Linky Friday #59

Casablanca

Europe:

[E1] The corruption and fraud surrounding the EU is said to be breathtaking.

[E2] A number of conservatives and anti-immigration sorts have made some hay over Switzerland’s decision to restrict immigration. It’s worth pointing out, though, that the immigrants they are restricting are more of our H1B variety (except European, if that matters) than the immigrants they spend the most time complaining about here.

[E3] How Swedish tax policy lead to Abba’s flamboyant outfits. (via Vikram Bath)

Politics:

[P1] The dumb rubes in the working class aren’t the ones driving our political polarization. It’s folks who have education and income.

[P2] As the fiscal outlook of states improves, states are trying to figure out what to do with the money.

[P3] According to The Nation, feminism is undergoing some toxic Twitter wars.

[P4] If gun control advocates want people to believe that gun registration will not lead to gun confiscation, they should take care that gun registration doesn’t lead to gun confiscation.

[P5] Pentecostalism is spreading among the immigrants. This sort of thing could, ultimately, be how the GOP improves its share of the Hispanic vote (over time). Hispanic protestants tend more towards the GOP than Hispanic Catholics.

Robots:

[R1] South Korea is building a 364-foot statue of Voltar the Invincible to go in their Robot Land theme park because why now?

[R2] What a neat idea: using remote controlled robots to let people look at museum art after hours.

[R3] Paging Kim! Robots saved Pittsburgh.

Health:

[He1] Will Doc Shock become a thing? People don’t like narrow networks, but they could be a crucial to cost control. Truly, the enemy of true health care reform is us.

[He2] Third-hand smoke exposure is just as deadly as smoking! Ack! Except that it’s not, of course, and eventually making everything as dangerous as smoking makes smoking actually look less dangerous (if anyone actually believed it).

[He3] Science, health and the human mind are funny things. The power of placebo.

[He4] Ack! Some crocodiles can climb trees!

Housing:

[Ho1] NIMBYism is trying to kill housing in Evanston, Illinois, due to fear of transient academics.

[Ho2] A builder in Portland found it easier to build affordable housing without public funding (other than some waivers) than with the strings attached to public funding.

[Ho3] Maybe in the future, houses will be built in 24 hours by 3D printers.

[Ho4] How van-based housing works.

[Ho5] The army built a fake city for training purposes. Across the street from us are vacant storehouses that local fire departments use for training. They actually light stacks of hay on fire.

Jobs:

[J1] Is your job in another state? Click here to find out!

[J2] You might be able to find a job in a lot of places (or a job that goes a lot of places), if you’re a clown, because there’s a shortage.

[J3] While raising the minimum wage will hurt McDonald’s, it’ll just be replaced by something else. The shift towards upscale has its own concerns, though.

[J4] Ryan Noonan, formerly of Ordinary Times, co-wrote an interesting paper on manufacturing wages.

[J5] According to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, extended unemployment benefits boosted our jobless numbers.

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83 thoughts on “Linky Friday #59

  1. P1: Lots of people love the Idiocracy theory of the future, but I’ve always though that it was fatally flawed in blaming the poor. Most of the ridiculous political posturing that I see on the Facebook, for instance, that could one day lead to the election of President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho is coming from the people with grad degrees and “professional” jobs. It’s the SWPL folks who like turning politics into a spectator sport. It’s the educated folks who are forever either bleating about how great Michelle Obama looked in a cocktail dress or foaming at the mouth about how that black lady in the White House dares to wear a cocktail dress. Poor people seem to have other concerns.

    ps – There is not much I hate more than the term professional, as in you see a Craigslist ad looking for roommates who are “young professionals.” Since when is over-credentialed Excel monkey a profession? God forbid you end up with a roommate who works a trade or who didn’t go to college. That would be tots awkward, you know, cause he wouldn’t relate to all your fancy book-learnin’ words and your, like totally, erudite conversation.

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  2. He4: Oh dear Jeebus! Now I have to be concerned about giant snakes AND tree climbing crocs invading Florida!

    E1: This is a surprise?

