Linky Friday #57


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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277 Responses

  1. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    FH3: I like this. The Democrats tried to hide the full cost of Obamacare by imposing a mandate rather than funding health insurance for low-wage workers through taxes. But when the government forces you to spend money on something, that’s functionally equivalent to taxing and spending. We don’t expect businesses to hide the cost of sales taxes, so why should they hide the cost of this tax? Or any other tax, for that matter?

    I’d like to see all businesses break it out like this for all taxes.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I could see your point if it was customary for other kinds of taxes to be passed through, too. The restaurant has a business license and property taxes and utility taxes and so on. Supplies bought retail carry sales taxes (a smart business owner would only do this in a pinch, I’d hope.)

      Alsotoo unlike those other taxes, Obamacare tax money is easily traceable in the form of a tangible benefit to specific individuals, the employees, which makes publicizing the extra cost seem like a dick move to me. The owner wouldn’t have a separate line item of a nickel per ticket labelled “Glenda’s raise,” so why should he have a line item of a nickel per ticket labelled “Glenda’s health insurance”?Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        It is a dick move, but so is raising taxes.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I’m saying it should be customary for all those taxes. But it’s a start.

        Obamacare tax money is easily traceable in the form of a tangible benefit to specific individuals

        I suspect that responses to this will be divided between “Thanks, Obama!” and “How dare he blame Obama for raising prices!” I can’t see anyone actually blaming the wait staff for this.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I think you’re going to have to do a bit more to demonstrate that raising taxes is inherently a dick move.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “I think you’re going to have to do a bit more to demonstrate that raising taxes is inherently a dick move.”


      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “I could see your point if it was customary for other kinds of taxes to be passed through, too.”

        It may not be customary in the restaurant industry, but it’s plenty common in other businesses. I don’t see what’s wrong with being innovative in this manner.Report

      • Yeah, it’s a total dick move, and the owner is total liar for claiming it’s not political.

        Here’s my question, though, is this even legal? Can restaurants (or any business) suddenly add an extra (non-government-mandated) charge to a bill if they haven’t notified the customer beforehand (the article implies that customers aren’t forewarned, but that may just be sensationalist writing)? I’m pretty sure in Canada, that’d be illegal.

        If only there was a California lawyer around here…Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        If only I knew some California lawyers.

        But yeah, it seems legal to me. Menus don’t have to indicate in any sort of prominent way that sales tax will be a surcharge, and many omit this entirely, but this is a common expectation and I’d have an even more critical attitude of someone filing a lawsuit looking to get out of paying sales tax on a restaurant tab than I would be of someone filing a lawsuit about Taco Bell’s beef containing ingredients that weren’t butchered off a dead cow.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        One of the commenters at the site asks whether the menu, or posted signs, or the waitpeople inform customers about the 3% surcharge in advance, or if it simply shows up on the bill. That seems like a reasonable question, and I wonder if failure to post would fall into some false advertising problem. IIRC, here in Colorado intentionally posting pre-tax prices that are too low is illegal.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I think you’re going to have to do a bit more to demonstrate that raising taxes is inherently a dick move.

        What Kolohoe said. Promising not to raise taxes and then raising taxes anyway and attempting to conceal it by calling it something other than a tax is a dick move. Is it a government takeover of the economy by socialist Kenyan secret Muslim? No, but it’s definitely a dick move. Of course, politicians are dicks, so that’s what they do.

        On a deeper level, however, I shouldn’t have to demonstrate anything. Of course, raising taxes is a dick move. When was the last time that you ever heard anyone expressing joy at a tax increases. Are taxes necessary? Sure, but they’re also a coercive transfer of wealth by people with guns backed by the threat of prosecution and imprisonment.

        And on this thread you’ve got people who are reluctant to call raising taxes, after a promise not to, a dick move, but are ready to call in the guys with guns to come get a restaurant owner who dared to raise his prices and make a political statement. Some of you have a very interesting relationship with authority.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        For some reason, I’m reminded of Ticketmaster.

        What was the decision with regards to all of their “fees” and “service charges”?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Tickets are an interesting one. Sometimes no matter how you buy them, the method is sufficiently convenient as to require a convenience fee. I guess having the ticket in the first place is convenient.

        I remember several years ago when I rented a UHaul for $20, there was literally no way that I could complete the transaction by paying less than $60 no matter what I was using the truck for. There seemed something wrong about that. I haven’t had to deal with the “gas price minimum of $20” in a long time since, though. (Insurance was also mandatory, and there were various taxes and such.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Is anybody happy about their rent going up? So all landlords are dicks too. See also grocery stores, movie theaters, and candy shops.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        If I was a server leaving there on the last day, I might add a 1% surcharge for “Bill Chait’s ivory backscratcher.”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        j r,

        Some of you have a very interesting relationship with authority.

        I take it this is a piece of your larger critique of liberals, one which analyzes liberal’s internal mental states and thought processes and decision-making by presupposing a particular theory (call it L!) of what constitutes rational behavior and justified belief. Eg, since according to L most of the beliefs (or an important subset of beliefs) liberals hold are necessarily false, an account of why they hold those beliefs is required, which L conveniently provides: those false beliefs are accounted for in terms of signalling certain cultural values, or a socioeconomic status, or to an emotional commitment to team membership and team identification, and so on.

        I don’t know how you think about that project, but it seems to me that it’s an example of a theory that cannot be defeated by any appeal to evidence, and is therefore not an empirical theory. Ie., no matter what a liberal might offer as a justification for a specific belief, you’ve already determined that that belief is false (it’s falsity follows from L) and analyze the liberal’s justification for that belief – circularly – as an expression of irrationality that can only be accounted for in terms of signalling, or etc.

        Isn’t that just a big fat circle?Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        I wonder who this owner thinks is going to be amused/angered/ persuaded by this.

        Would anyone here be outraged, simply outraged, that your breakfast plate of eggs and toast goes from $10.00 to $10.30, and in return you know the waitress and cooks are covered by health insurance?Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Top 2 conservative complaints:
        2 Nothing is paid for, all D’s do is borrow and borrow. They give FREE stuff away.
        1 D’s tax people to pay for things. Stuff costs money, how dare they.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        I don’t think part-time wait staff qualify as middle class jobs.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        I don’t have any larger critique of liberals. I do have a larger critique of progressives, which is basically that progressives are liberals who have forgotten to be wary of authority. It’s similar to the critique that I have of conservatives, which is that you cannot use the force of law to enforce traditional social norms and pretend to be about individual liberty. And it is similar to the critique that I have of hard libertarians, which is that you have to deal with the empirical reality of what you advocate and stop pretending that you can justify everything through a priori deductive reasoning.

        All of those points of view are perfectly rational, but you can’t have your cake and eat it as well, at least not if you hope to engage in honest and meaningful conversation. And that is what I find odd about this thread. The administration won. This guy has to pay more taxes (which generally means that his customers have to pay higher prices) and all he can do to respond is throw up a figurative middle finger. And somehow winning is not enough for some people. No they want to find a way to force this guy to put down his finger or use the force of law to hassle him into full submission. Why? What threat does his dissent pose?

        By the way, this isn’t part of any larger red team-blue team fight. I’m not all that interested in playing for either team. I just want the teams to fully own up to the full measure of what their positions entail and stop cherry-picking the good stuff and sweeping all the less appealing stuff under the rug.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        which is that you cannot use the force of law to enforce traditional social norms and pretend to be about individual liberty

        Also that you cannot use the force of law to enforce traditional social norms and then start screaming about liberty the second you’re out of power and the new folks in power use your established mechanisms to start enforcing new and improved social norms. Good god, that drives me up the wall.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I agree that in this instance, saying taxes wouldn’t be raised and then raising them and using verbal jujitsu to argue otherwise was a dick move. I read your initial comment as saying that any and all tax raises are inherently a dick move, which I disagree with. Some are, some aren’t.

        With regards to pricing transparency, I always wonder about those bars and restaurants that don’t list prices on the menu. If a customer doesn’t ask the price but orders any way, are they legally binding themselves to pay whatever the restaurant charges? I usually make a point to ask because I’m anal like that. Some places try to make you feel uncouth for doing so (I believe Russ wrote about a children’s clothing store with such a practice), but I ignore this pressure because I know that social pressure doesn’t make for much of a legal argument.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I think your 1:04PM comment is a great one. You outline much of what bothers me in general about our current state of political affairs.

        W/r/t this specific situation, my issues are this:
        A) Lack of transparency. Generally speaking, I think transparency is hugely important when it comes to contracts. If you tell me this cheeseburger costs $7 and I order it because $7 seems like a good price but then the bill comes and you’re charging me $10, I have an issue with that. So, if this guy wants to do it, so be it, but he should need to tell his customers in advance. And I would argue the same thing regardless of the political posturing that might be behind the move. I’m a big “truth in labeling” believer.
        B) I’m skeptical that this guy actually did the math to account for what his costs will be and how this tax will help him meet them. I have the sense that this was a political move more than a practical one. Which is fine: he is fully entitled to make just such a political statement. But arguing that it was purely a financial decision strains credulity when health care costs are relatively fixed and not related to how much food he sells, thus a 3% surcharge seems poorly designed to account for the costs. Again, if he wants to make a political statement, I have no bones with that. But if he wants to make a political statement but pretend it isn’t a political statement, I’m going to call BS on that.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Also that you cannot use the force of law to enforce traditional social norms and then start screaming about liberty the second you’re out of power and the new folks in power use your established mechanisms to start enforcing new and improved social norms.

        Why can’t a person do that? I’m not defending them here, but it seems perfectly consistent for a person to say they want to use the force of government to implement policy X, but that it’s wrong to use that force to implement Y. The justification is based on the norms they want to advance, yes?, not some principle about the use of government force. The latter is your view of things, not theirs, no?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I always wonder about those bars and restaurants that don’t list prices on the menu.

        There is a new hippie pinko restaurant downtown that doesn’t have prices at all. Pay what you are inclined to pay. (They advertise the average payment made “last month” on top of the menu. Last time I went, it was around $12.50.)

        This is, of course, a very different kind of restaurant than the one (I presume) you’re speaking about but I see that any legislation that is likely to hammer the kind you’re talking about as likely to come down on the local hippie pinkos.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Why can’t a person do that?

        They can do whatever they want.

        I’m not defending them here, but it seems perfectly consistent for a person to say they want to use the force of government to implement policy X, but that it’s wrong to use that force to implement Y. The justification is based on the norms they want to advance, yes?, not some principle about the use of government force. The latter is your view of things, not theirs, no?

        I don’t understand how they can argue that they want to use the force of government to implement policy X (what marriages the government should recognize, say) but when the new people sit in power and say “We are implementing policy Y” (what marriages the government will now recognize, say), and they start screaming about liberty?

        I don’t understand how someone might see that as perfectly consistent.

        It’s picking up a convenient club, to be abandoned the moment they once again regain power.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I think it depends on what they are arguing for. You are right that it is hypocritical to first argue that the government should stay out of marriage and then argue that the government can dictate what is and is not a marriage. But it is not necessarily hypocritical to argue that the government should be involved in X and not involved in Y if X and Y are sufficiently different as to justify a different governmental response. I assume that isn’t what you are talking about, though. You are talking about someone saying, “Don’t let the government tell me what to do! Wait, my people are empower? Alright, let’s start telling folks what to do!”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I don’t understand how someone might see that as perfectly consistent.

        Well, I thought I just gave a perfectly clear account of that, one which you don’t understand. Hmmm. I think I see the problem here.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        But it is not necessarily hypocritical to argue that the government should be involved in X and not involved in Y if X and Y are sufficiently different as to justify a different governmental response.

        Well, I admit to finding myself confused as to who you’d be arguing against by saying this.

        It’s easy to see how one could not be a hypocrite if one says “I think that the government shouldn’t be involved in recognition of marriage” but also “I think that it’s important that the government should be involved in such things as roads”.

        The issue that, as I said, drove me nuts is when people argue for regulation of an area while they are in power and, once out of power, scream about liberty when the regulations change.

        Stillwater, you even point out: The justification is based on the norms they want to advance, yes?, not some principle about the use of government force.

        When someone else is in charge of enforcing different norms, the appeals made to why this should not be are not made to the norms they want to advance but to Liberty.

        When they are in power, they appeal to the norms. When they are out, they appeal to something else. (Here’s an additional suspicion: if back in power and back enforcing their own chosen norms, they’d dismiss appeals to liberty.)

        Again, my limitation is that I’m not seeing how this is perfectly consistent.

        I applaud your ability to do so.Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        Just a question… Isn’t this similar in form to the odd employee pension surcharge added on to tabs for food at the SFO airport terminal?

        Every time I pay it I scratch my head and wonder why they didn’t just bury it like everything else.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I think I misunderstood @stillwater as well. I thought he was saying what I was saying… that one could argue with logical consistency that the government should concern itself with roads but not with marriage. I agree with you that it is infuriating when someone says it is okay for a liberal/conservative government to enforce marriage norms but not okay with a conservative/liberal government enforcing marriage norms. Either the government should be or should not be in the marriage business; can’t have it both ways.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Kazzy and Jaybird,

        Either the government should be or should not be in the marriage business; can’t have it both ways.

        I don’t mean to hammer on this to the point of stoopidity, but I have to ask Kazzy: Why? Why can’t a person consistently say that government ought to be in the marriage business precisely to the extent that it furthers their values? There is no inconsistency in saying that government ought to permit (the individual, subjectively determined value of) traditional marriage and ought to prohibit (the individual, subjectively determined
        value opposing) gay marriage. The idea that it’s inconsistent presupposes (or question-beggingly attributes) to such a person the belief that there’s a general principle being employed here, one that you guys think is a necessary condition for policy formation. But there needn’t be, and in lots of important political issues there isn’t. People want government to promote and protect their favored values, and prohibit/prevent values they oppose. I see no contradiction in any of that.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        There is no inconsistency in saying that government ought to permit (the individual, subjectively determined value of) traditional marriage and ought to prohibit (the individual, subjectively determined
        value opposing) gay marriage.

