Linky Friday #196: Natural Law


locavore photo

Image by mriggen Linky Friday #196: Natural Law

[F1] Michelle Minton argues that the FDA’s ratchet-down of sodium alotments is counterproductive, in part due to the fact that we’re… not actually consuming more salt?

[F2] Is Greek yogurt culturally problematic?

[F3] Locavores like local farmers more in theory than in practice. And also, want their exotic foods.

[F4] A new study suggests that high-fat foods could interfere with the executive function of adolescents.

[F5] I am definitely guilty of the “fear of being hungry” thing.


santa photo

Image by ahoy polloi Linky Friday #196: Natural Law

[O1] John Likely lost more than half of his body-weight… on fast food.

[O2] Elna Baker lost a lot of weight, but then had to deal with a different problem as a lot of excess skin was left behind.

[O3] Being fat sucks because being fat sucks, that’s why you should try the golo diet. It also sucks because fat stigma sucks.

[O4] It absolutely did not work this way for me, but some research suggests that switching to ecigarettes may help prevent post-smoking weight gain! This is important primarily not because of the health implications of weight gain, but because weight gain is one of the things many would-be quitters are afraid of. (With reason: society might dislike smokers, but it hates fat people way more.)

[O5] Bad Santa!


hurricane photo

Image by yoshimov Linky Friday #196: Natural Law

[P1] India is looking towards natural gas, Australia may be turning away from wind, and in the US renewable-energy folks are hoping that they’ll extend the tax credits before everything comes crashing down in January.

[P3] After Standing Rock, Native American advocates are gearing up for another battle in New Mexico. Big Oil, though, hasn’t given up on North Dakota.

[P4] Josh Kraushaar argues that Democrats need to find a better political balance between jobs and the environment. I… don’t know? I do think there might be some meta-issues going on here, and perhaps they could work on their delivery and maybe focus more on consequential environmentalism rather than the team-building sort, but there were definitely a lot of factors going into this election and given the stakes I can understand why that’s not one they might want to budge on, plus for delivering items I would rather use Shiply company which is more seccured.

[P5] If only – instead of using rail – there were some way to transport oil by way of some, I don’t know, line of pipe or something. Oh, well.

[P6] It turns out that you can’t nuke a hurricane. Well, I mean you can, but the hurricane will win out.


The RMS Titanic was such a cute little cruise boat.

The RMS Titanic was such a cute little cruise boat. you can get awesome custom graphic wrapping on the boat to make it look nicer.

[T1] Gondola! Gondola!

[T2] Meet the Wag Brigade, therapy animals for airports. Now featuring a pig!

[T3] Now you, too, can ride The Titanic.

[T4] Streetcar ridership in Cincinnati is not very good, and the quality of metro in DC is (of course) awful. But! Success in Houston? Free fares for some the car owners in Paris.

[T5] United is going to start charging for overhead bin use. As someone who is tired of watching people bend the rules of carry-ons to breaking points to avoid checking fees, I’m not too sorry to see this. This, however, I’m very sorry to see. (Actually, I doubt the airlines will go for it, so I’m not super-duper worried.)

[T6] I remember once upon a time, diesel was supposed to be good for the environment. Here is a Hit Coffee post about it (from my former coblogger).


manufacturing photo

Image by TheLeadSA Linky Friday #196: Natural Law

[W1] An anonymous academic laments a labor market that leaves people with a complete inability to have a family life and be a good scientist and keep work.

[W2] Noah Smith argues that UBI is a dead end because jobs matter in their own right.

[W3] Attention employers! Employees are apparently willing to take a 20% pay cut in order to know their schedule at least a week ahead of time.

[W4] Maybe trade and public policy really did significantly contribute to the decline of manufacturing employment.

[W5] Mark Carrigan’s thoughts on fame culture, fatalism, and our future in automation is worth reading.


embryo photo

Image by BasketStreaming Linky Friday #196: Natural Law

[C1] An interesting look at whether the courts can declare environmentism a right (to oversimplify, greatly). This… makes me maybe not sorry that the Supreme Court isn’t about to shift.

[C2] If the purpose of copyright law is to promote the arts, Alex Tabarrok is quite right that retroactive copyrights for the dead make little sense.

[C3] Michael Jordan owns his name in China!

[C4] Do Sofia Vergara’s frozen embryos have standing to sue? I would love Burt to write a post on this, but my inclination is not and if the contract spelled out that both parents’ consent were needed to give life to the embryos, then you need both parents’ consent. But that is predicated on the notion that embryos don’t have standing, which I guess is the crux of the matter.

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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328 thoughts on “Linky Friday #196: Natural Law

  1. F2: The Social Justice mindset taken to its natural Calvinistic conclusion where everything is a problem. Yogurt was a thing among many people who ate dairy just like butter and cheese is known to practically every dairy ingesting culture. Greek yogurt originated among the Greeks who lived in Asia Minor, what we would call Turkey, for generations before being exiled in 1923. They were still Greeks though.

    F3: Local farmers also have a are harder time producing large quantities of sanitary food. Its why Chipotle had that food poisoning out break. I’ve never heard a good definition of what local means to.

    F5: Some scientists theorize that the current obesity epidemic is evolutionary inevitable because humans evolved in a famine and feast environment and when presented with food tend to eat.


    • F3: You are mistaken with regards the causation chain at Chipotle. I know people who sell to Chipotle and their meat is picked-up directly from the same USDA inspected processing plant that might service any other food distributor. It is no more or less “dirty” than anything you get from a grocery store or McDonalds.

      Chipotle had (has?) a challenge dealing with basic food ingredients at its restaurants; this is a problem of mass distribution, and doesn’t have anything to do with local farms.

      Where there’s overlap is that this is why mass food distribution points (aka Casual Dining) don’t actually “cook” food; they recombine pre-processed food that is prepared elsewhere. A large part of this is to insure consistency, but also to eliminate the challenges of keeping the food free from pathogens and the consumption site… this is hard; it is the hardest thing about running a restaurant.

      In mass food distribution, most all pathogens are introduced in the supply chain… sometimes starting at the processing plant, but commonly introduced in the packaging process. Almost never is this a farm related issue – outide of CAFO’s.


  2. W1: This sort of goes to surplus humans doesn’t it? More people than necessary go into science which decreases demand but universities need their advanced students to keep their university status. I also wonder how much of it is because scientific knowledge is too advanced for an easy landing from PhD to professorship. The snob in me wonders if there is an inherent anti-Intellectualism in the never ending problems for the woes of academics. A kind of “This is what you get for liking books and not being able to go into business like the rest of us.”

    W2: This strikes me as right. Every advocate of
    UBI that I know can be described as would rather be doing something else than their job. I don’t want UBI. I want to stop being a permanent contract employee/freelancer with draught periods and rising everything except wages. The fact that I feel like the last kid picked for kickball often does not help.

    Speaking of work Donald Trump is going to continue to be a celebrity apprentice because nothing matters!!!


    • Is it surplus humans, or just a run of the mill market failure – and one that is centered on particular sector (the author describes one colleague as jumping to a job in the private sector)

      Because overall in Science!, we all certainly don’t know as much as we can, and definitely not as much as we should.


      • This seems like a part of it. We’d need to know how highly-educated folks with those degrees are doing overall to know if it’s truly a market concern. I won’t say failure because this is what happens when we’re dealing with a surplus of available labor in a particular arena. But the effects are not good, if there is no place for them to use their knowledge.

        I also don’t think there’s much in the way of “anti-intellectualism” involved here, as the response described would apply just as well to people pursuing careers in the arts or athletes. It’s more a shrug at people who reached for the dreams and came up short (or unhappy for it).

        As it applies to academics, and lawyers like Saul, there is an argument that it was “practical” when they chose this path and they are the victim of shifting sands. Which I think is a very good point. But in that case, articles like this one and similar ones by lawyers actually serves as kind of a warning to people who want to enter the field, as opposed to a call to action on behalf of those that do.


        • will, mostly cosign, but i would disagree a little on the “was practical” bit, particularly for phds in the humanities. the woes of the job market can be found in essays dating back to the 1970s. again, recommend “this fine place so far from home” (about working class academics), as it goes into detail with these kinds of stories…but they’re all from the 80s and set mostly in the 70s. and some earlier.

          no one weeps for the rock stars who never were.


          • That’s fair. I really don’t know one way or the other. I just know when I comment on this there are often (sometimes reasonable!) replies about how what seems practical at one point becomes impractical at another point.

            It also varies from department to department. I know when I was going through, planning to become an academic in the humanities was seen as frivolous while if you were going into the sciences you were going to be fine. Something seems to have shifted on the latter (it could just be we have more information).


            • Counter intuitively with regards Science… how much of this is a result of Automation? Not physical automation a’la robots, but mental automation a’la computers?

              Maybe we just have to be honest with them and tell them that those jobs aren’t coming back.


              • — Well, Mathematica is definitely a force-multiplier. But then, ten years ago how many working scientists spend their days crunching out integrals? (Honest question. I actually have no idea what a “working scientist” does.)


              • The market size for pure science isn’t based so much on an end user demand for science but whatever the public and philantropic granter of grants decide to fund. Thus automation just improves productivity, not replace the people doing the work.

                From my time in the science racket, the generational change was in the amount of funding availible compared to the researchers out there and the increased reliance on cheap grad student and post-doc labour to make ends meet producing a glut of grad students and post-docs. When I was doing it, it was commonly understood by the grad students that unless you were a top 10% star student you didn’t have a future as a professor of any kind, while the ratio was way, way higher back in the day when the current professors were grad students. If the average student put their nose to the grindstone and stayed in the field in academia, the expect future was as a lab tech or research associate, not a tenure position.

                So its not that the jobs aren’t coming back for those academics, its that both the days of high growth in the number of those jobs is over and the training scheme produces more candidates for those jobs than it used to.


        • I am surprised when I run into people who were clerks and are now law students. They saw me as a contract lawyer, they should know it is dicey but they still go and attend schools with mediocre reputations that were hurt bad by the crisis.

          I guess hope springs eternal for a lot of people.


      • it’s not entirely an anti-intellectualism (if such a thing exists, and i am not convinced that it does in any real sense) but also a case of treating the labor issues that most everyone else deals with (while ignoring the few that virtually no other profession does) as the most special and terrible thing ever because something something something we’re professors and everyone should care. also their business is words and words are on the internet so that’s a lot of words being produced by word-people about their sphere of influence. the libertarians on the internet of writing about work.

