Linky Friday #139: Humans, Robots, & Onions

Will Truman

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

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381 Responses

  1. Zac says:

    [Pr3]: The final line made my laugh like a hyena: “Myth: Genetic modification amounts to ‘playing God’ with our livestock and produce. Fact: Modern scientists have long since surpassed the power and strength accorded to your feeble God.”Report

  2. Richard Hershberger says:

    On the whole Star Wars shtick, my response is that this all has been done many times before. The notorious terrorist Frodo infiltrates the law-abiding realm of Mordor and undertakes a campaign of sabotage. Dorothy travels to Oz, kills the first person she encounters, robs the body, then goes on a murderous rampage against the rightful heir attempting to recover the stolen property.

    This was was clever the first few times, but it turns out to be easy. The novelty was gone long before we worked our way up to Star Wars.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      People aren’t that original.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      The evil person in The Wizard of Oz isn’t Dorothy, who has no idea what is going on.

      It’s clearly the ‘Good’ witch.

      It’s possible to make the argument that it is, or at partially, the Wizard of Oz, except, uh, the ‘Good’ Witch has actual magical powers, and certainly should know the Wizard is a sham. She, unlike the Wicked Witches, are allowed in and out of the Emerald City, and surely should have noticed that. So he’s pretty clearly some sort of puppet of hers, who she then lets go at the end because she’s cleared the board for herself, and can take control of all of Oz without him.Report

    • The novelty comes from one particular place:

      The fact that we learned one thing in elementary school, a somewhat different thing in high school, and a completely different thing now that we’re adults. Whenever we encounter something like that, something like a deconstruction of any entertainment strums a chord.

      A decade (more than a decade?) ago, I sat with my in-laws and we watched *ALL* of the Canadian Heritage Minutes in one sitting. One of the ones that was, to my eyes fairly dull, was about Louis Riel. Afterwards, though, everybody in the room started talking about how different the conversations about Louis Riel were today than they were when they were kids. He was *TOTALLY* a bad guy when they were kids.

      And… well, today… he’s kind of a good guy. Kind of. It’s complicated.

      When you’re a kid, you watch all kinds of movies that have One Good Side and One Bad Side and your heart swells when the good guys win.

      Then, when you grow up, you read something that explains “well, it’s complicated”, and it’s funny. And it’s sad. And it’s true. And it’s not.

      But, seriously, we should wonder about how The Karate Kid (the new one) played in China after we finish feeling good about a story that has had one hell of a thumb placed on the scales in our favor.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

        Funny, when I took that stuff in Saskatoon in the 80s, I always saw Riel and Dumont as pretty much solidly heros.

        The teaching on it, looking back, seems fairly balanced – which means the actions of the incoming Canadian government inevitably look high-handed and inconsiderate of the existing communities. I don’t think Riel was presented as heroic, so much as they were just way more interesting characters, plus my own biases.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to dragonfrog says:

          My in-laws were on the Eastest of the East Coast. That might have something to do with it.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

            We went to Batoche on a field trip, walked between where the mounties and Metis were encamped. They were really very close together.

            Standing in one of the trenches, hearing the guide describe the mounties’ charge, at a point when most of the Metis were out of proper bullets and had been down to firing rocks and nails for some time – you feel for the underdog.

            We stood on the bluffs where they dropped the ferry cable and knocked the smokestacks off the steamer full of mounties trying to flank the village. Picturing the scene really made it feel like taking out a death star.Report

  3. Zac says:

    [L3] If this is true, I am so, so screwed.Report

  4. notme says:

    AF combat photographer accused of making passes at women faces harsher punishment than deserter Bergdahl.

  5. veronica d says:

    [Sw2] This stuff always struck me as the most edge-lordy of edge-lord crap. It’s like, seriously guys. Cut it out.

    [Pr1] The protein folding stuff is here. Which, that looks cool-as-fuck. I don’t really want to install it on my work computer, but maybe I’ll look over the weekend.

    [W3] In fact, if I were on a spacecraft, I would miss my makeup. I like makeup. But still, that press conference sounds pretty fucking bad. It’s like, dudes, seriously? This is still a thing?Report

    • Zac in reply to veronica d says:

      What’s an edge-lord? I’m not familiar with that term.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Zac says:

        And “edgelord” is a sad, pathetic Internet wannabe who acts needlessly “edgy,” but in an obviously “try hard” way. For example, the guy who wrote all the “neb-reactionary My Little Pony” shit.

        These guys have no idea how pathetic they seem to anyone with a life.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

          I was going to consider those guys pathetic, but I was too busy dancing with complete strangers to music you’ve probably never heard of.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

            @jaybird — +1 🙂Report

            • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

              (I admit to holding people who seem pathetic to people with lives very dear to my heart. They are my ingroup.)Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird — Yeah. I mean, I’ve walked the path. I was president of my high school’s computer club! In the Reagan era!

                So yeah, who’s a nerd? This girl!

                The point is, it’s not the nerdiness that bothers me. It’s the “try hard” aspect, the “wannabe” aspect. It’s some soft jellyroll of a guy acting as if he’s rock-hard soldier guy with a thousand yard stare, when in person he’s just a quivering mess.

                And like, I think there is a ton of dissatisfaction and self-loathing among these people, and from that we get a lot of really-really-really unhealthy projections. And that’s when you get the “edgelord” guy. He takes death metal seriously! Raahhh!

                But anyway, I’m going a bit past the “people with dumb theories about Star Wars” point. So fair enough.Report

              • I endorse this comment. Nerds are my people. It’s not the nerdiness. It is the posturing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Hey. I’m not saying that these people are above criticism.

                If we want to criticize people for over-analyzing pop culture ephemera… well… hey. We all have hobbies, don’t we? Some people have hobbies that involve criticizing the hobbies of others. What can you do.

                If, however, we want to criticize them with criticisms that sound like Pretty People (ingroup) criticism, that’s going to trigger a lot of emotional responses from those who have experienced exceptionally similar criticism before.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

                (I think you’re ,kind of over-making your point here, Jay.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think I was trying to apologize for being all jerky and I failed.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Aaaand the Maribou in my head is telling me that that is not how one apologizes.

                Sorry, Veronica. I shouldn’t have let myself get carried away. I grabbed some rhetorical weapons when I should have been… I dunno. Better.

                I’m sorry.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Jaybird says:

                I hope the maribou in your head was being nice to you when she said that. Because Actual Maribou mostly thinks you are very tired and beat-up and sorely in need of a weekend.

                *hugs @jaybird*Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird — Nothing you said was offensive to me. Sticking up for people is entirely admirable.Report

              • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

                I’m with Jay. “Pathetic,” along with the unflattering physical descriptions, are added on as unjustified (in the comments, at least) personal judgments to the definition. They seem wholly unnecessary; “a person who is edgy in order to get attention” seems sufficient. All the rest is petty at best, and I do mean at best, because it looks much uglier than petty.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Chris says:

                @chris — Well fair enough, but “edgelord” isn’t meant to be friendly or analytic. Regarding the physical stuff, I think a lot of what drives these guys is a mismatch between their lives in “meatspace” and their own fascination with “hard man” notions of masculinity. It’s how they try to act out these fantasies online.

                I pretty much hold these guys in contempt.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to veronica d says:


                I’m having a hard time seeing how this doesn’t translate into anyone who writes fanfic being someone we can call a jelly roll who thinks she’s hard. Fanfic is 100% try-hard fangirl neediness. And it’s exactly what these Star Wars fans are doing.

                This is not my approach to people who write fanfic. But maybe it’s yours.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                …I may not be getting exactly what it is you regard as edge-lordy and needing to be cut out, though. I think others may not have, either.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Michael Drew says:

                @michael-drew — It’s all about how “failed masculinity” ends up expressing itself, where violence and rage are valued on their own terms, inasmuch as the men (it’s mostly men) who love this stuff seem to have no outlet for their pain but fantasies of violence. So anyway, given these cultural trends, it doesn’t surprise me that a bunch of “cerebral” men entertain the idea that The Empire are the good guys, with their unmistakable fascist iconography and love of violent power.

                Raaaaah!! Send in the tanks! Let’s play Warhammer 23K!Report

              • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

                I can see an argument for this position, but thus far it’s been nothing but, “These guys are pathetic losers,” and then the assertion that it’s because of “failed masculinity” and violent fantasies. Perhaps you don’t feel they’re worth the time to make the argument, which is fine, but it seems that if you don’t think it’s worth the time to lay out why you think “failed masculinity” and violent fantasies explain those particular links and their genre, you wouldn’t think calling them pathetic and “soft jellyroll[s]” (which I assume is a euphemism for “fat”) wouldn’t be worth your time either.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Chris says:

                I mean, they are pathetic losers. What are you asking? I could write a lengthy post on how the pressures of masculinity destroys some men, and some of those men are destroyed in really awful ways.

                Look, if I walk around and imagine that I’m some skinny fashion model, when in fact I’m a preposterously enormous transsexual, well the world will laugh at me. And that will hurt. So I have to balance my self image and my reality.

                If a man walks around and imagines he’s hard-man, like “special forces guy” or whatever, when in fact he is not that at all — and yes, being soft, weak, and chubby is part of that — then this leads to pain. Look, it’s not about his weight as such. There is nothing wrong with being fat (modulo a long debate about health I don’t want to have), but it’s the contrast between the man’s violent power fantasies and his reality that is the problem. It’s the part where he knows he is full of shit, and how much he hates that, and how much it hurts, and how we walks with his chest puffed out, but it’s a false front and people can see that. So what does he do? What tools does he have to deal with this?

                The links between this and “edginess” as a cultural trope can be found in #gamergate or at any Warhammer tournament or among dudes who take the themes of “Black Metal” seriously (as opposed to just liking the music, which seems totally normal and healthy). You can find it with the skinny nerdling who collects knives, and who is preoccupied by fantasies of someday using those knives. You can find it with Dylan Klebold (but probably not Eric Harris). You can see it in that dreadful Eliot Rogers video, or on the 4chan threads following the more recent shootings, in the calls for a “beta uprising,” where the poor betas will violently lash out at women and successful men.

                And yes, you can find it among many who admire fascist imagery. And that is why I see “the Empire were the good guys” as “edgelordy”.

                (Which look, I was being hyperbolic when I called it the “most edgelordy” thing. The most edgelordy thing is probably Cannibal Corpse. I’m not sure.)Report

              • Will Truman in reply to veronica d says:

                How are we defining “they” here? Are Bunch and Last included? Anyone and everyone who would make a case for the Empire?Report

              • veronica d in reply to Will Truman says:

                @will-truman — What I said was, basically, “this strikes me a super edgelordy,” which is different from saying “everyone who says this is a total edgelord and will precisely match my description of edgelords in every detail.”Report

              • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

                It still looks to me like you’ve taken extreme Star Wars fandom, in this case in the form of vastly overthinking existing texts (the movies), and basically declared it the equivalent of #gamergate and even Dylan Klebold, psychoanalyzing (and even imagining the appearance of) the superfans based on an extremely high level gloss of their ideas without actually engaging anything they’ve said. Petty is, again, the nicest way of describing what you’re doing.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Chris says:

                @chris — Um, you’re kinda over-analyzing a broad-brush comment about a very silly idea. The idea that the Empire were the good guys is preposterous, and while I’m all for playing with preposterous ideas, it takes a certain type to glom onto ideas that are essentially fascist. That said, I suspect that @leeesq is correct. These people are just taking a piss. As am I.

                On the other hand, I feel pretty safe taking hard shots on the “we love fascism!” side, even if they’re just pretending. Fuck those guys.

                But anyway, then someone asked what an “edgelord” was. So I changed gears and described the “edgelord” thing in general. When I did so, I included the statement:

                But anyway, I’m going a bit past the “people with dumb theories about Star Wars” point. So fair enough.

                Which I thought would communicate that I’m moving past the specific issue of the pro-Empire ninnies.

                Which, it looks like you want to have a very serious conversation. Which fine. Nerd culture is full of the men I describe. They are a menace, and in ways beyond just dumb theories about Star Wars.