        You’re leaving something out.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Yeah, the part where you climb into people’s heads and do their thinking for them. I think I’m justified in leaving *that* part out.

        Look, if you know anything about the arguments I’ve made on this site, I use reductios and inconsistency all the time when discussing people’s views. But it’s based on the views they articulate, not presupposing anything about the logic they’re employing or attributing to them any thought processes or any of that stuff. Sometimes people say P and follow it up with not-P. C! QED, as far as it goes.

        I also know that a sophisticated thinker, like Pinky (since I’ve been having some discussions with him lately that follow along precisely these lines) will find ways to answer my assertion of “P and -P” with enough nuance that from his pov, there is no inconsistency. What do I do then? Vootstomp my conviction that he’s being inconsistent? That seems like a category mistake, since an internal inconsistency in a thought process is only a relevant criticism if the person doing the thinking recognizes it as one.

        I mean, who am I to tell Pinky (sorry to keep using your name here, but I do so with all do respect, and I mean it) that he’s inconsistent? What the hell do I know that he doesn’t such that I can make that judgment of his views stick without begging the question against him?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Stillwater, I’m pretty sure that I’ve only mentioned what they’ve made appeals to.

        As for Pinky, I’m sure that I’d try to make sure that I’d do my best to represent his argument in a way that he’d agree that I was representing it fairly before I started berating him for having the wrong one.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I’m sure that I’d try to make sure that I’d do my best to represent his argument in a way that he’d agree that I was representing it fairly before I started berating him for having the wrong one.

        And then you let the berating commence? Or are you implying that I’m berating him? I can’t really tell from this comment since it has just a tinge of passive-aggressiveness in it. I also get the feeling that you’re not really understanding the point being made at all, but maybe that’s on me.

        One other thing: the above seems pretty inconsistent with how you argue with liberals for example, where you consistently attribute to them arguments, thought processes and motivations that aren’t expressed by their words. Hence, the coinage of the term “liberal decoder ring”. Oh well.

        Maybe you’re more charitable with conservatives.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        The fact that we’re using one of my complaints about conservatives as grounds for a complaint about how unfair I am to liberals tells me that it might be time to start the weekend.

        Hope y’all have a good one!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Classic Jaybird. It’s all about how people don’t understand what you’re saying, or what you’re saying about what they’re saying, or ever increasing meta-cycles of abstraction. What it never is, tho, is the ground-level topic at hand, which in this case is you’re assertion that people holding various beliefs are inconsistent. I think they aren’t, you think they are. I think you only believe that because you view their beliefs thru a filter which they don’t view them from, you deny that. Yet, you continue to misrepresent/misunderstand my own arguments, and the only reason for why you would do that – given a principle of charity about your intellectual abilities – is that you cannot help but interpret what I’m writing thru a prism of attributed motivations, thought processes and beliefs rather than merely reading the words as they’re are written.

        Which was my initial point. So thanks for making it.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:


        The “liberty” grounds is the important part.

        “In this particular sphere, I think the government should be allowed to enforce X on the grounds of Principle N” is one thing.

        “In this same sphere, I think the government should not be allowed to enforce Y on the grounds of that Principle N” is consistent.

        “In this same sphere,I think the government should not be allowed to enforce Y on the grounds of Liberty!” is inconsistent with the first.

        The government can be involved in Sphere Alpha or not. If it’s not allowed to be involved in Sphere Alpha because of Liberty, then it’s not allowed to be there.

        Principle N either trumps Liberty or it doesn’t. If it does, then you don’t need to bring Liberty into the discussion. If it doesn’t, then you can’t appeal to Liberty.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Patrick, who talks like that? No one formulates or expresses their views like that. It begs all the questions in play by attributing a specific type of principle to people, one which they might not hold. I mean, I could construct and attribute a trivial inconsistency to conservatives: they think liberty (religious) permits them to restrict gay’s liberty (marriage). C! QED. Why even talk about this anymore since it’s been clearly demonstrated that (some) conservatives are irrational!

        Well, fact is, conservatives don’t think of themselves as irrational in promoting the use of state power to enforce traditional marriage and using it to restrict gay marriage. They think it’s perfectly rational and that it follows from their values.

        Does that make it rational, tho? By what standard? If I think their principles ought to be grounded in self-evidence truths on analogy with an axiomatic system, I might say that on analysis they’re beliefs are irrational. But that judgment assumes that analogy to a highly formal model is the appropriate metric to determine consistency and rationality (and that it’s possible to do so).

        Another metric is the law, where it appears that they’re advocating for a legal inconsistency: they want protections of liberty to their group while they’re advocating for restricting the liberties of some other group, and the law increasingly clearly views that as a big contradiction when it comes to gay marriage. But they don’t look at it that way, nor do they have to look at it that way: they think the law is wrong.

        I mean, I should make it clear that I’m not arguing that certain sets of beliefs aren’t inconsistent according to a specific standard or type of analysis. I’m arguing that attributing inconsistency to people’s political beliefs usually requires imposing on them a type of analysis. Rarely – I mean, reallyreally rarely – do people say P and not-P in the same context. Those rare examples – I can’t think of one of the top of my head – are clear instances of inconsistency. But in almost every context where a contradiction is being attributed it seems to me there’s enough wiggle room for people to make their views cohere.

        I just think that’s an accurate description of things, actually. You apparently disagree, of course.

        Lastly, to the extent that people invoke a principle for pragmatic political purposes (or whatever) to serve their own ends isn’t a sign that they’re being inconsistent, in my view, since they obviously don’t believe the principle holds necessarily, or as an end in itself, or whatever. Jaybird’s example, here

        I don’t understand how they can argue that they want to use the force of government to implement policy X (what marriages the government should recognize, say) but when the new people sit in power and say “We are implementing policy Y” (what marriages the government will now recognize, say), and they start screaming about liberty?

        doesn’t demonstrate an inconsistency because conservatives (in this case) aren’t viewing liberty the way he thinks they are. They’re not invoking a universal concept. They’re talking about religious liberty insofar as it furthers their values, or more generally, liberty as it further their values. I mean, isn’t that just obvious when you hear them talk about these things? Some of non-conservatives might look at those views as inconsistent, but they obviously don’t.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Well, fact is, conservatives don’t think of themselves as irrational in promoting the use of state power to enforce traditional marriage and using it to restrict gay marriage. They think it’s perfectly rational

        Sure. Up to that point.

        and that it follows from their values.

        But “liberty”, the word, actually means something.

        When you say, “I’m going to redefine this word to mean something it doesn’t mean”, then you’re in irrational territory.

        I mean, I should make it clear that I’m not arguing that certain sets of beliefs aren’t inconsistent according to a specific standard or type of analysis.

        Okay, cool!

        I’m arguing that attributing inconsistency to people’s political beliefs usually requires imposing on them a type of analysis.

        Sure. I’m allowed to do that, after all. That’s the whole point of political analysis and argumentation in the first place.

        If you claim a normative belief (the Government Should Not Be Allowed to do Things in this Class of Thing because of Liberty), and you espouse a normative belief as being a bedrock of your political philosophy, but you then espouse other bits and pieces of public policy that are contraindicated by people who hold that normative belief, one of two things is true:

        (a) you’re inconsistent
        (b) you don’t actually hold that normative belief, you use it as a rhetorical tool.
        (c) you hold that normative belief, but when it comes into conflict with other normative beliefs, you are willing to sacrifice it.

        In all three case, I get to call you on your bullshit when you’re doing it:

        (a) you’re inconsistent
        (b) you’re full of it
        (c) you hide this by not mentioning that “liberty” isn’t as important to you as “christian values”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Sure, have at it.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I’m saying it should be customary for all those taxes.

        Can we just pause to consider how utterly insane, wasteful, and pointless this would be for business owners?

        Then we can understand why it has never happened even though it always could have, and why this is just a bit of venting about one high-profile policy change that will be discontinued as soon as the business owner here finds it annoying to keep putting it on the checks.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      I think that’s perfectly fine as well, as long as the number is actually verifiably the number that the company pays in taxes (or cost of compliance). Sales tax is easy because it’s well known and published. I get a little bit leery if they start adding numbers like “10% for compliance with the Clean Air Act” based on a rough guess of how much the feel like the Clean Air Act costs their business (or how much they want you to believe it is).

      Then again, I’d also rather see us write checks to Uncle Sam every month or two instead of having automatic deductions taken from our paychecks, and I’d ideally like to see it in the form of an itemized bill with the top 15 or 20 programs listed by dollar amount.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I get a little bit leery if they start adding numbers like “10% for compliance with the Clean Air Act” based on a rough guess of how much the feel like the Clean Air Act costs their business (or how much they want you to believe it is).

        You should get leery. Just go ask anyone to draw you a pie chart of Federal expenditures with at least 5 slices to represent the spending. Hardly anyone can do it; most Americans have no idea what we spend money on.

        Yet it would be such an easy thing to convey, a great graphic for the cable news maw. It’s an inconvenient truth that the information gate keepers find it far, far better for us to be misinformed and arguing about distractions like should food workers have access to affordable health care.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Very well said, @troublesome-frog .Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Zic: I believe the go-to fact is the insane levels people believe we spend on Foreign Aid. (And no, they’re not deliberately adding in military spending into that).

        Or NASA’s budget. With a mere 18 billion a year, frankly it’s a wonder NASA can turn the lights on. We blew more than that a month in Iraq. Heck, I think we once lost several months worth of NASA’s budget in cash in Iraq. 🙂Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @morat20, I’m almost tempted to get a twitter account and start the cocktail-napkin pie chart game.

        I wish somebody else would start it for me. Because my sweetie and I already play it with people; just don’t do the twitter thing. Usually, people have trouble even doing a chart with four slices; and things like foreign aid get an enormous piece of the pie.

        It’s hilarious. And pathetic.Report

  2. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Quick note: the link about black people during the Holocaust goes to a WaPo story about whether or not your spouse co-owns your sperm or eggs.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    FF3: I have eaten at some fantastic food trucks. I took a tour of some “historical” food trucks of Manhattan. I get what much of the buzz is about. But I sometimes thing the obsession with them goes to far. I have friends who refuse to eat lunch at anything but a food truck. If we visit a new city together, their first question is, “Where are the food trucks?” They seem to reflexively think that because some food trucks are doing some very cool and (more importantly) delicious things with food, there is something inherently superior to food cooked in a truck compared to food cooked in a brick-and-mortar establishment. It boggles the mind.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Just had a lobster roll from a food truck yesterday. Every bit as good as the rolls I’ve had in New England. A bit pricier, but I was treating myself and on a business budget. Trying to convince the partner I was with to get lunch from a truck was… Amusing. Seems he’d have had the tasteless iceberg lettuce salad from the food court on his own, but I convinced him to try something new, and he got some tasty looking kimchi instead.

      Not quite the same as a sit-down place of quality, but we needed to conserve time, and it was faster and better than Sbarro.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Over the summer, we order in lunch on Fridays. Usually we order pizza or from one of the local bars. One day, we ordered Indian. When we sent out the menu, you would have thought we were asking some people to eat food that was just dropped off from a foreign planet and the toxicity of which was not yet known. It was mindblowing. I get that we sort of live in the sticks but is Indian food still really exotic?Report

      • Avatar dhex says:


        at least you can get indian food. i have to drive at least an hour (an hour and a half for a really good nepalese place in baltimore) to get any.

        also missing: thai, decent chinese, bagels, falafel, etc. there is an interesting facsimile of ny pizza here, and an almost ok red sauce joint, but like most of the food around here it is very heavy on the salt.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Well, sorta. There was an Indian restaurant in town when we moved here, but it closed shortly thereafter. It remained empty for about two years before recently opening as an Indian grocer that does some basic take out. It’s passable, but not much better than what I can make at home with a jar of sauce I get from the store.

        There are some good options farther out, but none closer than 25 minutes. Work is a bit farther south and thus closer to the paradise that is the northern reaches of Bergen County, NJ. And I think the only way we were able to justify ordering from there was by letting the woman who lives near the restaurant come in late and pick up the food on her way in.

        In my town, we have solid Italian (really, Italian-American), good pizza and bagels (the norm for the tri-state), passable Chinese takeout, a surprisingly good authentic Mexican joint, and some solid pan-Asian places (the type that do both sushi and lo mein but neither one particularly well). Thai? Falafel? Pho? Foods I *love*? The locals would chase me out before they’d let such abominations take hold.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I have this fantasy of a falafel food truck (not run by me, of course) that specializes in different flavors of chick-pea fritters, not just the standard garlic/parsley/corriander sorts of flavorings.

        Say, apple-cinnamon; the soaked and ground chickpeas with grated apple, cinnamon, and a bit of sugar.

        Or lemon-blueberry.

        Or cinnamon/ginger/saffron/aleppo for a North African variation.

        Coconut mango.

        This little fitters could be the vehicle for a lot of taste explosion.

        /end thread hijackReport

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Oh, yum! That has all the elements of a success: very cheap and plentifully-available raw ingredients, interesting flavors, quick turnaround time. Plus, I want to eat it. Let’s scrape up a few thousand dollars and get us a truck, @zic , this lawyering stuff isn’t working out for me!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        If you folks make it to DC for a League Fest or any other purpose, be sure to hit up Amsterdam Falafel. It means braving Adams Morgan, but they make a great falafel and then let you load it up with a bevy of fresh toppings from the “Fixin’s Bar”. Oh, and they have great frites. A far superior alternative to the soap-flavored jumbo slice.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        #1 most important thing making falafel: use dried chick peas, soak them at least overnight, two days is better, particularly if they’re older. Do not cook them they cook in the hot oil. (Speaking as a food nutrition geek, this actually makes the legumes begin to sprout, which releases a whole bunch of nutritional goodness bound up in the pea’s carbohydrates and neutralizes toxins all seeds seem to have in minute quantities as a protection against being eaten before there’s a chance to sprout).