        “something something something we’re professors” carries a lot of weight in certain circles, and i can tell you from firsthand experience they are generally entirely blind to why the rest of the world doesn’t give a fig about their woes in the manner they would prefer.

        i’ve spent a bit of time with some people over the past year or so who are trying to transition out of the humanities treadmill into other (often related, but not always) sectors. mostly friends of friends or former colleagues of the wife, and i had the same (eventually maddening) variation on this conversation:

        me: ok brah you gotta like move the phd stuff to the very end of your resume and talk about non academic stuff in your letter. you gotta sell you as something other than someone who was in school for a really long time
        them: but it’s a phd and that’s literally the most amazing thing ever
        me: it’s why you’ve gotten no callbacks it’s a pretty significant drag on trying to move into a new industry
        them: but c’mon it’s a phd
        me: and it signals to potential employers that you’re going to bounce at the first opportunity and also all your professional experience isn’t really applicable so you gotta tell a good story about why what you did in the classroom and especially outside of it. this will help you be not a professor for these guys because they don’t need a professor, they need an [xyz]
        them: but c’mon yo i mean i was in school for a really long time!
        me: [smoke break, muttering under breath] why isn’t weed legal here yet lord deliver me from the crushing sobriety of dealing with these yutzes

        they were very exciting phone calls. i did (in a small way) help someone get a really good job after they left their tenure track job* so it wasn’t all wasted time, to be sure.

        * because of the horrible internal culture within her dept, which is tied to the larger culture of dominance and submission that is so dang foucaultian in the humanities, particularly towards grad students and the untenured untouchables. that might make a good essay…a la just as the pences of the world are presumed to be closeted because of their remarkably overwhelming hostility and pruriently intense interest in dude hugs, maybe you have so many critical theory types invested in logomancy re: power because of their intense, barely-closeted interest in treating other people like garbage and reveling in hierarchies.


        • but c’mon it’s a phd


          My company hires a lot of PhDs, but we do some pretty specialized work where PhDs come in handy. But most of our PhDs are in customer facing positions, and not in the back offices doing pure research (we have those, but the need is lower). Anyway, the PhD is valuable, both as a signal to a customer, but also because the PhD means the person is a specialist and we can align their specialty with customers who have problems they can help with. So our lady who has a PhD in combustion physics does a lot of work with engine manufacturers and power plants, etc.

          Point is, there is interesting work out there for PhDs in the sciences, and even research opportunities, but you have to be willing to let go of the academic dream job.


          • — Honestly it depresses me a little bit, but a PhD, particularly from a “good” school, is negatively correlated with good performance in a general software engineering interview.

            I mean, I can be petty, but I’m not so petty that I actually enjoy marking “no hire” on the interview notes for a MIT grad with a PhD in CompSci (who can’t program for shit and I never finished high school and know more than this yutz how does this happen OMG!!!).


            • My wife is in the semiconductor industry and moved from hardware to software a few years ago and they have a lot of trouble finding and keeping people on the software side. It looks like there are three reasons for this:

              1) They don’t pay as well as software companies. They tend to see software as non-engineering operations overhead and it’s hard to get resources in those groups.
              2) A lot of the work isn’t especially glamorous (although some of it is super cool if you’re on the right team).
              3) They have no idea how to hire software people. Her team got a req for a person to do what amounts to writing applications and utilities, and the company is insisting on a PhD in CS. The team has been pushing back, but management is having none of it.

              It’s one of those, “go out and hire the worst person money can buy” types of things. If you have a PhD in computer science, you probably don’t want to do anything like that sort of stuff, especially not at the wage they’re offering. If you do, there’s almost certainly something wrong with you.

              I worked at a place that hired a couple of PhDs for really menial work and as far as I could tell, you’d be better off randomly grabbing somebody off the street. If you have a PhD in computer engineering in the San Francisco area and the best you can do is pushing buttons on the black box test team, I don’t think I’d trust you to push buttons on the black box test team. I’d probably wonder if I could trust you to water the office plants.


              • A lot of people end up with degrees in areas that, it turned out, weren’t all that interesting to them.

                I’ve got an MS in CS myself that I only got because I wanted to play with certain ideas for a bit, and my company cheerfully paid for it. (Hey, it was a benefit. They want to pay for me to tool around with genetic algorithms and not even have to justify it as job related? Sign me up. I’m considering a BS in ME or materials science, with chem e as a third possibility now).

                But I can understand the “non-engineering is overhead” — I work for an engineering firm (my work is, mostly, making their analytic engines usable to people who didn’t write them in the first place) and software is an afterthought. They don’t even really consider non-engineers for management positions like department heads and such. (Weirdly, because above THAT level they want MBA’s, most of whom have no engineering or software experience at all…)

                “We’re engineers, you software guys are just there to help. We could totally do your job if we weren’t engineering the crap out of things!”. They’re not that bad or else I wouldn’t be working here, but that’s the operating assumption. Software is there to do stuff engineers could do, but are too busy doing more important things.

                Which is hilarious, given I’ve seen what kind of software they come up with. Even the FORTRAN stuff is occasionally….surprising, but god help the poor souls when they try to program in C++ or something. “Did you just….try to bubble sort that 15,000 item list so you could search it? Why…why didn’t you use a more efficient algorithm? Or frankly, why didn’t you just hash it when you read it in if you don’t actually need a sort, just a search?”


                • The “we can write software too” thing is pretty much how the semiconductor industry works. It’s full of brilliant EEs and physicists who wrote code all through the 70s 80s and 90s as they came up, so all of their stuff looks like it’s still in that era. It works great, but it’s unmaintainable, often uses languages and tools that barely exist anymore, and it’s a miracle if they used any sort of source control, much less bug tracking and automated build/release procedures.

                  I’m an embedded systems guy. I could design a board. I could make you a cute little specialty processor in Verilog or VHDL. But since I spent all my time getting good at software, I’m not particularly good at those other things. I’d just hire somebody who was professional grade. A good chunk of the semiconductor industry just never noticed that software development has become a profession with best practices and some institutional wisdom. Sure, it’s not aerospace or civil engineering, but it’s not the wild west anymore.

                  Along the lines of what said, I try to remind myself of one thing: Basically everybody is dysfunctional. More than once, my companies have been hanging on by a thread, thinking the other guys had it all figured out and we were doomed. And then we merged with the other guys and found that they were at least as chaotic and screwed up as we were. Everybody’s just learning as they go and making the best of limited resources, so just be happy we get it right often enough to make the world a little better every year.


                  • I admit, working in engineering groups — we miss a lot of that. We’re a small shop, so we make do with cvs, a basic C++ IDE, and a fairly agile development process.

                    No stand up meetings or anything — we’ve got, um, 5 coders tops? Two who work pure FORTRAN, two who work pure interface? (And one part-time computation guy).

                    It’s pretty easy to tell who is where with a single tag-up a week.


                    • I’m an engineer. If I can think it, I can do it in FORTRAN.(*)

                      So who needs all those fancy CS guys again?

                      (*) and could do it when memory was expensive and we were all worried about things like sparsity


                    • You’d do better copying the good code over to another disk than using CVS. At least there wouldn’t be a repository to get corrupted.

                      Seriously, spring for Perforce. For five people, it’s free. (Don’t use git unless you want to spent half your time explaining how to use it and the other half fixing what people who didn’t quite catch on did.)


                      • Sadly that’s not a choice I get to make. :( We’re using it because we’re part of a private/public partnership, and the “private” side insists.

                        Frankly, given my part of the project is pure C++ with me and another guy — even plain jane Visual Studio would work for code management better than CVS. (We could share workspaces, among other things).


              • — I have a theory that companies who successfully deploy software kinda do by accident. Too often the folks who really grok software are absolutely clueless about business stuff. Likewise, business folks learn about technology from their pals on the golf course. Rarely do these skills combine in an individual. Furthermore, neither side really has a good insight into choosing people. Golf course guy will be impressed by someone with “Oracle” or “Microsoft” on their resume. Computer guy just wants to prattle on about Magic the Gathering.

                So, it’s a shitshow. Except every so often by accident the right business person hooks up with the right software person, and something really cool happens. (Or just as rare, someone has both skills.)

                So yeah, dysfunctional companies are dysfunctional

                I’m remain convinced that Venkat was basically right about firms.


            • v,
              Yeah, I have the learning for a Masters in Computer Graphics (did enough work on the beginnings of x265…). Doesn’t mean I have a degree.

              My friend with the pet grad student doesn’t have an undergraduate degree. I’m not sure if he’s actually faked a PhD, did the dissertation (got someone else to write the dissertation), or what have you.


            • That’s because people mistakenly assume a positive correlation between a PhD and a practical skill set.

              Unless there is a history of practical experience, one should never make that assumption, in any field.


              • — Agreed. But in our case, we’re largely giving them toy algorithmics problems, which should be the sort of thing they would bang out in their algorithms class. Anyway, this level of coding should not be new for a CompSci PhD.


              • Back in the day when I was involved in hiring at Bell Labs, the one exception to that was physics. The Labs would hire anyone with a newly minted physics PhD. The theoreticians had demonstrated an enormous talent for applied math; the experimentalists some form of practical engineering. Granted that most had to learn a new problem domain — it was jokingly said in those days that Bell Labs hired 25% of all new physics PhDs each year, and one or two of them actually got to do physics — but the Labs in those days could afford a bit of patience.


        • (this was an awesome bit!)

          “i had the same (eventually maddening) variation on this conversation:”

          I imagine there was also something like:

          them: but everybody I talked to said that my PhD should go up front because it’s the most important thing
          me: did everyone you talked to have a PhD
          them: yeah of course
          me: did they have jobs
          them: yeah of course
          them: okay not really


          • that happened too. it’s a sub-bubble. (subble?)

            like any field there’s a certain amount of myopia because of fish and water and all that. but it’s fairly pervasive.

            i’ve been the odd man out at a phd gathering pretty much every time i go out with the spouse because of work functions (or before that, pre-work functions). i know where the subble comes from, and a lot of it is the deep investment in their own careers and the sublimation of personality and drive that comes from that. the rest of it is a mythology/ressentiment that the field does very, very, very little to dissuade.

            it’s hard to sink 10+ years into something that is ultimately going to harm you, and the idea that you have to start at the bottom in an organization despite those 10+ years is very difficult to stomach.

            there are people who have or are trying to make a niche in the alt-ac and related pushes – has a decent podcast and essays on this topic. there’s also a woman who makes a living consulting at this and counseling people as they exit, though how well i know not. she kinda treats it like a cult escape thing, which i understand, but again i think buys into the mythology that’s so harmful in the first place.


          • Did you spend a decade out in the real world, building up a base of practical experience, before you started your PhD?


            Then stop talking about your PhD unless you are applying for an academic position.

            Our candidates, if all they have is a PhD, they won’t get far unless they did some truly groundbreaking work that is directly relevant to our business interests. Otherwise, we want evidence that you’ve figured out how to apply your research to the real world (and not just speculation as to how it may apply).


    • W2 might be right psychologically because work gives people meaning but it might not be capable of being implemented. The type of work matters to. What gives you meaning might seem nothing more than meaningless, soul-drenching drudgery to another person. They might only feel satisfied with the work of their own hands. Business owners are always going to strive to do more with less labor to make greater profits. This leaves UBI as the solution.


    • I think there are a couple of conflicting things here.

      On the one hand, it’s not just about “work” but a particular kind of work. Saul wouldn’t be happy working with the physical. A lot of people who work with the physical wouldn’t be happy working with the mental. Someone who has been trained to do X won’t like doing Y, and so on. There’s only so much you can really do about that. Life requires adapting.

