Morning Ed: World {2016.09.01.Th}


Will Truman

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

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215 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The interview on Islam and modernity makes many good points but is over-determined. Islam might have more features that make it harder to develop a version of it that is compatible with small l-liberalism but during the 19th century people thought the same thing of Roman Catholic Church. Many Catholics now are nowhere as traditional as they are supposed to be in their life style choices.

    Well, its good that Scotland isn’t going anywhere because that would indicate some powerful geothermal activity.

    That sturgeon is one big fish.

    I wonder if Europeans say “Oh, Norway” like Americans say “Oh, Florida”.

    “Lesbian Farmers in Dixie” sounds like a good concept for a porno.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      ““Lesbian Farmers in Dixie” sounds like a good concept for a porno.”

      Way ahead of you. All sorts of “farming terms” can be used in the movie. “ploughing” etc.

      This thing writes itself!Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        The question that the Dot failed to address in its attempt to skewer Rush is whether it is proper use of taxpayer money to pay for such thing. I doubt they would ask the tough questions.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David says:

          You are right, gov’t porno would be right up there with gov’t cheese. It would be udderly awful.Report

        • Avatar veronica d says:

          I mean, if Limbaugh had made a thoughtful criticism of government spending, then sure. But then, of all the wasteful government spending out there, of which, I’m sure Limbaugh and his listeners could easily find thousands of examples, why was this one singled out? What was it about this particular conference that bothered him? What made him think this would make good comedy fodder for his (ever thoughtful and open-minded) listeners?

          Let’s face it, we’re dealing with an army of homophobic shitheads. So yeah.

          I know Limbaugh is doing “comedy,” so we’re not supposed to “take him seriously.” So fine. We might compare him to Colbert or The Daily Show.

          But the comparison falls flat in the face of Trumpism. Sorry guys. We’ve been talking about the rot in the right-wing media forever. We were right. The shape of recent history has proven it.

          One might suggest that viewers of Colbert or The Daily Show actually were more sophisticated than Limbaugh’s audience. I dunno. That seems a cheap shot.

          But Trump.

          So blah. Limbaugh’s problem is he is full of shit, and he is plainly full of shit, and he keeps switching back and forth from “it’s comedy,” but knowing damn well that it is more than that, and — well — he’s just a big fucking liar.

          There is no government program to attract lesbian farmers. In fact, in the face of the way the contemporary agricultural industry works, it’s not even laughable. Limbaugh almost certainly knows this. He doesn’t care. His audience keeps coming back for more.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog says:

            Besides which, I couldn’t even find the commodity price per bushel listing for lesbians – the market is so small, lesbian farming is only ever going to be a niche thing.Report

        • Avatar Mo says:

          Isn’t that because they couldn’t even confirm that the program exists.

          The Daily Dot was not able to find the sign-up sheet for lesbian farm money


  2. Avatar Damon says:

    Was Brexit the beginning of the dissolution? Perhaps.

    Sturgeon. That’s an old old fish.

    Lesbian Farmers: If only those lesbian farmers could be as attractive as the led pick in the article. *sigh*Report

  3. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Somehow this made it into the Google News Spotlight. This has not traditionally been a particularly reliable guarantee of quality, but this may be the worst anti-millennial rant of all time.Report

  4. Avatar notme says:

    IRS doesn’t tell 1M taxpayers that illegals stole their Social Security numbers

    I would think this would be important but no they would rather aid and abet the illegals.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      How does this failure amount to aiding and abetting?Report

      • Avatar notme says:

        The IRS knows what is happening but does nothing to stop it or even inform the folks that have had their SS numbers used.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          For sound reasons, Congress has always closely restricted the IRS’s ability to communicate with taxpayers and other government agencies. As the Director implied last April, it would take a loose reading of those restrictions to allow the IRS to notify the valid holder of the SS number, and especially the SSA. Myself, I’m loath to let the IRS interpret statutory restrictions in a loose manner. If Congress wants taxpayers notified, and especially if they want the SSA notified, they should change the law. Such a provision is included in a bill that has cleared the Sen. Finance Committee. Senate leadership is expected to let the bill die without a vote.Report

          • Avatar notme says:

            So the IRS has no issue investigating conservative groups but then gets cold feet when telling folks that illegals have stolen their SS numbers. Id rather they err on the side of telling me some illegal stole my identityReport

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              What’s an illegal? Isn’t illegal an adjective?Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain says:

              The IRS is specifically charged with investigating to ensure that 501(c)(3) and similar tax-exempt non-profits conform to the legal requirements to retain that status. I’ll be the first to say that one regional IRS office made a horrible decision about how to sample which 501(c)(3)s to investigate. OTOH, the IRS is pretty much forbidden from communicating information to you that is gleaned from someone else’s tax return, other than when they are investigating you. I’d rather they err on the side of following the law. And I’d really rather that Congress got its collective head out of its ass. Pass a small bill that everyone supports that makes sure taxpayers get notified of this sort of problem — don’t attach it to a huge IRS reform bill that’s DOA when it comes out of committee.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                But if you don’t make monster omnibus bills that lump the good and uncontroversial measures in with the lobbyist-written crap, how are you going to get the bad stuff passed?Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Yes, interesting when the IRS chooses to err on the side of following the law. Just like breaucrats to hide behind rules when it suits them instead of helping Americans.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                You keep assuming the IRS has some manner of discretion to act here.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Bureaucrats usually do, as do cops. If not, that’s what lawyers are for. Find a way to justify it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Let’s see, last time they did that, they spent years getting raked over the political coals.

                I’m sure skating the edges of discretion is high on their to-do list.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “the IRS is pretty much forbidden from communicating information to you that is gleaned from someone else’s tax return, other than when they are investigating you.”

                If someone put my Social Security number on a tax return, then that is me, unless the IRS has started permitting two different persons to file tax returns with the same Social Security number.

                I mean, by your reasoning the IRS can never permit corrections to improperly-filled-out tax returns, because that would be considered someone else’s return.Report

              • You’re lucky; you’ve obviously never had to deal with the IRS.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                The statutory situation is bizarre.

                The returns in question are filed under an ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number), not under an SSN. Filings using an ITIN must include any SSNs for which withholding was done. The IRS uses that information to reconcile inconsistencies in their data, and forwards some info on to the SSA so they can reconcile inconsistencies in their data. Because of past abuses by law enforcement agencies, the IRS is not allowed to send this evidence of illegal employment — illegal in different ways for both employee and employer — on to law enforcement. Nor, for the most part, are they allowed to notify you that your SSN showed up on a return filed under an ITIN.

                To a great extent, Congress has bottled the IRS up in its own little world. This now has (probably) unintended consequences.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          How would notifying taxpayers stop those commiting fraud?Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            The goal — which I support — isn’t to stop the fraud. That’s a much bigger problem. The goal is to notify taxpayers that someone has been using their Social Security number, and that they should take all of the normal steps one takes when financial identity theft is suspected.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Agreed. But Notme, channeling a Congresscritter, said the IRS was aiding and abetting. Nothing presented supports that claim.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Even if they don’t tell the taxpayer, the IRS should inform the FBI to arrest the illegal. Why would they bother to do anything helpful, they are the gov’t?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Clearly you’re not reading what Michael Cain is telling you.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Yes, boo hoo hoo we are the poor IRS folks that don’t break the law unless we want to.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Shorter notme: “The IRS should break the law when I want them to, and be shut down when they break the law when i don’t want them to”.

                Excellent system of government. Have you given the IRS your contact details and informed them you’re the new King of America?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Your claim holds no water.

                I’m going to quote Wiki:
                Aiding and abetting is an additional provision in United States criminal law, for situations where it cannot be shown the party personally carried out the criminal offense, but where another person may have carried out the illegal act(s) as an agent of the charged, working together with or under the direction of the charged, who is an accessory to the crime. It is comparable to laws in some other countries governing the actions of accessories, including the similar provision in England and Wales under the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861.

                It is derived from the United States Code (U.S.C.), section two of title 18:

                (a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
                (b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.

                Where the term “principal” refers to any actor who is primarily responsible for a criminal offense.

