Linky Friday #142: Plumber Payday


Will Truman

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

Related Post Roulette

278 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    L1: Safety is a cost in business.

    E2: High achieving students also do better when they are in a class that consists of only high achieving students rather than a mix of different achieving students even if they are well behaved for similar reasons.

    E3: I don’t find this especially useful because the comparison is between elite SLACs and highly selective research universities like Harvard and company. A more interesting study would be is how to elite SLACs compare to non-elite research universities.

    M1: So Bloggingheads is about to enter it’s rebellious teenage years when it does not to discuss the matter at hand but sit moodily in the corner.

    M2: Relatedly, I always wonder why local businesses do not take advantage of new technology to make high quality commercials for televisions. Ads for local businesses are rarer these days but the production quality hasn’t improved at all from the 1980s.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    P2: Psychologists aren’t the best people at designing IQ Tests. Besides, enough people break IQ tests that I’m inclined to believe that they work mediocrely well at best.

    Knowing someone who has tested as an idiot, and then managing to complete a full college curriculum in physics, may have a little to do with my idea that IQ tests really aren’t as good as people think they are.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Do not fly Allegiant, noted.Report

  4. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    E5: I’ve got to get on the road in a few minutes, so I haven’t finished the article.
    But I’m pretty sure he gets gaydar wrong in the first paragraph.Report

  5. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    The linked article demonstrates why people like me are so wary of IQ discussions.
    He writes “higher IQ scores are predictive of more occupational success, higher income, and better physical and mental health. Perhaps the most arresting finding is that IQ scores taken in childhood are predictive of mortality: smarter people live longer, and this association is still there after controlling for social class.”

    Wow, IQ is awesome! Higher income, longer life, better physical and mental health! The only thing it doesn’t do I guess, is make you thin and sexy. But it pretty much means that high IQ people are better somehow, than others.

    But then he writes, “Another mistake is to think that anyone has ever claimed that an IQ score ‘sums up’ a person; this is another falsehood, since all IQ researchers would readily admit that personality, motivation, and a host of other factors—including luck—are all critical for success in life.”

    Oh. So all this longer life, better health, higher income stuff- is it attributable to IQ, or a “host of other factors”?

    All he keeps telling us is that these good qualities are somehow correlated to IQ. But which is the cause and which is the effect? He doesn’t say.

    Here is the nut- “It would be foolish to deny that there are any skeletons in IQ testing’s closet. “

    This is an understatement on par with saying its unwise to enter into a land war in Asia or go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

    Yeah, the skeleton is that right here, right now, in America in 2015, genetic determinism is still popular, the idea that there is an aristocracy of immutable qualities which predetermine and justify the current distribution of power and wealth.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      In case anyone is confused by this comment, I just want to remind people that the Republicans are the real anti-science party.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        It isn’t the scientists who are making the claims about IQ; its the laypeople who see it as a convenient tool to turn it into the 21st century version of the Divine Right.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          Whatever you gotta tell yourself to resolve the cognitive dissonance.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            And this from the person who trusts off-their-rocker researchers and whackos on the internet to talk about IQ and Racism…

            I trust the fucking free market, because those hypotheses actually make money.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Exactly right. The people who are claiming the over-reaching importance of IQ aren’t coming up with what we should do policy wise if they happen to be correct.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            But its even bigger than that- the stuff about IQ is just data points, with no conclusions.
            “IQ is associated with this or that.”

            OK, so what do we make of this? The reason there isn’t any conclusion is that in order to form a policy out of this, one needs to draw upon theology and moral norms.

            For example. Suppose we discovered conclusively that people with red hair were demonstrably less capable of reasoning than others.

            What do we do about it? Consign red haired people to life as servants and menial laborers?
            Or institute an assistance system where, like people in wheelchairs, we provide them with forms of assistance to come out the same?

            We can’t answer that without confronting our notions of how we feel about humanity.

            In most theological formulations, all humans are declared to be equal children of God. So that provides justification for the positive duty to help those who are physically disabled.

            The meritocratic arguments crash on the rocks of this reef. They point towards the beacon of some form of aristocracy of merit, where rewards are doled out strictly in accordance with True Merit.

            But the concept of True Merit doesn’t exist in theology. We are all broken and insufficient beings who can find our fullest selves only in cooperation with others, in the full and uncritical acceptance of each other.

            So what’s really lurking under all this IQ and Meritocracy stuff is an unresolved and bankrupt concept of humanity.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              The original piece linked draws no normative inferences whatsoever. It’s a bunch of purely positive claims about IQ and its predictive power, all of which are supported by empirical research.

              All those normative inferences are coming from you. Maybe you need to ask yourself why you’re making those jumps.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Why indeed.

                Why do these sorts of pieces keep being written, and why does anyone outside of professional psych community pay attention?

                It is was just a bunch of data points about the correlation of fingernail density and blonde hair, who would even bother to read it, much less link to it on a blog about politics and culture?Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Policy wise?
            Fuck Equality.
            Nuff said.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Chip, what you’re complaining about in the article is the part that mirrors real life. Humans are rarely if-A-then-B. Higher IQ is obviously related to success, but it doesn’t determine it, and a lot of other things affect success too. Does any of that surprise you?

      Kim is wrong if he ignores the value of IQ tests. Genius often shows up unexpectedly. Anyone who has known a wide variety of people realizes that. It’s silly to write off IQ tests; it’s silly to treat them as perfect predictors; it’s silly to get angry at an article that tries to walk the middle ground if that middle ground is where the truth lies. I have no idea who Brandon is pooping on or why, but I’m going to guess that he’s being silly too.

      There are educators in this country who have over-emphasized IQ tests. My impression is that that hasn’t been happening in the past few decades though. There are definitely people these days who disparage IQ tests without looking at their predictive ability. The OA was right to point out just how good they are at predicting individual success.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        IQ tests can be a useful tool, but when used in public debates there are usually crap. They have some predictive power but when used by psychologists what is often more useful is the many sub-scales in the test. They are used, well, to determine if people have learning disabilities or are have special needs. When they are used precisely they can be useful.

        When used as the one number that show intelligence that goes beyond their usefulness due to us not knowing exactly what they are measuring, their are likely multiple types of intelligence, that whole correlation v. causation thing and the many factors that might lead to high or low IQ.

        IQ tests are used well for some things, but when they enter political arguments they often go into some less than pretty areas which i think is what Brandon is alluding to.Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott says:

          There are not multiple types of intelligence, at least not in the way that is usually claimed. That’s a myth based on wishful thinking, and deserves to die.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            It’s been a while since my cognitive psych days but i’ve never heard such a strong dismissal of multiple intelligences nor do i see where it’s warranted. Tell me more or point towards some links about where you are coming from.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                As with many things, it’s often helpful to take a look at the edge cases.

                Empathy/Social Skills — I’m quite certain we’ve all known someone lacking in them (me, if no one else). Innate social skills are almost a hallmark of lack of intelligence — and yet, they’re clearly a different form of intelligence.

                Photographic Memory — this is a talent that I’m pretty damn sure doesn’t have much to do with g. Is it intelligence? Yes, of a sort, I think. It’s a masterful spatial recall and memory.

                Facial Recall — some people are obscenely good at this, others are really poor at it. It seems like an aspect of intelligence.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Interesting even if only a wikipedia article. The problem, as noted in the article, is defining intelligence. Are we talking about skills or aptitudes or intelligence and what is the difference between them. Relating this to the IQ discussion, someone can have an average IQ but have certain superior skills.

                BTW, if people don’t know, IQ tests have several sub scores which focus on specific attributes. The overall IQ number is often less important that the sub scales, since they will point to specific deficits, needs and strengths.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                IQ tests tend to focus at the lower ends of the spectrum, in terms of the skills they are testing.

                Because of this, they’re uniquely BAD at measuring actual IQ, the ability to be cognitively flexible and bridge things that you aren’t good at.

                My friend who has honestly tested as an idiot has also honestly tested as a genius (probably a different test, mind. LD kids take a lot). He uses two’s complement to do math, because he can’t learn his times tables…Report

            • Avatar Alan Scott says:

              @greginak , the wiki page does a decent job of summing up a lot of the problems with MI. The vehemence of my reaction is because I’m studying education, and MI is used to support a lot of bad teaching philosophies, methods and habits.

              It encourages people to treat things that are skills that can be learned and developed as innate talents that people either naturally possess or don’t–And as someone whose undergraduate training is in the fine arts and whose graduate work is focused on math education, that tendency hits closest to the subjects I care about. It encourages teachers to treat failure to learn as inability to learn, and leads to a slightly different version of the intelligence caste system that Gardner developed MI theory to oppose, and that Chip Daniels is arguing against elsewhere in the thread.

              People believe it because it feels fair. The idea that in every idiot there must be a savant, and that every professor is absent-minded. But it leads to people praising the creativity of children who aren’t necessarily creative just because they are bad at math and reading–that’s not good for their ability to figure or read, and it’s not good for their ability to be artistic either. It leads to an acceptance that phenomenally smart children ought to have poor social skills, which helps us paper over the ways in which the social dynamics of our schools are horrible to anyone who is different and promotes the sort of toxic-antisocial nerd culture we see in phenomena like Gamergate.

              Most frighteningly, because assessments that purport to determine the various intelligences are actually tests of interest rather than aptitude, they can seriously reinforce damaging divides across race and gender. One particularly horrible example I came across is a teacher who, after testing their class, had determined that the students of color were all kinesthetically or musically intelligence (because they were interested in basketball and rap) while the white students were linguistically and mathematically intelligent.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                The problems you’ve seen don’t surprise me. I think part of the conceptual problem is in just defining what intelligence or attitude or skill mean. That is one of the underlying issues with using a measure of “intelligence.” It is partly semantics but still important if aptitudes are what we mean when we say intelligence. Two people with 100 iq can have very different skills/aptitudes only part of which is based on their interests and the nurture which they have received.

                People want to fall back on on IQ being a measure of Brain Processing Power or some such which has issues. I’m not invested in Gardner’s theory of MI’s and i’m not up on the research. I think there is, or was, enough data to show that IQ isn’t the 1 key measure of some in born BPP and there is more to intelligence than that.Report

          • So all you people who can’t do higher math, you’re just plain dumb. Sorry about that. I used to give you credit for verbal and social skills, and other sorts of analytical abilities, but apparently that’s not so.Report

            • Avatar Alan Scott says:

              Something like that.

