The End of Linky Friday


Will Truman

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

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222 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Thank you for all the effort on this Will, sorry it’s coming to an end but I can imagine it was a lot of work.Report

  2. Avatar Adrian Rutt says:

    It’s been fun! And I say this with total sincerity: Anvers Island looks awesome!Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Assuming you mean the REAL Palmer Station on the REAL Anvers Island… Holy crap, dude! Antarctica??? Congrats and good luck. Thanks for all the work you’ve done/do. What is Lane gonna do there?Report

  4. Avatar Autolukos says:

    Reddit’s warrant canary dropped deadReport

  5. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    A7: Many years ago I was browsing through Jane’s Fighting Ships and was amused to find that Switzerland had a navy. It was actually just a couple of patrol boats on (going from memory) Lake Geneva and Lake Constance, which makes perfect sense. But it was startling.

    In the case of Mongolia, it looks to me like what is actually going on is that the Mongolian government operates a tugboat on a lake. It may be that this boat is administratively under the military, but that wasn’t actually made clear. The writer was too busy giggling to perform actual reporting.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Since 1931, the State of Nebraska gives a tongue-in-cheek honor by proclaiming people to be an “Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.” I don’t know what they use today, but there used to be a flashy certificate that went with it.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        lol. a state with a sense of humor.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          When I lived there, I always thought the state motto ought to be “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Anecdote:

          When I was a senior at the University of Nebraska, my bicycle ride to and from campus took me by the governor’s mansion. In those days there was no wall or fence. The governor was J. James Exxon. One day, purely on a whim, I parked the bike, walked up to the front door, and rang the bell. When a state trooper answered, I asked, “Can Jimmie come out and play?” Before closing the door, he smiled and said, in a perfect parental tone of voice, “Jimmie’s busy today. Maybe another time.”Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            I have only been through Nebraska once, while driving across the country in the 1980s. I remember being impressed by the quality of the rest stops.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      One of the subtle plot-points of “Sound of Music” is that Captain Von Trapp is a decorated naval officer in a country that no longer has a coastline.Report

  6. Avatar Kim says:

    My god… you weren’t joking about him failing to understand Japan.
    He thinks it’s clean, for god’s sake! (Please note: I know someone allergic to cockroaches. There are enough cockroaches (of enough varieties) in Japan that he would need to think very carefully about where to visit).

    Japan has the world’s lowest homicide rate… yes, if you believe the official stats. We’ll just go ahead and say that the Tokyo police are notoriously incompetent, and also that Japan is likely to call something a suicide where we’d be… more doubtful. Hmm… person lost wallet in dark alley. Person now dead, must have committed suicide at the prospect of the loss of their home, etc.

    “Except I didn’t know when to feel creeped out and when not to be because I wasn’t sure what was trying to be sexual and what wasn’t.”
    … better question: which things was the government trying to sexualize? (see Kanon).
    (French maids are an entire genre of hentai. That’s definitely sexual, folks. Japanese people have much less problem than Americans at having little kids exposed to sexual stuff (the prevailing attitude is that they will not care/pay attention/notice the sexual stuff until they are ready to notice it)).

    “I was apologized to for no reason”
    … I find this unlikely, honestly. Even the Japanese don’t apologize for no reason (though they might simply be apologizing to cover embarrassment, or inability to properly welcome someone because they don’t speak english and you don’t speak japanese).

    “The annoying side is when following a rule trumps logic, like when I bought the wrong metro ticket, but one that cost more than the correct one, and the metro staff member made me buy the right one anyway—in New York, she’d have just let me go through.”
    … he doesn’t understand how Japan operates. All he really had to do was look frustrated, and then jump over the barrier. (being a foreigner gets you a lot of lattitude, but if you want to follow the rules anyway…)

    “And some rules are weird, like the sign at a hot springs facility that prohibits anyone who has a tattoo. ”
    … tattoos are gang symbols there (yakuza use them often). Anyone know about non-gang tattoos?

    “When the Japanese are horrified at the prospect of losing face and a foreigner doesn’t understand what it would even feel like to lose face, they don’t know what it feels like to be Japanese, so there will always be a distance between them.”
    Face is one of the easier Asian concepts. I know someone who wound up using it extensively after the tsunami…
    Also, Japan is one of those places where trying to fit in is futile, and you get a lot of leeway for being a foreigner anyway (it’s assumed you don’t know the rules, so if you don’t play by them…). It kinda brings up the “why would you want to fit in?” aspect of things.

    You want to fit into Hispanic culture (if nothing else, because women do get sexually harassed for not fitting in, as a form of cultural control.). It’s almost difficult not to fit into Canadian culture (and really, why would you not want to fit in there?)Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    Chinese Brides: This doesn’t surprise me. Given what I’ve heard with the impact of the 1 child policy, women are in high demand and can demand lots from a prospective suitor as well. Not exactly on point, but in Hong Kong, I was told that women value the 7 Cs: Cash, Condo, Car…… In other words, if you didn’t own your own apt, you had no shot with even a plain girl. Same for Beijing.

    [E3] Sorry, but if you’re “afraid” after some twit writes “trump 2016” and feelz “unsafe”, you’re a wimp. Protest all you want, but sheesh.

    Going to miss Linky Friday. Enjoy Antarctica.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      This is the bit that undermines the thesis.

      “I don’t think students today are fragile,” she tells me. “On the contrary, we’re more committed to rooting out pervasive sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia, which actually takes a lot of strength. This generation of students and activists is standing up and saying that, for too long, men have spoken over women, trans and non-binary people, just as white people have spoken over people of colour. In some cases, they should shut up and listen. And sometimes, to the horror of certain academics and professional narcissists, this involves rethinking the right to speak at all times, for all people, on any topic.”

      Strength involves engaging bigotry & misogyny with better ideas and arguments, not attacking the right to speak. It baffles me how these kids either can’t understand, or have convinced themselves that such an approach can’t be turned against them if the winds shift.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Gee, I seem to recall having a conversation on this very site with someone who failed to grasp that. (I’m not accusing you of that–FYI)Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        It baffles me how these kids either can’t understand

        If you meditate on the bold part, it will all become clear.

        Just in case: Kids are passionate and ignorant. They always have been, they always WILL be. There’s a period of about 10 years or so in ‘growing up’ where kids are effectively hardwired to start rejecting what they’re taught (or at least rigorously questioning it — it’s part of creating an identity separate from their parents, which is kinda key to becoming a full fledged adult), incredibly passionate (developing brain chemistry means their emotions, mood swings, and feelings are going to be turned up to 11 compared to adults — and they lack experience managing it. And then there’s hormones..), and lacking in life experience — but with enough education to feel like they’ve got a clue.

        There’s a reason “kids these days!” has been a gripe going back thousands of years. It always turns out the same, too. Their brains finish developing, the gain life experience, and they end up moderating. They’re not going to fully agree with their parents (take acceptance of homosexuality, for instance), or become clones of the previous generation — they will drive change, for good or for ill (it seems to have worked out so far), but the…excessive exuberance will be tempered.

        Bluntly put, if you’re talking about “kids these days” — don’t bother. Chill out and have a beer. It’ll work itself out, like every other generation through history.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Their brains finish developing.
          And then they turn into mindless automatons.

          It takes effort to stay sentient.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Very pithy, but entirely incorrect and incredibly besides the point. (Although hilarious that you think full development of the prefrontal cortex is ‘calcification’ and ‘mindless automaton’. That’s the bit that lets you predict consequences of your actions, among other things…)

            But by all means, interject your hobby horse into basic neurological development so you can blithely insult…I’m not sure who. 30 year olds? People you disagree with? A random assortment of adults?

            In the real world, your brain hasn’t finished cooking until around age 25 (that pesky prefrontal cortex!). Biologically, this makes sense — survival wise, having a bunch of people (especially males) in peak physical condition predisposed to risky behavior and not yet capable of fully thinking this thing through. Especially if they’ve already reproduced.

            You can throw them at the mammoths, tigers, and interlopers from other tribes and they’ll cheerfully run off full of belief in their own immortality.

            Of course, now days it just means that 25 is when your car insurance rates tend to drop, and the odds of you doing something incredibly stupid trend down sharply. (Like, say, jump off the roof into a pool or get a dumb tattoo).

            And giving plenty of fodder for people to say “Kids these days” because they likely have fond (and heavily altered) memories of their own sub-25 years…Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          And kids on college campuses are smart kids. Who have always been smarter than everyone around them, and often their teachers and parents. They’re better-read than anyone they know. It’s real easy to think you’ve figured it all out – I know, I was them when I was them.

          Unfortunately, academically and intellectually these kids have just hit the same wall that elite jocks hit when they leave college for the NFL. Nothing they believed about their place in the world was true. Hopefully, they’ll have a satori moment while they still have the resources of their university available, and don’t just sit stagnant with their head in Marx, or Rand, or Chomsky, or Joyce until it’s too late.

          I didn’t. Like Morpheus said, it’s dangerous to free a mind too late because they have too much invested in sense of self. I’m one of the lucky ones, but I’ve seen too many bounce from Evangelicalism to New Atheism or vice versa, or (worse) convince themselves that they don’t need to change, just be themselves even harder and it will all work out.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Everyone ultimately learns by failing. Everyone bangs into the wall called reality, and you ultimately make your own choices as to when to tilt at windmills and when to settle.

            I’m just finding my generation’s “KIDS THESE DAYS” rants to be particularly hilarious. (Especially the folks scouring the internet looking for offended SJW’s to be offended by. The irony is thick).Report

            • Avatar El Muneco says:

              In case it wasn’t clear, I was trying to agree with you…

              I think it’s the exact same principle as “I get older, they stay the same age”. Often the same people involved, too, now that I mention it…Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Ack, you are right.