                For a successful prosecution, the provision of “aiding and abetting” must be considered alongside the crime itself, although a defendant can be found guilty of aiding and abetting an offense even if the principal is found not guilty of the crime itself. In all cases of aiding and abetting, it must be shown a crime has been committed, but not necessarily who committed it.[4] It is necessary to show that the defendant has wilfully associated himself with the crime being committed, that he does, through his own act or omission, as he would do if he wished for a criminal venture to succeed.[5] Under this statute, anyone who aids or abets a crime may be charged directly with the crime, as if the charged had carried out the act himself.[6] This is distinct from the concept of being an accessory after the fact, a charge distinct from being a principal.”

                So, again, please point out how anything the IRS or its representatives did is considered “aiding and abetting”.

                Aren’t you a lawyer?

                Or just some sort of robot that spits out the conservative talking point du jour? I mean, I know you at least skimmed that article in order to pull out the quote about aiding and abetting, but maybe you should have paid a bit more attention and realized that quote was the inaccurate ramblings of a Congressman and not any actual legal argument or anything of the sort? Does that matter at all?

                Or are we going to get more “boo hoos” because any substantive argument that might have been available to you has been upended already?Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              What are the aliens using the numbers for?Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Does it matter what the illegals are using them for? I doubt you’d be so sanguine if it were your SS that an illegal stole.Report

              • For tax purposes, no doubt. It will make for a bunch of really interesting audits come tax time.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                So aliens are using other people’s SS number, and presumably having FICA witholdings made.

                Where does all that money go?

                P.S If the aliens are using other people’s SS numbers, are those people being damaged somehow?

                Are there some examples of this?Report

              • Well, it’s additional income that won’t be recorded on the victim’s tax return, which will at the least get a letter from the IRS saying that the return is wrong and the refund will be adjusted. And the IRS is /amazingly/ opaque when it comes to tax return glitches (I typoed one digit on one of my children’s SSN one year, it triggered an audit, and it took about half an hour of back and forth on the phone before I finally got the agent to even hint that the SSN was wrong), so I can only imagine the effort it would take for the IRS to admit that extra income.

                (In a better world the IRS would have sent the taxpayer a prefilled tax form that they could either accept or revise, but the various tax prep companies pay congress good money to ensure that doesn’t happen, so we’re stuck with goddamn 20 questions whenever something is funny on our taxes.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Translation: I hate the idea of old people getting money from the government.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


                One of the things bolstering our Social Security system is undocumented dreamers coming here and pouring money into the system.

                Yet another perverse incentive to not fix the problem.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                As far as I can tell, the IRS apparently has some methodology to realize it’s not the actual SSN holders, because otherwise you’d hear lots of audit stories where the IRS is demanding to know why their tax returns didn’t include their wages from a workshop 1000 miles away.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:


                I’m actually pretty familiar with this issue. I personally knew immigrants who did this very thing.

                There isn’t any “identity theft” going on. There are no “victims”. The fact that the Washington Times couldn’t find any victims is the tell.

                The only victims are the immigrants who pay into a fund they will never benefit from.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                To appear legitimate to employers using E-Verify. (which means that they are making payments into the SS system that they will never get out. Hey, look, free money for the Social Security system!)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                It can’t be that innocuous; there must be something more evil going on.
                Rapist anchor babies with calves the size of cantaloupes, or something.

                The Washington Times wouldn’t print it if it weren’t.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Why do you always have to make things racial? Can’t something be wrong bc it is wrong? Or is that unpossible in liberal world?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                This isn’t as clever as you think it is.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                It’s clearly more clever than either you or chipster could answer.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                You’re not even trying.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Why is it wrong?

                Serious question.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                Illegal immigration is a problem for blue-collar workers who see their jobs go away, replaced by cheap labor from Mexico. e-Verify is supposed to guard against that by making it harder for employers to get away with using Mexicans; suggesting that SSN spoofing is “harmless” is not true, unless you’re a racist.

                Turns out Chip Daniels hates black people. Rather a surprise, that!Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                Illegal immigration is a problem for blue-collar workers who see their jobs go away, replaced by cheap labor from Mexico.

                What blue collar workers see their jobs go away because of illegal immigration?

                You are getting the causality wrong.Report

  5. Avatar Mo says:

    Everybody knows Germany is the Florida of Europe.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Burkini Bans: In order to liberate you, we must limit your rights! And strip you down!

    What happens if a Muslim woman shows up in a wet suit?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I don’t think it’s about anything having to do with the concept of “liberty”.

      It’s saying “we have a certain culture and you don’t get to signal that you’re not a part of it.”

      It’s saying “assimilate or be punished”.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Much better.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          As positions to argue against, it’s certainly more resilient against charges of hypocrisy.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            Until you find yourself an outsider.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I’m pretty sure that that’s the problem the French are thinking that they’ll forestall.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I mean folks on the fringe of the inside.

                Like, I imagine poor rural whites in America largely supported a racial caste system because it was racial and they were the right race. But they also supported the caste part. And now that we have a less strict and more diffuse caste system which largely outsides poor folks and rural folks, well, fuck, THAT ain’t what they signed up for.

                ETA: Which isn’t to blame them for the oppression they feel, but rather to point any many folks assume they are closer to the center — and therefore at less risk — than they actually are.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m not successfully tying this together with the burkini ban.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I’m confused… are you trying to?

                The arguments in favor of burka/burkini bans are that they are intended to liberate women. “No woman will suffer under this brutal, oppressive rule while I’m around!” Which seemed rather silly because many women choose to wear these items and all such rules were doing was changing which person got to boss those women around.

                You pointed out that — even if lip service was given to those arguments — the real reason for these bans was to force assimilation.

                I agree that that is in fact many people’s motivations and noted that I found that worse than the absurdity I describe above.

                My position now is that many of the folks who support this type of thinking do so at least in part because they assume they will always be a part of the group being assimilated towards… or at least the group in power to decide who has to assimilate towards what. And that these rules are meant to perpetuate this dynamic… “If we force all the Muslims into French culture, than French culture reigns supreme and I have nothing to worry about.”

                I’m now arguing that many of those folks DO in fact have something to worry about because many of them are at the edge of that “power group” and therefore might soon find themselves being told to assimilate or leave.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s not that I’m trying to. It’s that we started off talking about France’s Burkini ban and you leapt to poor whites in Appalachia.

                I’m not seeing how that ties together.

                Should I bring up stuff like the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the Nice Truck attack to give more context to what France is going for? Having provided that context, can you better explain why poor whites in Appalachia was your go-to example?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                The strange thing, to me at least, is that it seemed as if we were agreeing until all of a sudden we weren’t.

                I highlighted poor rural whites in America as a group that got caught in the dynamic I was describing. It was not meant as a criticism of poor rural whites but rather a recognition that for a long time they tended to be on the “right” side of the inside/outside dynamic but increasingly seem to find themselves on the “wrong” side. But their initial support for that structuring now makes it harder for them to push back against the marginalization they do face.

                Sometimes I think your goal is to disagree with folks. Which is cool — to each their own — but if you aren’t stating your own opinion but rather just taking a contrary stance without identifying it as such, I’d rather not play that game.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It was your comparison that I wasn’t understanding, Kazzy.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Does it make sense now?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                No, not really. Not in context of the French’s Burkini ban.

                Which, it seems to me, is what kicked this thread off.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “I’m not successfully tying this together with the burkini ban.”

                His point is that racist bigots are totally cool with oppression until they find themselves on the wrong side of it, at which the whiny baby rednecks start crying about how unfair the whole thing is.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For the record, I am against racist bigots.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                My point is that oppressors are okay with oppression until they find themselves the victims of it.

                Jaybird said that an advantage to the mindset he presented was that it was immune to cries of hypocrisy or inconsistency. I said this was only true so long as those advocating for it remained in position.

                Ignore the American analogy since it seems to be muddying the waters (because apparently we have to make everything about something else).

                Think of the French folks who favor burkini bans under the guise that foreigners must assimilate or go. What happens if those at the core of French culture — the TRUE insiders — decide that jeans are incompatible with French culture because Marie Antoinette ever wore jeans and most of powerplayers wear suits or slacks so jeans are whatever to them. How do you think those French folks who cheered the burkini bans but wear jeans regularly are going to feel? Are they going to support the jean ban?

