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Open Thread 143.75

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848 Responses to Open Thread 143.75

  1. DragonMilk says:

    Merry Christmas!

    For Christmas Eve dinner, I attempted a roast leg of lamb. The texture was fine, but the flavor…let’s just say I got too adventurous*.

    What kind of marinade do you put with your leg of lamb roast?

    *I had leftover steak marinade (soy sauce, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce), some leftover hot chilis from a chinese dish which I put as base layer, and added to it before baking more soy sauce, rosemary, garlic, and honey, with pepper to top it all off.

    • dodrian says:

      I’ve not done leg of lamb, but I wouldn’t marinade it, just rub it with salt, pepper, and maybe some rosemary/thyme.

      This year I did braised lamb shanks – seared the shanks, partially caramelized the onion and carrot, then let cook in the instant pot with garlic, vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, red wine, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, 30 minutes at high pressure with a natural release.

    • WayUpstate says:

      Have enjoyed many a leg of lamb from a neighbor farmer and didn’t marinade but did place garlic into the meat at several spots (10+ small slivers) ad rub it with salt, pepper and rosemary. It was delicious.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      If you’ve got some left, you can mellow it with sour cream or yogurt.

    • Enkidum says:

      Have had a lot of success with rosemary + salt and lamb, as well as a Chinese Muslim style rub consisting of cumin seed, hot peppers, and salt. The latter, obviously, is somewhat more “adventurous” by Western standards but it is excellent, and works very well with chicken wings as well.

    • Deiseach says:

      I tend to just roast the lamb as-is, if I’m doing it, and leaving any other flavouring to table sauces and gravy.

      Your marinade does sound a bit too much, I have to agree. Lamb tends to be a fatty meat, so you need something that will cut through the fatness. That generally means acid/sharp flavours. Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and rosemary would do; honey, peppers and chilis not really. Mint sauce is the traditional accompaniment because the freshness of the mint and the sharp acidity of the vinegar cut through the fattiness.

      If you’re trying it again, I’d advise to stick to fairly traditional recipes with herbs such as rosemary or thyme; use lemon or orange to give a citrus/acid flavour to cut through. Delia Smith’s selection of basic traditional recipes is a good way to go to give you an idea of how to approach it from Western cookery; doubtless there are Indian recipes that can advise on spices to use.

  2. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Two hour Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds concert, released for free as a Christmas gift.

    It’s not especially Christmasy, for the most part. Halloween?

    Then It occurred to me that we need a People Make Wonderful Things Day, for enjoying, promoting, and creating wonderful things. Thoughts about a date?

  3. Anatid says:

    Is giving people bednets to protect against malaria better than giving them money with which they could buy bednets if they wanted to?

    • A1987dM says:

      Is giving people money better than giving them bednets to protect against malaria which they could sell for money if they wanted to?

    • meh says:

      yes, it is more cost efficient

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Also time efficient.

        Also but one choke-point to catch systematic quality control issues.

        • Cliff says:

          Can you explain?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            1) The sheer mass of middle-men organizations that have to pop up to supply the market with the right amount of bednets to be purchased by buyers takes more time than putting in an order for 1 million bednets and then shipping them over.

            Even assuming using existing markets, you still have to hit those supply-and-demand sweet spots. Plus the market doesn’t know that there will suddenly be X number of people with Y number of extra currency demanding Z number of bednets.

            2) If you’re a do-gooder organization dedicated to eradicating malaria, there’s a good chance you’ll quality control your bednet supplier(s), if not completely dictate the manufacturing specifications.

            The free market is likely to deliver a variety of bednet solutions of a variety of qualities. And said qualities are even likely to vary from the same manufacturer as supply and demand unexpectedly ebbs and flows.

          • Cliff says:

            Those don’t seem valid to me. That’s just how markets work. You give people money and they go out and buy what they want from the market, it doesn’t take any additional time. In fact it could take a lot less time because currency transactions can be carried out pretty much immediately, while manufacturing, shipping and distributing bed nets takes time. Varying quality could be a good thing if people have various amounts of money and need for protection.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            In fact it could take a lot less time because currency transactions can be carried out pretty much immediately

            The point is to stop malaria. Not add currency to a market which is unaware that additional bednet-seeking currency will soon come to the market. See the text after your comma:

            , while manufacturing, shipping and distributing bed nets takes time.

            Varying quality could be a good thing if people have various amounts of money and need for protection.

            The point also is that they wouldn’t have varying amounts of money and need for protection, but that the bednet distribution would be appropriately targeted (subject to the normal hiccups in any endeavor involving humans), and/or they would receive just enough money to buy just the protection they needed. So any variation in quality (with a consequential price variation – which isn’t guaranteed if con-artists are first to market with bednets) is plus or minus the ideal with respect to malaria elimination.

          • Cliff says:

            I don’t really understand your comment. Giving someone money and them going to the store and buying an [orange/CD player/TV/plunger] that is already available is must faster and easier than manufacturing a bunch of [oranges/CD players/TVs/plungers] yourself and then shipping them and distributing them. Worrying that the person has too much choice or there may be con-artists selling fake TVs just seems like a bizarre concern.

      • Cliff says:

        How so?

        • meh says:

          nothing unique to bed nets, just true for anything

          • baconbits9 says:

            Only true if your metric is $ per bed net produced, and not if your metric is $ per bednet used.

          • meh says:

            @baconbits9
            why? are people more likely to use bed nets if they buy them themselves?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            If you buy something, there’s at least a chance you’re planning to use it for its intended purpose. If you’re given the bed net, you might use it for a fishing net. You might even be making a reasonable choice.

          • meh says:

            @nancy
            but am i more likely to use a bed net if given a bed net, or given money? the people who arent buying bednets dont need to return the money, so price per usage is still less for giving them nets directly.

          • Cliff says:

            I’m a little confused. You’re saying it’s a universal truth that it would be cheaper to say, make a million pounds of lettuce and give it away, than the current cost to produce lettuce for sale?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It’s cheaper per head to buy a million heads of lettuce than it is to buy one head of lettuce.

            Whether that means that it’s cheaper to buy and distribute a million bed nets than it is to let the market do it is debatable. But if your goal is to distribute a million bed nets, it’s almost certainly cheaper to do that, rather than give unencumbered money hoping they will buy bed nets.

            ETA: I think your confusion here might be related to the fact that lettuce is a commodity and bed nets aren’t.

          • meh says:

            I’m a little confused. You’re saying it’s a universal truth that it would be cheaper to say, make a million pounds of lettuce and give it away, than the current cost to produce lettuce for sale?

            I’m a little confused what you’re saying I’m saying.
            I think I’m saying the cost to distribute heads of lettuce to people is less than then the cost of distributing money to people to each buy a head of lettuce.

            I’m also saying it is cheaper per lettuce used. If i distribute $n to 10 people, maybe 7 use it to buy lettuce, because they really want it. If I distribute 10 heads of lettuce, those 7 will still eat it, maybe one extra person eats it because it is free, and maybe 2 throw it away. So overall it is cheaper per lettuce used. The only way it isn’t if is some of the 7 people who wanted to buy lettuce, no longer want lettuce that they didn’t buy. That seems not true for most cases where bed nets are concerned, but I’m sure the SSC commenters can tell my why it’s obviously false.

          • Cliff says:

            You said “it is more cost efficient” to give someone bednets than to give them money and for them to buy bednets, and that is “true for anything”. I guessed you were saying it is cheaper to make anything yourself and distribute it than it is for existing producers to make it and bring it to market, since you didn’t provide any explanation.

            the cost to distribute heads of lettuce to people is less than then the cost of distributing money to people to each buy a head of lettuce

            Why do you think that is universally true? Because you’re not taking a final markup that would otherwise be used to compensate the retailer? But you’re paying salaries to all the people who distribute and etc., right, so it’s not clear you would be any more efficient.

          • meh says:

            @Cliff
            somehow you guessed the most ridiculous explanation of the unstated assumption of how the nets would be sourced. I assume this is intentional; it is hard to believe you did not consider that they could just be purchased in bulk.

            It’s fine that you don’t like the policy of handing out bednets, but perhaps you should state your true rejection.

          • Dacyn says:

            @meh: In Cliff’s scenario presumably the retailer is also buying in bulk.

          • meh says:

            @Dacyn
            So in his scenario the retailer gets to buy in bulk, but the non profit has to manufacture things themselves?

          • Dacyn says:

            @meh: No, see “also” in my comment and “it’s not clear you would be any more efficient” in Cliff’s comment (he is not claiming that your strategy is less efficient, only that it is not obviously more efficient).

            Anyway, after thinking about it I realized the real reason I joined this conversation is because I think it is kind of rude to tell someone to “state your true rejection”: I thought Cliff was making a coherent argument and I don’t even agree with his conclusion. Maybe it would have been better for me to say that upfront rather than making object-level comments.

          • meh says:

            @Dacyn

            Maybe it would have been better for me to say that upfront rather than making object-level comments.

            Agreed. Stating your true rejection would have been better.

          • Dacyn says:

            @meh: I don’t think the concept of a true rejection really applies here. I mean, my true rejection of your statement “they could just be purchased in bulk” is what I wrote initially. It’s just that I probably wouldn’t have entered the conversation if I wasn’t also annoyed by your tone.

            Anyway, if you want to dispute my assertion that “state your true rejection” is a rude thing to say, you might want to do that directly rather than by innuendo as you seem to be doing. (I’m not denying that it’s good for people to state their true rejection, only claiming that it’s usually rude to second-guess them about this.)

          • meh says:

            Anyway, if you want to dispute my assertion that “state your true rejection” is a rude thing to say, you might want to do that directly

            I don’t think I want to dispute that it is rude, but I think it is necessary.

            I also found your accusation of rudeness quite rude. Perhaps a light suggestion to be kinder next time. (I am joking of course)

          • Dacyn says:

            @meh: It looks like we are not going to reach agreement here. I know you said you were joking, but in case I was rude, I apologize. I hope that Cliff has not been scared from the thread by now.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      To westernize this a bit:

      There’s a reason many companies have free flu-shot clinics. This greatly incentivizes a reduced flu workplace compared to giving employees any amount of money along with a “get a flu shot” recommendation.

      There’s a reason FEMA and the Red Cross distribute water, shelter, and food following disasters. People who have just suffered a serious disaster have effectively as much access to necessities as people who need money to purchase a bednet have access to bednets. It’s much easier to directly distribute and solve an issue than to do this a roundabout way.

      This line of argument could argue for direct dispensing of food instead of SNAP benefits. But there is a huge divergence in preference for food, so other than an emergency you have to overcome this preference factor when arguing for direct dispensing of food vs SNAP. There is much less of a divergence in bednets.

      • Cliff says:

        The reason employers pay for flu shots/clinics is because they want their employees to be at work instead of home sick, NOT because they are trying to maximize the welfare of their employees.

        People who have just suffered a serious disaster have effectively as much access to necessities as people who need money to purchase a bednet have access to bednets.

        Is that a fact? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if bednets were readily available for purchase in malarial countries.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          My statement was intended to be in agreement with your first paragraph.

          I don’t know what’s a fact and what’s not when it comes to malaria and bednets. However, if what’s keeping a person from buying a bednet is access to resources to get said bednet (e.g. money), then my parallel holds (it’s just more general than a straight parallel).

      • Food stamps are better than direct provisioning because the people who provision the food have an incentive to do it as efficiently as possible. The same principle would apply to disaster aid, businesses doing the distributing would have incentives that the disaster aid providers don’t. OTOH it might be easier to protect against fraud if you’re giving out food rather than cash.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Disaster aid isn’t a pre-existing market. It takes time for market effects to make markets efficient. Until all of the kinks work out not all incentives are beneficial to the recipients.

    • LGS says:

      Bed nets have large positive externalities. Hence, left to their own devices, people would buy fewer of them than is socially optimal.

      • Cliff says:

        What are the positive externalities? They substantially reduce transmission of malaria to those who do not purchase bed nets?

        • LGS says:

          Yes, because by preventing the bed net user from getting malaria, the net also prevents everyone who would’ve gotten malaria from the bed net user from getting malaria (and all those who would have gotten malaria from them, etc.)

          In fact, once a village reaches a high enough proportion of bed net users, malaria gets eliminated there as each sick person spreads it to less than one additional person on expectation. This is directly analogous to herd immunity from vaccines (vaccines also have positive externalities for this reason).

          (Of course, technically you get malaria from mosquitos, but the mosquitos get it from other humans.)

      • baconbits9 says:

        Bed nets have large positive externalities. Hence, left to their own devices, people would buy fewer of them than is socially optimal.

        This is a misunderstanding of the basic economics. Externalities only cause lower than social optimal levels if the individual benefits are lower than the costs.

        • Externalities only cause lower than social optimal levels if the individual benefits are lower than the costs.

          Both benefits and costs vary across people. If private benefit is less than social benefit (private benefit summed over all people effected), those people for whom cost is more than private benefit but less than social benefit won’t take the action but should. Unless by some chance there are no such people, fewer will take the action than should.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            those people for whom cost is more than private benefit

            Isn’t that exactly what he said?

            You just added in some points that would explain how we might get higher than socially optimal levels when we wouldn’t otherwise.

          • Dacyn says:

            @HeelBearCub: u/baconbits9 was saying “they wouldn’t necessarily buy fewer, they would only do that in certain circumstances, and otherwise would buy the same amount”. DavidFriedman said “yes but over large populations it averages out, so LGS’s statement ‘people would buy fewer’ is correct”.

            Not at all sure what you mean by “we might get higher than socially optimal levels”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Dacyn:
            Agreed I misinterpreted something. Not sure if David threw in an edit or what. I think at some point I thought he was implying something about subsidization. Maybe the word “should” was throwing me off.

            I think he is also confusing things somewhat by seemingly using two definitions of “benefit” in the same paragraph. Summed private benefit being less than summed social benefit doesn’t really matter unless those are net (of cost) benefits. Imagine a counterfactual where summed private benefit was greater than summed social benefit, but the private benefit was inversely related to social benefit. We’d end with the “wrong” people taking the action than we would like from a social perspective.

          • Dacyn says:

            @HeelBearCub: I would assume private cost and social cost are the same in this case (since it is just a monetary cost). So benefit vs net benefit would make no difference.

            The inverse correlation scenario you describe seems theoretically possible but unlikely. So it seems reasonable for DavidFriedman to ignore it in this context. Also by the way, the thing that is relevant is not anticorrelation between private and social benefit, but anticorrelation between social benefit and proximity to the threshold where net private benefit = 0, i.e. marginal purchasers having lower than average social benefit.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Both benefits and costs vary across people. If private benefit is less than social benefit (private benefit summed over all people effected), those people for whom cost is more than private benefit but less than social benefit won’t take the action but should. Unless by some chance there are no such people, fewer will take the action than should.

            If bednets are 100% effective at preventing malaria then at 100% adoption there is zero malaria and zero positive externality for bed nets. At 100% – 1 adoption there is not externality for the last person to adopt a bednet, and on the other end the first bednet user gives virtually no positive externalties to their neighbors but reaps the 100% reduction of malaria benefit.

            However the basic approach of taking the point where cost – individual benefit is >0 and cost minus (individual benefit + social benefit) is < 0 fails here because it assumes that there is no additional cost for determining that point. In the first example 100% coverage results in at least 1 wasted (from an externality pov) bednet produced. So you have an expected very narrow margin where social intervention would work, which can only be exploited** by ignoring the additional costs of implantation.

            *There are some plausible exceptions, like an person with a weak immune system who would suffer more on average from a disease but also cannot receive the vaccine due to that compromised immune system.

            ** I think there is a strong case for distributing malaria nets at near 100% rates as a charity which relies on the idea that individual benefits can be difficult/impossible to realize in some social situations. If you cannot prevent the bednet from being stolen (or it comes at high cost to do so) and that broad distribution of bednets would prevent theft then you can overcome this friction with a mass deployment.

          • baconbits9 says:

            The above also ignores opportunity cost, a good is only socially sub optimally produced if the resources it costs to produce couldn’t be put to use in a better way. At the margins the gains are likely to be small, and if there is any good produced even more sub-optimally then you are likely generating a net loss, not a net gain (no bed net put intended).

    • Anatid says:

      Thanks all for the responses. I hadn’t thought of the fact that bednets might provide positive externalities. Googling a little bit it sounds like they probably do. Also I found this GiveWell blog post defending bednets over cash transfers:

      https://blog.givewell.org/2012/05/30/giving-cash-versus-giving-bednets/

      I believe that by default, we should assume that recipients are best positioned to make their own decisions. However, I see a few reasons to think bednets can overcome this presumption:
      – The positive externalities of ITNs [insecticide-treated nets]
      – The fact that bednets protect children rather than adults
      – The fact that ITNs may be unavailable in local markets or that people may reasonably expect to be given them for free.

      Another argument I could imagine is, maybe bednets are super cost effective in terms of utility-per-dollar compared to everything else, and if you give someone $100 they will spend $5 on a bednet and then $95 on things that give less utility-per-dollar, so maybe it’s better to give 20 people a bednet each.

      I haven’t read it fully but this post also seems relevant: https://blog.givewell.org/2012/12/19/cost-effectiveness-of-nets-vs-deworming-vs-cash-transfers/

    • sty_silver says:

      According to GiveWell’s analysis the answer is a clear yes. I think GiveWell has consistently recommended GiveDirectly (which does exactly that) as one of their top charities, but it has by far the worst efficiency of anything on that list. The Against Malaria foundation was about 3 times as efficient, I think (and it wasn’t the most efficient one, that was the deworming stuff).

      It also seems quite plausible to me. I know it’s patronizing to claim that we know better what’s good for people than they do, but bed nets are very cheap, and how many people do really know that this is an efficient way to prevent malaria? And even if they knew, it also seems fairly plausible that they would take the gamble and spend it on other stuff, even if the gamble isn’t very smart.

      • I think GiveWell has consistently recommended GiveDirectly (which does exactly that) as one of their top charities, but it has by far the worst efficiency of anything on that list.

        By “efficiency” do you mean as a way of reducing mortality? That doesn’t require that we know what’s good for other people better than they do, only that reducing their mortality is not the only thing other people value.

        • sty_silver says:

          I don’t know the answer exactly – Give Well has some way of measuring things that tries to quantify something like “equivalence of one healthy human life”. Don’t quote me on that.

    • Chalid says:

      In addition to the points raised above, it is not likely that the end user is going to be able to accurately assess the effectiveness of the bed nets the free market provides. So the free market is likely to compete on things other than effectiveness, some of which are good (e.g. low cost) and some perhaps not so good (e.g. endorsements by famous celebrities).

    • hilitai says:

      Is giving people bednets to protect against malaria better than giving them money with which they could buy bednets if they wanted to?

      It seems as though you need to define “better”. If your metric of ‘better’ is “# of people with mosquito nets”, then I would think giving them the nets directly would very likely be ‘better’.

  4. johan_larson says:

    Let’s suppose that Star Trek and Star Wars never happened, meaning that on both the small screen and the big one there would be voids of a sort that could be filled by other (perhaps more deserving) SF series. What would have been some good choices to replace them?

    Off-hand, I think a timeline where Dune was a huge hit some time in the seventies would be a place worth visiting. Also, perhaps someone could have made a blockbuster out of Cherryh’s Downbelow Station in the early eighties.

    • Eric T says:

      I don’t think Dune’s lack of a good adaptation has been for lack of trying or fear that the “big” sci-fi movies would overshadow it. I think it’s been legitimately challenging to adapt on its own “merits.”

      • Clutzy says:

        Second read through of the books right now (at Dune Messiah latter half). I don’t see how this could translate to the screen right now. Its a book that is very booky.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        Star Wars is essentially Dune reinterpreted as a mainstream blockbuster. It takes away the parts that would be difficult to show on the screen (e.g. the oneiric visions) or would be too controversial (e.g. the Bene Gesserit sexual machinations, the references to real-world religions) and tells an archetypical hero’s journery story with a clearly defined black-and-white morality set in the closest thing to the same setting that Lucas could get away with without having to pay royalties.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          I don’t think there’s any evidence that Dune was an influence on Lucas. Anything intellectual came from Joseph Campbell, while the visuals and superficial plot were inspired by Flash Gordon serials and such.

        • The Nybbler says:

          That’s quite the hot take. No sand worms, no gom jabbar, no mentats. Droids and computers aplenty, however, something you won’t find in Dune thanks to the Butlerian Jihad. Not all that much even takes place on Tattooine.

    • AG says:

      I don’t think it’s obvious that the void would have been filled in by sci-fi at all. Star Wars was already aping classic adventure serials as much as it possibly could, so the “replacement” for Star Wars easily could have been a regular ol’ fantasy franchise. Star Trek is a little different, in that some of its popularity was driven by the fervor of the space race, and that wouldn’t get so easily funneled into a fantasy genre. However, it’s still fundamentally about episodic adventure, and more examples than not of alien species sporting period aesthetics. In the 90s, Stargate SG-1 wasn’t that much different from Xena/Hercules.

      So it’s going to be an adventure-focused franchise that would fill the void, nothing too high-brow. Flash Gordon, John Carter, or the first go-around of BSG (Fred Astaire was once a guest star!), and that’s only if a non-Scifi genre didn’t capture the populace’s attention first.

    • DragonMilk says:

      Foundation series!

    • I’ve been reading and rereading Cherryh’s Foreigner series, and I think they would work better than Downbelow Station and the related works.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      There’s some Heinlein think would work– at least Citizen of the Galaxy, the Puppet Masters, and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t know if you can call it a good choice, but we know what would have filled the void: Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Between Trek going off the TV screens and into syndication, and Star Wars becoming a cinema franchise blockbuster movie series, there were various re-runs of the old shows/cinema serials and modern adaptations, as well as some originals that deservedly faded into obscurity.

      Flash Gordon got the big-screen treatment, Buck Rogers got two seasons of TV, and there were shows like Lost in Space (which ran concurrently with original series Trek) and which has gotten both movie and new TV versions, as well as shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (a dearly loved show of mine, which started off in the vein of spy show near-reality SF, then decided ‘to heck with that’ and went with colour and leprechauns). God bless Irwin Allen, he did his best to single-handedly produce as much TV SF as he could, what with that, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants and the Time Tunnel.

      There was also a terrible, terrible, terrible version of Flash Gordon done in 2007 by the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was then), and when your version manages to be worse and less imaginative than the 30s original, then it’s pretty damn bad: they don’t have Hawkmen, oh no, Hawkmen are silly. They have Dactyls, who fly by… wearing big black cloaks attached to their arms and flapping their arms really hard?

      Because that is so much less silly than this (yes this is silly, but it’s silly on the operatic scale of silliness, which is how you ought to do it!)

      I think you’re also forgetting Battlestar Galactica which had aspirations of becoming the new Star Trek/Star Wars (I recall reading stories of them getting Harlan Ellison involved with the original series, which must have been fun for everyone, but he seems to have been better disposed towards the reboot) and the Stargate franchise etc. Nothing has quite managed to capture the same niche in pop culture as Trek, though.

      Dune is too much of a mess to turn into a successful movie; even for a TV mini-series you’d need a lot of cutting down and rejigging. It’s a big, meditative, sprawling book which relies on the other original volumes to come to any kind of a conclusion, and you can’t really do much with “and then the main character founded a new imperial space dynasty and his kids were really fucked-up, no I mean really” as an ending to a movie. You can either go for the spectacle, like David Lynch’s try, which results in fantastic imagery but also a lot of “what the hell is going on and why should I care about any of this?” or the 2000 miniseries which is so forgettable I didn’t even know it existed until Googling to see if any other versions had been done. To make it work as a movie, you need to chop it down to “good guy aristocrat family is opposed to Evil Space Empire, good guy dashing young lead of the family becomes involved with native rebellion on planet they are sent to oversee, this all leads into overthrowing the Evil Space Empire and establishing new democratic liberal Republic of Heaven” – sorry, got my series confused there at the end. You can’t have your good guy hero taking over the Evil Space Empire, which is how the book(s) end.

      EDIT: Wow, this is bringing me back to wander down the memory lane of bad 90s/00s TV skiffy series; V (the original, which wasn’t too bad) and the remake (which was) and Roswell (another example of 90s TV skiffy which tried to be ‘down with the youth’ and relied on casting pretty young things to emulate all the hit TV shows of the time and capture the 18-30 demographic). Smallville straddles that line; the lead was pretty but dumb, however being based on the Superman tried-and-true formula let it survive for seven seasons, helped by interesting villains. Speaking of which, its predecessor Lois & Clark was not bad at all.

      There’s also a lot of terrible 70s/80s telly skiffy which I vaguely remember seeing as a kid but can’t recall the names (and thankfully so). Some that I can remember is The Greatest American Hero which was endearing but probably ran just that little too long past the amount of content in the original concept, and ALF which was really a standard sit-com with a twist, though a throwaway line in one episode about seeing Whoopi Goldberg on Star Trek clued me in that ST: TNG was up and running (naturally our national TV station got such shows much later than first-run American stations).

      Possibly the reasons Trek and Star Wars stand out is due to Sturgeon’s Law: they’re the gold that got panned out from the dross of the other 90%.

      • woah77 says:

        Dune strikes me as a poor choice for a scifi series because it isn’t clean enough to appeal to mass audiences and reflect the source material at all. Not unless you want to go with the tragedy mentality of “either you die young, or live long enough to become the villain” type of story. To do a Dune movie that’s at all appealing you need to fade to black long before the end of the book with a climatic fight with the Evil Space Empire, and completely ignore that the Spice Must Flow. In fact, dropping “the Spice must flow” is probably the only way to do a reasonable rendition that satisfies mass appeal, because otherwise you have a story that is ripe for the current culture to enjoy: white man realizes the value of indigenous people and the diversity they bring, joining forces with them to overthrow the evil old white men, with a faction of women controlling substantial portions of society, and our hero protecting the environment from evil capitalists.

        • Cliff says:

          the only way to do a reasonable rendition that satisfies mass appeal, because otherwise you have a story that is ripe for the current culture to enjoy

          ??

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The “otherwise” refers to the plot line that he is suggesting be dropped, not the story as a whole with the plot line.

          • woah77 says:

            My otherwise is stating that all the other factors (besides keeping the spice flowing) are appealing to the current culture. By dropping the “problematic” element you allow for an enjoyable story with all the right cultural signals for people to enjoy it. You close the movie on “Riding a sandworm off into the sunset with the Harkonen HQ exploding behind the hero and his native lover who converted him” and ignore the fact that in the novel he goes on to take over Spice production.

          • Clutzy says:

            Seems to me your amended movie is a movie that appeals to no one (kinda like the star wars sequels, no one likes all 3, but without the ability to make a billion dollars because of name ID), and will enrage fans of the actual series. The only IPs that can do that and (sorta) get away with it are Star Wars, Harry Potter, DC, and Marvel.

      • nimim.k.m. says:

        Tangential: remakes and series are uninspired, but if Hollywood would be inclined to make a honest remake of the definitive Flash Gordon movie (yes, the one with Queen music), that would be a capestory for which I would give them money in exchange for an expensive movie ticket.

        Even better if they apply only absolutely necessary amount of CGI to make Hawkmen’s wings behave anything like they walked out from the 1940s comic strip.

        It would have the benefit of at the same time both making more sense and being more whimsical than the Disney’s Star Wars.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I don’t know if you can call it a good choice, but we know what would have filled the void: Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Between Trek going off the TV screens and into syndication, and Star Wars becoming a cinema franchise blockbuster movie series, there were various re-runs of the old shows/cinema serials and modern adaptations, as well as some originals that deservedly faded into obscurity.

        This.
        Anything from the original Battlestar Galactica got greenlit because Star Wars was such a big hit. Before that, Hollywood was remaking Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
        Burroughs’s Mars novels were better adventure stories than the original Buck Rogers (the print SF Armageddon 2419). How late could that have been made before “LOL Mars couldn’t support life” ruined it?

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          How late could that have been made before “LOL Mars couldn’t support life” ruined it?

          Change Earth enough and the virtue of parallel dimensions (present since at least The Twilight Zone, if not earlier) would have allowed it up to including now.

          The Confederacy positivity and Union negativity of John Carter would have made Burroughs’ works touchy during the 60s and 70s. More touchy than the cross-racial kiss in Star Trek? I don’t know, but possibly.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The Confederacy positivity and Union negativity of John Carter would have made Burroughs’ works touchy during the 60s and 70s.

            You don’t have to bring that up, because it’s just John Carter’s interior monologue. The only un-PC thing on Earth that shapes the plot is that a Virginian gets chased by bloodthirsty Native Americans.

          • Deiseach says:

            The Confederacy positivity and Union negativity of John Carter would have made Burroughs’ works touchy during the 60s and 70s.

            Possibly, and possibly not. There’s an episode of the old Wild, Wild West TV SF-Western that is really surprisingly positive towards the Confederacy, or at least old soldiers who survived its downfall; I do think there was an effort at the time to promote some kind of reconciliation along the lines of “there were people who believed they were fighting for their homes and native soil on both sides” rather than “all the evil horribleness on one side, all the good and virtue on the other”.

            Granted, today you probably wouldn’t get away with making an episode of a TV show where one of the main leads dressed up as Robert E. Lee (in the character of ‘chivalric opponent who can be regarded honorably after his defeat’) and delivered a touching speech to an old Confederate soldier on the lines of having done his duty and having been unflinchingly loyal in order to get him to peacably stand down.

    • honoredb says:

      You can see some answers to this hypothetical in the description of Darths and Droids episode 50 (follow the link at the bottom to the alternate universe version of the comic, then read the description there, then follow the link at the bottom, and so on unto many generations).

      Personally I’d like to drop in on a universe where in some kind of Springtime for Hitler scenario the Blazing Saddles spinoff series Black Bart actually made it to air and was somehow a success, so TV producers decided it was profitable and prestigious to broadcast super edgy controversial shows, and so instead of making Wagon Train In SPACE! they gave a blank check to Harlan Ellison (with Octavia Butler as an initially-uncredited junior writer) to write a dark, radical, racially-inflected sci-fi series.

  5. The Pachyderminator says:

    “Yeishu did what he believed to be right, confronted a church he believed to be corrupt, and died for it.…Yeishu died forever, and—from one perspective—he did it for the sake of honesty. Fifteen hundred years before science, religious honesty was not an oxymoron.…I severely doubt that Yeishu ever spoke the Sermon on the Mount. Nonetheless, Yeishu deserves honor. He deserves more honor than the Christians would grant him. But since Yeishu probably anticipated his soul would survive, he doesn’t deserve more honor than John Perry.”
    – Eliezer Yudowsky, Mere Messiahs

    “I loved your master perfectly
    I taught him all that he knew
    He was starving in some deep mystery
    Like a man who is sure what is true
    And I sent you to him with my guarantee
    I could teach him something new
    And I taught him how you would long for me
    No matter what he said, no matter what you’d do”
    – Leonard Cohen, Master Song

    “And while the Pharisees were assembled Jesus questioned them, saying, ‘How does it seem to you regarding the Anointed? Whose son is he?’ They say to him, ‘David’s.’ He says to them, ‘How is it then that David calls him ‘Lord’ when saying, ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit upon my right until I put your enemies beneath your feet”? If therefore David calls him ‘Lord,’ how is he his son?’ ”
    – Matthew 22:41-45, translated by David Bentley Hart

    “In the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the City of Rome; in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus, the whole world being at peace, JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and when nine months had passed since his conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man: The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.”
    Proclamation of the Birth of Christ from the Roman Martyrology

    Merry Christmas, SSC!

    • SamChevre says:

      Merry Christmas, and Happy St Stephen’s Day!link text (Link is to one of my favorite Christmas posts.)

      And now for a random question: the Christmas Proclamation before Midnight Mass was the traditional one, since it was an EF Mass.link text. What was the 6th age of the world referenced?

    • Deiseach says:

      I had no idea Eliezer Yudowsky was a Fine Gaeler! Who is John Perry? Quick Googling threw that one up as the first result, and for all I know he really does mean a Blueshirt politician.

      That bit has left me feeling like the evil spirit in Acts 19: “15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”

      • eyeballfrog says:

        From the linked article:

        John Perry was a New York City police officer who also happened to be an Extropian and transhumanist, which is how I come to know his name. John Perry was due to retire shortly and start his own law practice, when word came that a plane had slammed into the World Trade Center. He died when the north tower fell. I didn’t know John Perry personally, so I cannot attest to this of direct knowledge; but very few Extropians believe in God, and I expect that Perry was likewise an atheist.

        Yudkowsky seems to be making the strange point that believing in the existence of an afterlife makes sacrificing your life less heroic.

        • salvorhardin says:

          Why is it strange? We value sacrifices in large part because they are costly commitment signals, not only seen to be costly to others but visibly believed to be costly by the sacrificer. If you believe in an afterlife, that intuitively makes your sacrificing your life less costly by your own lights, and indeed historically belief in an afterlife has infamously made many believers more willing to more readily sacrifice their lives.

          • Zephalinda says:

            Belief in an afterlife makes it less costly to sacrifice your current life only if you feel 100% confident your personal afterlife will be great– otherwise, quite the reverse. Most mainstream Christian sects do not, to my knowledge, believe in universal salvation, so I think it’s standard to feel at least a little uncertain about the event.

          • Dacyn says:

            @Zephalinda: 100% is an exaggeration there. But yes, sufficient uncertainty could make one prefer that there were no afterlife.

          • Zephalinda says:

            @Dacyn– that’s an interesting point in individual psychology, actually.

            I don’t know enough about probability to know what to do with infinite-magnitude outcomes: if you have a 90% chance of being saved, but Heaven is infinitely good and Hell infinitely bad, is the expected value of the rest of your existence objectively positive, or objectively zero? However, the possibility of hell has always seemed to me the most subjectively salient part of the whole calculation– given how very very horrible it could be to be damned, it’s hard to imagine feeling cavalier about even a vanishingly small risk of that happening. The materialist perspective where you get to stay as long as you’re having fun, then peace out with no further repercussions, has always seemed pretty comforting by contrast. It’s interesting to consider that perhaps I’m just unusually pessimistic or cowardly, and most people find it pleasant to look forward to something after death.

          • Dacyn says:

            @Zephalinda: My guess is that while most Christians are probably worried about whether they will be damned, they wouldn’t trade their chance at heaven so that they could be sure to avoid it, unless they had some specific reason to think they would be damned. (This may just be because they think “hope is a virtue” or something.)

            Anyway, I don’t think there’s really anything to “know […] about probability” regarding infinite-magnitude outcomes: mathematically you just can’t deal with them [1]. I solve this problem by saying that expected utility calculations are only a model and sometimes the model breaks down and you have to do something else. A more committed utilitarian would probably say that this proves the utilities can’t really be infinite.

            [1] Well, in situations like “happiness/suffering occurs at a finite rate for an infinite amount of time”, you can just compare the rates instead of the total happiness/suffering itself. But if you’re just dealing with featureless infinities, then there’s nothing you can do.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            Isn’t the inability of game theory to deal with infinite costs and infinite payoffs one of the strongest arguments against Pascal’s Wager?

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Honestly, the heaven and hell narrative seems like a really obvious attempt to just outright break the human decision making process by feeding it absurd inputs.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I’m not sure how valid his point is, but it’s not really strange.

          “It’s not courage if you aren’t afraid” is an aphorism that comes to mind.

          ETA: Ninjas everywhere.

        • Cliff says:

          That seems self-evident, rather than strange

        • The Pachyderminator says:

          I’ve seen this point made by atheists before. For most martyrs, I think it’s too simplistic: it’s one thing to believe in an afterlife while accepting martyrdom, and it’s another to believe it so deeply in your gut that death doesn’t feel like death. There is something to it in the end, though: there are certain kinds of heroism that are impossible for Christians but possible to pagans or unbelievers, and someone who sacrifices their life believing that it’s their only life is certainly displaying one such.

          I have no idea how this applies to Jesus, what he believed on the cross or how he believed it. However, there’s a famous passage from Chesterton’s fence Orthodoxy that seems relevant:

          But in the terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.

        • Randy M says:

          Yudkowsky seems to be making the strange point that believing in the existence of an afterlife makes sacrificing your life less heroic.

          It also opens up the possibility of even greater heroism, though usually by sophistry, if you think some necessary action also happens to damn your immoral soul.
          It kind of presupposes a graceless God, and so doesn’t really fit well with modern Christianity, but it pops up in fiction and perhaps historically. Like the Inquisitor who believes his actions ensures salvation of his nation while damning him, or in the Seafort Saga, the protagonist breaks an oath to shoot a mutineer (iirc) which he believes causes him damnation.

        • Deiseach says:

          Well, God be good to the man, lux aeterna, but I don’t quite get the point other than perhaps “putting yourself in danger of death when you think this is the only life you have and that there is nothing after death, particularly when you’re anti-death and follow a philosophy opposed to death which is working hard to conquer death so everyone will live forever in future, means that you’re even braver, better and finer than the run of sheeple who are dumb enough to believe in immortal souls”.

          That may be harsh to Mr Yudkowsky and whatever he did or didn’t intend to say, but if you’re using the death of what sounds like a decent and honorable man who did his duty and stuck to the last when he could (presumably) have made some excuse to avoid it – if you’re using that occasion to rehash tired old warmed-over Standard Atheist Talking Point, then *suddenly remembers it is the season of goodwill, moderates language and response accordingly* feathers to you.

          This anecdote makes me respect the late Mr Perry of whom I had not previously heard, and not care tuppence what he did or didn’t believe in. ” ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

          • Dacyn says:

            In the Sequences EY’s points are rarely explicitly about religion; rather, he often uses his views on religion as examples for the points he wants to make about human psychology and so on. In this case his purpose seems to be to give an example of the halo effect: people expect courage and invulnerability to go together because they are both positive attributes, but in reality they are probably anticorrelated.

          • Milo Minderbinder says:

            The bit about the Sermon on the Mount seems harsher with the Sam Harris quote that referenced it in the original LessWrong post removed. The posts together (The Halo Effect/Superhero Bias/Mere Messiahs) actually reminded me a bit of the parable of the Widow’s Offering.

            Edit: Not a parable, my mistake. Biblical anecdote?

  6. Chevalier Mal Fet says:

    Hey, how’s everyone doing?

    I’m really glad this community exists. There are so many fascinating people that come together here in the comment threads of this little (well, not-so-little anymore) blog. I learn a lot from reading all of you and I get a kick out of some of the more-out-there arguments we have.

    I just wanted to check in and make sure everyone’s doing well. To give back a bit and be part of a community that supports one another (an Internet family, if you will. No points for guessing who the crazy aunt is). Did y’all have a good Christmas? Need to vent about anything? I’m a willing ear (well, pair of eyeballs) if you need one. So seriously: How are you doing? <3

    • Not crazy. Strong minded.

      • cassander says:

        I have an independent mind, you are eccentric, he is round the twist…

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        David, you are clearly the eccentric old uncle who roams all the parties looking for the most interesting conversation he can find.

        Then you drift away, leaving HBC hopping mad in your wake and chewing nails because why won’t that doddering old fool just listen for once in his life?