          Allow me to redirect my ire toward the adult who is making the argument that these kids are demonstrating strength and courage through the noble act silencing opinions they find objectionable, in an environment where the holders of those opinions are unable to commit any real harm (such as violence, imprisonment, or social / career / educational damage) in return.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            By all means. 🙂

            But it’s really not like it’s anything new. It’s just 20 years ago, the antics of the 12 to 25 set weren’t magnified by social media — they didn’t broadcast them, and there wasn’t a cottage industry devoted to scouring the internet looking for them to hold up to pontificate about.

            We only heard bits and pieces.

            I don’t think kids today are any different than kids 20 years ago. The only difference is that technology puts them in our face, rather than consigned to the back corner of Denny’s with a handful of friends. (Or in larger numbers on a college quad, while professors and admin look on, not letting the giggles escape)Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              Still disagree with the notion that this sort of thing is a constant. It’s more like waves that crash and recede. Right now there is a wave, in a few years ago things will calm down, then they’ll get loud again, on and on.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                To clarify, the stupidity is constant. How the stupidity manifests itself is notReport

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Well yeah, formative events are formative events and shape every generation. Reactions — from size to shape — will vary.

                Politically this one is coming of age with the legacy of Dubya, the acceptance of many (but the stubborn, angry refusal of a minority) on gay rights, and a political party that has grown increasingly xenophobic, sexist and racist of the last few years — culminating in this current primary mess.

                Iraq and the nastily homophobic last stand against gay rights alone — that’s enough to shape perceptions for a long time. There’s been a lot that’s been shocking to us cynical folks, much less a generation coming of age.

                (Not that they love Democrats — they’ve got lots of problems with them, but there’s a difference between “don’t agree with” and what appears to be “visceral repulsion” judging by poll numbers)Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            On this:

            …in an environment where the holders of those opinions are unable to commit any real harm…

            Can you sort of see how I, as a transgender woman, literally never feel like my enemies cannot harm me? I mean, sure, the TERF on campus is not going to beat me down and steal my hormones. But she will maybe convince the women at the fitness center that I’m an evil rape-freak and they should fear me.

            Which, I mean, that happens normally anyhow. That’s my world. My ability to move freely is always a bit tenuous.

            I kinda think that, like, you posh whitebread fucks don’t get it. I’m actually hated. I’m hated a lot by the right wing. But even in left spaces I’m hated. Even among gays.

            I’m always kinda slipping by with a few percentage points of support, and those could dry up at any moment.

            Like, trans folks are this very moment at the tip of the social war spear. Blah. It fucking sucks.

            So yeah, block the fucking TERFs. Kick their asses out. Send them packing. Fuck ’em. Free speech? Fuck yeah, free speech. Let them speak freely from the top of a mountain of trash at the dump. But don’t fucking invite them anywhere that decent people gather. Good grief.

            “Oh no I’m being silenced,” some daft TERF cries from the pages of The New Yorker.

            Like, uh, contradiction much. Why are they publishing that shit anyhow? Cuz hating me is topical?

            Let’s make hating privileged white assholes topical.

            Oh wait! You don’t like that? Hmmmmm. You think the people who say that should be dismissed? Hmmmmm. You mean you don’t want them to “speak to power” in a way that power listens? You don’t want their words to have effect? Hmmmmmm.

            Fucking hypocrites.Report

            • Avatar echo says:

              Maribou edited out this comment for being nothing more than namecalling. Uncool.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Heh. You should have left it, it was adorable.

                Honestly, stuff like that doesn’t hurt my feelings, given that it’s so obviously the product of a bitter, toxic person. I almost want to frame it and show others.

                Plus, from a political perspective, I want my enemies to reveal how rotten they are. Skilled transphobes strive to seem reasonable. They’re the dangerous ones. That’s what’s gonna kill us.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                No one thinks you’re made of glass, @veronica-d ; you’ve proven yourself a tough girl time and again.

                It’s an issue of policing the comments culture generally.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Here’s my theory. This:

        Oscar Gordon: Strength involves engaging bigotry & misogyny with better ideas and arguments

        is a baldfaced lie that previous generations have been swallowing for centuries.

        The newest generation has figured out that this emperor has no clothes, and is trying to work out how to move forward in light of this realization. Of course, they’re young and inexperienced, so their path forward is full of awkward stumbles and painful missteps. And the older generations that could guide them forward without those missteps are too blinded by the lie they still believe to actually help.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          I’m … going to have to think about this.

          Is it possible that when we laughed off Smite-The-Unbeliever-With-Cunning-Arguments and Visit-The-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets when they knock on our door, it was for the wrong reason? Not because their arguments were bad – which, to be fair, they generally were – but because the whole idea is wrongheaded? And because of that, we didn’t realize that our own complementary efforts were doomed?

          That’s strong medicine.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          The kids DO have a point — the grown-ups are talking about “modern policing” and not needing stuff like the exclusionary rule, and talking about the end of racism and it’s time to jettison such archaic stuff like the VRA and move onto our post-racial America…..

          In the midst of crap like 12 hour waits for blacks to vote in 2008 (plenty of machines in less black districts), or cops deciding “standing in public while black” warrants immediate execution, and Voter ID laws clearly aimed at disfranchising black voters…

          If one of the two major parties is claiming “Racism is dead” while Trump is leading the GOP race (and LePaige is a governor) while their own party is advocating stripping voting protections from minorities while also making it harder for them to vote….

          I can see why “Better arguments” doesn’t seem to cut the mustard. The CRA was 50 years ago, and I can see thinking that all that’s done is place a false veneer on top of a festering problem.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            Ok, I’m game.

            Explain to me how this new paradigm can manage public speech without devolving into a mess of highly subjective determinations of what is allowed based upon what the ruling class deems so.

            Seriously, this is my one true objection.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              Just because I can understand how they can feel the emperor has no clothes on stuff like, oh, racism (50+ years since CRA and the blatant levels of racism — with the real world result of dead people and cops whistling innocently, not even getting into pay disparity, the war on drugs, etc) — doesn’t mean that I find their particular solution compelling.

              I can understand their urge to call it out, loudly and publicly and with attempts at social shaming.

              It’s not, IMHO, a very good solution — or one likely to work. OTOH, they are correct that the solution MY generation (and my parent’s) put into place doesn’t work at all.

              Which seems to be something we should, I dunno, address.Report

  8. Avatar Roland Dodds says:

    A2 – I have been following these developments in China for some time, and the prospects are pretty scary. Nothing makes a nation more inclined to rash and violent behavior (both internally and externally) than a large group of sexless, mateless, disaffected men with few opportunities. China’s neighbors (and the world) should be scared.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Yeah. That’s always been my biggest concern with the Chinese gender imbalance.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Because we’re so scared of Japan?
      Japan has plenty of shut-in guys who never leave their houses and are sexless and disaffected from … basically life.Report

      • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

        The gender imbalance in Japan is nowhere near what we are seeing in China. It isn’t that you have shut-ins who feel scorned by the opposite sex (something we see in all modern societies), but whole swaths of your population that have no feasible way to have a wife and family. Understandably, they are going to be angry about that and look for someone/something to blame.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      And India is apparently headed down the same path. Between them, a bit over a third of the total world population. Both with nukes. Earlier this year, India successfully tested its next-gen ballistic missile, with a range of 5,000 km.

      Part of me wonders whether the US ought to just keep its nose out of south, SE, and east Asia.Report

      • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

        @michael-cain What could possibly go wrong?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Yeah. I keep waiting to hear that there’s another dispute over Kashmir.

        At which point we begin to be able to stop worrying so much about what Global Warming is going to do in 100 years.Report

        • Avatar dexter says:

          @jaybird, Look on the bright side. There is the possibility that a small nuclear war and two or three billion fewer people buying Hummers might slow down global warming.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      This is why the gov’t is exporting Han to the hinterlands and other countries. That’s the cause of some of the violence, say in the Weigur (sp) lands. And what happens to northern vietnam if it becomes predominately Han? Annexation perhaps?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The PRC tried that in the 80s; it did not go well for them.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          Well, they seem to be still doing it now, except for the annexation part.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            Are there significant numbers of Han settlers in the VN-PRC border region? My understanding is the the Han settlers to Tibet & Xinjiang are primarily urban dwellers – the VN-PRC border is rural. Topo maps indicate that the area is similar to Appalachia and Hanoi outer suburbs are only 50-100 miles from the border. Oldish (youngest over a decade old) maps show that the border region (on both sides) is primarily populated by people that are neither ethnically Viet nor ethnically Han.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              My understanding is the the Han settlers to Tibet & Xinjiang are primarily urban dwellers. I can’t speak for the type of dwellers, but they are moving out there, I assume because of financial discounts. There have/had been several attacks by locals on the Han, resulting in higher security everywhere we went in China. The chicoms can teach a lesson to the TSA re security.

              Can’t say much about vietnam, other than I was told the HAN were, or had, moved into the area. It seemed reasonable.Report

  9. Avatar Kolohe says:

    {A3} – No that was just German for “The, The Koreans”.

    {A4} He said he didn’t get it, but I think he got it just fine (as my much more limited experience tracks with his)


    On a regular basis, Nasser receives emails from Arabic-speaking programmers eager to code without having to learn English; every time, he must explain to them that they can’t.

    I don’t understand this – isn’t this why he invented the thing he invented?

    You can use the internet in Antarctica, just find the guy with the Tux.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    H3: I think things are going to get worse before they get better in the Bay Area and New York. The New Yorker article contains some links (one from the NY Times and one from Salon) that indicate that the tech market might be cooling down and venture capitalists are getting fed up with the gig economy. Interestingly I have never heard of many of those folded companies. But housing prices rarely drop significantly absent a total economic meltdown. The big issue with places like the Bay Area and New York is whether they will ever be able to build more housing than demand for living in those areas.