                Does that make sense?Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d It could be that the people who are making “the Empire are the good guys” argument are just engaging in the nerd equivalent of the Bohemian pastime of shocking the bourgeois. Lots of Bohemian and artistic types have gotten hours of entertainment out of taking concepts dear and true to the bourgeois and making similar provocative statements out of them. Nobody really over analyzes arty men who do this and says that they are only shocking the bourgeois because of their “failed manhood” and inability to do well in the masculine world of business, law, and medicine.

                Most people arguing that Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord or that Emperor Palatine was a good guy are just trying to have some fun. A few might really believe it but probably not that many.Report

              • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

                But “Jar Jar as a sith lord” is delightfully silly. “The Empire were the good guys” is “yay fascism!”

                It’s one thing for me to say, “Look, everyone can tell I’m trans and they laugh at me, so fuck it I’m wearing fishnets and bright makeup and I’m gonna smile at the fuckers no matter what they say.” So yeah, it can be fun to freak the mundanes. But it’s another thing to say, “They hate me anyhow so I’m gonna dress up as Hitler.”

                “Freak the mundanes” can be “fabulous queer” or it can be “gore porn.”

                We’re allowed to notice the difference between those. We’re allowed to look at which sort of person does each.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                “The Empire were the good guys” is “yay fascism!”

                I don’t think that it’s “yay fascism” as much as “it’s complicated”.

                Remember, if the prequels taught us anything it’s that the Republic was not awesome (and allowed such things as “slavery”). It’s certainly possible to weigh the old system, warts and all, against the new system, warts and all, and hammer out which warts and all is worse.

                Let’s compare Cuba under Batista to Cuba under Castro.

                It’s complicated.

                Preferring one to the other is complicated.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

                Did the Republic allow slavery? We see slavery on Tatooine, but I thought the whole point was that Tatooine was a remote Wild West hellhole backwater not under any central control (although for some reason, we keep GOING BACK TO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN).

                Ah, what can’t you Google:

                Slavery was made illegal by the Galactic Republic under the Rights of Sentience clause, but continued to exist, particularly in regions not under Republic control, primarily the Outer Rim Territories and the Senex sector. On Tatooine, some slaves were installed with chips in their craniums that killed them if they tried to escape. Anakin Skywalker and Shmi Skywalker had chips installed within their bodies.[1][2]

                So Tatooine is like ’80’s coke-era Columbia, and Jabba is its Pablo.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Glyph says:

                Serendipitously enough, the most popular single post on the site right now, by page views and by a huge margin, is a 2009 Empire-apologetic post by Jamelle Bouie

                The visitor surge appears mainly to derive from a Reddit link from this post:

                (Reddit figures in several major traffic spikes in the history of the site – including the Biggest Day Ever for a post by Our Tod that had nothing at all to do with Star Wars.)

                There are many interrelated and overlapping explanations for the existence of such “Empire apologism” even from left-liberals in good standing like Jamelle Bouie. Even “it’s complicated” is a political-ideological stance, or can be. “It’s complicated” says “intellectuals also have an important role to play in composing the narrative of good and evil that constructs our society ethically and politically; they (we) play a vital role protecting all of you against dangerous mob tendencies – or in other words against demagogy in general and especially against demagogical, emotivist art.” In this sense, the argument against the playful skeptics, even the ones somewhat joking on the square, is the more typically “fascistic” position, an argument against argument.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

                “Allow” is a strange word, isn’t it?

                Does the US allow undocumented workers to collect a paycheck?Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                I would have gone with the difference between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire because that is where Lucas was coming from but Cuba works to. The political machinery of Roman Republic was not working during its last decades for a variety of reasons. There were near constant civil wars and other political violence. If you were an ordinary person, this political chaos made life difficult at best. Even if you were wealthy and powerful, your life could go badly if you happened to pick the losing side of the conflict of the day. Octavian might have destroyed a republic but he also created stability for a lot of people. They didn’t have to worry about endless civil wars for the next two centuries besides a provincial rebellion here and there. For most people in the Roman Empire, they did have peace and order so they could count about going about their business at least.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                One of the parts of fandom that pissed me off the most when I was somewhat more into it was the tendency to call non-fans mundanes or something similar. It always seemed presumptuous to presume that you were better from other people because of your leisure activities. I really don’t see how its any better for artsy Bohemians or people in the LGBT community to take up a similar attitude.

                “Freaking the mundanes” is not something that I find particularly valuable because it suggests that those that don’t conform to a particular ideal are always going to be persecuted. “Freaking the mundanes” is just an outlet to deal with exclusion. I think a better solution is to try to create a world where a person could be transgender and mundane.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The outgroup creates an ingroup of its own. It creates some new and improved higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy and they find themselves working among themselves to figure out how to achieve love/belonging, esteem, and (eventually) self-actualization.

                That the outgroup considers us, the ingroup, to be an outgroup may be outrageous due to the fact that we all know that they’re not the ingroup but an outgroup… but we shouldn’t be surprised.Report

              • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @leeesq — I mean, fine. But that’s such a “white cis liberal dude” comment to make. Like, of course we should have a world where trans folks can fit into the social order the same as cis people. But that is so fucking far from what we have — like, your “try to create…” comment is fine, but I have to live now.

                This conversation always reminds me of this one section from Nevada:

                It’s been her experience that if people look at you and figure out that you are trans, they are pretty eager to tell you. No matter their demographic, teenage boys like to talk shit loudly so their friends can get in on it, older women like to wink or give a sly little smile, straight men who know they’re boring make angry faces, straight men who think they’re cool give you a smirk, straight women will give you a quiet little aside to let you know that they are totally onto you, gay boys want to be your best girlfriend (except the HRC types, who think you are trying to steal their rights), and dykes.

                Dykes are hard to read. Too much expectation and stress.

                And damn that is accurate.

                Anyway, it’s the “straight men who know they’re boring” part that always struck me. I know what she is talking about. I see those dudes all the time. The question is, do they really “know” they’re boring, or is that a projection on Maria’s part?

                I mean, they are pretty fucking boring, but do they really know it?


                So here’s my bigger point. There does seem to be this kind of ennui among certain people, mostly some men. It’s a certain envy expressed toward queers and minorities. Examples include that one guy who pretended to be a Syrian lesbian blogger, until he got caught, and then he complained that no one wanted to hear from a white guy. (Which shows a staggering ignorance of actual media demographics.) Another is when Scott Aaronson said that he, as a teenager, wished he was a black guy or a gay guy. Like OMG!

                Good grief, I feel nothing but contempt for this attitude, the staggering amount of privilege it shows. Yeah, we queers got shine, but we earn that shine inside a crucible. We built our culture under the fucking boot of straight society, so forgive me if you don’t automatically get an invitation.

                But it ain’t cuz you’re straight or white or whatever. Fuck that. You can get shine if you want it, and if you work for it. The difference is, I had less of a choice. For me it was shine or perish.

                I mean, not quite literally perish, but then maybe a little bit literally. It’s complicated. Being trans kills us the same as depression kills its victims, except for us it’s a social activity. How much can the cis world crush our spirits today?

                So “mundanes.” Yeah, whatever.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                The love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization the outgroup people seem to get always seems to be so much more authentic than the stuff ingroup people get, though.

                I mean, if you ignore the various costs that they have to pay.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d, I’m a Jew not white. I’m serious about this. There are only thirteen or fourteen million in my group in the world and people have been blaming us for most of the world’s problems for thousands of years and committing horrific acts of persecution against us. There are probably more transgendered people in the world than they are Jews.

                The thing about being a Jew is that you get from both sides a lot. We get called radical degenerates that are out to destroy good Christian and Muslim civilization but we are also attacked as bourgeois, puritans whose ideas led to the oppression of sexual minorities among other things.Report

              • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @leeesq — That doesn’t change my core point.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:


                Did you really just go full-metal Godwin with a twist in a thread about ingroups viewing themselves as “better from other people because of your leisure activities”?Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

                The answer is yes, apparently I did. This is a point I’m vehement about though because I do not see myself as white but as Jewish.Report

              • notme in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Please keep it up as I’m amused when liberals compete to see which group’s victimization is worse.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to notme says:

                TRIGGER WARNING FOR ’80S New Wavy hair-styles and child-friendly electro-synth


              • notme in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                Why didn’t you put up those trigger warnings before I watched it? Now I’m having flashbacks from my high school years.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to notme says:

                My own hair-traumas must have made me insensitive to the sensitivities of other others.Report

              • notme in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                You are an insensitive monster.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to notme says:

                Blame it on my hair, and not my heart!Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

                So you’re objecting to VD lumping you in the “white cis liberal dude” category?

                Noted! I guess I’m unclear how merely pointing that out constitutes a response to the substance of her comment.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

                It wasn’t meant to be a response to the substance of her comment, not that I agree with that much. Rather, I was correcting her on the some identity issue that I feel as strongly about as Veronica does about her gender identity.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Judaism is a social construct.

                I mean if there aren’t gods.

                If there are gods, maybe it’s not. That’s a long shot though, even if you’re willing to posit a second substance.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                Jewishness might be a social construct but it is a very old one that is not going away anytime soon. It is real enough that it deserves some respect.Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @leeesq :
                “I don’t see myself as White” is not something that I find particularly valuable because it suggests that those that don’t conform to a particular ideal are always going to be persecuted. “I don’t see myself as White” is just an outlet to deal with exclusion. I think a better solution is to try to create a world where a person could be Jewish and White.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Alan Scott says:

                @alan-scott — OMG Win!Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Alan Scott says:

                But not all Jews have white skin. If you favor the idea of Jewish unity than anything that is potentially against that unity is not good. By saying that there are white Jews and Jews of color, your leading to a situation where potentially Jews would not associate with their other Jews because they see themselves as white or of color before Jewish. I do not see this as a desirable outcome.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

                This is a strange statement. If one group of Jews opts not to associate with another group of Jews because certain non-Jews identify differences between those groups of Jews, why is that on the non-Jews?

                There are already divisions among Jews. What do we make of that?Report

              • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Because some Jews are non-white does not imply that all Jews are non-white. The other possibility is that Jewishness has over the centuries become multi-racial.

                Which is to say, you have to do more work than just to observe that some Jews are non-white. Furthermore, appeals to Jewish unity only work if that unity is manifestly true, rather than an aspiration.

                (Note this is an argument about logic, not my opinion on racial issues among Jews.)Report

              • Alan Scott in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I was going to jump in and say that I fully support your decision to not identify as white, and that my copy-paste of your earlier comment was just to point out that you were being Professor X when it came to Transgenderism but Magneto when it came to Jewishness.

                But no. Actually, reading what you’ve posted above is pretty troubling–Because my beliefs are based pretty strongly in the right to self-identify, and your argument about unity seems to deny that right to other Jews who do choose to identify as White or Black or Latino etc.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Stillwater says:

                I mean, arguing over whether American secular Jews should count as “white” or not is a minefield, and my answer to the question is something like “meh kinda sorta in some ways and kinda sorta not other ways.”

                But that said, when we talk about “white liberal attitudes,” as this kind of broad class of opinion that pattern matches with MLK’s “white moderates,” then yeah, secular Jews seem capable of fitting that pattern pretty well.

                Anyway, read this not as “this means you’re a whitey-mc-whiteypants.” Instead, read it as “white liberals can be such smug little wannabe allies who really annoy more than help” — and realize you’re acting like that, even if you’re not strictly speaking white.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d, I wasn’t trying to be a wannabe ally or even an ally. I’m being sincere when I criticize the “freak the mundanes” philosophy. At least my reading of history and my upbringing that tells me that liberal bourgeois values work well for society even if others disagree.

                A wide variety of people from the transgendered to garden variety nerds want to “freak the mundanes” in some way. As long as that reads as an assault on what I consider good values, I can not and do not support it.Report

              • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @leeesq — Right, but yours is an argument from privilege. It is asking us to give up one of the few tools that keeps us alive and sane, replaced by some distant, improbable hope.