        Do not, under any circumstances, use canned chickpeas. Not even in an emergency. Make a chickpea soup or something else if all you’ve got’s a can; remove the skins and make hummus. But do not make falafel. They don’t hold together properly, they don’t

        Use an expeller-pressed oil, not a refined oil, which is mostly suitable for burning in your car.

        And always serve with a tahini or a yogurt sauce; which not only tastes terrific, but offers a full compliment of amino acids for healthy muscles and smart brains.

        Which makes me think pineapple and popped mustard seed falafel with tzatziki would be pretty awesome; perhaps with a dusting of ground sumac.

        And some sort of egg-roll-filled falafel with plum sauce, too.

        And Peach, perhaps with a bit of pecan, rolled in maple sugar after frying would be heaven on earth.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @burt-likko for the truck, bio-diesel. One requirement for good fried food is fresh oil. (see studies on Spain and fried food; they always use fresh oil, and it seems to have little of the problems associated with too-used oils common in the US).

        So a bio-diesel truck; yesterday’s oil, filtered, provides todays driving fuel.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        And I’d be unsurprised to learn that freshly-expressed oil is healthier for the consumer in at least some fashion than the refined foodservice stuff.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “…remove the skins and make hummus…”

        I’ve never removed the skins from my canned chickpeas when making hummus and the result has always been good. I don’t even know how I’d go about removing the skins. Would the hummus be that much better for the trouble?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @kazzy it will be smoother and creamier.

        To remove: drain chickpeas, pour them onto a towel (paper is okay) and rub gently; this will loosen them. Then submerse in water, the skins will float to the top and you can pour them off.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @zic @burt-likko – skip the pineapple, that nonsense is a known migraine trigger. If God wanted us to eat that fruit, He would have made it less like an anklyosaurus.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        “better than Sbarro” You’ll never make it through life setting your standards so high. 😉Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @glyph, migraine triggers vary by the person. And Pineapple Raita rocks.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Hey, it’s your white-hot skull with its eyeballs imploding into a nauseating gelatinous gloop, not mine. 😉 But I learned long ago to skip the pineapple. If you’ve never tried it I’d recommend giving it a shot.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I think I know that truck. I ate at it when I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Venice Beach.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        When I worked in Oakland, we used to get exactly the kind of imaginative falafel you’re talking about from a truck. It was tasty, not too expensive, and made by a friend of a friend, so going there was a regular thing.Report

  4. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    FF2: Note that this is three years old. The lawsuit was dropped shortly afterwards, ostensibly because the plaintiff was satisfied with unspecified and unidentified changes to Taco Bell’s marketing, but really because it the suit was fraudulent.

    I’m no fan of Taco Bell, but there should have been disbarments over this.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I’m no fan of lawyers stepping on their dicks in a public way or the wasting of judicial resources over trivial matters. Refined oat product as a substantial portion of the “beef” filling in a taco is certainly a debatably trivial issue: there’s no doubt this is an edible comestible.

      But “disbarment” as the automatic response to any lawyer doing anything wrong always strikes me as thoughtlessly cruel. “Public humiliation” is often a quite sufficient punishment for transgressions of this nature rather than taking away someone’s ability to earn a livelihood.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        It says on the first page of the claim that Taco Bell’s meat filling consists mostly of “extenders” and other non-meat substances, which is not true. The firm claimed to have a lab analysis supporting the claim, but could not produce it. Taco Bell is reported to have wasted $3-4 million in legal costs before the suit was dropped.

        Whether by fraud or by severe negligence, someone who does something like this should not have the chance to do it again. Which is not to say that he shouldn’t be able to earn a living, only that he should do it in a job where his potential to do damage is more constrained.Report

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    Wait, there are flag enthusiasts?Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    FF1- At least Scalia is finally using is mind for good rather than evil. ;).Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    FF6- Its surprising to know that orange juice drinking is relatively contemporary, as in my parents were probably the first generation where it was a regular part of breakfast. Its weird when relatively new habits get to seem generations old when they aren’t.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Not really, @leeesq

      If you ever have children, you’ll discover that the new thing you did as a novelty at last-year’s holiday celebration is already a tradition.

      tldr: traditions happen wicked fast.

      /that’s a Maine wicked.Report

  8. Avatar morat20 says:

    The Fusion thing is STILL 50 years away. 🙂

    The important two takeaways from that are this:

    1) They got more energy out of the material that fused than the material absorbed — so net energy gain.
    2) 99%+ of the energy they fed into the reaction was wasted.

    So yeah, it works. Unfortunately, of the entirety of the fuel they zapped with the laser, only a tiny fraction absorbed it and fused. It’s a big step, engineering wise, but “still 50 years away” remains true. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      This will be 50 years away for 100 years or so, and then the next day it’s here and everyone will call it a miracle breakthrough.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Replicating a star in the lab is hard. 🙂

        Fission was easy — the trick there is to STOP it from reacting. Fusion is harder — you have to convince it to.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      It’s always useful to do some scale calculations to get a sense for the engineering problems…

      Assume we’re going to build a 50 MWe generator (power available for sale). That’s the equivalent of the small modular fission reactors in various stages of design/licensing around the world, which will be factory-built. Given the precision required in a laser-pumped fusion reactor, factory construction seems mandatory. Assume 10 fusion events per second and 25% efficiency [1] in converting the energy released to electricity for sale (the 75% energy loss including power for the lasers). In round numbers, then, each fusion event has to release 2e+7 joules. According to the Wikipedia, that’s the equivalent of detonating 4.8 kg (10.5 pounds) of TNT. The power involved in the release will be much higher than that because the energy will be released in a much shorter period of time.

      So the basic tenth-of-a-second cycle is: position a cryogenic target with 50 micron accuracy [2], fire the lasers, powerful explosion in the form of highly-energetic neutrons occurs (plus other high-velocity debris), neutrons slam into the containment system (and everything else, including the final optics) raising its temperature rapidly, heat diffuses into some sort of working fluid that (a) keeps everything from melting down and (b) spins a turbine, debris is evacuated sufficiently to maintain the internal hard vacuum. Repeat. There are so many ways this can go wrong [4]. The LIFE description glosses over a lot of the complexity.

      [1] I think this is a generous number. Absent extremely high temperatures in the working fluid, 35% thermal efficiency is good. Then you have to divert electricity back into the pumping lasers, as well as all of the rest of control systems. A dumb thermal power plant consumes about 10% of its electrical output, much of it in conversions that a fusion plant will also be subject to.

      [2] With even a tiny bit of steering capability in the lasers, plus precision timing for when each can be fired (a given), this is probably the easiest problem to solve.

      [4] Not least, what actually happens to the construction materials in this type of neutron flux. ITER’s flux is not this dense, and one of the failure modes ITER is supposed to test is “Materials break down sooner than the models say.”Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Wow. Can you translate that into English? It sounds like “It’s going to melt five minutes after you turn it on, no matter how you design it.”Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        it’s stuff like this that point out why the recent improvements in atomic clocks really matters; it would have already helped solve some of those problems. I’m glad you can appreciate it, @michael-cain because for me, it’s all magic.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        In English: ignition is the first of several problems, some of which may be harder than achieving ignition on a one-shot-per-day basis. Don’t expect all of them to be solved in 20 years.

        Heat management problems may be surprisingly difficult. Consider that the system design for a car built around an internal-combustion engine and friction brakes requires that lots of attention be paid to heat management. Or put another way, a car with ICE and friction brakes that has to meet contemporary emissions and toxic materials standards has many failure modes related to mismanaging heat.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Not 5 minutes, but 5 years is possible, and still very much a problem.

        In current plasma reactors, the fusion reaction is kept away from the walls via powerful magnetic fields. The fun thing about plasma is while it is very hot, the heat is quite manageable as long as I can keep the plasma itself away from the containment vessel walls. The chamber is, except for the plasma itself, a vacuum, so heat can only move via radiative transfer, no convection, no conduction. If the plasma touches the walls, then the heat is conducted to the walls and forms a hotspot, threatening containment if the material becomes soft enough.

        I imagine the laser setup is very similar, keep the fusion reaction & it’s products away from the walls, and life is good. Let too many particles make contact, or let the chamber temperature get too high, and you start drastically shortening the lifespan of your reactor vessel.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Heat Management is one of the great bugbears of engineering, even more so now than ever before. So many of my customers use our software specifically to do heat management. One of the tools I’m building right now is to allow the customer to quickly identify hot/cold spots that are outliers, so they can figure out why & fix them.

        During the industrial revolution, heat management was a concern, but less in how to get rid of it & more toward how do we make it work. Nowadays, we are very good at making heat & putting it to work, so much so that we need better ways to do more with less, or get rid of the heat before it damages something sensitive (electronics), expensive (energy production, machining, etc.), or worse, makes a person uncomfortable (the amount of engineering money & time spent in making sure you aren’t too hot or cold…).Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Well, right up until fusion starts. Then there’s an enormous heat transfer in the form of high-energy neutrons (technically, I suppose that’s conduction). IIRC, about 80% of the fusion energy release shows up in that form. A magnetic confinement arrangement like ITER doesn’t affect such neutrons. Some of the energy in ITER’s neutrons will go to heating the plasma, but most of it will end up in the containment vessel. In an inertial confinement scheme like the NIF, you get both neutrons and atomic/molecular-level debris from the target impacting the containment vessel once the target “explodes”. When you start talking about power levels in the hundreds of megawatts range, you need serious cooling. From a safety perspective, the nice thing about either fusion arrangement, compared to fission, is that you can shut off the heat source almost instantaneously.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Yes, the failure mode of a fusion reactor is “It stops” whereas the failure mode of fission is “It won’t stop”. 🙂

        Engineering wise — knotty problem. But it’s always these ridiculously hard problems that push science, engineering, and materials further. I have no idea what knock off technologies it might spawn, but frankly if you build an ultra-precise laser with ridiculous power levels, someone’s gonna find a use for it. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        someone’s gonna find a use for it

        Oh! Oh! I got a frickin’ shark around here somewhere!Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Well, yes, like liquid helium kind of cooling. It’s been a while since I brushed up on my particle physics, but I think we are pretty good at dealing with fast moving neutrons, as fission reactions have them as well. Of course, the neutrons from a fusion reaction might be orders of magnitude more energetic, but we probably have a very good idea how much more energetic, and how to deal with that.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        It’s not that complicated. The fusion neutrons are more energetic, perhaps by a factor of 2, but that’s not a big deal. For both ITER and LIFE (the proposed commercial follow-on based on NIF tech), the containment vessel cooling is a simple pressurized water jacket. They move lots of water through it, but it’s still just a water jacket. ITER has a separate subsystem for the superconducting electromagnets, but that’s not very much of the total cooling load.

        Coal-fired, NG-fired, biomass-fired, fission, fusion… for generating electricity, the overwhelmingly dominant design is to boil water directly or indirectly (simultaneously keeping metals/ceramics/etc below critical temperatures) and use the high-temp high-pressure steam to spin a turbine. The last commercial reactor with helium as a working fluid shut down in the 80s; the only systems with super-critical CO2 as a working fluid are coal-fired.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        This is where I stick my head in and say that I was at LLNL for about five years and I got to look into the target chamber when they were building it. Pretty awesome. It’s an absolutely crazy engineering project.

        As a software/supercomputing guy, that was the extent of my brush with super cool nuclear physics stuff. Well, that and bumping into Edward Teller on the way into an office building a few weeks before he died.Report

  9. [FH8] Just a note about this: it’s not just any old law firm. Heenan Blaikie was the most prominent law firm in Canada. When the news broke, even I (with no real connection to the world of law firms) was shocked.Report

  10. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    IS3: I always wondered how people got into the weirder sports like bobsled or luge. Somebody on reddit wondered as well, and the top response, from a former member of the Junior Olympic luge team, is really interesting. Apparently there’s a group that goes all over the country hosting special events where they basically send kids down a hill while lying on a sled-with-wheels–those who do best at that get recruited for the luge team. His description of the training regimen and the first experience with actual luging is really cool and well worth reading.Report

  11. Avatar Pinky says:

    AL2 – Interesting article, although I don’t agree with all of it. In the latest Jack Ryan movie, gur onq thlf ner Ehffvna Begubqbk. Gurl yvir va Qrneobea, Zvpuvtna. Orpnhfr vs fbzrbar va Qrneobea vf erprvivat n zrffntr sebz uvf eryvtvbhf yrnqre gb njnxra n greebe pryy, bqqf ner vg’f n Ehffvna Begubqbk.Report

  12. Avatar Will Truman says:

    [GV4] I kind of like the flag, actually. With a few nips and tucks – move the triangle to the right and get rid of half-stars – it could almost be a great flag.Report

  13. Avatar Kolohe says:

    AL3: The Westeros article was very good, but I don’t know enough about either (European) Medieval history or the Martinverse to really have anything more to say about it.

    The Yglesias Hunger Games article was decent, but I’ve never read any of the books nor seen any of the movies. I do think Yglesias oversimplified his real world North American colonization narrative a bit (i.e. chattel slavery was legal in all 13 rebelling colonies in 1776) and the push for post-colonialism a lot. For example, Hawaii had the same resource extraction economy for 100 years that the African colonies did, but not the same push for independence. On the other hand, the (white) people that were made rich through resource extraction in Hawaii did mostly live in Hawaii (vice taking the money back to London, Paris, or Brussels) and furthermore intermarried with the indigenous ruling class.

    As for the Star Trek article: “Some Americans seem to think that a robust safety net somehow nullifies the distributed planning of capitalism. I’ll listen to them again when our schools are decent and our life span starts increasing again magically.”

    WTF does this even mean? And didn’t the Entreprise-D have school teachers? And not robotic ones? Education seemed to be the only thing besides bar tending in the 24th century Star Trek universe that was a proper trade.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Education seemed to be the only thing besides bar tending in the 24th century Star Trek universe that was a proper trade.


