Progress in America

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125 Responses

  1. Will Truman says:

    I like Budweiser. You just like “beer that has taste” because you want to signal sophistication.


  2. ScarletNumber says:

    There is nothing wrong with Coors Light.Report

    • Will H. in reply to ScarletNumber says:

      Yes, there is.
      It’s called “two-stage micron filtering.”
      This is why MilBudCoors will go flat in a day, while a Lindeman’s will retain its fizz after opened for two months or more. (the filtering strips out the medium-chain proteins)

      Do yourself a favor and have an Orval.Report

    • I don’t know about coors light, but regular coors I like, at least when it comes to “cheap beer that I can tolerate.” When it comes to “slightly more expensive beer that I seek out and buy when it’s (on rare occasions) at my supermarket,” I’d say it’s Dundee’s Honey Brown.

      I just can’t do Budweiser. I just can’t.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        I keep reading about how Stella is terrible swill fit only for pigs. I quite like it.Report

      • rmass in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        Very much agree on Stella. I really don’t understand the hate. Other than that I drink Miller high life or whatever odd girl beer the wife buys. For beer anywayReport

      • Glyph in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        I don’t care for Stella at all, but I don’t care for most Belgian beers that I’ve had in general, though Wittekerke under the right circumstances is decent.

        In the case of Stella specifically, I wonder if the green bottle aids in the light-skunking of the beer – Heineken is usually pretty bad too, but I once had some fresh Heine right near the brewery and it actually was pretty good. 😉Report

      • Will H. in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

        It does.
        The blue wavelengths affect the acid profile of the hops, known as “skunking.”

        I remember hearing about a guy that was trying to duplicate Corona, and couldn’t get it quite right. A more experienced brewer told him to sit it out in the sun for a day. It worked; dead on, and the guy was quite happy.
        I can’t see being happy about duplicating Corona.
        I remember drinking a Dead Guy Ale and thinking it was one of mine, but I wasn’t trying to duplicate anything, and so I was more suspicious of Dead Guy than pleased with myself.Report

  3. zic says:

    Here’s some other progress.Report

  4. aaron david says:

    Now there is a Slate pitcher…Report

  5. Will H. says:

    I was so happy when Stella Artois bought out Anheuser-Busch, because I thought there was going to be shelf space for Whitbread’s Pale Ale on a wide-spread basis. No such luck.
    Whitbread’s is the beer that showed me that I really do like pale ale. There’s just a vast difference between American pale ale and English pale ale.
    Still, Stella Artois is a decent beer, and now replacing my stemware is a lot easier. The Stella Artois are my favorite glasses.
    I’ve had Bud Light right out of the fermenter on the brewery tour, and it’s a pretty good beer like that. The filtering ruins it.

    A local tavern has Bud on draw for $1 and Stag in the bottle for $1.50. (a deficit of dark beer out in the county) The Stag is a better beer. It’s drinkable at least.

    Were they to quit making Budweiser tomorrow, that might well restore my faith in humanity.
    Hrmmm. Those are awful strong terms.
    Yes, that might do it.Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    Poe’s law?Report

  7. Damon says:

    Pff I was drinking Redhook in ’92 in Seattle.

    Does this really warrant a Slate piece now? Isn’t it “old news’?Report

  8. Burt Likko says:

    All hail Jim Koch. Out on Jamaica Plain a generation ago, he started a revolution. We reap the benefits. Well, he’s a billionaire now, so he’s gotten some substantial benefit from it too. Still, I’d say he’s earned it.Report

  9. I can see two ways in which that can count as “progress.”

    1. Other people liking something is progress because now they’re more like me because my tastes are better. (And anyone who disagrees is being anti-intellectual.)

    2. Other people liking something I like is progress because that means manufacturers are more likely to make it and sell it. Therefore, I have better and more opportunities to acquire it.

    I’m probably just as guilty as anyone of the using the first as my definition of progress. But in terms of progress that I actually feel comfortable defending, I’m more inclined to favor the second over the first. For example, I love sour cream and onion flavored Doritos, but not enough others appear to (and ranch flavor just isn’t the same). If more did, then maybe Doritos would make them again. That would be “progress” because then I could buy them.Report

  10. Saul Degraw says:

    @kazzy @j-r

    Lighten up….Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:



      There were any number of ways you could have shared this article. You opted for the way that confirmed what I tend to think about your general worldview. Don’t blame me for that.Report

      • Saul DeGraw in reply to Kazzy says:

        I think @glyph makes an interesting observation below.