                And honestly, what do you care if a bunch of queer people think you’re boring?

                Stop! Don’t abstract it. Explain how this makes a difference in your life? In anyone’s life? Who is affected by this? How?


                As a concrete example, there is this thing in contemporary drag culture, where the bachelorette parties destroy everything in their path.

                And this is really for real. There are two forces at work. One is the bachelorettes spend money, so the clubs cater to them. Which fine. I want people to make money. But also much of the gay cruising scene has moved to Grindr and shit, so a lot of the younger crowd doesn’t go out the way they used to. It’s just different.

                Anyhow, the result is you have social spaces that ten years ago were filled with fags, dykes, and trannies (and the straight men who love us), which now have only a couple trans sex workers hiding in the shadows, plus a handful of old gay men who still don’t understand the Grindr scene — plus a whole mess of screaming bachelorettes.

                Something has been lost. And look, there is nothing wrong with bachelorettes —

                — except they’re boring as fuck. I mean, I’m sure they’re having fun. But I don’t find them fun. They have no context to what they are experiencing, which is some Disney-esque, watered-down simulacrum of the drag scene.

                Ultimately, they’re tourists. They just are. It’s no one’s fault, but there is nothing they could do to be really part of Paris is Burning style gay culture.

                Neither can I, actually. But I’m a heck of a lot closer to it than a bunch of drunk white girls.

                But the thing is, they want to. I mean, I can’t exactly explain this, but there is this thing, where people want to wear the “cool factor” of the ballroom scene (or whatever), but they have zero authentic connection to the space. In fact, they’re poseurs.

                To me it feels kinda like those guys who claim they were in special forces, but who were not.

                Like, if you were a member of one of the ballroom houses, then you were. If you were not, then you were not.

                Or else you can just be a garden variety tranny like me. But I’m really-actually a tranny. These bachelorettes are women who’ve seen a few episodes of Ru Paul and sense there is something really cool there, and they want it.

                No one can give it to them. Instead they get sold a crass night out with some underpaid drag queens (who do literally the same show every night, night after night, same routine, same jokes, on and on ad nauseam). Fine. Everyone has fun. But after the bachelorettes filter out, we who remain just groan at how clueless they are. “I don’t go to X anymore, too many bachelorettes,” is a commonly heard refrain.

                There is this thing I can’t explain, but they want validation from me. No really, they want attention. But I’m not a performer. I don’t work at the club. I’m not there for their consumption.

                No you can’t take my picture. I’m just here to meet my g/f.

                These are subtle things, which you might not understand, those of you who have not experienced anything like this.


                So yeah, queers and “mundanes.” I actually don’t like the word “mundane.” I don’t think it helps. On the other hand, if you go to a drag show — well drink you drinks, watch the act, tip the girls. You’ll have fun.

                But there is this whole world behind the scenes that you’re not part of. You can’t be part of it.

                Do you want to be part of it? Why? Don’t you have your own stuff?Report

        • Zac in reply to veronica d says:

          The phrase “neo-reactionary My Little Pony” makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.Report

        • See also the Rabid Puppies guy, who found an exploit in Hugo voting rules and managed to force a reaction from that adults to close the exploit. He then went around crowing about how “chaotic” he is, and how he used his mad genius skilz to create a situation where no matter what happened, he won. Well, yeah: if your highest ambition is to force people to notice what a dweeb you are, then that’s a win. I learned decades ago that guys who describe themselves as “chaotic,” as if they were poorly conceived D&D characters, aren’t worth the time. I smile and nod and go find someone else to talk with.Report

          • I’m curious what the various Puppy groups think about the novel The Martian (which was, last I heard, ineligible for a Hugo because it was published too long before it got famous.) On the one hand, it’s exactly the kind of hard SF the Sad Puppies say they miss. On the other, its author specifically left out any politics, which means it’s not the Rabid Puppies’ cup of tea.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            No one who actually thinks they have any sort of D&D alignment is a useful person. People who think they are Chaotic are usually just assholes, people who think they are Lawful are *also* assholes, and people who think they are Good are usually just idiots. (And people who think they are Evil, uh, stay away.)

            D&D alignments are used to create characters that would be *really annoying people* in real life, who run around bothering people for no actual reason. It’s a gameplay mechanic to try to justify why characters are interested in situations that are literally none of their concern.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to veronica d says:

          I was having trouble figuring out how a piece on the politics of Star Wars provoked such a vicious response, until I noticed that he made a snarky comment about SJWs.Report

  6. S1: The history in that piece is a cock-up. Rugby and American football aren’t sibling sports. American football derives directly from Rugby. American universities in the 1870s were aiming for playing Rugby, but missed. It wasn’t really their fault. They were going off the written rules, which contained some non-obvious tacit assumptions. They had to make a series of rules adjustments to make it work, resulting in a distinct version that then went off in a different direction.

    As for Rugby taking over America, I am skeptical. I take a niche view of sport. There are, in temperate climates, three niches, for a summer sport, a fall sport and a winter sport. (Why no spring sport? Because the characteristic of springtime weather is that it fluctuates between extremes, making it unsuitable for anything.) The tendency is for any particular culture to have one and only one important sport in each niche. The summer niche is filled typically by either cricket or baseball. This is particularly visible in the Caribbean, where which game is played depends on which island you are on. The fall niche is filled by one of the various variants of football. The winter niche is a little different in that it is split between ice sports, especially ice hockey, and indoor sports, especially basketball. In the modern era of indoor ice rinks the two sports share the niche, but not really happily for either.

    The fall niche is in the United States solidly held by American football. It is very difficult for a competing sport to muscle in as anything other than a special interest game. Soccer has been trying to do this for decades. While MLS has been only modestly successful, despite the propaganda we see. (It can get on TV because sports networks have an insatiable appetite for content, but its ratings are minuscule.) (This also explains the failure of NFL Europe.) Rugby would be competing with both American and Association football. I enjoy Rugby. I especially enjoy it far more than soccer as a spectator sport, and find its proponents far less annoying than hipsters going on about “footie” and the glories of Real Madrid. (And “Real Salt Lake” and “DC United”? Really, MLS? Really?) But I am skeptical of the likelihood of Rugby being the next big thing.

    The caveat is that there is a small possibility that the NFL’s concussion and sub-concussion problems might lead to a long-term decline of American football. I doubt it. I think it was yesterday’s topic and people are already moving on with life as usual. But it could happen. If so, that would open up the US fall sport niche. We could see soccer and Rugby in a scrum fighting for it.Report

    • Autolukos in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Rugby would be an odd sport to replace football due to brain trauma concerns, given that it presents similar risks.Report

      • The issue with American football is that the normal course of play presents repeated blows to the head for players in many positions. It isn’t even a question of concussions. Repeated sub-concussion blows turn out to have similarly awful long term consequences. This feature of American football results in part from its peculiar characteristics of a series of set piece plays featuring offensive blocking. Rugby has spectacular violence, but not to the same players over and over and over. This is why American football players need to be armored while Rugby players do not: not because American football players are wimps, and not because Rugby is a pacific sport, but because in American football nearly every player in every play is subjected to violent blows.Report

        • Autolukos in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

          I’ve seen this argument before, and I don’t find it convincing at all.

          Rugby is less conducive to big hits between players approaching at full speed; there is no equivalent to defenders launching at receivers making a catch and many fewer situations where a tackler will try to reverse a ballcarrier’s momentum. That said, tackles, rucks, and even scrums all involve impacts that can cause the same sort of repeated subconcussive trauma that has been highlighted in recent football research.

          Comparing the concentration is tricky; in football, at the major college level and above, the defensive players who engage in the most contact are usually in rotations that result in individual players playing only a portion of their unit’s snaps, but offensive linemen frequently play the entire game. Even at fairly low levels, most players only play one side of the ball (and maybe some special teams), reducing their exposure.

          In rugby, substitutions are limited, so almost everyone plays the whole game. A flanker is likely to be in more collisions (mostly rucks and tackles) than any football player, though he is somewhat protected from impacts in scrums. A prop, hooker, or lock takes more of the impact in the scrum and will still usually be in a ton of rucks and tackles by football standards. Backs don’t scrum down and should be less involved in rucking and tackling, but they’re still likely to be in on double-digit collisions, similar to what many situational subs face in football.

          Maybe there is data comparing the two, but I’m not aware of any significant research on rugby that could determine whether or not it poses less severe MTBI risks than football.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      My theory was that football/soccer never took off in the United States because American already had two big entertainment sports by the time football/soccer really exploded. These were baseball and American football. The United States was also wealthy enough that we didn’t need soccer. One of soccer’s big appeals was that it could be done cheap. For poorer countries, this made it attractive because you didn’t need much in the way of equipment or stadiums.Report

      • Have I written about why American universities went with a Rugby-based game rather than a soccer-like game? If not, I should. It almost went the other way. You can thank (or blame) Harvard.

        But as for a later reintroduction, you and I essentially said the same thing. Once there is an established game, it is really hard for another one to break in.

        As for the cheapness of soccer, this was a factor in its spread from England across the Empire (both the formal bits, with the map colored pink, and the informal commercial empire, with the gunboats only sent in on an as-needed basis). It also is less overtly dangerous than Rugby. An injury that is an inconvenience to a Victorian gentleman can be a disaster for a working class player.

        The spread of modern sports is very much tied up with the British Empire. Divide the Empire into three phases: The first is the Caribbean and North American colonies. The second is India and Australia and South Africa and associated territories. The third is much of the rest of Africa and (including the commercial empire) Latin America.

        The first Empire predates the rise of modern sports. After the US split off from Britain its sport history developed largely independently, and dragged Canada with it. The second Empire (and the West Indies, from the first) adopted cricket. They play some form or forms of football, but which forms varies. The third Empire is all about Association Football. Everything else is secondary, except for the Caribbean and surrounding territories which also play baseball due to US influence.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I have a different suggestion for why soccer hasn’t taken off, and it derives from my Big Theory on why US-football did: what American’s appear to like more than anything is a game modeled after the military, where you have a commander in chief (who puts a teams together), a field general (who devises clever attack/defense plans employed situationally during the battle to maximum advantage); and divisions comprised of foot soldiers who execute those plans in real time, all of which is tightly controlled by the field general and based inherently on violence and power concepts. Football attains this “ideal” at the highest level. It’s the quintessential American game!Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

          The whole “that was a pretty exciting 0-0 game!” phenomenon is also one that doesn’t seem particularly aligned with America’s ideas of a sport.

          “If we need extra innings, we will have extra innings. The game will *NOT* end in a tie.”Report

          • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

            It looks to me like the increase in soccer’s popularity in the U.S. has been increasing fairly dramatically over the last few years. I can now watch soccer pretty much 24/7 if I have cable, between NBC, Fox, and BeIn Sports. And that’s not counting the Liga MX coverage in Spanish.

            In fact, the most difficult soccer league to watch now is MLS, and on top of that, I’m pretty sure that one of the biggest obstacles to soccer popularity in the U.S. is the quality of MLS play (which is still not very good). Most of the soccer fans I know don’t follow MLS at all, or do so only half-heartedly, while they follow the English Premier League and maybe one or two other European leagues (Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A, or German Bundesliga) very closely, along with the Europe-wide Champions League. Since those games are played on European time, watching them often means being up at 6 or 9 am on Saturdays or a little later on Sundays, or watching them while at work during the week, all of which constitute obstacles to increased fandom. Though if you love soccer and American football, you can watch two BPL matches on Saturday before the first college game even starts, then watch another on Sunday before the first NFL games.Report

            • I am thinking about doing a post on the status of soccer in the US. In the meantime, it clearly is growing, but it is hard to say just how much. I tried to write a brief yet coherent comment, and failed. So the answer is… it’s complicated.