      On the other hand, if there is the aversion to welfare-for-nothing that people like Smith, Arnade, and Duy say that there is. Clearly that there isn’t that aversion with everyone, judging by SSDI leaps and people actually collecting welfare. But with others, and as a cultural matter, it does seem possible that “Don’t worry about it, you won’t have to work” won’t drain the pus in our psyche, which makes it non-useful at the moment.


        • Academics will tend to find the conversations they have more interesting (though everyone else will probably be bored out of their mind). One of the biggest perks of being an academic (apart from getting paid for doing what you love) is the interesting conversations you have at the office (or maybe that just applies to being an academic philosopher).


                • I assume a social credit line is something like not being ostracised if you fish up your relationships?

                  Academia is still one of the last few places you can where you can be an asshole and not ruin your career.

                  Well I suppose since people assume that since academics are as a whole regaded very highly, they get to be able to say all sorts of stupid/silly/fucked up things without suffering too heavy a consequence for it.


                  • Academia is still one of the last few places you can where you can be an asshole and not ruin your career.

                    were this true. sadly i do not believe this is the case.

                    it is, however, one of the places where your job security is very hard to imperil by being a jerk, tho. like, really difficult.


                    • I spent the year after my undergarduate and before my masters doing sales. There was a very strong emphasis on being social and sociable and being really nice to your colleagues because the bosses viewed performance as correlating with morale and enthusiasm. Of course this was in Singapore. I don’t know how american corporate culture differs.


                      • unfortunately, it varies heavily from culture to culture. there are, in any culture, acceptable ways to be a jerk.

                        there’s also the role of griping and complaining in group cohesion. you can be a jerk toward The Other (bosses, management, another division, certain kinds of clients, etc) and demonstrate your solidarity.

                        never underestimate the power of complaining. it sucks if you’re not much of a public complainer, tho.


                      • I know quite a few jerks that are successful because they frequently get their way. Part of the reason they get their way is that people will just do it to make them go away. However, I have found that the real jerks tend to get capped out at the junior executive level. At that point, it’s all about people/ego management and allies and the jerks are terrible at both.


                • — There is the “dinner party” test, and indeed, being a professor carries a certain social capital. To give a sense, I can sort of read men who flirt with me in bars, when employment comes up —

                  — the thing is, most guys I meet in tranny bars are working class. So when they ask me what I do — well I’ve stopped telling them. It’s just depressing to see them deflate. Now I just say, “Computer stuff.” If they press, I say, “It has to do with the airlines.” Usually they drop it at that point, cuz the guy in question is like a bus driver or whatever.

                  Not that there is anything wrong with that. But we don’t live in utopia, in these sorts of guys really-really-really want their egos scratched.

                  But anyway, I certainly would perk up if they said, “PhD candidate.” If they say that, it means they’re probably pretty clever. Then I can ask, “Oh, what field?” … and away we go.

                  I would have no hesitation telling a PhD candidate (never mind a full PhD) that I’m a software engineer at Google. After all, we’re both members of the smarty-pants tribe.


          • But it’s very boring down the mines. VERY boring. They’re such boring conversationalists. Things like:

            “Hello, I’ve found a lump of coal”

            “Have you really?”

            “Yes, this black substance is coal alright”

            “What a bit of luck! It’s the very thing we’re looking for.”


      • I have really mixed feelings on UBIs. (And I am a tenured professor, but I don’t call myself an “academic,” because I am a teaching prof in STEM).

        On the one hand, is it any less corrosive to the soul than welfare is? And I DO think there is something about “money for nothing,” or, perhaps, more, feeling like you don’t have a productive purpose. Maybe it’s different if you are raising a child (I am not) but if I were just handed a monthly check while doing NO work for it other than feeding myself and doing my laundry, it would have a bad effect on my psyche. I know the Protestant Work Ethic is out of fashion, but I do think maybe there is something to it. And if a UBI cuts down on welfare bureaucracy and maybe fraud/waste, that would be a good thing….but where will the money come from?

        On the other hand…it does seem there are some people who just aren’t employable.

        I worry about my own job – our enrollment is dropping and I’ve seen demographic studies suggesting there’s going to be a “shortage” of 18-year-olds in a few years (I question those studies, but whatever, I still worry). I don’t want to have to retool and do….I don’t know what, teaching is all I know….but I wouldn’t want to wind up in a dead career because of “lack of 18 year olds” or because “online classes” or whatever. But it seems to happen to a lot of people – when I was growing up a lot of our neighbors worked at the nearby Ford plant. It was a good job, or so it seemed – but then at some point in the 90s it went away. There does seem to be a lack of a certain type of job in our country right now….we’ve become very service-heavy and very manufacturing-weak. And service jobs generally pay badly and also you have to love people in a way I don’t. (I couldn’t deal with that demanding idiot who always claimed I made his coffee drink “wrong” so he could get it free, or with the person who made smarmy sexual-harassy remarks to me that I’d just have to TAKE because I’m the “help”)


        • On the one hand, is it any less corrosive to the soul than welfare is? And I DO think there is something about “money for nothing,” or, perhaps, more, feeling like you don’t have a productive purpose.

          Consider the Victorian gentry. They were a sizable class of persons who, by definition, did not work to support themselves. There had always been a gentry class, but Victorian Britain was the wealthiest nation in history, leading to a vastly expanded gentry. So what did they do with their time? It varied wildly. Quite a few organized bullshit pastimes to avoid going crazy from boredom. Competitive socializing in various forms was common. The rise of amateur athletic competition was a physical version of this. There was a lot of fucking, of course. All of this is, at least arguably, mere spinning of wheels. But some found more productive lines. Victorian scholarship is unfashionable nowadays. It is easy to dismiss some country squire obsessively collecting and categorizing butterflies, but upon closer examination this sort of thing is the necessary groundwork for a lot of modern efforts. Taxonomy is easy to dismiss, once someone else has done the work. Then you get those guys taking astonishing risks and undergoing amazing physical hardships to explore Africa or climb Mount Everest. And that empire didn’t conquer itself, you know.

          So to summarize, a lot of them–probably the majority–basically spent their days finding ways to make the time pass. The modern version will be people spending their waking hours playing video games. Is this corrosive to the soul? Perhaps, but is it any more so than working a dead end job you hate? And some percentage will seize the freedom from spending their days in that dead end job to pursue the goal of their choice.


          • Many of the gentry also went into political or government service.

            You aren’t going to have tens or hundreds of millions of people spend their time like the Victorian gentry though. The Victorian gentry were a small class of hundreds or a low thousand out of tens of millions of people in Great Britain. Most people are going to need something more.


            • The Victorian gentry was considerably larger that that, but that is beside the point. They provide an example of how people occupy themselves when they don’t need to work to eat. The Victorians went on country shooting parties and snuck into the bedrooms of persons whom they didn’t happen to be married to. Nowadays we have videogames and Tinder. The mechanics are different (until consummation) but they serve the same function. And some people went stir crazy. And some people used their freedom to do productive stuff. I posit that UBI would have a similar outcome.


              • To some extent maybe. There is a difference in outcome between “not having to work to eat and pay rent on a small but decent apartment” and “not having to work to pay the staff to do our shopping, cooking, dishes, house cleaning, and laundry, tend to the horses, keep the topiary sufficiently impressive and the Chinese garden up to date on the latest trends, carry the picnic baskets for the shooting party, and beat the bushes for grouse.”

                UBI isn’t likely to fund a lot of country shooting parties, except insofar as people find that ammunition for the hunting rifle is cheaper than meat.


                • You are thinking of the upper end of the class. Many of the participants at those country shooting parties didn’t have the kind of money to own that kind of place. They were guests. They had enough money to be socially acceptable guests, but how much money that was constituted a wide range.

                  For a more urban, less financially endowed version, think of artsy salons in town. I’m pretty sure those also involved intimacy with persons not one’s spouse.

                  Consider Sherlock Holmes’s lifestyle. He lives in a comfortable but modest townhouse. He has a roommate, though in fairness probably not out of financial necessity. He has a housekeeper, but not an extensive staff. Today we have mechanical appliances. It’s not the same thing, but neither is it as if we have to wash our laundry by hand in the sink.


                    • Absent Luther, Henry needs models and the ideology and rituals of the Eastern Orthodox Churches will suit Henry fine. They tended to invest a lot of holiness and power in the monarch and are suitably ritualistic enough for royal purposes. Eastern Orthodox churches tend to be very differential to the government. All perfect for Henry.


                    • Would have had to kill Mehmed II first. Absent a stable Byzantium to barter autocephalus Patriarchies for military support (the traditional way to get your own Patriarch)… there’s no way to pull that off. Henry did have the requisite daughter to seal the deal, though.


                        • Oh dear… anyone can claim autocephaly, and Henry (and half a dozen other Princes) did. Claiming a Patriarchal See? That’s a whole different level of diplomacy (and cost).

                          Plus, while I grew up with the Eastern Rites… that’s not something that imports to England during the reformation very well. The Pilgrimage of Grace Uprising would have looked quite different in this scenario.

                          Still, Moscow manages to acquire its Autocephalous Patriarch in 1589, so Constantinople was dealing by then.

                          I rate it a strong three (maybe even a four) on the Marchmaine counterfactual history scale. Props for creativity and out-of-the-box counterfactualing. :-)


                          • The idea of having a bunch of long haired and bearded English Orthodox Clergy run around in colonial and frontier America is fun. The rest of the English Reformation is going to look weird if Henry goes Orthodox.


        • I worry about my own job – our enrollment is dropping and I’ve seen demographic studies suggesting there’s going to be a “shortage” of 18-year-olds in a few years (I question those studies, but whatever, I still worry).

          depending on your locale, this is indeed the case*. the mid atlantic is seeing less hs grads and will see less hs grads for at least another eight years. then it will begin ticking back up.

          however, how much this also depends on what kind of student your institution attracts, what your international population is like, your rankings, your NTR sources, etc etc etc and so forth.

          *source: me, because i’m an enrollment management consultant. (among other things)


          • True. I suspect the non-traditional students (people retooling for new careers) may well be our salvation. Also the fact that we’ve striven to limit tuition increases.

            Of course, we are a small state regional school, so if the Regents or the Legislature decides we need to no longer exist….well, I guess I learn to deal blackjack and go work at the casino. (I own my house outright so moving away is very unappealing)


        • My wife’s a high school teacher. She’s gotten to the point where she feels she really can’t “push” college on any kid that isn’t getting a full ride.

          Heck, she’s getting to the point where she’s starting to worry about whether she should start discouraging kids from college.

          Tuition prices (and she is heavily involved in a program that helps kids determine how to pick affordable colleges and find scholarships to cover it) are so high that….she’s not sure borrowing to go to college is worth it, especially if you have an alternative career path that’ll put you on a stable footing.

          I wouldn’t be surprised to hear colleges start finding they’ve FINALLY priced students out.


          • Understood.

            I’d hope she still encourages education to continue notwithstanding the expense. It seems clear enough that there will still be a substantial income differential in the future, not to mention the quality-of-life benefits of an advanced education.