    H4: I have seen different takes on the Jed Kolko article. Jordan Weissman described the people moving to cities as being wealthy, educated, and middle-aged (implying their were parents of school-aged children.) But the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson analyzed urban dwellers as being college-educated and childless people aged between 35-39. Meaning people like me. Though SF is seeming a lot younger these days like ten years younger. I’m generally sympathetic to the urbanist-environmentalist view that more urban living is better for the planet. Urbanism has these problems though:

    1. Making urban living attractive to middle-class families. This includes things that are beyond the power of urbanists like money for schools.’

    2. The way to make cities affordable is through density and upzoning but this means cramming families into small apartments. Why would a family with two or three kids want to live in a small apartment when they can live in a nicely-sized suburban house. A friend of mine from college grew up in NYU faculty housing with his parents and kid sister. The parents put up a dividing wall to give each kid some privacy. My friends who are sticking to cities either tend to have a lot of money (meaning they can afford a decent sized place for them and their kids) or they have absolutely no money. The urbanists seem to love upzoning even though many Americans find it aesthetically and socially unappealing. It also doesn’t make sense considering the vast size of the United States. Singapore makes sense as an upzoned place.

    R5: And to think there was a time when the Episcopal Church was called “the Republican Party at Prayer.” Fascinating look by the way at which religions skew left and right respectively.Report

    • Avatar Francis says:

      On housing: I was talking to a patent practitioner the other day. He said that the hot new trend among the big patent firms is to open offices in very low cost cities (at least compared to Seattle / LA / SF / NY / DC), such as Boise.

      Why? You can write patent applications from anywhere with an Internet connection. A computer, access to online resources, a Skype connection for face-to-face interviews with the PTO and you’re good to go. (Clients mostly communicate by email anyway. For the occasional meet-and-greet, Boise’s a short hop to Seattle / Portland.)

      And once one big-name firm cuts the price of patent prosecution substantially, because the name partner in the group decided to move to Boise / Morgantown etc. (and live very well), it’s hard to keep your prices high. Salaries are dropping and will continue to do so.

      I’m curious as to whether this trend can be extended into other professional service industries. How often does the CFO of a small company really need to meet with his accountant? If I were running a mid-sized accounting business, I’d definitely think about moving my practice out of the LA Basin and into a lower-cost area out by Burt (which is north of LA) or into Riverside / San Bernardino (which is east of LA).Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        On a larger scale, enabled by the vastly better communications available today, but exactly the sort of thing Garreau describes in Edge City. Then, businesses discovering that it was a whole lot cheaper to put 1,000 accountants and the back-office computers in NJ than in Manhattan. Today, potential to spread things even farther. (Side note: Back in the day, I did real-time multi-media communications over TCP/IP networks before it was really cool; I’m still horribly disappointed at the difficulties usually involved, and the choice of media.)

        The urbanists must be appalled.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        There seem to be plenty of patent lawyer in the SF Bay Area but a similar thing did happen in Big Law when I was right out of law school. Orrick and Reed Smith moved their non-partner track associates to Wheeling, West Virginia:

        I admit that my urbanness through and through prevents me from seeing the appeal. Also the Jewish population of West Virginia is a mere 2300. Too small for me.

        Years ago, I remember a lot of right-wingers banging up and down and complaining about why the liberal bay area had all the tech companies. In their opinion, they felt states like South Dakota or Montana were the perfect places for Google and Facebook. I imagine that the owners of Google and Facebook feel that they can attract better employees with the amenities of the Bay Area vs. the amenities of South Dakota. In other words, this is culture war. My guess is that there is only so much moving you can do to a place like Wheeling, West Virginia (sorry Will!!!) because employees want to live in certain areas.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I think it makes a lot of sense for tech companies to be primarily located in Silicon Valley. Booster that I am, it makes little sense for them to be in Montana, South Dakota, etc.

          That being said, there is an awful lot of room for growth outside those areas. If not in Montana, then in Salt Lake City, Austin, Kansas City, and so on. And that’s what companies are doing! And have been for a while now. Including, I should point out, North Dakota.

          Which is a pretty good arrangement. Those who want to live in SV can do so. Those who don’t, don’t have to. Win-win! I do think that there will be a gradual shift, though, as rents keep escalating on the coast. It’s simply not a sustainable situation. Nor do I think it’s necessarily even the preference of the rank-and-file, as you would have it. I think the executives want to live in these places, and so the jobs are there and that’s where people end up. Satellite and project offices around the country are something of a corrective on that.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            @will-truman — Well, I work for one of the big SV tech companies in their Cambridge MA office, so this stuff is already happening. Now, Boston ain’t SLC or Austin, but neither is it the Bay Area. I think it is something in between those.Report

          • Avatar Lyle says:

            One other part of tech companies that need no longer be in the Bay area is at least the operations part of IT, in fact because of disaster issues moving it east makes a lot of sense, at a minimum to the Central Valley or further east. With modern tech software development can move into the center of the country. (east of the Rockies )
            where housing is much cheaper. Compare prices in say Ft Wayne In to the coasts. Interestingly 110 years ago Ft. Wayne was a happening place in electricity. At 419k in population most services are there, and Chicago is only about 120 miles away.
            Yes you do have snow. Perhaps better in In might be Lafayette In because Purdue is there, or Champaign Urbana in Il.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              At some point I linkied a piece on how Iowa is kicking ass and taking names in the operations department. If I recall, though, it was more the capital-intensive and not labor-intensive area of file servers and the like, though.Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                This is how it goes at the companies I’m familiar with: server farms go wherever land, water, and power are cheap and reliable, while offices go in major urban areas.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          To clarify a bit further, when I say “the preference of the rank-and-file” I don’t mean that they wouldn’t all live to love in San Francisco in an ideal sort of way. I mean I think that given their druthers, an awful lot of people would like a house with a yard with a mortgage that they can afford, but the job market doesn’t lend itself to that presently. Based on decisions made, for the most part, by people that are wealthy enough to afford the house with the yard without too much difficulty. (This is, I should point out, something that increased density and buildbuildbuild, doesn’t really have much of an answer for. Nothing does.)Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            I agree with you about the house and yard thing. People do some extreme commutes in the Bay Area for a house and a yard. But there are other factors:

            1. Being around a lot of like-minded people or like people: A lot of employees in tech are Jewish or Asian. We are not talking about W.A.S.P.s who can relocate anywhere and be around other W.A.S.P.s. I’ve debated this on OT before and much to the perplexity of the non-Jews here but ethnic and religious minorities tend to want to live around people in their groups. I’d feel rather alienated in an area like West Virginia or South Dakota. Interestingly when I was in Asheville last November, they had a lot of placards up showing the Jewish history of Asheville, N.C.

            2. The Bay Area and other large metros generally has the kinds of entertainment and diversions that young techies and well-educated professionals want like bundles of restaurants, art/literary/music stuff, etc. They would need to retool themselves for life in South Dakota or Montana.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              As I say elsewhere, Montana and South Dakota are not great examples (though Sioux Falls is getting there thanks to the banking industry). I think the issue is with the assumption that “outside Silicon Valley” is Montana and Sioux Falls. It’s a lot of places, many of which have a lot of things to do and quite a bit of diversity.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Increasingly, outside silicon valley is Pittsburgh.

                “You got exiled from Silicon Valley?”
                “I’m just letting them think that. Far more convenient to let them think they’ve won.”Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                with the assumption that “outside Silicon Valley” is Montana and Sioux Falls.

                Agreed. Bracketing out the largest cities (e.g. Denver or San Antonio or Las Vegas or Phoenix) the steppe, mountain, desert, and chapparal zones in the interior of North America have perhaps 17% of the population of the whole. Many other places to live in the U.S. and Canada.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco says:

              South Dakota has only two cities, both of them small. About 80% of the people there are small town and rural. People grow very attached to places where they grew up and South Dakota is the natural home of South Dakota natives and people from similar loci.

              The thing about urban amenities for people who are not dynamos is that there are diminishing returns to that sort of thing and you come to a point in your life when you like reliability and routine rather than new experiences (ceteris paribus). That being the case, you can acquire an ample supply of urban amenities in a second-tier city and sometimes a 3d tier city. Syracuse is a nice town if you can get accustomed to shoveling snow. There are enough Jews on site that my doctors did not mind living there.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          There’s a positive feedback loop that functions until broken by things like housing that costs too much. Employers, particularly if they’re growing, want to put themselves in places with an existing suitably-educated workforce. Employees want to put themselves in places where there are employment options. Silicon Valley in its early days was an extreme example. A new start-up IC design firm hired people away from the existing companies. An employee unhappy that his ideas weren’t being given a fair shake could walk down the road and get a job at a different firm.

          It’s not a “thing” — in the sense that the right-wingers want it to be a thing — until Wheeling has a population of firms and lawyers such that the firms can snitch employees from each other.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            Small towns and small cities are just not a good place for high-education and high-skill employment. When I was in Deseret, it was a pretty good deal on one level, which is that you could hire coders for $10/hr and people weren’t going to leave you for another employer because there were so few around (except for sales!). You’d have to do some training, but for the low-level stuff it was a pretty good deal!

            However, if you needed someone that didn’t need training because you needed them to start right away, it was a problem. And nobody was going to move there for a $10/hr job. Plus, when you went through a round of lay-off and rehire, you’d find out (unsurprisingly) that most of the people you laid off had left town for places where jobs existed.

            This is, I should point out, a town of over $100k people with a hiring radius of maybe a quarter of a million, with two universities and a technical school. So we’re not even talking about some of the places I’ve lived.

            So when we talk about company-poaching, we’re talking about places that already have a substantial population. There’s only one in the state of Utah, one in Nevada, maybe one in Idaho, and none in Montana.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco says:

              Small towns and small cities are just not a good place for high-education and high-skill employment.

