Open Thread 151.75

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1,472 Responses to Open Thread 151.75

  1. John Schilling says:

    Assume the lockdown continues nigh-indefinitely, i.e. until everyone is vaccinated and the FDA takes its usual sweet time and then some before approving a vaccine (whose rollout is then delayed by production difficulties at the one facility granted a monopoly on production).

    At what point to we see a recurrence of speakeasies?

    • Matt M says:

      Already?

      Hell, I know someone who worked as a bartender and they absolutely kept their place open informally for “regulars only” until the state liquor commission literally raided them and shut them down with the threat of “we’re going to keep coming back and if we see people here again you’re losing your license permanently”

    • Clutzy says:

      What is the advantage of a speakeasy over hanging out generally when liquor is available in grocery stores? I suppose people drink at bars to avoid their partner.

      • Faza (TCM) says:

        Hanging out, in my understanding, is spending time with friends – which presumes the existence of some place you can do so.

        The whole point of social distancing as a policy is to eliminate “normal” ways for people to spend time together, which leaves going underground as perhaps the only option. Can having friends over at home (assuming no internal impediments) get you in legal trouble if one of your neighbours calls the police on you? In Poland, yes, it could land you in hot water. How about where you live?

      • John Schilling says:

        What was ever the advantage of bars when you could buy liquor and drink at home. What, in particular, was the advantage of illicit bars during Prohibition when drinking at home would greatly reduce your risk exposure?

        Drinking and socializing are two great tastes that taste great together, and lots of people don’t even think drinking is all that great if you have to do it alone. Socializing, lots of people don’t want to do that just with the people they know well enough to invite into their home, and lots of homes aren’t really set up for serious socializing – for reasons including but not limited to the presence of the spouse you already spend half your day with. Bars, pubs, inns, etc, exist for good reason and fill a very broad human desire.

        If you make it illegal to get together with a bunch of other people to drink and socialize, they’ll find a way and a place to do it anyway.

        • Well... says:

          During Prohibition I assume the main advantage of illicit bars was they had relationships with the brewers/distillers and their supply chains runners, whereas the average Joe did not have those connections. (I don’t think it was legal to purchase alcohol during Prohibition unless you used it in industry or for a religious ceremony.) That advantage is gone in 2020 where buying alcohol at the store remains totally legal.

          Socializing was probably a large but secondary advantage for speakeasies, and it is partially made up for in 2020 by virtual socializing. Yes, holding your drink up to the webcam while your buddy on the other end does the same (or to just get your buzz on while you post comments on SSC) is clearly an inferior alternative to drinking together in person, but it beats the 1920 alternative which was to not drink at all.

          • John Schilling says:

            The 1920s alternative was to buy a jug of moonshine or bootleg liquor which, yes, people could do. It didn’t require extraordinary ties to the criminal underworld; it’s not like Al Capone wasn’t going to do the outreach to serve the drink-at-home market.

            ETA: Any speakeasy customer can just ask the bartender for a bottle of whisky or whatever, pay $$$, and leave – this greatly reduces his exposure to police raids. Any “speakeasy” that focuses on such customers, can reduce its own footprint and exposure. Sitting on a barstool and hanging out with a bunch of other drinkers isn’t a thing anyone had to do to get a drink, and it isn’t anything a speakeasy had to cater to except that that’s what their customers specifically wanted.

          • Well... says:

            That makes sense. Come to think of it, speakeasies are a lot sexier to historians so probably their popularity relative to people who just showed up to buy a bottle to take home might be inflated.

        • DinoNerd says:

          FWIW, my teetotaler grandmother unselfconsciously told stories about experiences in speakeasies. She was pretty clearly present entirely for social reasons.

        • Deiseach says:

          Looking at what G.K. Chesterton said about Prohibition from his first visit to America, and comparing it with the Wikipedia article, there’s remarkable agreement between them: Prohibition, whatever its ideological basis, was mainly against the poor. Rich people could and did continue to drink freely and openly, and the dodges were threadbare and transparent: you could ‘use up’ old stocks of alcohol and not be breaking the law once it went into effect – but who is more likely to have a filled winecellar, a rich or a poor man?

          In response, the middle- and working-classes went for trips to Canada (if they could afford it) to drink legally there, homebrewing, ‘medicinal’ wines dispensed by chemists (pharmacists) and bootleg liquor.

          Wikipedia:

          As early as 1925, journalist H. L. Mencken believed that Prohibition was not working. “Prohibition worked best when directed at its primary target: the working-class poor.” Historian Lizabeth Cohen writes: “A rich family could have a cellar-full of liquor and get by, it seemed, but if a poor family had one bottle of home-brew, there would be trouble.” Working-class people were inflamed by the fact that their employers could dip into a private cache while they, the employees, could not. Within a week after Prohibition went into effect, small portable stills were on sale throughout the country.

          Before the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect in January 1920, many of the upper classes stockpiled alcohol for legal home consumption after Prohibition began. They bought the inventories of liquor retailers and wholesalers, emptying out their warehouses, saloons, and club storerooms. President Woodrow Wilson moved his own supply of alcoholic beverages to his Washington residence after his term of office ended. His successor, Warren G. Harding, relocated his own large supply into the White House after inauguration.

          Chesterton:

          I WENT TO America with some notion of not discussing Prohibition. But I soon found that well-to-do Americans were only too delighted to discuss it over the nuts and wine. They were even willing, if necessary, to dispense with the nuts. I am far from sneering at this; having a general philosophy which need not here be expounded, but which may be symbolised by saying that monkeys can enjoy nuts but only men can enjoy wine. But if I am to deal with Prohibition, there is no doubt of the first thing to be said about it. The first thing to be said about it is that it does not exist. It is to some extent enforced among the poor; at any rate it was intended to be enforced among the poor; though even among them I fancy it is much evaded. It is certainly not enforced among the rich; and I doubt whether it was intended to be.

          …I see that some remarks by the Rev. R. J. Campbell, dealing with social conditions in America, are reported in the press. …But the remarks about America are valuable in the objective sense, over and above their philosophy. He believes that Prohibition will survive and be a success, nor does he seem himself to regard the prospect with any special disfavour. But he frankly and freely testifies to the truth I have asserted; that Prohibition does not prohibit, so far as the wealthy are concerned. He testifies to constantly seeing wine on the table, as will any other grateful guest of the generous hospitality of America; and he implies humorously that he asked no questions about the story told him of the old stocks in the cellars.

          …But when some of the rich Americans gravely tell us that their drinking cannot be interfered with, because they are only using up their existing stocks of wine, we may well be disposed to smile. When I was there, at any rate, they were using them up very fast; and with no apparent fears about the supply.

          Crime and Prohibition – from Wikipedia:

          After the Eighteenth Amendment became law, the United States embraced bootlegging. In just the first six months of 1920 alone, the federal government opened 7,291 cases for Volstead Act violations. In just the first complete fiscal year of 1921, the number of cases violating the Volstead Act jumped to 29,114 violations and would rise dramatically over the next thirteen years.

          …In October 1930, just two weeks before the congressional midterm elections, bootlegger George Cassiday—”the man in the green hat”—came forward and told members of Congress how he had bootlegged for ten years. One of the few bootleggers ever to tell his story, Cassiday wrote five front-page articles for The Washington Post, in which he estimated that 80% of congressmen and senators drank. The Democrats in the North were mostly wets, and in the 1932 election, they made major gains. The wets argued that prohibition was not stopping crime, and was actually causing the creation of large-scale, well-funded and well-armed criminal syndicates. As Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, especially in urban areas, its repeal was eagerly anticipated.

          When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, many bootleggers and suppliers with wet sympathies simply moved into the legitimate liquor business. Some crime syndicates moved their efforts into expanding their protection rackets to cover legal liquor sales and other business areas.

          Chesterton:

          First, there are arguments for Prohibition that can no longer be used even by Prohibitionists. They have recoiled upon their original authors in the queerest and most grotesque fashion. When the great enactment was first enacted we were told that there would be an immense reduction of crime. Almost before the thing had got started, we were even told that there had been a great reduction of crime. There is a remarkable silence to-day about that side of the coercionist argument. At least there was a silence about it, until the first of American citizens, the President, himself of the Prohibitionist party (very much to his honour), broke the silence and the argument at one blow. Everyone knows the astonishing words in which Mr. Hoover declared, not only that crime had grown to the craziest proportions in his country, as compared with older countries like our own, but distinctly stated that it had so increased since Prohibition and apparently because of Prohibition. Any one who wishes to be more Prohibitionist than the Prohibitionist President can, if he likes, accuse Mr. Hoover of wantonly telling lies against the credit of his own country and the cause of his own party. But I shall be justified in saying, I think, that it would be impossible to find a more responsible, a more realistic, or a more reluctant witness.

          • Lillian says:

            Drug prohibition is likewise to this day a thing that only truly affects the poor. It is the lower classes who are sent to prison for having drugs, the middle classes generally get sent to rehab, and the upper classes hardly ever get caught to begin with. Hell the rich not only can have as many drugs as they wish, but they can go up on national television and admit to prodigious and profligate drug use with little consequence.

          • The Nybbler says:

            A middle class person with a drug conviction quickly sinks to the lower class.

          • Lillian says:

            I guess drug prohibition has that going for it, it improves middle class social mobility!

    • Well... says:

      I don’t know if we’ll see speakeasies — as in, illegal bars — but I could imagine illegal versions of things for which there is no obvious replacement, such as barber shops. Unless I want to look like a convict I can’t really cut my own hair.

      • johan_larson says:

        I’m just picturing the articles about people getting together to do dirty dangerous things like playing bridge. Don’t they know that spreads disease? The scoundrels!

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Ya got trouble, my friend
          Right here in River City

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_Oe-jtgdI

        • Lillian says:

          This reminds me of a Jewish joke. In a certain city all forms of gambling had been banned, you know, to protect the public’s moral fibre. One evening the police get a call from a concerned neighbour reporting three men playing poker. When they arrive they are astonished to discover the men in question are a Catholic priest, a Protestant pastor, and a Jewish rabbi.

          The police sergeant is troubled by this, they can’t have it get out that three holy men were gambling! It would undermine both religious authority and the anti-gambling ordnance. After a moment’s thought he comes up with a solution and tells the three men, “If you would swear to me before God in front of these officers that you were not playing poker, I will let this go.”

          The Catholic priest immediately agrees and so swears, thinking that it is after all a minor sin that he can later wash with confession later, and far less disruptive to the integrity of the church. The Protestant pastor, moved by similar considerations, does the same. The Rabbi however, flatly refuses.

          “I will not swear,” the Rabbi says, insistent, and continues to do so even as the Sergeant pleads with him. Eventually the man grows tired of arguing with the Rabbi, and exasperated asks him, “Do you admit then, that you were playing poker?”

          The Rabbi is surprised, “Me? How do you figure I was playing poker? All by myself?”

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      Thats not the most hilarious possibility. The fda may take its sweet time, but if so – that is, if a vaccine exists, but red tape is tying up the us, some other country with a reliable medical manufacturing base is going to get this done much faster. Cue: smuggling!… Hell, cue State Sponsored Smuggling.

      How many doses of vaccine do you think one could fit into the detachable external pod of the SSN Suffren?

    • Tarpitz says:

      I know of two just in my small suburb of my smallish city. If the total count isn’t already in the thousands in the UK alone, I would be pretty surprised.

    • SamChevre says:

      I’ll guess that by Memorial Day, “rent parties/house parties” will be more popular than ever before.

    • David Speyer says:

      Never mind speakeasies — When do we see an underground Chuckee Cheese?

  2. meh says:

    After the Wisconsin results, and all of the recent polling, I am convinced the media narrative after the 2020 election will be something like “How did we miss all the signs this was going to be an easy win for Biden?”

    My confidence here is pretty high; I’ll self ban from commenting on SSC for a year if wrong. Anyone want the other side of this bet?

    • EchoChaos says:

      My confidence here is pretty high; I’ll self ban from commenting on SSC for a year if wrong. Anyone want the other side of this bet?

      Define “easy win”. 3 points? 5? 7? Or is it by Electoral Votes?

      In the RCP average of polls, Biden is up by 5 points nationwide. John McCain lost to Obama by 7, and while most predicted it, I don’t remember the narrative that it was “easy” ever existing. Mitt Romney lost by 4 points and that was definitely portrayed as a very close election.

      Given that the current Electoral Vote landscape favors Republicans, a 5 point Biden win will give him the Presidency, but won’t give him an “easy” path there.

      • meh says:

        Instead of defining easy, lets just do odds then. You tell me the odds, and I’ll put up my year to your N months, where N is whatever amount matches the odds.

        • EchoChaos says:

          No, I’m not interested in the bet, just curious what you meant by your statement.

          Given that the narrative “easy win” hasn’t existed since 1996, I am skeptical that it returns for 2020 unless we have a Clinton-Dole landslide, which most current polls are not predicting.

    • doubleunplussed says:

      The evidence was not in favour of an easy win for Biden until all the other moderates dropped out and endorsed him, which was kind of surprising when it happened so I don’t blame people for not predicting it.

      There was a point when 538 had forecast Sanders to win every single state.

      If the media retroactively declares it obvious, they’ll be making a mistake. The primary was genuinely uncertain for a long time.

      I hate how the media, politicians, and individuals always need to tell themselves a story of certainty. As per the most recent SSC post, I really wish people could learn to acknowledge and work withe uncertainty better.

    • Chalid says:

      It’s not obviously a win for Biden at this point, though things lean that way.

      If it does become an easy obvious win by election day (say Biden up by 10+ points in national polls and with significant leads in states worth 370+ electoral votes) then I think the media will still be reluctant to portray it as such, partly as an overcorrection to the general media overconfidence in 2016, and partly because close elections are more interesting and dramatic and get more clicks.

    • BBA says:

      The bet isn’t well defined, but I think we’re headed towards either another narrow-but-decisive Trump win or a shitshow that’ll make 2000 look like a walk in the park.

      EDIT: oh, did you mean the primary? That’s just another big argument against letting tiny, unrepresentative Iowa and New Hampshire go first and distort the narrative.

    • meh says:

      To clarify, I am talking about Biden winning the 2020 presidential. The media narrative will be the win was obvious in retrospect, and Trump was weaker than thought.

      Media narrative is hard to quantify, so lets just say my bet is if Biden doesn’t win I won’t comment for a year.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I think it’s odd to talk about that happening now, when during the time that they haven’t been talking about an obvious Biden victory, 1) Biden was running consistently in 3rd-5th place in the primary for 7 or 8 months and 2) there wasn’t a pandemic that’s shut down half the country putting 17 million people out of work.

        So I think we’ll need to see how they’re talking about Biden’s chances for the next seven months.

        Or is that what you’re predicting, that they’re going to spend the next seven months downplaying Biden’s chances, then be “surprised” on election day?

    • chrisminor0008 says:

      No. We are all diminished by you exiling yourself from SSC. Both sides of that bet are losers.

  3. Kate says:

    Hi, I think the invite link for the SSC Discord server is expired.

  4. cleo says:

    Would anyone be interested in regular discussions on historical analysis?

    I have a number of topics I would like to explore, for example,

    – Why was Japan successful in its XIXth century modernization efforts while other Asian nations were not?
    – Why did British industry fall behind Germany’s?
    – What caused the decline of Sparta?
    – What made European civilization different from others?

    If enough people here have interest in these or similar topics, I can set up a platform for monthly or semimonthly discussions.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Are you new here?

      • EchoChaos says:

        Yeah, it seems like we have a platform for those discussions. It’s SSC. I think I’ve seen all of them here.

        • cleo says:

          I don’t think the comment section is a convenient format for in-depth discussions. Isn’t that why there are two redddit offshoots of SSC?

      • cleo says:

        Mea culpa. I created a different account to keep my comment history anonymous.

        • Anteros says:

          I created a different account to keep my comment history anonymous.

          Hello Deiseach!

          • Deiseach says:

            Anteros, you little devil! 😀

            No, this isn’t one of mine, and you’ve now badly confused this poor new friend!

            Welcome, and don’t mind us, we’re usually half-ways civilised!

    • Why did British industry fall behind Germany’s?

      Because it was nationalized?

      • cleo says:

        Didn’t the nationalization happen about half a century later?

        • I thought you were referring to the post-1945 period, although the period after ~1890 could also apply.

          • baconbits9 says:

            IIRC British GDP per capita was keeping pace with the US GDP per capita up into WW2, but its overall level of production didn’t because its population growth failed to keep up from the 1890-1930 period. I think this is roughly the case with GB vs Germany as well with the caveat that Germany had a very different post WW1 outcome.

          • cassander says:

            Baconbits has it right. Britain was far richer per capita than germany through ww2, as it had been for centuries. This was reversed by the late 60s. British post-war economic policy was terrible.

      • FLWAB says:

        Didn’t Germany after unification have a much, much larger population than Britain? Given two equally modernized nations, shouldn’t the nation with more people be more productive on gross?

      • broblawsky says:

        According to this paper, German productivity caught up somewhere in the pre-WWI period, and was probably ahead the UK in certain areas of advanced manufacturing. Famously, on the eve of WWI, the British government found out that all of the UK’s magnets and all of the khaki dye for their uniforms came from Germany.

    • bean says:

      Would anyone be interested in regular discussions on historical analysis?

      Yes. There have been such discussions in the past, with significant success.

      – Why was Japan successful in its XIXth century modernization efforts while other Asian nations were not?

      I’d argue that they didn’t quite end up where they wanted to be, and the result was extremely ugly.

    • QamarAlHashiishi says:

      –What made European civilization different from others?

      How does one even start to crack that question? Can we please get a definition on “European civilization” and a definition on “different”? Can we also clarify who the “others” are? Even with clear boundaries on all of these, I think it’s truly impossible to nail down any one thing as the reason why.

    • S_J says:

      – What made European civilization different from others?

      It will be easier to have this discussion if you can first define “European”.

      Bonus points if you have some idea why cartographers drew a line on their maps, labelling one side “Europe” and the other side “Asia”. There may have been a good reason at the time, but the usefulness of that line has decreased greatly since then.

      There were (and are) cultural/political differences between those two regions that likely pre-date the creation of the cartographic distinction “Europe/Asia”, but there are also cultural/political differences between various parts of “Europe”…and those differences play into the history, also.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Bonus points if you have some idea why cartographers drew a line on their maps, labelling one side “Europe” and the other side “Asia”. There may have been a good reason at the time, but the usefulness of that line has decreased greatly since then.

        Herodotus complained about this.
        “I cannot conceive why three names [Asia, Europe and Libya], and women’s names especially, should ever have been given to a tract which is in reality one, nor why the Egyptian Nile and the Colchian Phasis should have been fixed upon for the boundary lines…”
        The original referent of Asia was Assuwa, perhaps not even a land but a political confederacy west of the Hittites in Anatolia. Europe gets her name from the myth of Europa (Herodotus complains that she only set foot on an island, not the mainland), and Africa was originally the fertile coastal area where Carthage’s local food supply grew (Tunisia) while the whole continent’s name was Libya.

    • AG says:

      What made European civilization different from others?

      It wasn’t. They just had the more recent timing, but their reign is a drop in the bucket for number of years.

    • Statismagician says:

      – Why did British industry fall behind Germany’s?

      British industry had a gigantic first-mover advantage, and also didn’t have large chunks of its material and social precursors burned down during the Napoleonic Wars like continental Europe. They were never going to be competitive with larger, more centralized nations with greater population and available resources without doing a much better job of leveraging the Empire long-term – they didn’t, and so didn’t.

    • mtl1882 says:

      I’d be interested!

  5. kruasan says:

    Does anyone else on SSC have depersonalization? I mean not in a sense of transient everyday thing, but in a sense of real, persistent condition. Share your experiences.

    • mtl1882 says:

      Yes, though I think mine is closer to derealization. Wikipedia says, “Depersonalization can consist of a detachment within the self, regarding one’s mind or body, or being a detached observer of oneself. Subjects feel they have changed and that the world has become vague, dreamlike, less real, lacking in significance or being outside reality while looking in.”

      I have all of that except for the “being a detached observer” if that means like floating above yourself–it’s not a feeling that I’m out of my body, but rather that I’m kind of stuck in it and it’s not responding right. I have much more of what is described in the second sentence, but I think some people refer to that as derealization instead of depersonalization. The main feeling is that I don’t seem connected to the outside world—that I can sort of see it but not feel it. Because of this, my actions don’t feel like they occur—the best metaphor I can think of is if you went to write on a piece of paper but there was no resistance from the paper, like you were writing on air. It is disorienting and disrupts feedback mechanisms, so nothing is rewarding and experiences aren’t really integrated into memory. When I do something, my brain doesn’t get any satisfaction–there’s no sense of the act being completed.

      This drives the internal detachment, because my thoughts also aren’t really experienced other than in a totally intellectual way in which nothing stands out as a preference. It is a very odd thing to explain, and was not something I’d ever really experienced transiently. I was always somewhat anxious, but nothing major. And whatever triggered it was not a big, traumatic event. Instead, after a long period of chronic stress from several fairly mild but seemingly unresolvable basic conflicts in my life, something snapped. Apparently this is common, with something like a combination of academic or professional overexertion with a relatively routine personal matter like a breakup or parents getting divorced, and moving to a new place, that scrambles all your mental landmarks at once, begins to feel existential, and overloads your mental coping ability. It feels like too many changes happened at once, I couldn’t orient myself or stay on top of any of them but couldn’t see a way out, so I just mentally surrendered and disconnected. There are all these little symptoms that are hard to explain but are a result of the disorientation, and unlike anything I’ve ever felt, and impair functioning much worse than anything because there is little let up. I just feel incredibly “off” all the time, in ways I can’t articulate, and that makes it hard to really focus on anything. Everyone tries to help by focusing on what I “want,” but the problem is that I don’t have “wants” anymore. That’s what the condition does.

      It’s been a few years now and it has gotten steadily worse. It bothers me because the condition comes up so little—everyone is trying to recommend things for anxiety or depression, but disassociation is very different from either of those, in my experience, though it leads to both. I think it needs very different treatment, and there’s little guidance, even though it seems common. It’s hard to ask for help or explain myself to those around me. I was scheduled to try a new therapy but the pandemic messed that up indefinitely. I think I really need a more structured environment, since collapse of structure undermining a sense of security seems to to drive it. But there aren’t many of those, and they’re expensive and aimed at other conditions. And life in general has less structure than it did, or feels that way.

  6. Matt M says:

    I recently watched the film “The Death of Stalin” and found it to be pretty entertaining.

    My question for the better informed – about how historically accurate is it? I mean I’m sure it’s very highly exaggerated, but I’m also sure the general theme of “everybody was scheming to place themselves in the best possible position” was also generally right.

    Are there any good suggested reading materials for what really happened in that precise timeframe? It does seem quite fascinating to me…

    • FLWAB says:

      I don’t know about books, but for a quick overview of the events of that day and the players involved I recommend the podcast “The Cold War: What We Saw” Episode 5, Death in the Kremlin. There’s a lot of moving pieces involved, but I think that the episode made it clearer what was going on and who was doing it, though not in meticulous detail.

      • FLWAB says:

        (A warning though, it takes the host a bit to actually get to Stalin, as the episode is just one part of a longer series.)

    • CatCube says:

      The biggest inaccuracy was the very, very compressed timeframe, which changed the players quite a bit. For example, Beria wasn’t arrested until months after Stalin’s death. While his arrest was effected by by Zhukov, Zhukov had been in the wilderness at the time of Stalin’s demise, and was in a relatively minor post not commander of the Red Army, so he was nowhere near as important in the immediate days after Stalin died as the movie made him look.

      The movie was great, and I’d recommend it to everybody, but it’s definitely been Hollywoodized for entertainment. It also made me interested in the immediate moves to consolidate power after Stalin died, so I’d also like to second Matt’s question for good books on that.

    • Bobobob says:

      More-or-less accurate, given that it’s a comedy. Steve Buscemi as Krushchev was an inspired bit of casting. The only actor who didn’t seem quite right for the part was the one who played Stalin.

      Khrushchev: The Man and his Era by William Taubman is a good source for the events immediately following Stalin’s death.

      • Matt M says:

        I thought it was a bit odd that it was clearly a British film casted with primarily British actors, except for the lead, who was an American that didn’t even bother to fake a British accent…

        • Deiseach says:

          the lead, who was an American that didn’t even bother to fake a British accent

          Haven’t seen the film, but that makes me wonder if it’s an in-joke there – during the 60s/70s when British commerical television producers were making shows, often they would cast a token American because “if you want to sell this to the US market, they won’t watch it unless it’s got an American in it”.

          Heck, they did this up to the 80s even, see Dempsey and Makepeace (and if any of the Americans here have seen this, I will be very surprised!)

          • John Schilling says:

            Mostly it was not wanting to do the lame thing where everyone speaks English with a mock-Russian accent all the time, which is only ever justified as a way to signal “these particular guys are Russians” in a movie where most of the characters are Anglospherians speaking English but you think subtitles will scare away the audience. If everybody is speaking the same language and you’re not doing subtitles, that language magically becomes standard-ish English (or whatever).

            On top of that, the filmmakers had the notion that different regional or class origins within the Soviet Union should map to different accents or dialects of English, which is kind of clever but I’m not sure how much effort they really put into it. For most of them that defaulted to the actors saying “can I just use my own accent?” and the director saying “Sure, your character has a different background from the rest and your natural accent is different from the rest of the cast, so easy enough”. But e.g. Jason Isaacs explicitly chose Yorkshire for Zhukov, because he thought it fit the peasant origins and not-fucking-around bluntness of the character. As noted elsewhere, it was glorious.

            And there were at least two American actors who went with their natural speaking voices. Steve Buscemi’s Brooklyn accent for Nikita Krushchev’s Ukrainian(ish) factory worker who made it big, and Geoffry Tambor’s California American for Malenkov’s rural but educated Russian.

        • DeWitt says:

          That’s not the worst casting decision they could’ve made, though. Stalin was all the way from Georgia, and Russian was never his first language. He never quite shook the accent, either, so I can see why you’d want to reflect that in an English language reprisal somehow.

          • Matt M says:

            Don’t let the title fool you, the lead in this film is not Stalin, but rather Khruschev, played by American Steve Buscemi.

          • DeWitt says:

            Ah, well. I guess that’s suddenly much less clever then.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            That’s not the worst casting decision they could’ve made, though. Stalin was all the way from Georgia, and Russian was never his first language.

            Rus bigotry against Caucasians is common, so Georgian characters should be depicted in English with a low-status regional accent: Southern American!

            Perhaps more seriously, urban ethnic Russian should map to British Received Pronunciation, Ukrainian to middle-class south of England, Cossack to cowpoke… perhaps ethnic Russians from non-Cossack rural backgrounds like Zhukov and Molotov should be Scottish.
            Trotsky could talk like he just arrived from a production of Fiddler on the Roof, of course.

          • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

            Sounds like we need more stalins. 50, perhaps?

    • John Schilling says:

      The film compresses into a few days, events that historically took place over a much longer period, but gets the essence of those events about right. A necessary dramatic simplification.

      It also compresses characters for about the same reason. Probably the biggest change in that regard is that Zhukov was no longer the commander of the Soviet Army in 1953; the Army’s role in the succession was played by a clique of officers with Zhukov a fairly minor player I believe. But I’ll forgive a great deal of historical inaccuracy for the sake of Jason Isaacs’ portrayal of Zhukov. Glorious.

      • Matt M says:

        I’ll forgive a great deal of historical inaccuracy for the sake of Jason Isaacs’ portrayal of Zhukov. Glorious.

        Him coming onto the scene was definitely my “Oh shit – here we go!” moment of the film.

        • John Schilling says:

          Right. What’s a war hero got to do to get some lubrication around here?

          Jason Isaacs is this movie’s turbo boost button, packaged with three hundred pounds of grade-A ham.

      • Andrew Hunter says:

        Yeah. I’m not expert in Russian history, but it seems the liberties they take are mostly unimportant and simplify the storytelling, which was lovely. Jason Isaacs is the man.

        That said, the movie doesn’t hold a candle to In The Loop–funnier and more trenchant.

    • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

      The accents weren’t quite true to life.

      • FLWAB says:

        I read somewhere that they intentionally kept the actors normal accents so they wouldn’t sound silly, but someone commented that technically all the Soviet players involved grew up in wildly different regions so the variety of accents actually makes sense.

      • oldman says:

        I read that they kept the Georgian characters as having Northern English accents, so a British audience would understand that these weren’t characters born into the political establishment.

    • johan_larson says:

      Some may be interested in an earlier thread where we discussed “The Death of Stalin”.

      https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/10/21/open-thread-139/#comment-811632

    • John Schilling says:

      More “Death of Stalin” fun. The original movie poster was, appropriately, styled like a Stalin-era propaganda poster, with the larger-than-life Heroes of the Soviet Union lined up in quarter profile staring intently at the glorious future against a Soviet-flag backdrop. Well, OK, Buscemi’s Kruschev is suspiciously eyeing his competition.