            • She does — like I said, she’s one of the big movers in a program designed to help first generation college students succeed. (And they have a very good track record, not just in terms of how many students get into the college of their choice but have it fully paid for, but in terms of how many come out with not just a degree, but one that matches what they want to do).

              But she pushes community college at every turn to everyone (“Nobody cares where you start college, they only look at where you actually got your degree.”) that’s interested in college. (We also have a very solid local CC with top-level agreements with University of Houston, A&M, and University of Texas — along with quite a few others — so that you can just state your 4 year degree plan and the CC advisers will actually make sure you’re taking the right classes, and all of them transfer).

              And she really doesn’t think you can say “You should go to college” without a lengthy engagement of a number of factors, starting first with “Let’s talk about affording this without going into debt for 20 years”

              But right now, my kid? He’s about to take a year off school. Because his job (service sector) wants to bump him to training, which is about a year to 18 months of regular travel. After which, he’ll qualify for a 50k a year (starting) salaried position. Which they’re happily grooming him for.

              He plans to get that, then return to college. Either to pursue his original degree plan and career or possibly switch to a management track designed to bump him to higher management (either in his company or one of their zillion competitors). And failing that, he’s still got a slower path forward even without going back to school — one that’s pretty middle class.

              I…can’t really argue with his choices. He’s taking a year off in order to get into a position where he’s middle class (with flexible hours for school), can pay for much — if not all — of his further education without loans, and wherein he doesn’t even really need to return to school to stay middle class in a job that’s pretty immune to automation or outsourcing.

              (Admittedly, he’s mostly looking at it as “I can afford to move out, live on my own, and not borrow for college”. I’m realizing he’s basically in a back-up to his back-up plan, and still middle class and his job can’t go overseas or be replaced by a robot).

              I don’t think I could argue if he just dumped college entirely, although I’d probably point out that any 4 year degree would let him move up into true management with that company.


          • I wouldn’t be surprised to hear colleges start finding they’ve FINALLY priced students out.

            overall, I would be quite surprised. because what’s climbed along with tuition is the average amount of unfunded aid, particularly in the private sphere. (the publics have an entirely different set of yokes and strengths, which vary state by state. some have declining enrollment, but largely because they’re getting poached by out of staters. the bigger states can poach out of staters more easily, along with larger international populations. plus if you have tv due to d1 sports, you get free permanent brand awareness.)

            ntr also continues to fall, generally speaking, due to cost of acquisition and increase in services (unfunded depreciation for infrastructure is a whole lot more strain than much ballyhooed waterpark amusements, but one allows for ridiculous crowing and the other does not).

            but lowering tuition at certain institutions causes enrollment bumps, while at others it actually harms recruitment.

            short version: it’s a really weird business.

            still probably worth it in general, but devil is in the details. definitely onboard with 2 years of cc, then transfer (depending on end goal) for most students in the normal to upper bands of achievement, and it’s what i’ve recommended to most of my family and family/friends navigating this for the first time. (i was the first person in my entire family’s history to go to college, so i’m everyone’s canary, regardless of whether my advice is any good)

            that said, you know what would really destroy private colleges in the us? trump’s trade war with china. a whole bunch of the usnwr top 100 lib arts would immediately be in really dire straights, and a few would be genuinely screwed with little recourse. a bunch are pretty close to getting sweet briared as it is, mostly due to the cost of additional services and personnel, lower donation trends, and kids who have greater need and less academic achievement.

            most chinese students are going to come in at 95% (meaning a 5% discount rate). when your discount rate is 55-65% (not uncommon even in the top 100), mostly in the 50-up range), these kids are a godsend. or an agency-send. you get the idea. without that? dang.


        • That’s because UBI is not actually about the working class.

          It’s about the class of people who Orwell described in “Road To Wigan Pier”–the people who have upper-middle-class intellectual conditioning and affectations and habits, but don’t have an upper-middle-class income stream from employment or family money. The people who can’t understand how someone would be OK with the idea that they’re going to get up at four AM and go work at McDonald’s for the next fifty-five years.

          In short, it’s for broke-ass college students who didn’t get the connections to get a good job out of school and are entirely on board with the idea of life being Xbox, weed, frozen pizza, and a UBI check every Tuesday


          • Well thats pretty short sighted. I drive a delivery truck at night. Pretty working class bonifides yes? Ubi would allow people to be picky about which jobs they take, would require employers to not be [email protected] because if you are, people wont work for you unless you pay overmarket rate. And then failure.

            It really is possible to do physical work and to use ones mind. Acting like it youth stoners just marks how little you have interacted with poeple who support ubi in reality.


      • There are two types of UBI advocates: People who hate their jobs and want to milk it, and people who live their jobs and can’t see why anyone would ever want to milk it.


    • I can muster some sympathy for the argument that people don’t want UBI, they want jobs. My sympathy shrivels up, though, when they generally switch from talking about giving people a UBI to creating make work jobs which functionally is the same as a UBI except that you have people digging and filling holes all day.
      This, it seems to me, infantilizes everyone. If you want a Job instead of UBI then take your UBI and go create a job. There’s an infinite supply of productive things that you could do for people if you were offering to do it for free.


      • I suspect that a lot of artists like UBI because it frees them up as you mention in the second paragraph.*

        Others seem to really want work. The Bullshit jobs theory does not extend that far beyond Marxist academics and some lefties who make inexplicable decisions like going from punk rock band to corporate law.

        *I can see right-wingers getting angry at UBI if it is pitched as allowing artists to be artists considering how many right-wingers seem to still believe that artists are living off the hog from NEA grants.


      • This is where I find myself chasing my tail on the whole UBI thing.

        As you note above, that scenario is literally the original definition of wage slavery that was circulating England in the early 20th century. It quickly moves from digging/filling holes into providing actual work for private enterprise.

        But, on the other hand, we know that “work” is something of an acquired habit and that there are things associated with “work” that need to be learned and internalized. Which is to say, that when someone is needed for actual work, knowing how to work is a real thing… plus skills and all that.

        The other hand we don’t talk about is that the very nature of “work” might be changing, and none of us are really sure what that means.

        The thing is, we don’t really have any idea what UBI would do… I wish some small wealthy homogeneous high-trust nation would experiment with it so we could see it in action; it concerns me that one of the ones we know, didn’t.


        • I still need to write a post on it, but I think we dramatically underestimate the impetus to work under UBI. A lot of people would drop out of the workforce to pursue hobbies, but others would still work because (a) work ethic and (b) a desire to be class-ahead of those who don’t work.

          Living in an apartment complex where most of the residents don’t work taught me that it’s better not to live around people who don’t work.

          (Says the guy with no paying employment.)


          • Also, we need to not forget the ‘B’ in UBI. If you want to sit in your cave all day on just a UBI check, you’d better really like the video games you already own and have a way to make pizza appear from thin air.
            A sideline of some sort is needed, even if it’s just dealing drugs (until even that goes away post-legalization) to be able to afford pretty much anything not on the bottom row of the maslow pyramid.


            • Considering that the whole idea behind UBI is “provide the stuff on the bottom row of the Maslow pyramid” I think that you’re pretty much agreeing with UBI advocates here.


              • I am a UBI advocate… Just saying that the injunction is to clothe the naked, not to style them.
                Like the ST Federation – the basics are provided, but pretty much everyone does something in the cash/status economy anyway.


                • I think that if we make it our obligation to clothe the naked and adopt an expansive definition of “naked” then we will rapidly find that there are many more ways to be naked than we could possibly have imagined, and that people have a cussed insistence on spending money for things that aren’t clothes.

                  What I mean is, I still think that a UBI is a good idea (and is, pretty much, what we’ve already got in a lot of ways) but I also think that it’s going to come with a shocking amount of government control over the lives of people who live by it. Like, if you thought “pee tests for welfare was bad”, imagine “monitoring software installed on computers to make sure you aren’t blowing your UBI on Farmville”.


                    • “if everyone’s getting a monthly UBI what would be the impetus to monitor it. ”

                      “I spent all my UBI checks on playing Farmville. Give me more money! You yourself have declared that it’s your basic obligation to feed me, clothe me, shelter me!”


            • I agree. If we take Smith’s argument to apply to UBI (and my brief skim of his article doesn’t mention it, if I recall correctly), then it’s wrong to apply it that way. The “fact” (and I believe it’s probably a fact) that people want/need jobs to have meaning, etc., is a feature, and not a bug of UBI. The idea behind UBI is that people will/might seek out employment, but not be as desperate to take just any job.

              (Probably depends on how UBI is implemented. If it’s done in such a way as to disincentivize work, e.g., by a strict means testing, then maybe it will result in choosing fewer wok opportunities.)


            • Well, that depends on who you ask. The recent Swiss referendum was for $2500 per month, per adult. Granted, it was defeated, but enough people thought it was a good idea for that to be the proposal that got on the ballot. Adjusting for price levels, that would be equivalent to $1600 in the US, about 165% of the poverty line for a single adult. With a two-parent family getting two basic incomes, that would be about 160% of the poverty line for a family of four, or 240% of the poverty line for just two adults.


              • That’s well above anything I’d support(*) – it’s even above anything I’ve discussed. Although there are some tradeoffs you can still make – if you aggressively eliminate other programs aimed at low-income people (to eliminate redundant bureaucracies and make it easier to sell politically) the nominal UBI could be relatively high as it would bake in the pure cash value of things that currently get there through another route.

                (*) Strictly speaking, above anything I’d support with current GDP levels. As “jobs eliminated by automation” transitions to “post-scarcity society”, I’m willing to re-evaluate.


          • I find myself increasingly UBI curious, and for a mix of reasons. One is the increased (and I would expect ever-increasing!) income insecurity due to a shift from traditional to alternative employment arrangements coupled with increased automation over time and things like that. But I also see how a UBI could work very well in conjunction with a health insurance voucher system, especially insofar as programs like Medicaid and Medicare might be fully privatized and the exchanges might simply go away.

            Which, granted, sorta puts the UBI horse behind the healthcare voucher cart, but since those programs may very well be terminated (perhaps with extreme prejudice) an overhaul of some other safety-net programs might make some sense going forward. I don’t know. (I DO think we’ll see a UBI in the future, tho.)

            Of course, none of those issues touch on the inherent value of work, or even what non-working folks would do with a handful of cash as opposed to redeemable coupons.


        • I don’t see UBI as being a total replacement for work.

          I think the most likely scenario is where wage insurance is gradually expanded for working people.

          We already see that when people actually have even a nominal job, whether it is corporation, small farmer or waitress, they see any government check as being “earned” regardless of the facts.

          Even more so when it is a hidden subsidy, “in kind” benefits like health insurance and transportation allowances or tax credits.


        • What Will said. In an approaching post but still scarcity driven economy a UBI would just be a supplement and many people would choose to continue to seek work for scarce goods like residential location and positional goods (this is setting aside those people who would seek specific work because the job in question is their passion).