              What’s fascinating is the wide variety of circumstances in which people who claim to be bad at math and perform badly on math tests suddenly become a lot better at math when you trick them into thinking the math they’re doing isn’t math.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          I could see that happening, but I don’t think the OA did it. Anyway, that’s a secondary use. We shouldn’t badmouth a data source that can be used correctly for its primary purpose simply because it can be used incorrectly for a secondary purpose. That’s anti-science. It’s the very definition of anti-science politics: denouncing accurate information on the basis of perceived point-scoring.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            Yeah i’m for using IQ testing for what it works well for and only within what it can do well. It is still not uncommon, within psychology and in the public realm, for people to use measures for tasks they aren’t suited or normed on. I’m speaking about more than just IQ tests, but knowing the history of how testing has been misapplied is vital to avoiding those same mistakes.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Greg’s bang up on target here.
          My friend the physicist mentioned above has severe learning disabilities. Dyscalcula, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, coarse motor skills…

          Population wise, temperature is a key indicator of high IQ (remembering the 10 generations principle). But try getting a fucking university scientist to say that. (I know the type of people who administer IQ tests over cellphones, and use the world’s cellphone using population to gather data. That’s getting a better sample than most universities do).Report

      • Pinky! Great to see you back.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        ” Genius often shows up unexpectedly. ”
        … not if you know what indicators to look for.
        High IQ is caused by particular, testable, quantities (note: we’re actually not saying genes here).

        [Some of these same quantities make monumentally fucked up people, who are often geniuses anywho, so it’s not a 100% thingy.]Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    P2: Many (though by no means all) of the originators of the tests were involved with the eugenics movement in the early 20th Century

    It’s funny how many people who raise this objection self-identify as “Progressives.”Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Is this funny in the same way as Republicans who crow about being the “party of Lincoln”?Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Not seeing the analogy. I’m referring to the fact that the historical “Progressive” movement was the source of much of the drive for eugenics in the US. If IQ testing is tainted by association with eugenics, then so is “Progressivism.”Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          I actually agree, that its important to note that the Progressives did in fact contain a lot of awful ideas within their good ones. (That is what you meant, right?)

          But life is like that. Our moral norms implemented into social policy often get mingled with ugly agendas.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            The Progressives of a hundred years ago also contained many of what we would now call SoCon’s and racism was endemic to society not just a part of Progressivism. The label doesn’t mean the same thing it means now, which i’m sure people know…..oh wait it’s a childish bit of mud slinging.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              oh wait it’s a childish bit of mud slinging.

              Yes, that’s my point. It’s childish mud-slinging, just like claiming that IQ testing is discredited by the fact that people used it improperly a hundred years ago.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Well at least you read the last sentence of my comment. The use of IQ has a nasty history, everybody who studies goes over all that. It is pretty basic to learn the history of tool and how it was used and misused to use it properly in the future. If people today sound like they are misusing it in pretty much exactly the same way people misused it in the past, that seems pretty striking and worth noting.

                IQ tests have uses, good uses. But using them to “prove” things about “races” in general has a seamy past and is highly questionable.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                I read your whole comment. All of it was consistent with you missing the point of my original comment entirely.

                Look, if you want to talk about the correct way to interpret IQ tests, and how some people are doing it wrong, that’s perfectly respectable. I imagine I would agree with much of what you have to say there. The problem is that Chip and many of his fellow travelers are engaging in FUD and straight-up denialism regarding IQ testing and its predictive power. That’s what the OP is responding to, and it’s a real problem.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Of course IQ has predictive power. The problem is we aren’t sure what exactly we are predicting and what are the underlying causes.Report

              • Avatar dexter says:

                @greginak, If I remember correctly you work in the mental health field and I was wondering how much different negative aspects of life could drop one’s iq. For example, would being hungry have a detrimental effect? Also, I read Spanish at about second or third grade level and wonder how much mine would drop if I took a test in Spanish.
                I know the points I got on two different iq tests. One I took under good circumstances and the other under very bad conditions. On the less than ideal time my iq dropped eight points. So could taking the test in a quite safe school as opposed to a stressful place have a beneficial effect?
                While I think iq tests are good for some things they don’t tell one everything and like life on earth they are necessarily fair.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                There is quite a bit research on that kind of thing i believe, although i haven’t looked at in a long time. There are many subtle things that can change test performance even, i believe, down to the specific instructions given by the administrator and the demographics of the administrator.

                Once classic example, which i barely remember, is native alaskan kids, who lived in very remote communities, taking iq tests where some of the examples involved musical instruments like violins, or trains or big cities, things which they had no experience with at all. They performed poorer because they had no knowledge of the contents even when the contents of the question weren’t that important per se. It is very difficult to write tests that don’t have subtle cultural biases and those biases do affect test scores.

                Certainly taking a test in a language that you don’t’ have command of would seriously harm your results.

                To do an iq test well the administrator of the test just doesn’t give the test. They need to assess things that aren’t in the test like the behavior of the person or how nervous they are and other things. A good tester always includes caveats about why someone may not have done their best. Most of my experience in the last 10 years has been reading iq tests on children with behavior problems. There are lots of reasons why kids with behavior problems don’t’ test well that have nothing to do with their intelligence.

                This feels like a long rambling answer to your simple question. Testing is difficult and the best practitioners are cautious with interpretation. The effect of being a poor test taker or subtle cultural biases or having behavior problems might only be 5 or 10 points but that is still a lot. 100 +- 15 is where most people will score so even a handful of points can be significant.Report

              • Avatar dexter says:

                @greginak, Thanks a bunch. That is exactly what I was looking for and I appreciate the time it took to reply.
                I was kind of wondering if, with the proper instruction and prep time, you could raise a kid’s iq and I think you answered that question with a resounding yes.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                @dexter No problem. It definelty can be done with SAT’s. It could be done with IQ, i’m not sure how much exactly, but i’d bet a few points at least.Report

              • Avatar Alan Scott says:

                It’s also worth noting that IQ isn’t actually fixed, and improves with education. So instruction can definitionally raise a kid’s IQ–studies of Finnish HS students suggest that an additional year of education raises IQ by 3-4 points.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer says:

                The natural follow-up question to this is, “How can we know that IQ tests aren’t just a measure of a fluency with elite culture, which we’d expect to be correlated with all the positive attributes trumpeted by IQ’s proponents?”

                Genuinely curious to hear someone take a heartfelt stab at that one.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Well there are decades of discussion and research about what “intelligence” means and what the measures we have actually measure. Tests, all of them, are products of and bound to the culture in which they are produced.

                Are they just cultural fluency, i doubt that very much. IQ tests cover more then just culture and do get down to various types basic thinking. Is there one measure of central brain processing power; eh not sure about that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                RE: the one measure bit:

                No, there sorta can’t be, if you give it a bit of thought. You gotcher conceptual, abstract reasoning, yer logical-deductive reasoning, yer reading-comprehension and levels-of-fluency based reasoning, spatial reasoning, inferential reasoning, instrumental reasoning (which includes practical application type stuff), mathematical reasoning, etc. I take it that those are the things people who want to talk about this stuff view as being constitutive of intelligence. And presumably – at least according to one view of things – all those things are measurable in such a way that we can eliminate the culturally based noise which might give corrupt the data.

                I’m not sure that can be done, and I mean that on the deep level. (Like, a test which excludes cultural and idiosyncratic aspects of the test and testing structure seems very, very unlikely.) Within a culture, tho, and amongst people who are similarly acculturated and educated (etc) – that is, a test-pool in which the cultural/idiosyncratic factors are +/- constant – I think the tests do, and will, tell us something interesting about future economic performance, for example.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I haven’t really heard too much about a theory of the One Intelligence To Rule Them All, but insofar as it’s a real thing, I wonder if it’s origins are similar to Chomsky’s intuitively compelling idea that languages must all share a universal grammar.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                The basic problem is defining what intelligence is. Lots of ideas around that. Then figuring out how to test it is a whole nother kettle of fish.Report

              • Avatar James K says:


                Are you familiar with Raven’s Progressive Matrices? It’s very hard to see how performance on that test could be cultural fluency.Report

              • Like most puzzles, they’re far easier if you’ve seen things like them before. I recall that some of the computer games we bought when the kids were small involved very similar concepts.Report

        • As is the nation of Iraq, because it contains both “I” and “Q”.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          If IQ testing is tainted by association with eugenics, then so is “Progressivism.”

          So IQ testing is an “ism”, attempting to project an ideology onto the world?

          I didn’t think you’d concede so much BB. 🙂Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    E1: I am not fully sure of this but I might just be thinking of exceptions that prove the rule. There are lots of people who come to the arts late in life as both appreciators and artists. Gauguin worked as a stockbroker before becoming a painter and he was a good stockbroker according to Dr. Wikipedia. There are lots of people who set to make their money first and then pursue arts.

    E2: Disruptive kids are disruptive but I don’t think education should be mainly focusing resources on high-achieving kids. There are also lots of studies that regular kids and maybe even slightly struggling (but non-disruptive kids) do better in mixed classrooms with high-achieving students.

    E3: I have to subscribe to read the WSJ article. Again, this raises the question, what is the purpose of education and is earning more money the be all and end all. As a resident grad of a small liberal-arts college, I would say that many of my classmates are doing fine academically. I do admit that I also know people who are still temping and freelancing in their mid-30s but they seem to be pursuing psychic benefits to their work over material benefits. Here is the thing about SLACs that always seems to get lost in the mix, they often have self-selecting student bodies. When I was in law school, many of my classmates attended Cal or Santa Cruz and other large universities. These are great schools but my classmates admitted that the large lectures were a feature, not a bug. They liked attending classes where they could skip out most of the time. Many SLACs are looking for something different. I did not want to sit in 500 person lectures. The psychic vs. material benefit of a job/profession (or college major) is one that we are not having and need to have. Though psychic benefits are hard to graph.

    E4: I think this is common knowledge. The problem being that this just creates overglut as well. Pharma majors are a good example here. A Harvard or Stanford MBA is still rare. MBAs from most other schools, not as much.

    P3: I largely dissent. Competition is good but I think that Competition Uber Allies/Oliver’s barely hidden Social Darwinsim is damaging to the soul. I am not sure of the zeal of some economists/libertarians that brutal competition is the only way forward.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      The psychic vs. material benefit of a job/profession (or college major) is one that we are not having and need to have. Though psychic benefits are hard to graph.