        There is nothing uncommon about the opinion that mass-produced American beers don’t taste very good. It is what caused a lot of people to start breweries of their own and caused a lot of other Americans to seek out craft beers.

        You seem to be taking a personal dislike and blowing a little cheeky joke out of proportion.Report

      • Saul DeGraw in reply to Kazzy says:

        Will’s comment above is a perfectly fine joke back and it takes my thread title with the appropriate degree of levity.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

        Seriously, of the many things you could have picked to knock a chip off your shoulder, this?Report

    • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I am way lightened up on this topic.

      I just think that @kazzy nailed it perfectly. I’ve been giving you the benefit of the doubt that this post is playing on the idea of you being a snob, but I can’t say that I’m sure about that.Report

      • Glyph in reply to j r says:

        Aw come on. It’s not like “Mass-produced American beer is terrible, compared to the rest of the world” is a particularly new or uncommon opinion (the “canoe” joke was popularized by Python in 1982, for god’s sake, and the joke itself is older than that, at least 1952).

        As a matter of fact, it’s partly why there has been such an explosion in craft beers.

        Are we all going to get upset the next time @kazzy does a Rushmore post and jokingly tells us our choices are objectively inferior to his?Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:

        Who is upset?

        I just thought it was funny.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

        I’m certainly not going to risk jr’s wrath by saying that a low-rated, elitist show like 30 Rock was funnier than a popular favorite like Coach.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        The problem, @glyph , is that I think I make pretty clear that my whole, “My subjective opinion is objectively superior to your subjective opinion,” shtick is hyperbole for comedy’s sake. The whole point of Mount Rushmore posts are to argue the inarguable.

        It isn’t clear to me from this post if Saul REALLY think that more Americans drinking craft beer is a sign of progress OR if he is riffing off the charges of snobbery often leveled at him. I am genuinely confused on the matter.

        If he really does think that Americans drinking craft beer is a sign of progress… well, I’m going to level a charge of snobbery at him.

        I guess the reason I’m saying anything is because I have tried to engage Saul on this point in a number of ways and in a number of places and he often simply ignores it. Which is cool. He doesn’t owe me anything. But strikes me as antithetical to one this whole place is about if I’m being told not to criticize this post after other attempts at more constructive dialogue have gone unanswered.Report

      • Glyph in reply to j r says:

        @kazzy – Yes, all attempts at levity must be clearly labeled so, and if they are not and someone takes them seriously, it is always the person who failed to clearly label them who is at fault.

        Also, I agree completely that if one has failed to reach their desired results in earlier serious dialogues with a person, then it is completely socially-appropriate and desirable to attempt to pick an old fight on a new topic that even they admit could quite possibly be just a joke; and this behavior in no way comes across as kind of petty.

        NOTE: The preceding comment may or may not be 100% sincere.

        This part is completely sincere, though: I don’t think it controversial or snobby at all to refer to diversification and increased market share by formerly-minority players as “progress”. There used to be about three readily-available beers in America, and now there are dozens or hundreds that almost anyone can choose from, and many of those newer minority choices are gaining market share.

        If your school used to only have one type of student, and now it has dozens of types and so is more diverse, and each of those types is growing in number and popularity, well, we often refer to that diversification and toppling of the homogenous majority as “progress”.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


        It remains unclear if this post was sincere or satire. Hence, Poe’s Law.Report

      • Glyph in reply to j r says:

        What the hell, let’s take it as sincere.

        A hypothetical that assumes Egon was not a prophet:

        A newsstand used to only carry Time magazine. In addition, it now carries Vibe, Guns & Ammo, and Better Homes & Gardens, because each of these magazines has proven that there is a growing paying readership for each of them; moreover, some old white regular readers of Time magazine have given Vibe magazine a look on their weekly stop, and discovered that they quite enjoy it (turns out, that young “Beyonce” has delightful spunk and gumption!)

        *I* say, with complete sincerity, that that’s “progress”.

        Am I a snob?Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:


        That is not a very good analogy. It’s more like a newsstand that carries Time, People and The New York Post starting to carry The Economist, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times.

        The Poe’s Law comment was perfect. I saw the post and thought that Saul was likely poking fun at his reputation, but I wasn’t sure.Report

      • Glyph in reply to j r says:

        @j-r It’s more like a newsstand that carries Time, People and The New York Post starting to carry The Economist, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times.

        Sure, if we choose to frame it by injecting assumptions about the relative class markers of each item.