          Yeah I grant that working is an acquired skill. In a post work world it’d presumably be as valuable as the buggy whip crafting skill. That said it’s an unavoidable fact that we’re nowhere near a post work world.


          • As I’ve said before, I’m willing to be persuaded… but so far I’m mostly seeing a classic economic argument: Assume X, Y and Z… Then A happens; I’m not assuming X or Y or Z – especially when the assumptions really run counter to experience. So far, all I’m really seeing is a tautology that implementing the solution will make the assumptions true. But, I *want* to believe.


            • I think the big breaking point with UBI is whether there is any work component at all, or merely “money for nothing”.

              The latter is a tough sell in America, but the former is already being done, right now, just not very widely or generously.


              • Well, I think I see lots of related but ultimately different arguments around UBI, and I think that’s half the problem.

                Perhaps the simplest and most internally coherent is the libertarian argument that you are nipping around; it might just be more efficient and better for everyone involved if we just gave (poor) people money instead of all the hoops and purity tests required for sustenance. Ok, that’s one argument that has potential costs and benefits – its really just BI, not UBI. I’m ok exploring that.

                But then there’s another layer that focuses on the U rather than the BI. And that’s fine too… but even if BI works (or might work) we haven’t really gotten any further towards UBI data. And then there are all the various arguments over whether U is U or U is U upto V, then it is U – V1… etc. etc.

                I’m not saying that there isn’t an awesome paper I couldn’t possibly understand that “proves” it all works; I’m just saying that I’m surprised at how little math I’ve ever seen done at even the “convince the upper middle class that there’s a business plan that might work” level. Very possible it’s out there and that’s on me for not knowing about it… but honestly, we can’t swing a dead meme around here without a link… and when it comes to UBI there are no links.

                I want to believe, help me with my unbelief.


                • Matt Bruenig tweeted this earlier today:

                  I guess there is no randomization to take advantage of, but always struck me as odd that wannabee UBI researchers don't just study Alaska— Matt Bruenig (@MattBruenig) December 8, 2016

                  And he raises one heck of an interesting point.

                  How *DID* this sort of thing affect Alaska?


                  • That is a very good point.

                    I guess I have a very low sensitivity to the fear that people are just going to lay around playing video games, and as a result the oceans will boil and cats and dogs start living together.

                    Its my belief, based on nothing more than personal observation, that unless the benefit is wildly generous, most people would still find some method of working.

                    I also think the result would be a flowering of creativity; I wonder how many craftspeople and artists would come into being if they didn’t have to wait tables to pay the rent.


                  • Sure… but from what I see unless the B in UBI is very B indeed.

                    2012 $878.00
                    2013 $900.00
                    2014 $1,884.00
                    2015 $2,072.00
                    2016 $1,022.00

                    But that’s sort of my point… are we talking $1,000 per person a year? $10,000? or the 2016 poverty index for 1 person $11,770? And note that 2 people = $15k, not $23k, and so on.

                    The U, the B and the I seem to mean something different to everyone who brings it up.


                    • Well, exactly what are we trying to do with a UBI? Make it so that people have enough free time to pour into creating art, music, and other things that they aren’t making because they have to work?

                      Or just let them upgrade the stuff they have into better stuff?


                      • I don’t rightly know. The PEI people seem to think it will do this:

                        AND WHEREAS a universal basic income would likely have many other positive effects, including local economic growth, supporting entrepreneurship, reducing administrative complexity and costs, improving working conditions, reducing crime, improving health, and helping to build vibrant rural communities.

                        Slap some baselines on those puppies and let ‘er rip.


                        • Well, let’s go through these one by one…

                          “local economic growth”
                          By definition, the island’s GDP will go up. I’m hoping that this isn’t what they mean, though. I think that they’re talking about for-real growth.

                          Well, insofar as the number one reason that any given small business fails is undercapitalization, yeah. This will help with that. I guess.

                          “administrative complexity and costs”
                          My eyebrows knitted *HARD* on this one. How in the hell will this do that?

                          “improving working conditions”
                          Is this one of those things where Bob Cratchit asks for coal for the stove and Scrooge says “well, the UBI makes it so the coal isn’t quite so dear… heck, throw one in there”? How will this improve working conditions? Maybe one of those things where workers can more easily say “Hell with you, if you don’t treat me better, I’m walking” and, thus, inspire better treatment? I’m not saying that a UBI won’t do this sort of thing, I’m just not seeing the function.

                          “reducing crime”
                          Mmmm. Maybe. Need-based crime, I guess.

                          “improving health”
                          Not seeing how this follows. Less stress maybe?

                          “helping to build vibrant rural communities”
                          This reads like boilerplate. Probably unfair to ask how it would do this given that it’s obvious that it was tacked on at the end as advertising puffery.

                          Yeah, I’d like to see some baselines and then see what happens after a year or so.

                          I’d also like to see immigration/emigration numbers.


                          • “improving working conditions”
                            If your worker can say “Fish you, I’d rather just live on my UBI than suffer being employed by you” that’s an option they wouldn’t have if they had to say “If I don’t suffer being employed by you I don’t eat next week.” That would flip a lot of shitty jobs on their ear.

                            “helping to build vibrant rural communities”
                            You’re not thinking it through. A ubi that could get you a corner and some weed and a TV in NY would rent you a comfy house in the country. It’d be an income flow to ruralia. What’s keeping ruralia afloat in places right now? Disability? Damn near a UBI itself.


                      • Well, exactly what are we trying to do with a UBI?

                        Not all that long ago, the libertarianish – you included – viewed it as a better way to establish a safety net than coupons restricting recipients from buying cigarettes or high-fat cheeses. Socially imposed moral control and all that….


                        • Okay, this helps give an idea. We’re replacing food stamps with UBI. No more food stamps, here’s your UBI.

                          No more WIC?

                          I suppose we can abolish welfare as well. Everybody gets a check.

                          We’re cutting down on paperwork. So what welfare used to do, the UBI will now do.

                          I’m currently going through my head and thinking “what could go wrong?” and coming up with a handful of things… I don’t know if those things are worse than what we’ve got now, though.


                          • It would be rude of me to point out there is no program called “welfare.” People usually mean food stamps or something like “that gubmint program that lets lazy people by steak and lobster.” So i won’t point that out.


                              • Well SSI is a check already but that is a start. Poor folk who are eligible for WIC or TANF are often also signed up for government health insurance. In my experience this is super popular fwiw.


                                • Did I miss any?

                                  If we’re doing a UBI, I’m pretty sure that we’re not going to be keeping the other programs around.

                                  HEY TECHNOCRATS! Am I wrong on that? Is a UBI in addition to WIC, TANF, SSI, SNAP, and whatever other programs Greg is going to tell me I missed?

                                  Because I thought that a UBI was going to be replacing this sort of thing.

                                  What’s the plan?


                                  • Replacing disability could be tricky. Some people are far more disabled than others to the point where they can’t work at all. Without HI they are boned and very often could need extra support services just to get by in the community. Their needs are different from the needs of Bob Could Work If Their Were Jobs.


                                    • Well, let’s bundle “Healthcare” under a different umbrella just for the sake of this argument.

                                      If we’re talking only about the people who would have been working if it were 1971 back when there were manufacturing jobs but can’t work now because of automation and offshoring, let’s just leave it there.

                                      Hell, let’s say something about adding a public option to Obamacare and just wave away Health Insurance.

                                      Did I miss any of the programs we could finally eliminate with a UBI?


                                  • Normally the idea is UBI replaces the lot of it. If you’re getting a monthly check then you don’t need those things. You can buy them yourself with a UBI. Then, of course, both liberals and conservatives get twitchy and say “but what if they do things with their money we don’t approve of.” As if people don’t already have a system for (inefficiently) turning any given form of public assistance into cash.


                              • Add LIHEAP, assorted obscurely named programs for the elderly, and that (at least prior to the PPACA, don’t know about currently) almost half of Medicaid went to keep poor old folks in long-term care. In most states, the nursing home industry is heavily dependent on revenues from Medicaid.


                                  • One of the proposals I heard is that old folks would get something comparable to the gummint’s current per-capita contribution to Medicare and they would purchase insurance on the open market (heh). So something way north of SS.


                                    • There was a story a few months (years?) back about an old folks’ home that doubled as student housing.

                                      You had a cafeteria, you had old people, you had youngsters, you had a whole bunch of surplus labor and a whole bunch of surplus wisdom and you had a reason to put them in rooms next to each other in a building with a cafeteria.

                                      We should do that everywhere.


            • Weeell…that one’s a stretch.

              Next year, 250 residents in Utrecht and a few surrounding cities are slated to participate in a government program testing out a universal basic income.


              • Yeah, I get the sense they’re trying to figure out how people respond to getting the cash – whether they work more or less, volunteer more or less. So, like literally!, a controlled experiment.

                Given Holland’s already generous social safety net, I’m not sure how they’ll determine anything particularly useful, tho.


                • Heh, I admire the enthusiasm, but seems the opposite of a controlled experiment. More like the definition of a pilot that the results of which can’t be extrapolated in any meaningful way. Unless we’re looking for a research on a lottery sim.


                    • Gotcha, controlled as in bounded or limited. Sure.

                      I guess I’m thinking that a small community like PEI might provide useful information of the Will Truman sort… that is, what happens when everyone around you has a UBI. What happens to Rent? What happens to people who suddenly want to enrich your community with their Inner-Province ways?

                      More of the structural issues and less of the behavioral issues… though even behaviorally I think it would be important to observe if UBI becomes really really Basic, or if prices of certain goods move in unexpected directions owing to the UBI… that sort of stuff that would affect behavior *because* it was structural.

                      Anyhow, I hope they do it so that we can draw wildly authoritative conclusions from very limited data.


                      • Anyhow, I hope they do it so that we can draw wildly authoritative conclusions from very limited data.

                        Part of the data set, of course, derives from OUR systems, and OUR principles and policies, and OUR accounting, and so on. But inertia has this clever way of just carrying on.


            • erm… if it ever happens; seems rather notional more than anything else.

              THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly urge government to pursue a partnership with the federal government for the establishment of a universal basic income pilot project in Prince Edward Island

              But, will be happy to see that they are baking the success criteria right into the Motion.

              AND WHEREAS a universal basic income would likely have many other positive effects, including local economic growth, supporting entrepreneurship, reducing administrative complexity and costs, improving working conditions, reducing crime, improving health, and helping to build vibrant rural communities

              So, win lose or draw we’ll be able to judge according to these standards the success of the program?


              • Not necessarily. We could choose our own criteria for determining success.

                Personally, I don’t know what those criteria are, to be honest, other than a single metric: whether or not it breaks the connection between work and receiving benefits, a connection which already fails to obtain in the US. Eg., no one seems to talk about cost and so on.


    • “W1: This sort of goes to surplus humans doesn’t it?”

      hey remember that other thread where Jaybird started talking about sterilization and people got Really Goddamn Mad about it and said that nobody would ever talk about anything like that ever cool huh well anyway i gotta go bye


      • Anyone talking about sterilization has been living under a rock for the last 20 years. Turns out you grant women rights and access to the work force and you end up pleading with them to have more than one kid. Sterilization? That’s decades outta date, now days it’s Ross Douthat crawling around on his knees begging people to have more kids.