        Really, it’s delightful to watch.

    • Deiseach says:

      You’re the Charmingly Eccentric But Surprisingly Together Aunt who dispenses appropriate life wisdom and advice. I’m the Oh No She Escaped From The Attic Crazy Aunt (I would be the Drunk Aunt, but I do the vast majority of my cackling and hackles-raising stone-cold sober) 🙂

      Happy Christmastide to you all, now that we’re properly in the season. Had a good day yesterday and a pleasant day today; it’s St Stephen’s Day (for any of you feeling like emulating King Wenceslas) and Wren Day here in Ireland – an old tradition that has pretty much fallen into disuse, except for being kept up and/or revived in patches round the country. Round here it (used to be) Wren (pronounced “Ran”) Boys, in Kerry/roughly south-west to west of the country it’s Straw Boys and up North (what with the English/Scottish influence) it’s Mummers.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      CW: Huge downer but sometimes you feel like getting these things off your chest

      My father has terminal brain cancer, so can’t walk or travel and is constantly varying levels of out of it. My mother and I live in the same city as him and don’t want him to be alone, but we also need to visit my sister and her family for Christmas. So we went in shifts–she goes for actual Christmas (grandma was seen as more necessary for my niece than uncle) and I head out on New Year’s. So my Christmas was mostly hanging around the house feeling kind of bad because I hadn’t gotten much sleep the previous night (no apparent reason, just kept waking up), then getting to spend a couple hours with him where he was totally fatigued and nauseated from chemo drugs. Not exactly how I imagined spending my last Christmas with my father.

      • Randy M says:

        What does CW mean there?

        Anyway, it’s an admirable thing you’re doing and I’m not going to say I understand exactly how it effects you but you have my sympathies.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Content warning (not culture war)

          ETA: You’re a wizard ninja, HeelBearCub.

        • acymetric says:

          CW = “Content Warning”

          It is a little confusing because here we use CW for “Culture War” fairly often. Both pop up on this site fairly often, the easiest way to avoid confusion is probably just not to abbreviate it.

          In any case, for the OP, agreed very much with these sentiments. That sounds like a really difficult time, but I think it is very good that you were able to spend time with your dad for Christmas even if it was difficult.

          Edit: Ninja’d by HBC

          • Randy M says:

            Okay thanks (x2).
            Theoretically I like content warning over trigger warning because of the philosophical implications about locus of control and all that, but it’s just not as distinctive ime at this point.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Not exactly how I imagined spending my last Christmas with my father.

        Not sure if this helps or not, but do a little exercise and imagine yourself many years ago, and you are asked “Hey, if your Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer near Christmas, would you still want to spend time with him even though it wouldn’t be the best time you ever spent together, or even very pleasant time at all?”

        I think you already know the answer to that question, and you are living it. Give yourself permission to experience the weight of the moment, and don’t worry about the fact that you aren’t living a different one.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’m sorry to hear it. Having a parent dying of cancer is not a fun thing as I can testify from experience; the only upside is that in the future you will be glad you were there and stuck around for the bad parts instead of chickening out.

        It’s hard and it’ll only get harder, but if you can stick it out you will appreciate that in years to come. Commiserations to you and your family.

      • It doesn’t balance your case, but I can at least offer a happier Christmas story.

        Last summer, my wife’s brother suffered a serious stroke, serious enough so that he only came home from the hospital a few days ago. The heartening part is that, although he still has imperfect control over his body, it’s clear that mentally he is entirely there. For various parts of the past two days he was sitting in his wheelchair telling people what to do and where to find things while his sisters and their families were providing the physical part of putting together meals.

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        I’m sorry things are rough. I wish I had some words of consolation to offer that aren’t trite, but, well, most of them are. But know that you have my sympathies (and my prayers, if it matters to you – it matters to me).

  7. Clutzy says:

    To everyone that suggested me breads before:

    I have bookmarked all your breads. I have currently made two of them:

    FrankistGeorgist: Garlic Bread: 9.5/10 I loved it. It was tasty on its own, and versatile for sandwiches as well.

    salvorhardin: Citrus anise bread: I almost certainly messed this up. I don’t know how, but it was inedible.

    • SamChevre says:

      I have decades of experience figuring out “what went wrong with this bread”; if you describe the bread, I might be able to figure out what happened.

      Did it rise in the bowl? Did it rise before putting it in the oven? Did it rise more in the oven? If you look at a slice, is the texture the same top and bottom? Is the crust burnt? If so, only on the top or bottom, or on both? Is it doughy? Is it bone-dry?

      Also, I’ve posted the full recipe for the refrigerator rolls in the prior thread.

      • Ketil says:

        I have decades of experience figuring out “what went wrong with this bread”

        I struggled with bread that never seemed to bake through, the consistency in the middle would be doughy or porridgey, even after a couple of hours in the oven. I tended to associate this with putting the bread into a cold oven (thinking it would have more time to rise as the oven heats up), but it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Any ideas?

        And in general, do you have a writeup of your experiences with causes for failure? I’ve generally settled on a recipe that works for me, but would be interested in learning more.

        • SamChevre says:

          If the bread still tasted doughy, it was probably not correctly risen when put in the oven. If it felt doughy, but tasted like cooked grain (porridge-like), it was either too wet or not correctly kneaded (so it couldn’t hold air and develop the internal structure of bread), or it was too acidic (which will make the starch not cook correctly.

          If it was too wet, it should have had big holes in the part of the bread that did cook–almost English-muffin like. If it was not kneaded enough (or overkneaded, or rose and fell so many times the gluten broke), it would be heavy and wet all through. If it was too acidic (generally only a problem with very long rising, or acidic ingredients), it would have a funny texture-sort of rubbery even when cooked thoroughly.

          The best trouble-shooting guide I know is in The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book; it’s whole-wheat focused and very 1970’s, but it is incredibly clear and helpful.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      Glad to hear you liked it! Seconding it’s sandwichability. A real treat is to cut the whole round along the equator and make a huge Muffuletta out of it before slicing wedges. Great for picnics.

    • salvorhardin says:

      Sorry to hear the gibassier didn’t work for you. Was it a texture or flavor thing, or both? When I’ve made it in the past the texture has turned out somewhere between that of an ordinary yeasted bread and a muffin/scone, which I like but which may not be for everyone. I imagine overkneading might make it too tough and underkneading might make it fall apart.

      • Clutzy says:

        The texture was messed up. Really dense. Something went wrong with the rise. I’ll try it again sometime, but now that holidays are over I wont have as much time.

  8. Bobobob says:

    Scrabble game on Christmas day with the family, four players. In the course of the game, I managed (without cheating) to pick the Z, Q, X and J, yet I still managed to lose by two points.

    My stepson insists that the odds of drawing all four of these letters during a four-player game is one out of 256. That doesn’t sound right to me, especially since players pick different numbers of tiles during the game. (If you play six letters in a turn, you only draw one tile, but if you play two letters, you draw five tiles, increasing your odds of getting a high-value letter). Also, I’m not that lucky.

    Anyone have any insight into the true odds of this happening?

    • KieferO says:


      #!/usr/bin/env python3

      import sys
      import random

      def run_one():
      ....players = [0, 0, 0, 0]
      ....tiles = [1] * 4 + [0] * 96
      ....random.shuffle(tiles)
      ....for i in range(len(players)):
      ........for _ in range(7):
      ............players[i] += tiles.pop()
      ....while tiles:
      ........for i in range(len(players)):
      ............for _ in range(random.randint(1, 7)):
      ................if tiles:
      ....................players[i] += tiles.pop()
      ................else:
      ....................break
      ....return max(players)

      def main():
      ....resolution = 10000
      ....cond_count = 0
      ....for _ in range(resolution):
      ........if run_one() == 4:
      ............cond_count += 1
      ....print(resolution / cond_count)
      ....return 0

      if __name__ == '__main__':
      ....sys.exit(main())

      The answer that I got was about 1 in 70 or so. Which is more common than 1 in 256, but still not all that likely.
      The largest insight here is that it’s incorrect to do the Texas sharpshooter thing where you look around the room, note that two people have the same birthday, and then calculate the probability that at least two people in a room of 30 both have a birthday on April 25th. The second insight is that you have to make a modeling assumption about evenness in distribution of tiles between players. I’ve assumed that there is no difference in skill, and that each player with uniform probability rids themself of between 1 and 7 tiles per turn, but there are other reasonable modeling decisions that will yield different answers. Another reasonable framing that avoids modeling is “given that the distribution of tiles is kept exactly the same as the game you actually played, what is the probability that one player would draw all four of J, Q, X, and Z.” I think that more realistic modeling would likely require fully simulating a game of scrabble, or taking notes over at least a few amateur games.

      • Bobobob says:

        Awesome. Thanks for the analysis!

      • abe says:

        This estimates the probability that any player draws all four of J,Q,X,Z, doesn’t it? Plausibly you want 1/4th of this.

      • rocoulm says:

        So, I did it mathematically the best I could just for fun, and got a different result. I probably made a mistake, but I’ll post anyway in case someone can explain what’s wrong.

        The calculation depends on how many tiles you play compared to your opponents; if you play longer words on average, more tiles will pass through your hand, and the odds will go up. Assuming it averages out, though, each player will draw about 25 of the 100 tiles per game. We can calculate it as the a blind draw of 25 tiles from a bag of 100 and see how many combinations there are that contain all 4.

        Calculating the number of combinations with the binomial coefficient formula, the total number of 25-tile combinations out of the total is 100!/(25!*(100-25)!)=242519269720337121015504

        The number of combinations that contain the four tiles mentioned would be 96!/(21!*(96-21)!)=782375089917631500576

        The ratio of these is is about .3%, or one in 310 – very different from the 1-in-70 you calculated. Any idea why?

    • helloo says:

      If all players are equal, then the odds have to be 1/4 for each unique letter individually.
      Since it’s mostly independent, 1/4^4 = 1/256 is a decent approximation.
      NOTE: this is for an individual, it’s x4 for any player.
      It’s actually a bit less as it’s without replacement; you do have slightly less odds each time you draw one of those 4 given you “spent” a chance drawing one of the others (~1/330 if I’m correct).

      However, as you mentioned, if you play more letters, you draw more. (And this is ignoring the rule to skip your turn to discard and redraw)
      Additionally, the more common letters tend to allow more chances at creating longer words.
      In theory, if the game balanced “perfectly” to allow all players to get similar scores regardless of their draws, the total point value of the letters each player draws, with some additional benefit per letter (ie. ‘e’ is probably “worth” a bit more then 1), should be roughly the same.
      In that case, then having those 4 is much rarer than 1/256.

      However this assumes both that the players all have the same skill level and that the game is perfectly balanced, neither of which is likely to be true. I’m guessing you still probably played ~20 letters while this method would guess you only played ~15 letters. Assuming only 20, you’ll only have a ~1/860 chance, while 15, you’ll only have a ~1/3000 chance.

    • Buddha Buddhing Rodriguez says:

      Surely if you play six letters, you draw six tiles.

  9. TheContinentalOp says:

    My understanding of Libertarian arguments against Anti-trust are:

    (Strong) – Cartels are inherently unstable and absent gov’t coercion or monopoly, participants will cheat and bring the whole thing tumbling down

    (Weak) – It is occasionally possible for cartels to emerge, but the costs to consumers are much less than what would happen if the gov’t pursued anti-trust cases and caused increased prices by preventing benevolent consolidation

    (FU) – My company and its competitors can do whatever we want. Don’t like it? Start your own.

    So what to make of this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_price-fixing_in_Canada

    A stable (14-16 year cartel) fixing the price of a pretty common product. No fancy patents or know-how required to produce.

    Any Libertarians care to weigh in?

    • Skeptic says:

      Cournot competition with capacity constraints?

      There’s going to be times where the Game Theory outcome results in higher prices than perfect competition would.

      The real question whenever you see something like this should be: “why was the collusion stable in the medium to long run?”

      Tl;dr
      It’s not that the game theory is wrong, it’s just applying the wrong micro model to setting up the game in the first place. Also, see generic drug manufactures in the US.

      Edit for clarity:
      What would the equilibrium price be assuming Cournot comp w/ capacity constraints? If it’s roughly the same as their “collusion price” then you have the answer.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Great post!

      One possible explanation, before I read the link: loss from friction. It’s possible for a cartel to fix prices slightly higher than they otherwise would be, but not so high that it’s worth it for a cartel member to defect, or for a newcomer to try to compete, or for the state to try to break up the cartel. This can be hard for a cartel to game, because it has to spend resources figuring out how much of a price hike it can get away with. The cost of market research might be more than the revenue brought in.

      Another possible explanation: no one cares, because no one’s obviously hurting for bread. This can tie in with the first explanation. Variant: those who care, know how to make their own bread, and don’t bother with calling for lower prices.

      Third explanation: the market is small enough that other factors dominate, such as a shortage of people with actual bread business experience, or, there aren’t enough people badly affected by the prices to create the publicity needed to effect change.

      Fourth explanation: lack of information means the people with means to break the cartel aren’t aware of its existence. High bread prices might just mean costs are high, from an outsider’s perspective. There might literally be no one around who both notices that bread prices are higher than necessary, and has the capital to start their own bread business and prove it. This can tie into #3. Variant: lack of information can also affect the cartel members; it’s possible for smaller members to be unaware of the extent of the cartel, or of the potential gains of defecting. This could be further possible if prices are set by only a few people within each cartel member.

      So, now that I’ve done my best to pre-register: [reads the link]

      It’s Canada, so I think #3 is right out. The mention of the professor suggests #4 may have been in force. The price bumps were 17 cents total, which also suggests #1. This is interesting, because any one consumer might be out very little money – a few dollars over an entire year – while each cartel member makes millions. This is even harder to detect when CPI increases are public knowledge; any price increase could pass unnoticed if it’s small enough.

      Also, note that the cartel may have been effectively broken via defection by the time the state got involved: the informants were from one of the distributors, and I don’t see any reason they couldn’t have just contacted the press instead, except for (1) the Competition Bureau of Canada was there and convenient and (2) maybe it was gratifying to see some retroactive punishment. If the CBC weren’t there, though, one could imagine publicity leading to several companies’ reputations being destroyed, and their valuations dropped until their assets are bought. The article suggests the reputation hit is indeed underway.

      Pursuant to your “Weak” argument: how much does the Competition Bureau of Canada cost to operate, and how many such cartels does it detect and break up? Or more saliently, how many cartels might we expect to exist, that are deterred by the existence of the Bureau? And, how much money would those cartels be extracting from their consumers?

    • You are missing another libertarian criticism — that in practice anti-trust action can increase monopoly. One example is when concern with the mostly imaginary problem of predatory pricing makes it harder for new competitors to break into a marketplace by initially selling below cost.

      Another criticism, related to yours, is that antitrust action based on bad economics can prevent not merely beneficial consolidation but other beneficial market behavior. I discuss some of that here.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I’m curious if Paul Brinkley or DavidFriedman could weigh in on current credit card interest rate yields vis-a-vis historic Fed rates and historic default rates.

      Right now my libertarian market-inclined guess would be that they’re increasing not because of collusion, but because they’re one of the few money-making avenues left for banks that aren’t at regulatory limits, and are also fairly stable sources of income. But I thought banks had been somewhat deregulated recently.

      • SamChevre says:

        Twenty years ago, credit card companies focusing on the middle market made their money off fees (late payment and overdraft) more than interest; I don’t expect that to have changed, although not working for a card issuer I don’t have as good data.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        Re:

        current credit card interest rate yields vis-a-vis historic Fed rates and historic default rates

        I haven’t followed credit card rates, or the federal funds rate, or rates of default, so I would need a great deal of information before my opinion would be worth making.

        For instance, a quick skim brings me to an article on NerdWallet, about the importance of comparing historical credit card interest rates with the historical rate of inflation. The numbers suggest that inflation-adjusted interest rates have fallen in the last ten or so years.

        But if so, does that mean anything? Are credit card companies slimming down, competing with each other until rates barely cover costs? Or are banks subsidizing their cards with other revenue streams? Are card services consumers benefitting from competition, or are they benefitting from consumers of other bank services? Meanwhile, how easy is it for a new card to enter the market?

        To be honest, I have a hard time making a strong case either way for whether the fed funds rate is good or bad, or even whether it accomplishes what it was intended for.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      There’s actually a lot of know-how in baking and delivering bread to grocery stores across the nation the size of Canada. It’s typically a low-margin business where minor production or distribution inefficiencies can wipe out your profit. Theoretically smaller firms can make their own bread, but it’s tough to bake bread on the scale required to get dedicated shelf space in a supermarket, and distribute it reliably.

      That’s why it’s big companies that own and control this business.

      What’s interesting is that retailers were knowing and willing participants in this process, presumably because they got a slice of the pie.

      Also, I would be cautious of a few things:
      -Stable equilibrium: is it? It’s a long time to run this kind of scheme, well outside what a typical libertarian would tell you, but 15 years is not forever. When deciding national economic policy, we need to consider some far-reaching consequences, which leads too….
      -Even if the market has failed, that doesn’t mean the government can improve it. Informants revealed the issue in 2015. That was 4 years ago. Canada still hasn’t filed charges. The United States could win multiple world wars in the time to takes Canada to break up a simple bread price-fixing cartel.
      -It’s not even clear government can identify these things real-time. The Canadian government didn’t identify the issue, it responded to informants. How can the Canadian government, with all of its accountants and economists and lawyers and blah blah blah, not identify and break up a simple bread cartel? If they can’t do that, what makes you think they can identify ideal firm size and market concentration in any other market?

    • Tenacious D says:

      Other grocery staples, namely dairy products and eggs, have legal cartelization (“supply management”) in Canada. And there are only two or three major grocery chains in the country. Having a competition bureau doesn’t guarantee a lot of competition.

    • Aftagley says:

      Guess before reading the article: It’s probably going to have something to do with an incredibly small increase in price. Nobody is going to notice if all bread costs a nickle more.

      Understanding after reading the article: I was kind of right, but also the role of the supermarket here is really interesting. As far as I understand it, the supermarkets actively sought out to establish this monopoly so that they didn’t have to deal with the headache of products competing via price in their establishments. This makes a bunch of sense to me, and also makes me nervous about where else this series of incentives might align.

    • sharper13 says:

      You forgot to list the common argument “Cartels and monopolies are generally only stable when government helps enforce them.”

      I don’t know enough about retail bread regulations in Canada, but competitive entry may be somewhat limited by regulatory forces. As long as the price increases are kept fairly modest (looks like a percent or two above the increase in bread prices in the U.S. over the same time period?) there isn’t as much incentive to attract new competition into the market.

      Either way, it’s interesting that whatever the scheme was, it appears to have been publicized/broken up by one of the largest participant companies. One of the “beneficiaries” defecting might support the cartels-aren’t-stable-over-the-long term model.

  10. proyas says:

    Why aren’t there “radar goggles” that let you see radar images?

    All you would have to do is make goggles with a front-facing mm-wave radar emitter to shoot out radio waves, a sensor in the front to detect the patterns of radio waves that bounced back, and a processor to convert those data into moving images that the person would see displayed on tiny computer monitors in front of each eye.

    So what gives? How come radar goggles don’t exist?

    https://gizmodo.com/this-millimeter-wave-radar-will-give-everybody-tsa-visi-5992504

    • woah77 says:

      The first answer I can conceive of is “National Security”. The second answer is “That sounds a lot like an FCC violation”. The third answer is “Just because somebody made it in a lab doesn’t mean it’s ready for consumer usage yet.” The fourth answer is “Just because it can be done, doesn’t make it cost effective” which is really a tie in from three. Five is “small lightweight computers that can process radar fast enough that you can use them for goggles sounds like it’s still beyond what we can do” although I’m less than certain about that one. Finally, “That sounds like a huge privacy concern and I don’t want those legal for police, which they would be if they were legal for private citizens.”

      • proyas says:

        The second answer is “That sounds a lot like an FCC violation”.

        Why would it be an FCC violation? Don’t autonomous cars use mm-wave radars to see? If small radars were that disruptive, wouldn’t we have noticed by now?

        • Another Throw says:

          Because emitting mm-waves requires an FCC license, and you are literally never going to get a license for a device that can be rounded off to “x-ray specs so I can peep at the ladies’ privates.”

          But even more than that, consider your run of the mill CMOS digital camera. The sensor is intrinsically sensitive to parts of the UV that some kinds of clothing are, rumored to be, maybe, kind of… slightly less opaque to. (With the added bonus of not requiring an illuminator.) Camera manufactures are terrified of ever shipping a sensor that doesn’t include an integrated on-chip UV filter to anyone but law enforcement or the military, or as part of really expensive scientific equipment you’re not likely to haul around. This is despite the fact that, historically, UV film photography was actually pretty popular (and IIRC, insofar as you can find film at all, UV sensitive film is still readily available).

          People are really kind of weird about digital cameras, they were really weird about google glass, and this would just make them completely bonkers.

          • proyas says:

            Because emitting mm-waves requires an FCC license, and you are literally never going to get a license for a device that can be rounded off to “x-ray specs so I can peep at the ladies’ privates.”

            This FCC document says that use of the 64-71 GHz band doesn’t require a license:
            https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-340310A1.pdf

            That’s in the mm range.

            The sensor is intrinsically sensitive to parts of the UV that some kinds of clothing are, rumored to be, maybe, kind of… slightly less opaque to. (With the added bonus of not requiring an illuminator.)

            I’ve never heard of that. Googling images of “UV photographs,” people’s clothes don’t look less opaque.

          • Ransom says:

            But even more than that, consider your run of the mill CMOS digital camera. The sensor is intrinsically sensitive to parts of the UV that some kinds of clothing are, rumored to be, maybe, kind of… slightly less opaque to.

            I’m very skeptical of this. All the clothing polymers I can think of are (much) more opaque or reflective in the UV than they are in the visible. Scattering is increased at shorter wavelengths, and all organic molecules absorb strongly beginning at about 250 nm or shorter.

          • Another Throw says:

            This FCC document says that use of the 64-71 GHz band doesn’t require a license:

            Just because a frequency spectrum does not require a broadcaster’s license does not mean that the device doesn’t require one. While I am by no means an expert, glancing at the CFR, it looks like an equipment application can be denied if it doesn’t serve the public interest. This was actually what I was thinking of, but maybe I’m wrong here too.

            I’ve never heard of that. Googling images of “UV photographs,” people’s clothes don’t look less opaque.

            I should have looked it up, I was thinking of IR. I honestly always get them confused. I think Wired counts as a sufficient source for something I claimed was “rumored” when discussing a device only available to LEO.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      People have, and continue to, sue over high voltage transmission lines for health reasons. Utilities can absorb the cost of these lawsuits far better than Joe Blow down the street, or the startup that manufactured his radar goggles.

      I can avoid the TSA bodyscanning by asking for a patdown. I can’t avoid Joe Blow’s goggles without suing him and the manufacturer.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      Maybe it’s just lack of imagination on my part, but what would be the use for them? Other than mobile TSA scanners, that is. Existing night vision goggles are better suited for night vision (in those rare cases where a flashlight isn’t an option), and “being able to see what’s in people’s pockets all the time” sounds creepy and suspicious as hell so even someone with such tendencies isn’t likely to advertise them.

      • proyas says:

        The radar goggles might let you see if someone near you were carrying a concealed weapon.

        It might also let you see metal behind walls and floors.

        It would be good for lolz in the same way that all the stuff in Skymall magazine was good for lolz. People will buy it.

        • John Schilling says:

          For five thousand dollars, when it weighs over a kilogram and looks nerdier than a propeller beanie and screws up their situational awareness to the extent that they are walking into walls and failing to pick up on body-language cues from the people they are talking to?

          How many people do you know or even know of, who ever wore thermal-imaging goggles in public? Why did nobody ever design stylish user-friendly thermal-imaging goggles for public use?

          Google Glass was vastly cheaper and less intrusive, and had the potential to be more generally useful, but was a failure in the field.

        • AlexOfUrals says:

          The first one is a special case of looking in people’s pockets (and bags, to think of that), and the second – yes I understand that is a technical possibility, but I still don’t see why anyone would want to do it. Well, ok, that lets you see electronics and appliances in buildings without entering – all the more more looking like a thief or creep.

          But then again, I’ve never heard of Skymall until now so clearly I’m not the target audience.

    • broblawsky says:

      How much power would that take? Google Glass had a 5 hour battery life, and this would consume way more power, since its emitting higher-energy photons in (presumably) higher flux.

      • proyas says:

        A mini-radar device like this would need a lot of energy? Wouldn’t the radar beam require less energy than a flashlight since the former is much lower in frequency?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon_energy

        • broblawsky says:

          A) The number of photons being generated probably aren’t the same;
          B) I don’t think the efficiency of an radio-frequency antenna is as high as the efficiency of an LED/fluorescent/incandescent bulb;
          C) The antenna also has to computationally render the information it gets to create a useful picture; with a flashlight, your brain does that for free.

          That being said, I’m not an electrical engineer, so I’m really not sure about the energy cost of this kind of system.

          • proyas says:

            A) The number of photons being generated probably aren’t the same;
            B) I don’t think the efficiency of an radio-frequency antenna is as high as the efficiency of an LED/fluorescent/incandescent bulb;

            I’ve been suspecting that these are the real reasons why radar goggles don’t exist, and I was hoping someone here would be an electrical engineer so they could confirm this as the reason.

            C) The antenna also has to computationally render the information it gets to create a useful picture; with a flashlight, your brain does that for free.

            If you shine around a flashlight, then other people can see it as well, and hence they can see you. If you shine around a mm-wave radar beam, no one can see it, unless they are also wearing radar goggles.

    • MugaSofer says:

      Well, the article you linked suggests it’s the sensor, specifically the weight, that’s been an issue:

      [The goggles are] downright microscopic compared to existing millimeter wave radar systems. Conventional radar rely on bulky and expensive ceramic substrates, weighing about 11 pounds on average. The Fraunhofer is instead based on gallium arsenide semiconductor technology that shrinks the sensor’s form factor to the size of a cigarette box—including the emitter, signal processer, and antennae.

      • proyas says:

        Good catch.

        Does anyone know why a mm-wave radar emitter is so much bigger and more expensive than a flashlight?

        • John Schilling says:

          If all you want is an incoherent emitter, it isn’t larger than a flashlight and it is more expensive only because the flashlight has enough practical utility to benefit from mass production.

          For “mm-ray spectacles”, you need a coherent emitter, and you need an array of phase-sensitive receiver elements, and you need a lot of post-processing electronics, and you need the batteries to power it all, and a housing that will hold all of this together to sub-millimeter precision while being strapped to someone’s head.

    • birdmaster9000 says:

      Apart from the major reasons, many of which boil down to extreme cost associated with W-band array construction/processing and are best not detailed here, how would you prefer this information be presented to you? Would you prefer a normal 2d slice at a single range that is set and adjusted through an external control, like a slider? Maybe some eye tracking could be involved to adjust the immediately visible range based on where it estimates you are trying to look/focus. An alternative might be to just collapse all the range information and expect the user to bob and weave their head to distinguish depth, heh. Would be cool either way

      • proyas says:

        I understand why a W-band radar emitter would be expensive if you wanted a big unit to mount on a military vehicle or something, but I’m talking about a very small unit that you could mount inside of a pair of goggles. Say, something as big as Oculus Rift goggles. The radio waves would only need to be strong enough to “illuminate” objects out to 100 or 200 ft. Wouldn’t that be cheap to build?

        Why does W-band radar not convey depth/distance information, as you imply?

        • birdmaster9000 says:

          You absolutely can have cheap W-band systems, just go to TI, Infineon, NXP, etc and search for their automotive radar. You can get those automotive radars for very cheap ($200 i think?). Some are fairly low power as well, take a couple watts at full power (~12 dBm TX) including some ARM cores in the TI case. All the ones I am aware of are somewhat limited in the number of channels, among other things, that would be used for building out a coherent array for steering and generating the image presented in the goggles, like John has mentioned. Could conceivably make a similarly compact chip with more channels, but do you have the access and capital required to use the fabs like TI and Infineon do? TI probably isn’t going to spin up a set of chips for you either, unless you can promise the volume that volkswagen, daimler, etc have to offer. Without integrating into that smaller package, dealing with W-band COTS parts is gonna be hefty like mentioned above in addition to pricey and finicky.

          It would certainly have range information and I am wondering how you imagine the UX would play out, sort of what John is getting at above. Currently you establish depth with your stereo pair of squishy focusing eyes. A radar capable of steering in azimuth and elevation will produce a 3d dataset, what you could call a volumetric image. And collapsing that dataset into a 2d display for the goggles is what I am wondering about.

    • Aftagley says:

      Lack of market demand is my guess.

      Under what scenario, other than “hey look at my new cool radar goggles” would this product be useful in?

      If I want to see where I’m going at night, NVGs exist, are amazing, and have battery lives that are measured in days. If I want to be very certain about what people are carrying, I’ll just invest in fixed scanners.

    • Ransom says:

      What’s the background level for mm-wavelength photons? The blackbody radiation flux at room temp is probably pretty high for such low-energy photons.

  11. The Nybbler says:

    A Merry Christmas from the Federal Aviation Administration. They’ve decided that in light of the Boeing 737 MAX disasters, they’re going to increase oversight of aircraft manufacturers and look into potential criminal prosecution of those responsible for the MCAS deficiencies.

    Ha ha, no, of course they’d never do that. Instead, they’re concentrating on the real threat to the National Aerospace System: Model aircraft. Super-short version is they are effectively banning model aircraft flight outside the auspices of an established fixed field run by a community-based organization.

    Longer version is only slightly better. For all models over 0.55lb not flying at “an FAA-recognized identification area”, they are requiring remote identification. For models that don’t travel more than 400 feet from the control station, this means sending one’s ID, location, and time over the Internet to a “UAS Remote ID USS”. For models which DO travel that for (which is most of them), all that PLUS sending the model’s location (as well as the base station location), PLUS broadcasting from the model itself.

    They are also banning manufacture of any UAS which do not have this capability, and requiring all new UAS refuse to operate if the remote ID isn’t working. They have an exception for “amateur-built aircraft”, but “As currently proposed, amateur-built UAS would not include unmanned aircraft kits where the majority of parts of the UAS are provided to the operator as a part of the sold product.”

    They are also requiring all models be registered individually, with serial numbers.

    Why is this effectively a ban? Obviously, currently, no ground stations (transmitters) are capable of transmitting this information (they don’t even have it). Though that could presumably be rectifiied. Many areas to fly (including my own usual field, which does not qualify for their exemption) have no Internet access; this would allow only the type which _also_ broadcast from the models themselves. All models would be required to have GPS, transmitters for their remote ID protocol, and barometric altimeters (!) (almost none do, and of course this is expensive, consumes power, has weight, and takes up space.

    I’m not sure how this would apply to model aircraft kits where the airframe is sold separately from the electronics, servos, and motor; just the airframe isn’t a “UAS” or even a “UA” (a “UAS” includes the ground station). This used to be how most model helicopters were sold; the trend has been towards selling them all together in a bundle, but obviously this could change for regulatory reasons.

    (In other news, the FAA randomly shut down a model aircraft field in California despite them going through all the motions to get permission from their local airport. They were told they needed to get a Form 7711-1, but apparently this is only possible for commercial UAS under what used to be called a Section 333 exemption, not model aircraft)

    Summary

    Proposal

    • woah77 says:

      On the one hand, I totally get why one would want to regulate unmanned aircraft. That said, those who would use them for malicious purposes probably won’t be thwarted by having to build their own, making the entire ban rather moot.

      • Most people who would use UAVs for trolling aren’t going to have a lot of follow-through and drive. If they did they would find something better to do.

        • woah77 says:

          I feel as though the entire hacker community exists to prove this wrong. Or maybe they’re just the minority with the follow-through and drive. Regardless, I’m more worried about the guy who can put a gun on a UAV, or an explosive, or a molotov, or any of a dozen more dangerous things than a troll. And that guy will be able to build his own.

      • The Nybbler says:

        The FAA isn’t really worried about those using them for malicious purposes, though they put some of that in the rulemaking. It’s much simpler than that. The FAAs job is to ensure the safety of civil aviation. If the operation of a model aircraft results in any non-zero risk, however small, to civil aviation, it is the FAAs job to prevent said flight. And they take that quite seriously. There’s no other useful purpose to the Remote ID regulations; UAS are forbidden from using the system (ADS-B) by which manned aircraft could detect them.

        The main purpose is to discourage the use of recreational UAS outside fixed sites (which will be whittled away by attrition; the FAA is already slow-walking approval of fixed sites within controlled airspace, and this reg would require approval of all fixed sites) by making it unreasonably difficult and expensive to comply. The secondary purpose is to provide for an automatic fining system; there’s basically no reason for the FAA to want data on every model aircraft flight aside from issuing violations. These violations, and the risk thereof, will further discourage model aircraft flight and thus improve the safety of the civil aviation system.

        • Thomas Jorgensen says:

          The logical solution to this is to make drones smaller and crunchier. All civil air-craft are rated to survive bird-strikes, so logically, any drone which is below bird size and structural integrity is not a problem, correct? Should be possible to talk the bureacracy into setting a size and mass limit below which any drone is of less concern.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If the FAA could regulate Canada geese out of existence, they would. (And for once I’d be in accord with them)

            They do have a size and mass limit. That limit is 0.25kg, or as the FAA likes to say, about the weight of two sticks of butter. Below that and you can fly without remote ID. Unfortunately you can’t fly much, as models, at least helicopter models, that small aren’t much fun outdoors.

    • They’ve decided that in light of the Boeing 737 MAX disasters, they’re going to increase oversight of aircraft manufacturers and look into potential criminal prosecution of those responsible for the MCAS deficiencies.

      Ha ha, no, of course they’d never do that.

      Nor should they. You want to shut down technological progress? Or force it all overseas? Consider that the investigators, judge, and jury will probably be people with no engineering experience.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        Nor should they. You want to shut down technological progress?

        An aircraft that falls out of the sky because the maker retrofitted excessively large engines on an airframe designed more than 50 years ago, hacked together a software band-aid to hide its areodynamical instability and then used their clout with the captured regulator to have it certified can be called many things, but none of them is technological progress.

        • You are assuming that the only effect of a regulatory procedure instituted in response to a particular failure in the existing institutions is to prevent future versions of that failure.

          To see why that is an optimistic assumption, consider drug regulation. The effect of rules created in response to the Thalidomide case isn’t merely to prevent future equivalents. They also greatly increase the cost of bringing new medical drugs to market. Peltzman estimated that the Kefauver amendments to the Pure Food and Drug Act reduced the rate of introduction of new chemical entities roughly in half, while having no detectable effect on their average quality.

          Whether the proposed modifications to airline regulation would have a similar effect I don’t know, but one shouldn’t simply assume they wouldn’t.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Eh. Noone really wants new regulations here, it just seems like a good idea to roll the status quo back to the situation before boeing owned its regulatory apparatus lock stock and barrel. But sure, if you believe deregulation will solve that, that is fine. The logical end result is nobody buying air-frames not labeled “Built in the european union”, but you do you.

        • cassander says:

          and they did it so badly that of the hundreds of thousands of MAX flights, 2 crashed.

        • bean says:

          Anyone who believes that Boeing should have done major aerodynamic redesigns to fix a minor edge case instead of patching it with software is clearly not a working engineer. As for regulatory capture, I really wish someone had told the FAA they were captured when I was working with them, because it sure didn’t feel like that.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Anyone who believes that Boeing should have done major aerodynamic redesigns to fix a minor edge case

            I don’t think MCAS was implemented over an edge case, right? Unless you are just talking about the latest patch to MCAS?

            I also think that arguably what the did with the engine was a fairly large aerodynamic redesign? They moved the engines significantly. It’s just not as large an overall redesign as moving the wings to give the engines the ground clearance they needed.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Anyone who believes that Boeing should have done major aerodynamic redesigns to fix a minor edge case instead of patching it with software is clearly not a working engineer.

            If it was just a minor edge case they would have hooked up the second sensor, pushed a software update and the 737 max would be flying already.

            Instead no recertification is in sight and Boeing CEO was fired. And we got pieces of information like this: “The original Boeing document provided to the FAA included a description specifying a limit to how much the system could move the horizontal tail — a limit of 0.6 degrees, out of a physical maximum of just less than 5 degrees of nose-down movement.

            That limit was later increased after flight tests showed that a more powerful movement of the tail was required to avert a high-speed stall, when the plane is in danger of losing lift and spiraling down.

            One current FAA safety engineer said that every time the pilots on the Lion Air flight reset the switches on their control columns to pull the nose back up, MCAS would have kicked in again and “allowed new increments of 2.5 degrees.”

            “So once they pushed a couple of times, they were at full stop,” meaning at the full extent of the tail swivel, he said.

            Why did the MCAS had to be able to perform such large interventions if it only dealt with a minor edge case? Why did they change the switches in the cockpit so that it is no longer possible to disable autotrim (which now includes the MCAS) without also disabling electric trim?

            As for regulatory capture, I really wish someone had told the FAA they were captured when I was working with them, because it sure didn’t feel like that.

            I don’t know how long ago you were working with them, but from the same article:
            ““There was constant pressure to re-evaluate our initial decisions,” the former engineer said. “And even after we had reassessed it … there was continued discussion by management about delegating even more items down to the Boeing Company.”

            Even the work that was retained, such as reviewing technical documents provided by Boeing, was sometimes curtailed.

            “There wasn’t a complete and proper review of the documents,” the former engineer added. “Review was rushed to reach certain certification dates.””

            So, the FAA delegated most of the certification process to Boeing own engineers, who in theory should have been acting on the behalf of the FAA, but in reality were still Boeing employees and therefore subject to pressures by the company managment to expedite the process in order to meet deadlines. This looks to me like a textbook case of regulator capture.

          • bean says:

            I don’t think MCAS was implemented over an edge case, right? Unless you are just talking about the latest patch to MCAS?

            No, MCAS was implemented specifically to cover a case where the airflow around the engines in a high-angle-of-attack situation would blank the tail. This is something that should never come up if the plane is flown correctly.

            If it was just a minor edge case they would have hooked up the second sensor, pushed a software update and the 737 max would be flying already.

            And I’m certain that if this problem had occurred on a plane that survived, they would have had the patch out in a month or two. At this point, I suspect that the FAA is essentially stalling for PR purposes.

            As for how this happened, I suspect it slipped through the cracks. It was originally certified with the limitations, but when they found problems in flight test, they cranked up the MCAS authority without rechecking the certification limits.

            I don’t know how long ago you were working with them, but from the same article:

            I left that job 2.5 years ago.

            So, the FAA delegated most of the certification process to Boeing own engineers, who in theory should have been acting on the behalf of the FAA, but in reality were still Boeing employees and therefore subject to pressures by the company managment to expedite the process in order to meet deadlines. This looks to me like a textbook case of regulator capture.