      Shortly after the movie was made, Jeffrey “Malenkov” Tambor was cancelled for offenses against #MeToo. Enter the new movie poster, with Malenkov airbrushed (OK, photoshopped) out and replaced by a less significant female character. To this day, I don’t know whether that was deliberate irony or Hollywood cluelesness.

      • Matt M says:

        That is definitely brilliant.

        • John Schilling says:

          Yeah, I lean towards the guys who actually made the new poster being clever and ironic, and the Hollywood suits being to clueless to realize what was being done with their “Cancel Tambor” directive.

    • TimG says:

      I recently remember seeing a Russian-made film about life during Stalin’s reign. It’s called “Burnt by the Sun.” It left a real impression on me. So if you are looking for something else (tangentially) related, it seemed to be rent-able on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Burnt-Sun-Andre-Oumansky/dp/B0050QRWT6

  7. johan_larson says:

    So, who’s coming out ahead in Shutdown City? It must be a very good time to be making medical protective equipment, particularly domestically. Who else is living the good life right now?

    • Anteros says:

      Richest man in the world made a few extra dollars this week

    • Well... says:

      I was standing in line to get into the auction warehouse a couple weekends ago and I had a brief conversation with the guy in front of me (20 feet between us, we were both masked). He owns a cleaning business. I said “It must be a good time to own a cleaning business.” He said “I’m not hurting for work!”

      I don’t know if I’d call being a delivery driver “the good life” but they’re not hurting for work either.

    • FLWAB says:

      Anecdotally, large hospitals might win out.

      Medical providers have been hurting: in a lot of states non-essential medical procedures have been temporarily banned, and even when the procedure itself isn’t on the banned list people are avoiding hospitals and doctor offices until this blows over. I took my daughter to get a needed shot and her pediatrician’s office was a ghost town. We were the only clients there, and the nurse that helped us told me she was the only nurse working that day (usually they have three or four running around). When our doctor made some chit chat the topic kept turning to the economic impact of the lockdown. He said that they only had cash reserves to make it another month or so.

      So why would hospitals be winners? Well, like many providers our pediatrician owns his own practice which just happens to be located in a hospital. The hospital is part of a large regional non-profit chain of hospitals. He said that if things didn’t improve in a few months he was probably going to have to sell the practice to the hospital. The way he said it implied that the hospital had been wanting to buy his practice for some time. So it seems plausible to me that large hospital groups or chains have the opportunity to buy up a lot of private practices cheaply: radiologists, pediatricians, GPs, lots of independent providers are suffering right now.

      I would expand that generally to say that any large organization that has the cash reserves or lines of credit on hand to weather this storm may find that they can buy up their smaller competitors cheaply if things continue this way.

      • johan_larson says:

        Can’t doctors and nurses get work dealing with this huge influx of COVID-19 patients? I mean, it’s not their usual work, but it’s work.

        • The Nybbler says:

          The huge influx hasn’t been quite so huge as was originally expected (or indeed, even close, if you were following the IHME model), and it’s only in a few areas of the country.

        • FLWAB says:

          What Nybbler said, but also its not that simple. I’m not saying the big losers are nurses and doctors, but specifically small private practices.

          Put yourself in my pediatrician’s shoes. He’s a pediatrician, he started a private practice, gained some pediatrician partners, and has built it up from a single office to three. Your whole business model is based on treating children. Suddenly COVID-19 pops up and everybody is keeping their kids at home unless they’ve broken an arm or swallowed a detergent pod, and even then they’re taking them to the ER, not to you. You’ve got two months worth of cash to stay afloat, but that’s it. How are you going to pivot your entire business to treating COVID? You might personally be able to get hired somewhere that is treating COVID, but your business is out of luck either way.

          It’s even worse if you’re a radiologist or an OBGYN. How are you going to pivot your previously lucrative small business towards COVID? You have payments to make on your highly expensive scanning or ultrasound equipment, and they’re no good for treating COVID. Etc, etc.

          • S_J says:

            Your examples sound good, though I’d reckon that OBGYN practice should have a portion of their clients still seeking appointments to talk to the doctor.

            Even if half of that business is consult-by-phone.

            My source on this: my wife and I recently had a child. Every time we sat in the waiting room at the OBGYN office, something like half the women in the waiting room were visibly expecting a child.

            It’s kind of hard for an expecting mother to delay appointments…though it should be easy for those who don’t need blood-work (or any other test requiring physical presence of doctor/nurse) to talk to the doctor over the phone.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @FLWAB

            It’s even worse if you’re a radiologist or an OBGYN.

            There is a joke going around the internet these days:

            “I had my first telepractice OBGYN visit, which officially makes me a camgirl”.

          • Matt M says:

            which officially makes me a camgirl

            I think it only counts if someone tips you five cents for doing it.

        • Randy M says:

          In addition to what Nybbler said, that may hold true for nurses, but I doubt it for doctors, or at any rate, if you are subbing in Emergency nursing care instead of, say, optometry, dentistry, or reconstructive surgery because demand for you specialty has dropped, you probably aren’t making what you expect to be and thus your practice is in danger long term.

          I wonder just how qualified a doctor is to act outside their specialty. Probably a bit more than a layman, and they’re on the staff already, but I don’t know how much of their expertise really transfers.

          • Garrett says:

            > but I don’t know how much of their expertise really transfers

            Not nearly as much as you might think. There are a number of good reports of the 9/11 attacks and specifically what happened at New York Downtown Hospital which was 4 blocks from the twin towers and a comparatively small hospital. This isn’t the
            article I’m looking for, but it provides some context. IIRC, some of the physicians who showed up were put to work cleaning floors (a real need with all the debris and dust coating everything). Others were assigned to perform the few critical procedures which could be performed within their specialty or training.

            In-general, any doctor is trained to perform basic physical exams, treatment and some basic procedures. (I’m glossing over 4 years of medical school plus undergrad). A look at what appears to be a higher-end med-school procedures curiculum shows a list of what might be considered expected for a random doctor to be able to do.
            But those which seem to be most relevant to Covid-19 management, like arterial cannulation and Swan-Ganz catheter use, don’t get a lot of training.
            In an emergency like 9/11 a bunch of the needed procedures can be handed off from ED physicians to other specialties to free up the ED physicians to work on the cases which need their expertise the most. But I have a hard time seeing a hospital being willing to pay non-specialists on an ongoing basis to come in and staff the ED when patient volume is down.

          • Matt M says:

            IIRC, some of the physicians who showed up were put to work cleaning floors (a real need with all the debris and dust coating everything).

            Even the military struggles with this. A lot of reservists I knew who had some pretty decent skills/expertise (medical, IT, etc.) were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to be gate guards, or to fold laundry in the barracks, etc.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I would expand that generally to say that any large organization that has the cash reserves or lines of credit on hand to weather this storm may find that they can buy up their smaller competitors cheaply if things continue this way.

        Not just competitors: Berkshire Hathaway famously held $128 billion in cash and equivalents when the bull market ended (collective tut-tutting over not investing that much was depressing share prices). That’s enough to devour any number of NYSE-traded corporations that become undervalued enough.

    • adder says:

      A commune near my home community runs an heirloom seed business and they’re shattering their sales records right now.

    • johan_larson says:

      How are is the entertainment industry doing? With all these people cooped up at home, I would expect them to be watching a lot of TV, reading a lot of books, and playing a lot of video games.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Yeah, Netflix stock has been soaring. Video game sellers have been offering pandemic deals to people, “stay home and play!” I don’t know how well they’re doing in general, but they certainly worked on me as I’ve piled several more games on top of my backlog.

        Aside: which to play first, Sekiro or Disco Elysium?

        • Ant says:

          I would go with Disco. you might be tempted to play another game while playing Sekiro, and Disco is a terrible choice for that. Clear Disco first, then when your choice is Sekiro or a game that you will play oin small discontinued session, play Sekiro and that game.

          I made the mistake of playing MGS : Revengeance and start playing 3 houses to erase my frustation. I finished 2 playthrough of 3 houses, and didn’t touch Revengeance despite being at the first “exam” boss.

        • Jake R says:

          I haven’t played Disco but Sekiro is very good. I would recommend finding a spoiler free beginner’s guide on youtube before you play. The game’s core mechanics are extremely well done and very fun, but the in-game tutorials don’t do a great job of explaining how they work.

    • sami says:

      Home birth midwives for sure. Mine says her business has more than quadrupled, and would grow more than that if she hadn’t already reached her maximum number of clients. I’m due this Sunday and recently met via Zoom two backup midwives who will cover for her if she’s attending another birth when I go into labor. This possibility was included in the contract I signed with her back in December, but it was deemed extremely unlikely at the time and was unprecedented in her practice. I can’t say I’d be happy to have someone I didn’t know well, but it’s still preferable to going to the hospital for me.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Pets are coming out way ahead. They love having their humans with them all day every day.

      • acymetric says:

        My dog is not going to know what to do when I go back to the office.

        • baconbits9 says:

          I miss having a dog right now.

        • John Schilling says:

          Duh, he’s going to go back to playing poker with all the other dogs. You have no idea how pissed he is that he’s had to cancel his weekly poker game over this nonsense virus that doesn’t even affect dogs. Sure, humans are convenient with their ability to operate the can opener and whatnot, but humans 24/7 is just too much.

  8. Bobobob says:

    Most overrated movies of all time! Fight with me!

    1. Apocalypse Now
    2. The Usual Suspects
    3. The Godfather, Part II
    4. Reservoir Dogs
    5. Inception

    • Well... says:

      Why do you think Apocalypse Now is overrated?

      • Bobobob says:

        All through the movie, Martin Sheen’s character relentlessly voice-overs what a charismatic figure Kurtz is, and then we finally meet Kurtz in overweight elliptical inward-looking Marlon Brando mode. I think it’s the most egregious anticlimax in cinematic history.

        • Well... says:

          We finally meet Kurtz when he is at the end of his game, resigned to have his “command terminated with extreme prejudice”. Willard, fueled by being back in the jungle, puts in all this work to survive and find his nemesis while Kurtz readied himself to die. Apocalypse Now is a story of contrasts and opposites, yins and yangs — i.e. the dark and light sides of human nature — so it’s only fitting that the final brooding reality of Kurtz is so different from the voracious renegade in the dossier.

          Besides, if Kurtz was some kind of Schwarzenegger end-of-level boss and Willard’s journey ended with a big fight against him and all his cronies, with a bunch of explosions and a hot chick he gets to carry home, think about what kind of dumb movie that would have been.

          I suppose any movie that’s so widely lauded as Apocalypse Now runs the risk of being considered overrated, but in this case I think the acclaim is warranted.

          • Bobobob says:

            Maybe so, but it’s on record that Francis Ford Coppola was so upset by Marlon Brando’s weight that he shot all his scenes in half-darkness and had to significantly alter the end of the movie. I would really like to see that documentary about Apocalypse Now, maybe it’s streaming somewhere.

          • Well... says:

            “Hearts of Darkness” – I believe it is streaming somewhere. There’s a guy on Youtube who’s also made his own multiple-part documentary about it, and it’s pretty good. I can’t remember what it’s called though. Anyway, there’s more to that Brando-Coppola dynamic than you describe.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            To be fair to Bobobob, Brando’s character comes off better when held to brief screen time and dim lighting. He’s diminished when you see him walking around and talking like a human in the light of day. That’s one of several reasons I prefer the theatrical cut to the longer director’s cut.

        • Lambert says:

          Not watched AN but have read Heart of Darkness and that’s kind of the point.
          It’s an inherently anticlimactic book.

    • johan_larson says:

      The Usual Suspects has one of the most jaw-dropping twists in all of cinema, and Kevin Spacey at the top of his game. You’re out of your mind.

      • John Schilling says:

        I would count it as the least-overrated movie on Bobobob’s list. But it’s a very good movie that gets a very, very, very great deal of hype in some circles.

      • Bobobob says:

        The movie never added up to a logical whole for me, and I never bought the twist at the end. If you want Kevin Spacey at the top of his game, try Swimming with Sharks.

        I think the most memorable part of The Usual Suspects was Pete Postlethwaite’s weird pseudo-Japanese lawyer, whose origins (if I recall correctly) are never explained.

        • Matt says:

          The fact that the lawyer’s Japanese name doesn’t sit right with you is foreshadowing of the final twist.

          Xbonlnfuv vfa’g gur thl’f erny anzr, naq Xhwna vfa’g trggvat gur ivfhny jr ner bs gur npghny thl’f snpr, fb Ireony unf tvira Xhwna abguvat gb tb ba vs ur tbrf ybbxvat sbe uvz yngre.

      • Randy M says:

        What are the other most jaw-dropping twists in all of cinema?

        • Bobobob says:

          I somehow haven’t seen the movie myself, but The Sixth Sense had the most unexpected (and lucrative) twist ending in the history of forever, apparently enough to fund the next 20 years of M. Night Shyamalan’s career.

          • Randy M says:

            That and Fight Club are what came to mind for me, but I have a poor knowledge of older cinema. Or, really, recent cinema. Basically if it didn’t come out when I was in college.

          • Nick says:

            @Randy M
            At my office, you would be forgiven for thinking the only thing people ever see are 90s and early 2000s comedies.

          • Well... says:

            Someone told me the ending to the Sixth Sense before I saw it, and I thought it was clever. But I’d already seen The Others, so it didn’t blow my mind.

            I correctly guessed the twist to The Village about 15 minutes in though.

          • Matt says:

            6th sense blew me away, but I guessed the ‘twist’ to The Village before the movie came out.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Is there anyone who did not guess the twist to Shutter Island within the first five minutes?

          • Matt says:

            I possibly have the twist to Shutter Island but have never seen it, precisely because I believe I already know the twist.

          • Bobobob says:

            Even more off-thread, I have read exactly two books in my life whose plot twists made me jump out of my seat:

            1) The reappearance of Magwitch in Great Expectations
            2) The revelation of the Mule’s identity in Foundation

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yeah it’s not worth watching if you already know the twist. I watched wondering if the twist they telegraphed was so obvious that of course the real twist is that the obvious twist is not the twist! It’s a double twist!* But no, it was the totally obvious thing.

            * I would have called it a twistception but I obviously can’t since I saw Shutter Island years before Inception came out.

            Oh, but yeah, Sixth Sense totally got me. That was amazing.

            Also, people forget that when The Matrix came out, no one knew what the Matrix was. The trailer just showed people doing crazy bullet-dodging stunts and asked “what is the Matrix?” So you didn’t know if they were aliens, or robots, or superheroes, or what. Even though the “twist” is revealed 35 minutes into the movie, yeah, I was shocked. I did not see that coming.

          • Randy M says:

            2) The revelation of the Mule’s identity in Foundation

            I don’t remember this being so fascinating, can you refresh my memory?

            I happen to be rereading one of the Assimov Robot novels right now, Robots of Dawn. His writing is much drier and sparser than I remembered from reading it in High School. I think I may have picked up a bit of his style.

          • FLWAB says:

            @Randy M

            I recently reread the Foundation books so I have it fresh in my memory. Asimov spends a lot of time building up the mystery of who the Mule is, and the character who is eventually revealed to be the mule is so pathetic, so ridiculous, and so superfluous that when you know the twist in advance it almost seems like overkill. But I do remember being genuinely surprised the first time I read it, and it all does make sense when you look back at the events of the book. But honestly, it was a bit like if Jar Jar Binks turned out to secretly be the genius Sith Lord mastermind at the end.

            And yeah, he is dry as Death Valley. I love his works, but his prose is so far from purple that its infrared.

          • theodidactus says:

            Shutter Island’s twist is really dumb.

            The problem with talking about the “biggest twist” is that you’re talking about two different things.

            The Usual Suspects, Fight Club, and the 6th Sense have what I guess you’d call “stealth twists”, by that I mean that even saying “oh there’s a great twist to this” will spoil the movie, cuz you don’t even realize you’re watching “that kind of movie”. Into this category I’d also throw, for example, REALLY unexpected plot developments in non-mindscrewy movies, for example, [Spoiler] Ziggy shooting Double-G in the Wire, or The ending of the Sopranos, both of which come out of NOWHERE and make you really think about fate and chance and all that.

            Then there’s like, Knives Out, where you KNOW there’s a twist and the question is what, and guessing’s part of the fun.

          • Randy M says:

            @FLWAB
            That’s not far from how I remember it. Maybe the effect for me was spoiled by the paperback cover; it showed the Mule as a scrawny man dressed as a jester.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            I saw Shutter Island years before Inception came out.

            They came out in the same year (2010).

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Oh. In that case I take it back, I was expecting a total twistception!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The ending of the Sopranos

            Confused by this statement.

            I can’t think of an ending more in keeping, more expected, than what happened in the Sopranos. Nearly every episode of the Sopranos had a similar tone, and I always thought you practically could end it at any episode.

            I think people were expecting it to be satisfying, because of conventional expectations based on other series. But darkness, ambiguity, uncertainty and dissatisfaction were that series stock in trade.

        • Bobobob says:

          Also, I don’t know if the last scene of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris counts as a true twist ending, but it’s extremely effective.

        • johan_larson says:

          “No. I am your father.”

          • The Nybbler says:

            “No. I am your father.”

            Jaw-dropping to Luke. The fan base had already guessed.

          • Matt says:

            Jaw-dropping to Luke. The fan base had already guessed.

            Not those of us who were under 10!

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            @The Nybbler

            The fans already guessed that Vader was Luke’s father before Empire Strikes Back came out? How? What were the clues?

          • The Nybbler says:

            The fans already guessed that Vader was Luke’s father before Empire Strikes Back came out? How? What were the clues?

            I’d have to ask my dad, HE was sure of it. Probably some genre savviness on his part. A mysterious figure in black, and an unknown father, both with Jedi training. Obi Wan never mentions Luke’s father during his last fight with Vader. The name “Vader”.

        • BBA says:

          Gone Girl has a big twist in the middle. It was clear we had an unreliable narrator, but I wasn’t expecting it to play out quite like that.

          Going back a ways, we all know the story now, but the shower scene in Psycho was a big shocker at the time. The main character just died and there’s more than half a movie left, now what?

          • Bobobob says:

            There’s also a twist at the end of To Live and Die in L.A., when the hero detective suddenly and unexpectedly gets his head blown off. (BTW, I think To Live and Die in L.A. is one of the top five *underrated* movies of all time.)

        • rubberduck says:

          The twist in “Parasite” genuinely caught me by surprise, though I rarely watch movies so maybe other people found it predictable.

          • Clutzy says:

            There was a twist?

          • FLWAB says:

            It was more like a surprise than a twist. I guess the “twist” is that you thought the movie was about one particular thing but then it turned into something else halfway through. I dunno if that’s really a twist though. If, for instance, the rich couple were actually scam artists who were pretending to be the rich couple but weren’t, that would be a twist. (Note for those who haven’t seen it: that isn’t what happens.)

        • SteveReilly says:

          Did anybody watch Citizen Kane without knowing what Rosebud means? I’m guessing not, but if so, did you find the ending a big surprise? A let-down?

          I like the movie a lot, though I haven’t seen it in a while. But if I had seen it in the theater when it came out, I can’t imagine that I’d have thought much of the surprise, and I definitely wouldn’t have thought people would remember that bit of the movie decades later.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Pre-WWW, we didn’t have TVTropes and you weren’t likely to come across of random mentions of what Rosebud was. So yeah, I watched it without knowing about Rosebud. And it was a let-down, though not that much of one because at least the movie was over.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I watched in college, as part of a course on the study of motion pictures. I didn’t know what Rosebud was, AFAICR, but Rosebud is something of a McGuffin, so it doesn’t really matter.

            Kane is a movie built to be deconstructed. It’s an austere look at the hell Kane builds around himself, and every shot is carefully crafted. It’s not necessarily an enjoyable film, but being given a guided tour of it was fascinating.

        • meh says:

          I’ve heard Psycho.

        • theodidactus says:

          It certainly made an impression on me as a youth, once I realized what had happened. Maybe it’s not really a “twist” in the tradition sense…maybe almost more like a “jump scare”…I did NOT see it coming and maybe an hour later I put it together and was like “Holy crap, that must be exactly what it’s like”

        • Jaskologist says:

          Fitting that you all seem to have forgotten Memento.

        • noyann says:

          Would The Handmaiden count?

    • Atlas says:

      James Cameron’s oeuvre. After hearing T2 constantly hyped as one of the greatest action movies of all time, I was astounded at how underwhelming it was. Cameron as a filmmaker/artist seems like “Michael Bay plus 5 IQ points” to me.

      • Bobobob says:

        T2 was overrated before, during, and after it hit theaters, but T1 remains one of the best sci-fi thrillers ever made.

        • Atlas says:

          I did enjoy T1 quite a bit more. I think having Arnold as the hilariously deadpan villain (“Wrong.” “I’ll be back.”) worked better than having him as the hero (“You have to shoot for the knees so you don’t kill them!”).

        • johan_larson says:

          T2 had really good special effects for its time. It doesn’t look nearly as special now as it did then, because FX technique has advanced.

          T1 looks kind of old-fashioned now, but the sense of menace in it, and the tension in the action scenes still works just fine.

          • baconbits9 says:

            If you could make T1 but with T2 level special effects it would be an all time great movie.

          • Loriot says:

            It’s funny because a couple years ago, I watched the Terminator movies (both of them) for the first time. I found the CGI effects in T2 to be cinge-inducingly bad, but the traditional effects were amazing. Which is a bit ironic, since it’s the opposite of the reaction of the time.

            I think it’s sort of like the 2d vs 3d videogame effect. At the time, 3d videogames were mind blowing, because it had never been done, but nowadays, early 3d games look like crap while 2d games from the same era still hold up well.

            P.S. I was also stunned by how *young* Arnold looked in the first movie.

    • FLWAB says:

      What’s wrong with The Godfather Part II? It’s certainly better than the first one.

      • Bobobob says:

        GP2 is dour, humorless, and overlong. It has never had even remotely the same magical effect on me as the first Godfather, which is one of the best movies ever made.

        On a side tangent, part of what made Godfather 3 such an atrocity was that there is NO WAY the Michael Corleone of the second movie grows up into the Michael Corleone of the third movie.

    • The Nybbler says:

      The Usual Suspects gets 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.5/10 on IMDB, 77 on Metacritic. This seems reasonable. It’s a great movie that suffers mostly because it doesn’t bear re-watching.

      Anyway, #1 has to be Citizen Kane. 100 Metacritic, 100 Rotten Tomatoes, though only 8.3/10 on IMDB. It’s an overly-long, rather slow paced slog through the life of a man who isn’t really all that interesting. Like The Usual Suspects, it relies on a mystery, but one whose revelation is anticlimax. It’s a shaggy dog story in cinema.

      • theredsheep says:

        My memory of Citizen Kane is that the main character was just obnoxious enough not to feel sorry for–most if not all of his problems were his own doing–but not really hateful enough to root against, either. Basically, this guy kept shooting himself in the foot and he didn’t learn or change, so bleh. But I haven’t seen it in almost twenty years.

    • Well... says:

      I think any Christopher Nolan Batman movie is way overrated. Fight me on that!

      • theredsheep says:

        Well, the third was simply garbage, but I thought everyone agreed on that. The second had Heath Ledger’s Joker who absolutely was great. As for the rest, it was overlong and tried to cram in too much. The first was competent enough and benefited greatly by coming after Batman and Robin.

        • Well... says:

          Tim Burton’s Batman movies were the only good ones. (I like Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” but I’m willing to write that off as my own sentimentality.

          Even Heath Ledger couldn’t make Dark Knight good, and his enthralling performance actually made the movie worse. My reasoning is that any movie about a man in a cape who goes around beating up bad guys should look cartoonish. When it tries to take itself seriously, as Nolan’s movies do, it just becomes self-parody.

          • acymetric says:

            I’m on a weird island where I thought Batman Begins was excellent, one of my favorite movies (not top 5 or anything, but definitely at the “will watch many times” level). I thought Dark Knight was just ok, with a few pretty good parts. Dark Knight Rises was terrible.

          • John Schilling says:

            DKR had Anne Hathaway in the catwoman suit, which alleviates the terrible to some degree, but I’m with you on the relative rankings.

            The two Tim Burton Batmans, and Nolan’s first, are the only ones that bear a full rewatch IMO. All three treat Batman just seriously enough to make for a credible story, while acknowledging that there’s something off about the concept of one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world spending his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands for fun.

            “Dark Night” takes both Batman and the Joker too seriously, and the Joker in particular should never have let Nolan get away with that.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Hot take:

          While Ledger was obviously a great actor, he was one of the worst Jokers, saved from being the absolute worst only by the truly cataclysmic Jared Leto character (mostly not Leto’s fault). The Joker as a character must critically be inherently absurd, which Ledger could never muster.

          There is only one greatest Joker and that is Mark Hamill.

          • John Schilling says:

            Agreed, but don’t let Jack Nicholson’s Joker hear the bit about Mark Hamill.

            My other problem with Ledger’s version, and again no fault on the fine actor, is that the story demands not only that we take him seriously, but that the other characters take him seriously at a time when he hasn’t yet established himself as a mythically unstoppable supervillain and they should be reacting to him as a marginally dangerous nutcase.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @John Schilling

            Agreed, but don’t let Jack Nicholson’s Joker hear the bit about Mark Hamill.

            Nicholson was absolutely the greatest live action Joker, although Phoenix did a fine job on the most recent Joker film.

            The other problem is the cops letting him do things that under no circumstances would anyone do with either a mythically unstoppable supervillain OR a marginally dangerous nutcase.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            the story demands not only that we take him seriously, but that the other characters take him seriously

            I don’t think they took him seriously. In the first robbery scene, weren’t they talking about some “weird guy who wears clown makeup,” then the mobsters treated him dismissively, only dissuaded from killing him by the grenade he was carrying, and then they put out a hit on him. Only after he killed their leadership did they start taking him seriously.

          • John Schilling says:

            The cops would never have known Heath Ledger’s Joker even existed; the mob would have left him bleeding out on the floor thirty seconds after his character was introduced. If not earlier. That’s the point where Nolan lost me, and all I could notice is (as you say) all the places where everyone else was letting him get away with crap that should have gotten him shot.

          • Faza (TCM) says:

            There is only one greatest Joker and that is Mark Hamill.

            Once was a time where I would’ve laughed in Jack Nicholson, but then I played Arkham Asylum and… yeah.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @John Schilling

            Yeah, exactly. I wasn’t disagreeing with you, just adding on.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t think they took him seriously. In the first robbery scene, weren’t they talking about some “weird guy who wears clown makeup,” then the mobsters treated him dismissively, only dissuaded from killing him by the grenade he was carrying, and then they put out a hit on him.

            At thirty seconds he’s just gratuitously killed a mob henchman, his hands are empty, and nobody has seen the grenade in his pocket. And he’s a dangerous nutcase who hasn’t even claimed to be able to do anything useful for them, never mind establishing any credibility behind that claim. Anyone who doesn’t shoot him down on the spot, doesn’t get to be a mob boss or a mob boss’s bodyguard in the first place – dangerous nutcases who want to kill mob bosses are orders of magnitude more common than dangerous hypercompetent nut cases who want to help them.

            But he’s played by Heath Ledger cackling ominously, so everybody is frightened and/or respectful because, hmm, I guess they heard all the internet buzz about how awesome a Joker Heath Ledger was going to be?

          • CatCube says:

            As evidence for Hamill’s Joker being the best, I present this scene from Batman: The Animated Series, where organized crime has stolen an atomic bomb and is auctioning it off:

            Gangster Auctioneer: What are my bids?

            Joker: How about nothing? Zero, zip, zilch, nada.
            Throws playing card weapon
            My personal check for bupkis, drawn on the First National Bank of Squadoo!

            Now, this scene has exactly the same problems as noted with Ledger’s Joker accosting gangsters–he even does the same thing with a bomb, and isn’t shot before he exposes it to view–but not taking itself so seriously makes it easier to go down, as well as the Joker being a well-established supervillain at this point.

            But the biggest difference with Hamill’s Joker: he’s a clown who’s also a supervillian. He’s having fun with this. Compare this to Ledger’s Joker, who is a supervillain who only dresses like a clown. So Hamill’s Joker is more fun to watch even in an equivalent scene.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Anybody know a place that streams Batman: The Animated Series? I was able to find some movies and such on…I think Hulu or Amazon, and my kids loved it, but I can’t find the series streaming without buying it.

          • theredsheep says:

            I admired Ledger’s performance. Nicholson was fun, but he was always too silly, never actually disturbing or frightening. Haven’t seen the other versions, though I like Mark Hamill in general.