                And if they don’t support the jean ban on the grounds that *true* French culture must be preserved, aren’t they now open to criticisms relating to hypocrisy?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If you’re looking at the burkini ban through the lens of oppression, I can understand why you think that they’re related.

                Instead, I’d ask you to consider that they consider the burkini a particular cultural marker similar to the Confederate Flag.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                How is legally banning an item of clothing not oppressive?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If you see the burkini as little more than an aesthetic option, it’s probably exceptionally non-sensical to you.

                “It’s modest clothing! What the hell?!?”

                If you refuse to see it as anything other than an aesthetic option, I imagine that you will never, ever see why it was pushed for in the first place.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Does anyone see it as strictly aesthetic? It seems to me that the whole point of pointing out non-banned modest clothing is to say that it’s not (just) aesthetic. People are pissed because they’re going after modest clothing worn by one group and not modest clothing of other groups.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t think that the ban has anything to do with “modesty”, per se.

                It has to do with saying “you no longer get to signal that you are not assimilated to Western/French values.”Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Is all such Islam incompatible with French values? In a way that Orthodox Judaism isn’t?

                If that’s the declaration, the declaration is a much bigger problem than the ban.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Of course not.
                But Orthodox Judaism hasn’t been recently tied to serious terrorist attacks on the country.

                I imagine that if there were a number of attacks in France that were tied to Orthodox Judaism in some way (not all Orthodox Jews, of course… France is full of Jewish people who do not condone these attacks at all!), we’d see something similar to a ban on yarmulkes.

                And we could talk about how they don’t ban baseball caps.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So… What’s your point here Jay?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Ultimately the message seems
                tO be don’t be identifiable because if someone who is similarly identifiable does something awful, you might bear the brunt of that.

                This is obviously easier for some than others. More importantly, it seems to be the case that this approach makes for more somethings awful happening.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                More importantly, it seems to be the case that this approach makes for more somethings awful happening.

                Oh, yeah.

                Though if we realize that the burkini ban is not best compared to poor white trash in the Appalachians being all bigoted, it might make it easier to forestall the somethings awful.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                When did I say anything about all poor white trash in Appalachia being bigoted?

                You read a comment wherein I pointed out that poor rural whites were now suffering under our current system of oppression as an attack on them. Why?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Because, it seems to me, to look at the burkini ban through the lens of the French trying to oppress Muslims is to misunderstand it.

                They’re coming out and saying “certain ideologies are no longer welcome”.

                To get all “prisoner’s dilemma”, the French have started defecting.Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                Right; what makes it objectionable is that it’s a transparent excuse to harass people who don’t demonstrate sufficient fealty to the French right’s image of the nation.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Of course, an issue here is that it doesn’t appear to be just the Right’s image.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                an issue here is that it doesn’t appear to be just the Right’s image.

                Compare Muslims to Flemish people harder!Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                True, but given another decade or two I think the FN can change that.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “It seems to me that the whole point of pointing out non-banned modest clothing is to say that it’s not (just) aesthetic. ”

                A logically supportable response is to ban the other modest clothing as well, particularly considerin it’s being worn for similar reasons.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well now you’re agreeing with my original point: they’re resisting an oppressive symbol. By being oppressive.

                “Women should be free to wear what they want! Now take off that burka!”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t think that it has to do with feminism, per se. If, for example, a bunch of Amish showed up, the people who did the Burkini ban wouldn’t care.

                They might not even notice.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So they’re saying, “Be less Muslim.”

                If we accept that as a viable position, how can we reject, “Be less Jewish,” or “Be less Flemish,” or “Be less Asian”?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Yes. They are.

                They’re making associations between “the type of Islam that wears Burkinis” and “the type of Islam that drives trucks through crowds of people” and, by banning Burkinis, they think that they’re making some sort of stand against terrorism.

                How viable of a position is that?

                I guess it depends on how many more trucks get driven through crowds. (or the equivalent).

                If the answer is “none”, this burkini ban will look pretty silly in hindsight.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “…by banning Burkinis, they think that they’re making some sort of stand against terrorism.”

                They’re signalling tons. I’m just not sure they are accomplishing anything.

                Then again, we’d cut down on gun deaths by banning guns. Or at least we’d signal our stand-taking.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, they’re not accomplishing anything.

                I never meant to imply that they were.

                I would, however, imply that to see the burkini ban through the lens of “but Lutherans are allowed to wear wetsuits!” is to completely misunderstand what’s going on in France.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                I think it is important to understand the true reason for the ban, and not except the proffered reasons at face value. Looking at whether those proffered reasons are applied consistently is one way to do this.

                The ticket the women received was for not “”wearing an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.” And the French Ambassador tweeted the following.

                Pointing out the hypocrisy of banning the burkini, but allowing other similar garments by non-muslims, puts the lie to these proffered explanations. And, I think, gives us a much better idea what is going on in France.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, I suspect that they’re going to get a lot less hypocritical in the months to come.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I made the initial connection to feminism because, once upon a time at least, many who supported burka-bans (back before burkinis event existed) did so under a genuine appeal to feminism: women should not be made to suffer under the conditions that the burka imposes on them, women should be free to dress as they want, etc.

                But what this ignored was that many women — especially those in Western countries where there weren’t laws requiring the burka — DID choose to wear the burka. Now, we can talk about what went into that choice and how truly voluntary it was and blah-blah-blah, but many (not all) of those initial supporters of burka-bans really thought they were doing the good-liberal-feminist thing.

                From my vantage point, they were not.

                Now, if the case here is that the burka-ban is almost exclusively about signaling who is and who is not welcome in French society — or, perhaps more accurately, what is or is not accepted in French society, well okay then. You are always going to have people angling to say, “This is okay, this is not.” Hell, that isn’t an inherently a bad thing. “Female gender mutilation is a bad thing. You can’t do it here.” Maybe I’m being oppressive. But at least in that scenario, we can point to objective harm done by the practice to a third party. I don’t think we can really say that when it comes to clothing. So, yea, I’m comfortable calling it oppression.

                If people want to say it isn’t oppression because it is about assimilation or whatever… any time the word ‘ban’ is used, I think the onus is on those supporting the ban to show why it isn’t oppressive in nature.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                @kazzy @jaybird

                I think you are both right, but talking about different element of the same thing.

                Yes, the French are saying “be less Muslim, become more French”. But the reason is not just because the people that drive trucks into crowds happen coincidentally to be Muslim. Even if there are no more trucks mowing pedestrians, the “be less Muslim” attitude will continue, while we won’t see much of “be less Flemish”, ” be less Amish”. “Be less Orthodox Jewish”.

                Post WW2 Europeans in general, and French in particular, are very weary of people that refuse to (or are unable to) integrate into the society. With good reasons, they are scared of divisiveness. For two generations now, and for good and bad reasons, the significant Muslim community living in Western Europe has failed to functionally integrate. Instead, they’ve created a parallel community, but with distinct characteristics from a Flemish, Amish, or Orthodox Jewish one.

                The Flemish are Europeans that speak a different language. Yes, this irks the French language purists. But other than that, and some good beer and awful food, there’s nothing different with them.

                The (hypothetical) Amish fully withdraw from society. They don’t assimilate, but they fully don’t interact. As much as possible, they want to be out of society, not inside but at the margins. They are not seen as free riders.

                The Orthodox Jewish are closer to the Muslim, with more personal separation from the regular French society. But, for centuries now, they have been (more or less) successful in participating in the economic life of the communities they live in. There’s another difference: Jews do not believe that Gentiles are under the same obligations as they are with respect to the Talmudic precepts. The duties from the covenant bind only the Jews. As a gentile, there is no problem in you eating a bacon chase urged in Yom Kippur. (*)

                The Muslim community is different to all of the above: they want to stay separate like the Amish, but they are the first in line claiming state welfare benefits while at the same time fighting, or at least resenting, the non Muslims as sinners and immoral. The Orthodox Jewish might want all Jewish women to wear a wig. The Muslims want all women to wear a burkini. So they are not only resisting integration (bad enough) but actually wanting/wishing to change everyone else’s society into something closer to them.

                This, the French won’t take.

