I know what he’s talking about?

          Crowdstrike did the investigation of the DNC hack.

          https://fortune.com/2019/09/25/what-is-crowdstrike-trump-ukraine-call-transcript-memo/

      • John Schilling says:

        There is no statement, not even a suggestion, that the U.S. is withholding or would withhold aid, or any quid pro quo on investigation-for-aid.

        Z: “I would also·lie to thank you·for.your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically we are ready to buy more Javelins [anti-tank missiles] from the United States for defense purposes”

        T: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with
        this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike…”

        Z: “Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. ”

        That’s a quid pro quo, missiles for investigation, with about the level of deniablility and ambiguity of “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Henry II, of course, got away with that one, but only because he was able to keep his ego in check long enough to make nice with the Pope.

        • mitv150 says:

          But you’re confusing the crowdstrike ask with the Biden ask.

          The Crowdstrike ask is clearly a legitimate ask, quid pro quo or not.

          The Biden ask is clearly less legitimate but is also a lot less clearly tied to the missiles in this conversation.

        • gbdub says:

          1) To me that looks like two people listing off things they would like from each other. And both of them agreeing that those are good things to do. If that’s an obvious quid pro quo then literally almost every meeting between international leaders is an obvious quid pro quo.

          That Trump raises an unrelated request immediately after the defense request and is a bit colloquial (“a favor though”) is perhaps worthy of an eyebrow cock, but I have no idea how rare that sort of thing is in this sort of relatively informal general interest call. I’m guessing not very.

          2) we already have Biden, on camera, bragging about an explicit “billion dollars to fire a guy” quid pro quo with Ukraine, and bragging that Obama had his back in that. So if this is impeachable or treason or whatever, then Biden and Obama were impeachable traitors.

          3) So it’s established that tying Ukrainian aid to Ukrainian cooperation in unrelated areas is a thing US Presidents (or at least their direct underlings) do. I guess at that point it comes down to how legitimate you think the quids were relative to the quos.

          I don’t see why “fire a guy we think is corrupt” is a more legitimate request than “look into this company that played a role in the ‘Russian collusion’ investigation that’s tied up the government for the last 3 years”. If anything the former feels a little sleazier, because it’s a demand for a specific result rather than an investigation.

          • Aftagley says:

            TIf that’s an obvious quid pro quo then literally almost every meeting between international leaders is an obvious quid pro quo.

            Right, but the concern here isn’t “TRUMP MADE A QUID PRO QUO” with a foreign power. That’s just diplomacy. The claim is “Trump is trying to manipulate a foreign power into launching a weird investigation of a political rival and is using the power of the USG to do so.

            we already have Biden, on camera, bragging about an explicit “billion dollars to fire a guy” quid pro quo with Ukraine, and bragging that Obama had his back in that.

            Same basic argument as above: making deals to further US international goals is not the same as making deals to further personal political goals.

            So it’s established that tying Ukrainian aid to Ukrainian cooperation in unrelated areas is a thing US Presidents (or at least their direct underlings) do.

            No, it’s not established. Prior US Presidents tied aid to Ukraine enacting measures that were in accordance with existing and well-established US policy goals. The current president certainly looks like he’s tying aid to enact a personal goal.

          • John Schilling says:

            No, it’s not established. Prior US Presidents tied aid to Ukraine enacting measures that were in accordance with existing and well-established US policy goals. The current president certainly looks like he’s tying aid to enact a personal goal.

            Note in particular that Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump’s personal attorney. He’s not a political appointee, he doesn’t work for the Executive Branch, and he certainly doesn’t speak for the United States of America. So when Zelenskyy promises cooperation and Trump promptly tells him to expect a call from Mr. Giuliani, that’s a big red flag that this is personal.

          • gbdub says:

            Investigating foreign election meddling and potential influence peddling of a government official also serve well established US policy.

            Both Biden and Trump have plausible non corrupt motivations for their actions. In both cases there is a plausible path to their actions being for corrupt personal gain.

            I would say Trump has more deniability on the explicit quid pro quo side, Biden more deniability on the “it was an honest action of long-standing policy” side. Then again Trump, being both an outsider and a particularly hated Republican, is much more vulnerable to a career bureaucrat blowing the whistle on borderline activity.

            In any case you are taking Biden’s denials as strong evidence that nothing happened and unskeptically buying his version of events, while ignoring Trump’s denials and interpreting his actions much less charitably. This is an isolated demand for rigor.

          • John Schilling says:

            What is Trump’s non-corrupt motive for demanding that a foreign head of state talk to his personal attorney?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            What is Trump’s non-corrupt motive for demanding that a foreign head of state talk to his personal attorney?

            His lack of experience in government? I’m not saying that’s what it is, I’m saying that’s what it could be. I’m sure for most of his life he delegated tons of stuff to his personal attorneys, and at 74? (or thereabouts, not sure), he has a hard time switching to government mode.

          • John Schilling says:

            Well, yeah, it’s very likely that Donald Trump genuinely, sincerely doesn’t know how to run a non-corrupt government and isn’t going to learn. But ignorance of the law is no excuse, and if I’m willing to explore the possibility of modifying that rule, the Oval Office isn’t where I’m going to start.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @John Schilling

            Is there an actual law that is broken by having his personal attorney look into this issue?

            I suspect it’s far more of a Kitchen Cabinet issue where he doesn’t trust that if he assigns it to a career bureaucrat it won’t get spiked in order to hurt him.

            So his non-corrupt motive is that he knows that Giuliani will actually get to the bottom of it rather than cover it up. He could be wrong, but that is a reasonable motive.

          • John Schilling says:

            Is there an actual law that is broken by having his personal attorney look into this issue?

            Well, Rudy Giuliani doesn’t seem to have a security clearance, and the President of the United States seems to have determined that all of these conversations need to be classified and possibly compartmented, so that’s a violation right there. Though it would be amusing to see a bunch of Democrats trying to argue with a straight face that hey, whodathunkit, mishandling classified information actually is an indictable offense.

            So please, let’s do that one. I’ll get the popcorn.

            More boringly, it seems to be a clear Logan Act violation, directly for Giuliani and with Trump as a conspirator. If we imagine that these negotiations are legitimate at all rather than the misuse of official power for personal political gain, then they are negotiations which by law must be carried out by people authorized by the United States, whereas Rudy Giuliani explicitly works for Mr. Donald Trump in his not-POTUS capacity.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @John Schilling

            Well, Rudy Giuliani doesn’t seem to have a security clearance, and the President of the United States seems to have determined that all of these conversations need to be classified and possibly compartmented, so that’s a violation right there. Though it would be amusing to see a bunch of Democrats trying to argue with a straight face that hey, whodathunkit, mishandling classified information actually is an indictable offense.

            As far as I know, Rudy wasn’t given this conversation, so that wouldn’t be relevant. Being talked about in a classified conversation is not a violation that I am aware of.

            More boringly, it seems to be a clear Logan Act violation, directly for Giuliani and with Trump as a conspirator.

            There are no Logan Act violations. It’s a dead law that is only used to threaten political opponents. I know it’s technically on the books, but seriously, it would be better for America if it was repealed. I have never seen any situation where its existence made things better.

          • John Schilling says:

            As far as I know, Rudy wasn’t given this conversation, so that wouldn’t be relevant.

            It isn’t “this conversation” that is classified, it is from what we are hearing basically all of the related diplomatic conversations that are being classified. And therefore all of the information derived from those conversations. It’s pretty much impossible for Giuliani to have been briefed for his talk with Zelenskyy, without having been given what the administration has deemed classified information.

            Or possibly the theory is that Trump told Giuliani to go call Zelenskyy but didn’t tell him what to call him about.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The President is the ultimate classification authority; he can’t commit a crime by personally giving Giuliani classified information.

            From 18 USC 798

            The term “unauthorized person” means any person who, or agency which, is not authorized to receive information of the categories set forth in subsection (a) of this section, by the President, or by the head of a department or agency of the United States Government which is expressly designated by the President to engage in communication intelligence activities for the United States.

            Note the requirement for the designation to be “express” applies to the delegation to department heads, not to authorizing persons. My interpretation of this is that if the President tells you classified information, you’re ipso facto authorized to receive it.

          • Controls Freak says:

            It isn’t “this conversation” that is classified, it is from what we are hearing basically all of the related diplomatic conversations that are being classified. And therefore all of the information derived from those conversations.

            The problem is that we can probably all agree that the original markings on the transcript are silly. It’s ridiculous to think that every line should have been S/NF (some of them fit the bill, but definitely not all). The endgame of this is almost certainly that Mr. 2354726 gets called over to Capitol Hill to explain exactly why he was so lazy (and whether there was political pressure to be particularly lazy with specific documents, including this one, which could be potentially embarrassing to Trump).

            Because classification markings don’t work like magic, either. You have to actually see the document and the marking to be aware that a classification authority has deemed it such (especially if the classification authority is lazy and marks up silly things). As Nybbler points out, if Trump directly tells Giuliani what he wants, then the markings/lack of clearance are obviated… but so too if Trump tells Pompeo, “Hey, get Giuliani and Zelenskyy on a call to talk about _____,” and no one steps in to say, “Hol’ up; this is all marked S/NF.” Pompeo/Giuliani can’t be held accountable for violating some lazy marking by Mr. 2354726 on a document they’ve never even seen.

          • Aftagley says:

            The President is the ultimate classification authority; he can’t commit a crime by personally giving Giuliani classified information.

            IMO, this is a flawed argument. The ultimate authority for the existing classification system comes from the President, but that doesn’t mean the person occupying the office of President can’t mishandle classified information.

            For example: If Obama left the PDB out on the whitehouse lawn one day, he’d have mishandled classified information right?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Aftagley

            I’ve quoted the portion of the law which indicates that the President can disclose classified information to whoever he wants to (at least without regard to its classification; you could still argue treason based on the nature of the information).

            I’m not sure exactly what “mishandling” classified information is. The law at issue with Hillary Clinton was 18 U.S. Code § 1924, “Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material”, but I don’t think the President can break that either. It’s not a strict liability offense (it requires both knowledge and intent), so if somehow Obama had accidentally left classified info on the White House lawn, he’d be OK. If he did it deliberately, the law specifies “without authority”… and he has it.

          • Controls Freak says:

            If Obama left the PDB out on the whitehouse lawn one day, he’d have mishandled classified information right?

            Pretty much what Nybbler said, again. There’s a difference between the legal definition of “mishandling classified information” (see the statute for the real details) and the nonlegal definition of “mishandling classified information”. For example, losing the nuclear authorization codes for months probably counts as “mishandling classified information” in the nonlegal sense, but no one thinks it meets the legal standard or would be grounds for something like impeachment.

            I think your example also relies on some level of carelessness. And this makes some sense. A big part of the reason why we say that the President in the Classifier in Chief and cannot even theoretically violate these laws is that the President is the embodiment of the Executive branch and Commander in Chief; we generally assume that he intends to do what he does; and that intent is therefore the intent of the United States with respect to classification of information (see the discussion of whether Obama intended to declassify the drone strike program after joking about it in a press event). It seems to violate that assumption when we believe that the action stemmed from mere carelessness. That’s meaningful when evaluating the nonlegal sense of “mishandling classified information”, but the legal sense has a pretty strong assumption that the President’s acts are intentional. “No idea why Obama would have wanted to leave the PDB on the White House lawn, but he’s authorized to do so, and we assume he had a reason for it.”

          • Clutzy says:

            There are no Logan Act violations. It’s a dead law that is only used to threaten political opponents. I know it’s technically on the books, but seriously, it would be better for America if it was repealed. I have never seen any situation where its existence made things better.

            This x100

            John, I am so surprised that you even said this remark that I am currently experiencing a form of cognitive dissonance as I am rewriting your online persona from 1 entity to an entirely different entity.

          • albatross11 says:

            The Nybbler:

            Honestly, it always seemed dumb to be talking about prosecuting the Secretary of State for that anyway. She’s got the sort of job that needs to be allowed to say “we’re going to disclose this now for good policy reasons” or “we’re going to need to relax security rules X and Y so we can accomplish this good thing.”

          • Clutzy says:

            Honestly, it always seemed dumb to be talking about prosecuting the Secretary of State for that anyway. She’s got the sort of job that needs to be allowed to say “we’re going to disclose this now for good policy reasons” or “we’re going to need to relax security rules X and Y so we can accomplish this good thing.”

            ???

            She didn’t do any of those things. The problem in the Clinton case wasn’t that she was recklessly declassifying information or relaxing security rules for a purpose she genuinely believed was in the interests of the United States (like say a leaker might). Instead the problem was that no one could articulate a credible explanation for her actions that would tie them to a genuine national interest, and instead the only plausible non-incriminating explanation given that I recall was basically “tech incompetency”. The gist being that Hillary didn’t want to carry 2 cell phones, and also State Department email systems were confusing to her.

            That was the innocent explanation (which still technically violates the negligence standard in the statute). I don’t believe it, I think she thought she would be able to use it to avoid transparency (and ultimately did, but had other consequences related to it which may have been worse, or lesser, I dont know).

            Now, should we be prosecuting old ladies that not only dont know technology, but recklessly pretend to while holding a largely ceremonial position? No. I don’t think so . Indeed, it is the job of her superiors (in this case Obama) to ensure that she never receives important information, because it would surely become compromised. But, if such a person is going to attempt to secure a non-ceremonial position, it is certainly a huge national security risk. And we should be allowed to know about it at the very least.

            Plus, destroying evidence is a crime even doddering old ladies know is illegal.

    • Tenacious D says:

      No predictions, but I have an excellent joke seen on Twitter to share:

      “Instead of Ukraine-gate, why aren’t we calling it the Kievan ruse?”

    • John Schilling says:

      Highly unlikely that Trump is going to be removed from office over this, if only because the impeachment trial would be happening right before the election and most Senators are going to want to pass the buck and “let the people decide, Yay democracy, Yay me not having to take a controversial stand!” So what does that mean for the election?

      It gives Trump a conspicuous win going into election season. To his base, this would be proof that he’s an innocent man falsely accused, but one powerful enough to stand up for himself and win rather than lie down and take it. To everyone else, it will be more proof that he’s a corrupt sleazebag, but one powerful enough to get away with it. But the key words in both formulations are “powerful enough”, as in, if there was any chance at all that you were ever going to vote Trump, now he looks more like someone powerful enough to be an effective champion of your interests. Also, momentum is a thing. So a win for Trump.

      Also a win for Biden, if he plays his cards right. Biden is already the default choice of the “Defeat Trump at all costs; our grand progressive dreams can wait for a safer election” faction, and that faction will be strengthened by the perception that Trump just got away with another big bit of corruption. And going after Presidents’ family is very nearly the ultimate low blow in politics. It’s one thing if POTUS’s familiy is politically active at the level of a Hillary or a Javanka, but if the narrative around Hunter doesn’t coalesce into something much stronger than “Got paid $50K for being Joe Biden’s son”, then that’s lame-ass Billy Carter stuff. If Joe Biden is seen as standing up for his family against that level of attack, with a measure of dignity and strength, that’s a win for him no matter what the Senate does.

      So, a somewhat reinvigorated Donald Trump vs a somewhat reinvigorated Joe Biden. Meh, I can live with that, albeit without much enthusiasm.

      The more interesting prospect is, the Senate votes to convict and remove Trump. Which they won’t do over Trump making a phone call to Ukraine, but might do over some of the damn fool stuff Trump does in response to impeachment. We know Trump’s temperament by now; he will do something, and it will be something big and he’s running out of staff who can stop him from doing big stupid things. If he asks the Queen to prorogue the Senate, yeah, he’s getting Full Impeachment.

      If that happens, we get lame duck President Pence and the GOP trying desperately to find someone to run in Trump’s place in 2020. That fires up the base with “We must not allow those damn dirty Democrats and traitor RINOs to get away with this!”, provided the replacement will be anyone who can be seen as carrying on Trump’s legacy. But I’m at a loss for who it would be. Pence himself has been made into a complete nobody by his boss’s demands that the administration be All About the Donald, so a bad choice in spite of being the default. The ideal scenario for the Republicans would then be for the Democrats to foolishly demand that Pence be thrown out with Trump, because the GOP can then “reluctantly” go along with that after delaying long enough to confirm Pence’s vice-presidential, er, presidential successor. Who then gets incumbency during the campaign season.

      The Democrats, on the other hand, then wouldn’t face the urgency of Defeating Donald Trump At All Costs, and will likely nominate Warren or one of the more progressive candidates. And even a GOP crippled by the impeachment of their standard-bearer, might pull out a win in a vote between Hard Left Progressivism vs. a personally untainted Not Donald Trump.

      Unfortunately, too many of these are too close to call for me to make any interesting predictions. But it will be fun to watch.

      • EchoChaos says:

        If that happens, we get lame duck President Pence and the GOP trying desperately to find someone to run in Trump’s place in 2020.

        Pence or Cruz. Pence has enough credit with Trump’s base because of his unwavering support, plus he has Rust Belt Cred.

        Cruz was #2 last election and was the #2 choice for most Trump voters in the last primary. It’s his if he wants it. Plus first Hispanic President and locking down the Southwest.

        • John Schilling says:

          Cruz is probably the best bet for the GOP in this scenario. Pence’s “unwavering support” mostly consists of keeping his mouth shut, which was often the support Trump needed but isn’t terribly memorable.

      • Thomas Jorgensen says:

        And he already did the (first) stupid thing.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFhU6Qk_OIk

        He just bloody well called for the whistleblower to be murdered. Turbulent priest speech. On tape. Yhea, that is not going to go over well with anyone not utterly in the tank for trumpism.

        • The Nybbler says:

          He just bloody well called for the whistleblower to be murdered.

          He most certainly did not. He may have suggested he be _executed_. Because that’s what we used to do to spies and traitors — hold a trial and execute them if found guilty. (and technically he’s referring to whoever gave the information to the whistleblower, not the whistleblower himself)

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Given who his followers include, would you feel even remotely safe if it was you that record was about? There are certain things that are just random horseshit if you or I say them, which the president of the united states should never ever utter unless said president wants things to happen. And as I said, anyone not wholly committed is going to take that tape.. Badly. I expect worse to come, though.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Given who his followers include, would you feel even remotely safe if it was you that record was about?

            For my life? Not worried at all. For my job, definitely worried.

          • albatross11 says:

            The president has ordered people murdered before, with no oversight from anyone and no appeal. Turns out both major parties in the US were broadly on board with that kind of thing. So it’s not 100% crazy to worry about the president wanting you dead and saying so in public.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @albatross11

            Including American citizens (as absurd as that citizenship was).

            It is a very bad precedent and if this leaker dies via drone strike I think we all agree that Trump should be impeached.

          • Controls Freak says:

            The president has ordered people murdered before, with no oversight from anyone and no appeal.

            Including American citizens

            The year was 1865. We’re all kind of old here at SSC.

          • albatross11 says:

            TBH, I think Trump is too unpopular and not in tight enough with the right deep-state types to carry something like this off. But a smoother future president will probably be able to do it, or something like it. During the Bush administration, we had a US citizen disapperared off US soil into a military prison and held incommunicado for a long time, probably tortured, and then charged with a crime only when it looked like a judge was going to order him released. How long until a whistleblower gets similar treatment?

            It’s obvious that concentrating power like this is a terrible idea. And yet, even the people who are telling us Trump is Hitler 2.0 don’t seem to want to get rid of that concentration of power. Just like the people decrying how we’re descending into fascism support re-authorizing all our massive internal surveillance programs. It’s hard to overstate how much this undermines their positions.

    • ana53294 says:

      How much legal responsibility do the people writing the transcript have?

      Can they be charged with perjury if it’s a lie?

      I could believe Trump lied, but so far the people around him have not been very keen on lying if they actually faced consequences for it.

      • ECD says:

        This is not legal advice. None of this is under oath, so no. There may be other problems, with obstruction of justice, but not perjury. And again, all of this is federal law, so President Trump retains the power to pardon.

    • BBA says:

      This will not have any impact on anything important. The House may or may not impeach. The Senate will not convict – Hillary murdered dozens if not hundreds of people who got in her way, what’s a little footsie with a foreign government compared to that? (Note: it doesn’t matter how many people Hillary murdered, as long as 34 senators think she murdered them.)

      Donald Trump is president for life. I mean that seriously, not literally, though it might also be true literally. He is, in the mathematical sense, a singularity – a point at which the rules cease to apply, which cannot be affected by any outside force. Nothing will ever change. Nobody cares. Nothing matters. Enjoy every sandwich.

    • Eponymous says:

      I’m surprised by most peoples’ responses here, especially compared to the mainstream media.

      My take is that this looks quite bad for Trump, both from a legal and political perspective. Of course, fundamentally impeachment is a political process, and so the latter is decisive. Here the main obstacles are the Republican control of the Senate, and the proximity of the election. I think the former is less iron-clad than many think — a lot of GOP senators are privately (and in some cases publicly) not great fans of Trump, and if things start to look bad, and opinion is shifting, I could see them jettisoning him. The proximity to the election is probably the larger obstacle, since it introduces the “let the people decide” argument. I personally find this argument quite persuasive, barring something much worse than we’ve seen so far.

      If I had to put numbers on my rough feelings: 65% this doesn’t go away and hurts Trump a lot politically, 20% he ends up being removed from office or resigns.

  7. habu71 says:

    Question for anyone living in the bay area now:
    Has anyone found that finding women to date in the bay area is significantly harder than someplace else they have lived? That is, has anyone been noticeably successful someplace other than the bay area, but then has moved to the bay area and can’t find a date?
    I am thinking of moving up there and have read many accounts of it being very difficult to find a date as a man looking for a woman. I’m just wondering if these accounts are mostly due to the sex ratio in the bay area or selection effects of the kind of guys who are likely to find themselves employed in the area.

    • devonian22 says:

      Not answering the question, but I’ve heard the lopsided sex ratio given as an explanation (with NYC as the opposite – lots of single, college-educated women, not many similar men). See https://www.amazon.com/Date-onomics-Dating-Became-Lopsided-Numbers/dp/076118208X.