              You are right about MLS. It is a fascinating case study. Two competing rules of thumb about American sports fans is that they will, all else being equal, only watch top-level sports; and that they will only watch American competitions (unless an American team is competing against other countries). MLS being so unmistakably lower-tier makes for a dilemma. The way it seems to be playing out is that people who want to attend a game in person will suck it up. MLS’s attendance numbers are pretty good (though not as impressive as its advocates claim: they cherry pick). Its TV ratings, however, are pathetic. If you want to watch a game, you can see better. This is further obscured by the bundling of MLS and the US Men’s Team’s television rights. They collectively go for roughly the same as the Premier League, but there is a suspicion that the value there is in the US Men’s Team, with little or no value coming from MLS.

              So soccer is definitely now a thing in the US. But before we get too excited, those television deals are tiny, compared with the big boys. I won’t even use the NFL as my example. That Premier League TV deal is about $83 Million a year for US broadcast rights. The NBA’s deal, which kicks in next season, is $2.6 Billion-with-a-“B” per year. That is, for those of you keeping score at home, about 30 times bigger. I have no idea what soccer’s ceiling will turn out to be, but at this point it is a narrow-cast sport in the US, showing some interesting potential.Report

              • What’s interesting to me is that Fox and NBC competed for and ultimately bought broadcast rights to foreign leagues (BPL, Champions League, and Bundesliga) that are played mostly in cities Americans have never even heard of. It’s definitely a sign that there’s money to be made. I’m not sure that was true even 5 or 6 years ago.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

                Soccer started to really take off in the United States as a kid’s sport during the 1970s and 1980s but it didn’t have enough of a crucial audience to develop commercially. We currently have two generations of Americans who grew up playing soccer as kids and millions of people for whom soccer was one of the big spectator sports or even the spectator sport in their home country. Its also a lot easier to air soccer games on TV because of satellite, etc. It wouldn’t surprise me if commercial soccer becomes big soon.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I don’t think it gets close to gridiron – which ties too well into America’s passion for both violence and committee meetings – unless CTE forces such drastic rule changes that gridiron starts looking more like rugby or aussie football.

                And a big splash on the world stage. Either a legitimate international star or an iconic moment on the world stage like the US women had at the ’99 WC.Report

            • Patrick in reply to Chris says:

              Soccer’s general popularity has a demographic advantage as T increases.Report

          • Autolukos in reply to Jaybird says:

            While these are common complaints today, I don’t think they work for the late 19th and early 20th century for a number of reasons, of which one is interesting: at the time, soccer would frequently have been higher scoring (in terms of number of goals vs. number of touchdowns, field goals, and safeties) than football.Report

  7. Kazzy says:


    I have long “joked” that there is nothing that makes me feel more anxious than doing self-checkout with anyone waiting in line behind me. Even if I do it without a single snafu and quickly and efficiently, I still feel like I’m pissing that guy off. Because if things don’t go as quickly as possible, there is only one person to blame: me! And that is when thing DO go well!Report

    • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’ve learned there’s some things you can’t even bother trying in self-checkout. There’s a weight sensor in the bagging area, to help ensure that what you scanned is what you bagged – the problem is, for really light items the scale often won’t register their weight properly, so you have to call someone over to proceed.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:

        Don’t even try to buy booze!Report

        • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

          Or cough syrup, in fact.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

            Did the cough syrup thing the other day. Oops!Report

            • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

              I live across the street from a store with self-checkout and few lanes with cashiers (often only one) open at any given time, so I have learned all of the ins and outs of self-checkout over the last couple years. If there is a line, to take one example, do not, I repeat do not get produce that the system will have to weigh, because it will ask you to weigh it 1,782.4 times on average before it officially registers the weight.

              Self-check out has also taught me that people are idiots. For instance, despite the fact that there are large signs and even a message that you have to actually acknowledge on the touch screen, when there’s a line, at least one person in the line will go to a card only station when they intend to pay with cash or want cash back. “Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.”Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

                The one I use handles produce very well. And while you can use the picture menu to scroll and find the product, I know what a PLU is and rely on the sticker, thereby saving several seconds. My neighbors really should throw me a parade.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

                I repeat do not get produce that the system will have to weigh, because it will ask you to weigh it 1,782.4 times on average before it officially registers the weight.

                Huh. That almost never happens to me. Where I usually get caught up are the things that are too big to bag. They still don’t seem to have figured that relatively basic thing out.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Some systems I’ve seen will say, “Do not place this on the conveyor belt.” That is usually what happens at the whole sale club with the massive items.

                With the exception of CVS, I find the systems work well. It is just the social pressure that gets at me! But I live in the northeast where everything is better than everywhere else. Except the food. And sometimes the music. And weather. We account for all that with better SYSTEMS!Report

              • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

                Oh, that’s another issue with the self-checkout. Austin is a plastic-bag free city, which means that the self-checkout lines no longer have bags waiting for you. If you did not bring your own bag, you have to acquire one, type in a code (or worse, particularly when there’s a line, get an employee to type it in for you; it’s prominently displayed, but typing in the code is beyond some people; see Schiller quote above) and then place the bag where you place the items. If you did bring your own bag, you have two choices: tell the system that, and place it where you put your items, and hope it registers its weight and doesn’t tell you “Unexpected item in bagging area!” or just bag everything after you’ve paid. Since I’m rarely purchasing more than a couple things, I usually just wait until afterwards to bag stuff, because it goes faster than arguing back and forth with a machine about whether the bag I just told it I was going to place on the scale is in fact the bag or an unexpected item.Report

              • Where I usually get caught up are the things that are too big to bag. They still don’t seem to have figured that relatively basic thing out.

                Most of the self-serve stations at the Kroger chain here have an “overflow” shelf big enough to hold pretty much anything they sell in the store. It’s too high for many people to put large heavy items like a case of bottled water, so there’s also a “Put item in cart” button on the touch screen that lets you put that type of item back in your cart instead of in the bagging area. If you use that button, you get an “Attendant has been notified to assist you” screen when you start to pay that has to be cleared by the clerk.Report

              • If you shop at Kroger, you get Big K soft drinks, right? Right?!Report

              • Darn, I miss King Soopers.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Michael Cain says:

                there’s also a “Put item in cart” button on the touch screen that lets you put that type of item back in your cart instead of in the bagging area. If you use that button, you get an “Attendant has been notified to assist you” screen when you start to pay that has to be cleared by the clerk.

                That – that right there is why I hate those machines (well, one of the reasons). I take a backpack to the grocery store, to carry the groceries home in. I put the backpack on the scale at the start of the transaction, figuring a sensible implementation will tare the scale before the first item goes on it – on goes the “A THIEF IS IN OUR MIDST” light. I pack the items in my backpack on the floor so I’m not messing with the scale – on goes the “A THIEF IS IN OUR MIDST” light.

                If I slip up in any way whatsoever, I feel like the whole store is looking at me like I’m some kind of devious bandit.Report

              • Glyph in reply to dragonfrog says:

                The whole “backpack” thing for shopping is a pain in general, self-checkout or no. I use mine sometimes (I have a grocery store in walking distance, and if I only need a few things, it’s stupid to drive), and I used to do the same in my old neighborhood but on bike sometimes, and I always feel like employees are giving me the stink-eye while I’m in the store. I get why, but it’s still annoying.Report

              • When I put my empty giant canvas bag in the bagging area, I get an “Are you using your own bag?” screen, and after an affirmative it goes on nicely. It appears that different stores can adjust some parameters in the software. At the store in the “bad” part of town, using your own bag invokes the “An attendant has been notified…” screen at payment time. That doesn’t happen at the other stores.

                When the Kroger stores here started self-check, the software was pretty bad. It’s improved a lot over the years.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Maybe that’s part of it – I’m in a semi-dodgy area, and the only store I regularly go to that uses self-checkouts is solidly in a dodgy area.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to dragonfrog says:

                My wife and I have figured out the exact sequence for getting through as quickly as possible with our local checkout machines, and the best part is that it puts the machine into an error state *after* it prints my receipt.

                Don’t let a blocking call to an audio output function hold up your state machine, kids.Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to Chris says:

            At least you don’t have to buy cold medicine at the store anymore.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

          My grocery stores/drugstores don’t have self-checkout. We have them at Home Depot. It is also pretty inconvenient for a bunch of 2×4’s.Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to Glyph says:

            You’d think that the Home Depot ones would have hand scanners. But no.Report

            • Chris in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

              The ones at Sam’s Club do, though!Report

              • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

                You’ve set foot in a Walton-owned establishment? What kind of leftist ARE you?!Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                I know, I know. I feel guilty every time I go there, knowing as I do that no proper leftist would be caught dead wallowing in the retail mud with the proletariat. I should probably have my Whole Foods rewards card revoked for this.Report

              • Kim in reply to Chris says:

                No proper leftist goes to a company that endorses the wanton burning of the Peruvian rain forest.
                (that’s whole foods, btw).Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

                There is a particular flavor of progressivism that is not a set of beliefs but more like a set of sentiments.

                Whole Foods caters to this set of sentiments.

                When you walk in, it *FEELS* progressive. Even the hardest hearted suit wearing corporate type walks in and feels good about the hippies stocking the shelves with expensive produce (hey, they’re hippies you don’t have to yell “get a job!” at).

                Plus they carry the obscure and the weird and, seriously, they’re the only place in town where you can get boxes of Pomi tomatoes (the canned stuff isn’t as good).

                It has nothing to do with “I believe these axioms and therefore I have reached a handful of conclusions.”

                It’s “I feel these things strongly and Whole Foods appeals to my aesthetics.”Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to Glyph says:

        What’s amazing to me is how obviously bad the software is. I can tell from the nature of a few of the bugs *exactly* what the bug is likely to be. Like, if you gave me the source code, I’d go straight to it. They’re the types of bugs that programmers make when writing their first few applications. I’d love to offer my services to fix the damn things and make a profit doing it, but they’re clearly barely adequate, which is above the threshold for needing any more investment.

        There have been a few times when I was the only person in the store (night shopping) and the damn things flipped out and I just left all of my stuff and walked out. Problems only get solved if the people who can solve them are the ones bearing the costs.Report

        • El Muneco in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

          The post-acceptance-test burn-in phase should consist entirely of the entire programming team doing all their shopping, in public, for a month.

          Like the old Roman trick of having the architect of an arch stand underneath when the keystone was placed.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      Our stores have six self-checkouts grouped together. (One has 9!)

      Do you not have something like that? That should let your anxiety be dispersed somewhat insofar as you can think that the guy immediately behind you should be upset at the other 5 people taking forever to figure out if their bananas are organic or inorganic.

      And that’s without getting into the whole issue of “dude, he’s not even thinking about you… he’s singing Nickleback songs to himself while watching the 300 trailer play in his head for the umpteenth time.”Report

      • Hoosegow Flask in reply to Jaybird says:

        Non-organic bananas are 4011. Come on, let’s keep it moving!

        I greatly dislike the self-checkout lanes that have the full-sized bagging area with 5 foot conveyor belt. If the customer is by themselves, they either can’t start bagging until they’ve finished paying, or have to interrupt the scanning and paying to bag. The ones with the bagging area right next to the scanner are much better.Report

        • I largely avoid the self-checkouts, because with any largish shopping trip I invariably end up leaving a few items stacked on the counter, as not worth the effort to check out. That being said, do the people buying the organic bananas actually put in the organic banana code, or do they note the code for inorganic bananas (no carbon-based molecules included!) and use that? For that matter, any bulk item would be susceptible to codes for a cheaper item. Heck, an enterprising soul could find two boxes of stuff that weigh the same and scan the cheaper item twice. I assume that stores have done the math and decided that they are still better off not paying a cashier, but still…Report

          • Hoosegow Flask in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            I’m certain there are probably many ways to game the system. Most stores usually have a person stationed near the checkout lanes, presumably to watch out for any tricks (and sometimes even help clear errors on the machines). I suspect their mere presence probably discourages a lot of intentional bad behavior.Report

        • Non-organic bananas are 4011.

          Anyone who doesn’t know that has no business shopping. That’s like the very first number you learn!Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        Good point. It’s totally in my head, too. I’m actually probably just as fast as a cashier. But if I’m not… again, that’s on me!!! I can’t do the half-hearted shoulder shrug with the “Whatcha gonna do?” look when the cashier has to call for a price check. Because *I* am the cashier!