                (*) The moment a rock hits a bus crossing through an Orthodox Jewish community because women are seated in the front, the French will, all as one, will scream “be less Jewish”. The kerkurfles we see these days about Haredi men refusing to take their seats in planes because a woman is seating next to them will wear the patience of many quite soon.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                This makes sense, but I have one question…

                How much of the unwillingness of the French Muslim community to integrate is Muslim bullheadedness, and how much is the French not doing much of anything to allow them to integrate. One thing I hear a lot is that the French labor market is very tight and difficult to enter, especially if you aren’t French. It’s hard to integrate if you aren’t allowed to feel like a full member of a society.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “The Muslims want all women to wear a burkini. So they are not only resisting integration (bad enough) but actually wanting/wishing to change everyone else’s society into something closer to them.”


                Is this true? I mean, aside from the radical fanatics who take to arms, how many Muslims want all French women in burkinis? And assuming such people do exist, can’t they be resisted without turning the tables? “You want our women in burkinis? Well guess what… now your women can’t wear them!”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Aside from the people for whom this is true and are killing dozens of people, there probably aren’t more than a plurality of Muslims who believe that all women should dress modestly.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Clarify please.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You asked:

                Is this true? I mean, aside from the radical fanatics who take to arms, how many Muslims want all French women in burkinis?

                I answered:

                Aside from the people for whom this is true and are killing dozens of people, there probably aren’t more than a plurality of Muslims who believe that all women should dress modestly.

                Do you feel that this does not answer your question?Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Are “the peope who think this is true” and “[the people who] are killing others” meant to identify the same group of people? That is what’s tripping me up.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                In the Venn diagram, the larger circle of “people for whom this is true” contains a smaller circle of “people who are killing others”. (Where “for whom this is true” refers to “not only resisting integration (bad enough) but actually wanting/wishing to change everyone else’s society into something closer to them”.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                That makes no sense. “Who thinks that?”
                “Aside from people who do think that, probably less than half.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Your “that”s are getting crossed.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s that and that that’s the problem with that.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well perhaps when asked for clarity, you could do more than just quote yourself.

                So, can you answer this question directly:
                How many Muslims in France want all women in France to wear burkinis?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Not counting the radical fanatics who take to arms?

                Less than half, certainly.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                A better example would be from the link in question dealing with orthodox jewish beach attire. The quoted Rabbi supported the burkini ban despite the fact that orthodox women wear remarkably similar garments. At some future point it is entirely conceivable that they will be on the other side of this insider/outsider divide on a very similar issue.

                edit: I see the conversation moved on without meReport

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Which was exactly my point: support these bans at your own risk.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                Yeah, I don’t get Jaybird argument or even know whether he supports the ban. He seems to be saying it’s based on the recent terrorist attacks and signalling out Muslims (which I think we all agree with). But then says oppression of an outgroup is not the correct lens to view this as.

                This, despite the fact that he acknowledges the ban is targeted at something (wearing burkini’s on the beach) which has nothing to do with the attacks by fringe members of the outgroup, and everything to do with signalling disapproval with an outgroup as a whole.

                I mean, even in his confederate analogy from above (which isn’t great to begin with), banning the confederate flag because of the SC shooting would best be looked at through the lens of oppression of an outgroup (if flying the confederate flag was at all unpopular or viewed as unamerican, which, being from Kentucky, I can assure you it is not).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I mean, even in his confederate analogy from above (which isn’t great to begin with), banning the confederate flag because of the SC shooting would best be looked at through the lens of oppression of an outgroup (if flying the confederate flag was at all unpopular or viewed as unamerican, which, being from Kentucky, I can assure you it is not).

                Now imagine if I started arguing about how we haven’t banned people from flying the Japanese Rising Sun flag in response to a discussion of the Confederate Flag ban following the SC shooting.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                Banning the confederate flag because of the SC shooting would be analogous to banning the ISIS flag because of the truck attack.

                Banning barbecue because of the SC shooting would be analogous to banning the burkini because of the truck attack.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And yet France did this thing that is completely nonsensical.

                There’s no understanding it at all, is there?

                It’s like banning barbecue because of the SC shooting.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                There is understanding it. It just doesn’t make some French people look very good.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We’d better hope they don’t reach the point where they think that they have bigger concerns than how they look.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I’m not sure what your point is here, whether you’re being sarcastic or serious. So I’m going to respond as though you are serious.

                In South Carolina, the dominant culture is that of white Southerners. So, in response to violence emanating from a particular aspect of the empowered majority culture, the response, to the extent there was any, was to target the particular aspects of that culture that are particularly to blame for the violence (gun obsession (oh wait, can’t touch that) and white supremacy (well, we can dip our toes in the water of addressing that but be careful lest we lose elections)).

                They’re not going to target highly visible aspects of white Southern culture that are not meaningfully connected, within that culture, to violence like that of the high profile killing, but are highly connected, from outside that culture, with that culture as a whole (e.g. barbecue).

                In France, the dominant culture is that of white French people, and brown Muslims are a small minority. So, in response to violence emanating from a particular aspect of the mostly-powerless minority culture, the response is not to look with nuance at the culture from which it emanated (anyway unavailable to politicians who don’t know the culture, and are afraid that meaningfully getting to know it would let their opponents brand them as cozy with terrorists) and target those aspects of the culture that are, within the culture itself, meaningfully tied to violence.

                Instead, to please the empowered majority, they target aspects of brown Muslim culture that are, from outside that culture, highly connected with that culture (e.g. physical modesty).

                So yes, both examples are highly nonsensical, and also perfectly understandable why one was pursued and the other wasn’t.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My point is simply this: France has officially started making moves that communicate that they see this particular culture as incompatible with their own.

                They’re beginning with small moves that say “you need to act like you’re assimilating”.

                We’re going to see more of this kind of thing. And the moves won’t stay small forever.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So it’s assimilate or go. Cool. Nice job, French mayors.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Instead, to please the empowered majority, they target aspects of brown Muslim culture that are, from outside that culture, highly connected with that culture (e.g. physical modesty).”

                You assume, of course, that the physical modesty is not one expression of those aspects of the culture that are, within the culture itself, meaningfully tied to violence.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                DensityDuck: You assume, of course, that the physical modesty is not one expression of those aspects of the culture that are, within the culture itself, meaningfully tied to violence.

                Yes, I assume that. I further assume that you yourself don’t have any evidence that would suggest that I’m wrong.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    My takeaway from the Daesh article is that the worst thing we could do is be over there. We just need to withdraw. Let them do their thing.

    It will burn itself out.Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      @jaybird — I mostly agree. I mean, our intelligence services certainly have a role. Likewise, there will perhaps be room for some “special operations” type stuff, to tilt fine balances here and there. But the open display of much air power? It seems a bad idea.

      It will burn itself out. However, it will do much damage in the process. So, the smart move is to keep some distance, maintain a light touch, intervene in key places, etc.

      Of course, all of this requires wisdom, which is — well, how often does the US federal government show wisdom?

      I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I read what I read in the news. I don’t know shit about what actually happens.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        This conversation seems to play out a lot:

        “If we did this thing perfectly, or not even perfectly but just well, we’d make it better! Therefore we should do this thing!”

        “But we’re not likely to do it well, let alone perfectly.”

        “Why do you want this thing to not get better?”Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      I want to get the heck out because it *won’t* burn itself out. Sure, ISIL will burn itself out because it finds enemies everywhere (why are you against the Taliban? Do you know how to even Caliphate, bros?)

      But after ISIL’s demise in the next year or two, the vacuum will draw everyone in a bigger conflict. Assad regime, Sunni rebels, Iranian Qods forces, Bagdad regime, good Kurds, Commie Kurds, Turkey, Russia – all vying for control over territory where the notional lines on the map are almost a hundred years old and drawn by people who literally didn’t care.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        This sounds about right to me. We’re contributing to problems over there. We’re certainly not in any position to make things much better in most cases. But I also think that people are vastly overestimating the percentage of the problem that will go away if we go away. There’s a whole set of problems that go back decades which are stacked on top of a whole set of problems that go back a century that’s stacked on another set of problems that go back centuries. And on top of that, there are a bunch of stakeholders who all want a piece of the final result right now, regardless of any history.