    • JayT says:

      Personally, I had better luck dating in the Bay Area than I did in the medium sized college town I lived in before SF. My data is over a decade old however, so I’m not sure it’s still accurate. However, it’s still a very large area with a whole lot of people, so just by sheer numbers your odds will be better here than in most other places.

    • keaswaran says:

      San Jose, Las Vegas, and San Francisco have the three highest ratios of men to women of major American metropolitan areas, with Honolulu and Austin not far behind. New York, Philadelphia, and Newark all have higher ratios of women to men than San Francisco does of men to women, as do a dozen or so other big cities. (I suspect men are overrepresented in rural areas with a “frontier” feel, like Alaska, as well as in dying young.)

      https://www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/solocities_gap1.aspx

      • The Nybbler says:

        It’s worse than that. Young single men are overrepresented compared to young, single women in ALL major metropolitan areas. NY, Philly, and Newark just have more older single women than older single men.

        • Evan Þ says:

          So where are all the young women?

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            I’m not him, and don’t share his sense of despair at the NYC dating scene, but I would assume that the key word there is single.

            Both younger and older men are competing for younger women as partners and sex differences tend to be single-digit differences in percentage. So even if only a small minority of younger women are willing to date older men that could easily undo the effect of an overall sex skew in the population.

            That said, in practice you don’t actually have to be that attractive to outcompete old men and frankly most young men. New York City is still an excellent city for heterosexual men when it comes to dating if you know what you’re doing.

        • Aftagley says:

          Married to all the old men?

  8. LeslieByvivreBrooks says:

    Hi all, I’ve written a long but hopefully good post about the videogame Rain World, in which I explain how the game communicates profound Buddhist and Transhumanist themes to the player through its story, its gameplay, and most of all, its realistic unfairness.

    I happen to cite some of Scott’s more transhumanist pieces in there, such as Meditations on Moloch and The Goddess of Everything Else, so if you’re curious to read how a game could engage with ideas like these, you’ll probably find this a fun read.

    Find the introduction here.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Approximate quote: When you pray for safety in the desert, remember that Allah also hears the prayers of the lion.

      Banana Rose by Natalie Goldberg is what I’d call a Buddhist novel. Goldberg mostly writes about writing as a form of meditation, but in Banana Rose, she has a tone of one thing happens and then another thing happens, and yet the novel is satisfying (at least to me) rather than boring.

    • Zeno of Citium says:

      I just read the whole thing, that was excellent – a great piece of literary criticism. It’s a shame some of Rain World’s less approachable facets weren’t tuned (like going through a screen transition and immediately being eaten, which ironically is something you’d be able to avoid if you were actually in the world as the real world doesn’t really have screen transitions). It could have been brutal and unfair, but not so unfair that basically everyone found it frustrating and unfun. It seems like there’s a really interesting story and world going on, one that the unfairness serves, but the game is just so enjoyable to most people that the only way most of us will experience it is through something like this article – although I’m not sure how much I’d get out of a 30-hour game that wasn’t communicated better in your articles.
      The Dark Souls series is sort of the more popular version of this, but in Dark Souls, it’s less about accepting that the game and the world are unfair, but about realizing that the game design is scrupulously fair. Dark Souls has you lose progress when you die like Rain World, and so on, but everything is scripted and hand-placed. Every ambush, every trap, every seemingly unbeatable enemy has tells, warnings, or ways around them – I’m reminded of a boulder that seemingly comes out of nowhere to crush you in the first game in Sen’s Fortress that some perceptive players avoided because previous boulders that crushed previous would-be heroes left a large, visible rut in the ground. The game is full of stuff like this, that seems unfair but actually, sometimes only on reflection, you were fully warned.
      I supposed it’s appropriate that Dark Souls’ series plot is about accepting natural cycles and not trying to hold on to mere survival by stopping them, sort of the opposite of Rain World.

      • LeslieByvivreBrooks says:

        Thank you, Zeno — that’s high praise! 🙂

        I sympathize with the idea that Rain World could have been less frustrating without losing its unfair nature, but I doubt it had much leeway left here; I think that at the core of the game’s critical reception lies the fact that its unfairness itself was so frustrating. One thing it might have done was to make its narrative more apparent up-front; most people who fell off Rain World didn’t even have a clue that it had a story to begin with. This would mean it would have had to sacrifice part of its “The player character is not special or supernaturally important”-philosophy, however, which is a key component of what makes the game so incredible… So I’m not sure much could have been done.

        Dark Souls is a fantastic series, but I’d argue that it’s almost rarely unfair; the vast majority of your deaths come from fair, ‘easily’ learnable foes. Moreover, every time you’re caught by an unfair trap in Dark Souls, you’ll afterwards 1) find out the mechanism that might have foreshadowed it, and 2) know that it is there so you’ve learned how to avoid it. This means that the player never really has to struggle with unfairness in Dark Souls like we do in life; thus the game doesn’t teach us much about dealing with unfairness in real life.

        (I think you realize this yourself as well; if you merely brought up Dark Souls as an example of a game that feels unfair but isn’t, rather than as an example of a game that Rain World could take a cue from, then my last paragraph is happily uncalled for!)

  9. Lambert says:

    Now it’s .25, let’s have a big CW argument about Prorogation.

    The last (or current, I suppose) session of parliament has been going on for an awfully long time. In ordinary circumstances, it would be a totally normal thing to do. OTOH, it gives parliament much less time to legislate anything regarding Brexit, which defaults to no-deal.

    • ana53294 says:

      Why is prorogation so important?

      I don’t get why you need to have a Queen’s Speech at all. In Spain, we have a new Parliament every election. Sessions are scheduled in advance, and summertime is usually left without scheduled sessions, so they can go on a summer vacation. During the vacation, 21 members remain. But an extraordinary emergency session can be asked by the remaining members (made by every party group), in both Congress and the Senate.

      So why completely shut off? What purpose does it serve? I have tried to read on it, and as far as I understood it, it’s for having some kind of clean slate. But isn’t the slate cleaned every general election?

      • Lambert says:

        It’s just how parliament works, and has done since before the reign of Charles I, who was the first person to cause a big prorogation-related constitutional crisis.

        • ana53294 says:

          Yes, I was able to find that out, and how it works, but I still don’t get the purpose, the why of it.

          Why is there a prorogation? What purpose does it serve?

          If it’s a vacation and respite for MPs, why can’t they do what’s done in Spain (where the Constitution does not give vacation rights), and clear a couple of weeks of the Parliament schedule, and leave some people (with proportional party representation), who can schedule and emergency session if called for? Why close Parliament at all? These emergency MPs can even go on vacations, they would just officially be on call.

          • Lambert says:

            Back in the medieval and renaissance, parliament was only in session intermittently.
            It was called by a monarch when they needed to raise a tax or have laws passed.

            Even though parliament is now in session almost all the time, there are still gaps between sessions. This is just the kind of cruft that builds up when an institution is 700ish years old.

            OTOH, since the 30s, prorogation has generally only lasted a few days.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            That is in fact what Parliament does during its recesses (for instance, during the summer and for party conferences). While Parliament has voted not to meet, it still exists, committees still meet, and the Speaker can choose to recall it in an emergency.

            Prorogation is distinct both from this and from dissolution, which is the state in the run-up to an election where Parliament no longer exists– during a period of dissolution, the BBC does not put “MP” after the name of Government ministers or Opposition spokespeople, as there is no Parliament for them to be a Member of.

            As Lambert says, prorogation generally happens because the Government wants to set out its agenda for the next session of Parliament (which are a year long) in a Queen’s Speech. These happen when Parliament is opened (at the State Opening), and to be opened it has to be closed.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            As @AlphaGamma said, after prorogation there is a Queen’s speech laying out the government’s agenda, and this is voted on. If the vote fails, an election is called.

            I’m not 100% certain of this but my understanding is that Boris wants to have an election so that he can have a house of commons which will support him in making a deal to leave. He tried to have an election earlier this month and it didnt work. I believe prorogation was another way to get there, by forcing his opposition to either vote in favor of the Queen’s speech (which would presumably include stuff they could not in good conscience vote for), or to vote against it and force an election.

            The judgment of the UK Supreme Court (which, btw, is only 10 years old), seems to me like a shameful attempt to take powers which dont belong to it. Prorogation has never been subject to judicial review, and for a court to give itself the power of review over almost every action the executive takes is a severe breach of the separation of powers. That they would couch their power grab in service to a foreign power as a way to save democracy is expected, but still obscene given that this move is an explicit and direct attack on the democratic expression of the UK’s desire to leave the EU.

            These are simply pro-Remain judges on a 10 year old court deciding to upend 100s of years of established jurisprudence in service of the EU.

          • episcience says:

            @jermo sapiens

            It is not a power grab. It is plain from the cases cited in the judgment that the courts have on a number of occasions trammeled the prerogative power of the King where these impinge on common law standards. This is a natural consequence of the principles that have already been established. (They quote a seventeenth-century case which states that “the King hath no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows him”.) The prorogation in this case was for 5 weeks, the longest in modern eras, which is not needed to prepare for a Queen’s Speech (the typical length, as the court says in the judgment, is 4 to 5 days). They were entirely justified in holding, as they did, that this was an unjustified interference with Parliamentary sovereignty.

            EDIT to add: Boris has also been unequivocal in saying that the prorogation was nothing to do with Brexit. It is difficult to asset that and at the same time characterise striking down the prorogation as a pro-Remain victory.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            It is not a power grab. It is plain from the cases cited in the judgment that the courts have on a number of occasions trammeled the prerogative power of the King where these impinge on common law standards.

            What do you call it when a court declares itself to have powers which it was not recognized to have before? Pointing to previous power grabs does not make this case less of a power grab. The court even admits it:

            In practice, as noted in the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper (No 8589, 11th June 2019), “this process has been a formality in the UK for more than a century: the Government of the day advises the Crown to prorogue and that request is acquiesced to”.

            (paragraph 3 of the decision)

          • episcience says:

            @jermo sapiens

            At least as far as the Court itself understands the ruling, it is an application of powers they have had throughout modern times: the power to review decisions of the executive and overrule these when these conflict with the common law. It is true that the Court has not previously reviewed a decision to prorogue, because prorogations have in the past been unpartisan and for a few days, but that does not mean that there has been an enlargement of the powers available to the Court. Constitutional decisions by nature involve new questions and new subject matters, and the Court is called to consider these against longstanding principles.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It is not a power grab.

            It is a power grab. In terms of precedent, no prorogation of Parliament has ever been overturned like this; in terms of statute, the Fixed-Term Parliament Act explicitly guarantees the Crown’s ability to prorogue. There’s nothing in the British constitution to justify the idea of judges having veto-power over the government’s decisions to prorogue Parliament.

            EDIT to add: Boris has also been unequivocal in saying that the prorogation was nothing to do with Brexit. It is difficult to asset that and at the same time characterise striking down the prorogation as a pro-Remain victory.

            Yes, but only really naïve people believe that the prorogation was nothing to do with Brexit, just like only really naïve people believe that the last three and half years of lawfare waged against the government have been about constitutional principle.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            because prorogations have in the past been unpartisan

            I dont mean to be disrespectful but this is laughably false.

          • episcience says:

            Yes, but only really naïve people believe that the prorogation was nothing to do with Brexit, just like only really naïve people believe that the last three and half years of lawfare waged against the government have been about constitutional principle.

            Agreed that it was really about Brexit — but then the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen really was to frustrate Parliamentary oversight, so it really was unlawful.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            because prorogations have in the past been unpartisan

            Like when John Major prorogued Parliament to delay the publication of a report into his government’s cash-for-questions scandal?

          • ana53294 says:

            @everyone

            Thanks, it is much clearer to me what prorogation actually means (I thought it was some kind of recess).

            When the Queen’s speech is voted in, is it some kind of legislation (is it legally binding), or is it just a statement of intentions?

            It’s incredible how poor British media has been explaining what prorogation is.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Constitutional decisions by nature involve new questions and new subject matters, and the Court is called to consider these against longstanding principles.

            Like the longstanding principle that certain decisions like proroguing parliament are the purview of the executive and not reviewable by the courts.

            But this “longstanding principle” is swept away by “common law principles” apparently. From paragraph 38 of the decision:

            Since the power is recognised by the common law, and has to be compatible with common law principles, those principles may illuminate where its boundaries lie. In particular, the boundaries of a prerogative power relating to the operation of Parliament are likely to be illuminated, and indeed determined, by the fundamental
            principles of our constitutional law.

            Whenever a court wants to do something sneaky, it will appeal to the vague authority of some feel-goody sounding notion. Look at how US courts declared the constitution a “living document” with a “penumbra” where, lo and behold, the founders snuck in the absolute right to abortion, that only these wise progressive judges could see.

            There is a longstanding principle: prorogation is a prerogative of the crown and not subject to judicial review. And then there are “common law principles” which are used by corrupt courts when the application of the actually relevant principle leads to a result they dont want, in this case, Brexit.

            The court actually cites Parliamentary sovereignty, which is a legit principle, and which requires laws to be passed by Parliament, including allocating funds for the government to operate. It does not extend however to the well recognized power to prorogue Parliament.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            When the Queen’s speech is voted in, is it some kind of legislation (is it legally binding), or is it just a statement of intentions?

            statement of intentions, and if the house is against the intentions of the government (by voting against the speech), government falls and an election is held.

          • ana53294 says:

            statement of intentions, and if the house is against the intentions of the government (by voting against the speech), government falls and an election is held.

            What prevents MPs from voting for the Queen’s Speech, saying that they’re holding their nose for the good of the country, and not enacting any of the legislation that the Queen’s Speech would entail?

            I mean, voting for a not legally binding statement of intentions in order to avoid having an election (and thus dissolving parliament before Brexit), could play well with Remain voters.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Agreed that it was really about Brexit — but then the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen really was to frustrate Parliamentary oversight, so it really was unlawful.

            Parliament’s shown repeatedly over the last three years that it’s far too divided to agree to anything on the topic of Brexit, so what meaningful oversight is it in a position to exercise?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            What prevents MPs from voting for the Queen’s Speech, saying that they’re holding their nose for the good of the country, and not enacting any of the legislation that the Queen’s Speech would entail?

            Nothing. This happens frequently in one form or another.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            What prevents MPs from voting for the Queen’s Speech, saying that they’re holding their nose for the good of the country, and not enacting any of the legislation that the Queen’s Speech would entail?

            Well, in the old days, the government could call a general election and try and get a majority of MPs who would actually vote for the government’s policies, but the Fixed-Term Parliament Act took that away.

            More recently, when Parliament refused to call a general election and simultaneously refused to let the government actually govern, recourse has been had to the prorogation of Parliament to prevent MPs from rendering the country ungovernable by constantly stymying everything the executive does. Unfortunately the courts have just ruled that illegal.

            So now I guess there’s nothing.

          • ana53294 says:

            Nothing. This happens frequently in one form or another.

            OK. Now I get the historical reasons for prorogation’s existence, the way it works, but still don’t get why anybody says it’s important to have one.

            Why is it so important to drag an elderly lady through this dog and pony show, by reading a speech she didn’t write, and have her speech, which isn’t legally, or even apparently politically (as politicians have no morals, those get ignored) binding, voted on?

            The impression I get from your very informative responses (thank you all) is that prorogation is a vestigial remain from a time when the King only called Parliament when he needed to tax or make new law. It’s a show, and is not binding in any way, nor does it serve any actual purpose.

          • ana53294 says:

            More recently, when Parliament refused to call a general election and simultaneously refused to let the government actually govern, recourse has been had to the prorogation of Parliament to prevent MPs from rendering the country ungovernable by constantly stymying everything the executive does. Unfortunately the courts have just ruled that illegal.

            When was that?

            It has been said that recent prorogations were short, around 5 days. How does a week-long prorogation stop Parliament from stymying the Government? How frequently can Parliament be prorogued? Could the government (before this ruling), if they wanted to, prorogue Parliament every month, or as frequently as they wanted?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Why is it so important to drag an elderly lady through this dog and pony show, by reading a speech she didn’t write, and have her speech, which isn’t legally, or even apparently politically (as politicians have no morals, those get ignored) binding, voted on?

            It’s meant to be a sign that the government’s agenda has enough support to get through. If it doesn’t, might as well have an election to get a government which can actually get its agenda enacted.

            Of course, the process breaks down somewhat if enough MPs vote for the Queen’s Speech without actually intending to vote for any of the proposals contained therein, but it’s only since the Brexit referendum that politics has got quite so dishonest over here.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            When was that?

            Until about 10.30 yesterday morning.

            Could the government (before this ruling), if they wanted to, prorogue Parliament every month, or as frequently as they wanted?

            Theoretically, thought they wouldn’t be able to pass any new laws or raise any new taxes without Parliament. I’m not sure if the British army still needs to be legally renewed every year, but if so that’s another factor stopping excessive prorogation.

          • brad says:

            Maybe it’s my weird American viewpoint but it’s hard for me to take too seriously outraged that the executive is having its prerogative trammeled when it wasn’t elected by anyone. In a system with parliamentary supremacy it seems like the conventions about what is reserved to the Government are just conveniences and not fundamentally about separation of powers.

            It’s bizarre to me that Conservative party members picked the PM and not the MPs.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Maybe it’s my weird American viewpoint but it’s hard for me to take too seriously outraged that the executive is having its prerogative trammeled when it wasn’t elected by anyone. In a system with parliamentary supremacy it seems like the conventions about what is reserved to the Government are just conveniences and not fundamentally about separation of powers.

            It’s bizarre to me that Conservative party members picked the PM and not the MPs.

            The british system is pretty bizarre, and it’s been established over centuries, and relies heavily on tradition. It was not designed the same way the american system was. Scott had a post on tradition vs science (not exactly, but sort of), which points to why systems based on tradition are probably very useful, specially ones that lasted a long time, and the british system certainly lasted a long time. I forget which post exactly but it made reference to how certain tribes in Africa treat this otherwise poisonous root vegetable so that it becomes non-poisonous.

            As in any political system, you have different actors having different powers and the system reaches a form of balance which works quite well. The power to prorogue was certainly part of that balance, and I would submit there is a real risk that the decision by the courts to give themselves the power to review prorogation decisions throws that balance off. Ultimately, the system will reach a new balance but we have no way of knowing what this new balance will be. The court doesnt know either, and it doesnt care, it only wanted to stop Brexit.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Maybe it’s my weird American viewpoint but it’s hard for me to take too seriously outraged that the executive is having its prerogative trammeled when it wasn’t elected by anyone.

            If we’re talking about elections and democratic mandates, Parliament has spent the last three years doing everything in its power to prevent the implementation of a major referendum, so I don’t think democratic legitimacy is on the side of Parliament here.

            Plus, of course, the Prime Minister wanted to hold a general election, but Parliament refused, so if nobody voted for the government that’s because Parliament won’t let elections be held. (And then many MPs have the cheek to play the “Boris Johnson is unelected” card.)

            It’s bizarre to me that Conservative party members picked the PM and not the MPs.

            If MPs didn’t want Johnson in power, they could have no-confidenced him long ago. They chose not to.

          • brad says:

            As I understand it no one ever votes for the government in your system. It’s a parliamentary committee with a lot of pretensions. Again, from my foreign viewpoint.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            As I understand it no one ever votes for the government in your system. It’s a parliamentary committee with a lot of pretensions. Again, from my foreign viewpoint.

            No, because the government depends on the Crown for its authority, not on Parliament.

            ETA: Although since the convention is that the Queen appoints whomever is best-placed to command a majority in the Commons, in practice a lot of people vote for their MPs as a proxy for whom they want as PM.

          • Lambert says:

            >OK. Now I get the historical reasons for prorogation’s existence, the way it works, but still don’t get why anybody says it’s important to have one.

            >The impression I get from your very informative responses (thank you all) is that prorogation is a vestigial remain from a time when the King only called Parliament when he needed to tax or make new law. It’s a show, and is not binding in any way, nor does it serve any actual purpose.

            Welcome to the British policical system. Wait till you learn about the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham.

      • keaswaran says:

        In Texas, the legislature meets for only January to June after the election, and then has over a year off until the next election, unless the Governor calls them into special session. I think several other states have this.

        It seems odd to do this for a national legislature.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      Judgment of the court is available here, and it is surprisingly short, only 25 pages. I am not going to comment on it at least until I´ve read it.

    • episcience says:

      The normal thing to do is to prorogue for a few days to prepare for the Queen’s Speech. It is not normal to prorogue for 5 weeks, as the Supreme Court said, so because that significantly curtails the power of the legislature to hold the executive to account, the Prime Minister must have a “reasonable justification” for that curtailment. He didn’t have any, or didn’t present any to the court, so holding the prorogation unlawful seems reasonable (and in keeping with how judicial review works in the UK) to me.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        The legislature has had plenty of opportunities to hold the executive to account, whether by holding a vote of no confidence in the government, or by passing legislation for a new election. It declined to do either, and it seems sophistical to claim that judicial intervention is necessary when Parliament is refusing to use the powers it already has.

        • EchoChaos says:

          This feels like the case. The executive certainly has a minority government, but he called for an election to fix that and the opposition declined (I’ve heard for the first time ever, but I could be wrong), so he gets whatever executive powers he wants because the Opposition specifically gave them to him.

          The Court is mad because those powers turn out to be pretty powerful, so they’re reigning him in because the Opposition refuses to.

          British politics watchers: I’ve heard this referred to as “Britain’s Marbury v. Madison” because it’s the Court using the excuse of a case to grant itself sweeping powers. Is that true, or is this more normal powers just in an extraordinary situation?”

          • The original Mr. X says:

            This feels like the case. The executive certainly has a minority government, but he called for an election to fix that and the opposition declined (I’ve heard for the first time ever, but I could be wrong), so he gets whatever executive powers he wants because the Opposition specifically gave them to him.