            I don’t worry too much about plausible reactions to threats or provocations because http://wondermark.com/939/

          • littskad says:

            @Conrad Honcho:
            The first two seasons of Batman: The Animated Series are available at dcuniverse.com.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Thank you, that might be worth a subscription. I wish they had one of those things where you can watch free with ads or pay to skip them like crunchyroll, though.

      • meh says:

        Before I fight… how do you feel about MCU?

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Marvel Cinematic Universe.

          • Well... says:

            Well there’s your answer.

            (What I wanted to say is “Sorry, I’m not a dork who lives in his mom’s basement reading comic books so I don’t really give a crap about any cinematic universe” but I know over the internet the humor in that response could get lost on people.)

          • meh says:

            no no. the humor of someone posting this on a hidden internet discussion of movies would not have been lost.

            anyway, i would not fight you on it in this case. if you though MCU was gold, but hated Batman Begins, then i would have thrown down

          • Well... says:

            Quasi-film snobs (film quasi-snobs? quasi film-snobs?) with addictive personalities (like me) and dorks who are very concerned about comic book movie universes might both be found on hidden internet discussions about movies. Just sayin’.

          • acymetric says:

            Quasi-film snobs (film quasi-snobs? quasi film-snobs?) with addictive personalities (like me)

            I’ve got very bad news for you, film-snobs (even quasi ones) are dorks.

          • Well... says:

            Totally different species of dork though.

    • Randy M says:

      I’m going to borrow your thread to recommend a movie that’s underrated, at least imo.

      I rewatched “The History of Time Travel” the other day, it’s a crack-up. In faux-documentary style, they related the story of the invention of time travel. The US government run Indiana Project attempts to develop time travel during WW2, but never succeeds. The lead researcher’s wife later dies of Polio, and some time after that (in the ’80’s), his only son finds his notes and completes the research, culminating in a device he uses to vaccinate his mother as an infant. This is told interview style, with various experts giving their view of how it happened and so forth.

      Anyway, sometime later she dies giving birth to her second son and, years later, her children invent time travel after finding their father’s notes, and create a device they use to save their mother’s life, the younger son delivering himself. She raises the two boys, but is troubled by images of strangers appearing, nightmares of being stabbed by needles, and takes her life.

      The memory haunts her sons, and, years later, they invent time travel for the first time and use it to help their father get a jump start on his research decades prior, reasoning he would have been able to help his wife if he weren’t so wrapped up in his research. Unfortunately, Soviet spies steal the technology, and have been beating the US to every invention since.

      You get the picture. It’s not exactly subtle in how history is being rewritten before your eyes–culminating in the title of the program changing to “The Science Fiction of Time Travel” by the end–but they never explicitly call attention to it.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Seconded. A very nice job. If you just skimmed Randy’s message, don’t read it more carefully (sorry Randy), just watch the movie.

    • Bobobob says:

      I notice that nobody has argued about Reservoir Dogs and Inception, which leads me to believe these movies really *are* overrated.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I think Inception is just “rated.” Inception is not overrated, not because it’s an amazing movie, but because I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sell it like it is.

      • Frog-like Sensations says:

        This seems exactly backwards to me. How overrated something is a function of two things:

        (1) How highly people rate it.
        (2) How good it is.

        But surely no one coming out to defend those films is stronger evidence that (1) is lower than you think than it is that (2) is even lower.

    • danridge says:

      I think Reservoir Dogs should get an automatic boost because it’s only a bit over 90 minutes. You can watch it real quick in the morning before school or work or you have to check into prison for the weekend.

    • cassander says:

      all 5 slots on that list should be 2001: A space odyssey

      • Bobobob says:

        My favorite movie of all time (thus establishing my priors).

        • cassander says:

          you’re not the only one i know who says that, I just don’t get it. The HAL stuff is fun, but the rest of the movie is just so up it’s own butt…

          • Well... says:

            It’s in my top 2 or 3, but I have no idea how I’d defend it. I guess one thing it has pretty clearly going for it is the cinematic accomplishment: that they were able to create those kinds of images in 1968. I also really admire that it’s widely agreed to be one of the best movies of all time despite having no character development, no real plot, and only like 11 minutes of dialogue across its ~3 hour runtime.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is in my top five worst movies I’ve ever seen. There’s no story, the characters are loathsome, there’s no deeper meaning and it’s not even funny. It’s just pathetic.

      • theredsheep says:

        I remember thinking it was funny, but then I was a teenager. Still smile a bit at “It was a fucking reptile zoo! And someone was giving BOOZE to the damn things!” I didn’t get the point, was told it’s that baby-boomer idealism wound up dissipating into a sordid mess of substance abuse and hedonism.

        • rumham says:

          That point is made explicitly in the movie.

          “Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

          History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

          My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

          There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

          And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

          So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

          ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    • meh says:

      The greatest critic of my lifetime agrees on one of them
      https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-usual-suspects-1995

    • Machine Interface says:

      There’s no such thing as an overrated movie. Any creation has the potential to please an amount of people equal to X. It will generally end up pleasing a number lower than X, and thus be underrated. But it cannot being liked by a number greater than X, which would amount to being liked by people who cannot like it.

      • Well... says:

        I think being “overrated” is a more qualitative idea: that people commonly attribute, either through ignorance or groupthink or whatever else, a fineness of quality to a movie that it does not deserve. Obviously you can object that quality is subjective, and in a fundamental sense that’s true, but I think there are some ways to objectively analyze movies using heuristics most people can agree on (believability of acting and special effects, predictability/cliche-/trite-ness of writing, articulation of art direction and wardrobe, grandeur of cinematic accomplishment*, etc.).

        *E.g. it’s much more impressive to pull off a movie like “The Ten Commandments” than an art movie shot in a black box theatre with a small cast, multiple cameras etc.

        • Machine Interface says:

          Quality in art is tautological, because all supposedly objective criteria for what makes art good always end up being a reflexion of what the person establishing the criteria personally prefers.

          Some people don’t care about “good acting”. How can you demonstrate that they are “wrong”. Why is “good acting” a necessary qualitative element of a movie? How can it claimed to be when so many people enjoy movies with bad acting, and when so many film experts utterly disagree on what “good acting” even is?

          At best, you can judge a movie against its intent. If a director intented to make a fast-paced, breathtaking action-thriller film, but the audience for action-thriller films finds it a snooze-fest, it’s a faillure, but it’s ultimately a faillure of the director, who didn’t acquire/deploy the skills needed to make the movie he wanted. But the movie he did make will still have an audience, even if it’s an audience of three people who watch it ironically — they’ll be saying it’s “so bad it’s good”, but whatever the reason, they’re enjoying it, so to them the movie is entertaining, in spite of being “bad”, and there’s not really any rational ground on which you could argue that they are “wrong” for enjoying it (and that even if they were enjoying unironically).

          • Well... says:

            That’s why I said “heuristics most people can agree on”.

            It’s kinda funny: you can trust the yardsticks most people agree on using to be reliable yardsticks, but you can’t necessarily trust people to use those yardsticks in a reliable way.

    • Ketil says:

      The Shawshank redemption. Not a bad flick, but top of the IMDB? No way.

      • theodidactus says:

        The Shawshank Redemption isn’t at the top of my list or the top of anyone I know’s list, but of my close group of film buff friends (maybe 20 in number) it’s one of the few films we can all agree is unqualified “good”…that counts for something I think.

        • Matt M says:

          Yeah, it’s surprising how few films exist that literally nobody dislikes… and Shawshank definitely seems to be one of them.

          • Bobobob says:

            Babe. Anyone here dislike Babe? I have yet to meet anyone who dislikes Babe. (IMO, Babe should have been Best Picture the year Braveheart won.)

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Bobobob

            Great choice.

            Another that everyone I know likes is The Sandlot.

          • smocc says:

            I don’t care for The Sandlot, and haven’t since I was a kid. It’s okay and I can watch it but it always left me a little uneasy.

            I think I finally realized why, and it’s that it’s not a movie about being a kid, it’s a movie about the transition period out of childhood. And the ways it marks that transition period most often are via transgression. Kissing the lifeguard, trying tobacco, etc. And these transgressions are viewed rosily and nostalgically by the adult viewpoint of the film. As a kid it made me uncomfortable to see kids do bad stuff, and as an adult I don’t identify with nostalgia for the transgressive teen years. The transgressive stuff I did as a teen made that period miserable for me until I actually grew up and stopped it.

            So, like, there are parts of the movie that are pleasant and quotable, but I can never love it.

            ETA: To me it feels like watching a move about The Fall of Adam and Eve that simply ends with them cast out of paradise with no resolution besides “Sigh, wasn’t that sure a great time when we got case out of paradise into a world of death and sin?” Even if you made it funny and quotable it would still feel weird.

      • Nick says:

        Well, Twelve Angry Men should obviously be at the top, but Shawshank Redemption is a very good movie nonetheless.

        • Bobobob says:

          I was thinking about it this morning, and #2 on my list of Best Movies of All Time (after 2001: A Space Odyssey) would have to be Goodfellas. Which may be as different in tone, structure, pacing, and just about everything as two Best Movies can possibly be.

          • Matt M says:

            Honestly, I’d probably throw out Goodfellas as one of my most overrated. IMO there are many more entertaining mob movies…

          • Bobobob says:

            It’s funny how a discussion of movies points to deeper issues about qualia. I like the taste of coconut, and I can’t imagine being a person who hates the taste of coconut. I can’t imagine people disliking 2001 and Goodfellas, but they feel exactly the same way about my (to them) bizarre preferences. Life is indeed a rich tapestry.

    • Clutzy says:

      I actually really like Inception. Also I don’t think its rated too highly. So I’ll fight you there.

      Also I think of your list as flawed, generally, because it contains a bunch of films that are rated very highly, but also in my opinion are at least good. None of those is a horrible movie.

      There does, however, exist a caste of movies that are highly rated, and are awful, making the discrepancy much greater. For instance, there is Dances with Wolves. A trash movie that won an oscar. To be more overrated than Dances with Wolves you have to create a movie people rate as a 100 that is only a 50. Brokeback Mountain is another I’d place in this category along with Birdman and Shape of Water.

      • Bobobob says:

        I think it’s more subtle than that. There are movies that (intelligent) people rate badly, but do well with the general public–remember when Crash won Best Picture? (I agree with you about Dances with Wolves, and I would also add Braveheart, which was enjoyable but not even close to being a great movie.) But there are also movies that (mostly intelligent) people rate well, but aren’t nearly as good as they think, hence the ones on my list. Why these movies punch so far above their critical weight is the mystery I am trying to explore.

        • Clutzy says:

          Ahh, well I’ll summarize some:

          1. Apocalypse Now
          No idea, never seen it.
          2. The Usual Suspects
          It has an ending that can be talked about a lot and analogized to al ot.
          3. The Godfather, Part II
          People love gangster movies, they all punch above their weight. This is simply the best gangster movie.
          4. Reservoir Dogs
          Tarantino lovers
          5. Inception
          Crazy cinematography and an incredible original concept at a time where most blockbusters are derivative works.

      • acymetric says:

        I actually really like Inception. Also I don’t think its rated too highly. So I’ll fight you there.

        I also really liked it. It also seems hard to call a movie “overrated” if it is never really talked about anymore. There was a lot of hype about it when it came out and for a year or two after, but I think people have mostly moved on (although it has sort of entered language as a verb i.e. “I Incepted you into doing that”).

        • Nick says:

          it has sort of entered language as a verb i.e. “I Incepted you into doing that”

          Whose language has it entered? I’ve never heard this expression.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’ve never heard that either, but Inception definitely entered the lexicon with the -ception suffix, meaning “thing within a thing.”

            Example, elsewhere in this thread I described a “twist within a twist” as a “twistception.”

          • noyann says:

            “A tunnel through a tunnel” or “a wheel within a wheel” — would that be tunnelception and wheelception?

          • acymetric says:

            @Nick

            I did a terrible job saying what I was trying to say and used a terrible made up example. I was trying to say what @Conrad Honcho said.

          • Nick says:

            Ah, thanks. That I have definitely heard, though not in a while.

          • Deiseach says:

            “A tunnel through a tunnel” or “a wheel within a wheel” — would that be tunnelception and wheelception?

            That would be the windmills of your mind 🙂

          • noyann says:

            🙂 I wondered if someone would catch it and bother to reply.

            ETA: I quoted it wrong. Should have been “Like a tunnel you can follow | To a tunnel of its own…”
            It seems the windmills in my mind are quixotic in nature.

    • Chariots of Fire — and now, more running in slow motion.

    • Well... says:

      Not a movie, but “Game of Thrones” is one of the most overrated, if not the most overrated, “motion picture” of any kind.

    • fion says:

      I’ve only seen The Usual Suspects and Inception, and I thought they were both pretty good but not anywhere near “favourite” territory so I won’t fight you on those.

      For me it’s Forrest Gump. I like Tom Hanks, but I found that film incredibly dull and annoying. 8.8 on IMDb!!

    • AG says:

      And now for something completely different: Singing in the Rain.

      Mind you, I personally adore Singing in the Rain. But it is not the greatest film musical of all time. All of its good points aren’t innovations, and while it’s A+ on execution, is executing on complete fluff. There are other film musicals that execute just as well, but with a tint more meat on the bone.

      • Statismagician says:

        Are there? I thought pretty much all musicals (as distinct from opera) were >95% fluff, and that that was basically the point.

        • Lambert says:

          That, or Genesis chapters 37-46

        • AG says:

          Sure, the plots may be as simple as a love story (take Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, or Gigi, both of which were Best Picture Oscar nominees, and the latter won), but you have meaningful character arcs and relationships.

          SitR is absolute fluff because it doesn’t have that. There is more meaningful conflict in the Broadway Ballet (the main character in that is abandoned by their love interest for money) than there is in the actual film’s plot.

          Take The Bandwagon, a film produced around the same time as SitR, and much the same style. I consider it to have a tint more meat on the bone because the main plot is also relevant to the central romance (all of the characters and most of the relationships are about how they let subjective genre boundaries limit them), even if from a distance, it’s simply a “let’s put on a show!” story.

      • smocc says:

        Agreed. Several years ago I rewatched Singing in the Rain for the first time in a while and then soon thereafter watched White Christmas for the first time. Singing in the Rain was disappointing relative to my memories and White Christmas exceeded my expectations for musicals from that era.

        The big difference I think is that Singing in the Rain has great numbers but no solid emotional core. Yeah there’s a love story (right? I’m not even sure now that I think about it) but it just kind of happens. White Christmas does a better job building and then developing upon solid core of compelling character relationships while also having great numbers.

        • AG says:

          Heh, I’m of the opposite opinion, the Bing musicals tend to leave me more cold because the love stories are insufferable and the pacing of the humor is off.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Singing in the Rain…is not the greatest film musical of all time.

        Agreed. It’s good but not that good. But then what is the greatest film musical?

        • Bobobob says:

          Oliver!

        • AG says:

          Winners of the Best Picture Oscar include Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oliver!, and Chicago. Of those, I think that West Side Story and Chicago are the best contenders. But Beauty and the Beast can’t be ignored, either.

          As per above, I do still adore Singing in the Rain. Of the films of its kind (pure fluff with hella good execution on that fluff), I think that The Bandwagon is probably the best.

          Of course, I have yet to see Zombie Apocalypse Christmas Musical film Anna and the Apocalypse, so.

  9. kai.teorn says:

    Is there a single, non-judgemental, non-offensive word or phrase that would cover the demographics characterized by:

    – distrust of science
    – distrust of authorities
    – proneness to conspiracy theories
    – reliance on folk remedies and word of mouth

    In my limited experience, these traits correlate with each other. Is there science confirming this? If they do correlate, is there an accepted way to refer to the combined trait?

    • matkoniecz says:

      Any non-judgemental, non-offensive word used in this context would quickly become offensive.

      See how non-offensive words for people with intellect-related disabilities become insults.

    • Matt M says:

      Skeptic or contrarian might plausibly fit your first three items, but not necessarily the fourth as much.

      • doubleunplussed says:

        Also ‘skeptic’ is already taken and means the opposite: people skeptical of folky knowledge because it is not supported by science.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        “Folk skeptic” would state the case pretty well. A touch pejorative, but I agree with matkoniecz that trying to avoid that is ultimately futile.

    • Vegapunk says:

      Also worth noting is that you are going to get a different word depending on whether you mean the motte: “science” or the bailey: “Science !”

    • QamarAlHashiishi says:

      Though the word “fundamentalist” comes to mind, and while it doesn’t inherently come with negative connotation, it is of course a slur at this point.

      • FLWAB says:

        Fundamentalists have a creed and they stick to it: that’s the whole point. Fundamentalism first arose around the turn of the century due to the Modernism/Fundamentalism controversy wherein a lot of people split off from modernizing mainline protestant churches into churches that held to the “fundamentals” of the faith without compromising. And while Fundamentalism has become a slur in the hundred years since, it still refers to people who stick to a creed without compromise.

        The people kai.teorn are describing do not have a creed and are suspicious of creeds. They are trying to find the hidden truth that nobody else has (conspiracy theories, quack medical remedies, etc). That’s not something Fundamentalists do: they yell at people to “keep in line”, not “wake up sheeple!”

        With that in mind it might be better to call them Secular Gnostics. They have the hidden truth, and the rest of the world is deceived.

    • Randy M says:

      Hippie goes a bit beyond this, but they do fit that cluster. I’m not sure if that is considered perjorative or not. My impression is that Hippies are generally seen as admirable but naive.

      • Konstantin says:

        I haven’t really seen that term used outside of referring to the countercultural movement of the late 1960s. Are there people who refer to themselves as hippies in the 21st century that aren’t doing it to be retro?

    • Iago the Yerfdog says:

      It’s a shame “folklorist” is taken, because it would fit really well: someone who holds to the lore of the common folk.

      “Epistemic reactionary” would describe it literally, but the noun there has negative connotations: very few people describe themselves as reactionaries.

      “Epistemic populist” maybe? “Populist” is a charged word but it’s embraced by many of those described by it, and it conveys the same sort of disdain for established authorities and elites.

      • Tenacious D says:

        Populist seems like it should be included in the answer, certainly. Maybe “cultural populist” or “populist tribe”?

        • Iago the Yerfdog says:

          This seems like the wrong context for “populist tribe,” and maybe it’s just me but “cultural populist” sounds like a position in the culture war, not the reality war.

          “Epistemic populist,” for all its high-falutin-ness, strikes me as immediately suggesting someone who thinks the beliefs of common people are more trustworthy than the beliefs of intellectuals.

      • noyann says:

        Epistemic folklorist?

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t know a word as you describe, unless it’s “peasant” or “traditional customs”, but the late Michael Hartnett wrote a poem about such people (inspired by the death of his grandmother in 1965):
      DEATH OF AN IRISHWOMAN

      Ignorant, in the sense
      she ate monotonous food
      and thought the world was flat,
      and pagan, in the sense
      she knew the things that moved
      at night were neither dogs nor cats
      but púcas and darkfaced men,
      she nevertheless had fierce pride.
      But sentenced in the end
      to eat thin diminishing porridge
      in a stone-cold kitchen
      she clenched her brittle hands
      around a world
      she could not understand.
      I loved her from the day she died.
      She was a summer dance at the crossroads.
      She was a card game where a nose was broken.
      She was a song that nobody sings.
      She was a house ransacked by soldiers.
      She was a language seldom spoken.
      She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.

    • sidereal says:

      Alternative thinker?

      I don’t know if a completely non-offensive term is possible, because the ability to apprehend this as a cluster sort of implies seeing it as naive. Like, I would assume a crystal-healing naturopath doesn’t feel much kinship with a tin-foil hat wearing UFO conspiracy theorist, even though the rest of us might see it that way.

      • Iago the Yerfdog says:

        It depends on whether the crystal-healing naturopath is also a tin-foil hat wearing UFO conspiracy theorist, of course.

        Actually, in my experience, while each one may look at the other as “the ones who make the rest of us look nuts,” and might resent being lumped together for dismissal by skeptics, they’d actually feel a kind of kinship in being dismissed and scorned by the mainstream.

    • Machine Interface says:

      Uncontacted people.

    • b_jonas says:

      That word is “elderly”.

    • How about “rhetoricians?” These are defined by a worldview that the arguments which are true are those which sound to his ears to be the most rhetorically convincing. This distinguishes them from people who base their beliefs on evidence or experiment (or believe they do this) and also from the masses who just trust whatever their authorities tell them. The rhetorician is inspired by generic stories and doesn’t seek out more than one or two data points that fit with them, certainly, he doesn’t look for data points that don’t fit the story. The rhetorician isn’t entirely closed to abandoning his story for another, more convincing story, but there must be another story. He will never abandon his story for “nobody knows.”

      It reminds me of my reaction to Idiocracy: that it wasn’t pessimistic enough. In a realistic world, they’d never appoint the smartest man alive to a government position thinking he will fix their problems, after all, we don’t. They’d just keep laughing at him.

      • Matt M says:

        It reminds me of my reaction to Idiocracy: that it wasn’t pessimistic enough. In a realistic world, they’d never appoint the smartest man alive to a government position thinking he will fix their problems, after all, we don’t. They’d just keep laughing at him.

        Camacho appointed Not Sure to be the fall guy and to take the blame for the existing state of affairs. It was a smart gambit!

  10. anonymousskimmer says:

    I’m curious whether any delivery services are using UV to decontaminate packages and groceries.

    It seems like an obvious and important thing. https://nypost.com/2020/04/13/nc-woman-gets-covid-19-despite-staying-home-for-three-weeks/

    On one occasion, a woman who has since tested positive for the illness dropped off groceries on Brummert’s doorstep, the report said.

    • Robert Liguori says:

      I’ve got a few UV lamps ordered on eBay. UV light is apparently unusually effective against coronaviruses of all kinds, due to their large, complicated, and fragile genomes, and I plan on making a sanitizing box out of one of them and a plastic tub that I will use to sterilize all incoming groceries and packages if this continues.

      It does seem obvious, and important, but per Scott’s last article, I think we’re realizing more and more that the experts aren’t.

    • mfm32 says:

      There is extremely limited evidence of surface transmission. Using UV to decontaminate packages is unlikely to hurt anything (unless it causes your groceries to spoil because you leave them out…), but I believe there is not evidence that it would pass a cost-benefit analysis except perhaps for someone at unusually high risk.

      There is also the nearly-mathematical fact that the virus could either spread more easily than we think or be more deadly than we think, but it cannot be both at the same time given the evidence we have. If it spreads easily (e.g. by casual person-to-person contact, or by surface transmission), its prevalence is almost certainly much higher than reported and its death rate correspondingly lower. If the death rate is much higher than we think (e.g. because deaths are being missed), then it must not spread as easily as we have estimated, or there would be too many deaths to miss. In other words, errors at this stage will tend to cancel out or produce a net decrease in “dangerousness” of the virus.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        One of the things I’ve been pondering is why, given what seems a lengthy period of infectiousness, R0 is so low.

        I wonder if all the routes of infection are relatively rare. Haven’t really subjected that to much scrutiny, but it might explain why strict social distancing is more effective than was first predicted.

        • mfm32 says:

          What makes you believe strict social distancing is more effective than predicted? Not a leading or rhetorical question — honestly curious.

          Deaths have been significantly lower than most models predicted (right?), but that could equally be because the models were too pessimistic. For whatever it’s worth, Tyler Cowen has started to suggest explanations in that category.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Because the recent revisions downward in models are, I believe primarily, but at least partially, dependent on new data from Italy and Spain about how effective social distancing is.

        • Clutzy says:

          My first hypothesis is that it is very good at spreading in some superspreader environments, but it loses its superpowers in normal environments, and even moreso when moderate measures are taken.

          My evidence is: 1) High measured infection rate of athletes, celebrities, and politicians. These people fly a lot. Planes are known for getting you sick, its a trope for a reason. 2) Some small sample size studies showing humidifiers lower transmission by a lot. 3) Rural and suburban non-gatherers (mostly non churchgoers) being largely unaffected.

          This all indicates that C19 is very environmentally dependent. You probably could get 90% of shelter in place’s value by shutting down mass transit and mass gatherings of something like 50+. This would burden some workplaces, like a work-center I used to work at, but that could be fixed by staggered work hours or staggered teleworking. Installing humidifiers all over the place probably even lets you open restaurants, but they probably have to reduce capacity (to a more comfortable seating arrangement I’d argue for most of them).

          Of course, this is my own musings that update as data comes in. This is simply the best model I have now. I don’t think models that say, “we could have flied commercial flights and packed subways and had the same outcome” are credible. The data seems to indicate to me that there is a middle path.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            On celebrities, I think you are likely at least partially succumbing to availability bias there. Do you have anything like a study that says they have high infection rates relative to the public?

            On humidity, sure, maybe. But we still don’t have a good explanation for flu seasonality, despite guesses about humidity and mucus membranes.

            Obviously large gatherings and mass transit are likely vectors, but I don’t think the data at all supports a 90% reduction in disease via those two restrictions alone. Like, even remotely. The clustering would be very apparent, in all the many places without mass transit, I would think. You can say that spread has been slower in rural and suburban areas, but I don’t think you can say they have been unaffected.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I assume we could get most of the current benefit by only doing some of the things we are doing now. Most things work like that.

            But we don’t know which things.

          • John Schilling says:

            We get none of the current benefit beyond postponing the inevitable, unless we continue doing the things we are doing until we can implement Plan B. And Plan B seems to be the vaccine that’s a year or so in the future, because I don’t see anyone e.g. hiring and training more public health workers to do contact tracing. So we should be doing the subset of things that we are doing now, that we reasonably expect that we can keep doing for another year. If that’s not enough, then we always were screwed.

          • Vitor says:

            @John Schilling

            It’s an explicit part of Switzerland’s strategy to take up contact tracing again (now that the number of cases has dropped substantially). Businesses will start to re-open on April 27th.

          • John Schilling says:

            That will be useful data, but I don’t think any of us here are Swiss so not directly helpful. What’s the over/under on anyone in the US or even EU effectively incorporating Swiss experience in their field operations in any time less than a year?

          • Clutzy says:

            I remain skeptical of contact tracing.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Clutzy:
            In general? Or just for Covid-19?

          • Clutzy says:

            For Covid. Particularly when dealing with the herding cats problem that Americans comprise. We just did a huge Costco run (still no TP there despite other stores having some) and there were fat old guys without masks who walked up behind me real close to look at some cheese. Incubation is too long, we still don’t have a handle on how it actually spreads, etc.

          • John Schilling says:

            If we integrate (1/distance)*time, for all your human contact, what fraction of it is taken by two-fat-geezers-at-Costco and the like? Remember, we’re talking about a disease where, in a normal pre-lockdown social environment, the total of (1/d)*t for an average person over a ~10-day period is enough for 2-3 instances of actual disease transmission; someone who is only in your face for a few seconds is a tiny fraction of that.

            It’s probabilistic; one of those fat geezers might infect you while leaving their officemate spared. But for contract tracing to be effective in general, it only has to catch most transmission, and not an overwhelming “most” at that. It can ignore the supermarket geezers and just trace the officemates and other coworkers, friends and family, and the like, maybe down to the level of the waitress who served you at a restaurant and the diners in the next booth. The rule my company is using is six feet / ten minutes. Also, I’m not sure why the age or obesity of the people in the supermarket aisle is an issue.

            Public transportation is the biggest sticking point I see for contact tracing, and maybe things like movie theaters and sporting events.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If I came down with COVID, I’d tell whoever is doing the tracing the times I was at the grocery store, and they’d work with the grocery store to figure out how to track down the people there.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Generally, all the things that John said. See the end for one niggle.

            What none of that really addresses is whether contact tracing is an effective way to keep Covid-19 under control in a “normal” environment. I think that’s a valid question. What will we need to do once we have infections under control in order to keep them under control? I don’t have a good guess at the answer. But maybe it will be enough to reduce our exposure in a variety of ways, like most people wearing masks, orders for distancing in many cases, etc.

            Now for the niggle:

            Also, I’m not sure why the age or obesity of the people in the supermarket aisle is an issue.

            The question becomes whether the elderly and infirm are more at risk to contract the disease. If so, it’s possible the overall health status is relevant to their relative risk vs. the “average” community member. But, I don’t think that’s really likely to matter. You basically need to treat everyone as a risk, except for people you know have it, or have been exposed to it, and those you have to treat as high risk.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I can’t see contact tracing working with this disease, particularly with mass transit. Suppose I show up at the ER with shortness of breath and test positive for COVID. I’ve quite likely been contagious for several days. So where was I for those several days? Well, I was at home, and at work. And I took NJ Transit to work each day. And I took some subways. There’s no records on who was on those subway cars. Nor on the trains. And certainly not the stations, which includes Penn Station

            Worse, suppose I go through the entire course of the illness asymptomatic? Asymptomatic transmission is going to break contact tracing.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I wondered how South Korea dealt with contact tracing with public transport, and it looks like they just shut public transport down to stop the virus?

            https://time.com/5804899/u-s-coronavirus-needs-follow-s-korea/

          • Clutzy says:

            Also, I’m not sure why the age or obesity of the people in the supermarket aisle is an issue.