      I agree. There’s a real problem with the way tax policy penalizes those who choose work with high pay and low psychic benefits, and privileges those who choose work with low pay and high psychic benefits, even when they have comparable opportunity. It’s a tough problem, though.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      The quasi-Darwinian argument embedded into P3 is an old and familiar argument. “Life isn’t fair, so suck it up and accept the current distribution of power/ wealth”. See the IQ article for a taste of this.

      But of course, if this argument is accepted, it leads inevitably to places where its proponents wouldn’t like.

      For instance, suppose life IS Darwinian.

      OK, great- lets you and I get together with a bunch of others, and confiscate the wealth of the 0.1%, and force them to work for us as slaves.

      What, that’s not fair?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Life isn’t fair always struck me as a very vapid and insubstantial argument. People say that “life isn’t fair” when an unfairness that they happen to like is pointed out to them. An unfairness that they do not like is, of course, a great injustice that needs to be remedied. Most people do this at one point or another even ostensibly liberal people.Report

        • Avatar dexter says:

          to everyone, I will probably never think life is fair as long as home sapiens exists, but I might think it is a little fairer if I never again see this: google “the vulture and the little girl”.Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          Seems like a fact that liberals either have trouble accepting or they want to change since everything in life ought to be fair.Report

  8. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    [P3] I will admit to having only skimmed this as I rapidly found it to be privilege-blind-meritocratic, society-does-not-exist twaddle.

    I think life is not fair, not because I’m some crybaby who thinks I should get all the participation badges, but because I recognize that privilege exists.

    I recognize I did nothing to earn my healthy birth to well-educated, gainfully employed, physically and mentally well, caring, white parents in a first world country, my subsequent access to first-rate education and health care, nothing to earn my own continued physical and mental health, that of my parents, that of my daughter, all our continued safety from war, pestilence, and natural disaster.

    I’m going to go right out on a limb, and guess that Oliver Emberton has enjoyed all of these advantages as well. But he thinks life is quite fair. I think he sounds insufferable.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      That’s entirely orthogonal to the points he actually made.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        The people he’s addressing also had most/all of those privileges, and still think they’re not getting their due. Yeah, Chinese peasants and citizens of the Congo actually did get screwed over by life’s lottery, but there aren’t many of them reading his piece.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          I don’t think there are a lot of mostly privileged people who don’t think they’re getting their due reading his article either though. I’d guess his readers are mostly self-satisfied successful folks seeking confirmation that other people are less fabulously successful than they (his readers) are, not because they lack many of the readers’ privileges, but because they are less deserving and waste their time whining about ‘structural racism’ and ‘insufficient support for the disabled’ and ‘crushing healthcare expenses’ instead of getting off their insufficiently entrepreneurial butts and raising venture capital.

          Because to believe that the section of the social ladder they were born already above is missing rungs, might obligate them to contribute to its repair, and they don’t want to have to believe that. They’d rather believe without checking that everyone could just put one hand above the other and find a rung there waiting to take their weight.

          In other words, he’s writing something “addressed” to a strawman demographic that don’t read him (and whose very existence is immaterial), so that his readers, whom he is actually addressing, can feel good about themselves.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      The problem I had with P3 was that it was so broad-brushed that you could say that every statement in it was true, but the opposite of every statement in it was true as well. “On some level life is a competition. On some level life isn’t a competition.” And so on.Report

  9. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    E2: Writing as a former smart kid, this is self-evident. I was a military brat, and so experienced a wide range of school districts. Some saw smart kids as a responsibility, helping them (us) to achieve as much as we could. Others regarded uniform mediocrity as their mission, and saw smart kids as a resource to help them drag up the lower end. Even in elementary school I recognized the difference, and resented the schools that used me as an unpaid educational resource.

    What we have here, however, is merely an apology for the charter school strategy of cherry picking, then bragging about their results. Note the division of the deserving from the undeserving poor (a profoundly unChristian concept, if that makes any difference). The unspoken assumption is that society has little if any responsibility to those judged unworthy.

    What is the solution? Enough resources devoted to education that we don’t need to decide which group to toss under the bus. Education as a conduit for the redirection of public funds to private corporations? No so much.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Black students at Princeton want the school to dismiss their connections to Woodrow Wilson. I gotta say that this one leaves me feeling mixed.

    Wilson’s racism was horrible, even by the standards of his time. Yet his accomplishments included the Clayton Anti-Trust Act, establishing the Federal Reserve, the League of Nations (though he could not get the U.S. to enter the League), and appointing Brandeis to the Supreme Court at a time when appointing a Jewish person to the Supreme Court was beyond the pale for most.

    I am rather disappointed that article on Wilson don’t mention Brandeis.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      TNC had a good input on this. Getting rid of Wilson may not be a great idea, but there should be some acknowledgment and understanding of who he was. Just talking about the important stuff he did is no more complete then trying to wipe his memory from the campus.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        If you get rid of Wilson, you can forget about him. If he’s there, you have to confront the fact of his existence every day.

        Our failures should be public, and our triumphs private. That keeps attention focused where it has to be for us to become better.Report

    • Wilson’s racism was horrible, even by the standards of his time.

      He was a reactionary on race, by the precise meaning of the term. He undid some of the few remaining accomplishments of the Reconstruction era, things that had been around for 40 or 50 years. It’s as if someone nowadays wanted to do away with the Voting Rights Act.

      Wait …Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

        Historians disagree on the question, though lately the liberal-left has been attempting to re-unite on the position, joining or re-joining the likes of Glenn Beck and Jonah Goldberg, who tie Wilson’s racism to his progressivism, and, in this connection, never tire of reminding the world of Planned Parenthood’s racist-eugenicist pedigree.

        According to the historian linked above, the policy of segregating the Federal workplace had commenced under prior, Republican, administrations, following the decision in Plessy v Ferguson (1896), which bore directly on state laws, but was characteristic of the era. The most well-remembered statement on race by Wilson’s successor, who extended and expanded segregation, was “Racial amalgamation there cannot be.”

        Wilson’s biographer John Milton Cooper reviews the record, does not restrain himself from strong criticism of Wilson’s policy and attitudes, but finally concludes that Wilson “essentially resembled the great majority of white northerners of this time in ignoring racial problems and wishing they would go away.”Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Or more simply racism was endemic to society at the time so trying to pin it all on one ism or the other is wrong and more about mangling history for point scoring. Even if Wilson was no worse that doesn’t mean that shouldn’t be openly acknowledged and represented at a school that has his name all over it.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          I took John M. Cooper’s U.S. History 1877-1914 class at Wisconsin. Old-school lecturer, but a fun listen.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I forget: are we supposed to evaluate historical figures by the standards of their day or by the standards of today? If the latter, almost every historical figure you thought you admired is a subject of some kind of shame.

      Why can’t we accept that the past, like the present, and the people who inhabited the past, like our contemporaries and indeed ourselves, were flawed, morally ambiguous people? Is this so hard?Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Standards of their day vs. Standards of Today. Which one? Both. Each are important and shouldn’t be ignored. Of course people in the past were flawed. That, seems to me, should be part of the lesson in how we understand monuments or named buildings. Stuff was named after Wilson when race was looked at very differently. That is also part of the lesson, he was seen as one thing but now we see that differently. Aiming for a fuller understanding of important people involves seeing both their success and failures which is certainly hard to do in the space of the name of a building. That is where a deeper interpretation might involve everything from changing the name by adding someone else’s name, historical markers and exhibits showing where they were and where we are now.Report

  11. F2: If he were my uncle,I’d do my best to hide it.

    Anyway, what he seems to be proving is that women in Red states marry younger. Which, given that delaying marriage is associated with education and career-building, is unsurprising, though not necessarily something to boast about.Report

  12. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    W2: This is Cain bait, right?Report

  13. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Gunman shoots up Planned Parenthood in Co Springs, quite possibly has some hostages.

    This guy hates us for our Freedoms, right? No, it’s that these types of events are the price of our Freedom, yeah? Shit, I can never remember which narrative is the one to best explain away these types of things. Well, except for the “too soon to politicize the event” narrative, of course, cuz that train is always on time.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Course, as Rubio told us recently, God’s law takes precedence over judge’s decisions, so maybe this person isn’t actually guilty of anything, ya know? To say otherwise is UnAmerican.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Oh, for fuck’s sake.

        I’ll see everybody next week. Have a happy Thanksgiving weekend, all.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          That’s exactly how I feel, Will.

          But let’s wait to see what really happened. Then ensure that there’s not correct time to talk about this shit. Or the guys who shot the BLM activists in Minneapolis. Or the AK-wearing Texan who protested Muslims. Or Trump! and Carson and King and rabid xenophobia and in general. Nope. Nothing to see there.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Man, that Rubio quote sure is being disingenuously bandied about.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          I don’t think so, myself, so I’d be interested in hearing you explain why my use of it here is incorrect. I mean, I read the other words surrounding the specific ones I referred too, so ….Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Well, first let me ask you — have you seen the video the quote was lifted from? Or have you just read the one line about God quoted?

            If you haven’t, go watch it. If you have, let me know and I’ll explain.

            (Not trying to be a dick,even though I get I might be sounding like one. just don’t want to go too far down a rabbit hole until I know we’re actually talking about the same content. And indeed, maybe I’ll do an OTC post on it.)Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              Is it the Brody File interview? If so, more context here:

              In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.

              That’s a perfectly fine defense of freedom of conscience, other than the examples being cheap pandering. No one has been ordered to stop preaching the gospel, though people have been told restrict their preaching to appropriate circumstances, e.g. not as a public school teacher speaking to his students. And a clerk issuing a marriage license is not performing or presiding over a marriage. Now if he’d said “Keep quiet about illegal government spying on its own citizens”, “cover up evidence that a police officer committed murder”, or “torture a prisoner of war”, he’d have been making some excellent points.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Is it the Brody File interview? If so, more context here:

                In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin, violate God’s law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin.

                Um… Well, yes, that’s certainly more context than just the one oft quoted line.