            Yes, and as an aside I was dismayed to see so many people on Twitter referring to Johnson as an “unelected PM”, as if Parliament hasn’t repeatedly refused to hold new elections since he took office.

            British politics watchers: I’ve heard this referred to as “Britain’s Marbury v. Madison” because it’s the Court using the excuse of a case to grant itself sweeping powers. Is that true, or is this more normal powers just in an extraordinary situation?”

            I think it is true, yes, and I expect this to result in a US-style Supreme Court, complete with confirmation hearings and everything.

        • episcience says:

          It’s worth reading the judgment on this — the Court’s holding was that the effect of a five-week prorogation was to prevent Parliament from sitting, asking questions of the Prime Minister, or holding committees while the Prime Minister negotiated Brexit. They have certainly used their powers to pass Brexit-related legislation and ask questions of the Prime Minister before they were (purportedly) prorogued. The Court did not hold (and it would be very unusual for it to hold) that it was required to use its powers specifically to call a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister. It is enough that the routine business of Parliament was disrupted in a way that the Prime Minister was unable to justify.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            The point is that Parliament already had the ability to rein the executive in, if they thought that Johnson was acting unreasonably. (It’s not like they weren’t given any warning that Parliament was going to be prorogued, after all.) So there was no need for the judiciary to get involved to “defend Parliament supremacy”, because Parliament was quite capable of defending itself. What really happened is that remain-supporting MPs wanted to have their cake and eat it — they wanted to opposite the Prime Minister’s Brexit policy without running the risk of a general election.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            People here seem to be thinking that “the risk of a general election” to the Remain faction in Parliament is that it would return a Tory/Brexit majority. There is also the fact that (whether it is called by a 2/3 majority vote or following a vote of no confidence) the PM gets to choose the date, so there is a risk he could pick a date after October 31 and allow the UK to crash out without a deal in the meantime.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            People here seem to be thinking that “the risk of a general election” to the Remain faction in Parliament is that it would return a Tory/Brexit majority. There is also the fact that (whether it is called by a 2/3 majority vote or following a vote of no confidence) the PM gets to choose the date, so there is a risk he could pick a date after October 31 and allow the UK to crash out without a deal in the meantime.

            I don’t think there’s anything to stop Parliament passing a law saying “The next general election is hereby scheduled for [date before October 31]”.

            Also, let us not forget that, “Prorogation is presented as a power grab but in practice all it does is keep the law as it is – preventing changes to the statute being made for a time. It wouldn’t work as a mechanism to deliver a No Deal Brexit if MPs hadn’t already voted for No Deal. When they set it as the legal default by passing the EU Withdrawal Act a year ago.”

        • Gobbobobble says:

          The legislature has had plenty of opportunities to hold the executive to account, whether by holding a vote of no confidence in the government, or by passing legislation for a new election. It declined to do either, and it seems sophistical to claim that judicial intervention is necessary when Parliament is refusing to use the powers it already has.

          It is utterly ridiculous to me that apparently the only options are “get on board with the agenda” or “burn the house down”. That’s not a check or balance, that’s just MAD

          • jermo sapiens says:

            what do you consider to be burning the house down?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It is utterly ridiculous to me that apparently the only options are “get on board with the agenda” or “burn the house down”. That’s not a check or balance, that’s just MAD

            Firstly, since when has holding an election counted as MAD? If you think that, you might as well abolish the Commons altogether and just have the Queen rule the country herself.

          • Aftagley says:

            @The original mr. X

            Two quick questions:

            1. Everything I’ve read about the why the libs don’t want an election is that one couldn’t be done quick enough to have it be settled before October 31st. From my perspective, it looks like they want an election, just not at the expense of a no-deal brexit.

            2. It looks like you see no difference between a structured brexit and a no-deal brexit. Is this the case?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            1. Everything I’ve read about the why the libs don’t want an election is that one couldn’t be done quick enough to have it be settled before October 31st. From my perspective, it looks like they want an election, just not at the expense of a no-deal brexit.

            They could have held an election earlier, when Boris became PM. In fact, many members of the opposition were calling for just that, right until the point where it became clear that an election might actually happen. So no, I think they know public opinion is closer to Johnson’s position than their own, and they’re just playing for time in the hopes that something will come up to give them an excuse to stop Brexit officially.

            2. It looks like you see no difference between a structured brexit and a no-deal brexit. Is this the case?

            I don’t know what you’re getting at here. Obviously there will be differences in how the aftermath plays out. But since Parliament has repeatedly failed to agree on a Brexit deal, I don’t think a “structured Brexit”, as you put it, is a realistic option.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        The requirement that the PM have a “reasonable justification” for proroguing was invented out of thin air.

        • salvorhardin says:

          AFAICT (and I am not a Brit, so perhaps not familiar enough with history) there had not previously been a use of prorogation that was

          (a) so blatantly abusive and corruptly intended
          (b) so consequential

          but even if there had been, the fact that someone else got away with it before is a poor justification for letting Boris get away with it again.

          The general claim underlying these arguments, that executive discretionary power unreviewable by the other branches is somehow a necessary part of the balance of institutional power, is also present in John Yoo’s editorial in the Times opposing impeachment over Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. I find it to be a thin rationalization for poorly-restrained authoritarian demagoguery. It is always extremely dangerous to vest discretionary government power in a single individual, and such power should be multiply and independently checked. Accountability to voters is a necessary but very far from sufficient part of that accountability, and the voters’ will itself must also be checked, including by epistocratic bodies such as the courts. Sometimes this requires “power grabs” but when, as now, the power is grabbed to prevent its existing holder from catastrophically misusing it, that is entirely justified and wise.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            I’m not going to pretend to know the motives behind every previous prorogation of parliament. Suffice it to say that political games were not invented yesterday, and that I very much doubt the veracity of your characterization of this prorogation.

            that executive discretionary power unreviewable by the other branches is somehow a necessary part of the balance of institutional power

            Yes, our leaders of government have discretionary power. That way when they screw up we can point at them and know that they are responsible. This is a good thing. Not letting anyone have discretionary power, or splitting discretionary power between as many actors as possible inevitably leads to 1. monumental screw-ups and 2. no-one to blame for the monumental screw up.

            There is no getting away from the necessity of human wisdom and judgment. If your Prime Minister (or President, or whatever) is an idiot, it’s going to suck. But at least you can blame them and replace them. If important decisions are not anybody’s responsibility, it’s also going to suck, but you wont know who to blame and to replace while everyone remotely involved points fingers at the others.

            I find it to be a thin rationalization for poorly-restrained authoritarian demagoguery.

            If you’re talking about the UK Supreme Court, I agree with you 100%. But seriously, you’re actually attacking a PM for using a power that was, until yesterday, firmly within his purview, and praising the court for a power grab, under the pretense of opposing “poorly-restrained authoritarian demagoguery”. Let me help you, the guy using prorogation as it was understood for 100s of years is not the authoritarian, the unelected 10 year old body that gave itself the power to review prorogation is the authoritarian.

            I will also object that the voters will must be checked by “epistocratic bodies such as the courts”.

            >googles epistocratic
            > “relating to epistocracy”
            > thanks google
            > googles epistocracy
            > “rule by citizens with political knowledge”

            Are you saying that the will of the electorate to leave the EU should not be respected because they dont have enough political knowledge? Or did I misconstrue your point?

            Sometimes this requires “power grabs” but when, as now, the power is grabbed to prevent its existing holder from catastrophically misusing it, that is entirely justified and wise.

            So in your view, if the Supreme Court were to use whatever power it has “catastrophically”, it would be entirely legitimate for the government to take away the power of the Supreme Court?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Salvorhardin:

            The general claim underlying these arguments, that executive discretionary power unreviewable by the other branches is somehow a necessary part of the balance of institutional power, is also present in John Yoo’s editorial in the Times opposing impeachment over Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. I find it to be a thin rationalization for poorly-restrained authoritarian demagoguery. It is always extremely dangerous to vest discretionary government power in a single individual, and such power should be multiply and independently checked.

            Without Parliament, the government can’t pass any new laws or raise any new taxes. It also used to be the case that the British army needed to have its existence renewed every year, although I’m not sure if that’s still the case. Regardless, there are checks on the executive’s ability to prorogue Parliament without needing to import US-style judicial activism into the country.

            And speaking of checks and balances, who exactly is going to check the courts?

            Sometimes this requires “power grabs” but when, as now, the power is grabbed to prevent its existing holder from catastrophically misusing it, that is entirely justified and wise.

            From my perspective it’s Parliament that’s being catastrophically misusing its power, by refusing to implement the results of a major referendum and rendering the country essentially ungovernable. Prorogation would have prevented this misuse, but now there’s nothing to stop this incompetent and self-serving institution from dragging out the present crisis for years to come.

            @ Jermo:

            I’m not going to pretend to know the motives behind every previous prorogation of parliament. Suffice it to say that political games were not invented yesterday, and that I very much doubt the veracity of your characterization of this prorogation.

            John Major prorogued Parliament back in 1997 in order to prevent the publication of an embarrassing report about corruption in his government. That seems to me far more politically partisan than anything Boris Johnson has done.

            (And now John Major is lecturing Johnson in the press about how nobody should treat Parliament and the Queen this way. Just in case you still had any respect for the man’s integrity.)

          • jermo sapiens says:

            From my perspective it’s Parliament that’s being catastrophically misusing its power

            Thank you that’s a much better example. I argued the court had catastrophically misused its power, which it has, but this is even more relevant.

            Who watches the watchers? And then who watches those people? And on and on, ad infinitum… This is ridiculous. At one point you need to make one person responsible for something.

            In practice, everybody understands this, but everybody is also quite quick at using a “catastrophic misuse of power” to grab more power for themselves.

          • salvorhardin says:

            @jermosapiens

            You didn’t misconstrue my point. Judges are on average more intelligent, more knowledgeable, and more moral than ordinary voters and it is therefore a good thing for humanity that they have power to restrain the popular will– especially when a slim majority votes for a catastrophically disruptive change. The “activist” US Supreme Court has, in my view, been one of the greatest forces for good in the history of humanity and its failures have usually come from its being insufficiently activist.

            I also disagree that screwups by committee are more likely to be bad, or less likely to be effectively checked, than abuses of power by elected executives. Mechanisms for holding executives accountable by voting work extremely poorly, in part because voters are typically badly informed and situationally irrational, in part because those executives can use their discretionary powers to rig the game in their own favor. Committees tend to screw up through timidity and indecisiveness, and I think history demonstrates that those are far lesser evils than the evil of a decisive and abusive executive.

          • keaswaran says:

            “The general claim underlying these arguments, that executive discretionary power unreviewable by the other branches is somehow a necessary part of the balance of institutional power, is also present in John Yoo’s editorial in the Times opposing impeachment over Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.”

            Is this a correct summary of Yoo’s Op-Ed? I read it a bit quickly, but it sounded to me like he was arguing that it should be illegal for someone to release the information that had triggered the impeachment hearings, but nothing he wrote seemed to indicate that the impeachment itself shouldn’t happen. (Though perhaps he is tacitly assuming the sort of rule that says that if police illegally gather evidence, then the trial shouldn’t happen, rather than that the police should be prosecuted in addition.)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Salvorhardin:

            So perhaps we should set up a communist dictatorship? After all, with all those “intelligent, moral, and knowledgeable” people in charge, how could such a government fail to do better than the current set-up?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @salvorhardin

            Judges are on average more intelligent

            Absolutely.

            more knowledgeable

            Often

            and more moral

            You’ve lost me entirely. Morality is rarely so distributed, and I find the opposite to be true.

            But more importantly, one of the points of legitimacy of a democratic system is that the people (voters, really) get to choose the direction of the ship of state and the technocrats execute that vision to the best of their ability.

            It is true that Brexit is disruptive, but the voters have given that vision of a course change. Now the technocrats should do their best to delivery that vision, not inhibit it.

            To inhibit it is to lose democratic legitimacy.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Judges are on average more intelligent, more knowledgeable, and more moral than ordinary voters

            I was salivating at the thought of responding to this, but @EchoChaos did it first in almost exactly the same format I would have used. Intelligence and knowledge are correlated, but morality is entirely independent of both.

            It’s ok for you to be in favor of activist decisions where abortion and gay marriage were legalized, for example. But, you need to accept that anything that was achieved by a judicial decision can be rescinded by the same. You also lose the right to make any kind of argument with respect to democratic legitimacy.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Committees tend to screw up through timidity and indecisiveness, and I think history demonstrates that those are far lesser evils than the evil of a decisive and abusive executive.

            Both of these assumptions are incorrect. Committees can screw up by timidity or by excessive confidence. And the consequences of any screw up from timidity or excessive confidence depend on the circumstances of each case, not whether the screw up was caused by one or the other.

          • benwave says:

            Mister X,

            From my perspective it’s Parliament that’s being catastrophically misusing its power, by refusing to implement the results of a major referendum

            If parliament were to vote in either a no-deal brexit or one according basically to the agreement that May brokered, do you think that would be meaningfully delivering on what the brexit referendum promised? I personally find it hard to believe that it would. I don’t actually think that British parliament has any options which meaningfully fulfill that promise.

          • John Schilling says:

            If parliament were to vote in either a no-deal brexit or one according basically to the agreement that May brokered, do you think that would be meaningfully delivering on what the brexit referendum promised?

            “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
            Remain a member of the European Union []
            Leave the European Union []”

            That’s it. That’s what the referendum promised. And a plain no-deal Brexit, meaningfully delivers what the referendum promised.

            The various campaign promises of the proponents of the two positions, are absolutely irrelevant. An election is a vote on a certain specified action, not on a set of campaign promises. You do NOT nullify an election simply because you are convinced that the winning side will not be able to fulfill its campaign promises. Not if you want your country to be considered a democracy.

          • benwave says:

            Well, I’d have to disagree that all the material circulating is not relevant, I think it’s vital. It definitely affects how people respond and how they interpret the text of the referendum, does it not? The reason we have referenda at all is to take some kind of measurement of what people want. I just don’t think a narrow literal interpretation of the text of the form really gives you a good measurement of what people were thinking and wanting when they ticked a box, particularly in a case like this where so much effort was made by both campaigns to control the narrative and the interpretation in the public mind.

          • benwave says:

            Actually the more I think about it the more problems I have. I don’t think that the reading you proposed is even the only possible narrow literal reading of the text – one could equally interpret it to say that the government is empowered to work towards conditions where a departure from the EU could happen, but not to immediately pull out without preparing other trade deals etc. Altogether it feels a lot more like rules lawyering than a good faith attempt to discover and execute the will of the people.

            I’m reminded of somebody’s comment in an earlier open thread about how referenda were used in Switzerland’s direct democracy system, and there it is required to have an actual fully worked through piece of legislation to put to voters to vote yes or no to. That is what would be required to plausibly claim that the meaning of the referendum was explicit from the text to me, and the brexit referendum doesn’t meet that standard.

            (I’m also baffled that such a matter was put to a simple-majority vote, but that’s an entirely different thing)

          • salvorhardin says:

            @EchoChaos @jermosapiens

            Re: democratic legitimacy, it’s certainly true that judges restraining the popular will undermines that. In my view that is a feature not a bug, because democratic legitimacy is invalid anyway. Democracy is of considerable instrumental value as part of an institutional mix that minimizes the chance of civil war; but no decision is made more morally legitimate because it is approved by a majority, or less morally legitimate because it is not. (I’m of course influenced here by Jason Brennan’s arguments in _Against Democracy_.)

            Even if you think there is sometimes such a thing as a Will of the People that deserves moral weight, it is very hard to see how a 52% vote that might well have gone the other way on a different day of the week provides a clear signal of that Will. The same of course goes for e.g. the 2016 US presidential election result. In both cases, what the result and its aftermath show is a deeply divided nation that has no clear will at all, and there is no reason that anyone– in office or not– should respect the wishes of one half of that nation even if they have reason to believe that those wishes are plainly insane.

            Re: judges overturning decisions that other judges have made, that of course can happen, just as elections can overturn the result of prior elections. Nothing is permanent or perfect.

            Re: decisions by committee, I challenge you to provide examples of overly-confident committee decisions anywhere near as vicious and damaging as the steady stream of demagogic ukases the world has suffered from unrestrained *and popular* executives in the past century.

            Re: morality, I think the comparison between the record of judges’ decisions on matters of human rights in the past 200 years, and the decisions of voters on such matters, makes the case unambiguously that judges are simply– again on average, and with plenty of exceptions both ways– better people.

          • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

            Democracy is about source of legitimacy of violence, and I think the variant where it comes from expression of common people’s will is far preferable to anything that came before. It’s better to plant idea that common people are the ones who matter as the idea around which violent people organize. Or at least so I think, being a civilian and all.

            Whenever it’s moral or not is a matter of personal opinion. Some might say it’s not because it undermines divine rights of the kings, or immutable laws of Sharia, or because people don’t realize how important it is to exterminate life unworthy of living, or something else.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Benwave:

            If parliament were to vote in either a no-deal brexit or one according basically to the agreement that May brokered, do you think that would be meaningfully delivering on what the brexit referendum promised? I personally find it hard to believe that it would. I don’t actually think that British parliament has any options which meaningfully fulfill that promise.

            A no-deal Brexit would result in Britain leaving the EU, and therefore meaningfully deliver on the referendum. Theresa May’s deal would require the UK to accept most EU regulations, and therefore wouldn’t meaningfully deliver.

            (I’m also baffled that such a matter was put to a simple-majority vote, but that’s an entirely different thing)

            Maybe, but the time to consider that is before the referendum, not after it.

          • Lambert says:

            A lot of brexiteers before the referrendum were talking about Finland and the like as possible models of post-brexit Britain.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @salvorhardin

            Sure, you can be against democracy. That’s totally fine. But then just say that you want a kritarchy and accept the discontent of the masses.

            I object to the dishonesty of “you guys can vote and decide things, as long as you don’t disagree with the judges”.

            As for morality, I’ll point out that judicial decision in the United States upheld slavery, legalized homosexuality and homosexual marriage, abortion and internment.

            All of those are against my morals. You can certainly disagree, but I suspect you just mean “Blue Tribe has controlled judiciaries in the West for a while”

        • AlphaGamma says:

          @Lambert: I believe they were talking about Norway (which is not a member of the EU) and not Finland (which is).

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      It’s kind of darkly hilarious that the British establishment is fighting like demons to prevent Brexit but barely even pretended to care when it comes to the ongoing gang-rapes of tens of thousands of young British girls.

      British politics are so strange because while the establishment here clearly has the same desired endstate in mind they’re nowhere near as brazen. The people in charge of Great Britain just aren’t afraid of the British populace at all as far as I can tell. I guess that’s what happens when you disarm the people so thoroughly that police are going around seizing pocket knives.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        It’s kind of darkly hilarious that the British establishment is fighting like demons to prevent Brexit but barely even pretended to care when it comes to the ongoing gang-rapes of tens of thousands of young British girls.

        If your mental model of the British establishment is that of honest people working in good faith for the good of Great Britain, this doesnt make sense. Switch your mental model so that every member of the British establishment is a slimy crook trying to climb as high as possible within a corrupt system, and everything falls into place.

      • Atlas says:

        @Nabil ad Dajjal

        Steve Sailer quite presciently analyzed this back in his 2013 column “The Real Threat to British Elites.”

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I’m having trouble finding the quotes at the moment, but apparently PC wasn’t the only thing in play– the authorities weren’t interested in taking what happened to lower-class girls seriously.

    • dodrian says:

      Prorogation is a Royal Perogative, while it is taken on the advice of the Prime Minister, it is not something that he or the legislature do.

      The Supreme Court (a new invention for the UK) could I suppose hold Boris in contempt or something similar, but their judgement states that the prorogation is null and void. That’s claiming a power higher than the Crown. This is far more damaging to the United Kingdom’s Constitutional Monarchy than anything the PM has done or attempted.

      What we have is a bizarre situation where Parliament already passed the law ensuring the UK will leave the EU on October 31st. Parliament now wants to change that, but the PM does not. The PM has lost a number of votes on it, and normal course in Parliament would be to hold a general election to realign Parliament and the PM (either with new members or a new PM). The fixed-term Parliament act no longer allows the PM to do so unilaterally, and despite calling for a general election immediately after Boris was appointed PM, the opposition is now refusing to support one even though they are still calling for him to resign.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        This is far more damaging to the United Kingdom’s Constitutional Monarchy than anything the PM has done or attempted.

        +1000

        First move BoJo needs to do once reelected is to dissolve this “Supreme Court”. I’m only half joking.

      • episcience says:

        The Case of Proclamations, from 1610, held that “he King has no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows him.” The UK judiciary has had the power to overrule the Crown for hundreds of years.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          The Case of Proclamations held that the monarch couldn’t unilaterally pass laws. It didn’t say that the judiciary could force the monarch to keep a parliament in being when he wanted to prorogue it.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          the law gives the crown the prerogative to prorogue. the law does not give the Supreme Court review powers over executive actions like this. Do not confuse “rule of law” with “rule by judges”.

          • episcience says:

            Yes, it does. Seriously, it is longstanding English law that the Crown can review and hold unlawful decisions of the King.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            it is longstanding English law that the Crown can review and hold unlawful decisions of the King

            Some decisions. For example if the king decides to enact laws without parliament. Other decisions are understood to be the prerogative of the Crown and not subject to review. Like prorogation. This decision changes that.

          • episcience says:

            Other decisions are understood to be the prerogative of the Crown and not subject to review.

            Again, that’s not true — the Royal prerogative is subject to judicial review. There is a discussion of the case law on this point in the Cherry SC judgment.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            the Royal prerogative is subject to judicial review

            Decisions to prorogue have never been subject to judicial review before, and the lower courts dismissed Miller’s application on the grounds that prorogation was not subject to judicial review. The supreme court overturned that decision by making new law.