            Its an issue because an old fat guy not doing any of the social distancing and PPEing at all is indicative of the high levels of noncompliance I’ve seen. An old fat guy should be pretty freaking afraid of the virus.

            I understand the sentiment that contact tracing doesn’t need to be perfect, but something needs to be done correctly if we return to semi-normalcy people need to be doing personal sanitation at extremely high levels.

          • Public transportation is the biggest sticking point I see for contact tracing

            My impression is that the U.S. makes much more use of automobiles and much less of public transit than most other countries. Is that resulting in a slower spread of the disease?

          • johan_larson says:

            I can’t see contact tracing working with this disease, particularly with mass transit.

            Isn’t that why they’re planning to use cellphone data? You won’t need to remember who was standing close to you on the subway; they’ll just check the phone logs.

            And if you don’t carry a cell phone, well, that’s a clear sign of tradecraft. What are you, a terrorist?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Cell phones work notoriously poorly underground.

          • noyann says:

            @The Nybbler
            There is an approach that uses Bluetooth to measure proximity and duration, stores anonymous identifiers in the smartphone, and in case of later symptoms/positive tests the earlier contacts will be alerted and proactively quarantined. No continuity of cell login necessary.

        • Etoile says:

          From what I can see in my acquaintance, where two families have had it, transmission within a household is virtually guaranteed.

    • What’s the evidence on how much exposure to how intense uv it takes?

      We have two uv sources, one a flourescent which is used on Halloween when my daughter sits on her balcony over the front porch playing mournful music on her harp dressed in white with the uv shining on her. The other is a flashlight sized unit intended to spot cat urine stains. My guess is that neither would do the job short of hours of exposure, but I could easily be wrong.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        I saw a study a few weeks ago apparently showing that a few hours of direct sunlight would do the trick. I’ll see if I can dig it up again.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Thus, the formation of photoproducts at these wavelengths, particularly for UVA, may also involve the action of photosensitizer molecules within the cell.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656420/

        ??? It seems likely your blacklights are longer wavelength UVA sources. Perhaps they would help? But maybe only with other cellular components not present in the viral capsid?

        Direct sunlight (as mentioned by The Pachyderminator) also contains UVB.

    • Jake R says:

      My employer has hired an outside contractor to come in and sterilize high traffic areas with some sort of UV setup. I haven’t seen them at it yet but my understanding is they set up some kind of tripod thing in the center of a room and it blasts everything. Not sure how effective it is vs how much of it is for show, but I doubt it’s cheap.

      • FLWAB says:

        Security theater for the coronavirus?

        “Never fear, valued employees! Your work-space has been purified through the use of scientific Vita-Rays! Begone Coronavirus, by the power of Science!”

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Effectiveness of UV-C on coronavirus (not your typical UV lamp, but quite possibly what the contractor uses): https://www.mrsa-uv.com/cronavirus-cov.html

        Further studies and calculations show that the time required to destroy CoV is much faster and can be achieved in as little as 15 minutes at a radius distance from the portable Helix 450XL unit of 10 feet (diameter or 20 feet).

        It’s likely ineffective only in shadows, unless it functions at a low enough wavelength to produce ozone.

    • Lambert says:

      Important note: There are different sorts of UV.

      The sort that kills viruses effectively is ionising radiation and will give you sunburn and possibly skin cancer. Keep your exposure to it to an absolute minimum. Make sure no humans or pets will get into a room where it’s being used.

      Normal blacklights don’t have enough energy to destroy the viruses.

      Or maybe do a bunch of welding next to your groceries. Shame I don’t have access to my MIG welder right now.

      These videos go into more detail.
      https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=big+clive+UV

  11. theodidactus says:

    John is an employee of your favorite burger restaurant. He has just prepared a burger and fries while respecting all ordinary (but not extraordinary) precautions expected of burger chefs. That burger will arrive at your door.

    This morning, John tested positive for Coronavirus, but is exhibiting no symptoms. How much money would it take to get you to eat the burger?

    • Randy M says:

      Probably around low six figures. This seems like it could lead to me losing my job and ending up with significant medical bills, although probably not almost certainly I would survive if I did catch it.

      I am not trying to fight the hypothetical by nuking the heck out of it first, but if that was an option, I would certainly try.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I mean, given that there are zero reported cases of food-born transmission, however much I could swindle out of someone willing to pay me to eat a burger.

      • theodidactus says:

        it’s a low-end estimate so I’m assuming this means you’d happily just eat the burger on arrival?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Well, no, because you’ve already stipulated there’s someone willing to pay me to eat it. How much do I think I can swindle out of this person?

          Also, was I already hungry for a burger? If not, then whatever you’d need to pay me to get me to eat something I didn’t already feel like eating, plus whatever I can swindle.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I’d ask for 1K, even though I think the risk is much lower, because that’s the point at which it’s worth the hassle of engaging someone in the hypothetical.

          • Clutzy says:

            I think I’d ask for higher and if they negotiated I’d go lower. A person daring me to this task would obviously think its something scary. My level of caring isn’t relevant, it is the proposer’s mindset that matters.

      • LadyJane says:

        I know the details are fuzzy, but isn’t there a good chance that the original transmission was caused by someone eating bat meat in China?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          It said the burger was made by the COVID-19 positive worker, not out of him.

          • theodidactus says:

            Yeah…if he’s the ingredient it’s gonna change my answer. Still makes for an interesting hypo though.

        • bullseye says:

          My guess would be that someone caught it from a live or freshly killed animal, not from cooked meat. I believe the standard guess for how AIDS passed from monkeys to people was through a butcher.

        • Nick says:

          If the burger is fuzzy, you’re probably getting sick from something else entirely.

        • Kaitian says:

          No, the thought is that it was caught from a bat, or some other animal infected with a bat virus, that was sold on the Wuhan wet market. Whether the first human patient ate that animal, or sold it, or cleaned its cage, or interacted with it in some other way, is not known.

          Given what we know about how the virus spreads, I’d imagine someone caught it from the live animal. But even if he ate it, eating an infected animal is not the same as eating something prepared by an infected person.

      • bullseye says:

        From what I understand you can get it from touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth. Surely touching the contaminated surface *with* your mouth would count?

        No reported cases of food-borne transmission, but how many patients actually know how they caught it?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Nations are still doing contact tracing. You’d think if food-born transmission were possible we’d have seen something.

          • Deiseach says:

            Okay, these are the Food Safety Authority of Ireland recommendations.

            Recommended scenario – John should not be working in the burger restaurant if he knows he has the virus.

            Otherwise – so long as John practices good hygiene and doesn’t sneeze or spit directly onto the cooked burger and fries or the containers they’re put into, then it’s fairly okay to chance it.

            Now if John is regularly spitting into the burger boxes, even if he hasn’t got the virus, then no way I’m eating their dodgy burgers for any money. But if he’s careful and doesn’t sneeze onto the food, ah sure go on!

            No reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to contamination of food. The main risk of transmission is from close contact with infected people. The advice to food businesses and consumers is to maintain good hygiene practices and to wash your hands regularly. Thorough cooking will kill the virus.

            How is COVID-19 passed on?
            The virus is commonly passed on:

            – directly, through contact with an infected person’s body fluids (for example, droplets from coughing or sneezing)
            – indirectly, through contact with surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on

            Current information suggests that the virus could survive up to 72 hours (3 days) on hard surfaces depending on the material. However, the numbers of virus will reduce considerably over that time as it dies off. Simple household disinfectants can kill it.

            What can food workers do to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
            Normal fitness to work procedures operated in food businesses should ensure that infected workers do not handle food. Staff should not work if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Should an infected worker handle food it is possible that they could introduce virus to the food they are working on, or onto surfaces within the food business, by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact, unless they strictly follow good personal hygiene practices.

            These include:

            – proper hand hygiene
            – cough/cold hygiene practices
            – safe food practices
            – avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing

      • Matt M says:

        Given there’s a decent chance that our future scenario is something like “eventually, COVID is going to have to pass through the entire population,” then, if you live in an area where medical capacity is currently holding up fine, getting COVID right now might not be the worst thing…

        • theodidactus says:

          I was actually considering the cost/benefit analysis of deliberately exposing oneself in like, early March, before the system got overwhelmed.

          • albatross11 says:

            One thing that might matter for that calculation is that if you’re one of the unlucky people who get super sick with COVID-19, it’s usually quite awhile until you hit your crisis point. A few days after exposure until you get your first symptoms, a week or so with very bad flu like symptoms, then increasing breathing difficulties for the next few days until you end up in the ICU trying to get enough oxygen into your lungs to survive. I think it might be like 20 days. So intentionally exposing yourself now means making a pretty big bet on whether there will be a big wave hitting in 20 days where you live….

          • Matt M says:

            albatross,

            Sure – but given that some states are starting to talk about re-opening, right now (i.e. near the end of the window when basically everyone has been locked down for nearly a month) would still seem to be the best time.

            You’re forecasting what will be hitting in 20 days based on everyone else’s behavior right now. Sometime in the next couple weeks, we aren’t going to be in “everyone is locked down nationwide” mode anymore, and forecasting will get much harder…

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        I guess slightly more seriously, I would still want to get paid for this one, even if I were hungry for a burger.

        I’m sure there’s a name for the psychological phenomenon, and I’m sure somebody here will know what it is, but it’s like “irrational disgust.” Like drinking from a never-before-used, sterilized bedpan. Yes, yes, intellectually I know it’s perfectly safe and probably cleaner than a regular cup that came out of my dishwasher, but it triggers my lizardbrain disgust sensation that’s supposed to keep me from drinking out of bedpans that might have contaminants. So, whatever that’s worth. Maybe $100 to make it worth my time to participate in a stunt like this. Unless of course I thought I could swindle the guy out of way more by pretending to be more grossed out than I am.

        • theodidactus says:

          It’s one of those human disgust/dignity situations where it’s hard to separate the two. For example, if some djinn or whatever could assure me there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I’d suffer any health effects from eating something someone spit on, I’d still not do it: It’s undignified. Obviously our attitude about this dignity interest emanates from this aversion to infection, but it becomes something very different.

          Now I’m not 100% sure how that interactions with my aversion to eating johnny’s burger. My feeling is that I’d need some pretty substantial gain, like $10,000, but I can’t explain exactly why.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I think Michael Pollan talked about this in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” People won’t eat chocolate they see get reshaped into dog turds right in front of them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            My mom was an ICU nurse and every Halloween she’d bring milk duds in a (well-sterilized) antique porcelain bedpan for the other nurses on the floor. But “ha ha look how easily we can handle gross stuff” was part of their deal.

      • Deiseach says:

        however much I could swindle out of someone willing to pay me to eat a burger

        Aha, Conrad Honcho, I like the cut of your jib and should have considered that in my own answer! If the hypothetical burger restaurant or friendly aliens are willing to pay us to eat burgers, then take ’em for as much as they’ll give us! 🙂

        Like drinking from a never-before-used, sterilized bedpan.

        Mmmph? If it’s never used before, then I’d drink out of it. If it’s “been used frequently but I swear we boil washed it in bleach”, then not so willingly unless absolutely desperate and couldn’t drink out of my hands or something, or I got to wash it to my own satisfaction with my own hands and “you’re paying me a nice sum of money to do this”.

    • Creutzer says:

      Does wearing a (surgical) mask count as ordinary yet?

      • theodidactus says:

        for the purpose of this hypo no. John did everything an (American) burger cook would have done in like, August of last year: Hairnet, washed hands, gloves, coughed only the normal amount, etc.

        He didn’t do anything a burger cook wouldn’t have done last year: worn a mask, exposed the burger to UV light, avoided coughing AT ALL, breathing only a little, etc.

    • Deiseach says:

      John tested positive but is asymptomatic the same morning he made the burger?

      Eh, so long as it’s cooked properly and he took the usual precautions, nothing needed to induce me (so long as it’s a burger restaurant I know are usually not dodgy). There have been some places that you’d be taking your life in your hands on an ordinary day, never mind during an epidemic!

    • Purplehermann says:

      ~$5,000
      Less and I’ll feel like an idiot.

      Not too worried about getting it, under 40 and healthy.
      Low chance of getting it too

    • bullseye says:

      Even though I think transmission through food is possible, I’d be willing to do it. Because I probably already have eaten food prepared or handled by an infected person, given how many people are asymptomatic.

      • theodidactus says:

        All in all, I feel like when I’m being ultra rational about it, I probably have less risk of actually picking up a serious infection from the burger than I do picking it up on my trips to the supermarket (what with the lines, the ubiquitous buttons and handles I need to manipulate on the way, the confined spaces with other people, and so on).

        but I still feel like I want low five figures…and I love burgers.

    • The Pachyderminator says:

      $1000, at the very most. In fact, I’d probably settle for $500. I either have a weaker disgust instinct or a greater need for money than many of the people here. But I’m an otherwise healthy 20-something with no dependents, which certainly makes a difference.

    • Dack says:

      Hey, free burger!

      I stick it in the oven for a few minutes just to be sure though.

  12. TheOxAndMoon says:

    So, I got my Trump Bucks today. Since I’m still employed, I’d like to donate it effectively. Being almost brand-new to effective altruism, I’m not sure how to do this. What will you all be doing with the stimulus money/where will you be donating it if you’re lucky enough to still have a job?

    • EchoChaos says:

      What will you all be doing with the stimulus money/where will you be donating it if you’re lucky enough to still have a job?

      Split between the unemployed in my church and the Salvation Army.

    • Matt M says:

      Being almost brand-new to effective altruism, I’m not sure how to do this.

      The short answer is “shut up and buy malaria nets.”

    • FLWAB says:

      I still have my job, but I’m going to put it all into my savings account. Because I have no idea how long the lockdown will last and while I see no immediate threat to my job things can change on a dime. One day you’re doing your work with no worries, the next there’s a company wide meeting where layoffs are announced. I plan on hanging on to it until things look better.

      • albatross11 says:

        +1

        This is going to be worse than the 2008 recession, P > 0.9.

        Reasoning:

        A large fraction of businesses amounting to 10-20% of the economy is currently shut down and is going to have little or no demand for the next year. They will lay off employees, fail to make loan payments, stop paying their lease, stop buying supplies and equipment, etc. That will ripple through the economy. Monetary policy will have a much harder time having a useful effect here than in 2008, when the problem was mostly concentrated in big financial companies.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          This is what I’m coming around to. Even if you’re in something vital, like healthcare, okay great we reopen and there’s pent-up demand for the non-critical services put off during the lockdown, 20 million people have lost their jobs and presumably their health insurance.

          I still just don’t know what to think about this whole thing. I think it’s too early for all the brickbats and bouquets going on in the Failure But not of Prediction thread. We still don’t know how bad this is going to be on the humanitarian side, or on the economic side. I do not know what’s going to happen, I do not know if what was done was right or if there should have been more or less of it.

          • Matt M says:

            This is definitely my perspective as well. Think of how bad 2008-2009 was. All of that came about because of, basically, nothing more than “A single digit percentage of Americans can’t afford their mortgages anymore.”

            I don’t know what exactly is coming in terms of COVID-related economic disruption, but it seems to me like it will definitely be worse than that…

          • The Nybbler says:

            All of that came about because of, basically, nothing more than “A single digit percentage of Americans can’t afford their mortgages anymore.”

            That was the disruption, the proximate cause. But it could only do that because of the house of cards that financial institutions had built on top of those mortgages.

            Here we have a much greater disruption, but likely a much stronger financial foundation (if only because the weak ones got wrecked in the last event). So it’s hard to predict how big the financial disaster is going to be.

            Though with the NJ governor attempting to get a blank check to issue debt against future tax revenue (with pledges to raise taxes by any amount necessary to cover the bonds), I can’t imagine it will be at all good here.

          • Matt M says:

            Well, my belief is that nothing was really “fixed” in 08/09 and we still have an economy that is sitting on a house of cards…

          • albatross11 says:

            My intuition is that the problems in 2008 were largely problems with financial arrangements made between big companies. That is probably the class of problems that the fed and treasury departments can most easily deal with via monetary policy and bailouts and such.

            You can imagine making credit easier to come by or even implementing some kind of payment holiday and making debts magically not be considered overdue or something, which might help out businesses that got clobbered by the shutdowns but will reopen to nearly 100% of prior business as soon as the shutdowns end.

            But a lot of industries are looking at much less business for the forseeable futures–this isn’t due to government actions, it’s due to customers being afraid of getting sick with a nasty virus that might kill them. Extending some additional credit or letting businesses stay out of bankruptcy for another few extra months isn’t going to save a theater or conference center that finds itself with like 10% of its former level of business for the next two years. Nothing we do is going to save those businesses. When they fail, their employees and suppliers and creditors will all take a hit, as will local governments that were taxing them for revenue. And that’s going to happen a lot of times, for a lot of different industries. Restaurants and bars and amusement parks and concert venues and hotels and rental cars and airlines and cruise ships and tourist traps are all looking at huge losses. Consider all the towns along the ocean that rely for their income on tourists coming to the beach for the summer–how much will business be down this summer? Probably quite a bit. Lots of the restaurants and hotels will be closed in 2021 or 2022 when people come back.

            There’s a subset of those businesses that could maybe keep demand up by working out risk-limiting ways to use their products. A beach vacation where you’re never on a very crowded beach and you’re mostly eating takeout and staying in your own room wouldn’t be so high-risk. But someone has to work those things out and figure out how to market them and get them past whatever local authorities might find them upsetting for good or bad reasons.

            I don’t know how this will all work out, but I do not expect it to be pretty.

    • Randy M says:

      Frickin’ IRS, man. They give us this money, yet make me prove for the third year in a row that my wife is still alive to file my tax return this year, despite giving them letters from the Social Security office declaring “Yeah, this chick’s totally right in front of me, and I don’t usually see dead people, please update on your end.”

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      My wife was saying the same thing when we got our money, but I’m not sure there is an effective COVID place to donate the money right now. The Feds and the states are spending money like crazy on the crises, and I think money donated will have little incremental effect in helping people. I certainly don’t agree to give it to people newly unemployed that are getting unemployment insurance, because they are already getting help. IF you have some special knowledge on people that have fallen through the cracks, that have lost their occupation and don’t get unemployment, like gig workers or other small business folks or illegal immigrants, it might make sense to give it to them. Otherwise, I think Matt is right, the best place is the same as it’s always been, so give for malaria nets.

    • HowardHolmes says:

      What will you all be doing with the stimulus money/where will you be donating it if you’re lucky enough to still have a job?

      I’ll be keeping it because the check is made out to me. I am no better off than any one else in the world so there is no one whom I can help. Claiming otherwise is just bragging.

  13. theredsheep says:

    Please steelman/provide mitigating evidence (should you know of any) for this: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/opposition-samaritan-s-purse-central-park-field-hospital-grows-n1184216

    On the face of it, based on the report given by NBC, the protesters seem to be very much in the wrong. The organization is providing a life-saving service, and the protesters are upset because the staff are all pledged religious traditionalists. They insist they will not discriminate against or among patients, the city is watching to make sure they don’t, and there’s no evidence that they have. Is there another, more progressive organization offering to provide equivalent emergency medical care, which got turned down in favor of Samaritan’s Purse? The strongest argument I can find is that the one guy wanted to volunteer with them but couldn’t because he wouldn’t sign the statement of faith. Even so, this seems like a nitpick, given the insanity going on in NYC right now.

    • salvorhardin says:

      If the Aryan Nations wanted to set up a field hospital and insisted that they would treat black and Jewish patients the same as white Christian patients, would you trust them to do so, even with the city watching?

      Yes, this is an extreme example, but it illustrates the general point: there are some organizations whose ideology is so hostile to a particular group that it’s reasonable not to trust any commitment they make to treat members of that group fairly. Whether evangelical Christian organizations reach that level of hostility to LGBTQ people is a case-by-case empirical question, and I think the answer is very probably no in this case– Samaritan’s Purse is not the Westboro Baptist Church. But Franklin Graham’s history of anti-gay rhetoric mentioned in the article, while not decisive evidence of anything close to that hostility, is reasonable grounds for suspicion.

      • Deiseach says:

        Whether evangelical Christian organizations reach that level of hostility to LGBTQ people is a case-by-case empirical question.

        Oh for crying out loud. When/if a crowd of sick people of all ages and colours turns up, you really think that in each individual case the people running this are going to go “But first sir/madam, while we take your details, are you a damned homosexual who is going to burn in the fires of perdition for all eternity, in which case we will chase you out of here with whips and scorpions?”

        This is the trans bathroom kerfuffle all over again; how are they going to know unless the person makes it known? Okay, maybe by “next of kin” or “person who brings in sick person”, if it’s “oh yeah this is my husband, yes we’re both men”, the organisers will know. Otherwise, unless someone turns up in a rainbow T-shirt with “Gayest gay that ever gayed” on it, how will they know?

        I thought the whole paranoia over “Christians are in power in the USA!” was overblown and exaggerated both by fearful types of the “As Vice-President, Pence will set up gay torture camps!” progressives and “They want to use this as an excuse to persecute us!” conservatives of a certain flavour, but that people can seriously put forward “Yeah, an evangelical charitable outreach is the exact same thing as the Aryan Nation, it’s just a difference of degree not of quality” makes me think I’ve been too incredulous about how ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NUTS YOU AMERICANS ARE.

        • Kaitian says:

          Many trans people are easily recognizable as trans. And while many gay people don’t have any particular “look”, there’s certainly some fashion and body modification choices that make it very likely that a person is on the LGBTQ spectrum.

          And if the hospital did in fact discriminate against gay people, I’m not sure that “they won’t know you’re gay” will be a very helpful thought. Having to go to the hospital is bad enough without having to worry about whether they know.

          Now, I’d expect most Christians to help a sick person just the same regardless of how they feel about that person’s personal life. It’s in the bible after all. But empirically, there have been cases of Christian charities discriminating, so it’s not a totally unfounded concern.

          • Deiseach says:

            Hello, and welcome to “SSC Comment Boxes: Doing More For Ecumenism Than ARCIC, or, How The Heck Am I Sticking Up For Protestants???, Part II”.

            Now, my first and immediate response was intemperate. Having thought about it a little more, what we are seeing is a clash between competing defintions of sinfulness: the old, traditional, Christian notion (as exemplified by Graham and his organisation/ministry) and the new, secular version as exemplified by, well, let’s pick a handful of dissenting voices from that particular article and whom they call upon:

            Activists with the Reclaim Pride Coalition holding signs saying “help not hate” called out New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the leadership of Mount Sinai just across the park, for allowing the organization headed by evangelist Franklin Graham to treat New Yorkers while adhering to an anti-gay statement of faith.

            The Piskies did an abrupt “ugh, you want us to partner with icky traditional Christians???” about-face but that’s nothing unusual for the modern The Episcopal Church especially the John The Divine lot (where hip is happenin’ but the Gospel not so much):

            Mount Sinai was prepared to expand the number of field hospital extensions earlier this month when it asked Samaritan’s Purse to extend help at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, on the West Side.

            But The New York Times reported that plans to turn the cathedral into a field hospital were abruptly shelved, in part because the cathedral, affiliated with the Episcopal Church, did not realize that Samaritan’s Purse would be involved in the project.

            Congratulations, New York City, you have re-discovered the Venetian Inquisition.

            De Blasio, a champion of LGBTQ rights, was immediately pressed to ensure the relief organization was “truly consistent with the values and the laws in New York City.”

            The city’s attorney general issued a news release assuring New Yorkers her office would “remain vigilant to ensure discrimination does not occur.”

            That hasn’t stopped the growing chorus of dissent. One LGBTQ activist, A. Timothy Lunceford-Stevens, said he has filed a complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission after he tried to volunteer at the field hospital but was turned away because he refused to sign the statement of faith.

            The tactic used here is the assumption of victimhood: we need to protect the vulnerable LGBT people from the powerful and oppressive Christian establishment!

            I wonder, between LGBT (around 5% of the adult population of the city by this study) and Evangelical Christians (1%, according to this survey), who is the minority in New York City? Who is the party getting the support and assurance of the secular government that they will make sure Badness is not permitted to happen?

            Imagine the shoe on the other foot: after, let us say, Hurricane Katrina or some other natural disaster, an activist LGBT organisation sends a relief mission to Redneck City, Mid-Nowhere. But! Enraged local interest groups set up protests outside the camp! Local papers run articles on how this charitable action is linked to the leader who has said things about “homophobes and transphobes and haters”! The city mayor is scolded for letting them work with local churches even though they are explicitly non-religious!

            And then, in response to “isn’t this a bit much?”, someone solemly writes a comparison between the LGBT group and Neo-Nazis with the disclaimer “Yes, that may seem a bit extreme of an example, but it’s the same thing in principle”.

            Now, my friends, what do you think the reaction to those Redneckians would be?

            I remember a certain amount of commentary, back in the run-up to the 2016 election, about Republican nominees talking about “New York values” in a critical way and that this was racist or anti-Semitic dog-whistling to nod-and-wink that “New York values” were not really “American values”.

            Well, what have we in this affair but an attempt to demonstrate that “New York values” are not the same thing at all as “Franklin Graham and his group’s values”, and that the latter are Bad Wrong Incorrect?

            This is the new secular version of orthodoxy, sinfulness, and struggle to socially dictate what are correct ways to think, act and believe.

            “These people coming in are not like us, do not think, act and believe like us, and we call on the secular powers to make sure they get no chance to corrupt our innocent youth with their perverse ideology or carry out their unnatural behaviours on the persons of our citizens!”

            If you want to know how Galileo could possibly get into trouble with the Church, this is how it happened: interested and hostile persons formally complained to the Inquisition, which had to investigate all complaints made to it.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Your thought experiment:

            after, let us say, Hurricane Katrina or some other natural disaster, an activist LGBT organisation sends a relief mission to Redneck City, Mid-Nowhere.

            incidentally reveals an important truth: One cannot imagine that happening. At all. The rest of the hypothetical is true enough but ultimately irrelevant.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Doctor Mist: Could you unpack that?

          • profgerm says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            I’ll take a stab, with a question: are there LGBT organizations that do that kind of relief work, period? I can think of at least a half-dozen Christian organizations, a few secular, half-dozen other religions, but none from other identity groups be they LGBT, atheist, whatever.

            Now, that’s not to say all LGBT and atheists are uniquely hateful and want rural people to die (there’s at least a handful like this, but there’s a handful that fulfill the “Scary Christian” stereotype too, but not enough of either to be concerning to me). Organizations that form around those particular identity groups just don’t do that sort of thing. It’s not in their wheelhouse, generally. Outside of the quirky sliver of EA, charity isn’t their thing.

            I’m sure lots of atheists and LGBT people work with the secular relief organizations like the Red Cross. But there’s no specific “LGBT Cross” the way there is Samaritan’s Purse, Church of Christ Disaster Relief, the Methodist Relief Committee, the Convoy of Hope, etc.

            Though I got curious: 75% of disaster relief charity comes from explicitly religious organizations.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Thanks, profgerm, that’s it exactly. I’m glad it was obvious to somebody.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @profgerm:

            I’ll take a stab, with a question: are there LGBT organizations that do that kind of relief work, period? I can think of at least a half-dozen Christian organizations, a few secular, half-dozen other religions, but none from other identity groups be they LGBT, atheist, whatever.

            I’m sure lots of atheists and LGBT people work with the secular relief organizations like the Red Cross. But there’s no specific “LGBT Cross” the way there is Samaritan’s Purse, Church of Christ Disaster Relief, the Methodist Relief Committee, the Convoy of Hope, etc.

            Though I got curious: 75% of disaster relief charity comes from explicitly religious organizations.

            Yeah, that’s what I figured Mist was implying. It’s quite true so far as I know: LGBT organizations that want your money only help the in-group, while 75% of disaster relief has the trajectory religious org -> the needy indiscriminately, plus the Red Cross is vestigially Christian (why else would Muslim countries have the Red Crescent?). Plus many communions run health care networks, with the Catholic Church being the largest.
            Of course vast amounts of money go to secular charitable donations, but in these two particular fields they’re a small fraction, and it seems religions are the only identity groups doing it for the outgroup.

          • Kaitian says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            To be fair, a lot of the religious orgs also make some attempts to convert people by helping them. So they’re not really doing it for the outgroup, they’re more like a propaganda wing of expansionist religions. And while secular organisations are mostly small and have a limited purpose, there are definitely examples of them helping the outgroup. For example, various AIDS related charities (in western countries) are heavily organized by gay people, but also serve straight people.