              Depends on what you’re talking about. You have medical clinics (but not most specialties), community hospitals, law firms (again, without specialization), higher education (but typically not research universities). Your colleges and local governments need IT techs. Keep in mind that Endicott-Johnson and IBM found a home in Binghamton, a city whose dense settlement encompasses about 118,000 people. Proctor and Gamble had a plant in Norwich, NY chock-a-bloc with pharmacists.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                East v. West. From the Great Plains west, a city that size that’s not part of an urban cluster is a rare bird indeed. Much of it’s geographic — there aren’t many western places where there’s both a reasonable site to build a city and a reason to do so.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco says:

              Oh, Bassett Health Care specializes in small town loci, and their main hospital is in Cooperstown, NY. Astonishingly large plant.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain says:

              There’s only one in the state of Utah, one in Nevada, maybe one in Idaho, and none in Montana.

              Outside of California, it’s hard to find a western state with more than one, although some of them are kind of smeared out. Washington around Puget Sound. Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Las Vegas. Maricopa County in Arizona. The Wasatch Front in Utah and Colorado’s Front Range. On the “smeared out” thing, it’s tempting to split the Front Range in three — Colorado Springs on the south, Fort Collins on the north, metro Denver in the middle — until you look at I-25 between those at rush hour.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think this makes a lot of sense. It seems to me that a place like Bakersfield in particular could benefit greatly. I mean, it’s accessible to the second largest city in the country! That’s value right there. It just continues to struggle, though.

        Seems that Reno could stand to benefit a great deal, especially since they are less tethered to coastal interests from a government borders standpoint.

        A lot of these inland cities are great locations waiting to be used.Report

        • Avatar Art Deco says:

          Reno’s a third-tier city, not a 4th tier city. The dense settlement encompasses about 325,000 people. The problem with setting up shop in Reno is that it’s Reno. My SIL lived there from 1974 to 1978. She liked what she was doing at the time, but she skedaddled out of Reno once she was done. Said it was a great collecting pool of ‘all these tacky malls….’Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            Yeah but Reno ceases being Reno if jobs and people start moving in. That kind of feedback loop is hard to put into place, of course, but Reno has the advantage of having room and being just on the other side of a state line and in need of a new identity.

            Don’t know if it happens or not, but it’s one of the small cities I’d be keeping an eye on.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Reno is actually a pretty decent small city. It’s close to Tahoe which is a huge benefit. While the Reno desert area isn’t super attractive it ain’t to bad and there is the Tahoe thing. It’s much like a small vegas. You can enjoy the strip area but also don’t’ have to do anything with it if you don’t want. The gambling, aside from all the negatives, provides a solid economic engine. Carson City to the south really isn’t much at all so Reno is the biggest city for quite a ways.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I speak of Reno, but I suspect that Carson City may ultimately have more potential.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Well Carson City is closer to the legal brothels so it has that going for it. But without that and the state gov, CC isnt’ much. Reno, if i’m remembering correctly might have water problems though.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Reno also has a history of senseless, pointless gun violence.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Watching someone die does have a point. Not a great point, but it is one nonetheless.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                It’s a good thing she’s no longer AG.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                The dense settlement around Reno is about 9x that around Carson City in population. It’s a reasonable supposition that north of 40% of the population of Carson City is attributable to the presence of state government headquarters. I would tend to wonder if towns like that and cities like that for any sustained period of time have much future potential bar from the effects of general demographic growth on state employment. It would be interesting to look into the history of state capitals who have diversified economies and ascertain the history of that development. You seem to have a mess of places like Springfield (Illinois), Tallahassee (Fla), Pierre (S. Dak), Juneau (Alaska) whose development seems to have been arrested by the presence of the state.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Counterfactuals are hard, but most of those cities probably wouldn’t have excelled either way.

                Notable among them is none of them have flagship universities. Tallahassee technically may be an exception, but Florida State was a late bloomer.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                As recently as 1940 there were only two million people in Florida (same as West Virginia) and the population center of the state was just north of Orlando. There are two million just in Tampa / St. Petersburg as we speak, and 19 million in the whole state. Any institution in Florida is likely to have been a ‘late bloomer’.

                A mess of small states really do not have the clientele for a state research university, though everyone has a token ‘university’. Flagship campus in Missouri is in Columbia, which is a small city (though larger than the state capital). In Maine it’s in Orono, which might have a population of 10,000 or so….Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Juneau’s development only exists because it is the capital. Without the capital there J is only a fishing village with a couple thousand people at most like all the other towns on the AK panhandle. There is almost no industry in that area since logging went east. There are cruise ships in the summer and some fishing.

                That area can’t support much population, never really has. The capitol keeps that region going.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                The gambling provides an economic engine until the nearest Indian tribe sets up a casino, tax free. Other than mining and petroleum, gambling is the best candidate for poisoned chalice industry. See what’s happened in Atlantic City, which put its wagers on gambling and not on improving quality of life.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I know all about Atlantic City. Gambling is full of externalities and not any sure path to riches despite what fool and liars ( Hiya Trump) like to peddle. In some cases it does work well for some parts of a community, but not without costs.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:


                There’s only so much of it for a place like Reno.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                It’s the standard western problem, though. There are three demands placed on the water supply: wilderness, agriculture, industry (ie, large cities). In most places, pick one. If Nevada decided to put enough money into buying out the downstream ranchers and Indians on the Truckee River, there’s plenty of water for Reno to grow enormously. Of course, it would finish killing off Pyramid Lake (and two endangered fish species). Good thing LA did the same thing to the Owens Valley before inconvenient things like the EPA and Endangered Species Act came along.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                The EPA ruins everything.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Is Nevada a strictly riparian rights state? Even if so, there still has to be water in the river to take out before your riparian right means anything.

                My wife and I take a trip to Tahoe every year around our anniversary in the middle of May, which happens to fall between the snowy winter and the touristy summer. Every year we’ve been recently, the Truckee has been dry at its source, and even now after an El Nino event, you can see by webcam that the lake level remains appallingly low.

                I just don’t know where this water is going to come from. Deep groundwater?Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Nevada is a prior appropriation state. Most of the senior rights are held downstream of Reno. Today’s flow rate at Reno is 740 cubic feet per second — 475 million gallons per day. Reno/Spark’s daily consumption is less than 60 million gallons per day.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco says:

              It’s not a small city. As for people and jobs moving in, it’s nearly three times as populous as it was when she lived there. You should still be scoping places in Syracuse or Allentown / Bethlehem.Report

        • Avatar Art Deco says:

          They may be ‘great locations’, but are they great settlements, or even satisfactory ones? Much of Richard Florida’s work may be unsubstantiated and used in support of dubious policies, but he does have a general point that people will be inclined to set up their business in a city in which it is pleasant to live.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            …but he does have a general point that people will be inclined to set up their business in a city in which it is pleasant to live.

            The “Colorado paradox” is an actual thing in the education literature. Second- or third-most educated workforce in the country, despite the fact that we do a mediocre job of graduating the local kids from high school and college. And not just setting up businesses — one of the jokes in the mountain resort towns is that if you’re eating at any place fancy, the odds are good that your waiter/waitress has a better degree than you do.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I’d definitely think about moving my practice out of the LA Basin and into a lower-cost area out by Burt (which is north of LA) or into Riverside / San Bernardino (which is east of LA).

        Why stop there? California blows. Move to Seattle or move back East where the real people live.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Moving from California to Seattle seems like a fire-frying pan deal. Not suggesting Butte or anything, but if those are your options I’d likely just stay put and save yourself the hassle.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco says:

            My sister’s been pleased with Seattle for 30 years. The real estate prices are what bother her, not the traffick. Also, the company of the young is less pleasant when you’re past 50 than when you’re 25. Not unpleasant, just less pleasant.

            Nothing really justifies staying in California other than dementia.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I loved the Pacific Northwest. If I had a billion dollars and no obligations, it’s probably where I’d be.

              But if I were leaving California for the cost, it’s not where I would go.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                I think it’s still less costly than the Bay Area. You leave California to get away from the plague o’ locusts known as ‘Californians’.Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                Seattle is very expensive by most standards, but it’s much less expensive than the Bay Area. Definitely a reasonable move for a cost of living reduction.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Well if you insist on living in Seattle, or Mercer Island, or parts of Bellevue…

                I live in Issaquah & it is quite affordable. Mostly because I have no need to go to Seattle daily.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Also, Tacoma’s pretty much like Seattle was 25 years ago. And has addressed a lot of the specific problems Tacoma had 25 years ago (in particular, the smell). Which is nice.Report

        • Avatar Francis says:

          Not to me it doesn’t.

          (And my wife’s job does require her to be physically present. Arrestees, prosecutors and judges like to see the public defender in person.)Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        A lot of the tech recruiters I’m talking with are physically located in lower-cost areas. They do 95% of their work over the phone and internet – and really, the resource and the company are the only ones that have to be in compatible locations.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      CityLab at the Atlantic said similar things earlier this month.

      I’m not sure I agree with Will’s “ebb” remark. There was a point in the last few years when the urban cores were growing faster as a percentage than the suburbs, but on a much smaller base (roughly half). The suburbs were still growing faster in absolute numbers.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        When I worked at a firm in Marin, a lot of the clerks and paralegals were young millennials who lived in suburban Marin and Sonoma. They were suburb lovers in ways that I found kind of perplexing. When I was growing up in the burbs of New York, I always assumed my young adulthood would be spent in cities.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          I don’t think that I was any different — but my view of what living in a city was like was very different from yours. Put it this way: except for a small minority, the people who live “in Denver” or “in Omaha”, including young adults, live in places that physically resemble NYC suburbs.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            Jed Kolko made a similar observation a while ago. Most American cities are basically giant suburbs or collections of suburbs. Even LA can feel like that at places.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain says:

              Even LA can feel like that at places.