        It seems like the whole region needs some time to settle and work its issues out. It would be great if we could help to make that less bloody and improve the final result, but I’m not convinced that we can. It seems more likely that we’ll continue to either make things worse or be used by other questionable players there who understand the board better than we do.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blew up on the launch pad this morning, destroying the rocket and payload. The payload was a communications satellite owned by Spacecom, an Israeli company that has agreed to be acquired by a Chinese consortium in the near future. That deal may be in jeopardy, as Spacecom lost contact with its most-recently orbited satellite (Russian built and launched) last November, and now this. This is the second Falcon 9 failure in just over 14 months.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Rocket Science is hard, and Rocket Engineering is even less tolerant to error.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I wonder what this will do to the schedule for getting the Falcon 9 human-rated? So far, the Falcon 9’s record is two total-loss failures in 29 missions (today’s wasn’t an actual launch). The main competition in the US is the Atlas V with a record of, I believe, zero in 64.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          I believe the Falcon is a reusable vehicle, which adds a lot to the engineering challenge. It’s easy to build a rocket when you’re going to lose most of it. Something that has to get back in one piece and get turned around on a budget and meet weight targets…

          No, seriously, this shit is hard.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            I’ve heard some scuttlebutt — from pretty pro-SpaceX people in general — that they’ve got some training and QA issues. Not so much cutting corners as having…looser standards than the NASA folks do. (And NASA has been, historically, both overly cautious at times and not nearly cautious enough at others).

            I’ve heard material analysts use the phrase “NASA would never accept/do X” more than once. It’s often followed by an argument over whether NASA’s too cautious or SpaceX is too optimistic about it, so it’s not super cut and dried.

            (The two arguments I can recall offhand one involved a pressure vessel, one with welds that wouldn’t pass NASA’s standards and the other involving re-use of a particular part that had been used in testing that was rigorous enough that NASA would insist on a tear-down or no-cert it in general, but SpaceX slapped onto a vehicle)Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              Which looks pretty damn bad considering that this was a pressure-vessel failure!Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                You got a link to the report you read? I’m curious.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                This was years ago (for all I knew it was a one-off), and from what I’ve read if this was a PV failure (the LOX tank), I’d suspect the fact that they went with colder cryo first. I’ve worked with materials guys enough to know that big thermal changes can change material properties.

                Operator error, changes in design (the colder fuel), and bad/failed parts. If the LOX tank blew (rather than something else rupturing it) that’s the most likely areas.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Sounds like the classic engineering tradeoffs game. NASA was never trying to make a profit, but is very sensitive to public image and political pressure, so their rocket engineering involves very different trade-offs than SpaceX will.

              So NASA can design and launch a very robust (read – over engineered) rocket that will complete the mission, because while they have to be somewhat cost conscious, they just need to complete the mission. Completed missions look good and satisfy politics. The bulk of our rocket technology up until maybe 10 years ago was built to satisfy NASA needs.

              SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc are digging into largely new territory on the engineering front. They have to find ways to be cheaper than NASA, ideally orders of magnitude cheaper, if they want to open up space to a larger segment of the economy. It would also be nice if they could be a bit ‘greener’ about it. Reusable vehicles fit the bill, but are a hell of an engineering challenge (one of my college projects was looking at what was involved in designing a reusable rocket). Riding a bomb into space is hard on, well, everything in a rocket. Acceleration stress, thermal stress (cryogenic fuels, then high temperature exhaust, then a very cold environment as you climb…), all the other loads the various components get subjected to during all parts of the mission. Then you want to recover the rocket, inspect it[1], and put it back into service.

              Honestly, I kinda laughed when you said “NASA would never…”, because NASA never did. Sure, people point to the shuttle, but the reality is that the shuttle wasn’t really a reusable vehicle.

              Comparing the Falcon to anything NASA has fielded is like comparing a Cessna to a Corsair and complaining that the Cessna seems kind flimsy and underpowered.

              [1].I wonder what kinds of non-destructive testing gear they have for inspecting the recovered rocket. There are some newer scanning techniques that have shown promise in spotting damage internal to a structure before the damage is visible on the surface. Boeing used some of those to look for delamination and fatigue, but I can’t recall the name of the technique.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                They have to find ways to be cheaper than NASA, ideally orders of magnitude cheaper, if they want to open up space to a larger segment of the economy.

                Add to that, while retaining reliability in roughly the same ball park. If too many payloads are lost, increases in insurance costs will offset the launch savings. Plus the costs due to delays in generating revenue, and the risk of losing revenue entirely. I’m sure that Facebook, one of the big customers for the Amos-6 satellite, will be looking at other providers.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                And unfortunately, the number of payloads that constitutes “too many” is going to be a small number, probably single digit, unless there are a whole lot of successful ones to offset it.

                Still, everyone should remember that even NASA blew up a bunch of rockets early on in the game, and since then. These ain’t rockets by Estes. I will, however, be very interested to read the post-mortem on this. If it was a pressure vessel fail as DD says, and it happened during a static systems test, then someone has some ‘splaining to do.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Well, the LOX tank blew and they hadn’t test fired yet. So either the tank ruptured or something ruptured the tank.

                The former seems a lot more likely since they hadn’t fired anything.

                If the tank blew, you’re down to overpressure or part failure. Since they were using colder cryo, I’d put my money there since even corner cutting should have their PV’s able to withstand 1.5 times rated load. It’s kind of hard to miss over-filling a tank by half.

                Materials properties vary by temperature, and cold does nasty things. Hence why I’d put my money there. I bet someone’s analysis was off.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I just watched the video again, and I’m wondering if it was the tank itself, or the fill port. The ignition point appeared to be between the rocket body and the tower.


              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                The fill port would be another place where failure due to changes in the thermal regime could occur (and also with over-pressure if there was sufficient back pressure. Liquid doesn’t compress, so…).

                I don’t recall how much colder this new cryo setup was, but I do keenly recall what happened to one American automaker when they tried to refit their engines for diesel in the 70s. (It went badly, because diesel burns hotter and their engines weren’t designed for it).

                On a related note: I watched a video of a pretty low-pressure water-based extinguisher tested to failure by over-pressurization. When it failed, one end of hit the wall so hard that it left an impression in a concrete wall. (Clearly a burst, rather than a leak).Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Over pressure you’d spot unless you were filling the tank crazy fast. There are pressure gauges and check valves all over. The tank would have to be compromised for an over-pressure rupture (which is a possibility).

                But a small leak at the port, or in the supply line… That might not be noticed if people were focused on other things, and could accumulate enough to support combustion.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Yeah, overpressure seems unlikely unless the ground crew was completely untrained, or there was some weird failure that affected a lot of sensors.

                A port leak or line leak though, it’d need a combustion source and LOX should boil off quickly. And they hadn’t actually fired the test (which is bad news, because I read the insurer on the satellite is already looking to invalidate because it wasn’t during the test proper), there should have been no combustion sources around.

                I mean rule number one of fueling a rocket: No sparks.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                You know what they say about accidents (especially in aerospace), it’s never one thing going wrong, it’s two or three connected things going wrong close by, at about the same time.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                There’s also a possibility of a procedural violation – a tank can be good at x psi at both y degrees and y’ degrees, but go from y to y’ to quickly, and the thermal stress can cause a material failure.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                There are some newer scanning techniques that have shown promise in spotting damage internal to a structure before the damage is visible on the surface. Boeing used some of those to look for delamination and fatigue, but I can’t recall the name of the technique.

                Well, I know how it’s done NASA side.

                You basically look at a part and say “Okay, it’s made of material X. It’s subject to loads Y on launch and landing. It has residual stresses Z from previous launches” and then say “What’s the critical crack size? How big does a crack have to be to grow to failure under those loads?”

                Then you inspect to find ones that size or bigger. (With a double safety margin, minimum. So if you say “Any cracks over 10mm will grow to failure” via highly conservative models, you make the engineers search for cracks over 5mm. Sometimes smaller).

                Now how you inspect — they’ve got TONS of tools. (And the crack sizes they look for are on order of 0.01 inches or less, in general). All sorts of scopes, x-ray machines, even electron microscope dealies. And the training for that?