        Plenty of people prefer mass-market beers (heck, I am on record as saying the hops arms race in the craft beers went too far – if my bar choices are three crazy-hopped craft beers and Bud, I’ll probably take the Bud).

        (Also, I am certain that in some cases, the “craft” beers that have “cachet” are actually using lower-quality ingredients, since they can’t afford to buy in bulk like the big brands can).

        But let’s go your way.

        If many people like Taco Bell best, that’s totally fine.

        Me, when my town gets three “real” small taco joints – and those joints start taking business from the Bell – I call that “progress”.

        Am I a snob?Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


        He didn’t just say, “Yay, a broader variety of beer is available.”

        He said people are “learning” to drink “real beer”. Which means that most people don’t drink “real beer” because they haven’t “learned” to yet. That is an obnoxious thing to say if it was said sincerely.Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:

        Wait. What exactly are we arguing about here?

        The reason that I thought it might possibly not be a tongue-in-cheek post was mostly because of its author. It’s possible to like craft beer in a non-snobbish way, but… well, there is a reason that the term “beer snob” exists.

        Kazzy didn’t pull his comment out of thin air.Report

      • Glyph in reply to j r says:

        Will someone please answer the question?

        “Ever since the new taco joints opened up, we in my town are learning to eat real tacos. Progress!”

        (or, “Because we are learning to eat real tacos in my town, new taco joints have opened. Progress!”).

        Am I being a snob when I say that?

        I mean, I AM, in one sense…I think Taco Bell tacos are fine for what they are, but if you prefer them to my favorite local taco joint, well, *I* think you are crazy. And in some sense, that’s all implied by my comment.

        But OTOH, does anyone realistically think taking me to task for the crime of possible taco snobbery makes any sense at all (and note: Saul was not taking other people to task here, except in a possibly-implied way); especially when in other instances there’s nothing wrong with preferring the little guy over the corporate behemoth?

        It’s all just rhetorical framing, so as to pick a fight where we want to pick one. And I submit this is ridiculous ground. (Of course, it’s my own fault for not simply rolling my eyes and moving on).

        (Actually, writing this out illuminated something for me – next time a beer snob gets flak for being one, he should simply frame his preference as being one of standing up for small business owners. That should get the snobbery-chargers or real ‘Murican beer preferrers off his back. EVERYBODY is for small business owners.)Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:


        Like I said above, the Poe’s Law comment was perfect because it was Saul. Your taco snob comment would not draw the same reaction from me.

        If you had a history of presenting yourself as a serious foodie and mentioning how you rarely eat fast food or dislike insufficiently authentic ethnic food, then it might be different. It’s all about the context.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to j r says:

        It’s worth keeping in mind the title and tone of the article linked to. I took it as Wearing The Cliche rather an actual implication of superiority.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


        If he is wearing the cliche than isn’t point that out appropriate? Telling me to “lighten up” because I referenced Poe’s Law seems to be rejecting the cliche.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to j r says:

        Depends on the topic, but wearing the cliche means winking at your own stereotype, which to me calls for a lighter response. I mean, it’s one thing if you’re hiding behind the cliche to do something truly detestable (“I was winking at my southern roots when I insulted black people! Lighten up!” doesn’t work), but it’s another when we’re talking about beer preferences (or art) or something comparatively trivial, that people can joke about.Report

  11. Dave says:

    1. On the very rare occasion I do drink beer, I drink High Life. Why? Because nothing else I know can be called the champagne of beers.

    2. While it seems that the craft brewers can produce beers that are better than the stuff that’s mass produced, that dynamic has not gone over very well in the bourbon world. I’ll still take my Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond over any craft distiller that generally has to source its bourbon from one of the big distillers anyway.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Dave says:


      Re: #2

      I read that this happens because of needing to age Bourbon and similar spirits for at least a decade. I wonder what will happen when the decade is over and craft distillers get to release their own product.Report

      • Notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        What will happen is that americans will learn to drink real bourbon not the proletariat swill they been drinking.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Bourbon is aged a relatively short time compared to other whiskeys – your basic Jim Beam white label only gets four, even if you spring for a Knob Creek that’s still only nine years old. I’m sure there are bourbons that get over a decade, but that’s going to be a small minority of the overall production.