            • If I close my eyes, I can still envision that video we watched in high school sociology class. It was only slightly less horrifying than the video they showed of people using exercise bikes to power stuff because we’re going to run out of coal and oil.


            • But you and me both are also old enough to remember how it was gonna have hit 10 billion 10 years ago, and be well on the way to 17 billion by now.

              What caused this change? Sterilization?


              • Capitalism (or more proximately, increasing affluence). There was quite a bit of lag time from when the west industrialised to when they stopped having children like they were living in agrarian societies. It is this gap which caused the population explosion (and hence the high projected growth rate). Large birth rates make sense in low tech agrarian societies when life is precarious and many children will die before they reach adulthood. The high mortality rate keeps the population level down. When the mortality rate is reduced by modern medicine but the fertility remains high the population explodes. This lag time is considerably shorter for many newly industrialised economies and in the case of china, preceded such affluence. Since the lag is so much shorter, the population size continues to be maintained or in some cases starts to decrease.


        • The nearly universal presence of overpopulation concerns in sci-fi of a certain era is still fascinating, though. At this point, it seems more likely that humans will be one of those species gradually dwindling in numbers than the rapidly multiplying colonists in Niven or Heinlein.


          • Indeed, but a green flourishing world with scattered tastefully integrated high tech communities populated by modest number of care free humans and their hordes of machine servants wouldn’t make a very good dystopia. Hmmm well maybe one could make it a good dystopia. I recall that the Dune prequels used such a setting as a kind of Eden (spoilers: some humans with screwed up ideas ruined it).


              • I’ll happily give someone else’s first born kid to be a Spacer.

                I wonder how much Asimov purposely copied Heian Japan when describing the Spacer worlds -a small elite devoted to beauty (how to artistically shake the salter), easy sex, and absolute separation between individuals otherwise, communicating only via artifititial means (poems or viewing), and how much is convergent evolution, in which a similar set of circumstances then to bring forth similar societal outcomes.

                (Which makes me doubt dystopias can be sustainable in time – they require a lot of external energy to force the dystopian result, because, in reality, people don’t like it and would naturally gravitate towards a different outcome (which brings to mind Gibbon’s rule of ten – you need one man to subjugate ten, but once you have enough men, your power grows geometrically – a couple of hundred thousand Roman legionaries could rule a continent) )


                  • I was thinking more of Aurora (The Robots of Dawn is my favorite Asimov novel). In Solaria sex is a chore, not a casual entertainment, but the people are distributed enough that actual physical contact is rarer than the viewing (sort of Heian Japan too)


          • “The nearly universal presence of overpopulation concerns in sci-fi of a certain era is still fascinating, though.”

            In fact it’s part of SF over quite a long time–from “Starship Troopers” to “Ender’s Game”, population pressure is a factor (although in the two stories I mention, which pretty much bookend the idea, it’s seen as a positive motivator rather than a source of hardship.)


          • I suppose because it seemed a problem at the time, one without simple solutions that fit the Western methods of government. (China’s solution, for instance, was rather draconian and wouldn’t have exactly flown in America).

            A lot of sci-fi has always worked on taking the problems of the day — or the ones people worried about might happen in the near future — and playing with them.


    • I could take claims of anti-intlectualism more seriously if the “ism” in question were more about about actual intellect and less about posturing around supposedly intellectual pursuits.

      Seriously, how skewed does your perspective have to be to not view starting a business as an intellectual pursuit?


  3. F1: When I was newly diagnosed with hypertension, my doctor suggested I cut sodium intake to 1500 mg per day. Because I am an all-or-nothing type person, I went whole hog on that. It was miserable, it made me miserable, it made me miserable to be around. I’ve since scaled back a little bit finding that strict 1500 mg adherence caused no greater reduction than keeping it hovering around 2000 mg. (Which is far, far easier to do, surprisingly).

    I have to plan carefully if I am eating a restaurant meal, and I can’t use a lot of convenience foods (no frozen dinners, which were a staple when I was busy and just needed nutrition).

    I also took on the DASH diet and followed it until food intolerances and some kind of weird GI problem caught up with me and basically told me: don’t eat raw vegetables and don’t eat eight servings of vegetables in a day.

    I think the reason, honestly, that salt is so emphasized is it puts the onus on the patient – “You have to change.” I KNOW a part of my hypertension is just dumb bad luck (everyone on my dad’s side of the family develops it somewhere between age 40 and age 50) and also not dealing well with stress, but it seems our culture doesn’t have a big investment in reducing stress on people (unless you’re a college student at an elite college, where they give you exam-week stress-relief treatments).

    I take a beta blocker which mostly fixes it but which sucks to take because my doctor basically told me I will die if I go into anaphylaxis over anything, because the standard treatment doesn’t work when on a beta blocker. It also saps me of some of the energy I used to have unless I am just getting old….


  4. O4 is interesting. I gained a good percentage of my surplus substance after I quit smoking around 7-8 years ago, now.

    Man. I don’t know that I’ve thought about my momma every day for the last 7-8 years… but I’ve thought about smoking every day…


  5. C1: I wouldn’t be that concerned. The Plaintiff’s probably actively selected one of the only District Court Judges in the country that wouldn’t throw their case out of court at the first opportunity. Either way, even if they are successful at trial (which is unlikely), it will almost certainly be overturned on appeal by the Ninth Circuit.

    This also seems like a issue that is almost uniquely ill-suited for judicial management. It would be interesting to figure out how the court found that a 25% reduction was what was legally required in the Dutch case. Also how any rationale for the same decision here my be changed by the Netherlands precarious geographic situation.


  6. F3: The headline, and the blurb here, don’t really get the point of the article. There is a market for locally produced food. Some people will try to make money off this, without the bother of actually selling locally produced food. Some buyers don’t care. Maybe they want the frisson of imagining they are eating locally produced food, but are unconcerned with whether or not this imagined reality is actually true. Or perhaps they just enjoy farmer’s markets. In any case, if your food being locally produced is important to you, you have to be aware of this. duh. As a rule of thumb, any farmer’s market that allows reselling is essentially bogus. It might be a fun experience, but it isn’t really a farmer’s market.


    • This is exactly why I quit going to one of the local so-called “Farmer’s Markets” – I realized they had produce that wouldn’t be easily grown in my climate, and had things ever-so-slightly out of season for us. And then I saw the shipping crates one day…. I live in a hot, dry climate that seems to be more suited to pasturing cattle (but it’s very hard to find decent beef in the stores, ironically), so farmer’s markets seem to be largely a disappointment.


      • The important thing is disclosure. I often buy from a local commercial market that is essentially an overgrown farm stand. They both sell their own produce and resell produce from other sources. They are good about labeling, distinguishing between their own produce, produce from other local farms (since they don’t grow everything that will grow in the area), and regional produce (e.g. early strawberries from the southern end of the state). They will also sell produce from big commercial distributors. The little stickers on the fruit is your clue, in case you thought that maybe their were growing oranges in Maryland in December. I have absolutely no problem with this. I know what I am looking at, and can make my buying decisions accordingly.


        • Yeah, this stuff was “wink wink it’s local” until I found out it wasn’t. I felt taken, so I never went back there. It was stuff like squash and tomatoes that COULD have been local except they were ever-so-slightly out of season and a little too perfect for a home grower.

          My main annoyance was the prices were slightly higher than the local grocery – if I’m not “supporting” “local” “farmers” then I might as well save my pennies and go to the grocery.

          I don’t care as long as I know. (Same way with GMO content, though I generally assume that unless it says “No GMO,” there’s gonna be GMO)


          • Yeah, actually the article was quite good… on the producer side, my takeaway is that Farmer’s Markets are a dying idea. They make a certain amount of sense for tiny markets, but they are not the answer to an actual regional food distribution system.

            I have a $1B idea that I and and a few producers have sketched out if anyone has some spare cash lying around… :-)

            The line that made me chuckle though was this:

            I also saw the holes – restaurateurs who promised to buy regularly, but rarely did; chefs who ordered only twice a year, but continued to claim products on their menus

            We get calls from Chefs with some regularity… the calls play out a little bit like a parody of the Chris Rock, How much for 1 Rib sketch. Basically my answer to any restaurant inquiry for Racks of lamb is this: $250 for the rack, the rest of the lamb is free.

            The other thing that is simply true was this:

            While local food has emerged as an alternative to industrial food, many people have simply transferred their expectations from the grocery store to the farmers’ market. Consumers still expect a global array of products, despite natural restrictions in season or geography. Additionally, emotional expectations surrounding food have increased. People want to imagine chickens free-ranging in a pasture without knowing anything about their deaths.

            In my case Seasonality is the biggest issue… and to address this jointly it requires some changes distribution, storage and consumption between both producers and consumers that is eminently bridgeable, but adds friction to the market.

            Since we sell direct via the internet, I didn’t realize the rampant reselling (of fruits/veggies/flowers) at farmer’s markets until my daughter went to work at a farm that spends time at them. As I understand it, the simple motivator is actually seasonality as I mention above (not the $$) – the sellers are motivated to have a stall with greater variety so that their home grown Kale sells along side the out-of-season strawberries.

            Oh well, lots and lots of opportunities… but clashing markets and clashing expectations do weird things.


            • the sellers are motivated to have a stall with greater variety so that their home grown Kale sells along side the out-of-season strawberries.

              The thing is, if we are talking about them send a pickup truck to a farm a hundred miles to the south (or north), where those strawberries are at their peak, then I would consider this a valuable service provided to me, who has been known to make long drives for fresh strawberries. If it means they went to the industrial food distribution facility and bought a load a strawberries grown God only knows where, then they are selling me supermarket strawberries under false guises. I also will be disappointed in the produce, and less likely to come back. Disclosure is everything.


    • A market that allows reselling is not a farmer’s market, it’s true. It’s still a market though, and I’m OK with that if they’re up front about it

      I’d be happy to buy local produce from local farmers and not have to make a second shopping trip to get nectarines, tea, fish, and cheese outside of the small selection of local ones…

      Our farmers markets are very much against that sort of thing. Right now the available veggies are root veg, some cabbage, or pickled, for example.


  7. C1: Should Trees Have Standing? This is not a new question, it was raised at least 44 years ago in a law review article that was cited at the time by a dissenting Supreme Court justice. This lawsuit is going nowhere, and don’t be confused by the question, trees don’t talk, they don’t have bank accounts or lawyers. The question is whether guardians should be selected to represent the interests of non-humans or ecosystems. In this particular lawsuit, it appears the self-styled guardians want to require the President to take action to prevent climate change.