        I tend to find that Stop&Shop’s work pretty well though. CVSs has always been a mess.

        Has anyone been to a supermarket where you ‘checkout’ as you go? You get a portable scanner and you scan your items (there are special scales for produce) and bag as you go and then at the checkout you just scan a special reader and it brings up the full order. They usually have someone briefly peak into your bags to make sure you rung everything up (I find this is more about the illusion of checking than actual checking). It is a pretty cool system and you get to play with the laser gun!!!Report

        • (I find this is more about the illusion of checking than actual checking)

          …with that strip of AA batteries you didn’t pay for placed under the leaky package of meat. The idea that a bored teenager glancing at your cart and receipt is a serious impediment is hardly credible.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            Sure. If you want to make a concerted effort to steal, you surely can. But that has always been the case.Report

            • It is the absence of concerted effort necessary that strikes me. Back in Ye Olden Days you had to take that strip of batteries to some part of the store where you were pretty sure no security camera was on you, stuff it down your pants, and walk awkwardly out the door. Now you take the strip of batteries, wave the scanner such that it “inadvertently” fails to scan the strip, and put it in your bag and continue shopping. If caught, you feign surprise and mutter about this new-fangled technology. Heck, I’m old enough that the security guy might even believe I didn’t do it on purpose.Report

            • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kazzy says:

              I liked the Bill Burr line about self checkout. “Next time I go and all they have is those self-checkout stations, I’m just taking my cart and walking out. What are they going to do, ask me to arrest myself?”Report

      • Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

        California murdered self-checkout lines when it made it illegal to check out spirits, wine, or beer at the self-checkout line.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Patrick says:

          Colorado’s Blue Laws still haunt us. If we wish to purchase booze, we must visit a “party store”.

          This makes self-check out awesome.

          Additional benefit: Nobody to secretly judge you for buying 12 frozen pizzas.

          “It’s for a party.”

          “Sure it is.”Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick says:

          Maybe it’s just me, but I often go to the grocery store without buying alcohol.

          Actually, it’s not just me, because not only are there self-checkout lanes, there’s a line for them backed up into one of the aisles, though Safeway somehow hasn’t figured out they should be putting impulse items there instead of dish soap.Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            They’re not backed up because they’re popular. They’re just backed up because the self checkout systems at Safeway only have about 65% chance of getting the typical customer through without some sort of exception grinding the process to a halt.Report

    • Mo in reply to Kazzy says:

      L2 will be solved by increasingly cheaper RFID tags. Eventually it won’t be scan, bag and pay, it can be bag, walk out and have your account debited.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Mo says:

        It seems to me that with enough market pressure, there are a lot of ways they could make it better. I’m not huge on automating a lot of these jobs and the prospects thereof, but if (for instance) the minimum wage were raised to $25/hr or something they would almost certainly find a way to make it work (and/or force people to adjust). At current wages, I’m not sure if the motivation is really there. So they seem to be kind of half-heartedly dipping their toes into it, but not really committing.

        (I know nobody is proposing $25/hr, but I choose it because it’s so obviously on the other side of practical. I don’t know where the tipping point is. I suspect, for supermarkets it’s above $12/hr nationwide but may be below $15… just not sure. It may be below $12 for fast food joints. The “nationwide” thing does seem important, though. I don’t think some cities raising it would justify the sort of national effort that would be required. Or would, at least, raise the tipping point considerably.)Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

      On the flip side, when I go to the supermarket that only has manned checkout and I see the lines, all I can think about is burning the entire place to the ground.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

      I don’t understand all the hate these things get. I love them. I get a glitch every once in a while, but it’s still better than waiting in line.

      The only real problem I had was when there was a local law passed requiring stores to charge for bags. I’d ring up the bag and put it on the bagging platform, and it would tell me to “put the last item back in the bag,” every single time. Then I just started scanning one item and putting it on the platform before scanning the bag. Problem solved.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I don’t understand the hate either.

        On the other hand, apparently there are many people who interpret “scan one item, place on scale” as “wave this can of beans back and forth over the scanner six times because that’s what the checkout lady does in the regular line”.

        Oh, by the way: One of the biggest reasons that California slowed its uptake of self-checkout was that the SEIU got a law passed making it illegal to buy alcohol at a self-checkout stand. Not much point in having a bunch of self-checkout stands when 40% of your transactions can’t be processed through them!Report

  8. SaulDegraw says:

    The Star Wars stuff seems rather silly largely. It largely seems to be about the need for endless content.

    The PA story is rather interesting.

    Self-checkout is not allowed for alcohol in California. It was until a few years ago though.

    How are they defining routine?Report

  9. Will Truman says:

    Y’all are a bunch of killjoys.

    What I like about the Star Wars revisionism debates is that, whatever else great might be said about them, the unipolar politics and morality of Star Wars are largely dull and uninspired. That’s not really a criticism of the films as they are what they are and trying to inject a greater degree of ambiguity into it would likely dampen its strengths more than adding positive dimension. The revisionism gives us a bit of an antidote, by giving us another way of looking at things.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

      Yeah, I loved the Jar Jar revision. I told my wife about it and she thought it actually made sense of those silly movies. Her conclusion is that Lucas is still an idiot, just for different reasons.Report

      • SaulDegraw in reply to Stillwater says:

        American Graffiti is a great movie by Lucas and entirely not idioticReport

        • Stillwater in reply to SaulDegraw says:

          Saul, did you read the reddit post in SW4? You should. And if you do, may the force be with you.Report

        • rexknobus in reply to SaulDegraw says:

          Huge fan of “American Graffiti.” Huge fan of “Episode 4.” But in hindsight, “Episode 4” is terrific for reasons that are not so much the writing and direction. And “American Graffiti” was exec produced by Mr. Lucas’ mentor, F.F. Coppola. It makes me wonder…Report

          • Kim in reply to rexknobus says:

            I know which is considered one of the top 101 best screenplays of all time, by the writers guild.

            You don’t, obviously.Report

            • rexknobus in reply to Kim says:

              @Kim I’m not quite sure what your point here is. Mine is that of all the scripts with Lucas’ name on them, “American Graffiti” is the only one that is any good at all, let alone genius (which it is). And that happens to be the film produced by his mentor and one of the best screenwriters around. No way for me to make a positive statement about it, but I have to wonder.Report

              • Kim in reply to rexknobus says:

                The writers guild disagrees with you.
                I didn’t find star wars all that exceptional of a script… but they’ve got Jaws on there, and back to the future, and tootsie and shawshank redemption.
                All of which I have seen (unlike American Grafitti), and do consider rather good screenplays.Report

              • rexknobus in reply to Kim says:

                I guess I’m not being very clear. Lucas seems to me to be a pretty poor screenwriter — with the exception of “American Graffiti,” which he is credited with, but where his producer (not credited on the screenplay) is great screenwriter. My suspicion (which I cannot prove of course) is that Coppola did heavy uncredited work on the AG script.

                I’m saying Lucas is a crap screenwriter. The WGA doesn’t issue that kind of critique — so how am I in disagreement with them? All those movies that you mentioned have terrific scripts — but not by Lucas.

                And I highly recommend “American Graffiti” as a terrific film and well worth your time.Report

              • Kim in reply to rexknobus says:

                WGA has Star Wars listed as one of the top 101 screenplays of all time. If Lucas did such a poor showing with it, why’s it listed again?Report

              • rexknobus in reply to Kim says:

                I’m sorry to hear that the SW screenplay is on that WGA list. In my opinion it really doesn’t come close to deserving that. Maybe they factored in success, or how it influenced other scripts — or maybe SW is just such a juggernaut that it simply cannot be denied. That happens. Oscars often go to films that are more popular than good. Perhaps that happened with the SW script.

                Watch the film and listen to the dialog. Analyze the story. When I do that, the script comes up short — but that’s just me. And in terms of empire building (in both the fictional world and the real) it’s very possible that nothing will ever equal the impact of SW.Report

              • Kim in reply to rexknobus says:

                For a blockbuster with good writing, i’d give the Avengers the ticket. Even the second avengers movie (which hung together on the strength of joss alone).Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Kim says:

                Because it made him a billionaire. How many of the screenplays on that list are for flops?Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I dunno. do you see any flops there?
                Harold and Maude?
                It’s all about Eve?

                … i really don’t know.Report

    • SaulDegraw in reply to Will Truman says:

      It’s a children’s movie, not Brechtian didactism agitpropReport

    • SaulDegraw in reply to Will Truman says:

      The Slate article is the most spot on. These theories about fans wanting the movies to be more that they are or just better.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to SaulDegraw says:

        These theories about fans wanting the movies to be more that they are or just better.

        … and? Who cares if that is the case?

        When you get down to it, I think the movies themselves are pretty overrated. It’s culture. Culture gets built upon.Report

    • the unipolar politics and morality of Star Wars are largely dull and uninspired.

      Also the acting, writing and dialog. But, sure, the politics too.Report

      • I recently showed Ep. IV to my kids (aged six and seven) for the first time. They were entranced, though the younger one found the garbage disposal scene scary. She hid until I told her it was safe to come out. The interesting thing is that they both knew the characters, so embedded are they in popular culture, though they didn’t know how the characters fit together in the story.

        For myself, I enjoyed watching it with the kids, but yeah, these jaded eyes see that it is pretty thin. Heck, I was fourteen when it came out. I stood in the line circling the theater twice just like everyone else did, but even then it was obvious to me that Trek had a lot more substance to it.Report

      • Very hard to overestimate the sheer impact of “Star Wars” in 1977. It hit hard (I was 26 at the time). I’m pretty critical about such things, but it took years (and “Return of the Jedi”) before I really got over the high of that battle cruiser coming in over my head in the first shot. Maybe we were finally given permission to doubt by Ford’s famous comment about typing vs. speaking. But, man, that first flick in 1977…a force with which to conjure, so to speak.

        Totally overwhelmed the crap writing. I remember Hamill complaining about the dialog on the “Tonight” show way back when. But in a very light-hearted way, of course.Report

        • I was in college; a bunch of us drove over from Berkeley to SF to see it. And stood in life for an hour, and had to sit apart because the theatre was packed to overflowing. In that sense it was definitely a thing,

          The movie was fun, and we made a lot of Force jokes for the next couple of weeks, but honestly it wasn’t life-changing. By the time TESB came out, I’d mostly forgotten about it, and figured it was probably a cash-grab, like most sequels. I didn’t even watch it or ROTJ until there was a work outing to see TPM and it seemed to make sense to catch up on the story.Report

        • Patrick in reply to rexknobus says:

          I’m pretty critical about such things, but it took years (and “Return of the Jedi”) before I really got over the high of that battle cruiser coming in over my head in the first shot.

          Try watching it when you’re six.

          I will give this to Star Wars: for the sheer value of grabbing your attention in the first sixty seconds of the movie?

          Still haven’t seen a movie that did it better.

          WOW. Music! Whoa, spaceship! Lasers! BATTLE!



        • I have a memory of my sister taking me to see it in 1977 in the theaters. The problem is, I was only 3 or 4 years old…..It’s hard to believe someone that young could sit through a movie that long. Maybe it’s a false memory, but it’s there. And what I remember most are the Tatooine scenes and the garbage dispoal scene. Again, maybe it’s a false memory, but what a memory!Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman says:

      It might be kind of fun to have a movie where the protagonists are some people who would inevitably actually exist in such a situation – either “united empire loyalists” in rebel held territory, or immigrants from an area seen as empire-loyal who are persecuted as suspected loyalists.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

      The only Star Wars revisionism that works, for me, is the Machete Order (4-5-2-3-6).Report

  10. Michael Cain says:

    L4: Ah, the joys of a boom-and-bust industry. The oil bust in the mid-to-late 1980s devastated college geology departments when the oil and support companies not only quit hiring, they laid off lots of the existing geology staff. Colorado got current Gov. John Hickenlooper out of that one, since he elected to stay in the Denver area and do something entirely different.Report

  11. Star Wars:

    To quote Sheridan Whiteside from The Man Who Came to Dinner [1],”I may vomit”.