        Bourbon must be aged in new barrels, so it picks up a lot of caramels and tannins and whatnot fairly quickly (and because of that requirement, there are a lot of once-used barrels on the market, so that most Scotch is aged in former bourbon barrels).Report

      • Dave in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Bourbon is aged a relatively short time compared to other whiskeys – your basic Jim Beam white label only gets four, even if you spring for a Knob Creek that’s still only nine years old. .

        Yep and most of the commercially produced stuff without an age statement is probably in the six year-ish range.

        To me, eight years is when things start to get really interesting as far as wood character. Otherwise, I like a mash bill with at least 30% rye (i.e. Old Grand Dad, Four Roses).

        I’m sure there are bourbons that get over a decade, but that’s going to be a small minority of the overall production

        There are some damn good ones and they’re readily available even if they don’t comprise a significant percentage of the market – Eagle Rare (Buffalo Trace), Russell’s Reserve (Wild Turkey) and Evan William’s Single Barrel (Heaven Hill) come to mind. I haven’t bought a bottle of these in a while but I think the EWSB is still less than $30 US. Eagle Rare’s price may have gone up and I think Russell’s is in the $40 range. I’ll take one of these over any scotch any day.

        I think Beam now has one or two 12-year old bottles at around $40 although I’m not apt to buy one at that price.

        The Pappy Van Winkle line has a 20 and 23-year old bottling but they’re hard to get and stupid expensive.

        For me, my favorite is George T. Stagg. It’s usually around 17 years old and bottled at a barrel proof of 140 or so. I drink it neat. The proof doesn’t scare me.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Dave says:

      On the very rare occasion I do drink beer,

      He is …. the most interesting comment policy enforcer in the world.Report

  12. Citizen says:

    Keystone Light, low on the bitters, easy on the liver and wallet.Report

  13. Morat20 says:

    I’m happy living in Houston. We have St. Arnold’s right here. 🙂Report

  14. Saul Degraw says:

    @kazzy @j-r

    Down here.

    Re: Snobbery and Poe’s Law.

    I fully admit to being snobby about some or many things. Almost all people are snobby to varying degrees. However, I think you two are falling into a common American trap of thinking that some forms of preference expressing are perfectly okay but those just reveal you to be a horrible snob.

    In the last Linky Friday, @will-truman had an article about how some Millennials were leaving NYC for Buffalo because real estate is very cheap there. He said that they were “living like kings”. I think this is perfectly with in Will’s MO. He has frequently expressed his distaste cities with expensive living costs in various ways and forms including his often mentioned but never fully spelled out “Kansas City plan”

    What I noted as interesting about how living like Kings is a relative term and that I don’t necessarily need a huge house and land. I’ll take a one or two-bedroom apartment if it keeps me in the vicinity of arts venues like BAM, Lincoln Center, Cal Performances, etc.

    Would I be wrong for calling @will-truman a space snob for wanting all that land?

    So it seems if you want and desire the proper things: A large house, a big entertainment system so you never have to go out again, etc., you are not a snob. But expressing any preference for something different makes one a huge snob.

    I might be in a minority for my desires but there are still plenty of people who like living in big cities for the same reasons as I.Report

    • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      They’re not calling you a snob because you have the preferences you have.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        Of course not. If Saul said that Sean Connery is the only real James Bond and he can’t believe that people will pay to see Daniel Craig, he’d earn every bit as much resentment.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Saul’s ability to look down on other people’s tastes, and other people for their tastes, while pretending to suffer socially for his own, is quite impressive. “I don’t read best sellers. People don’t understand how I could enjoy reading a popular work of history or other works reviews in the NYRB. Especially the juveniles who like sci fi, or live in the cultureless towns of not-NY and not-SF.”

        Calling him a snob plays right into his victim of his tastes narrative, though, as his comment here shows.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        Honestly @chris , I don’t even care about the charges of snobbery at this point. @saul-degraw knows he’s a little snobby, he’s said so; and even if he hadn’t, he’s heard many recent variations on the theme from you, dhex, krogerfoot, @j-r , @stillwater , Alan Scott, @kazzy , and even me on occasion, ranging anywhere from gentle ribbing (which is what @will-truman did up top, and with which I am fine with under almost any circumstances) to attempts at sober, earnest explication/observation (I think during the Inequality Symposium, I pointed out that due to his socioeconomic upbringing, his family sat far closer to the mythical 1% than mine), to sarcasm and sharp rebuke (which he’s gotten plenty of, even on occasion from me).

        Some of the charges may have merit.

        Some may not.