            There’s a lot of legal and cultural protection for the FAA delegates. I regularly struggled with getting them to do reviews on time, because any pressure we applied to them, even to their jobs, was considered unacceptable. I once had one of them leave something critical on his desk for two weeks, making me do about two weeks of work in three days, and we couldn’t do a blind thing about it.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            As for how this happened, I suspect it slipped through the cracks. It was originally certified with the limitations, but when they found problems in flight test, they cranked up the MCAS authority without rechecking the certification limits.

            But this shows us how shoddy the certification process is. We know about the MCAS because it failed, but who knows how many differences there are between the real airplanes and what has been certified.

        • retrofitted excessively large engines on an airframe designed more than 50 years ago, hacked together a software band-aid to hide its areodynamical instability

          I work as a programmer, can testify to the fact that jerry-rigging square pegs into round holes designed decades ago for some other purpose is quite common. By all means fine the company. But if you’re going to threaten to criminally prosecute engineers for these kind of screwups, they’ll find another line of work.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Why would you criminally prosecute low-level flunkies? Those are the kinds of people you try to turn state’s witness.

          • The Nybbler says:

            But if you’re going to threaten to criminally prosecute engineers for these kind of screwups, they’ll find another line of work.

            Isn’t that what makes the licensed and certified engineers different? That they DO take that risk?

          • John Schilling says:

            A: You criminally prosecute low-level flunkies because the moral panic du jour says that you have to prosecute someone and the high-level managers all have expensive legal teams.

            B: Aircraft are not designed by “licensed” or “certified” engineers, unless by “certified” you just mean that they have a college degree. The “licensed/certified professional engineer” model applies to only a subset of engineering disciplines, not generally including aerospace engineering.

            C: If you want to change B, that’s going to be a really huge process and I predict you will screw it up badly.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Wait, wait, didn’t we just have a discussion a few OTs back about how programmers weren’t real engineers and how someone ought to make them deal with all the stuff real engineers deal with? The FAA has certifications and designations and rules for everything; surely there’s someone that signs off on an aircraft design or aircraft design modification? Maybe they’ve got good lawyers, but at least someone ought to make the lawyers earn their keep.

          • John Schilling says:

            The FAA has certifications and designations and rules for everything; surely there’s someone that signs off on an aircraft design or aircraft design modification?

            Yes on one, no on two – or at least not in the sense you are thinking of.

            Aerospace Engineering achieves high(*) levels of safety and reliability by making all of the engineers involved follow a defined process, not by making one engineer sign a piece of paper saying “I am solely responsible for this project and accept liability for any failure no matter what any of the other engineers involved may have done”. Typically there are multiple engineers and/or managers signing off on the “process has been adequately followed” paperwork.

            Either method can lead to acceptable levels of safety and reliability. Both will cause a subset of programmers to whine about slavery. Only one gives you a specific person you can easily sue and/or imprison when you are looking for a scapegoat.

            * On the “space” side, normalized by the fact that we’re still basically putting gigabuck-ish payloads in the nose cones of modified ballistic missiles with all that this implies for general explodiness.

        • John Schilling says:

          An aircraft that falls out of the sky because the maker retrofitted excessively large engines on an airframe designed more than 50 years ago, hacked together a software band-aid to hide its areodynamical instability

          The 737 MAX is not aerodynamically unstable, with or without MCAS. If you believe that it is unstable, then you need to reevaluate the credibility of your sources, because either you are being lied to or you are listening to ignoramuses. In the meantime, you are not making a useful contribution to this discussion.

          And, yes, MCAS was implemented over an edge case. The not-excessively large engines gave the MAX somewhat reduced (but still positive and adequate) aerodynamic stability in one corner of the flight envelope, a corner which a competent, attentive pilot would never experience in their flying careers. Given a choice between a fleetwide training program to teach almost definitively incompetent pilots how the new model 737s would differ from the old if you flew them in a way that no 737 should ever be flown, and a software hack to nudge pilots away from doing any of that, Boeing chose plan B. And then failed to properly document it. Uncharacteristic of Boeing’s traditional pilot-focused design philosophy, but at least understandable in a post-AF447 world.

          If the second Lion Air crew had handled the problem as well as the first, then it likely would have been fixed with a software patch to the software hack, and this would probably have prevented any MCAS-related crashes for the remainder of the life of the 737 MAX fleet. Instead, the FAA is under intense PR and political pressure to solve the problem in a way that A: Makes Boeing Suffer, and B: doesn’t look at all like a rubber-stamp approval of a simple Boeing fix. Even if there is an obvious simple fix that should be rubber-stamped.

          • Aftagley says:

            Given a choice between a fleetwide training program to teach almost definitively incompetent pilots how the new model 737s would differ from the old if you flew them in a way that no 737 should ever be flown, and a software hack to nudge pilots away from doing any of that, Boeing chose plan B.

            My existing understanding of the situation is that these accidents derived from sensor errors than from edge-case piloting behavior. Is this incorrect?

          • John Schilling says:

            MCAS was designed to protect against one type of edge-case piloting error, which should never occur in the first place. The fatal accidents were caused when a sensor failure caused MCAS to automatically engage in a completely different and inappropriate case.

            By analogy, consider a faulty anti-lock braking system. Designed for what should(*) be the rare edge case of a driver overbraking, with a sensor telling a robot to override the driver and ease off the braking. But a careless implementation and a faulty sensor could plausibly result in the system fully disengaging the brakes during normal, appropriate use.

            That’s about what happened with MCAS, if we also imagine that the emergency handbrake was only marginally adequate and poorly documented.

            * Insert rant about US driver training standards

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think they ought to be looking into how an aerospace engineering company decided it was OK to use a single sensor to control a mission-critical system. And that this ought to be much higher priority than harassing model flyers out of the sky.

    • zardoz says:

      Drones seem like they’re quickly becoming cheaper and more capable, whereas there haven’t been any big changes in model aircraft in the last few years (I think?) So I always thought that the FAA’s new rules were targeted mostly at drones, and model aircraft were just collateral damage.

      I agree that it is very frustrating. What really rubs salt in the wound is that the manned aircraft that are supposedly being protected by this are terribly bad for the environment. Propeller-driven planes even still use leaded fuel.

      • The Nybbler says:

        So I always thought that the FAA’s new rules were targeted mostly at drones, and model aircraft were just collateral damage.

        A lot of the model aircraft people thought so, too, despite abundant evidence otherwise. Some of them are still sticking their head in the sand; the AMA (Academy for Model Aeronautics) is at least pretending to be satisfied by being allowed to designate fixed sites at which remote ID is not required. They’re probably overjoyed, actually; they figure this will give them what they always wanted, which is to force modelers to join their organization (though in fact many of their affiliate clubs actually aren’t interested in new members, especially those who fly the wrong aircraft).

        But the FAA threw in a joker for them also. Not only is only the “community based organization” (of which there are none currently approved, but the AMA is most likely to become one) the only entity which can apply for a fixed location (not the field owner, not any club or user of the field, but the AMA itself), but the FAA will only accept applications for such locations within 12 months of the effective date of the regulations. After that… no new fixed locations, ever. Anyone wants to fly a model aircraft, they’ll have to live-stream their flight to the FAA to be pored over for reasons to issue a fine.

        • zardoz says:

          To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting that the model aircraft community would get off lightly. Just that the regulations were motivated by drones and not by model aircraft.

          Not only is only the “community based organization” (of which there are none currently approved, but the AMA is most likely to become one) the only entity which can apply for a fixed location (not the field owner, not any club or user of the field, but the AMA itself), but the FAA will only accept applications for such locations within 12 months of the effective date of the regulations. After that… no new fixed locations, ever.

          That is pretty awful.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Just that the regulations were motivated by drones and not by model aircraft.

            I don’t believe this is the case. I believe their destruction of the model aircraft hobby is deliberate and with malice aforethought. It’s not like they don’t know about models; the AMA _has_ been trying to talk to them, and the FAA has sent representatives to model aircraft fields and events, sometimes even without shutting them down. I don’t know if they want to eliminate models (of greater than 0.55 lb) merely because they don’t feel unmanned aircraft belong in the air, or possibly because they’re upset that someone dared challenge the registration requirements in court… and won. But either way, I’m pretty sure the damage to the hobby is intentional. The FAA could have written the rules to be less damaging, was aware they could have done this, and chose not to.

            An interesting footnote in the rulemaking:

            In addition to the ARC feedback, during the development of this NPRM, the FAA received two letters specific to remote identification of UAS, one from the Academy of Model Aeronautics and the other from the Small UAV Coalition. Both letters provided their respective organizations’ views on the policies that the FAA should propose in this rule. Neither of these letters were considered in the development of this rule. Both letters have been placed in the docket for this rulemaking.

            A more thorough bureaucratic dismissal would be hard to come by.

          • CatCube says:

            @The Nybbler

            A more thorough bureaucratic dismissal would be hard to come by.

            No, “The attached letters were considered and rejected,” would be a much more thorough bureaucratic dismissal.

            I’ve never been involved in the APA’s rulemaking process, so I don’t know: was the FAA even allowed to consider these letters at the stage they were at?

            The verbiage that you quoted seems to indicate that that they weren’t to me; that is, the letters are technically just another public comment, and they can’t be considered ahead of other public comments or a court will force them to rewrite provisions that are beneficial to those organizations because they were illegally “ahead of the line” in the rulemaking process. That’s why I surmised they stated that it was put in the docket: that’s where they are legally required to be considered, with other input from the public.

          • The Nybbler says:

            No, “The attached letters were considered and rejected,” would be a much more thorough bureaucratic dismissal.

            I suppose we’ll get that one when the rules become final. It is my understanding that the FAAs usual practice in rulemaking is to respond to public comments with explanations as to why they will not change their mind, and implement the final rule as basically the same as the proposed rule. The substantive decisions are all made behind closed doors before the NPRM is issued.

            Then you’ll continue to get to fly real airplanes with impunity, and I’ll get arrested for flying a toy without live-streaming my telemetry to the FAA. Maybe I could get a job in a Rodney Dangerfield remake.

          • ECD says:

            On the topic of ‘advance comments’, people send them in all the time, any formal response is almost always (with some exceptions not relevant here) consolidated into all the other comments, which will actually then be considered and specifically addressed (though obviously they aren’t always agreed to). I’ve seen lots of regs changed in response to comment (in fact, if you read just about any final rulemaking you’ll see a lengthy discussion of all the changes made in response to comments). Now, maybe the FAA is uniquely bad at this (I don’t know, not my area), but I will note that, on the topic under discussion they expressly say:

            The FAA solicits comment on whether the proposed 12 month deadline for applying for an FAA-recognized identification area should be extended. The responses should include
            specific reasons for why or why not the time period should be extended.

          • CatCube says:

            @The Nybbler

            Then you’ll continue to get to fly real airplanes with impunity, and I’ll get arrested for flying a toy without live-streaming my telemetry to the FAA.

            Well, first off, pilots do not get to fly “with impunity.” We have a bunch of coordination that’s required before taking off, to include checking if there are any NOTAMs active–and not knowing about a NOTAM is no excuse for busting one, even if it pops up while you’re in the air. Contact with ATC helps, because they’ll usually let you know if you’re flying towards a new one, but unless you’re IFR, they don’t have to (VFR flight following is only done on a “resources available” basis) and you’re responsible even if they don’t tell you. This is on top of compliance with all of the other rules (airspace, etc.)

            Plus, this type of requirement being rolled out has hit both commercial and general aviation many times, and is hardly some novel persecution of UAS users. The Mode C requirement was similar to this radio ID requirement: a bunch of people who had planes manufactured in (say) the ’30s stationed at airports within the new Mode C veils said that they didn’t even have electrical systems to hook the required transponders to. They got told to either figure out how to put an electrical system in their aircraft or find a new home airport at least 30 NM away. Even for those aircraft that could hook up the transponders, they still had a very large cost associated with the requirements.

            Similarly, the ADS-B requirements imposed recently are also a new cost burden. If you want to fly into anything higher than Class D, you either: 1) need to squat down and shit out thousands of dollars per aircraft, or 2) not fly in areas with radar control anymore. On pain of losing your license, too.

            We, too, have the possibility of the FAA poring over everything looking for something to ding you for. If they really want to figure out what aircraft a radar blip is, they’re probably going to find out. Generally, trying to make a reasonable effort to comply with regs is fine, so it’s not something that keeps most pilots up at night. Most of the GA rage at the FAA is pointed towards medical certification, I think.

            @ECD

            They discuss in detail the proposal starting on page 47 of this PDF. They explain the reasons for the proposed rule:

            The FAA is proposing to accept applications for FAA-recognized identification areas within 12 calendar months of the effective date of a final rule. At the end of that 12-month period, no new applications for FAA recognized identification areas would be accepted. After that date, the number of FAA-recognized identification areas could therefore only remain the same or decrease. Over time, the FAA anticipates that most UAS without remote identification will reach the end of their useful lives or be phased out. As these numbers dwindle, and as compliance with remote identification requirements becomes cheaper and easier, the number of UAS that need to operate only at FAA-recognized identification areas would likely drop significantly.

            So you can comment on doing it a different way, but you should address why your new way is better. The FAA is basically treating UAS that don’t self-identify like cars that require leaded gasoline,* where new leaded-gas-only cars are prohibited, and eventually the sale of leaded gasoline will be prohibited, but they’re trying to find a way to taper off the older models as they’re naturally replaced, rather than requiring everybody to go buy a new one.

            On that one, @The Nybbler, I’ll defer to you if the timeline is reasonable. Recall that you don’t need to have the radio ID requirements until 3 years after they finalize the rule. What’s the typical lifespan of this equipment? If they’re similar to, say, cell phones, I’d expect that a huge fraction will be phased out before any requirements for the FAA-recognized ID areas are even required.

            Plus, it seems like the radio ID requirements would be pretty simple to add to existing equipment–don’t most modern systems use packet-based commands as it is? How onerous is it to add the radio ID to the data frame that’s already there?

            *I’m aware of the leaded gas irony when discussing aircraft.

          • The Nybbler says:

            They got told to either figure out how to put an electrical system in their aircraft or find a new home airport at least 30 NM away.

            Section 91.225(e) still appears to exempt aircraft without engine-driven electrical systems from the Mode C veil ADS-B requirement (though they can’t actually enter B or C airspace)

            If they really want to figure out what aircraft a radar blip is, they’re probably going to find out.

            Yes, but that requires actual effort on the part of ATC. The internet tracking system allows for automated civil violations.

            Generally, trying to make a reasonable effort to comply with regs is fine, so it’s not something that keeps most pilots up at night.

            I _have_ heard that some GA pilots have gotten dinged based on their ADS-B-Out. Maybe ALPA will achieve its dream of having only airliners in the sky after all. In any case, I do not expect the FAA to give any similar slack to recreational UAS users, because they do not want us in the air at all.

            Recall that you don’t need to have the radio ID requirements until 3 years after they finalize the rule. What’s the typical lifespan of this equipment? If they’re similar to, say, cell phones, I’d expect that a huge fraction will be phased out before any requirements for the FAA-recognized ID areas are even required.

            The FAA claims in the NPRM they are like cell phones. This is not the case. I still fly a model I put together in 2007; to be fair it’s had just about everything on it replaced but the radio. (in fact, I built another largely from the leftover parts; that one is no longer flying however). Another model I have is from 2011, it’s mostly original. I have radio equipment older than that, that still works; my latest build is using one of those old radios, I think from 2009. And my stuff is fairly new by model standards; a lot of fixed-wing models are MUCH older.

            Plus, it seems like the radio ID requirements would be pretty simple to add to existing equipment–don’t most modern systems use packet-based commands as it is? How onerous is it to add the radio ID to the data frame that’s already there?

            There are several problems with this, some technical, some regulatory. Technically: my models (and indeed most models) are all easily capable of going more than 400 feet from the base station and it would certainly be unsafe to equip them with a radio with only a 400 foot range. So the “limited” form of Remote ID would not be appropriate. Also my preferred flying field (like many) has no internet access, which is also required for “limited” Remote ID. That means I’d need standard remote ID. That would require GPS and an altimeter on both the transmitting and receiving end. OK, so the FAA sneers and tells me to suck it up; this is technically fixable.

            That brings us to the regulatory issues. First of all, the FAA does not appear to have considered (or rather, they deliberately ignored, because they are certainly aware) the common case of several aircraft being used with the same transmitter (at different times). A UAS can only be registered as a _unit_ , which includes both the UA and the ground station. So for each of my models I’d need a separate transmitter. This is getting really expensive really fast, not to mention taking up a lot of space.

            Furthermore, they do not provide any way for an amateur to build a Remote ID compliant UAS. They allow building such from a kit include 100% of the parts, in which case the official manufacturer is the kit maker. However, if I were to attempt to retrofit my current models (e.g. by buying some sort of Remote ID equipped radio module, if such existed), _I_ would be the manufacturer. This would mean I would have to submit a declaration of compliance (Section 89.520) and have it accepted, and keep records related to it for 2 years after the destruction of the UAS. This is obviously a heavyweight process not intended for amateur use.

            Also, I would have to obtain a serial number for that model meeting ANSI/CTA-2063-A. The format of that serial number provides a 4-digit manufacturer ID, which is only available to members of the Consumer Technology Association. Membership starts at $5000/year.

            And even if I did all that, I’d still be livestreaming telemetry to the FAA if I happened to have internet access where I was flying. Not only would I have to pay some “USS” for the privilege of monitoring me, I’d be risking a big fine every time I went out, because I do not believe I can follow all the regs all the time.

    • Aftagley says:

      I feel like it’s indicative of having been on SSC too long when I read this article in WaPo this morning and my only thought was “Wow this is going to piss @The Nybbler off to no end”

      • The Nybbler says:

        Oh, there will be an end. Probably something like “shot in the back by a federal agent when running away from an illegal flying field”.

    • Lambert says:

      If they get rid of the amateur-built exception, how will they deal with the ship of theseus problem?
      For many people, an rc plane is just a transient arrangement of foam and electronics.
      And there’s no part like the lower reciever on a rifle to bear the legal ‘identity’ of the plane.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Basically that’s not their problem. One UAS, one registration, one serial number. If I were to build a heli largely from parts retired from another heli (which I’ve done), the identity goes with the new one or the old one, not both. Whether it’s considered “amateur built” is another question, but eventually one of academic interest since they intend that areas where you are permitted to fly non-RID equipped models will dwindle to zero — they’re only accepting applications for such areas for one year.

  12. Canyon Fern says:

    A poem for our lovely host.

    Oh, Scott!
    How I would love to see you stott
    Into the heavens, where you ought
    To be the King of Earthly Thought!

    Scott A!
    You’re a celeb, so tape some play
    With swallowed grapes, that wend their way
    Down your throat on their final day!

    Scott — Doc!
    Of Ginsberg’s “granite cocks” you talk
    And yet you also walk the walk:
    The finest thinkums do you hock!

    Pi Squid!
    It was on LiveJournal you hid
    Your time on there was slowly bid
    Until your labors brought a kid!

    Codex!
    Though I can’t say it outstrips sex
    I swoon to see your mind a-flex
    What will you ever think of next?

  13. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Did you know that a University of Southern California academic published a research paper claiming that most criticism of The Last Jedi came from the Kremlin, not unhappy Western viewers?
    I hate this Bizarro Cold War where everything that big business doesn’t like is the fault of the evil right-wing Russia.

    • Skeptical Wolf says:

      I did not know that, and now that I do, I wish I was surprised. The Last Jedi was obviously a magnet for “people who disagree with me do so out of political motivations and/or demographic bias, not a sincere difference of opinion”, but this is taking it to a whole new level.

      I hate this Bizarro Cold War where everything that big business doesn’t like is the fault of the evil right-wing Russia.

      If you printed this quote on a T-shirt, I would buy one.

    • k10293 says:

      I’ve glanced over the study – and this is a gross mischaracterization of its findings.

      The paper found that approximately 20% of the negative tweets they looked at were from trolls and bots, only some of which might be Russian. Another approximately 30% were from accounts that were politically active and on the right.

    • Milo Minderbinder says:

      I’m someone who isn’t on twitter and didn’t think much of TLJ (though enough to be seeing RoS in a half hour). Just read the study. It only analyzed 967 tweets, all specifically aimed at Rian Johnson. Their methodology for identifying “trolls” seems like it might be too sensitive (it was based on number of retweets and profile picture change frequency), but their bot detection methods seem reasonable. There were non-zero Russian bots/trolls, but more in the sense that alot of twitter is bots/trolls.

      I guess my criticism would be that a decent amount of the positive press/buzz was obviously manufactured. Not just in the benign(?) sense that Disney probably astroturfed the hell out of it, but also those whose politics aligned with the film supported it for symmetrical reasons to the right-wing detractors. The issue of political weaponization of cultural products/social media is important, and it’s annoying when there’s obvious bias in how it’s being analyzed.

      I hate this Bizarro Cold War where everything that big business doesn’t like is the fault of the evil right-wing Russia.

      I also want this shirt. First as tragedy, then as farce…

      • Enkidum says:

        I guess my criticism would be that a decent amount of the positive press/buzz was obviously manufactured. Not just in the benign(?) sense that Disney probably astroturfed the hell out of it, but also those whose politics aligned with the film supported it for symmetrical reasons to the right-wing detractors. The issue of political weaponization of cultural products/social media is important, and it’s annoying when there’s obvious bias in how it’s being analyzed.

        So… on the one hand, I agree with what you’re saying, mostly. On the other hand… there’s a difference between people using their media consumption as a public symbol of tribal affiliation (which is I think what you’re objecting to), and a foreign power deliberately trying to foment chaos wherever it can. If this is real, surely it matters more?

        • Milo Minderbinder says:

          Definitely. Foreign interference is way more important (though I’m of the opinion that if a Great Power isn’t trying to influence every election they can in their favor, the government isn’t doing its job).

          What I was curious about is determining how much affect (positive or negative) was in fact genuine. Surely there are forces, foreign and domestic, that are just as interested in promoting the film and its politics, and I was curious as to their overall percentage of the film’s buzz.

        • quanta413 says:

          If this is real, surely it matters more?

          Foreign interference is way more important

          I’m inclined to go the other way in this case. I highly doubt the Russians can meaningfully accomplish anything by making twitter posts or buying facebook ads. It’s like one guy pissing in a river already full of the sewage of a metropolis.

          But in terms of the opposite direction of U.S. interference in everyone else’s business, that’s probably relatively significant in a lot of countries. Especially given how much U.S. media output also invades everywhere although I think that’s mostly unrelated U.S. government methods of interference in any particular political struggle.

    • Enkidum says:

      a University of Southern California academic published a research paper claiming that most criticism of The Last Jedi came from the Kremlin, not unhappy Western viewers?

      As noted above, that’s not what it claims. But if I understand what I’ve skimmed correctly, a significant fraction of the criticism did come from bot farms, likely Russian. This is surely an important fact to understand about our current media/social landscape?

      • acymetric says:

        This is true, but (as often happens) the paper is being misconstrued pretty much everywhere it is reported on as proving that negative reviews and opinions on the movie generally are the result of trolls and Russian bots. I think from a political standpoint it is an interesting case study. I don’t think the methodology used (how they classified the tweets specifically, looking only at @rian_johnson mentions, and the ability to generalize that to other types of reviews/discourse) makes a very good case for “most criticism of Last Jedi came from Russian bots and right-wing propagandists” which is the main way I’ve seen it used anywhere it has been linked.

      • Randy M says:

        This is surely an important fact to understand about our current media/social landscape?

        I don’t know, maybe? There’s lots of opportunities for someone to tell me they like or dislike something. If some of them are foreign, if there’s an imbalance due to propaganda, maybe it has an influence somewhere one something important.

        But I think the argument has to be made that “20% of star wars critics are insincere and Russian” matters in any way. We’d have national division either way, we did before mass, let alone social, media.

        • Enkidum says:

          One of the main points of this website and the movement it’s more or less affiliated with is to encourage honest and careful discussions, and to identify barriers to those discussions happening. One of the reasons for this, at least one that appeals to me, is that there is something very important about the small-L liberal attachment to freedom of speech and open discussion – when honest discussions are had, this can be an incredibly powerful way of solving problems. And this is a huge part of why liberalism has been so successful.

          There are a large number of very clever people working for governments broadly hostile to small-L liberalism (specifically, Russia, China, India, and others) who are doing their best to poison any such discussions. And they have had no small measure of success. I really do think it’s important to note that there really IS a large-scale foreign conspiracy dedicated to destroying liberal discourse. How the hell could this not matter?

          (Although the Chinese and Indian examples I’ve seen are almost always only targeting conversations about Chinese and Indian issues. Russian trolls really are a step ahead here, just nihilistically trying to foment chaos about anything, be it a soccer player scoring an own goal or the size of an animated character’s tits.)

          Was Trump’s election solely because of Russian intervention? Obviously not (sorry to my fellow-travelers on the left). Is anyone who doesn’t like Rian Johnson movies paid by Russia? No. But in cases like The Last Jedi, or Black Lives Matter, or the representation of women in video games, it’s literally impossible to be online and not be influenced by the large proportion of the discussion which is generated by hostile foreign powers.

          This research, which is merely one among several important studies on similar issues recently, is allowing us to begin to understand how to characterize and quantify these attacks. I have no idea what the “solution” is. Perhaps liberalism is strong enough from first principles that it is auto-inoculated from such attacks. But I doubt it.

          ETA: I say “this research is important” but honestly I haven’t read the paper. It simply fits with a lot of what I have read in a similar vein. So perhaps the methodology/analysis is inappropriate, as others have suggested.

          • Randy M says:

            But in cases like The Last Jedi, or Black Lives Matter, or the representation of women in video games, it’s literally impossible to be online and not be influenced by the large proportion of the discussion which is generated by hostile foreign powers.

            But the way these hostile foreign powers influence people* is by making arguments and presenting evidence.
            To the extent that this is illogical or incorrect, it damages discourse as much as a similar volume or sincere illogical or incorrect argument.
            To the extent it isn’t, the source is irrelevant.

            *Unless we’re talking about threats, blackmail, falsifying video, etc. That’s entirely different and ought to be opposed. Though, again, it ought to be opposed no matter who is doing it, I acknowledge the method may depend on the source.

            This research, which is merely one among several important studies on similar issues recently, is allowing us to begin to understand how to characterize and quantify these attacks. I have no idea what the “solution” is.

            I fear most solutions will damage liberal discourse more than the problems.
            (edit w/o seeing responses:)
            Someone who says “Ignore criticisms of Star Wars, they’re based on Russian propaganda” is doing more harm to truth seeking than a Russian propagandist who makes a cogent argument about storytelling.
            Granted, social media and tweets @ the producer are probably not the home of cogent arguments nor truth seeking. But generally, the market-place of ideas is not reliant on the good-faith of the speaker, but the hearers to evaluate the propositions put forth judiciously.

          • Aftagley says:

            But the way these hostile foreign powers influence people is by making arguments and presenting evidence.

            Two points here:

            1. The way a hostile power would influence people on SSC is through making arguments and presenting evidence. On twitter where most of this happens, there are a bunch of other ways to influence people. Repeating an idea, working in coordination to make it look like a natural consensus is forming around ideas, actively promoting mind-killing memes, deliberately pandering to the demographic you’re trying to target all of these strategies work and are textbook plays in the propaganda handbook. Claiming that ideas online live or die solely by their merits is myopic.

            2. Even accepting that your statement true, bad ideas presented extremely well are convincing. Hitler was by all accounts a fantastic public speaker, I don’t like Trump but I still laugh at some of his jokes and I think Sean Hannity is a troll, but if I went on his show I’m 100% positive he’d be able to demolish me. People who invest a bunch of time in learning how to convince people are going to be better at convincing people than randos on the internet.

          • Enkidum says:

            But the way these hostile foreign powers influence people is by making arguments and presenting evidence.

            I mean… no? Have you read the kinds of tweets that are generally produced by these people?

            To the extent that this is illogical or incorrect, it damages discourse as much as a similar volume or sincere illogical or incorrect argument.

            I suppose that’s right, and I would argue “as much” is potentially “quite a bit”.

            I think you’re of the belief that liberalism “auto-innoculates” itself from these kind of threats? So we can simply trust that discussion will succeed in separating wheat from chaff. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, etc.

            I am much more skeptical of that position, and so, it appears, is the Russian state (and various other operators). Only certain kinds of discussions are capable of doing the work needed, and it is precisely that which is under attack.

          • Randy M says:

            I think you’re of the belief that liberalism “auto-innoculates” itself from these kind of threats? So we can simply trust that discussion will succeed in separating wheat from chaff. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, etc.

            The norms that you were appealing to were “freedom of speech” and the rationality principles of LW & SSC. Which, aiui, is built on allowing unrestricted ideas* and discerning, rational judgments thereof bringing out the truth over time.

            *a perhaps better term than free speech to exclude edge cases like threats and contentless insults.

            I dunno, there might be a bit of a motte and bailey here? When I ask for how the source of twitter memes and insults to Star Wars producers is important (vs interesting, perhaps), you retreat to notions of freedom of speech and Hitler’s charisma and all that?

            I guess it makes sense to update that since Russia is putting in the effort, it might well harm us. But I’m going to have to see some better arguments before I really worry. Especially since I can see for myself how “New star wars sucks” can be an entirely endogenous belief, without geopolitical influence coming or going.

          • Aftagley says:

            I dunno, there might be a bit of a motte and bailey here? When I ask for how the source of twitter memes and insults to Star Wars producers is important (vs interesting, perhaps), you retreat to notions of freedom of speech and Hitler’s charisma and all that?

            Yeah, even as I typed it I could feel that invoking Hitler’s charisma was probably hurting my argument, but damn it I needed a third example!

            Even so, remove him from the equation: Charisma works and can be adapted to an online environment. Sure, maybe over the long term the best idea wins out… but elections happen at fixed points in time. Actions are made not based on historical consensus, but of what people feel and thing right now.

            Especially since I can see for myself how “New star wars sucks” can be an entirely endogenous belief, without geopolitical influence coming or going.

            The allegation isn’t that Russia or whoever decided to push a narrative of “New star wars sucks.” The problem is that they see “New Star Wars sucks” and add in “Because feminism” or “Because of the liberals in Hollywood” or “because social marxism” or whatever.

            The end goal of these organizations isn’t just to help start culture wars they also want to make existing culture wars worse. Anything that makes your average red triber think the blue tribe hates america or your average blue triber think the red tribe is racist/homophobic/not worth respect is a win for these organizations.

          • Randy M says:

            The problem is that they see “New Star Wars sucks” and add in “Because feminism” or “Because of the liberals in Hollywood” or “because social marxism” or whatever.

            But either they make cogent arguments, in which case blame reality, or we’re just really gullible and ready to go for throats already, in which case blame us.

            I can see the problem of “false flag insults” kind of deal, like making it seem like native demographic group X was all a bunch of idiotic jerks by posing as them.
            After all, Americans will generalize the actions of a few loud individuals as representative of their purported group.
            (Yes, I see what I did there. I’m just not sure if it’s ironic or accurate)

          • The Nybbler says:

            The problem is that they see “New Star Wars sucks” and add in “Because feminism” or “Because of the liberals in Hollywood” or “because social marxism” or whatever.

            Unless Disney is a Russian troll organization, it wasn’t Russian trolls. “The Force is Female” did more for this view than any number of Russian trolls.

          • Enkidum says:

            But either they make cogent arguments, in which case blame reality, or we’re just really gullible and ready to go for throats already, in which case blame us.

            I mean, obviously the latter is true, and has been true of all humans, forever. That’s precisely the problem: we have very large weaknesses regarding rational thought and discussion, and there are deliberate attempts to exploit these weaknesses.

            I think maybe the crux of our disagreement is highlighted by you using the word “blame”. I’m not really out to blame anyone. Yes, in some sense there is personal responsibility of the trolls and troll farm operators, but I don’t really care that much.

            I dunno, there might be a bit of a motte and bailey here? When I ask for how the source of twitter memes and insults to Star Wars producers is important (vs interesting, perhaps), you retreat to notions of freedom of speech and Hitler’s charisma and all that?

            Again, pretty much all identifiable major fault lines in discourse of any kind are being actively attacked by Russian trolls right now, with the apparently sole purpose of widening these lines, preventing honest conversations from taking place, and making people more hostile and less trusting of each other. I don’t think this is an exaggeration.

            Star Wars is one example of this. Literally every other major point of contention that I can think of in Western society is another. I.e. everything that causes us to fight each other, to refuse to consider the other’s point of view, etc. I’m not sure what the motte/bailey issue is here? What am I trying to sneak in? I’m being pretty clear about what I think the stakes are, and I hope clear about why I think this is a lot bigger than Star Wars. The reason I’m “retreating” to freedom of speech and Hitler and so on is that, at least in my case, that’s what I think the issue actually is.

            There is an ongoing attempt to attack/weaken/destroy one of the foundational principles of liberal democracy. We can characterize and quantify certain aspects of this. It may be that this attempt is doomed to fail. Based on what I’ve seen, I very much doubt that it is, and so active countermeasures of some sort are required.

          • Randy M says:

            There is an ongoing attempt to attack/weaken/destroy one of the foundational principles of liberal democracy. We can characterize and quantify certain aspects of this. It may be that this attempt is doomed to fail. Based on what I’ve seen, I very much doubt that it is, and so active countermeasures of some sort are required.

            And I still fear that the something that must be done will be a cure worse than the disease.
            It’s not so many steps from “Russians are spreading disinformation and must be stopped” to “You are spreading Russian disinformation and must stopped”

          • Enkidum says:

            And I still fear that the something that must be done will be a cure worse than the disease.
            It’s not so many steps from “Russians are spreading disinformation and must be stopped” to “You are spreading Russian disinformation and must stopped”

            I 100% agree. That’s why I’m trying to be very clear that I don’t know what the solution is, and I’m not completely sure that one is necessary, though I suspect it is. There are all sorts of ways that a response could go horribly wrong.

            But you’ve now apparently moved to acknowledging that the Russian campaign exists and is potentially dangerous. Which I think provides the answers to all the questions you’ve been asking in this thread.

          • Randy M says:

            But you’ve now apparently moved to acknowledging that the Russian campaign exists and is potentially dangerous

            I started out believing they exist.
            I still suspect their Star Wars division is not turning a profit culturally.
            I do not believe accusing Disney or the director of feminisim is going to weaken or destroy anything in particular about liberal democracy.

          • Enkidum says:

            I do not believe accusing Disney or the director of feminisim is going to weaken or destroy anything in particular about liberal democracy.

            I mean the reason I keep moving away from Star Wars in specific is that I mostly agree. But I do think that trying to worsen every identifiable fault line is potentially going to have very negative consequences for us. And Star Wars is simply a good example of this.

            Anyways, I think we pretty much understand each other here.

          • and not be influenced by the large proportion of the discussion which is generated by hostile foreign powers.

            What is the evidence for that “large proportion?”

            My impression from what I read about Russian online activity in the 2016 election was that the total volume was tiny relative to other people’s online political activity. And I gather from other people’s comments here that the article being discussed didn’t find that most of the relevant online comments were from Russia.

          • Enkidum says:

            The figure being discussed here is approximately 20%. That seems like a large proportion to me. In the case of things like the Swedish soccer player scoring an own goal at the World Cup, the proportion of negative racist comments coming from troll farms was, I believe, well above 80%.

          • quanta413 says:

            I mean the reason I keep moving away from Star Wars in specific is that I mostly agree. But I do think that trying to worsen every identifiable fault line is potentially going to have very negative consequences for us. And Star Wars is simply a good example of this.

            This theory seems extremely unlikely to me. Breitbart is much more hateful and effective at stirring up right against left, and Vox much more hateful and effective at stirring up left against right. Not saying that’s the only content on either website, but it’s a big chunk.

            That’s not even going full crazy like InfoWars or something.

            Why should I worry more about Russian bots than about Breitbart and Vox?

          • Enkidum says:

            Why should I worry more about Russian bots than about Breitbart and Vox?

            You probably shouldn’t worry more. But “B is worse” does not mean “A is not bad”.

          • quanta413 says:

            You probably shouldn’t worry more. But “B is worse” does not mean “A is not bad”.

            Hm. Sure. But divisive media feels bad to me in the way it’s bad I might die in a car accident on the way to work. Let’s say a car accident where all the drivers were driving “reasonably” so no one was drunk or texting or had failed to keep their car in reasonable condition. For example the driver of another car has a sudden stroke despite appearing to be in good health, and I’m killed in the ensuing accident.

            It’s definitely a tragic situation that I’d like to not happen, but it’s not obvious to me that it’s a productive use of time to look for general solutions. It makes taking a train appear slightly better in comparison, but that’s about the extent of its influence on my decisions. And I end up driving anyways because the train takes 2-3 times as long to get me to work.

      • quanta413 says:

        But if I understand what I’ve skimmed correctly, a significant fraction of the criticism did come from bot farms, likely Russian.

        Why assume all potentially Russian bot farms are agents of the Russian government?

        Maybe Russia is a good place for media people to hire bots for twitter wars. Maybe Russian bot farms are run by young white men who do stuff for the lulz or whatever.

        Even if the Russian government is deploying psyops to hate on Star Wars though, I think you’re overthinking this based upon little to no evidence of any actual harm.

        • John Schilling says:

          Russia is not a free country; it is an authoritarian quasi-dictatorship, and one with enough technical sophistication to police its own internet. Russian bot farms have for the past few years attracted the interest of the United States Government. It is most unlikely that Vladimir Putin is wholly indifferent to this interest.

          QED, either Russian bot farms are de facto agents of the Russian government (perhaps paid only in lulz), or Russian bot farmers are too busy recovering from having their faces repeatedly rifle-butt-smashed to be doing any farming.

          • quanta413 says:

            I think this argument proves too much. By this criteria, any person doing something that the U.S. government dislikes and the government of Russia doesn’t try to crush is a de facto agent of the Russian government.

            But even if the Russian government paid Russian bot farmers to do political astroturfing or whatever during an election and they were his agents then (which would be the more typical definition of an agent), I don’t think that means even the same Russian bot farmers are his agents if they are doing something else he isn’t paying for (like possibly hating on a star wars movie). Much less if it’s a different set of Russian bot farmers.

            If a Russian farmer sold the Russian government wheat, but also sold other people wheat that wouldn’t mean that the Russian farmer was an agent of the Russian government. And it would tell you even less about other Russian wheat farmers.

            That the U.S. government doesn’t like Russian bot farmers but is indifferent to Russian wheat farmers seems irrelevant in terms of deciding who is a Russian government agent. The U.S. government complains about lots of things; many of which are not other government plots against the U.S. government.

    • broblawsky says:

      Does the Russian government really get anything out of increasing division over Star Wars? I don’t quite understand what the strategy here is.

      • acymetric says:

        Theoretically just stirring the culture war pot in America/instigating controversy/division generally.

        As @Enkidum mentioned, though, the claim wasn’t really that it was Russian bots/trolls (which the paper concludes were a minority of negative tweets) but that the majority were politically motivated (i.e. came from conservative people tweeting negatively because they didn’t like the politics/wokeness of the movie). I find that claim also dubious, and am skeptical of the methodology used, but it is a lot more plausible than the Russia thing.