    1. Have you ever seen a sitcom episode about an obnoxious guest who falls, breaks something important, and has to stay until he gets better? TMWCTD was the original.Report

  12. dragonfrog says:

    [Po2] I think what any politician serious about electoral reform in Canada realizes, and an awful lot of political writers are failing to get, is that a referendum is the wrong way to get electoral reform passed in Canada. A lot of newspaper pundits seem to be hung up on a referendum being the only way this will go down, but it clearly won’t be.

    You need a process to get as public involvement by anyone who cares to become involved, but it has to be structured so that there’s a bit of a barrier to entry. Not a big one, so you’re not excluding people with arguments to make. Like, you have to take the time to write a letter, in sentences, stick a stamp on it, and carry it all the way to the post box. That kind of thing.

    The great majority of people who care just enough about politics to show up on polling day – most of the people who were swayed by the Conservatives’ nonsense about coalition governments in a Westminster system being some kind of antidemocratic constitutional loophole, rather than the whole point of the Westminster system – they’re always going to think “I don’t know, what we have now is good enough, I guess.”Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to dragonfrog says:

      I think it’s a mistake to think that the rejection of the AV referendum was down to scare tactics or misinformation. They were just voting against the obvious reality of what AV meant right then: more power for the Lib Dems. And I think the 2015 election makes it clear exactly how the UK voters feel about the Lib Dems.

      In Canada, the health of any voting reform is going to likewise be up to what the reform will result in given the electoral realities. I don’t know much about canadian politics, but it seems like voter reform is going to stick it to the Conservatives, and help out the NDP. So any vote will probably come down to how people feel about those two parties.

      That tendency is something that I think really explains the recent success of voting reforms in my home state of California. CA is so thoroughly dominated by Democrats that voters didn’t need to care about how changes would affect the balance of power between the two major parties–we knew we were getting folks from team blue either way, so we embraced changes that would help us get the best of those blue-team folks.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Alan Scott says:

        The NDP and Greens favour proportional representation because they know they have a lot of support spread fairly evenly across the country, and not a lot of ridings where they have the plurality.

        The Liberals favour ranked ballots because they know they’re everyone’s second choice but not reliably the first choice of a lot of people.Report

  13. LeeEsq says:

    L5: I have the exact same worry. For a lot of human history, work for most people meant cobbling together enough jobs to kind of get buy. You could be a farmer and day laborer at the same time. We seem to be returning to that system. We could theoretically institute GBI and allow people to earn a decent living to get by with work for the extra income but this is morally wrong to a lot of people. Dealing with the increases in productivity is going to require some changes in how humans think about these things.Report

  14. Hoosegow Flask says:

    [S4] When discussing altering Hitler’s life trajectory, people seem to fail to realize that it would mean erasing billions of people from existence. Sure, a different set of people would be around instead (assuming mankind didn’t obliterate itself in the new timeline), but since I wouldn’t be one of them, I would appreciate it if people would just leave baby Hitler alone.Report

    • James K in reply to Hoosegow Flask says:


      Now there’s a good “why does no one kill baby Hitler” response for a time-travel story. If time travel is invented far enough into the future, everyone’s existence would be substantively altered by Htiler not rising to power. That means that any attempt to kill Hitler by anyone would trigger a Grandfather Paradox.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to James K says:

        There are really two kinds of time-travel stories:

        1. History is fixed, so the time-traveler is really running as fast as he can to keep things the way they are. (Asimov made this explicit in his story The Red Queen’s Race.)

        2, History can change, with various hand-waving about why a person changing the past doesn’t also change the circumstances that led to his doing so. Alfred Bester had one of the funniest versions of that.Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          I think the two types of time travel stores are:

          1) Stories that disintegrate into nonsense so badly that they’re unfixable. Making your story specifically *about* time travel rather than making it part of a larger story is a major contributor to this result.

          2) Stories that hide the logical problems inherent in time travel stories well enough and have enough of a story attached to them that you can enjoy them as long as you squint a bit while reading them.

          The vast majority are in category 1. I have a really hard gritting my teeth and starting a time travel story unless it comes very, very highly recommended.Report

  15. Chip Daniels says:

    I read that article when it was in Jacobin. She makes terrific points, especially how the Do What You Love mantra is used as cover for underpaying vulnerable people.

    But she assumes the very framing about labor that I think needs more discussion.
    Is work just a means to an end, something we should consider unpleasant, and therefore move towards the goal of dispensing with it altogether?

    The other view of work incorporated into Christian socialism views work- even tedious unpleasant and demanding work- as an essential part of what gives our life meaning and purpose. Its said that work is how we become co-creators of the world with God.

    So instead of Doing What You Love, it becomes more Loving What You Do.

    I’ve advanced the idea here that our claim to wealth is powerful at the level of sustenance, and grows weaker as our wealth grows, as a way of justifying progressive taxation.
    But there is also a flip side- contra much of leftist thought, we can’t assume that the goal of egalitarianism can be satisfied simply by distributing resources differently.

    Which answers part of the dilemma raised by Tokumitsu, of why people fall prey to the DWYL mantra. It isn’t JUST false consciousness or propaganda that works against labor struggle.

    People generally actually do love to work, even when it is devalued by others, financially uncompensated, and physically or emotionally demanding.

    For socialists to expect the workers to lay down their tools and strike is as unrealistic as libertarians expecting them to lay down their tools and negotiate.Report

  16. Jaybird says:

    Oh, good golly.

    Apparently, there is a thing going on at Yale. Students are demanding resignations over a Halloween email.

    The original email was sent out explaining that, hey, it’s Halloween, have fun, please be sensitive in your costumes and make sure that you’re not wearing a costume that could be interpreted as hurtful or offensive to people and it gave a bunch of questions to ask oneself before one dressed up. (Straightforward, boilerplate questions… “Does this costume mock or belittle someone’s deeply held faith tradition?” (NO KIM DAVIS COSTUMES!) and the like.)

    Anyway. I’m sure that most of us would read the email and say “yeah, seems like something that Yale would send out” and most of us would be able to keep the whole “man, when I wore costumes in the 80’s, we went out of our way to be offensive!” stories to ourselves.

    Well, someone (Erika Christakis) wrote an email in which she said something to the effect of “Of course we all agree that nobody should be offensive for offense’s sake but shouldn’t we be somewhat less than quick to being offended?”

    Well, of course, this caused a crapstorm.

    Not just Christakis herself, but her husband (who also works there) came out and gave a speech about the importance of not screaming for the heads of people you disagree with and they started screaming for his head.

    Seriously, watch the videos on that first link there. (Confession. I couldn’t make it all the way through them.)Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Man, I wish some of those folks would show up here. I’d hit em with some post-structural dissipative semiotic violence, I would. That’d REALLY piss em off.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        My very first thought was “dang… these kids just made themselves unhireable…” but, then I remembered: Yale.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

          Now we see the boorish manners of a Yalie.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

          Back in my day, kids got riled up about real stuff: South African Apartheid, factory farming, global warming, heck, even the War Invasion of Iraq (OK, I wasn’t a kid for that one). They had sit ins and tent cities where they played drums and kicked while sipping Mate’ around the patchouli atomizer. Now the thing that sets em off is language.

          I bet they don’t even know what a hacky sack is anymore.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

            Back in your day, employers looked at your resume and might have called your college to ask if you actually went there/graduated.

            There was no way to investigate whether you had participated in a die-in protesting the treatment of former citizens of East Berlin after the beginning of Unification by doing nothing more than googling your name.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:


      So, to sum up: It turns out that 18 year olds are still 18 years olds, and the internet/social media still thinks everything little it finds lying about is an proof of an Important & Unique Historical Trend.

      Did I miss anything, or does that about cover it?Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

      Yeah, after reading the letters and watching the videos, I can’t come away with any conclusion except that Mr. and Mrs. Cristakis should resign from their master & assistant master posts.

      Look. You don’t get to act in your administrative capacity, using a resource you only have because of your administrative duties (in this case, the email addresses of 450ish yale undergrads in her charge), and then lean on academic freedom because you also teach classes.

      I think there was a point at which “I’m sorry, that was dumb, let’s move on” was the most appropriate response, but it’s well past this point.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Alan Scott says:


        Holy crap.

        They had a job trying to teach these kids what their high school teachers failed to, what their middle school teachers failed to before them, and their elementary school teachers before them. This is their last chance to learn before, like, the planet has opportunity to teach them.

        The planet, seriously, does not have a freaking sense of humor about lessons.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yeah, I didn’t watch the videos (sorry) but I skimmed the mails and the descriptions of the situation (from both FIRE and that Yale newspaper thingy) and I am frankly baffled at @alan-scott ‘s comment. What am I missing? What exactly was the Cristakis’ dereliction of duty (or abuse of authority) in sending an email (that contained, AFAICT, no offensive material) gently questioning some of the underlying assumptions and potential implications of another email? I must be misunderstanding the situation somehow.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

            As best I can tell (these are Yalies after all) the argument is this: they need to be fired because the two Cs keep saying the Protesters should respect the expressions of others without taking immediate offense, an expression the students immediately view as deliberately offensive and disrespectful.Report

          • Alan Scott in reply to Glyph says:

            So, unpacking a little bit more:

            Considering the email from the IAC and the email from Erika Christakis, the latter is a weird, off-base response to the former. The IAC letter is bland and avoids wading into any of the deeper or more contentious issues surrounding cultural appropriation. Christakis’s response doesn’t really address anything the IAC letter said, can’t decide whether it’s arguing that racial costumes aren’t offensive or that students should be allowed to wear offensive costumes, and just comes off as polite concern trolling.

            Now, I don’t think that the email is some grave sin. I just think it’s a dumb and misguided response. What I think is more sinful is the platform she used to publish the email. Christakis and her husband are the associate master & master of Silliman college. As I understand it, when students arrive at Yale, they are sorted into one of twelve residential colleges by some kind of magic talking hat. Students in a college live together in the dormitories, use the same dining hall, and whichever one has Harry Potter in it wins a prize at the end of each year.

            The Master and Associate Master of each college serve as the professor-in-charge and spouse-of-professor-in-charge of each residential college. They do things like set up study sessions, arrange guest speakers, and so forth. It’s in this capacity that Erika Christakis had the ability to email four and a half hundred yale undergrads. That seems like a poor forum for what is essentially a political op-ed.

            At this point, I think the smart thing to do would be to say “whoops, this maybe wasn’t the right place for this conversation”, de-escalate as best you can, and move on. But instead, Nicholas Christakis decided to make this the free speech hill to die on.

            A few days later, we get to a point where he’s on the losing end of a shouting match with some students. One where they come of as a bit sheltered, but he comes off as a condescending weasel.

            Now, I don’t think any of this is an offense that merits firing. But I look at those videos and think “How can he possibly do his job at this point?” He’s lost any respect or positive relationship he had with these students. And while I don’t have video evidence, I suspect his wife has a similarly disintegrated relationship with the Silliman students. So what’s the point in maintaining the charade? Just resign from the residential college post and focus on teaching.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

            Daniel Drezner is hitting all the right notes on Twitter right now.

            Kids will be kids, still intellectually feeling everything out. Let them, and don’t pile on. And give them all of the authority over personnel you would kids.Report

    • Owen in reply to Jaybird says:

      I dunno, my gut reaction is that there are probably some other underlying issues in the Yale community that have not been sufficiently addressed.

      But yeah, I guess this could all just be about some email. Kids these days, amirite?Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Owen says:

        They have had ample opportunity to explain that it’s not really about (just) the email and haven’t done so.Report

        • Owen in reply to Will Truman says:

          Crowd members expressed their frustrations and anger at the current status of minorities on Yale’s campus. In addition to voicing their outrage and disappointment at the administration’s perceived inaction, minority students asked Holloway a question: To whom in the University administration can they turn for support?