        But at this point, having multiple people tweaking his nose over what (to my eyes) is clearly a perfectly innocuous attempt at light-hearted humor (for god’s sake, it’s an Off The Cuff consisting in total of a link to Slate and seven words) starts to smack of ganging up and bullying to me.

        And I don’t like ganging up and bullying, even if the person being bullied IS a Little Lord Fauntleroy from time to time.

        I’d prefer people save the powder for something that freaking matters.

        I mean…over beer? Really?!Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chris says:


        I don’t look down on other people’s tastes. I really don’t.

        What I will do is point out that taste and economic spending is a matter of relative preference and I know we have disagreed about this before but I have not changed my mind on this.

        What I have heard people do is dismiss craft beers with the same kind of sneer about anything that comes from the costs and seems urban. The term I’ve heard used is “frou frou” beers. Budweiser got called out for doing this pretty much homophobic attack during the Superbowl. But there are plenty of people who seem to believe it as @greginak

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Glyph, eh, you’re right. I shouldn’t have piled on.

        Saul, I apologize.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        “What I have heard people do is dismiss craft beers with the same kind of sneer about anything that comes from the costs and seems urban.”


      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:


        Here’s a Budweiser commercial making fun of folks who like Pumpkin Peach Ale. Ironically, the maker of that brew is apparently owned by the same corp. that owns Budweiser. So there’s that.

        I don’t think Saul is wrong when he observes some sneering at micro-brewery folks. What perplexes me is why he really gives a shit one way or the other.

        Alsotoo, to sorta paraphrase j r on this, the problem with the post and the accusations of snobbery derive from the use of the word “progress” in the OP.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        If Saul were willing to engage with substantive criticism, there would be no ganging up. Instead he wants to insult people and then get handled with kid gloves. Sorry, I’m tired of that. The only other way I see is to simply hang around these parts less. Which is fine. I’ve got plenty on my plate. But it’d be a shame if this place turns into a platform for one individual’s snobbery.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        So go after Budweiser. Don’t insult people here who’ve never done any such thing.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        The dress is blue and black.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        So go after Budweiser.

        I don’t think we’ll need to. That commercial signals to me the end of the beginning of the end for Bud. At best, in that commercial Budweiser is admitting that they’re fighting with other “cheap” beers over the scraps. It certainly won’t cut into the micro-brew drinker market or grow the “cheap beer” market.

        I thought the commercial was a huge mistake myself. It appeals to an archaic form insideryness, one based on mocking/hating the outsider, that is increasingly rejected.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        @kazzy – I submit that if you saw an insult on this *particular* post, you were perhaps looking too hard.

        I submit that if you saw an insult on another post, the best time and place to address it was perhaps on that post, or to wait for the insult to recur in a future post and address it then; and not to fight the battle that you wished to fight then, over a joke now.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        I didn’t realize I was uneducated and thus often drink fake beer.

        Note how this progressed: I said two words… Poe’s Law. Saul told me to “lighten up.” Who was being a tightass at that point? If he was making a joke, he should have welcomed mine in turn. But he didn’t. Cuz in Saul’s world, only his criticisms are valid; everyone else is attacking him.

        Fine. I shouldn’t have pointed out that Saul had reached the point of Poe’s Law. I shouldn’t have taken offense at the insinuation that there exists real beer and fake beer and that the drinkers of one type are holding back society’s progress. I shouldn’t have been bothered to hear my opinion — and that if many others — was arrived at because I hadn’t yet learned better.

        See… Here’s the thing…. If I didn’t think there was a chance Saul actually thought all that, I wouldn’t have said anything. And I refuse to extend him any benefit of the doubt when he has repeatedly insulted my hobbies and interests, refuses to call my industry by its preferred term because he doesn’t like it, or when he engages in strawman arguments on the regular.

        I didn’t write this post. Saul did. I daid two words… Poe’s Law. Was that in error?Report

      • Dave in reply to Chris says:

        I agree with @glyph on this.

        I don’t know why this has to escalate the way it has. I guess I was one of the people that took this far more light-heartedly than others. Still, the pile-on is pointless.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        Saul could avoid the pile on by actually engaging his critics and hearing what they actually have to say. But if we’re all cool with him not doing that, so be it. I’ll just stop reading his posts.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        @dave @glyph

        If Saul ACTUALLY read anything I wrote, he wouldn’t have said this;

        “However, I think you two are falling into a common American trap of thinking that some forms of preference expressing are perfectly okay but those just reveal you to be a horrible snob.”Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul, Chris has it right here. As far as I can tell. First order preferences aren’t a form of sobbery. You gotta move up a level, a distance conventionally measured by the length of the nose one is being looked down from.Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        Just to play Devils, or Saul’s, advocate here. What about if there were millions of people who look down their noses at those who like theater or ballet or classical music or “high” arts. How about if those people were sure “real murican” entertainment is the bestest stuff there is. You know….”what kind of fairy are you, watching that dance crap” “do you think you are better than us for reading those fancy books?”