      • Aftagley says:

        @Broblawsky:

        What you’re not getting is the nature of bureaucracy here. The Daily and the NYT both published great summaries of how these troll farms work. Basically, they are massive centers of young-ish people. They are trained up around certain geographic areas/ languages and then released onto the internet. They tend to work 12-hour shifts and have quotas for how many posts/messages they need to send and what the overarching narrative of these posts should be.

        The thing is, this kind of thing is pretty inflexible – if you’ve given a Russian the language/cultural training necessary to fold into the American political discourse in a way that isn’t immediately obvious, you can’t just throw them over to the Portuguese desk when America slows down. Furthermore, whether or not there’s anything politically significant going on, your troll-farm manager is just like any other manager, he’s going to want consistent – hopefully improving – numbers to tell his bosses.

        This is, IMO, the biggest danger of having these troll farms – young and talented people desperately trying to meet quotas means that every discussion is going to become vulnerable to this kind of manipulation, even ones that their Oligarchical Overlords presumably don’t give a shit about, just because the beurocracy they’ve create demands ever-increasing returns.

        • Enkidum says:

          What do you mean by “biggest danger”? Do you mean from the perspective of a troll farm operator (you get poor value for money) or from the perspective of us, the putative targets (everything online gets poisoned)? I’m assuming the latter, just not sure.

          • Aftagley says:

            Yeah, #2, I’m not worried about the plight of the troll farm operator over here.

            The incentive structure for the people doing this posting isn’t “what helps mother Russia the most” it’s “I need to make another 60 posts before my shift ends, lets see what’s trending and try and make it work.” That is, to me, way scarier.

          • Enkidum says:

            Right.

            It’s interesting to me, as I said above, that while troll farms are ubiquitous (obviously the CIA and others must be running similar operations of some kind targeted at Russia, etc), the pure nihilistic attacks on anything at all that will foment discord really does seem to be a Russian-specific operation (so far as I can tell given very limited knowledge). E.g. I’ve encountered Chinese wumao, but the reason they’re so easy to identify is because they’re almost only talking about Chinese-specific issues (trying to make people believe in the 9-dash line, downplaying the concentration camps in Xinjiang, etc) while pretending to be Westerners. (I wrote about one of them here.)

            There was always a large Russian component of 4Chan etc, and some of those people clearly graduated to working for whatever organizations are working on these campaigns, and managed to convince their superiors that a general attack on any discourse at all was worth investing in.

            ETA: To maybe be clearer, I think the Russian strategy is more deliberate than you do. “Attack anything at all” is a feature, not a bug, from their perspective e.

        • Ketil says:

          Basically, they are massive centers of young-ish people. They are trained up around certain geographic areas/ languages and then released onto the internet.

          The Soviets may have lost the cold war, but they are making great progress towards ending American hegemony by being really annoying to millennials on Twitter. Sic transit gloria mundi.

          • Enkidum says:

            This, but unironically.

          • CatCube says:

            The sarcasm is totally appropriate. This isn’t new. This is the kind of thing the Russians have been doing since Dzerzhinsky was wandering the halls of the Lubyanka.

            This is actually weak sauce compared to the kinds of things the Russians used to get up to. They funded and trained a part of the IRA, probably originated the conspiracy theory about the US Government creating AIDS, and probably were the main impetus behind both the moon landing and JFK assassination conspiracy theories (this is mentioned in passing in Bulgosi’s Reclaiming History, but it’s at home and I’m traveling, and I don’t recall exactly how much evidence he gives for this.) They were working to wind up left-wing groups during the Vietnam War to fight the US war effort, too. Spreading hate and discontent is just what the KGB and its follow-on groups do.

            Is all this bad? Absolutely. Is the modern equivalent on the bird site also bad? Also absolutely. If I could Thanos-snap my fingers and turn all of the Russian bot farmers to dust, I’d make like the backup line to a doo-wop group. However, that option isn’t available to me, and all of the ones that are available have even larger and worse follow-on effects (primarily giving an excuse for censorship, as discussed above.) Despite all of this, the Soviet Union came in second place. Excessively fretting about this now seems a little weird.

          • Enkidum says:

            Thanks for the details, I did not know these things. The book sounds interesting.

            I’m still not sure why we shouldn’t be worried. All the things you mention sound pretty bad.

          • Deiseach says:

            They funded and trained a part of the IRA

            There would be historical reasons for this on the Irish side apart from any Russian ill-intent; ask our friend An Fírinne with the James Connolly avatar to give you a quick run-down on the socialist strain in Irish revolutionary politics 🙂

          • CatCube says:

            @Deiseach

            There would be historical reasons for this on the Irish side apart from any Russian ill-intent; ask our friend An Fírinne with the James Connolly avatar to give you a quick run-down on the socialist strain in Irish revolutionary politics

            And the guy is downthread stanning for the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, so that’s still paying dividends for the Kremlin.

            Returning to the actual point of your comment, though, that does lead to the question at the heart of the OP: is any of this just Russia providing support to existing divisions, or is it creating them from whole cloth? Would there have been divisions in the IRA–which, by creating two competing organizations for independence reduce the chances for a settlement that satisfies both–without Russian interference, or did they simply provide support to a purely organic movement that would have been a going movement without it?

      • Enkidum says:

        See my comment above in response to Randy M. I think it’s very deliberately finding any “fault lines” of any kind at all, to increase polarization, distrust, and assumption that any opponents are in bad faith. In this regard Star Wars is just as important as Black Lives Matter – it’s a thing a lot of people have very different opinions about. If they can make said people trust each other less and hate each other more, they win.

    • acymetric says:

      One thing I’m confused about. The study looked at @rian_johnson tweets from December 13, 2017 to July 20, 2018. The set included 967 tweets. I assume Rian had more than 967 Twitter mentions in that 7 month period, does the paper (I don’t have an account) talk about how they selected them? I’m suspicious that the small data set may not be representative depending on how they filtered them out.

      FWIW, of the 967 they classified 206 as negative, with 44 being bots/trolls and 66 coming from accounts with conservative political posts (it is unclear if there is any overlap between the group of 44 and group of 66). Only 16 of the negative tweets were identified as Russian trolls.

    • BBA says:

      There was a now-deleted Aelkus tweet thread about a manosphere figure (I forget which precise faction) who wanted to get more attention for an upcoming talk, so he made up a feminist group to protest him on Facebook. This naturally spiraled into MRAs attacking the fake feminists and real feminists attacking the MRAs, so when he gave his talk there was a fully organic protest and a fully organic counterprotest, all made of real people who believed in their protests’ messages, despite the fact that it had been incited by a lie. At that point it didn’t matter anymore.

      The lesson is that the troll farms (whether in Russia or North Macedonia or, I dunno, Ohio) can spark a new outrage, or throw fuel on an existing one, but the reason why it works is that we already hate each other over some underlying issue. It’s common knowledge now that the Covington Catholic video was deceptively edited and posted by a foreign troll; there are other recent flamewars that I suspect were similarly artificial in origin, helped along by social media algorithms optimizing for “engagement” and clickbait operatives who somehow can still call themselves “journalists” with a straight face.

      The question is what happens when a fake controversy has real consequences. Say it’s 1917 and Franz Ferdinand shows up alive and well. Does that change anything for anyone in the trenches?

    • rot13’d for reasons:

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      “Yrg’f gel ulcrefcnpr enzzvat ntnva!” “Ulcrefcnpr enzzvat? Gung fbhaqf vaperqvoyl fghcvq.”

      “Yrg’f pnyy sbe uryc! Vg’f abg yvxr bhe nyyvrf jvyy nonaqba hf sbe ab ernfba!”

      “NPGHNYYL, Erl’f cneragntr vf RKGERZRYL vzcbegnag.”

      “Svaa/Ebfr ebznapr nep? Huu…ab.”

      Jrer NAL bs gur znva cybg guernqf sebz GYW pbagvahrq? V jbhyq arire unir cvpxrq Fgne Jnef nf n senapuvfr gung jnf evcr sbe zrgn-qrpbafgehpgvba, ohg jung qb V xabj?

    • Another Throw says:

      How much of this is because, in order to boost up his social media engagement, Rian Johnson’s publicists bought him a bunch of twitter followers from a Russian bot farm? Let’s face it, everyone remotely famous has been doing it since the dawn of social media and it has the advantage of being a far more parsimonious explanation than some sort of Kremlin backed troll campaign with no conceivable benefit.

  14. Facebook has started blocking comments that link to my web site. The complete explanation, for a comment of mine linking to an article on how to build a medieval rope bed, was “This comment goes against our Community Standards on spam.” Two other comments by other people, both containing links to my site, were also blocked.

    My guess is that they have some automated tool and it doesn’t work very well. I’ve asked for an explanation, have not yet gotten one.

  15. salvorhardin says:

    My 7 year old son is starting to get really curious about crossword puzzles, asking me about the clues when I’m doing them and demonstrating enough reasoning ability about how they work that he might be ready to start doing simpler crossword puzzles himself. Can anyone recommend books of crossword puzzles geared to kids?

    • Don P. says:

      The magazine section of my supermarket has literally dozens of crossword magazines, and I’m pretty sure you can find several aimed at kids there.

  16. Baeraad says:

    I have a theory for why intellectual conservatives (for lack of a better term) keep referring to feminism as “cultural Marxism.”

    I am here taking as a premise that the term and its implications are blatantly ridiculous. The supposed connection between Marxism and feminism seems to amount to both of them being left-wing philosophies with the stated aim of advancing egalitarianism. I recently watched a debate between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek, where the latter demanded to know just who these Marxists are that the former are always claiming runs all of contemporary leftism. Zizek, after all, is an actual Marxist, and would know better than anyone that that’s a very lonely thing to be in this day and age. This was the only time I’ve ever seen Peterson squirm, as he sputtered that, er, he couldn’t think of one off-hand, but there were definitely tons of them!

    Uncharitably, one might be tempted to think that the real reason is that the word “feminism” still has a ring of righteousness to it, while the word “Marxism” has all sorts of useful negative baggage that intellectual conservatives would love to tar their enemies with. But somewhat more (but still not one heck of a lot more) charitably, I think that intellectual conservatives are just idealogically opposed to the notion that it is possible for an idea, especially an idea with which they disagree, to emerge organically.

    Leftists are often accused of thinking that things just happen. That wealth just sort of naturally appears, without needing to be worked for. That history just unfolds on its own, without the need for great men and heroic stands. And, yes, that (a central Marxist belief, I seem to understand) ideas and philosophies are the products of the times and conditions under which they appeared, not of the brilliance of individual thinkers and philosophers. And to an extent, that’s fair. I believe that if Thomas Edison had not invented the light bulb, someone else would eventually have done it; I also believe that be that as it may, Thomas Edison was the one who did in fact do the work of inventing it. I agree that leftists are often a little quick to dismiss personal effort as just “taking advantage of what was already there,” as if “what was already there” didn’t still require thought and hard work to take advantage of – or, for that matter, as if “what was already there” would not quickly decay into nothing if the thought and hard work of individuals didn’t constantly maintain and improve on it.

    But what I sometimes see in the Jordan Petersons of the world is nothing but a polar opposite of that same fallacy – instead of dismissing thought and effort, it considers them the only reasons why anything happens at all, as if the Earth only kept spinning because of human work and ingenuity. In their worldview, nothing of consequence could ever happen naturally or organically, but only through explicit, structured effort and planning. (one easily gets the impression that Jordan Peterson halfway believes that it’s only his own white-knuckle self-discipline that keeps him functioning as a biological entity instead of collapsing into a puddle of primal ooze) So it can’t be that people took a look around and said, “hey, you know what, there are entirely too many douchey alpha males around, and they have entirely too much power.” It can’t be that people, starting from nothing but their own lived experience, thought of something all on their own – that’s like saying that someone could invent nuclear fission by banging rocks together at random! No, they simply must be building on the work of a professional thinker, or else the world makes no sense – and since Marx is the only one who had some ideas that look vaguely similar if you squint and was widely read at about the right place at the right time, they must have gotten it from him.

    Again – I consider it self-evident that popular feminism has and requires no intellectual foundation. There surely are high-brow feminist philosophers who write long, boring books justifying the things they wanted to do anyway, but they are entirely irrelevant to the sort of feminism that actually matters enough for people to argue about it. Popular feminism requires nothing beyond the following fact: Donald Trump is the President of the United States. For the sort of person who’d become a feminist, everything else follows naturally.

    I’m serious. Take a feminist, remove all her memories and dogma, and then show her a video of one of Donald Trump’s speeches. Within five minutes, she’ll have reinvented the framework of contemporary feminist thought just by articulating the visceral loathing she will feel at the amount of smirking boorishness on display. It might take some time for her to develop the finer details, I’ll grant you, but those details don’t actually matter anyway. All that is actually impactful about feminism can be derived from looking at Donald Trump and feeling that the world should be cleansed of everything that even remotely resembles… that.

    But again, or so goes my theory, conservative intellectuals can’t stand the idea that anything can emerge organically. Which is why they end up taking the frankly ludicrous position that the only reason why you’d want Trump to stop waving his dick in your face is because Marx told you that you should.

    (for the record, I am plenty hostile to feminism, because I think that in its eagerness to make the world pristinely clean of all things Trumply, it ends up effectively burning down the house to get rid of the persistent spots. I’m just saying, I need no grounding in Marxist theory to understand why they are so overzealous)

    • Snickering Citadel says:

      Wikipedia says: In contemporary usage, the term Cultural Marxism refers to a far-right antisemitic conspiracy theory which claims that the Frankfurt School is part of an ongoing academic and intellectual effort to undermine and destroy Western culture and values.According to the conspiracy theory, which emerged in the late 1990s, the Frankfurt School and other Marxist theorists were part of a conspiracy to attack Western society by undermining traditionalist conservatism and Christianity using the 1960s counterculture, multiculturalism, progressive politics and political correctness.

      This conspiracy theory is associated with American religious fundamentalists and paleoconservatives such as William S. Lind, Pat Buchanan, and Paul Weyrich; but also holds currency among the alt-right, white nationalists, Neo-Nazi organizations, and the neo-reactionary movement.

    • Ms. Morgendorffer says:

      On point : I’m really surprised to see how you, Snickering Citadel and wikipedia define cultural marxism, as from what I recalled it was coined by the lobsterman to define a kind of thought resembling postmodernism where all cultures were seen as equal axiomatically (this is obviously a very bad, quick and simple summary of what he said). Going from that to feminism or to far right antisemitic conspiracy theories is a huge wtf to me.
      Off point : I get you don’t like Trump but getting him here to say that he can be used as a generator for feminism by his sole existence as POTUS.. I’m really getting tired of it. I don’t think he’s a racist, I don’t think he’s a misogynistic pig. More than that, prior to 2016 I don’t think anybody thought he was a racist, and that most would at worst say at the time that he’s a womanizer. The ‘grab them by the pussy’ comment is fun and all, and was a part of banter captured by a hot mic, but I do believe that any heterosexual man here more than say 30 year old has a top 5 of the worst comments on girls he ever said that FAR outshine this ‘grab them by the pussy’ line.
      So, for the record: I like him and I’m really tired of the constant stream of unbased attacks on the man, his work, and the fact that he’s ‘obviously corrupt’ when he’s one of the few elected official that seem to have LOST money between the start of his campaign and today.

      • Well... says:

        I remember hearing about Cultural Marxism way before the Lobsterman rose to fame. I heard about it from John Derbyshire, whose affiliation with the all-trite is quite clear, and I’m sure he wasn’t the first to use it either.

        That said, I am surprised and skeptical to hear that the all-trite is where the term originated. To me it always seemed like something appropriated from elsewhere, though I could be wrong.

        • Randy M says:

          I definitely saw “cultural marxism” well before I saw “A- Right”. Perhaps it could be said they came from the same milieu.

        • Aapje says:

          @Well…

          ‘Cultural Marxism’ as a term was invented first by a left-wing promoter of critical theory at universities. The 1973 book in which it was coined got nominated for the National Book Award, so it presumably wasn’t too obscure at the time (although such books obviously have a limited audience).

          This revisionism where things that originate from the far-left get called inventions of the far-right is a little tiresome.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            This revisionism where things that originate from the far-left get called inventions of the far-right is a little tiresome.

            Seconded.

          • quanta413 says:

            I’d like to add to Aapje’s citation to an actual book with my memory. It’s not some obscure reference that no one outside of the field would have known.

            When I took humanities classes as gen eds in college back in the distant times of 2009-2011, it was professors and TA’s teaching classes I took who used the term “cultural marxism”. And their description of it was neutral to positive. They described it as a theoretical advance over previous Marxist ideas because in addition to studying class struggle it also considered racial struggles or gender struggles etc. And the intersection of various struggles.

          • Enkidum says:

            Huh, you learn a new thing every day.

          • spkaca says:

            Worth noting also that initially at least second-wave (i.e. 1970s) feminism emerged in large part from a Marxist milieu. This may have been more true of Britain and Italy, the countries I’m most familiar with, than in the USA. British and Italian feminists, though differing in some respects, tended to emerge from the late 60s/ early 70s New Left, in large part as a reaction to its theoretical sole focus on class, also partly in reaction to the sexism of the comrades (I recall reading one Australian feminist philosopher summarising the attitudes of her former New Left male comrades: “perhaps the most aggressively sexist male breed alive”).
            One consequence of this initial milieu was that 1970s feminism could sometimes look like Marxism with sex/ gender replacing class as the primary tool of analysis. By the mid-70s there had emerged, in both the UK and Italy, a distinction (perhaps oversimplified) between socialist feminists (who retained class as a major analytical category alongside sex/ gender; examples would be Sheila Rowbotham, Ann Oakley and I think Luisa Passerini) and radicals (who prioritised sex/ gender based analysis and relegated class to at most secondary importance, IIRC Sheila Jeffreys and Alessandra Bocchetti would be examples of this tendency).

      • Machine Interface says:

        I do believe that any heterosexual man here more than say 30 year old has a top 5 of the worst comments on girls he ever said that FAR outshine this ‘grab them by the pussy’ line.

        That you have such a low opinion of all heterosexual men does a lot to contextualise your defense of Trump.

        • hnrq says:

          Exactly, what a dreadful observation. Also, how can one say that Trump isn’t racist? There are more than plenty of evidence than he his.

          • I disagree with the “any heterosexual man” claim, since I’m male, heterosexual, over thirty, and can’t think of anything I have ever said that fits the pattern.

            But I also disagree with the claim that Trump is obviously a racist. He’s not a very nice man, and he is clearly prejudiced in favor of himself and against anyone who doesn’t support him, but what is the evidence that he is more prejudiced against blacks who are not Trump than against whites who are not Trump?

          • Aftagley says:

            @ DavidFriedman

            So, like everything else, racism as a concept is hard to prove, because it’s really, really difficult to know what’s going on inside someone’s head.

            That being said, Trump’s attitude on race almost certainly are somewhere in the spectrum of “Actively Racist” to “Maybe not Actively Racist, but sure acts that way.”

            His housing practices (denying leases to African Americans) his employment practices (Clearing his casinos of African Americans when other racists came to gamble) his political practices (the spear-head of birtherism) all paint himself as someone who actively harbors a negative perception of others based on their racial background.

            Now, I’m sure he’s absolutely fine with black people who support him; and at this point I’m sure he has a higher opinion of Ben Carson than he does of Nancy Peloci, but that doesn’t negate decades of pretty clearly judging people based on their race.

          • The Nybbler says:

            His housing practices (denying leases to African Americans)

            Settled with no admission of guilt.

            his employment practices (Clearing his casinos of African Americans when other racists came to gamble)

            This would be the case of Robert LiButti, who used various sexist, raclst and ethnic slurs to refer to Trump Plaza employees. Seems strange a racist would be employing the kind of people LiButti would be insulting.

            his political practices (the spear-head of birtherism)

            Obama birtherism is no more racist against blacks than Cruz birtherism is against Cubans or McCain birtherism is against whites.

          • acymetric says:

            Settled with no admission of guilt.

            As with almost all financial settlements. Doesn’t tell us much.

            Obama birtherism is no more racist against blacks than Cruz birtherism is against Cubans or McCain birtherism is against whites.

            Which of those are actual widespread movements with serious traction, and which are comprised of tiny fringe groups (or completely fabricated for the sake of this example)? Do you think maybe that is important?

          • The Nybbler says:

            As with almost all financial settlements. Doesn’t tell us much.

            Indeed, it does not tell us he was innocent, but it also fails to establish his guilt.

            Which of those are actual widespread movements with serious traction, and which are comprised of tiny fringe groups (or completely fabricated for the sake of this example)? Do you think maybe that is important?

            None were fabricated. I don’t think the size of the movement is important to determining how racist it is.

          • Aftagley says:

            @TheNybbler

            Settled with no admission of guilt.

            You’re conflating the fact that legally a consent decree imposes no criminal guilt or civil liability with the bizarre idea that it means the individual didn’t do what he or she was accused of.

            Let me put it to you this way: If I accused you of doing something, then we went into a back room, and then you came out and agreed to take steps to fix the thing I’d accused you of, would it be unreasonable of a bystander to assume you’d been doing what I accused you of?

            This would be the case of Robert LiButti, who used various sexist, raclst and ethnic slurs to refer to Trump Plaza employees. Seems strange a racist would be employing the kind of people LiButti would be insulting.

            Well, there’s also individuals who claim the casinos cleared out black people for Trump also. I also don’t think that hiring a certain class of people prevents accusations of bias against them when you treat them in a different way that their non-black coworkers. Mind expounding on this point?

            Obama birtherism is no more racist against blacks than Cruz birtherism is against Cubans or McCain birtherism is against whites.

            What acymetrics says for the overarching points here, but also Cruz birtherism (also peddled by Trump) is IMO anti-Canadian, not anti-Cuban.

          • The Nybbler says:

            You’re conflating the fact that legally a consent decree imposes no criminal guilt or civil liability with the bizarre idea that it means the individual didn’t do what he or she was accused of.

            No, you’re conflating the fact that legally a consent decree without an admission of guilt does not establish the innocence of the party involved with the bizarre idea that it establishes that party’s guilt. It does not. A consent decree may simply mean it was cheaper to pay that continue the court battle.

            Well, there’s also individuals who claim the casinos cleared out black people for Trump also.

            One individual makes that claim. Another — who Trump fired, which may have something to do with it — makes some claims also, though not the same claim.

          • Aftagley says:

            A consent decree may simply mean it was cheaper to pay that continue the court battle.

            Right, so we go back and look at the evidence. It was pretty well established (through testers) that white couples with identical financial histories as black couples were offered properties that the blacks were not. It has also been established that black applications were marked with the letter C, which pretty obviously indicated their colored status. It has also been alleged that numerous individuals throughout the case who worked for the Trump organization were pretty open with the company’s racial bias. Furthermore, all this happened before Trump became a mind-killer.

            makes some claims also, though not the same claim.

            Ok, so do you deny the claim’s accuracy then?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Ok, so do you deny the claim’s accuracy then?

            I have no idea. I can only say the word of one employee, whose history with Trump I have no way of judging, is very weak evidence of anything.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @DavidFriedman

            All but the worst antebellum slave owners owned blacks that they *liked*. This did not make them any less racist.

            And during and preceding the Civil War I dare say that many of those same slave owners hated the anti-slavery Northerners far more than they hated any black person (enslaved or free). This did not make them any less racist.

            The outgroup, and all that.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            [R]acism as a concept is hard to prove, because it’s really, really difficult to know what’s going on inside someone’s head.

            Given how hard it is to prove, shouldn’t we be commensurately resistant to jumping from accusation to conviction to retribution?

            As for Trump, ISTR he’s associated with several blacks over his life, including having his picture taken with them. Muhammad Ali once referred to him as “the best friend a black man could have”. He’s invited Kanye West to the White House. I recall a meeting with the Young Black Leadership Summit last year, where he called them the “future leaders of America”, to loud cheers. And he went out of his way to de-segregate his country club. To this day, IIRC, his is the only club in Florida that’s open to black membership. Does this seem like racist behavior to you? Or does it strike you as anti-racist?

            If Trump does things that seem racism at one moment and things that seem against racism on another, how do you propose to resolve them against each other? Do you want to infer net racism from having done anything racist in the past? Or net anti-racism from anything anti-racist? If either of these, why does one get primacy over the other? If neither, then what’s the tiebreaker? Net harm? Recency?

          • Dacyn says:

            @Paul Brinkley:

            To this day, IIRC, his is the only club in Florida that’s open to black membership.

            Uh, do you remember where you might have heard that? Because it seems like a fairly surprising claim. (For the record, I looked on some of the country clubs’ websites and and none of them said anything about blacks not being allowed, though I also couldn’t find them saying anything that would contradict that.)

          • Aftagley says:

            @Dacyn

            He’s mostly wrong, and what he’s right about is seriously up for debate.

            First, there are laws against excluding minorities from clubs who’s membership exceeds 400 members in Florida. These laws were on the books when Trump made Mar-A-Lago, so he couldn’t get around them the way all the other clubs do which is only let in the family members and/or close friends of your current membership who all joined when discrimination was legal.

            Second, Trump likely integrated it mostly out of spite. Basically, in the 80s/90s Trump tried to join a Waspy Palm Beach club and was rejected for being, well, Trump. This pissed him off, so he publicly denied being angry about it by claiming he didn’t want to join a club that excluded minorities (which again, all these fancy clubs definitely did).

            Later when he was forced to turn Mar-a-lago into a money-making enterprise, he tried to turn the property into a bunch of subdivisions. The same people who ran the club also ran the town and told him he couldn’t do that. So, instead, he turned the place into a private club and made the fact that it was open to anyone as A) part of the marketing campaign and B) something he could use to insult the wasps in Palm Beach who didn’t like him.

            TLDR: It’s not the only club that’s open to minorities. All clubs are technically “open” to minorities by law, he just exploited the de facto exclusionary practices of the other clubs for a nice marketing win / hammer to beat people he didn’t like.

          • Dacyn says:

            @Aftagley: Thanks, interesting. I suppose it means it is plausible that Mar-A-Lago is still the only club to have black members.

          • Aftagley says:

            I suppose it means it is plausible that Mar-A-Lago is still the only club to have black members.

            Like all boring arguments, that’s almost certainly going to come down to what you mean when you say “club” and “have black members.”

            If you count every Podunk regional golf club as a “club” then the statement is obviously false, those places will admit anyone willing to pay the $20 course fee. But there’s obviously a difference between the gilded country clubs like mar-a-lago and some small town’s 18 hole course.

            It also matters what you mean when you say “admit black people.” Augusta National (not in Florida, but emblematic of club culture) began admitting black people in 1990; two notable current African american members are former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and former NFL star Lynn Swann. If the club lets in black people, but only if they are nationally famous, does that count as being equal opportunity?

            For an example in Florida, think about Tiger Woods – he is likely a member of The Bears Club in his home town of Jupiter Florida… but does a club get to claim open membership for letting in the best golfer of our time?

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            It’s not the only club that’s open to minorities. All clubs are technically “open” to minorities by law, he just exploited the de facto exclusionary practices of the other clubs for a nice marketing win / hammer to beat people he didn’t like.

            Look at what you’re doing here. You’re taking evidence of a club that does as anti-racist does and arguing it’s not really that because of technicalities. However, you earlier assert that there are things Trump does which indicate he’s at best “Maybe not Actively Racist, but sure acts that way”.

            But again, when we go back to Mar-A-Lago’s membership policy, you seem to reject the possibility that it’s “maybe not Actively Anti-Racist, but sure acts that way”.

            What if people dig into the things Trump has done which are commonly claimed as racist, and find specific evidence he did them for other reasons? Would this, by your standards, weaken the case for Trump being racist? Or at least weaken the argument of “maybe not, but sure acts that way”?

            For example, what of all the other things I mentioned? They seem pretty blatantly anti-racist to me.

            (Side note: who, generally, does Augusta National admit? Maybe it’s just biased against non-famous people.)

          • Aapje says:

            Perhaps Trump is not so much racist or anti-racist, but simply opportunistic.

            In other words, he may implement racist policies when racist policies fill a gap in the market, but may have anti-racist policies or hire black people when that works out best for him.

          • Dacyn says:

            Like all boring arguments

            I suppose that depends on which arguments you thinks are boring 😛

            (is bored by the “Is Trump a racist?” argument, leaves thread)

          • Ransom says:

            Honestly, the effort to paint Trump as racist seems to be really strained. I attribute it to a desire by his enemies to find some way to bring the left’s main superweapon to bear on him.

          • Anthony says:

            The evidence that Trump discriminated against blacks in his housing developments is evidence against his anti-semitism. Trump’s father *did* discriminate against blacks in his developments, because he didn’t want to lose Jewish buyers, who really didn’t want to live in the same buildings as blacks. If Trump actually did discriminate against blacks, it’s probably for the same reason.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Positive racism is still racism (model minority stereotypes).

            This especially comes to light when some members of the minority do something that the positive racist dislikes. See the discussion on objectification elsewhere in this OT.

        • GearRatio says:

          I think about how this statement is treated by both sides a lot, and I think there’s a truth in between the extreme positions on both sides that’s hard to get to for both sides. I’m willing to make myself look bad to articulate it as best I can:

          Where the defense is clearly wrong:

          There’s a lot in that statement besides the “grab her by” line: He’s admitting trying to sleep with a married woman; he’s admitting to offering to take her furniture shopping, but it’s a false pretense and he’s only doing it to aggressively put the moves on her; he says he “moves on her like a bitch” which is just an ugly thing to say; he says she now has “big phony tits” and has totally changed her look, more than kinda-sorta implying that this makes it unfair in some way that she hasn’t slept with him.

          Combined with the “I just start kissing them” and “grab her by the pussy” stuff, this represents him of thinking of women as sexual objects to have sex with with not much value besides that. It’s not a nice look.

          I do think that if we are being honest and not trying to make absolutely sure that it’s evident there’s contrast between us and Trump, some/most/all men have this “women are sex things” reflex in them. It’s easy and automatic to see an attractive woman and view her only as a sexual object; something like “look at that thing over there; I’d like to have sex with it”. But this isn’t a noble reflex. At the least it’s not noble if it isn’t tempered by humanity a huge amount.

          Most good people with high male sex drive spend a lot of time resisting it and understanding that despite the fact they’d like to have sex quite a bit, that women are also people and equals and have value equal to men, that the “they are sex things” is an important animal impulse but that we are supposed to be more than our animal reflexes. Not doing this is ugly and bad; fully leaning into “women should have sex with me, that’s their purpose and they have no value besides that” is incel stuff.

          I think that ignoring the ugliness of the statement as a whole, even out of context and in isolation, is a unjustifiable stretch.

          Where the prosecution is clearly wrong:

          There is a certain context of sophomoric, hyperbolic talk among men that’s ignored; this is fed by the reflex to think of attractive women as sexual objects. Acknowledging it puts me in a vulnerable position, because it’s really, really easy for somebody to come in and say “Nope! I never talk about women that way, or feel they are mere sex things. You are just bad in an unnatural way, in the way where you’ve cultivated a bad thing that wouldn’t exist otherwise”.

          I don’t doubt that there are men who don’t exist in a social context where this kind of hyperbole exists and is understood, in the same way where I don’t doubt there are men of weaker/different sex drive who don’t see an attractive woman walk down the street and see her, for an uncontrolled semi-second, as a mere sex-thing. But I do think that more people know about it and understand it than admit to it on the prosecution side.

          To make myself look worse, I’ve said the following phrase.

          I would f___ her so hard she’d break in half.

          The context I spoke this in was to a close friend who also knew the young woman in question. In our shared language context, the statement was meant to say something functionally identical to “I find that young woman to be very physically attractive, and I am shocked at the amount of sexual feelings I feel towards her; it’s quite overpowering.”.

          More importantly, the statement was understood to say what I represented it as saying above, and I knew it would be before and while I said it. The guy I said it to agreed with the statement, and went on to treat the girl with love and respect, eventually marrying her and carrying on treating her well.

          A person could easily (and will) disbelieve my statements above about the context and understood meaning of the ugly-worded statement. If they decided the statement should be taken mostly literally and without any other context included about who I was talking with, how I expected the statement to be understood, how I treat women or how I deal with and channel that impulse, I would seem monstrously misogynistic. If they took it fully literally, full stop, I would seem like I intended to commit a murder and would when the opportunity presented itself.

          Where I think the prosecution oversteps is in doing just that; pretending or naively(IMO) believing that this kind of language context doesn’t exist. In Trump’s case, this real or feigned disbelief manifested itself at the extreme end as “Trump admits to sexual assault, and nobody on the right cares!!!”.

          To anybody from a culture that has that kind of language context, though, this doesn’t ring true; they’ve said those kinds of things meaning them as “I have a strong sex drive, and it is inconvenient to me and lamentable especially in the context of being in the presence of this woman” and having them be understood that way by their audience. To me, that kind of safe-space lets-commiserate-about-feelings usage of this language was/is so common that functionally denying it exists by acknowledging only one possible meaning to those words looks, at first glance, incredibly dishonest.

          So you have this distinction between groups of people:

          1. One group has a context of language like this being used non-literally to express a certain feeling (or will dishonestly pretend they do) and is willing to ignore other, ugly stuff in the statement once the other side has “lied” and said this is and can only be interpreted as admitting to sexual assault.

          2. Another group does not have a context of language being used like this (or will dishonestly pretend they do not) and would instead say something like “I have very strong sexual feelings towards this woman; they are inconveniently and surprisingly powerful” for the same thing. Or they have a weaker/different sex drive and don’t feel those urges as powerfully so it doesn’t make sense at all (or will dishonestly pretend they don’t feel them). Being without or pretending to be without this context or these urges leads them to believe there’s only one possible interpretation of this statement which is “Donald Trump is saying he sexually assaults women”.

          I do think this is a little scissors-statement; I also think to a certain degree how charitably you interpret this statement is correlated with how you feel about Trump otherwise. But if one side thinks the others are pretending they don’t understand hyperbole and feelings of sexual impulse and the other side thinks that anybody who uses that kind of language can only be expressing monstrous things, it’s going to stay that way.

          • ECD says:

            I think there’s something to your second point, though I haven’t (despite being male) personally witnessed it. However, I’m sufficiently anti-social that my time in locker rooms, or other all-male gatherings has been limited and it’s entirely possible I simply missed it (I’ve been told by several people I trust for instance that my sister’s suddenly ex-boyfriend repeatedly attempted to accost me after class at the university we all attended and through a combination of reading and listening to music while walking, I managed to simply not notice until he gave up, thinking I was deliberately ignoring him).

            However, I think this overlooks the age of the person in question. This was 14 years ago. President Trump is 73. If I can do subtraction, the man was 59. I’m going to think it’s pretty pathetic (and disturbing in someone who occupies the highest office in the land) to still be talking/acting like the horny teenagers out of a bad comedy when he’s 59.

            I’ll also say, I have a hard time with reading the ‘prosecution’ version of your case above (which seems fairly good, if not entirely accurate, missing the cultural impacts of the behavior criticized, as well as President Trump’s other statements/behavior which seem to indicate this is not necessarily ‘hyperbole and feelings of sexual impulse’) in the summary you give.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @GearRatio:

            The thing you are missing in your summary of where the prosecution is wrong is, pretty ironically, all of the context. You gave us an “outrageous” statement, then proceeded to give us a lot of context that allows us to interpret the meaning of the statement.

            Trump’s comment isn’t one statement. He didn’t merely say “I’d grab her by the pussy.” Rather, he told an entire story, and the context isn’t the kind of story you are telling. There isn’t any context of respect, at all. You adding that in to your story smuggles in the idea that you can make these kinds of statements within a larger context of respect. But that context doesn’t exists for the specific conversation Trump had.

            The other big thing you are missing is the difference between “I would” and “I did”. Trump is largely talking about things he claims to have done, so the statements can’t be assumed to be hyperbole in the way yours is. He does claim to walk up to women and actually grab them, he does claim to actually just start kissing them, and this is in the larger context where he is admitting this may not be desired, as the story is about not “getting there” with someone.

          • GearRatio says:

            @ECD

            I wanted to spend a bit more time on Trump having his own context of who he is and the kind of things he does, and how that effects interpretations. Yes, it’s worse if a 70-something man talks this way than an 18-year-old; I’ve stopped talking this way at a mere 35. But at the same time, there’s a big difference between “I think this is in bad taste; he should have more refined words for this message” or “these words might be meant to be taken literally, but given that he’s a creep in other ways they have much more creepy implications” and “This is a literal admission of sexual assault”.

            I think the short version is that there’s some reasonable in-between points, like “I understand for some people this might be hyperbole, but I think that Trump is more on the ‘I actually sexually harass/assault women’ side, EVEN IF he thought he was participating in harmless hyperbole, which I’m not sure of”. And I think some people hold this view, I don’t blame them for it or even necessarily disagree.

            I think where this fell apart for a lot of people on the Defense side is that there were a ton of headlines/articles/talking heads who said something to the affect of “This is a literal admission of sexual assault; he has admitted it, this is a smoking gun, and nobody cares”. When the most visible take or the take you notice due to it’s harshness is “We want to treat words like this like admissions of guilt, judging them as fully literal and with as harsh an interpretation as possible” and you sometimes talk like that (or have talked like that) without meaning what they say or being a rapist, It’s pretty difficult not to get your hackles up.

            So what happens there is what I think we observed – “It’s just locker room talk” being shorthand one side thought the other would understand meant hyperbole and a certain mode of speech, and “If men talk about sexually assaulting women for fun in locker rooms, that’s terrible” being the response.

          • Dack says:

            No victim, no crime.

            This has been out there for years and no one has come forward to confirm it.

            IIRC, there was a “share real life Trump experiences” thread on reddit in the lead up to the election, and they were almost universally positive.

          • Cliff says:

            I’ve never quite understood the whole “sex object” thing. Can’t you want to have sex with a person without knowing anything about them except for how they look, without thinking of them as an object? They are just a very sexy person, right? There seems to be some embedded puritanical moralizing here that you have to know and like a person’s personality before you can have sex with them.

          • Aftagley says:

            @GearRatio

            I kind of disagree with your assertion. Having done a fair bit of locker-room talk myself, the topics always break down into two categories – speculative/fantasy or storytelling.

            You address the first category very accurately during your summary. When in loose social environments and while motivated by strong sexual urges, people tend to talk in a way that’s pretty crude. I agree, these statements arguably sound worse than they actually are and shouldn’t be taken as actual intent.

            But, then there’s the second category – people bragging about their sexual conquests. The kind of “you know X girl, I Y’ed her” talks. These still might involve creative storytelling, but there is generally a core of accuracy involved in telling them. If we were engaged in this kind of conversation and you said “Man, I F____ed her so hard she broke in half” I wouldn’t assume, you’d actually coitused someone into fractional parts, but I would walk away with the assumption you’d engaged in some rather energetic intercourse.