    It would be as if a group representing workers who’ve seen their wages diminished due to immigration petitioned the Court to order Obama to take action. Not going to happen. One should expect 9-0 reversals at the SCOTUS for this type of intrusion on democracy. (Justice Garner was not even willing to order the federal government to process a permit to dispose of nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain as required by law, because he didn’t want to interfere with executive functioning)


  8. [F2] Dangit, now how am I supposed to know what yogurt I can eat? I thought Greek yogurt was supposed to be the manly sort of yogurt. Now they’re telling me it’s feminized de exoticized yogurt.

    Were the masculine black and white packaging and bold sans serif type just a ruse to sap the purity of my bodily essences?


  9. O4: “society might dislike smokers, but it hates fat people way more”. Not in my experience. I guess a lot of it has to do with the crowds you hang around with, but in my social circles, smokers have two strikes against them. I’d be interested to hear from others about this.


    • It is my experience, as someone who has smoked and struggled with weight. Though perhaps “more” isn’t quite the right frame. Maybe it’s “more consistently.” Because, I mean, you certainly get dirtier looks when you’re smoking than when you’re big (unless you’re *really* big, maybe). But you’re smoking maybe 10-20% of the day, if that. You’re fat 100% of the day. If you’re interviewing for a job, the cigarette pack stays in the car and you can wash your hands and all that. You can’t put away the fat. Smoking is something you do. Fat is something you are.

      (It was also the case, at least 15 years ago, that people who said they wouldn’t date fat people because of health or whatnot… would date the right smoker. Albeit not without complaint. That may not be the case now, though.)

      So socially speaking, it’s better to smoke than to be fat.


      • First: It’s rare that fat people smell bad. Smokers smell bad all the time.

        Second: I’d bet that most people see smoking as a sign of a weak will. Ditto obesity. But most people have struggled enough with their own weight that they’d look upon a somewhat overweight person with some sympathy.


        • Or they look at fat people who failed where they succeeded. People who have lost a lot of weight are often extremely sanctimonious about it. (The same goes for a lot of former smokers.) That was always a thing with me about Mike Huckabee. I don’t believe in making fun of somebody’s weight, but when he lost it all he was really kind of a jackass about it. Which makes me less inclined to hold fire now. (Though I still do.)

          There are things smokers can do to minimize the smell. A lot of smokers don’t. Tangential, but I realized the other day that I still shower like a smoker, washing my face aggressively.

          Another thing is that fat people are treated worse by other fat people. That’s a dynamic that barely exists among smokers.

          Some of this has changed in recent years as smoking has taken on stronger and stronger class elements, though.

          In any event, while I was socially penalized for both, being overweight caused much more self-consciousness than the smoking ever did. And I was never truly obese.


          • Converts, whether it be religion or weight or smoking or whatever, are almost always the worst. I don’t have that strong a sniffer, but i’ve smelled people that reeked of smoke and even had them send me documents that reeked of smoke. Disgusting. And both my parents and my first wife smoked so i was pretty darn used to the smell of it. I can’t say i’ve ever noticed body odor on anyone that wasn’t’ a homeless person i was working with.


            • I never liked the smell of smoke, but I could live with it. I was a competitive bowler from mid-elementary school until I went off to college, and California banned indoor smoking in restaurants/bars/bowling alleys halfway through my bowling career. The difference was night and day.

              But I wasn’t grossed out by smoking until I bought a house from a smoker and had to clean it up and make it habitable. Literally everything is sticky. It takes an ungodly number of passes over anything before it feels remotely clean. Horrifying.


    • Smokers tend to be given some slack because of the addiction and because smoking is not uncool. On the other hand, if you are fat, people look down on you because they think that you lack the self control and discipline to diet and exercise and also because being fat is considered repulsive by many


      • And the two things tend to be targeted by workplace “wellness” initiatives, because they are easy.

        Well, easy for the people running the initiative. It costs money to clean up roof leaks that cause mold which causes respiratory issues; it takes effort to reduce workplace stress. Easier to harass the fatties (I am one) or the smokers.

        We had one start up here. They did all kinds of cutesy disgusting stuff like declaring buildings on campus “donut free zones” (demonizing a particular food) and sending out video e-mails that essentially said “Oh, just push back from the table already!” and they put scales in many of the buildings and encouraged people to weigh themselves.

        I am a fatty, as I said, but I’m a fatty who exercises and tries to watch her diet so I resisted joining it because I knew I’d just make myself miserable and do stupid stuff like skipping meals to try to make the waypoints.

        I will note all of this happened during a serious budget shortfall where we were asked to take furlough days and non-tenured people were let go. It was surreal to me to think they were spending money on these canned videos they would send out while people were losing their jobs.

        I wound up losing weight anyway because I caught some kind of weird GI virus and then stress gave me something like IBS and I spent a couple months mostly not-eating. I don’t recommend it as a diet plan. (I have since regained most of the weight)


        • If you’ve watched doctors the last decade or so, there’s been a pretty quiet shift away from “lose weight, end of story”. There’s a reason insurance companies have suddenly started covering various surgeries designed to cause weight loss.

          Turns out the human body is a real PITA about weight. It’s almost like millions of years of evolution have designed us to pack on pounds in times of plenty (including craving calorie and fat rich foods) and to resist losing it unless you’re literally starving.

          Other than crude methods like, you know, actually physically limiting the size of your stomach, or spending close to a full-time job’s worth of time and effort on weight loss, there’s just not a lot most people can feasibly do.

          I suspect realistic weight loss future, other than surgery, is gonna rest on whatever pharmaceutical company finds a useful hack — either one to the satiation mechanism, or one that cause empty fat cells to be recycled (rather then left, eager to be filled again), or something like that.

          Of course, that’s not a popular truth when you can just say “Eat less and exercise” and feel virtuous. (Actual doctors and insurance companies, as noted, have started to realize that’s not terribly successful)


          • Yeah biology, fucking biology. We’re designed to conserve calories and store them up for the bad times. Wanna diet to get those pounds off? Sure! But if you ever stop your body has just been convinced you weathered a famine and that now that there’s abundance again you need to store MORE calories and burn even less. Your metabolism is borked. God(ess?) damn biology.


          • I think a few years back they found one, but it also screwed with the brain’s “reward response” system, and pretty bad depression (anhedonia) was a side effect.

            I’m actually surprised people still didn’t push for its legalization and promotion….

            There were rewards for BMI reduction in the wellness plan my campus offered. Apparently they (or whoever pushed the plan) hasn’t learned biology yet.

            (In all seriousness? I suspect gut biota has far more of a role in what a person’s “stable” weight is.)


            • There’s been studies showing that (gut biota) has an effect, but there’s a lot of correlation/causation stuff running around.

              As for satiation drugs, we’ll…we’re slowly getting better at targeting. I doubt that research has been dropped, but more likely focused on finding and more specifically targeting specific receptors instead of shotgunning the brain’s reward centers.

              I was one weight until about my mid-twenties, then I ballooned up to another weight. Which I have stayed with 10% of since.

              Up some, down some, up some, down some. I’m down a bit now and hope to keep it off (we’ve switched to a generally more healthy eating style in general, and have kept at it for a few months now), but I know the odds.


              • Up some, down some, up some, down some. I’m down a bit now and hope to keep it off (we’ve switched to a generally more healthy eating style in general, and have kept at it for a few months now), but I know the odds.

                Odds being high or low?


                • Odds are that, absent the lifestyle changes I can’t afford because I have a full time job, I will remain within about 10% of my current weight the rest of my life.

                  And frankly, I’m darn thankfully I stabilized where I did. Ideally I’d be 20% lower than I am, but my stable weight is not that unhealthy. It’s more than it should be, but not so much that it blocks activity (including athletic activity).

                  I mean rock climbing is out, but that’s more “screw that” than anything. :)


                  • — Not to go all “fitness snob” on you, but this book plus three hours a week will get you a long way. You can start the bodyweight program pretty much for free, right in your house. The diet stuff you can kinda fudge on. (I don’t follow it strictly.) Eventually you’ll need to figure out who to do the rowing/pulldown exercises. A set of suspension cables is probably the easiest. The cost can be really low if you’re clever enough. Over time you’d probably want some dumbbells and/or kettlebells, but you don’t need that all at once so you can trawl craigslist or whatever and find deals.

                    The book is for women, but so what? A nice butt is a nice butt — and worse case is you get a great butt and have to fend off thirsty gay dudes, which is easy and fun.

                    Anyway, pushups are free. Glute bridges are free. An ideal diet is expensive, but a better diet is likely in reach.

                    Or not. Your choice. But if cost is really the problem, it is a solvable problem.


                    • Bret Contreras know his stuff. I don’t follow his programming for glutes per se but his ideas are incorporated by other people (i.e. John Rusin).

                      I love glute work. There is nothing that makes people freak out more than when I do barbell glute bridges off the floor at 500 lbs for sets of 10.

                      More entertaining than that is watching people either stare or immediately turn away when I do rope pull throughs, another awesome glute exercise. I have a few very funny stories about those.


                    • My kid is looking at moving out in the next few months. I was honestly considering getting one of the Bowflex machines and just using that. Bodyweight is nice, but I have enough random soft tissue issues that I’d prefer not to start off with, well, my rather large amount of bodyweight. :)

                      Cardio plus resistance based Bowflex would be a nice intro, I think.

                      Plus, the basic PR1000 is about 350 bucks if you wait for a deal, and caps out (if you don’t fiddle with it) at about 250lbs which is plenty for me.


                      • — I have no opinion either way on bowflex, except to say the workouts you are doing are infinitely better than those you are not. So if bowflex fits you space/budget, then sure why not.

                        That said, squats and deadlifts are essential. If you can’t simulate those with a bowflex, then you’re missing out. Same with hip thrusts. You’re maybe better off dropping a 20kg kettlebell in your lap and hipthrusting than trying to rig up your bowflex for hip thrusts. I dunno. Read Strong Curves. You won’t regret that knowledge.

                        (There are perhaps other books more male-focused, which will serve you as well, but I can’t recommend any.)

                        Regarding cardio, my controversial opinion: unless you enjoy cardio on its own terms, then don’t bother. Do zero cardio, except perhaps try to walk more than you do now. That’s it. No cardio. Zilch. Just lift three or four days a week. A session takes no more than an hour.

                        Unless you like cardio. If you’re itching to do cardio, if those trails need hiking, if those roads need running, if you really want to do it, then by all means. However, most people don’t. For most people, exercise is something we do cuz we need to, and we only have a limited psychological budget.

                        Spend all of that on strength training, each little bit. Lift weights, but in particular a modern-ish system with activation and mobility drills, and with a metabolic focus. You’ll spend less time, burn the same calories, boost your metabolism more, and shape up your body in really nice ways.

                        This advice is worth at least what you paid for it.


                        • Let me add, I love to go dancing, which (the way I do it) certainly counts as cardio. So yay. When I say “no cardio,” I don’t mean to avoid using your body in an aerobic way. Instead, I mean don’t slave to the treadmill. Do things that are fun. Do weight training to build your body — which actually weight training can be pretty fun when you get the knack. I like going to the gym and looking gorgeous and picking up heavy things. YMMV.

                          Anyway, I also love to dance. If you like to dance or play tennis or any such thing, then do that thing. If you want to run, cuz it calls to you, then run. But don’t “do cardio” cuz you think you need to. You do not. Weights are enough.