    P4: “If gun control advocates want people to believe that gun registration will not lead to gun confiscation, they should take care that gun registration doesn’t lead to gun confiscation.” Who would actually believe gun control advocates claiming they don’t want to confiscate guns, when the whole reason for existance is to remove guns from society?

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  3. [J5] Gotta love the “unemployment insurance kills jobs!” meme. Giving people some time to find the right job, rather than having to immediately take whatever crappy job is available, is exactly the point of unemployment insurance. Hey look, it’s right there in the article: extended benefits “increased labor productivity because they ‘allowed unemployed workers to be more patient in selecting jobs’ and find better matches, the economists wrote.”

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    • The most oft-cited reason for the unemployment insurance extensions is that it’s not reasonable to expect them to find jobs right away. The question being “What timeframe is reasonable?”

      A secondary reason is, as you point out, so that people can find a right job rather than the first job that comes around. The question being “How much time should you get paid while you’re looking?”

      Increased labor productivity is a good thing. Decreased labor output isn’t. Which is the rub.

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      • The right question to ask is whether unemployment insurance increases length of unemployment through a) moral hazard; i.e., it decreases the marginal benefit of working, so workers are more inclined to choose leisure; or through b) allowing unemployed workers sufficient time to find the right job. Luckily there’s research to answer that question. It shows that “increases in UI benefits have much larger effects on the duration of unemployment for liquidity-constrained households (that is, households with low levels of liquid wealth) than for other households.” This argues against the moral hazard theory. Cleverly, he also shows that “lump-sum severance payments also increase the duration of unemployment substantially among liquidity-constrained households. Because lump-sum severance payments are cash grants that do not distort the individual’s net wage, this constitutes direct evidence that liquidity effects are large.”

        So the typical framing of UI as draining us of our work ethic is quite wrong, not that I’d expect the WSJ to get it right.

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    • A well known phenomenon is a sharp uptick in the percentage of people who get jobs in the weeks following exhaustion of their available unemployment benefits. I don’t know that anyone’s looked closely at the quality of those jobs, but I’d be willing to bet they’re sufficiently worse than people who get jobs in the weeks before they exhaust, on average. There are people, particularly people who have savings, who just don’t feel all that much pressure until they no longer have any money coming in. This may be bad for the economy short-term, and may have had a small impact on the speed of the recovery after ’08, I would bet that long term, people who don’t feel pressure not only find higher paying jobs, but find jobs that they are less likely to leave in the near to medium future.

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      • I would bet that long term, people who don’t feel pressure not only find higher paying jobs, but find jobs that they are less likely to leave in the near to medium future.

        And why would they be more likely to leave those other jobs? If it’s for better jobs, then little is gained from encouraging them to stay out of work until they get that better job.

        I don’t know the answer, but your very bet suggests the question. If there’s not fine grained research on that, there should be.

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      • I mean they’re less likely to leave because they’ve found better jobs than the people who feel rushed. A good job is hard to leave. A bad one, not so hard.

        Though I’d add that rushed employment in ’08 through ’12 might have been doubly bad, because people got worse jobs, but felt like they couldn’t leave them because the job market was so awful.

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  4. Ho2 just infuriates me. There is something seriously fucking wrong when advocates for the poor prevent housing from being built because it’s not up to upper-middle class standards.

    “We should have the same standard of housing for everyone in the community, and not allow lowered standards for low-income people or homeless people,”

    So being homeless, or having multiple families crammed together in an apartment, because people can’t afford housing, is “the same standard of housing for everyone in the community”? It’s not a lower “standard for low-income people or homeless people”?

    Does this asshole ever walk down the streets of Portland, see a homeless family, and think “they could be in out of the cold rain, but I’m actually helping to keep that from happening”? Somehow I doubt it. Instead she’s probably congratulating herself on how much she cares about them, while they’d probably be pleased if the just had a storage unit to sleep in.

    This kind of perverse do-gooderism boils my blood. Why did I shift from liberalism to libertarianism? Read that article and you’ll see about 60% of the reason.