        Of course that is exactly how lots of people think and often use the term elitest for people who look at the wrong kind of entertainment. And those people aren’t just reacting against the mean ol people in the cities either. They are sure they have the correct beliefs, tastes and views.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:


        What @greginak said.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:


        If we assume that “elitist” is flip side of “snob”, then we’re talking about the same psychological properties: criticizing people for their first order preferences. But built into the example is that folks who lob the “elitist” criticism at consumers of “high art” (or whatever) is that elitism almost definitionally entails something like looking-down-on. Or being-better-than. And part of that dynamic (seems to me) is the bare fact that we live in a society which attributes intrinsic value to the consumption of or to the consumers of expensive stuff. Having more money simply means being better than some others.

        Course, most of us here at the OT realize that that calculus is petty stupid and puerile. But it really exists, yes?

        On the other hand, if the pushback from the anti-snobbery crowd was more along the lines of “folks just like what they like so get over yourself” instead of “who are you to be looking down at me by readin all those fancy books”, I’d agree with the pushing. There’re lots of folks who reflexively think fancy books are simply a way for readers to look down on others (I feel that way about lovers of Infinite Jest. Heh. I kid!!) without conceding that those books may just be fun to read.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

        Being somewhere in the middle range when it comes to taste and affectation, some can be considered vaguely “snobby” and some can be considered vaguely “prolish.”

        The chief difference, for anybody who cares about such distinctions, is that the former group is trying to “punch up” while the latter group is trying to “punch down.”Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        @stillwater Years ago i remember a long screed in the daily paper here from a woman who liked to snow machine about how elitist cross country skiers were. Of course even a pretty fancy set of xc skies and gear might cost $1000 if you get top of the line equipment. Most of us spend far less than that. A snow machine is going to cost thousands and trailer, if you need one, is another thousand or more. I’ve seen the same dynamic with people who like to ride 4 wheelers, costing thousands, vs hikers.

        This kind of thing about more than just money. Some people feel put upon and looked down upon by people who are spending far less money than them. I’m not completely disagreeing about the cost aspect because there are people who will insist their kijllion thread count pillows are the only thing decent people use and if you don’t than you live in a damp, musty cave on the wrong side of tracks.

        To many people, of all incomes, get caught up in ascribing moral weight and quality of character to the stuff they like to buy and watch. The Heartland/ Real American crowd has always loved to do that just as much as any NY/SF quality suited, monocle and monogrammed sock wearing dude/dudeette.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        The problem isn’t that someone might enjoy Swan Lake. It’s that they’d pretend that they didn’t find Benny Hill funny.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:


        Hmmmm. I might have to tweak my theory a bit….Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        @stillwater Just as long as you don’t twerk…..only bad people do that.Report

      • zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        @greginak the elitist call here isn’t the cost of equipment, it’s the judgments of aesthetics/ethics, etc. X-country skiers are more likely to be concerned about burning gas in a snowmobile, dislike the noise or the smell, etc. I should note that at least here in the NE, they adore the snowmobile trail systems, and often use them to go places.

        Snowmobilers tend to be offended by the dangers the perceive of happening upon people on skis and snowshoes as the bomb down their trails, which adds to the friction.

        The quiet-nature lover here seems to garner the label elitist, the gear-head the red-neck label. And both are probably guilty of the other’s love; the nature-lover got there via a care, the snowmobiler always loves getting out to the deep woods.Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        @zic I get the difference in preference. But looking down on the others preference is the kind of snobbery i think is unwarranted. User conflicts over limited trails or spaces are always a pain and bit different since they involve how to allocate land or usage. However you do see those people who feel they have the superior avocation come out to tell you about it. Hunters often fall into that trap also at times.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:


        Do you think that there is such a thing as universal humor? Is it inconceivable that some people don’t find Benny Hill funny?


      • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:


        Americans (and maybe people as a whole) seem to take it as an existential threat that someone has different preferences than they do.

        I am almost certainly just as guilty of this as anyone. Maybe to a certain extent it is an existential threat because of the tribal nature of people.Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        Wait…were there jokes in benny hill? All i remember are women running in their underwear. Oh i do remember lots of running women.

        On further thought there were a total of five jokes in BH, repeated endlessly throughout his shows. They were all sophomoric and if you were in the sweet spot for his humor, teen boy as far as i can tell, he was funny.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


        I couldn’t care less what your preferences are. Maybe once upon a time I would have, but I got over that.

        You like plays and dance and museums. Bully for you! Seriously… I don’t care. Not one bit. But you seem to care that I like sports. And exercising. It seems to bother you. I don’t know why.

        This isn’t an “American” thing. It is a “some people” thing.Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        @stillwater Yeah i pretty much agree.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

        I don’t know who Benny Hill is. Ergo, I don’t know if I’d find him funny.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        “Universal humor” is generally regarded as “lowbrow”.

        Slapstick, for example, works really well across cultures. A story from the 70’s: our church was hosting refugees from Southeast Asia and the refugees had very limited English skills but would watch television because, hey, television.

        The Three Stooges got big laughs despite the English barrier.

        As for Benny Hill, I always enjoyed it when he patted the old guy on the head. My friends and I explained that the old guy was Benny Hill’s dad. (Ah, Uncle Jackie. You are still missed.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Kazzy, trust me. You’d laugh until you puked.

        Then you’d say something like “I can’t believe that this was on prime time!”Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:


        How much of that has to do with context?

        To laugh at Dennis Miller, you have to have a certain knowledge base. You have to know who he is referring to. It is not an intelligence thing, but a context/knowledge thing.

        Slapstick doesn’t require this. A guy getting hit in the face with a rake is universal insofar as it doesn’t really require a context.

        That doesn’t explain ALL of it… but I think it’d explain some of them. So much of humor is contextual.Report

      • greginak in reply to Stillwater says:

        I don’t think there is a universal humor at all though some things like slapstick can translate pretty well. Humor can be pretty complex with a lot depending on context and understanding the characters involved and all sorts of other things.

        I watched a clip of the benny hill show on you tube months ago. It doesn’t hold up at all. Three Stooges still works in doses and the right mood.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Well, it’s the acquired taste thing. If you go to (just for an example), you’ll see some really clever stuff that gets funnier the more experience you have with the philosophers in question.

        Compare to the noises that Curly makes when he gets bonked in the head.

        Now, if you’ve done the required reading, you’ll have some belly laughs… but the comedy that has required reading is the comedy that is generally seen as highbrow while the accessible comedy is seen as lowbrow.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:


        Is there such a thing as Universal Humor?

        I love me some Bugs Bunny but I’ve had women tell me that they found that the Looney Tunes were “too boy” or “too male”Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        I’ve met a handful of people of gender who don’t find the nut shot to be amusing.

        I generally just exclude them from my definition of “universal”.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

        To laugh at Dennis Miller, you have to have a certain knowledge base

        Of you can recognize a pretentious jerk when you see you.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

        Were there good and bad episodes of Benny Hill? Did he have a rocky first season before things clicked, a couple of amazing seasons after he hit his stride, and then a set of lackluster, uninspired seasons where he kept going to the same dry well?

        Or was every episode exactly like every other episode?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Or was every episode exactly like every other episode?

        Pretty much this. Some focused more on music and some on sketch comedy, some focused more on absurdity and yakkity sax and others on punchlines… but you wouldn’t be able to watch any given show and say “oh, this was season one”.

        (There was a sketch where two professional wrestlers were wrestling and having a short conversation about the troubles that one of them was having baking the dish that the other had given him a recipe for, for example. I’m sure it was followed by a sped-up chase involving women bending over.)Report

    • @saul-degraw FTR, the Kansas City plan involves labor misallocation and has little* to do with density. It can just as easily be sending people from Montana to Seattle (and, in fact, probably would).

      The Kansas City Plan’s details are open to negotiation, but it is basically a plan to give relocation assistance to people who are willing and able to move from places that do not need workers to places that do. In return, employers in the second area will agree to hire (and train, as necessary) long-term unemployed. It’s named the “Kansas City Plan” not because Kansas City is inexpensive, but because at the time I became flown with the idea, Kansas City had the lowest unemployment in the country. It could just as easily have been the Seattle Plan.