          Students’ remarks extended far beyond the incidents involving SAE and Christakis, although they have served as the catalysts for an onslaught of discontent this week. Students called for sweeping administrative change, including the improvement of mental health infrastructure for minority students and the provision of Dean’s Excuses for students suffering from traumatic racial events.

          It seems to me like they have.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Owen says:

        Did you watch the videos, or at least turn them off after trying to watch them and then failing?Report

    • Dand in reply to Jaybird says:

      In 2012 called the campaign to get Erik Loomis fired a threat to free speech:

      Today they call attempts two get these two fired not free speech issue because demands that someone get fired are themselves free speech

      So I guess free speech means different things depends on who’s speaking.Report

  17. Pr5 [why did “we” survive the evolution contest? AND what’s in store for human evolution?]

    Maybe “we” are they. Maybe there was intermingling of sub-species?

    As for point one on the how humans are evolving (toward “mono-ethnicity”): No. We’ll find markers of difference and “othering” regardless of whether we all look the same or not. Or we won’t. But the alleged “mono-ethnic” trend isn’t going to take us there.Report

  18. LeeEsq says:

    S2: The 1990s was filled with all sorts of bands like Blind Melon, Sound Garden, and Live that kind of reach mass popularity but did not quite make it even though many still do tours. Others were really big but sort of faded past 2000 from mass consciousness. It was the last hoorah for their being a music mass market and rock bands doing massive stadium tours.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq Sound Garden, at least judging by their radio releases, doesn’t really belong with the other two. They were peppy Millennials in spirit if not age. (I did like Moon and Back, though.)

      Naming you band Live was a great way to discourage people from downloading your songs on Napster.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        I think you guys might be thinking of Savage Garden, not Soundgarden.

        Good golly, I hated Live (and it just occurred to me – how do we know it’s supposed to be pronounced like the adjective, and not the verb?)Report

        • El Muneco in reply to Glyph says:

          It was a bit offputting seeing Soundgarden thrown in with Blind Melon, but then they started in the city I graduated HS the year I graduated HS(*), and I’ve been listening to Seattle radio almost my entire life.

          I’m willing to consider that the rest of the country has had a different experience.

          (*) I’m still a bit peeved that I was away at college during almost the entire short time that grunge was actually cool. The Smithereens were already writing “Sick of Seattle” by the time I got established back home.Report

          • Glyph in reply to El Muneco says:

            I didn’t care much for Soundgarden when they were big…or, specifically, I liked the MUSIC, but I didn’t care for Chris Cornell’s singing style (which was just a little too throwback “Hammer of the Gods” for me at that stage of my life) and persona (I saw them play once, and Cornell came across as a giant douche). The only thing I’d admit to liking by them was the “My Wave” single.

            But much later, I realized that pretty much anytime “Outshined” came on the radio, I was really enjoying it, so I finally broke down and bought Badmotorfinger.

            And damn, that whole album is a terrific, psychedelic heavy rock record.

            But “Spoonman” still stinks.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Glyph says:

          Because Roddy piper didn’t kick their ass.Report

  19. Morat20 says:

    Looks like (per Kevin Drum) white death rates are spiking. Seriously spiking, like being seen in life expectancy figures,.Attributable to a very specific set of causes:

    The focus of this paper is on changes in mortality and morbidity for those aged 45–54. However, as Fig. 4 makes clear, all 5-y age groups between 30–34 and 60–64 have witnessed marked and similar increases in mortality from the sum of drug and alcohol poisoning, suicide, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis over the period 1999–2013; the midlife group is different only in that the sum of these deaths is large enough that the common growth rate changes the direction of all-cause mortality.

    That sounds like depression and despair. Heavier drug and alcohol consumption and suicide rates jumping? And why just whites? (Although I’d like to see comparative with other races — are whites jumping above blacks and Hispanics? Or coming up to the same rates? Or still lower?)Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Morat20 says:

      I looked into this a earlier today. About 60% of the increase comes from drug overdoses. The most obvious explanation is that Baby Boomers have used recreational drugs much more heavily than the Silent Generation did, not just recently, but for their entire adult lives. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when the Silent Generation aged out of the 45-54 and the Boomers aged in, death rates from drug overdoses in that age bracket increased.

      Suicides are up by about half as much as drug overdoses. Drug users have higher rates of suicide, though, so that may be part of the explanation there as well.

      Also, the mean age in the 45-54 bracket is several months greater than it was twenty years ago, which explains a bit of the increase.

      I’m not sure about this particular age bracket, but Hispanics have better health outcomes than whites on a wide range of metrics, including life expectancy and infant mortality. This is somewhat counterintuitive, given that they have lower SES than whites and lower rates of health insurance coverage than even blacks. Blacks still have much higher mortality rates than whites in just about every age bracket.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        That’s a fairly large increase — wouldn’t you see similar increases in the under-30 cohort leading into this, in the 1985-2000 years? (And honesty, given how the Boomers abused drugs in the 60s and 70s — or the cocaine fueled 80s– I’m not sure I buy that as a potential explanation. I’d also like to see what drugs are used).

        Moreover, wouldn’t you see similar jumps in blacks and hispanics? And larger jumps in lower income groups? A blanket jump in JUST whites, over such a large timeframe and age group, is odd.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Morat20 says:

          Oh, whoops. I assumed Drum was saying the same thing as everyone else, so I didn’t really read his post. He has a good point about deaths from these causes increasing in all age groups 30-60 (although 45-60, and especially 50-60 had the biggest increases). I don’t have an obvious explanation for the increase in younger demographics, unless they’re using drugs even more heavily than the Boomers did, or more dangerous drugs.

          According to the paper, blacks age 45-54 had lower rates of suicide, drug overdose, and liver-related deaths than their white counterparts (especially suicide, where they died at only 1/4 the rate of whites). Suicide I knew about. Middle-age and older white males have the highest rates of suicide by far. Drug overdose, I’m not sure. I think whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, but maybe not.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        In general, I’d think sussing out the relationship between “recreational” and “suicide” gets really tricky.

        What I mean is that I have a sense that the Boomer generation may well use more drugs; but a significant chunk of that use will debatably not be considered “recreational”, but simply an easily-prescribed generation (I say “debatably”, since of course your “I NEED this prescription opioid for my chronic back pain” may well be my “I COULD get by with milder analgesics, but this is frankly more enjoyable”.)

        Of course, there will be (have been) a lot of overdoses with prescriptions in general; some suicides will look like accidents, and some accidents will look like suicides.

        To the degree that prescription drugs are a cause, IIRC whites have a much easier time getting their hands on prescription opioids than people of color do.Report

        • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

          Also, I think opioids are metabolized in the liver – which means there is possibly some interplay between the deaths attributed to alcohol/cirrhosis and to prescription opioids (aside from the direct risk of mixing two CNS depressants).

          If your liver has reduced function due to drinking, maybe you are not metabolizing your pain meds as well (not sure if that would cause opioid buildup in the body, or further liver strain, or the user to take more pain meds than they should).Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Glyph says:

            And obesity, which contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I’m not sure, but I suspect that obesity and alcoholism work together to impair liver function. Liver fat is liver fat, right? It’s not like it’ll keep on working fine because half the fat is from overeating and half is from overdrinking.Report

  20. Brandon Berg says:

    L6 could do without the tin-foil-hat Marxism. It seems to me that the more plausible explanation, provided that you doesn’t start from the premise that everyone more successful than you got that way by being evil, is that people who love what they do are heavily overrepresented among the world’s most successful people. This level of success takes an amount of work that’s very difficult to sustain long-term if you’re not really into it. So they offer this advice not as some sinister plot to keep the masses in line, but because it actually did work for them, and because they have no experience being anyone else. People tend to assume that personal experience generalizes more than it does.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Also because it’s really true that the greatest loss in life short of losing loved ones is to lose the chance to do something that is genuinely soul-fulfilling that also pays the bills (or better). It’s the equivalent of being given a whole other life, if you can combine earning a living with genuine creative fulfillment. Then you actually get to have down time be down time, or more time with kids, or etc., rather than having to go the route of the Onion article to find creative fulfillment, leaving one with no genuine personal time, and almost always too burned out to ever really find creative fulfillment.

      People who have experienced that coordination in their lives say Do What You Love because they recognize what a great thing it is to have in one’s life, and they don’t want people to leave on the shelf the opportunity to find it simply by never even trying to, or never believing it’s an opportunity. It’s too great a thing not to pursue if there is something you love doing that you could plausibly make money at. You can always recover into another career if things don’t work out. You can never get backs chance to pursue what you love and are good at at the height of your abilities.

      I think what the article is decrying is an experience in corporate culture (I’m guessing here) where the phrase is used to do exactly what the author decries: devalue anyone who is there to do a job, rather than pretending to be so bought into the work of the company as to feel that one is doing what they love, whatever they’re doing there. I think the author makes that out to be more widespreD than it ideally is, but I’m guessing there is also ample basis for it in experience among corporate employees. The the my is, that kind of expectation can be put across by corporAte mangers in all kinds of ways; co-opting this price of life advice is just one means for doing so. The phrase, or the sentiment, itself doesn’t have at particular relationship with the All-In imperative of modern work culture. They’ll use whatever they need to to get people to buy into that. That’s. I good reason to decide that DWYL or follow your dreams are advice that devalues the work of people who show up for a paycheck. Doing that is an entirely separate decision.Report

    • I am sorta of a mixed mind in this sort of thing. Back when I used to go to conventions, I found it supremely irritating when I was at a panel for writers and the response to “What should I do if I want to be a writer” was “Don’t.” It was annoying and condescending and it wasn’t why I went to the f’ing panel.

      I’ve gotten older and I do sort of see the value in that kind of discouragement… sort of. A little. On a visceral level I still object, but mostly to the flippant way they talked about it. And I see limited (to say the least) value in active encouragement. If you really want to do it, you shouldn’t need that sort of encouragement. A realistic assessment is likely best, and is probably sufficiently discouraging.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

        I agree completely with this. I don’t have a problem with judicious discouragement (though often in practice I have a huge problem with it, especially if it comes in an academic setting where the person has already gone significantly down the path of hate dr dream they’d pursuing. OTOH, simply accurately depict the costs and challenges isn’t discouragement, it’s just imparting accurate information.)

        So, no problem with a bit of discouragement. My problem is with having a problem with encouragement. “I’m going to discourage people from going into my field, because I know it and I know the difficulties is one thing. There, you’re entirely in your own lane. “You’re doing something wrong by encouraging people to try to do something they love or pursue their dreams because that’s bad advice” is something else. That’s veering wildly into others’.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m not sure my comment was taken as intended. I’m not disagreeing with the claim that “Do what you love” is bad advice unless heavily and appropriately qualified. I just think the class warfare angle made this a particularly bad expression of a generally valid point.Report

      • One day I went on the national statistical webside and made a list of the top five jobs associated with each major field of study for each level of education (trades, college, university bachelor’s degree, and university degrees above bachelor’s).

        I feel like every university careers counselling department, and possibly ever high school guidance councellor’s office as well, should have something like that posted outside their door. It’s the short and easy answer to the question, “What are the probable results of studying this field?” Include some employment and unemployment rates for grads in that field, and median incomes, and you’ve got all the basic elements for an informed decision about your studies. (My chart showed that I made absolutely terrible decisions about my undergrad fields of study, when at the time I thought I was making rather good ones.)

        One surprise – a BA in communications (commonly mentioned as the epitome of a useless degree) appears surprising good in terms of the labour market. Jobs mainly in advertisting, marketing, PR, journalism, writing. As opposed to a lot of subjects (e.g., general humanities/liberal arts), where “retail sales” is the most common line of work.

        The same data I used to create the chart could show which fields of study were most likely to get you the profession (e.g., writer) that you wanted. It’s handy across the board. That kind of information would be tons better for making career/study decisions than the personality tests we all had to take.Report

  21. Michael Drew says:

    Do what you love is the only advice, but then I’m pretty sure we had that argument nearly two years ago when that lame piece came out. We need to go back and do it again?Report

  22. Stillwater says:


    In your side bar tweet you wrote about KeyXL: So victory for the sake of victory, and cutting emissions isn’t goal of target of climate change. Alrighty.