      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Star Trek was basically (at least TNG onwards) trying to model a post-scarcity society (or mostly so, with very few actual things scarce) and it’s interactions with other societies that operated on scarcity models, but doing so as ‘background’ — so it was sort of hinted at, but never really thought about by either the writers or the characters.

        There are excellent sci-fi books that explore the concept of post-scarcity economies, and the ups and downs and sideways of it, but Star Trek just basically had is as ill-thought out background.

        Circling back to the point — in a post-scarcity economy, there really are no proper trades. There are basically hobbies, life interests, or something similar — you don’t work for money or resources — you do the job because you like the job. The job is the point.

        So one teaches because they like teaching. One tends bar because they enjoy tending bar. One serves in Starfleet because they like exploration or zany adventures. Nobody does it for the money.

        Because money is pointless.

        You can see the teeniest edges of what such an economy would look like, even today. And with increasing automation and AI (not like, human-level AI — just computers getting better and better at handling stuff that people used to do), it’s going to be a real challenge over the next century. We’re nowhere near post-scarcity, but we’re getting close another large change in how labor is used in society — which means we’re going to have to change how we look at it.

        Not now, or in a decade, but over the next 50 years or so.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        There were plenty of scientists, artists, chefs and traders/businessmen in ST. They really weren’t trying to hide them.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        ITYM one serves in Starfleet to make out with hot alien babes.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        I think Holodeck time would be enough incentive to many people to join Starfleet. Any decent Holodeck would be more addictive than crack.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        time moves quicker than you think.
        50% job loss worldwide in 20 years.
        We will very soon have to figure out what
        to do with people too stupid to give jobs to.

        And, morat, the writers thought more about the economics
        than you think. But it’s hard to change things after the fact…
        (And the Ferengi were a really, really illthought-out addition.
        They were supposed to be comic relief. but people liked them.)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I’d assume that some variation of it is available to the civilian population.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        It’s not the replicators that are the crazy part of startrek.
        it’s the holodeck.
        It’s one thing to assume “no money”…
        it’s another to assume functional “no limits on sex”
        (sex would function as a form of currency otherwise–
        statistically, you’d see guys doing a lot more peacocking
        to find dates/one-night-stands).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        So one teaches because they like teaching. One tends bar because they enjoy tending bar. One serves in Starfleet because they like exploration or zany adventures. Nobody does it for the money.

        Because money is pointless.

        That brings me to my two principle objections to the Star Trek piece (though at the outset, I agree that since Star Trek worldbuilding was ad-hoc and mutable, one shouldn’t make too much of inconsistencies or even any sort of systemic analysis)

        1) The author of the Star Trek article asserts (credibly) that what the Federation economy is predicated on cheap&clean energy production orders of magnitude of what exists today, and has is a significant welfare state, which seems to be in the form of a negative income tax distributed in the form of an energy allowance. Thus, everyone just does what they want to do, because everyone is operating really high on the Maslow hierarchy, much higher than almost anyone does today. So far so good.

        But scarcity will exist. Take the Sisko cafe. Certainly, there are a limited number of seats that Mr. Sisko is either willing or able to serve. If he is really good, and the demand outstrips supply (like say, Valentine’s day) Is the only way to allocate tables by wait list? Nobody will ever try to game that system? No grey or black market will ever arise on boutique activities – even if ‘there is no such thing as money’, one still has favors and privileges.

        As an aside, the author makes much of nobody desiring such status competitions anymore, so presumably, per the author’s theory, people will in fact just wait in line,
        patiently, with no corruption. Perhaps. But that is, ironically, a very socially conservative thing to posit, that community standards and social approbation are useful tools to ensure civil society without resorting to economic incentives or the law.

        Scarcity happens on the supply side, too. If everyone does just what they want, how does the system ensure that the right number of doctors and teachers (for example) are trained and retained every year to sustain this notionally perfect welfare state, where the state has guaranteed high quality education and health care for everyone?

        2) Also, Energy is still ‘scarce’ at some level, per the author’s own examples. It is a dodge to say we don’t use money anymore, but then basically state that it’s an energy based economy. I get the basic idea – I don’t sweat double digit credit card purchases because I know my bank account and income, coupled with automatic bill pay is enough to cover my usual activity in a month. But I certainly pay attention to high 3 digit purchases and every 4 digit and up purchase.

        They don’t have ‘money’ but they do have a commodity based economy with the Joule, vice the troy oz, as the unit of currency. So they do have money. They’re just not terribly worried about, what is to them, small purchases. I wonder if Federation citizens have enough individual energy accounts to run a holodeck simulation for most of their waking hours. (and I’m certain there is more widespread holodeck addiction than the little that is revealed, unless they do have an HEA)

        “There were plenty of scientists, artists, chefs and traders/businessmen in ST. They really weren’t trying to hide them.”

        Fair enough on the scientists, which I culled from my original comment in the interest of brevity and wit. Though most of these in my estimation were employed directly by Starfleet, and not independent agents. And I think I can count on one hand the number of Federation citizens that were portrayed doing full time work that did not involve science, education, or some form of art and music.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Again: The Star Trek writers weren’t doing a show about life in a post-scarcity economy. They just set it there without thinking anything more than ‘setting’.

        There are writers who specialize in such things, who write at length about this or that aspect of it, trying to project what it’d be like.

        (And yes, there is always scarcity. But in general, “post-scarcity” means that material goods are pretty much free. Energy is abundant. Not that no scarcity of anything exists).

        Most Singularity inspired sci-fi touches on it, at least a little — some explore on or another aspect in depth. Including works discussing social status and other measures of ‘worth’ that come to replace material goods.

        Regardless, a society in which energy is abudant and material goods cheap is a society far different than today’s, and will force massive cultural change unless government artificially limits production.

        Because in the end, most people work the jobs they work because they need the money to buy food and medicine and shelter. A lucky few manage to do the work they love AND get paid enough for that (or are rich and don’t care).

        A society in which material needs are all met, effectively free, is one with an entirely different work and life pattern.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Well, yeah, I agree. But my argument isn’t with the pantheon of Star Trek writers, but with Rick Webb.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I think the main problem was Roddenberry.
        in the original star trek, where they came from
        didn’t matter, as they didn’t interact with it much.

        The ST writers were quite capable of working
        with what they were given (and creating piles of notes,
        see Picard’s space yacht). In other venues,
        they have done fine science fiction (well, maybe not Berman and Braga)Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        There are excellent sci-fi books that explore the concept of post-scarcity economies, and the ups and downs and sideways of it,

        That would imply a sci-fi writer who actually gave evidence of having studied economics. I know their existence is a theoretical possibility, but I’m unfamiliar with any empirical evidence that such a thing exists.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Charles Stross’ latest book is entirely about banking and money (and of course, the sort of scams and financial cons people can run) in a universe with multiple colonies across the stars but no FTL travel.

        Admittedly, it’s colonies of robots, but they still have banks. 🙂

        And even piracy, although the piracy is a bit financial. (You board the ship, find out what it’s material cargo is, then use light-speed transmissions to arrange speculative trades based on the ship’s goods. The only people bothering to arm vessels are pirates and insurance adjustors).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:


        And for extra crunchy bonus points, go check out Shadow World. Not only do you get tidal charts, you get some really fun and interesting economics dealing with what happens when you have “Monster Troubles.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Morat–Writing about those things doesn’t by itself indicate actual understanding.

        Kim–A list! Apparently I’m not the only one who noticed.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Read and find out.

        otherwise you’re just complaining you haven’t read any sci-fi authors who know anything about economics while simultaneously refusing to read sci-fi authors who other PEOPLE say know something about economics.

        Which does, of course, mean you’re perpetually right in a sense — but in a rather pointless one.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Another factor is that I think it’s easier to run such an economy when the home base is further away from the controlled areas. Panem’s vulnerability was always that it was trying to control people who could storm the castle, so to speak. Israel has been confronted with a variation of this and that’s a problem that could become exacerbated by population trends.

      Strategically, you’d think it would be much easier to control a population when more of your army is nearby because your home base is right there. It is, but the downside is that the closer the home base is, the easier it is for the oppressed to target your civilian population who might lose patience pretty quickly. And the easier it is for the oppressed to make their case that they are impressed. They’re not some hypothetical kingdom of mongrels far away. They’re people who live right next door.Report

    • Avatar Fnord says:

      Did you read the whole article?

      Citizens have no financial need to work, as their benefits are more than enough to provide a comfortable life, and there is, clearly, universal health care and education. The Federation has clearly taken the plunge to the other side of people’s fears about European socialist capitalism: yes, some people might not work. So What? Good for them. We think most still will.


      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Ok, now I think I understand that ‘nullifies the distributional aspects of capitalism’ is a dig on anyone that calls welfare a commie plot. Though ‘a robust safety net’ is not at all the same thing with the provision of education and health care (and for that matter ROADZ! as mostly public goods.)

        And I’ll again, that if no one needs to work, how do they ensure enough staff for universal health care and education? As far as I can tell, all doctors were flesh and blood sapient beings, with automatic health diagnostic and treatment systems only being (at 24th century levels of technology) designated as supplemental and/or emergency backup systems.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I’d figure that consumer demand was so low that they perpetually had more people (motivated by something other than money) than they needed to fill those jobs.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      The Yglesias Hunger Games article was decent…

      I must respectfully disagree. And I admit that this is in part because Matt Yglesias holds a special place of disdain in my heart. Even when I agree with that guy, I find him insufferable. I suspect that this sort of reaction is part of why he has been successful.

      More to the point, the world of the Hunger Games exists for the sole purpose of providing a rough approximation of the world of its adolescent readers, complete with a popular social clique at the center whose customs are strange and whose resources are seemingly infinite and a protagonist that exists in the social hinterlands. That’s it. Full stop.

      The games themselves make even less sense. Who would want to watch children fight? Watching people who can’t fight attempt to fight holds the average person’s interest for about 90 seconds (about the length of a WorldStarHipHop video), so how is this supposed to be a society’s central organizing principle. The games are a plot device that allows the protagonist to gain recognition and infiltrate the popular clique. Again, that’s it. Full stop.

      You can spin all sorts of economic and political theories about how Panem might have come into existence, but there’s just no there there.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Hey, it surprises no one more than me to praise an Yglesias article, particularly one where he is deliberately being slatepitchy. But Star Trek was also just Wagon Train in Space, with any worldbuilding as we know it today happening completely by accident. Not everything can be written by Herbert. And yes, the Hunger Games is definitely teen lit, full of tropes readily accessible to such an audience. It shouldn’t stop us from geeking out and analyzing any given universe, acknowledging that there are always going to be holes.

        Yglesias entering argument, that we are only seeing in any detail the two extremes of society, and thus many critiques of the worldbuilding in the Hunger Games are weakened by the fact that we do have existence proofs for such a scenario. The weakness of Yglesias’s own scenario and the worldbuilding itself is that the real world has never seen an authoritarian elite in the industrial age* that is able to run a self-contained economic system. The elites in North Korea today, and in the Soviet Union before that (and in the PRC astride the two time periods) live in comparative luxury, but it is almost all *imported* from regions beyond their control, direct or indirect.

        Supposedly, the Capital has vassal districts given a greater slice of the economic pie due to the creation of higher end goods and services. And those are also the closest in allegiance to the Capitol government, due to getting a greater share of the economic spoils. While this is some way describes the trajectory of post-Soviet Russia, it is more likely to me that a prosperous district would better enable a competing power base to challenge the Capitol regime. After all, Putin probably jailed as many oligarchs as he created and/or co-opted.

        “The games themselves make even less sense.”
        If stripped of the mortal combat elements, the games are somewhat reminiscent of the grand athletic and artistic spectacles that Pyongyang is known for, and where celebration of youth is a persistent theme.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The games themself make a great deal of sense as a form of social control. Panem dervies its name from the Latin phrase for Bread and Circuses. The entire point of the games is way to terrorize and keep the outlying districts in line after their attempted rebellion. The games make at least as much sense as the ludi did during the Roman Empire. As to why young people than professional gladiators, that was something burrowed from Greek mythology. In the story of the Minotaur, the Greek city-states were required to send one youth and one maiden to be food for the Minotaur.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Even as a means of control, though, it’s so over the top and transparent in its viciousness that I have to think there are ways that do not incite and inspire so much hatred.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        There were games in Central America, too. It’s central to Maya, the heart of the Popul Voh; in a region where overpopulation and deforestation and resulted in endless rounds of hardship, and survival often depended on a central organizing authority.

        The young men played.

        The winners were sacrificed.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        The young men played.

        The winners were sacrificed.

        I’m no expert on incentives, but maybe there is a reason the Maya didn’t make it.Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        I’m no expert on incentives, but maybe there is a reason the Maya didn’t make it.

        Yeah, smallpox and Spanish steel.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        And I admit that this is in part because Matt Yglesias holds a special place of disdain in my heart. Even when I agree with that guy, I find him insufferable.

        It’s funny. I’d be interested in hearing exactly why this is (from various people – he seems to be an equal-opportunity infuriator from a political standpoint – people on all sides, seemingly mostly those far to his left or right, tend to have this reaction to him),

        I think I understand what about his writing has this effect, but I’m not sure. I find his directness (and I think that’s what gets to people) usually refreshing and sometimes funny. And even when I disagree with him, I don’t find him insufferable at all. I also think he’s pretty valuable as an explicator of basic economic issues for the popular audience. Not infalliable of course, as his Bangladesh fiasco and other errors show – and if someone wants to offer a comprehensive critique that shows him to be especially terrible among non-academic economics bloggers in a way that allows us not to have to throw the whole lot of them out with him, I’d be happy to read it. But valuable in his ability to (perhaps generally more erroneously than I understand – again, I’ll listen) cut to the heart of a policy or analytical question and illustrate it just about as well as anyone else on the internet that I know of.