                You give trainees a plate with a number of cracks you put in, of various sizes. If they don’t find all the cracks of the size you specified or larger, they fail. 🙂

                It’s not a lot of fun for anyone (ever tried putting a 0.0001 inch crack in steel — and no bigger? Without leaving tool marks or other hints?).Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                You give trainees a plate with a number of cracks you put in, of various sizes. If they don’t find all the cracks of the size you specified or larger, they fail. 🙂

                Oh I’ve done that. After an hour staring through a scope you want to pour ice water in your eyes.

                I was thinking about the X-ray machines, but it was a specific kind. Very fecking useful, but not something you let a novice play with.

                So yeah, I’m curious about their inspection setup (and training). It’s an obvious place to look for the cause, because SpaceX is young-ish, and they are cutting new territory, so it’s possible they missed something telling just because it’s wasn’t something expected.

                I kinda hope the final report is made public, it’ll be very educational (remember my love for engineering failure studies?).Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Oh I’ve done that. After an hour staring through a scope you want to pour ice water in your eyes.

                Seriously, in this day and age, isn’t this something that a computer with a video camera on the scope would do faster and better?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m sure. I was doing that 20 years ago.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Someone still has to eyeball the images. But yeah, it’s all digital video and pictures. Which is nice, when you really wanna eyeball a corner or something, so you can just stick a probe in and see great scans.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


                PS Exactly how much time have you been spending with the materials teams? Don’t you have code to write?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I’m embedded in an engineering group, because I write software with an engineering team to be used by engineers.

                Materials engineers and fracture folks, in fact. About half our customer base is government the rest is commercial aerospace. Even got some helicopter guys in there.

                The reason ME is on my “Eh, maybe I’ll get another degree” with Chemical Engineering (because in Houston, a CE degree is a job if you want one), is because I do that work.

                Besides, it pays off to talk to — and listen — to the guys that use your tools. Plus it’s fascinating stuff.

                (My previous job? I got to sit in on the daily meetings between the NASA engineers and the Shuttle folks during missions. The first post-Columbia mission was eye-opening when they got the photos back on how much damage launch actually did to the TPS and thermal coverings).

                There’s a reason I accept lower pay. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                It’s funny how you and I seem to be in the same place career wise, but came at it from completely opposite directions…Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            Indeed it is. IIRC, if the Earth’s gravity were just a bit stronger, and the diameter just a bit larger, then LEO using chemical propellants becomes impossible without materials whose strength/weight properties exceed anything we currently know how to produce.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Now Project Orion, OTOH…Report

              • Orion Shall Rise

                Seriously, though I’ve never understood how that doesn’t blow off the bottom of the spacecraft.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Seriously, though I’ve never understood how that doesn’t blow off the bottom of the spacecraft.

                Because you pop the warhead far enough back that you are riding the shock front, not the thermal bloom, and you have a very solid shield back there.Report

              • Thanks!

                (Sounds like it’s also a great way to discourage tailgaters.)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Hrmmmm, the Orion Anti-Tailgating System….

                I bet that would sell, just need to scale it down a smidge…Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Probably not needed. NASA has evidently thrown their hands up on the EM drive* and is publishing a paper. The synopsis, supposedly, is (translated) “Yes, it generates a tiny amount of thrust. We have no idea why, but it seriously seems to be doing it.”

                Implied is “For the love of God, could someone else look at this? We’ve gone nuts trying to explain this thing”.

                Heavily implied is “Good god, this thing can’t possibly work. It’s too good to be true, someone please figure out where everyone’s tests are going wrong”.

                I can’t blame NASA for being really skeptical. It’s like the holy grail of space travel. The only thing that could top it is working FTL or artificial gravity.

                If that works, Orion is pointless. Reactionless wins, hands down.

                *It’s an ion drive, only instead of shoving ions out the back end at ridiculously high speeds, it shoves virtual particles out the back end at ridiculously high speeds. And while virtual particles don’t last long, apparently they last long enough to impart thrust. And while the thrust is ridiculously small, needing scientific notation to express, in space that doesn’t matter if it’s constant. Hilariously, the ion-drive-with-virtual-particles is NASA’s explanation, which is not the same as the guy who built it, and who apparently has decided to just throw one in space and see if it goes.

                Which probably would have been faster than NASA’s testing because (1) they didn’t believe their results, for obvious reasons and (2) testing that small of thrust in a vacuum chamber required vacuum proofing really delicate equipment, which kept breaking.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I saw that this morning. A few days back I saw that the Germans came to basically the same conclusion (i.e. it works, god help us we haven’t a fecking clue why, but it’s thrusting).

                I had mentioned Orion in response to @michael-cain.

                Now the big question is, can the EM drive scale in a non-linear fashion? The test drive might be fine for a small probe, but no one is flying to Mars on micro-Newtons of thrust.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                The NEXT ion drive works on half a Newton, and supposedly this thing scales up to about 1N per MW. So even if you lose 50% efficiency scaling up, you’re still at ion drive levels. With no need for reaction mass.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                That’s good, I hadn’t heard that anyone had tried scaling it up.

                Hopefully as people keep poking it with a stick, we’ll learn how to make it more efficient and scalable.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Supposedly the scaling up is inherent in the design. I dunno.

                NASA’s got a “We have no idea” thing going on, with their only explanation not only being fairly esoteric but contradicting the original designer.

                If I understand the layman’s level version of NASA’s explanation, then it should scale up with power, similar to increasing the power to an ion drive (you eject more particles or eject them faster, generating more thrust).

                The energy-to-thrust without the fuel part is the brain-breaking, this has to be wrong, bit. Like I said, only topped by working FTL or artificial gravity.

                (And hey, they do have a theoretical FTL drive. At least one.)Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Looks like an overpressure in the upper-stage LOX tank. Which doesn’t speak well to SpaceX’s ground ops, because I don’t think any other US launch vehicle has had a failure like that during the fueling process. I’m sure they’ll fix it, but now people will be wondering what other things they’re doing wrong that we don’t know about.

      And people are gonna have fun making wisecracks about the content of “Amos 6”.Report

  9. Avatar Kolohe says:

    At a former job, I read a few issues of Inspire, the Al Qaeda English language magazine. Dabiq looks very similar, to the extent I thought there were the same people involved in production, until the Cracked article said that ISIL doesn’t like Al Qaeda anymore.

    (Then again, it could the same people, in the way that all the early neocons were Trotskyites, and a few prominent early 21st century Team Red bloggers are now Team Blue.)Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      What’s fun to me is that there’s an article in a recent one titled “Why we hate you” that lays out a completely cogent and logical position explaining why they’re doing what they’re doing, but we still argue over what could possibly motivate their behavior. Like, they published it in a glossy magazine in English and there’s a good chunk of people who say, “Nawww, that couldn’t be it.”Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The problem with taking it at face value is that they hate *everyone*, so even not doing whatever it is they’re complaining about right now would still make them hate us for some other reason.

        Reading that article right now, they come out and say exactly that:

        Thus, even if you were to stop fighting
        us, your best-case scenario in a state of war would be
        that we would suspend our attacks against you – if we
        deemed it necessary – in order to focus on the closer
        and more immediate threats, before eventually resuming
        our campaigns against you.

        It’s also way insufficient to analyze the larger wave of Islamic based political and revolutionary movements across different sects, that arose in the religious awakening that coincides with the middle stages of the Cold War. Some grew with Western backing as a counter to Soviet supported secular (but Marxist) governments, others emerged as a movement countering Western backed secularists.

        Now that the Cold War is long over, the current crop finds planting in the soil of the ideological framework formed a generation or more ago, but the seeds themselves are the sort of people (young men, overwhelmingly), who would find themselves in gangs of any sort. Islamic infused terrorism is merely the most proximate available avenue – other places in the world, they would be MS-13 or Sinoloa or if more political, FARC or Sendoro Luminoso. (and in the US, they’d been Dylann Roof).Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          Thus, even if you were to stop fighting us, your best-case scenario in a state of war would be that we would suspend our attacks against you – if we deemed it necessary – in order to focus on the closer and more immediate threats, before eventually resuming our campaigns against you.