              Can feel like that? With very little exception, the LA basin is the model for the rest of the West’s metro areas — don’t let the sheer scale fool you. Oh, I know people in Portland and Seattle and Denver who claim otherwise, but they’re wrong. If you spend time in those three metro areas, they’re much more alike, and like LA, than they are anything east of the Mississippi River. From where you are, pop down to San Jose. Is the model San Francisco, or is it LA?

              I was particularly enjoying @art-deco ‘s comments this morning. Wonderfully clear examples of the East US versus West US dynamic.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco says:

              Greater Washington is a collection of suburbs, due to curios re administrative boundaries and zoning regulations to protect the position of historic architecture. Most cities have a core of pre-war development with a notably different morphology than post-war development. If the streetscape is designed not for people but for automobiles bearing human cargo, you’re in the suburbs. Signatures are (a) absence of side walks, (b) strict segregation of residential and commercial land use with no commerce within geezer walking distance, (c) macadam in front of the enterprise and not behind it, (d) thoroughfares more than 4 lanes wide (and without street trees or sidewalks). Pre-war development produced neighborhoods which looked like the previous generation; municipal annexation commonly followed. Municipal annexation was discontinued by state law in New York and New Jersey in 1924, local governments began to adopt coookie-cutter building codes without making adaptive changes, and builders responded to the advent of climate control by taking no account of climate in construction. You can see the results. If you want to live someplace handsome where I grew up, you have to live in the core city or in the very oldest suburban developments (usually once-discrete towns which were enveloped later by tract development)..Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            They might actually be more suburban than most New York City suburbs. Nassau County, which with Los Angeles is something of an archetype for mid-20th century suburbia, is more dense than many sunbelt cities. The population density for Nassau County is somewhere between 4000 and 5000 people per square mile. That’s pretty damn dense. Many of the villages have town centers near the LIRR stops that include apartments and urban neighborhoods.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain says:

              Interesting. My suburban zip code west of Denver comes in at 4900 per square mile. I think you’d have to look hard to find people here who would describe it as “pretty damn dense”. Typical — for here — mix of single-family houses, garden apartment complexes, townhouses, schools, churches, retail, parks, greenbelts, etc. We’ll sneak up to 5000 over the next decade as infill finishes and some higher density goes in around the new light rail line in the city.

              The difference, of course, is that in Nassau County it just goes on for feckin’ ever. Here, I’m within bicycling distance of many contiguous square miles that are effectively zero density. Agreed on at the ballot box to remain zero. Completely different model than the suburbs I lived in on the East Coast during my time there.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco says:

                About 2,300 per square mile is normal for a suburban township entirely consumed with tract development. There’s a good deal of variation in core city densities depending on when municipal annexation was discontinued and how antique general settlement is in the area. The eastern Rustbelt core cities clock in at 6,000 per sq mile. Farther west, it’s lower.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Saul Degraw: The way to make cities affordable is through density and upzoning but this means cramming families into small apartments.

      That doesn’t really make sense. High cost is the reason people live in smaller apartments than they would like to. Upzoning reduces cost by expanding supply, allowing people to live in larger apartments for the same price, or the same size apartment for a lower price.Report

  11. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Is the Penguin Lain’s new pet?Report

  12. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    A2: One reasons why China’s Family Planning Policy was a big mistake was that Chinese society was not modern enough to deal with it despite some few decades of Communist social engineering. From my clients, I learned that the Chinese dating and marriage system is very materialistic and parents want to make sure that their daughters grooms have prospects. As the number of women decrease, the price to date them increases. Its sort of a reverse of what happened in the USSR after World War II.Report

  13. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    A4: When I was in Japan for a year, I didn’t feel that I got it exactly but understood the feeling of the place. Japan is a close-knit society and Jewish culture is also an inherently closed-knit society. Even though Jewish and Japanese cultures are very different, you get the similar feeling.Report

  14. Avatar veronica d says:

    T2 — Oh heavens, just stop OMG! “Queering code”? Good grief.

    Formal semantics is formal semantics even if you’re a woman born with a dick. Just, be serious.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      I’m reading that now.

      Software engineering consists of one agent (the programmer) giving commands, and another (the computer) receiving and, unless there’s an error, obeying them. To make a programming language feminist, she told me, would require shifting to a collaboration-based structure.

      I. Just. We want the programmer to negotiate with the computer to find a course of action programmer and computer both consent to?

      Let’s make other inanimate machines feminist too, while we’re at it – imbue bicycles and refrigerators and power drills and levers and inclined planes with agency so they must be negotiated with in order to function according to physics. That’s certainly never been the basis of any horror movies.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Right. It’s like, just because you can apply theoretical framework X to situation Y, that does not mean you should.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I was hoping someone could explain to me why that piece wasn’t ridiculous.

          It was interesting to read, in an outworldy sort of way.Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          I think the initial framing is sound – code is political – but then the piece immediately goes off the rails, talking about art projects as though they were EFF projects.

          I think too many programmers and software engineers see only the engineering challenge, and miss what their product put to use will do to power structures and people’s lives.

          The basis of programming languages in English seems like the kind of thing that could maybe be handled by an internationalization framework – let primitives and function names match the language of the IDE’s interface, so the same exact body of code can have a “while loop” for an anglophone programmer a “während Schleife” for a German speaker and a “trong khi vòng l?p” for a Vietnamese speaker.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Better yet, just start to code only using braces and other special characters…
            no reason you really need a “word” if, certainly conditionals ?: don’t need an if then in words

            As a plus,you get quicker coding.Report

            • Avatar veronica d says:

              @kim — Secretly an APL girl?Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog says:

              Why stop there? Whitespace!Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                wow, you could totally put code within other code with that!
                Fun fun!Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                I’ve done Python where the guys who developed the codebase didn’t have a convention as to whether tabs or spaces should be used (for those not familiar, Python does nesting of scope via shared whitespace levels rather than enclosure in braces or parens) – but did have a convention that code should only refer to any internal classes via a table of aliases (admittedly, this was for a decent, albeit obscure, reason).

                The Whitespace language actually seems kind of reasonable to me…Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                I’m actually pretty easygoing on the whole semantic whitespace thing. To my view, Python has problems, but not that. On the other hand, why make it harder for yourself? That’s just cray-cray.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            @dragonfrog — I mean, I’m a Lisp programmer, so for me the semantics is always there, sparkling on the surface. I don’t care what words we use. Just keep your parens nested.

            (I’m waiting for someone to explain why the requirement for properly nested parens is an example of patriarchy.)

            Anyway, once you see a programing language as it’s raw semantics, translating the keywords to not-English seems trivial. A machine can do it.

            Now, when I write code, I must name my abstractions. I must give datatypes names, and functions, and so on. Those names will be (for me) in English. It’s not practical for me to produce them in a wide variety of languages.

            That said, the names are just labels. They are tokens I attach to help me understand the intentions of the code. Behind those names, there is nothing but formal semantics.

            I understand the desire to have vibrant software culture in language communities other than English. In the end, however, non-English speakers will have to produce those communities. Furthermore, multilingual people will need to provide a bridge between the communities (perhaps aided by machine translation) — which, I think consistent machine translation will work better here than for natural language. After all, programmers frequently give things positively goofball names, even when read in English. (“AbstractFactoryFactoryFactorySingleton”.) In the end, however, the formal semantics determines the meaning, not the natural language moniker the developer has attached. Formal semantics is math. Math is trans-lingual.

            (Well, plus there are the code comments. So yeah. Those remain hard.)

            There has been a suggestion the S-V-O word order in English affects how we structure code. As a Lisper, that seems a preposterously absurd theory.

            I mean, maybe for Perl. But if you use Perl, you deserve whatever happens to you.

            (I actually kinda like Perl. And thus I have earned my pain.)Report

            • Avatar Autolukos says:

              You and the compiler, always enforcing a narrow-minded idea about proper coupling between parentheses.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog says:

              I suspect you have seen this plenty of times already, but you reminded me of it.


              Also: “My other car is a cadr”Report

            • Avatar El Muneco says:

              +1 internet.

              I’m trying to move (professionally) into Python or Java. In the past I’ve used C, ESQL/C (C with embedded SQL), Perl, OPNET (a proprietary environment that modeled communications systems using C as a scripting language(?) ), FAST (a “visual programming” flow-of-communications tool where the only data structure was the linked list), C++, Python, PL/SQL, and an in-house state/transition architecture that used javascript and later Java to implement its transition rules.

              I have a fairly jaundiced view of how much difference there really is between various technologies and what their proper place is in the grand scheme of things.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @el-muneco — Well, no one owns the “grand scheme of things” (although in the grand SCHEME of things…), but I digress…

                I say that stuff such as Lisp and Haskell really are different. They are manifestly a different way to think. Are they a better way to think?

                I mean, that turns into a religious argument fast. It’s hardly worth discussing. It’s just a dumb fight with dug in heels.

                A few times I’ve tried to drop PG’s “blub programmer” argument on some manifestly blub programmers. They never seem to appreciate it.

                Which, blah. I think the “blub theory” is correct. Which doesn’t mean I think they’re stupid or whatever. I dunno. Can you convince someone to expand their viewpoint when they are perfectly happy where they are?

                I think some people see deeper than other people. It’s like, they have math-brains or mad abstraction skills or whatever. I think I might be one of them. At least a little bit.

                I also kinda don’t want to sound like an elitist asshole, so yeah.


                One point is, to me it’s more about one layer beneath the language, the semantics, particularly the semantics that emerge as you develop your system. Do you have an algebraic model? Are there axioms? Theorems? Are your datatypes type-theoretic?

                I mean, you don’t have to write all that out, but it should (in a sense) be there. If it is not, then your software is a hodgepodge of maybe-it-will-work.

                Some languages get you closer to the math. Some isolate you. It matters.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I can… kinda… see this. How well does lisp do on parallel processing? Is that question even fair?Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Terribly, just like everyone else.