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    • I’m divided on this. Having all housing at upper-middle class standards is an impossible and ridiculous standard to achieve. At the same time, I think that there should be at least some standards for housing besides affordablility. I have no desire that affordable housing be at the shanty-town level of quality or to return to the type of housing Riis wrote about in How the Other Half Lives. Microapartments are bit too much like SRO and flop houses for my tastes. I’d argue that each unit should at least contain one bedroom, one bathroom, and small kitchen/living room area.

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      • I have no desire that affordable housing be at the shanty-town level of quality

        Granite countertops and LED lighting are “shanty-town level of quality”? Seriously, you’re pulling a fast one here, ignoring the vast range between upper-middle class and shanty-town. Nobody in that article argues for eliminating any standards and building tenements. They’re arguing that the current high standards get in the way of building basic decent housing.

        Microapartments are bit too much like SRO and flop houses for my tastes. I’d argue that each unit should at least contain one bedroom, one bathroom, and small kitchen/living room area.

        Pardon me for being brusque, but that’s just fishing nuts. I had a friend in SF who lived near Laguna Honda in an efficiency apartment. One room with a bathroom and very small kitchenette. He was single, and found it very convenient. Don’t tell others how they should live, especially when you’re driving up their costs and pricing them out of something they would be happy to have.

        This is the fatal flaw of the left-leaning person, letting their concern for others be guided by what they think the other person should have, not what those others would like, and as an inadvertent consequence keeping those others in a worse position they would otherwise be in. If someone is currently sleeping on a friend’s couch and would love some privacy if they could just afford it, don’t restrict their opportunity to get a micro-apartment. If a family is currently living with one or two other families in a one-bedroom apartment, don’t obstruct their ability to get their own apartment by demanding standards they can’t afford. Basic safety standards, sure; nobody should have to live in a firetrap. But elimination of those standards isn’t what’s being discussed here–that’s not on the table.

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      • bit too much like SRO and flop houses for my tastes. I’d argue that each unit should at least contain one bedroom, one bathroom, and small kitchen/living room area.

        The part about your tastes is important. Your taste may not be everyone’s taste. The apartment in which I live in right now doesn’t fit your minimum standards and yet I am quite comfortable in it. I like it enough that I paid a whole bunch of money for it (at least I promised the bank that I would pay a whole bunch of money for it).

        When you constrain people’s choices, you are actually decreasing the utility that they could get from any transaction. Does that mean that we should never constrain people’s choices? Probably not, but it does mean that we should tread lightly.

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      • I apologize if I come off rather aggro here. This issue really does make me angry. The Portland business….

        “We want affordable housing. But it has to have this, and it has to have that, and it has to have these other things.

        Oh, all our secondary goals sank our primary goal of affordability? Well then we need some more tax dollars.

        And to ensure that the tax dollars are used right, you’ll have to do this, and you’ll have to do that, and you’ll have to get a HUD approved door and set up a legal entity and do a thousand other things.

        Oh, that sucks up shitloads of those tax dollars? Well then we need some more tax dollars.”

        Why, when there’s a much cheaper solution?

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      • James,
        I guess I’m not that left. All I’m hoping for is “no energy slums” — if you can live there affordably, you can save your way to better stuff. [also, I am pro-eliminating roadblocks to saving.]

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      • I don’t really understand why you think this will be an issue. If people are willing and able to pay more for quality, then landlords will provide it because it lets them charge higher rent. If they’re not, then why does it matter to you? Why is it better for them to pay $X for better-quality housing when they’d rather spend it on something else?

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    • One of the things that’s bugged me about low-income/affordable housing (CDBG block grant money) is the requirement for bedrooms.

      If you’ve two or three kids, nobody is ever going to tell you you have to have a bedroom for each child. But this is the requirement for CDBG housing; three kids and a mom need a four-bedroom unit; and that drives up the building costs, no doubt. (It also means apartments are large enough that the kids will often share a room and other friends or families will also live there, too.)

      There’s also this: He says to meet federal regulations on a housing project he has to spend about $15,000 in extra attorneys’ fees to set up a required limited entity corporation and another $35,000 to set up a special partnership to meet federal regulations. Those are just examples, according to Spevak. “Think of it as a thousand paper cuts,” he says. Just need to point out that these are the kinds of regs that have happened because of the tension to help, but make sure to winnow out graft and corruption; often the strings on help insisted on by conservatives and agreed to by liberals to eliminate fraud and abuse. It prevents start-ups like Spevak from competing for CDBG money; creating monopolies of those corporate entities to build housing that invest in setting up the structures required to meet the regulatory requirements.