    I don’t think that’s what the author is arguing. In fact, the opposite. The intent was (and remains, I guess) to change culture more than specifically to reduce emissions produced by tar-sands extraction (say), and the writer agrees that anti-XL activists accomplished that.

    Adding: btw, I love that we have a twitter sidebar, and I click thru those linkies regularly. Nice addition to the site.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

      My “victory for the sake of victory” comment was a nod to the described tactic. There is no tangible direct benefit to the environment here (possibly the opposite, though unrelated to emissions). Rather, the win is a win for its own sake. That they won, Big Oil lost, and so the needle was moved regardless of how intangible the actual benefit was.

      I agree with the President (albeit from the other side) that this largely became a symbolic issue for all involved. Not that symbolic issues aren’t important, but they also aren’t what they aren’t.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m not a fan of that author, and I started off very skeptical of what he was saying. But e piece ended up convincing me entirely. Maybe not of the rightness of the Keystone fight, but of the validity of the points he was making to defend it. Specifically the need to develop models of activism that work in your issue area when and where you can (if you’re an activist). The bus boycott example makes that point well. Is it crucial that the bus boycott maybe had more tangible immediate impact on transit policy in Momtgomery than Keystone XL has in emissions? Not at all. That point is purely diversionary. What’s significant in each case is the model of activism model, not the size of the immediate impact.

        Perhaps the larger discussion is whether climate activists should give up supply-side resistance entirely. Maybe they should, but no one’s ever going to get them to. It’s a strategic commitment. Given that, it’s a mischatacterization to say that piece says that the aim of climate activism isn’t to reduce emissions. What it says is that the only goal of attacking fossil-fuel extraction projects isn’t cutting emissions. That’s the goal of some who do that, but others have th goal of avoiding the local impacts of these projects. Keystone is a model of successfully marrying a set of interests that are aligned in resisting these projects into successful activism. From the perspective of any of those interests – those ingerestd in lowering emissions who believe that supply-side action is a vital strategic component; those seeking not to have land despoiled by them, etc. – such a model of activism is a very valuable success, even if this individual project doesn’t advance the ultimate goal very far.

        It’s probably a productive discussion to have about whether the supply- side part of climate activists’ strategy is justifiable at all. I don’t think it gains anything to try to question the value to activist movements of tactical and coalition-budding successes. That’s basic to movement-building.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Michael Drew says:

          Perhaps the larger discussion is whether climate activists should give up supply-side resistance entirely.

          Michael Cain would prolly know the exact numbers, but NPR told me that something like 40% of the remaining untapped energy reserves in the US are located under federal lands, and I believe there’s legislation in the works to make it harder if not impossible for energy companies to extract it in the future. I think part of the argument is to cut down on supply in order to squeeze the inevitable shift away from fossil-fuels. Which strikes me as a supply side argument.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

            Yeah, as someone who falls generally (though not uniformly) on the pro-extraction side of things, there are fights to be fought (on the supply side) that tangibly matter in ways KXL doesn’t.

            Federal lands is one of them. Allowing export is another.Report

          • …something like 40% of the remaining untapped energy reserves in the US are located under federal lands…

            I might have guessed higher than that: everything more than three miles offshore; the federal land holdings in the West; on the order of another 100 million acres where the feds have disposed of the land but retained the mineral rights (eg, most of the land given to the railroads in the 1870s). Not just oil, natural gas, and coal, either. Most of the uranium and thorium reserves are on federal land. Some of the best wind resources in the West are on federal land (as well as offshore wind in the Atlantic). There’s significant undeveloped conventional hydro in the West (significant in terms of the size of Western Interconnect demand), but much of it’s unavailable because it would affect lands held in trust by the BIA. Lots of the best places for commercial-scale solar are federally owned. By far the best geothermal resource in the country is Yellowstone National Park :^)Report

    • The amusing thing is that Transcanada could have very quietly built the added capacity years ago along existing right-of-way, using an existing border crossing. Instead, it looks like they just drew a straight line with no regard to what that crossed. I’ve always assumed that Dick Cheney told them “Just use the straight-line route, we’ve got your back.” But the route was such that it pissed off some of the Native Americans, and cut across one of the few pieces of real estate that the Nebraska environmental groups would care about particularly. That got it caught up in the courts, and the Nebraska state government, and before things got settled Dick wasn’t in position to have anyone’s back.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Fascinating, and very explanatory as to why it became a valuable fight for climate folks. They won’t have success resisting FF infrastructure projects just by advancing the climate argument alone. They’ll have to leverage local resistance that, while probably not indifferent to climate, is ultimately interested in local effects of the infrastructure itself. I’m not sure this is what initially motivated Bill McKibben et al., but I think it’s a big part of why it became a durable cause.

        The issue, then, should turn to whether, in general, FF supply-side resistance is a valid arena for climate activism. To put it more concretely, whether the arguments for why axing KXL won’t have a big impact on emissions will be generally true, and thus that whole side of the strategy abandoned, or whether over time that will be something that helps some FFs be left in the ground by raising costs of traction, etc. If that’s the case, then this success seems like a clear foothold from which to pursue that strategy.Report

  23. Kolohe says:

    Making Keystone XL a precedent is great news for all those sh*tty countries that produce oil who have terrible labor and environmental standards (which are most of them)Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

      That’s unfair to Texas. Slightly.Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Kolohe says:

      The key thing to note about the tar sands is that they are about as energy inefficient as you can get. The amount of energy it takes to get a barrel of oil out of the tar sands is more than the energy that’s in a barrel of oil. And the energy used for extraction is generally provided by other fossil fuels like natural gas.

      The tar sands are not an energy source; they’re an energy sink. They’re only being used because we don’t run cars on natural gas.

      I’m Canadian. I’m aware of the short-term benefits of the tar sands to our economy (unlike oil pretty much anywhere else, extraction is labour-intensive and actually does improve employment). But given our awareness of the effects of climate change, ramping up tar sands production is deeply foolish (and providing rapidly declining benefits, given that the price of oil is now falling, and the costs-per-barrel of tar sands extraction are higher than the costs for most other places). The current slump illustrates the shortsightedness of basing Alberta’s economy heavily on oil; doubling down on the oil economy now would only make things worse.

      EDIT: Mike’s point is also correct – at this point, the US produces more oil than Canada does. Ramping up domestic production is more likely than ramping up imports. US production has risen rapidly in the past 10 years, and imports have plummetted. Although ideally, using less oil would be better than increasing production.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to KatherineMW says:

        The amount of energy it takes to get a barrel of oil out of the tar sands is more than the energy that’s in a barrel of oil.

        I’m having trouble verifying this. Most of the sources I find say that this was the case back in the ’70s, but the efficiency has improved dramatically since then, and is now over 5:1. An environmentalist source said 3:1.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          And besides, there’s the concept of transportability. A barrel of oil is an incredibly dense collection of energy, that’s easily transported or changed into other energy dense forms.

          Whereas the local reactor might not be so terribly easy to truck around, plug into your car, or turn into plastic.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Kolohe says:

      That’s not… a terrible thing, is it?Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Michael Drew says:

        US oil imports from Nigeria have nearly zeroed out due to the increase in North American production on the world market. Nigerian oil production is the worst in the world in terms of worker exploitation and local environmental degradation. If we reverse the trend of increased North American production – where governmental regulation is fairly sound – we go back to more of the global market where it is not.

        Last week, we were concerned about workers in far off places. Today, not so much, it seems.Report

        • Michael Drew in reply to Kolohe says:

          I don’t think the argument made about people working in the developing world with few protections is usually that the best thing to do is to seek to directly shrink the industries in their countries that employ them. Or maybe it often it is, but it’s certainly not the one I make. It’s more often, I think, an argument to seek protections for them that, if they happen to shrink those industries, maybe that’s okay to accept as a necessary cost depending on the size.

          On the environmental side, this is much the same. The logic of helping Nigeria deal with the local consequences of an oil economy is not to shrink their oil industry. It is to promote standards that can be applied there while the industry remains profitable. I would also guess that the local environmental cost is significant regardless of the quantities flowing, since the infrastructure remains in place and operating even if they are lower. I would have to be persuaded there is much local environmental benefit to having a huge oil infrastructure in place but running at low capacity compared to having it running at higher (but manageable) capacity.

          I’m guessing the best case to be made to activists is that having the production run through places like Nigeria is emissions-positive compared to having it run through developed economies’ infrastructure. So are you broadly advancing this argument to climate activists: that in fact they should be looking to centralize FF production into developed economies as much as possible because their extraction, refining, and delivery practices are cleaner, their workers better protected, and they produce less atmospheric carbon? That seems like an incredibly difficult sell, and I don’t recall seeing any advocate that was bold enough (or smart enough?) to try it re: Keystone XL. But maybe it’s the right argument; it certainly seems like the argument you are making (i.e. I don’t where its logic is limited to the specifics of any one project or controversy).Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

          Last week, we were concerned about workers in far off places. Today, not so much, it seems.

          World Bank: Global warming will drive 100 million people into poverty.Report

  24. Stillwater says:

    University of Missouri president quits after faculty walks out.

    The list of student demands is interesting. In order, they are:

    1. That UM President Tim Wolfe “acknowledge his white male privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exist.”

    2. That he be “removed” from the University Presidency.

    3. That certain structural changes to the institution be made, outlined in demands III-VIII.

    Interesting stuff!Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

      Hoping to get something up about this by the end of the day.Report

    • Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

      Here is the full list of demands. The first one concerns a letter they want Wolfe to write.

      This is the most interesting one to me:

      V. We demand that by the academic year 2017-2018, the University of Missouri increases the  percentage of black faculty and staff campus­wide to 10%.

      In practical terms, that’s going to be very difficult.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        I have to admit that I found it very interesting (in an irritatingly nerdy sorta way, no doubt) that they their first demand was that Wolfe publicly acknowledge his white privilege and so on, followed by a demand that he be fired. It makes me chuckle a bit.Report

        • Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

          Yeah, I get what they’re saying, “Admit your faults, endorse reform, then resign,” but they worded some of it poorly.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Stillwater says:

          Like, I’m sure the guy has tons of privilege, and I hope that everyone with privilege is willing to admit it. But this tactic, to expect him to get up and make some bogus public pronouncement — it just seems like the wrong approach.

          He probably shouldn’t be fired. I’m not sure if he should resign.

          People are handling this the wrong way.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        From some conversations I’ve had in schools about have people of color on the faculty and staff, admin tends to address the issue by focusing on the latter group. They’re usually happy to hire Black janitors and Hispanic maintenance men… hell, sometimes they prefer to because those people are “good fit”. It is addressing the issue among the faculty where suddenly it becomes an issue. Now, I realize that “staff” at a university usually includes a broader range of professions. However, there is still something troubling about an institution that concentrates all its “diversity” among the “staff”. When they do, it is often ‘easier’ to meet an expectation like that, though usually does very little to address the actual issue (and can just easily exacerbate it).

        ETA: PK-12 schools typically have three groups of employees: faculty, admin, and staff. Some people will occupy distinct roles in multiple camps (e.g., an assistant principal who teaches a math section). And there tends to be a two-tiered system of staff, as some people do administrative work but are not given administrative authority so they are considered staff but still occupy a different space than other staff (e.g., the janitors, the maintenance workers, the cooks). This last group tends to be where ‘diversity’ is concentrated, for reasons of various degrees of nefariousness and legitimacy. I’m not sure how this compares to universities.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Stillwater says:

      It’s pretty easy to cast that as the horrible SJW/dumb college kids/leftist tolalitarianism thing, but digging into the link it looks like there’s a lot of meat on the bone. There’d have to be, honestly, if the faculty walked out on him.Report

  25. notme says:

    veronica d: People are handling this the wrong way

    Given that these folks are naïve SJWs, did you really expect them to handle this well?Report