                Actually, Guy Steele was out at our office a few months back, where he did a presentation, largely using Fortress — which of course no one uses Fortress, nor will they ever. But his core ideas were exactly what I am saying. You need an algebra. Is your operation commutative? Is it associative? Different choices give the compiler different options. You need to know what they are and thus what you can do.

                My employer, of course, has taken a very different path, to good effect. But all the same, map/reduce has certain obvious limitations. Tensorflow is amazing, but at the tasks it is designed for. A general algebra of parallel/distributed programming — we need that. Right now we’re mostly asking if we can do massive machine learning at scale, which it turns out we can.

                (You all have guessed where I work by now, I assume.)Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Haven’t guessed, actually. (Hope you haven’t guessed where I work either, though I’m not exactly trying to hide it).

                Map/reduce reminds me of Hadoop, which puts who you’re working for at a fairly limited number of companies. Assuming you’re actually working on it, and not something else.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Heh. No Hadoop around here.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                hmm… well, tensorflow is one of google’s toys…Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Seriously, is there any programming concept that can’t be grafted on top of Lisp? Add some form of process, message and storage, plus Lisp to express them, and then we’re just debating syntactic sugar…Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @michael-cain — Concurrency. Which, sure you can get the semantics, but the specific performance profile of, for example, Erlang, required a particular VM architecture. Likewise the particulars of a stop-the-world versus concurrent GC happens at a sub-linguistic level. You cannot just graft that onto a Lisp without a compiler change.

                Call/cc is another. It’s built into Scheme. In one of his books PG shows how to do it in Common Lisp, however it requires rewriting literally every library function. That’s kind of cheating.

                Then there are typing systems.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Heh. Plus, if you really want to, you can write Pascal in any language.

                When I was taking an upper-level course in programming languages (this was around 1990, so the only actual language we studied that’s still relevant is Lisp), we had a unit on Smalltalk. I’d done undergrad work on OOP (this was before OOP was a thing, so you could still do a legitimate course thesis on the theory), so I was like it was a candy store. Full object/class decomposition of the problem, everything parameterized, the whole nine yards. Looked at some of the other people’s work after we’d turned everything in – most of whom had clobbered me on the GRE subject test. Never saw so many 300-line main programs with no function calls, much less any use of features from, um, the language we were supposed to be studying…

                Yeah, at the end of the day each person thinks how they think, and hopefully they’ll find a way that’s conducive of expressing that. I worked with a guy who just instinctively grokked some of the more obscure Pythonisms, whereas it’s taken me days of work just to get the framework to write something (1) syntactically correct, that (2) does something like what I wanted.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Well, if I remember my programming languages and compiler theory class properly, as long as the languages are fully featured you can do anything in anything.

                Efficiency, on the other hand, is not guaranteed. 🙂

                As a coder, I’m an outlier. I haven’t moved around much. Went from C/C++ to Java, then to ColdFusion and ASP (then .NET), then back to C++ and GUI design, with some C# and SQL work thrown in.

                Right now it’s all C++ using an open-source GUI library, and it’ll be that way for another year or three at least. Pretty happy where I am and what I’m doing.

                Interestingly enough, I’ve worked for at least…6 companies and 4 or 5 large contracts or so in 18 years. And yet my seniority has accumulated — each time I switched companies, it was when a contract switched hands (so you kept your seniority), and each time I switched contracts it was within the same company.

                My resume, honestly, should read “Code Monkey for NASA’s science and engineering contracts” dating back all the way to college (I was an intern!) with all the shuffle being pretty internal. Instead of lists a lot of aerospace and engineering firms, with an average of 3 to 4 years at each.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                You’d be amazed how many people – some who have been given amounts of responsibility – believe that “X” language or “Y” open-source tool are special snowflakes, not functionally equivalent to anything else, and that the conceptual leap is practically unbridgeable.

                Well, not you personally. But it’s amazing in principle.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Yep. Although most of what I remember from compiler theory is a lot of fun string parsing concepts (which makes sense, given how compilers have to start with parsing your source code….), but I do remember quite a few examples in a number of languages showing how to implement simple concepts like basic data structures (trees, linked lists, etc).

                If it’s a fully featured language, it can do it. Mind you, some of them were ugly, inefficient, and clearly not what the language was designed for — but it could be done. (I admit, I rather love the simplicity of binary trees in object oriented programs. It can be so clean, elegant, and even real-life code seems almost like a simple example because of the way so much of the guts are abstracted away).

                But bah. It’s all the same — some stuff’s better for this than that, and there’s a bit mental leap between some languages (C experience doesn’t really help as much with LISP, and then there’s scripting languages compared to compiled languages) and others….

                In the real world, of course, 90% of the time the language you use is the language what you’ve already got is written in. 🙂

                (We’re at a fun point in development wherein it’s getting increasingly clear that a tear-down and rewrite of large sections of complicated, core, code are needed. But trying to explain to paying customers that we’d like to basically deliver nothing visible for a few years — while they keep paying! — while we we rewrite the computation engine and the GUI based on a decade+ of use and evolution is…not an easy pitch. Instead we’re modularizing what we have as much as possible, doing ugly hatchet jobs to pare it down to smaller sections that can be updated in shorter time frames while development on other areas continues).Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                (I admit, I rather love the simplicity of binary trees in object oriented programs. It can be so clean, elegant, and even real-life code seems almost like a simple example because of the way so much of the guts are abstracted away).

                I’m working on self-training both Python and Java – both of which I’ve used professionally before – to the point I can pass a hostile technical screening, so I’m redoing a lot of CS 200 and 300 (solve toy program in Java, do it again in Python, then again in Java using “proper” idioms, rinse, repeat).

                There were a couple of times I put the skeleton for a solution together (I tend to be a prototyper, very iterative dev style), and basically the first time I got the syntax correct, it spit out the correct final answer. “Is that it? The person who wrote the problem didn’t expect that!” Basically, the language itself – with standard extensions – had evolved to the point where the problem was trivial.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I’ve come to hate hostile technical screenings. I’m just BAD at them. (Not enough practice, for one. All those internal moves meant softball interviews, you know? They had deep work records they could parse, and could talk to my current bosses and technical leads).

                Give me a problem and let me play with it and come back. I don’t like thinking while strangers are staring at me. (With a team I know? No problem). Of course, these days you can’t because I could just do a bit of googling or post in a few places and get the exact answer.

                OTOH, that’s also smart coding. When I had to solve an entirely new type of problem for me (drawing canvas, determine if a given point is inside a shape) I…googled it. I located a workable method for point-in-polygon, assimilated it, stole a ton of C++ code for doing basic geometry (find the closest point of a line segment to a point, determine if two line segments intersect, determine if a line segment intersects a circle) and did some finish work to adapt it fully to the problem at hand. (My polygons weren’t — they were enclosed shapes of arcs and lines, but the arcs could be drawn either direction, and the closed shapes could be nested).

                I COULD have taken three times as long to do it all from scratch — assuming I ever worked out the rather elegant and simple point-in-polygon method — which I doubt, actually. I’d have hacked together something, but not nearly as robust and simple. I could have done it faster if I could have borrowed some open source libraries, but that’s not allowed without paperwork.

                I hate interviews, I really do. I just don’t think right for them. I get flustered, or don’t take time to think a second… (Heck, I don’t even lie on my resume. Crazy, right?)

                And I suppose my disdain for memorizing obscure crap I can always look up doesn’t help. (True story: Function pointers, got asked a question that boiled down to “What’s this” and I said “You turned a function into a pointer, for reasons that escape me”. He then explained why he’d done it and I said “So you simulated polymorphism in what seems to be a horrible unsafe way?” Because I’ve never actually used a function pointer in my life. But I have used polymorphism. Thank god that wasn’t an interview.)Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                I’m totally with you. I wonder about people who mark you down if you are googling during the screening because, WTF, I’m going to be googling when I’m working – do you think I can remember everything I’ve ever learned and everything I haven’t while standing on one foot?

                I’m convinced that the whole process is about either playing the system or leaning on your previous contacts until you reach a real human who has discretion. Kind of like phone tech support.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              There has been a suggestion the S-V-O word order in English affects how we structure code. As a Lisper, that seems a preposterously absurd theory.

              Almost all programming languages vary between SVO and VSO. Even languages that are supposedly SVO will get a little VSO-ish with functions that are like ‘verb(subject,object)’ and the result is in subject.

              It’s just that in most languages you get even more lines like ‘subject = verb(object)’, and that’s the main paradigm, whereas with LISP you…don’t have that, right? (I do not know LISP. I did, oddly, used to program in a language called MUSHCode that was mostly functional.)

              Wait, what do you mean ‘how we structure code’? I assumed you meant how the language itself was designed, but…maybe not?

              Also, you’re a *LISP* programmer? What the hell is written in LISP? That’s always been classified more as an academic exercise than an actual used language in my mind.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @davidtc — I work on a ginormous app that computes near optimal pricing solutions for airlines. It is thick with years of tedious industry specific business knowledge. About 600,000 lines of Common Lisp and 400,000 lines of C++. It’s a delightful bag of terror. I kinda love the preposterous monster.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Ah, the tech industry, where people build things that are the equivalent of a 10 story building balanced on top of some big rigs, and then drives them onto a river ferry, which is then kept from sinking by really big balloons.

                And then looks at it and say ‘Yeah, that looks like an entirely reasonable houseboat I just made. We shall maintain it for the next two decades!’.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                The product I worked on for my last employer was a bit smaller, but same rough order of magnitude. I think we counted some 18000 C++ source files, about evenly split between hand-crafted and auto-generated, plus two different, non-communicating, Python workspaces, and an integral-but-separate protocol translator.