      But there is a huge flip side to all of this, and again, it goes back to state regulation. In states where there are minimal building codes, this regulation is probably very burdensome. But there are a lot of states where there are no minimum building codes, too; and it’s a lot cheaper to build a firetrap.

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      • “But there are a lot of states where there are no minimum building codes, too; and it’s a lot cheaper to build a firetrap.”

        Name one state of the 50 + the District of Columbia where there are no building codes, and it’s legal to build a firetrap.

        I’ll be back when you do.

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      • K,
        you’re likely to not have any building inspectors way out in the boonies.
        And places like that tend to operate on the “if you can’t fuck someone else’s shit up…”

        There’s plenty of places without plumbing, or oil or a furnace.
        [That said, some laws apply everywhere, like fire escapes ]

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      • Ok, just so we clear, all states have building codes, all use the model code (i.e. codes based on the International Building Code, International Residential Code, et al) with amendments tailored toward their specific geography, and nobody can build a fire trap.

        So there is actually no flip side in this case.

        If you’re out in the boonies, you’re not building nor living in multi-family dwellings, nor buildings complex enough that emergency egress becomes a thing to plan for.

        That is, unless you’re in some sort of cult, then yes, you’ll have all those things until the government comes in to torch your place. Then the circle of life renews.

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      • no, that’s not necessarily the case; all places are subject to local jurisdiction, poor people live in rural areas, and this includes many smaller cities. Homeless people live in rural areas, too.

        Part of what’s important here is the change over time; however. The adoption of local codes has been a slow trend; but minimal safety standards were not in place when we began funding low-income housing. And I want to stress the word minimal.

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    • I’d like to sign on to Ho2 with James as being something that makes me livid. This kind of fished up doublespeaking nonsense has to be one of the ugliest sides of liberalism. The self satisfied, smug, ignorant delusional cruelty is breathtaking.

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  5. P3- One of the real big negatives about social media like Twitter or tumblr sites is that it allows for the enforcement of various types of orthodoxies and party lines. There are more than a few blogs were departing from the party line could result in vicious commentary beat down. Its sort like the shamming rituals that used to be conducted but at global level. I suppose that a lot of “check your privilege” sorts will argue that the internet is being used to enforce “good” norms and that might very well be the case but they should take into consideration the ability to cause ideological divides and enforce “bad” norms to.

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    • I see it as quite the opposite, particularly on Twitter. You’ll notice that, even in that article, they’re talking about people who have traditionally been excluded, and in many cases are still being excluded, speaking up. And that becomes “toxic,” to the author of the article. Ugh a third time.

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      • By that line of argumentation, the LA riots were a good thing.

        Also, the phrase, “people who have traditionally been excluded” is getting awfully close to weasel words. It is supposed to signify something, but I’m not sure what. Internet feminism is a bit of academic interest, no? Most of the people that I see having ideological flame wars are middle and upper middle class college educated, mostly white folks. What are they being excluded from?

        You don’t often see people from inner-city housing projects or Appalachia online tweeting about privilege.

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      • By that line of argumentation, the LA riots were a good thing.

        Umm… only if you take one hell of a tangent from “speaking up” to “violence.”

        Also, the phrase, “people who have traditionally been excluded” is getting awfully close to weasel words. It is supposed to signify something, but I’m not sure what. Internet feminism is a bit of academic interest, no? Most of the people that I see having ideological flame wars are middle and upper middle class college educated, mostly white folks. What are they being excluded from?

        Every sentence in that paragraph is wrong. No, they’re not weasel words. They are vague, but that’s because they refer to several groups who have not, traditionally, had voices in mainstream feminism. This is because internet feminism is not an academic interest, is not of interest exclusively to educated white women.

        You don’t often see people from inner-city housing projects or Appalachia online tweeting about privilege.