          • ana53294 says:

            To be fair, a lot of the religious orgs also make some attempts to convert people by helping them. So they’re not really doing it for the outgroup, they’re more like a propaganda wing of expansionist religions. […] various AIDS related charities (in western countries) are heavily organized by gay people, but also serve straight people.

            So the AIDS organizations that help straight people are obviously not trying to change people’s minds about gay people. They deny who funded them, they never mention gay people, and they never try to improve the status of gay people with AIDS.

            Religious charities don’t usually try to convert people, but they do try to raise people’s opinions of their church. Like, Mormon charity makes you see them as the nice normal people instead of the polygamist cultists. But they don’t preach directly to you. And every charity preaches indirectly.

            The thing is, every charitable organization is, in some sense, publicity for the organization and those who fund it, especially when they do much better work than other charities. Getting the social benefits is one big reason why people donate. And yes, religious people seem to donate more to charity than humanists, with the exception of EA types. That shows that being able to raise your status/your group’s status is a factor in donating, for everybody.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Kaitian: What ana said, and furthermore you’re trying to make it sound inherently insidious to want Outgroup members to join your Ingroup. Arguably treating Ingroup and Outgroup as immutable essences has a more harmful track record!

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, one thing I know is that Samaritan’s Purse is definitely using this to try and get me to give them money. Like, the adds have been near constant. Not usually what I consider a positive signal.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If those protestors were running the hospital and Moldbug or Richard Spencer or a mysteriously resurrected Fred Phelps showed up (and were recognized), do you think they’d treat him?

          • salvorhardin says:

            Quite possibly not, alas. I didn’t mean to imply that social justice types can’t also embrace bigoted and exclusionary hateful doctrines; they sometimes do. That’s not an excuse for the more traditional sorts of theocrats who do.

          • LadyJane says:

            Do you really think they’d recognize Moldemort? I certainly wouldn’t. Hell, I’d be surprised if any of the protesters even knew who he was. He’s not nearly as famous as the SSC commentariat seems to think he is. And they probably wouldn’t recognize Richard Spencer either, though in that case there’s at least a small chance they might.

            Instead of hypotheticals about high-profile extremists, a better question might be: Do you think they’d deny treatment to a random person wearing a MAGA hat and a Trump 2020 shirt? That seems more analogous to the situation of visibly LGBT people potentially being denied treatment by an Evangelical Christian group. And in that case, my answer would be yes, I’d trust an ultra-progressive anti-Trump doctor to treat a Trump supporter far more than I’d trust an ultra-conservative anti-gay doctor to treat a queer person.

          • theredsheep says:

            I’d be inclined to trust either simply because most doctors are terrified of malpractice suits AFAICT. IDK if refusal to treat counts as malpractice, strictly, but it’s certainly a huge breach of medical ethics unless there’s a clear conscience exception (e.g. elective abortion).

          • LadyJane says:

            @theredsheep: Overall I’m inclined to agree, but the percentage of progressive doctors who’d refuse to treat conservative patients is approximately zero, while the percentage of anti-gay doctors who’d refuse to treat queer patients is some small but non-zero/non-infinitesimal number.

            I’ve heard too many horror stories about doctors refusing to treat trans patients, even for things completely unrelated to them being trans like injuries or pathogen-based diseases. I knew a trans woman who died because she went to the emergency room with a bad fever, and the doctor sent her home, claiming that he wasn’t experienced at treating trans patients and there was nothing he could do. Are situations like that rare? Probably, but not so rare that I wouldn’t have some serious concerns about a field hospital run by a fundamentalist religious group with ties to an explicitly anti-gay preacher.

          • Deiseach says:

            That’s not an excuse for the more traditional sorts of theocrats who do.

            Error hath no rights, eh, salvorhardin?

            I know the Samaritan Purse and Graham are religious and hold religious tenets. I am mildly surprised nobody recognises the equally religious tenets on the other side, but that’s probably not unusual.

            The offence here is the imputation of sinfulness. Nobodly likes to be called a sinner, and the LGBT lot are saying “You think what we do is a sin, but we don’t think it’s sin”.

            Well, no, of course they don’t. And of course they’re genuinely hurt. Nobody likes to be called a sinner, I don’t like it myself when the Gospel says “This pet flaw of yours is a sin”. And so it is theocracy to say “Sorry, if you say, do and think this about sexual morality, it’s sinful. That’s just how it is”.

            But the new sin on the other side is also “Sorry, if you say, do and think this about sexual morality, it’s sinful. That’s just how it is”. If you do not accept the new view on LGBT, then it’s the sin of intolerance and homophobia/transphobia, such behaviour is sinful, and you’re a sinner.

            And we in New York don’t want to encourage sin, allow sinners to sin publicly, or give any kind of support or tolerance to sinners. Sorry, that’s just how it is. No, it’s not the same thing at all – they’re wrong and we’re right! Look at all our scientific and medical evidence that such thinking causes harm to the vulnerable and impressionable! Look at our right-thinking citizens whose common sense tells them, whose innate morality tells them, whose sense of decency tells them, that such persons and their deviant from the majority ways are unnatural, immoral and wrong! They’re acting out of bias and prejudice, we’ve got Reality on our side!”

            (Do you really not know that religious and formerly social conservative views also adduced science, the Man in the Street, and common decency against LGBT rights before they were even rights? Do you not see the family resemblance?)

        • meh says:

          You are aware how ‘ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NUTS SOME AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS ARE’ ?

          • Deiseach says:

            Many organisations are fucking nuts. It takes Americans to put that special “Land of Liberty” brand of totally feckin’ crazy on the thing.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        If the Aryan Nations wanted to set up a field hospital and insisted that they would treat black and Jewish patients the same as white Christian patients, would you trust them to do so, even with the city watching?

        If the Nation of Islam set it up, would you trust them not to unhook younger white unbelievers from ventilators to give them to black believers even with obviously fewer QALYs if triage conditions are reached?
        And if a national alliance of synagogues used their charity cash to set up a field hospital, would you trust them to treat Muslim and other gentile patients as well as Jews?
        This is merely a question of who you’re already suspicious of.

        • salvorhardin says:

          The Nation of Islam I might, as a person of Jewish ancestry, indeed not trust and I think I would have reasonable grounds not to trust them. I would definitely trust an alliance of synagogues unless they were Kahanist or similarly chauvinist, as most Jewish organizations are very clearly not.

          Not all organizations have the same level of actual material grounds for suspicion; whether the head of the organization has fulminated hatefully against the supposed iniquity of some particular disfavored group, as Franklin Graham has against gay people, is a relevant question for determining what the level of reasonable suspicion is.

          • FLWAB says:

            Can a get a quote for that hateful fulmination? As far as my research shows Franklin Graham has repeatedly states that homosexual behavior is a sin: an idea shared by the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, Islam, most Hindus, and most American Christian Churches. Franklin Graham also believes publicly that adultery and fornication are sins, and has publicly stated many times that he himself is a sinner. Do you have a quote where he says something more hateful than that, or is that belief sufficient?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The Nation of Islam I might, as a person of Jewish ancestry, indeed not trust and I think I would have reasonable grounds not to trust them. I would definitely trust an alliance of synagogues unless they were Kahanist or similarly chauvinist, as most Jewish organizations are very clearly not.

            Sure, most Jewish charity is not chauvinist against gentiles but they exist, and if a gentile who doesn’t know Kahane from a Karaite raised the alarm on the wrong side of the line, they’d get shouted down as a Nazi.
            No similar superweapon exists for excessive prejudice against Christians. Heck, where you’re drawing the “evil” line is exactly the level of opposition to homosexuality Jews traditionally have:

            I think the probability of Samaritan’s Purse being far enough along that continuum to worry about is low, but I also think traditionalist Christian doctrine is hateful and evil enough that it’s not zero.

            What you’re calling “hateful and evil enough” comes straight from the Laws of Moses (unless you consider the stricter commands against polygyny and serial monogamy unless the divorce be for adultery attributed to Jesus part of it!), which makes singling out only Christians for this widespread belief unjust unless you have a Phelps-level smoking gun from Franklin Graham, something beyond what was said by still-respected rabbis who lived before the late 20th century gay rights movement swam past.

            Not all organizations have the same level of actual material grounds for suspicion; whether the head of the organization has fulminated hatefully against the supposed iniquity of some particular disfavored group [is relevant],

            Of course, but there also shouldn’t be double standards where we can only dig up what Christians have said to denounce, while Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch digging up verbal smoking guns from Islamic leaders makes him such a Nazi that the legacy media have “accidentally” called him Richard Spencer.

          • salvorhardin says:

            I’m not singling out only Christians. It absolutely ought to be easier to condemn homophobic statements from Muslim and Orthodox Jewish leaders without getting called Islamophobic or anti-Semitic. But the fact is that Christians have a lot more cultural and political power in the US today than do Muslims or Orthodox Jews, so prioritizing condemnation of Christian homophobia in a modern US context is reasonable.

          • Deiseach says:

            If the Aryan Nations wanted to set up a field hospital and insisted that they would treat black and Jewish patients the same as white Christian patients, would you trust them to do so, even with the city watching?

            salvorhardin, would you like me to go dig out some anti-Jewish “you can’t trust them even if they’re ostensibly working as a charity” propaganda of this very type, because I’m damn sure there’s plenty of it out there? If you’re going to use Christian Identity-tinged loons as your exemplars, I’m going to swear blind The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are trustworthy historical documents (Narrator: She did not believe they were trustworthy historical documents).

            That’s about as trustworthy a kneejerk reaction. That you jump straight to comparing Aryan Nations (from what I can find with online secondary sources, some link with heresy that started out as crankery and, once again when it hit America, degenerated into outright lunacy with heavy political and racist colouring) with Samaritan’s Purse (statement of faith here) is troubling to me, but it may well be that you feel evangelising religious people of whatever denomination to be truly threatening and controlling.

            The major substantive complaint cited seems to be from an activist who went to volunteeer but was turned down when he refused to sign the statement of faith all those working for the paraministry have to sign. There was nothing, so far as I can see, put forward saying that they would refuse, turn away, or unfavourably treat LGBT persons needing medical services.

            As to the statement of faith, well this is a religious entity. Same way if an organisation wanted to restrict membership to African-Americans or some other grouping as members and officers even if they provided more broadly-based services – you might be able to bring a discrimination case against them because “I’m white but they wouldn’t let me run for president”, but I’d say good luck with that because I think opinion would be against you.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But the fact is that Christians have a lot more cultural and political power in the US today than do Muslims or Orthodox Jews, so prioritizing condemnation of Christian homophobia in a modern US context is reasonable.

            Shouldn’t that be just the opposite? What is “cultural power” if not “the ability to exercise your culture?” And openly, without fear of reprisal. If Christians, Muslims and Jews all have similar basic teachings about homosexuality, but only the Christians need to consider whether or not they should announce their Christianity for fear of reprisal by a mob of protestors, then don’t they have less cultural power than the Muslims or Jews, against whom no one would dare protest?

          • LadyJane says:

            The major substantive complaint cited seems to be from an activist who went to volunteeer but was turned down when he refused to sign the statement of faith all those working for the paraministry have to sign. There was nothing, so far as I can see, put forward saying that they would refuse, turn away, or unfavourably treat LGBT persons needing medical services.

            As to the statement of faith, well this is a religious entity. Same way if an organisation wanted to restrict membership to African-Americans or some other grouping as members and officers even if they provided more broadly-based services – you might be able to bring a discrimination case against them because “I’m white but they wouldn’t let me run for president”, but I’d say good luck with that because I think opinion would be against you.

            I actually agree with you there. If the only issue here was they refused to take on a volunteer who didn’t share their faith, I wouldn’t have an issue with them, and the protesters would seem incredibly petty (much like your example of a White person complaining that he couldn’t become President of an African-American group).

            My problem with this specific organization is that it’s run by a prominent anti-LGBT activist who’s specifically devoted a great deal of time, energy, and money to fighting against pro-LGBT causes in American politics. That goes well beyond simply thinking that homosexual acts are sinful. The Catholic Church maintains that homosexual acts are sinful, yet no one is protesting the many Catholic hospitals and charities in this country. But Franklin Graham chose to get involved in US politics, and so now, US politics are involved with him.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The Catholic Church maintains that homosexual acts are sinful, yet no one is protesting the many Catholic hospitals and charities in this country.

            Not so!
            When poor Wisconsin people protested cutbacks at a Catholic hospital, journalists and the ACLU used it as an opportunity to get the Catholic hospital system protested for being Catholic.

          • The Nybbler says:

            My problem with this specific organization is that it’s run by a prominent anti-LGBT activist who’s specifically devoted a great deal of time, energy, and money to fighting against pro-LGBT causes in American politics. That goes well beyond simply thinking that homosexual acts are sinful.

            Indeed, it verges into Constitutionally-protected expression of that idea.

          • LadyJane says:

            Indeed, it verges into Constitutionally-protected expression of that idea.

            Yes, which is why no one is talking about arresting him, fining him, or otherwise using the state apparatus to punish him for expressing his views. The protesters are expressing their Constitutionally protected views too, after all.

            My point was more that there is a significant difference between someone who merely says that homosexuality is a sin, and someone who actively crusades for anti-gay policies.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, which is why no one is talking about arresting him, fining him, or otherwise using the state apparatus to punish him for expressing his views.

            I don’t know. It looks like the protestors are trying their hardest to get the state apparatus to punish the Christians, and the state wants to do it, they just can’t figure out how to finagle it yet. From the article in the OP:

            Activists with the Reclaim Pride Coalition holding signs saying “help not hate” called out New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the leadership of Mount Sinai just across the park, for allowing the organization headed by evangelist Franklin Graham to treat New Yorkers while adhering to an anti-gay statement of faith.

            So they’re calling on the mayor and governor to do something.

            De Blasio, a champion of LGBTQ rights, was immediately pressed to ensure the relief organization was “truly consistent with the values and the laws in New York City.”

            The mayor seems to agree with them, being a “champion of LGBTQ rights.”

            The city’s attorney general issued a news release assuring New Yorkers her office would “remain vigilant to ensure discrimination does not occur.”

            The AG is going to vigilantly watch them, ostensibly looking for “discrimination,” at which point I assume they would shut them down.

            That hasn’t stopped the growing chorus of dissent. One LGBTQ activist, A. Timothy Lunceford-Stevens, said he has filed a complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission after he tried to volunteer at the field hospital but was turned away because he refused to sign the statement of faith.

            And then this guy is trying to get them shut down by the city, via trolling. No harm is actually done to him, since he doesn’t really want to join the relief effort, he just wants an excuse for the city to be able to shut them down.

            They’re not currently punishing the Christians with the state apparatus for their beliefs, but it’s not for lack of trying. And it seems like the mayor and the AG are ch[a|o]mping at the bit to do it, they just can’t figure out quite how to yet.

          • Deiseach says:

            So the real problem here is “this initiative comes out of an organisation headed by a guy who expresses views we don’t like, and also has the temerity to work for those views”.

            It’s not about “we’re scared the evil bigots will burn gays at the stake”, which is the impression one would get from “even though the forces of the state are watching” language used. It’s not about “we’re afraid they will refuse to treat sick LGBT people”. It’s about “we’re going to force this to close down just to show off our power”.

          • MostlyHamless says:

            @LadyJane:

            My problem with this specific organization is that it’s run by a prominent anti-LGBT activist who’s specifically devoted a great deal of time, energy, and money to fighting against pro-LGBT causes in American politics.

            Yes, and? The political landscape is chock full of parties fighting pro-this, contra-that. Pro-military-intervention-in-some-country, or contra. Pro-increasing-minimum-wage, or contra. Pro-enforcing-50%-female-corporate-board-membership, or contra. This is known as “politics” and there is hardly a shortage of topics.

            But do you see any of those pro-X (or contra-X) actively working to dismantle a volunteer effort of the contra-X (or pro-X) that helps scores of diseased people, in a crisis amid a capacity shortage? Just because they’re otherwise known to be contra-X (or pro-X), and we can’t have that?

            I do not see them. Not even over the pro/contra military intervention disagreement, in which a large number of real lives is at stake. Whereas Graham is fighting for what stakes, again – for the marriage to be recognized only between a “genetic man and genetic woman”? How can an appropriate and commensurate response to that be to stop the deployment of dozens of extra beds in the worst-affected city on the planet? Solipsism, anyone?

          • LadyJane says:

            I do not see them. Not even over the pro/contra military intervention disagreement, in which a large number of real lives is at stake. Whereas Graham is fighting for what stakes, again – for the marriage to be recognized only between a “genetic man and genetic woman”?

            From a purely utilitarian perspective, I would agree that engaging in an unjust war is a vastly worse crime than prohibiting gay marriage. But this isn’t really about right and wrong in some absolute cosmic sense, it’s a matter of trust.

            Given the amount of pro-war propaganda that Americans were exposed to, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, it’s not hard to believe that a lot of them might’ve simply been misled into supporting unjust wars. Bob the Neocon probably doesn’t hate Iraqis, nor does he see them as mere obstacles to be eradicated in the pursuit of resource acquisition and geopolitical influence; in all likelihood, he genuinely believes that the U.S. government was helping the Iraqi people by overthrowing Saddam Hussein. So if Bob was a doctor, I would trust him to treat Iraqi patients to the best of his ability. I might strongly disagree with his foreign policy decisions, but I wouldn’t be concerned that he’d refuse them or give them deliberately poor treatment.

            On the other hand, if Bob was known to be racist against Middle Eastern people – for instance, if he explicitly stated that he supported the Iraqi War because he viewed the Iraqi people as barbaric savages, and had a bumper sticker on his car about how the U.S. should nuke the entire Middle East into glass – then I absolutely would be suspicious of him. At that point, there’s a very real chance that he wouldn’t provide fair and equal treatment to Middle Eastern patients, just like there’s a very real chance that Franklin Graham and his followers wouldn’t provide fair and equal treatment to LGBT patients.

        • LadyJane says:

          I absolutely would not trust the Nation of Islam to provide fair and equal treatment to people. As for Jewish organizations, it really depends on the specific group. I’d trust most of them, but there are definitely a few that I’d be highly skeptical of. I’d probably do a small bit of research and double-check to make sure the Jewish field hospital in question wasn’t run by one of the worrying groups before recommending anyone to it.

          Was this supposed to be some kind of gotcha? Were you expecting people to say “oh I’d trust the Nation of Islam just fine” so you could criticize them for singling out Evangelical Christians specifically? Because I strongly doubt anyone here (or anywhere outside of Nation of Islam meeting halls) is going to give that answer, and if you think they are, that suggests you really don’t have a good model of how progressives/secularists think.

          • AG says:

            In 2018, there were plenty of news stories on how a Jewish doctor and Jewish nurses treated the synagogue shooter, so it’s definitely a case of specific groups

          • Loriot says:

            My guess is that in an emergency almost anyone would help outgroup members in need, especially when you select for people who study medicine.

          • eric23 says:

            I would trust Muslims, but I wouldn’t trust the “Nation of Islam”, which is more of a black supremacist movement than an actual religion (and isn’t actually Muslim).

      • FLWAB says:

        there are some organizations whose ideology is so hostile to a particular group that it’s reasonable not to trust any commitment they make to treat members of that group fairly.

        Would you think it equally as reasonable for people not to trust them to treat divorcee’s well, or adulterers, or fornicators? (It might be hard to find anyone in NYC to treat if that’s the case!) I know Mr. Graham has had similar “rhetoric” to say about those groups as well as homosexuals.

        • salvorhardin says:

          Yes, absolutely it would be similarly reasonable. Again, the Westboro Baptist Church is an existence proof that there are organizations that crazy in the evangelical Christian continuum; and again, I think the probability of Samaritan’s Purse being far enough along that continuum to worry about is low, but I also think traditionalist Christian doctrine is hateful and evil enough that it’s not zero.

          • ana53294 says:

            The Westboro Baptist Church is just a family of nutjobs. It’s not an organization, not in the sense people usually give it*. Their existence is not proof of anything, other than you’ll find families of all types of weird beliefs everywhere.

            *Which is, a group of like minded individuals who work together, joined with ties other than kinship, or not just kinship.

          • Deiseach says:

            I also think traditionalist Christian doctrine is hateful and evil enough

            Okay, that’s an honest answer and I know where you’re coming from now; any Christians are not trustworthy and only purely secular organisations fully in tune with the Zeitgeist should be allowed do this kind of public work.

            Everyone knows where they stand on this question, but it’s also not worth refighting the Wars of Religion over it, so I’m dropping out now.

      • Purplehermann says:

        If it were a trust issue, protesters could just tell LGBT types not to go there.

        This is a culture war issue, protesters don’t want open Christians getting good PR

        • Machine Interface says:

          That doesn’t hold up, because there’s no risk of hateful evangelical groups getting good PR short of disbanding.

          • Purplehermann says:

            Are you joking?

            Setting up a field hospital to treat overflow of Covid-19 patients would count as “good PR” in my book. Probably the books of 98+% of adult humans would agree

          • Matt M says:

            Is it still good PR if ultimately you have to tear it down after it failed to see a single patient?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Setting up a field hospital to treat overflow of Covid-19 patients would count as “good PR” in my book. Probably the books of 98+% of adult humans would agree

            Unfortunately the press are drawn from the remaining 2%, and they’re the ones who count for PR purposes.

            @Matt M
            I don’t see the connection with the Seattle hospital. The Army probably got some good PR for setting up the hospital, and won’t get bad PR for shutting it down because it wasn’t needed after all.

          • Matt M says:

            and won’t get bad PR for shutting it down because it wasn’t needed after all.

            It should, as the creation of that hospital was a complete and total waste of resources.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            When you prepare to deal with emergencies, you are going to end up paying for some things that you didn’t really need.

          • CatCube says:

            Yeah, this is the flip side of wanting “nimbleness” and avoiding “rules-bound bureaucracy.” (I should note that I work for the Corps, though I’m not involved in the COVID response–I know very little beyond what’s in the papers–and I don’t speak for the Government.)

            If they had taken the time to fully analyze and dial in the model, they’d have avoided wasting money–but taking the time to do that also means it would have been too late if it turns out it was needed.

            Here, the Governor made a request to FEMA with a list of sites, and FEMA pushed the sites to the Corps, who evaluated them and sent back up which ones were suitable, then FEMA and the Governor determined which ones would go forward.

            Not that the Corps is a bystander in this process–earlier on, the District Engineers were instructed to be proactive in making sure that cities that our internal modeling* showed would be coming up next as needing beds knew that we needed sites and had to evaluate them ahead of time and contacting them. LTG Semonite discussed one of the colonels calling a mayor who we thought would need extra beds, only to be told that the city had two hospitals that were about completed and could be ready in time, so they didn’t need external help.

            The rules-bound way of doing things sprung up in response to rolling over local concerns, especially with projects that turned out to only be marginally beneficial, if at all. So a bunch of processes were stood up to try to mitigate that. Study everything to death, do the EIS process, etc. This is what happens when you sweep that aside and do what feels right.

            * from Columbia U, IIRC

          • Matt M says:

            If they had taken the time to fully analyze and dial in the model, they’d have avoided wasting money

            And of course, we could go all EA on this and ask questions like “How much wasted money” and “How many malaria nets could we have bought for that?”

            Wasting money matters. We shouldn’t shrug it off as “oh well, who cares?”

          • CatCube says:

            @Matt M

            I’m not advocating for wasting money–if I could Thanos-snap my fingers to get all the hospital beds we needed without wasting money, I’d sound like a Doo-Wop group backup singer–just pointing out that there’s tension between avoiding wasting money and getting something done on time.

            Most of the bureaucratic rules that people complain about making government “fat” and “arthritic” were justified to prevent corruption and wasting money, and getting stuff done fast requires forgoing those; there’s going to be additional wasted money as a consequence.

            If you want things to be done nimbly and quickly, this is the failure mode–somebody’s going to make a decision, the decision will be carried out without a lot of further analysis, and it’s going to turn out to be wrong.

            Of course, we’re probably far down the problem where the rules are costing more than they save. There’s also the issue, of course, that when a private company moves quickly and makes wrong decisions it’ll actually go out of business, where the government will live on making bad decisions continually.

            That’s a good reason to make everything possible be done by the private sector, but I’m pretty comfortable with “selecting emergency hospital locations to be built in two weeks” being well within the region of “should be done by government” and “acceptable if it turns out to waste money during a pandemic.”

          • Randy M says:

            if I could Thanos-snap my fingers to get all the hospital beds we needed without wasting money,

            I’m not sure it’s intentional, but to me this implies killing a lot of current occupants of hospital beds.

          • albatross11 says:

            This is a situation where overshooting was exactly the right thing to do. Yes, some idiots will complain about the waste of resources, and some of those idiots will have prominent positions or big media platforms. But not having enough hospital beds if we’d needed them in NYC would have been so catastrophic that it was worth paying some money for the insurance of having extras.

          • CatCube says:

            @Randy M

            Hah, no that definitely wasn’t intentional. I was using it in place of “wave a magic wand” to create new hospital beds, and the “just kill the current occupants” possibility didn’t occur to me.

          • Del Cotter says:

            “Spent time and resources on activities that subsequently turned out not to have been needed this year, again” is pretty much the job description in a national standing defence force’s annual performance report.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Del Cotter

            Call it a training exercise and you probably actually saved money!

          • Matt M says:

            –if I could Thanos-snap my fingers

            What would Thanos say if you told him he really only needed to kill ~0.1% of the total population in order to trigger a galaxy-wide freakout that would result in a grinding halt to most economic activity?

          • Randy M says:

            He’d say “That’s why you don’t deal in 1/500th measures”

      • Two McMillion says:

        If the Aryan Nations wanted to set up a field hospital and insisted that they would treat black and Jewish patients the same as white Christian patients, would you trust them to do so, even with the city watching?

        I’d at least give them a chance to see if they keep their word.

        • acymetric says:

          I’m not totally on board with this comparison, but since we’re running it there seem to be some pretty obvious and important failure modes for that strategy.

          • Two McMillion says:

            I can’t think of any failure mods, honestly.

          • acymetric says:

            Refusing to treat [chosen hated group] is not the worst thing you can do to that group in a medical setting.

          • theredsheep says:

            You mean that they’d take in a patient with a rainbow-striped #LoveWins T-shirt, then either decide to deliberately neglect them or treat them in such a way as to make their condition worse? Bearing in mind that these doctors, nurses, etc. willingly came to NYC, where they have fair cause to assume that the majority of their populace are unrepentant fornicators of one kind or another?

          • Two McMillion says:

            Refusing to treat [chosen hated group] is not the worst thing you can do to that group in a medical setting.

            IMO that’s not a failure mode as much as it is an actively evil person choosing to engage in active evil. IMO nothing can stop an intelligent evil person from doing evil whenever they want, so I rarely bother thinking up ways to stop them.

      • VoiceOfTheVoid says:

        I’d much rather go to a field hospital with some chance of being horribly, irrationally prejudiced against me, than not have any field hospital to go to at all.

        Actually, even if I know for a fact that they will refuse to treat me, their existence is quite possibly still net positive for me since they free up space in non-biased hospitals.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      On the face of it, based on the report given by NBC, the protesters seem to be very much in the wrong.

      Yes, absolutely, they are in the wrong. Politicizing medical care like this is crazy. Note that the mayor is taking these nutjobs seriously. They are not just fringe people that no one pays attention to. Usually social justice folks only have a harmful effect on political discourse by making it more difficult for people to give their true opinions, but they rarely have a direct effect on how people live. This is an exception. These protesters are killing people by making it more difficult to do medicine in NYC.

    • Two McMillion says:

      Let’s say that, hypothetically speaking, the field hospital did turn homosexuals away, but treated other people. This seems like a strict advantage over them treating nobody at all. Unless someone else is standing at the ready who will treat more people, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why SP should be prevented from running this hospital.

      • Vitor says:

        But then you’ve broken a very useful social norm. Once you allow one hospital to turn homosexuals away, where do you stop? This can lead to systematic effects that make the treatment option for gays worse. An analysis “at the margin” like you’re doing does not capture this danger.

        • Randy M says:

          Perhaps, but there are a great many policies in effect right now that we hope not to continue when we no longer consider it an emergency. This would be among the least of those.

    • What strikes me about this whole discussion is that everyone is taking for granted the assumption that preventing private discrimination is more important than saving lives.

      Suppose the Nation of Islam sets up a field hospital and only accepts black patients. That’s a thousand black patients that other hospitals don’t have to treat, freeing up a thousand beds for other patients to occupy. Similarly if the fundamentalists only treat heterosexuals, Orthodox only fellow Orthodox, … .

      • EchoChaos says:

        Several people have already said that, including @Two McMillion right above.

        I believe the culture war fear is that fundamentalist Christians will get good press. The justification (without cause, as far as I know) is that fundamentalists may provide actively detrimental healthcare to those we don’t approve of.