                Took me years to really grok it – no one ever managed a visualization of either the database structure or flow-of-control through large parts of the system that made sense to anyone but themselves – and once I did, it simultaneously made it redundant to train anyone else up and made me too valuable to work on anything else…

                But, like you, looking back, I’m still fond of it. Even the crap parts. Sometimes especially the crap parts.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                My current product is a C++ GUI (well, like ten) that’s been stuffed on top of a FORTRAN computation engine that was designed originally for screen prompts, then for exactly formatted input files, and then finally adapted to let users use a freaking GUI.

                Suffice it to say, it’s current iteration is NOT what it was originally designed for. It’s held together with hacks and duct tape, and we live for the times we get to take a chainsaw to stuff and make it make sense. (Not often. Users pay for new features, better features, better answers, etc. They don’t like paying for “It looks just the same, but we promise that the parts you can’t see and don’t care about are SO much better”).Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                God, that sounds like the first job I had out of school was – a DoD project linking a bunch of independent academic projects (in whatever language the professor felt was appropriate) into a mutually-communicating data-sharing product with a single, consistent GUI. It hardly needs to be said that none of the projects was designed to either communicate with anyone else, or to be in the purview of the DoD.

                There’s a reason the DoD eventually implemented the successor program to ours, treating ours as a proof of concept.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                I worked with a guy once who said, “The problem with software is that the white wires don’t show.” That’s an antique reference to the days before everything was programmable so that hardware errors were corrected by cutting traces on the printed circuit board and soldering on wires (with white insulation, usually) to provide the correct path. When the number of white wires got bigger than a certain number, the board would be redesigned to correct all of the known defects (also to take advantage of the improvements in components).

                It was easy to show management the number of white wires and get funding for the redesign. In software, it’s much harder to show just how fragile the whole assembly is.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Our management gets it — we are in the middle of an overhaul of the oldest (and frankly most critical segment of the code), but I have to admit they’re ALSO right that the paying members — who are more like partners than purchasers — aren’t going to see the benefits of remaining partners if all we give for a few deliveries is the exact same thing (if radically different under the hood) that gives the same answers.

                For them, it would make sense to drop out for a few years and stick with the old version, then join back up (and pay the dough) when we’re done with the “going nowhere” stuff.

                So we’re doing it bit by bit. Well, some of my coworkers are. I don’t really do Fortran. 🙂 But as best I understand it, they’re starting with radical modularization — severing input/output into a separate dll from computation for instance. Which means that going forward we can have more flexible IO without touching computation. We’d like to get rid of the order dependency that’s built on the original design for screen prompts….and we’d like to open up the ability to change and alter outputs flexibly, without having to recompute.

                The more modular the code becomes, the smaller each upgrade becomes — the sort of thing we can work in alongside functional improvements. Easier sell to say “We added Features X, Y and Z. We have better answers for Problem Types A, B, C. And we’ve worked with the core computation mode to allow quicker development in the future and more flexible IO” — you can sell that. You can’t sell “It looks exactly like the last version, performs almost exactly like the last version, but by god, we’re having an easier time with it!”.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                The last time I looked at a line of code was 1986, so excuse my vast ignorance.

                But aren’t there vast libraries available of modular code? How many people are engaged in writing new code that has been done 10,000 times before, recreating vulnerabilities that have already been solved?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone!Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Well yeah, but that just means we can do more.

                Our GUI library means, for instance, I don’t have to worry about “How do I make a square appear on the screen and then draw shapes inside it and then figure out how to tell when a mouse clicks on that shape”.

                Instead I tell the library “I want a square this color and this size here. And I want three buttons (this size and shape and label) here, here and there. And then when I click the buttons, I want to do THIS”.

                But as awesome as that library is. I still have to tell it what to put on the screen. I have to tell it what buttons, and checkboxes, and controls I want on it. And then what to do with it.

                It lets me stick up a window full of stuff, that lets you do more stuff. The library means I can focus on the “What stuff you see and what you do” and not on “How to draw a box on a screen”

                Of course the guys who wrote (and update) that GUI library didn’t invent that all from scratch themselves. They used other libraries (so they didn’t have to worry about how to make the screen show a pixel, for instance, or invent a mouse listener) so they could do more.

                Libraries are tools. The better and more powerful (and the more closely in line their function is with how you want to use them), the more base work you DON’T have to do, allowing you to do more of the “cool stuff”.

                But in the end, they’re JUST tools. You use them to make stuff.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                As I mentioned before, I just got permission to rewrite an API, & I’m already getting pushback from other developers who will have to use it. They want me to keep the same architecture, despite the fact that the existing architecture is part of the problem.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Proper black box design means that, of course, you can still keep deprecated APIs (and even futz them internally to use your new architecture) and they don’t have to change a thing.

                Of course, NOBODY does proper black box design. I mean maybe you could with the old waterfall method, if you called it quits when done. You could plan it out from the get go.

                Doing something like agile development — anything with rapid prototyping — means rapid evolution of code, which means lots of things changing from initial design.

                Object oriented design helps a lot, but even that leaks like crazy in the real world.

                Of course, we still claim black box designs when we sell rearchitecturing. Because we’re gonna try as hard as we can. But eventually evolution of the code will make it leak, and it’ll have to be done again.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Computer wants to have all the moneyz (Can computer gain all the moneyz? No, but it sure as hell can crash the bitcoin economy).
        Programmer does not want to die, which is perfectly reasonable consequence of computer gaining all the moneyz.

        How does one negotiate with a computer one can’t turn off??Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      veronica d: T2 — Oh heavens, just stop OMG! “Queering code”? Good grief.

      Formal semantics is formal semantics even if you’re a woman born with a dick. Just, be serious.

      I dunno, insofar as Queering X means rejecting the unstated assumptions and arbitrary categorizations built into the typical understanding of X, it can result in interesting and useful though experiments.

      Imagine for a moment that dynamic typing wasn’t a thing. That seems like exactly the sort of idea that someone trying to queer programming would invent, right? So who’s to say that there’s not some other equally important idea that this sort of thinking is going to arrive at?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        For my part, I’m 100% down with the whole rethinking unquestioned assumptions.

        Saying something like “the mind-body dualism paradigm is a pair of handcuffs when it comes to computer hardware and software. We need to think about emergent ware!” is something that may be worth saying and exploring, maybe. (I dunno. It was the best I could come up with on short notice.)

        But instead of saying that, saying “the mind-body dualism paradigm for computer hardware/software is patriarchical, we’re going to explore a more feminine computer concept” is… Well, it feels like it’s multiplying assumptions where it might be preferable to start from a place with fewer assumptions.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        Imagine for a moment that dynamic typing wasn’t a thing. That seems like exactly the sort of idea that someone trying to queer programming would invent, right? So who’s to say that there’s not some other equally important idea that this sort of thinking is going to arrive at?

        But this seems to be presupposing a world where all programming languages are identical inside-the-box things, and no one ever invents anything new.

        This does not describe programming. Dynamic typing, object-orientation, just-in-time compilation, etc, programming constantly comes up with innovations.

        Schools that teach programming like to call it ‘computer science’, and although that’s a bit wrong (They are actually teaching ‘computer program engineering’.), there *is* a real field of science called computer science, and that field *does* invent things. Those things end up in little toy languages, and the *useful* ones end up in real programming languages.

        So why do we keep coming back to the same thing? Why does PHP and Python and Java both look like C? Because that format *works*.

        Talking about queering programming is like talking about queering engineerings. Engineering is also coming up with all sorts of interesting things…but we still build houses the same way. And the reason is because those sort of houses *work*.

        Queering things works in social social sciences, where there are a lot of inbuilt, and wrong, assumptions about how people work. Computer science, meanwhile, does not have a lot of incorrect ideas about computers, and is actually pretty good at figuring out how *people* think about programming. 30 years is not a lot of time to come up with misconceptions, and they get corrected fast, because unlike in the social sciences, programmers actually have to *use* them. (Just ask programmers about the misconception inherent in COBOL, aka, the idea that non-programmers could program if they were able to use natural English instead of weird programming conventions. And then tally up how many COBOL-like languages we have.)

        Also…the idea that a programmer ‘give commands’ that the computer is ‘forced to follow’ is a pretty dumbass way of looking at programming, and is rife with metaphysical nonsense. If anyone is ‘giving commands’, it’s the person *operating* the computer…the programmer is usually long gone, and not actually involved in the process in any way.

        Perhaps more to the point, computer do not ‘obey commands unless there’s an error’….computer obey commands, period. Runtime errors do not stop this, because runtime errors are *other pieces of code*, aka, other ‘commands’, countermanding those first commands. (It’s turtles^Wcommands all the way down!)

        Even if a computer completely seizes up, it does so *because it was told to by some errant command*. (Barring the very rare hardware failure…and even most ‘hardware failures’ are ultimately software problems, as in, the hardware started producing gibberish and the software didn’t check for that and got confused.)

        Now I’m wondering if she’s a Ph.D. is in computer science, or if it’s in some random thing, because she’s taken how computers and software is *anthropomorphized* by non-programmers and decided that’s how programmers thinks and someone needs to break them out of their box.

        EDIT: Also, I somehow missed she was talking about making a *logic* programming language. Good Lord. That’s the type of computer language that most programmers forget exists, because it is so utterly, utterly pointless and unusable. Those (and there’s only Prolog, as far as I know) are less a computer language and more a way to *define* things. You can’t actually *do things* with them.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          I’d say obey commands is wrong, computers process instructions.

          Obey implies some kind of agency that your average computer just does not have.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC says:

          EDIT: Also, I somehow missed she was talking about making a *logic* programming language. Good Lord. That’s the type of computer language that most programmers forget exists, because it is so utterly, utterly pointless and unusable. Those (and there’s only Prolog, as far as I know) are less a computer language and more a way to *define* things. You can’t actually *do things* with them.

          Actually, this just makes the whole thing more confusing, because logic programming languages are the types that *aren’t* ‘issuing commands’. Logic computer programs are, in theory, more like mathematical proofs (In fact, sometimes proofs are written in Prolog!), where values are defined and then reduced down.