                Care to go ahead and add even more?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                That much I can cut and paste. I’m not a fast enough typist to transcribe well.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Then allow me…

                In the interview, Brody is asking Rubio why if he is against same-sex marriage he still insists that Kim Davis’s office needed to grant marriage certificates. (This has been a big campaign thorn for Rubio on the Right.) Brody is saying that he thought he (Rubio) had said that this was because it was now “settled law,” and Rubio interrupts and says:

                Rubio: No, it is current law, not settled law. No law is settled law. Roe vs. Wade is current law, but it does not mean that we don’t aspire to fix it because we think it’s wrong. And in the interim — until we can can get a Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade — we do everything possible within the constraints the [are] placed upon us to confront it and certainly limit the amount of abortions and save as many laws as possible.

                I think the broader question is, “What is our role in confronting it?” And again, if you look at Biblical lessons, the first thing is we are clearly called to adhere to our civil authorities. But that conflicts with [something] that we adhere to God’s rule. When those two come in conflict, God’s rule always wins in essence.

                If we are ever ordered by a government authority to sin, to violate the law and sin, if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage — as someone presiding over it — we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that. because government is compelling us to sin.

                Brody: That’s what King David said.

                Rubio: Right. So in the absence of that, however, then it depends on what kind of society you live in. If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called upon to participate in that process to try to change it. Not ignoring it, but changing the law. And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here.

                Bolding mine, obviously.

                Now, you might well disagree with Rubio on the two litmus tests of abortion and same-sex marriage. (I do.) But it’s pretty clear that he isn’t saying — in any conceivable way — that he’s going to ignore SCOTUS rulings because God says so. He’s saying that when he finds a law unjust he will work within the confines of the law to change the law.

                (For those interested, the video clip the quote comes from can be found here.)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Rubio was tossing out a trope to the base, not a serious statement meant to be understood by intelligent people.

                He knows and means exactly what Tod is saying here, but the base wants and needs to hear the distortion.

                Its all the base wants anymore. They have been fed so much crap over the years, they can’t tolerate anything else.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Ah, the “intelligent people”. Of course they don’t think that way do they? No, the “intelligent people” think like you do.

                Wouldn’t it be much better for everyone if the unintelligent people were not allowed to vote, or maybe to hold jobs, or, hell, why don’t we “eliminate” the problem with unintelligent people all together? That’ll fix society’s problems.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                You have confused me with a libertarian.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                No, I’ve identified you as one of those people who think that “intelligent people” only think in ways you agree with or approve because, by definition, those that think differently aren’t intelligent in your eyes.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “If we are ever ordered by a government authority to sin, to violate the law and sin … [snippy] … we are called to ignore that. We cannot abide by that. because government is compelling us to sin.”

                Hmmm. I’m sticking with my story that the above is what he actually said. Ie., that God’s law is above judge’s decisions. I’m agreeing with Mike S that his saying this is pure pandering to the base, but also a dangerous form of pandering.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Ah, so we’ll just be magic-ing away everything else he said, the context of the question, and the fact that he’s answering why he’s repeatedly gone on the record insisting that Davis’s office granting licenses even though he thinks they go against God’s law?

                Well, hey — knock yourself out.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                No, not magicking away, but rather reading his words.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                … but ignoring most of them.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                No, Tod. The other things he said are just a description of changing laws which a person disagrees with: change the legislation, make compelling arguments in court to change judicial rulings, etc. That stuff is just a description of how laws are changed in a civil society. But then the threw in this little bit about ignoring and not abiding by laws which are viewed as a sin.

                Presumably, everyone already knows that he’s talking about Christians here, and the good kind, ya know?!!

                Nevertheless, in the additional bit we’re talking about, he’s explicitly saying God’s law is above laws imposed by the state, and that people are called to ignore or not abide by them. You don’t see a problem there?Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                No, I see the David Barton-ization of journalism.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                {{But Rubio actually said that people are called to ignore or not abide by those laws…}}Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                What else did he say that it’s important to note he said?

                We can all read/hear what was said, but unless people say what they think was important in it that others are ignoring, we won’t know what important parts/context people think are being ignored when others say what they think was important. It’s just… You’re ignoring stuff!!!

                So… what are the important parts being ignored?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Everything that doesn’t fit into your narrative?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I don’t believe I’ve given the faintest hint that I have any particular narrative in mind with respect to this story. I’d just like to know what the important things he said that you think are being ignored are.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


                How about the part right before the “proof” that Rubio intends to ignore the law, when he says you have to remain in the constraints of it?

                Or how about the part right after the “proof” he’ll ignore the law, when he says you change bad laws, not ignore them?

                Seriously, all of you. FFS.

                I’m outta here.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Heh. I just read this.

                Good on ya, Tod.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Tod, the narrative I’m talking about is the one that leads to three dead and nine injured because “No more baby parts.” And Rubio’s pandering reinforces that type of bullshit. As did Carly’s morally insane (tho politically advantageous!) lies.

                Adding: and the list of dangerous rhetoric doesn’t end there. I could start a list of insane views expressed by the GOP candidates which pass for legitimate.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I missed this comment until now. Answers my question.Report

              • He’s actually paraphrasing what Lincoln said about Dred Scott correctly, which is as far as I know unique among GOP candidates. You’re right, that’s impressive. (It’s pathetic that it’s impressive rather than expected, but that’s not Rubio’s fault.)

                But I’d already said that I agreed with his sentiments, while disliking his examples. So I think we’re in violent agreement.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                The problem is with your examples, @mike-schilling :

                Now if he’d said “Keep quiet about illegal government spying on its own citizens”, “cover up evidence that a police officer committed murder”, or “torture a prisoner of war”, he’d have been making some excellent points.

                None of these makes sense substituted for what you called “cheap pandering”: Each one of the examples you give is already of illegal activity, so introduces no contradiction between human (or temporal) and divine (or higher, or universal, etc.) law. The contradiction would appear only for someone taking the opposite view in each case: That he or she was commanded by some higher moral or natural or divine law to ignore illegal spying, or to ignore murder, or to resort to torture. These views are in fact rather common, at least in popular culture, which often takes the side of the hero who bends the rules in order to deliver justice or protect the innocent, frequently against some villain trying to take advantage of the letter of the law in order to escape justice.

                The closest of the three examples to presenting a relevant contradiction is the third one, but it still depends upon unspecified assumptions about the acts in question. Still, the more apt comparison to Rubio’s (one might hope) unlikely hypotheticals would be equally hypothetical: laws requiring soldiers or others to engage in torture, or denying people the right to speak against torture or what they believe to be torture (preach their “gospel”).

                In other words, Rubio is explaining or re-explaining a perfectly mainstream, moderate view of liberal democracy and the rule of law, to an audience (among others) that may need reminders.Report

              • Snowden had to break some very serious laws to reveal the truth about NSA spying. If he hadn’t fled the US, his punishment would have made Kim Davis’s week in lockup look like a Caribbean cruise. We have yet to see if any of the cops who covered up the murder of Laquan McDonald are going to be punished for that; I’ve not read about any that refused to participate in that (and none came forward to report it) on religious grounds. Torturing prisoners was not only legal (thanks to John Yoo) but policy under the Bush Administration.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                As for 1: Your example specified “illegal government spying on its own citizens.” So, as stated, it refers to someone standing up for the law, not defying it. To my knowledge, the vast bulk if not all of Snowden’s lawbreaking concerned revelation of legal or at worst legally ambiguous activity. His defenders do seek to invoke a conscience or higher law exception of the same general type that Rubio is supporting, but that’s not what your example described.

                As for 2: I seem to recall a bit of a religious pedigree for “thou shalt not kill.” Religious and secular law often coincide, and all so-called secular law eventually points back to fundamental precepts whose bases are presumed unquestionable, so occupy the same place as divine commandment.

                As for 3: Rubio’s very mainstream, post-Nuremberg view would support a refusal to torture as well as to protest it. I do not know of anyone, however, who was forced to engage in torture, or who was prevented from criticizing Bush interrogation policies. (Also, I believe that under the Yoo/Bybee theory, “Enhanced Interrogation” was not only legal, it was not “torture.”)Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              I haven’t seen all the video – a couple minutes I think – and I also read about it.Report

  14. Avatar Zac says:

    Nothing like a good statistical gut check:

    What Whites Don’t Know About RacismReport

    • Avatar SaulDegraw says:

      Why is there such a vast discrepancy between CNN the website (good) and the channel (lowest common denominator and then lower?)Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      That whole article is pretty eh. The underlying problem is this: I don’t get the sense that Tim Wise really wants to apply his own logic unilaterally. Rather, it largely serves to privilege one set of beliefs over another and, consequently, one set of policies over another.

      What defines a policy as working or not working is whether it accomplishes the intended goal without imposing a cost that does more harm than the policy does good. Sometimes good policies conform to pre-existing conceptions of the good and sometimes they don’t.

      The idea that “white denial” is the preeminent civil rights issue is an implicit statement that advancement for black and brown folks has to come through some form of white benevolence. I find that notion suspect at best.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Of course we dont. That is why we need reeducation, maybe classes, write an essay and give our money for liberals to waste.Report

  15. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    S5: Just saw this now. Exactly right.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      Or exactly wrong. Buying clothes is consumption. Period. You have to severely alter the definition of the word investment to make any semblance of an argument that buying expensive clothes is an investment. And even then, the argument is solely metaphorical.

      Also, the idea that quality is necessarily equatable to price is flat out false. In the world of high fashion, you are almost always paying an incredible markup for the marketing, the PR, and the rents in high-end retail districts before you even approach the actual cost of making the garment.

      And then there is this:

      To restore that balance, the price of the clothing we consider purchasing should be high enough that it “hurts” at least a little

      Isn’t this the very definition of Puritanism?

      This is a pretty good example of something that I call hipster ethics, which is when people take personal aesthetic choices and try to rationalize them into normative ethical arguments. It always fails, because aesthetics is not ethics.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Of course it is. Maybe you could post another picture of the $200 shoes you were so proud of again?Report

    • The goal is to spend at least $150 on each item of clothing.

      Do these socks work? It’s well over $100, but you get four pairs.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I think there is hyperbole in the argument. But I do like interesting socks like ones produced by Anonymous Ism and Paul Smith over boring white or black tube socks. Plus I tend to go for all or mainly natural fibers which costs a bit more. I don’t like wearing polyester or acrylic.