        In any case, I get the impression that many of the big-time academic economics bloggers/popular writers (your Tyler Cowens or Dean Bakers) don’t have an opinion that he is nearly as worthless as many other non-economist observers of more committed ideological bents on both sides do, even if they do disagree with him frequently.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @james-k – well, that…and also they failed to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity!

        Boy, what an emotional rollercoaster getting the silver medal in the Mayan Olympics would be.


        “Better luck next time, champ!”


      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I like Yglesias. I mean, I disagree with him a lot, but he doesn’t routinely say things that make it difficult for me to take him seriously.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Supposedly, the Capital has vassal districts given a greater slice of the economic pie due to the creation of higher end goods and services.

        Just sayin’.Report

  14. Avatar Pinky says:

    GV1 (the second article) – People move to areas where they have an affinity for the people. You see the same thing in international development, with movement between countries. If you think about it, it’s not surprising.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      That’s true, though the article itself actually points a bit to the reverse phenomenon: how people’s ideology is influenced by their geography.

      It’s all interesting stuff that sometimes gets bogged down in partisan conversations. Will the internal migration into Texas turn the state blue? Or are the people moving there already those most likely to be red by virtue of their amenability towards moving to Texas? Are red voters going to turn blue as they move to the city? Or are they going to turn the places they move more red? Or is it only or primarily the blue-minded red-area residents moving to the city?

      The answer to all of this is “yes” though we don’t know exactly how it’s going to shake out.Report

  15. Avatar Will Truman says:

    AL2 – I think there is something to this explanation, sort of. I think it applies more in the US than elsewhere. It’s noteworthy, to me, that the original House of Cards was the brainchild of a Tory while the US version was put forth by Spacey. I seem to hear more about creative conservatives over there than I do over here, though that might not be representative. Maybe the UK is in the same boat as the US now anyway.

    What I find problematic about the right is that it is promoting a problematic self-image for art (as with a great many other things). I believe a lot of politics to be about self-image (Who am I with? Who am I against? What am I like and what are the two sides like?). The Republican Party seems to be defining itself in such a way as to exclude people out of relatively narrow sets of personas. This is in contrast to the Democratic Party, which promotes many, many faces to its coalition. Even if most white rural folks vote R, they still put Brian Schweitzer front-and-center.

    The Republicans, meanwhile, blocked Kid Rock from appearing at their national convention (this was 2000 or 2004, by 2012 they let him appear) because he’s not their kind of people even if he is one of comparatively few celebrity Republicans. There were also protests at having The Rock do a roll call. They were more interested in preserving their self-identity than reaching out to people to defy it. This sort of thing has repercussions when it comes to people who might actually have some conservative sympathies but end up left by default.

    Such things (not just Hollywood) reach a tipping point. Where not only do you have a preponderance that leans in a particular direction, but you have people leaning in that direction due to the preponderance. (You also have people bending the other way out of contrarianism, which was my impression of Lara Flynn Boyle.) It eventually reaches the point where within the subculture, one point of view is normal and the other one is controversial.

    Which may or may not matter. I think in the case of art it does when it has adverse effects on the products they produce. Which I think it does in this case, due to the stories untold and poor character representation of the heretics (because there is virtually no one around to say “Wait a minute, that isn’t quite right…”).Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Interestingly I have known quite a few guys who were very right-wing but kind of looked like Kid Rock or a generic kind of rocker look with long hair and such and dressing all in black and having nail polish

      It honestly causes me a bit of cognitive dissonance and I want to scream “The Republican Party doesn’t want you!!!”

      I also think a lot of modern conservative political art is bad. This brings up a thousand previous conversations about why conservatives can’t come up with their own version of the Daily Show. Conservative “jokes” tend not to be very funny.

      This is what seems to pass for funny in conservative land. This is not the first “funny” conservative e-mail I have seen like this.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        They’re doing it wrong, mostly. I honestly think the route to conservatism in popular entertainment runs specifically through comedy (or comedic dramas). Ron White (who is more libertarian than conservative) actually provides some good insights into what conservative comedy looks like through his act. Foxworthy and Ingvall the same, though in other ways. Unfortunately, most efforts have been way too interested in being conservative and not sufficiently interested in being funny.

        This is in contrast to early attempts at lefty talk radio. They put such much emphasis on “lefty” that they didn’t actually try to be entertaining. Rush Limbaugh knew how to entertain and considered himself an entertainer first and foremost (in the early years, at least).Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        +1 to this, @will-truman . One can be Funny and one can be Preachy but only rarely can one be both.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        A general truism in comedy is “punch up, don’t punch down”. Now I admit that there are times when it can be very hard to tell whether a joke is punching up or down and we have gotten into those discussions here. However, it seems to me that a lot of conservative humor like the stuff above is punching down but the tellers might sincerely think they are punching up.

        Foxworthy largely makes fun of himself or his own identity so that is what makes him funny. Foxworthy would not be funny if he told jokes about Jews.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I’d argue that’s a norm more than a fundamental truth. Lots of people (ahem, not just conservatives) love punching down and think it’s hilarious. They just tend not to think of it in those terms (they think they’re punching up, that the “down” deserve to be down, or that it’s just not an up/down situation).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        conservatives don’t understand humor.
        They see it as a plot device to coerce behavior.
        (note: this is a slightly different use of conservative…
        christian conservatives always fall in the category,
        but a lot of gold personality types also do…)

        That said, Roseanne Barr is a good comic.
        And Nick (who plays swanson on parks and rec)
        would be a great comic if he could keep a straight face.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You SAY that, but I don’t think American Jewry BELIEVES that.
        Otherwise there would be more protesting of anti-semitic stereotypes
        in American comedy.

        Black folks go after stereotypical depictions, they protest (more when
        it’s not comedy, sure… but still)Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        This is what seems to pass for funny in conservative land.

        I’ve seen stuff of roughly similar quality from the left. For some reason a lot of people seem to think that “People whom I don’t like sure do suck!” is the soul of wit.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Incidentally, it’s interesting how leftists will swear up and down that being black is a major handicap in our society, and then cry racism when a conservative tells a joke premised on the proposition that being black is a handicap in our society.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        yes, there are idiots on the left too. but I don’t care what you say, Scott Walker’s crew isn’t funny. (kos had the “joke” up).

        Honestly, after you’ve been around comics for a bit, your standards for funny go up:

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        When Jon Stewart was asked to comment on the failure of Fox’s comedy show, he pointed out that they placed a higher premium on being conservative than being funny. I think this is true with conservative or Evangelical art and pop culture in general. The premium is on ideological correctness more than artistic merit or entertainment value. This isn’t limited to conservatives, lots of people on the Far Left have similar belief systems.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        “One can be Funny and one can be Preachy but only rarely can one be both.”

        Yeah, but you might not notice preachiness when it agrees with you. Then, it’s just folksy common sense.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yeah. A show that blatantly (and intentionally) incorporates anti-semetic stereotypes is certainly not being … politically correct.Report

  16. Avatar NewDealer says:

    GV1: Unsurprising if true

    GV2: Geopolitically this is rather fascinating especially because it is Korean-American voters.

    GV3: They should watch the Werner Herzog movie about building an opera house in the jungle.

    FH1: I dissent

    FH3: SF Restaurants instituted a healthy sf tax/surcharge when SF mandated health insurance for restaurant employees. There was a scandal a few years ago about restaurant owners pocketing the money instead of using it for health insurance:

    AL2: There have been some very notable writers with very right-wing politics. T.S. Eliot said his politics belonged in the 14th Century. DH Lawrence was a fascist and hated the working classes to the point where he wanted to turn the Crystal Palace into a gas chamber for the working classes of England. Ezra Pound was a fascist. Dali supported Franco for a while. But I suppose right-wing/conservative artists are generally the exception to the rule. Gary Sinese is conservative I believe.
    I think the reasons for this are complicated. Artists were generally on the margins of society of a long time. Moliere was denied a Catholic burial in France because he was an artist. It was often closely connected to prostitution and “respectable people” did not go into art for a long time. Society has always had a love/hate relationship with all forms of artists. If you are on the margins like this, it is going to produce a general left-tilt to your politics. The margins also allowed marginalized groups to succeed in the arts when they were denied employment in other areas. There are reasons that American popular music was largely created by Jews and Blacks and poor Southerners in the case of country. Jews founded Hollywood because other forms of employment were denied to them. This is also why I think plaintiff’s law tends to be filled with firms with Jewish and other non-WASPy surnnames. For a long time, Jews could not get into the white shoe firms or they had to found their own including banks (see Goldman Sachs).

    FF1: Scalia’s rightReport

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Gary Sinise is conservative? Well, I guess that means that if you’re conservative in Hollywood, you have a two in five chance of becoming Governor of California!Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I don’t have any proof for certain but I’ve heard he is. There were plenty of conservative actors in old Hollywood including Gloria Swanson, Barbara Stanwyck, Fred Astaire, Robert Mitchum but they largely kept their politics quiet but not always. There was a pro-McCarthy group during the 1950s to combat the anti-McCarthy actors like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck and Burt Lancaster.

        Gene Keley was basically a social democrat in terms of his politics.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        There are actually many conservative actors in Hwood now. Certainly more are liberal but i’ve seen people make lists of successful conservative actors that easily go 40 names long without even trying hard. Sinise is one of those.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Sinise is one of the few public members of the conservative Hollywood Friends of Abe group that got into the scuffle with the IRS about disclosing its membership rolls.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        According to wikipedia Friends of Abe has over 1800 members which is a pretty big group.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        @will-truman @greginak

        Not all friends of Abe are right-wing


      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        It’s a high numerical amount, but I would expect that it’s a pretty small part of the industry. And the environment is such that they prize their anonymity. They’re rare enough in their notoriety that the lists tend to include the same names and some borderline cases* (so-and-so said something conservative once, so…). But yeah, they’re out there. (Seems surprisingly common – or surprisingly less unusual at least – among models, oddly enough.)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Cary Grant was another conservative Hollywood actor but he thought it was unprofessional to use his popularity to support GOP campaigns. He would appear at their national conventions though.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Cary Grant …would appear at their national conventions though.

        I like to imagine that he was tripping total balls at the time.

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        They’re friends of Abe because they also admire the Axis.Report

  17. Avatar Patrick says:

    Alisa Craig has been on my watch list for years. If I win the powerball, it’s one of the considered locations for the compound.Report

  18. Avatar Fnord says:

    FF1: Then he shall have one. If you want to make the case that no American pizza is really pizza, fair enough. There is a real difference between good Italian pizza and good American pizza. But New York pizza snobbery is delusional.

    Italian pizza really is about flatbread, with toppings to supplement. The quality of the bread is key; the toppings, though high quality, are designed to complement the crust, not to as ends in themselves. That’s certainly a different model than Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, where the crust is just that: a crust to hold the real contents of meal in place.

    New Yorkers, though, pretend themselves virtuous for eschewing the focus on toppings that characterizes Chicago style. But, by and large, neither do they produce a bread crust worthy of the original pizzas. Neither one thing nor the other, the lack anything that makes either version worthwhile.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      There’s a good pizza place under the Brooklyn bridge. You can get delicious pizza there — and the crust’s nicely carmelized too.

      Vincent’s Pizza Park will put a pound of whatever topping you want. This includes garlic.
      I know someone who ordered this while on a first date.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:


      I like a Chicago slice every now and then but it is not pizza, it is a caserole masquerading as pizza.

      And I am not a complete pizza snob but the Pizza belt is generally true:

      San Francisco has a lot of good Neapolitan pizza restaurants like Delfina and Ragazza but they are not always great with slices.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Bloke’s an idiot. Oughta get his keister out to Scranton before he says another word.Report

      • Avatar Fnord says:

        Ahh, yes, pizza by the slice. The means by which a New Yorker, with no taste in pizza, can “prove” that his region is superior by virtue of the availability of something no one who actually likes pizza would want. No, you can’t get Chicago pizza by the slice.

        By the same logic, Taco Bell is the pinnacle of Mexican food, because it’s the only place you can get it from a drive-through.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Mark Thompson is on the side of Scalia in this not-so-good fight. We duked it out at Leagufest in Chicago. The police finally broke up the brawl after the guns, knives, and motorcycle chains came out, and–being Chicago police who love their Giordano’s deep dish–handcuffed him, and, I believe, dumped him in the Chicago River. At any rate, I haven’t seen him since.

      It’s a shame. Other than his unaccountable New York pizza bias, he was a pretty nice guy.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Those be fighting words, Professor. Are you trying to get cut?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        What, are you going to wing one of your razor-thin pizzas at me like a frisbee?

        Tomato sauce on a cracker is not a pizza!Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Tomato sauce on a cracker is not a pizza!


      • There is absolutely no shame whatsoever in making a very good tomato pie or Sicilian. Some of my favorite take out is Sicilian. It’s just not a pizza.Report

      • It’s also less to do IMHO with the thickness of the crust than with the fact that the sauce goes on top in Chicago. Sauce on top = tomato pie. End of story. I will not accept the Orwellian attempt to reduce the number of words and phrases in the English language in order to make anything that involves dough, tomato sauce and cheese fit under the definition of “pizza.” We don’t call anything that involves cheese, tortillas, and seasoned meat a “taco.” Why should anything that involves dough, cheese, and tomato sauce be a “pizza”?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Maybe you and I should stick to pretzels.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @mark-thompson FTW. I wholeheartedly join my Brother @mark-thompson ‘s opinion here. There is nothing wrong with an enchilada. I like enchiladas. They’re just not tacos, is all.

        I write further to note that terms like “Chicago pizza,” “Deep-dish pizza,” “Chicago-style deep-dish pizza,” “Sicilian pizza,” etc. all betray the etymology of the term by way of inclusion of adjectives. The word “pizza” without adjectives denotes the thin and crispy-crusted dish originating in Naples that has tomato sauce between the crust and the cheese.