        You and I are on different parts of Twitter.

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      • A couple of things:

        One, I call BS on the whole idea that we ought to celebrate internet and social media flaming as some sort of social justice tool that allows the marginalized to finally have a voice. The ability to join a mob is not a voice. It’s the opposite of a voice in that each individual’s voice is completely obfuscated while in the mob.

        Further, the ability of two groups of people with differing opinions to have an honest discourse is the foundation of civilization, without which we are just warring clans beating our chests and flinging poop at each other. Obviously, there are times when the social and power dynamics of a given situation make honest discourse impossible and something more is necessary. That something else, however, should never be the mob. The mob is the lowest and most base form of human expression. It’s even worse than techno.

        More importantly, once you’ve resorted to the mob, it all just becomes a battle over who has the most power and who is willing to use it in the most indiscriminate and destructive way possible. That never ends well.

        Two, I admit that I don’t know the full length and breath of the internet. All I do know is that whenever I stop to pay attention any particular conflagration, I see a certain type of person taking part. Are they the only people taking part? No, of course not. But those are the people who seem to be dominating the conversation.

        I’m always happy to be proven wrong, but all I am seeing are more assertions.

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  6. [P3]: Ugh.

    You know, there are some pain in the ases on Twitter, people who are basically reverse trolls, looking for anything you say that might be remotely construed as offensive and jumping on it, but that article is awful. It basically admits that it’s awful when, at the same time it’s talking about how toxic online/Twitter feminism is, it talks about its very real successes! “It’s getting a lot done, but it’s toxic, because some people are mean!”

    Ugh.

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  7. J2 — The good folks in Vacationland are stepping up to the plate with a Clown College.

    Just to note that the location of the campus is incredibly beautiful, on the shores of Casco Bay, just across the mouth of the Fore River from Portland.

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  8. Here’s a great link on materialism (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan):
    http://aeon.co/magazine/world-views/why-we-should-love-material-things-more/

    We’ve got used to the transitory nature of our possessions, the way things are routinely swept aside and replaced – whether it’s last season’s cut of jeans or computers that mysteriously slow down as if clogged by quick-drying cement. It’s one of the challenges facing the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, whose chief scientific adviser, Professor David MacKay, in January bemoaned ‘the way in which economic activity and growth currently is coupled to buying lots of stuff and then throwing it away’.

    Fashion is my pet peeve here.

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    • Yes! Why the fish do computers slow down and bind up? I’m absoluteyl religious about not installing or allowing extra programs to sneak in. I use the bloody scrubbing programs for spyware and the like. What gives?

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      • There are actually technical reasons to have non-replaceable batteries. Specifically, it allows for a more compact design. This is less important for laptops than for smartphones.

        That said, I have no patience for it. One of the main reasons why I stopped getting HTC smartphones was that they stopped having replaceable batteries. That not only has adverse effects on the overall lifespan of the device, but being able to replace batteries is important for short-term considerations (“I’m going to spend all day flying or at airports, and if I can replace the battery I don’t have to spend the whole day worrying about battery life.”)

        I think that you can actually replace on some of these devices. You void the warranty and have to know what you’re doing. Obviously, this is not something that can be done at airports.

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    • As the clothes loving person on OT: Why is fashion your pet peeve?

      I disagree with the anti-materialist section of the left. Often it seems to me to be filled with the kind of leftie who likes to mock most people as being “sheep” and is not very productive to winning elections. Now we probably overconsume and there are resource worries but I don’t think the world would be a better place if it was anti-materialist and we all lived like shire Hobbits. There is a lot of craftsmanship in good material things including clothing that I respect. The anti-materialists strike me as too spiritual in a vaguely hippie sense or like people who convinced themselves they are the Guardian class from Plato’s Republic.

      So perhaps this is where my inner-libertarian kicks in.

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      • Well, there may be a lot that displays high-quality craftsmanship and materials, but there’s a whole lot more that’s disposable junk.

        The chains of responsibility in fashion are not visible for ethical consideration; materials used (man made, often from oil resources), water resources, agricultural practices, labor practices, distribution practices, energy are all part and parcel of consideration; and a chain of responsibility that is nearly impossible to follow for all but a few brands.