        The other thing I do is wait for things to go on sale usually unless I think it will sell out. So maybe the original cost of a paid of a shirt was 150 but at 40-70 percent off, you can get it for less.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I have seen stuff that I think is overpriced and not worth it though but you have to look. A 100 dollar pair of socks can be made of 100 percent silk or cashmere,Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      As opposed to linking to Breitbart, which is always a great way to change people’s minds.Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        The messenger doesn’t change the facts. Would you prefer to see it from mother jones? What is your preferred liberal mouthpiece?Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          What is your preferred liberal mouthpiece?

          Did you really just ask me that?

          More proof that you are a bot.Report

          • Avatar notme says:

            And you just expected me to roll over after your silly question?Report

            • Avatar j r says:

              Roll over? What the eff are you talking about? Are you really that lacking in self-awareness?

              You post a link criticizing protesters for an attention-seeking action that you think is unlikely to change anyone’s mind and, yet, your entire presence on this blog is dedicated to attention-seeking comments that are unlikely to change anyone’s mind.

              And you accused me of having a preferred liberal mouthpiece? Do you even read other people’s comments? It is obvious that you are not here to have anything resembling a conversation. You are just here to act out.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                That’s odd as you seem more interested in decrying breitbart than in having a conversation. How will interfering with shopping change minds?Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                How will you spamming this blog change minds?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                Why do you think they’re protesting to change minds? That wasn’t mentioned in the Breitbart article.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                I assumed that they want change and to get change you have to change other peoples’ minds, right? Or is this protesting without a tangible goal in mind?Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Plus ive read some of the nyt coverage.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yeah, there’s a goal. THey want an investigation into police conduct after the shooting: cops falsified reports, tampered with evidence, went to a private business and deleted video from its CCTV system, etc. They also want to know why the video wasn’t released until the day before cop was sentenced, why the DA (apparently) drug her (I think it’s a her) feet/potentially obstructed during the internal investigation of the incident, etc. They want a federal investigation and prosecutions if warranted. That’s the justice they’re seeking.

                They’re also calling for Rahm’s job over this, which ought to make you happy, but he’s such a disaster the case against him is overdetermined at this point.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Rahm has been a raging dumpster fire of a mayor.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                And still no answer to the question: How will interfering with shopping change minds?Report

        • The messenger doesn’t change the facts

          The messenger generally invents its “facts”.Report

          • Avatar notme says:

            Which facts were invented in this case? Fools interrupting shopping to protest? Nope, that’s trueReport

            • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

              May be, but the Breitbart enterprises are openly and proudly ideological. Anyone who links to Breitbart outside the Breitbartiverse has to pay the Breitbart tariff, which rises the further from Breitbartopolis you travel. So, if you find something interesting in Breitbartia, it’ll go easier beyond the borders if you verify it somewhere else.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Yes but so what? I listen NPR everyday and think they will at least get the facts right even if they put their lefty spin on it. BB make come from the right but I think they’ll get the facts right. Earlier in the thread JR stated his disbelief in BB and I asked him which liberal mouthpiece he would prefer but never got an answer. The facts won’t change.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                Earlier in the thread JR stated his disbelief in BB

                No. I didn’t.

                I stated my disbelief in you being an actual sentient being.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                And there was as little excuse for it then as there is this time around. Really.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                It’s okay. It’s what I’ve come to expect from most of the liberals here that claim that they want civil discussion.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                You hear that, jr? You’re a liberal now.Report

              • Avatar j r says:


                Someone calls me a liberal and implies that I’d rather get my news from Mother Jones and I am supposed to take that person seriously?Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                What makes you think any particular person here is or should be up to date on your political views? When did knowing “j r”‘s political views or sensitivities become a qualification for sentience? I guess I must not be sentient either, or worthy or being taken seriously by you, since prior to this conversation I wouldn’t have known what your politics were. Sorry.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                No one needs to know anything about me, so let’s drop the faux outrage/more magnanimous than thou thing. The reasons that I don’t take @notme seriously are obvious to anyone, whether they choose to act on them or not.

                That said, two things:

                My initial comment had nothing to do with political perspective. It was pointing out that @notme was criticizing protesters for acting in a manner quite similar to his or her commenting style. I was curious to see if he or she had the self-awareness to recognize this fact. The results are there for everyone to see.

                Also, when someone’s immediate reaction to a perceived slight against Breitbart is to assume that the person is a Mother Jones reading leftist, then, yes, I question whether that person is a thinking, reasoning human being as opposed to some manner of partisan sock puppet.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                You objected to BB so I jokingly mentioned Mother Jones as a media source from the other end of the political spectrum. I asked you what media source would have better “facts” but never got a civil answer.Report

              • Avatar j r says:


                Again, I didn’t object to BB. I objected to you.


                As others have pointed out, I don’t care that @notme thinks that I may be a liberal (a term that of which I am quite fond) or even a leftist (of which I am not fond). That is not the point.

                My personal opinion is that @notme is a troll. I see no indication that he or she comes here with any interest in having a discussion, rather simply to provoke a response with some cartoon version of conservatism. While I don’t think that notme is actually a bot, I do wonder if he or she is some manner of sock puppet.

                Generally, I don’t interact with notme, but in this instance I legitimately wanted to know if he or she could see the irony of the comment. I have my answer and will now go back to my former stance of ignoring him.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Though come to think of it, you do remind me of another person who might have gone by the initials “j r” that I used to know at another site. It’s been a good while. Are you that person?

                And who cares if someone calls you a liberal? Is it really such an insult? Can’t you just explain to someone who makes the mistake where you stand? When you start off attacking a favorite target of left liberals here, and for having linked to Breitbart, you come across as something other than a committed Breibartian conservative. So, it’s a reasonable guess that you might be a liberal. You’re objectively liberal – in favor of discussion with liberals – compared to some combative conservatives. Nothing to be ashamed of in my view.Report

              • Avatar Mr. Blue says:

                JR has been around this site for a while, and commented quite a bit.

                I’m surprised that you aren’t able to identify him as not being a liberal. But even if everybody here isn’t familiar with everybody else, you’d be in the wrong to dismiss what he says because he’s a liberal when he’s not. Especially when it’s not somebody who is new.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                When did I dismiss anything anyone has said because of his or her political views?

                As I look through JR’s commenting archive, I don’t see a strong ideological stance – which is also fine with me – and, as I just got through more or less saying a couple of comments ago, I don’t care whether JR is a liberal or a conservative according to whatever liberal or conservative definition of liberal or conservative JR or anyone else prefers. Since I don’t particularly care, and since JR doesn’t seem to make a habit of advertising JR’s political affinities – or now says “No one needs to know anything about me” – why should I know? JR just said no one needs to know. Why should notme know? Why should notme’s or my not knowing, or drawing the wrong inference based on a limited evidence, justify a personal attack?Report

              • Avatar Mr. Blue says:

                You didn’t. Notme did by suggesting that if he objects to Breitbart he’s probably a Mother Jones man.

                I’m not sure where I would place him exactly, except not to the left. Which around here makes him practically right-wing.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                @ck-macleod – The “bot” jibe was presumably in response to notme’s go-to shtick of throwing out the word “liberal” as an epithet in, like, every third comment – even if the topic is, I dunno, “fluid dynamics”.*

                If every other comment of mine manages to work in that ****8YoU can make $98/hr WORKING FROM HOME!!!, you may start to wonder whether there’s actually anybody really on the other end of the line, there.

                “What are you, some sort of automated script?” is a pretty mild and justifiable jab, when the person in question keeps reliably-repeating the same words over and over, regardless of the topic at hand, or who they are talking to.

                In a quainter pre-internet time, we would have called this behavior “sounding like a broken record”. It’s perhaps mildly insulting to say, but sometimes you gots to at least try to push that skipping needle back into the groove again.

                *OK, if I look at the commenter archive, it’s maybe every 5th comment. And I couldn’t find one on fluid dynamics. I am, in fact, employing hyperbole.

                But only slightly.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                So the reciprocal shtick is to call me a bot?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                AFAIK, this is the first time it’s been employed. But yeah, I can certainly see it becoming a thing – if you are highly-predictable, people are probably going to comment on that predictability. It happens.

                Switch up your game a little, keep people on their toes, man!Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I didn’t think it was possible to divide shtick. I mean of course multiplying it is fine. Must be the common core math.Report

              • Avatar Alan Scott says:

                Dude, really?
                after all the times you’ve gotten huffy when someone calls you a conservative because you consistently champion conservative views, you’re going to pull the “why is this a big deal” card when someone accuses JR, of all people, of being a lefty?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Because for certain folks around here, it is all about obfuscation and scoring points. Not necessarily in that order.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                Dammit, jr, you made me shoot beer out of my nose.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                It’s okay Zac, I’m still here despite your fervent desires to the contrary.Report

              • Avatar Zac says:

                As the great philosopher Mick Jagger taught us, you can’t always get what you want. So I’ve settled for enjoying watching you make a fool of yourself on a regular basis and the commentariat pointing out what a tool you are in response. By all means, keep up the good work. I’m making popcorn.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                You and I differ, then, as I think that on a news question NPR is more trustworthy, and also that quoting NPR on a news question is less likely to invite suspicion and incite attacks. I don’t know or care what liberal mouthpiece JR would prefer. I also don’t know or care whether JR is a liberal or leftist. However, it’s quite possible even for people who don’t think of themselves as highly ideological to distort the seemingly simplest observation in order to suit pre-conceived or prevailing narratives.

                In this particular instance, it would have been easy to find mainstream reports on the Black Friday protests that wouldn’t force left-liberals to click to Breitbart (with which they have a relationship of mutual spite verging on hatred), and, as important for conversation, wouldn’t give them an easy way to avoid the topic.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I can’t figure out the topic. Protesters seeking attention by disrupting highly visible events attended by lots of people? It’s almost as though they’re behaving like protesters. Is that being avoided, or do most people simply not find truisms all that interesting to discuss? At least, it appears from this thread they find discussing fools and criticizing people for calling fools fools more interesting than discussing truisms. I don’t think that’s surprising, or has much to do with sources fools might use to raise truisms as political gotchas (it’s as though someone decided that fire trucks being at the site of a fire was a good piece of info rm with which to criticize fire departments).Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                I don’t see the connection between stopping folks from shopping and getting those same people to endorse your demands.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Actually, there are many ways to produce a protest that do not involve disrupting people going about their lives or already dealing with levels of inconvenience and discomfort in order to achieve particular ends. You can organize a march or public gathering or other “demonstration” with advance notice. You can try to “be the change you want to see in the world.” You can perform civil disobedience, and take the inconvenience, or even the danger, onto yourself – and impose inconvenience or disruption upon people more directly responsible for what you’re protesting.To aim to disrupt “business as usual,” as we used to say, is an escalation over merely gathering together or marching. It involves trade-offs, and, if poorly considered, may do more harm to your cause than good, depending upon how you believe your goals can be achieved.