                        • Yeah only do cardio if you are into it. The absolute best exercise is that which you can do fairly often long term. Doing something you don’t like to often will wear you down and make it less likely to keep going. If you are lifting and keeping a decent tempo that will get your heart going. But most important is just doing something a few times a week for the long term.

                          Also remember exercise is mostly about being healthy and much less about losing weight. Most of weight loss is diet based. Your body will benefit from working out but it won’t take many pounds off or keep it off.


  10. [T5] I’d feel happier about the overhead-bag space fee if I felt like it were an honest attempt to deal with an actual issue. What’s actually happening is that United decided they’d had enough of missing out on those checked-luggage charges that people were dodging by using carry-on luggage.


    • Well it struck me that the obvious way to solve the overhead problem was to charge the $25 to bring a bag with you, and make the checked luggage free. That would solve the problem.

      But then it was suggested to me that that wasn’t the problem they were trying to solve; the problem is that the checked luggage takes up room for free that other people are willing to pay for.

      Which then makes the overhead fiasco that we’re all familiar with now.

      The approach United has described strikes me as future Harvard Business Review fail-bait. Basically you have created a system where the person standing at the gate has to eye-ball a given passenger (or family of passengers) see that their ticket does not allow for carry-on, then stop the line, argue with said passenger(s) then confiscate their bags, collect payment, and then see to it the bags are loaded.

      Or, harried over worked, understaffed counter agent just waves everyone through.


  11. I can’t link right now but Matt Y at Vox came up with his own Kansas City plan by arguing some government agencies should be moved to the MidWest.


    • The fundamental question here would be whether relocating (for example) a Cabinet-level department to a Midwest city would benefit that city, or would it benefit the suburbs surrounding it?

      The US Patent Office recently opened a new regional office in Denver. It’s downtown — because it didn’t involve a lot of people or a lot of space so they put it into the existing federal building that’s part of the federal court complex (Colorado District plus 10th Circuit). Bigger groups that have been located here over the years have gone to the suburbs — the almost-square-mile “Denver” Federal Center is in Lakewood, BLM and NREL are in Golden, NIST’s thousand or so (plus the NOAA and NCAR people) are in Boulder. Yeah, Denver proper benefits from those too, but much of that is because Denver has a much more congenial relationship with its suburbs than (IMO) core cities “back East” do — regional public transportation, regional funding for arts/science facilities, regional air quality controls, regional land use planning. How much tax money from the wealthy suburbs in Oakland County wind up benefiting Detroit?


  12. I’m surprised the Sofia Vergara piece hasn’t got any traction. I found it the most interesting one (but I tend to read things from the bottom)

    First, come on, it’s Sofia Vergara. ‘Nuff said.

    But more importantly, it is again the Personhood Amendment argument but this time via the judiciary. Once you start granting rights s to frozen embryos, you are but one step away from criminalizing abortion.


    • Having said that, I’ve always been sympathetic to the concept that the father should have the right (assuming there are no adverse health effects) to stop an abortion as long as he also agrees to be the sole parent.

      I understand the “it’s my body, it’s my choice” argument, at it has merit. But I don’t believe that the father should have no right or say whatsoever in these cases. It might be that He wants the child.


      • In this particular case, since the embryos are 1) out of her body and 2) she would not be required to do anything for the embryos or what they may develop into, what rights, apart from any contractually acquired ones, does she have (or perhaps ought she to have) over the fate of those embryos.


        • In this particular case is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here.

          If the embryos have standing to sue outside of her body, why don’t they have standing to sue while inside her body? Either they are “legal persons” (akin to, to the very least, corporations), or they are legal “lumps of tissue” (my preferred outcome). You don’t have the right to kill persons, but you can remove lumps of tissue. To argue that the inside/outside her body is THE relevant difference gets you into strange places (are the embryos “persons”, but her chattel while inside, but free people when outside would be but one of those places)


          • Forcing her to come to term makes her the chattel of the embryos, stating her right to her body (and it’s resources) comes second to a small collection of cells that’s apparently got more of a right to her than she does.

            No doctor will force me to donate blood against my will, even if the lack of my donation will lead to someone’s death. And legislation to make blood donation mandatory would set heads exploding, despite how low-risk blood donation is, no matter how many lives that would save.

            Yet mandate a woman care a three-week old embryo to term, with all the risks and life-time health complications? Somehow that’s…different.


        • If we ever have artificial wombs and risk and complication free extraction procedures, we can revisit.

          Even then, I’d probably put the father’s rights sometime after the first 10 to 12 weeks. Go ahead and get past Mother Nature’s own highly efficient discard system.

          Something like that, 20% of embryo’s get past Mother Nature in the first place? Of the tiny fraction of fertilized eggs that manage to get to implantation?

          Biologically speaking, if embryos are people, then God kills untold millions a year — and virtually no one even notices.


          • You are making rational arguments in what it is a legal/theological/metaphysical issue. What are you, some kind of engineer, or what?

            I agree with most of what you just said, but the fact of the matter is that embryos are different than blood transfusions. Sometime between blastocysts and birth, lumps of tissues become people. No one denies babies have standing to sue their mothers. They are undoubtedly people. Now then, there’s been several attempts to endow blastocysts with personhood too (the Personhood Amendments), which will make killing blastocysts illegal.

            Now a judge is being asked to rule that blastocysts have standing to sue. Should he say yes, what does it say about “killing” entities with standing to sue? Can a blastocyst ask for a stay of an abortion? What if the blastocyst guardian at litem agrees to cover the pregnancy’s financial costs?


        • I have two objections to what I understand is your position:

          1- Fathers do have some biological skin in the game. The fetus is carrying as much his genetic material as hers. Though the biological burden of pregnancy is MUCH BIGGER, it doesn’t mean that the father has zero biological skin in the game, which is more or less the legal say he has in the outcome.

          2- it ignores the emotional bonds that fathers might have with their unborn children. I doubt you can say to any of the fathers in this forum that before their child was born they didn’t have any emotional attachment to him/her, so that it would have been a matter of indifference for them whether their partners would have a miscarriage, an abortion, or carried the pregnancy to term.

          And the third of my two issues is that fathers do have legal obligations towards their (non-aborted) children. Right now, it is essentially the mother’s decision to impose those obligations, or not, on the father (of course, this opens the door towards the “can the father request or force the mother to have an abortion issue”).

          BIGGEST DISCLOSURE POSSIBLE: I fully support very, very, ample abortion rights, almost absolute in the first three or four months (*), but I do think that the father, like the House of Lords, should he given some say in the process

          (*) I hedge on the almost because I can conceive there can be arguments for some restrictions, but I can’t imagine any, right now


          • I sympathize, J_A but compared to the burden women carry in a pregnancy: Starting with every single burden/connection fathers have then adding on sickness, non-trivial risk of death or maiming, months of increasingly debilitating physical and professional encumbrance, waves of hormonal shifts both before and after pregnancy. Fathers biological skin in the game is a comparative tiny fraction. On which of these tiny connections could the law in its majesty justly hang the decision to compel a woman against her will to inflict these things upon her body?

            I would note that BOTH Fathers AND mothers have financial legal obligations to their living children. In some scenario where a mother relinquishes custody to the Father she is still obligated to provide for the kid financially to the best of her ability. Post birth the law could and should treat both parents equally. Pre-birth? 99% of the burden and risk of pregnancy rests on the woman so 99% of the legal power to decide whether to undergo that pregnancy should vest in the woman. Yeah that leaves the dad stuck with basically pleading and little else. Until we develop an artificial womb or a way to transfer that pregnancy to the father what other outcome would be just?


      • Beyond the body sovereignty issues, how would you handle rape?

        It’s quite possible that any criminal proceedings would last most or all of the length of the pregnancy, so we’re really talking about the accusation of rape.

        If, in your scenario, an accused rapist loses the ability to stop an abortion, then you could be incentivizing false accusations.

        If not, then you could be permitting a rapist to legally compel his victim to carry his child to term.


        • It’s like said. This development worries me, because once you start granting Personhood to embryos there is no clear limit.

          posits the “you, parasite” theory that the fetus is always a parasite (which it is) and the host has always the authority to remove it. There’s no doubt in my mind that that is true in the beginning (let’s say first trimester, for conversation sake). It’s less clear after viability. Having said that, i believe that the preponderance of rights should go to the mother, even on the eve of the last day. But it feels to me that certain restrictions towards the end of pregnancy, restrictions that could be waived in certain cases, are reasonable. And there’s a lot of devil in the details.

          So, in a world where the only two options are “no abortions ever” or “unrestricted abortions always”, I chose the second. But I will do it with a bit of a heavy heart. I chose the second because i don’t know where to draw a line, but the line has to be this side of a blastocyst. And giving Sofia Vergara’s embryos personhood and legal standing is putting the line on the other side. That, I cannot accept.

          I like the House of Lords metaphor. In the case of an abortion, at the end, the mother, like the Commons, has to have the final word, but, in certain cases, the father, or the embryo, like the House of Lords, have to have the right to make an argument, and be heard.


      • This is an amazing post from . Kudos to him. He’s saying that xactly what I was trying to address.

        (Plus I learned the proper usage of the word “behalvs”, so it was totally my worth reading it)


      • You don’t need a written contract to claim detrimental reliance. In fact, I think that’s the whole point. If you have a written contract, your rights and obligations are spelled out explicitly.

        Suppose you invite someone out to your house in the middle of a desert for the week. You drive. Then on the next day, you revoke the invitation and kick him out. Stuck in the desert without water, he dies. That’s murder, right? Contract or no, you created a situation in which a person became reliant on your support for survival with no alternatives, and then revoked the support, leading to his death.


        • I was wrong about detrimental reliance only being relevant when you don’t have a written contract. Apparently contracts are generally unenforceable when the party suing for breach of contract hasn’t given any form of consideration (e.g. if we sign a contract that says I’ll pay you $10,000 just because I think you’re swell, that’s not enforceable). Detrimental reliance is one exception to this rule. However, it still doesn’t require a written contract.


  13. Trump: “Don’t trust these big institutions, folks!”
    CIA: “We have high confidence that the Russians have hacked our Democracy, but we can’t show our work.”
    Trump: “Do you believe me now?”


      • The (intrumental…) beauty of Trump’s politics is that he’s a) capitalized on the electorate’s distrust of/lack of faith in big institutional structures, which b) the institutions themselves cannot repair consistently with their general opacity, allowing him to c) take advantage of the internal power structures to his own advantage while keeping his political hands clean.

        Eg, liberals can bay at the covert Putin moon till the cows come home, all that baying will get them is increased distrust in big institutions. While Democrats, and even conservatives, are hashing and analyzing our current state of affairs, Trump will be busy shaping our new reality.

        Add: it strikes me as not exactly a bait and switch. More like Oz behind the curtain throwing flashbangs OVER THERE! And right now, we can’t help ourselves from being distracted. And by the time we aren’t, it’ll all be over.


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