        • albatross11 says:

          If I’m a {transphobic, homophibic, racist, anti-Semetic} doctor or nurse, what’s to keep me from providing lousy care to patients when I’m working in a normal hospital? I don’t see a whole lot of reason why the risk becomes worse when it’s a hospital set up by a fundamentalist Christian denomination. In both cases, there are (imperfect) remedies we’ve set up in our society–you can sue doctors who provide lousy care for malpractice. I don’t see why that would work differently either way.

          And indeed, this works the other direction, too. Jewish doctors do sometimes treat guys with swastika tattoos; gay doctors treat fundamentalist Christians, etc. Hopefully they provide the best care they can, but I’m sure sometimes, people being people, they provide shitty care or otherwise mistreat members of a hated outgroup in their power. And again, if the patient can show evidence of that in court, he can sue the doctor for malpractice, and he can complain to the hospital management and maybe cause the doctor some problems, but those are obviously imperfect remedies.

          • EchoChaos says:

            I don’t see a whole lot of reason why the risk becomes worse when it’s a hospital set up by a fundamentalist Christian denomination.

            Nor do I, to be clear. In fact, articles about how wonderful {Jewish, gay, immigrant} doctors save the lives of evil racists are stronger arguments against racism than anything else you can make.

            Which is why I think the attempt to prevent Samaritan’s purse. Because that works the other way, and evangelical doctors saving the lives of gays is just as strong an argument for them.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t see a whole lot of reason why the risk becomes worse when it’s a hospital set up by a fundamentalist Christian denomination.

            Presumably an organization set up around bias would hire and set policy on that basis, quietly enough to avoid whatever discrimination laws apply but more pervasively and with greater pressure on individual actors to follow the hateful policy.

            Of course, I happen to think the Christian church in general is the exact opposite of such an organization, with notable early growth specifically because they served the pagan Roman plague victims in a society.

          • LadyJane says:

            If I’m a {transphobic, homophibic, racist, anti-Semetic} doctor or nurse, what’s to keep me from providing lousy care to patients when I’m working in a normal hospital?

            Nothing can guarantee that you won’t. But the risk of facing consequences, both internal (from the hospital administration, supervisors, co-workers) and external (from lawsuits, medical licensing boards, activist groups, and so forth) serve as a strong deterrent.

            But in a hospital that’s run by bigots, the internal risk goes down to almost zero, since the hospital staff will presumably share your views. And the administration can also work to protect you from external risks by stonewalling inspectors, tying up investigations in red tape, and so forth. The administration might even actively encourage doctors and nurses to refuse or give subpar/deliberately harmful treatment to patients who belong to the hated outgroup, even if those doctors and nurses wouldn’t normally be inclined to do so. So yes, while there’s always going to be some risk of malfeasance, it seems clear that the risks would be much higher at a hospital controlled by people who view you as their enemy.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @LadyJane

            Well, I think you have now won the “least charitable take on the outgroup” award for this week.

          • toastengineer says:

            Gosh, we’d better hope no-one in that chain of command missed the memo about out secret gay-bashing operation and got the impression we were actually trying to help people.

            More seriously – that only makes sense if you assume the vast majority of Catholics have a personal hatred of gays and such. Do you actually believe that? If so, what would someone have to show you to convince you otherwise?

    • Viliam says:

      Eh, it’s perfectly okay, as long as we also fire all social justice warriors from positions where they could come to contact with or discriminate against white men.

  14. EGI says:

    Signal boosting my LW post on how we probably could solve the Corona crisis through wide spread mask use. If someone can draw Scotts attention to this please do so. Spreading this idea may have quite a lot of value.

    https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yKYg6D7HNxLuJDcLS/hammer-and-mask-wide-spread-use-of-reusable-particle

    • Purplehermann says:

      I see people lowering their masks to talk to eachother a lot.
      Masks are often uncomfortable.
      Putting masks on properly isn’t so easy apparently.

      Public adherence to usage guidelines needs to be taken into account.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      The fundament of the idea is solid. Corona is a respiratory virus, ergo having a quality seal on your respiratory parts is, for practical purposes, the same as social isolation. How good a seal is equivalent to what degree of social isolation is a good question, but intuitively both are imperfect so I expect them to be within an order of magnitude of each other.

      I can see a set of standardized measures that allow businesses to open. Just masks is not enough, but something like maks + temperature controls + ethanol dispensers + proper eating arrangements + ventilation/air purification + some amount of social distancing. Costs aren’t prohibitive, and efficiency…well, that one will vary a lot based on cultural differences. I know in my country the department of public health is much better of shuffling papers than actually doing useful stuff, but well, everything is culturally dependent anyways.

      I don’t think it’s practical to go for rubber seal respirators (is this what you’re talking about? a quick google suggests there are p3 disposable masks. If your goal is to prevent spread of disease the standards are much lower – even cloth may be ok.

      I think the best thing to do right now is to switch to an engineering perspective. You need 1-2 measures to stop spread, plus 1-2 measures for safety (since people _will_ fail to implement), and a very careful look at 80-20 and lowest hanging fruits.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I’m trying to figure how masks and dine-in restaurants is supposed to work.

        • acymetric says:

          I keep seeing people suggesting that restaurants will be among the first to re-open, just with limited capacity. This has always seemed unlikely to me, for two reasons.

          One: even with significantly limited capacity, there is a lot of touching shared surfaces, breathing the same air, and obviously the staff is moving around all over the place.

          Two: Being closed or doing takeout only is hard for restaurants, but I think running at 1/4 to 1/2 capacity would probably be even worse. You now have to run at full operating cost, but you never get peak business hours to make it profitable. At least if you’re just doing takeout you can do a skeleton crew and make other cost-saving adjustments that wouldn’t be possible or practical if you have a handful of dine-in customers. It also means employees are going to be making next to nothing.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          @HeelBearCub
          Very badly. Restaurants will likely be a long term victim.

          @acymetric
          Which means that places that are built for takeout win by a large margin – no expensive and useless table space to pay rent for. Even if rent is lowered – it’s not just the space itself, it’s the location as well.

          • acymetric says:

            Yes? I’m not sure what point you’re making, takeout places are winning now for those reasons. My post was about people thinking dine-in restaurants will be among the first things to re-open, how take out places compare isn’t really relevant.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            I agree. Point would be they’re screwed medium term. Little chance to make money if they open, and they lose if they try to switch to takeout as they are now.

            To be honest, I also had a larger point when I clicked “reply” but realized it’s not very well formed. Something something decentralization of valuable commercial locations, which is probably a good thing.

  15. AG says:

    What are the food ingredients that have been most widely adopted outside of their native region into other cuisines? My guess is the tomato.
    Black pepper might be a contender, but most of those cuisines had other forms of pepper available before, whereas the introduction of the tomato actively transformed some cuisines into the form we know them as the “traditional/authentic” version today.
    Olive oil is widely used outside of italy, but not as a defining ingredient.

    Honorable mentions to noodles, black tea, and orange juice/lemonade.

    • FLWAB says:

      Potatoes. I don’t think it’s even a contest.

      • FrankistGeorgist says:

        +1, all hail the nightshade which conquered the world.

      • AG says:

        Do you mind elaborating? How limited was their original native region?

        • SamChevre says:

          I believe that at the time of Columbus, potatoes were only grown in western South America.

        • FLWAB says:

          Peru and Bolivia. They were a staple crop of the Incan empire and only spread outside the region after the conquistadors did their thing in the 16th century and brought it back home. That means in only 500 years the potato went from a regional staple to a worldwide staple. Wikipedia claims that “According to conservative estimates, the introduction of the potato was responsible for a quarter of the growth in Old World population and urbanization between 1700 and 1900.” And it’s now eaten everywhere from Alaska to Indonesia and everywhere in between. And look what sweet potatoes alone have done to world cuisine!

    • SamChevre says:

      I’d say the three nightshades, but it’s hard to pick just one: potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers.

      Rice would be a contender as well–it seems to have been cultivated for several thousand years in what’s now China before spreading beyond that.

      • gdepasamonte says:

        Peppers seem like the one which has become central to the widest variety of cuisines. In most parts of the world the potato is just one vegetable among many, and even in its stronghold in Europe it is weakly interchangeable with either bread and other cereal products, or with other root vegetables.

        Tomatoes I’m less sure about. The highest per capita consumption seems to be in the Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Libya) plus Uzbekistan, all cuisines I don’t know so well. But I can just about imagine Italian food, say, hobbling on without them.

        Could we say the same for central Chinese (eg Sichuan) and southeast Asian cusines regarding peppers? It’s unimaginable. They’d have to be razed to the ground and started from scratch. (Possibly applies to cuisines from India and the surrounding countries too, less sure of that.)

        • Kaitian says:

          I’d guess peppers have spread to the cuisine of most warmish climates, and potatoes have become a staple in most coldish climates.

          Warm climates can grow rice and wheat, so they don’t really need another starchy food. But they do need ways of preserving things in the heat, which peppers do.

          Tomatoes are used in many cuisines, but I don’t think they are a super important ingredient anywhere. Even pizza doesn’t always have them.

        • Lambert says:

          You could substitute peppercorns (which is what the Indians, Chinese and Romans ate before the Columbian exchange).

          And IMHO, they have a more interesting flavour.

          • gdepasamonte says:

            I understand that peppercorns, fresh and dried, prepared the way for chile peppers in these areas. But the subsequent development of the cuisines seems to rely so heavily on chile peppers in particular – how could you make anything approximating a Thai green curry with peppercorns? Or doubanjiang?

            There is an old Thai curry rarely seen in the west called geng liang, which is flavoured very heavily with white pepper rather than chilies. I like it, but it wasn’t going to make Thai cuisine an international heavyweight on its own merits.

          • Mary says:

            They are called peppers precisely because they were regarded as a spice of the same type.

            But within half a century of Columbus, there’s a poet in India hymning the wonders of the red pepper, and black pepper only managed to hang on to its place in dishes with ritual requirements.

          • You could substitute peppercorns (which is what the Indians, Chinese and Romans ate before the Columbian exchange).

            And long pepper. And cubebs. And grains of paradise.

    • Oldio says:

      I’m gonna go with beer, if we’ll take a finished product as opposed to an ingredient. Otherwise I’m going with rice.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Potato, tomato, and rice are probably the strongest contenders. I believe vanilla has been incorporated into cuisines worldwide. Cocoa has become a dessert ingredient worldwide. The humble peanut made it all the way to Sichuan’s Kung Pao Chicken.

      And much New World cuisine relies on Old World ingredients, which gets you an enormous set of candidates.

    • Is it clear that noodles have a native region? The standard story crediting Marco Polo with bringing them back from China is bogus, since there were noodles in Islamic cuisine earlier than that. The question of whether they existed in Europe in classical antiquity is, I think, still open.

      They seem like the sort of thing that could easily be invented multiple times in different places.

      • AG says:

        Noodles seems like a specific thing to invent, though. The intuitive thing to do with dough is a flatbread. You have to invent a specific eating utensil like forks or chopsticks as a prerequisite to noodles being viable.
        Did noodles ever get independently invented in Africa?

        • Noodles are easier to make than raised bread and they don’t require an oven, just a fire to boil liquid over. Unraised flat bread cooked on a hot stone or metal pan over a fire would be the one alternative that might be easier.

          Both bread and noodles require flour, and turning your wheat or rice into flour is a good deal of work. Why didn’t people just cook the whole grains instead?

          • Radu Floricica says:

            Roughly ground maize makes polenta. Not sure what the wheat equivalent would be…

          • The Nybbler says:

            There’s bulgur (cracked wheat) and there’s “cream of wheat” which I guess could be described as wheat gruel made with fine-ground wheat, but I don’t know of anything in between. Coarse wheat flour is sometimes used in bread though.

          • andrewflicker says:

            Nybbler’s comment is mostly good, but I’d say semolina is the true equivalent of polenta. Cream of Wheat is a brand name of semolina porridge.

          • SamChevre says:

            “Cream of wheat”/ farina is normally made from roasted wheat (I’ve made it at home). Cracked wheat that’s unroasted has a very different texture when cooked.

          • Lambert says:

            Processing and cooking are ex-vivo digestion.
            If you just boil up unthreshed grains or unmilled wheat, the nutrients of the endosperm and germ remain trapped in the undigestable cellulose bran.

            Smashing the kernel mechanically or using fungi that produce cellulase (Koji) makes the nutrients from the cereal easier to absorb than just boiling them.

          • AG says:

            At least one food documentary said the same was true for corn, something like corn tortillas are more nutritious than just eating it off the cob?

          • The Nybbler says:

            The big thing with corn is treating it with alkali (nixtamalization) to free the niacin and otherwise make it more nutritious. However, that’s with different varieties of corn than those you eat off the cob; the niacin in that sort of corn (sweet corn) is available without such treatment.

    • bullseye says:

      I’d say wheat (from the Middle East), corn (southern Mexico), or chicken (southeast Asia).

      • Machine Interface says:

        Yeah, surprised you’re the first one to say wheat; wheat-based dough and batter preparations are pretty much universal now, you won’t find a single country where they haven’t been worked into several traditional dishes. Breads, buns, wraps, cakes, pies, tarts, pizzas, dumplings, fritters, noodles, cookies, biscuits, crackers, breadsticks, bagels, doughnuts, bretzels, pastries, brownies, muffins, tortes… take your pick!

        • AG says:

          I have to disagree on corn, because it hasn’t become an integral part of the cuisines it has migrated to. You can excise corn from much of the overseas dishes it’s in.

          Wheat, it could be, since I’m not educated on the subject, but it seems like most cultures had some form of grain they could make bread and such beforehand. Wheat was the superior grain to do it with, but it wasn’t like the tomato, where new dishes were invented wholesale, instead of just substituting a preexisting ingredient.

    • albatross11 says:

      Potatoes and peppers seem like the big winners.

    • Estera clare says:

      Cane sugar?
      I suspect it depends on how strictly you define “native region”, after all, every widespread staple was domesticated somewhere.

    • Nornagest says:

      Hot pepper and relatives have gotta be up there. Didn’t exist in the Old World before the Columbian exchange; is now a defining ingredient in cuisines as diverse as Sichuanese, Indian, Thai, and Hungarian.

  16. A bootstrapping AI would be naturally bootstrapping its own software, unless we provide it with the tools to bootstrap its hardware into computronium. Indeed, a less powerful computer could run the same algorithms at a slower speed. It will lack the resources to scale up in terms of speed and memory, but it can discover and run through the same fundamental mathematics. If general intelligence is simply a certain magic algorithm, then the difference between a regular intelligence and a hyper-intelligence is running that same algorithm at a much faster speed with much lower constraints on memory.

    If this is true, and we look at attempts like this going on right now, is it possible that if we repeat research like this enough, then we will reach the pinnacle of algorithms much much sooner than we will reach the pinnacle of hardware?

    If we have various approaches for building general intelligence from evolutionary algorithms, and that produces general intelligence that emulates human operation running slowly on a modern supercomputer, that would be much much better for AI safety than if computers become hyper-powerful and then we discover general intelligence after that point. Since it’s easier to search the algorithm space than the hardware space, wouldn’t reaching the general purpose algorithm with the best trade-offs and/or even reaching the best algorithms for each special purpose and then bolting them together, be a process that reaches its apotheosis sooner than making the most powerful computer nature will allow?

    It seems that circumstances that promote algorithmic development while stalling hardware development should be good for AI safety because they give us more time and experience with general AI before it’s running on absurdly quick hardware of the future. Discovering general AI sooner rather than later would be beneficial. Not just because a whole brain em running at 10,000ths real speed on a modern supercomputer is better than the same thing running at 10,000 times real speed on some exotic quantum computer, but also because as time goes on, more and more industrial processes will be controlled by wire, and the “internet of things” is going to unfortunately grow in prominence. We don’t want general AI to appear in an environment where computers are even more connected to everything than they are today. Avoiding both these scenarios makes it harder for hostile AI to defeat us before we have Friendly AI, and once you’ve tested it in an environment where failures cause comparatively minimal damage, you can optimize for Friendliness through that learning process rather than through preconceived theories. The more Friendly AI exist, the more they become the world’s best cops against any Unfriendly AI that are built after that point.

    So we can talk about bootstrapping algorithms “summoning the demon”, but the real demon is when a bootstrapping algorithm is running on a computer the size of a building that controls much of our critical infrastructure. Discovering general AI and putting it in a robot so it can ape about in a room learning how to do absolutely everything is the process that makes putting that same mind in a building size computer that controls much of our critical infrastructure safer, if we insist on doing such things like that, which we surely and unfortunately will.

    • Tatterdemalion says:

      Don’t underestimate how hard it is to search algorithm space.

      There are some extremely simple classes of problems – finding the shortest vector in a medium-sized lattice, solving small systems of multivariate quadratic equations over finite fields, finding a subset of a set of bit vectors whose sum mod 2 is unusually sparse, etc – where it is widely believed that no algorithm which will solve a random instance of that class within the lifespan of the universe on a universe-sized computer exists.

      I think that designing better AIs may well turn out to be similar – it wouldn’t in the least bit surprise me if there was a theorem stating that programming a Turing machine with at least n Thinkons of intelligence always required at least O(2^kn) work, putting a fairly hard cap on how far AI could get.

      • albatross11 says:

        Indeed, those examples are the basis for various public key algorithms that will be secure (we hope) even against quantum computers.

    • where it is widely believed that no algorithm which will solve a random instance of that class within the lifespan of the universe on a universe-sized computer exists.

      Isn’t that more so about the efficiency of algorithms within the algorithm space than the size of the space itself? Algorithms that allow you to pick up a shoe with 99.9% efficiency probably might not be resource intensive but perhaps an algorithm to squeeze out an extra 0.0999% would be orders of magnitude more so, and then everything for the extra 0.0001% would be on the same exponential curve of absurdly increasing complexity?

  17. EchoChaos says:

    Donald Trump, or someone close to Donald Trump, has read the Constitution carefully.

    Article II, Section 3 gives the President the power to adjourn Congress in an emergency. Trump has stated that he is considering using this power, which has never been used before, because Congress has recessed until May.

    Trump believes that he needs either Congressional authorization or recess appointments to execute his pandemic response, which a recessed but not adjourned Congress does not give him.

    • broblawsky says:

      And thus, we edge ever closer to dictatorship.

      • The Nybbler says:

        With many of the various state governors ruling by decree and many state courts not in operation (so if you’re arrested you’re in for the duration), we’re way past “edging closer”.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Yeah, basically. Of all the people who have been dictatorial in this, Trump is not even top 10.

        • SamChevre says:

          And don’t forget–Massachusetts last year (pre-COVID) shut down an entire class of legal businesses* for months, on the ground that they might be a threat to public health–even though it was fairly well established that the threat was black-market products that those stores didn’t sell.

          *Vape shops

        • eric23 says:

          There have been quarantines in democracies for as long as there have been democracies.

      • chrisminor0008 says:

        I didn’t believe it at first, but maybe Bill Mahar was right in predicting that Trump will find some contrivance to stay in office after losing the election. Hope it doesn’t come to that.

        • Del Cotter says:

          The last time I nearly believed that was when they told me George W Bush would do it.

          What makes me suspicious now is not that there was an election, the Democratic candidate won, and Bush left office like a lamb. It’s that as soon as Bush left office, all his critics stopped caring about what a bad man he was. Suddenly he was America’s grandfather and isn’t it wonderful what friends he is with Michelle, and did you know he paints?

          So I think this is just stuff the opposition says, while whichever president is in office (sorry, I missed out the Obama presidency: it went without my saying that “Obama is preparing the concentration camps now!” was bonkers)

          • beleester says:

            In this case, it’s something the President said, rather than something the opposition said about the President. That should be weighted a little heavier.

            (Assuming EchoChaos is accurate, as he didn’t give a source. But he is a pro-Trump poster, so presumably he’s not lying to make the President look bad)

          • EchoChaos says:

            Assuming EchoChaos is accurate

            Which is safe, of course. Always trust EchoChaos brand analysis.

            In this case, it’s something the President said, rather than something the opposition said about the President. That should be weighted a little heavier.

            Well, he hasn’t said anything about extending his term, just being able to get recess appointments in place so he can govern more effectively.

      • Deiseach says:

        Does he need to even go that far? Surely he too has a pen and a phone?

        Sorry to be laughing about the doom-laden tones of COMETH THE ETERNAL DICTATORSHIP, but lads, ye were there beforetimes, yea, even unto the “but surely the Demon of Republicanism will not loosen his clutch upon the sacred office but will invoke emergency powers and martial dictatorship to remain illegally and perpetually in power!!!!” fringe frothing at the mouth running up to 2008 when Obama won, as well as some reasoned commentary from 2006.

        • broblawsky says:

          The imperial presidency is dangerous, and any expansion of the presidency’s powers (or demolition of norms around the exercise of those powers) makes it even more dangerous. I’m less afraid of governors overreaching their powers; they don’t have an army.

    • meh says:

      I’m gonna go with someone close to Donald Trump.

    • suntory time says:

      No, it does not. Have you read the section? It’s short.

      “…in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them…” Without disagreement between the houses there is no power to adjourn them.

      • FLWAB says:

        Indeed, you seem to have the right of it. What I’m wondering about, having read it, is the previous part of that sentence: “he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them…” Does that mean he has the power to call them back from recess during this extraordinary occasion? If they’re in recess, are they technically still convening?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Well, technically I think McConnell could create the disagreement. But I don’t see what that would accomplish.

          Edit:
          As I point out below, it’s probably extremely relevant . Pelosi is the Dem with the power to block recess, not the minority in the Semate

      • Chalid says:

        Well *that* sure seems like something that doesn’t belong in the Constitution. What was the original rationale? And why would the House and Senate need to agree on the time of adjournment as opposed to just running things on their own respective timetables? If the House wants to work through Christmas I don’t see how that’s any of the Senate’s business.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Because the House can force the Senate to stay in session.

          It’s one of those “we need some way to ultimately resolve this” rules that you need in any working system.

          • Chalid says:

            But why should the House be able to force the Senate to stay in session?

          • Iago the Yerfdog says:

            But why should the House be able to force the Senate to stay in session?

            My guess would be so the one of them can’t adjourn and leave the other unable to get anything done.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I believe it’s Congress that adjourns, not the House and the Senate separately.

            As to why you need the House and Senate to agree on things? Well, the whole system is based on checks and balances. The whole idea is to force people to come to agreement, rather than making decisions unilaterally.

            Doesn’t always work out. No system is perfect and every one has its downfalls.

      • EchoChaos says:

        No, it does not. Have you read the section? It’s short.

        It most certainly does. It is indeed conditional, but it absolutely gives him the power to adjourn them.

        • FLWAB says:

          Has the condition been met? Are the House and the Senate in disagreement on when to adjourn?

          • EchoChaos says:

            Has the condition been met? Are the House and the Senate in disagreement on when to adjourn?

            Legally speaking, I have no idea.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      Isn’t the Senate currently in recess? Why would he need them to adjourn?

      Edit: Unless what he is really trying to do is get some prior recess appointment vacated, which I believe would happen at the end of the session. Not sure why he would find that helpful.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Isn’t the Senate currently in recess?

        No, they’re having pro forma sessions.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Note that President Obama ignored the pro-forma sessions and made recess appointments anyway, which is a less flashy but just as constitutionally uncertain way of challenging Congress on this.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Already ruled as unconstitutional by SCOTUS, IIRC.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Correct. Pro forma sessions are sessions, so those appointments were invalid. Trump would be able to make genuine recess appointments if this works.

          • Clutzy says:

            That ended with a decisive court loss. NLRB vs. Canning

          • eric23 says:

            I suspect if Trump tried it now the SC would allow it.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @eric23

            I think you are quite overstating partisan effects here. Party nomination matters on close issues, but NLRB v. Canning was 9-0.

          • Clutzy says:

            If it happened now I doubt the SC would even hear the case. They would either not grant cert or would issue a per curiam reversing the DC circuit if it didn’t follow Canning.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Ah, my fault for believing the short hand headline.

          And now that I look at the relevant case, it does paint a different picture. It’s actually the Speaker of the House, not the minority in the senate blocking recess. Pelosi almost assuredly is blocking recess, and would block adjournment.

          So, this does represent a serious power gambit, if McConnell goes along with it.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            If McConnell goes along with it before more money is passed for the Paycheck Protection Program, then the lack of funds is on him and Trump. Whereas now they’re saying the lack of funds is on Pelosi.

          • Sounds to me like the Democrats are playing the age-old game of saying:

            “We won’t allow X to be passed until you agree to also pass Y; if X isn’t passed it’s on you.”

            My preference would be for none of it to be passed.

    • Iago the Yerfdog says:

      So, I noticed something potentially interesting. Looking at the top ten news articles on “trump adjourn congress” in Startpage (ignoring one article that only mentioned it in passing but about something else), I looked at which ones quote the relevant section of the Constitution:

      The Hill quoted it pretty much in full.

      The Washington Post didn’t quote it at all.

      SFGate didn’t quote it at all.

      Newsweek quoted one really short passage.

      The Week didn’t quote it at all (but to be fair the article is only three paragraphs).

      The Washington Times quoted it pretty much in full.

      Bloomberg quoted a couple of really short passages.

      The Washington Examiner didn’t quote it at all.

      Reuters didn’t quote it at all.

      USA Today quoted it pretty much in full.

      That’s 3 articles that quoted it in full, 2 that quote super-short passages, and 5 that didn’t quote it at all.

      Make of that what you will.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        It looks like the clause doesn’t prevent what it might see, like it prevents, so it’s not necessarily super important , unless you want to wonk out about the internal rules of the Senate.

        It does mean the McConnell holds the “trump” card in this, though.

        • Iago the Yerfdog says:

          I’m not sure I understand your reply. Skimming the article you linked, it seems to be about whether one house of Congress can prevent the other from taking a recess. I’m talking about whether Trump can force an adjournment if the Senate tries to adjourn and the House refuses.

          • EchoChaos says:

            I’m talking about whether Trump can force an adjournment if the Senate tries to adjourn and the House refuses.

            Yes, he absolutely can. That’s black letter Constitution.

            I believe what @HeelBearCub is saying is that without the Senate trying to adjourn, Trump doesn’t have the power to do so, which is probably true.

          • Iago the Yerfdog says:

            Yes, he absolutely can. That’s black letter Constitution.

            Agreed. I just thought it was odd that so few articles were quoting the actual text, especially given its obscurity.

            I believe what @HeelBearCub is saying is that without the Senate trying to adjourn, Trump doesn’t have the power to do so, which is probably true.

            Ah, that makes sense. And, yes, that’s how I read it as well: the Senate has to cooperate. According to one article I ran across, there might be a way for Senate Democrats to block to attempt to adjourn, in which case Trump can’t do anything.

          • EchoChaos says:

            According to one article I ran across, there might be a way for Senate Democrats to block to attempt to adjourn, in which case Trump can’t do anything.

            I cannot emphasize enough how not a lawyer I am. I am SUPER not a lawyer. Have no idea about the intricacies of the Senate rules.

            But Mitch McConnell is the absolute master of them, so if it is at all possible, he knows about it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Iago:
            My main point is that the key thing preventing Trump from making recess appointments right now is (likely) Pelosi preventing recess. If so, that means we already have a disagreement about ending the pro-forma sessions, so it’s not super relevant that Trump needs disagreement to adjourn, as we very likely already have it.

            However, it would mean that McConnell would have to force the Senate back to DC to vote to adjourn. I assume there might be procedural shenanigans from the Democratic Senators as well. That’s probably more relevant.

            I can only imagine the howls if Obama had tried this. If it happens, it’s another norm broken.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Obama tried to say the Senate was in recess over the Senate’s protests, made appointments over the Senate’s protests, and lost 0-9 at SCOTUS. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NLRB_v._Noel_Canning

            “Senate” is not exactly equal to “Congress” but I doubt Trump would fare any better.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It appears the Senate can move on a motion to adjourn without a quorum, so McConnell wouldn’t need to drag the entire Senate, or much of it at all, back; the motion to adjourn could be done in a pro-forma session.

            until a quorum shall be present, no debate nor motion, except to adjourn, or to recess pursuant to a previous order entered by unanimous consent, shall be in order

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Edward Scizzorhands:
            Yes, I know as I referenced that earlier. Although he actually tried to claim that the senate was in recess in between two sessions. That’s not so much “over their protest” as “attempting to find something technically correct”

            Of course, never recessing is a norm broken, and depends on a technicality as well. Note that everyone says the Senate is currently in recess, despite being in session.

            And simply refusing to confirm anyone at all to an appointed position is another broken norm.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            I think “pursuant to a previous order entered by unanimous consent” applies to adjournment as well.

          • Dack says:

            Why does the constitution specify that the president can convene one or both houses if having only one house convened is a problem that the constitution needed to give the president adjournment power to fix?