                Some observers may conclude that BLM and associated activists has adopted poor tactics – not just here – for winning the sympathy and support of people not currently in sympathy and support, or for retaining and strengthening sympathy and support. If BLM et al don’t care about winning or retaining sympathy and support, then that might be an additional unsympathetic attitude. It raises the question of what BLM’s theory of political or legal change is, and whether it might deserve to be opposed, even by people initially sympathetic on the underlying cause.Report

              • Avatar j r says:


                Re-read your comment on this protest and then re-read @notme’s comments. Notice the difference and know that has been my point all along.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Gee, I thought your point all along was that I failed your personal version of the Turing test and what this “proves.” I tried to have a discussion with you about what your preferred source of facts but never got an intelligent response.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                I tried to have a discussion with you…

                This, then, is our primary point of contention.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Your very first response to me was, “As opposed to linking to Breitbart, which is always a great way to change people’s minds.” So instead of actually addressing my comment you decided it was better to ridicule the link. That’s hardly what I would expect from someone that claims to take the high road. And as I pointed out before, BB or another source won’t change the facts about what the protesters are doing.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                I don’t claim to take any road, but I will ask you this one more time:

                Do you honestly not see the irony in criticizing protesters for doing the very same thing that you do here?Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                See there you go again changing the subject from the protesters to me. You clearly never wanted to have a discussion about my comment. No, you wanted to use this as a means to criticize me. Why should I further your end game by participating in your diversion and making this about me?Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                No, you wanted to use this as a means to criticize me.

                Now, you’re getting it.

                Why should I further your end game by participating in your diversion and making this about me?

                To demonstrate that you have some self-awareness as to your role at this blog. I ain’t holding my breath, though.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                That’s lets me know I’m on the right track and should keep up the good work. I won’t change a thing for you or Zac. It is sad to see a place for discussion be used for personal attacks.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                That’s lets me know I’m on the right track and should keep up the good work.

                And yet you pretend not to understand the Chicago protesters…

                I will just point out to anyone paying attention that @notme’s mode of discourse has become quite common, especially on the right. Pretend not to understand what people on the other side of the political spectrum want, while simultaneously pursuing the same tactics. And be purposefully antagonistic and dismissive of the so-called mainstream conversation right up to the point where someone calls you on it and then retreat behind the protections of polite conversation, the very thing that you were trouncing a moment before.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                I honestly don’t understand the protesters. I’ve been asking the entire time how interfering with peaceful shoppers will get those same shoppers to support the protesters’ demands.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                And so I am asking you how you think your particular style of commenting will get other commenters here to change their minds or even lead to a particularly interesting conversation?

                Your whole presence here is basically

                stick it to those liberals

                where liberal is defined as anyone who takes exception with something you say.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                that blockquote is a mistake, meant to italicize.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                And it has been pointed out to you that they may not be seeking those shoppers’ support. And their own statements confirm this.

                Since I’m watching football, I’ll make a sports analogy. At the end of the Giants game, they were down a score with only enough time for one play. They went for the ol’ Stanford Band play. Your line of questioning would be akin to saying, “Why did the Giants think lateraling the ball backwards would help them get a first down?” It ignores any and all context and assumes a goal that the party never acknowledged pursuing.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                how interfering with peaceful shoppers will get those same shoppers to support the protesters’ demands.

                To answer this question: It might, it might not. Every public protest has a catch-22. If it want’s to gain visibility & get people to pay attention, it has to do something that will achieve that goal. However, that something stands a pretty good chance of being annoying as hell to people who would rather be doing anything else other that having their time wasted by a protest.

                Some protests do a good job striking that balance of being visible and heard, while not being a major PITA.

                Others… not so much (like, for instance, the BLM protestors who marched through a campus library & accosted & insulted people studying for exams).

                To learn if the Chicago protesters were successful, we’d have to ask the people who were effected by the march.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I don’t think I said there are no other ways to protest.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      From the link: “The aim is to do as much economic damage as possible while drawing attention to perceived racism and abuse by the Chicago Police Department.”

      Will they be effective? Who knows. But their intent is clear and attempting to effect change by disrupting wallets is a tried and true approach.Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        1. Disrupt shopping 2.? 3.Change police. It helps when there is an actual link between the wallet and the change in the desired policy.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          They are attempting to first draw attention to the matter. I’m sure more people know about the issue now than they did before Friday. In that regard, they were wildly successful.Report

          • Avatar notme says:

            “I’m sure more people know about the issue now than they did before Friday.”

            Really, any proof to back that up? It’s not as if the protesters were handing out flyers with info. No, they were just stopping shoppers. Personally, I’d be surprised if it were true given all the publicity that the story has gotten in Chicago already.Report

            • I only learned about it through this “discussion”, so by that measure Breitbart and its fan notme are the protesters’ best friends.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                You really haven’t heard about this whole issue before now? If you say so. Two of my main news sources, The NYT and NPR have had quite a bit of coverageReport

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                What is your point exactly? That the protestors might have chosen a less-than-ideal strategy? And if they did, so what?Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Yes, they have IMHO chosen a less than idea strategy. If I really were the person some here think I am, I would be gloating. However, I think some of the questions raised about the investigation are legitimate but will be lost in the mix over their tactics.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well, maybe if folks like you focused on those questions instead of the tactics…

                You are doing exactly what @j-r is criticizing you for.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                We’ll have to take this up tomorrow as it’s bed time.Report

              • Avatar notme says:


                Folks like me? Yes I think it’s a legitimate question but I don’t think that it is relevant enough to me to take up free time I have. Id rather spend it playing with my child. To be honest I don’t think this is a case of first degree murder given the fact that you have a guy waiving a knife at cops.Report

              • Avatar notme says:


                I wanted to make sure you knew I responded to your question.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                If I really were the person some here think I am, I would be gloating.

                If you were the person that I think you are, you’d be concern trolling…Report

  16. Avatar Dave says:


    What made you think you were going to hate S4?Report

  17. Avatar Michael Drew says:


    Also, it’s just the Imperial March, not the Imperial Death March. The Galactic Empire were villians, but… maybe not THAT evil? Not sure. I know that’s been a topic of discussion of interest at times.Report

  18. Avatar notme says:

    CK MacLeod: and also that quoting NPR on a news question is less likely to invite suspicion and incite attacks.

    Of course quoting NPR is less likely to invite attacks given that OT is lefty. I asked JR which liberal mouthpiece he wanted to read about the foolish protests from but never got an answer just attacks.Report

  19. Avatar aaron david says:

    Wow, it sure is impressive the amount of glory that EVERYONE in the latter part of this thread is covering themselves with. I mean, lordy, lordy, the intellectual rigor that has gone on here is massive!

    Bunch of god damn children.Report

    • There’s a simple solution which dates back (at least) to Usenet days:

      Don’t feed the troll.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The best thing to do is to ignore him, or anyone like him, but this is a.) difficult, because it requires everyone’s participation, including people who just got here, and b.) risky, because it is all to easy to at least try to use this tactic on someone a bunch of regulars just don’t like or whose politics they don’t like or whatever, and c.) because of the possibility of (b), problematic in that it adds to the perception that the site is skewed away from a particular corner of of the political spectrum.

        If we don’t ignore him — and again, it’s almost impossible to get everyone to do so — we’re stuck engaging him on some level. I can’t think of any actual conversation here to which he’s productively contributed, so having a productive conversation with him is impossible, which means that all engagement will be unproductive, and it’s very easy for people to get frustrated, both within a particular conversation and over time, and as a result, say not nice things about him. Many of these things are true, of course, but we the culture of this place is, at least ostensibly, centered around not saying not nice things, even if they’re true, so someone will react to the person who says not nice things, and then we get a conversation about how to converse with the little monster. Then we get someone who gets frustrated with the meta-conversation (which will always be the same, at least in the abstract), and we end up having a conversation about conversations about conversations. Then someone pops in like I’m doing now and it gets even more meta.

        So how do we deal with him, knowing that ignoring doesn’t really work community-wide and is risky and problematic anyway, and knowing that it’s impossible to engage him productively and many attempts to engage him will derail any productive conversations that happened to be going on at the time? This is the dilemma of the not-quite-troll who violates basic community mores in an inevitably disruptive way, and I think that in a community like this, it is an unsolvable one, at least without violating those same mores in even more egregious ways (e.g., by banning or treating him so terribly that he’ll be compelled to leave). So we’re stuck with these sorts of conversations until the little monster gets bored with us.Report

        • If we don’t ignore him — and again, it’s almost impossible to get everyone to do so — we’re stuck engaging him on some level

          Which cheapens that discussion and the site in general. And rewards the troll, who’s only here for that. So don’t do it.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Well, I have been successfully ignoring him for months, though I occasionally allow myself to get drawn into these meta-conversations about him, which is not to my credit I admit.

            I truly believe that’s the best way to deal with him. But it has to be done very carefully, lest we choose, as a community, to ignore someone less deserving of being ignored than he. What’s more, how do you talk other people into it? Some folks here can’t seem to help responding to him, even after he’s shown himself to be not worth responding to for what? a year? Two? How long has he been coming around saying “liberals!” and little more? Long enough that pretty much everyone who comments regularly knows what he is, right? Should we yell at them? Should we have one of these conversations every time they respond to him? Should we ignore them when they’re responding to him?Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Hmmm. I don’t think notme is a troll so much as a person who wants the discussion to stay at a pretty transparently political/partisan level of debate, and in particularly insofar as doing so advances the interest of the Cleekish segment of conservative voters. Ie., the comments and links are always criticisms of Democrats and liberals Doin It Rong. Which is fine, it seems to me, as far as that goes. The problem is that it doesn’t really go any further than that, which can be frustrating when really important facts and such are apparently deliberately ignored in service to Cleek’s Law (like the stated goals of the Chicago protesters, which are easily found on the interweb) which creates a dynamic comprised of the rejection of discussion. Now, if your beliefs about this stuff align with someone like CK, you believe that the mere presentation of a view – not matter how factually inaccurate or internally incoherent or reflexively partisan (and that includes isms like the (absolutely silly!) ones he adheres to – suffices for that view to be taken seriously and treated as if it were as legitimate as other, well argued and better defended, views.