            That’s where Trump’s statement crosses the line between “normal locker room banter” into “maybe a problem.” Even allowing for creative interpretation, it still implies that he is completely fine with using his fame and overall presence to justify aggressive sexual initiations with women.

            Side note: Is this whole “men only have sexual conversations with other men” thing generational (i’m pretty young), or am I just an anomaly? Looking back, I’d say all of my top 5 most graphic conversations involved my female friends actively participating. Admittedly, I spend most of my time in male-dominated environments so the women tend to be “one of the boys” and a high number of them are lesbians, but even so this whole “men talk dirty to eachother” thing has not been born out in my experience.

          • albatross11 says:

            Crass sexualized discussion of women isn’t uncommon at least among young men. It’s something I’d be utterly unsurprised to hear from a bunch of 20 year old guys, and pretty surprised to hear from a 40 year old guy. OTOH, Trump’s whole brand is a mix of luxury and crassness, so it’s not a shock to hear it from Trump. Trump’s comments don’t reflect well on him, but they’re about what I would have expected. They’re clearly not admitting a crime—even Trump’s got more self control than that—but they’re exactly the kind of “I’m a rich guy living in luxury but with no class” message I’d expect from him. Sort of like the Stormy Daniels scandals, which again, would have been shocking misbehavior from almost anyone else, but seemed utterly unsurprising from Trump.

          • Protagoras says:

            I’ve never quite understood the whole “sex object” thing. Can’t you want to have sex with a person without knowing anything about them except for how they look, without thinking of them as an object? They are just a very sexy person, right? There seems to be some embedded puritanical moralizing here that you have to know and like a person’s personality before you can have sex with them.

            The moralizing also plays a role, but the connection of the idea of femininity with being passive and lack of agency means that sexualizing women particularly can be in tension with recognizing their personhood. There do seem to be some men for whom this tension is particularly strong, though I do think many feminists (and prudes, and of course especially feminist prudes) exaggerate how much this is at work in a typical heterosexual man’s attitude toward women they are attracted to. Though in fairness to the feminists and prudes, I suppose it’s possible I’m typical minding my fellow heterosexual men in thinking this is overblown.

          • I’ve never quite understood the whole “sex object” thing.

            My feeling as well.

            Suppose you admire a singer for her singing, knowing nothing else about her. Are you treating her as a “song object”?

            I expect Trump’s attitude towards women is largely exploitative, that he isn’t much concerned with the effect on them of his sleeping with them, or trying to. But that’s also his attitude, mutatis mutandem, to men.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Subject, object, verb. -> An objectification implies that a subject (the man) wants to verb (screw) the object (woman).

            A singer has developed a skill. Remarking on the talent, ability, and effort behind their developed skill is no more objectifying them than comment on the skills of a particular athlete is objectifying the athlete.

            So yes, remark on the skills of that burlesque dancer all you want. Comment “great makeup” or “great outfit” to an attractive person, or even “she always looks hot”, sure. But these are probably distinguishable from an objectifying comment.

          • Aapje says:

            Some questions:

            Do women who expect a man to pay for her, financially objectify the man?

            If I only want have conversations with a woman, but not have sex with her, even though she wants to have sex with me, am I mentally objectifying her, ignoring her sexuality for my selfish benefit?

            If I know a great tennis player and want to play tennis with the person, but don’t like talking with the person and merely do the minimum in this regard to convince the person to play with me, am I objectifying the person and abusing the person for my benefit?

            I see quite a few women sexually objectifying men. Is this just as bad?

            IMO, ‘sexual objectification of women’ is warmed over patriarchy.

          • Protagoras says:

            @Aapje, if my analysis is correct, it is trivial to answer all of your questions (“no” in all cases). Is there some reason for thinking my analysis (taken from Beauvoir) is not a good way to understand complaints about sexual objectification?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Aapje

            A lot of objectification goes on. And it shouldn’t be okay-ized.

            Do women who expect a man to pay for her, financially objectify the man?

            Outside of a club where this kind of behavior may be explicitly expected of all concerned, and even encouraged, show me this happening between two people who don’t have a more complex relationship. If you already consider the person as more than just a money machine (and even gold-diggers tend to quid-pro-quo), then this is not objectification. At best it’s applying an adjective (“sexy thing” vs “sex thing”).

            If I only want have conversations with a woman, but not have sex with her, even though she wants to have sex with me, am I mentally objectifying her, ignoring her sexuality for my selfish benefit?

            Probably not? Does she not want to have conversations with you in addition to the sex? There is a give and take in conversation. Now if you solely wanted to demagogue to her without caring about what she says back, then yes, you’ve objectified her. This is why some women complain about mansplaining.

            If I know a great tennis player and want to play tennis with the person, but don’t like talking with the person and merely do the minimum in this regard to convince the person to play with me, am I objectifying the person and abusing the person for my benefit?

            I don’t know. Are you abusing a burlesque woman by watching her show? No. It’s possible that this could meet objectification criteria, but this doesn’t scan as abusiveness, as these are skills they specifically developed to generally interact with people with.

            I see quite a few women sexually objectifying men. Is this just as bad?

            Generally men don’t fear being forced to assume a sexually objectified role compared to women, so no. But for a specific man, yes, this could be as bad. (e.g. see: https://youtu.be/OO4wpAnRWiE?t=110 [starting at the 1:05 minute mark with the money quote at the 1:50 minute mark linked])

          • Cliff says:

            Subject, object, verb. -> An objectification implies that a subject (the man) wants to verb (screw) the object (woman).

            I think Protagoras has this concept right and you have it wrong. There’s nothing wrong in general with wanting to have sex with someone and that’s not the objection. Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get to know someone, dance with someone, collaborate with someone- all examples of objectification under your criteria. I think it is clear that is not what people are referring to. People want to have sex with their girlfriends but that doesn’t mean they are treating them like sex objects. That would make the term really meaningless.

            I think here “object” is being treated as distinct from “person.” I.e. the claim is you are not treating them like a human being.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            A sentence can have two subjects.

            I stand by my analogy.

          • Dacyn says:

            @anonymousskimmer: The problem is that e.g. “He listened to her sing” clearly has “her” as an (indirect) object. Now maybe she is somehow still “conceptually” a subject, but it needs to be explained what exactly this means.

            @Protagoras: If I understand correctly, you are saying de Beauvoir’s position is that objectification is “viewing someone as passive and non-agentic”? That’s an interesting view, I don’t know how much in common it has with current objectification discourse, but at least it is pointing to something identifiably distinct from other sorts of actions.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            An analogy is not meant to be fully analogous in all ways.

            If a person is unwilling or incapable of treating another person as a co-subject, or even lead subject, in a sentence, this is analogous to objectifying them.

            I’m not trying to mandate politically correct phrasing here. I’m trying to draw an analogy for thought purposes.

          • Dacyn says:

            @anonymousskimmer: I mean, it sounds like you are saying the same thing as Protagoras, but in a more confusing manner.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Well it’s less confusing to me.

            But yes, I would probably agree.

          • Protagoras says:

            Beauvoir is obviously an important forerunner of the present feminist discourse, and the idea that treating an agent as non-agentic is the very definition of wrongness is present in Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative (as Beauvoir obviously knew). Honestly, I get the impression that a lot of people who talk about objectification don’t actually have any clear idea what they’re talking about, but the more intellectual the discussion, the more signs of influence from Beauvoir and Kant can be found.

          • Aapje says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            A lot of objectification goes on.

            Sure, but one of my objections to this discussion and a lot of feminist discussions in general, is that the kind of objectification that more often harms women is called a large problem that needs to be fixed, while the kinds that harm men or are gender neutral get ignored.

            Nussbaum’s seven possible features of objectification apply very well to the way in which men are often treated. Stoicism can actually be considered a (partially) taught trait that makes it easier to objectify men.

            Once the concept is not applied universally, but is exclusively applied to one gender, it is gender warfare, rather than striving for egalitarianism.

            Outside of a club where this kind of behavior may be explicitly expected of all concerned, and even encouraged, show me this happening between two people who don’t have a more complex relationship. If you already consider the person as more than just a money machine (and even gold-diggers tend to quid-pro-quo), then this is not objectification.

            I don’t get this.

            If the men who buys the woman a drink/dinner/etc merely to have sex is considered to be sexually objectifying the woman, then why wouldn’t the woman be financially objectifying the man if she expects him to pay for her?

            Probably not? Does she not want to have conversations with you in addition to the sex?

            My idea behind the scenario was that the man is uninteresting, but very pretty, where the woman indulges in conversation merely to get him to sleep with her, but does not like the conversation. Basically, the mirror image of what men are regularly accused of.

            There is a give and take in conversation. Now if you solely wanted to demagogue to her without caring about what she says back, then yes, you’ve objectified her. This is why some women complain about mansplaining.

            A traditional male complaint is that women ask their partner for feedback, but don’t want an honest answer, but self-affirmation (“Do I look fat in this?”). The man is then simply used selfishly to get an ego boost. That is then objectification too, right?

            Also, the stereotype is actually much more about women talking men’s ears off about things they didn’t care about than vice versa. Yet this wasn’t and isn’t called objectification or womansplaining.

            Also, the original meaning of mansplaining was telling a woman what she already knew, with a prominent example being a man who explained a book to the writer of the book. IMO, you are using an expanded, abused and further weaponized term.

            IMO, it all supports my point that ‘objectification’ and related terms are not objectively used, but used as weapons in the culture war.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Aapje

            I agree. It is important to seek female allies in the opposition to male objectification. I fundamentally believe that people are responsible for championing their own causes, and that other people should not lead this charge, merely stand behind the leaders, lest the voices of the “allies” swamp out the voices of the wronged. Male objectification is on the shoulders of men. And as suffragettes were demonized in the 19th/20th century border, and as blacks were demonized in the mid-to-late 20th century (US and SA, that I know of), some men are demonized today. It takes work and time to build an ally network. I think the Youtuber I linked to might be willing to be such an ally, however much she likes “Barihunks”, she at least recognized its negative effect on some men.

            If the men who buys the woman a drink/dinner/etc merely to have sex is considered to be sexually objectifying the woman, then why wouldn’t the woman be financially objectifying the man if she expects him to pay for her?

            People should be allowed their fetishes in peace. It’s easy to avoid this objectification fetish by simple going elsewhere to drink and mingle.

            My idea behind the scenario was that the man is uninteresting, but very pretty, where the woman indulges in conversation merely to get him to sleep with her, but does not like the conversation. Basically, the mirror image of what men are regularly accused of.

            If it’s a mirror image than it is equally as wrong, especially if any implicit power plays come into it (i.e. upper-class woman, lower-class man).

            A traditional male complaint is that women ask their partner for feedback, but don’t want an honest answer, but self-affirmation (“Do I look fat in this?”). The man is then simply used selfishly to get an ego boost. That is then objectification too, right?

            Here it’s necessary to use simple deconstruction to identify that the woman and man at hand are typically in a relationship, and that the woman is seeking affirmation of said relationship from the man, not an ego boost. To the extent this isn’t the case one must also look to said fetishism mentioned earlier (and it wouldn’t be nice of the woman to seek to get her fetish fulfilled from a random man who hasn’t indicated he’s into the fetish by taking the action of, say, entering that kind of club). However, I disagree with you partly here. I believe that the majority of women who asked a random man whether they looked good in an outfit, would genuinely want an accurate answer. This is why they are asking a random man instead of an intimate.

            Also, the stereotype is actually much more about women talking men’s ears off about things they didn’t care about than vice versa. Yet this wasn’t and isn’t called objectification or womansplaining.

            Some women objectify. Here you have two issues: generally in relationships there is a quid pro quo in acting as both a listener and a demagogue, and more importantly being open to conversing (and thus not objectification). Historically when women have been treated as the listener this has been seen as something they shouldn’t complain about (emotional labor). I believe the reason for the stereotype is that men haven’t been conditioned to not complain about women “talking their ears off”, thus feel free to complain about it without ever being aware of the instances when they have reciprocated.

            Also, the original meaning of mansplaining was telling a woman what she already knew, with a prominent example being a man who explained a book to the writer of the book. IMO, you are using an expanded, abused and further weaponized term.

            I was giving an example, not claiming the example applied to all instances.

            IMO, it all supports my point that ‘objectification’ and related terms are not objectively used, but used as weapons in the culture war.

            See my opening paragraph in this post for my take on it. All personality types and sexualities are prone to trying to control others in various ways pertinent to their personalities and attributes. And all types of people can act in non-objectifying ways too. It is up to each person to identify their own objectifying cause, and to try to convince others to support this cause, or at least not act in such an objectifying manner anymore.

          • Aapje says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            Male objectification is on the shoulders of men.

            The problem there is that (success) in male gender role is built on making sacrifices for others, not selfishness. This is why men are so impotent at defending themselves from abusive feminists (including the Big Lie where male sacrifice is misrepresented as oppression) and why MRAs are regarded as losers.

            Women could gain status by adopting the male gender role, because even though they lost a little status as inherently valuable people or status as mothers/housekeepers/etc, they gained status by working. Men just lose status if they focus on parenthood/housekeeping or worse, demand to be seen as inherently valuable.

            Here it’s necessary to use simple deconstruction to identify that the woman and man at hand are typically in a relationship, and that the woman is seeking affirmation of said relationship from the man, not an ego boost.

            Demanding that your partner affirms his love for you, by forcing him to lie, is an ego boost, executed in a rather abusive way.

            I believe the reason for the stereotype is that men haven’t been conditioned to not complain about women “talking their ears off”, thus feel free to complain about it without ever being aware of the instances when they have reciprocated.

            If they discuss this with other men, but accept it as the price of the relationship, they have been and are actively conditioning each other.

            All personality types and sexualities are prone to trying to control others in various ways pertinent to their personalities and attributes. It is up to each person to identify their own objectifying cause, and to try to convince others to support this cause, or at least not act in such an objectifying manner anymore.

            I think that it is more a matter of people with compatible pathologies seeking each other out.

            But…my point is that it’s abusive and unfair when one gender can attribute such behavior to a grand conspiracy theory and thereby apply a superweapon against the other gender, but not vice versa.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            oh FFS.

            “Am I pretty” = “Am I still attractive to you / do you want me still / etcetera” that the woman is too anxious about to directly ask.

            But…my point is that it’s abusive and unfair when one gender can attribute such behavior to a grand conspiracy theory and thereby apply a superweapon against the other gender, but not vice versa.

            Some men attack these women (I remember the term “Feminazi” from when I was listening to Rush Limbaugh). There’s nothing preventing men from talking about grand conspiracies either.

            The men AND women who talk about grand patriarchal or feminist conspiracies both tend to be rightfully glanced askance at by men and women both.

            The solution to this for both men and women is to honestly lay out how they feel marginalized or objectified and to try to convince others to be allies to the cause of ameliorating said objectification.

            If they discuss this with other men, but accept it as the price of the relationship, they have been and are actively conditioning each other.

            Just like the women. Only for some reason the stereotype of the “nag” has been far more ingrained in cultural understanding than the equivalent masculine stereotype.

            The problem there is that (success) in male gender role is built on making sacrifices for others, not selfishness.

            🤨

          • Aapje says:

            “Am I pretty” = “Am I still attractive to you / do you want me still / etcetera” that the woman is too anxious about to directly ask.

            That’s not the example I used, which involved a form of manipulation by ostensibly asking a question, but actually demanding a stock answer. Disallowing people from choosing how to respond is controlling and manipulative. Demanding that people lie about the truth to prove their love is even worse. Neither are merely a demand for affirmation.

            You are actually pretty consistently proving my point by arguing away bad behavior of women against men, but not the opposite.

            Some men attack these women (I remember the term “Feminazi” from when I was listening to Rush Limbaugh).

            Conservative men who believe in traditional gender roles have these exploitable weaknesses, because they are part of traditional gender roles.

            Feminism doesn’t tend to oppose the parts of traditional gender roles that benefit women at the expense of men, which is exactly the issue.

            For example, both conservatives and feminists tend to reject the idea that women have, just like men, a certain innate tendency to sexually abuse/exploit the other. So you don’t tend to see conservatives reject sexist definitions of rape that make laws sexist and have corrupted scientific surveys into sexual assault for 30 years. Nor do you see them advocating that male victims seek legal justice against female perpetrators as often as women do. You will more likely see them shame male victims into silence, which is extremely common behavior from feminists as well.

            Feminism embraced and exploited certain aspects of gender roles that allowed them to implement a certain agenda much more effectively, even though this embrace made gender roles part of mainstream feminism.

            It’s like the Marxists who, once they chose dictatorship and elitism to shape and implement their plans, could never have a bottom-up democratic system. The means of power that they chose prevents it, just like the means of power that mainstream feminists use, prevents gender equality.

            The solution to this for both men and women is to honestly lay out how they feel marginalized or objectified and to try to convince others to be allies to the cause of ameliorating said objectification.

            The reality of the situation is that women who do this gain allies and get backing from powerful elites (in the media, politics, etc), while men who do this get harmed. It’s not a level playing ground at all and never was.

            Men cannot gain equality until neither conservatism and feminism are dominant (cultural) forces.

            Only for some reason the stereotype of the “nag” has been far more ingrained in cultural understanding than the equivalent masculine stereotype.

            Gender roles are different, so the stereotype that you think is equivalent is not actually an equivalent.

            🤨

            Note that I’m not arguing that women don’t sacrifice for men, but rather, that the feminist tendency to frame male sacrifice as oppressive behavior, while not objecting to women’s feelings of entitlement to those sacrifices, puts men in a no-win situation. If they sacrifice, they wrong women, if they fail to do so, they withhold what women are entitled to, wronging women.

            Note that there is a study that suggests that people see a lack of special treatment by men of women, as misogyny. Men can’t give up on or complain about much of their gender role without being seen as misogynist and/or a loser.

            Note that the lack of empathy for men can be seen in how the very disparities in outcomes that progressives tend to see as horrible oppression of black people, are completely accepted when those exist even worse for men.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            For F*CKS sake Aapje! I”VE ALREADY ADMITTED THAT SOMETIMES WOMEN CAN BE JUST AS BAD> FOR THAT SPECIFIC EXAMPLE IN YOUR OPENING PARAGRAPH HERE I AGREED THAT THAT WAS OBJECTIFYING BEHAVIOR!!!!!!!!!!!

            BUT THAT IS, AT BEST, ONLY A PORTION OF THE MOTIVATION AND ACTION FOR THIS CLASS OF BEHAVIOR>

      • broblawsky says:

        the fact that he’s ‘obviously corrupt’ when he’s one of the few elected official that seem to have LOST money between the start of his campaign and today

        Not to pile on, but there’s very limited evidence for this – he’s estimated to have lost ~$200 million from the damage to his personal brand from his actions as president, but this isn’t taking into account side-benefits, like when the Qatari government bailed out Jared Kushner on a bad real estate deal to the tune of $1.4 billion. That probably wouldn’t have happened if his father-in-law wasn’t President.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        I do believe that any heterosexual man here more than say 30 year old has a top 5 of the worst comments on girls he ever said that FAR outshine this ‘grab them by the pussy’ line.

        Um, I have no interest in getting into American CW debate over holidays, but that is deeply factually incorrect statement. Not all men talk like that among themselves.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-former-miss-arizona-tasha-dixon-naked-undressed-backstage-howard-stern-a7357866.html

        I consider Trump talking about hanging out in the Miss Universe dressing room even though he knew the women didn’t like it to be much more serious evidence of sexism than him saying “Grab them by the pussy”.

        As for racism, he persisted in claiming the Central Park Five were guilty after they were cleared. There’s also his birtherism.

        • The Nybbler says:

          As for racism, he persisted in claiming the Central Park Five were guilty after they were cleared.

          Which doesn’t say a lot of good things about his sense of justice, but it’s quite the leap to say that it’s because they were black.

        • As for racism, he persisted in claiming the Central Park Five were guilty after they were cleared.

          I bet he also believes O.J. Simpson is guilty, despite being “cleared.”

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            They were exonerated by DNA evidence.

          • Cliff says:

            No, they weren’t. Read the Wikipedia entry. There was a report after their release that concluded they probably participated in the crime.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            oh, for. Confession and DNA established that Matias Reyes, a serial rapist and murderer assaulted and raped Meili. Believing the central park five had anything to do with that after that point is just bonkers, this is not the sort of shit people randomly join in on! Sure, group sexual assaults happen, but they happen because a pre-existing group of assholes assaults someone, not because thugs come across a rape in progress and go “That looks like fun”.

          • Confession and DNA established that Matias Reyes

            But the confessions of the central park five(all confessed to some part in it) were “unreliable” right?

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            … Sigh. The guy is a serial offender of this exact type of crime, and his confession is backed up by physical evidence. Yes, his confession is more credible to the point of moral certainty. Its hard to put a charitable gloss on you arguing with that.

          • Cliff says:

            I will just say that in my mind there is reasonable uncertainty about their innocence. Weren’t they were running around in the area that night attacking and severely beating people?

            Following these events, in 2002, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly commissioned a panel to review the case, “To determine whether the new evidence [from the Reyes affidavit and related evidence, and Morgenthau’s investigation] indicated that police supervisors or officers acted improperly or incorrectly, and to determine whether police policy or procedures needed to be changed as a result of the Central Park jogger case.”[74][82] The panel was made up of two lawyers, Michael F. Armstrong, the former chief counsel to the Knapp Commission; and Jules Martin, a former police officer and now New York University Vice President; as well as Stephen Hammerman, deputy police commissioner for legal affairs.[82][83][84][85] The panel issued a 43-page report in January 2003.[82][74]

            In its January 2003 Armstrong Report, the panel “did not dispute the legal necessity of setting aside the convictions of the five defendants based on the new DNA evidence that Mr. Reyes had raped the jogger.”[82] But it disputed acceptance of Reyes’s claim that he alone had raped the jogger.[82][83] It said there was “nothing but his uncorroborated word” that he acted alone.[82] Armstrong said the panel believed “the word of a serial rapist killer is not something to be heavily relied upon.”[82]

            The report concluded that the five men whose convictions had been vacated had “most likely” participated in the beating and rape of the jogger and that the “most likely scenario” was that “both the defendants and Reyes assaulted her, perhaps successively.”[82] The report said Reyes had most likely “either joined in the attack as it was ending or waited until the defendants had moved on to their next victims before descending upon her himself, raping her and inflicting upon her the brutal injuries that almost caused her death.”[82]

            Despite the analysis conducted by the District Attorney’s Office, New York City detectives supported the 2003 Armstrong Report by the police department. The panel said there had been “no misconduct in the 1989 investigation of the Central Park jogger case.”[82]

            As to the five defendants, the report said:

            We believe the inconsistencies contained in the various statements were not such as to destroy their reliability. On the other hand, there was a general consistency that ran through the defendants’ descriptions of the attack on the female jogger: she was knocked down on the road, dragged into the woods, hit and molested by several defendants, sexually abused by some while others held her arms and legs, and left semiconscious in a state of undress.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            @Cliff
            What are you quoting? Do you have a link?

          • randallsquared says:

            @The Pachyderminator

            @Cliff
            What are you quoting? Do you have a link?

            Not Cliff, but:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Park_jogger_case#Armstrong_Report

        • Cliff says:

          Trump talking about hanging out in the Miss Universe dressing room even though he knew the women didn’t like it to be much more serious evidence of sexism

          I get that it’s a jerk move, but what is sexist about it?

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I am not sure if it is sexist, but it definitely sexually predatory behavior.

          • Cliff says:

            Agreed.

            Re: sexism I think it’s usually acknowledged that he is happy to hire and promote women to high positions in his organizations.

          • BBA says:

            I find that an utterly bewildering distinction to make. You could say the same thing to defend Harvey Weinstein, but it sounds ridiculous putting it that way.

            Weirdly, some people still defend Bill Clinton like that. I guess at the time it made sense, but after #MeToo (which couldn’t have happened until the Clintons were out of the picture for good) it means you just don’t know when to take the L.

          • Cliff says:

            As I so often do, I guess I have to go back to the dictionary again:

            sex·ist
            /ˈseksist/
            Learn to pronounce
            adjective
            adjective: sexist

            characterized by or showing prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

            I’m no fan of Trump, just accuracy. I imagine that if Trump or Weinstein were bisexual, they would be assaulting men as well.

            Is Kevin Spacey sexist because he only sexually assaulted men?

          • Aapje says:

            Arguably, heterosexuality and homosexuality are sexist, but it is the kind of sexism that most people accept.

            Another question is whether predatory behavior requires a lot of sexism.

            PS. Note that I think that under Cliff’s definition, nearly everyone is sexist, including ~99.99% of feminists.

      • Milo Minderbinder says:

        Heterosexual man under 30. If the Ms in your name is in any way indicative of gender, I’m sorry for the male company you keep. Trump’s comments code as extremely low-class male. Prior to 2015, I was aware of Trump’s promotion of Birtherism, which, uh, was super racist.

        • Trump’s comments code as extremely low-class male.

          Lots of behaviors code as low-class, yet are indulged in by people of all classes so long as they believe that no one is watching.

          • Milo Minderbinder says:

            True, young men of all classes engage in unfortunate misogyny. The actual locker rooms I’ve been a part of had their fair share (lower-middle income high school and an Ivy League college). But, now at age 25, the (explicit) sexism is mostly gone from my friends from the latter, while still pretty rampant in the former. Also, I don’t remember many “elites” on the Right promoting Birtherism.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        More than that, prior to 2016 I don’t think anybody thought he was a racist

        Let me google that for you: https://www.google.com/search?q=donald+trump+racist&safe=active&tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1%2F1%2F1980%2Ccd_max%3A1%2F1%2F2000&tbm=

        https://ew.com/article/1991/05/31/trumped-inside-story-real-donald-trump-his-cunning-rise-and-spectacular-fall/

        The portrait of Donald Trump drawn by former Trump insider John R. O’Donnell is not a pretty one. According to O’Donnell, Trump is a racist. (”Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”)

        And did you completely forget the birther movement, and Trump’s role in promulgating it?

      • lvlln says:

        On point : I’m really surprised to see how you, Snickering Citadel and wikipedia define cultural marxism, as from what I recalled it was coined by the lobsterman to define a kind of thought resembling postmodernism where all cultures were seen as equal axiomatically (this is obviously a very bad, quick and simple summary of what he said).

        I’ve seen lots of people claim that the Lobsterman popularized the term “cultural Marxism” or that he uses it a lot, but the only times I recall hearing him use the term is in a meta way, in reference to the term itself as something other people use. A similar term he has used often – ad nauseum by my lights – is “postmodern neo-Marxism,” which is obviously a different term than “cultural Marxism.”

      • Guy in TN says:

        It’s not restricted to feminism. Many people, even educated SSC commentators, seem to often forget that “Marxism” refers to a specific political/philosophical ideology, that makes rather specific claims, and instead lob the term at every left-wing movement in existence (communism, socialism, environmentalism, anti-nationalism, anti-racism, ect)

        The reason why people revert to the word “Marxism” for practically any left-leaning ideology, is probably no more complicated than the reason why low-minded people use the word “Nazi” for any ideology to the right of Mitt Romney.

        (Although I will grant that perhaps a deep unfamiliarity with the philosophies at hand could cause someone to mistakenly conflate say, Marxism and socialism, in a non-malicious way. They are still wrong of course, but only for reasons of ignorance. But I can’t see how such charity could be reasonably applied to people conflating ideas as clearly distinct as Marxism and feminism.)

        • cassander says:

          and instead lob the term at every left-wing movement in existence (communism, socialism, environmentalism, anti-nationalism, anti-racism, ect)

          To be fair, Marxism was enormously influential during the 20th century and certainly had hand in shaping just about every current left wing ideology and movement. this is not to say that people shouldn’t lazily fling around terms like marxist, but it’s less ridiculous than slinging fascist.

          someone to mistakenly conflate say, Marxism and socialism,

          That conflation is not always mistaken, Marxism is a subset of socialism. And the dominant form of revolutionary socialism.

          • Enkidum says:

            Eh… the phrase “cultural marxism” is just silly when it is used to mean “annoying left wing people who I disagree with”, which is the only use I’m aware of. Whether it’s a more forgivable mistake than saying MAGA types are fascists is debatable, but it’s still silly.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Very frequently marxism shaped left-wing thought via rejection. One reason a lot of social democrats get very annoyed indeed when people call them communists or marxists is that the entire foundation of social democracy is the rejection of The Revolution and a bunch of other marxist garbage in favor of fighting for tangible progress for the working class.

          • cassander says:

            @Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Via partial rejection, sure. But social democrats absorb an awful lot of marxist class analysis, his critique of capitalism, they just reject marx’s assertion that reform is pointless/counterproductive and violent revolution the only path to socialism. Granted, that last bit is important, but I would say it’s wrong to say that social democrats reject marx. They reject parts of marx.

        • Many people, even educated SSC commentators, seem to often forget that “Marxism” refers to a specific political/philosophical ideology, that makes rather specific claims

          My impression is that a lot of academics in fields far from economics or political science, English for example, refer to themselves as Marxists.

          • DeWitt says:

            You don’t need to be an economist or a political scientist to have strong opinions on economics or science. In fact, the opposite might be true.

          • I was unclear.

            It isn’t that they describe themselves as English scholars who also happen to be Marxists, but that they have a Marxist English department, self-viewed as such.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I have a theory for why intellectual conservatives (for lack of a better term) keep referring to feminism as “cultural Marxism.”

      If you ask them (and I’m not one of them), they’ll tell you. At length. It usually involves a group called the Frankfurt school, true enough. There’s no point in engaging in idle bulverism, nor in paying much attention to a Wikipedia entry written as a smear job.

      • And of course, those involved in the Frankfurt School were communists who were trying to explain why some aspects of Marxist theory was incongruent with the world. As in other things, the influence of the Frankfurt School on the ideas of today is something you’re allowed to notice, unless you disapprove of it, in which case it turns in to a conspiracy theory.

        • TheAncientGeeksTAG says:

          The degree of influence of the Frankfurt school, relative to other strains of leftwing thought, is something the average left winger is much better placed to judge than the average right winger.

          • You can draw a straight line from the founders of the Frankfurt School to the Critical Theorists, post-structuralists, and post colonialists that dominate the leftist intelligentsia today. It’s not like this is some hidden esoteric knowledge. They tell us that themselves, denying it only when conservatives say it. It takes a certain amount of audacity to do that but it is what it is.

          • Enkidum says:

            You can draw a straight line from the founders of the Frankfurt School to the Critical Theorists, post-structuralists, and post colonialists that dominate the leftist intelligentsia today.

            I guess? They were certainly a very influential node in the history of left wing thought, moreso than they probably would have been otherwise because many of their fellow travellers had been murdered in the Holocaust and so they were just one of the coherent groups left around. But you can also draw other lines to other people.

            Now that I have a better understanding of the term, it seems fair enough. But I’ve pretty much always seen it used as a kind of “gotcha”, the undertone I pick up always along the lines of “you can ignore this, it’s cultural marxism”. Which is not something that seems an obvious derivation from “this person is an an intellectual tradition which has an important contribution from Horkheimer and Adorno”.

          • Aapje says:

            @TheAncientGeeksTAG

            I think that the average left winger has, like the average right winger, extremely little clue where their talking points come from, especially if the influence was indirect (A morphed into B, which was combined with C into D, etc).

            The past is a susceptible to revisionism anyway, where history is perceived in a way that fits modern narratives.

    • S_J says:

      I have a recollection of hearing “Marxism in disguise” and “cultural-Marxism” as descriptions of currents in left-wing political thought in my teen years. (To lay down a marker of when those were: I can recall news stories about the sexual behavior of both Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton. One of the two just preceded my teen years, and the other was near the end of my teen years…)

      I was not aware of the connection to the Frankfurt school at the time. I did form a head-canon that Marxism was about a narrative of overcoming economic oppression, and that cultural-Marxism was about a narrative of overcoming cultural oppression.

      I, and the cultural circle that my parents moved in, considered such attitudes about oppression to be a cloak for some effort to reduce individual freedom. One of my siblings took to the narrative of cultural-oppresssion-and-opposition-thereto during his college studies. This caused much intra-family dispute–which coincided with the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and the responses of the United States to those attacks. (This may be a simplistic rendering, but I recall a narrative of oppression-and-resistance which felt like Marxist discussion, but the the serial numbers filed off and a few labels switched: “proletariat” was switched out for “Muslim”, and “Western Imperialism” replaced “economic oppression by the bourgeouisie”.)

      I was never aware of the ‘anti-semitic’ undertones of the ‘cultural-Marxism’ accusations.

      However, the currents of cultural conversation that I took part in were heavily influenced by an attitude that tried to be race-blind. Opinions and ideas were judged on their effects, not on the racial/social attitude of the person who produced them. These people may have shared some languages and cultural assumptions with other people who were racist: but the lesson that I internalized was that I should judge people by the content of their character, rather than by the color of their skin.

      There may have been other people aligned with the cultural right who were actually anti-Semites or racists. I know that it is easy to argue over what counts as anti-Semitic attitudes and ideas. (Recent discussion over the attitudes of Labour/Tory parties in Britain show how contentious that can be.)

      My take: it is far easier to label a political opponent as racist, and try to ignore their arguments on those grounds, than to find any other argument to use against that opponent. Thus, I try to tune out accusations of racism, and figure out whether the argument has any value separate from the motivations of the person making the argument.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I have no real theory here, but I’ve noticed that for some people, the primary meaning of a lot of words appears to be their negative connotation. So for them “Nazi” means “bad person” as its primary meaning, with any specifics secondary or entirely forgotten. They can be observed using negative words interchangeably to carry the basic meaning of “I don’t like this person; you shouldn’t like them either”.

      This seems to be even more common in children, calling each other “gay” or “retard” or whatever is currently the fashionable insult in their schoolyard, with little sign that they even know the original meaning of the word.

      However, I’ve observed it on the internet a lot, from people I believe to be adults; a stint moderating several mailing lists taught me all too much about human behaviour online ;-(

      So the null hypothesis here would be “for some people, ‘marxist’ is a generic insult”.

      • Garrett says:

        I grew up in Canada where the adjective “American” was used as an epithet in much the way the word “communist” was used in the US.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      Take a feminist, remove all her memories and dogma, and then show her a video of one of Donald Trump’s speeches. Within five minutes, she’ll have reinvented the framework of contemporary feminist thought just by articulating the visceral loathing she will feel at the amount of smirking boorishness on display.

      Can you elaborate on this? Which exactly parts of the contemporary feminism framework do you expect to be reinvented? Because that’s actually a testable hypothesis. There’s enough females who self-identify as feminists but either largely unfamiliar with the modern dogma, or familiar with it but disagree in large parts. One can ask the former to opinionate about Trump and see if they’ll reinvent the parts you expect to be reinvented, or ask the latter to read Trump’s speeches and see if they [begin to] agree with those parts.

    • Take a feminist, remove all her memories and dogma, and then show her a video of one of Donald Trump’s speeches. Within five minutes, she’ll have reinvented the framework of contemporary feminist thought just by articulating the visceral loathing she will feel at the amount of smirking boorishness on display.

      Can you go into more detail about what, exactly, will anger her when hearing of five minutes of a Trump speech? She’ll figure he’s a braggart and a generally arrogant person, but I don’t see how she’s supposed to draw a conclusion that gender relations need to be reformed. You might not think any woman could be that arrogant, but her memories have been zapped. To psychoanalyze the hatred of Trump, I would say that people who hate Trump hate him not because he’s arrogant and self-congratulatory but because he’s arrogant and self-congratulatory and low class. They have credentials and believe that believe that society ought to give them respect for said credentials. Trump’s not any more self-congratulatory than a typical TED Talk speaker, but the TED talk speaker has the credentials or at least tries hard to pretend he has them. Trump doesn’t even pretend because he has absolutely no respect for said credentials. That’s what really drives these people insane.

      • DinoNerd says:

        I might be a feminist – though I part company with many self appointed feminist leaders and thinkers – and I’m not an avid follower of Trump’s speechs – but I can take a stab at part of this.

        Trump is a bully(*). He’ll bully just about anyone, and use whatever leverage he thinks he has, some of it related to social status. AFAICT, this is a stable personality trait.

        He also very much enjoys demonstrating his superiority and receiving positive feedback – and it can be easier to appear superior by putting other people down rather than by doing positive things which will draw respect from others. (AFAICT, he attempts both.)

        One of the many reasons why he has the power, and thus the right to bully (some) people, in his own eyes, is because he’s male and they are female, and he’s thus more important, more deserving, and of course more powerful. This shows.

        Other reasons include – he has more money, he has more power, he has a louder voice, he has better lawyers, he’s white, he’s American, he’s their boss, he controls something they want, and (in the past four years) he’s POTUS.

        If you disagree strongly with a specific reason for bullying – and particularly if you have a chip on your shoulder because it affects you directly – than you will see him as specifically prejudiced against your group, whatever that is, whether it’s women, blacks, or whatever.

        (*) I don’t know whether he’s actually the kind of person that merely wants to find out whether opponents have the guts to stand up for themselves, a behaviour which can look like bullying to people for whom that is not normal. I don’t think so, but it might account for some of his friendliness to other people who behave similarly.

        At any rate, if you happen to be a woman who believes she’s just as good as any man, you are unlikely to appreciate anyone who talks as if being male makes him better/more important/superior to you, and you’re highly likely to call him sexist.

        FWIW, I see him first of all as a plutocrat, “better” than me in his own eyes primarily because of his bank balance. So I primarily charge him with “might makes right”; “money is power is status”. But if I had to deal with him in person – which I fortunately do not – he’d use any stick he had handy, indifferently, to assert his overall superiority.

        • Aftagley says:

          +1

          I really like this idea and think it’s one of the best explanations of Trump out there.

        • cassander says:

          One of the many reasons why he has the power, and thus the right to bully (some) people, in his own eyes, is because he’s male and they are female, and he’s thus more important, more deserving, and of course more powerful. This shows.

          Does Donald Trump gets up every morning intent on proving to absolutely everyone that Donald Trump is not a loser, then rubbing their face in how awesome he is? No question. But I see absolutely nothing gendered or racialized about that. He absolutely thinks he’s better than you, but he thinks that because he’s richer/more famous/smarter/more powerful/bigger handed than you, not because you’re black or a woman, or anything else intrinsic. After all, if he’s only better than you because of intrinsic qualities, it would detract from his greatness.

          As for the money, he doesn’t think he’s better than you because he has money, he thinks the money is proof that he’s better than you.

        • I don’t know whether he’s actually the kind of person that merely wants to find out whether opponents have the guts to stand up for themselves, a behaviour which can look like bullying to people for whom that is not normal.

          For what it’s worth, that was my conclusion about Jerry Pournelle, who some here may be familiar with and who pretty clearly was viewed very negatively by some in SF fandom.

        • One of the many reasons why he has the power, and thus the right to bully (some) people, in his own eyes, is because he’s male and they are female, and he’s thus more important, more deserving, and of course more powerful. This shows.