          • The Nybbler says:

            On further reading, I think “to recess pursuant to a previous order entered by unanimous consent” does not apply to a motion to adjourn, but a bare motion to adjourn (which is different from a motion “To adjourn to a day certain, or that when the Senate adjourn it shall be to a day certain.”) would simply adjourn until the next scheduled pro-forma session, which would not create either an opportunity for recess appointments or a conflict with the House. So McConnell would need the quorum.

    • Statismagician says:

      Can anybody explain why nobody put together a remote-voting system at any point in the last few decades? We can do secure remote nuclear release authorizations, why not also votes on recognizing April 16 as National Corona With Lime Day or whatever?

      • Filareta says:

        For transparency reasons, I suppose. See:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3_0x6oaDmI

      • bullseye says:

        I think Statismagician is talking about voting within Congress. For voting within Congress it’s not secret ballot, so each member can look at their vote as a part of the final count to make sure it’s correct.

        As for why they don’t do it, I imagine part of it is that they’re mostly old and not comfortable with computers. (My parents are old and use the internet all the time, but congresscritters are different.)

        Also, the internet has too much transparency. You can’t be sure of the privacy of a backroom deal if it’s over the internet, and you can’t use voice votes to obscure how individuals are voting.

  18. Canyon Fern says:

    @GearRatio,

    I recall from a previous open thread that you were in danger of losing your job, or that that had already happened. What’s your status, sir? Are you OK? … and are you by any chance a software developer?

    [If you’re out of work: I feel for you, mate. Join the club. -Ludovico]
    ~~~
    @Theodidactus,

    Ludovico tells me he emailed you his silly little something of a text-adventure game. Were you able to give it a look? If so, do please get in touch via email (click my username.)

    If you’re up for a collaboration, I have quite some free time on my fronds. Your taste for the baroque and maximalist resonates with us!
    ~~~
    My industrious assistant has set up a website for me, to host Slate Star Showdex and other writings I have posted/will post here. All six episodes to date have been uploaded, with improved formatting. You can reach it by clicking my username or going to canyonfern.neocities.org. [I’ll see about a custom domain soon. -L]

  19. Eltargrim says:

    @Three Year Lurker:

    I reached the point in Hollow Knight that you mentioned. Thank you for the tip, it definitely helped!

    • Three Year Lurker says:

      Awesome. I didn’t realize respawning enemies was tied to using benches until my third playthrough. Made that sidequest harder.

      If you want an odd challenge later, try winning without rescuing Sly or buying the lantern. There’s only one dark area required for beating the game, and it’s doable if you use the garden entrance because then it’s mostly falling straight down in the right places.

  20. Aapje says:

    It’s harder to come up with original titles to introduce these Dutch fixed expressions, than to find them

    ‘Hij ligt op apegapen’ = He lies on monkey gaping

    He is exhausted or dying.

    This is a peculiar one. Before this expression existed, there was another with the same meaning that was first used in the 17 century: ‘hij ligt op gijpen’ = he lies on gasping. This Dutch word for gasping is no longer used.

    It is speculated that ‘apegapen’ was developed in the 19th century as a rude variant. Instead of a yawn, it refers to someone having their mouth open permanently.

    There are other words in Dutch (and German) with monkey as a prefix, in the meaning of silly or foolish. So ‘apegapen’ would mean having your mouth gaping like a fool. The word also rhymes internally, similarly to how the two parts of Humpty Dumpty rhyme with each other. This probably played a major role in popularizing it.

    Grammatically, this expression is also peculiar, with the ‘op’ = on. This construct is used in only a few other cases, like:
    – ‘Hij ligt op sterven’ = He lies on dying
    – ‘De New York Yankees staan op winst’ = The New York Yankees stand on won (= the New York Yankees are ahead)

    This construct indicates a more likely outcome, but also implies that it is uncertain, when and if it happens. For example, if someone is expiring now, you wouldn’t say that ‘he lies on dying,’ but the Dutch equivalent of ‘he dies’ or ‘he is dying.’ The construct with ‘on’ is only used if it is a more lengthy deathbed. Similarly, ‘they stand on won’ is only used if the advantage of one team/player is small enough that winning is sufficiently uncertain.

    However, this grammatical construct is limited to a few fixed expressions, suggesting that this grammar is no longer part of Dutch and merely endures in fixed expressions.

    ‘Naar adem happen’ = Biting (to) air

    Gasping for air. This is what Dutch people typically would use where English people use ‘gasping’.

    ‘Apenkool’ = Monkey cabbage

    (Talking) nonsense.

    ‘Eieren kiezen voor je geld’ = Choosing eggs for your money

    Accepting less than what you really wanted (because of the likely costs or unlikelihood of getting what you prefer). This refers to accepting payment in kind, where eggs were a rather poor way to get paid even then (as they are perisable and low value).

    ‘Een appeltje voor de dorst’ = An apple for the thirst

    Having saved something for a time of emergency.

    ‘Iets met argusogen bekijken’ = Looking at something with the eyes of Argus

    Being very wary. Refers to the Greek myth of Argus Panoptes, a many-eyed giant, who would look in all directions and who kept some eyes open while sleeping.

    ‘Baard in de keel’ = beard in the throat

    The voice of a pubescent boy is changing.

    • noyann says:

      So ‘apegapen’ would mean having your mouth gaping like a fool.

      Similar to (dated) German “Maulaffen feilhalten”, literally: offering mouth-apes for sale.

  21. LesHapablap says:

    I have an economics question about recessions. At my company we are trying to forecast demand as best we can so we can plan for the next 8 months. How well we can plan will make a huge difference to us and the well being of our staff.

    I’m in NZ, but let’s use the USA GDP numbers. According to Goldman Sach’s we are facing a GDP loss of 6.1% for 2020. We would have had growth of about 2% per year the last few years. So does that mean that standard of living and discretionary income would be about the same as in 2016? It would seem obvious that it doesn’t, but why not? Is it because of all the other disruption to an economy that doesn’t show up in GDP?

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I am not an economist, but…

      GDP fails to capture huge psychological costs of lockdowns, but as far as what might be called “material” standard of living goes, sure, that is what GS says more or less says. Whether this is anything close to correct prediction I have no idea. With the caveat that GDP contains both investment and consumption goods, so if you would see drop in consumption accompanied by increase in investment, then “material” standard of living would take bigger temporary hit that those 6 %.

      But common sense suggests that capital goods that are not useful in sectors booming during the pandemic (surgical masks, delivery vans and so on), will take bigger hit to demand than general consumption.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I expect surgical masks and respirators will continue to do a brisk (though not pandemic-level) business after the lockdowns are released, as everyone prepares for the previous disaster. Probably also some specifically American demand for such, as a few places (e.g. state-funded facilities in red states) adopt made-in-America requirements.

        • CatCube says:

          That’s not so clear–this manufacturer wasn’t even running additional shifts as of that story (he’s since started doing so according to some articles I found while looking for that one, apparently with guaranteed purchases and personnel provided by the National Guard?).

          He spun everything up for the last epidemic, bought more equipment, and hired more people, then nearly went bankrupt and had to go through painful layoffs when demand for his equipment evaporated overnight when it ended. The instant there wasn’t a problem anymore, every hospital wanted to save 8 cents per mask and went back to Chinese-produced equipment. It made him really gunshy about capital investments for something that may only last a few months.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I did read that story. But I think there’s a major difference: The last epidemic fizzled. This one didn’t. And also China has covered itself with more excrement this time, in various ways (e.g. sending defective PPE to France, repurchasing PPE while still claiming there was no problem) — enough that the Washington Post is willing to speculate on this virus being a Chinese lab release.

            I still would expect things to return to the status quo of “cheapest masks possible”, but more slowly this time.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            And this is one of the really cheap things that the Federal government can do: promise a market for masks so the suppliers make them.

    • cleo says:

      It would seem obvious that it doesn’t, but why not?

      On the top of my head:
      1) The crisis has a very different impact on different regions, industries and social groups creating new economic imbalances.
      2) There is psychological effect which is likely to affect spending patterns.

    • Jon S says:

      A loss of 6% would also be spread out pretty unevenly. Making up some numbers, perhaps 75% of a population would chug on approximately as before, 20% would lose 20% of their income, and 5% would lose 40% of their income.

    • baconbits9 says:

      So does that mean that standard of living and discretionary income would be about the same as in 2016?

      No. Discretionary income is (lazily speaking) the gap between earnings and obligations. If obligations rose at the same rate as GDP and discretionary income was say 1/3rd of household income then a 6% decrease in GDP would mean an 18% decrease in discretionary income (as an example, don’t take this as an estimate or guideline or anything).

    • LesHapablap says:

      Thanks for the responses, all.

      Follow up question: the 2008 GFC involved a 2.5% GDP drop from 2007. If this one is a 6.1% drop from 2019, how is this one different?

      And if you feel like being really helpful, how do you think it would effect an NZ based tourism operator reliant totally on foreign upper middle class clients going forward in 2021 onward? For reference, our market in 2019 was basically 4x the market in 2011.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        International tourism is now literally an illegal activity in most instances, right?

        So, if we proceed on an uncertain assumption that it will be allowed in 2021 (in economics lingo, lifting of supply restrictions), there is still a problem that recessions tend to affect wealth of rich people much more severely than wages of us normals, and that they obviously affects spending of every class on luxuries much more than their spending on food, housing, normal entertainment…. or anything else, really. If GDP falls x %, I would expect luxury consumption to collapse much more than x.

  22. johan_larson says:

    The Bank of Canada (our central bank) deserves some sort of award for honesty:

    Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada on Wednesday made the extraordinary move of omitting eagerly awaited new economic projections from its quarterly monetary policy report, saying that forecasting can’t be done “with any degree of confidence” in light of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis.

    “We had a good discussion around [whether] we had enough material in front of us to be able to construct a forecast. We concluded that the honest answer is no,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in a teleconference with media Wednesday. “The last thing we want to do is offer some sort of false precision.”

  23. AlesZiegler says:

    What movies are best capturing the spirit of American nineties?

    • EchoChaos says:

      The Matrix is the one the immediately leaps to mind foremost.

      • Since it came out in ’99 I always saw The Matrix as a 90s ender. It’s in that 90s-2000s culture zone.

        • Machine Interface says:

          Oh it’s a common misconception. The 90s actually last from the mid 1990s to around the mid 2000s. They were preceded by the 80s which lasted from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s, and are followed by the second 80s, which started in the mid 2000s and show no sign of stopping since.

          • EchoChaos says:

            The 90s started with the election of Bill Clinton and ended on 9/11.

            The 2000s started then and ended March 13th, 2020 with COVID-19.

            We don’t know what we’re in yet, but we don’t like it.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            Really? I would have thought Trump’s election was a definite breakpoint, and maybe Obama’s election or the financial crisis (or both; they were pretty close to each other) as well.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @eyeballfrog

            Did the world really feel different under Obama than under Bush than under Trump?

            I know for me it didn’t, despite major life changes personally, the “US System” felt basically the same under all three of our recent Presidents.

            COVID makes it feel genuinely different for the first time in the past 20 years.

            People said that Trump would usher in a sea change, but honestly, did he?

          • BBA says:

            To me there’s a very clear difference between the ’00s and ’10s, but it’s hard to pinpoint right where it happened. Crash, mentioned elsewhere in this thread, is a very 2000s movie. It won the Oscar on its release, but in the ’10s all right-thinking people despised it and wondered how it ever could’ve been made.

            Though to me the most 2000s movie is Saved!, particularly how it pulls its punches where a ’90s or ’10s movie would’ve gone much further.

          • SamChevre says:

            For me, the “make shit up and call it a law” aspect went from mostly-invisible to huge during the Obama administration–but that was really more driven by the courts than the administration.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @BBA and @SamChevre

            I think the fact that both the left and the right now agree that Bush and Obama were the same “faction” tells you that 2008 didn’t fundamentally change anything.

            I could be talked into 2016, but other than loudness, I don’t feel like daily life genuinely changed.

          • SamChevre says:

            @EchoChaos

            I either don’t understand, or disagree.

            The financial crash of 2008 and its aftermath changed the world; both Bush and Obama were on the “yay internationalism! yay finance!” group–after 2008, people started looking for alternatives to that view.

            Now you’ve got a fairly strong nationalist faction in the Republican party (Trump et al) and a fairly strong anti-finance faction in the Democratic party (exemplified by Elizabeth Warren).

          • EchoChaos says:

            @SamChevre

            Sure, I don’t disagree that there were massive political effects that will one day change the world. But day to day, life in 2009 was basically life in 2002, which was basically life in 2019.

            Trump wasn’t immediately able to effect the change from internationalism that he espoused, although COVID may finally allow him to do so.

            There HAVE been some areas where things did matter a fair bit, and I think @BBA put his finger on a few of them, especially the court cases and ruling by fiat.

            This is the same reason that I think George H.W. Bush was still an 80s President. The USA acted like it was still the Cold War for his entire Presidency even though it wasn’t. Clinton finally broke that.

          • BBA says:

            Not sure how I got caught up in this anti-common law circle jerk, but I thought we were talking about movies.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            – The 80s end with the fall of the Soviet block (1989 – 1991).
            – The 90s end with 9/11
            – The 2000s end with the great financial crisis (2006 – 2008).
            – Culture War starts brewing up, explodes in 2014 (Gamer***e), and peaks in 2016 with Brexit and Trump.
            – Now it seems that the Culture War died of coronavirus and we are in a new cultural phase. We’ll see how long it lasts.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          C´mon, nineties obviously started with the fall of the Wall and ended on 9/11. Everything that was filmed during that era is nineties movie.

          • EchoChaos says:

            C´mon, nineties obviously started with the fall of the Wall and ended on 9/11.

            See my comment above. George H.W. Bush was an 80s President and nobody can convince me otherwise.

          • johan_larson says:

            I think 9/11 to the 2008 meltdown was one epoch, and 2008 meltdown to COVID-19 was the next.

          • achenx says:

            The 90s started on September 24, 1991.

          • SamChevre says:

            I’d mostly agree with johan_larson, although Windsor/Obamacare seems like another major milestone.

          • ana53294 says:

            Obamacare doesn’t seem world-changing now that is has been effectively defanged. Even limiting it to just the US.

            What is the Windsor?

            9/11 had many global effects.

          • SamChevre says:

            Windsor

            First case where the US Supreme Court threw out a recently passed law with strong bipartisan support to rule in favor of normalizing homosexuality. Sorry, that was very unclear before.

          • Machine Interface says:

            Well I was joking above, but the reality is that movie styles associated with a particular decade often extend far beyond that decade, with a fair bit of overlap with styles of preceding and following decades.

            I’m more aware of this with the 80s style, but I’m sure it’s true of other decades.

            So for the 80s in cinema we have:

            1) A pre/proto/archaic 80s style already showing up in a number of 70s movies, making these movies quite ahead of their time and contrasting sharply with the rest of the production of the 70s: THX 1138, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, Alien, Apocalypse Now, Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, Dawn of the Dead or Midnight Express are some prominent example of movies released in 70s that already have many element of the 80s style and not so much of the 70s one.

            2) A Classical 80s period, which is the canonical 80s: The Blues Brothers, Raiders of the Lost Arch, Blade Runner, Tron, Conan the Barbarian, Ghostbusters, The Terminator, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Aliens, Big Trouble in Little China, The Fly, Highlander, Predator, RoboCop, Die Hard, They Live, Batman – just to name a tiny segment of what the period produced in epitomic 80s style.

            3) A Silver Age/Post-Classical 80s period, lasting until the mid-to-late-mid 90s and in which, even as the 90s are starting and their distinctive style is progressively taking over the cinematic landscape, we still find a fair amount of movies that cling at least in part to the style of the 80s and resist 90s trends: Home Alone, Dances with Wolves, Terminator 2, The Addams Family, Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, The Mask or Stargate are some examples.

            4) A revival/Neo-Classical 80s period, which start showing signs of a nostalgic return/re-exploration of the 80s style as early as the mid 2000s, but really takes off in the 2010s, and doesn’t seem to be over yet: We Own the Night, The House of the Devil, Beyond the Black Rainbow, Drive, Nightcrawler, Turbo Kid, The Void, Blade Runner 2049 or Mandy illustrate this somewhat niche but still significant revival.

          • Tarpitz says:

            The 90s started on September 24, 1991.

            Certainly the 17th of that month was still the 80s, so the changeover must have happened some time that week.

    • Well... says:

      – Several Richard Linklater movies, maybe especially “Suburbia”
      – Most Pauly Shore movies
      – “Singles”
      – “Clerks” and “Mallrats”

      • EchoChaos says:

        – “Clerks” and “Mallrats”

        Solid choices there. Kevin Smith was definitely one of the bards of the 90s.

        • Well... says:

          Hah, at first I read that as “beards of the 90s” which I guess is also true.

        • johan_larson says:

          Clerks is a good movie, but does it “capture the spirit of the 90s”? The nineties were an optimistic time. Things were mostly going well. The Cold War was over and we are talking about peace dividends and the End of History. Clerks is about a bunch of marginally employed not-quite-losers. It doesn’t really fit.

          • acymetric says:

            I think the 90s might have been different things to different people. Consider music, where some of the most iconic 90s music was hardly optimistic. The Cold War being over was really only interesting to people who grew up during the Cold War.

          • Matt M says:

            The Cold War being over was really only interesting to people who grew up during the Cold War.

            This. I suspect that the “spirit of the 90s” was very different for adults in the 90s vs kids/teenagers in the 90s…

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yeah, we had GnR and grunge dominating the first half of the 90s, music wise.

            Not sure I’m buying your take on the zeitgeist.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            On the contrary, the fact that even total loosers are employed fits the spirit of the era well, I think.

          • Matt M says:

            On the contrary, the fact that even total loosers are employed fits the spirit of the era well, I think.

            This is a great point. In the 90s, being a loser meant you had a crappy job. In the 00s, having any job at all basically keeps you out of the lowest quintile of loserdom in and of itself.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        @Well…

        Thanks for recommending me Suburbia, I finally got around to it (I am familiar with Linklater´s more famous movies), and it is really good.

    • johan_larson says:

      Oddly enough the first internet boom came and went in the nineties without leaving behind a movie that captured the frantic spirit of it.

      Much of the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” happens during the nineties, even though it was made a couple of decades later. How does it do as a snapshot of the financial industry in the nineties?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Oddly enough the first internet boom came and went in the nineties without leaving behind a movie that captured the frantic spirit of it.

        “Hack the planet!”

      • Well... says:

        “The Informant” does a better job, I think. At least in terms of look and feel. I can almost smell the 90s in that movie.

      • Bobobob says:

        There was The Net, with Sandra Bullock, though I’m not sure “frantic” is an adjective I’d apply to it.

      • birdboy2000 says:

        Not an American film (though it did get a cut-up theatrical release here) but for the spirit of the ’90s internet you can’t go better than Mamoru Hosoda’s Our War Game. Even has lag as a plot point!

      • viVI_IViv says:

        Oddly enough the first internet boom came and went in the nineties without leaving behind a movie that captured the frantic spirit of it.

        Ghost in the Shell was released in 1995, and it’s based on a 1989-1990 manga. It actually predates commercial internet, though it doesn’t really capture the internet of the 90s, but rather the modern internet where everything and everyone is constantly online.

        • Matt M says:

          Honestly, I feel like The Matrix should count for this, too.

          While it’s not really a movie “about” the internet in any meaningful sense, I don’t think either the premise or the general aesthetic it uses comes about in a society where the internet doesn’t exist.

          • baconbits9 says:

            The Matrix is just the Jesus story for people who can’t handle it if the hero doesn’t get the girl and dies.

          • Matt M says:

            Eh, you’re talking about the sequels, which I prefer to forget existed.

          • baconbits9 says:

            No, the first one.

            Neo is told Morpheus is needed to save humanity by the oracle and that Neo has to choose between himself and Morpheus at some point. Neo decides to risk his life to save Morpheus and is shot in the chest and lies dead. But then Trinity tells him she loves him (why? who cares, she’s hot and wears tight clothes) and he comes back to life and kills a bad guy.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          Nineties were Lost Decade in Japan. And that movie is totally saturated in the spirit of persistent, gloomy economic slump. How anyone can think that it captures some frantic spirit of internet boom is beyond me.

          If you can find it, I recommend extremely cheesy Galaxy Express 999 (1979), as a movie that captures the spirit of Japanese economic boom.

    • crh says:

      Space Jam

    • Matt M says:

      I don’t know about movies, but if you’re willing to go with TV, I think Home Improvement probably does best, followed closely by Seinfeld.

      • EchoChaos says:

        For animated TV, King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-head.

        • Matt M says:

          I’d pick Daria over either, although that may have crossed into early 2000s territory, I can’t quite remember…

          • EchoChaos says:

            I never watched Daria, and King of the Hill ran well into the 2000s, but it remained a very 90s show.

          • Matt M says:

            You should. Daria is probably the most intelligent and cutting modern social commentary of upper-class American teenage life I’ve ever seen.

          • Cliff says:

            Daria is definitely ’90’s, and hilarious

        • Atlas says:

          Steve Sailer had some very interesting comments on King of the Hill:

          One of the lesser known but more interesting figures in American pop culture is Mike Judge. He’s the man behind the increasingly impressive animated television series King of the Hill, which will broadcast its 200th episode in May.

          When it first premiered on Fox, King of the Hill was derided as a slow-paced imitation of the frenetically brilliant The Simpsons because it features less than half as many jokes per episode. But once King of the Hill matured, the insightful and unusual quality of its low-key humor became evident. It now must rank among the finest sit-coms in television history.

          Judge also created Beavis and Butt-Head, which was a controversial sensation on MTV in the mid-1990s. And he wrote and directed the 1999 live action comedy movie Office Space, which flopped at the box office but has since attained cult status on DVD.

          Judge, who lives in Texas, is that rarity in the entertainment business: an unabashed populist conservative. Most strikingly, he has demonstrated a deep, sympathetic interest in the welfare of the white American blue-collar man.

          Hank Hill, hero of King of the Hill, exemplifies the traditional American male virtues in an age that holds them in contempt. Much of the comedy stems from Hank (who wistfully remarks of Ronald Reagan, “I miss voting for that man”) doing battle with the pretensions of Northeastern liberalism and the rapacity of globalized corporatism. Judge says of Hank, “He’s probably the most like me of all my characters.”

          King of the Hill displays a lot of courage. For example, Hank’s neighbor Kahn Souphanousinphone Sr., an ultra-competitive and graspingly materialistic East Asian immigrant, is one of the very few nonwhites on television who is depicted as a deplorable human being.

          Of course, the show isn’t suicidally brave. It’s not a coincidence that Kahn frequently insists that he’s a (non-Hmong) Laotian. There are so few immigrants from lowland Laos in America that they lack the kind of political muscle that more numerous immigrant groups would have exerted against any sit-com that dared cross them.

          The main themes that interest Judge, who has a degree in physics and who worked for a number of years as an engineer, are IQ, class, masculinity, and their complex interplay in modern America.

          • Matt M says:

            For those unaware, Mike Judge also created insightful and culturally relevant stuff like Idiocracy and Silicon Valley as well.

            I once read a pretty long-form piece about him that claimed his primary theme was agency. It cited Beavis and Butthead as a story of what happens when people have entirely too much agency, and Milton from Office Space as an example of what can happen when people have none whatsoever.

    • EchoChaos says:

      Oooh, I thought of a few more TV series:

      Wishbone

      Batman Beyond is the perfect “what the 90s thought the future was”. My friends and I still talk about “the future of the 90s”.

      Bill Nye. Yes, he may have become a pompous jackass that nobody on any side can stand, but his 90s show was so very 90s.

    • Anteros says:

      I didn’t have a feeling it was specifically American nineties. Did it appear that way to Americans? More than other films of the time?

      I just thought it was a great film, despite having a completely wooden Keanu Reeves as it’s main character.

      ETA this was in response to EchoChaos suggesting The Matrix as the film that most captured the spirit of the American nineties. Somehow 23 comments appeared before I posted a response….

      • EchoChaos says:

        Did it appear that way to Americans?

        Doesn’t everything appear that way to Americans? 🙂

        Seriously, it very much summarized the view of the increasing “Internetization” of the 90s plus its a solid encapsulation of what 90s “cool” looked like.

        Rebelling against an authority that wants you to all be interchangeable units in a pod is very 90s.

        • Anteros says:

          Absolutely agree to it epitomizing the 90’s zeitgeist.

          I guess it didn’t seem especially American because most films I watch are American, and they mostly just seem like films to me.

          Having said that, there are things that really do seem very American e.g. House of Cards, Homeland, The West Wing. For obvious reasons, I suppose.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        Actually it was literally only film that I thought of as an answer to my own question before posting it. Yeah, it is very American.

    • cassander says:

      American Pie is up there. Also American Beauty.

      • proyas says:

        I second American Beauty as an interesting portrait of upper-middle-class life in the 90s. Everyone was superficially prosperous, but all kinds of problems lurked within most households. There was a generational values and outlook gap between the competitive and straight-laced Baby Boomer parents and their Gen X/Y children.

        • cassander says:

          Retrospectively, I think it also captures how idyllic the 90s felt. it Was a time when a movie about how terrible it was to be boringly prosperous could have mass appeal.

        • Tarpitz says:

          The kids in American Beauty are (early) millennials, born in the early 80s.

      • Randy M says:

        On skimming I thought this comment was about over rated movies. American Beauty qualifies there, imo.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          I’m the king of guy to dislike overrated movies (sometimes on general principles) but I thought American Beauty actually had stuff to offer. True, don’t think anything could have lived up to its hype at the time so yeah, it’s technically overrated, but still a solid movie.

        • Tarpitz says:

          Whereas I think the widespread revisionism around American Beauty is pretty much deranged, and it’s a legitimately great film that suffers the misfortune of being about an unhappy middle class white man played by a sex offender.

    • proyas says:

      Independence Day captured the American triumphalism and sense of military supremacy that reigned at the time.

      Fight Club captured the sense of malaise among a large minority of men who hadn’t found satisfying niches in the postmodern economy (I think this problem has only gotten worse since then).

      • Matt M says:

        Fight Club captured the sense of malaise among a large minority of men who hadn’t found satisfying niches in the postmodern economy (I think this problem has only gotten worse since then).

        I feel like this movie couldn’t be made today, because Hollywood would want nothing to do with it because it would be seen as “glorifying incels” or something.

        • EchoChaos says:

          I feel like this movie couldn’t be made today, because Hollywood would want nothing to do with it because it would be seen as “glorifying incels” or something.

          Politely disagree because Joker got made (and was amazing).

      • eyeballfrog says:

        Independence Day came immediately to mind for me as well. Also interesting to contrast its tone with the tone of the 2000s’ War of the Worlds. A sign of shifting attitudes?

        • AlesZiegler says:

          There is a whole youtube video on that.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            That was excellent. Highly recommend.

            Also I loved the part in the middle when she cut together Schumacher’s Riddler with Nolan’s Batman. I want to see a whole movie like that.

    • tossrock says:

      Lotta good suggestions in here, I’ll throw in the following:
      Hackers: Spunky young people defying The Man via technology! Rollerskating! Hack the planet!
      Tank Girl: Spunky young people defying The Man via extremely whacky hijinks! Comic book aesthetics! Ice T as a mutant kangaroo!
      Jurassic Park: Oh no, our technology has exceeded our grasp! Just the right amount of CGI!

    • LesHapablap says:

      Airheads, Brendan Fraser is a wannabe rock star who holds a radio station hostage in order to get his music played on air and make a break for himself. It was a simpler time.

    • Atlas says:

      What movies are best capturing the spirit of American nineties?

      I think Men in Black deserves a mention, for the fun goofy conspiracy vibe that Campster discusses in his review of Deus Ex. Also The American President, although obviously The West Wing would be a fuller development of Sorkin’s fictionalized version of the Clinton administration.

      Also, I like Chapo Trap House’s description of the 90s:

      The decade where everyone was like: “We’re going to solve racism by drinking Pepsi!”

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        The decade where everyone was like: “We’re going to solve racism by drinking Pepsi!”

        … so exactly like now except they were going to use Pepsi instead of Nikes?

        • Atlas says:

          But didn’t everyone (well, half…or a quarter…or something…) get really mad about that, in a way that they didn’t in the 90s? (Indeed, including Pepsi.) I think the Chapo perspective is that such gestures had a more amiable/naive aspect in the 90s.

      • Del Cotter says:

        I don’t know why they’re dinging the 90s for that, it sounds like every year from 1971 (buy the melting pot world a Coke on a hillside) to 2017 (Kendall Jenner gives Pepsi to a riot cop)

        The United Colors of Benetton ads ran from the mid to late 80s

        Maybe Atlas is right, maybe the difference is activists have moved on from talking of peace and now talk of smashing; and the ad men are out of step if they miss that.