          But that’s not what this place is about, or at least it’s not the ideal we all like to hold in our heads, where the OT is a place for well reasoned discussion and the public presentation of evidence and argument which make all of us better thinkers about complex issues.

          We don’t live up to that ideal in oh so many ways. And not merely because many of us actually do view complex situations thru our own highly-distorting ism-based filters. The bigger problem is that so many of us (being smart people and all!) have developed overly simplistic “explanatory” meta-isms which we reflexively use to categorize other people’s expressions as being purely ism-driven. So often enough, people aren’t actually speaking to each other, we’re speaking to what our meta-isms believe to be true of each other.

          So, as far as communication in a dialogue is concerned, I don’t have a problem with notme specifically. I have a bigger problem with people like Jaybird, to be honest, (or CK!!), who seems incapable of hearing what I or others say without reflexively interpreting those words thru their own ism-based other-ism-filter. (I need a word here to refer to this phenomenon. Ismatizing, or something.)Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            This is another risk of not-quite-trolls like our little monster: when the conversation becomes sufficiently meta, other people get brought into it, by name or by implication, and shit can go south really, really fast. Nothing good can possibly come of it.

            And while we can’t lay the blame for other people’s behavior at the feet of the not-quite-troll, if the not-quite-troll weren’t disrupting conversations and leading, inevitably, to meta-conversations, this sort of thing would be much easier to avoid.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              cat is more interesting than notme. And that’s saying something, as cat isn’t even human. And is a troll.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Yet, it’s an observable dynamic, one which drives people to say that notme is merely a troll!

              Adding: I mean, I read the thread, and everyone’s meta-ism based talking-past-each-other was on proud display. And the only one who didn’t go meta was notme! (And cleverly, I might add, since he achieved part of his goal which was to irritate lefties and not-conservatives.)

              Add2: Oh, and I brought up those other commenters because by one conception of the term, they strike me as much more trolly than notme. Very much so.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Ismatizing =def. the property of an ideology whereby the internal logic of that ideology accounts for other people’s dissenting views as deriving from an irrational adherence to an ism.Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            I need a word here to refer to this phenomenon. Ismatizing, or something.

            How about “Stillwatering”?Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Nah. The etymology of “stillwater” runs orthogonal to the concept referred to, whereas we all have a sense of what an ism is, as well as what an “izer”.

              I’m thinking of some related examples, too: “ismatic”, “ismatist”, “ismatological”, and so on. Using this word could really expand our level of discourse here at the OT, and in very clarifying ways!Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Using this word could really expand our level of discourse here at the OT, and in very clarifying ways!

                Here’s a novel thought for you: If, as you observe, there are impediments to good discussion at the site, and you are playing a major role in discussions when they in fact deteriorate, maybe you share some part of the blame.

                Maybe instead of pronouncing judgment on Jaybird and me, you might want to consider some self-examination. One easily accessible beginning point might be the discussion on this thread, and the reactions you elicited especially (but not exclusively) from Will Truman and Tod, after your Rubio jibe.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You’re hilarious. If you disagree with what I said about meta-narratives, you could express disagreement with the content of that claim. Instead, you ironically but unsurprisingly Go Meta Meta!Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                This may be hard for you to understand and accept, Stillwater, but, if my suggestion seems perplexingly or “ironically” abstract to you, it is because I am inviting you to do the work yourself rather than submit to a public dissection of (typical) conduct of yours that led two of the leading, most popular and trusted members of the site to storm out of the thread muttering expletives.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I’ll submit to it, CK. I invite it, actually.

                That you think constructing that meta-narrative would serve any useful function would constitute a demonstration of the point I’m making here. So please, go right ahead.

                That is, it’d be a real-time demonstration of Ismatizing! Do it!Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Stillwater: That you think constructing that meta-narrative would serve any useful function would constitute a demonstration of the point I’m making here.

                I would be happy to expand upon my position, in this comment thread or in a post – either on the general subject of “good discourse,” with or without using your comments on this thread as object examples, or on the specific subject of “Stillwatering” – but I am not sure that either would qualify as a “demonstration of the point [you’re] making here.”

                Perhaps you can summarize your point in the form of a simple thesis. I do not want to accept your counter-invitation under mistaken presumptions, since doing so might add to confusion or static, and also be unfair to you.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Hmmm. So you want me to help you write a scathing critique of my commenting behavior? That’s a demonstration of something, to be sure …

                Do whatever you want CK – in this thread, or on the Main Page – and let the chips fall where they may.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                While I admit that it might be mildly, but extremely ephemerally entertaining to watch this conversation continue (though the idea that a front-pager, and in fact someone with a fair amount of editorial control, writing a post about what’s wrong with a particular commenter’s discussion style is rather unsettling, and I’m pretty sure out of bounds), I can’t imagine this is going to go anywhere that might be of use to anyone. Again, might be better if we just throw stuff at each other.

                Here’s my suggestion: every time someone involved in this conversation is tempted to engage someone else involved in this conversation, they should instead post their favorite gif of cats being jerks to other cats.

                Screw whoever is in this bag— Animals Being Jerks (@MeanAnimals) November 17, 2015


              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                I have no interest in “scathing” anyone.

                My own view is that your performance ought to be embarrassing to you already, and that the fact that it apparently is not embarrassing to you makes it more embarrassing. I’m reluctant to go over it in detail for the same reason that I am reluctant to draw attention to anyone’s worst moments. It’s impolite, if not cruel, and anyone who doesn’t see the cause for embarrassment the first time can be assumed resistant to getting it the second time, no matter how careful or precise the explication, since “finally getting it” is to confess to “not having already gotten it,” and “getting it” is implicitly being equated with demonstration of good faith, intelligence, self-awareness, and everything else that most of us wish to believe we bring to discussion and our lives in general.

                For these reasons the individual and his or her friends and allies may be more likely to resent the criticism rather than to be thankful for it. They will be primed and determined to attack the critique, and, if they have difficulty finding obvious weaknesses in the argument, the principal effect may be to heighten their motivation to manufacture new ones or change the subject. At whatever opportune moment, they may prefer to shift back to the mode of exchange of personal attacks, since in their minds doing so will be merely to return fire.

                In any event you had mentioned what appeared to me to be some kind of condition, or a particular basis of your interest, and I sought clarification, for the reasons I stated, not the reasons you assigned to me. It seems to me you’ve now given something like an unconditional release to do whatever evil I care to do with your comments.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Do you even know what you’re arguing anymore? We’re talking about attributing views to a person as a mechanism to discount that person’s disagreement, and here you are demonstrating that very thing by attributing an “oughta be embarrased” to me.

                The only substantive issue in play here is my claim that some people engage in Ismatizing. If you think that’s wrong, then disagree with the view. But if you try to account for my belief in Ismatizing! by attributing a bunch of isms to me you’ve just demonstrated that you’re an ismatist and engage in ismatological reasoning.

                Which is shameful. You oughta be embarrassed!Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                I never promised to address what you’re arguing. Indeed, I explicitly stated my uncertainty about your “point,” and, when I asked for clarification, you declined to summarize it for me. Now you seem to be criticizing me for not knowing what it was.

                I had earlier specifically suggested that you should be considering other problems – and your own role in them – before presuming to move on to other more general and also more difficult topics. I think isolating impediments to good conversation and mutual understanding at this site and in general would be a worthwhile exercise, and that what transpired in this thread would serve as a good typical case. Cognizant of the onus such a demonstration would put on you, however, I sought to give you every opportunity to decline, including by suggesting that you perform a self-examination rather than submit to a public one.

                Your consent would, in my view, be a service to the site, a generous and gracious gesture, perhaps as difficult to accept, and to treat appropriately, as to give. I have no intention to proceed against your will or under false pretenses, for the same reasons that Chris mentioned parenthetically above – though I think that both of you are misinterpreting my intentions.

                If you’d rather I turned my attention elsewhere, fine with me. I would even feel relieved. There will likely be other opportunities to return to the subject, _____ willing and the crick don’t rise.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I did not intend to represent your intentions at all, merely the optics of what you describe.

                Again, I recommend mean cat gifs.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                And the rabbit hole deepens.

                At this point, we might as well all start throwing rotten tomatoes at each other.Report

              • Avatar Dave Regio says:


                At this point, we might as well all start throwing rotten tomatoes at each other.

                It would be an improvement over what transpired above.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Really? Calling someone who acts like a troll a troll is wrong?Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                The preferred response to trollery is disregard. Let’s all make an effort to adhere to that best practice, please.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                As @chris points out, this is easier said than done.

                And, honestly, I’m not sure I agree that it is preferred. We talk much about why certain viewpoints and perspectives are lacking here. Letting comments antagonistic to folks of other viewpoints and perspectives go unanswered risks communicating that such attacks are acceptable or even representative here. They are not. So while bans should be yielded in only the most dire of circumstances (and I don’t think this is that), I think countering comments that risk fracturing or community is not only preferred, but necessary.

                I mean, if I wandered onto a site where someone was able to make me feel uncomfortable with no response from the regulars, I’d very quickly wander away.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I mean, if I wandered onto a site where someone was able to make me feel uncomfortable with no response from the regulars, I’d very quickly wander away.

                This is something I hadn’t really figured in my calculations above. I can imagine that were I to stumble upon this blog and see a lot of interesting conversation, and then see the little monster being himself, with no one responding, it’d be easy to assume he was as much a part of the culture here as the interesting stuff, and it would make me think twice about participating.

                Then again, if no one responds to him ever, I can’t imagine he’ll stick around forever. Someone who’s clearly seeking attention isn’t going to continue to do so somewhere he can’t get any.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I think the problem is the conversation has digressed from any discussion of the not-quite-troll and become a shouting match between various other commenters with pre-existing beefs. Which, as I said, happens too easily when the conversation becomes this meta as people try to sort out how to deal with a situation that can’t really be dealt with (namely, the not-quite-troll disrupting any conversation or thread into which he chooses to inject himself).Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Fine. If y’all want to argue about meta, argue about meta. For myself, I see little profit or value in arguing about meta, which includes this particular meta-argument.