          • episcience says:

            Yes, you’re right, but your original argument was that “executive actions like this” and “the prerogative of the Crown” could not be reviewed by the Court, and dodrain’s point was that they were “claiming a power higher than the Crown”. My point is that Court can and has previously reviewed other decisions made by royal prerogative — the Crown has in modern times always been subject to the legal authorities of the Courts.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            My point is that Court can and has previously reviewed other decisions made by royal prerogative

            Can you please provide an example? I’m not disagreeing with you that this is the case I’m just curious as to what you mean exactly by this.

            Also, if you read the decision, you’ll note that the court spends a long time discussing whether the issue is “justiciable” (i.e., whether the court has the jurisdiction to review). They conclude that it is, but only after a long discussion in support of their position. If it was in anyway obvious that they had jurisdiction, they would not have spent that time explaining themselves.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Yes, you’re right, but your original argument was that “executive actions like this” and “the prerogative of the Crown” could not be reviewed by the Court, and dodrain’s point was that they were “claiming a power higher than the Crown”. My point is that Court can and has previously reviewed other decisions made by royal prerogative — the Crown has in modern times always been subject to the legal authorities of the Courts.

            The precedents cited in the judgement both involve the Crown trying to exercise powers which go beyond its legal authority (passing laws unilaterally in the first case, and ordering searches of private property without legal authority in the second). If there’s any precedent in English law for the courts annulling an action which is unquestionably part of the royal prerogative (such as proroguing Parliament) on the grounds that the government’s motives were improper, the Supreme Court never refers to it.

      • I’m gonna need to find the world’s tiniest violin before I can manage to feel an ounce of pity for the British Monarchy. If this Supreme Court decision moves Britain more closely to a real Republic, then game on!

        That said, I agree that it would have been preferable for Parliament to deal with the situation itself and remove Boris Johnson with a vote of no confidence. Their main reason for doing so was to get a vote on record first to rule out a No Deal Brexit so that Britain’s existing government couldn’t justify coasting into a No Deal Brexit by default while the country was still busy preparing for a General Election. The problem is, Parliament has once again let things go until the last minute, and there’s no enough time for a General Election before Oct 31. And it’s doubtful this time that, even if the UK asked for an extension to Article 50, the EU Council would unanimously agree to it (as they must). Instead, the only option that the UK would have would be either No Deal, or revoke Article 50 entirely and stay in the EU.

        I don’t like one bit all the parliamentary games the Labour Party in particular has been playing. Even in their recent party conferences, the Labour Party leadership has been pretending as if there might be some sort of mythical “Jobs First Brexit” that could be achievable. Labour won’t simply admit that any “soft Brexit” is strictly worse than “No Brexit,” as the debate around Theresa May’s deal already established. And so we see the Labour Party shedding votes to the LibDems, the Greens, the SNP, etc.—the other parties that will actually commit to reversing Brexit. My opinion of Corbyn has gone down by quite a bit after all this.

    • The original Mr. X says:

      OTOH, it gives parliament much less time to legislate anything regarding Brexit, which defaults to no-deal.

      If Parliament’s been unable to agree on a deal for the past three and a half years, I don’t see what it expects to achieve in an extra couple of weeks.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think the strategy is to just keep kicking the can down the road until they can get a majority to revoke Article 50.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Well, yes, but nobody can officially say “We need to stop the prorogation of Parliament so that we can delay Brexit enough to weasel out of implementing the referendum altogether”, so instead we’ve got this “We need to stop the prorogation of Parliament to defend the constitution” BS.

          Though if the opinion polls are correct, the next election is more likely to see a pro-Brexit majority than a pro-revocation one.

          • Nick says:

            When is the next election? Parliament has been trying to stop one, from what I’ve seen, but at what point will it be unable to?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            2022, unless Parliament implodes before then.

          • Lambert says:

            The moment the UK leaves Article 50 limbo in whichever direction, parliament is going to implode.

            Arguably, parliament’s been imploding for several months already, held intact only by the overwhelming time pressure.

        • dodrian says:

          Johnson’s first preference strategy appears to have be ensure Brexit happens, then fight a general election shortly afterwards on domestic policy promises against the perennially unpopular Corbyn, with a second preference for fighting an election before Oct 31 promising to get over with Brexit so they can focus on domestic issues.

          The opposition want to fight an election before Brexit so they can unite the remain/anti no deal vote, but after Oct 31 because missing that deadline makes Boris look weak to his supporters. Hence why they’ve been abusing parliamentary rules and procedures to reject Johnson’s proroguing, rejecting his call for a pre-halloween election, and also passing legislation to compell him to ask for an extension to the Oct 31 deadline.

    • zzzzort says:

      I see this as a clear case of constitutional hard ball, pushing the limits of legal authorities in ways that have never been done before (to be clear, the new elements were the length of the prorogation and the intent to limit debate on a specific topic, though John Major wasn’t far off). A 5 day prorogation is clearly within norms. A 5 year prorogation would be seen as a dictatorial power grab. 5 weeks is in between, and I don’t know who gets to make that call if not a court.

      The british government has made quite a few changes in the recent past that make constitutional crises more likely, e.g. the creation of the supreme court, the fixed term parliament act, the devolvement of powers, and the enthusiasm for referenda. While all of these issues are present here, it’s funny that the stickiest one is a vestigial relic.

      • Aftagley says:

        A 5 day prorogation is clearly within norms. A 5 year prorogation would be seen as a dictatorial power grab. 5 weeks is in between, and I don’t know who gets to make that call if not a court.

        Well said. This perfectly crystallized something I had in my head but couldn’t properly articulate.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        The british government has made quite a few changes in the recent past that make constitutional crises more likely, e.g. the creation of the supreme court, the fixed term parliament act, the devolvement of powers, and the enthusiasm for referenda. While all of these issues are present here, it’s funny that the stickiest one is a vestigial relic.

        TBH I think the actual stickiest one, and the one behind the prorogation, is the Fixed-Term Parliament Acts. Without it, the PM could have called an election and we’d (hopefully) have a Parliament which could agree on a course of action re: Brexit. As it is, there isn’t a Parliamentary majority for anything other than stringing out the process even longer, which is both damaging to the country and contrary to public opinion; hence the need for prorogation to stop Parliament dicking around for a bit.

        • zzzzort says:

          That’s totally fair. Though without the referendum they wouldn’t be having this fight in the first place (though that might be revealing my political preferences).

          I also wonder how the politics of new elections would have played out. I haven’t live in the UK for the past year, but the sense I get is that people are tired of voting for things. In the platonic westminster system there’s a general election anytime the PM and the parliamentary majority don’t agree about a major issue, but if they kept to that there’d be an election every month.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            That’s totally fair. Though without the referendum they wouldn’t be having this fight in the first place (though that might be revealing my political preferences).

            Maybe, although the UK has had referenda before without leading to this sort of gridlock.

            I also wonder how the politics of new elections would have played out. I haven’t live in the UK for the past year, but the sense I get is that people are tired of voting for things.

            Re: politics, the polls suggested that new elections would have favoured the Conservatives, which is probably why the Opposition didn’t support the idea. As for election fatigue, that was certainly a factor in the last general election, although by now I suspect most people would be relieved to have an opportunity to finally break the Westminster deadlock.

            In the platonic westminster system there’s a general election anytime the PM and the parliamentary majority don’t agree about a major issue, but if they kept to that there’d be an election every month.

            I suspect that in the Platonic Westminster System the government is on the same page as its MPs politically, and so can generally be confident of getting its agenda passed.

          • John Schilling says:

            Maybe, although the UK has had referenda before without leading to this sort of gridlock.

            Have they had referenda where Sir Humphrey Appleby would have strongly disagreed with the result?

            Because from an outside perspective, this looks an awful lot like the Elite saying “You have chosen poorly. We told you not to do that, and trusted that you understood. Now we shall spend the next two years very publicly planning to implement your choice in the most horrifically destructive manner possible. Perhaps you would like to reconsider, and choose wisely. Wait, two years was not enough? OK, take another six months. We’ll be busy stockpiling body bags that we’re going to need. Really, we can keep this up forever, or until you go back and make the right choice, whichever comes first.”

          • ec429 says:

            without the referendum they wouldn’t be having this fight in the first place

            I don’t think that’s true. Without the referendum, Ukip would have continued to gain support (and wouldn’t have gone down the “Tommy Robinson” route); indeed, had Cameron not promised the referendum in his manifesto, Ukip might have gained seats in 2015, and been on course to gain more in a (presumably) 2020 GE. The referendum emboldened Eurosceptics by revealing that they (contrary to received wisdom) were in the majority, and thus sped up the process, but the disconnect between the electorate and their representatives was already there and it would have come to a head sooner or later.

          • zzzzort says:

            I mean, the list of referenda in UK history is quite short. They were mainly used to ratify things being done by parliament, especially devolutions that particularly affected some region.

            While there is a marked elite/popular split on brexit, the other way of looking at it is that people voted for something (less money to Brussels, fewer foreigners, strong trade deals, a return to a sense of pre-war british pre-eminence) that wasn’t on offer. Parliament, which actually has to deal with things that are possible, was stuck choosing between May’s deal, a hard brexit, and remain/a second referendum. The polling on this was at one point a hilarious rock-paper-scissors of paradoxical preferences. IMHO, if the UK is going to continue to have referenda, they should really work the details out first (in this case having a deal in place with the EU), and vote to ratify or reject that deal.

          • John Schilling says:

            the other way of looking at it is that people voted for something (less money to Brussels, fewer foreigners, strong trade deals, a return to a sense of pre-war british pre-eminence) that wasn’t on offer.

            That’s like saying, “The American people voted for something (a competent, capable, honest conservative President who would put the Liberals and the RINOs and the globalists of both parties in their place) that wasn’t on offer. Therefore they didn’t really vote for Donald J. Trump, and Congress had no real choice but to postpone the inauguration and keep Barack Obama in place as a caretaker president”.

            Parliament, which actually has to deal with things that are possible,

            The people of the UK voted clearly and specifically for Brexit, on a ballot which had the explicit options of “Brexit” and “No Brexit”. Brexit, is a thing that is possible. And Brexit is a thing that explicitly was on offer.

            Possibly Parliament should have authorized a referendum where one of the options was “Brexit but only if we can get a particular deal from the EU”. Or none at all. Possibly someone should have done a better job of explaining the likely consequences of Brexit to the British people. Or possibly they understood full well and voted for it anyway.

            Holding an election and then effectively nullifying it because “they can’t possibly have meant that thing they explicitly voted for”, IMO disqualifies a nation as a democracy. Holding an election where the only possible outcomes are voting for the plan you like and the voting for that thing you’ll nullify because they can’t possibly have meant it, IMO disqualifies a nation as a democracy. That’s the kind of “election” Vladimir Putin keeps holding and winning.

          • zzzzort says:

            Therefore they didn’t really vote for Donald J. Trump

            I hate to nitpick analogies, but Trump lost the popular vote and became president because of non-majoritarian features of the US constitution. In the UK referenda are non-binding, and sovereignty rests with (the not necessarily majoritarian) parliament. But the parliamentary elections are fairly democratic (though FPTP is the worst), and the UK is comfortably within most people’s definition of a democracy.

            Or none at all

            That was my contention. Referenda don’t work all that well, both in the sense of maintaining constitutional order or making complicated choices with lots of trade-offs. British opinion is polarized enough that there was never going to be a happy outcome, but punting big choices to voters without putting in the groundwork for what the possible outcomes are is a recipe for disaster. Brexit isn’t a thing, it’s a bunch of different possible things, from Norway to hard brexit, most of which require cooperation with actors outside the UK.

          • Bamboozle says:

            @zzzzort

            Yes exactly, much of what was said to voters about brexit has since come out to be a lie. the $350m for the nhs on the bus being the most notorious.

          • John Schilling says:

            I hate to nitpick analogies, but Trump lost the popular vote and became president because of non-majoritarian features of the US constitution.

            “Election” is not a synonym for “Whoever gets 50%+1 of the votes decides”. Donald Trump won the election according to the rules that were set in place before the election. We could have chosen different rules, but we didn’t. Brexit won according to the rules that were set in place before the election. The Brits could have chosen different rules, but they didn’t. For something as momentous as Brexit, perhaps the rules should have been a two-thirds majority, or a 50% majority in each of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but they weren’t.

            That part of the analogy is rock-solid.

            Brexit isn’t a thing, it’s a bunch of different possible things, from Norway to hard brexit, most of which require cooperation with actors outside the UK.

            Brexit is a range of things, but it is not all possible things. Parliament and/or the Crown can legitimately pick any one of the things Brexit is, including the ones that don’t require cooperation from outside actors, and implement it. Refusing to implement any of the things Brexit could be, brings their legitimacy into serious question.

          • ec429 says:

            @Bamboozle

            Yes exactly, much of what was said to voters about brexit has since come out to be a lie. the $350m for the nhs on the bus being the most notorious.

            Leaving aside that you apparently know so little about Britain that you can’t even get our currency right, the £350m and NHS claim wasn’t a lie, it was however ambiguous (when was the last time a politician said something that wasn’t?), and even the expansive reading of it (‘if we leave we could put all this money into the NHS’) is strictly true even though it’s the gross rather than net figure, because we could, if we chose, not replicate the EU spending in the UK from our own coffers but instead spend that money on our own priorities — hence “taking back control” of the £350m/wk (which phrasing Boris, among others, was careful always to use).

            I would say that the most notorious lies from the campaign were (a) the then Chancellor claiming that a mere vote to leave (i.e. without actually leaving) would cause a technical recession, and (b) the leaflet the Government sent out (spending £9m to argue for Remain without it counting towards the Remain campaign spending limit) stating that “this is your decision; the government will implement what you decide”, given that it’s now clear they had no intention of doing so if we voted the ‘wrong’ way.

            Also, +1 (or rather, +17.4million) to everything John Schilling is saying. I used to think I lived in a democracy, now it seems it was all just a façade.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ John Schilling:

            Because from an outside perspective, this looks an awful lot like the Elite saying “You have chosen poorly. We told you not to do that, and trusted that you understood. Now we shall spend the next two years very publicly planning to implement your choice in the most horrifically destructive manner possible. Perhaps you would like to reconsider, and choose wisely. Wait, two years was not enough? OK, take another six months. We’ll be busy stockpiling body bags that we’re going to need. Really, we can keep this up forever, or until you go back and make the right choice, whichever comes first.”

            I think that’s a very good summary of the situation.

            @ ec429:

            I would say that the most notorious lies from the campaign were (a) the then Chancellor claiming that a mere vote to leave (i.e. without actually leaving) would cause a technical recession, and (b) the leaflet the Government sent out (spending £9m to argue for Remain without it counting towards the Remain campaign spending limit) stating that “this is your decision; the government will implement what you decide”, given that it’s now clear they had no intention of doing so if we voted the ‘wrong’ way.

            Funny how things work, isn’t it? A slogan on a bus which wasn’t even a promise or prediction apparently invalidates people’s reasons for voting leave, but I’ve never seen anybody argue that “Obviously remain voters were just bamboozled by pro-EU propaganda, they didn’t really understand the situation, therefore their votes don’t count.”

          • Bamboozle says:

            @ec429

            This would have been more pleasant to read without the snark. As a scot currently living in Australia i dont have a sterling key on my keyboard and forgot that it’s a dollar.

            Moving to your points, stating clearly that 350m for the NHS on the bus without all the terms and conditions you just laid out is hugely misleading, and also a lie. All the we sent X amount to Brussels and get squat back was misleading and therefore i’d class a lie.

            Boris saying Turkey was going to join the EU and flood us with immigrants, Farage using posters such as the ‘breaking point’ poster was a lie.

            Struggling to remember a more “conflict theory” statement than I used to think I lived in a democracy, now it seems it was all just a façade. I’d suggest this is something we need less of in this forum not more.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Bamboozle:

            Anecdotal, I know, but every single person I’ve come across complaining about that £350 million thing has been a remainer trying to claim that leave voters were misled. I haven’t met a single leaver who felt lied to by that claim. Perhaps the outgroup aren’t actually quite so gullible as it pleases you to imagine.

          • noyann says:

            @The original Mr. X
            > £350 million thing [ … ] I haven’t met a single leaver who felt lied to by that claim. Perhaps the outgroup aren’t actually quite so gullible as it pleases you to imagine.

            Or they just solved the cognitive dissonance from being fooled by something they thought good.
            Probably both.

          • Fitzroy says:

            I haven’t met a single leaver who felt lied to by that claim.

            +1 to this. I likewise haven’t met a single leaver who felt lied to by the claim. In fact I’d go as far as to say I haven’t met a single leaver who felt affected by the campaign in any way.

            Honestly, every leaver I’ve met had already decided they wanted out of the EU long before the referendum was on the table, let alone the campaigning began.

          • gbdub says:

            If a few misleading or exaggerated slogans are enough to delegitimize a democratic election, then I expect there has never been a legitimate democratic election on anything of import in human history.

          • ec429 says:

            @Bamboozle

            This would have been more pleasant to read without the snark.

            But less pleasant to write. The snark you see is already a compromise 😉

            Moving to your points, stating clearly that 350m for the NHS on the bus without all the terms and conditions you just laid out is hugely misleading, and also a lie.

            Well if we’re taking the strict wording, the bus didn’t say “and we promise to spend it on the NHS if we win”, it said “let’s” (i.e. let us, permit us, present us with the option to) “spend it on the NHS”. So the text on the bus was not a lie.
            Was it misleading? That’s essentially a political argument, because you can’t somehow measure Leave voters’ skulls and find out what beliefs are in them. But FWIW I agree with @Fitzroy that the Leave campaign didn’t really affect Leave voters.

            Boris saying Turkey was going to join the EU and flood us with immigrants

            Turkey is in the process of accession, having begun in 2005. Whether and when they will complete it is a judgement call, but remember that the referendum (and campaign) was before the 2016 attempted coup (snark warning: Turkey has real coups, with tanks and stuff, unlike the “coup” continuity-Remain were going on about recently) which may hindsight-bias our view of how probable Turkish accession looked at the time.

            Struggling to remember a more “conflict theory” statement than I used to think I lived in a democracy, now it seems it was all just a façade. I’d suggest this is something we need less of in this forum not more.

            When you’re in a conflict, mistake theory is a mistake. Remain’s recent victories (Benn Bill, SC judgement) haven’t come from winning the arguments (Boris is riding high in the polls) but from leveraging their power base (a majority of MPs who lied to get elected, a supreme court who don’t understand the constitution their existence is incompatible with, etc.). And their leading backers aren’t just mistaken; I am confident that the CBI, for instance, know that EU membership is bad for Britain, but it’s good for entrenched big businesses with pan-Europæan lobby power.
            Leave already won on mistake-theory terms: a majority was convinced we were right. And a fat lot of good it did us; conflict theorists on the other side immediately started bleating about cheating, and making a fuss about a bus.

          • Aapje says:

            The procedure to enter the EU seems to in practice be a conditional promise. Countries that are allowed to enter the process of becoming a member state have to implement all kinds of laws and policies. If they do so, they could still be refused entry in theory, but in practice, ‘everyone*’ seems to see that as a broken promise.

            Turkey being allowed to enter negotiations thus pretty much put the membership in their hands. If they implemented the laws and policies, they would be let in.

            They didn’t, so the negotiations have stalled for a long time. However, the EU didn’t stop the EU membership process and Erdogan still wants to join.

            So people who see Turkey as a country with a dangerous culture may fear an Ataturk-like scenario: a future leader with pro-Western tendencies implementing EU laws and policies, Turkey being granted membership, followed by a revolt as many of the Turkish people don’t actually want EU laws and policies.

            Note that due to their size, having Turkey as a rogue member state could have immense consequences. We already saw what the relatively tiny nation of Greece did.

            * The people in charge of this

          • John Schilling says:

            Turkey being allowed to enter negotiations thus pretty much put the membership in their hands. If they implemented the laws and policies, they would be let in.

            I’m not convinced this is true. As you note, it was never entirely put to the test, so it’s going to be hard to prove one way or another. But as I understand EU law, there is no obligation that Turkey be admitted if it implements the laws and polices. If Turkey implements all the laws and policies to perfection, if the Lord God Almighty breaks his long silence to speak from the heavens “Turkey has implemented all the laws and policies to perfection”, if the space aliens with the orbital mind control lasers beam that knowledge with absolute certainty into every person on Earth, then it is still the law that any EU member state can say “meh, we don’t think Turkey should be a member”, and absolutely veto Turkey’s admission.

            Which, given legal ambiguity and absent divine intervention, they will do with a side order of “…because we don’t believe they’ve truly implemented the laws and policies as we understand them”, but no matter.

            The EU includes a number of nations with less than fond memories of the Ottoman Empire, and it includes a number of nations who don’t see unrestricted Turkish immigration as a plus. And it includes Greece. When Turkish EU membership was still a live issue, the consensus among the news sources I followed was “Worth a try, but probably never going to happen no matter how perfectly Turkey implements the laws and policies. So when will they give up and stop trying?”

          • Aapje says:

            @John Schilling

            The EU uses a plethora of coercive tactics to execute its agenda. For example, a common pattern is to claim that a change can still be prevented at the end, while already implementing 99% of the change (creating facts on the ground, including sunk costs), making unqualified promises (resulting in reputation costs and unfairness to those to whom a promise was made, when not implementing the change) and threatening those who want to vote against at the end with the apocalypse.

            This exploits human agreeableness and general unwillingness to accept a lot of damage to third parties to also punish the abuser.

          • John Schilling says:

            and threatening those who want to vote against at the end with the apocalypse.

            The EU is going to threaten Greece with the apocalypse? And with reputational penalties? I think I’ve heard this story before, and I’m not buying the bit where it always ends with everyone being all agreeable with one another.

          • ana53294 says:

            @Aapje

            And those tactics worked great when the EU wanted Eastern European countries to take on more Syrian refugees.

            If the EU can’t force countries that receive a big part of their government funding in EU money to accept a few hundred Muslims, how would they do well in making them accept a few million legal immigrants?