        Moreover, on a true pizza, the cheese should caramelize slightly during baking, with the browned, toasted mozzarella serving as an important finishing touch of a well-made pizza. Chicago-style tomato pies cannot achieve this, because the sauce is on top. If there is appropriate heat in the oven, a Chicago-style tomato pie may produce masses of gooey, stringy cheese which brings pleasure of a different sort. But there is no Maillard reaction to the cheese in such a dish.

        Enjoy your Sicilians, “Chicago pizza” partisans, all means. I do sometimes, too. They’re delicious. True pizza is something similar, but different, than this dish.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        “Sicilian pizza,” etc. all betray the etymology of the term by way of inclusion of adjectives.

        So “New York style pizza” has no adjectives?

        The word “pizza” without adjectives denotes the thin and crispy-crusted dish

        Linguistic prescriptionism, now there’s a dish to argue about. 😉Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Verily, I say unto thee: only a ham and cheese sandwich which has been grilled to brown the bread, shall be called a “sandwich”; neither shalt thou reverse the order of layering of meat and dairy therein; or it shall likewise not be called a “sandwich”.

        Reversing the layers or altering proportions doesn’t negate Chicago-style ‘pizzaness’ any more than changing the orientation of the bread from top and bottom rye on a ham and cheese, to three wheat slices toasted for a club, to a long white roll sliced lengthwise for a po’ boy, negates the ‘sandwichness’ of any of them.

        Now, a calzone is totally different. That’s not just a layer reversal, that’s a complete conceptual change.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        The phrase “New York style pizza” was entirely unnecessary before the confusing neologism of ‘Chicago style pizza’ originated, misappropriating the goodwill and popularity of the term “pizza.” Before some schmuck person thought he could sell more Sicilians by calling them something they aren’t but that the market was familiar with.

        It is for reasons like this that we have things like the Lanham Act. Came along too late to protect pizza, unfortunately.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        As someone who loves food, the making of, the theory of, the eating of, the sharing of, the Great Pizza War™ pains me. For there is room for all, and personal preference is fine. That there should be one pizza, and all others who welcome other pizza are dead seems the antithesis of what food — nourishment and sharing and love — means.

        This is not the territory of cowboys and indians; it’s not a super-soaker war. It’s the stuff of life, and celebration of variation infuses spice.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        A reuben ain’t a tuna melt ain’t a cheesesteak ain’t a burger.

        But they are all sandwiches.

        Thus it is with pizza.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Mark, Burt, other Coastal Elites,

        I hate to be the bad guy here in saying this, but someone has to. I’m seeing a lot snootiness expressed here. Pizzasplainin. It’s like you guys think all of us in flyover country are so deprived of pizza hope that we cling to our thick crusts and stuffing and sauce on top for lack of better options. As if you think eating pizza with a fork isn’t a choice – the right choice, the only choice! – but a sign of cultural regression and bitterness.

        Those thin flippy things you get in New York might be called pizza, but they aren’t pizza. Everyone – everyone! – would know this if we could get the word out, but the coastal pizza media machine silences the Truth about Chicago Pie. It’s pretty doggone sad, really.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I’m afraid your thesis lacks appropriate citations. Your application for a Masters in Pizzaology is denied. 😉

        [Truthfully, I don’t understand putting the sauce on top of the “toppings.” Why else are they called “toppings” instead of “middlings?” But it still tastes good, and you don’t see the Chicago people making the “only ours is real” claim. So I side with the deep-dish-sauce-on-top folks out of an aversion to East Coast elitism. 😉 Siddown and eat, and don’t worry about whether it meets some socially-constructed standard of pizza-ness.]Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        Of course we are Pizzasplain. In the words of Slate, you are doing it wrong.

        Furthermore, what you call sauce is not sauce. It often has way too much sugar and is way too sweet.

        NY Pizza is not thin like a character. It is the platonic ideal and golden mean of bread, cheese, sauce, and basil.

        Crushed pepper flakes to be added to personal taste.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        so deprived of pizza hope that we cling to our thick crusts and stuffing and sauce

        That you’re riffing off a Chicago guy makes that deliciously weird.

        Truth be told, though, maybe it’s not East Coast snobbery. There’s a sense of desperation surrounding their insistence, as though they’re trying to persuade themselves as well as us that the East Coast is still relevant despite a Chicago-based president, and the next one possibly being a Chicago-born pol who, cynical used New York as a mere political stepping stone.Report

      • @glyph There is already a word that encompasses both pizza pies and tomato pies: pie. We do not call a steak sandwich a hamburger just as we do not call an enchilada a taco.

        Nor is it snobbery to insist that words have meanings- to say that pizza requires a crust, sauce and cheese, in that order whilst a tomato pie has bread, cheese, and sauce, in that order is neither snobbery nor demeaning to the latter, and says nothing as to which is better, which is of course a matter of personal taste. In reality, I have had no shortage of horrible pizzas (I’m looking at you Domino’s, Papa John’s, any pizzeria in the greater DC metro area save the Italian Store in Arlington) and also no shortage of wonderful tomato pies, which my mother in law in fact makes several times a month and which have a long and worthy history. But they are nonetheless two entirely different types of pie.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Nor is it snobbery to insist that words have meanings- to say that pizza requires a crust, sauce and cheese, in that order whilst a tomato pie has bread, cheese, and sauce, in that order

        Take off the nose-blinders, my good man, and smell the scent of pizza privilege. And while you’re at it, smell a better pizza!

        I think James was right. East coast pizza dominance, flanked on the left by folks too pacific (hah!) to come up with their own pie, is on the wane. And nothing is more threatening than the loss of an unjustified privilege. Chicago will be recognized as the Sole World Pizza Power soon enough. And then all yall new Yorkers will be able to have a good pie, and eat it too!

        You didn’t think Barack’s Hope and Change campaign was about politics, did you? {obligatory evil laugh}Report

      • @stillwater If it be privilege to have access to actual pizza, then it is a privilege I will happily claim.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @mark-thompson – so, let me get this straight. You’re perfectly fine with grouping (NY) pizza with a fruit-filled dessert pie a la mode – but grouping it with another dinner dish with the exact same ingredients but with two layers swapped, is right out?

        And we’re the ones who are confused about classifications?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @james-hanley Pish-posh to your claims of pizza elitism, much less the political/geographic bias implied therein. The citation is to Italian pizza. See @newdealer ‘s comments concerning the golden mean of the ingredients. You may now accuse me of Eurocentrism.

        As for my purported lack of citation, there is as much citation in my opinion as anyone else’s. Some things are so obvious as to be susceptible judicial notice. The sun rises in the east. Water boils at 212°F at sea level. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is the best album ever made. And deep dish Chicago style tomato pie is not pizza, any more than an enchilada is a talk.

        @glyph the cheese on top is important. The toasting of the cheese adds to its flavor and texture.Report

      • @glyph If the comparison is to the breadth of the word “sandwich,” which encompasses everything from the ice cream sandwich to the Hoagie, then “pie” is the appropriate category, as the word “pie” encompasses not only fruit pies but also various mince meat pies, chicken pot pie, tomato pie, and pizza pie. But just as a cheese steak and a hamburger have the same ingredients but different names, and a taco and enchilada have the same ingredients but different names, so too are pizzas and tomato pies different.

        Brother Likko is further correct with his reference to Italian pizza as the standard. A “New York style” (and seriously, who calls it that?) pizza would be recognized as a “pizza” in Italy, even if not necessarily recognized as a Neapolitan (though it might); a Chicago tomato pie would not.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        “Posh”? Even your very language is elitist!

        The citation is to Italian pizza. See New Dealer‘s comments
        Pretty sure he’s not Italian. Pretty sure you’re not, either, despite the cleverness of ending your pseudonym with a vowel.

        the cheese on top is important. The toasting of the cheese adds to its flavor and texture.
        Indeed. There’s nothing like toasted cheese. That’s why cheese on top is my favorite type of pizza.

        Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is the best album ever made.
        You’re just cruisin’ around pickin’ fights left and right, aren’t you? Everybody knows the best album ever was Pet Sounds, which the Beatles copied on St. Peppers.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Well, I have never been to Italy, so I can’t speak to their relevance to judge what we call “pizza”, which I suspect is about as Italian as a Hamburger or Frankurter is German (which is to say, not much). But I have eaten “pizza” in other European countries, and it blows. Seriously, who puts broccoli on a pizza?

        But more to the point, when you ask “seriously, who calls it that?”, I gots bad news for you. Many, many, many people do, because this war has already been lost. I do it roughly once a week, because my favorite local joint luckily does excellent pizza in both styles. You want the Chicago to eat immediately, and the NY for later reheating.Report

  19. Avatar James Hanley says:


    From the article:
    “There is no place in the movement for the white liberal. He is our affliction.”—James Baldwin

    Repeated for the pure joy of tweaking my liberal friends here at the OT (and maybe, just maybe, puncturing the envelope of un-self-reflective smug that surrounds a very few of them).

    Now, with busing, black America lived under … an onerous, top-down system that told them where their children could and could not go to school.

    Wait, a top-down command-and-control approach failed to achieve its goals? Next we’ll be hearing some crazy dog-bites-man story!

    HEW…finally stepped in and took a strong hand, demanding that schools move beyond token integration by showing “statistical proof of significant progress. [But] ”There’s no such thing as “statistical proof” of integration

    This is actually a classic bureaucratic problem. We need to have measurements so we can see if we’re achieving our goals or not, but we don’t know how to measure the real goal directly, so we measure…something, not because it’s actually meaningful, but because it’s actually measurable.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Re: James Baldwin’s quote

      It doesn’t meant he would support what the Republicans or the Right is doing as a solution either…. He would probably want some solution that would scare the shit of Republicans who go against affirmative action and the usual Republican talking points.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I hate to say it to such a nice guy, but that’s a really defensive response; it allows the liberal to avoid self-reflection on Baldwin’s comment by saying, “But conservatives!”Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        What do you imagine James Baldwin would have instead of affirmative action? Do you think conservatives would go for it?

        I don’t necessarily think affirmative action is the best solution but it is certainly better than the conservative non-solution.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Hey, I have no idea what he’d want. I just know that “But conservatives!” Is exactly the wrong response.

        And that you like the wrong kind of pizza. 😉Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I pretty strongly recommend both links on that one (especially to @kazzy who I think in particular would find theminteresting). It’s a message from a liberal* to liberals. How terrible conservatives are doesn’t really factor into it.

        The affirmative action one in particular gives a context in which AA was actually a Nixon/Republican effort to appease black folks by giving something to middle class blacks (blacks with any sort of pull) and doing nothing for most of them. Very thought-provoking if one is interested in going beyond the contemporary left-good narrative or the left-is-the-real-racists counternarrative.

        * – He mentions that he’s become “more conservative” since looking at black history, but makes it very clear that he’s not talking about the Republican sort of conservative.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        That’s a “counterview” that pretty much ignores the content of what it’s responding to except to take the opportunity to say “conservatives suck.”Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        And actually, to be honest, I agree with Lemieux on the proposed compromised tucked away at the very end of the piece is unlikely. But seriously… that’s all he got out of it? That it was simply a clarion call for a compromise or a grand bargain? That’s seriously blinkered.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @will-truman I read the Slate AA a few days ago so maybe i’m misremembering it a bit. But i found it meh and certainly worse than the piece about busing. He says at one point that AA helped millions of people. It busted down some doors to open up jobs that had been closed to them but it was bad. It had a “what have the romans done for us?” feel. I don’t know the history well enough so maybe he is correct on some of that, but blacks wanted AA. It wasn’t imposed on them. I think he was trying to find a way to criticize but he was unable to deny that it helped many. Well if it helped a lot of people, then that is good.

        There is another odd issue with AfAc. Blacks were not the primary group AA helped. Women also benefited from AA but somehow the discussion is always about blacks. If it hurt blacks shouldn’t it have also hurt women. Maybe someone knows more of the history or something i’m missing. But the fact that AA discussions seem to always focus on blacks and not on all the other groups (women, other minorities, the handicapped) seems, at the least, really really odd. Were handicapped people hurt by AA? Women? Latinos? etc?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Here’s my 2 cents. AA made some great strides in rectifying serious structural and systemic problems; it may have lived on past it’s efficacy. The point I took from the Tanner piece – especially given the quotes from MLK – is that the goal liberals were trying to achieve was unattainable, so necessarily their programs failed to realize that goal and insofar as liberals want to pursue that goal, they need to take a good look at their policies and policy priorities. Blaming conservatives for the failure to attain those goals initial goals is a mistake (since the policies failed to make progress on a bunch of levels).

        My question is this: if the goal really is “total integration” as understood by MLK (where that integration logically precedes the economic power that would follow from it), then what possible policies could ever get us there?

        If, on the other hand, the goal of total integration requires economic power (reversing MLK’s causal sequencing), then what policies could possible get us there?

        Maybe the goal of total integration is wrongheaded. I mean, I’m not even sure at this point in our cultural evolution that I can imagine such a thing or even understand what it means, let alone figure out ways to realize it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Greg, I took a slightly different message, whichis that affirmative action was always a remarkably weak measure. A bone thrown by a Republican president to those blanks who needed it last. A weak measure liberals saw through at the time. Yet now it’s the crucial centerpiece to liberal politics on race and that they’ve become too comfortable on the basis of a negligible victory that itself they could ultimately lose.

        I do have some criticisms of the piece, namely that I don’t thinkRepublicans actually care enough about it for it to be a more effective bargaining chip and I think it overestimate what’s possible. But I found the historical context given to be a fascinating read on the issue.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Stillwater, I’m not fully clear whether you arereferring to the affirmative action piece or the integration one.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Will. Fair enough. I’d want to read much more history of AA to make a good judgment on it.