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      • I have a good friend who writes about fashion with a focus on the sustainability. It’s a odd niche; the industry in general doesn’t give it a second thought, beyond the potential for higher margins for ‘organic’ fabric.

        Even the notion of industry certified worker safety to avoid things like the building collapse in Bangladesh are not welcomed or considered.

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      • a trend is that these people are young and fit enough to look good in anything.

        I have a theory about fashion. The more accessible a fashion is, the less likely it is to ever be fashionable. So it has to be expensive, uncomfortable, or (in this case) it only looks good on already good looking people. This especially seems to be the case for women’s fashion, which actually seems geared to accentuate “flaws”… which allows only the “flawless” to look good in it. Which makes sense, since fashion is dictated by the wealthy (can afford it), the passionate (willing to endure discomfort), and the already attractive.

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      • there is no doubt that young and beautiful and buff sell stuff.

        I try to buck this trend; I use ordinary people (my friends, mostly) for models. I don’t make them up; I don’t try to hide their wrinkles and bulges. But I do try very hard to find beautiful light and to take a fashion photo that, in some way, tells a story. I also try to get photos of the same design across a range of people; different sizes and shapes, so that the potential customer may see someone close enough to them that they think, ‘yeah, I can wear this.’

        My photos, used in a fashion mag, would draw ire and attack. There’s this real thing that regular-looking people ought not be seen. Particularly if they’re female.

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      • Will,
        I have a different theory on fashion. You have your trendsetters, and the shmucks. Be confident and charismatic enough, and you can be a trendsetter. Gather a flock of shmucks, and you can be a big trendsetter.

        Marketing — gotta love it.

        [Any marketeers out there to give the free market verdict on this theory?]

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      • Will,
        most fashion on TV is about hiding flaws. (not to speak ill of someone who I respect, but Amy Poehler’s makeup just keeps on getting thicker). I’ve seen fashion designed to hide obesity, and stuff designed to make someone with a high waist seem good (or a long torso).

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      • ND, whats the manifesto called? Squares of the World Unite?

        Will, there might be truth in this statement. People have always liked dressing up well but previously economics and strict societal norms didn’t make this so easy. People have much more clothing than they did in the past. Even wealthy owned less clothing in the past than they do now because of its cost. During the 18th century, rich women would wear dresses and gowns till they were thread bare.

        I don’t entirely agree with you. One reason why I think current fashion is more abstract looking than past fashion is how we train fashion designers. Until the mid-20th century, most fashion designers trained as tailors and dress makers. They spent years learning how to measure actual people and design clothing for them. My grandmothers both have the experience of buying fabric and taking it to the dressmaker. These days fashion designers are usually graduates of fashion design schools. They never actually measured or made clothing. They just design it on paper. If fashion designers had more experience in actually making clothing for real people than fashion might be accessible.

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      • I somewhat disagree. Jeans are the most radically eaglitarian fashion item in human history though there are various swipes against “mom jeans” and “dad jeans” but it is fairly easy for many people to find a good-looking and affordable pair of jeans.

        Uncomfortable is hard to discuss because uncomfortable is a subjective value. I know a lot of guys who say they are uncomfortable in anything except jeans and cargo shorts. I don’t quite understand this: Pants are pants and I don’t know why a nice pair of wool slacks is comfortable. Or a dress shirt for that matter. Ties can be uncomfortable but a button up dress shirt is all cotton and feels the same sense wise as a t-shirt to me.

        I think uncomfortability comes with cheap clothing because it uses inferior fabrics or artificial materials like rayon and polyester. Cheap wool is also scratchy but I have a nice wool shirt-jacket that is not scratchy at all.

        A week or two ago there was a meme on facebook about how the heterosexual women like men in well-tailored suits like heterosexual men like women in lingerie.
        A friend said she wondered what her husband would look like in a well-tailored suit because all of his suits were off the rack from Burlington Coat factory. I pointed her to a few examples from the Barneys Warehouse and added that a good tailor probably costs around 75-100 dollars.