          Maybe. I think it’s more that Trump is an equal opportunity asshole, who didn’t get the memo that women are equal to men but also that it’s far more outrageous when they rather than men are mocked on the basis of their looks. So he mocks both men and women with gusto. Regardless, the brain-zapped feminist wouldn’t reach this conclusion in five minutes of watching a Trump speech. Trump wouldn’t say he has “the right to bully (some) people, in his own eyes, is because he’s male and they are female.” It would take some time to reach that conclusion.

        • Aapje says:

          @DinoNerd

          Other reasons include – he has more money, he has more power, he has a louder voice, he has better lawyers, he’s white, he’s American, he’s their boss, he controls something they want, and (in the past four years) he’s POTUS.

          So according to you he bullies everyone…

          Why then do you ascribe all these different motivations to Trump? And why would women feel targeted in particular, unless they already believed in a narrative that makes them pattern-match equal-opportunity offenders to misogyny?

          • DinoNerd says:

            I believe that everyone finds it easier to notice bad behaviour that targets people they identify with. If you are a woman, his bullying women, especially bullying women as women, will stand out more. If you aren’t, something else will probably stand out instead. And of course if you like/approve of him, you’ll tend to see something else again – e.g. a powerful person who’ll stand up for you against others.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        It seems silly to psychoanalyze your attempt at psychoanalysis, but you’re certainly off somewhere. I have a low-status job and zero credentials, not even a college degree, and I find Trump the most viscerally loathsome, repulsive public figure currently active. (Not the most evil in any objective way, which is a different question.)

    • I recently watched a debate between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek, where the latter demanded to know just who these Marxists are that the former are always claiming runs all of contemporary leftism. Zizek, after all, is an actual Marxist, and would know better than anyone that that’s a very lonely thing to be in this day and age. This was the only time I’ve ever seen Peterson squirm, as he sputtered that, er, he couldn’t think of one off-hand, but there were definitely tons of them!

      Can you name more than two Islamic terrorist leaders? Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are easy. Who’s the new guy in al-Qaeda? Ayman al-Zaka-something? And the leader of Hezbollah, I forgot his name, Nasaral-something or other?

      See! This proves it’s all a bogeyman, a figment of your imagination!

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        I can name two (non-state) terrorist *organizations* that themselves claim to be Islamist. Heck, it’s explicitly in one of their names.

        Add state organizations and I can name a couple of others.

        To draw a parallel:

        Hi+ler can in no way be said to be a Roman Imperialist, despite his borrowing of bundles-of-rods-ism from them. Hi+ler’s political organization was its own thing.

      • Aftagley says:

        Can you name more than two Islamic terrorist leaders?

        This argument is facile. Jordan Peterson has made numerous videos about cultural marxism, enters into debates with people about cultural marxism and routinely presents himself as an expert on the subject.

        An expert on terrorism would certainly be able to provide an overview of the organization charts of most of the major terrorist organizations; if they were unable to do so it would be significant evidence that their claimed expertise was, in fact, fraudulent. This isn’t hyperbole, I’ve seen under-prepared analysts laughed out of the briefing room before.

        • lvlln says:

          This argument is facile. Jordan Peterson has made numerous videos about cultural marxism, enters into debates with people about cultural marxism and routinely presents himself as an expert on the subject.

          Do you have any links to examples of such videos or presenting himself as an expert on it? The only times I’ve seen him use the term is in a meta way in mentioning the term itself as something to talk about, rather than the underlying concept. I’ve seen a lot of people conflate his constant ad nauseum use of “postmodern neo-Marxism” with “cultural Marxism,” but those are obviously 2 different terms.

      • Ketil says:

        See! This proves it’s all a bogeyman, a figment of your imagination!

        Another reason not to name names is that it is probably a ruse to derail the discussion.

        Perhaps a better comparison than terrorists (where there exist lists collected and rubber stamped by governments) is to ask who are the most prominent leaders of feminism? I predict the discussion will quickly turn into hairsplitting about what constitutes true feminism and whose views and behavior makes them worthy of the title- this doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about feminism as a concept.

    • Jaskologist says:

      It’s because Actual Communists did in fact view the family as a bourgeois institution to be abolished, pushed many policies with that aim. A lot of those policies are pretty much the ones pushed by feminists now.

      It is becoming a monthly tradition for me to repost this 1926 article: The Russian Effort to Abolish Marriage.

      When the Bolsheviki came into power in 1917 they regarded the family, like every other ‘bourgeois’ institution, with fierce hatred, and set out with a will to destroy it. ‘To clear the family out of the accumulated dust of the ages we had to give it a good shakeup, and we did,’ declared Madame Smidovich, a leading Communist and active participant in the recent discussion. So one of the first decrees of the Soviet Government abolished the term ‘illegitimate children.’ This was done simply by equalizing the legal status of all children, whether born in wedlock or out of it, and now the Soviet Government boasts that Russia is the only country where there are no illegitimate children. The father of a child is forced to contribute to its support, usually paying the mother a third of his salary in the event of a separation, provided she has no other means of livelihood. At the same time a law was passed which made divorce a matter of a few minutes, to be obtained at the request of either partner in a marriage.

    • lvlln says:

      Again – I consider it self-evident that popular feminism has and requires no intellectual foundation. There surely are high-brow feminist philosophers who write long, boring books justifying the things they wanted to do anyway, but they are entirely irrelevant to the sort of feminism that actually matters enough for people to argue about it. Popular feminism requires nothing beyond the following fact: Donald Trump is the President of the United States. For the sort of person who’d become a feminist, everything else follows naturally.

      “Popular feminism” (i.e. the subset that tends to get labeled as “cultural Marxist”) posits a ton of non-obvious non-trivial things on power and oppression dynamics as well as gender-essentialism. This doesn’t follow naturally from noticing that Donald Trump is POTUS or any other state of the world and largely directly contradicts basic liberal and enlightenment ideas. As a feminist myself who rejects those faith-based suppositions of “popular feminism,” I find your considering this “self-evident” to be no less absurd than if Richard Spencer claimed that it’s “self-evident” that white nationalism as he practices it requires no intellectual foundation because simply looking at the state of the world makes the inherent superiority of whites just follow naturally.

      • albatross11 says:

        The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist.

        ― John Maynard Keynes

        I think this is a pretty accurate description of the world. Many people look at the gap between the rich and the poor or the people doing the grunt-level work and the people collecting dividend checks, and feel like something’s not right. But when they start organizing to do something about it, they’re going to speak in a language provided by socialist thinkers like Marx, and they’re going to organize and plan at least partly along the lines laid out by those thinkers. Lots of women will naturally note ways society is organized that gives women a raw deal, and attitudes and behaviors among men that nearly all women find offensive, but when they start organizing to do something about it, again, they’re going to speak in a language provided by feminist thinkers and organize along lines that make sense w.r.t. the feminist thinkers’ ideas. The same is true of black identity politics, or white identity politics, or libertarianism. Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard aren’t around to guide the discussions of people who think the government too intrusive and powerful and prefer to let markets and individual choice decide things, but when such people organize, they (we) speak in the language of Friedman/Rand/Rothbard, and organize at least somewhat along the lines suggested by their writings and ideas.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Leftists are often accused of thinking that things just happen. That wealth just sort of naturally appears, without needing to be worked for. That history just unfolds on its own, without the need for great men and heroic stands. And, yes, that (a central Marxist belief, I seem to understand) ideas and philosophies are the products of the times and conditions under which they appeared, not of the brilliance of individual thinkers and philosophers. And to an extent, that’s fair. I believe that if Thomas Edison had not invented the light bulb, someone else would eventually have done it; I also believe that be that as it may, Thomas Edison was the one who did in fact do the work of inventing it.

      I look at innovation as a chaotic process, in the chaos theory sense. The key to the highest quality of life for all is frequent innovation, and the empirically surest path to it is to reward higher QoL to whichever individual comes up with them. The route to the most equalized QoL is to insist on the opposite – any innovation is studiously distributed to all – which leads to each individual not bothering. Equality of outcome is guaranteed, at the expense of it all being very low – just enough to get by.

      Thing is, the more individual rewards for innovation, the more inequality of outcome, which motivates calls for equalization. The more stagnancy and destitution from strict equalization, the greater the motivation to let innovators go ahead and get their mansions and yachts.

      I see the American left as somewhat schizophrenic toward rewarding innovation. The staunch Marxists continue to stick to the equalization doctrine, but they’re currently allied with a progressive movement with a lot of artists, who see little problem with rewarding artistic pursuits. This drives the American right bonkers; they believe society ought to reward farmers, miners, manufacturers, craftspeople, and repairmen, and see the left instead rewarding musicians, actors, and poets. Then I see the left retort in turn at the right’s apparent non-problem with rewarding CEOs and its own brand of performers (racers, pro athletes, country music stars, evangelists).

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        To be fair, the vast, vast majority of artists are known for drastically undercharging for their work, or even giving it away free.

        Also, there is a popular idea that the vast majority of people who desire artistic work desire it for free, or very cheap.

        • quanta413 says:

          Undercharging by what criteria? Market value, labor theory of value, or something else?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Federal minimum wage.

          • How do you distinguish between “undercharging for their work” and “spending their time doing worthless things”?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I work a salary, and previously worked hourly. I know I have spent salaried or compensated-hourly time doing worthless things (or even making costly mistakes).

            Most consultants are also paid hourly.

            It’s the weird world of independent contractors who charge on a per-project basis that dips into the below minimum wage terrain.

            To answer your question: I’ve read artists complaining about newbie artists undercharging (on the basis of how long it takes to make their art e.g. $140 for a project taking 20 hours to make + materials) for their art, and the effect this has on the market.

          • quanta413 says:

            The federal minimum wage is pretty much a labor theory of value (if X time is spent laboring on something then it should pay at least Y).

            It’s possible that producing art is partly a consumption good for some people making it. They would do art on the side for free anyways, but now they can sell some stuff on etsy. Their work is unlikely to be as technically skilled as someone who spends all their time on art, but less skilled art is still a partial substitute for more skilled art.

            Like you said many people tend to prefer very cheap art. But I think this is a very reasonable preference. Lots of times the marginal gain from the buyer’s perspective of technically superior or aesthetically “better” art isn’t going to be worth paying the increased price that would be required to cover the additional skill and labor.

            I see why some artists might not like this situation, but buyers benefit and no one is being coerced to become an artist.

            Of course, some people probably are undercharging in the sense they could sell their work for more and the same amount of art would be bought. But I’d bet this is common for a lot of people in skilled jobs when they first start working (and others who first start are probably overcharging).

          • Andrew Cady says:

            How do you distinguish between “undercharging for their work” and “spending their time doing worthless things”?

            How do you distinguish between a valuable work of economics and one that is worthless?

          • How do you distinguish between a valuable work of economics and one that is worthless?

            By reading them.

            Is your claim that you have evaluated a large enough sample of art, and have sufficient faith in your expertise, to conclude that much art is sold for a price below its actual value?

            If so, how do you define “actual value”?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Strip the name off the artwork.

            How much would the median artist capable of making that artwork charge?

            To compare to other disciplines: how much is the Boeing MCAS software worth (in terms of direct costs)? Indian engineers charged significantly less than the median US engineer for it.

            In terms of value, we now have software capable of determining how many people spend how much time appreciating, say, a webcomic. Find out their median hourly income and you have a loose proxy for the value of the webcomic.

          • Strip the name off the artwork.

            How much would the median artist capable of making that artwork charge?

            Why does that have anything to do with value?

            Suppose my art work is a very large pile of heavy rocks. The average person capable of producing it would charge a lot, since it took a lot of work. That doesn’t tell us if it’s worth anything at all.

            In terms of value, we now have software capable of determining how many people spend how much time appreciating, say, a webcomic. Find out their median hourly income and you have a loose proxy for the value of the webcomic.

            I don’t see how.

            Suppose there was some other enjoyable activity, say chatting with each other, that cost nothing, was enough better than working so they would spend those hours doing it, and was not quite as much fun as reading the webcomic.

            The value to them of the webcomic isn’t the money they could have earned by spending that time working, it’s only the amount by which they prefer reading the webcomic to chatting, which could be tiny.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Don’t try to convince me, David, try to convince the Federal Reserve.

          • @anonymousskimmer:
            Tthe definition being suggested there was how much you have to be paid to be willing to give something up. That doesn’t fit either of your suggested definitions.

          • Andrew Cady says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I never even said a thing about art. I just asked you a question about works of economics.

            How do you distinguish between a valuable work of economics and one that is worthless?

            By reading them.

            Why can’t you just look up the price and multiply by sales? Why wouldn’t that tell you the most and best information about the true value of the work?

          • Why can’t you just look up the price and multiply by sales?

            I was arguing with someone who thought artists were underpaid, that the price they sold their works for was less than it should be. So he needed a different criterion, and the ones he offered did not seem to me to make sense.

            My apologies if I misread the role of your question in the argument.

          • Andrew Cady says:

            @DavidFriedman

            So… why can’t you just look up the price and multiply by sales?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @DavidFriedman

            We can measure worth in many ways. Unless someone is giving it away for free (or cheap). The moment you give something away you distort the market.

            Thus people valuing aggregators (Facebook and Google) at absurd values that they would never have paid in order to have them in the first place.

            We can’t see the control scenario in which various art forms don’t exist, or exist in fewer numbers.

            Art is one of those weird things that, like books, can be enjoyed by many people following purchase by one person (via copyright violation or lending). The initial purchase price may not be the best way to value it.

      • Anthony says:

        I see the American left as somewhat schizophrenic toward rewarding innovation. The staunch Marxists continue to stick to the equalization doctrine, but they’re currently allied with a progressive movement with a lot of artists, who see little problem with rewarding artistic pursuits. This drives the American right bonkers; they believe society ought to reward farmers, miners, manufacturers, craftspeople, and repairmen, and see the left instead rewarding musicians, actors, and poets. Then I see the left retort in turn at the right’s apparent non-problem with rewarding CEOs and its own brand of performers (racers, pro athletes, country music stars, evangelists).

        The “progressive” left doesn’t see a problem with “progressives” making a lot of money, whether through artistic pursuits or writing software or looting the Bank of England. The right by and large doesn’t care if people make lots of money, even leftist entertainers; they despise the *status* that the Left tries to give those people, and despise leftists for trying to deny status to people who keep our civilization running.

        • Matt M says:

          I think that’s a pretty good way of thinking about it. The right is happy to “leave the distribution to the free market” in terms of material wealth. The left is happy to “leave the distribution to the free market” in terms of social status.

    • Deiseach says:

      I have a theory for why intellectual conservatives (for lack of a better term) keep referring to feminism as “cultural Marxism.”

      Hang on, what? My perception of the usage is that “cultural Marxism” is an over-arching term for the kinds of academic/media/intelligentsia presences which are all, well, pro-Communist in the “Lenin did nothing wrong and if Stalin did crack a few eggs, WHAT ABOUT HITLER????” sphere. There certainly was a heyday of theoretical Marxist-Leninism which was triumphant in the field (there’s a reason Eric Hobsbawm, for one, was both a respected historian and a noted Marxist), Maoism was trendy and there were apologists for any and every brand of Communism one desired.

      The attitude seems to be resurgent again, post the fall of Communism, amongst those too young to remember the heights of the Cold War and/or who never lived under Communist regimes; I’ve seen entertaining Tumblr spats between “I am/my family are Eastern European, we lived under Communism, you are living in fucking Cloud Cuckooland if you’re nostalgic for a regime that would have turned you into mincement” people responding to the “Communism has never been really tried, all the states you mention were not real Communists!” types.

      The reason whatever-wave-it is now-feminism gets lumped in with “cultural Marxism” is (A) all the political theoretical work done on that kind of framework and (B) the attitudes are part of the wider social liberalisation of society which, yes, does want to tear down conservative social structures. And generally when any kind of “what replacement framework would you put up instead?” is offered, it’s along socialist/communist lines of the Marxist theoretician kind.

      Maybe it’s different in America, I don’t know. But bloody hell mate, “Popular feminism requires nothing beyond the following fact: Donald Trump is the President of the United States”? There does exist the entire rest of the world, and we have feminists and feminism there too, and I have my own views on contemporary feminism both pro- and anti- and they were formed a long time before the 2016 election.

      • Enkidum says:

        Hang on, what? My perception of the usage is that “cultural Marxism” is an over-arching term for the kinds of academic/media/intelligentsia presences which are all, well, pro-Communist in the “Lenin did nothing wrong and if Stalin did crack a few eggs, WHAT ABOUT HITLER????” sphere.

        That’s an incorrect perception. It’s literally (and I’m using the word “literally” literally here) used to describe anyone remotely who discusses culture and/or politics from a perspective that includes things like racial/sexual/etc identity.

        You are correct that there’s a resurgence of pro-Communist types on the internet, at least some of whom don’t appear to be doing it ironically or just for the lulz. These people are, generally speaking, not Cultural Marxists, in that they don’t tend to be terribly sympathetic to identity/woke left-wing discourse. Which makes the term even more confusing.

        The reason whatever-wave-it is now-feminism gets lumped in with “cultural Marxism” is (A) all the political theoretical work done on that kind of framework and (B) the attitudes are part of the wider social liberalisation of society which, yes, does want to tear down conservative social structures. And generally when any kind of “what replacement framework would you put up instead?” is offered, it’s along socialist/communist lines of the Marxist theoretician kind.

        You’re missing at least one verb here, and I have no idea what you mean by “that kind of framework”.

        • albatross11 says:

          I’ve seen “Cultural Marxism” used in basically the way described by many people here, among folks on the (alt) right. Basically as a term for the whole identity politics/grievance studies/critical race theory/feminist theory/decolonializing/etc. intellectual movement. This is pretty silly (I think the connections to Marxism are pretty tenuous, and the previous centuries’ Marxists would have had a good belly-laugh about. Westerners’ self-conscious concern with using the right pronouns.), but isn’t any crazier than the way that everyone to the right of Mitt Romney gets turned into a white nationalist or is somehow incorporated into “systems of white supremacy” in rhetoric from the other side.

          • Enkidum says:

            I think hls2003 gives a very good account of where the “Marxism” part comes from. I still think it’s a so-bad-it’s-misleading phrase, but it makes a lot more sense given that context.

        • Deiseach says:

          I have no idea what you mean by “that kind of framework”

          I mean the theoretical framework is one built upon, if not adapted nearly wholesale, of the dialectical materialism philosophical explanation of the forces within society and history; the kind of power relationships and inequalities that represent all human interactions. I mean that instead of building a different theoretical platform, the Marxist one is useful as a base. I mean it in the same sense Liberation Theology used such dialectics as a jumping-off point until the Marxism vastly overcame any theology. I mean it in the sense that you get The Shining Path founded and influenced by a professor of philosophy and an anthropologist at a Peruvian public university.

    • hls2003 says:

      The form of “cultural Marxism” that I have heard doesn’t really cohere with this.

      Back in early-mid 20th century academia, there was a species of scholar in many departments – especially and obviously the humanities – who did his scholarship through a Marxist lens. Marxist in a pretty literal sense, applying the lessons of Das Kapital and the Manifesto and the rest to re-interpret history, political science, sociology, literature, anthropology, etc. I think the existence of this Marxist school of academics is not particularly controversial. These literally Marxist academics used and referred to Marxist dialectic methods and generally re-interpreted texts, events, societies, biographies, etc. explicitly through the exclusive lens of Marxist class conflict theory. Soviet academics, of course, were more-or-less required to do this; but it was also a substantial strain of Western academia. See, e.g., history and literary criticism. Naturally, they also tended to be more Communist-friendly and anti-Western.

      Meanwhile, around the same time, Critical Theory was also a prominent strain of thought in academia. There really was a Frankfurt School, although there’s nothing nefarious about it, it’s descriptive in the same sense of the “University of Chicago School” of economic thought. Critical theory had roots in Marxism also, and among other things popularized the concept of power dynamics to analyze and describe society, history, and literature. They also tended to be more Communist-friendly and anti-Western.

      The analytical framework, interpretive / deconstructive methods, and terminology of Marxist academics and Critical Theorists overlapped substantially. However, at some point Critical Theorists began to diverge from strictly conventional Marxist class-based economics, and instead focused on other loci of power and conflict. This is where you start to get the rise of Feminist Critical Theory, Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, and similar academic movements in the ’70’s through the ’90’s and later. It’s the same basic toolset, but instead of talking about the proletariat, the capitalists, and the bourgeoisie, the power structures being addressed are patriarchy, heteronormativity, or racism. Instead of deconstructing literary texts for signs of capitalist contradictions or proletarian consciousness, they deconstructed texts through a queer lens, or feminist, or racial. Academics practicing these critical theory schools of thought also tended to be more pro-Communist and anti-Western.

      It’s primarily this subsequent evolution of critical theory that I think of when I hear the term “cultural Marxism.” I think the truth or falsity of that label is a very strong candidate for motte-and-bailey tactics. Proponents of the label point to the common history, methodological tools, and even overlapping personnel of the various schools, and their genuine historical roots in honest-to-goodness pro-Communist (often pro-Soviet), Das Kapital class-consciousness Marxism. Opponents of the label suggest that Marxism must have the proletarian class consciousness element or else it is not Marxism at all, and newer scholars object to being tarred with the “pro-Soviet” label (after the pretty clear economic, political, and humanitarian failures of Communism) – even though they will simultaneously tend to prefer more leftist economic policies also. In either case, idiosyncratic definitions of “Marxist” are being used to support or attack, depending on the situation.

      Personally, I think “cultural Marxism” provides a useful catch-all label for an identifiable strain of thought, or at least a method of thought, that has a long and objectively known pedigree in academia. It is, to me, at least as useful as (for example) “Progressivism” would be – even though most current progressives do not share all their ideological positions with Herbert Croly, there’s an identifiable through-current there, an intellectual pedigree or tradition that has been in dialogue with itself for a century of political evolution. Labels are inherently reductive and subjective, but I think this one at least says something identifiable to me.

      • Enkidum says:

        Thanks for this. Hell I’ve read a bunch of the Frankfurt school and this is the clearest description of the term that I’ve seen.

        I suppose it’s about as valid a label, used in this way, as something like “Materialistic Newtonianism” would be to describe modern physics, in the sense that the tradition which is being described does have (genuine, deep, important) historical connections and derivations to/from Newton/Marx. But it’s misleading in the sense that this is not a great way of signalling the primary concerns, methods, or theories of the modern fields. And “Marxism” comes with a whole lot of baggage in modern America that is completely inappropriate in the context of modern identity politics.

        I guess I’ve never seen anyone use it in a way that didn’t seem to be clearly intended as pejorative. But “has important connections to stuff Marx thought about” just doesn’t seem insulting to me, and so it loses any useful power when people refer to, I dunno, Judith Butler or someone like that as a cultural Marxist.

        • quanta413 says:

          I guess I’ve never seen anyone use it in a way that didn’t seem to be clearly intended as pejorative.

          I’m honestly surprised to hear this from you considering IIRC you’ve been in a university environment for well over a decade now (judging by postdoc status a year or so ago). When I took classes in X studies ~10 years ago, professors were using the term Cultural Marxism neutrally or positively. As in “Cultural Marxism is better than ordinary Marxism because it accounts for race and gender as well as class and the intersection of these elements.” And not just occasionally, it was a repeated point. It was in some of the reading. Etc.

          I think there’s a decent chance it was mentioned in some history classes I took too, although it was not nearly as salient in those classes if it was mentioned.

          Maybe this is a difference between universities or professors or something?

        • Clutzy says:

          It also strikes me as accurate, and easily could be used a pejorative. Think of something like the Green New Deal. It accomplishes all of AOC’s goals, but uses “greenness” as a vehicle for a set of goals that really are only tangentially related to, or wholly unrelated to the environment. The same critique is true of, at least the early, cultural marxists. They are simply taking a different rhetorical tack towards achieving the same, or very similar goals that they had before they took this new rhetorical mantle of culture/race/sex instead of class.

        • Enkidum says:

          Maybe this is a difference between universities or professors or something?

          My undergrad’s actually in humanities (and we studied books by members of the Frankfurt school, de Beauvoir, and Marx, among others), but that finished almost 20 years ago, and I don’t remember hearing the term then (but as people have pointed out elsewhere on this thread, it comes from a left-wing book from the 70s). I’ve since migrated to fairly hard sciences, we don’t do a lot of that stuff here.

          I guess I’m just ignorant, and had only encountered it online from people who I took to be arguing in bad faith.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I guess I’m just ignorant, and had only encountered it online from people who I took to be arguing in bad faith.

            It can be both.

            Compare to Seven Mountains dominionism. That’s a real thing, is being actively pursued, and is believed in even by some members of Congress. It’s hard version is a call for, essentially, a theocracy.

            But many of the same people who see cultural Marxism around each corner would also argue that the left is just smearing the right by mentioning it, and it’s not a very relevant ideology. I’d argue that dominionism is far more relevant than cultural Marxism, even while agreeing that many arguments against are made in bad faith.

            The fact that you are not even aware of cultural Marxism is some proof that CM isn’t the dominant ideology of the academy.

          • SamChevre says:

            Re: dominionism

            I think that’s the right parallel for socialism (not for Marxism specifically). It has the same range problem, and in both cases mixing up ranges is a mostly a smear. Mao and the Great Leap Forward is not a great argument against Bernie Sanders, even though both were socialist. Similarly, Rushdoony and Christian Reconstruction are not a very good argument against Ted Cruz and the idea that the government ought to be just and isn’t always–or that the shift in church-state relations since 1960 was a bad thing. (Which is what almost all the examples listed in the article are.)

          • quanta413 says:

            @Enkidum

            I’ve always been in the fairly hard sciences and yet I encountered the term in gen ed requirements. But terminology can go in and out of fashion in the humanities fast. So maybe there was only a 5 or 10 year window of its use and since you’re a little older than me you missed it and people a few years younger than me also missed it.

            I’d add integralism to HBC’s mention.

            I agree with SamChevre that dominionism or integralism is better compared to socialism.

            Cultural marxism is not a very clearly delineated ideology anyways in distinction to socialism or dominionism or integralism. It’s not obviously distinct from various other academic left ideas of the past several decades.

          • Enkidum says:

            Eh, it’s also possible people in my degree used the term and I forgot. It happens.

          • Aapje says:

            Cultural Marxism as a term is obviously perfect fodder for the right, being very much a dysphemism to people who dislike Marxism, which is most people.

            Of course, an interesting question is who gets to pick terminology. It seems unfair if the proponents get free reign. If I rename my terrorist organization from Murder Inc to Gifts For Sick Kids Inc, we might see lots of people being deceived by the name and opponents refusing to use it for that reason.

            Some people consider ‘critical theory’, ‘anti-racism’ and other such terms to be very deceptive terms that actually consist of uncritical theory and racism, respectively.

            IMO, the proponents of an ideology also have an obligation to use terminology that is neutral enough so opponents are willing to use it. If one side is too euphemistic and/or deceptive, you can’t really blame the other side for hitting back with dysphemisms. Cultural Marxism is hardly the worst offender in this regard, because it is an actual left-wing term, that was the actual name for an ideology that morphed into Critical Theory.

            I also think that it is far from the worst term because Marxism has often been used as a term for a methodology, where the actual ideology that was implemented was Marxist-Leninism, Maoism, etc. So Cultural Marxism is then the application of the Marxist method to culture, which is how the left-wing originators of the term seemed to have used it and how the more intelligent detractors who use the term also seem to use it.

      • Ketil says:

        (Great writeup, where is the “like” button?)

        Would a fair, two-line summary be that Marxism (various flavors) observes differences in outcomes between groups and explains it as caused by oppression by some other group?

        For classical Marxism, the groups would be the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, for cultural marxism, it’s other groups: women by the patriarchy, people of color by the whites, LGBT by the straight.

    • Garrett says:

      Marxism at its core comes with a solid bit of class-conflict analysis as a part of its socialist message. Not all socialism is or needs to be Marxist in nature.

      Likewise, there are many different varieties of feminism. First-wave and second-wave feminism need little class conflict to have support. However, third-wave feminism is ripe for class conflict. After all, once you’ve accepted women as people, and women as independent agents able to pursue their own careers and lives, what’s left to be achieved by feminism tends to be around the fringes of the key point.

      So the internal logic of Marxism applies to some forms of feminism. Consider every problem or discussion where the answer is “patriarchy”. Clearly the standard social class conflict doesn’t exactly apply, but the logic has been shoehorned into gender differences and conflict.

      See also ESR’s recent piece on how the UK labour class is now opposed to the Labor Party.

    • Pink-Nazbol says:

      About 40% of women, and a majority of White women, voted for Trump, so obviously they did not have the same reaction as the hypothetical woman you present. You’re assuming that feminism is the “default reaction” of women to Trump and using this assumption to construct a hypothetical to prove it. Circular reasoning.

      Trump reminds (some) women of the brash, borish alpha male they let talk them into a one-night stand back in college. They aren’t sure what in particular he did wrong, after all, it’s not like he lied to them, said he was going to marry them and didn’t. You needed to do that back in 1950, but not today. Consenting adults and all that crap implies no one did anything wrong, and this just makes them even angrier. They regret their actions, but aren’t going to take personal responsibility for them.

      Likewise, beta bux who later marries said woman is angry as hell at the unfairness of the situation. When Trump is overheard saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” he is enraged, because he knows it’s true. High school never ended, those ‘undeserving’ men still get the girls. He is angered less by the fact that Trump may have forcibly kissed a woman then by his certainty that this man he thinks so little of has consensually gotten so much more tail than he has.

      FWIW here I am not a fan of Trump whose neoliberal economic policies I could never support.

    • SamChevre says:

      For a complementary perspective, I would recommend Leftism: from de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse. It’s from 1974, and uses “leftism” rather than “Marxism” – but it’s making the same argument.

      I’d agree with hls2003 that “what if Marx’ basic analysis was right, but his class definitions were not quite right” is an important strain of what becomes critical _ analysis, which is very influential in “identity politics” and “_studies”.

    • brad says:

      Powerless nutjob professors from 30+ years ago make great weakmen.

  17. zardoz says:

    [Post 5 reviewing Business Adventures]

    Previously: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4

    Chapter 5 of Business Adventures is about Xerox.

    I think most people in Silicon Valley remember Xerox mostly as the company that funded the legendary Xerox PARC laboratory that Steve Jobs and others “borrowed” so many ideas from. But in the 1960s, Xerox was viewed quite differently. In fact, Brooks describes Xerox as “the most spectacular big-business success of the nineteen-sixties.”

    Xerox’s big innovation, of course, was the Xerox machine for making copies of documents. Copying machines had existed before Xerox, but they had various technical limitations that made them inconvenient, expensive, and messy– especially when the number of copies needed was small. (The mimeograph machine gets a shout out in this section. This is a bit of nostalgia for me, since I am just barely old enough to have interacted with some of those blue mimeographed sheets.)

    Xerox machines came on the market in 1959, and the product’s popularity grew exponentially after that throughout most of the 1960s. The research behind the Xerox machine actually started more than twenty years earlier, though, with a physicist named Chester Carlson. Carlson was a sort of part-time tinkerer, who managed to get some funding from the Battelle Memorial Institute. Battelle sounds like an interesting institution– a sort of nonprofit angel fund?– but Brooks doesn’t really go into detail about it.

    Eventually, in the late 1940s, Chester convinced the Haloid Corporation to invest in his invention. And invest. And invest some more. All told, over the next decade or so, Haloid invested about 75 million dollars– money it could not really afford, since that was twice what it earned from operations during that period. The company issued stock and took out loans to cover the balance. In Brooks’s words, the investment gradually became “a do or die affair” for the company. Luckily, once the invention finally was ready, it was wildly successful. So successful that “Haloid” changed its name to “Xerox.”

    Would any modern company be willing to spend more than ten years working on an invention like this? Ten years without showing any profit at all, and while spending a lot of money? I think most modern-day companies would hesitate, to put it mildly.

    To put it more bluntly, Xerox’s origin story is kind of a fairy-tale case where corporate R&D worked the way it’s supposed to. A plucky inventor experimented with new technology in his garage (well, ok, kitchen). Then, far-sighted capitalists bankrolled him to do basic research for ten years before showing a profit. After that, the invention took the world by storm, and everyone was properly rewarded for their efforts. Brooks himself acknowledges this, saying that “the story of Xerox has an old-fashioned, even a nineteenth century, ring…”

    Despite the old-fashioned origin story, some aspects of Xerox seem distinctly modern. In fact, as I read Brook’s sometimes gushing praise of Xerox, I was often reminded of Google. Xerox took political stands in favor of left-wing causes of the time, such as the United Nations and civil rights. The company donated heavily to educational and charitable institutions. Like Google, Xerox didn’t want to be an “ordinary business.” Its executives talked a lot about what would now be called corporate social responsbility.

    We are still in the 1960s, though, so Brooks can write passages like this:

    A girl who uses a typewriter or switchboard has no interest in the equipment, because it holds no mystery, while one who operates a computer is bored with it, because it is utterly incomprehensible. But a 914 [Xerox machine] has distinct animal traits: it has to be fed and curried; it is intimidating but can be tamed; it is subject to unpredictable bursts of misbehavior; and, generally speaking, it responds in kind to its treatment. “I was frightened of it at first,” the operator I watched told me. “The Xerox men say, ‘If you’re frightened of it, it won’t work,’ and that’s pretty much right. It’s a good scout; I’m fond of it now.”

    (On an unrelated note, “If you’re frightened of it, it won’t work” is a good thing to tell your parents if they ask for computer help.)

    [continued]

    • zardoz says:

      The dawn of cheap and ubiquitous xeroxing put tremendous strains on copyright. When any book can be copied, where will it all lead? Marshall McLuhan gets namedropped (ugh). The whole thing feels like a kind of dress rehearsal for the software piracy debate that would happen decades later. It would eventually culminate in the copyright act of 1976, which established the now-familiar concept of “fair use.”

      You might expect that Xerox would be on the side of the copiers, for obvious reasons. You would be wrong. Instead, Xerox took a “seemingly quixotic stand… flatly opposing any kind of special copying exemption.” The reason, Brooks speculates, is some combination of high-mindedness, plus the fact that Xerox was a big publishing firm as well as a copying machine firm.

      Brooks discusses the fluctuation in the value of Xerox stock (it took a dive, and then quickly recovered in the mid-1960s.) He also talks to some of the scientists working for Xerox. Somewhat interestingly, it seems like the decision to use selenium for the photoconductive surface was done by researchers “acting on a hunch, unsupported by scientific theory.” “Nor do we understand exactly how selenium works, even now,” Dr. Clark helpfully adds. Inventing stuff was a lot more empirical back then. (Or was it? How do people decide on new neural net architectures, exactly??)

      Brooks talks to Joseph C. Wilson, the company’s chairman. Can the company keep its unique culture with twenty thousand employees? The company doesn’t want to take a stand on national elections, but a lot of other political issues seem to him to be fair game. Shades of Google again.

      He also speaks with C. Peter McColough, the company’s president, about “facing the problems of growth.” This paragraph is perhaps worth quoting in full:

      Future growth on a large scale simply isn’t possible in xerography, [McColough] went on– there isn’t room enough left– and the direction that Xerox is taking is toward educational techniques. He mentioned computers and teaching machines, and when he said he could “dream of a system whereby you’d write stuff in Connecticut and within hours reprint it in classrooms all over the country,” I got the feeling that some of Xerox’s educational dreams could easily become nightmares. But then he added, “The danger in ingenious hardware is that it distracts attention from education. What good is a wonderful machine if you don’t know what to put on it?”

      I’m sure that whole computer thing will go really well for Xerox. All they have to do is spend a decade carefully researching it, right?

      • zardoz says:

        [I wanted this to be one comment, but the spam filter ate it so I separated it into two.]

        Happy new year, all.

      • broblawsky says:

        Battelle is an organization that runs a number of the DOE’s national laboratories. Another example of a major company coming out of government-funded research, I guess?

      • j1000000 says:

        How do you like the book?

        • zardoz says:

          I liked the book, on the whole. When I started, I wasn’t expecting it to be from the 1960s, since the copyright on the audible edition that I listened to is very recent. But that’s actually just the copyright on the spoken edition, not the original 🙂 I think the book’s age gives it an interesting time capsule quality.

          Some chapters are better or worse than others, I think. I particularly enjoyed the Edsel chapter. On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy the income tax chapter. The tax code is just so painful that I don’t want to think about it.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I am just barely old enough to have interacted with some of those blue mimeographed sheets.

      Those are from a spirit duplicator (one brand of which was Ditto) rather than a mimeograph. They were even cheaper than a mimeographed copy.

      • zardoz says:

        Heh, that’s a good point. I don’t know what kind of machine made the blue-inked handouts that I remember as a kid. I assumed it was a mimeograph, but maybe it was a spirit duplicator or similar.

        I also don’t remember exactly what color it was, sorry. I do remember thinking that it was weird since I was used to photocopied or printed material.

    • SamChevre says:

      My great-uncle–one of the most influential people in my life–worked for Battelle for much of his career, focusing mostly on demographics. The Xerox machine was a huge win for them, and as I understood it from him financed a huge amount of research through the 1990s.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I remember mimeo as purple not blue. Different sorts of mimeo, or different color perception?

    • Aftagley says:

      To put it more bluntly, Xerox’s origin story is kind of a fairy-tale case where corporate R&D worked the way it’s supposed to. A plucky inventor experimented with new technology in his garage (well, ok, kitchen). Then, far-sighted capitalists bankrolled him to do basic research for ten years before showing a profit. After that, the invention took the world by storm, and everyone was properly rewarded for their efforts. Brooks himself acknowledges this, saying that “the story of Xerox has an old-fashioned, even a nineteenth century, ring…”

      Follow-up questions to this statement:

      1. Was this common back then, or was it also abnormal for the times?
      2. Has this ever happened since then?
      3. Could this kind of behavior still “work” in the modern era, or has something fundamentally changed about the market?
      4. Wait, isn’t this just Uber/WeWork/Early Amazon/insert VC-funded tech startup here?

      • Cliff says:

        #4 my thought exactly. People seem more than happy to send billions of dollars down a hole in hopes of a return a decade letter.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          I guess it depends on which “people” we’re talking about. There are definitely VCs who are willing to throw money down toilets, but in our company, our capital investments need to have payback periods of less than 18 months. Certain strategic initiatives are allowed to go up to 7 years for pay-back, which is a much higher hurdle than 10 years for ANY positive cash flow.

          • Aftagley says:

            Why 7 years?

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I have no idea. This is probably among the things I need to learn if I want to advance, but right now my responsibility is just calculating the expected return of operational improvement projects, not trying to allocate the entire capital budget.

            Based on what I’ve seen, though, the capital budgeting process is a complete mess. For a while our factory was just given millions of dollars to spend as we saw fit with no cost justifications required or provided. That’s a good way to piss away millions of dollars on useless crap.

          • Aapje says:

            7 is the biblical number for completeness, so it might have been chosen for kabbalistic reasons.

            Also, if the bosses are the right kind of Christians/Jews, one may be able to convince them that the number is metaphorical, rather than literal 😛

          • zardoz says:

            7 is the biblical number for completeness, so it might have been chosen for kabbalistic reasons.