  24. fion says:

    Just thought you all might be interested to know that our host was mentioned on the facebook page of the British TV programme QI.

    I’m afraid I don’t know how to link to an individual facebook post, but at the time of writing it’s the most recent post on this page.

    Lizardman’s Constant is an idea proposed by Scott Alexander that each poll always has about 4% weird answers. In one poll, 4% of Americans said that reptilian people do control our world and, in another 4% answered ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Have you ever been decapitated?’

    • Matt M says:

      It’s going to be really interesting to see the arguments for why local authorities must submit to the greater knowledge and power of state authorities, but also why state authorities shouldn’t submit to federal authorities.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Whichever authority is controlled by Democrats is the one that should be submitted to. I think that’s in the Constitution somewhere.

        • Dack says:

          Wha?

          Things need to be in the constitution?

          • Deiseach says:

            It is my understanding that everything is in the Constitution because penumbras emanate.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            It is my understanding that everything is in the Constitution because penumbras emanate

            D, I hereby make you an honorary American! Whether you want it or not. You understand this country too well.

      • acymetric says:

        It’s a good argument philosophically (and always has been, not just suddenly now), but legally I think it is fairly straight forward in most cases that municipalities cede a lot of authority to the state.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Yeah, I don’t know what the legal arguments would be, but philosophically I see the Federal government as something created by the states, but cities are something incorporated within the states, more beholden to their rules. States > Feds > Cities is not unreasonable.

        • Rob K says:

          Yeah it’s not even that municipalities cede a lot of authority to the states; it’s that they’re creatures of the state government. There may be constitutional or statutory limits to how the state can use its authority, but absent those the state can do what it pleases.

        • Two McMillion says:

          This is called Dillon’s rule, and it is legally the case in all but 12 (possibly 13) states.

      • CatCube says:

        It’s pretty straightforward: the federal government was notionally created by a compact of the states, so they possess whatever police powers they didn’t cede to it, while the local level governments were and are 100% state creations.

        In Michigan for example, the counties these sheriffs are in charge of were created by the state government as population increased, being created, destroyed, and subdivided as needed. City governments are also creations of the state, coming into being when the state legislature passes a bill. (I know the most about the UP, which when it first was annexed to Michigan in the aftermath of the Toledo War was one big county–I forget where the notional seat was, but it wasn’t Marquette, which is now by far the biggest city in the region and the seat of its own county. After the discovery of iron and copper and the attendant increase in population, that big county was divided into two by the legislature, then divided and rearranged more and more as people moved in.)

        • littskad says:

          Chicago’s Newberry Library has a fantastic atlas of historical county boundaries for each state in the United States. There is a list which contains the dates of each time there was a change in boundaries. You select the date, and it shows the map current after the changes on that date. You can then mouse over each division in the map and read the annotations. Michigan’s map is here.

      • The Nybbler says:

        There’s no real connection between those cases. States and the Federal government are separately sovereign and have different (but often overlapping) areas of authority as defined by the Constitution. Municipalities and other subdivisions of a state, from the Federal point of view, are entirely creatures of the state and subject to it; there’s no Federal question here.

        Whether or not Michigan sheriffs (who are elected officials, not employees) have any wiggle room to defy the Michigan governor’s decrees is a question for the Michigan state courts.

      • John Schilling says:

        It’s going to be really interesting to see the arguments for why local authorities must submit to the greater knowledge and power of state authorities, but also why state authorities shouldn’t submit to federal authorities.

        It’s basically the same argument that e.g. Yorkshire has to do what the British government says, but the British government doesn’t have to do what the EU says. Town, city, and county governments are things that State governments create to simplify their internal affairs, and their charters pretty much always require them to do what the State says unless the State is too busy to bother. The Federal government is a thing created by State governments to simplify their external affairs, and its charter says that the States don’t have to do what the Federal government says except in certain specified areas. The specifications are a bit fuzzy in places, and a lot fuzzy in other places, but the basic principle has been black-letter Constitutional law for as long as we’ve had a Constitution.

        • Matt M says:

          This (and most of the other replies) strikes me as a very legalistic sort of thinking. Which has its purpose and value, but isn’t what I’m thinking about.

          There are strong practical arguments for local government. And there are many people who disagree and prefer a larger government. But in terms of actual practicality, I’m uncertain to what extent one can simultaneously argue “Trump shouldn’t be able to boss New York around” AND “Those crazy sheriffs and local county officials need to shut up and listen to the Governor!”

          • John Schilling says:

            Without the legalistic thinking, there’s no basis for not extending the argument all the way to the Rolling 60’s Crips not having to do what Los Angeles, California, or the Feds say.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Because one sees the state governments as the real authority from which everything else derives? The several states came together and made a federal union, ceding power to it. The states incorporated the towns, allowing them to exist. All the real power flows from the state governments, not the towns nor the feds.

          • Matt M says:

            Why yes, I am an anarcho capitalist, thank you for asking!

          • Statismagician says:

            My city was founded ninety-odd years before my state existed in what was then a personal possession of the King of France; I don’t think I agree that it only exists because the state government said so.

        • Theodoric says:

          So this is sort of like how some municipalities have a policy of not arresting people for marijuana possession, regardless of what state law says? It would be a question of Michigan law if the governor can fire the sheriffs or if she would have to use state troopers (of which there only so many) to remove the great disease spreading vector of…paint cans from those counties.

          • EchoChaos says:

            It would be a question of Michigan law if the governor can fire the sheriffs

            Sheriff is (almost?) always an elected position, and therefore cannot be fired.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, and my historical understanding is that the local sheriff was elected specifically with this sort of thing in mind. The idea that he’d be accountable to the local populace and would thus not just blindly enforce whatever crazy dictates the crown came up with…

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Matt M: Funny enough, before sheriffs were elected, they were appointed agents of the English crown. The shires (sheriff = shire reeve) were pretty much the same as counties. Over in France, counties were ruled by their hereditary comte, leaving a weaker crown.

          • Matt M says:

            Indeed. That’s why the Sheriff of Nottingham is the bad guy who is all about enforcing the arbitrary dictates from the crown.

    • albatross11 says:

      If you want shutdown orders to function and be respected, you need to implement them with some common sense. A lot of places have implemented what seem to me to be dumb and overly-restrictive rules. Those rules have two bad effects:

      a. They reduce respect for the remaining rules.

      b. They impose added pain for no benefit.

      Now, the example of 9/11 tells us that we can expect a lot of “quarantine theater” in the same sense that we got a lot of security theater. Giving people lots of power and urgency doesn’t make them smarter. But if you value shutdowns (I do, FWIW), you should want them to be really focused and minimally invasive. The more pain you cause, the less tolerance the public is going to have for them.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        One thing I think is actually counterproductive is shortening the hours that stores can be open– it leads to more crowding.

        • Del Cotter says:

          And reducing the number of trains and buses that are running. It crowds people, who may by the state’s own rules be essential workers who must continue to travel to and from work, into the remaining vehicles.

          • albatross11 says:

            Are the shortened hours coming from the authorities, or from the store owners who are trying to limit pay or are short of workers willing to work during a plague?

          • Evan Þ says:

            The bus and train service reductions here around Seattle are primarily because a whole lot of drivers are calling out sick, either because they legitimately are sick or because they understandably don’t want to go out and be in close contact with a whole lot of people.

        • beleester says:

          I’ve read that grocery stores set the shorter hours because demand is a lot higher and they need some time where nobody’s in the store so they can restock.

          • acymetric says:

            I thought it was also to give them time to do some deep cleaning. At least in my area grocery stores reduced their hours before any order came from the city or state.

          • Loriot says:

            My local grocery store explicitly said it was to provide time for restocking when they cut their hours.

          • Clutzy says:

            I’ve read that grocery stores set the shorter hours because demand is a lot higher and they need some time where nobody’s in the store so they can restock.

            This seems silly. If that’s the case you’d have a siesta in the middle of the day to restock. I mean, Costco already has absurdly short normal hours: 10-8. 10-6 isn’t helping you restock any more when you are already closed more than half the day.

    • tg56 says:

      The thing that worries me is that the conversation around lock downs is so heavily dominated by discussions of what’s ‘essential’ and what’s not. It reeks of privilege / performative signaling / theater / command vs. market thinking etc. that just seems to be catnip to a particular set of chattering / political class.

      What of course should be dominating things is what actually spreads the virus. Or since, we don’t have complete scientific evidence, what’s most likely to be spreading the virus based on what we know of this and related viruses (I have, sadly, long since given up on actual, intentional policy experimentation [e.g. some areas do this, some areas do that, check the results etc.], it just seems completely incompatible with politics even though it would be really helpful in cases like this where there’s so much legitimate, not inherently political, uncertainty about the correct policy choices).

      I don’t fault initial lock downs for being overly broad or a bit panicked in their implementation (particularly in NY). But we should constantly be evaluating the tradeoffs, relaxing things that can support lots of economic activity at low risk or tightening things that are higher risk even if ‘essential’. Instead the discussion seems way too binary and in some places it shows all the signs of being a ratchet, of people trying to outdo peer cities / states.

      In northern CA the lock downs has had two strengthenings since implemented. 2.5 weeks ago (iirc) they closed parks and beaches which were previously open; and also shut down tennis courts and similar all of which were open before [excepting playgrounds]). 1.5 weeks ago they banned ‘non safety essential’ landsacping / gardening services. The latter is being widely flouted from what I can see. I’m not convinced either of these measures is at all justified, even at the time. Neither seems particularly likely to materially effect the course of the outbreak in ways that much softer measures couldn’t have addressed.

      This is all based on models that (at the time the lock downs was implemented) predicted that even with the lockdowns hospitals would be full by early April from the existing momentum and overflowing at the peak ~April 14th. Here we are and the hospitals are ghost towns in northern CA. Those models were clearly way off; the health system is not going to be overwhelmed anytime soon, now is the time to start experimenting with targeted relaxations

      • SamChevre says:

        I’d mostly strong second this, but one caveat: something that spreads the virus but is genuinely essential would make sense to keep open, but limit use as much as possible–the biggest example is probably the health-care system.

        • Matt M says:

          Right. The reason they can’t base lockdowns on “places where the virus is likely to be spread” is that there’s no way you can reasonably define that such that Wal-Mart and Kroger get to stay open.

          • tg56 says:

            Or CostCo… small local stores should be less likely to spread then the giant box stores with huge lines at mix people from the whole metro (last time was past the CostCo there must have been several hundred people waiting in line). Though prob. harder to enforce risk reducing things like mask wearing etc. at many small store then fewer large ones.

        • tg56 says:

          You’ve got to keep it open (to some degree), but open and shut aren’t the only choices. It’s at least certainly where we should be focusing our effort / policy fine tuning.

        • Randy M says:

          Agreed with both of you. We want to open up essential services–those that people will die without, those that enable those, etc.–and all others that are safe.

          Of course, the latter category can shift as behavior changes. Like hiking trails being closed as people out of work and with few other venues started using them more.

          • tg56 says:

            Even then, how big of risk are hiking trails? My guess outdoor spread in passing risk is pretty low and this doesn’t have any material impact on the course of the spread, but even assuming there’s enough risk to worry about there, what about making loops one way, blocking off some parking to limit total occupancy or otherwise limiting entry, a reservation system, requiring masks, saying only those 50 and younger allowed etc.. There are lot of options, but nope, it’s not ‘essential’ bring out the ban hammer.

          • Randy M says:

            I agree with you too, there was probably a better example.
            Though the last time I went to Redwood national park, the popular hiking trails looked like Walmart check out lines, this could be kept open with some reasonable restrictions like you suggest.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Closing tennis courts and lawn services reeks of privilege?

        • tg56 says:

          Yes? Though perhaps more performative on the first (closing golf courses would be a more clearly performative example). The people who work landscaping usually aren’t considered all that privileged, many are self-employed or seasonal or off the books or of questionable immigration status etc. that probably makes navigating unemployment and other current remediations challenging. They tend to work at most in small groups, mostly outside, often already wearing masks sometimes; it seems like some softer recommendations could have been an alternative unless there’s some big outbreak among gardeners no one’s reporting on.

          From the top of the nearby hill I can see dozens of private tennis courts and way more pools (public pools are also [quite reasonably] shutdown) as well as number of small putting greens. The elite tend to have options…

          Travel restrictions would be an example of a non-performative (they very likely help limit / slow spread) mostly elite affecting restriction, so this is not some blanket elites = performative kind of argument.

          • albatross11 says:

            Outdoor activities where you keep 2+ meters away from everyone else are probably about the least likely way to catch the virus. Telling people not to go jog on the beach/in the park but letting them crowd into closed-up stores to do their shopping is nuts.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Given that all those choir members got sick, I’m not sure that we know that jogging 6 feet behind someone is all that safe. Lots of air being moved, from an to deep places in the lungs.

            I’m not saying we know that it isn’t safe, but we can’t say we know it’s the least likely way to catch the virus.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The choir members were indoors and sitting relatively close to each other (1 foot between chairs, and no effort mentioned to space out where people were sitting).

            I get the worry about deep breathing. I wear a mask on my bike rides. But being outdoors leads to significant dispersal of everything. One of the cruise ships (I forget which) went under quarantine but still had people regularly sitting on balconies to talk with people in neighboring cabins. Cases didn’t explode there. (I hope some epidemiologists are studying the cabin numbers of people who were sick.)

          • tg56 says:

            “I’m not saying we know that it isn’t safe, but we can’t say we know it’s the least likely way to catch the virus.”

            Even if it’s not the least likely way to catch the virus it’s stil a cost / benefit comparison (a binary essential it’s open no matter what the risk [and surprisingly little attention paid to mitigations of that risk, I haven’t seen the grocery clerks wearing masks yet]; not essential it’s closed if there’s any risk is exactly what I’m worried about). The criteria can’t be that no one ever catches it from bumping into someone at a park. Maybe require masks, maybe limit total occupancy, ban jogging/running even. If the virus spreads in any significant way, outdoors, in sunlight, with people mostly keeping 6ft apart and wearing masks then I’ll churn in my Bayesian card.

          • tg56 says:

            I’ve also been trying to convince my somewhat elderly father in law to stop going to the grocery store so often (I’ve been once in the last month, he seems to be going every other day). I think he’s bored and grocery store is one of the only things still open, he often hits up more then one looking for particular things / things in short stock (he’s been doing a lot of cooking). He wears a mask, but still. If the golf courses were open in some fashion or another he’d be doing that instead.

          • Randy M says:

            I haven’t seen the grocery clerks wearing masks yet

            The grocery store nearest me won’t let anyone in without a mask and the clerks are as well.

          • tg56 says:

            The grocery store nearest me won’t let anyone in without a mask and the clerks are as well.

            A promising sign! Last time I was at the local grocery they weren’t (~1.5 weeks ago) but I haven’t been since. Though that was still 3 weeks into the lockdown…

          • Beck says:

            The grocery store nearest me won’t let anyone in without a mask and the clerks are as well.

            Grocery stores here seem to reflect how seriously their customers are taking distancing. I’ve been ranking on a scale from Piggly Wiggly (not a single person other than us wearing a mask in the store) to Whole Foods (all customers and employees wearing masks).

          • Randy M says:

            @Beck
            Likely true. For the record, I was referring to a Vons in Orange County, CA. They also had 6 foot waiting spaces taped out and one way signs on all the narrow isles. On the up side, I wasn’t ever close to anyone, on the down side I was like a rat navigating a maze trying to pick up a few things in my normal scattershot manner.

  25. Loriot says:

    A profile of Vermont Governor Scott, a Republican whose coronavirus response was praised even by his Democratic challenger.

    This seems relevant to previous discussions about which people were handling things well. Luckily not everyone is Trump or DeSantis.

    • EchoChaos says:

      This is fascinating to me because he doesn’t seem to have been dramatically ahead of either the other states or Federal response. His reaction came on the 13th of March, which is the same day that Trump cut travel to Europe.

      Vermont’s per capita death rate is 5 per 100,000, higher than Florida’s 3, comparable to Georgia, another criticized state. This is, of course, partially just because they’re small, but as far as I can tell he isn’t dramatically better or worse than any other state.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      What’s wrong with DeSantis? I thought Florida was doing fine and had things under control, with their peak over weeks ago…

      • broblawsky says:

        Most likely, Florida is just getting started.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          How do you figure? Here’s the Florida COVID-19 dashboard. It looks like they peaked two weeks ago and are steadily declining in new cases per day and deaths per day.

          • broblawsky says:

            I’m operating off of the U. Wash. IHME projections, which were very accurate in the case of NYC. They predict peak deaths per day won’t be hit until early May.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @broblawsky

            That model is from April 12th, it looks like, since it has partial data from that day and projections past there.

            On April 11th it has 48 deaths while the Florida official number has only 23. I don’t know why that difference. On April 12th it has 23 deaths, slightly below the official number of 32. Between those two days it has slightly more than reality, but not disturbingly so.

            On April 13th it predicted 67 deaths with a best case value of 24 and a worst case of 154. Florida actually had 18. On April 14th, it predicted 20-156 deaths. Florida actually had 6, although it looks like this is a partial day.

          • meh says:

            @EchoChaos
            I dont know if it is the case here, but ive seen some places using date of death, and others using date of onset, making it confusing to compare

          • broblawsky says:

            We’ll see what happens, I guess. I’m not optimistic.

          • meh says:

            Solved. Floridas dashboard is only showing deaths of florida residents. Total deaths in florida is currently at highest.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @meh

            Thanks for that. Where did you see that so I can get a more accurate set of data?

          • meh says:

            https://covidtracking.com/data/state/florida

            they have info for all states, and you can download in csv

          • EchoChaos says:

            @meh

            Thanks! Looking at that, it seems like new cases are still running at a rough plateau, which may be a testing artifact. Their highest day was over a week ago on April 7th, but they aren’t far off that peak.

            I wish I knew what “non-residents” meant, because it could be a totally valid thing to show (e.g. no community spread because infected folks from NYC are flying down) or just goosing their numbers.

            Deaths are rising, as they would even if they had hit a peak, since deaths lag. But I wonder if it’s a reporting lag for deaths from the weekend. You see that every week where fewer die on the weekend. Only 27 and 18 deaths on the 12th and 13th.

            I appreciate the better knowledge on the data.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m operating off of the U. Wash. IHME projections, which were very accurate in the case of NYC.

            Certainly they were not, unless you count the revisions made to the model after the data had come in. Here’s an old NYS prediction of theirs.

          • Garrett says:

            Slightly different data, but here is PA’s hourly-updated per-county dashboard showing number of cases, ICU beds, etc.

            It also shows that even in the hard-hit counties we have a lot of ICU capacity to spare.

          • meh says:

            @broblawsky
            @EchoChaos

            fyi, the UWash IHME site seems to have had a recent update which does put Florida past its peak

            https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/florida

          • EchoChaos says:

            @meh

            Thanks. I am glad my skepticism of models has been vindicated.

            DeSantis definitely looks much better now.

          • littskad says:

            @EchoChaos
            I agree with you about DeSantis. I live in Florida, and the only reason I voted for him in 2018 is because the Democratic nominee was Andrew Gillum, who is absolutely awful. I have been very pleasantly surprised with how he has handled things lately, since he has avoided becoming a tin-pot dictator, despite enormous pressure to do so. I grew up in Michigan and have a lot of family still there, so I’ve become very aware of what the possible alternatives can be. If there were a gubernatorial election this year, I would more than happily vote for him again.

          • Aapje says:

            @Garrett

            In my country, we peaked at ICU beds used, above the regularly available number of beds. We fortunately increased the number of beds, though.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Why would you think this? Florida has been off its peak of new cases for over a week. They peaked at 1300 on 4/2 and hasn’t had a higher day since.

          Deaths will obviously lag new cases, but their deaths peaked on 4/5.

          Edit: Ninjaed by @Conrad Honcho

  26. baconbits9 says:

    Market watching: I would say that there is about a 20-30% chance over the next week that we start a major down leg in the markets. I wouldn’t expect it to be as violent as the previous drop but this one would be heading toward 2400 on the S&P if it happens, I put a small short position on yesterday that expires May 1st, otherwise I have no equity exposure, and am 100% bonds, gold, GLD (including a small call option for September) and cash.

    • Matt M says:

      I just got access to enable options trading on my discretionary brokerage account, and deposited some money in it for the express purposes of buying some SPY puts. Haven’t actually bought any yet – but I fully agree with your premise.

      • baconbits9 says:

        If you have any questions about what I have learned (hopefully a lot, maybe nothing) in the last few months with options I’m happy to give my thoughts.

        • Matt M says:

          I’ve watched some Youtube videos and I think I’ve got it mostly figured out.

          My biggest concern is doing something that accidentally triggers the “leverage” portion and leaves me on the hook having to actually buy 100 shares of SPY. But my understanding is so long as I make a conscious effort to sell my option contract before the strike date, that won’t happen (for buying puts/calls, obviously it’s different if you’re writing them).

          Basically if I buy a call/put and sell it before the strike date, my maximum risk exposure is the value of the contract itself (*100).

          • baconbits9 says:

            You have the basics right, but the difficult part of buying calls/puts is figuring out your profit taking points. Instead of just needing a decision on the price of the underlying instrument you have a combination of price/time/volatility that is very different from regular stock owning. Beyond that when you make a big win in an options position the implied return on a similar sized move drop a massive amount. Figuring out risk/return for options in mid stream is really hard and very easy to get over enthusiastic about.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Basically it is very easy to reverse martingale yourself with options.

          • Matt M says:

            My current plan is something like “Buy an SPY put priced ~10% below the current price.”

            My investment thesis is that by the time it expires, SPY will be way below this level. I don’t really have a specific figure of how much below in mind. But assuming my general thesis is correct, wouldn’t “buy this put and sell it the day before expiration for whatever it’s worth then” be a decent strategy?

          • baconbits9 says:

            My current plan is something like “Buy an SPY put priced ~10% below the current price.”

            My investment thesis is that by the time it expires, SPY will be way below this level. I don’t really have a specific figure of how much below in mind. But assuming my general thesis is correct, wouldn’t “buy this put and sell it the day before expiration for whatever it’s worth then” be a decent strategy?

            Options are currently expensive. Current 10% ootm puts for May 1st expiry are ~$2.10, so at expiry you would need SPY down 11% between now and May 1st (11.25 trading days) to break even. To buy a month more time at the same strike price you are paying almost 3x, at $6.00 a contract so you need the SPY to go down 12.5% by May 9th to break even*. For mid July puts, buying you 2 months of time, prices are ~$11 for that put, so you need a ~15% drop from here to be break even at expiry. Oh, and if you buy in now and the market moves up 3% before it rolls over you then need a 17-18% drop from that peak to be break even for the July puts. You could easily be dead on about the size of the drop and buy have a short term bounce right after you buy or miss your timing of when most of the decline happens by a couple of days (I had an SPY put expire on Feb 21st ootm and worthless that would have doubled my initial purchase price if I had bought one that expired on the 25th, and quadrupled if it was a 28th expiry).

            Then there is the question of when to sell. Say you bought $1,000 of puts that expire on May 1st, and tomorrow they have increased by 50% what are you doing? When you sell your first load of options how will you determine if you are going to roll that over into more puts? What is the largest decision in dollar terms you have every made in your life? I had experience with this before options, I played poker professionally in the early to mid 2000s and had a hand where I literally had to make a decision worth (iirc the largest) $15,000 and the last 6 weeks of my options were more stressful than any poker hand I ever played (without any actual action being worth that much on its own, and really adjusted for EV probably not worth 1/4 on its own).

            *for all of these a drop of 5% tomorrow would put them dramatically up, but a drop of 5% the day before expiration and flat prior to that would put them down, I’m just using price at expiration for simplicity.

          • Matt M says:

            Eh, I see all your points… I’m not looking to become a professional options trader or anything. Just to place a few bets with totally discretionary savings that I can afford to lose. My biggest concern is just making sure I fully understand what my maximum exposure is.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Eh, I see all your points… I’m not looking to become a professional options trader or anything. Just to place a few bets with totally discretionary savings that I can afford to los

            You still want to have a shot at winning a decent chunk of money right?

            To do this you need, at a bare minimum, to understand

            1. How to size in your positions
            2. How to determine if your gains are from a price change or a vol change
            Edit
            3. What a reverse Martingale is.

    • anon-e-moose says:

      I would put it closer to 50/50 personally. 2400 is a fine level and a second wave would be textbook, which is my primary reason for having 50% uncertainty. It’s a little too clean, almost.

      • baconbits9 says:

        50/50 is to high for me because

        1. My time frame was only over a week, which is pretty short for calling a reversal, plenty of opportunity to go sideways for more than 4 more trading days.

        2. The Fed at any time could announce another measure, they have been very aggressive in both timing and size and any announcement could push the decline back by a week or easily.

        • anon-e-moose says:

          Oh I see your time frame now. Yes too short to confirm a major reversal. 4/9’s spinning top was the nail in the coffin in my opinion.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Added a small short position on QQQ to hold over the weekend.

          • Matt M says:

            What’s the logic behind shorting QQQ rather than SPY or something like that?

            Isn’t tech better positioned to weather this storm than non-tech?

          • baconbits9 says:

            I have a short on QQQ and SPY, so its not like I am taking one over the other.

            Isn’t tech better positioned to weather this storm than non-tech?

            Tech has weathered the first leg of the storm better, but parts of it are vulnerable to supply chain problems and long term UE. When there is a second leg down off the bounce it is often driven by the stocks that handled the first leg down well, and the tech bounce has made the put options somewhat cheaper than SPY options compared to the downside. If SPY broke its 222 range there is some technical (theoretical) support at 218, and then 209, and if QQQ broke its 170 low it is 156 so if there is a retest and break crash then QQQ could accelerate down in that zone faster than SPY.

        • acymetric says:

          Tech has weathered the first leg of the storm better, but parts of it are vulnerable to supply chain problems and long term UE.

          I didn’t think Uber Eats was that disruptive. 😉

  27. proyas says:

    When did clothes and shoes get cheap enough for average people to afford to buy whole wardrobes of them?

    In cave man times, the average person had only one loincloth. In cold climates, maybe it was one, big rag wrapped around the body.

    The next era in history I know anything about is the European Dark Ages, when the average person had two outfits: a daily work outfit worn six days a week, and one nice outfit worn on Sundays to church.

    By the early 20th century, the average person in a Western country had a different change of clothes for each day of the week. Today, clothes are so cheap that even the poorest humans on Earth have multiple outfits and can even afford to throw away clothes that are still serviceable. There is such a glut of clothing that people give away for free to charities like Goodwill that those companies send large amounts of them to landfills.

    When did we hit the inflection point between one or two outfits per average person to three, four, five, etc.?

    • tgb says:

      Good question. I recall being amazed when I saw the BBC’s wonderful “Jeeves and Wooster” series , taking place in the 1910s, and seeing that Wooster’s shirts had exchangeable collars, so as to keep them fresh and wearable for multiple days. Wooster was aristocratic, so his shirts were certainly more expensive than the common man’s, but so were his means.

    • Statismagician says:

      Oh, I think I actually know the answer to this – I believe I mentioned finding some of my great-grandfather’s journals recently. He talks about clothes pretty extensively; at least in the rural southern US, the change came in the late 40s/early 50s. Apparently cheap cloth + relatively inexpensive sewing machines becoming much more reliable was the key.

      • EchoChaos says:

        He talks about clothes pretty extensively; at least in the rural southern US, the change came in the late 40s/early 50s.

        Could this have been a result of war industry that had to make millions of uniforms with millions of spares suddenly shifting to civilian work?

        That parses pretty accurately to me.

        • Statismagician says:

          Almost certainly, I’d imagine. I think a lot of people got more comfortable working with machinery, too, either in war production or in the military.

  28. Edward Scizorhands says:

    What are countries without single-payer health care [1] doing to keep their citizens’ health needs covered during this massive economic shock?

    [1] This is most countries.

    • FLWAB says:

      (Somewhat with tongue in cheek) Why is it the business of any country to ensure their citizens health needs are covered?

      • Vitor says:

        One answer: for ethical reasons, you have to help people who are in acute distress, whether or not they have paid to cover their health needs. Given this, health services work better when they’re financed collectively.

        Another answer: you have good health until suddenly you don’t. Not paying in advance for your health needs is almost always a bad idea, but this only becomes obvious in hindsight. In situations like these (see also smoking), the government steps in and incentivizes people to do “the right thing”, with varying levels of force.

        Yet another answer: because people repeatedly state their collective preference for everyone to have their health needs covered (for reasons of dignity, feeling good about ourselves, etc). In a democracy, this results in corresponding policies being implemented.

        ETA: why is it the business of any country to do anything?

        • FLWAB says:

          Yet another answer: because people repeatedly state their collective preference for everyone to have their heal