        This is a nice suit at a good discount:

        http://www.barneyswarehouse.com/paul-smith-byard-suit-502795531.html?index=18&cgid=mens-suits-suits

        My friend said her husband pays around 75-100 dollars for his suits and I sort of don’t know how to react to that. I’ve bought two suits in my adult life (the rest are hand-me downs from dad, there are benefits to being the same size as your dad). One was a ZZegna on sale for 700 something dollars plus alternations (40 percent off or so from retail) and the other was a Belvest that cost 800 dollars plus alternations, down from 1800 or so.

        I’d worry about an 80 dollar suit looking bad and falling apart at the seams in a year.

        My friend and her husband have solid upper-middle class jobs but he is a computer guy. I am a law guy. I think you can do a whole sociological study and when professions will look down on you for not caring about appearance and when they will look down upon you for caring about appearance. It seems to me that among computer types, it is looked down upon to care about clothing as an intribe matter.

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      • ND,
        you can get away with a bohemian look as a software developer. But you shouldn’t look too tight-assed. The important thing is to look reliable and creative.

        I hate hate hate jeans, because nobody makes them gussetted enough for mobility. (well, at least I’ve never found a pair). I’d wear them if I was hiking through briars, maybe…

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      • I think uncomfortability comes with cheap clothing because it uses inferior fabrics or artificial materials like rayon and polyester. Cheap wool is also scratchy but I have a nice wool shirt-jacket that is not scratchy at all.

        It’s not just the comfort. It’s what goes into that comfort. Bright colors create all sorts of issues (often, they require heavy metals to bond the dye to the fabrics, for instance). The solvents, oils, and detergents used to make many fibers into threads are problematic. (Do not ever bring something home from the store and wear it without washing it. Ever. This is very bad for your health.) Agricultural practices matter here; cotton has some pretty big problems, from water usage to pesticides. Labor practices, obviously.

        Fashion isn’t just about comfort and style for the wearer; it’s about the lives and the environment that subsidize your fashion choices. That connection rarely gets made.

        And full disclosure; my medium is wool. I love wool, I seek out woolen clothing whenever and wherever I can. Not all wool is created equal; and it starts with the sheep that grew the wool in question; it’s the micron count of the individual fibers that determines softness. But how the wool is processed matters too; it need to be cleaned of animal waste, dirt, vegetable matter, the sheep’s own oils (lanolin). It’s often dyed. All of these processes can introduce irritants. Dyes and cleaning solvents are often very irritating. And when it comes to cleaning, dry cleaning is also pretty noxious, as are the bags. (Don’t store your clothing in the dry cleaner bags.)

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      • …most fashion on TV is about hiding flaws…

        Vaguely related to this is the conversation I had 13-14 years ago with the manager of the PBS studios in St. Paul, Minnesota. High-def was just starting to be deployed. She was concerned about two things in particular. One of their most popular local on-the-air personalities had terrible skin but was vain about how he looked on air, and was proposing to wear much thicker (and much more obvious) make-up. The other was that much of their set furniture was second-hand and quite shabby, but the shabbiness didn’t show in standard-def. She was going to have to juggle budgets like crazy in order to replace a lot of the furniture.

        I pointed out to her that this was only a transient problem. In 20 years, from then, we’d have the processing power and software to fix make-up and furniture in the video in real time.

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      • I don’t consider jeans to be particular fashionable in and of themselves. They’re popular in a more ubiquitous way*. Tight jeans, on the other hand, do tend to be more fashionable and more exclusive.

        Dress shirts tend to require maintenance. Suits as well. I also think that both tend not to be flattering on atypical physiques.

        This music video came up on on the playlist on the TV. Half of the things she is wearing she can pull off precisely because she has a conventionally attractive figure. For a while these things were extremely fashionable, and I don’t think it’s coincidental that non-skinny people don’t look good in them.

        * – Which is an interesting thing, how something becomes so common that it ceases to be fashionable. I wonder if bikinis have reached that point. They’re on the list of “Things that look better or worse in exponential relation to how conventionally attractive the figure of the person wearing it is”… but they have become so common as to be the default. I remember when my wife and I were at a waterpark years ago we actually took notice of women who were actually wearing something one-piece.