          That’s exactly the line I was thinking of when I wrote what I wrote. The position seems pretty clearly to be, “We plan to take over the world and convert everybody in the process. People who don’t submit and convert are our enemies. Yes, you’re doing stuff that makes us specifically target you as a priority enemy right now, but we’ll get to everybody eventually.” And it’s not crazy or inconsistent. Their actions are pretty clearly in line with what they purport to believe and their conclusions follow pretty logically from their premises.

          Sure, they’re going to be the place to go for disaffected youth just like the other groups you mentioned, but painting them as just disaffected youth (or “mentally ill” or whatever else) doesn’t give them enough credit for being a group with a relatively straightforward set of beliefs and goals who are acting logically based on what they clearly believe. But still whenever they do something in furtherance of those goals, there’s a chorus of people who say, “Who knows what those crazy kids are doing, amirite?” I’m just not getting it.

          The larger question of motivations and alliances in all of the different types of sectarian and political violence are certainly complex ones, and they certainly explain some of the ability of ISIS to recruit and raise funds (or at least to be ignored because they’re an enemy of an enemy), but individual organizations like ISIS usually have pretty clear plans and goals that we can at least guess at. Even more so when they publish them in a magazine for everybody to read.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            Do people really make that mistake though? “Who knows what thsee crazy kids are doing?” The error in analysis, it seems to me, has manifested itself in two different types.

            The first type of error is engaged by the Pam Gellers and Frank Gafneys of the world – and too many others from more respectable corners. That error is not only the dudes (and occasionally, even dudettes) of ISIL believe that everyone who is not us is the enemy but also *all* of those in the Islamic faith believe that.

            The second error is the Dennis Green one, engaged by the Obama Administration in the genesis days of ISIL – they said who they were, and we let them off the hook. I.e. the JV squad talk.

            Notwithstanding that, I don’t think we overly rely on use stated goals as a tool for countering those goals – not when goals themselves are a more than a bit batty, even if they possess the minium of logical coherence. A vision that lacks any sort of practicality undermines its logical coherence from the get go.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              Put another way – you can sort of read Mein Kampf and sort of see where Nazi Germany was going, but not with a definite predictive capability. And you really couldn’t tell what the Soviet Union was doing by reading what Marx and Lennin wrote, even as early as Stalin’s regime, because it’s all contingent on circumstances that arose as the two regimes developed.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              O “let them off the hook” whatever that exactly means because the vision of ISIL was super unlikely. Now a couple years later they are being ground down and pushed back.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                That’s right, I forgot. Obama has always taken the optimal course of action in any situation he has faced over the past seven and a half years. Clinton will no doubt do the same starting next January.Report

            • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

              I think there’s a third type, and it’s the one referred to in the article: the “this has nothing to do with Islam” group. People who are saying that are either trying to mislead people for political purposes (and will end up ceding ground to the far right since the average person can easily tell the claim is nonsense) or are genuinely in such a bubble that they have no hope of coming up with a sensible course of action.

              The fact that their goals are delusional doesn’t mean that we’re better off pretending they’re something other than they are. In fact, I’d say we’re in a pretty good place: The enemy’s goals are too crazy to ever achieve, but at the same time, we know what those goals are and we know that they’ll act rationally in an attempt to achieve them. That seems like the best of all possible worlds.

              When people chalk the whole thing up to political grievances or “mental illness” or “disaffected youth” they miss an important piece of the puzzle. The factors they bring up may be real, but they’re ignoring something important: that a goodly number of these folks genuinely believe what’s written there. If they didn’t, that rhetoric wouldn’t be a good propaganda/recruiting tool. So when we say, “Nahh. That’s too crazy. They must believe X, Y, and Z instead, like I do,” can only shake my head in bewilderment.

              I also don’t think these magazines compare very well with Mein Kampf or Marx or Lennin’s writings. Those were statements of broad philosophy or grievance that were put into action later by groups that ultimately ended up not being entirely based on those philosophies. Dabiq is being put out right now by a group saying, “This is what we’re doing right now and here’s why we’re doing it.” Most of what I’ve seen from journalists who are able to cover it from inside indicates that it’s not some clever ruse to confuse us about some other motivations, or that they’re paying lip service to some past motivation even after the group has become self-sustaining and directionless.Report

  10. Avatar notme says:

    Aurora shooting massacre survivors ordered to pay Cinemark theater chain $700,000 for legal fees after they lost the lawsuit.

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      I can’t imagine anything that would convince me to participate in a lawsuit like that. Did they sue the neighboring businesses for not keeping their eyes out for bad guys going into the theater as well?Report

    • Avatar Trumwill says:

      Will their attorneys have to pay a third?Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Boy, does that seem like a good idea. Surely there was some pretty questionable legal advice that went into this lawsuit, even without asking about the ethics of it.Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          Not really. Ultimately it’s the client’s call to continue perusing a legal action not the lawyers. As long as the attorney told them of the risk they might have pay the fees, it shouldn’t be an issue.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

            I don’t think that anything requires the lawyers to take on a ridiculous case. They only do it because they’re gambling with other peoples’ money, and they waste everybody’s money when they do it. There’s a pretty serious externality here that would probably be good to address.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              And we’re dealing with that asymmetry of information.

              That said, I think the counterargument is that if they lose, they’re out the legal costs they’ve invested.

              What I wonder here is if they sometimes don’t invest in such cases mostly hoping for a quick “go away” payout.

              On the other hand, it looks like the theater spent a fair amount of money in its defense?Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                It sounds like they did offer the quick “go away” money and it wasn’t accepted. Here’s the thing: I think their attorney was right to guess that they’d get a cash offer to go away, so in that sense, the plaintiffs got good advice. It just went wrong when they went to trial.

                Here’s the problem as I see it: The lawywer probably knew both that they’d get that offer and that they’d probably lose badly if they went to trial. But if you have a garbage case, demanding a settlement is an activity society shouldn’t encourage even if the settlement is forthcoming. The fact that you’d almost certainly lose at trial is evidence that you shouldn’t be getting a settlement either.

                My question in all of this whether it’s a violation of some ethical or professional code to encourage your client to demand a settlement and then discourage them from going to trial. On one hand, it’s behavior that works and is in the best interests of your client. On the other hand, it’s bad for everybody else in society.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              @troublesome-frog @will-truman

              I have not read the Auora shootout complaint but I will defend contingency fees once again.

              Contingency fees allow access to Justice for lack of a better word. They allow people who are not well-funded to bring lawsuits against the rich and powerful and well-funded.

              Yes, there always seem to be “Can you believe this lawsuit?” stories in the media but a contingency fee also allows people to bring cases about employment discrimination or wage and hour violations against major corporations. Do you think a bunch of purposefully mischaracterized employees have the money and resources to bring a wage and hour claim against an employer? No. The only way to even the playing field is through contingency fees and class actions.

              A world without contingency fees is a world in which you will see more and more employers get away with employment discrimination and wage and hour violations.


              According to the NERA, there have been 6.3 billion dollars worth of settlements in wage and hour cases since 2007.

              As to what is and what is not a reasonable lawsuit, the standard for whether a case is triable is whether reasonable people can disagree on key issues of material fact. According to the Salon article, the case went to verdict. Meaning that there is a high chance the defendant’s made motions for summary judgment/adjudication and were defeated (it is basically malpractice not to file a motion for summary judgment if you are on the defense side of the litigation these days.) This also means that the plaintiff’s wrote an opposition to summary judgment motion and succeeded in proving that there were disputes towards material fact that a jury could rule on.

              Most cases settle at this point because juries are risky and unpredictable and defeated summary judgment motions are basically mini-trials on the merits. If a plaintiff wins in their opposition, it is usually seen as a de facto sign of merit in their causes of action/claim.

              There are some corporations that refuse to settle like Exxon. Others settle based on a cost-benefit analysis. People only go to trial if they think they have a good chance of winning and that is what makes trials so scary. Both sides have good evidence.

              Now it seems like there is a risk of taking a jury verdict and applying Captain Hindsight. In this case, the plaintiff lost (but can appeal and probably will considering the 700,000 dollar motion for costs). So we say “What were their lawyers thinking?” But keep in mind that until this point, the lawyers conducted discovery, collected evidence, and probably wrote a successful opposition to summary judgment which said that there is law, evidence, and fact that shows the plaintiff’s claim has merits.