          Granted, to actually *do* anything (If only to prompt for values and print output, but Prolog can do all sorts of things.), the language does actually have some procedures, which *are* ‘commands’. Or, to put it the way the language does, there are is a logic section (Which is almost pure math), and a control section (Which is basically just a generic procedural language, and not a very modern one at that.).

          So maybe it’s the control section she’s going to try to change into something else? Who the hell knows.

          This is assuming I understand Prolog, which, uh, I don’t, because it’s a toy language that is very hard to do actual work in.Report

        • Why does PHP and Python and Java both look like C?

          So people will use them, instead of whining about how they don’t look like C.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            There is that. Familiar syntax is familiar.

            If you’re lacking any other reasons, keeping the syntax familiar to the most common languages used is a pretty big plus. People can pick it up faster, use it better, and generally the ramp up time is shorter.

            OTOH, keeping with C-style syntax when there are good reasons not to is dumb.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC says:

            So people will use them, instead of whining about how they don’t look like C.

            Well, I was a bit loose with ‘look like’.

            The syntax is the way it is because the syntax is familiar, and there is no point inventing a new word to mean ‘if’ or ‘while’ if we already have perfectly good ones.

            The question is really: Why are almost all *actually used*(1) programming languages procedural, and why do they all have near-identical control structures of loops and subroutines that return values and user-defined variables and whatnot? (Aka, ‘structured programming’.)

            It’s not just because the syntax is familiar. Even languages that wander off into the weeds on syntax (Or have decided to have all standard syntax and then also a bunch of utterly crazy nonsense. *cough*Perl*cough*) have the same structures.

            For example, *COBOL* has the same sort of control structures, or at least those that had been invented at the time it was developed, despite having a syntax created by drunken screaming English professors. Aka, you may write PERFORM STATEMENT VARYING C FROM 1 BY 1 UNTIL C=5, but it’s the same as a ‘for(c=1;c==5;c++) statement’ in PHP or Python or Perl or C or Java or whatever.

            The reason is…computer languages *work*. They are used for work. They are (in the noncomputer science sense) functional. When a new and useful way of doing something is invented, it gets tacked on to every programming language there is (There is Object-Oriented *COBOL*!), and people start using it.

            Asserting that computer science needs queering is somewhat akin to asserting that physics needs queering because it keeps talking about forces, and can’t we try getting along without force?

            1) Hence my shock that someone was actually being paid to write *LISP*. OTOH, LISP is technically only *mostly* functional, and I’ve never seen enough professional LISP to know if it’s actually used ‘functionally’, or if programmers wedge in procedural-style code.Report

            • Avatar veronica d says:

              @davidtc — This production Lisp code I write now is very procedural, with very few ideas from FP present. There are historic reasons why it was done that way, but it’s proven very hard to modernize and distribute the code. FP would have helped. That said, I have written production systems in Clojure in a purely functional style. It worked quite well. In fact, I expect as we move to more distributed architecture, you’ll see more and more FP.

              I also know Ed Kmett and some people on his team, who use a Haskell variant for finance applications. In this case they are concerned with advanced typing and correctness.Report

  15. Avatar Jaybird says:

    A6 – Dude! I saw that!

    I left off the paragraph that talked about how falcons are treated better than the field slaves because I thought it too risible but, seriously, the falcon hospital was swanky. Well, as best I could tell from outside walking past.Report

  16. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    [H2] Hey check it out, regulations putting a floor on prices that result in a lack of options for people below that floor.

    And yet when we say there’s too much government, we’re told that we should move to Somalia.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      I’m all for making stuff better & cheaper at the same time – its the basis of civlization. But this continues the myth that urban housing is expensive because stuff is expensive to build – urban housing is expensive because the right to build on a piece of land is expensive – which in turn gets passed on to making the exclusive rights to space on that land is expensive.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        It’s true to a point – but cities and building code authorities can help or hinder with that, on the basis of what can be done with that exclusive right to build.

        Then can allow large lots to be split into smaller ones, or not. They can allow duplexes or row houses or laneway houses or apartment blocks to be built, or not. They can fill building codes with minimum square footages and zoning regulations with surface parking requirements, or not.

        You should check out the kind of argle-bargle that goes into getting such things past the folks who already own a house or flat, and so perceive it to be in their interest to maintaining housing scarcity (or relatedly, harbour a fear that only psychopaths, meth manufacturers, university students, and similar low-lives ever live in rented homes now that themselves don’t rent anymore).Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        I *was* gonna come back and point that out–it’s great that you can build a house for $20,000, but they show pictures of these $20,000 houses on, like, two acres of woodland. Dude, that’s a $20,000 house on $500,000 of land!

        Not to mention services. Here’s an essay–from 2008, natch–about how the cost of construction is pretty much the same as it’s always been, but the cost of service hookups relative to the tax value generated.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

      DensityDuck: Hey check it out, regulations putting a floor on prices that result in a lack of options for people below that floor.

      At least a couple of the things posted in the housing section today seem like the sort of things that the creators would cite as a feature rather than a bug. Do communities really want the kind of people who would be attracted by a $20k house moving in? Similarly, do they want students moving in to their houses?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Sure, poor people should have housing too – just not near me. And if the choice is between their being housed near me, or dying homeless on a street I can’t see from my awesome new barbecue pad, too bad for them I guess.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      A relevant article from 2015 about the effect of regulations and non-construction costs on home price.Report

  17. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    [R2] I wonder to what extent it’s Christianity specifically, to what extent it’s religion generally, and to what extent it’s purely membership in a supportive community that could just as well be secular as religious.

    This study is American, by the look of it. I remember seeing studies that found that in countries that are more secular, being religious doesn’t produce the benefits to wellbeing that are found in the USA. The interpretation was that, in a highly religious society, being non-religious means isolation from the community; in a highly secular society, being non-religious doesn’t mean any significant degree of isolation – and that the harm is all in friendlessness not godlessness.

    In other words, to a utilitarian, church is as good as bowling – but only in societies where the bowling alleys aren’t mostly empty on Sunday mornings.Report

  18. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    T4: I do think the thought experiment with the simultaneous existence of the source and destination people is about as clear as it gets.

    1) You step on the send pad. Cool noises.
    2) A copy of you appears on the receive pad.
    3) The people on the receiving end radio back to the sender and say, “He arrived OK. Go ahead and shoot the original.”

    After thinking about it this way, I’m not sure how people can ask the, “But is it really *me*?” question.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      More fun questions would lay on continuity of consciousness. I you can dismantle me and put me back together, you have everything you need to run me virtually. Which means you can fork me, and run multiple copies of me simultaneously.

      Which will eventually diverge to the point where they can’t be merged, and a new person created.

      OTOH, it’s pretty clear some of our brain functions on a quantum level and I’m not sure how well you can really scan that without changing it (although it may not be critical to consciousness).

      I suspect we’d more likely see something like being destructively scanned, transmitted to a destination, then shoved into a 3D printed body. We’d also call that “modern medicine” by then. And we’d have to deal with thorny questions about uploaded personalities, forked personalities, etc.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        I recall a short bit of sci-fi that had a similar premise. Guy is scanned and uploaded to probe memory, probe is launched into distant space. If probe hits a snag or reaches destination, guy is printed and ready for work. Should he die, probe prints another copy.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          We’re…not as far from consciousness uploading as people might think. (We’re also not as close as some people really wish). Now non-destructive uploading? Totally different thing.

          But destructively? Well, last I checked we had uploaded lobster stomach ganglia (more complex than their brains) and we’re uploaded bits of rat brains.

          They’ll probably end up combining into our LobRat Overlord AI.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          I think it was China Mieville’s Kraken that had a character who was capable of doing a Star Trek style teleport, but he was constantly haunted by one angry ghost of his obliterated self for each time he did it.

          The concept of backup and re-life shows up in a lot of sci fi, as does consciousness cloned into a computer. I love the idea of uploading consciousness to a computer, partially because the immortality aspect of it has an irrational appeal (given the Star Trek thought experiment) and partially because the potential for human consciousness unencumbered by frail human packaging is really cool. But the problem of identity with multiple copies is not that easy to deal with. If I clone myself into a computer and then the clone copies itself 1000 times and travels the universe, should meatspace “me” even care? What’s my incentive if it’s ‘not me doing the traveling?Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Laws are gonna have to change. Cultural understandings are going to have to change.

            Pretty sure that either forking (copies of yourself) will be outlawed, or be heavily restricted — if they can’t merge back (or don’t chose to) they’re separate people. Not you.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC says:

          There was an episode of, I think, the Outer Limits, where alien-operated FTL teleporters worked this way. The aliens apparently came into the solar system the slow way and set a few of space-station teleportation thingies up so humans could join the galactic community.

          They built a new you at the other end, and sent a signal back to kill the existing you.

          And the episode was about a guy who stepped into one, and the signal was sent, but the other end did not respond for some reason, so the teleporter station had to wait weeks for the confirmation to route back via another teleporter or something, and the original guy basically was forced to live in the station in a sort of limbo. The aliens, knew that, despite them telling humans how the thing worked, humans couldn’t cope with the whole ‘kill the original’ thing if humans could *talk to* the originals, so wouldn’t let him leave.

          As for how it ended…it was the the Outer Limits, how do you *think* it ended?

          Also there was a woman there, but I forget how she fit into the plot.Report

  19. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    [T4] the webcomic “Schlock Mercenary” had an interesting plotline where the alien race who controlled the galactic teleporter network maintained power by copying every being who used the system, then subjecting the copy to destructively intrusive interrogation. By doing this, they learned everything about every other race in the galaxy.Report

  20. Avatar notme says:

    Obama Transportation Secretary: Inequitable Distribution of Sidewalks Is Obstacle to American Dream

    O Really? These folks make me laugh.