                So I advise you to not invest blood pressure in this or future similar fights, particularly ones such as these where the focus of the fight has shifted from one based on substance to one based on personality. This got started in a discussion about the propriety of retail stores being open on the Friday after Thanksgiving, as I recall. But that particular subject is long forgotten and gone, quite irrelevant to the matters under discussion here.

                One of my great headaches is noting that the threads which looks on the surface like they generate a lot of discussion and exchanges and hits and action turn out to be the ones which are in fact people arguing on the internet about who is better at arguing on the internet. But I suppose that I simply need to accept that this is an inherent risk of the medium. This thread was positioned to be nothing but poison right from the start.

                So I’m not the boss of you. Do what you want. If it pleases you to, meta-argue until the thread becomes unreadable. As for the “easier said than done,” please take note, as I demonstrate the ease with which one may withdraw from an argument — especially a meta-argument — without registering tacit assent to someone else’s position.Report

              • Avatar Dave Regio says:


                Yes, really, but I was referring to something else, not what you’re suggesting.

                If you don’t ignore the trolls and want to call them on it, be my guest. I won’t have a problem with it.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Tho, I have been thinking about a term for a discourse analysis which purports to be explanatory while also entailing contradictions. All I’ve been able to come up with is Deriddian – with the strike thru, see? – but it’s sorta clunky.

              I’ll keep working on it.Report

  20. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Dan Drezner wrote a post that had a bit of information I didn’t know:

    The lion’s share of the whole “rising debt, poor graduation rates” thing doesn’t deal with the schools that I think of when I think of “universities” but the “for profit” colleges.

    Most of the increase in default is associated with the rise in the number of borrowers at for-profit schools and, to a lesser extent, 2-year institutions and certain other non-selective institutions, whose students historically composed only a small share of borrowers. These non-traditional borrowers were drawn from lower income families, attended institutions with relatively weak educational outcomes, and experienced poor labor market outcomes after leaving school. In contrast, default rates among borrowers attending most 4-year public and non-profit private institutions and graduate borrowers—borrowers who represent the vast majority of the federal loan portfolio—have remained low, despite the severe recession and their relatively high loan balances.

    So the problem isn’t the kid going off to Whatever State University but the kid who lives in town and goes to that college that advertises between personal injury lawyers during Judge Cranky.Report

    • LGM has been all over this as it applies to for-profit law schools.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Given that these for-profit schools are a hell of a lot closer to “trade schools” than “universities”, I’m wondering what in the hell the solutions might be for this particular problem.

        Because my old thoughts of “bring trade schools back!” arguably happened and made things worse.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          I don’t recall the Trade Schools of old being for-profit?

          Or maybe they were, but had a different incentive structure?Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            A lot of vocational training took place at the high school level in the past. My maternal grandmother learned how to keep business accounts in high school. There also wasn’t the ability to get easy money from the loans.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Well, it’s not like the trade schools of old were for-profit (incentive structure or otherwise), it’s more that these new for-profit schools don’t really have a whole lot of courses in Identity-Based Cultural Criticism but, instead, argue that “you will learn how to use industry-standard equipment to get a job in the industry!”

            In the past, my assumption was that we needed more people to take courses in AutoCAD and fewer courses in film studies…

            But the “universities” that teach AutoCAD are the ones that have the defaults.Report

        • Avatar Chris says:

          One of the big problems: a lot of the “for profit” schools, at least the trade ones, don’t offer courses with credits that can transfer to other schools.

          Consider a not uncommon scenario. Say, for example, instead of getting a medical assistant certificate at the local community college (for $1200 a semester for 5 semesters, or a total of about $6000), you decided to do it in 18 months at a for profit medical and dental assistants school for $15,000, all with student loans. You get the same job you’d get with only the certificate from the community college, paying around $13.00, which in most cities won’t leave you with any money to pay off the loans (whether they were for $6k or $15k), especially if you’ve got kids.

          You slowly work your way up to $15.50 an hour, but now you’ve hit a ceiling, still not or barely able to pay your loans (with no savings, so no net if you lose that job), but by now you’ve either defaulted or are close to it, and with interest you now owe well over $15k. The ceiling is the result of the fact that just about any job paying over what you’re making in physicians offices wants an associates degree. So you call up the community college and tell them you have a medical assistant certificate from For Profit College of Austin, and they say, “That’s nice, none of your credits will transfer. You’ve got to start from scratch to get your degree here.” So now you face a choice: two years of full-time schooling, probably while working, and either adding more student loan debt if you’re not already defaulted, or just say fuck it and default once and for all (or maybe, as is often the case, leave the medical field altogether and try to get a higher paying job elsewhere, meaning the loan and the time were essentially wasted).

          If you’d gone to the community college, you might still have defaulted on your loans when you first got out, or only paid off the interest, but if you need to go back to school, you’re probably pretty close to an associates degree, if you don’t have one already (a lot of those certificate programs are associate degree programs in community colleges). So you don’t have the ceiling, you are now making $23/hr and pay off your debt after a few years, your credit fully repaired, and you can buy a house and a car and open as many checking accounts as your heart desires. Hell, you can get more loans and in a couple years, with your credits, have a bachelors and be well on your way to the really big bucks.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


            When I first left home, I started at the Wisconsin School of Electronics in their CAD Operator Program (now Herzing). During my first semester there (@ $2K+ / semester) I had the exact realization you describe above & called UW-Madison to ask what credits would transfer. They were nice enough to not laugh at me, but only just. WSE had led me to believe that their credits would transfer (without actually ever saying that explicitly).

            I finished that semester (sunk costs & all) & then withdrew to join the Navy.

            The experience certainly made me very wary of for-profit schools, and I always look carefully at any such school for faculty, facilities, accreditations, etc.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Many, many people have that experience. I’m glad you realized it early on.

              A friend of mine runs Texas’ job training program (used to be TAA, but I believe it’s something else now, though still mostly federally funded). The state warns people about the for profit schools, which always cost significantly more than community colleges, but promise all sorts of wonderful things, not the least of which is usually a faster track, and the people who have their training paid for (partially or fully, depending on the program) by the federal government and the state of Texas (and therefore you and I) have all too often been seduced by the sales people those schools employ and are deaf to all reason and evidence.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                The sad thing is, my parents are the ones who pushed me toward the for-profit, because they didn’t think I could handle Univeristy (or get in to start with). Both had tried college back in the day but never made it through, and had incorrect ideas about the for-profit school industry.

                I’m glad I did the whole distrust & verify thing.

                I am sure there are very good & valuable for-profit schools out there, but I give them all a gimlet eye. And while I don’t think we should doing anything drastic towards such schools (like regulate them out of existence), I do think we can demand that education grants & government guaranteed student loans are more discriminating with regard to the schools they go to (since tax payers are on the hook for defaults should the school prove itself a poor value).Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Is this something that could be addressed by legislation? Maybe passing a law that says that community colleges have to accept credits from For-Profit Colleges? Or, at least, give the opportunity to test out of the courses?

            I suspect that For-Profit Colleges do not, in fact, provide much (if any) value but if they do, that should at least be acknowledged “officially” on some level.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              IIRC, the way transfer credits work is through a combination of Institutional Accreditation & individual agreements.

              So two colleges that both have ABET accreditation would probably largely accept credits from each other. PS There are a lot of accrediting organizations out there.

              Alternatively, before I went to UW-Madison, I went to MATC (Madison Area Technical College), which had a program called College Parallel that it designed in conjunction with the UW System so that adult students could take classes at MATC & earn enough credits to then transfer to the UW.

              So, for profit schools could either pursue accreditation, or engage with other schools to craft transfer agreements. The fact that they don’t should tell you something.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                When I did a study abroad, I had to get approval from the head of each relevant department for the credits to transfer. This had to be done in advance.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain says:

              Depending on which class, this might be difficult in Colorado. Some years back the state passed a law that the public four-year schools had to accept credits for certain classes from the community colleges. The flip side of that was the CCs had to teach those classes to the same standard the four-year schools used. Calculus, for example, adopted the same text and got more rigorous. Presumably, the for-profits would have to teach something labeled as calculus to that same standard if they wanted the credits accepted.

              The four-year schools pay attention to what the CCs are doing now. School of Mines, probably the premier four-year engineering school, is just up the road from Red Rocks CC. A number of students accepted at Mines take generic first-year classes like calculus at Red Rocks because it’s so much cheaper. People from the Mines’ math dept drop in to observe classes at Red Rocks as an audit of sorts.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Oscar and Michael cover most of the issues: just forcing CCs to accept for-profit credits would end up either creating unfair dual paths (pay more for easier classes, then transfer over and get the same degree) or force CCs to make their courses less rigorous, which in turn creates unfair dual paths at the 4-year schools that are required by law to accept CC credits. Or you could divorce the 2-year and 4-year colleges, which would just make 4-year degrees more expensive and less attainable (and take more time).

              I’m not sure restricting student loans to CCs and for-profits that meet some sort of standard so that their credits can transfer, either, because there are programs and people who don’t need that, and can go get a 6 month certificate and genuinely improve their lives with it, but can’t afford that 6 month program (which might be 2-years at a CC, or might not be offered at a CC at all). My example is very common, and not at all extreme, and may even be modal, but it’s not the only scenario that plays out with for-profit schools. A friend of mine, for example, went to a for-profit school just to learn Linux and something else (I forget what), and makes like $28/hr with a high school diploma and a couple certificates. He paid off his loans in like 18 months and is doing just fine financially.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Likewise, I had a friend do a welding certificate program at a little for-profit & spent about 10 days unemployed after graduation before one of the Fab shops made him an offer (and most of that 10 days was spent in interviews), and he tells me that was normal for the graduates.

                When I talk about student aid being discriminating, I’m thinking less accreditation & more “median graduates ability to repay”. If a school starts having lots of graduates reporting to the student aid org that they need help paying, or they are defaulting, then the school goes on the naughty list.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                That sounds like a perfectly reasonable requirement to me.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Actually, now that I think about it, this should be public data.

                The student aid bureaucracy knows what school I went to, so they should be able to very easily correlate repayment behavior with every school & break it down by category (deferments, refi, altered repayment schedule, forgiveness, defaults, etc.). I should be able to go to and find a link on the front page that will let me look at the repayment stats for any school that takes federal aid money & compare that data to any other school.Report

  21. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Holy fucking shit, people. Comments closed.

    I’ll be putting some thought into whether the Linky Friday feature will be back on Friday. Or on this site.Report