        I did engage the Google machine after my last comment. I didn’t want to say it to harshly without refreshing my memory a bit. I noted that discussions of affirmative action always seem to discuss blacks. But women were also a prime beneficiary of AfAm. I think it is problematical that the problems with Affirmative Action only seem to be discussed in the context of blacks. Women or others like handicapped people aren’t discussed. If affirmative action is as bad as the critics complain why aren’t those other groups harmed and why don’t’ the critics seem, at least to me, talk about those other groups being harmed. It happens a bit, but blacks are the focus of discussions around the problems with affirmative action. If there is any reason why women and the handicapped don’t’ suffer from the problems, if there are any, of affirmative action it would likely relate to class. However my concern remains; why are blacks the only or primary locus of discussion regarding affirmative action. There is something there.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Lemme check.

        The integration piece. Tanner Colby’s article, the one Lemieux is criticizing. My takeaway from that article is that liberal’s underperformed on their expectations not only because the policies were ineffective (after a point) but also because the goal is unattainable (not that liberals would necessarily agree with that critique, btw). But I also think there’s some real confusion about what it means to realize that (ideal) goal anyway and the conditions which would satisfy it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @greginak To be clear, Tanner doesn’t at all argue that affirmative action has hurt black people, except insofar as it has perhaps added complacency or that the energy devoted to it would be better spent elsewhere. He does argue that affirmative action benefited a somewhat smaller selection of black folks, and I’m relatively sure the exact same argument could be made for women. A difference there is the greater degree of difficulty that black folks face in comparison to women, or the perception thereof.

        @stillwater Still confused. Lemieux is criticizing Tanner’s affirmative action piece and not Tanner’s integration piece. If you’re referring to the latter, I assume that the goal is ultimately greater equality (and that more integration could be achieved with that goal). He’s not just saying that the goals here didn’t succeed (which is kind of what he says about affirmative action, that it was something of a token half-measure) but that it was counterproductive towards its stated goals. More success was achieved in places that were less aggressive in the direction that integration advocates drove, and in places that focused less on forced busing and more on underlying issues like fair housing laws.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @will-truman Were there other options or ideas aside from affirmative action to help minorities and women break through the old barriers? I have no idea if there were. The only thing that comes to mind is the notion from some conservatives that there shouldn’t have actually been anything done which doesn’t really count.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        At the time, I don’t think there were any good options. Not in the short term, anyway. While I knew that Nixon was responsible for AA, I was floored that William F Buckley endorsed it. I would have supported it, too (and for some time after). Past the short term it starts to get muddier as to what the options were and what confluence of factors lead to the limitations of AA’s accomplishments. Liberals, including Tanner, would point to the need for more investment early on. My own views are more fluid, though tend towards class-based and situational (trying to incorporate as many disadvantages as we can) AA that would disproportionately benefit minorities. (I’m not going to rehash that whole discussion, though.)Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      James, I have a very different take on all this. Much of what we see as policy failure is, in some sense, the result of compromise between ideologies. My reasons for feeling this way stem from having worked in government; I was responsible for computer systems used to administer welfare during the Welfare reforms that took place while Reagan was president; and so responsible for the changes at the state level, in a liberal state, with conservative reforms for systems that had federal reporting requirements.

      Essentially, we get down to one group saying, “yeah, we want to do this,” and the other saying, “well, you’ve got the majority, but not too far.” So much of what gets done is purely and simply half assed. I offer ACA as proof of this, too. Were it a liberal policy, it would be a single payer or have a government-sponsored plan competing with private plans.

      I totally agree that measuring outcomes is difficult; and we mostly end up measuring proxies and approximations. But those compromises add their poison here, too, because they either don’t bake measuring into administration costs (smaller the government, bigger the problem here,) or the bake in measures that aren’t such good proxies, and become the reason for the investment while missing the original goal.

      But the real problem, as you clearly identified in a comment elsewhere, is that when we talk from rooted ideology, we stop talking. If you come to me and say, “let’s get rid of some needless or harmful regulation,” I would be thrilled. But if you come to me and say “Regulations bad, get rid of it,” I’m going to first have to defend regulation (so seem like I love all of it,) and we never have the real conversation that would, for instance, lead to a simpler tax form. Your whole start here, something about Liberals not rejecting their difficult voices, approaches from the second scenario, the ideological, and does so by creating that group of others you label ‘Liberal.’

      This is easy to do; and since it’s the way discourse seems to go on in most of the media, it seems normal.

      I think it a harm.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Much of what we see as policy failure is, in some sense, the result of compromise between ideologies

        I agree, with two caveats. First, that itself is one of the constraints on gov’t capacity, at least if we choose to remain democratic. Second, failure of the half-ass compromise does not prove the the I compromised policy would actually have accomplished its goals. In some cases, yes, in others, no.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Your whole start here, something about Liberals not rejecting their difficult voices, approaches from the second scenario,

        Yeah, and everyone’s quick to let me know about it. Meanwhile, Kim makes the bald claim that conservatives don’t get humor and…crickets. And I don’t think that’s because it’s just Kim. Because when other liberals pull a “conservatives are (all) X,” it’s damned rare to hear any of the OT liberals take the type of notice I’ve received here.

        I don’t doubt your sincerity here, or Michael’s or greginak’s. I doubt how even-handed y’all are in noting offenses against this particular value. OT liberal privilege and whatnot.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        That’s precisely why I picked you out to pick on, @james-hanley, you’ve been pointing this out for a while now, and I agree. There is an underlying tone of liberal privilege, sometimes. Sadly, part is simply push back against a media machine — epistemic closure and echo chambers.

        I’ve begun using the ™ symbol after othering nouns as a way of signaling I’m aware of what I’m doing. I don’t come here to listen to my own echo chamber, I come here to escape it; to talk to people who are actually thinking beyond the memes.

        You’re pretty good at that. Most of the Regular Voices™ are. And sometimes, the only way to even talk about something is to participate in an act of othering, it’s not necessarily a horrid thing to do. But it seems best done with care and awareness.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        You’re still a liberal who picked out the non-liberal who critiqued liberals, instead of picking out any of the liberals who critique non-liberals. And you’re a liberal. So the justification comes across as, well, a justification.

        I don’t doubt you mean to be sincere, and you’re one of the commenters in whose integrity I have the most faith, but I’m going to become a true believer when you start picking out your team’s regulars when they do it. And if nobody does, that’s fine. Let’s just keep an even playing field.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        That’s absolutely 100% accurate @james-hanley

        I established a playing field.

        Thank you for being a good example. Should I page you if I mention a liberal when they’re othering with their liberal privilege? Just to make sure I’m keeping up my end of the bargain?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        You’re under no obligation to do so, but obviously I don’t see every comment here. I actually do work sometimes when I absolutely can’t avoid it. 😉Report

  20. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


    I’d be interested to hear Mark’s take on this. When my mom ran the day care out of her house, no rules play was the norm & injuries were nearly non-existant.Report

  21. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    46 links are a lotReport

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      No kidding. It took forever to get the post out of moderation.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I know, right? Friday started at midnight and this post didn’t actually go up until some six hours later….

        (If it’s any consolation to SN, my LF for next week has been reduced by a few links covered here, though it’ll still include more than he prefers since I will be coming back from hiatus.)Report

  22. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Here is a joke that everyone can appreciate:

    Did you hear about the kid who was really good in history?

    His professor made him the class TudorReport

  23. Avatar James K says:

    on GV6, our personal injury law is radically different to the US, so it would be easier to relax safety rules here than it would be in the US.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:


      As far as I can tell, the US is the only country where personal injury lawyers make really good money. In Europe, there is compensation but not at the levels that US plaintiffs can get with good lawyers.

      I think this is because almost every other Western country has a really strong social safety net and welfare state (I don’t know about New Zealand specifically). If the US could get to those levels of social welfare state, I am sure our personal injury law would be more reflective of the rest of the world. This seems to be a pipedream though. It seems more likely that the US could chuck her personal injury law* and have zero safety net.

      *The Tort Lawyers are a major donor to the Democratic Party and this keeps favorable tort law in force. The Republicans have the Chamber of Commerce, the Democratic Party has the American Association of Justice (aka the Tort Lawyers).Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        We have a system called ACC for personal injury which is a government run no-fault insurance system for injuries and workplace accidents. As such you actually can’t sue for personal injury in New ZealandReport

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        We have worker’s comp as well. NY has no fault driver’s insurance. I don’t know if other states do, California does not.

        What about if someone is the victim of a defectively made product or medical malpracitce. Those cases can earn serious money for personal injury lawyers.

        Plaintiff’s lawyers also do well in the fields of employment discrimination, antitrust, consumer fraud, and securities class actions, and many more.

        It is a risk though because the fees are paid on contingency and usually the winning attorney receives 33-40 percent of the damages but advances all the costs upfront. Considering that a case lasts a white before wrapping up, this is a tricky industry to be in.Report

  24. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    If from Tanner Colby’s articles I can reliably learn that there are large numbers of liberals who have still been at pains in the last decade or so to say basically that “Busing Was Teh Complete-Awesome, Dude. You Will Shut Up About Its Shortcomings Now!”, or “Nuh-Uh! Affirmative Action Did Too Completely Eradicate Structural Disadvantage for People Of Color In This Country!”, then I can truly say I learned something from the essays that I genuinely did not know about these subjects and that it is important for me to know.

    If not, well, then I still did, because the articles are indeed very well-researched and well written. I think they evince a slightly underdeveloped sense of the politics of these issues over, well, most of my adulthood, however. And to some extent of the politics of the times in which the policy stories he tells so well occurred, though of course that is just my view, and I’m sure he’d defend his sense of those politics doggedly to me.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Dude, this reads so much as an attempt to avoid thinking about the message by intentionally giving the worst spin to the piece; a real “liberalism can’t fail, it can only be failed by people like Colby” vibe.

      Ideology’s the enemy, Michael. Not that you liberals here are any worse than any other group of ideologues, but contra what you all seem to think, you’re not any better.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        All I’m really saying is that his pieces seem premised on the idea that liberals haven’t done hardly any of this reflection at all. Especially on busing, I think that is just patently false. On affirmative action there may be more of a case. But as far as I am aware, most liberals look on busing, as it was carried out, in any case, as a failed policy. Colby himself says that, applied surgically, there would have been a place for it. And he makes only obscure reference to who it is he is talking about who says it was only failed, and not at all flawed in conception. My impression from the article is that he is operating from a sense that the views of a few isolated ideologues at UCLA represent what liberals in general think about the history of busing today.

        Maybe you missed the point of my attempt at humor, but it was actually quite to the contrary of the notion that what Colby calls for shouldn’t happen. It was to say that it has to a large degree that he has not attended to, probably on busing more than AA to be fair, and not at all to disagree that it should happen more.

        To me, the fact that you would miss this basic thrust of my comment and hasten to toss it in with your preconceived idea about how liberals look at this kind of question more reflects an hang-up that you happen to have about liberals than it does anything about how liberals actually think about these issues.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        All I’m really saying is that his pieces seem premised on the idea that liberals haven’t done hardly any of this reflection at all.

        Sounds like a good premise to me.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        And that’s your long-enunciated pre-commitment whenever this kind of discussion arises. In most cases I usually think it’s not as well supported in the record as it ought to be to justify your obvious and overwhelming bias on it every single time. Certainly on busing I don’t think it is. And I certainly think there have been some pretty involved discussions among liberals on the virtues and failings of affirmative action over the last twenty years as well. We’re obviously free to disagree.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        There are few things humans are better at than justification. And it really jumps out at me that neither you nor New Dealer really faced up to Baldwin’s comment. Lots of liberal white ‘splainin’ going on here, it seems to me.

        I’m not suggesting you liberals rethink your values or your general goals. I’m suggesting you re-think the general assumption that favors top-down control-type government programs.

        You know what liberal policies have worked?
        — Same-sex marriage, which is not a top-down social program but a “get governments the hell out of people’s way” type program.

        — Social Security, which is a “send people a check then get the hell out of their way” type program.

        –The Voting Rights Act, which was/is a “get (state) government the hell out of the way” type program.

        Sure, those needed government action, but the focus was on giving people opportunity, not controlling or directing their choices.

        — Busing? Not a great success.

        — Public Housing (projects, not subsidization)? A colossal failure.

        — Head Start? The best that can be said is that it’s a harmless waste of money.

        My suggested reading list for liberals, to give them solid tools for thinking seriously about the prospects for beneficial state control would be:

        1. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes To Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, by James Scott.

        2. The Other Path, by Hernando de Soto.

        3. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, by Elinor Ostrom. (Or for a shorter introduction, The Future of the Commons: Beyond Market Failure and Government Regulations..Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        By the way, the dismissive “pre commitment” line is very effective rhetorical technique.

        Of course where the line is between “pre commitment” and “conclusion reached some time ago after long and considered evaluation,” might be relevant to the discussion. I mean, when I set off for grad school I was a registered Green. 😉Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I think we have to understand that quote in the context in which it was said, and I unfortunately don’t really know what that is, though I have been trying to look into it a bit. Without the context, it can’t really say much of anything to anyone, can it? Do you have any links or if you want to write something on exactly what elicited that statement, who those white liberals were and what they were doing that had him so exasperated?

        And where here have I suggested I have a general assumption that favors top-down control-type government programs? It’s fine of you want to lob that charge at liberals in general, as incomplete or inaccurate as it might be, but you lobbed it at “you” liberals, meaning me. I don’t know that I have such an assumption. I consider myself to be interested at looking at how various solutions to different problems might work and trying to choose the best ones, without a bias toward top-down or, as Roger would say, bottoms-up. My assumption is that different problems call for different kinds of solutions. My view is that that view, combined with a commitment to a certain basic raft of liberties, is what it is to be a liberal, but of course that is hardly a settled question.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        A conclusion reached some time ago after long and considered evaluation can, some time later or even just then, in fact be or become a pre-commitment or even a bias, can it not?