            Even in Spain, which is quite pro-EU, nobody likes the idea of Turkey joining. Most people assume it will never happen, because it’s a terrible idea. Poland and Hungary have shown us we don’t really have a mechanism to deal with countries that stray; how could we ever accept Turkey?

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            A Turkey which actually implemented the Acquics in full would be a very different country. That country might be admitted, but only because nobody actually paying attention would at that point have the views of Turkey they do now.

            Certainly, the UK as a member, would still have a veto on it, so yelling “THE TURKS ARE COMING” is fearmongering of the first rank. Yes, Turkey might indeed someday join. Because at some future date that might not be a scary prospect anymore. Should one fear the future being better than today?

          • Aapje says:

            @John Schilling

            Greek politicians, non-Greek politicians, citizens when there is a referendum, etc.

            @Thomas Jorgensen

            A Turkey which actually implemented the Acquics in full would be a very different country.

            Politically, yes, but not necessarily culturally. I remind you of how the elites in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan used to be extremely pro-Western and tried to forcefully westernize their countries. Yet now Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan are ruled by theocratic dictators.

            The Europhiles seem to tend to believe that EU membership creates a Western mindset and attitude, far more than is reasonable. So they tend to err on the side of admitting countries with problematic cultures, based on the idea that this will fix itself in time.

            One result of this was the Greek debt crisis, where the Greeks turned out to not share Western values sufficiently, which nearly destroyed the Euro. Another is the conflict between the EU and Hungary, about their political choices.

            That country might be admitted, but only because nobody actually paying attention would at that point have the views of Turkey they do now.

            The issue is that the elites tend to talk to the elites in other countries and thus are part of a bubble, where they have a greatly distorted view of the attitudes in those countries.

            We’ve seen this time and again, as politicians were much more confident of referendum results than was warranted. Brexit is merely one example. So how can we then be confident that they won’t make choices that seem incredibly bad to well-informed people, when the politicians seem ill-informed.

            This is especially true as EU politics is full of lies and manipulation, which tends to result in worse political choices.

            Certainly, the UK as a member, would still have a veto on it, so yelling “THE TURKS ARE COMING” is fearmongering of the first rank.

            Shortly before the Brexit referendum, there was the famous EU-Turkey immigrant deal. Part of that deal was that the EU promised to “re-energize” Turkey’s bid to join the European bloc.

            This seems to have resulted in the claim by Boris Johnson and some other pro-Brexiteers that the accession talks were accelerating. Ironically, Johnson is now attacked for this, seemingly based on the idea that he should have not believed and/or repeated the lie by the EU.

            Ultimately, fact is that the EU keeps refusing to stop negotiations. Even the non-binding vote by the European Parliament in late 2016 demanding this, didn’t result in an end to the negotiations.

            I don’t think it is unreasonable for critics to take the EU at their word and to interpret their actions, as still having the goal to make Turkey a full member (which would allow Turks to move to other EU countries and thus possibly large scale migration).

            @ana53294

            Even in Spain, which is quite pro-EU, nobody likes the idea of Turkey joining.

            In my country, no one likes the idea of having such a low interest rates that our pensions are in peril, yet the ECB still has really low interest rates (much lower than the US). The politicians claim that they have no choice, just like they have claimed about so many things, even when they did have a choice.

            Ultimately, I don’t trust EU politicians to favor the desires of the majority of the citizens over the desires of their elitist peer group.

            The level of dishonesty is so high that I can’t rule anything out. If the EU leaders want something from Turkey really bad and Turkey improves a bit, they may gamble on a EU membership for Turkey. They certainly have gambled plenty of times in the past.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      I find to my embarrassment I am pretty naive about exactly how Britain’s government works.

      On the assumption (contrary to Johnson’s rhetoric) that the prorogation was intended mainly to shut Parliament down while the clock to hard exit counts down, what would he actually have gained by prorogation? If Parliament is unwilling to withdraw confidence, what else could they do if still in session? Could they vote to delay or undo Brexit without Johnson’s cooperation? Could they remove him as PM without triggering a new election?

      In other words, why would Johnson consider prorogation to be better than just spending the next five weeks presiding over a Parliament that is unable to agree on an alternate plan? (Aside from it just being more relaxing, of course.)

      • Eric Rall says:

        Could they vote to delay or undo Brexit without Johnson’s cooperation?

        They actually did vote to obligate Johnson to see EU approval for another Brexit delay, without Johnson’s cooperation. My understanding is that the prorogation had been intended to block this, but Johnson misjudged the timing and the bill’s supporters managed to pass it before the prorogation went into effect.

        In theory, Johnson has two other options to block a bill that a Parliamentary majority wants but he doesn’t: the Queen’s Consent and Royal Assent. Like prorogation, these are Reserve Powers that the Queen exercises, but it’s generally considered that she should only use them when “advised” to do so by her government.

        Queen’s Consent is a requirement that bills that affect the monarch’s prerogatives and interests (including her nominal control of foreign policy) can only be considered by Parliament with the Queen’s approval. The most recent time Queen’s Consent was refused was 1999, for a bill that would have required explicit Parliamentary approval to take military action against Iraq. The Blair government advised the Queen to refuse consent, in order to shut down the debate. I’m not sure whether Blair feared the bill would pass, or if he just thought the debate would be politically inconvenient. I’ve seen articles claiming the Brexit delay bill was worded very carefully so it would place obligations specifically and directly on the Prime Minister, not on the Crown’s powers delegated to the PM or exercised on the PM’s advice, in order to take Queen’s Consent off the table as an option for Johnson.

        Royal Assent is the broader power, where Parliament can pass whatever it likes but nothing becomes law without the Queen’s approval. It’s like the President signing or vetoing a bill in the US, except unlike in the US there’s no way for the legislature to override withheld royal assent by a supermajority vote. The last time Royal Assent was refused in Britain was by Queen Anne in 1708, at the advice of her (English) ministers who wanted to block a bill passed by the Scottish Parliament (this being before the Act of Union that fully combined the governments of England and Scotland). While technically legal, it would have been shocking in the extreme to see this power used again after more than three centuries.

        Could they remove him as PM without triggering a new election?

        Yes-ish. They can remove and replace the PM without an election, but the process risks triggering a new election if there isn’t an agreed-up replacement PM with a firm majority.

        The process is to pass a vote of no-confidence, which starts a 14-day clock ticking. If within that 14 days, a new government is successfully formed and approved by a majority of the House of Commons, the clock is stopped and the new government hold office until the next general election. If there’s no approved new government when the clock expires, then Parliament is automatically dissolved and new elections scheduled.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          They actually did vote to obligate Johnson to see EU approval for another Brexit delay, without Johnson’s cooperation.

          Ah, I see. I sort of figured that in that sense the PM was like America’s Speaker of the House, who could probably keep any bill from coming to a vote if she had to. But the US never has a Speaker who is from the minority party, so the analogy probably doesn’t hold up. It’s hard for an American to quite grasp what it must be like in a state that is so multi-party and the opposition can have the majority, but can’t possibly agree on their own guy.

          If Johnson did seek another delay, do we assume that he would get it? My impression is that the EU wants to play hardball, but wants Britain to leave even less, because of the precedent it would set. Would it follow the letter of the law if he went and said, “I have to ask you assholes for another extension”? It might be entertaining at least to see how offensive he could be without queering the deal.

          The process is to pass a vote of no-confidence, which starts a 14-day clock ticking.

          Yeah, I got that; the problem is that the opposition seems unwilling to do that — I suppose because the 14-day clock plus a possible election would serve to run down the Brexit clock just as effectively as the prorogation would, and because they are afraid their position would be worsened by an actual election.

          Thanks!

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I sort of figured that in that sense the PM was like America’s Speaker of the House, who could probably keep any bill from coming to a vote if she had to.

            This used to be the case, until the actual Speaker decided to give MPs rather than the government control over the Parliamentary timetable.

            This was probably unconstitutional and certainly unprecedented, but for some reason none of the “We’re just defending the constitution, not trying to stop Brexit at all costs, honest” remainers raised any fuss.

            If Johnson did seek another delay, do we assume that he would get it? My impression is that the EU wants to play hardball, but wants Britain to leave even less, because of the precedent it would set. Would it follow the letter of the law if he went and said, “I have to ask you assholes for another extension”? It might be entertaining at least to see how offensive he could be without queering the deal.

            Johnson’s aides have been hinting that they’ve found a legal loophole which will avoid the need for seeking an extension, so I suppose we’ll have to see how that pans out.

            Personally if I were Johnson I’d go to the EU and say, “I’m asking for an extension, but I must insist that [insert conditions which will clearly be totally unacceptable to the rest of the EU].” Then the EU refuses, I’ve technically followed the law, and the extension business is finished.

          • Fitzroy says:

            Personally if I were Johnson I’d go to the EU and say, “I’m asking for an extension, but I must insist that [insert conditions which will clearly be totally unacceptable to the rest of the EU].” Then the EU refuses, I’ve technically followed the law, and the extension business is finished.

            Unfortunately the law specifies the form of the letter by which extension must be sought, so he wouldn’t get away with attaching conditions to it. He could parenthetically request that the extension request be refused, I suppose, but that’s about it.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Unfortunately the law specifies the form of the letter by which extension must be sought, so he wouldn’t get away with attaching conditions to it. He could parenthetically request that the extension request be refused, I suppose, but that’s about it.

            Then I wonder if he could attach conditions in another letter. Send the official letter, and then another one saying “By the way, I’m not going to pay the membership fees after 31 October even if you grant an extension, so bear that in mind when considering whether or not to grant one.”

          • Eric Rall says:

            the problem is that the opposition seems unwilling to do that [vote no confidence]

            My suspicion is that that’s driven by a lack of agreement on the composition of the new government, which would be mostly made of of Labour MPs but would require support from Lib Dems, SNP, and the remainers Johnson just kicked out of the Conservative party. Corbyn as PM is unpalatable to the other groups he’d need to form a government, and anyone else from Labour as PM would be impractical unless Corbyn were forced to step down as the leader of the Labour party.

            Theoretically, they could cut a deal where the government would be lead by a non-Labour coalition member. But that’d be awkward in terms of parliamentary votes (Labour has 246 seats in the House of Commons, compared to 97 for all the other Opposition parties put together). It’s also be strategically risky for Labour to consent to a government lead by a party that they’ll be competing with for votes in the next election, as holding the PM slot would add a lot of credibility to what’s currently considered a third party. Labour’s been bleeding a lot of support in the polls to various third parties (mostly the Lib Dems) since the 2017 general election: Labour’s down about 15 percentage points (~25% now vs 40% in 2017), while the Lib Dems are up about 12 percentage points (~20% now vs 7.4% in 1027).

            It’s not necessarily intractable, though. The longer parliament is in session between now and the Brexit date, the more opportunities the Opposition parties have of agreeing on the leadership and composition of a new government. It’s just difficult enough that there’s a big risk of failing to put together a new government in time if they start the 14 day clock without a deal firmly in place.

          • bean says:

            while the Lib Dems are up about 12 percentage points (~20% now vs 7.4% in 1027).

            I know British democracy is old, but I don’t think the LibDems have been around quite that long. Or Parliament, for that matter.

          • Eric Rall says:

            I know British democracy is old, but I don’t think the LibDems have been around quite that long. Or Parliament, for that matter.

            The LibDems are actually pretty old, depending on how you count, but not quite that old. They’re institutionally continuous (with a few name changes, splits, and mergers along the way) with the old Whig party, which was formally founded in 1678 and has its informal roots several decades earlier in the lead-up to the English Civil Wars.

            Parliament is usually dated to Edward Longshank’s “Model Parliament” of 1295, which fixed the familiar format of a bicameral legislature with Peers and Bishops in the upper house and elected commoners (originally split between Burgesses, representing cities, and Knights of the Shire, representing rural areas) in the lower house. There were older quasi-legislative bodies dating back deep into the Anglo-Saxon period, but they’re generally considered separate institutions from true Parliaments.

            TLDR: I meant 2017, not 1027.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            old Whig party, which was formally founded in 1678

            1678 was the date of the introduction of the insult. It was nothing formal. I’m skeptical that the Whigs ever had a formal existence before they were eclipsed by the Liberals. The earliest date I have for a formal organization of Liberals is the Liberal Central Organization in 1860. I don’t have any date for a formal existence of the Conservatives.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        On the assumption (contrary to Johnson’s rhetoric) that the prorogation was intended mainly to shut Parliament down while the clock to hard exit counts down, what would he actually have gained by prorogation? If Parliament is unwilling to withdraw confidence, what else could they do if still in session? Could they vote to delay or undo Brexit without Johnson’s cooperation? Could they remove him as PM without triggering a new election?

        There was/is talk of them passing a bill preventing Britain from leaving the EU without a deal. I’m not sure if such a bill would be possible (presumably the rest of the EU would have to agree?), but if it were passed it would (i) basically destroy Britain’s position in negotiations with the EU (since they could include whatever conditions they want and Britain would be unable to walk away), and (ii) since Parliament has shown itself incapable of actually agreeing to a deal, likely prevent Brexit from happening altogether.

  10. N Zohar says:

    Since I only caught the tail end of the last conventional (integer) open thread and this one has also been made visible, I hope it’s not too much of a faux pas if I repeat the request for feedback on my fiction writing.

    My latest (very) short story is set in a future where online dating site AIs have coalesced, AlphaGo’ed our 23andMe-type data, and engineered a new species out of us.

    • Elementaldex says:

      I read it and… I did not particularly enjoy it. I’m not sure I would have gotten most of the references without your very brief summary here. Sorry I have no constructive advice, the format was unusual enough that I’m not sure what changes would make it more enjoyable to me.

      • Bugmaster says:

        I had no trouble following the story, even without the hints; my problem with it is the same issue I’d had with the previous one: it’s not much of a story. It’s more like a neat idea that doesn’t really go anywhere. However, I’m not exactly the target audience for this type of thing; also, N Zohar made it clear before that narrative storytelling is not his primary goal, so it would be unfair of us to judge him on that front.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was short, flowed easily, and left me thinking about it. I even remembered it a couple of times afterwards. That’s pretty much an 8 or 9 out of 10, where 10 would be Asimov on a good day.

        • N Zohar says:

          Narrative storytelling as a skill is something I care a lot about getting better at, but I don’t always try to accomplish this with every fictional thing I write.

          The particular idea in this piece could be introduced as the backdrop of a story, and maybe I’ll write it someday, but this time it came to me in the form of a prayer before any story or character idea presented itself, so the prayer was what I wrote.

    • Bugmaster says:

      Well, I liked it better than the first story you posted. I do have a couple criticisms, though:

      You immediately unlocked and played it like a Chess or Go prodigy.

      I understand what you’re trying to do, but the name-checking is really blatant here. The metaphor sounds really clumsy in context, and reads a bit too “on the nose”.

      You performed Mendelian experiments in matchmaking to produce the mutations You sought

      Technically, breeding does not produce mutations; that is, it doesn’t introduce brand-new changes into DNA. It can produce different recombinations of DNA, but that’s not the same thing. Also, such breeding experiments would likely take thousands of years to perform on humans in vivo, but, presumably, the AIs have time to spare…

      • N Zohar says:

        I understand what you’re trying to do, but the name-checking is really blatant here. The metaphor sounds really clumsy in context, and reads a bit too “on the nose”.

        I agree, and I thought this after I wrote it, but I haven’t figured out how to make it less subtle yet without also making it less clear.

        Technically, breeding does not produce mutations; that is, it doesn’t introduce brand-new changes into DNA. It can produce different recombinations of DNA, but that’s not the same thing.

        Good point. What would be a more accurate term? Phenotypes? Traits? Mutations has a little more poetic bite (the whole piece is supposed to sound a bit poetic) but I’m open to another term that fits.

        Also, such breeding experiments would likely take thousands of years to perform on humans in vivo, but, presumably, the AIs have time to spare…

        Yes, that’s the idea. The AI has to perform the actual combinations one human generation at a time but it has almost limitless “digital time” to figure out which exact combinations to produce next.

        • Bugmaster says:

          but I haven’t figured out how to make it less subtle yet without also making it less clear.

          You could say something like, “…but it was only a game to you”. It’s a bit less blatant, though, admittedly, also less clear.

          Good point. What would be a more accurate term? Phenotypes? Traits?

          I don’t know, it depends on what idea you are trying to express. Most likely, the AI would only care about phenotypes; for example, if it was trying to breed red-haired humans, it wouldn’t necessarily care about their DNA, just about the color of their hair. Obviously, knowing about their DNA would make the breeding process go a lot faster (i.e., it would require fewer generations), but DNA is just an instrumental goal at this point. On the other hand, if the AI tried to encode its own source code into the DNA or something like that, then it’d care about DNA first, and the traits would be merely instrumental.

          but it has almost limitless “digital time” to figure out which exact combinations to produce next.

          I disagree with almost everything in this sentence, but I acknowledge that this doesn’t matter in the fictional context of the story 🙂

  11. johan_larson says:

    Magic: The Gathering has a new expansion called Throne of Eldraine, based around the stories of King Arthur and his knights plus some stuff from fairy-tales, drawing on the work of H.C. Andersen and the Grimm brothers. There are many cards that depict knights, and some of these knights are clearly female. Having thought about this notion of female knights some, I have three comments.

    First, I think having female knights (or perhaps many female knights) is a bad idea, at least as implemented in Throne of Eldraine. The original stories don’t feature female knights, and until very recent times women warriors of any sort were very much the exception. That means this set injects a very modern idea into material that is leaning over backwards to conjure a vision of a legendary time in the distant past. This clash between the modern and the ancient or legendary is discordant, and distracts from setting the scene firmly.

    Second, I’m not sure why Wizards of the Coast decided to include female knights. Perhaps they simply believe that anything else would be sexist, and this is a matter of doing what is right. Or perhaps they want to draw more women and girls into the hobby, and are therefore going out of their way to show women in unlikely roles. It would be interesting to know what led the creators down this path.

    Finally, regardless of their motivations, I think there was a better way for Wizards to show women in military roles, if that was important to them. At stage left we have GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire, which includes two prominent female fighters, Arya and Brienne. They don’t clash so much with the high-fantasy genre because there aren’t very many of them, and the books acknowledge right from the start that the characters are challenging local gender roles. And at stage right there’s The Lord of the Rings, with Eowyn, a character in a similar situation. It seems to me Wizards would have done well to follow this model.

    • Placid Platypus says:

      I don’t find it discordant, personally. It’s a fantasy world, and particularly it’s a somewhat whimsical fairy-taleish fantasy world, not a gritty realistic one like Song of Ice and Fire. It seems perfectly reasonable to handwave away any details of the real world that the creators or audience find unpleasant and irrelevant to the stories they want to tell.

      • Eponymous says:

        But if you stumble across something highly incongruous in a fictional setting, doesn’t your brain tend to flag it and destroy your suspension of disbelief?

        • lunawarrior says:

          We learned to not find magic incongruous in our medieval England fictional settings, why can’t we do the same with women knights?

          • John Schilling says:

            Because the impossible can be believed where the incredible cannot. Since Deiseach is absent for a time, I shall take up the burden of quoting Chesterton in this matter:

            “It really is more natural to believe a preternatural story, that deals with things we don’t understand, than a natural story that contradicts things we do understand. Tell me that the great Mr Gladstone, in his last hours, was haunted by the ghost of Parnell, and I will be agnostic about it. But tell me that Mr Gladstone, when first presented to Queen Victoria, wore his hat in her drawing-room and slapped her on the back and offered her a cigar, and I am not agnostic at all. That is not impossible; it’s only incredible. But I’m much more certain it didn’t happen than that Parnell’s ghost didn’t appear; because it violates the laws of the world I do understand.”

          • Baeraad says:

            But women knights aren’t incredible. They make perfect sense. They did not, for the most parts, actually exist, but that’s because human nature often leads to acting in ways that does not make sense.

            Honestly, a lot about the middle ages as they actually were feels far more alien and bizarre than the occasional dragon.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            But women knights aren’t incredible. They make perfect sense. They did not, for the most parts, actually exist, but that’s because human nature often leads to acting in ways that does not make sense.

            Women knights don’t make sense at all. Women are weaker, slower, and less physically robust than men, and if you want women to help your military you’d be better advised to marry them off and get them to produce as many babies (read: future soldiers) as possible.

          • Protagoras says:

            @The original Mr. X, Use of children in warfare long predates modern times. It’s pretty obvious that the military functions which young boys are able to perform could in almost all cases be performed as well or most likely much better by adult women. I suppose it could be argued that young boys used in war were learning about war, but it’s obviously an exceptionally dangerous way to learn, and they’re also likely to get in the way (probably to a greater degree than adult women would, due to being more immature and irresponsible); by your logic it would make much more sense to keep them out of the fighting and just train them until they grow up. Which is probably true, but is not always how it was done, no doubt partly because sometimes you just need all the manpower you can get now, even if some of it is not well suited. So it remains remarkable that while armies which used some young boys were relatively common, armies that used any women were not. It also seems plausible that ideas about gender roles played a larger part than anything about the relative usefulness of young boys vs. women in combat.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Protagoras

            The average boy is substantially stronger than the average woman very young. If we’re talking the use of actual children (i.e. before puberty), then yes, women are better. But I don’t know of any societies that did that. A fourteen year old boy is going to be a better fighter than your average woman plus his potential.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Protagoras:

            Citation needed. All the evidence I’ve seen suggests that children weren’t generally expected to fight until their late teens, i.e., when they reached adulthood (the occasional exception of “The castle’s under assault and we need every person physically capable of holding a weapon” notwithstanding). You did sometimes get children taken on campaign as servants, camp followers, and the like, but the same is true of women, as well.

          • John Schilling says:

            It’s pretty obvious that the military functions which young boys are able to perform could in almost all cases be performed as well or most likely much better by adult women.

            Perhaps, but one function that young boys did not perform, was that of “knight”. If the job is heavy shock combat in the preindustrial era, that actually is a job for men. Investing several man-lifetimes of effort in training and arming and equipping and feeding an elite melee combatant who will wield lance and spear and axe with all the strength of a fourteen-year-old boy or seventy-year-old man, who will stagger under the the weight of hauberk, helm, and shield, and who will be randomly and repeatedly incapacitated for nine months at a time, does not in fact make sense. It is incredible. People historically did not do that, not because they were all made stupid by the Patriarchy until the Age of Wokeness, but because they were smart enough to realize that it was a dumb idea.

            Using women and/or boys as skirmishers, yes, that you can do, and as already noted that is what the most noteworthy preindustrial “women warrior” culture actually did. Boys are better, because they will grow up to be knights and/or heavy infantry as the girls grow up to be pregnant and take their training investment off the field, but if your style of war needs lots more skirmishers than heavy shock troops, yes, you can use women. That, is not incredible, just rare.

            But until you get to birth-control pills and repeating rifles, the central clash of arms and the exemplars of martial heroism, are going to be almost entirely male.

          • Randy M says:

            Perhaps, but one function that young boys did not perform, was that of “knight”

            Probably not medieval artillery, aka longbowpersons, either. Contrary to a lot of modern fantasy, archers needed tremendous strength and continual training to excel with the pinnacle of pre-crossbow ranged weapons.

          • Ohforfs says:

            >Women knights don’t make sense at all. Women are weaker, slower, and less physically robust than men, and if you want women to help your military you’d be better advised to marry them off and get them to produce as many babies (read: future soldiers) as possible.

            That depends if by knights you mean landed nobles or warrior retainers of a ruler. The former are direct descendants of the later so they kind of inherited the name.

            >Probably not medieval artillery, aka longbowpersons, either. Contrary to a lot of modern fantasy, archers needed tremendous strength and continual training to excel with the pinnacle of pre-crossbow ranged weapons.

            To add insult to injury, archery requires exactly the kind of strength where the gender differences are biggest. Let me think what should be more suited for females…

            Cavalry. Hmmm… Scythians/Sarmatians?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            That depends if by knights you mean landed nobles or warrior retainers of a ruler. The former are direct descendants of the later so they kind of inherited the name.

            Females of knightly rank are called dames, not knights. And I think the context of the conversation makes it pretty clear that the discussion is about knights in the putting-on-armour-and-charging-into-battle sense.

          • Ohforfs says:

            >Females of knightly rank are called dames, not knights. And I think the context of the conversation makes it pretty clear that the discussion is about knights in the putting-on-armour-and-charging-into-battle sense.

            See, that’s the problem. We could have knights in the sense of people who are on the ruler payroll and do fighting and enforcing (like, Rurik retainers), or the knights that reside in castle, have plenty of underlings and sometimes go on a crusade or something in full armor. The difference is important here because the second person is mostly a ruler, a landlord(lady?) with a side of fighting. Because of that, in the second case, being a female makes a lot more sense than in the first.

          • Protagoras says:

            @Randy M, You are, of course, right about longbows. On the other hand, crossbows, if they exist in the setting, are a lot closer to modern guns, in the usable by almost anyone category, at least once you have windlass technology.

          • Randy M says:

            For sure. God created men and women, Sam Colt made them equal, but a good crossbow could do in a pinch.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            See, that’s the problem. We could have knights in the sense of people who are on the ruler payroll and do fighting and enforcing (like, Rurik retainers), or the knights that reside in castle, have plenty of underlings and sometimes go on a crusade or something in full armor. The difference is important here because the second person is mostly a ruler, a landlord(lady?) with a side of fighting. Because of that, in the second case, being a female makes a lot more sense than in the first.

            Fighting was an important part of being a knight until the sixteenth century, even for the “mostly ruler” kinds. Hence why you didn’t in fact find many female knights.

          • Given that your fantasy setting involves female warriors, organizing them into a battalion of mounted crossbow-women seems to make a lot of sense. You don’t need upper body strength to ride a horse or operate a windlass, and having lighter and therefore faster riders could be useful. So why haven’t I ever read any work using this concept?

          • AG says:

            @Brendan:
            Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series includes the K’miri, a culture of matriarchal, nomadic mountain tribes. I guess they’re like a mix between Mongols and Tibetans?

        • Not A Random Name says:

          In books and some movies, sure. But these are stories that require you to (try and) immerse yourself in their setting. And all you get is the story. So it better be good.

          But for most people magic is a card game, first and foremost. Sure, the lore exists. And plausibly it’s bad and incongruous in all the worst ways. But why would anyone notice, and even more, why would anyone care?

          This is one of these times that I don’t know how people can care enough to be upset about it. Not to say you’re wrong. But I just don’t get the perspective at all.

          • johan_larson says:

            I like the art, flavour and stories. I mean, sure, you could play just by the numbers, and reveal a 4/4 card that operates at level two and lets you spend resource B to reduce the opponent’s score by one per unit expended. That would be fine. But I find it’s more fun to attack with a flying dragon that breathes fire.

          • Randy M says:

            Yeah, I think NARN is underselling the appeal of the art and feel of the cards. And ‘Resonance’ has been perceived by WotC designers as being quite important at least since 10th edition core set. (MaRo wrote a column about it that I remember)

          • Not A Random Name says:

            I don’t think I’m underselling art and flavor. I might be underselling story, but I don’t think I am.

            Really, it’s not a choice between A) caring about the gameplay and nothing else or B) caring about everything equally.

            I said that gameplay is the most important aspect and I stand by that. Yet I’d assume most people care about the art as well – it’s got to look cool. And plausibly about the flavor. But it’s specifically story that I don’t think many people know or care much for.

            So as far as I’m concerned “besides gameplay, art, flavor and story is important to people as well” could by and large by reduced to “art and flavor is important to people as well”. So I don’t see how it’s counterargument to my initial claim.

          • Randy M says:

            But it’s specifically story that I don’t think many people know or care much for.

            Okay, then, fair and probably true.

            the lore exists. And plausibly it’s bad and incongruous in all the worst ways. But why would anyone notice, and even more, why would anyone care?

            This is where the confusion arose. johan’s point didn’t come from reading the accompanying novel, but from perusing the pictures on the cards. Which is not only hard to miss, but part of the draw.

          • Not A Random Name says:

            Maybe I’m just misunderstanding him then. I’m assuming johan larson does not object to female knights per se. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. But I thought his point was roughly the following:

            The whole background and lore of the current edition is modeled after the Kind Arthur legends. Female knights don’t fit into that legend, this is why it is immersion breaking. This is why it matters.

            So basically “female knights are okay, if and only if they fit the background” is what I understand him to say. And that argument is valid as long as long as the background a) is relevant and b) does not fit female knights.
            Now, for generic medieval fantasy female knights fit just well if you ask me. After all that’s the middle ages plus and minus all the things think would be cool if different. If we can have dragons because cool, if we can have magic because cool, then we can have total gender equality because cool.
            So to argue that female knights don’t fit really requires the King Arthur tale to be important. So first you have to notice that it’s Arthur inspired. And then you have to care enough about it, that you mind them being very liberal with their interpretation. And this is why I questioned the importance of story and lore.

          • AG says:

            Arthuriana was built by people adding their special snowflake OCs and such to the legend over time. At some point of the mythology, all of the Fae stuff would have been new and immersion-breaking. The mythology was reinterpreted through a French chivalry epic at one time, and then more recently reinterpreted through a Decline of Rome lens. Others have gone even further fantastical. What makes the retcon of lady knights any different from the various retcons that built the mythology in the first place?

            Xena not only met King Arthur, but also Boudica, Beowulf, Julius Caesar, Helen and Paris, some people carting the Ark of the Covenant around, baby Jesus, King David, Ramses III, and also swings by the Ming Dynasty at one point, and meanwhile at some point one of the Amazons mates with a centaur and has a baby. You’d be surprised at how little will actually break immersion.

            So even the importance of story and lore isn’t even a qualifying point, either. They might, indeed, make the inclusion of lady knights into the Arthurian timeline a point of the lore.

          • Randy M says:

            You’d be surprised at how little will actually break immersion.

            Really? By the end of that show, any interest in the story I had was long gone and I was just watching to see the hot chick beat up cyclopses and stuff.

          • AG says:

            @Randy M

            Most of the stuff I listed was in the earlier seasons. I stopped watching the show after S3, myself, but that wasn’t because of any particular world-building or lore affecting my enjoyment, but just my time being taken up by other shows.

          • Randy M says:

            Didn’t realize there were six season of that. Yeah, Xena got around as much as Doctor Who.
            Let’s say that while individual stories could be interesting, any investment in the setting is lost when you see episodes centuries apart.

          • EchoChaos says:

            I’d agree with @Randy M that Xena is a great example of a story that was fun but had absolutely lost suspension of disbelief.

          • AG says:

            This seems to come down to a difference in what we consider immersion. I consider someone who has accepted Xena’s wild history shenanigans as part of the appeal of the show to still potentially be immersed, as it’s part of the Xena world’s internal ruleset now.

            Even setting aside the gleeful absurdities of various anime, Xena wasn’t that much more gleeful about warping human mythology than, say, the Stargate franchise. Or DC and Marvel.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            With Xena, I always just assumed that, in the Xena universe, all these things were happening at the same time. So it’s not that Xena was time-travelling thousands of years into the future or past, but that cultures that in our universe existed thousands of years apart were all contemporaneous in hers.

          • Randy M says:

            Not just cultures, though, but individuals. Like, the Israelite King David and his generations removed descendant.

        • Placid Platypus says:

          Sure, sometimes it’ll damage my suspension of disbelief to some extent. But that’s not a strictly involuntary process: once you’ve noticed the initial incongruity you can choose to keep picking at it and sneering, or to shrug and let it go, or to actively try to come up with justifications why it actually makes sense and makes the setting more interesting in some way. I pick the first option sometimes, it can be fun, but in general I prefer a more positive outlook.

          Especially in cases like this one where there are solid out of universe reasons in favor of their decision.

        • mdet says:

          Suspendability of disbelief seems to vary a whole lot from person to person, as well as from work to work (like Platypus said regarding whimsical fairy tale vs Song of Ice & Fire).

    • EchoChaos says:

      I’m pretty right-wing and this is one that just doesn’t bother me at all. Women dressed in armor has a rich art history even if it makes no military sense.

      Looking through the art, the unnecessary racial diversity bothers me more than the sex diversity, because Arthurian legend is specifically British. I understand that it’s 2019 and all, but still.

      • Nick says:

        There are way to do racial diversity in medieval stuff, it just has to be justified. I read the Gene Wolfe story “Under Hill” a while back, which features a Chinese princess with good reason.

        • johan_larson says:

          That sounds right. You want black people in pseudo-Camelot? Sure, there’s a pseudo-Moorish kingdom right over there. Asians? Silk road travelers. Just find some sort of reason to make them fit.

          • Eponymous says:

            Are we talking about diverse people groups that clearly are from different cultures (different garb, style of armor/weapons, etc), or just “here’s a european-style knight who’s white, and here’s one who’s black”?

            Because the latter seems highly incongruous to me, on the ground that racial diversity requires lengthy genetic isolation, and thus one would expect people who look noticeably different to not live in the same place in a setting with pre-modern transportation technology.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Because the latter seems highly incongruous to me, on the ground that racial diversity requires lengthy genetic isolation, and thus one would expect people who look noticeably different to not live in the same place in a setting with pre-modern transportation technology.

            This is a negative feature of some of my favorite children’s books, the Dinotopia series. The relatively small human population of the island is divided into British/Irish, Yoruba, Tibetan, etc. rather than having intermarried until they all looked alike.

          • Randy M says:

            This is the set.
            The human people mostly look European, but there’s some that look distinctly African, and some that are more ambiguous.
            There isn’t really any apparent reason for racial distinctions ,but of course it’s just a collection of images, so whether a particular dude represents a foreigner or the orders are perfectly integrated and yet still somehow retain a vibrant diversity is in the eye of the beholder.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            For historical European settings, does anyone make sure that only people from the plausible parts of Europe are shown?

          • Randy M says:

            For historical European settings, does anyone make sure that only people from the plausible parts of Europe are shown?

            It’s a lot less stark with certain nationalities, though. An arabic guy could probably pass for a tan anglo-saxon.
            A Japanese guy would probably be as jarring as the African guy in Camelot’s court, but they don’t tend to get the same representation.

          • albatross11 says:

            Would there have been Moorish knights in Spain before the Reconquista?

            Pre-gunpowder weapons really put a premium on strength and size and robustness, and all that’s stuff that men have a big advantage on. Even if you’re using a not-so-heavy weapon (a sword or spear), armor and shields weigh something, and you’ll be carrying around/using that stuff all day long. My guess is that you’d need to be way the hell off on the right end of the bell curve, as a woman, to keep up with men on a muscle-powered battlefield. Maybe comparable to a woman being able to keep up with the men on a good high school football or soccer field.

          • Aapje says:

            @albatross11

            A large component of battle is to maneuver.

            Modern studies by various militaries found that female soldiers get substantially more musculoskeletal injuries, resulting in them being up to 5 times as likely to be injured.

        • Kindly says:

          Gene Wolfe has to justify it because his story is set in far-off Camelot. The Magic expansion is not set in far-off Camelot. It is set in Eldraine, which is inspired by Arthurian legends among other things, but is allowed to have its own rules.

          This is not to say that it can do anything without justification. It is much nicer to be internally consistent. For example, it’s okay to justify racial diversity with “people from Ardenvale look different from people from Vantress” but kind of weird to justify it with “this is what the character art for Linden, the Steadfast Queen looked like”.

          If you trust the Magic set designers to have thought things through, then you can approach all the unfamiliar things with “huh, in this setting, there are female knights. I wonder what implications that has” but of course if you don’t trust them, then there’s no point.

      • Plumber says:

        Sir Palamedes from the 15th century Le Morte d’Arthur was a “Sarecan” (who later converts to Christianity), I can’t think of any other characters that fit that bill though, in terms of actual 5th century Britain, from reading Blood of the Isles (A.K.A. Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland), and The Origins of the British, there’s a minute amount of north African and west Asian ancestry in some old British families (presumably Roman legionaires) so a little bit of mixture isn’t completely implausible, and the Mediterranean at least still had the Roman trading routes mostly intact (it wasn’t till the Islamic conquests a couple if centuries later that they really stopped), but I doubt that Morgan Freeman would go unnoticed as much as he did in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (different century but eh).

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        This is where I start yelling at you guys to grab a translation of Orlando innamorato (~1483). The Christians have a lady knight, Bradamante (which leads to a number of precocious tropes, like “Samus Is a Girl”). The story starts with a Chinese princess showing up to disperse Charlemagne’s paladins so her father can steal his treasures, creating a third faction in addition to the conventional Christians and Saracens.
        Of course if you wanted a really authentic medieval depiction of racial diversity, you’d look to Parzival (~1215), where the eponymous hero’s father has an adventure saving an African queen from Scottish pirates, and she gives birth to a son with black and white stripes.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Of course if you wanted a really authentic medieval depiction of racial diversity, you’d look to Parzival (~1215), where the eponymous hero’s father has an adventure saving an African queen from Scottish pirates, and she gives birth to a son with black and white stripes.

          Absolutely. Southern European diversity did exist (although probably not as aggressively as sometimes portrayed), but that’s a place that Arthurian legend specifically matters.

        • Eponymous says:

          Side note, but when medieval European literature describes moors/saracens as “black” or similar, am I right in thinking that they are probably mostly referring to Arabs and Berbers, and so mean something more like “darker than Europeans”, and not what we mean by “black” (sub-saharan Africans)?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            It’s context-dependent. Some medieval people groups called people with black hair “black” (cf. Black Irish), and Old Norse used “blue” for sub-Saharan skin. In my Parzival cite, Wolfram clearly explains that Parzival’s half-brother by an African mother is striped jet black and parchment color from the mixing of his parents’ gens.

          • The Chanson de Roland, as best I recall, describes part of the Muslim army that Charlemagne is fighting against as consisting of very black people, pretty clearly sub-saharan Africans. And there were quite a lot of people of at least partial sub-Saharan African ancestry in the Islamic world, due largely to the import of black slaves, but also, I think, recruitment of black military units.

            That includes Ibriham ibn al Mahdi, son, brother, and uncle of caliphs and briefly an unsuccessful pretender to the caliphate. Also a famous musician and collector (possibly creator) of recipes.

    • episcience says:

      But Magic settings are very rarely trying to depict historical settings accurately. They draw inspiration from real-world stories and mythology and create their own world from that. Yes, they intentionally show women and racial minorities and sexual minorities in those settings, perhaps to broaden the appeal of the card game. They have done this in their sets based on other mythologies too. But, unlike, say, ASOIAF, they are plainly not attempting to tell a story which is socio-politically accurate to the oppressions and gender roles of the period from which those mythologies were set.

    • Machine Interface says:

      Eh, Magic always had female warrior figures — I mean, one of their most famous cards is Serra Angel!

      And there’s at least one historical precedent for a specific time period with a lot of female knights (in the loose sense of “sword-wielding warrior in full body armor”): the Crusades.

      In light of this, perhaps they should have used Carolingian mythology rather than Arthurian one as the basis for Throne of Eldraine, since most of the works of the Matter of France were written during the crusades and reflect preoccupations of that time.

      • johan_larson says:

        perhaps they should have used Carolingian mythology rather than Arthurian one as the basis for Throne of Eldraine

        They ran into some problems with one of their earlier sets based on folktales, Lorwyn. The set was faithful to the source material, but players just didn’t recognize the references. This time around, they were more careful to use material people are familiar with. And I’m not sure the Caroligian mythology clears that bar, at least in the Anglosphere.

        • Machine Interface says:

          It doesn’t even clear that bar in the Francosphere — my suggestion was definetely tongue in cheek.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        And there’s at least one historical precedent for a specific time period with a lot of female knights (in the loose sense of “sword-wielding warrior in full body armor”): the Crusades.

        What? Even the (clearly feminist POV) Wikipedia article, in the section “Warrior Women of the Crusades” only cites wives or daughters of kings and princes who ended up wielding political power due to death or illness of their husbands or fathers, and sent armies or occasionally led armies.

        Maybe on occasion they might have donned cerimonial swords and armors, but it seems unlikely they did any actual fighting.

        • Machine Interface says:

          Maybe on occasion they might have donned cerimonial swords and armors, but it seems unlikely they did any actual fighting.

          Muslim accounts say otherwise.

          • John Schilling says:

            Potentially fascinating. Any specific Muslim accounts I should be looking for?

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Hostile accounts aren’t usually considered very historical accurate.

            Muslims would say that the Crusaders had women fighting among them to imply they were unmanly or depraved. There are similar accounts by the Greeks and the Romans about the various “barbarians” they clashed with, but historical evidence in the form of friendly accounts, tombs, and so on, fails to support the notion of systematic female participation in combat, in any culture.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            There are similar accounts by the Greeks and the Romans about the various “barbarians” they clashed with, but historical evidence in the form of friendly accounts, tombs, and so on, fails to support the notion of systematic female participation in combat, in any culture.

            The Sarmatian tombs would like to have a word with you.

          • Eponymous says:

            @LMC

            The Sarmatian tombs would like to have a word with you.

            Interesting, didn’t know about them.

            Out of curiosity: is the evidence only from burial items? Is there skeletal evidence of combat participation at a similar level to male warriors?

          • viVI_IViv says:

            As I understand there were indeed Scythian-Sarmatian women buried with weapons (20% of “warrior graves”, according to Wikipedia), whether they were actual warriors is unclear, as these tombs belonged to high-status individuals, hence the presence of weapons could be cerimonial (e.g. for wives or daughters of high-ranking military men).

            Some websites I found with a quick googling mention combat wounds, although I can’t find any reliable source.

          • John Schilling says:

            Even the Sarmatians don’t claim that women fought at the same level as men. Per custom, all adolescent girls were required to fight (probably as light cavalry skirmishers) until they were ready to marry. Grave goods suggest that a minority of women fought well into adulthood and with the sort of gear a horse-nomad society could not afford to waste on someone who was just going to be a light cavalry skirmisher for a few years, but not anything like parity with male warriors.

            But truth is distorted in the telling, if only for “man bites dog” and cultural-preconception reasons. If Greek hoplites campaigning north of the Black Sea city-states expect to encounter zero young women throwing javelins at them, and in fact encounter some young women throwing javelins at them, then a few generations of war story by multiple hearsay gets you Athenian poets spinning tales of wholly Amazonian tribes.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            What John Schilling said. I need to do more house-cleaning so I can’t verify female wounds from a study right now, but he nailed the gist of it. There were some rather than zero women doing horse nomad skirmishing, and when Greek colonists’s tales from the Black Sea filtered back home, poets were inspired and Amazons got poetically back-dated to the Heroic/Mycenaean Age.

          • Machine Interface says:

            @ John Schilling

            This paper mentions and analyzes several of these muslim chronicles: https://www.academia.edu/7608599/Women_and_the_Crusades (page 11 onward).

          • Ohforfs says:

            >Even the Sarmatians don’t claim that women fought at the same level as men.

            I don’t think Sarmatians claimed anything. Do we have any literary sources from them?

            >Grave goods suggest that a minority of women fought well into adulthood and with the sort of gear a horse-nomad society could not afford to waste on someone who was just going to be a light cavalry skirmisher for a few years, but not anything like parity with male warriors.

            You mean… now, that’s bizarre. If you say the kind of gear nomadic society couldn’t waste you mean heavy Sarmatian cataphracts. But that’s not a light skirmisher, that’s shock cavalry. Light skirmisher is basically no gear, they use what everyone has as a civilian and everyone (adult male) is one.

            >But truth is distorted in the telling, (…) gets you Athenian poets spinning tales of wholly Amazonian tribes.

            … well, good that we don’t talk about fully Amazon tribes nor Athenian poets then?

    • Perico says:

      I don’t know, this isn’t anything new for WotC – they have two decades’ worth of experience selling a fantasy RPG where female knight characters are encouraged, and just as competent as their male counterparts. Realism is not a priority, representation is. Faithfulness to the source material is just a means to an end (having a cool setting based on concepts that are familiar to their audience), and they have no qualms about deviating from it.

      I mean, this is the same set where they made half the Seven Dwarves female – and it’s not like mining has traditionally been an industry known for gender parity, either. It’s just the way WotC likes to handle their IPs.

      • Randy M says:

        Dwarven females would probably (er, for whatever value of probably refers to arbitrary and shifting fantasy assumptions) have a comparative advantage over human males, although not over their Dwarven males conterparts.
        If the Dwarven community was a small enough minority, I could see female dwarven miners being plausible.
        Maybe Grumpy is grumpy because his daughter’s callouses represent an ongoing sense of shame.

    • Randy M says:

      Did you fall off the mystical turnip truck yesterday? Yeah, WotC is pretty woke; the eponymous coast is, after all, the North American Pacific, and they ain’t based in TJ. They’re not going to sacrifice diversity for verisimilitude or resonance.

      At stage left we have GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire, which includes two prominent female fighters, Arya and Brienne. They don’t clash so much with the high-fantasy genre because there aren’t very many of them, and the books acknowledge right from the start that the characters are challenging local gender roles. And at stage right there’s The Lord of the Rings, with Eowyn, a character in a similar situation.

      GRRM was something of a student of medieval culture wasn’t he? I think he cared more about authenticity, and remember, that series began almost 25 years ago. Similar case for LotR. Pressure for modern American representation in fantasy or historical fiction wasn’t as strong then. Their model is probably more like the BBC Merlin.

    • Plumber says:

      @johan_larson >

      “Magic: The Gathering has a new expansion called Throne of Eldraine, based around the stories of King Arthur and his knights plus some stuff from fairy-tales, drawing on the work of H.C. Andersen and the Grimm brothers. There are many cards that depict knights, and some of these knights are clearly female. Having thought about this notion of female knights some, I have three comments.

      First, I think having female knights (or perhaps many female (or perhaps many female knights) is a bad idea, at least as implemented…”

      Britomart was a woman Knight in Spencer’s long Arthurian poem The Faerie Queene from the 16th century, so one character

      • mendax says:

        From the Faerie Queene there is also Belphoebe, I am told.

        In Orlando Furiouso and Orlando Inammorato, there are Marfisa and Bradamente.

        Bradamante, a female Christian knight, is the sister of Rinaldo and falls in love with a Saracen warrior named Ruggiero, but refuses to marry him unless he converts from Islam. An expert in combat, she wields a magical lance that unhorses anyone it touches, and rescues Ruggiero from being imprisoned by the wizard Atlantes

        Jerusalem delivered had Clorinda.

        What was it with the 16th century and female knights?

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          What was it with the 16th century and female knights?

          It was the Renaissance: They were trying to follow Classical tropes. The Aeneid had a warrior woman named Camilla, probably in emulation of Penthesilia, Queen of the Amazons when they fought for Troy (a part of the cycle that starts right after the Iliad).

    • Hackworth says:

      Sorry for the snarkiness, but the entirety of the Eldraine trailer was about the short-lived love between two sentient, Shrek-style Gingerbread people… beings. The knights tribe is only a small part of the set, it’s also about giants, faeries, and general fairy tale tropes such as magic mirrors and enchanted pumpkin carriages. One card is literally named “Happily Ever After”. Are you really that worried that this small aspect of female knights might get taken as gospel by the impressionable youth?

      • johan_larson says:

        Are you really that worried that this small aspect of female knights might get taken as gospel by the impressionable youth?

        No, I’m annoyed the set designers got gender equality all over the mythic warrior heroes, like ice cream on steak. Both are just fine by themselves.

    • hls2003 says:

      So this has nothing at all to do with the gender / representational aspect of your post. I do not play Magic (maybe twice in my life borrowed some cards for a deck). I have only the vaguest impression of what half of the text instructions mean on the cards. But I followed the link to the cards and spent over a quarter-hour scrolling through the whole deck. Is it something weird with me, or is it moderately common, for non-players to enjoy just looking through a Magic deck even though I have no impression of “oh, this is a good card” or “I see how this works”?

      Part of it is that the artwork is fun, of course. The little quotes on the bottom of some cards always draw me in; they’re a little bit Tolkienesque in creating the impression of a larger world with a deeper history and fun stories lurking behind the cards. I suppose there probably are some short stories or novelizations or something that they sell after a set is released? I don’t think I’d really want to read them. I just like the impression.

      And yet I still never really have the impulse to learn to play. I just don’t feel the pull of the game, I don’t have the time, and I certainly don’t have any sense of the game mechanics or the fun of identifying card synergies. Maybe I’m the weird one. Or do you have friends who don’t care about Magic who still like to look at the cards?

      • b_jonas says:

        No, this does not make you the weird one.

        M:tG cards deliberately have fascinating worldbuilding with the flavor of its cards. This is the most obvious from how much attention they take with the art, flavor text and card names. (Flavor text is the italicized text without parenthesis in a separate line printed into the text box of the card, which doesn’t influence the rules of the game.) The actual rules function of the card has to match the flavor too. In the last decade, Wizards also pays lots of attention to get the most important parts of the story through the cards of the set, so that you can understand the most important elements even if you don’t buy the novelization and don’t read any of the short stories or explanations from their website.

        If you don’t play the game then you likely don’t spend much on it, and so you probably aren’t Wizard’s target customer. However, you like the flavor of the cards becuase they are optimized to people similar to you who also play the game. I personally do like the game itself too, but I have occasionally bought single copies of cards for their flavor and art even if I don’t plan to play the card.

        > Or do you have friends who don’t care about Magic who still like to look at the cards?

        Are you asking M:tG players on SSC? We are nerds living in the basement of our parents, we don’t have friends.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      Magic has had female knights going back to Ice Age and female soldiers in Alpha. I don’t know why they’d stop now.

      Honestly I’ve never been bothered by the wokeness trend in MtG. It seems less forced than other properties, but I can’t pinpoint why.

      • Witness says:

        I’m going with this. Magic’s had “representation” since before it was popular. Now they maybe have a little more of it or get a little more mileage out of it in terms of marketing? No big whoop.

      • quanta413 says:

        Agreed. Its not noteworthy in magic.

        Magic has also always culturally appropriated like mad too. Sometimes they loop back around to European stuff.

        Edit: to be clear I’m in favor of using other people’s ideas. The worst that can happen is you make bad food/art/whatever. But badness is orthogonal to how much you imitate or take.

      • johan_larson says:

        Yes, but when did it start to have many of them? That’s really the crux of the issue. I’m not objecting to an odd special case here and there.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          Hard to do an analysis of this, but Shards of Alara back in 2008 definitely had a bunch of female knights/soldiers, with Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Knight of the Reliquary being the highest profile ones.

        • Aftagley says:

          Yes, but when did it start to have many of them?

          I enjoy doing analysis and need to get better at using gatherer. I’ll *try* and find you an answer to this question, if you’d be willing to plug in the following information:

          1. What % of knights would you say is too many?

          2. The “knight” subtype in MTG is tied to two separate things: one type tends to be a heavily armored, mounted solider; this type can be found in red, white and black primarily. The other thing knight is used to denote is warriors who are especially noble. Do you want me to count both, or just the cavalry?

          3. In the case of non-horse based cavalry, how should I count it? Established fantasy convention tends to center females as being the riders of flying/mythical beasts (at least if fire emblem is anything to go off of).

          • johan_larson says:

            I’ll *try* and find you an answer to this question, if you’d be willing to plug in the following information:

            Sure.

            The US Military Academy currently has 22% women. Let’s go with half of that, 11% as the boundary of notability in a fantasy context. At that point, there’s more than just an occasional special case.

            Count just the riders, and I’d like to know if there’s a notable number of warriors on horseback who are too lightly protected to really be knights.

            They count as knights for this purpose regardless of what they ride. A goblin knight mounted on a pig is a knight, for the purpose of this calculation.

            Let’s go with that for a first cut. And thank you for offering to do the research.

          • Randy M says:

            They count as knights for this purpose regardless of what they ride.

            Study will be a lot easier if you just limit it to those with the “Knight” creature type. But still hard, because, at least of late, MtG knights tend to be properly armored. I think this is a woman, but it’s really hard to say.
            Looking through the list, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being majority women at this point (provided you exclude the skeletons and elementals and such from the total).

          • Aftagley says:

            @ randy M

            Oh yeah. I was planning on doing that from the beginning.

            Initial results – in total there are 226 MTG cards with sub-type Knight that have a discernible gender and are riding some kind of animal. There are around 100 “knights who are just standing around” and they trended male, but I did not count them.

            When counting this list, I excluded obviously asexual beings like artifacts and most elementals, but included undead. When the card shows a group of people, I’d look at everyone in the scene and if I saw a woman, I counted it. I didn’t count multiples however, simple binary yes/no if the card shows a woman as a knight. If the picture presented a figure encased in a massive slab of armor, I went ahead and counted it as male.

            In total, I counted 80 female Knights.

            Of these, at least 15 fit more closely in the skirmisher subcategory (IE, lightly armored and holding javelins, etc). I tried to be fairly discerning as to what I included in this category, so I’d consider this a floor estimate, your count may be slightly higher.

            Another 4 or so were clearly trying to look like Valkyries which, I’d argue should place them in a separate category.

            That leaves a approximately 61 identifiably female knights and 146 identifiably male knights.

            My next step will be to sort these results by year, but that is a way more time consuming task than I anticipated (I forgot that most mtg cards don’t have a visible date on them, just the symbol for the set they are apart of.) My initial impressions is that most of these female knights are from the last 5-10 years, but that’s just going off the sets I’m most familiar with.

          • Randy M says:

            I do have to say, a number of these are quite fetching.
            I wouldn’t say no to being a squire on Bant or Dominaria.
            Did you count “Bring your daughter to work day“?

          • Aftagley says:

            I honestly considered it, but in the end decided he’d probably drop her off at fantasy daycare before he went out to fight.

          • Randy M says:

            I honestly considered it, but in the end decided he’d probably drop her off at fantasy daycare before he went out to fight.

            Oh, I’m sure. Yet another example of woke capitalism’s war on the traditional family structure. Can’t be good little drones if we’re not built by the proper… alright, just joking at my own expense here.
            Card is pretty funny, though.
            Belle of the Brawl: Hey, did you see Lancelot’s kid?
            Ardenvale Paladin: Yeah, she’s so sweet. We should like, fight harder. For her sake.
            BotB: Only a little harder though.
            AP: Oh, yeah, just the smallest measurable amount more.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            @Aftagley

            My next step will be to sort these results by year, but that is a way more time consuming task than I anticipated

            If you use Scryfall instead of Gatherer, they have a “year” search term.
            https://scryfall.com/docs/syntax#year

            I don’t know if you’re already taking this into account, but you may also want to make sure you’re using unique:art (or whatever the Gatherer equivalent is) to make sure you’re looking at the different art variants of cards, in case a reprinted knight changes gender in later art.

            @Randy

            Looking through the list, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being majority women at this point (provided you exclude the skeletons and elementals and such from the total).

            I suspect that’s because Knight has only recently (well, recently for the grand history of MTG) been a relevant creature type. Knight Exemplar was the first real Knight lord in M2011, but the response was “it’s a powerful effect, but there aren’t really any Knights to work with it”. Wizards started printing Knights more heavily, but it’s only in the last few sets that we’re seeing actual tribal synergies for them. Dominaria had Aryel, Knight of Windgrace which is an explicitly Knight-focused EDH commander, and it was still a stretch to build any sort of Knight EDH deck around it.

          • Aftagley says:

            @moonfirestorm

            Ah, I’d forgotten about scryfall! Thanks, that’s way easier than Gatherer.

            My plan was to go for most recent printings only, as I felt like that represents the most accurate depiction of WOTC’s current vision for the state of the game.

          • Randy M says:

            My first MtG product was the Knights vs Dragons duel deck, which featured Knight Exemplar and Knight of the Reliquary.
            Out of curiosity, I looked up the decklist, it’s 6 out of 22 knights as identifiable females. I remembered it more, probably because some of the most powerful and visually striking cards in it were.

          • moonfirestorm says:

            My plan was to go for most recent printings only, as I felt like that represents the most accurate depiction of WOTC’s current vision for the state of the game.

            Maybe I misunderstood what you’re trying to find?

            My impression is that we’re trying to figure out when female knights started to appear in large numbers, by comparing how many creatures with the Knight type are female versus male, and at what point the percentages started to shift.

            If this is the goal, the only way to determine this is the art, so we should be looking at every artwork that appears on a card with the creature type Knight. White Knight’s 2009 printing as male matters, but so too does its 1993 printing as male: in both 1993 and 2009, Wizards made the decision “make this knight male”, and both those decisions are important in answering the question “when and to what extent did they decide to start making large numbers of female knights”?

          • Aftagley says:

            If this is the goal, the only way to determine this is the art, so we should be looking at every artwork that appears on a card with the creature type Knight. White Knight’s 2009 printing as male matters, but so too does its 1993 printing as male: in both 1993 and 2009, Wizards made the decision “make this knight male”, and both those decisions are important in answering the question “when and to what extent did they decide to start making large numbers of female knights”?

            Hmm, I think you’re right. Ok, I’ll go in that direction. Consider my previous results untrustworthy, for now.

    • Nornagest says:

      There are settings where I’d find this sort of thing dissonant: works aiming for historical accuracy, or the most traditionalist sort of fairytale milieu, or revisionist grit and cynicism. I wasn’t too happy with Dragon Age‘s take, for example — it didn’t mesh well with its Game of Thrones-influenced “realism”, especially since GoT had a perfectly good template for it that Dragon Age chose not to use for some reason. But Magic has typically gone for a sort of postmodern, stylized, highly cinematic fantasy descended from Dungeons and Dragons, and it fits in well enough there. I haven’t been following the game much lately (played a bit on Arena a year or so ago, but then the meta changed and I lost interest), but I doubt the set dressing in this release will do much to change the core theme.

      Subversive takes on the Arthurian canon are practically a cliche in their own right by now, anyway, and one of the more influential modern ones had a female Arthur.

      • AG says:

        More than just one. The Disney adaptation of the Mag Cabot novels also went for girl Arthur (the novels went with Morgana).

    • They don’t clash so much with the high-fantasy genre

      Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

      ASOIAF is not high fantasy! The defining characteristic of high fantasy is black-and-white morality. Aragorn is Good, Sauron is Evil, and that’s all there is to it.

      High Fantasy:
      The Lord of the Rings
      Star Wars
      The Wheel of Time
      Dragonlance

      Not High Fantasy:
      A Song of Ice and Fire
      Discworld
      Dune
      The Witcher

      • Nornagest says:

        High fantasy typically features black-and-white morality, but I’d say it’s distinguished more by scope (epic conflict against a threat menacing the galaxy, the world, or at least a large nation; having a Dark Lord is a tell), and by having a plot that’s resolved with a moral rather than a physical victory (though the moral victory might enable a physical victory, as in Star Wars). If the conflict simply ends when the protagonist stabs the right guy in the face, without coming to some kind of epiphany first, it ain’t high fantasy.

        Thomas Covenant, for example, is a high fantasy — epic threat, Dark Lord, moral victory — with an initially very morally grey protagonist. Most cinematic fantasy — The Princess Bride, for example — falls into the “heroic” bucket, not the “high”, but does have black-and-white morality. Most of the threads in Game of Thrones are low fantasy, but its Night King subplot (which, as far as we can tell, isn’t reflected in the books) only escapes the “high” label by culminating in a big battle that the good guys win.

        • I suppose the “white” part of black-and white morality is not strictly required. You do, however, need some sort of supernatural evil. E.g., Sauron is more evil than any human could possibly be, no matter how they tried.

      • Tarpitz says:

        Esme Weatherwax would like to remind you that there’s no greys, only white that’s got a bit grubby.

    • benwave says:

      Well I do know from MaRo’s endless series of posts and podcasts that more women on the cards has tested well with their target demos, and for a game property, magic puts an unusually high amount of effort into doing this kind of testing. So I think it’s a good bet that they have some evidence it will be good for their bottom line.

      But I also don’t really understand why this makes you feel bad? If you wanted to create a setting with female knights in it, what would it look like?

      • johan_larson says:

        I’ve done some thinking about how I would add female fighters to a setting like this if it didn’t already have them.

        I could make the Fae warriors 50/50 male/female without any issue. Fae are different from humans, whether of history or legend, so there we have more freedom to do whatever we want. Heck, maybe it’s mostly Fae women who fight. Have at it.

        We could also put women warriors in a place where they have some sort of advantage. Women are smaller than men, so they might have an advantage in a place where weight really matters, such as on the back of a bird. There could be an order of knights that ride griffins or giant eagles and are exclusively or predominantly female. That would work. And put them in white, the color of magic that celebrates equality and unity if anyone does.

        And finally I think there’s some room for special cases here and there, of unusually talented or determined women who manage to make it in a very male role. And put some flavor around it, such as, “At twelve, she outran her brothers. At fourteen, she defeated her entire class at single-stick. At eighteen, everyone is waiting to see what she can do with a sword.” There are plenty of stories like this, so it fits pretty well.

        Basically, if you are going to go against history and the traditions of the genre, there should be a reason, a good reason, and you should take care to fit with other genre conventions as much as possible.

        • Placid Platypus says:

          I don’t really see why history and genre conventions should count any more than modern mores for this kind of thing.

          • johan_larson says:

            The reason why history and genre conventions count is that they help establish setting and mood. Throne of Eldraine is all about Arthurian legends and fairy tales. By invoking their tropes, the artists are setting up expectations in the audience of how things work. They are also saving themselves a ton of work of explicit world-building because the audience will quickly pick up that oh yeah, we’re in fairy-tale land with the knights and ladies, not in noir land with the private eyes and the tough-talking dames, and they should therefore expect horses not cars and castles not skyscrapers. But if the artists suddenly start going against convention they are not just throwing away that scene setting, they risk alienating the audience by creating confusion about how things actually work.

            I’m willing to believe that change can be good and sometimes done with good reason. Also, sometimes creating a certain tension between convention and what actually happens can be useful. I’m just saying that it should be done thoughtfully, and with the expectations of the audience borne in mind.

    • mendax says:

      I remembered this essay, but while it has knightly art around it (and many examples of M:tG art), the text mostly refers to post-gunpowder combat (aside from a mention of Viking women, and I guess Shaka Zulu’s female soldiers might not have been equipped with guns).

      • John Schilling says:

        It also seems to be a mix of “we have always campaigned as camp followers, who would sometimes pick up a pointy stick if the camp was in danger of being overrun”, and three-sigma edge cases.

        Hurley is right that there are some good stories there, which if they aren’t being told at all, someone should tell. But it would go several steps too far to turn this into either an argument for anything like gender equality on historic battlefields but for the Patriarchal propaganda hiding same, or a requirement that future genre war stories should as a matter of course always include female warriors for diversity.

    • johan_larson says:

      Let me commend everyone in this thread about female knights for keeping the discussion civil on a topic that sometimes gets people’s tempers flaring.

    • aristides says:

      I can’t really be bothered by female knights in a fantasy setting after watching Fate/Stay Night. They literally have female King Arthur. It was jarring at first, but I’ve gotten used to it. I think the pros of extra representation and diversity outweigh the cons of less realism in a fantasy world. Non fantasy world, sure, but once magic exists, I’m ok with it

    • Tarpitz says:

      If you want to hear WOTC narrative design lead Alison Luhrs explain the company’s position on this sort of thing, listen to episode 416 of Craig Mazin and John August’s screenwriting podcast Scriptnotes.

      Essentially, they appear to believe in a sort of Whig theory of history as regards the culture war, and see it as both morally right and financially expedient to get out in front of the player base and lead opinion in the direction of the (woke) truth. They believe people play fantasy games out of escapism, and that it would therefore be counterproductive to depict such real world unpleasantness as racism, homophobia and gender inequality.

      My impression, which may be mistaken, was that this stuff was really kicked into overdrive by the controversy surrounding the art for Triumph of Ferocity in 2012.

  12. Jack V says:

    Huh. I thought that view on opiates was pretty standard, not that I could have proved it either way.

  13. EchoChaos says:

    Anglosphere political insanity variant three!

    https://news.yahoo.com/conservatives-lead-canada-election-polls-200234461.html

    Looks like the Conservatives are now in a lead mostly because the Liberals are losing support to third and fourth parties. Is this a temporary thing right after the blackface scandal, or are the Liberals genuinely damaged?

    • Tenacious D says:

      The Conservatives may have a slight lead in the popular vote projections but the seat projections still favour the liberals.
      The televised debates (second week of October) are where the other party leaders will have a chance to take a swing at Trudeau directly. Personally, I’d consider the movement in the polls tentative til then.

      • broblawsky says:

        It’s still strange to me that Canada’s land-based distribution of voters overweighs liberal voters while America’s land-based distribution of voters overweighs conservative voters. AFAIK, the distribution of views is still the same: urban voters are liberal, rural voters are conservative. Why is the impact flipped? Are Canadian districts gerrymandered to dilute rural voters with city voters?

        • jermo sapiens says:

          Each riding has about 100,000 people. And you can think of each riding as having 1 electoral college vote. So instead of, for example, Ontario having 121 electoral votes up for grabs all in one, there are 121 ridings (or electoral district) which need to be won separately. So you could end up with the Liberals winning 60 seats (each riding wins a seat in the House of Commons) in Ontario, the Conservatives could win 40, and the NDP 21, or any other distribution which adds up to 121.

          It just happens that currently based on the models the pollsters use to predict the composition of the house, the Liberal votes are more efficiently distributed. This could be correct or not. It has changed in the past and will probably change in the future.

        • Oscar Sebastian says:

          American districts are generally gerrymandered to dilute city voters with rural voters.

        • Enkidum says:

          Much less gerrymandering, much less of a firm rural/urban right/left divide (and many rural areas are very old-school leftie), and no equivalent to the electoral college.