              What seems to me is that there is a strong bias in the American system of economy and law towards the respectability and legitimate nature of Corporations and working for Corporations as opposed to everything else. I’d personally be curious to see an educational system that got people questioning the legitimacy and respectability of corporation but I have lefty, Bohemian and artist sensibilities so what do I know? Why is it seen as more respectable to represent a corporation defending a wage and hour violation or an employment discrimination case over representing the employee? Why is it more “respectable” to represent a company that made a product that injured people rather than the injured? I’m a plaintiff’s lawyer and biased a bit but I dissent from the idea that the Corporation and the Country Club with Golf Course are the de facto manifestations of respectable.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                We’re not complaining about contingency fees.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                No problem with contingency fees here either. Just the fact that lawyers can apparently share in the proceeds from a questionable lawsuit but don’t have to share in the pain when it goes wrong. In general, that biases behavior away from prudent best practices.

                As for the lack of summary judgment indicating that the case had merit, I’ll just point out that a similar case at the federal level was dismissed and the winners in the Colorado case are recovering legal fees. I’m not 100% certain, but from what I can gather, recovering legal fees in Colorado doesn’t happen normally–just when there’s a contract provision for it or when the case is particularly groundless.

                If that’s the case, it’s interesting that a judge would not grant summary judgment but would grant the recovery of fees at the end. I assume it’s because the lawyers involved were better at convincing the judge that they were going to present a kick-ass case than they actually were at presenting a kick-ass case.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Why not require the attorneys working on contingency to pay the entirety of the opposition’s legal fees if they lose in cases like this? What’s the downside?Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                That’s an interesting question, and I don’t really have a great answer one way or the other. I’d think that if they’re up for 10% on the upside (random number chosen here), it seems reasonable to be in for 10% on the downside, but I don’t really have a strong opinion as to how much skin is “right” for them to have in the game. Just more than zero.

                That might be different if recovery of legal fees was a normal part of the game, but my understanding is that in Colorado, it requires an unusually crappy case to be brought. If “loser pays” was the normal state of affairs, I’d be more sympathetic to the idea that the lawyer can’t be on the hook for every random jury decision and that clients know what they’re getting into.

                If a case only goes wrong once it reaches a particular level of stupidity, I’d think your lawyer is the person whose job it is to know when you reach that level. I as a layman understand “loser pays” when I get into a lawsuit. But to understand exactly how bad my case is on a scale of 1 to, “You’re paying for this unholy mess,” I may need some legal advice. Maybe 100% liability for the professional is fair in those cases.Report

              • It’s not even clear to me that “zero” is a problem. If it’s a genuinely crappy case, a smart contingency lawyer won’t go near it in the first place, and a dumb one is already out his time and everything he spent preparing the case. If there are lawyers who take bad contingency cases and limit their costs by half-assing them, hoping to win the lottery, then *they* need to share part of these losses,Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy says:


    So I’ve now seen the Dunham situation arise on Ladyfriend’s phone (as a headline) and a feminist-minded female friend’s Facebook (linking to and lauding the apology as both necessary and GOOD). I had no idea this was a real story.

    But now I’m curious why Dunham can only seem to make headlines for seeming wrongdoing (even noting her apology is rooted in the initial misstep). As I said at the outset, the regular people I know who talk about her reference her talent (which a perusal of her Wiki tells me is legit). Yet she makes headlines for an airbrushed photo or being naked on screen. She herself is often a victim. But no one apologizes to her.

    She misspoke, risked offense, owned, and seemed to do her damndest to make right. Will those who target her — intentionally or otherwise — do the same? Intersectionality indeed.

    In fact, I probably owe her an apology (though I doubt she ever sees it): in discussing this matter, I made comments that were unfair to Dunham and based on incomplete info. I could have made my point(s) without these comments and should have. My apologies to Dunham and anyone else who might have been bothered by them. Something to work at for me.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I don’t think that the initial misstep is the problem, it’s the initial misstep followed by the initial snark about the “outrage machine” and a handful of… I don’t know what the term would be… people who see the important thing as being the dialectic? I guess? who write articles like this one:

      This may or may not be a fair characterization of Beckham’s behavior at the Met Ball. Maybe Beckham is just shy, or maybe he was in the middle of an important text conversation on his phone, or maybe he was just having a terrible night and didn’t want to make small talk. Perhaps (as the eternal rumors have it) he’s gay. Regardless, Dunham has tapped into a real phenomenon—men who really don’t know what to make of women who don’t sexually interest them—and I, for one, intend to borrow her marshmallow line the next time this happens to me.

      And so, for a few moments, instead of this being an example of a quote that ought to inspire a well-written apology, it inspired a non-zero number of “I THINK SHE’S RIGHT!” thinkpieces.

      Add too that the speed of the interwebs and we’ve got ourselves a fine, fine two-minute hate over this boring holiday weekend.

      One that is only just now making its way through the snake into the world of the normies.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        As someone bad at the internet, I’m largely insulated from that phase of the cycle. Absent this dialogue, I’d probably have ignored what few references dod permeate my bubble. It does seem like a hairy phase that tends to yield more heat than light? But when the light is present it’s important?

        But how I’m curious… Who got the hate? Dunham? ODB?Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      The Dunham thing — it showed up on my Facebook feed, greeted by a collective groan of “Oh gawd not her again.”

      Which, she does come across as pretty fucking self-indulgent. So whatever. She’s never handled race issues all that well, nor does she seem to care that much if she does. Again, whatever. I watched the first season of her show and came away pretty much hating it. Likewise, I find that I really don’t care for her public persona — setting aside the fact that this probably tells me little about the “real her.”

      As it is unlikely I’ll ever meet her, I suppose that is that.

      She seems committed to blaming everything on her appearance, which, given that she operates among the celebrity social spaces, I can be a bit sympathetic. I certainly find myself “average” looking among my peers, and I kinda low-grade hate some of the “pretty ones” sometimes. On the other hand, my problems are mine, not theirs. I deal with it.

      With Dunham, I mean sure, if she was skinny and super hawt, she would get treated better. Duh. On the other hand, when you’re pretty, everyone wants a piece of you, and that looks really nice from the outside. However, I know some wildly attractive women who end up spiraling down into hypersexualization, where they get tons of attention and sex, but little that is satisfying on the long term.

      Like, I’m spending a week next month with an LA-based former porn performer, about my age. She remains very beautiful, although the years are taking their toll. The thing is, she’s not happy. She’s had nothing but failed relationships that suck away her money and energy. She went after the brass ring and now, blah. So she calls up and old friend (me) for a fun visit. I get to hang in LA with a totes hawt woman with cool friends and cool stories. She gets to hang with a crazy ol’ purple-haired tranny who knows literally nobody in Hollywood and genuinely likes her for her.

      As another example, my recent ex. She’s young and gorgeous (and honestly out of my league), so I see her getting tons of attention. She shares stories. It sounds like fun. On the other hand, she cannot maintain any kind of lasting intimacy. Since I broke up with her (maybe a month ago), she’s already gone through another trainwreck relationship, and had a few sexual partners, and — well, she’s enjoying it in some ways, but she’s not actually happy. It’s complicated.

      Of course, I’m not happy either. I wish I was prettier. So yeah.

      In Dunham’s case, the thing is, she seems genuinely odious, like a seriously nasty person. I’m not surprised that people give her the cold shoulder. We shall play our tiny violins.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think she’s very pleasant looking, to be honest. My biggest aesthetic issue is the tattoo, but that’s how I role. I can imagine meeting her, though, and giving her something of a cold shoulder due to her reputation. Not so much any odiousness, but that I have dealt with girls and women who are as she presents herself, and it’s never worked out well. She’s kind of a walking Red Flag.

        Which maybe in private she’s not like that at all. I don’t know.

        (And you touch on an important point about Hollywood making “pleasant to Trumwill’s eyes” into “Unattractive” positionally speaking.)Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Also, at the risk of patting myself on the back, I think an exchange like this shows what ALL of us here are capable of. Hel, we discussed sexism, racism, feminism, homophobia, intersectionality, sports, and pop culture with nary a flamethrower. Thanks Jay et al. I grew from this.Report