            Well, Kabbala seems to have worked out pretty well for the WeWork founder.

      • cassander says:

        my thoughts exactly.

      • broblawsky says:

        1. Was this common back then, or was it also abnormal for the times?

        I’d say it was abnormal. Most of the largest technological innovations of the 1940s – 1960s came out of either government labs or large corporate R&D labs; this was the heydey of corporate R&D.

        2. Has this ever happened since then?

        Microsoft comes to mind – MS-DOS was developed under contract from IBM in 1980.

        3. Could this kind of behavior still “work” in the modern era, or has something fundamentally changed about the market?

        The major difference would be that big hardware innovations are harder and harder to do for a small company – anything that involves chip design, for example, is flat-out impossible for individuals.

        4. Wait, isn’t this just Uber/WeWork/Early Amazon/insert VC-funded tech startup here?

        Yeah, kinda. The major difference is that there was less of an expectation that Xerox’s technology would see a quick financial turn-around. It’s 15 years between Carlson beginning his work with Battelle and the release of the first commercial Xerox machine.

      • zardoz says:

        It’s true that modern-day investors are often willing to wait for years for companies to become profitable. That is one similarity with the Xerox story.

        However, I think the two cases are really quite different. In the case of Uber, WeWork, Amazon, etc., the businesses were selling products and making progress on certain metrics during the time they were unprofitable. Uber could point to the number of customers and drivers it had signed up; WeWork could point to the number of leases, and so forth.

        It’s just not common for companies to spend more than a decade developing a single product. The main cases I can think of are probably be the companies working on quantum computing and nuclear power. Maybe someone else could think of some other examples. Medical devices? Drugs?

        • SamChevre says:

          The new geared turbofan engine design took about 20 years, and the estimates in the business press have been that R&D costs for Pratt&Whitney were $10 billion plus.

      • zardoz says:

        Microsoft comes to mind – MS-DOS was developed under contract from IBM in 1980.

        Hmm. I might be misunderstanding your point, but I don’t see how the MS-DOS story is similar to Xerox.

        If anything, MS-DOS is an example of the opposite: an extremely rapid development cycle. It was programmed in six weeks by one guy, Tim Paterson. Hence its original name, the Quick and Dirty Operating System.

        Bill Gates then bought QDOS for a flat fee of $50,000 dollars (and NO royalty rights…). And then he renamed it and sold it to IBM.

  18. rahien.din says:

    Asking for a translation :

    Thograinn thograinn bhith dol dhachaidh
    E ho ro e ho ro
    Gu Sgoirebreac a chruidh chaisfhinn
    E ho hi ri ill iu o
    Ill iu o thograinn falbh
    Gu Sgoirebreac a’ chruidh chais-fhionn
    E ho ro e ho ro
    Ceud soraidh bhuam mar bu dual dhomh

    It’s from “Christmas at Sea,” from Sting’s Christmas album If on a Winter’s Night. Not sure if it’s his own writing or part of a traditional song.

    Paging Deiseach, maybe? TIA

    • Liam Breathnach says:

      Don’t have a translation but while it looks very like Irish Gaelic, it’s not, suggesting to me that instead it’s Irish’s nearest relative, Scots Gaelic.

    • acymetric says:

      These people have done a little work on this, it appears.

      • acymetric says:

        Thograinn Thograinn
        Thograinn thograinn bhith dol dhachaidh
        (I wish we were going home)
        E ho ro e ho ro
        Gu Sgoirebreac a chruidh chaisfhinn
        (To Scorrybreck of the white-footed cattle)
        E ho hi ri ill iu o
        Ill iu o thograinn falbh
        Gu Sgoirebreac a’ chruidh chais-fhionn
        (To Scorrybreck of the white-footed cattle)
        E ho ro e ho ro
        Ceud soraidh bhuam mar bu dual dhomh
        (The first blessing from me, as is my right)

        Can’t vouch for the accuracy. As @Deiseach noted below, it appears Ceud means “first”.

    • Deiseach says:

      Quick casting of my eye over it indicates that it’s Scots Gaelic rather than Irish; it’s got the older spelling and more archaic diction.

      I have poor Irish and no Scots, but words like “ceud” would be “céad” in Irish, which would be “hundred” (as in “a hundred times”). Or “first”, because “céad” also means first. Depends on context!

      “E ho ro e ho ro” is just nonsense syllables for a chorus. I’ll have a gander online and see what I can dig up!

      EDIT: Googling turns up the same source as acymetric references, and I’d agree that it’s probably not a translation of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem into Scots Gaelic but a different original. It looks like a mix of quoting Gaelic original and lines from Stevenson interspersed. If it is a waulking song then it’s in the same genre as this famous one 🙂

      EDIT EDIT: Using an online dictionary, the first line translates out to something like “I wish, I wish I was going home/was homewards bound”, and in Irish would be “Tothluighim, tothluighim beith (ag) dul abhaile”, and the verb there is archaic (taken from Dineen’s dictionary).

      Ceud soraidh bhuam mar bu dual dhomh, to throw it into modern Irish, would come out something like “Céad slán uaim mar is ceart agam/mar is nádúrtha liom” (the terms “dual” are older Irish and again would be found in Dineen), meaning “A hundred farewells from me as is natural” (meaning “something I am entitled to do/have a right to do”).

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      “Gaelic-speakers need not apply,” Tom said gnomically.

  19. Well... says:

    “Full disclosure: my dad became my mom,” Tom said transparently.

  20. Nick says:

    I haven’t been checking SSC this week, so sorry if I’ve missed an identical thread, but: favorite Christmas movie.

    I’m going to go Home Alone. It’s been 5+ years since I’ve seen this one, and oh what a classic. Even funnier than I remember. Everything comes together so much better than I appreciated as a kid. The Santa Clause, meanwhile—a favorite when I was a kid—has not aged as well.

    • S_J says:

      This year, I re-watched the film Miracle on 34th Street. I saw the version created in 1947, not the remake from 1994.
      It looks old, and was done in black-and-white. But the story is a well-crafted story. The acting and direction are very well-done.

      I also enjoy Home Alone, and its sequel Home Alone 2. The humor works on more than one level, which is probably the key to its success. Not only could the adults enjoy a movie that they could take their kids to see, but the kids could enjoy it again once they grow up.

      But my favorite Christmas movie is The Muppets Christmas Carol. I remember seeing several other movie-renditions of A Christmas Carol as a child. Most of them were good movies. But the Muppets rendition makes it fun to watch the story unfold. The combination of music, the interactions of the the human characters and the Muppets, and the interjection of humor into the story-telling make it fun story.

    • The Santa Clause is such a depressing movie. I’m not sure why it was so popular. Home Alone is about bringing family together. The Santa Clause is about tearing it apart.

      • Nick says:

        I rewatched The Santa Clause last night, and two things stuck out to me: 1) Neal—’scuse me, Dr. Miller—is way more of an ass than I remember, but 2) holy cow is taking your kid away for a month after you just lost custody rights a terrible, terrible idea.

        When I said it didn’t age as well, I had (2) in mind, but also the special effects. Those really didn’t hold up.

    • Kuiperdolin says:

      Eyes Wide Shut.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas with the Kranks, hands down, nothing even close to contention.

      We did with Christmas Prince: Royal Baby, or whatever, and that has to be one of the more amusing movies, since they placed a China analogue where Armenia is.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      It’s like no one here has ever watched Rare Exports.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      I haven’t been checking SSC this week, so sorry if I’ve missed an identical thread, but: favorite Christmas movie.

      I’m going to go Home Alone.

      Are we discounting It’s a Wonderful Life? Because that beats Home Alone handily. HA is probably still in the top three though.
      The ironic-best is The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special, because the villain Skeletor works for is terrified of two Earth children spreading the story of Jesus, and it climaxes with a spirit turning Skeletor good against his will (the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace).

    • j1000000 says:

      I agree with others that Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life are great and the best Christmas movies but I do think they could easily take place at any time of year with only slight tweaks. I’d say my two favorite movies that are truly about Christmas are Elf and Christmas Vacation.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I agree with others that Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life are great and the best Christmas movies but I do think they could easily take place at any time of year with only slight tweaks.

        Not going to argue. It’s interesting to look at the original 1946 trailer, which doesn’t show Pottersville, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!” or any supernatural elements, making it look more like a romantic comedy.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      If I’m trying to show off, episode 3 of Kieslowski’s The Decalogue. If I’m trying to fit in among normies, Die Hard. If I’m being honest…I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve met my Christmas movie soulmate yet. (Both of the films I mentioned are great, but they’re not quite it.)

    • A Christmas Story.

      Kid wants a BB gun for Christmas. Kid gets a BB gun for Christmas. What more could you ask for?

    • eyeballfrog says:

      I haven’t watched Christmas movies in a long time, but when I was younger my favorite was A Muppet Christmas Carol.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      A thought occurs: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is another movie (and book) where the plot would be mutilated by moving the action away from Christmas.
      There, it’s a Christmas movie! (And Good Friday/Easter…)

    • Ransom says:

      What, no votes for Forrest Gump? (And Die Hard, of course.)(I second the vote for A Christmas Story.)

      • Nornagest says:

        Forrest Gump covers something like thirty years. Bound to be a few Christmases in those, but that doesn’t make it a Christmas story.

  21. Milo Minderbinder says:

    Does anyone know of good analysis of cultural stickiness (fidelity of intergenerational meme transfer)? I’ve read both Albion’s Seed and The Secret of Our Success, and I left pretty convinced of both cultural persistence and importance.

    Relatedly, what do y’all think of the idea of a “Frodo Meme/Achilles Meme?” That is to say, in a sufficiently intelligent memetic species (so, humans), might the memetic benefits of self-sacrifice or dying gloriously (in an information transfer sense) have a payoff sufficient to offset the genetic loss? Martyrs and heroes have disproportionate memetic weight (The “Great Man” theory of history, depictions in art, etc.). To the extent that such sacrifices preserve/spread specific meme clusters (Christianity, for example, but also more general concepts like self-sacrifice), I’m curious to what extent these individuals impact their respective cultures, and how much potential for altruistic self-sacrifice could exist in a specific culture before it became maladaptive at the group level.

    • imoimo says:

      I hadn’t thought of the memetic benefits of self-sacrifice before, but it makes sense. You don’t even need a genetic driver of the self-sacrifice, just an intelligent species with a pro-social bent. If a single initial sacrifice saves the species/community it will be lauded and encouraged, leading to more self-sacrifice in the future. The cultural notion of armies for defense could spontaneously arise in this way. Communities where this didn’t happen would also be selected against in war times.

      (Not sure this response was helpful, I’m just musing out loud.)

  22. Anonymous Bosch says:

    This topic sentence comes off as more aggressive than it’s meant: What is the deal with Andrew Yang’s fans?

    I’m not asking the deal with Andrew Yang. He’s rich, he wants to be President, and he’s internet-savvy enough to make his millions go farther than Steyer’s billions. I get it. I don’t even consider him a bad candidate. Of the remaining Dems, he’s easily in my top half.

    What I’m asking about are his supporters, more specifically a *type* of super-fan doing him no favors whenever I see them engage other Democrats in something that I assume to be persuasion. The “Yang or bust” folks have an opaque locus of affection for him that absolutely cannot be sussed out. When I talk to them, I tend to get four kinds of non-answers.

    Circular ones: An example of this is when Yang fans claim he’s the only one who can beat Trump because he’ll get crossover votes, usually accompanied with a self-citation (“If it’s not Yang I’m voting Trump/libertarian/staying home”). This is not especially persuasive, both because Bernie fans are more numerous and make the same threats more credibly (many of them *did* vote Stein or couch in 2016), and because it’s ultimately Not An Argument, revealing nothing about *why* he curries such devotion while actively antagonizing non-fans out of sharing it.

    Ignorant ones: An example of this is when I was told by a stone-faced Yang supporter that he was the only candidate talking about the opioid crisis. Literally every candidate has patter on the opioid crisis! If anything Yang talks about it less than some other candidates (it’s a regular focus of Klobuchar’s stump speeches), and his specific plans are distinguished mostly by how bad they are (focusing mostly on making legal prescriptions more difficult, which is what drove the black market to fentanyl in the first place). All this tells me is that Yang fans are mostly not paying attention to other candidates, which again, doesn’t get at the why.

    The bag: In fairness, this is a pretty universal flaw in how people differentiate within the primary. I have long thought the debates should focus more on foreign policy and criminal justice and less on issues like tax hikes and health care, which are ultimately dictated by whatever kludge gets votes from the median Senator and not Presidential platforms. But Yang’s UBI (especially the VAT required to fund it) is the sort of radical plan that I don’t think could even get past a highly unlikely 60/40 D senate. His more fair/wonkish/contingent supporters, if asked privately, will admit that he’s likely stuck with some incremental step like beefing up the EITC, which plenty of other candidates (Warren, etc.) want to do.

    Trust/Affect: An example of this is when I asked someone why they weren’t voting for Bernie, and they said “Yang is a capitalist.” I pointed out “Capitalism 2.0” is also Warren’s gimmick, but this was dismissed because she took money as a bankruptcy consultant. Yang was not in a monastery during the 00s; he was working in biglaw, a health care IT company, and a GMAT prep company where he boasted of having McKinsey, Goldman, etc. as clients. Another example is Yang’s skepticism towards “identity politics,” a criticism echoed by multiple other Dem candidates (most notably Buttgieg). The Yang fan I spoke to dismissed the latter because of how quick Buttgieg reaches for his identity as a gay man; but Yang is not shy about bringing up his race in the service of a point about immigration or the alt-right. I *believe* his supporters when they say they trust him more than other candidates. But the source of that trust remains mysterious.

    I want to stress that Yang isn’t alone in having off-putting fans. As someone who has Bernie/Warren for a top 2 I am endlessly disappointed at how seamlessly the online Hillary/Bernie beef has transposed to Warren/Bernie. (I am convinced Warren is dropping because all the extremely online types who unironically enjoyed “Fight Song” and made Khaleesi memes are now Warren stans, while Biden seems to have soaked up the less-engaged normies who voted Hillary out of reflexive support for the known quantity.)

    I am also aware candidates don’t control their supporters and don’t hold Yang responsible for any of this except insofar as most of his plans remain frustratingly vague and invite his supporters to fill in the blanks. But what is the deal? Is there any kind of rational formula that yields “Yang > Trump > Other Dems”? This seems like a question where the SSC commentariat (whether they share this view or not) might have a steelier man than randos on social media.

    • Aftagley says:

      My theory is that candidates who actively try to be different and appeal to a different crowd (Yang in 2020, Bernie in 2016, Ron Paul in 2000) end up activating new segments of the population who were not very active politically.

      He’s pretty explicitly a nerd, err sorry, grey-tribe member and is actively courting other people like him using language they understand and mannerisms they’ll connect with. This leads people who had previously never been excited by a candidate to feel like he’s the real deal. The excitement they feel for him is the same kind of excitement you see in anyone just getting involved in something; they kind of overdo it.

    • NazbolPink says:

      An example of this is when Yang fans claim he’s the only one who can beat Trump because he’ll get crossover votes, usually accompanied with a self-citation (“If it’s not Yang I’m voting Trump/libertarian/staying home”). This is not especially persuasive, both because Bernie fans are more numerous and make the same threats more credibly (many of them *did* vote Stein or couch in 2016)

      Yang doesn’t have a history of drooling over communist regimes. It’s not circular reasoning to cite anecdotal evidence of Yang’s crossover appeal, it’s limited evidence but evidence nonetheless. Every alt-righter I know intends to vote for Yang.

      I pointed out “Capitalism 2.0” is also Warren’s gimmick, but this was dismissed because she took money as a bankruptcy consultant.

      Warren’s dishonesty is shown by her repeated identification as Native American. I spent many a night in high school doing my homework, studying for the SAT, trying my hardest to get into a good college and get a good scholarship because my family didn’t have any money, and it NEVER once occurred to put anything other than white, European, Caucasian male on the application. She’s apologized, and I could forgive her if she were just some random person. But I wouldn’t take that person and make them President, it’s a slap in the face of everyone who’s ever worked hard for something.

      Another example is Yang’s skepticism towards “identity politics,” a criticism echoed by multiple other Dem candidates (most notably Buttgieg). The Yang fan I spoke to dismissed the latter because of how quick Buttgieg reaches for his identity as a gay man; but Yang is not shy about bringing up his race in the service of a point about immigration or the alt-right.

      Yang’s trying to heal racial divisions. With Buttgieg it’s like he wants everyone to applaud him for being gay. Imagine being a soldier, told to run into a hail of bullets and then being reminded that your commander in chief is taking it up the a**. You don’t go around telling everybody about your porn preferences and he shouldn’t go around telling people about that.

      except insofar as most of his plans remain frustratingly vague and invite his supporters to fill in the blanks

      Yang’s policy proposals are the most numerous and detailed of any candidate.

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        Yang doesn’t have a history of drooling over communist regimes. It’s not circular reasoning to cite anecdotal evidence of Yang’s crossover appeal, it’s limited evidence but evidence nonetheless. Every alt-righter I know intends to vote for Yang.

        Democrats don’t just have to worry about marginal voters flipping to Trump. They also have to worry about marginal voters flipping third party, or marginal voters not turning out at all. “Bernie will scare off the normies” is an argument against Bernie, not an argument for Yang. (It was also an argument for Hillary in 2016, so it doesn’t carry as much force.) And to the extent we can assume you’re speaking to a Democrat already convinced to reach for the center rather than the outskirts, they have little reason to chase some groyper-heavy army of young people (not a valuable demographic in terms of votes) rather than, say, the blue-collar old people that Biden is pitching.

        But most importantly, this is a circular argument in the context of persuading other Democrats. Simply stating your guy is the only guy merely invites the supporters of other Democrats polling higher than Yang to defect in the same way. You have to talk to them about *why.*

        Warren’s dishonesty is shown by her repeated identification as Native American.

        Yang’s trying to heal racial divisions. With Buttgieg it’s like he wants everyone to applaud him for being gay.

        I have no doubt that every “Yang or bust” person can, if asked, find some specific reason to disparage every other Dem candidate. I’m less sure that those individual reasons will be mutually consistent and stem from a coherent underlying worldview rather than being back-filled from sentiment. Your dismissals of Buttgieg and Warren, for instance, make me question if you’ve read Yang’s health care plan, which includes such knee-slappers (to someone voting primarily on idpol skepticism) as “Invest in implicit bias training for healthcare providers to ensure Black women receive life-saving maternal care” or “Ensure access to non-discriminatory healthcare, like gender-affirming services.”

        His health plan also provides an ample (and far more recent) demonstration of dishonesty, as earlier this year, Yang’s website touted his support for Medicare for All, and specifically used the term “single-payer.” His current plan claims to support the “spirit” of M4A but now simply contains an extremely vague public option. (And when I say vague, I mean it: it’s literally one single sentence.)

        This gets at two issues: the typical Yang balance of being very vague on the big questions and very specific about the small ones. (“Who pays for what” is not asking the wrong questions unless you’re unprepared to answer them.) And dishonesty: You can say that “well, the term Medicare for all doesn’t necessarily mean yada yada yada” but in terms of the contours of popular debate, it’s been fairly consistently used to mean Bernie/Warren’s plan or something similar, and crucially *not* used to mean a vanilla public option. (Just as it should’ve been clear that “Native American” did not mean “I was told so by my Grandma and contributed a recipe to Pow Wow Chow”).

        I’m not particularly interested in debating the merits of anyone’s health care plan (because, as I said, while the President can nudge it’s mostly gonna be up to Congress). But “having a lot of policy proposals” (I definitely won’t grant that they’re more detailed) is not necessarily meritorous when the central pillars are liable to change two months before the first primary. And going back to my first point about these laundry lists being mutually inconsistent backfills, “having lots of plans for stuff” sits ill alongside his supposed crossover appeal to libertarians and conservatives!

        • Deiseach says:

          “Invest in implicit bias training for healthcare providers to ensure Black women receive life-saving maternal care”

          That is pretty stupid. From a small amount of looking up “so why do black women have high rates of maternal mortality?” it looks like that would be better stated as “invest in training for healthcare providers to make them aware of the higher risks of hypertension and cardiac disease in black women, also higher rates of haemorrhage during delivery and of embolisms in the weeks after delivery”, and indeed it looks more like “outreach to black women of childbearing age to make them aware of potential health issues” rather than “teach midwives and obstetricians not to be racist bigots” would be of use.

          • Garrett says:

            The only one of these I wasn’t taught in my EMT class as a risk factor for pregnancy complications was the risk of embolism which is also greater for black women. (I read up on it subsequent to the Serena Williams clothing controversy)

            The rest of these are all effected by obesity rates. I can’t find any immediate data for only women of childbearing years, but the overall rate of obesity for black women is almost twice that of white women, which predicts a good bit of what is being seen here.

        • Pink-Nazbol says:

          Your dismissals of Buttgieg and Warren, for instance, make me question if you’ve read Yang’s health care plan, which includes such knee-slappers (to someone voting primarily on idpol skepticism) as “Invest in implicit bias training for healthcare providers to ensure Black women receive life-saving maternal care” or “Ensure access to non-discriminatory healthcare, like gender-affirming services.”

          That’s not surprising to me. My hope is that Yang, the Asian guy who likes math, knows that the maternal deaths claim is just whooey.

          And going back to my first point about these laundry lists being mutually inconsistent backfills, “having lots of plans for stuff” sits ill alongside his supposed crossover appeal to libertarians and conservatives!

          Plans do not imply a planned economy. Many are things conservatives can easily get behind, such as this, by far the best education plan any candidate has ever proposed, something conservatives would be proposing if any of them had spines:

          https://www.yang2020.com/policies/controlling-cost-higher-education/

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            These are the only two bullet points that mean anything to me, but without a student-centric goal of helping students find what’s best for them they mean nothing (hints: some people thrive in current academia, regardless of background, while others obviously dont; There are at least half a dozen major elementary school teaching paradigms, yet almost all tertiary institutions are term- and course-based programs; how many entering students have a clue about the genuine options open to them? And sure: some students wouldn’t complete school if they didn’t have athletics to help them feel at home.).

            – Increase the options for students looking at higher education
            – Get schools to focus on their ideals and invest their money in increasing the quality of education while decreasing the cost of said education for their students

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        Imagine being a soldier, told to run into a hail of bullets and then being reminded that your commander in chief is taking it up the a**.

        “Sir, could we maybe talk about that some other time?”

      • ECD says:

        With Buttgieg it’s like he wants everyone to applaud him for being gay. Imagine being a soldier, told to run into a hail of bullets and then being reminded that your commander in chief is taking it up the a**. You don’t go around telling everybody about your porn preferences and he shouldn’t go around telling people about that.

        Okay, I’m not a fan of Mayor Buttigieg, but (1) saying ‘I’m gay,’ is not the same thing as telling people your porn preferences; and (2) you really didn’t want a military angle on this argument with him as your subject, that’s just an incredibly counterproductive argument against a veteran on behalf of a man who has never served (as well as being remarkably distasteful and inappropriate, in my view).

        • Deiseach says:

          I don’t care about Mayor Pete being gay, what annoys me is (a) he’s so freakin’ Episcopalian (“now, we’re not saying that Jesus was a white upper middle-class liberal, indeed we’re saying he wasn’t and that’s the trouble with what certain persons *sniff haughtily here* have made of his message of love and tolerance and niceness and not serving sherry at room temperature”) and (b) he’s a technocrat-wannabe who in relative terms has not overseen anything large enough to warrant thinking he can run the country. Congratulations, you’re mayor of South Bend. Does that really scale up to running a nation of 327 million people with international obligations as well? Sarah Palin got soundly mocked for talking about “They’re our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska” which the SNL skit turned into “I can see Russia from my house!” but at least she was aware of supranational concerns. What can Pete see from his desk – Touchdown Jesus?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I don’t care about Mayor Pete being gay, what annoys me is (a) he’s so freakin’ Episcopalian (“now, we’re not saying that Jesus was a white upper middle-class liberal, indeed we’re saying he wasn’t and that’s the trouble with what certain persons *sniff haughtily here* have made of his message of love and tolerance and niceness and not serving sherry at room temperature”)

            Ahaha.
            “now, we’re not saying that Jesus was a white upper middle-class liberal, indeed we ought to bring up that he was brown to stick it to the wrong sort of people, but He certainly believed everything we do and not the horrible things those black Anglicans teach, and really, isn’t that the core of His message, not supernatural stuff like how many persons God is or being born of a virgin?”

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Supranational concerns are the least of my worries with Buttgieg. Guys in navy intelligence (especially those who deploy) aren’t hicks, and he’ll also be a damn sight more able to absorb and process new information than his pension-eligible competitors.

            I just don’t think he’s that good a politician or administrator, and will struggle mightily in the Getting Shit Done department.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          as well as being remarkably distasteful and inappropriate

          Well, yeah, but what else would you expect from a commenter who literally has “Naz” as a part of a nickname…

    • hls2003 says:

      Can’t say I’m really plugged into the Yang boosters, or have even heard much from them, but it sort of sounds like you’re describing selection bias. You’re going to get similar flaws from basically anyone who is super excited about any Presidential candidate. Pretty much by definition, superfans are going to be atypical in their activism and their enthusiasm, and that is often grating to less involved non-superfans. The average primary voter is already going to be substantially more activist and enthusiastic than your average American. When you add in that RCP has Yang polling at around 3-4%, he’s already got a very small slice of that activist voter base, so I would expect a higher percentage of his voters to be superfans than, say, Joe Biden. So they’re going to seem abnormal because they probably are abnormal. I would expect the same to be true of, say, hardcore Tulsi Gabbard fans or Cory Booker fans too, and I would expect anyone still sticking with them as they remain mired in low single digits will be pretty hardcore.

      Besides the selection bias, I think there might be two other things: (1) Yang’s fans are presumably more tech-y and online on average, and everything is terrible on the Internet; and (2) Yang’s fans are presumably a bit younger on average and identify as nerdier than other voters, and part of being young and nerdy is a deep conviction that you are smarter than other people, which is always irritating.

      • Guy in TN says:

        Yang’s fans are presumably a bit younger on average and identify as nerdier than other voters, and part of being young and nerdy is a deep conviction that you are smarter than other people, which is always irritating.

        His “Math” pin on his shirt is a good encapsulation of this. If you disagree with him it’s not because you have ideological differences, but rather it is because you do not believe in Math, Reason, or Logic. The “math” lapel lets you know that he has transcended your petty ideologies, and his positions are simply Objectively Correct.

        (If this sounds vaguely familiar, its the same posturing used by people who use “Conflict Theorist” as an insult.)

        It comes across as extremely off-putting and condescending to people who might have actual substantive disagreements with his policies. Which is to say, it comes across as extremely off-putting to basically everyone who isn’t already part of the roughly 1.75% of the population that supports him.

        The difference between him and, say, Klobuchar fans (of which there is roughly equal support as Yang) is that Klobuchar fans don’t imply that those who support her opponents must be ignorant or irrational. This, I think, is the “deal” with Yang and his ardent supporters.

        People who advocate for the UBI should take note of Yang’s failures in this regard, and not repeat them the next go around.

        • Deiseach says:

          I dunno, Guy, I see a selection of ironic(?) support for Yang on the basis of “NEETbux!” which does not sound to me like taking his UBI policy seriously and does sound like “it’s fun to support this guy to wind up the normies” 🙂

          What I’m saying is that some of his ‘support’ is definitely tongue-in-cheek and neither he nor anyone else should really count it as “down with the youth” who are going to turn out to vote for him.

    • Plenty of people feel culturally closest to Yang, followed by Trump, followed by the other Dems. When Yang talks about the opioid crisis, people feel as if he actually cares about the victims, Trump doesn’t care about them, and other Democrats have contempt and hostility for them for not having elite educations and not caring about global warming.

      There’s a school of thought that says “that’s irrational, all a rational person would care about is policy.” Well the question needs to be asked, what’s a “policy?” Here’s a quote from Jared Polis, the current governor of my state, Colorado.

      “It seems like we ought to provide more of a legal framework, then, that allows a reasonable likelihood standard or a preponderance of evidence standard [for deciding whether to expel college students accused of sex offenses]. If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about them being transferred to another university, for crying out loud.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/09/11/better-that-five-innocent-students-get-expelled-than-one-guilty-student-stay-enrolled/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4b13ffb05675

      Is this a “policy?” It fits the dictionary definition of a policy pretty well. But you could also say “it’s not in his policy proposals list on his campaign website, he’s made no attempt to implement it as law during his governorship, so it can’t count as a policy, it’s just an off the cuff comment, and a rational voter should disregard it.” I argue that they should not disregard it. What actually happens in the real world is often only weakly correlated with the letter of the law. The university bureaucrats can read that quote, figure he’s their boss in a roundabout way, and decide not to wait for the politicians to implement his vision for real, not openly, but for real. And that’s the argument for preferring Yang then Trump then the Democrats if you’re someone who agrees generally with the Left on economic issues but isn’t willing to just shut your eyes and pretend that certain things are not there.

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        Plenty of people feel culturally closest to Yang, followed by Trump, followed by the other Dems. When Yang talks about the opioid crisis, people feel as if he actually cares about the victims, Trump doesn’t care about them, and other Democrats have contempt and hostility for them for not having elite educations and not caring about global warming.

        This is a restatement of the trust thing but not a real answer. I have a low opinion of, say, Amy Klobuchar, but I do not consider her to be a serial villain who can’t discuss the opioid crisis without randomly taking shots at the uneducated for being global warming skeptics (since she does, and doesn’t). I am assuming you also don’t think this, since you say “people feel” as if this is happening rather than it actually happening. But what specifically is he doing or not doing (that every other Democrat, from Bernie to Biden to Bloomberg is not or is doing) to convey this impression?

        • I am assuming you also don’t think this, since you say “people feel” as if this is happening rather than it actually happening.

          It is to at least some degree. I’ve been around enough gatherings where people assumed I was a Democrat to have heard it all myself, people expressing happiness at middle America’s problems. I just can’t prove it in any specific individual.

          But what specifically is he doing or not doing (that every other Democrat, from Bernie to Biden to Bloomberg is not or is doing) to convey this impression?

          Here’s what the said about her defeat:

          If you look at the map of the United States, there is all that red in the middle, places where Trump won. What that map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that own two thirds of America’s Gross Domestic product. I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, Make America Great Again, was looking backwards. You don’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian American succeeding more than you are, whatever that problem is, I am going to solve it.

          https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/03/13/hillary_clinton_in_india_places_i_won_are_moving_forward_own_23_of_americas_gdp.html

          This is a good summary of the worldview of many on the left. If you’re a white man and you’re struggling, it’s your fault. And the struggling of the people in the oppressed coalition, that’s also your fault, and they need affirmative action to compensate for their disadvantages, and you aren’t allowed to ask for evidence they are real. Compare Hillary’s narrative above to Yang’s narrative about automation. I don’t believe the Yang narrative about automation, but it’s obviously going to go over much better than Clinton’s.

          • Anonymous Bosch says:

            Is that Sanders’ worldview? Is that Buttgieg’s? You can’t really say that about either of them since they talk frequently about reaching out to Midwestern Obama-Trump voters and it’s not like that.

            I’m asking you for the specific reasons that you think only Yang is projecting this. Not being Hillary is the opposite of unique.

            (This is kind of an example of what I mean when I say Yang fans have a very inaccurate idea of what other candidates sound like. Look: the first primary is in a red state and everyone saw Hillary get roasted for the “deplorables” shit. You’re not watching the other candidates if you think that’s their pitch.)

          • Clutzy says:

            If you look at the map of the United States, there is all that red in the middle, places where Trump won. What that map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that own two thirds of America’s Gross Domestic product. I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, Make America Great Again, was looking backwards. You don’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian American succeeding more than you are, whatever that problem is, I am going to solve it.

            https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/03/13/hillary_clinton_in_india_places_i_won_are_moving_forward_own_23_of_americas_gdp.html

            This is a good summary of the worldview of many on the left. If you’re a white man and you’re struggling, it’s your fault. And the struggling of the people in the oppressed coalition, that’s also your fault, and they need affirmative action to compensate for their disadvantages, and you aren’t allowed to ask for evidence they are real. Compare Hillary’s narrative above to Yang’s narrative about automation. I don’t believe the Yang narrative about automation, but it’s obviously going to go over much better than Clinton’s.

            Isn’t it also…kinda not true? Clinton’s sentiment. Like, yes she won the cities. Which have a lot of productivity. But she really racked up big margins in those cities among poor blacks/hispanics, its not like she won 90% of people making over 100k in cities as well. A Clinton voter is statistically much more likely to have been in the bottom quintile.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      Yang’s central policy proposal represents a life-changing amount of money for a lot of his online supporters, some of whom are otherwise ideologically right-leaning. Maybe mass unemployment as a result of automation is a thing of the distant future, but long-term unemployment and thankless dead-end jobs are things of the present, and the prospect of Yangbucks means a lot to people in those situations. And, well, a lot of NEETs hang out on the internet.

      That drives the passion, that plus halo effect is probably why people think he’s great on everything else.

  23. A Definite Beta Guy says:

    So, let’s talk windows!

    We’ve put off window replacements for the last few years. If it ain’t broke (that badly), don’t fix it, right? They are original wood windows with aluminum storms over the top, and they sweat like hell, but the last quote we got to upgrade 20 openings was something around $24,000, so…

    But I’m getting pretty frustrated with these old windows.

    Anyone done any replacements recently and have strong opinions on the product offerings?

    • Cliff says:

      $24k seems crazy

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        It’s a bit high. Which isn’t surprising: the salesman was applying some rather aggressive sales tactics which quickly turned me off his whole approach.

        However, depending on the type of window and the installation…windows are pretty damned expensive. These ones unnecessarily so (triple pane yadda yadda yadda)

        • acymetric says:

          Could you reach back out to him to get the quote for a cheaper (but still nice) window? This is definitely something to check around and get multiple quotes on. My parents just redid a bunch of windows…the first quote they got was probably similar to yours but they ended up being able to get it done for a little less than half that (I think) from a different contractor/servicer. Not sure how much of that was cheaper windows and how much was cheaper rates for installation.

          Do you happen to have any friends/acquaintances involved in construction? They might be able to refer you to someone that will do good work at reasonable prices but maybe isn’t the top search result online/in the Yellow Pages/wherever you are looking. I will second what was said elsewhere that you do want to go with a quality/reputable window company due to the lead dust concerns.

    • hls2003 says:

      Pella windows are good quality. That price doesn’t seem much off for installed. We had about half ours redone some years ago with double-pane sealed windows, and those were Pella. They have mostly held up but one or two have unsealed and get vapor again, which happened quicker than I was expecting and was kind of disappointing. I don’t know if that was the windows, the installation, or the operation, though. If they’re not ruining anything else I’d live with the old ones (well, I would, my wife is another matter). If the sweating is threatening to ruin other stuff, then you may just have to bite the bullet.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Are you getting vapor between the panes or are you talking about vapor inside the house?
        Anything breaking that early on sounds like an installation issue, but vapor inside the panes seems like manufacturing.

        I like pella windows, but right now I’m leaning towards buying a bunch from a Big Box Store. My Dad did windows for a living, so I’m hoping we can do some relatively easy pocket installs that will save on labor costs. At that point it’s just easier to get something from a Big Box.

        Re: living with old windows. Yeah, that was my plan, but the sheer condensation on the window is really bothering me, and they seal pretty damn poorly. Plus, cleaning them is a bear, since there are the main windows and the storms.
        Also, aluminum storms are horrifically unsightly.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Strong opinions on windows? Well, I think Windows 10 was much better than Windows 8. I especially liked the restored Start menu.

      /s

    • Eternaltraveler says:

      Be careful replacing old windows as that can be a large source of lead dust (often the largest). Do you have any small kids?

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Oooo, good point, that’s going to be nasty. We have an infant, but we were planning on having her away while we did window replacement. Unfortunately I don’t think that’ll be enough since lead dust is going to settle….

      • SamChevre says:

        A careful contractor will make sure the lead dust is cleaned up well–it’s a legal requirement at this point. But you really need a “does this all the time” contractor. One good source is if your state has a energy saving program run through the electrical or gas company (like MassSave in MA); the contractors for those tend to be more professional, and window replacement is often somewhat subsidized as well.

  24. rubberduck says:

    I realize this question has been asked online a thousand times already, but I’m asking it anyway:

    When job-hunting, how should one go about figuring out a reasonable salary for a position?

    I’m seriously job-hunting for the first time after finishing school and don’t know anyone in my field (chemistry) to ask for advice. Of course, everyone online says “do you research to figure out how much your skills are worth”, considering living costs, etc., but the range of salaries reported online seems so broad as to be useless.

    Also, how far away can one apply and still have a decent chance? I don’t have any especially unique or in-demand skills and assume that companies prefer local candidates, but would a job, say, 5 hours away still consider me, or should I not waste my time?

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      Caveat: I don’t necessarily know what I’m talking about.

      Apply as far away as you want. Relocation costs are a fixed cost that won’t come out of the hiring department’s budget (assuming you qualify for the relocation costs). The hiring manager will care about fit, not how far away you currently live.

      For a starting position I would think it’s more important to have a salary that you’re comfortable living on (while paying down school debt), as well as a job that will help advance your career.

      The reason you’re seeing large ranges for particular position is two-fold:
      1) A Research Associate job classification (for example) consists of 4 subdivisions – RA1 (sometimes called “Research Associate”) through RA4, (sometimes called “Staff Research Associate”, with “Senior Research Associate” and “Principal Research Associate” as the intermediate levels). Sometimes the pay ranges for all four of these titles are smushed into one.
      2) Within a range there are people with varying experience, from people fresh to the title to those with many years in the title. The trick is is that people A) get pay increases, but B) those pay increases can’t knock them out of the pay range entirely (or instead of getting a raise, they get a lump sum bonus). So people with no post-school experience will be hired onto the low end of the range, while those with years of post-school experience will report incomes toward the middle or higher end of the range.

      If you were Biology, with a fresh B.S., looking for a job in industry, I’d say anywhere from the lower $40k to maybe mid $50k range, depending on where the job is located (this would be within the standard pay range for a Research Associate I position, and as a rank newbie you don’t have years of experience to merit a higher position in the pay range, yet). This is assuming you apply for an associate position and not an assistant position (which may have a lower salary range, or is an hourly position).

      Feel free to bargain their initial offer (I’m saying feel okay making a single counter-offer, not going back and forth forever, or making wildly unreasonable demands, or being unwilling to budge), if their initial offer is lower than you think you’d be okay with. You can mention the cost of living, or remoteness of the region, or any other topical issues you consider relevant when making your offer.

      Not bargaining the initial offer is a mistake most people make on their first salaried job.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        I tried editing but it won’t let me anymore.