        • broblawsky says:

          I was comparing Canada’s distribution of voters to Congressional Districts, which are often gerrymandered by Republicans to (as noted by @Oscar Sebastian) minimize the number of districts represented by major cities. I was wondering if there was some kind of analogue in how ridings are distributed in Canada.

          • sharper13 says:

            @broblawsky,

            What you seem to be missing in your look at Congressional Districts is that Democrats are able to (and do) just as much gerrymandering of them for their advantage as Republicans do.

            What you’re observing in terms of who has benefited recently is based primarily on two causes:
            1. Republicans controlled many more State governments (which set the Congressional boundaries) as of the more recent census results. (This is the largest effect.)
            2. There is also a minor effect of the race balancing requirements in the civil rights act as interpreted by the courts to create more racially distinct districts, which in turn inhibits the ability for Democrats to spread those voters out in the same way.

            There’s no otherwise inherent structural advantage to the GOP in gerrymandering, nor in willingness to gerrymander.

  14. Aftagley says:

    Post I rightly cut from the last non-CW thread:

    I recently signed up for an improv class in the city I just moved to as a way of expanding my friend circle and learning a new skill. When signing up online, I had to fill out the following (mandatory) questions:
    – Race and Geographic place of origin (so white/European)
    – Gender
    – Preferred pronoun
    – Orientation
    – Basic career field
    – Income Range
    – Education Level

    When I arrived at the class, the first thing the instructor did was give a 20-30 minute discussion on power dynamics in comedy. She started by giving an explanation of the concept of privilege, outlined who had privilege in what scenarios, and then talked about how in comedy you never want to “punch down” or make fun of someone with less privilege than yourself. Explicitly said in this was that it’s OK to “punch up” or make fun of people with more privilege than yourself, but you never want to punch down. The instructor even went so far as to decry the concept of “punching sideways” or going after someone you think has as much power as you, because you never know if you might secretly be punching down. The example the instructor provided of this concept was a recent occasion when a comedian (female, white, straight) “punched sideways” at the instructor (female, white, queer) not knowing her orientation.

    This was then followed by a lesson on the proper process the class should follow if any other student “triggers” them. The word triggered was used explicitly; not “offends” or “upsets” but triggered.

    At the time (only white male in the class) I admit I felt a bit disconcerted/upset and didn’t understand why anyone felt like this was a necessary addition to the class. It seemed weird to start an activity that relies on kind of dropping your filter with a lesson on how what you say and what you do will be judged through a fairly harsh prism for acceptability. I was also kind of worried that having told this organization enough about myself for them to get a good picture of where I am, privilege-wise, that they would be looking to enforce these rules during my interactions with other students. It made me feel a bit paranoid, and I was somewhat confident that if behavior was overall indicative of improv, I would find the people not the kind I’m comfortable associating with and it would not be an activity I continued to pursue.

    Having thought about it and talked to people who move more in these kind of artsy communities, my position has changed somewhat. I’m now pretty sure this speech was the same as those liability forms you have to sign before you can climb at a rock gym; a CYA for the organization in case something goes wrong. It gives the improv class reason to kick someone out if they’re acting like a dick and if something goes wrong in class and it creates a twitter/social media backlash, the class can point to their lesson on privileged as a way of proving they’re “one of the good guys.”

    If this is the case, I’m a less negative towards the class/community than I was, but a bit less positive on the overall state of our society.

    • Randy M says:

      Explicitly said in this was that it’s OK to “punch up” or make fun of people with more privilege than yourself

      This seems uncharitable of them, given the opaque rules for determining social standing. I would, like I said last time, try to focus on humor without punches in this kind of setting, and hope to not fall afoul of someone’s loose interpretation of the rule, like objecting to you culturally appropriating another culture because you accidentally said Tee-pee or Timbuctu.

      • Aftagley says:

        I would, like I said last time, try to focus on humor without punches in this kind of setting

        Yep! You were right then, and I still think you’re right now.

    • jermo sapiens says:

      My advice to you: your participation in that class, as the only white male, can only hurt you. Unless you really really enjoy improv in a setting where everyone can make fun of you but you cannot make fun of them, run far away.

      • Aftagley says:

        Eh, I spent a couple hundred bucks on it though. If it was free, I’d walk away, but I’ve got this sunk cost fallacy to deal with.

        • Oscar Sebastian says:

          Honestly you should just demand your money back on the grounds that when you signed up for the class you thought you’d be learning how to make jokes on the fly, not being attacked for your race or gender.

          • Aftagley says:

            Crucially, I haven’t been attacked for my race and gender. I’ve been told that making fun of someone on the basis of race or gender is not an acceptable action for me to take (a point I agree with) but could be potentially ok for a class of people I’m not a member of.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Crucially, I haven’t been attacked for my race and gender. I’ve been told that making fun of someone on the basis of race or gender is not an acceptable action for me to take (a point I agree with) but could be potentially ok for a class of people I’m not a member of.

            Technically, I agree with you. When I follow the logical implications of these acts, however, I’m forced to conclude that you’re being told it’s unacceptable for you to attack, but acceptable for you to be attacked. In other words, they’ve baldly claimed power over you, without your consent.

            That their power is only to make jokes at your expense is not trivial, by their definition. They should not be allowed to have it both ways.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            What Paul Brinkley said. So, demand a refund.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          Isn’t there any refund policy?

      • Radu Floricica says:

        The main point is actually true and valid, and if you try to find a few examples it becomes obvious: you need a black comedian to make fun of black people, a gay one to make fun of gay people, Gabriel Iglesias to make fun of fat people and so on. Being white and straight IS a real problem in comedy, you actually have significantly fewer avenues for humor. And the only thing worse than not having them… is not realizing and doing it anyways. It’s worthy of a warning on the first day, I think, especially in this climate where a 10 year old joke on twitter can destroy careers.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          The main point is actually true and valid, and if you try to find a few examples it becomes obvious: you need a black comedian to make fun of black people, a gay one to make fun of gay people, Gabriel Iglesias to make fun of fat people and so on.

          But “punching up” implies that anybody who isn’t a straight white man can make fun of straight white men.

          The rule is not “don’t make fun of the outgroup”, which perhaps could be reasonable to some extent, but “don’t make fun of the groups who are ‘below’ your on the oppressor-oppressed ladder”, which automatically puts you at disadvantage if you happen to belong to the group supposedly at the ‘top’ of the oppression ladder, where group membership is defined by unchosen and largely immutable features.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            Well… yeah. But that’s always been the case, more or less.

            My point is that 1. it’s a normal, polite thing to be aware of and 2. especially in the current climate it’s critical for anybody that wants to be on a stage to know.

            So what I’m saying is… don’t kill the messenger.

    • Faza (TCM) says:

      It gives the improv class reason to kick someone out if they’re acting like a dick

      IDK, ’round these parts “acting like a dick” is usually sufficient reason…

      What irks me personally about the whole thing is what I would call the “how will people know to be outraged if you don’t tell them?” aspect. If you spend half an hour discussing the ways you can get victimized whilst participating in this particular class – including some you might not have thought of – what’s that going to do for the kind of community spirit that’s necessary to do successful shared improv?

      • Shion Arita says:

        Yeah I agree. To me this is a big case of creating your own demons, unless this is what they want (which it may well be).

        If it were me I would leave, since I signed up for an improv class, not a social justice class, but of course it’s ultimately on OP.

    • EchoChaos says:

      Explicitly said in this was that it’s OK to “punch up” or make fun of people with more privilege than yourself, but you never want to punch down.

      Honestly, this sort of direct statement of values is actually refreshing to me. I would love to ask them for a ranking of privilege so that I could make sure. “Obviously as a straight white Christian man, I’m at the bottom, but which is higher, a straight black Christian woman like my sister-in-law or a straight white Jewish man like Bernie Sanders?”

    • Ttar says:

      I was very involved in improv during college and can confirm the scene has deteriorated significantly after it was infiltrated by the culture police.

    • lvlln says:

      She started by giving an explanation of the concept of privilege, outlined who had privilege in what scenarios, and then talked about how in comedy you never want to “punch down” or make fun of someone with less privilege than yourself. Explicitly said in this was that it’s OK to “punch up” or make fun of people with more privilege than yourself, but you never want to punch down. The instructor even went so far as to decry the concept of “punching sideways” or going after someone you think has as much power as you, because you never know if you might secretly be punching down.

      It’s interesting here that the exact same argument she used to decry “punching sideways” can be used just as effectively to decry “punching up.” Since you never know exactly the privilege profile of any given individual – not even your own – there’s always the possibility that you might be secretly punching down when you’re metaphorically punching someone in comedy, and this applies just as well to when you’re trying to punch up as when you’re trying to punch sideways.

      • Aftagley says:

        Well, it implied to me that there’s a clear hierarchy privilege, at least in her conception of it, and the stuff at the top of the list is immediately knowable. Like, there is no chance a black guy punching up at a white dude could ever secretly be punching down. Same with a woman punching up at a man, or a trans punching up at a cis.

        • Rachael says:

          @Aftagley: But there’s not a clear hierarchy, because it’s not a total ordering. What about a black man versus a white woman, or a white trans person versus a black cis person, and so on. Either person in those pairings could attack the other and think they’re “punching up” because they focus on the axis on which the other person is more privileged than them and ignore the other axis.

          • Aftagley says:

            Hmm, good point. Maybe it’s fine if you limit your jokes entirely to the access on which you have less privilege and consider the other aspects off limits? I honestly don’t know, but I’ve got a strange feeling, however, that asking that question during the next class would not be a productive or overall enjoyable use of my time.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            In theory, there isn’t a clear hierarchy but in practice it’s pretty easy to suss out.

            For example, in your examples of black man versus white woman just look at what happens when black men attack white women. The Central Park Five are still considered martyrs by the mainstream media to this day, and one of the few sources of mainstream pushback on the expanding definition of campus sexual assault has been that too many white women accuse black men of sexual assault. A black man clearly has a higher position in the progressive stack than a white woman.

            Likewise with straight black men versus LGBT. If you look at the perpetrators of hate crimes, it’s pretty clear on who is attacking who. But you would never guess it from the mainstream media narrative.

          • @Nabil ad Dajjal

            Are we all sussing it out the same way?

            I would have said that race is a less privileged category than cisgender, but sexuality and transgenderism can be complicated. I think race is generally given more weight than sexuality, which is stronger than cisgender categories, but transgenderism complicates things. Then on top of that these things add up.

            A white gay man is more privileged than a straight black man, and a straight black female is less privileged than that, a gay black man a little more, a lesbian black woman more still, and then transgender black people somewhere at the lowest point you can punch to. I’m not sure if we’ve worked out whether transwomen are more or less privileged than transmen yet, but I think transwomen are lower, and then non-binaries are at the very bottom. Wait. I forgot disabilities. You can go lower.

            What about if you have a white non-binary person? You’d have to do arithmetic to work out how much the non-binary nature subtracts from the white nature in order to work out whether they are still more privileged than a black straight cisgender man.

            Then you’ve got class, or at least income. Rich people are obviously more privileged, but it’s not clear how many “points” it’s worth. Can a white cisgender straight man be poor enough to have less privilege than a black non-binary person who is disabled? I don’t know. What if he’s homeless?

            At some point, this stops being improv comedy, and starts being meticulously planned comedy.

            Charitably, we can forget the combinations and just remember to not make jokes where black people are the target if we’re white, not make gay jokes if we’re straight etc. Trying to work out who is more privileged than who only really works out if we restrict it to single categories per joke. Just go with that and if the people you are dealing with are reasonable, you should be OK.

          • Don P. says:

            [J]ust look at what happens when black men attack white women. The Central Park Five are still considered martyrs by the mainstream media to this day[…]

            Because they didn’t do it.

          • ECD says:

            In theory, there isn’t a clear hierarchy but in practice it’s pretty easy to suss out.

            I am unconvinced this is correct. A lot depends on circumstances.

            For example, in your examples of black man versus white woman just look at what happens when black men attack white women. The Central Park Five are still considered martyrs by the mainstream media to this day,

            As Dan points out, they were innocent. Also, I think it’s hilarious that a situation where five innocent black males (deliberately avoiding men or boys, given their ages) served 6-13 years is a sign that they’re on the top of the hierarchy.

            one of the few sources of mainstream pushback on the expanding definition of campus sexual assault has been that too many white women accuse black men of sexual assault. A black man clearly has a higher position in the progressive stack than a white woman.

            The sources I’ve seen have suggested the issue is either disproportionate punishment, or that schools/society is more likely to take such an allegation seriously than if the alleged assailant is male, which is rather different than what you’re suggesting.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Nabil ad Dajjal , did you not know that the Central Park Five were innocent?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            It is a fairly common right-wing belief that they were in fact guilty.

            http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2014-04-23.html

            I don’t know if they were or not.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The Central Park Five were probably innocent of the rape of the Central Park jogger. However, it is rather likely they were out committing other crimes (including assaults) at the time. Not, IMO, the best candidates for martyrdom, even if they were falsely convicted.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            There’s a difference between being a candidate for sainthood and being falsely convicted.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          Like, there is no chance a black guy punching up at a white dude could ever secretly be punching down.

          Obvious counterexample: the white dude is a transman.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      Honestly I think that your original take that that community is crazy seems to be correct one.

    • jgr314 says:

      I’ve commented on other aspects that made it through the CW filter in the last open thread, so I won’t rehash that.

      Two recommendations:
      (1) try 1 or 2 more classes
      (2) If it doesn’t improve, drop it and try another theater/school. (I might be able to help with suggestions)

      I don’t have reasons to justify point (1). Suffice it to say that there are a lot of reasons why the first class (and, indeed, the first course) in improv often isn’t representative.

      For (2), there are a lot of things you described that aren’t typical and certainly not universal in the improv community:
      – the sign-up questions were much more invasive than I’ve seen elsewhere. Also, the sensitive ones are always (IME) optional, not mandatory.
      – the amount of time spent on the pre-amble was excessive (5 minutes that also covers other issues would be typical)
      – the instructor’s concept of “punching” isn’t quite how I’ve seen it defined elsewhere. I’ve never seen students or performers “punch” at each other in those terms. I would be shocked if something like at attack by one student on another was tolerated, no matter who the two students were.

      Note that there are improv groups where the performers seem to be teasing or needling each other in various ways and those can be great scenes, but those are groups who voluntarily sought each other out to form and have (usually) been working together for a long time.

      – this theater seems to be really good at attracting female/non-white students. I haven’t been in, nor have I seen, a class of improv students with the demographics you describe (only 1 white male). One interpretation is that maybe a heavy CW/PC hand is necessary to make the theater sufficiently welcoming?

      Finally, you could consider talking with the instructor. Were I in your shoes, I’d make the following points:
      (a) I don’t want or intend to offend anyone or make them uncomfortable
      (b) I haven’t done improv before and don’t know what to expect from myself
      (c) I guess the same is true for other students
      (d) It would help to be at ease if everyone could agree to assume positive intent and to make this common information in the class (explicitly agreed by all).

      I don’t know how that will be taken. All of the improv instructors and coaches with whom I’ve worked have been wonderful, but YMMV.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        Honestly, I’d recommend going straight to (2), if only because of the sign-up questions – a fair portion of them would be downright illegal in Europe under the GDPR (and prior to that, they’d be illegal – in Poland, at least – under local personal data protection law); there is simply no good reason for an improv class provider to process such data.

        The other thing being that if someone is worried about punches going in the wrong direction, the sensible approach is to have a “no punching” rule – some topics are off the table, period. As things stand, it has more than a whiff of wanting to punch acceptable targets and there’s no benefit to be had in being the designated punching bag.

      • jgr314 says:

        Apologies, when I wrote this:

        I don’t have reasons to justify point (1).

        I meant to write:
        I don’t have time to write out my reasons to justify point (1).

        This is a cost of multi-tasking….

    • The whole point of improv class is that it’s a place where you can feel comfortable coming up with things on the spot. If you have to walk a tightrope while doing this, then there’s really no point.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      That questionnaire would already be a dealbreaker for me. The rest of the story is further evidence to consider it such…

      I’m with the folks saying just find a better group

    • John Schilling says:

      The example the instructor provided of this concept was a recent occasion when a comedian (female, white, straight) “punched sideways” at the instructor (female, white, queer) not knowing her orientation.

      Yeah, that would be the last straw for me. Given their other previously-expressed policies and warning signs, the response to “punching” at a fellow participant of any gender, race, orientation, or whatever, pretty much has to be “We are here to learn together, we do not make jokes at each others’ expense, that is what we have the entire outside world for”. Which, yes, is rather limiting as a way to learn improv comedy, because feedback from the (willing) butts of your jokes is useful, but it is at least safe.

      If the policy is instead that the group will learn in part by insulting each other, and this insult was out of line only because it wasn’t directed at an acceptable target, then the other problems become intolerable. People in this class, people not named Aftagley, will be learning comedy by insulting suitable classmates. You have been designated “insultable” by everyone else in the class, but are not yourself allowed to insult anyone in the class. Your teacher has an official scorecard that says so – she won’t show it to you, but that’s what the questionaire is for. So a big part of what you have paid for, you won’t be allowed to do, and instead you will find you have paid fro the dubious privilege of being the educational insult-target of everyone else.

      Your teacher needs to either provide a very explicit and compelling explanation as to why that isn’t going to be the case, or to refund your money.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      The instructor even went so far as to decry the concept of “punching sideways” or going after someone you think has as much power as you, because you never know if you might secretly be punching down.

      By this argument, you shouldn’t punch up, either, because you never know if you might be secretly be punching sideways or down.

      ETA: ninja’ed by lvlln

      • jermo sapiens says:

        A policy of no punching would at least be consistent, if a little boring. A policy of “punch these people but not them” is completely beyond the pale.

    • Urstoff says:

      Sounds like the least funny improv group ever. Presumably an improv class, over an above “getting your reps” and basic skills (“yes, and…”), is about exploring a wide variety of situations and dynamic and seeing what works (for you and other) and what doesn’t.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      Wow.

      As a data point, over the last five years I have taken three or four improv courses in the heart of Silicon Valley, and never experienced anything like this. The classes were usually a pretty diverse crowd, but (a) we never got lectured about “punching up/down” and (b) nobody ever made cheap jokes about race or gender.

      I can only assume you had terrible luck in your instructor.

    • Incurian says:

      Welcome to Improv. Please read from your script and do not deviate from it.

    • Ketil says:

      Perhaps it is possible to fight back with their own weapons? If you feel you are given the short end of the privilege stick (in practice, rather than in the compulsory political correctness speech), you can always undermine the jokes from others. Somebody mentioned cancer? Your mother died of cancer. Sexual or violent abuse? Your sister was abused as a child. Suicide? Your father killed himself. And so on. Drugs, sex, violence, psychiatric illness – everything can be made personal, and thus a case of ‘punching down’.

      • Aftagley says:

        1. Why? What legitimate benefit would I or anyone else get out of this? Maybe on the first one, they’d believe me, feel bad and adjust their behavior, but after two or three, I’d be (rightly) just written off as an asshole.

        2. If I get to a point where I feel like I need to do this, IE I feel so attacked that I have to wait for them to say something remotely controversial so I can capitalize on it… I’d just leave. I’d leave way before it got to that point.

    • Aapje says:

      @Aftagley

      It gives the improv class reason to kick someone out if they’re acting like a dick and if something goes wrong in class and it creates a twitter/social media backlash, the class can point to their lesson on privileged as a way of proving they’re “one of the good guys.”

      Except that this is contingent on the person who is a dick being more privileged than the person/people who want to kick them out. So in practice, this is a pro-bully environment, where ‘unprivileged’ people can bully more ‘privileged*’ people with immunity.

      * You

  15. Faza (TCM) says:

    So, Boston Dynamics launched its Spot robodog.

    I, for one, welcome our new machine overlords best friends, but I’m kinda stumped on the use cases. The company highlights some possible applications, but I can’t help but think that all of these could probably be done better and cheaper with other technologies, given that they mostly consist in putting a camera somewhere you’d want it.

    Is Spot just an expensive toy/novelty, or am I deficient in imagination?

    • Randy M says:

      but I’m kinda stumped on the use cases.

      Frankly the same applies to the humanoid robots.
      I’m watching Humans on Amazon, a show about androids and the people who love them, and I’m irritating my wife by pointing at the call center staffed by dozens of life like humanoid machines and scoffing, “You don’t need a body for that! Just software!”

      On the other hand, actual pets don’t really have use cases for the modal (I am not a robot) typical user, either. It’s a responsive body to feel affection for.

      • It makes no sense to have a humanoid robot doing something software could do, but humanoid robots could be useful for mechanical tasks, since they could go everywhere a human can, climbing ladders, and fitting into the same spaces, and using the same tools designed for human hands. Possibly there’s room for a jack of all trades machine that works with the existing environment alongside specialized machines that have totally different body plans suited to specific tasks.

        • Randy M says:

          If you were sending one on a mission where you didn’t know what to expect, maybe. But for most purposes, a specialized form will be cheaper and better.

      • Hackworth says:

        It’s important to remember that movies and TV shows are not documentaries, or try to accurately predict any real future. Storytelling has its own rules, which include being relatable to non-experts, as they make the bulk of your paying audience, and that entertainment, as all art, is subject to interpretation.

        Sure, you can go for realism, and show a server rack in an Amazon datacenter rather than a room full of physical, humanoid robots, operating physical phones with their hands, and making noises with their robot equivalent of vocal chords. But you would have to be very mindful if that image is interesting to look at, whether your audience even knows what they’re looking at, and if they do, if that’s the image you want to convey. If a director shows a future callcenter full of future robots, maybe he’s really making a point about current callcenters and current callcenter employees? Entertainment is allowed to do that.

        Disclaimer: I’ve never seen the show Humans myself.

        • AG says:

          Ghost In The Shell shows us The Major directly jacking into cyberspace…but they still have a room full of secretaries who expand to MORE FINGERS to denote hacking.

          • JPNunez says: