Linky Friday #119: Money & Sport Edition


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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402 Responses

  1. Avatar Notme says:

    Nice picture of Lee but nothing about his passing.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    B3: Does Naked Security realize that they exposed these nice Russian restaurant owners and ad people to the Russian government?Report

  3. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Inadvertently overlooked: Forbes comes out with a list of the top paid athletes. Serena Williams, it turns out, makes half in endorsements than does Maria Sharapova, despite being a significantly better athlete. Much head-scratching ensues. I suspect lice.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Richard Hershberger says:


      Is that supposed to be be your subtle way of claiming it is racism?Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Notme says:

        That is one possible explanation. Another is that Sharapova is perceived as being hotter than Williams, and that is what really counts for female athletes. This raises the interesting question of which is more offensive. Fortunately, we aren’t forced to choose between them, as it is easy to combine them via how race and perceived hotness interact:

        • The two don’t seem entirety unrelated.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

            I’d guess there is a complex matrix there, of which race is obviously a part (I suspect the majority of tennis fans are white; many people prefer people of their own race* when it comes to sexual attractiveness; cultural beauty standards; etc.)

            There is also undoubtedly a performative aspect to sports played at that level too – these people are cultural “stars”, as much as athletes. Steve Buscemi may be a better actor than Pierce Brosnan in terms of accolades/awards, but Brosnan may get paid more for commercial endorsements because he is “prettier”. That’s an extreme example, since Williams is certainly attractive and the race factor is also in there, but it’s still part of the whole package.

            *and not just race, when it comes to like-desiring-like:


            • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

              Sexual attractiveness — chemistry, is a matter of having “interestingly different” immune systems. (Apparently African and Caucasian chemistry combines pretty horribly… of course, this is America, and we’re all a bit more of a mix than most will admit — places that had sailors in particular… )Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          Or one could make the point that standards of beauty are different for different races.
          BTW, in that photo, her biceps are huge! I am quite impressed! (and yes, I know the tendency to have subcutaneous fat is hereditary).Report

        • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          I think that the second point – relative perceived “hotness” – is sufficient to explain the majority of the difference. Remember Anna Kournikova’s marketability – when she was a top ten singles player for a couple of months in her whole career?

          See also: women’s soccer. The face of Team USA was Mia Hamm rather than Michelle Akers. It was Julie Foudy or Brandi Chastain, never Briana Scurry or Cindy Parlow or Kristine Lilly or Kate Sobrero. Now is it Abby Wambach? No, it’s Alex Morgan.

          In other news, Danica Patrick might win her second career race sometime soon… The media will always overpromote a “hotter” female athlete right over the head of those who are actually competing more effectively but the powers that be don’t think will draw as many page views.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Notme says:


        Have I ever told the story about the time Zazzy and Mayo were the only white folks at the park?Report

        • Avatar Notme in reply to Kazzy says:


          No, tell us about it.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Notme says:


            The nutshell version is that Zazzy took Mayo to a local park while I got a haircut. The part of town (not the town we live in, but down near where I grew up) we were in was predominantly African-American and they were the only white folks at the park. A woman was passing out flyers for a local event and Zazzy noticed she gave one to everyone but her. When she told me about it, she said she was pretty sure it was because she was white.

            Now, that is certainly a possible — perhaps even the most likely — explanation. But there were other possible explanations. Maybe the woman knew her neighbors inside and out and didn’t recognize Zazzy as a local. Maybe race was a factor in a, “You probably aren’t from here,” kind of way instead of a, “No whities,” kind of way.

            Anyway… the point is that when you are in the minority, it is really easy to attribute disparate behavior towards you as being solely about that which sets you apart from the majority. But this is really hard for most white folks to understand because they are so rarely in the minority… and can often choose to immediately remove themselves from such a situation if they want.

            Do we know for sure that Williams’ advertisement opportunities are the result of her race? Of course not. But can we blame her or other black folks to assuming as much? No. And that would be a lot easier to understand if we experienced that role reversal.

            I went to a high school that was predominantly African-American by the time I graduated and for about two years in middle school, I was literally the only white kid at intramural basketball. I grew up regularly experiencing both sides of the dynamic and didn’t realize how unique my experience was until college.Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    [A2] This is an excellent way to fill out the trophy case.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    B1: I read this story this week. Fascinating as Spoke would say. I honestly don’t get the appeal to these kind of stuff. Even more honest commission jobs seem like scams to me to a certain extent. I keep on getting e-mails about setting up my own Insurance Brokerage because I applied for a trial attorney position at an Insurance company. The thing seems like a scam.

    B2: Most of everything seems to be being at the right place at the right time.

    B3: What Lee said

    A6: I hope to be a cantankerous old truth teller when I am old.

    Po2: You have radical freedom Will. You can always choose not to vote or to vote for Hillary or whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

    Po3: Short, the man is an opportunist and a hack.

    Po5: This seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Public money should be for public schools.

    E1: Since when is Canada part of Europe? 😉 Labour did increase their votes again. Interestingly the US tends to go left when Europe goes right. Or at least this happened during the 1930s.

    E2: Well they are British! What do you expect?

    E3: Trolling for market mainipulation and low-end warfare seems like a natural step in the all troll economy. BTW: Am I the only person who dislikes that troll has become a standardized verb? If we want to stop trolling, we have to stop saying “Well trolled…..”

    E4: Link doesn’t work. I googled the article. My guess is almost certainly not.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      No, I actually like trolls. Good plays are insightful, and better plays make people rage — and then think.
      Do you realize how many trolls work politics?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      B1: Quacks, snake oil, and get rich quick schemes are as American as God, mom, and apple pie. Americans seem to have a weakness towards them since the 19th century. It seems to have something to do with the every man his own priest attitude of communism. I’m not saying that non-Protestants are immune to this sort of thinking but like the paranoid style it seems to come from certain aspects of Anglo-American Protestantism.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Mormonism is deeply atypical of protestantism. I’m many ways it has more in common with Catholicism.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

          Intellectually Mormonism seems to inherited the worst aspects of Protestantism. A lot of get rich quick schemes or snake oil is based on the premise that this is secret knowledge that the elite don’t want you to know. That’s a big part of the sales pitch. This was also a big selling point for Protestants, that they were going to teach you about real Christinanity that the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t want you to know. Mormonism also had this as part of their culture. I think this is why snake oil or get rich quick schemes are part of American society.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Snake oil liniment really does work, so long as you’re using the original recipe, and not rattlesnake oil.Report

          • Avatar morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I’ve heard of the Prosperity Doctrine or theology — I think that’s more Protestants (evangelical ones at that) than Mormons, but I wouldn’t be surprised at some overlap.

            The notion that success in life is God’s reward is baked into American culture — mostly through it’s inverse (being poor is because you’re a sinner. If you were Godly, you wouldn’t be in poverty).Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I’m confused. Mormonism’s relationship to esoterocism is much more like that of the late-medieval/Renaissance Catholic Church, and in that sense pretty much the opposite of Protestantism’s relationship to it, but that makes them more like Protestants?Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

            >Wisdom from the small screen about Mormons:

            GARY: Hey Stan.

            STAN: Oh brother.

            CARTMAN: Uh oh, the jilted lover returns.

            GARY: Listen, I just wanted to let you know you don’t have to worry about me tryin’ to be your friend anymore.

            STAN: I don’t?

            GARY: Look, maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life. and a great family, and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people. And even though people in this town might think that’s stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you’re so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion and just be my friend back. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.

            CARTMAN: Damn, that kid is cool, huh?

            The allure of esoteric knowledge, the appeal of being special and chosen, the suspension of disbelief about the moral virtue of the authority figures and cognitive dissonance about the implausibility of the underlying mythology, the swaddling of relatively prosaic and obvious moral guidance within the framework of revealed wisdom, the cultural veneration of the narratively personified ineffable, the catharsis of forgiveness of past moral misdeeds — don’t those things characterize every religion?

            People are defined by what they do and we ought not to read deeply into, or think ourselves particularly superior to, others whose belief structures seem bizarre to us.

            Now, despite this heartfelt and sincere statement, (rot13’d because spoilers) ab, V jba’g sbetvir Fgnaavf Onengurba orpnhfr gung fuvg jnf whfg cynva jebat. V’z ubcvat gurer’f fbzr jnl obgu fvqrf pna ybfr gur Onggyr bs Jvagresryy.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko says:

              you might want to say ‘spoilers for Game of Thrones’ as I thought it was either spoilers for South Park or the afterlife before decoding it.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe says:

                Dude, I am all about mashing up the pop culture. You know this about me.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

                GoT show spoilers:

                Lbh thlf cebonoyl xabj guvf nyernql, ohg gur Fgnaavf/Fuveera guvat vf nyzbfg pregnvayl zbqryrq ba Ntnzrzaba, jub fvzvyneyl fnpevsvprq uvf bja qnhtugre Vcuvtravn gb gel gb trg n zvenpyr sebz gur tbqf gb fangpu n ivpgbel sebz gur wnjf bs qrsrng sbe uvf nezl ntnvafg Gebl.

                Gung fnvq, pynffvpny nyyhfvbaf be ab, gurer vf fvzcyl ab jnl gb erqrrz gung punenpgre abj; nygubhtu V qb jvfu gurl unq fcrag zber gvzr fubjvat ubj cerpnevbhf uvf gebbcf’ cbfvgvba jnf, naq/be unq uvz trg jbeq bs gur Juvgr Jnyxre fynhtugre ng Unequbzr – vs jr’q tbggra n fcrrpu fubjvat gung ur oryvrirf (jvgu fbzr ernfba) gung uvf fvggvat ba gur Veba Guebar vf gur bayl guvat gung pna cerirag Juvgr Jnyxre ncbpnylcfr, vg jbhyq unir znqr vg zber gentvp naq yrff JGS FGNAAVF, vs ur oryvrirq Fuverra naq rirelbar jbhyq qvr sebz Juvgr Jnyxref naljnl bgurejvfr.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I’m just saying if you’re posting spoilers for the afterlife, I’m not going to wait for it to air in my time zone to read them.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:


              “the moral virtue of the authority figures”

              You don’t know much about Judaism where the solution to a disagreement with your rabbi is to find a rabbi that agrees with you. Also all of our theological discussions are pretty much heated arguments.Report

              • That actually doesn’t strike me as all that different from Protestantism. I know tons of people who have switched churches because the ministers weren’t preaching theology that they agreed with.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Jews don’t do it for theology, if you know what I mean…Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Not only that, but a lot of Protestant denominations are all about getting rid of their ministers, often as a result of petty disputes over doctrine. My parents’ currently attend a church that is the offshoot of an offshoot of the first church they went to after they left Catholicism. They followed the preacher, who was voted out of the first, started the second, got voted out of it, and started the third.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Oh good Lord Lee. Yes, it is Protestantism that does this. Remind me again, from what religion was Jesus just one of many “heretics” promising revelation outside of established hierarchy?


            Kee-rist. If you think there’s no get-rich-quick snake-oil schemes outside of American or Christian or Protestant or Mormon culture, I have a Nigerian Prince you should speak to.

            Look man, I’m all for wild-assed half-thought-through speculation, but this is just too much.Report

            • Avatar LWA in reply to Glyph says:

              Pretty much my thoughts- from the tower of Babel to the moneychangers in the temple to the selling of indulgences, wanting to sell shortcuts to nirvana is pretty universal.

              And I would snicker at the silly ideas of Mormonism, except I might feel a twinge of remorse the next time I eat the flesh of my Lord.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to LWA says:

                It’s not cannibalism, then, is it? Eating a god’s flesh… must be nothing quite like it.

                My religion created the term scapegoat. And people swing chickens three times round their heads.

                I laugh at them all, and mine the hardest! Yes, they’re all silly and funny, and people care about them entirely too much!Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

              It appears a.) that these are a particular breed of get-rich-quick schemes (supplements and such), and b.) there are pretty straightforward explanations related to Mormon culture, presented in the article (their built-in evangelism and the prohibition of things like alcohol and caffeine).

              Or we could just speculate about how it’s about an esoteric anti-esotericist esotericism or whatever the explanation was supposed to be.Report

        • In its origins, it seems to me that Mormonism is closest to Christian Science. Both originated in 19th-century America. Both were led by charismatic figures. Both claim to be the true Church of Jesus, with Catholicism, Protestantism, and the rest being perversions. And both introduce a new scripture in defense of that claim.Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Po5: This seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Public money should be for public schools.

      As a cynic, I look at school choice like this: There is a huge, huge, HUGE amount of money spent on public education. We educate everyone, and that’s a lot of kids, and no matter who or how it’s done, it’s gonna be a TON of money.

      Where there’s a ton of money, you have businesses and people trying to get some of it.

      Ergo, whenever big changes in WHO gets to handle that money come up, my instinct is to think “Who is going to profit and is this a scam?” because that much money attracts scammers and con-artists and the business equivalent like, well…it’s chum for sharks, you know?

      I’m not saying there aren’t good concepts in there, or that it can’t be done, or that public schools are hyper-efficient custodians of our cash (indeed, your local school board has been scammed many times, I can practically guarantee it. Headhunters for new principles or admin, teaching
      methods or training courses or education consultants not worth a fraction of what is paid*….) . I’m just saying that much money means scammers are sniffing around like crazy, 24-7.

      *Ironically, my wife does education consulting during the summers and teaches seminars and workshops. She happens to think the particular method she teaches is quite good and worth the money — she wouldn’t have done the work to become a trainer and become a tireless advocate of it otherwise — and given the amount of repeat business (training more teachers to the method in the same district or in neighboring ones) it apparently gets results the schools like. But for every consultant or class worth the money, there’s a scam. Such is life.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to morat20 says:

        There is another type of American tradition that tries to get rich via government contracts and scams.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to morat20 says:

        A lot of university executives at public and private universities decided that the nearly free unlimited amount of money that comes from federal student loans is a great way to get rich. It’s why Corinthian Colleges occurred. In still somewhat respectable universities, NYU is a particularly egregious example. If your corrupt enough, there is a lot of money to be made in higher education. Law schools have been run as money making schemes to.

        School choice, especially in the form of charter schools, has a lot of potential to end up like the higher education mess for elementary and secondary education. Since every kid goes to elementary and secondary school for the most part, the results could be really disastrous.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “Or at least this happened during the 1930s.”

      France had a slight left wing government after the elections in 1932 which became more solidly left after the 1936 elections. The Dutch government was center-right before and after the start of the depression despite the intensity of the economic downturn there. The legislature barely moved, changing a handful of seats in the three elections between 1929 and 1937 inclusive. Spain went left wing when elections actually happened in the early 30s until military folks (who are now dead) made the Spanish government right wing. Portugal was similarly right wing at the pointy end of a gun the entire time. Sweden saw the power of its socialist party locked in during the 1930s, a situation that would last until 2010’s when a center right party had electoral parity. Norway’s Labor party gained double digit seats (in a body of 15) in 1933 and gained an additional one in 1936.

      So except for the Tories taking over in the UK after the early part of the Depression (and holding on until the War was over), everyone else transitioned from left to right only though non-electoral means.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Should public money also be for public grocery stores? Public housing? Public transportation? Public hospitals? Public manufacturers?

      Every year, people spend well over two trillion dollars of public money on privately provided goods and services. Should we prohibit that and have government provide everything directly?

      Maybe school, specifically K-12, is special, but given that the government uses vouchers (or cash, the universal voucher) for just about everything else, “public money should be for public schools” seems to derive its veneer of plausibility solely from status quo bias.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Public police? Public firefighters? Public courts? Private prisons?

        Education has been a public service, like policing, for a very long time now.

        And indeed, we have tried privatizing some other public services — like prisons and police and roads and other such — with mixed results. Why you’d compare it to grocery stores — of which no public service has existed — is beyond me.

        I mean we have public police AND private guards, but no one suggests sending our local tax money to supplement the local gated communty’s private forces. Or offers security vouchers to hire our own guards, if we don’t like the local PD.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        The US is pretty much the only first-world country without public hospitals. They work pretty well.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      Do you read all tbr articles? I ask that genuinely. I’m a slow reader. Have you always been fast or did you train yourself?Report

  6. Avatar veronica d says:

    [S1] — I was quite amused when Sarkeesian came out against Bayonetta and a ton of lesbian feminists started yelling at her on Twitter about how Bayonetta was like totes awesome. (I haven’t played it. I have no opinion.) Anyway, yay cool lesbians who like badass video games!

    So Sarkeesian — she isn’t a saint or high priestess. She’s a critic playing in a space with very little proper cultural criticism, and she is reasonably insightful and a passably good communicator. I like her well enough.

    But yeah, the thing is that there is such little reasonable criticism of her, compared to the magnitude of staggeringly unreasonable criticism, that everything said about her from everyone on every side gets weaponized. (Plus the typical nerd-rage OMG you didn’t like something I like this is the worst I’m dying raaaaahhhhhh!)

    It’s so hard for people to say, “Yeah, she’s got a point most of the time, but she gets some stuff wrong. Sometimes she phones it in. Sometimes she really seems to nail it.”

    Like, the point of critique is not to render final judgement. The critic should not have that power, but what critic does? Certainly not Sarkeesian. Instead, the point of critique to get folks engaged with various points of view. She does that well.

    At least, among people who are not complete shits.

    (#not-all-gamergaters or whatever.)

    [S2] — I think Adams is at least partly sensing his own status. Which, he’s a big famous guy and probably carries himself as such. People pick up on that.

    Like, if you read Impro and learn to do the tricks, you can play the same game. I play the game, and I’m a honking enormous transsexual. The point is, walk with calm confidence and people ask themselves, ”Wait! Who is she?”

    Like, maybe I‘m some super famous drag queen or something who has a TV show on Logo (or whatever).

    (For the record, I’m not a drag queen, but people who meet me make all kinds of dumb assumptions.)

    Anyway, that‘s a big part of it.

    On the other hand, here is an excellent counterpoint:

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

      “It’s so hard for people to say, “Yeah, she’s got a point most of the time, but she gets some stuff wrong. Sometimes she phones it in. Sometimes she really seems to nail it.” ”

      Well, it’s actually easy to say that. What happens, though, is that you usually hear “Oh my god, how can you put yourself on the same side as misogynist MRA shitlords who literally send death threats to people” as a response.

      Because most people, I think, aren’t interested in Feminist Frequency as the starting point of a discussion, but because liking it means that they have a sensitive caring forward-thinking progressive viewpoint that is totally inclusive and non-misogynistic. Or, on the other side, that they include Feminist Frequency as “examples of the pro-fem movement that’s destroying modern society” and don’t actually have a particular opinion of its merits independent of kulturkampf.Report

    • Avatar Brooke in reply to veronica d says:

      I’m not a fan of Anita Sarkeesian. Her attempts at criticism come off as shrill exercises in tossing red meat to a fanbase. There are serious flaws in her methodology and she makes almost no attempt to make an accurate portrayal of the material she’s supposed to be criticizing.

      I’ve played many of the games she’s upset about, and her case is almost always overblown. She has no credibility.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to veronica d says:


      I feel the same way about Sarkeesian. She makes some good points, but she overdoes it. Unfortunately nuanced discussion of her arguments tends to get drowned out by the rape and death threats.

      In particular, I don’t think she understands fantasy as a genre. The politics of a fantasy series need not be realistic, but they should serve the story being told. Would A Song of Ice and Fire be a better story if Westeros was less misogynistic? I don’t think so. There should be fantasy settings that lack the real world’s history of sexism, racism, transphobia etc. (Golarion, the setting of the Pathfinder RPG is a good example), but to argue that just because fantasy settings are unrealistic in some ways they should never contain the evils of the real world is to completely misunderstand fantasy and how it works.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to James K says:

        Not to mention GoT is a pure deconstruction of fantasy tropes.

        The whole point of the story is to take your expectations, honed by fantasy novels (and fiction in general) and then smash it to the ground while shouting “LIFE DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!”.

        The heroine facing a fate worse than death? Probably not rescued. The noble hero, full of honor? Dead from treachery. The backup noble guy, stern and unyielding? Yeah, he’s gonna kick the dog….needs must, my dear.

        I mean, yeah, GoT DOES give you heroic moments and uplifting points because real life also has those. Someone wins to write the histories, and sometimes it’s even the good guys. Or at least not the worst guys,.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Morat20 says:

          What’s funny is that by deconstructing modern fantasy tropes, it ends up reconstructing even older fantasy/mythological tropes. So you can get a plot point that is almost beat for beat an old Greek tragedy/myth.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Glyph says:

            Well yeah, but stories are basically condensed versions of human existence, so…you end up with the human experience buried in there somewhere.

            But like all the kerfluffle about the recent Sansa stuff (I don’t feel like encrypting it, so I’m being vague). What was upsetting was there were two potential resolutions that we, as a society, are primed for in that situation. Neither occurred.

            The show placed a setup we’re immensely familiar with, then failed to give the heroic moment of triumph.

            Which is a kick in the gonads, story wise. 🙂Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Morat20 says:

          Except that featuring massive amounts of sexual violence targeting women isn’t breaking any tropes at all. It’s just falling into other tropes that are just as played-out and tired as the heroic tropes that GoT is trying to deconstruct.

          Consider this: Sexual violence against women is historically accurate. But so is sexual violence against men. And yet for all the depiction of the former in GoT, Sexual violence against men has shown up only twice–and one of those was played as a joke.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Alan Scott says:

            Well, unless each Unsullied counts as an instance.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Alan Scott says:

            Actually it does, because among other things one of the ‘good guys’ is a repeated woobie for abuse. (Traditional fantasy would never have subjected Sansa to, well, any of the abuse).

            Now there’s certainly gratuitous sex in the show (I’m thinking of one Littlefinger scene where he’s declaiming grandly and there’s an awful lot of sex right behind him despite having no need for it).

            But again, one of the common tropes of fantasy is all the…nasty stuff… (rapes and suffering of peasants and such) happen “off screen” if at all. Which is, of course, the exact opposite of history. (In which heavily armed men who were basically free to do what they wanted as long as the target wasn’t a noble. And if he or she was, didn’t get a chance to complain later).

            So, rape and death as a flat fact of life for practically everyone is pretty much a deconstruction of fantasy as normal told. It’s not even done thematically, like you would in a dark or anti-hero sort of fantasy. It’s flat out “This is just the lot of women” background, which is…fairly accurate historically.

            That being said, of course HBO is turning the boobs up to 11 for ratings.Report

            • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Morat20 says:

              Would it be historically realistic for Sansa to get raped? Sure. But it would be just as historically realistic for Sam to get raped.

              But instead, Sam gets laid after rescuing his female love interest from rapists. That is pretty much the opposite of shattering fantasy tropes.

              And for that matter, the love interest in question had the same man for a husband, father, and possibly grandfather, as part of a weird frost-zombie worshipping cult–something that’s not historically accurate in any time period.

              So I’m not very persuaded by the argument that the show is depicting Rape out of some devotion to historical accuracy. And “rape builds character” is a common enough trope in Fantasy and similar genres that the Sansa scene gets absolutely zero credit for breaking tropes.Report

  7. Avatar Glyph says:

    I thought about mentioning Kung Fury. Glad to see it made the rounds. Ridiculous.Report

  8. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    [E1] There seems to be a lot of this ludicrous handwringing in response to the NDP win in Alberta – “Oh my goodness, look at the ridiculous list of MLAs – There are young people, a yoga instructor, an electrician, some social workers for heaven’s sake!”

    Well good! We’ve had far too long a run of government by white male late middle-aged lawyers and career politicians. Enough of that, let’s have a government that actually reflects a bit of the diversity of experience of the people they claim to represent.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

      Thought it’s not surprising that someone basing an argument on Ezra Levant’s supposed reasonableness is going to say some dumb things.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to dragonfrog says:

      I’m actually sympathetic to the concept of a career politician. Formulating policies, writing laws, and implementing them are skills in themselves. You can’t do these things well without a lot of experience. By being a professional politician, your probably going to do the job better than a person that only holds office once or twice in her life.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’d be more sympathetic with the idea of a professional blackmailer taking up the politician’s mantle… I quite liked LBJ, after all.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’ve noticed this, that we seem to treat the management of government entities differently than for private ones, as if any amateur can do it.

        If I said that I have no background in banking, never took a class in finance, and couldn’t even balance a checkbook, so therefore I am perfectly qualified to be the CEO of Citibank, people would laugh.

        Yet someone can make the exact claim for a governorship or Senator, and Very Serious People nod their heads.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

          Personally, I’m considerably less inclined to vote for someone who hasn’t held elective office to an executive position*. But I’ve generally felt like Very Serious People have my back, more or less. I’ve not felt a particular disconnect there.

          This is where I see executive and legislative experience differently. I don’t consider citizen-legislators to be bad. You don’t want a legislature made entirely made up of such people, but they’re not entirely bad in and of themselves.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

            Yes, while being a CEO does help with SOME of the executive, the rest is a good bit important too.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

            New legislators are more likely to fall prey to lobbyists because providing all ready written legislation is one of the services lobbyists provide. They help new legislators learn the ropes.Report

            • Avatar morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Domain knowledge counts too.

              A lobbyist for the, oh, corn industry? He’s capable of bamboozling anyone who doesn’t know about the corn industry in the same way a fast-talking IT guy can bamboozle his boss.

              15 years working on the agriculture committee, though, and you’ve probably learned the stock BS phrases, claims, and gained enough understanding of how the corn industry works that you’re less likely to be bamboozled.

              But your first few years as a lawmaker? You’re a fresh-faced mark, ripe for the plucking.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LWA says:

          Do you want to tell Judith Rodin that she shouldn’t be on Citi’s Board of Directors?Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LWA says:

          Do you recall when Apple’s board replaced Steve Jobs with John Sculley (previously CEO of Pepsi), because even though he knew noting about computers, Sculley was a Real Businessman™?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Career politicians have their place, for sure – and some of the NDP caucus are, if not career politicians, then at least long enough experienced in politics that any other work they’ve done is best thought of as ‘previous careers’. The writer (along with many others around here) was not lamenting the absence of career politicians, but the presence of people who aren’t career politicians.

        But when you get a caucus full of nothing but ex lawyers and career politicians, whose only non-political / non-law work experience was summer jobs while they studied poli sci or law – that represents a serious impoverishment of the total range of perspectives available to developing policy.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “Formulating policies”, yes. “Writing laws”, not so much. Honestly, I’ve never met a legislator who was actually interested in the details of writing laws. Much more common is the legislator at a committee meeting saying something like, “I move a conceptual amendment to the bill to make the sky red*. Staff will fill in the details.” Someone else seconds it, and the chair turns to me (the poor staffer who will work with the drafter to write it) and says, “Mr. Cain, please call the roll,” and they pass it. Then I get to spend time in addition to all my other jobs getting something written that reads like a much longer and more formal version of this:

        Section 2.
        Paragraph 1. For the purposes of this section, and notwithstanding other definitions for other purposes elsewhere in statute, red shall be defined to include light with wavelengths from 450 to 700 nanometers.
        Paragraph 2. The sky is red.
        Paragraph 3. The Department of Labor will be responsible for verification that the sky is red. For that purpose, the Secretary of the Department will create an Office of Sky Color. The Office will acquire the necessary equipment and establish a schedule for regularly measuring the color of the sky.
        Paragraph 4. For the implementation of this section, the amount of two million dollars is appropriated from the General Fund for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015.

        The committee member who proposed the red sky amendment forgot about it before he left the meeting. The committee chair, who has to sign the official committee report, calls me regularly nagging about getting the red sky amendment finished. Since the new law now includes an appropriation, next stop is the Appropriations Committee, where the original sponsor will move an amendment to strike Section 2.

        * I exaggerate the silliness for effect. But not as much as you might think.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Kirk Lazarus could not be reached for comment.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:

        What is interesting as a form of cognitive science is that I look at her differently after reading the headline. I look at the pictures in the buzzfeed article and think. “She doesn’t look black. She looks like a white woman with a deep tan and a perm. Maybe she can pass for Italian or Spanish or Greek.”

        I am morbidly curious about what I would have said if I just saw her pictures and someone asked me to comment on her background.Report

        • I saw the picture before I knew who she was and thought “mixed race”Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          One reason why she may have gotten away with the act for so long is that she attempted to pass as mixed race rather than full black and didn’t try to make herself black. She looked like an Ashkenazi Jew whose genes had the Middle Eastern background parts activated more than the other parts.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to LeeEsq says:

            “mixed race rather than full black”

            I honestly, with no intention of snark, don’t know what this means. Superficially, “full black” would seem to mean exclusively of sub-Saharan African ancestry. This is not how “black” is used in America, and hasn’t been since about nine months after the first female African slave was dragged off the boat. Or probably less than, given the likely actions of the sailors along the way.

            So we seem to have a distinction between “black” and “full black.” OK, but then what is the distinction between “black” and “mixed race” (where one of the races is “black”)? This is where I get lost.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

            It’s possible for two mixed-race parents to have a white child. Every once in a while a pair of twins will be born where one is black and one is white.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          One of the CBC looks white. Rashida Jones looks Lebanese (which I got from a trained observer so it’s not My Uninformed Opinion), though she’s actually half black (it’s the cheekbones).

          Other than the most Aryan of folks, I’ve totally given up on trying to figure it out, and usually just ask.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Ben Jealous, former head of the overall NAACP, has a white father and a black mother. When he did the show with Henry Gates about ancestry, he found out that his DNA is less than 20% African derived and 80% European derived.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’m curious as to how the NAACP is handling it. She was president for a long time, so presumably she’s been performing her duties to their satisfaction. Will they continue to accept her, or will essentialist TERBs carry the day?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Brandon Berg says:


      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        and of the founding members of the NAACP, about half of them were white.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kolohe says:

          No one is saying that white people can’t belong to the NAACP.

          Trying to pass yourself as black is still an interesting and potentially troubling story…..Report

          • Avatar Notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Apparently she also had a history of claim racial harassment.Report

            • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Notme says:

              If she was passing as black at the time, it’s quite possible that she was racially harassed by someone who didn’t know she was “really” white.

              She’s lost almost all her credibility – that doesn’t mean she /never/ says something that isn’t a lie.Report

          • Avatar Brooke in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            But what does “passing yourself off as black” mean, really? Who gets to decide who is black and who gets to affiliate with a culture?

            The issue of identity has become such a morass in our culture that we’re basically at the point where a portion of the population believes that we should accept that you are what you say you are, even if it doesn’t appear to match reality. Others insist that group names and definitions are meaningful and that we’re not obligated to affirm everyone’s own personal conception of themselves.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to Brooke says:

              In this case, I’m pretty sure it was “claiming to have at least one black parent.”
              I don’t care if you’re like Kazzy and know a lot about black culture and Identify With It more than most white folks (I’ve known black guys who have swung the other way, I don’t really care).
              Wlilful deception is WAY different than just talking like a Southerner.Report

              • Avatar Brooke in reply to Kim says:

                Making false claims about specific facts is wrong, but that’s really not the core issue here. At least, it’s not the cultural issue people are going to disagree about.

                It’s about whether saying “I feel like I am a [group name]” is enough to constitute membership in that group. Society is moving toward accepting it in some cases, as with Gender Dysphoria sufferers.

                But a lot of people aren’t comfortable with the idea that there is an obligation to validate everyone’s subjective inner experience of who they think they are. And the discussion of who gets to claim they’re members of what race is a prime example of it.Report

              • Avatar Notme in reply to Brooke says:


                So the new thing will be claim that you are trans racial?Report

              • Avatar Brooke in reply to Notme says:

                Is it any less valid than claiming you are transgender? Either people are what they feel like, or they aren’t.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Brooke says:

                If the people are actually dying their skin, then yeah, they Might Know what it’s like to be black in America (or maybe not, because white privilege is monetary as well as perceptual). Otherwise… well… fine claim you’re black in white skin. or something. but for god’s sake, show a LITTLE humility.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Brooke says:

                Well, I knew that was coming (as it came to the rest of the internet almost immediately).Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Brooke says:

                @brooke — Well, let’s unpack that.

                There are two facts about the transgender argument that are not present in the transracial argument:

                1. Transsexuality and gender non-conformity have plausible scientific explanations that are quite a bit stronger than just “I say so.”

                2. Cross-gender expression and identity has a long history, with a variety of cultural responses. People have been doing this for a long time.

                I don’t think you’ll find anything similar for “transracial” identities. Certainly the claim that “gender is in the brain” is a very different claim from “race is in the brain.” Likewise, cases such as David Reimer are strong evidence that gender identity is a real thing that defies social conditioning or environment.

                It is true that both claims have a similar structure, however the claim of trans people is significantly stronger. One could be true while the other is false.

                If “transracial” people want to make the same arguments that transgender people make, they may do so, but they will need a comparable body of evidence.

                (Likewise for furries and otherkin and so on.)Report

              • Avatar Brooke in reply to veronica d says:

                Your argument sounds a lot like, “what I feel is real, because it’s me, but those other people’s feelings aren’t as legitimate.”

                I’m not persuaded that what you regard as scientific evidence for the legitimacy of your condition is any more legitimate than what someone who identifies with another race might find legitimate.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Brooke says:

                @brooke —

                Your argument sounds a lot like, “what I feel is real, because it’s me, but those other people’s feelings aren’t as legitimate.”

                That is precisely not my argument. I do not expect people to accept my gender only because I say so. I do say so, but I ask people to also accept the weight of medical/scientific evidence, alongside a sophisticated view of sex/gender.

                The “transracial” people do not have those things. They have no science to speak of. They have no plausible scientific story. Nor do they have a cultural understanding of race that would include them as “black” (or whatever).

                They can try to make the case, and certainly the transgender political movement might give them insight on how to approach the problem, but they still have to make the case.

                Whether or not you are persuaded by the evidence indicates much about you and little about the evidence.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Notme says:

                In case you are, for once, serious about learning about something outside of your experience.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Brooke says:

                I don’t know if it’s the core issue, really. I mean, people would mock Vanilla Ice if he claimed to be African-American, but for the most part people won’t care too much one way or another if he says he “always felt black inside”. At the end of the day, he’s just an entertainer, and people either enjoy his music or not.

                Where people start to care more would be however much I appear to have A.) intentionally-deceived others, with the aim of B.) enriching myself, through my race-related job(s), or accepting minority scholarships, or getting paid for columns on race from the perspective of a “black” person etc.; or, receiving my “enrichment” in a more reputational sense, by setting myself up to command authority and attention (say by presenting myself as a specially-qualified moral arbiter on race questions).Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

                Of course, other people have pointed out that historically minorities have passed (that is, “intentionally-deceived others”) with the aim of “enriching” themselves (since in a deeply-racist society they may have had no choice but to deceive, to get work).

                So it seems I need to add a third criteria, something like C.) “strictly-opportunistically/in the absence of genuine oppression” or something.

                I’ve mentioned before that I had a college roommate who got some money for school by claiming NA ancestry even though he was not (white father, Vietnamese mother).

                At the time, I was a little annoyed; I didn’t try to claim any Hispanic ancestry (which could have gotten me some $), despite a long line of that on my dad’s side, and it seemed a bit unfair.

                But he came from *dirt* poor, and he used that university education to become a teacher, and I don’t begrudge him that now (of course, if I were a NA student who lost out on aid due to his deception, I might feel differently).

                But, if he started professionally-lecturing people about injustice against Native Americans, I think I’d be annoyed all over again.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Brooke says:


                Here is the conflcit:

                1. Is race a social construct?

                2. Is privilege something that can’t be gotten rid of?

                One can always admire and have respect and interest in cultures and experiences that are not your own. One can always have compassion for those who are the victims of prejudice and oppression. But it seems dangerous (and an example of privilege) to say that you are no longer from Backround X but were really backround Y all along. Especially if someone grew up without experiencing oppression and prejudice and can end it at any time if it gets too tough.Report

              • Avatar Brooke in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Race is somewhere between a broken legacy idea that we’ve inherited from our ancestors, and a proxy for culture.

                It’s always been a vague concept lacking real biological meaning. Attempts to create precise definitions have given us horrors like the one-drop rule. Definitions of which national and religious groups belong to which race have changed throughout history.

                Being born as a member of one culture doesn’t mean you have to stay one for your entire life. Being an immigrant and undergoing religious conversion are both examples that could change someone’s group identity. Why is it so objectionable that a person would want to belong to another culture (a “racial” one in this case) when it isn’t the one she was born into?Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      This is kind of a fascinating story, and one with a bit of personal resonance for me.

      My great grandfather was a biracial man from Louisiana who moved to California and began passing as white. My great grandmother was Mexican. My grandmother and her siblings had most of their cultural heritage stripped from them so that they could grow up middle-class.

      Two generations on, with a bunch of WASP ancestry from other branches, I’m really just white-with-an-asterisk. Which raises a bunch of interesting questions about how much embracing the racial minority that is the minority of my race is appropriate and how much is appropriation.

      Does eating Tamales at Christmas (even though my great-grandmother probably never did) make me an obnoxious hipster or a preserver of culture that isn’t quite mine? Or just someone who likes tasty food? Do I have the same right to feel uncomfortable about the way people discuss my dark curly hair that actual Black or Latino people do? How should I be feeling when people call it a Jew-fro? How should my converted-to-Judaism cousin feel when people call her hair a Jew-fro?

      So it’s kinda fascinating to see someone who is said to be even whiter than I am just eagerly jump over that line, an so wholeheartedly embrace a non-white racial identity. Especially since she seems to have done so with such an authenticity of cultural knowledge (though apparently not, ya know, any authenticity of actually being Black).

      Off topic aside @saul-degraw : I’m teaching a summer theater class next month, and would like your advice, especially about contemporary drama. Please e-mail me at if you’re interested in discussing.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Alan Scott says:


        I will send an e-mail sometime this weekend!

        There is a long history of light-skinned African-Americans passing as white. This went pretty far into the modern era and included some relatively famous people.

        I would say that “passing” while controversial is more understandable because of not wanting to be a second or third class citizen.

        An African-American woman asked if I was part-Black because of my JewFro.Report

  9. Pl1: We already know that we can generate the aggregate amount of energy needed from renewable sources, given non-renewable energy sources for use in the initial construction. We don’t know what level of output can be sustained once replacement energy costs have to come out of the renewable base. More importantly, we don’t know, particularly for the eastern half of the country, how much grid and storage capacity will be needed to offset intermittency — all this group of authors, in previous papers as well as this one, have said on that subject is “future study”. What we really don’t know is how much of the current political and business infrastructure associated with operating the grid will have to be rebuilt, and how difficult that will be. We do know that the current US federal regulatory regime dating from the early 1990s for how the grid should be operated is not well-suited to widespread adoption of renewable sources other than traditional hydro.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Michael Cain: We do know that the current US federal regulatory regime dating from the early 1990s for how the grid should be operated is not well-suited to widespread adoption of renewable sources other than traditional hydro.

      After all the discussions here with regard to the electrical grid & it’s regulation, that is what intrigued me. It is nice to see that it could be done & we would not have to cover every acre with a solar panel or wind turbine. At best this could incite public pressure to make the changes needed for it to happen, but I don’t see where they address the necessary changes to the regulatory & current grid system, which makes me think this will focus attention on the wrong things.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I noted they left out nuclear and had to struggle to keep reading since they seem entirely unserious. Especially when they casually talked about harnessing fishing tidal power instead. Why not harness unicorns to a turbine while we’re at it?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

          North, I just gotta say, I really appreciate that you are a cheerleader for nuclear power. I wish there were more of you.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

          Also, tidal turbines are not even remotely unicorn-y. Big, significant engineering challenge, significant maintenance challenge, but the power they can produce is constant & massive.

          Technically they can be placed along any coast line, but they work best in coastal channels & straits, where the tide gets the water moving at a solid clip.

          Even wave power is enjoying exciting new designs. The nice thing about wave & tidal is that unlike wind power, or nuclear, there is no settled design on what makes a good plant. Nukes are all PWRs & BWRs, and wind is all HAWT, because it’s what people know how to build, and install, and operate. Even if such designs are not necessarily optimum anymore.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            When they install some commercial tidal facilities and produce some market rate power without the salt water corroding the whole thing right out from underneath them I’ll take it more seriously, especially if they figure out a way to convince local environmentalists that the coastal erosion and wildlife damage from those facilities is acceptable. Until then plans that ignore established base load power technology and imagine replacements like mass tidal and geothermal are just hooking unicorns up to the chariots in my eye.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      I also can’t imagine that certain eastern states will be all that excited to install all that renewable generating capacity, preferring instead to farm it out to the west and then pay for it be sent back to the east.Report

      • I’ve written about this before (pretty much ad nauseum, I’m afraid), but I think that by the time the eastern states figure out that they want to do this, the states west of the Great Plains are likely to be… less than entirely cooperative about the idea.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Oh, I’m sure, at which point the eastern states will band together to have the federal government force the issue.

          For the good of the country and all that…Report

          • That’s where Cain’s secession project comes in to play.Report

            • Yes, get a couple of drinks in me and ask me how fragile HVDC pylons and lines strung across Rocky Mountain passes and the Great Plains are in practice, in a country where dynamite and blasting caps are quite easy to come by :^)

              When the time comes, I expect the eastern states will decide that nuclear is quicker and easier.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Michael Cain: nuclear is quicker and easier

                As in they nuke the west and then populate the remains with radioisotope thermoelectric generators?Report

              • In the novel outline which I drag out to work on from time to time (the outline, I’m far from ready to take on the novel itself), one major plot line involves the ongoing attempt to occupy Denver and its suburbs…Report

              • It seems to me that in a military conflict, the areas east of the Rockies would be pretty vulnerable. How much stronger would the east need to be than the west if the Rockies were the border, you think? (I’m thinking of this in part due to the multi-polar North America idea I was talking about last week.)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Will Truman says:

                I’m sure the Army has contingencies for such things, but I imagine moving anything heavier than light mechanized infantry through the passes could be problematic if some key bridges were taken out.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

                Someone should ask the Arapaho if the Mountain West is unconquerable.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

                Well, nothing is unconquerable. The question is how much are you willing to spend in time, treasure, and lives to conquer it?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Someone should ask Bobby E. Lee that question.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

                Civil War history is not my strong suit, but IIRC correctly, he was running short of lives & treasure. Although I hear there is some measure of debate about the actual reason he surrendered.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                No, as in the col, water rich, geologically stable northeast is pretty much the perfect location to place a new generation of nuclear reactors. And compared to the cost of stringing all that transmission to the west nuclear plants would be cheap as hell.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                But nuclear plants are icky. Can’t have icky things in the east. Not allowed. Offends the sensibilities, doncha know.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                As compared to massive energy bills? The vast majority of the population would and have in the past kicked the environmentalists squealing to the curb over a mere recession and on the subject of nukes the environmentalists can’t even squeal in unison because the science isn’t on their side and some of them are practical enough to admit it.
                Long before we regress to yurts or try and build giant power conduits to carry solar and wind from the enslaved plains states we’d just throw up a mess of fishing fission.Report

              • I have no problem with nuclear plants, except for the idiots who are going to build and run them. Take them away from the cost-cutting-at-any-price suits at the utility companies, and put them in the hands of people who understand the value of redundant safety systems and proper maintenance, and we’re good.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                With the newer generations passive safety features are one of the major characteristics. It also bears noting that with the old plants the three major incidents consisted of A) Chernobyl, a soviet nightmare reactor so dissimilar to normal reactors (no containment building) as to be a different machine entirely B) Three Mile Island, a fiction that didn’t cause any significant ecological damage except in the feverish dreams of the woo woo brigade. C) Fukishima, a nuclear reactor built in a tidal wave and earthquake prone region.

                We’re definitely not talking about scenarios A or C when we talk about using Nuclear to power the northeast and midwest.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

                You know where the largest earthquake in US history was, right?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                No clue, by the context of the conversation I’d assume the northeast or midwest? Position the plants away from the coast and the earthquakes can do their worst. It was the earthquake plus the tsunami plus the corporate slackness that brought fukishima down.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

                \New Madrid, in southeast Missouri.Report

              • Wikipedia says it’s the largest in the 48 contiguous states and east of the Rockies. This USGS page lists greater magnitude quakes in Alaska, Hawaii, and California. The New Madrid quakes probably caused damage over a much larger area than any other quake in US history.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North says:

                I remain skeptical that an earthquake, even a New Madrid scale one, could have produced something even as bad as a fukishima alone.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

                Not to minimize Fukishima, but how many lives did the plant’s devastation claim, again? If I remember correctly, the answer is “zero”.

                Would that all “even as bads” be even as bad as that.

                Edit: ah, let me completely withdraw that.

                It takes 3-5 years for the diseases to start showing up and, as of last year, they started to.

                The number is around 1,200, it seems.

                Yeah, that’s pretty bad.Report

              • Avatar Notme in reply to Jaybird says:


                Your scale is off. The brits lost 60k casualties on the first day of the somme. Stalin killed between 4-10 million with the starvation caused by the forced colectivization of farms.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Notme says:

                Wouldn’t scale be better served by comparisons to oil rigs blowing up, coal mine disasters, and other similar issues?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

                So… I guess this list needs to be updated. How far up it does Fukishima move it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

                We’d need someone mathier than I to crunch those numbers but I was struck by how the deaths have started adding up and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The disaster hasn’t stopped killing people yet. It’s going to continue to do so for a while.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

                Note that second order deaths from a nuclear accident are not always obviously attributable to the incident. A lot of reported deaths are best guesses.Report

              • Second-order deaths from most any of the major energy sources are hard to attribute. How many fatal heart attacks are due to the heart having to overwork because someone susceptible to fine particulates from coal plants has lung damage?

                Of potential concerns about nuclear power, one that gets too little play these days is that it appears to have become too expensive to obtain financing without government involvement. Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia were essentially dead until the Obama administration came up with $6.5B in loan guarantees and the Georgia PUC approved putting a sizable chunk of the construction expenses into the rate base years before those reactors generated a single watt of electricity (the first time the Georgia PUC had ever allowed that).Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

                This & the fact that the NRC tends to resist prototype development & testing of any decay/fission reactor means we are stuck with PWRs / BWRs, which are pretty complicated beasts.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I think my biggest pet peeve on energy discussions is the repeated “X is only viable with subsidies”.

                To which the only response is a massive eyeroll and asking which energy source ISN’T subsidized? Either directly or indirectly (unpaid for externalizations, foreign adventures to secure supplies, etc).

                As noted, nuclear relies on government financing and I believe insurance. Oil requires, well, the US military — quite directly, recently. Coal has been happily not paying for spewing pollutants.

                That doesn’t even get into R&D, grid and transport networks, tax breaks, etc.

                One reason I tend to view it more along the lines of “what makes sense” and “what are the problems we want to deal with” as opposed to cost. Solar, coal, NG, oil, nuclear, wind, hydro, etc — they’re all within shouting distance once you make an approximation of subsidies and account for it.

                Might as well just say “Screw it”. Nobody’s competing on a fair field anyways. If they were, nobody would build nuke plants because they couldn’t afford it, coal would be insanely expensive because of carbon pricing, and the market would be entirely locked off due to the fact that the big boys were in and already getting economies of scale. Solar and wind wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.

                As it is, living in Houston, rooftop PV looks better and better every year. It’s gotten cheap enough to be a good investment for third parties — solar leasing is taking off pretty big down here.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Morat20 says:

                A friend runs a solar electric business and one of the things they’re trying to move into is something like the Elon Musk model where a private firm pays the upfront cost of of installing a residential array in exchange for net meetering and a monthly fee. Folks see their electric bills go down, and the business ends up making a profit about ten-twelve years out. I don’t know where he’s at on it, but that was one plan they were pursuing.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                They’re all subsidized. Not sure that “they’re all subsidized” tells us much about how much each type is subsidized, and what the kwh prices might look like without subsidies.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:


                Where I live, there’s quite a bit of extra-market cultcha effecting people’s decisions about these issues, and lots of folks are OK with higher prices/KwH on the expectation that over the life of the array total carbon emissions will be lower. That sorta thing.

                Also, our local electric provider offered a rebate for folks who installed solar w/ net meetering on the premise (I think!) that lots of individual battery systems provided a nice backup during peak demand.

                @michael-cain would certainly know more about that than I do tho.Report

              • There’s certainly no imperative that you go with the least-expensive option, either on an individual level or a government level. There are quality-of-life concerns, environmental concerns, security concerns, and so on. All perfectly reasonable, and I’m supportive of some of it.

                But the cost is the cost, even if someone else is paying it, and the cost matters. Even if it’s mostly to figure out how to pay for the more-expensive option (either on the individual end of the collective end).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Well, where I live, there’s a lot of folks with “discretionary funds” as it were. 🙂

                (Which is to say, they’re not all rich folk…)Report

              • @stillwater
                There is indeed considerable willingness-to-pay. Xcel has been offering a wind-power option for something like 15 years because there was demand for it. Customers could buy some number of 100-kWh blocks per month, under a separate (usually higher) pricing plan, subject to availability. Of course it was an accounting gimmick, but there was enough demand that Xcel kept adding wind farms. Right after Katrina/Rita, when NG prices spiked, there was a couple of months when those wind power blocks were cheaper than the standard fuel mix power.

                The renewable electricity portfolio was added to the state constitution by citizen initiative. Unlike many states farther east, it’s an honest requirement: a certain percentage of power delivered to Colorado customers must be sourced from renewable sources. No odd trading of things where the utility can “buy” credit by paying for power generated and consumed on the other side of the country. Xcel says that it can buy wind power now — under conditions that are somewhat unique — for less than it can generate power from new NG-fired plants.

                Other weird things go into the mix. A few years back the legislature changed some things in order to encourage the use of NG rather than coal, but that had nothing to do with electricity directly. It was clear that most of the populated parts of Colorado were going to be in violation of the next level of federal ozone restrictions, that coal-fired plants were a significant part of the problem, and that if Colorado didn’t take its own steps the feds would dictate a solution that might be considerably more expensive.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I should add that deaths directly attributable to the reactor incident are further complicated by the tsunami itself. Such widescale disasters tend to release all sorts of unpleasantness into the environment that can cause deaths years later.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Michael Cain: More importantly, we don’t know, particularly for the eastern half of the country, how much grid and storage capacity will be needed to offset intermittency

      AEP thinks most of the lines have to be built in on the western side of the Great Plains. The Ohio Valley and Appalachia already the transmission capacity due to their coal (and nuke) legacy. The only big project for East Megalopolis are two lines to NYC paralleling the Penn Turnpike and the old National Pike. And those are as likely to be bringing power from the coasts to Chi-town and the like than vice versa.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

        And some kind of storage capacity…Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          The idea of the AEP plan as I understand it (and I understand its similar to the Pickens plan from a few years ago, but I don’t know who cribbed off who) is that a robust system of high voltage interconnects makes storage capacity moot. Power would just go from wherever it could be supplied to wherever the current demand is.

          (The other factor in the Pickens plan and perhaps in AEPs were gas turbine backups to address peak demand and/or interconnect failures)Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kolohe says:

            The Pickens plan came fairly close to conforming to my rules for making renewables successful.

            Rule 1: If renewables are going to supply a large fraction of the total power, you need diversity of types, which combined with an appropriate transmission grid, reduces the intermittency problem.

            Rule 2: If a single renewable type is going to supply a large fraction of the total power, you need geographic diversity, again combined with an appropriate transmission grid, to reduce the intermittency problem.

            Rule 3: Renewables are much more attractive economically if you make use of every megawatt they can generate. So…

            Rule 3a: Dispatch strategy in a heavily-renewable grid has to make sure that short-term intermittent renewables are always dispatched first. This conflicts with current US federal policy about how the grid should operate. TTBOMK, the only place in the US where wind has for limited periods provided >50% of delivered power is Xcel Energy in Colorado. Due to that market’s geographic isolation and one-monster-utility situation, Xcel is effectively exempt from the rules and is able to do wind-first dispatch. Xcel also says that under those circumstances, it’s cheaper for them to buy power from wind farms and use their existing gas-fired capacity as backup.

            Rule 3b: Excess intermittent power from renewables goes into storage, because while diversity helps, it’s not entirely sufficient. In the US west, where deep narrow canyons are not uncommon, the obvious choice is independent pumped hydro, absorbing excess generation from wherever and then producing power when needed. US federal policy makes that a tough business.

            Absent the interties, the AEP grid for the western interconnect is actually one of only two plans that (IMO) make sense for a heavily renewable western grid. Not only does the AEP grid go close — for western values of close — to the major wind sources, it also goes close to the major demand centers, to the major sources for hydro and solar, and to reasonable places to site pumped hydro storage.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kolohe says:

        Here’s a DoE view suggested as an alternative to the AEP model. The two studies that produced the two maps had two slightly different assumptions about costs. AEP assumed HVDC interties would be cheap, and offshore Atlantic wind relatively expensive, and ends up with a transmission scheme that collects wind power from many places in the west and ships it east across the Great Plains (note the major new interties). The DoE assumed HVDC interties would be relatively more expensive and offshore Atlantic wind somewhat cheaper, and ends up with a scheme that builds lots of Atlantic offshore wind and does almost no net movement of power between the three US interconnects. Back in the day when I did systems analysis professionally, this kind of radical change in the result during sensitivity analysis was a giant red flag.

        The DoE study was slightly more recent than the AEP one, but both are somewhat dated. However, at this point in time, the western interconnect states and Texas are planning/building transmission facilities that look more like the DoE plan than they do like the AEP plan.Report

  10. Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

    Pl2 – It seems crazy that stories like these don’t generate more alarm. This is a problem that will cost a lot of money to deal with, and it’s happening at multiple places across the country (and the world). And, as a layman, I would imagine that in addition to the problems with buildings and infrastructure, the sinking land would permanently reduce the capacity of the aquifers to hold water. Who knows what kind of problems this will cause the surrounding ecosystems.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:
      Two different predictions for what the HELL is going on in the West. One is seeing a huge ElNino, combined with an extremely strong decadal oscillation.
      The other is calling for a long term drought in Cali.

      Climatology is weird, but worry about this after next year. Cali may be sinking in a different way soon enough.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:

      I imagine it does permanently reduce the capacity of groundwater, or at least until some other geological even opens up new spaces, which I am certain will happen any millennium now…

      Honestly,the only hope CA has to keep growing the way it is, and keep farming the way it does, is to either radically change how it does Ag/water rights, or make a breakthrough in desal, or both.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I’m just waiting for them to tell me to cut my already low water usage by 25% instead of just looking at the absolute amount of water per person we use in my household and saying, “You’re good.”

        They’re giving out a pretty nice incentive to relandscape and tear out lawn in residential areas. Unfortunately for me, I let my lawn die when the water pinch started to get bad, so I don’t qualify. It needs to be lush, green lawn in order to qualify–large spaces full of brown lawn with sprinkler heads all over it don’t count. Maybe I should plant some seeds and get it growing before I do my landscaping to defray some of the cost.

        Anyway, I’m hearing rumblings about some groups of farmers making a public show of voluntarily making large cuts in water usage. I think they see the writing on the wall.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

          Toto’s working on better toilets as we speak…Report

          • Avatar LWA in reply to Kim says:

            That’s one clever dog.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Kim says:

            I’m 100% a Toto loyalist when it comes to toilet purchases. I’m not sure how they’ll get much lower on the water usage than they already are, but if they claim they’ve done it, I’ll believe them and buy one. But I think we’re at a point of diminishing returns on toilet water volume. Going from 7 gallons per flush down to 1.8 is a pretty big deal. Going from 1.8 to, what, 1.2? How much is that really going to buy us when compared to other things.

            The cash incentive for a low flow toilet in my area is ridiculously large. We’d probably be better off taking that money and using it to pay to truck water in from out of state.Report

      • Avatar Francis in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Yes, subsidence causes permanent loss of groundwater storage capacity. Subsidence is, definitionally, the loss of pore space in soils, which is where the groundwater goes.

        Once gone, lost forever. And making new soil, with new pore space, is measured in geologic time.

        No, a radical change isn’t required. WATER IS LOCAL!! (really). Trying to make major changes in state law will only be met with strong resistance. Much better to make incremental changes on (a) establishing restrictions on groundwater extractions and (b) easing the regulations on short-term transfers.

        A breakthrough in desal that makes sea water available to farmers requires a reduction of at least one order of magnitude. Desal runs about $2,000 per acre foot; farmers regularly pay under $100 (depending on where and who you are). The innovations in materials science for that breakthrough would have impacts far beyond the water industry.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Francis says:


          If I’ve learned anything from you, it’s that untangling CA water rights is not something that will tolerate any action even remotely smacking of radical.

          Still, I’m just not confident that CA can sustain the growth of water usage given that a goodly portion of the state is a freaking desert.Report

          • Avatar Francis in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            There’s still a ton of slack in the system. Per capita water use in urban areas in Australia and Israel are way !!! lower than most of urban California, which has tremendous variance within the state.

            California exports a massive amount of water, in beef and alfalfa and rice and dates and grapes and wine and fruit and veg and … etc. (So-called ’embedded’ water is a fascinating issue. California also imports embedded water in the foods [and clothing] its residents purchase.)

            An interesting conundrum is that as farmers perceive the cost of water rising in the future they are moving to higher-value crops. But many higher value crops come from trees, which can’t go without water. While a rice field can get fallowed one year, the almond orchard next door can’t. So farmers are hardening their demand for water precisely at the time that the State should be building in more flexibility.

            As Kim notes, in addition to drought California is also facing greater variation in its water supply. The State should be discouraging perennial crops in favor of annuals, so that crop land can be more easily fallowed in low years.

            (The State should also be making huge efforts to develop storage. And the cheapest place to store water is underground. Wait, what was that bit about subsidence?)Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Francis says:

          The good news is that while $1500-2000 per acre foot is not practical for farming, it’s very practical for residential use. It looks to me like my residential (retail) rate next for FY 2015/2016 is going to start at the equivalent of $1576 per acre foot and top out at about $3000 per acre foot. So at minimum, we’re not too far off of being able to end the bickering between residential and agricultural users if we want to.

          It’s also worth noting that while we consider that water to be “very expensive” it really doesn’t work out to all that much in practical terms for most families. Water prices are still low enough that most people aren’t very sensitive to them. Even at the very high end of $7.30/hcf, that’s about $0.01 per gallon. Having grown up in CA during the droughts of the 80’s, I’d be horrified to see somebody pour 100 gallons of fresh water down a storm drain, but the reality is that you can get 100 gallons of water for less than a dollar around here.Report

  11. Avatar kenB says:

    How not to talk about climate change (assuming you actually want to change minds).Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to kenB says:

      Quite honestly, it isn’t going to fucking matter.
      Do you honestly think you can stop genocide?
      That 1 Million Americans thinking something different — about science, of all fucking things, is going to stop that???

      We couldn’t fucking stop Rwanda, for god’s sake.
      This isn’t going to be fixed by “changing the discourse” either.

      And I’d rather talk about the best mechanisms for murdering puppies, because at least people will fund that!Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to kenB says:

      I like this.Report

  12. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    [B2] From the transcript:

    “I looked at wild successes, like Airbnb and Instagram and Uber and Youtube and LinkedIn…And some failures: Webvan, Kozmo, Flooz and Friendster.”

    Four of the five wild successes depend on ignoring laws to succeed; LinkedIn is supported by headhunters.

    I guess the lesson is “give users a place where they can steal stuff easily, and they’ll use your service and make it successful”. I note that he doesn’t include the various file-locker services, which were also wild successes right up until they got shut down by the government.Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I want to use LinkedIn…but I don’t care that much. I can’t bring myself to remember who I’ve worked with over the last 20 years, try to figure out how to link to them or anything like that.

      I’ve worked for the same company for a decade. I just don’t bounce around enough for it to matter.

      Although I do wonder why despite having a ‘No relocation’ flag up on my out-of-date resume (last updated 18 months ago maybe) on monster and career builder, and not ever logging in, I keep getting headhunters trying to move me all over the county for jobs both permanent and temporary.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to morat20 says:

        I am mystified by LinkedIn. I am mystified by social networks in general. I log into my Facebook account about once a month or so, just to remind me why I don’t more often. But even that makes sense compared to LinkedIn. It seems to be a giant job site of peculiarly awkward design. But many people seem to use it, so I assume I am missing something.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:


          My girlfriend works for Linkedin and I know people who received jobs and were recruited via Linked but these people are not in the legal industry. My GF told me that legal recruiters are still largely skeptical of Linkedin.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to morat20 says:

        It seems like having a “like” or “dislike” option on contacts from headhunters would be interesting. They’d get feedback on how effectively they were casting their nets and it would provide feedback to Monster to see how much their system is being spammed.

        Honestly, I’m just amazed at the variety of people who have the balls to try to link to total strangers on LinkedIn. Second only to my amazement at the amount of spam LinkedIn itself sends me over nothing. They seem to think I should be logging in like a teenager on facebook instead of using it to stay in touch with colleagues I occasionally check in with.Report

        • Avatar morat20 in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

          I think I have like…two links on LinkedIn. Mostly because I knew two people on LinkedIn (neither in my field) and didn’t bother digging through work emails and names trying to link to work contacts.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to morat20 says:

            I’ve seen people who try to link to the managers who fired them for incompetence. When I see a LinkedIn profile with 10,000 links, I’m usually not impressed. It’s like having a resume that lists 10,000 different things on it. Almost none of those things means anything at all.Report

          • I’m connected to Burt because some LinkedIn robot dug my e-mail address out of his inbox and invited me to link him. Once I found out that the inviter was Burt’s real name and not a retired relief pitcher, I said yes. (Not that I wouldn’t have said yes to the ballplayer.)Report

        • Honestly, I’m just amazed at the variety of people who have the balls to try to link to total strangers on LinkedIn.

          And then, when you ignore, them, send followups saying “Hey, why didn’t you respond to me?” I am not making this up.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Taking their system to its logical conclusion, everybody should be linked to everybody, so if you need to find a candidate for a job, you just open your linked in account and look at all 7 billion entries.

            It seems like that graph would lose some information-mining value if every node was connected to every other node.Report

  13. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    [S1] Too bad to learn that Erik Kain was a misogynist all along. It’s unfortunate, he seemed like such a nice guy, too.

    Ah wait, crap, “nice guy”. Well, there it is, I guess.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to DensityDuck says:

      He’s a serial mansplainer.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to DensityDuck says:

      The semantic shift in the phrase “nice guy” bewilders me, undoubtedly because I am old and spend my time yelling at kids to get off my lawn rather than keeping up with things. I think of “nice guy” as meaning, in its most narrow and neutral sense, a guy who is nice; and by extension a guy who is lacking in more notable qualities, especially with respect to sexual desirability, leaving this faint praise the best we can come up with. It seems nowadays to mean a guy who is douchy. I haven’t figured out how that happened.

      About the same time the cultural implications of wearing a fedora also changed. I have worn fedoras for decades. I am not endowed with flowing locks, my ancestry suggests caution with respect to UV rays is wise, and I like a hat with a brim as being very practical in light-to-moderate rain. And Frank Sinatra, of course. But fedoras somehow became douchy, too. Fortunately, there seems to be an upper age cutoff for this, and I am well above it.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:


        As far as I can tell, Men’s hats took a hit in the 1960s and have never really recovered.

        Hats used to be absolutely necessary for men. I worked for lawyers who graduated law school in the 1960s and they would tell me stories about how it could be a fireable offense if you showed up without a hat. There might have been an exception in the summer. An older law professor told the class that they needed to wear suits during law school. IIRC the Virginia Bar requires professional wear during the Bar Exam.

        Boomers seemed to have rebelled against mandatory hat wearing. My dad (born 1947) hates hats. Maybe he will wear a baseball cap on hot and sunny days but that is about it.

        At somepoint during the 1990s, some guys tried to bring back some of the fashions from the 1940s and 50s that my dad’s generation rebelled against. This included pork-pie hats and fedoras.

        This was cool for a New York minute but it somehow quickly became associated with dorky guys. We had a thread on this a while back and Jaybird basically said that men of a certain weight on a budget are attracted to hats when trying to get some fashion saavy in their lives.

        I think Fedora’s are just too associated with the 1940s and with our images of classic movie stars like Bogart, Peck, Tracy, Grant, etc. Most men will never be close to being Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart. Basically it is trying too hard especially when not combined with a full suit.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        I am not sure when nice guy became “nice guy” and meant a loser who constantly struck out with women.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          From slatestarcodex, the current usage of nice guy seems to date back to the early aughts like 2002 or 2003.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:


            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              SA lays out some history here, although I think he does a pretty bad job at understanding the contours of nerd misogyny that predate the specific redpill vocabulary. (Which I compare to conflating social conservatism in general with specific language used by the Tea Party.) But anyway, here:


              This article seems to be pretty early in NiceGuy discourse:


              One interesting thing to note in that article: the word “nerd” does not appear. Another thing, I find that article entirely reasonable. I’m not saying “nice guys” will like it, but suck it up. Women are speaking.

              In any case, there is plenty of good critique to be made of NiceGuy behavior, but over time I think it morphed into a kind of counterproductive nerd bashing — not that there aren’t plenty of nerdy guys who are hella misogynistic — just, a backlash brings a backlash brings more backlash and more backlash still. The conversation is broken.

              The comments section of that article are telling. This was posted in 2003, long before the “redpill” was a thing:

              Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003
              Subject: Male Flame form :

              COMMENTS: Thank you for your website. It is further confirmation of the general inaneness of women and why they should not be allowed free time to develop websites and express their views. I want to quickly comment on the articles relating to misogyny on your website. The “nice guy” theory you are puporting is only men that can not get a date believe that women want guys who treat them badly. The idea is that “nice guys” are insecure and weak, and they blame women for their inability to garner respect. But the truth is that men who have a lot of success with women and have many girlfriends will tell you the same thing about women. It is because they treat the women like crap that they are successful. They have only accepted this and play the game that women require in order to get what they desire. In fact, the “nice guys” resent the women because they need to be treated with contempt, not because of a misplaced contempt that the men feel for themselves. Thank you again for your website and keep up the work. You are doing a service to misogynysts around the world.

              The Game by Neil Strauss get published two years later. I wonder if enjoyed it when it came out?Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to veronica d says:


                I vaguely remember when the original HB article came out. Even during my most frustrated the whole Game thing seemed silly to me.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                @saul-degraw — As I’ve said a few times, I wish The Game (and the culture it spawned) wasn’t so uniformly terrible. I mean, “Hey folks, here is some real stuff you can learn to help you get dates” sounds like a huge win for everyone —

                but instead we have a sexist shitshow built around adversarial dating with shallow women at dance clubs —

                not that I mind shallow women at dance clubs exactly, since I like dancing and I like clubs and hot women are hot and all, and they seem to like dancing with me. Just —

                take some struggling weird nerd and set him lose trying to date club hotties — how’s that supposed to work out? I mean, even if he gets them home, what next? A quick fuck? That sounds lovely and all, but is that really what that guy is looking for? Did he really need a subculture built around “banging HB10’s” and all that bullshit macho posturing?

                Bah! He needs to learn to talk to the women at the MtG convention. Like, to actually talk, like a normal three-dimensional human with desires and needs, and boundaries, and dignity, instead of just gawking at women until he makes them uncomfortable and they call him a “creep.”

                Plus maybe he needs some practical wardrobe tips (no fedoras!) and some confidence.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                A lot of people would probably benefit from a more rule based dating system. The current free market model, or close to it, allows more options than in the past but it favors the more conventionally attractive and socially extroverted and skilled much more than past systems did.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The relative efficiency of urban dating markets versus rural and small town/city markets is something I need to write about. It’s pretty striking. You run into a lot more of “Boy, that person should have done way better than they did” in the latter markets. Except that in a smaller market, the options are more limited.

                What’s true in smaller cities may also be true among minorities, ethnic or religious or sexual-orientation. Some people have to look for more axes of relationship market value than others.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Will Truman says:

                Heh. You should check out the trans dating scene! 🙂Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

                THIS…cause we all know that AA women aren’t getting any love. Disparate impact biatches!

                This must be fixed by massive gov’t intervention.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco in reply to LeeEsq says:

                You’d think that online matchmakers, being both algorithmic and process-oriented, would be a proxy solution to this, but it turns out they aren’t.

                A significant fraction of the pairings I’ve ended up with – including the only one that could be considered an LTR(1) – matched me with someone who was basically me. This has a chance – a staggeringly low chance – of producing perfection, and the rest of the time a bounce like a returning spacecraft on the wrong angle of descent…

                (1) The LTR was, probably fortunately, also an LDR – we had the same career (she was better at it), the same interests in pop culture, and played the same sport (she was better at it). If it hadn’t been an LDR, we probably would have blown up the universe like in “The Alternative Factor” from original ST. The most interesting part is that nothing in our backgrounds was at all similar, but by convergence produced two basically identical people.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                From personal experience, I can tell you that being able to talk to lots of different people as normal human beings does not even come close to a guarantee of romantic success. I’ve never been the geek that was simply unable to talk to women. My job depends on my ability to communicate and talk to people. Hasn’t helped my romantic success any.Report

        • Avatar morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Who knows? But it’s worth noting that, well, once you think about it — pretty much everyone knows “that guy” or has known him in the past. (It seems a common phase for high school kids, so lots of people might have BEEN that guy).

          It’s a lot worse of a person to be when you’re 30 than when you’re 15 and stupid. 🙂

          So I suspect it just became a thing when it hit some critical, visible mass — probably when dating sites were finally maturing and the phrase “I’m a nice guy but [insert tons of not so nice stuff plus entitlement complex]” became utterly unavoidable if you were dating online at all.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to morat20 says:


            I did not have the best luck with women until fairly recently. I actually suspect that there are a lot of secular people out there who get romantic experience fairly late in life but our culture is so wrapped up in ideas about when you should be romantically successful that people keep it under wraps. We pretty much think anyone who did not lose their virginity by 23 or 24 must come from a super-religious family and/or have a lot of psychological hang-ups. This is just as unhealthy as saying everyone needs to wait until marriage.

            That being said, when I did OKCupid, I was always surprised by how many women thanked me for writing in full paragraphs.

            A lot of new dating sites are trying to avoid the OKCupid large description route and going for quick impressions.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              I thought that the developed world thought you should lose your virginity around so tee or seventeen and spend your teens and twenties in romantic and sexual escapades. Twenty three and twenty four seem generous.Report

            • Avatar morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              My wife refers to that as “proper punctuation is sexy”. 🙂

              But she’s an English teacher, and forgives my spelling because she knows how I learned to read. (Which, I never knew, actually DID explain my horrible spelling). Self-taught readers something something.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to morat20 says:


                I think it is just that there are a lot of guys out there who do dating by the law of averages or really do think they are all that and can write stuff like “Hey baby, let’s get a drink sometime” as the first message.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I wonder how well those cheap “by the numbers” dating come-ons actually work, like on OkCupid or whatever? Do those guys get dates?
                Which, it’s hard for me to imagine many women are going to respond to some canned message that some guy sends out to hundreds of women, as if it won’t be obvious he didn’t read her profile or whatever. And a “’sup babe” come-on sounds like an instant ignore. So what happens?

                (I suspect sometimes that I miss a lot of cultural knowledge by not dating men.)Report

              • The best dating site I ever used was called LavaLife. They charged you for each message to a new person (though you bought them some 20 at a time). From the guy’s side, it meant that you didn’t waste any messages and you put care into each one. From the ladies’ side, it meant that a guy who contacted you wasn’t spamming.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

                lavalife was the first dating site I used!

                I met my GF on a site called Coffee Meets Bagels. The site works on the fremium model. Everyday you get a match with a bare bones profile. If you both like each other, the site sets up a private chatroom between the two of you for seven days. You can exchange private contact information when you decide to.

                You don’t even find out the persons name unless it is a mutual like.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                ” Coffee Meets Bagels”

                Haha, they were on Shark Tank a while back. One of the guys offered them three million and they refused to sell. My wife and I agreed that the whole operation was being bankrolled by (they said as much on the TV show) as an experiment; if the freemium-dating model made money, it would become the standard for Match. If it didn’t, they’d fold CMB and roll all its users into Match.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to veronica d says:

                When I was in college, I went to a sex seminar type thing that was put on by two people in their mid or late 20s. They were a couple and met in college. They told this story about a guy they went to school with, they (and many other people) thought the guy was a asshole (not the bad boy kind but just an asshole) and could not figure out how he got laid all the time.

                They later figured out that he basically asked every woman “Will you sleep with me?” and eventually found someone who would say yes.

                So the law of averages does play out. I also heard a comedian say this on This American Life: “Anyone can go to a bar and get laid. All you have to do is stay out until closing time and radically lower your standards.”

                These guys are immune to rejection. They are just looking for someone to say yes. As opposed to me, I was looking for a real relationship and would get really upset after going on 2-4 dates and constantly hearing “You are really sweet but I don’t feel any chemistry. Best of luck in love and life…..”

                There are just some guys who think they are Gods gift to women and nothing can convince them otherwise. They could be living at home, unemployed, and still go out and act like hotshots.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                “There are just some guys who think they are Gods gift to women and nothing can convince them otherwise. They could be living at home, unemployed, and still go out and act like hotshots.”

                This doesn’t necessarily follow from how you describe these guys earlier in your comment. If they dramatically lower their standards, they probably don’t think they’re God’s gift. They just want to get laid. Which, hey, if it works for them and they’re engaging in consensual sex, more power to ’em.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I saw a thing in Playboy back around 1980 about a guy on NY public access cable called “Ugly George”, and this was exactly his business model. He’d walk the streets all day (memory says he carried his camera around to show his bona fides), asking basically every woman he met “will you take your clothes off for my TV show?”. He got just enough positive responses to keep the show going.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          The specific thing that makes him a Nice Guy (as opposed to a nice guy) is not that he strikes out, but that he is angry at the women with whom he strikes out for failing to reward him with sex for being, in his own estimation, nice.

          A guy who repeatedly strikes out but recognizes that nobody is obligated to supply him with romantic success, is not a Nice Guy.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to dragonfrog says:

            Yes! This is the semantic shift I am talking about. In the older usage I come from, a nice guy is the friend of the woman, whom he also has a crush on, and who comes to him to cry on his shoulder about the jerk she had been dating. (Yes, this is the voice of experience, though not recent, thank God.) This guy is pathetic, but not douchy. The angry sense-of-entitlement version is a perverse twist on the concept, seeing as how that Nice Guy version is most decidedly not nice.Report

            • Avatar Brooke in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

              This is why the new usage is a bad match. The older one was superior, because the behavior exhibited by these men was “nice” and respectful of their female friends.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

              Kind of connected though – the ‘new’ usage is basically referring to guys who use the narrative of the ‘old’ usage to describe themselves.

              It comes from a perception (however accurate it is, I don’t know) that the people who actually are good friends to women don’t see themselves in this way, while those who see themselves this way aren’t really honest or authentic friends, since they’re really just trying to get into their pants.Report

              • Avatar morat20 in reply to dragonfrog says:

                I don’t know about the latter — I’ve had plenty of female friends I haven’t wanted to date, even when I was single. But the former? Guys being the friend and hoping to wait out the ‘bad choices’ until she sees the light?

                That’s common enough to be a trope.

                Sometimes it’s harmless. Sometimes it’s not. But speaking for myself, you don’t hit “nice guy” in quotes until you start hitting the stage where you’re feeling owed — “We’re friends and I’d love to be more” is fine but when it crosses into “I’m JUST your friend so I’m ready when you’re single” is…not.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        You haven’t done anything until you’ve been contractually banned from wearing fedorasReport

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        I’m bald so an assortment of hats is a must. I have hats for all seasons, all of them wide brimmed (fedora or slouch, depending; no trilby’s for me, I’m too big for those to not look ridiculous on me).)Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        As feminists use the term, a Nice Guy™ is a man who, according to them, feels entitled to sex because he thinks he’s a nice guy. While I acknowledge that this is a real thing, it’s worth noting that many of them frequently misapply this to men who in any way express any kind of dissatisfaction about their success with women.

        The fedora stigma comes from men who attempt to compensate for a general lack of desirability by dressing well. Because lack of romantic success is a source of considerable distress for most people who suffer from it, such men are prone to the expressions of dissatisfaction that lead a certain type of feminist to conclude that they are Nice Guys™.

        The fedora is emphatically not “douchey.” That’s not an all-purpose insult, but rather one applied specifically to a certain type of man who is in every way except being detested by feminists the polar opposite of a Nice Guy™.Report

        • Avatar Brooke in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          As someone who considers herself a general, run-of-the-mill feminist, this use of “Nice Guy” bothers me. I don’t want this distortion of feminist thought to be confused with mainstream feminism. So much about internet feminism leaves me shaking my head.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Brooke says:

            School Days has a GREAT depiction of the Japanese variation… the stalker who thinks that the girl should fall in love with him.
            If you haven’t played School Days, you should — it’s great trolling!Report

          • Avatar morat20 in reply to Brooke says:

            See, the problem with internet anything is twofold:

            1) There are fringe people everywhere and they are the loudest. Therefore, people think of them as “X” when they may, in fact, be about as representative of the average X as Westburo is of Protestants.
            2) There are people who have axes to grind on whatever topic who will ALSO promote the fringiest voices as gatekeepers and definers of “X” because, well, strawman is easier when it comes to bashing “X”.

            So anything even vaguely…warish…like, say, feminism will get that in spades.

            If you want another kick to the teeth — the YOUNGER you are, the more active you are online. Which means the proponents and opponents of “X” are young, immature, lacking experience and moderation of any sort.

            As for nice guys — I’ve met them. It’s a slow slide, basically. You start off behind a shoulder to cry on and wondering when she’ll stop dating jerks and date, well, you. And then when it never happens, you get angrier because she’s insulting you. You’re right there, better than these guys hurting her, and she won’t date you. What’s wrong with YOU? You’re objectively better! You’ve never made her cry! So obviously she’s got some problem with you, and that makes you feel bad. So you start to rationalize that she only dates ‘bad boys’ and the problem isn’t with you but her taste, and then it’s a short step to either Redpill stupid or getting even angrier that you’ve wasted all this time on her.

            And really the root of the problem is this: You were her friend, and wanted more. She was your friend and happy with the way it was. All the drama, the emotion, the rage — it’s all on you because you basically kept wanting more and getting unhappy you weren’t getting it.

            As people get older, they generally learn to either (1) be happy with being friends and let it go or (2) stop being friends because they realize they can’t be a fully honest friend as long as they’re wanting more.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Actually “nerds in fedoras” was really a thing, at least briefly. All kinds of stuff was written about it, with speculation about its genesis. I honestly don’t know how it got started, but I am deeply curious.

          Anyway, my favorite two theories are:

          1. Nerds just don’t get gender relations, but they have a love-hate relationship with masculinity, and thus the fedora, which to them symbolizes a more legible type of gender.

          2. This was an offshoot of PUA “peacocking” nonsense, in its full measure of sadness.

          In any case, I remember when I first moved up to Boston and started taking the subway, when one day I finally saw it, my first nerd in a “fedora and a trenchcoat.” The guy was pudgy and pasty and fidgeting and looking around in that deeply insecure way that nerdy guys do. It was sad. Like, one can imagine how much this kid hungers to be “the hero” — I say this recalling my adolescent insecurities — and how badly he is failing, and how every bit of his body language is expressing his inner turmoil.

          It’s easy to understand how these guys become angry #gamergaters sending rape threats and boasting about “ownage” and so on.Report

          • Avatar Brooke in reply to veronica d says:

            Much of this stereotyping simply isn’t true. There probably are men who become angry when they have a lack of success in their romantic lives, but these men aren’t primarily (or exclusively) “nerds.”

            I work with a lot of people who could be considered “nerds” by an outdated definition, and this not common among them by any means. Many are happily-married family men, others have active dating and social lives. Some have complicated relationships, but it’s a much more representative spread than what you’re implying.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to Brooke says:

              I’m a software engineer at a large technology company you’ve heard of. I’m also autistic. I do math for fun. Many of my friends do math for fun. Sometimes we do math for fun together.

              I designed my own roleplaying game once (and then another one and then another one). All were completely unplayable.

              I used to fall asleep crying because Middle Earth wasn’t real and we’re stuck here.

              I am familiar with the contours of nerd-space.Report

              • Avatar Brooke in reply to veronica d says:

                All of this is fine, but what I’m saying is it’s only your own experience. I work in a somewhat similar environment, and my experience has been much different. I might have met a small handful of men who conform to that description.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica d says:

                You mean you haven’t studied Game Theory?
                (seriously, writing playable games is Fun, if hard work).Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Kim says:

                @kim — What are you talking about?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to veronica d says:

                Middle Earth seems like an incredibly violent and uncaring place to long for. Well, except the Shire, but…Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chris says:

                @chris — I was young and stupid.

                Which, I bet no one will feel that way about GoT.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica d says:

                some people want to be in house Slytherin. I’d say someoen’s going to long to be in Westeros. It’ll be even MORE embarrassing when they grow out of it.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to veronica d says:

                I went through that Middle Earth phase as well. I recently re-read LotR for the first time in probably ten or fifteen years. As literature, it holds up very well. It is a genuine classic. But wanting to live there? In my sadder-but-wiser maturity, not so much.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Never was all that much into Middle Earth.

                Krynn, on the other hand…well, you never really forget your first love, and you never really get over it, either.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck says:

                As a kid I wanted to live in Earthsea.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Tolkien can’t write…..

                There, I said itReport

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Yes, but you do have edit capabilities, if you don’t wish to appear foolish in perpetuity.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:

                Tolkien is a wooden prose stylists with a Victorian sensibility.Report

              • Well, who can argue with facts like that? 🙂Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I know I can’t. I don’t even know what those words mean. I just like the guy’s prose.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

                I just like my dreams when I’m reading Tolkien; they’re very vivid.

                And they’re delightful books to read out loud; he has a sense of music and avoids tongue-banging unless it’s needed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Tolkien was trying to write a book that felt like it had been translated from another, older, language. He wanted to create a story that felt old when you lowered yourself into it.

                It has the benefit of being haunted by the ghosts of Tolkien’s experiences (Catholicism, WWII), of course.

                I do wonder how the stories would have been accepted during the times in which he was idly trying to reproduce.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                Tolkien was trying to write a book that felt like it had been translated from another, older, language. He wanted to create a story that felt old when you lowered yourself into it.

                He succeeded, too. After reading Tolkien, one of my biggest critiques of most fantasy is shallow backstory. Or overtly entangled, at the opposing end.

                Another under-read series that has a perfect backstory is The Deeds of Paksinarrian by Elizabeth Moon; this one based on actual history. If you haven’t read these books, please do; I recommend them as swashbuckling excellence.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

                this one based on actual history

                I had no idea. What history is that?Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Not the events, but the rules of societies.

                From the wiki link:

                Moon herself states:

                Source material, as well as inspiration, for the Paksenarrion books might be of interest to some. The various legal systems are taken from the following: F. S. Lear’s Treason in Roman and Germanic Law (specifically for the dwarf and gnome races), K. F. Drew’s The Lombard Laws and The Burgundian Code, and other sources on medieval law, including a difficult-to-find translation of the Visigothic Code by A. Wilhelmsen. The development of the Code of Gird derives from the development of “barbarian” legal codes adapting Roman Law, shifts in English law during and after the Norman Conquest, and the development of “human rights-based” changes in law in and following the Enlightenment. Different city-states and nation-states were given different “balances” of the source material. Military history sources for both military science and military psychology included Herodotus, Xenophon, Thucydides, Caesar, and other classical sources, Conan Doyle’s novel The White Company, Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror, Sherman’s Memoirs, and many others. Village life and crafts, in outline and detail, are taken from multiple sources on medieval/early Renaissance crafts and life, including the Surtees Society’s collection of historical sources for that period. Further influences on the social and political aspects came from cultural anthropology sources. Historical sources suggesting the development of a paladin character ranged from Xenophon and Caesar (on the military side) and Plato, Aristotle, and Plutarch (for both military and general character consideration) to the “Chanson de Roland” and the Grail legends, with side journeys into other cultures (Scandinavian, Amerindian, Islamic). The history of Christianity and especially the incorporation of local heroes into “saint” roles (Joan of Arc in France, others in many other Catholic countries) provided historical background for development of Paksenarrion, Gird, and other hero-saints in that fictional universe.

                The inspiration for “doing a paladin right” was the definition of paladin outlined in the D&D game; the specific character of Paksenarrion derived from historical figures (including Joan of Arc) and a mix of individuals known to the author. The specific character of Gird-farmer had roots in historical and fictional accounts of peasant/slave/worker uprisings; Gird-legend shared characteristics of several legendary (mythical and fictional) folk and religious heroes.

                Questions explored in the books include the nature of the military mind, the character of the good soldier and the good commander, the essential characteristics of a hero and a paladin, the potential conflicts between what it takes to be a good soldier and what it takes to be a great hero, relationship between a paladin and his/her co-religionists (clergy, laity) and between a paladin and those not of the same belief, the source of a paladin’s “commission” (e.g., who decides that someone is a paladin? how is that marked?), the essential characteristics of a hero-saint, the internal characteristics and outward influences that shape a hero-saint’s actions and effects, the ways that subsequent generations redefine the meaning of earlier events and how that interpretation influences their actions.


              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                It’s been long enough since I’ve read Tolkien that I don’t really have specific counterexamples of “non-wooden” prose to hand; but I imagine if you google “Tolkien quotes” you might find a well-turned sentence or three.

                If you’d said his characters remain static and don’t change much over the course of the narratives, I’d be more inclined to agree (though Bilbo changes, and anyway “people don’t change” is in fact itself a literary theme); but “Victorian sensibility” seems completely separate to me from the question of “can/can’t write”.

                On the question of prose quality in general, here’s Peter Watts riffing on (he thinks) Asimov:

                I think it was Asimov who once compared prose to windows. Some authors, he said— like Asimov himself— wrote in a style devoid of flourishes or lyricism, telling the story in a just the facts, ma’am kinda way. This is your standard clear-window prose; you don’t appreciate it, you don’t even notice it, but at least you’ve got a clear view of what’s going down on the other side. Others (Samuel Delany and China Miéville come to mind) write “stained-glass-window” prose: the words contain a kind of beauty in the way they’re put together, they draw attention to their own construction and invite whistles of admiration. The only problem with stained-glass windows is, the more ornate the pane, the tougher it is to see what’s on the other side.


              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

                That was Asimov; he was humblebragging about not being considered a great prose stylist.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

                Here’s a passage from The Two Towers. One of my favorites.

                “Dreary and wearisome. Cold, clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long forgotten summers.”

                Strikes me as pretty dern good prose. FWIW. I mean, I don’t have an MFA or anything… 🙂Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Critics argued about Tolkien’s literary capabilities ever since the Fellowship of the Ring was published. Tolkien’s detractors thought that his prose was as Saul described, wooden and overly Victorian because it departed from so many of the features beloved by modernism. To Tolkien’s critics good writing was that of James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, Herman Hesse, and company. Tolkien’s prose stood in direct contrast. It was too literal and formal for their tastes. Tolkien’s advocates, who included a lot of very well-regarded authors, thought that Tolkien was recapturing something lost to modernity with his prose and
                loved him for that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Critics argued about Tolkien’s literary capabilities ever since the Fellowship of the Ring was published.


              • It beats working for a living.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Where, other than the use of fairy tales, do you see the Victorian in Tolkien?Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Chris says:

                The broad style is a Victorian travelogue: people go somewhere different, exciting thing happens; people go to another different place, another exciting thing happens. To the extent that something good is accomplished, credit goes to the stolid HobbitEnglish yeoman who stubbornly refuses to give up on what he thinks is right.

                Tolkien created an amazing amount of consistent detail about the fantasy world in which the travelogue occurs. While the details are his, most of the principle characters are drawn from early Norse/Germanic mythology and the Arthur cycle. Among other things, Tolkien reminds us of what Elves, light and dark both, were in those myth cycles, centuries before modern times had shrunk them down to backyard sprites: beings of great powers whom even the gods thought twice about challenging.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

                The broad style is a Victorian travelogue: people go somewhere different, exciting thing happens; people go to another different place, another exciting thing happens.

                But isn’t that the case with Don Quixote, as well?, you know, the pre-Victorian book that Critics (!!) view as starting all this novel-mania?

                Or Homer (either one)? Or Gilgamesh for that matter?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Thinking about that some more, you’re probably right, and my beef isn’t with what you said about Victorian Travelogues as much as with the intellectual effort exerted by “smart guys” to pigeon-hole writers into comfortable and explanatorily complete categories. As if doing that accomplishes anything of real interest.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                The travelogue angle is interesting, though it looks a lot like older epics throughout Europe.

                I can’t imagine this would lead someone to use “Victorian sensibility” as an adjective to describe a writer or his or her writing, though.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Chris says:

                Essentially anything where “epic hero” can be applied is going to be travelogue-ish. Well, Buffy maybe. Where I could always accept the vampires and werewolves and demons, but given the teenaged death rate in Sunnydale, where the hell was the State of California child welfare department? An epic hero does best to spread the deaths around a bit.

                Victorian because no one ever has to go to the bathroom. No one has lice, or ticks, or nasty foot fungus because their boots have been wet for two weeks. No one ever has sex. Merry, exotic and favored of the king, can’t find even a scullery maid to give him a send off? Minas Tirith doesn’t have a red light district? Of course Minas Tirith has a red light district, but we’re being Victorian about it so we don’t talk about it.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to veronica d says:


            I think that a lot of nerdy guys do have a love-hate relationship with masculinity. They are largely not good at sports and might not even care about sports but they were probably deeply humiliated by years of being the last picked in gym class.

            Nerds have always had a love hate relationship with popular culture. I remember reading a USENET thread with a guy who was in junior high in the mid-1960s. This was around the time of Beatlemania. He said something like how he and his geeky friends could not figure out why everyone in school was going crazy over the Beatles when he and his friends knew “Gilbert and Sullivan is where it is at….” Now that is an outsider’s statement if I ever heard one because music had much fewer taste tribes back then and being “I don’t understand why everyone likes the Beatles….” must have been really isolating. The only exception would be if you preferred the Stones to the Beatles but not Gilbert & Sullivan.

            Everyone recognizes the tough as nails film noir detective and his Fedora and Trenchcoat. This seems like a way of trying to get a tough guy image and persona without being so. But also a cloak to hide under.Report

        • I need a thing to copy and paste whenever this comes up. Or maybe a post on Hit Coffee I can just link to. But until then…

          The “Nice Guy” thing is mostly a legacy of the myth that women perform a social role of having a meritocratic selection mechanism for choosing men. A lot of men like this because it allows them to sanctimoniously criticize women for failing at this role. A lot of women like this because it posits women as being superior to men.

          And so with Nice Guys, a lot of guys expect niceness to get them further in the dating world than they have any particular reason to believe that it should. And a lot of women are keen to assign a moral failure to men that have difficulty with women, by suggesting that they aren’t actually nice at all but instead are entitled douches.

          All of this serving to promote the myth, directly or indirectly, intentionally and unintentionally.

          (I do, for what it’s worth, I don’t believe women and men are equally meritocratic, as I think that because men are able to get away with more they actively seek to get away more and succeed in getting away with more. But I think the differences are different than how we often talk about them, usually less stark, and how we talk about it being loaded with things that make things more difficult all around.)Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Brandon Berg:
          The fedora stigma comes from men who attempt to compensate for a general lack of desirability by dressing well.

          By trying and failing to dress well. SJW-o-sphere Fedora hate is generally centered on those who attempt to look cool with the hat, but fail to pull it off.

          It’s neither shallow nor a coincidence. It’s what happens when a group of people who have been taught to devalue social skills are suddenly called upon to use those skills.

          Children and teens in school learn a lot of things, and only about half of them are on the test. Lets call them explicit and implicit lessons.

          There are a lot of folks, and our stereotypical fedora nerds among them, who mostly just learn the explicit lessons, and remain completely unaware of the implicit lessons. I was absolutely one of those people. I was the smartest kid in my school–if you define smart as knowing how to solve quadratic equations or understanding the causes of the war of 1812. But in terms of learning how to navigate the social arena, I was one of the dumbest.

          But I grew up eventually. I realized that those implicit lessons were important. I practiced, I paid attention, and I got better at social interaction. That meant things like-being able to not look like a fool in a job interview, being able to enjoy myself at a party or a bar, and making friends with people who didn’t play dungeons & dragons. And getting laid. I’m not an expert at social skills, mind you. It’s still challenging, I don’t always get everything rights, and I mostly get laid by the subset of guys who do play D&D.

          That happens, or at least happened, to most people who were in the situation I was. And a similar journey occurs, mutatis mutandis, for the folks who could tell you what clothes look good with a fedora but never really bothered with fractions.

          But I suspect that people aren’t growing up as quickly these days. I had to grow up, become a broader person because there wasn’t a space for and Alan with zero
          social skills. Today, in our world of increasing polarization and internet subcultures, that Alan might have found a place where he didn’t have to develop social skills, where he could avoid growing up long enough that more of the bad habits would calcify.

          At the same time, the overlap between communities that don’t require social skills and communities that are interested in geek/nerd culture has gotten a lot smaller. It’s a change that’s been happening for a while (The geek social fallacies article came out in 2003, and made the case for geek spaces where the normal rules of human interaction applied. In 2006, the incoming freshmen class of my college gaming club were a bunch of fit young men and women who were good at fashion and also danced in their spare time.) This nice guy/fedora thing is just another symptom of this broader change.Report

          • @alan-scott This is just a fantastic comment. So much bigger than the topic at hand.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Alan Scott says:

            @alan-scott — +1, and my social trajectory was similar: hopeless nerd-thing in early high school, weird punker in late high school (plus gender crisis!), lonely sadsack gender disaster for my twenties, and then — well I started to figure shit out.

            But yeah, a big part of “fedora fail” is the try hard aspect. It’s the attempt at high status masculinity by someone who falls so short. No one likes a phony. On the other hand, I’ve seen attractive young gay men sporting a fedora. It comes across differently when they do it.

            Anyway, it’s all kind of sad.

            Honestly, I haven’t seen a nerd fedora guy in quite a while, so I think the real-world aspect has tapered off. Mostly now it’s just cultural detritus of the nerd gender wars.

            Most nerds aren’t “fedora guy,” in case that needs to be said.Report

  14. B1:

    The Hines article only partially gets into it. It was something I was exposed to when I lived in Mormonland. It mentions the SAHM mom aspect and the openness to alternative medicine, but that’s only part of the Mormon-MLM connection. The other things:

    1) Except when stopped, people in the LDS church have access to their Ward (church) Directories, which is a list of people who will be socially expected to hear you out. This got so bad that, shortly before I arrived in Deseret, the local ward had actually stopped distributing phone numbers.

    2) Mormons are among the most industrious and hard-working people I have ever known. It’s a really amazing cultural energy. People who work thankless jobs for low wages are enthusiastic and go-get’em. In some ways, it’s an employer’s dream. And a MLM company’s.

    3) Not only do you have SAHMs, but you have a bunch of men who spent two years on some quarter of the planet trying to sell a hostile crowd on an unpopular religion. Next to that, selling snake oil is a breeze.

    As an aside, both #2 and #3 really, really make it a dream outpost for phone banks. It’s a huge industry out there. Convergys and like companies discovered “Wait, we can get enthusiastic, pleasant articulate, educated employees with sales ability for $7 an hour? Let’s set up eight offices in Greater Salt Lake and fifteen stretching from BYU to BYU-Idaho (Provo to Rexburg)… which is about how many Convergys had (and they weren’t alone).Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


      One thing that always awed me about Mormons is how damn positive and happy they are. All the damn time. At least when dealing with the outside world. Honestly it is kind of freaky. Maybe this is because I am a cynical and argumentative New Yorker. Humans should have a wide-variety of emotions, relentless chiperness is off-putting.

      Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes has some Mormon characters. One is closeted and another is his depressive and lonely wife with a troubled past. The Mormon Church was very very unhappy with the play and suggesting all is not well on the inside.Report

  15. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Pl1: Hawaii’s 30% from geothermal is a non-starter. Most people don’t live in the part of the state where the volcanos are still active, and they’re having a hard enough time politically just building a new telescope on the Big Island. I’m also skeptical of Virginia’s 50% from off-shore wind, when they can’t be built without ostensibly progressive politicians making a ruckus.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kolohe says:

      DO you need to be sitting on a volcano to take advantage of geothermal in Hawaii? I thought the whole island chain was still pretty geothermally active, even if only a few are actively spitting lava at any given time.

      Agree with the east coast. As I mentioned above, they seem happy to tell the western states to do all the power generation and send it back east.Report

      • DO you need to be sitting on a volcano to take advantage of geothermal in Hawaii?

        The only recognized geothermal resources today — that is, could be exploited using technology that exists and works — are on the Big Island and Maui. Today you need a large naturally fractured or porous aquifer already saturated with water. The “hot dry rock” form of geothermal remains a nice idea, but hasn’t been reduced to real practice yet.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

          That explains why folks are looking to install a geothermal plant near Glacier Peak here in WA. The cone has been dormant for a long time, but there are hot springs all around the mountain.Report

  16. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I am going to channel my inner @will-truman and make a customer complaint. Apple is trying to kill the Ipod and I don’t know why. I love my ipod and don’t want to take my iphone to the gym:

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’m still ticked that you can only get the tiny nanos. I have an older model (no touch screen) and plan to get it repaired. First, far more storage for cheaper. Second, I can manipulate it while driving without taking my eyes off the road. Third, harder to break.

      I mean sure, it’d be NICE if I had a brand new car that had back and forth bluetooth capability letting me change songs or albums playing without needing to touch my iPod. Instead, I have a 2009 car with a jack. (It won’t stream bluetooth audio. Kind of annoyed, but that didn’t get shoved into all models until the next year).

      But I do a million things with my phone. I don’t HAVE 10 gigs of space for music on there. Same with my iPad. And cloud play is nice, up until you run into data limits or the boonies where you’re lucky to get service at all.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      My current ipod is probably the last apple product i’ll ever buy. The Classic ipod is perfect, well mostly, at just being a music player with huge storage. But that isn’t what apple wants to me to buy. They want me to buy a massively interconnected multi function ( multi failure) gizmo that makes it easier to buy stuff from them. ughhhReport

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to greginak says:

        I feel the same way about my Kindle Paperwhite. I only made the jump fairly recently. When I did my due diligence it soon became apparent that other ebook readers, and the Kindle Fire in particular, are actually small computers designed to do lots of things not particularly well. The Paperwhite is really really good for reading text in any light. Other functions range of rudimentary to non-existent. I am surprised that the Paperwhite is permitted to live.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          I absolutely love my Paperwhite in large part because it can’t really do anything else.Report

        • Avatar morat20 in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          If I broke my paperwhite today, broke as I am, another would be bought and sent to me next-day air within 20 minutes.

          That’s how much I love my paperwhite.

          I can read it in sunlight, in the dark, and the battery lasts for ages. The only thing I hate is that Amazon’s collection system is a pain to use AND they’ve got no interface to organize it on their website. WTF, guys? I mean I get that I can’t create collections of non-Amazon books and stuff and sort them out on your website, but why don’t you at least let me handle YOUR books and just have it download to my Kindle? And also, why can’t I nest collections?

          Speaking of, why don’t you have auto-collections that can be hidden? Author collections, genre collections my books are automatically sorted into? So I can just tell it to bring up my books collected by author (so I can see each author as a folder, not have to scroll through 50 books by 5 authors to get to the sixth author) or by genre? Or hide those collections otherwise?

          In short, their organization system SUCKS. I shouldn’t need third party software to organize your books. I mean, good freakin’ lord, it’s what you DO.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to morat20 says:

            mean I get that I can’t create collections of non-Amazon books and stuff and sort them out on your website, but why don’t you at least let me handle YOUR books and just have it download to my Kindle? And also, why can’t I nest collections?

            This drives me crazy. It’s like they want it to be a pain to have purchased too many books from them.Report

        • How good are the Kindles as .epub readers? My old nook sits and gathers dust because the software won’t honor all of my layout preferences. Some of the designers’ choices are inconvenient — sans serif, double-spaced, with large margins all around. The reader software I use on my Google Nexus does page layout the way I want it.Report

    • @saul-degraw

      I sort of feel your pain on the iPod. I’m more of an “I want everything to be able to do everything” sort of guy, but sometimes you want things specialized. I assume. In theory.

      I’ve found that Sansas are pretty good. I almost never use mine because all it does is play music, but it does do it pretty well. And I might take advantage of the good battery life when/if I find myself in a situation to need it.Report

  17. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Totally off topic – but my company is in need C++ developers for advanced numerical simulation software. If anyone knows any good ones looking for work, let me know & I’ll pass along the posting.

    madrocketsci at gmail dot comReport

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      What’s the pay and where’s the work?Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kim says:

        Pay depends, but the range would probably be upper 5 figure to lower 6, perhaps more if you are worth it.

        Locations vary, but our dev offices are Puget Sound, the nice city in Texas, New Hampshire, Long Island, NY, and Detroit metro. A sufficiently talented developer could also wrangle a home office, or possibly a desk in one of our smaller satellite offices.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          The nice city in Texas? Woman Hollering Creek?

          (Which I look up now and see is just a creek, not a town name. Perhaps Ding Dong, Texas, then?)Report

        • Avatar morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Now if you’d said “Houston” I could help. 🙂 Admittedly I’m only doing GUI work right now for advanced numerical software (the analytic engine is Fortran and I don’t do that because I don’t know fracture mechanics) but I’ve done such work in the past.

          I still want a fun genetic algorithm or machine learning job. Of course, I’m really fuzzy with instance based learners still. GA’s and GP’s I get and love.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to morat20 says:

            Err, we have a Houston office, it’s just not a development office, but that doesn’t mean a desk can’t be made available for the right talent. We are pretty flexible that way.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Depending on where it is in the Puget Sound area, I’m very much interested.

          The company I’ve been working for had the interesting experience of acquiring a competitor that turned out to have survived because they were much much better than we were at marketing and politics to the same extent that we were better in terms of technical skill and processes. So the hybrid is lurching forward in the direction of the townsfolk with pitchforks since the people who were keeping the actual product moving forward have all been deemed, in the immediate, short, or medium term based on what the magic 8-ball said, surplus to requirements.

          I’ll send you a resume with the caveat that my career is basically settling into “systems integrator” shaped holes, rather than being buzzword compliant…Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Good riddance to obamatrade.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Notme says:

        As doltish as always, notme. What makes you think this is going to stop? Much Money wants this to happen, and so it will happen, in pieces or altogether. Where there’s profit, there’s business, and this business chooses its opposition carefully.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kim says:

          The point could have been made just as forcefully without taking a swipe at @notme . Just sayin’.Report

          • Avatar LWA in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Especially since I was about to say “Good riddance to Corporate-trade”.

            But I figured notme can work his side of the street, I’ll work mine.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to LWA says:

              You’re both dunderheads then!
              *sniff* It’s like you don’t understand how Politics works…
              The Money gets what they want, and then the rest of us squabble over the crumbs.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kim says:

                If the Money always gets what it wants then why did it wait until now to get it?

                Pretty sure that if the Money was gonna lean on the President, then the next-to-last year of the lame-duck term of an incredibly contentious and unpopular Presidency is not a real productive time to do it.

                Unless we’re getting into some Art Bell 11th-dimensional-chess “ah HA but they WANT to fail so that when they try for REAL nobody will pay ATTENTION!”Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Money is patient. They don’t need to get this in a year. They keep pushing until it gets through. Next time, though, we won’t hear about it.Report

              • Avatar Notme in reply to Kim says:


                Clearly we need to kill it fire or nuke it from obrit. You pick the meme.Report

            • Avatar James K in reply to LWA says:


              Yeah, the opposition to the TPPA comes almost entirely from the left in New Zealand. In any case, I’m not surprised the whole agreement is coming unglued – multilateral agreements usually fail.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to James K says:


                The opposition to TPP is bi-partisan here and so is support. The populist sides of both parties oppose it. The more pro-business sides of both parties oppose it. The Democratic Party probably supports TPP and Free Trade a bit more. The GOP might have heightened opposition because Obama.Report

              • Avatar LWA in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                “The GOP might have heightened opposition because Obama.”

                Damn skippy.
                Right now, in fact, I am working on a meme of “Obama Right To Work Laws”, “Obama Tax Cuts”, and “Obama Anti-Regulation”

                Expect to see future Newmax headlines-
                “Is Obama going to destroy the Traditional AMERICAN EEOC? Sign the petition NOW!!”

                By whatever means possible…Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LWA says:

                What was the final vote count? How many Republicans were prepared to vote to give Obama more authority?

                Or are we mostly going to stick with the narrative and ignore everything that made this vote interesting?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

                this is what the makes the vote most interesting.

                But I don’t discount the Go Team political aspects of this. I doubt NAFTA would have passed if Bush Sr would have got a second term.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Notme says:


        If Obama announced that he was going to deal with crime by supporting strong open carry laws, would you call them Obamaguns and oppose?Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The classical music crowd is pretty sexed up, if Mozart in the Jungle is to be believed. I asked my niece the musicologist to attest to its accuracy. She refused to comment.

      My favorite part of the present instance is this:

      “Mr. Arzberger spoke of… his loneliness in the United States since his passport was seized, preventing him from returning home to his wife…”

      When your defense in your attempted murder case is that

      “he was drugged earlier that morning by a prostitute he had brought to his hotel room, who they later learned was a man”

      perhaps some time away from your wife is not a bad idea.Report

  18. Avatar Brooke says:

    [S1] The issue of Anita Sarkeesian and her allies is a deeply personal one for me. For starters, I’m a woman who has been an avid gamer for most of her life. I also work in the industry she’s criticizing, so this is my area of expertise.

    I’ve also played through around 2/3 of The Witcher 3, and I’ve had no problems with the portrayal of women and their range in the game. I understand what the society is, what it’s intended to represent, and that there is inequality between many groups of people. It’s one of the best RPGs in years, and the world is much more natural and believable than, say, Bioware’s Dragon Age series.

    Sometimes Anita has good points, but what I get from her most of the time is that she’d rather be over-the-top sensationalist than have a meaningful, nuanced conversation about the portrayal of women in games. She’s not good at responding to criticism. She doesn’t even play many of the games she’s supposedly offering serious critiques for. If she wants people to take her seriously, she needs to change these things and speak more like an academic than a demagogue.

    When you look at it, what seems to make many “cultural critics” uneasy about fantasy literature, games, and television is the fact that inequality and violence are portrayed at all. There seems to be an expectation that entertainment will portray a sanitized world that embodies the ideals of these critics. Such entertainment would be pretty boring, having removed most engines for conflict.

    I’m not sure if the comment above about Erik Kain being a misogynist and not a “nice guy” was sarcastic or not, but I agree with a lot of what’s said in the piece.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Brooke says:

      I can assure you that Erik Kain is not a misogynist; what you read above was just poking a little bit of fun at him.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Brooke says:

      The point is that way back when “Tropes Versus Women In Video Games” was announced, criticism of the idea was immediately met with “you’re just a sexist! You feel challenged about your sexist pig behavior and that’s the only reason you have to attack her! The fact that she’s getting so much pushback just PROVES how SEXIST gamers are!”

      And that was pretty much the only response anyone ever got when they said something critical of the idea or her approach to it. “Only sexists would dislike this and so if you don’t like it you must be sexist.”Report

      • Avatar Brooke in reply to DensityDuck says:

        And that knee-jerk reaction shows me that she’s not really serious about discussing this issue in any depth. I dislike her, and it’s not because she’s a woman. It’s because her work and her behavior are just bad.Report

    • I think there’s a lot of truth there, including the bit about picking currently-hot majors. Or at least caution.

      Where I think he goes off-base a little bit is in talking about things that are currently-hot that have actually been comparatively hot for quite some time. Just today, Ethan Gach sort of defended the philosophy major by talking about the “practical” petroleum engineering major. We’ll see where things are five years from now, or ten, but my guess is that petroleum engineers will be doing just fine. Some majors are up even when they’re down. Computer science has been a solid degree for going on twenty years now. Sometimes great, sometimes just good.

      And we talk about a whole lot of IT or engineering majors ending up doing something that doesn’t require their degree, but… if it provides them with a good living, who cares? And the statistics have been good for quite some time.

      In other words, I don’t think these provide the groundwork for the “don’t specialize in your major” argument.

      The big counterargument is, of course, law school. And it’s possible that pharmacy degrees will end up in the same place. Again, five or ten years from now we’ll have a better idea of what else they can do with their degree. But in terms of overall income, I expect them to be doing well. Despite all we hear about law school, even people with law degrees aren’t doing that poorly. Better, I think, than a lot of post-graduate liberal arts degrees.

      There is an argument, though, at least outside of engineering and things that by necessity soak up most of your curriculum, that college degrees are too specialized. I don’t talk about it often, but I actually think that things might be better if we had virtually no undergraduate business or vocational degrees. College being a place for people to mostly learn the liberal arts or broad sciences. But that is not the current state of affairs, and is largely mutually exclusive with the notion of people going to college – and trying to send lots of people to college – on the basis of getting a better job. It’s a system that would, I think, more or less require us to reserve college for the genuinely intellectually curious and not for the career/vocationally minded.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Will Truman says:

        Will Truman: Ethan Gach sort of defended the philosophy major by talking about the “practical” petroleum engineering major. We’ll see where things are five years from now, or ten, but my guess is that petroleum engineers will be doing just fine.

        As I’ve said before, rather recently, actually, a petroleum engineer is really a chemical engineer with what amounts to a minor in petroleum processes. If all the oil wells dried up today, petroleum engineers would set their minds to work on the problem of finding ways to make use of plant oils, or how to create synthetic oils, etc.

        It’s the beauty of Engineering & CS degrees – it’s actually pretty easy to pivot.Report

        • Avatar morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Just a note there’s “CS as CS” (to wit: Incredibly mathematical science field) and “CS as Programmer With Extra Theory”.

          I’m more the latter than the former. Couldn’t tell you which was more sought after, although I got the feeling that changing my MS to a Ph D. would complicate my employment prospects.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to morat20 says:

            Question is, how easily can you pick up a new programming language? How deep or broad is your knowledge of the more technical aspects of CS, the parts that the former might have more exposure to?

            There is a vast gulf between guy who took the C++ certificate program and a guy with an MS in CS, even if it is the latter variant.Report

            • Avatar morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Well, true. But experience can erase that gulf, and programming experience is…cheap to pick up these days. Free compilers, plenty of on-line resources…

              Some days I feel like I’m being passed by. Barely know Python, haven’t bothered with Java in years, been doing C++ work mostly the last couple of years. OTOH, I could pick up Python fast, and at least catch up on the buzzwords for web development (and the theory behind it) quick enough to fake it fairly quick, and be able to do decent work in not much more time.

              Sometimes I look at job offerings and just see a stew of things they want a programmer to be familiar with and half or more of the list is “I think I’ve heard of that?”. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to morat20 says:

                I swear the bulk of that stew is less requirement & more nice to have. And if you have that foundational knowledge, once you have a couple languages under your belt, picking up a new one becomes just an exercise.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to morat20 says:


                Sometimes I look at job offerings and just see a stew of things they want a programmer to be familiar with and half or more of the list is “I think I’ve heard of that?”.

                Apply anyway. Most people don’t have all of the skills anyhow.

                Thing is, the bigger companies often focus on more general computer science stuff. The smaller companies are more skills based. But in any case, if you have chops you have chops and this-or-that technology can be learned.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to veronica d says:

                Yeah, I know. I’m happy with what I do. I like being part of the space industry. I got to meet astronauts, work shuttle missions, and even now I’m not directly doing space stuff but the software we use? If it flies in the air or goes into space, our software was probably used at some point.

                I like doing that. 🙂

                But my problem with applications have also been either an excess of honesty when updating my resume (given what I’ve seen, at least a quarter of everyone’s resume is…padded, at least) and generally I go so long between interviews that I get rusty.

                lol. I remember looking four or five years back, and my first interview? Good lord, I was asked to explain the concepts behind object oriented design. I can do OOD in my sleep, but put on the spot I was like “uh..” because I hadn’t had to think about it like that in years. I just…know it.

                But explaining it? I felt like a fish trying to explain water. “Duh, it’s the stuff all over here? All this…stuff?” Ten minutes later, I could give a lecture. But right then? Good lord. (Didn’t get that job!).

                Did better a few interviews later, of course. I just…ugh. I hate that “I’m blowing this” feeling as you’re blowing the rust off. The contract hopping guys — a year here, 18 months there, six months there? Those guys never go out of practice and I’m always secretly worried I’m being compared to a guy whose never worked on a project for more than six months, but has an 18 page resume of skills (all he used for less than six months) and is more experienced in good interviews than good coding.

                I just get…nervous. Give me real code and go away and let me poke at it? Great. Stand there being all…judgy…and I tend to freeze up and second guess myself.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:


                I always knew you were a space cadet!!!Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                Don’t feel bad, last interview I had to conduct, we flew the guy out to Seattle from Philly because the phone interview with my boss went well, and he wanted me to meet & get a read on him. He had a background in CFD & claimed to know how to program in C++, so I figured if he knows C++, I won’t have to work too hard to teach him Java. But because I haven’t done any serious C++ work in over a decade, I grabbed a co-worker who works in C++ every day, so he could get a feel for the candidate’s knowledge.

                My co-worker started out with questions about a concept I was a little fuzzy on, and the candidate was clueless. So my co-worker would ask about something a little easier. By the time the candidate was missing questions I knew the answers to, it was pretty clear he’d never written an application in C++, or any OOL. Turns out he used some tools that would generate C++ code, which he would them make minor edits to, and he just figured that that was sufficient to say he knew how to write in C++.

                Uncomfortable for everyone, because he was a nice guy otherwise, and he had a solid CFD background. But we needed a tools developer, not a straight analyst.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Yeah, I had a phone interview that went a bit like that. I’d never done anything like what they were asking questions on (which was clear from my resume) and there was some hand-holding. The interviewer was nice about it, and it was clear he knew going in that it was unlikely I’d ever thought about those things as problems, much less worked out the common solutions.

                (Some e-commerce stuff, mostly. never done e-commerce web front ends. My web development work was internal stuff. I mean really useful tools with embedded requirements to meet FOIA stuff later, which was fun to do, but nobody was making purchase orders and we didn’t have to deal with things like ‘what do you do if the connection drops mid-order’)Report

              • Avatar El Muneco in reply to morat20 says:

                Heh. I’m in the same language bundle – Python, Java, C++…

                Python is weird, kind of like Perl used to be. An ordinary grunt (like me) can do everything they need to get the job done, but a real expert can do real weird Neo-level stuff that as far as I’m concerned is write-only code, but taken on its own merits is hellaciously elegant and efficient.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to El Muneco says:

                Like I said, my personal take is if you understand — truly understand — a handful of basics (recursion, pointers, polymorphism, object oriented design, basic data structures, and parallel processing) and have a language or two down, you’re pretty good to go unless you’re hitting something obscure or that requires expert domain knowledge.

                Like, for instance, critical banking infrastructure. I’d feel comfortable working on the front end for a bank, or a web system, that sort of thing (my security knowledge is good enough to get started) but I’d never touch the database side. Do you have any idea the insane requirements on the DB side of a bank are like?

                Crazy stuff. I know just enough to know I’m the wrong guy for that. 🙂Report

  19. @will-truman
    I’m going to jump the secession thread down here because the comment width was getting a little narrow.

    Will’s east vs west militarily raises some interesting questions. He supposes the Rocky Mountains as the “border”. If that means the Continental Divide, it creates a problem for the east in that they have Denver, Albuquerque/Sante Fe and El Paso, all way to hell and gone across the Great Plains from the rest of the country. About 80% of Montana, too, for that matter, although no significant cities there. For a number of geographical reasons, those cities don’t “fit” in the east. To my thinking, the natural border has always been down the middle of the Great Plains, and I’ll assume that.

    If militarily implies tossing nukes, let me quote from Heinlein’s The Moon is Harsh Mistress:

    UN official: In your honest estimation, how many ships and bombs do you think it would take to destroy the Lunar colonies?
    Mannie: One ship, six bombs.
    UN official: Correct! Two of them would have to be awf’ly big, perhaps specially built.

    How many bombs does it take to destroy the west? Six: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, Phoenix, Denver. Two or three of them would have to be “awf’ly big”, but the rest is just mopping up absent those cities and their surrounding suburbs. Six can make a regional dent in the east, but “destroy” is a heck of a lot more. Conventional war looks like the American Civil War: the east has a population advantage of 3:1 or so, and a similarly disproportionate concentration of certain industries critical to conventional warfare.

    The “victory conditions” for my secession project require that the east let us go without a military conflict.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      One problem with nuking the west – trade winds.

      Well, there are other problems too, if you want to be able to inhabit those areas anytime soon.Report

    • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Michael Cain says:

      The advantages of the West over the South are that there’s no Mississippi River to provide an easy invasion route and that the blockade would need support from the opposite coast. The Rockies and Great Basin are also more difficult than the Appalachians.

      Though, for RTS design purposes, I’m counting on a three way split between the northeast and midwest (rust belt cranking out cheap tanks), the south (elite infantry), and the west (cyborgs, obviously) to keep things balanced.Report

  20. A6:

    “My phone started ringing at six in the morning,” Jennings said Tuesday from his farm in the hilly north of England. “I turned it off actually to get some more sleep, because whatever is happening at six in the morning is still going to be there at lunch time, isn’t it?”


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