        If you want to remain committed to this view over a long period of time about a group as heterogeneous and even simply undefined as American liberals, that is your business. Maybe it was justified when you made the conclusion; maybe it in fact remains so today. I can’t definitively disprove it nor do I care to try. I’m going to continue to call it what it appears to be to me: a biased pre-commitment, and in your case, something of a tiresome hobby horse.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        …I do appreciate the reading recommendations, though. as i said above, the interesting story to me is figuring out how the integration movement became attached to this regime of busing – understanding what the motivations and blindnesses were. In retrospect, we can probably see ways it’s like the kind of schemes Scott lays out in his great book. At the time, I’m guessing it didn’t seem that way at all.

        Also, since you’ve mentioned it so many times, if you’d ever want to describe your views as a Green and your evolution away from (some of?) them more fully, I
        m sure that would be a very interesting reflection for us all to read.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        – Head Start? The best that can be said is that it’s a harmless waste of money.

        And yet the conclusion of the anti-affirmative-action piece is that targeting college admissions is too late and what’s needed (among other things) is support for early childhood education. Liberals may not have the answer to race, but that’s because no one does.

        By the way, does anyone have the context for the Baldwin quote?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        As for context, I’m not finding *ANYTHING* online. It’s weird. There are two references: the first is to the Slate article. The second is to an article on the Village Voice that is a reprint of an article from the archives:

        That’s a reprint from 1964, if I’m reading the article correctly. The quote is argued against as if it stands alone.

        But I can’t find the original document/speech. Just the responses to it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        And yet the conclusion of the anti-affirmative-action piece is that targeting college admissions is too late and what’s needed (among other things) is support for early childhood education.

        I agree. So there ought to be widespread agreement that we should look for effective early childhood education programs. Perhaps by funding a variety of experimental approaches to early childhood education instead of instituting–and defending to the bitter death–a program that’s proven itself unsuccessful.

        I see this as very similar to welfare (AFDC/TANF). We had a single top-down system which allowed no deviations and did nothing to encourage recipients to move beyond dependency. Then we allowed states to innovate and learn from each others’ experiences, and welfare rolls have declined, remaining lower than before even during our Great Recession.

        Liberals may not have the answer to race, but that’s because no one does.

        I’m inclined to agree. I just want liberals to stop pretending they have, or have ever had, those answers. And if you don’t think liberals do, you should try to view from outside. The smug criticism of conservatives’ ignorance on these issues, while wholly correct, more than subtly hints that liberals are knowledgeable on them.

        Heh, from the outside, it’s pretty funny. When liberalism is criticized in any way, you all sound like libertarians when libertarianism is criticized. Sure, you all want different policies and outcomes, but in terms of unreflective ideological commitment, I don’t see a dime’s worth of difference between y’all.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        It’s true. My ideological blinders would have prevented me from realizing that it was possible to reduce the number of people on welfare by making eligibility requirements more stringent.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I just want liberals to stop pretending they have, or have ever had, those answers.

        And smearing as racist those who object to implementing, often at great expense, their preferred solutions.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        I saw that too. And right now, everything else on the search engines seems to be getting bigfooted by the very piece in which Colby quotes Baldwin. Oh well, so much for lazy internet research…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Sure, liberals are diverse. In fact they have so little in common that absolutely no statements can be made about them!

        Also, if you’d ever want to describe your views as a Green and your evolution away from (some of?) them more fully, I’m sure that would be a very interesting reflection for us all to read.

        My views as a Green were pretty much Green views, then I started studying how government and policymaking actually functions. It’s really that simple.

        More books:

        Why Government Succeeds and Why It Fails, Amihai Glazer and Lawrence Rothenberg.

        Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It, James Wilson.

        That’s Not What We Meant to Do: Reform and Its Unintended Consequences in the 20th Century, Steven Gillon.

        Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails

        The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?, Gerald Rosenberg.

        Any good environmental policy text that honestly discusses the successes and failures of various policies.

        The story is not that government always fails. The story is that we overestimate its capacities and avoid trying to understand the ways in which it fails. We don’t think about perverse incentives when we design policies, we treat the targets of policy as dependently reactive rather than autonomous, we think “don’t just stand there, do something” is good advice, we assume government capacity that doesn’t exist (including capacity for foresight), and when policies fail we blame lack of resources and/or lack of will, we blame people on the other side of the aisle, forgetting that one of the characteristics of a good policy is its capacity to diminish opposition.

        What we don’t think about much at all is the match between the fundamental nature of the problem we want to solve and the actual capacities of government.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @james-hanley Two things: First, giving states more control has often led to people like Rick Scott and other gov’s making people piss in cups just to get benefits. I don’t think you agree with that anymore than i or pretty much any liberal type does. Giving states more control can work if there is a good basic standard level of service that has to be met and they have the ability to find a way to get there. If the states can do just whatever the hell they want then its pissing in cups, just plain ol’ cutting benefits or , as with medicaid expansion under the ACA, some states just don’t it. To often, at least by conservatives, local/state control is just another way of saying “we don’t wanna.” As a side, when conservatives are making people piss in cups for benefits, a dollop of people will end up criticizing liberals since “welfare” is somehow a liberal idea, so L’s are responsible for every darn thing C’s do.

        Second, while no has all, or most, of the answers on race when liberals are speaking they are generally doing so as the group that most racial minorities support. There is a good chance if liberals are speechifying or offering an idea about what to do regarding a race issue, it is either a person from the minority group in question who is speaking and many of that minority group have had a ton of input on developing whatever plan is being proposed. That doesn’t make the idea correct or workable. But when talking about liberals and dems, that is talking about blacks and Latinos and whoever else is a minority group. So to a degree if you want to hear what the minority groups we are trying to help want, you need to look mostly, although certainly not completely, at D and liberals.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        @mike-schilling–Thank you for a perfect example. You reduce the effects of welfare reform down to a single factor, the one that most conveniently serves to delegitimate the effects. And in doing so you give absolutely no evidence that you know any details of the differences between AFDC and TANF beyond that one liberal-talking point.

        @brandon-berg–Yes, and more broadly, assuming that opposition to particular policy X means total lack of caring about the problem it targets.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        There’s a lot of “we’re better than the conservatives” in your comment. But I’m not arguing for conservatives. I’m not even arguing against liberalism. I’m arguing that “we’re not as bad as conservatives” is how liberals avoid serious reflection on policy failure.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        assuming that opposition to particular policy X means total lack of caring about the problem it targets.

        This is a problem everywhere it occurs. We should all agree on that.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Yes. Ideology is the enemy.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @james-hanley Well there may be some of that there, but that wasn’t my two points. Liberals include to a far, far higher percentage the racial groups we are often talking about when we talk about problems with race. That matters. It isn’t everything at all, but it matters. Liberal solutions have also been the solutions minority groups wanted.

        That doesn’t’ mean we haven’t made the mistakes you outlined above which you are correct about to a degree. Liberals often do overestimate how much gov can do and ignore the ways in which it often does fail.

        Also state level problem solving has many problems, the biggest of which i noted, was that left to their own some states just won’t try to solve the problem at hand ( see Medicaid expansion under ACA) If the states were really trying to solve the problem of their uninsured than that would be a start. Here is AK our R gov turned down Medi expansion and immediately issued a nice speech about finding solutions which he is doing nothing about. Read that as R’s are bad, but it is also about how leaving things to states is often a road to doing nothing. Maybe nothing is best, but than that is the argument.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        That admonition doesn’t have anything to do with ideology. Anyone trying to implement anything will always be tempted to see things that way. What they’re implementing doesn’t necessarily have to be driven by ideology.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        If you think I am just arguing for state-level policymaking, you’re badly misreading me. See my reference to the VRA.

        And every critique I make of government is about government–state governments are government.

        State government has two advantages.1) Being able to recognize the particular needs of their stakeholders (which doesn’t mean they always do look out for all their stakeholders; this is an advantage that’s available to them, not an inherent attribute). 2) Greater ability to experiment (merely as a function of numbers that enable them to compare their successes to others similarly situated).

        We should make use of those advantages when possible. But to say that isn’t to suggest state government is anything like a panacea, or that it is the appropriate level for all policies.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Also, when you continue to say that, you end up sounding, to me, like an ideologue who’s just trying to get out of being accountable for that fact on the cheap. You really think you’re not an ideologue? That you’re less of one than me? Really?

        And the more you say it, the more I’m not sure I know exactly what the word is a label for coming out of your… fingers.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I think the admonition has everything to do with ideology. Non-ideologues are able to discuss policy differences without assuming the other just doesn’t care about particular problem X. The “you don’t care what happens to (inner city children/Egyptian protestors/etc)” argument is the peculiar province of the devout ideologue.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I didn’t call you an ideologue, so just chill out, ok?

        In everyone’s interests, let’s call this discussion quits.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I didn’t call you an ideologue


        Wow. Okay, my bad I guess. Talk to you later.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I didn’t.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        The “you don’t care what happens to (inner city children/Egyptian protestors/etc)” argument is the peculiar province of the devout ideologue.

        This is just not my experience. I don’t always think I know an ideologue or non-ideologue when I see one, but I’m quite sure I’ve had conversations with people who are just not open to other views on a point who are not committed to a particular larger ideology, while I’ve had discussions with people with strong and broad ideological commitments who were quite open to many ways of looking at a problem. Closed-mindedness != ideologue-hood(?) (necessarily), and even closed mindedness on a particular point doesn’t reliably predict closed-mindedness in general. People sometimes simply form strong opinions on certain points that put them in a place of thinking that anyone who hasn’t done the requisite thinking to get them to that same place can only have so failed out a failure to care enough to do so. And… often people with strong ideological commitments are able to identify that tendency and correct for it, or just avoid it altogether.

        Being such a strong ideologue that you absolutely will adopt that stance is bad (if such result is a guaranteed result of some degree of being an ideologue at all), but so is any other route to adopting that stance. And tendency toward some ideology alone in my experience is not enough to get a person to be an ideologue to that degree at all. rather, it seems much more to be a characterological issue. People who are closed-minded are closed minded. it’s a personal trait that they have to work on.

        Ideology can be problematic, but its also a paradigm that all of us who engage in this kind analysis have to work with and manage. Ideology is an inescapable paradigm for social analysis that is actually useful to an extent, but also a paradigm we can’t allow to be the only one that we operate inside of.

        In my experience.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Let me approach the state/federal question from an analytical angle, that’s not liberal, libertarian or conservative, nor critical of any of them.

        First, we too often speak somewhat carelessly of “the government” as though it were monolithic. (Not “liberals do,” but “all of us” tend to). Of course we all know that it’s really not, and it’s really not in at least two ways.

        First, the federal government is composed of various branches and agencies (rather obviously; I’m being pedantic, not condescending), and they don’t always work toward the same end. So, for example, while the DOJ was helping register black voters in the South and prosecuting violent Klan types when the states wouldn’t, the U.S. Public Health Service was sponsoring the infamous Tuskegee study, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was stealing rez kids from their families to foster out to white families, and the Department of Agriculture was systematically discriminating against black farmers in its loan guarantees. And of course the companion case to Brown v. Board of Education was Bolling v. Sharpe, which challenged segregation in the D.C. school system–a school system run by Congress.

        Beyond that, let’s consider any country where there are two distinct sets of policy preferences, X and Y, and where those groups are to some extent regionally located. The Xs are going to look at Y regions and think something needs to be done, so, not having a significant presence in those regions, they press for action at the top level of government. Because while the Ys may dominate in their own region, at that top level of government their policy influence is diluted by the Xs (and let’s assume we agree that’s good, because we both like the Xs). But unfortunately, our (the Ys) policy influence at that top level is also diluted, by the Xs. So we can’t be too sanguine about outcomes there, either. In fact we might have to fight the Ys at that level just to preserve our good Y policies in our own region.

        My point is not that states are necessarily better than the federal government, but that neither is necessarily better than the other. It’s all on a case-by-case basis that depends on what type of issue we’re concerned with and who has dominance at what level.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @james-hanley I completely agree with this “My point is not that states are necessarily better than the federal government, but that neither is necessarily better than the other. It’s all on a case-by-case basis that depends on what type of issue we’re concerned with and who has dominance at what level.”

        FWIW when people in general discuss fed vs state level there is almost never any discussion of why a certain level is best. C’s tend to almost always just fall back on preferring state level for everything just because states Rock On. Libertarians tend to go for lowest level of gov automatically. And just to be fair Liberals tend to look for fed level solutions. Each group falls back on their bias without an issue specific discussion of why that is best.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        Are you sure this is not calling me an ideologue?:

        “Not that you liberals here are any worse than any other group of ideologues”

        It’s fine; I thought you thought that anyway. But there was a reason I was surprised to hear you say you didn’t.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        when people in general discuss fed vs state level there is almost never any discussion of why a certain level is best… Each group falls back on their bias without an issue specific discussion of why that is best.

        Too true. All too true.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        No, I wasn’t.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Hard to see how you weren’t. Certainly hard for me to see how I was going to proceed into that conversation not feeling like you had. I’m in a group… it’s more or less like other groups of its kind… that kind of group is a group of ideologues.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Don’t make me regret not meaning that.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Like I said, it’s a fine thing to think if you happened to think it. I can’t really tell from an ideologue at the marginal case, even in myself. I don’t appreciate the shortness and dismissal later on when the mistake was yours, is all. You gave me a reason to go through that conversation feeling like you had said I was an ideologue, then you got dismissive when I finally allowed that I felt that way. You should admit it.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      …BTW, an aside to @will-truman :

      Colby is decidedly not explaining that integration was a bad idea. He is explaining why he thinks that liberals just got wrong what integration actually is. His explanation of how that is so is pretty compelling, but to the extent that he writes about history as much as just policy, I’d have been interested in an account of how they may have gotten that idea and why they stuck with it when King et al. was trying to lay out exactly what was being sought under the banner of integration. Maybe that’s in his book.

      He actually argues for true integration even today, something that it’s fair to say many liberals largely have given up on, though perhaps not finally.Report