      Now, the confusion arises, I think, because I do sometimes mention Kansas City as a potential location for employers and workers looking to save money on high rents, and that is partly because of low-COL. That applies to a lot of places, though. I mention Kansas City because it has a little tech hub thing going on. (I know at least two people in IT who moved there for work, plus there’s an LF article coming up mentioning it.) That’s not the Kansas City plan, though. That’s just mentioning Kansas City.

      * – There is an aspect to it that might, which is that if people are terminally unemployed, it might be worthwhile to consider enticing them to move to some place where cost of living is lower. But this isn’t a central part of the plan. More an off-shoot.Report

    • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      This conversation is getting weird. It’s turning into one of those meta-conversations where we are supposed to pretend that words don’t mean what words mean. I mean, what is a snob anyway, man? Those conversations are best left behind at dorm room toke sessions.

      Saul, no one calls you a snob because you like X, Y or Z instead of A, B and C. The jokes about you being a snob are because of the manner in which you talk about your preferences and that fact that you often try to ascribe objective worth to one set of preferences over others. That’s fine. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but it is a bit snobbish, because that’s what the word snob means.

      Not to mention, on any number of occasions you’ve written statements indicating that you’d have no problem taking action to intercede and force people towards your personal preferences (eg banning private schools or imposing fees to subsidize BBC-like programming). That might make you a bad person, but that’s a different conversation. More relevant, it is snobbish.

      When I read this post, the first thing that popped into my head is “Saul is probably being cheeky, but I honestly cannot tell.” That is why the Poe’s Law comment was perfect. This is not a takedown of Saul. It’s a joke, which like most jokes has a basis in reality. It’s still just a joke, though.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      I share some of your preferences. Others, we couldn’t be further apart on. All of which is gravy. I don’t care what you drink or how you spend your free time. But I am bothered when you act as if there is an objective superiority to your preferences. And when you look down upon other people’s preferences.

      I have never judged your preferences. The worst I’ve probably called you is a theater guy. Yet you lob all sorta of criticisms — some veiled, some not so — at me and others who have different preferences than you. It’s obnoxious. And you do it couched in some victim’s mentality wherein everyone can’t wait to take potshots at you. Which I’m sure happens but it doesn’t happen here. So talk about yout preferred beer or art all you want. But if you can’t do so in a non-snobbyish way, than don’t get mad when you’re called a snob.

      And, Jesus man, kings lived in giant castles on acres of land. There was nothing judgemental in Will’s comment. He wasn’t saying Buffalo living trumps Manhattan living. He was simply noting that COL in Bufffalo is lower and people moving there can live in big houses with lots of land… Ya know, like kings once did. That is another example of you making yourself a victim unjustifiably and then using that to lash out at others.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul – Regarding snobbery, I would say that being a snob means treating products or activities that generally require greater amounts of money, leisure, or education to appreciate as if they are inherently superior (rather than just personally preferred) to other activities. You do this frequently – and you’re doing it now, albeit flippantly, because craft beer is generally a lot more expensive than typical beer brands.

      Claiming that more popular and widespread forms of entertainment and consumption are better (or more ‘Murican) than elite ones is not snobbery – it is populism. It is not snobbery because many people can access these things with ease, whether or not they like them.

      Both snobbery and populism are used as cultural markers and ways of saying “stuff we like is better than stuff those people like”, but snobbery is a specifically a cultural marker of a segment of the upper classes.

      (And nothing you’ve quoted from Will comes across as either snobbery or populism. He’s just pointing out that you can get a lot more stuff for an equivalent amount of money if you live away from the big cities. That’s not saying anything about the merits of people who prefer the amenities of city living over having more space.)Report

  15. Will H. says:

    Being a beer geek is cool, as long as you’re among other beer geeks.
    Basically, one thing that attracted me to this place. With geeks like Will T. & Jaybird here, I thought, “FINALLY!! I am among my brethren!!”

    However, a geek among non-geeks is only quirky. No one sees the discriminating taste in your eclecticisms as endearing, but rather as a possible indicator of the effects of contaminated drinking water during pregnancy.

    When a geek is among geeks, and starts to geek out in a non-pre-approved way, the geek then becomes a “snob.”
    That’s really one of the only things geeks have going for them, is that they get to call other people “Snobs.”

    But really, it’s only being geeky in a different direction.

    It’s really just the vinyl / CD argument all over again.
    I expect the vinyl people to defend it passionately.

    But when I read the guy, and think, “Man! is this guy a geek!” then see that other geeks have already started calling him a “snob,” I can tell that *SOMEBODY* just really geeked out.

    I’m cool with that.