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      • I would say that jeans are fashionable because of their ubiquity. There are still a few places where they are no-go: Schools with dress codes or uniforms, old fashioned stuffy restaurants/clubs (where they are sometimes amusingly called Denim trousers), many offices. They still have their aura of cool. Politicians where jeans on the campaign trail to show they are relaxed and men (or women) of the people.

        You are right that there is a hierarchy of brands and cuts though.

        Dress shirts might need very basic maintenance but this does not make them uncomfortable.

        Fashion is odd and exists on all sorts of levels and this makes it hard to explain.

        This is something completely silly and expensive and cannot be worn by 99.9 percent of the population and is part of avant-garde fashion:

        http://www.barneys.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-BNY-Site/default/Product-Show?pid=503137026&cgid=mens-shirts&index=2

        There is plenty of nice and fashionable clothing that is not silly like this and can be worn by all body types and look good. Go to rb45rpm.com and check out the look book or Billy Reid or Steven Alan or Engineered Garments. Not avant-garde but well made (but on the expensive side) expressive and artish without being clubby/avant-garde.

        I find my role as fashion/clothing defender to be somewhat amusing

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      • I would say that jeans are in secular decline as truly fashionable pants. They can still be brought off as fashionable, but it’s taking more and more input from the wearer to get that output these days. But that could be a very geography-dependent assessment.

        For myself, I always had a couple of pairs of jeans in my wardrobe, until about three years ago, when I suddenly realized I *never* looked forward to wearing them any more. When they wore out, I just didn’t replace them. Corduroys are not my go-to pants, which is probably very much influenced by the climate in which I live, and also by the fact that that’s what I went to school in most cool days through at least third grade. The fact that I can semi-convince myself I look semi-fashionable in them and also feel cozy in any weather makes them irresistible to me. then I have some lighter kinds of pants for the spring and early fall.

        I’d even rather wear any of my dress pants than jeans these days, though of course I don’t for most casual situations. I wear cords! (Or lighter chinos if it’s warmish.)

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  9. P1: Out of curiosity, what do you think are the dumb rules of the working class? I saw an Atlantic article on the same study or a similar study. IIRC liberals become more liberal with their college education and conservatives become more conservative.

    P5: I’ve walked by numerous Hispanic Pentacostal churches in San Francisco and Brooklyn.

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  10. P4 – Funny thing, those of us on the gun rights side have been saying this would happen for years. Hell, this isn’t even the first time CA & NY have done crap like this.

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  11. re:computer slowing down:

    1) Are you running windows? Windows destroys itself slowly or quickly. It’s mildly self-modifying.
    2) Do you have OS backups? Try rolling back slowly, and maybe you can figure out what spyware you installed (was it turbotax??) — via misclick or whatever
    3) If not, reload the OS. That generally fixes things
    4) If not the os, scan your hard drives. sometimes there’s physical issues.

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    • Speaking from an IT perspective “my computer running slow” means one of two things.

      1) You are talking about your browser, and the culprit is almost certainly the 83 million toolbars you have installed. STOP THAT.
      2) Your computer is 5 or 6 years old, and you are trying to run brand new gaming software with all the bells and whistles turned up to 11. STOP THAT.

      After that you have malware and ad-ware infestations, badly timed backup operations, and general bloat.

      But really, number 1 is like 50% of the cases. Right there. STOP INSTALLING ALL THOSE TOOLBARS.

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  12. P2: Interesting that tuition freezes for higher ed are mentioned, but not rolling tuition back to what it was before the Great Recession. I suspect that it would be difficult to find a state where more than 50% of the state road lane-miles are rated as being in good condition or better. Give me six weeks in any of the 50 states’ governments and I’ll find software that is old, creaky, bug-ridden and near-impossible to maintain that will take anywhere from $250M to billions to replace. Give me four weeks in any one of the states and I’ll bet I can find school buildings that don’t meet code that will take anywhere from $100M to billions to fix. Outside of a handful of physically small states, any of the states could reap enormous benefits in the long run from a billion dollars spent on fiber and routers to connect schools and city/county government to a robust network.

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