        The reason you’re seeing large ranges for particular position is two-fold:

        1) A Research Associate job classification (for example) consists of 4 subdivisions job titles – RA1 (sometimes called “Research Associate”) through RA4, (sometimes called “Staff Research Associate”, with “Senior Research Associate” and “Principal Research Associate” as the intermediate levels). Sometimes the pay ranges for all four of these titles are smushed into one.

        2) Within a range single job title there are people with varying experience, from people fresh to the title to those with many years in the title. The trick is is that people A) get pay increases, but B) those pay increases can’t knock them out of the pay range entirely (or instead of getting a raise, they get a lump sum bonus). So people with no post-school experience will be hired onto the low end of the range, while those with years of post-school experience will report incomes toward the middle or higher end of the range, thanks to their annual raises.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      I am curious about this — doesn’t your school help with this? My experience is far from yours — I graduated 40 years ago and in accounting, not chemistry, but I would think it would work the same way. I knew the going salary for a newly graduated accountant; I think I got it from the placement office.

      • rubberduck says:

        I did an overseas master’s program. I had a great 2 years overall and learned a lot, but even if they had salary information, it wouldn’t be relevant in my case.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Try asking your bachelor’s institution what is the going rate for people with a masters.

          At best you’re still probably looking at RA2-level positions. So in the low $50k to low $60k starting salary (again, if you were a Biology person with no non-school experience).

      • acymetric says:

        This depends heavily on your school and chosen discipline. I went to a reasonably nice (not Ivy league or even Stanford/Duke level, but nice) private school and the help they offered (to find an internship that was required in order for me to graduate, no less, was “try to Google it and see what you find.”

        Certainly others have had better experiences, so it is definitely worth it to check with your job placement/career services department but you may or may not actually get useful help there.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      You should apply as far away as you feel comfortable. If you have a solid resume, people will consider you. Companies typically budget relocation expenses and expect there to be a certain amount of Relo. Also, we typically budget to run at full-staff. If we have an open position, we are usually favorable on our budget, and we can pay Relo out of the open salary savings. Also, Relo is an expense that often feeds into corporate’s recruiting budget, IE, it doesn’t hurt the actual hiring department.

      As for your other question, I’d recommend asking around your school’s recruiting office. They MIGHT know, assuming they are actually worth a damn. You can also ask alumni through school alumni networks. If someone asked me how much they should be making out of school, I’d have no problem letting them know.

      It’s not just about knowing salary, BTW, but knowing what kind of positions you should be applying for and what career experience you need. I don’t know if you’re going into academia or private sector or what. But I can tell you I know some chemistry engineers: our Warehouse manager is one. He somehow started in quality, ended up in quality management, and moved to warehouse management, because it made more money than food quality. He could do this because he was picking up transferrable skills along the way.
      If you are going into private sector, as soon as you get a job, you need to be thinking about your next job. Do not let anyone tell you different. If you spend more than 3 years at a job, you are leaving money on the table. Do not leave money on the table.

      Also, always counter-offer at least once. Don’t go crazy high, but definitely counter. If you cannot get more salary, ask for more PTO. From a salaried perspective, PTO is literally costless: you are costing the company the same whether you are there or not, so they can grant you marginal PTO and it costs them no money. You should prefer the money to the PTO, but you might as well negotiate some days off if you can.

      Regarding online research: I see what everyone makes at my plant makes now, since I am the controller and I set the budget. I also see what a lot of other people make, because we’re going through accounting changes. Big companies typically pay at the higher end of the range for experienced positions, but a bit above middle for junior hires, at least for my company.

      • Viliam says:

        If you are going into private sector, as soon as you get a job, you need to be thinking about your next job. Do not let anyone tell you different. If you spend more than 3 years at a job, you are leaving money on the table. Do not leave money on the table.

        This. I’d say it is even more important that getting your first salary right. Even if you underestimated your market value at your first job, as long as you keep searching and keep changing jobs when someone offers to pay at least 30% more, the problem will gradually fix itself. (Also, your value will grow, because now you have experience.)

    • brad says:

      The online wage library from the department of labor is surprisingly useful. (Assuming you’re in the US.)

      • Garrett says:

        I managed to boost my first job starting salary by about 50% by doing this. Look up the salary data at every applicable level (city/State/nation-wide). Counter-offer with whatever number is higher. “I’m surprised by that offer because the median salary range in the $AREA for that job is \$$X – I consider myself to be an above-average candidate so I was expecting an offer at least that high”.

    • SamChevre says:

      My advice is to network aggressively. Give as much info as you comfortably can, anywhere that you can–and eventually, you’ll find someone who can tell you. (And maybe, someone who knows someone who needs someone with your skills.)

  25. GearRatio says:

    @Aftagley

    That’s where Trump’s statement crosses the line between “normal locker room banter” into “maybe a problem.” Even allowing for creative interpretation, it still implies that he is completely fine with using his fame and overall presence to justify aggressive sexual initiations with women.

    I’m not convinced there’s not both A. Having one’s cake and eating it too and B. Worst-case-scenario interpretation going on in both these instances. First we decide this is all completely literal, but we give ourselves the liberty of ignoring the fact that when the specific woman didn’t want to sleep with him he apparently buggered off; so we go “well, he mentioned a specific woman!” and then ignore the equally specific part where he never got anywhere with her. If we don’t like him, we assume he did a bunch of other mean sexual stuff to her in the process of “failing”, but we are making this up wholecloth.

    Then we can go “well, but he mentioned other women”, lumping them in with the specificity even though the second part isn’t specific. In addition to this, we use the term “justify aggressive sexual initiations with women”, something that we (generally) think is fine so long as it’s consensual. Then we decide it’s probably nonconsensual, deciding that the phrase “they let you do it”, and only this phrase out of the whole recording (because it defends him), is non-literal hyperbole.

    And then we don’t draw equivalence – if any of us has ever touched a boob or gone in for a kiss without asking for explicit verbal permission, we’ve done what Trump is saying he does in the second part if we don’t assume non-consent, we just talk about it differently. Unless 100% of us are affirmative consent hard-liners, we are either reading this the worst possible way and disallowing hyperbole to get non-consent out of it, or we are hypocrites.

    So then we go to people who aren’t doing “Well, I hate him, so the worst case interpretation of this is probably true and he’s admitting to sexual assault” math and tell them to do it too, and they sense we aren’t necessarily doing an even-handed, forgiving read of the evidence and we act SHOCKED that they’d support clear sexual assault. Which at this point seems reasonable, since we’ve settled on a version of this where Donald Trump walks into rooms, sees women he thinks are attractive and immediately, wordlessly and ruthlessly palms their genitals in a maximally evil bias-confirming way.

    Maybe you and I aren’t as bad as the scenario above, but there’s no shortage of articles/commentators who were; a simple google search easily turns up a dozen “Trump admits sexual assault” headlines.

    And then on the other side, there’s people like me, whose reflexes are to go “ah, that’s just how dudes talk, y’know? It’s harmless” and ignore all the bad that’s rolled up there, too. So I don’t end up thinking a lot about the part where he’s trying to sleep with a dude’s wife for funzies (something I think just slightly more moral than murder) and instead focus on the part where I think everybody else is being dishonest to cover up my own internal lies. That’s at least as bad as the other, I’m not cutting slack here.

    I say all this, but understand that if I had to lay money on it I’d probably bet that Trump has done FAR WORSE stuff than this statement implies; he seems like a big creep who thinks he owns the world and everyone in it who does what he wants to most of the time. Where I’m at on all stuff like this is that it feels good, but it doesn’t convince anybody; worse, it gives them permission to ignore you next time. So I’m willing to defend the devil on stuff like this, because I think the “This is literal admission of sexual assault!” people did harm rather than good here. Same with the “This is nothing, he’s a normal guy” stuff said about a sadist having a calm conversation about hurting a marriage.

    On the generation gap bit:

    I think there’s probably a generation gap in terms of “ways you never speak around women”. I would be surprised if this applied much to one’s sexual partners/spouse in any generation, though, or was ever as strong a prohibition as it appears in hindsight; you and I are two young to remember the 60’s or 50’s, so our only reference to it is pop culture and probably gets sanitized a bit.

    I’d keep in mind that it wouldn’t be bad to have those conversations with women (or at least any worse) as long as they thought the conversation fun to have; to the extent there are less women who want to have those conversations in different generations, you’d at least hope there were less of them in proportion to that for charity’s sake.

    @David, @Cliff:

    I’ve never quite understood the whole “sex object” thing. Can’t you want to have sex with a person without knowing anything about them except for how they look, without thinking of them as an object? They are just a very sexy person, right?

    Suppose you admire a singer for her singing, knowing nothing else about her. Are you treating her as a “song object”?

    Certainly you can want to have sex with someone without knowing anything else about them; this is the default position when you see an attractive person – that’s what seeing an attractive person is. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. But, as with anything, there’s good versions and bad versions. If you do this in a mindset that there’s, you know, a person there, one that has some value besides sex, then you aren’t doing the sex object thing in the way I’m talking about.

    But there’s a bad version of this where a person’s primary value is sex; sex-object-thinking guy doesn’t want anything out of them but that. To sex-object-thinking guy, that’s what they are for. Think of a guy who leaves money on the nightstand to make sure the prostitute leaves right after – she’s a sex-thing. Once he’s done having sex, she should leave; her value is exhausted. In that case, she’s a consensual sex-thing just as he’s a consensual money-thing; but it’s certainly not a stretch to understand that not every woman on earth wants to be thought of as an otherwise-useless thing whose primary value is as a gratification machine. Colorfully, that’s why “cumdumpster” is an effective recent insult – it’s intent is to inform the target of they are considered to have a very limited, specific value.

    Remember I said these relevant bits:

    It’s easy and automatic to see an attractive woman and view her only as a sexual object; something like “look at that thing over there; I’d like to have sex with it”. But this isn’t a noble reflex. At the least it’s not noble if it isn’t tempered by humanity a huge amount.

    Most good people with high male sex drive spend a lot of time resisting it and understanding that despite the fact they’d like to have sex quite a bit, that women are also people and equals and have value equal to men, that the “they are sex things” is an important animal impulse but that we are supposed to be more than our animal reflexes. Not doing this is ugly and bad; fully leaning into “women should have sex with me, that’s their purpose and they have no value besides that” is incel stuff.

    That whole segment is chock-full of qualifiers – see in the word “only” in the first paragraph, see me mentioning that it’s not bad if it’s tempered by other things, etc. I though this would preempt some of this conversation, but the general point is that sexual attraction isn’t bad, but limiting people value to that one thing often is.

    There seems to be some embedded puritanical moralizing here that you have to know and like a person’s personality before you can have sex with them.

    To be clear I do hold the puritanical view you are mentioning; I don’t pretend I don’t. I’ve only ever slept with the one girl, I’m a gold star traditionalist.

    But to be equally clear I’m very confused how you can find someone and sleep with them without liking their personality and claim they aren’t a sex-thing to you – what else are they, if you don’t like them in any way besides their sexual potential? Ditto if you don’t know them at all yet, except with the possibility of them eventually becoming more than a sex thing – at that moment before you know them, I’m not sure how their non-sex-thinglyness is more than a theoretical event.

    I can sense there’s some nuance here I’m not getting. Maybe it’s in a lack of maliciousness, or something – I’m asking because I don’t understand the difference, and I’d genuinely like to know. It’s a foreign mindset to me.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      But to be equally clear I’m very confused how you can find someone and sleep with them without liking their personality and claim they aren’t a sex-thing to you – what else are they, if you don’t like them in any way besides their sexual potential? Ditto if you don’t know them at all yet, except with the possibility of them eventually becoming more than a sex thing – at that moment before you know them, I’m not sure how their non-sex-thinglyness is more than a theoretical event.

      Can you (the theoretical you, obviously not you, GearRatio) imagine getting to know a woman you are sexually very attracted to and want to have sex with, but then, based on getting to know her, deciding that sex is off the table based on her personality alone (even assuming you will never interact with her again in any way, and that she’s hygienically clean in every way)?

      • GearRatio says:

        I (the actual me, GearRatio) definitely can imagine falling out of lust in this way, but I’m atypical in a lot of ways so I wouldn’t take me as representative. I can think of many dozens of times when an objectively physically attractive person stopped being subjectively attractive to me, at all, when I found out said person was merely dumb, which is probably only like 4th or 5th on my “things not to be if you want GearRatio to be attracted to you” list.

    • GearRatio says:

      This wasn’t actually supposed to be posted up here, for whatever reason when I try to post and it makes me log in it then fools me, surprisingly(or unsurprisingly) often into posting at the top level like a dope. Apologies.

    • Evan Þ says:

      We people who think Trump’s statement was unsavory don’t – at least, I don’t – consider “they let you do it” to be hyperbole. I wouldn’t be surprised if he really thought they let him do it (at least, insofar as he considered the subject at all). The problem is that people can appear to acquiesce to something without actually liking it. Specifically, women can sometimes not resist sexual assaults – perhaps the proverbial “lie back and think of England” – while definitely not consenting. The “Me Too” movement should at least teach us this much. It seems to me this’s all the more likely when faced with someone like Trump who shows no sign of caring about them as anything other than tools.

      Yes, it’s theoretically possible that all the women Trump did this to were fine with it. But his selection methods barely at all select for people who would be fine with it.

      And I say this as someone who thinks Trump, for all his flaws, has still been better as President than Clinton would’ve been. We elected him as President, not as a role model. If anything, the media glare of the Presidency has made him less able to keep assaulting women.

      • GearRatio says:

        We have very differing opinions on the first paragraph here in weird fundamental ways that’s going to make this hard to talk about. The first paragraph sort of demands affirmative consent; I.E. Trump though he was OK touching vaginas, but the women secretly didn’t like it, so we must still revile him. I’m very starkly against affirmative consent as a social norm for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that I don’t think it would even resolve your issues in the first paragraph above; I think we’d just be saying “well, of course they’d say yes – he’s a powerful man, and they were afraid”.

        Worse than that, though, I’m not really sure how Trump would be functionally different than a high school kid who briefly got to second twice during makeout sessions during the summer would be if it later on turned out that he had misread the situation. I’m not at all sure I blame that kid, and I’m not at all sure that there’s a workable system that doesn’t involve someone being willing to say no. That’s a big separate conversation and I’m not sure I’m openminded enough to be honest arguing it; I just bring this up to say our worldviews are pretty different in a way that I’m not sure can be solved in this conversation in a way that would let me argue against the first paragraph intelligibly.

        The second paragraph is a little weird to address. It breaks down to something like “We can safely assume some or most of an unspecified amount of women weren’t OK with Trump doing this, because we are already working under the assumption that he’s a chronic sexual offender”. I don’t know that I’d complain about someone saying “If you work under the assumption Trump is a rapist, this means comes off as very rapey”. This is, if I read correctly, sort of what you are saying; the part where you say “the media glare of the Presidency has mad him less able to keep assaulting women” sort of implies you consider him a chronic molester independent of this.

        But that wasn’t how it was used; it was used as “This is an inherently rapey thing, this should be read in a maximally harsh way, and it amounts to an admission of sexual assault.”. Those are sort of two separate things. I’m not arguing Trump is a good guy; I’m arguing hyperbole exists in conversations between men in some segments of culture that sounds worse than it is, and secondarily that this exact statement doesn’t stand as an admission of sexual assault. I’m not OK with those two things. I’m pretty much OK with “considering a lot of other things I already believe about him, this sounds really bad to me”.

        • Evan Þ says:

          I don’t take verbal affirmative consent as an ethical requirement, but I think ethically there should be some form of consent beyond “didn’t violently resist.” If someone tries to read “the situation” and turned out to have misinterpreted the woman’s reaction, that’s one thing. But Trump flatly said he didn’t even try: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

          Maybe this’s hyperbole. But given the rest of Trump’s behavior (e.g. repeatedly walking through the pageant dressing room), I’m not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      • perhaps the proverbial “lie back and think of England”

        At a slight tangent.

        That phrase is generally attributed to Queen Victoria, in the context of marital intercourse. My understanding is that the closest anyone has found to support for the story, in a letter of hers to a friend, is a reference to childbirth.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          Hey David, phrases.org.uk traces it to a 1905 poem, and in the sense used here to the (purported) 1912 diary of a Lady Hillingdon.
          https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/close-your-eyes-and-think-of-england.html

          • Thanks. I hadn’t seen that source.

            Another online source says, about that attribution:
            “A book published in 1972 asserted that the first statement was written in a personal journal in 1912, but no researcher has located this journal, and apparently the tale was apocryphal.”

            It sounds from that source as though the phrase may have originated in the 1940’s and been backdated to the Victorian period.

        • Deiseach says:

          My understanding is that Victoria enjoyed marital intercourse with her husband very much*, but found childbirth (the almost inevitable result of same) miserable and painful, and indeed may have suffered from post-natal depression. See the popularisation of anaesthesia during childbirth to the work of John Snow and administration of that to Queen Victoria:

          Snow’s work and findings were related to both anaesthesia and the practice of childbirth. His experience with obstetric patients was extensive and used different substances including ether, amylene and chloroform to treat his patients. However, chloroform was the easiest drug to administer. He treated 77 obstetric patients with chloroform. He would apply the chloroform at the second stage of labour and controlled the amount without completely putting the patients to sleep. Once the patient was delivering the baby, they would only feel the first half of the contraction and be on the border of unconsciousness, but not fully there. Regarding administration of the anaesthetic, Snow believed that it would be safer if another person that was not the surgeon applied it.

          The use of chloroform as an anaesthetic for childbirth was seen as unethical by many physicians and even the Church of England. However, on 7 April 1853, Queen Victoria asked John Snow to administer chloroform during the delivery of her eighth child. He then repeated the procedure for the delivery of her daughter three years later. Medical and religious acceptance of obstetrical anaesthesia came after in the 19th century.

          *She seems to have enjoyed her wedding night:

          Describing her wedding in February 1840, she said: “I felt so happy when the ring was put on, and by my precious Albert.”

          Later she describes her wedding day and night.

          “I never never spent such an evening!!,” she writes.

          “My dearest dearest dear Albert sat on a footstall by my side, and his excessive love and affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness, I never could have hoped to have felt before!

          “He clasped me in his arms, and we kissed each other again and again! His beauty, his sweetness and gentleness – really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband!”

          She describes it as the happiest day of her life.

          “To lie by his side, and in his arms, and on his dear bosom, and be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief!” she writes.

          “When day dawned (for we did not sleep much) and I beheld that beautiful face by my side, it was more than I can express!

          “Oh! was ever woman so blessed as I am.”

          • Evan Þ says:

            I unfortunately can’t find an online source, but I remember reading how, after Princess Beatrice’s birth, the doctors told Queen Victoria that another pregnancy would put her life at risk. She replied, essentially, that she and Albert couldn’t possibly give up sex.

            (In the event, Albert died four years later, after on his deathbed preventing war with the United States.)

          • SamChevre says:

            Prince Albert – possibly the only Prince with both tobacco and body jewelry named after him.

        • Ketil says:

          perhaps the proverbial “lie back and think of England”

          At a slight tangent.

          And another: after reading Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver (I believe), where they referred to the king (like nobility in genreal) simply by his demesne “England”, I realized the alternative interpretation of this adage. I.e., not that you should accept suffering for your country, but pretend that the guy you’re sleeping with is the king. And of course, closing your eyes makes more sense in that respect.

          Which of course fits with one interpretation of Trump’s locker room talk: when you are as rich or famous as he is, lots of women will happily have sex with you. Ask any rock star.

    • Dacyn says:

      To sex-object-thinking guy, that’s what they are for.

      But to be equally clear I’m very confused how you can find someone and sleep with them without liking their personality and claim they aren’t a sex-thing to you – what else are they, if you don’t like them in any way besides their sexual potential?

      There seems to be some equivocation here: thinking they have no use/value to you other than sex is different from thinking that they have no value at all other than sex, or from thinking that’s what they are “for”.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        If you don’t care about their value to anything else (left as a sentence fragment because I don’t know how to complete the thought verbally).

        This entire discussion is assuming an individual-centric world view. This is appropriate, as all values ultimately derived as individuals.

        The later part of your statement is irrelevant to the topic at hand (“different from thinking that they have no value at all other than sex, or from thinking that’s what they are “for”.”) In fact, that attitude is just as bad, as you’re still seeing the person as valuable to others, not intrinsically valuable in themselves as a source of value judgements.

        Chattel is seen as valuable for multiple reasons, but not valuable in and of itself.

        • Dacyn says:

          I am having a hard time decoding your comment. I agree with the second and fourth paragraphs but don’t see how they are relevant. As you note the first is incomplete, and I don’t know how you mean to complete it. In the third, it’s not quite clear what “that attitude” is, but if you were referring to “thinking they have no use/value to you other than sex” [note, I probably should have written “direct value” instead of “use/value”], then I don’t see at all how this implies “not intrinsically valuable in themselves as a source of value judgements”. People in China have no direct value to me (i.e. my life is not directly improved by them), but it doesn’t mean that they are not intrinsically valuable.

      • GearRatio says:

        @Dacyn

        I’m legit asking about the mindset here – I don’t understand it, I want to know. I think that’s why it looks like equivocation; to me “OK, I’ll have sex with you, but after that I never want to see you again”is a pretty foreign concept.

        As you said, there’s some sunlight between “you are worthless in general, besides your sex potential” and “you are worthless to me, besides your sex potential, which I am still willing to use”. But while I can imagine the first and have seen it, I am unfamiliar with the second; I can’t even imagine being attracted to someone you know you don’t like.

        • Dacyn says:

          Fair enough, maybe I was reading too much into your comment. Anyway, have experienced the “second” I can try to describe it. First of all, I agree with you that it is weird to be attracted to someone you don’t like. That has also happened to me, but I did not want to have sex with that person. The one I did have casual sex with, I didn’t dislike.

          I don’t know. There was adrenaline, obviously. And it seemed like we were just “doing the thing people do when they hook up” — like, that is a thing people can do together that is accepted at least in a certain subculture. I didn’t expect either of us to be hurt by it (and I don’t believe either of us was). It’s not like I didn’t want to talk to her — we did that, both before and after having sex.

          I got her number in case I wanted to talk to her again. Ideologically it seemed exciting — like, I can be one who tries to stay a part of people’s lives? But I eventually decided it didn’t really make sense to continue the connection — we didn’t really have that much in common, and I thought it was unlikely I would want a serious relationship with her so I didn’t want to lead her on.

          I feel like I am stating a bunch of obvious things (I mean aside from the semi-personal details) but maybe in a narrative form they will help you get some feel for the experience?

      • John Schilling says:

        Much of the advocacy of casual sex (or advocacy of tolerance for casual sex, at least) seems to take the position that sex can be treated as simple recreation. Taking that at face value, I can certainly imagine myself walking through a park in a city I do not expect to visit ever again and seeing a group of people playing ultimate frisbee at about my level, or someone sitting alone at a chessboard, and asking if they would like another player.

        If they say “yes”, we’re going to have some fun playing ultimate or chess or whatever, and maybe some friendly conversation along the way, but I’m almost certainly never going to see them again. And any friendly conversation, etc, is purely incidental to the game. All I care about is that they can play the game at a level I can enjoy, and that they not be so obnoxious in other respects that the enjoyment of the game goes away.

        Does this mean that I am seeing these people as “frisbee objects” or “chess objects”? Am I demeaning or degrading them by this? Is there anything wrong about my doing this, or anything wrong with me for wanting to do this?

        Or maybe the fact that we all intuit that something wrong with this means we all understand that sex can’t really be just good clean fun the way chess or ultimate can, and that the simple pro-casual-sex argument is a rationalization for something else. But if the criticism is “you don’t have the depth or kind of emotional connection with your sexual partners that I think you ought to”, then we really need to pin down what the allowable range of emotional connections between sexual partners ought to be.

        • SamChevre says:

          This comment feels right to me. (Obviously, I’m in the “sex isn’t simple recreation” camp–but that’s a really common POV in a lot of popular argument around sex.)

        • Dacyn says:

          I don’t know if “recreation” is a good word for such an intimate experience, but I agree with the idea that maybe it doesn’t have to be so complicated. I’m not exactly sure how to parse your penultimate sentence, but I’m guessing I will disagree about whether “we all intuit” something…

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t know if “recreation” is a good word for such an intimate experience,

            I’m skeptical myself, but I’ll note that Playboy magazine has always called its sexually objectified (YMMV) women “playmates”, so the concept has been a part of the casual-sex-positive movement for a long time. And not, I think, a small part.

          • Dacyn says:

            @John Schilling: Yeah, I’ve always found the Playboy stuff kind of creepy. And you are right that they are not the only ones 🙁

        • LesHapablap says:

          Objectification means thinking of women in a way that feminists don’t want women to be thought about. ‘Objectify’ is just an obfuscated way of saying ‘disrespect,’ preferred because the confusion around it makes it a better weapon.

          I don’t usually agree with @HowardHolmes, but he should be here in this thread talking about how ALL of our interactions are self-centered and we can ONLY treat each other as objects to satisfy our own needs.

        • Protagoras says:

          It is difficult to avoid complicated emotional entanglements when having sex (at least if the sex is any good). I do suspect that some promiscuous types try deliberately to avoid thinking of their partners as people too much in order to avoid those entanglements (which can lead to vulnerability and heartbreak). My own feeling is that they’re doing it wrong, that the emotional entanglements make the sex better and that good sex is worth the heartbreak, but people obviously don’t always do things for the same reasons.

          • This is close to my theory about the connection between sex and hostility, exemplified by the non-literal use of f**ck.

            Having intercourse with a woman creates feelings of love and affection for her, an emotional concomitant of the physical act. If you don’t want those feelings, you defend against them by feeling hostile to her, looking down on her.

  26. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Is there a name for the trope or philosophical issue Doctor Doom is embodying here?

    It seems to run along the lines of “under liberal democracy, everyone is free to be as bad as they want, within the limit of laws they vote in. The advantage of a dictator is that a virtuous one could command people to be good.” And is this ever a realistic trade-off, or does something ensure that dictators are always vicious rather than virtuous?

    • ECD says:

      In general parlance “Benevolent Dictator,” in Tvtropes parlance, ‘Hobbes was right,‘ otherwise not sure.

      Your broader question goes back basically the original source of the the word ‘dictator‘ and the shift from Cincinnatus to Sulla and Caesar. I think the key point of the shift was a shift from ‘dictator to solve this specific problem’ to ‘dictator to solve the problems’. More generally, dictators can obviously do good things, but a general lack of democratic checks and the standard corruption which comes with long-term power means non-time-limited dictatorships tend to end badly, even if they don’t intend to (and that’s without getting into the death/transfer-of-power/coup issues).

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        If the world gets complex enough (which it probably will), a dictatorship can’t adapt fast enough without a lot of extra deaths and misery compared to what a less centralized government would have done.

    • Machine Interface says:

      The trade-off is that autocracy requires ruthlessness to hold onto power, lest you be couped by people more ruthless than you. Ruthlessness then lends itself poorly to benevolent rule and open-minded reformism (people like to point out at Atatürk, but by modern standards Atatürk was a single-track-minded butcher — just one that happened to push for agressive westernisation and secularization instead of communism, fascism or islamism).

    • Mary Renault’s historical novel The Praise Singer has portraits of three tyrannies in ancient Greece, where “tyrant” meant “popular dictator.” In one the tyrant is corrupt but competent. In order for him to live well the island he rules must prosper; when he is killed things go rapidly downhill.

      One, the tyrant of Athens, is both competent and benevolent. He dies, his sons take over, and they are neither.

    • Milo Minderbinder says:

      Most real dictators don’t have superpowers. Seriously. Superman (or Fnargl) could be a benevolent dictator, because there isn’t a realistic way to challenge their authority, so they are free to be as repressive or lenient as they wish. Real dictators are (probably) mortal men with all the weaknesses and shortcomings that implies.

      • Clutzy says:

        IMO this is kind of an offshoot of the problem of ruling a polis regardless of form. That which is popular, is rarely good policy.

        Because of recency bias, far too many people assume dictatorial systems cause human suffering. However, that doesn’t account for the fact that most modern dictators come to power through popular support, at least at the beginning. Modern dictatorships more accurately are described as democracy gone wrong (Hitler, Stalin, Xi, Chavez, Castro, Modi, etc). In the end, the evil of a regime is moderated by its people.

        • Viliam says:

          Stalin came to power through popular support?

          I thought it was a result of infighting within the CPSU (Stalin vs Trotsky), while CPSU was at war with mostly peasant population of its country.

    • An Fírinne says:

      or does something ensure that dictators are always vicious rather than virtuous?

      Suppressing political dissent is something that is a staple of a dictatorship and something dictators tend to believe in because they aren’t fans of Liberal democracy. If you believe suppressing dissent makes them vicious then you’re only looking at one slice of the pie. Liberal democracies suppress dissent also. Do something they don’t like and the police come knocking on your door. Dictators just take that to its logical conclusion and aren’t as different to Liberal Democrats as Liberal Democrats like to believe. After all the very existence of a state is an act of violence.

    • broblawsky says:

      Doom isn’t describing just being a “benevolent dictator”; people regarded as benevolent dictators usually focus on human development (like Lee Kuan Yew) and sometimes liberalize their countries (like Tito in Yugoslavia) rather than focusing on enforcing virtue specifically. Foucault has some interesting things to say about dictatorial enforcement of virtue in Discipline & Punish, though.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      I though it’s a given that the first problem of dictators is succession, which usually brings regression to the mean. See the prototype of the philosopher king himself, Marcus Aurelius.

      But in more realistic terms, and in updated modern timescales (in which everything happens faster), there is a pretty long list of reasons why a dictator might fail. Note: there’s nothing to say democracies don’t suffer of the same.

      First would be that “a virtuous one could command people to be good”. That’s in itself a dystopia – the chances that one person actually has the superior morality he thinks he has and has the power to impose it to all of us… *shudder*.

      Second is related – a person is usually static, especially later in life. Reality on the other hand isn’t – what was good 40 years ago isn’t necessarily good now.

      Third would be the inherent limits of a human mind. Just like an auto-regulating free market is better than a planned economy by orders of magnitude, a “living” morality is free to use resources that far exceed a person. This probably stands true even after looking at the current civilization, but that’s another topic.

    • sharper13 says:

      Not sure about in wider popular culture, but the LDS Church calls it “Satan’s Plan”. His rejected plan is summed up as Satan to have all the power and use it to force everyone to be good, in the process destroying everyone’s agency/freedom to choose for themselves. See Moses 1:1-4.

    • mtl1882 says:

      It’s generally recognized that a benevolent dictator can do good work–when he’s a political and organizational genius, with no genocidal tendencies and a good sense for balancing conflicting forces, in the short-term the results will probably be quite good. I would say that in practice, it is hard to call it a realistic trade-off, though. Such leaders are very rare—it is almost guaranteed that the next guy will not maintain a similar command of his massive powers. He doesn’t even have to be particularly bad—wielding that much power makes common errors or misunderstandings very dangerous and can destabilize the whole system. And it’s hard to pass on all the relative knowledge, especially with regard to how things connect and interact. On a longer time scale, you’re asking for trouble. In emergency situations, generally during war, this trade-off sometimes does get made, and is probably worth it. But the power expansion tends to carry over and cause problems. Also, not everyone follows commands, so a huge part of this model has to do with the effectiveness of a dictator who can simply remove those who don’t become virtuous, which can solve a lot of problems but also tends to provoke abuse and backlash. Panic during war tends to increase tolerance for this approach.

      • albatross11 says:

        Right, autocratic leaders who are actually wise and benevolent can advance their country quickly. But the actual Hugo Chavez:Lee Kwan Yew ratio turns out to be pretty unfavorable overall. And many of the reasons for that turn on stuff described in the excellent book _The Dictator’s Handbook_.

  27. An Fírinne says:

    Kosovo vs Crimea

    Am I the only one who finds the differing attitudes to Kosovo and Crimea strange and hypocritical?

    In both cases you have a people in a territory wishing to secede (Kosovars wishing to secede from Serbia, Crimeans from Ukraine) and a military campaign that allowed them to secede (NATO’s bombing/KLA campaign and Russian annexation) but yet the West supports Kosovo although not Crimea seceding. Seems quite hypocritical and Russophobic.

    • Machine Interface says:

      Was Ukraine about to commit genocide in Crimea?

      • An Fírinne says:

        Was secession necessary to stop that though? The Rwandan genocide was stopped without secession of any sorts for instance.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          The Rwandan Genocide was stopped?

          Also, AFAIK, Rwanda didn’t have a strong territorial component.

          • An Fírinne says:

            Regardless seccesion wasn’t necessary. The Kurds were not given independence from Iraq but yet the Anfal genocide stopped.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Actually, bringing up the Kurds isn’t particularly helpful to you. The absence of territorial integrity for them exacerbates the issues related to their existence.

            Of course, were they given territorial integrity, we might have the same issue in regards to ethnic Turks in the now Kurdish homeland. Shit is complex. Trying to derive universal, simple guiding principles is … well nigh impossible.

          • An Fírinne says:

            Actually, bringing up the Kurds isn’t particularly helpful to you. The absence of territorial integrity for them exacerbates the issues related to their existence.

            How is the Iraqi Kurdistsn situation any different to the Kosovo situation prior to seccession in terms of the “territorial integrity” of the region?

          • mtl1882 says:

            For Alaska at least, we negotiated and agreement with and payed the country that was currently controlling it. More importantly, those were in the 19th century, when current norms against conquest (such as they are) didn’t exist. Even more importantly, there’s always the bedrock principle of international politics: might makes right.

            Around the time Alaska was acquired, there were serious disputes about whether conquest was appropriate, although for Alaska I think the controversy was mainly over whether or not it was even a desirable territory (the oil was discovered shortly after). During the Grant administration, there was vocal resistance to taking Cuba and other places. While there were definitely people who favored expansion, there were definitely norms against conquest, with the obvious exception of Native American land, at least by the U.S. These ceased to hold as much weight at the very end of the nineteenth century (Spanish-American war, etc.) In general, I don’t think most people tend to be very consistent on these things—interests dominate, and plausible explanations are easy to find in either direction..

    • broblawsky says:

      Is there any evidence that the people of Crimea wanted to secede before the Russian invasion?

      • An Fírinne says:

        Countless independent opinion polls

        • broblawsky says:

          Conducted before or after the invasion? By whom? Please list your sources.

          • An Fírinne says:

            What’s the difference between US annexation of Alaska or Hawaii and the Russian annexation of Crimea?

          • broblawsky says:

            That’s not on-topic for this subthread. I assume you were unable to find sources for your claims?

          • Noah says:

            @An Fírinne

            For Alaska at least, we negotiated and agreement with and payed the country that was currently controlling it. More importantly, those were in the 19th century, when current norms against conquest (such as they are) didn’t exist. Even more importantly, there’s always the bedrock principle of international politics: might makes right.

          • An Fírinne says:

            @Noah

            For Alaska at least, we negotiated and agreement with and payed the country that was currently controlling it. More importantly, those were in the 19th century, when current norms against conquest (such as they are) didn’t exist

            Well they exist now. So let us liberate Alaska from foreign military annexation by America!

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @An Fírinne
            Land masses can’t be liberated. Humans have a natural right to live on Earth.

            Now what Human-landmass coherence would you like to liberate, and what does the Human part of this coherence think about it?

          • An Fírinne says:

            I apologise. Let us liberate the oppressed Alaska s suffering under US occupation!

          • Evan Þ says:

            Yes, I too support the Alaskan Independence Party, whose main policy plank has been unjustly kept off the referendum ballot. If only their supporter Palin had gotten close to the White House in 2008, things might have been different.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I have no problem with Alaska seceding. As long as they pay the US back the original purchase price (less their portion).

            At $7.2 million -> $63.58 million in 1990 US dollars.

            Divided by $1,110,951 million in 1990 international dollars World GDP for 1870 (closest year).

            Times the current Gross World Product of $80.27 trillion (2017, closest year).

            Equals ~$4.6 billion US dollars. Less the multiple of the population of Alaska divided by the population of the US total ~= $4.58 billion US dollars.

            This is the price of freedom from the Russian Empire for the current state of Alaska. It seems equitable to pay this back to the liberators for their direct expenses.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I do not think that NATO campaign against Serbia in 1999 had as its goal Kosovan secession. It was motivated by fears that Serbian government is going to commit genocidal level atrocities in Kosovo. Those fears were imho quite plausible given what happened in Bosnia just few years back. Note: I am not claiming that Kosovo intervention was thus morally justified.

      However only sure way to prevent Serbia from doing atrocities was to occupy Kosovo by NATO troops, and since it is not ok to let Kosovo laguish as NATO or UN protectorate forever, after many years it was allowed to declare independence (in 2008). It is imho very reasonable to ask whether Serbian government of 2008, different and far less connected with Bosnian atrocities than Serbian government of 1999, shouldn´t be allowed to retain sovereingnity over Kosovo.

      Crimean case is imho far less morally ambigous. Surely many Crimeans wanted to reunite with Russia, but also many Crimeans wanted to stay as a part of Ukraine, there were no signs that Ukraininian government is going to commit genocidal level atrocities, and Russia did not intervene to prevent atrocities, not even to grant Crimea independence, but to simply annex it.

      • An Fírinne says:

        It is imho very reasonable to ask whether Serbian government of 2008, different and far less connected with Bosnian atrocities than Serbian government of 1999, shouldn´t be allowed to retain sovereingnity over Kosovo.

        How so? Milosevic and his fellow travellers are gone. Nobody suggested Iraqi Kurds should get independence due to Saddam Hussein’s genocide but when secession aligns with Western geostrategic goals all of a sudden people are all for it.

        but also many Crimeans wanted to stay as a part of Ukraine

        Plenty of Kosovars opposed secession. Take the Serbian Kosovar minority for instance. You just don’t hear about them because it’s inconvenient to the narrative.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          Those are good points, and I find decision of Western powers to agree with Kosovan independence in 2008 somewhat problematic. However, this does not in my mind justify Russian actions towards Ukraine.

    • Anatoly says:

      1. Crimea didn’t secede, it was annexed by Russia. The formal trappings of secession were a fig leaf.

      2. It isn’t true that “countless independent opinion polls” supported Crimeans’ wish to secede prior to 2014. Prior to 2014, the major contentious issue was federalization of Ukraine. Neither secession nor joining Russia were serious political goals, the few parties proclaiming them languished with single-digit percent support by voters, at best, and it wasn’t a question pollsters were much interested in.

      • An Fírinne says:

        1. Crimea didn’t secede, it was annexed by Russia. The formal trappings of secession were a fig leaf.

        You’re splitting hairs here.

        2. It isn’t true that “countless independent opinion polls” supported Crimeans’ wish to secede prior to 2014. Prior to 2014, the major contentious issue was federalization of Ukraine. Neither secession nor joining Russia were serious political goals, the few parties proclaiming them languished with single-digit percent support by voters, at best, and it wasn’t a question pollsters were much interested in.

        A perfunctory Google search shows a vast majority of Crimeans wanted to join Russia.

        • broblawsky says:

          Being invaded by a foreign power vs secession isn’t splitting hairs. They’re completely different things.

          • An Fírinne says: