Morning Ed: Law & Order {2018.03.07.W}

[LO1] We look back at this sort of thing with horror, but it’s not as far removed from our current culture as we might think.

[LO2] This story is amazing: A con-man steps into the identity of a missing kid due some money, but it turns out the kid is dead and the killer was inside the family.

[LO3] A speculative look at the history and psychology of male violence.

[LO4] Beware the power of fear, for you do not always know what will be unleashed. When we talk about kids being unsafe, a fair chunk of that is on us. And more.

[LO5] This link was recommended from Maribou. My sister-in-law does a lot of work with the tribes in Alaska and a lot of it sounds just harrowing and almost hard to believe.

[LO6] This wouldn’t have happened had she not put her car in the way of a police officer going 94 miles an hour while off-duty. Well, I mean, she wasn’t driving, but still… it was about the car seat or something.

[LO7] I am skeptical of this plan’s efficacy, but the potential upsides of this are great and the downsides relatively marginal, so I wish it all the best.

[Lo8] Good for him.

[LO9] The bite that bites: Junk forensic science has put innocent people away.


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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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111 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Law & Order {2018.03.07.W}

  1. LO1-ugh. It isn’t removed at all from the present day. When i’ve defended CPS in the past it’s partly due to cases like this. Some of the people who scream the loudest about how terrible CPS is are fear mongering or are wrong about whether abuse occurred. They are sure it happened and never tell them it didn’t. They are in full moral panic mode and want convictions.

    Of course in this case CPS screwed up but they have an incredibly hard job to do with evidence that is often weak. When they screw it up they deserve all the heat they get, I’m just always skeptical of the critics since they are just as often off base or projecting their own biases. Child abuse panics are scary things, so of course is child abuse.

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    • The only time I hear of DPS in the news is when they take a kid away, or when they don’t.
      In other words, half the time the panic is that they are overly powerful to intervene, then the other half the panic is that they do nothing.

      It is entirely possible for them to be both of course. But my personal suspicion is that the general public assumes that:
      1. There is some simple easy metric that can unfailingly determine when to intervene and that:
      2. Intervention results in the child going to a pleasant warm safe environment and lives happily ever after.

      We seem to struggle with the notion that family struggles are messy and wickedly complex, and that often there really is no possible outcome that we would recognize as “good”.

      This isn’t even a comment on the particular case, just an observation about the limits of what we can do.

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      • Oh yeah, completely true. There aren’t any actually easy good outcomes when CPS has to take children away from there parents even when they have good reasons. It is always painful and hard on all involved even when the children are very correctly being protected. Some children and adults need protection and when CPS does that well good for them. But it’s always messy and hard and to infrequently easy to see.

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  2. LO8 – this is where qualified immunity shouldn’t apply, but I bet it’ll be argued that it does.

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  3. LO7:
    I don’t have any solid thoughts on the potential upside, but I disagree that the downside is only marginal. Yeah, putting yourself and keeping yourself on the “no gun” list would be voluntary, but there is a pretty big chance that it would be used as leverage in all sorts of situations. And just to be clear, I don’t have a problem with gun ownership being used as negative leverage in certain situations. I just want it done up front.

    One of the biggest problems with how we approach policy is the obsession with clever solutions, which are way overrated. There is no clever solution to the number of guns in the United States. The right answer is universally enforced regulations on a shall issue basis, but that will require both sides to give a little and, unfortunately, that ain’t in the cards in the near term. So we will likely just continue to yell at each other on the internet.

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    • The biggest problem with the approach is it is a mental health policy promoted as an anti-gun policy, which probably will serve neither. The person who will voluntarily place a hurdle to acquiring a gun is anxious about what might happen if they acquire a gun. I cannot read that piece without experiencing some anxiety that the person targeted needs mental health assistance and this does nothing except steer those impulses towards other forms of violence.

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      • That’s part of the problem of clever policy solutions. When you try to hack one policy intervention to address two problems, you often end up doing neither very well.

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  4. This is about a week old, and it’s also yesterday’s linky post, but this story about a serial terrible roommate starts off pretty horrifying and then just keeps getting worse.

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  5. [Lo3] — (Probably) unpopular opinion: I wonder if an optimal modern society would have notably fewer men than women?

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      • — Less anomie. Less unresolved frustration. Less fruitless competition. Fewer “losers” without a place. And of course, less violence.

        (Note the adjectives I used above are important to convey my precise meaning.)

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        • My suspicion is it would trade certain problems for others. Maybe one set of problems would be obviously preferable to the other but who knows.

          I’d be curious as to whether or not there’d be a point where women start to fill the violence gap, or if over time average female testosterone levels rose.

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        • That isn’t a society, it’s merely descriptors of a desired state.

          What is the function of the society? Society doesn’t exist to satisfy descriptors, it exists to serve the interests of it’s members.

          Is the society one seeking stability? Then yes, you probably want fewer men. Is the society on a war footing, or aggressively expanding (economically or via territory acquisition)? Then men are quite useful. Stuff like that.

          The mistake our ancestors made was deciding that competence in battle and/or exploration somehow translated into competence in domestic leadership. Oh, wait, we still make that mistake…

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          • — I’m taking it as given that war is terrible. Likewise I am assuming advanced technology. A woman can fly a drone as well as a man. Also I’m not suggesting zero men. Which is to say, what percentage of American men actually serve in combat? How does that number compare to the number of men involved in criminal violence, male-status-based violence, and in turn the men involved in policing them?

            And indeed I am concerned about the interests of society’s members, those who are actually born, not those who might have been born but were not. Consider, if men compete to control and dominate, that means the “loser” men will get little and live dismal lives. Women, by contrast, seem to navigate these status situations with less personal misery, and certainly with less outrage and violence. (Most mass shooters, for example, are isolated, disaffected men.)

            Of course, I’m am making certain “bio-essentialism” assumptions here. Those assumptions might be wrong.

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            • Fair enough. Just wanted to get some more detail from you.

              Honestly, I think we’d do well to have the percentage weighted somewhat toward women (e.g. F55%/M45%). Enough to help reduce the whole ‘lonely & disaffected’ number a bit.

              Of course, it would help if certain parts of the world got over the whole ‘must have a male child’ thing, and we stopped killing women for various stupid reasons.

              That said, has an interesting question – if the ratio skews, do women start becoming more aggressive?

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              • I’m open to the idea that there’s a significant biological component to the differing degrees of aggression between men and women, but if so it’s almost surely going to be the sort of thing you usually see with sexual dimorphism in humans, where you’ve got two overlapping bell curves with different means (and maybe variances).

                There’s a lot of reason to believe that our culture is generally more tolerant (and even encouraging) of aggression among men than women. It’s plausible that the difference has a significant biological component, but it’s not exactly likely that there isn’t a cultural component either.

                I expect if there were simply fewer men, especially if we retain the idea that sometimes aggression is necessary/good, you would see some of the more aggressive women become even more aggressive, and there would be some compensation. But probably (if is making good assumptions WRT bio-essentialism) not enough to completely compensate for less aggressive men around.

                Then again, it might also, if there’s a social want/need for aggression, encourage men to be more aggressive.

                Or if men feel there’s less need to compete with one another, maybe they’ll become less aggressive.

                I unironically love questions like these because I can pile up possible “on the other hand” higher-order effects without having any good idea of estimating their importance.

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                • I unironically love questions like these because I can pile up possible “on the other hand” higher-order effects without having any good idea of estimating their importance.

                  Ok Tevye.

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                • I unironically love questions like these because I can pile up possible “on the other hand” higher-order effects without having any good idea of estimating their importance.

                  Yeah, me too.

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                • The former outcome is well worth considering. Without corresponding cultural changes I could see male violence becoming worse. This is especially so if the result is more to fight over and fewer men to keep other men in check. You could also see a decrease in male on male violence but an increase in other kinds.

                  Or maybe we’d all just be feeling the peace and love with plenty of women around and no need for any kind of insecurities or showboating. Seems way too easy to me though.

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                  • — Population wide, I would expect more gender balance to indeed lessen the stress on men. It would not eliminate it. Men (some men) would still find reasons to compete. That said, there is material difference between, “Mike’s girlfriend is prettier than mine,” and, “I have no girlfriend; they will only fuck Chad.”

                    Furthermore, even among men who remain competitive, with fewer of them, we should expect them to do less damage. If a big drive toward crime and other antisocial behavior is “surplus men,” which seems plausible enough, then fewer men suggests fewer “surplus men,” and in turn fewer men involved in antisocial behavior.

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                    • I’m quite sure that surplus men has some impact on violence in society. I’m just not sure it’s the driver and its impact probably varies widely by what type of violence we’re talking about. Everything I’ve ever read on the subject has suggested most criminal violence is driven primarily by poverty.

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                      • — Fair point, but poor women are not (as a population) violent.

                        Let me clarify some of my assumptions:

                        1. As a society, our underlying attitudes about sex and gender will change to some degree, but they probably will not move toward some kind of gender utopia. Many of the pressures of masculinity will remain. Sexual attraction will continue to operate as it always has.

                        2. That said, women will not return to their second class status. We will continue to demand professional and social equality.

                        3. The economy will go up and down, as it always has. That said, we are moving away from an economy where things like physical risk, upper body strength, unchecked aggression, etcetera are needed in large numbers. (The “in large numbers” part is important. We’ll need some of that, but not as much as fifty years ago, never mind 500 years ago.)

                        4. The social and economic shifts seem to be affecting women and men quite differently. Women remain, on average, poorer than men, when measured in terms in income. However, when we try to evaluate (as best we can) the cost to the spirit, men seem to be doing particularly poorly.

                        5. Men can and should adapt, but see point #1. How much will they adapt? How much can they? Does biology play a role? How much? There seem to be regressive/reactionary social forces at play. These are obvious when you look at the broken masculinity found among the alt-right, but it isn’t limited to the alt-right.

                        6. Among the working class, poor women seem to scrape by. Poor men (#notallmen) become particularly anti-social.

                        This leads me to think that, at a society-wide level, we have a problem with “surplus” men — and note I use the scare quotes quite deliberately. From a moral perspective, we shouldn’t view anyone as “surplus.” We should, as a society, do better. However, men want what they want. Women want what they want. This can change some, but not as much as we would like.

                        I suspect that a society with fewer men would handle these social pressures better, as we deal with the changes in gender roles along with the expected ups-and-downs of the economy.

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                        • One thought about why men seem to be having more trouble adapting than women is that the economic and and cultural shifts of the last couple generations have included a lot of changes that have been particularly hard on people in the bottom three or four income quintiles [1]. Women, though, have seen a concurrent expansion of possibilities due to essentially total de jure equality and a real though incomplete loosening of restrictive notions of femininity.

                          To repeat, this has been far from perfect and there’s a lot of work left, but it’s been a countervailing trend and gives a lot of women ways of looking at their lives and seeing them as better than those of their mothers and grandmothers.

                          For men, basically none of that has happened. Even if you set aside losing a measure of privilege, there hasn’t been much if any expansion in possibilities to offset the crap hand most men have been dealt economically by late capitalism.

                          “Shit is just getting worse,” is a much harder thing to take than, “Some shit is getting worse, but on the other hand all this other shit has gotten better.”

                          [1] OK, “particularly” may not be the best term since we’re talking about a majority of the population.

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                          • — My basic take is that patriarchy was bad; it was always bad; it had to go. The fact that this “hurts men” has the same moral weight as the fact that ending slavery hurt southern white slave owners.

                            Which puts the onus 100% on men to adjust to the new reality, just as I cry no tears for the southern plantation owner who couldn’t quite deal with free black people in their neighborhood.

                            Note this is a moral argument, not a practical one. One might say “You should help men cuz otherwise we’ll get ‘gender reconstruction’.”

                            Which maybe yeah. On the other hand, this is cultural blackmail and I can’t help but notice which people seem to make this point.

                            Anyway.

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                            • Even aside from patriarchy and its demise, though, you still have a situation where things were getting more or less uniformly worse for most men. So no wonder they’re less happy than women, and more prone to despair. Maybe there’s some essentialist reason behind the failure to adapt, or maybe, as is the case with a lot of depression and anxiety, they’re reacting to real and bad circumstances.

                              So sure patriarchy’s demise added (morally weightless) insult to economic injury, but the economic injury was a real thing that happened. Surely that’s not to attach moral weight to the economic deterioration, or to other negative trends that may be making men’s lives worse alongside women’s.

                              Of course, this also means that you can improve both the material and emotional outlook for a lot of men without budging an inch on sexism. Improve social mobility. Get us back on track to see increasing wealth among the middle middle and working classes. Make better healthcare available. Make education more effective and more affordable.

                              This is all stuff we should do anyway, so arguing for it is hardly cultural blackmail. Hell, women will benefit from a lot of it, and in some cases probably even more than men! None of it is easy, sure, but none of it is requires a magic wand you can wave to change the gender balance of your population from birth.

                              [1] Social isolation, et c.

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                              • “you still have a situation where things were getting more or less uniformly worse for most men.”
                                I don’t believe this is true. Perhaps if you put the word “white” in there. But crime is way down, pot has been legalized (which, to be clear, matters because it has the potential to improve the prison situation), and, most broadly, racism is, despite backlash, being pushed past in similar ways to how sexism is…. plenty of men can see how their lives are better than their grandfathers’.

                                Are worse-off men really the majority, globally speaking? I’d have to see a better argument than this to convince me.

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                                • I don’t believe this is true. Perhaps if you put the word “white” in there.

                                  Argh, yes, I absolutely should have.

                                  I had a whole paragraph breaking things out by race that I couldn’t make fit that was focused on exactly the point you make (and that you see a lot more optimism in surveys among African Americans than white people for just those sorts of reasons, despite substantially worse material circumstances) and then didn’t go back to make the appropriate revisions to the rest of my comment.

                                  As for globally, I don’t know, but I also don’t know if the “death of the spirit” is anything like a global phenomenon. It seems to be a real thing in the US (and to some extent other developed Western nations) so I was focused on those.

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                              • — I’m all for improving the general economic situation. Would you expect otherwise?

                                If you go onto a “manosphere” forum and listen to what is being said, however, you will find very little said about general economic improvements and much said about gender relations. I am responding to those arguments.

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                                • Would you expect otherwise?

                                  No, not at all. Which is why I was a bit surprised at your line of argument, actually, since it didn’t seem in line with other things I’ve seen you say.

                                  As for the manosphere, it is heavily biased towards people who lack insight. I don’t think they have any idea what will make them happy, and have generally trapped themselves in an environment that makes it a lot harder to figure it out.

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                            • ” The fact that this “hurts men” has the same moral weight as the fact that ending slavery hurt southern white slave owners.”

                              No, it doesn’t. It has the same moral weight as the fact ending slavery hurt southern white people, maybe, but not every man is equally complicit in patriarchy in that same way. Not even close.

                              And dragging slavery into it is a poor analogy anyway, for any number of reasons. Just because I’ve said “women were literally chattel” about 100 times (and it’s true!), doesn’t make them situations you can line up in parallel in that particular way without cheapening your argument.

                              You can do a lot better, metaphor-wise.

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                              • — I’m gonna stick with the analogy. Sure, it isn’t perfect, but no analogy ever is. Likewise it is a bit over the top, but so what? It properly indicates my complete impatience with the “men hurt by feminism.” Sorry, but the occasional legitimate complaint has been so utterly drown out by those stewing in some mixture of frustrated entitlement and sour grapes. I’m done with all of that.

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                                • ” but so what? “

                                  So I (personally, not moderator-ly) don’t want you saying ill-considered stuff like that to young African-American women (like the ones I personally know, and work with every day) and making them ditch feminism as a place they aren’t really welcome, anymore than they already have done.

                                  It’s a free country and you can do what you want, but it makes your argument cheaper and less solid to do it, is all. And that causes me some frustration.

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                            • The men who did best under the Patriarchy seem to be doing quite all right after the Patriarchy disappeared even without changing their attitudes that much. Meanwhile, there are plenty of men who suffered under the Patriarchy because they weren’t traditionally masculine who suffer under the post-Patriarchy because they aren’t traditionally masculine. It doesn’t seem like there was much of a change to men’s position at all.

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                        • I suspect that a society with fewer men would handle these social pressures better, as we deal with the changes in gender roles along with the expected ups-and-downs of the economy.

                          Fewer males implies a massive bidding war by females on the ones that remain.

                          My observation is there’s already that for certain groups… long term I suspect this works itself out without changing gender balance.

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                  • Without corresponding cultural changes I could see male violence becoming worse.

                    Then get rid of those guys too. If your view is that men can’t engage society without being violent, haven’t you conceded the point of VD’s thought experiment? Seems like now you’re just haggling over details.

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                    • Not really. And I never said men can’t do anything. Just that I’m skeptical that altering this particular variable alone would work out the way predicted, or that there wouldn’t be weird unintended consequences.

                      Really I thought we were just throwing out hypotheticals.

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                    • Note, this quote,

                      Then get rid of those guys too.

                      strikes me as a moral evil. It is not the position I am advocating for. If the birthrate shifts to more female babies and fewer male babies, then we don’t get to pick and choose which men. Some men will be born. Those are the men we will have. We will not have the option of “getting rid of” those we don’t like.

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    • I think a theory I read a while ago said that things would revert to the mean after a few generations. Since most people are heterosexual, you would create a supply and demand problem with men having a lot of power.

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      • — Well right now the US has roughly a 50/50 split, but there seems to be a real “lonely men” problem, but no corresponding “lonely women” problem. Which is to say, women seem to be foregoing (to varying degrees) marriage, monogamy, and relationships in general. No doubt many of those women would like to be in a relationship, but have found that the costs outweigh the benefits.

        (I recall one essay where a woman quipped: “Men, you need to understand. You’re not in competition with other men. You’re in competition with how much I enjoy being alone.”)

        My assumption: these women are making valid choices given their life goals, when they take into account what contemporary men offer.

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        • This seems very anecdotal — can you point to any surveys/studies?

          Anecdotally in the other direction, I read an article not too long ago about the situation in Manhattan for college-educated young adults, specifically that the women in this demographic significantly outnumber the men. It hasn’t led to happy hetero women, per the article — they’re having to deal with increased competition and men who are less motivated to enter into a committed relationship.

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          • — It’s hard to evaluate “happiness” measurements. That said, while college educated women might complain about the dating scene, we don’t see anything like a female “incel” community. Likewise we can look at suicide rates, and how male-loneliness contributes. There are plenty of single women, but they have better lifetime health outcomes than single men.

            Much here: https://www.google.com/search?q=male+loniness+research

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          • — Plus, I think if you go back to those articles and listen to what women are saying. They are not saying they cannot find a man. Instead, they are saying they cannot find a man they want, one who is a good fit. In turn, while they may bitch about it, they seem to accept the situation and get on with their lives and careers.

            By contrast, spend time on a “manosphere” forum. After you set aside the silly alpha male posturing and ensuing fish tales, you see a lot of men who struggle to find any romance at all. In turn, you see quite a few turning to the alt-right and similar mindsets.

            To be clear, I am not suggesting a simple formula: “tfw no girlfriend” -> Nazism. It’s obviously more complex. However, “tfw no girlfriend” is certainly a big factor in the alt-right ecosystem. This is no accident.

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            • In general, I think these men are, like women, complaining that they can’t get a girlfriend who meets certain standards of desirability—who are preferable to being single. The basic problem here is that the bottom 20% of the population isn’t really attractive to anybody. Ideally they would get together, but apparently many of them would rather be single than be with each other.

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    • A society with fewer men than women can still be hostile to women because a patriarchal organization is still very and easily possible. Imagine a fewer men, each with multiple wi es and concubines competing for male attention rather than egalitarian polyamory

      Plus you have the thorny issue of how do you determine who is a surplus male and ensuring more females than males get born.

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      • I’m assuming that we continue to advance in both technology and general humanitarianism, which includes the continued development of women’s independence. So yeah, a society could have few men and remain male-dominated. That isn’t the point. Instead, my point is, the optimal number of men in a modern, high-tech, equitable society is probably notably less that 50%.

        I don’t know how to compute the precise number.

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        • Your assuming that all women attracted exclusively or mainly to men will be just as into polyamory as you. Hoping that everybody else wants what you want is a bad idea not and relying on high tech to preserve gender equality is wishful thinking.

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          • There are at least 4 (more likely) ways to get to that proportion in a predominantly heterosexual society other than polyamory. Less assuming what other people are thinking, especially about highly personal matters, please.

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        • I am a lot less gender-essentialist about men than you are (in this argument, specifically, I mean), and I suspect that if we could break the kyriarchy, it would stop mattering particularly what the gender balance was, on the concerns you have.

          That still leaves an argument that it could be helpful to have less than 50 percent for *a while* though, in support of breaking the kyriarchy.

          On the other hand, I’d probably feel the moral requirement to fight anybody trying to eugenic *any* type of person at this point, for history reasons as much as anything else.

          OTOH…. (heh)

          I mean, we all know this isn’t just V’s quirky idea, right? There’s a whole body of feminist scifi (and non-feminist scifi for that matter) addressing these questions from different perspectives (w/out the jargon load that feminist theory tends to use)… I’d particularly recommend Ammonite (Nicola Griffith), Grass (Sheri Tepper), and Charnas’ Motherlines books, off the top of my head, for literary rather than argumentative reasons.

          And the grandmother of them all would be Gilman’s Herland, though I still haven’t gotten around to reading that one myself.

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          • Is this one of those things that are somewhat measurable?

            Are there any societies (or sub-societies, I guess) that have something like a 55/45 split of females to males? (Or bigger?)

            If so, what are those societies like?

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            • Well we have this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_sex_ratio

              It looks as if Russia fits the bill. However, if you drill down into the data, it seems that Russia actually has more male babies, and the gender ratio seems to skew sharply as people age (which I can only assume mean Russian men die young).

              Let me add, although I assume it is obvious, what is happening in Russia is not what I am suggesting. In fact, it is the opposite.

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              • So Russia, but not like that. Are there countries on there with the ratio of what you’re looking for that we can point to and say “yes, let’s be more like *THIS*”?

                My primary assumption, of course, is that we’re not going to break any new ground with anything we attempt. It’ll be a replay of something that others have done and, at best, we’ll only be able to get in the neighborhood of “see this example? Like that” (while, at worst, we’re likely to get something in the neighborhood of “but we shouldn’t be like this other example… like, we should avoid that”).

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                • I don’t think any current country is like what I am suggesting.

                  Do I need to explain why Russia is a bad example? The whole “Lots of men die young from violence, substance abuse, and suicide” is what I am trying to avoid. Instead I am suggesting a different gender ratio from birth.

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                    • As far as I know no society has ever done what veronica is talking about, so there’s no particularly compelling reason to think that the effects will be the same as the cause changes.

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                      • Sure. But it strikes me that there’s even less reason to believe that the outcome will be “good” rather than some variant of “oh, yeah… this is like this thing that happened before”.

                        (If anything, it’s more likely to believe that, all other things being equal, if it’s something that we’ve never seen before it’ll be in the “bad” category than in the “good” one.)

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                          • Oh, well then. Let’s start handing out parenting licenses now.

                            Can we weight this more toward people with college degrees as well or are we going to go for a gender skew across all classes and education levels?

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                                • Well, if we’re going to be hastily implementing sketchy thought experiments to beat Trump, I’d much prefer replacing primary and secondary schools with boarding schools and assigning every kid to one by lottery.

                                  Just think of all the fun data we could collect!

                                  We could run trials for new educational approaches with real control groups!

                                  Obviously nothing could possibly go wrong my plan, nor can I imagine anyone raising any serious objections to it.

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                                  • Well, if we want to wander into the realm of thought experiments, my thought experiment when it comes to eugenically tweaking the population involve a little bit of additional eugenically tweaking other areas.

                                    My thought experiments about our ability to not engage in creep when it comes to genetically tweaking us to make us better always leads to thought experiments that involve someone saying “but we could also make sure that the children are also…” and then they include something that is also beneficial.

                                    If you could have genetically modified kids who could avoid, say, obesity…

                                    Well, wouldn’t you have to do that?

                                    And now I have two thought experiments.

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                        • I can suggest this. If tomorrow some god emperor descended onto the country and demanded we kill 30% of infant boys, I do not expect it would have a nice result.

                          Has anyone noticed I made no policy suggestions. That isn’t an accident. Furthermore, the statement “fewer men implies more optimal” is different from “the optimal society has fewer men.”

                          As I mentioned, this statement rests on certain assumptions, namely that there are limits to how much men and women can change their character. So add that as a postulate to my claim.

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                          • So I just need to have more of a free-flowing thought experiment that is more open to good things happening than to the unintended consequences that will get us all saying “nobody is arguing that we should have these unintended consequences”?

                            I’ve never been good at those thought experiments.

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                          • The thing to remember about hypotheticals is that “how would we do that” and “it could never happen” are not part of the discussion. Yes, yes, dear, I know that you just have the perfect objection and you’re literally bursting with your desire to tell it, but, too damn bad, “that wouldn’t happen” is not under discussion here.

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            • My goodness, but you are thinking like an engineer instead of a philosopher with that question (no offense to any actual engineers).

              Your coworkers have finally corrupted you to their engineering ways. Plz tell the ones who know me that I am impressed with them.

              The answer to your question, which I kind of feel like you already knew but perhaps not, is:

              No, not measurably from birth as V describes. Those particular societies exist only in the realm of thought experiments, either academic, or literary, as I already said. Much of what has been discussed here (in favor and against) has already been taken up many times within that body of work, with which I think it’s fun and interesting to engage.

              I would also recommend to anyone in this discussion, as I have before and probably will until I actually find out someone read it and either loved or hated or was left at “meh” by it as a result of my constant suggestion…. read The Power! By Naomi Alderman! It’s really good!! And talks about all these things in an informed and thoughtful way!!! But also has a satisfying plot!!!!

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                • Yes, I realize that. (No doubt that is part of why you responded with data and I responded with a reading list.)

                  As are all of Jaybird’s coworkers engineers. As is he, for that matter, and as are a slight majority of my friends.

                  I was merely remarking on a change in him that’s probably been around for a long time but which I only noticed so starkly at this very moment.

                  It’s possible it’s more of a “expects people he talks to to react like engineers” than actual engineer-thought-pattern.

                  It’s also not a BAD change, just because it is one.

                  (The “corrupted” was a joke on my part. For many years his engineer coworkers would tease him about being a philosopher…. that’s his actual academic background… etc.)

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    • I think what we really need are better models of masculinity – way too much emphasis is placed on aggression and physical prowess in a society that doesn’t need that much of either anymore. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of venues where competitiveness can be a pro-social trait.

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      • I agree with you here that we need better variants of masculinity. The issue is whether the venues where competitiveness is good need reforming as well. A lot of the new movements is that even in highly competitive fields, men find a way to turn the environments macho and toxic. An investment bank is always going to be competitive and cut-throat but can it be done in a more humane or at least women and minority friendly way? I suppose some would argue whether finance needs to be jockishly competitive at all.

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        • One of my sisters (the jockiest of us, in fact) is also incredibly competitive and works in finance law. She manages to be hypercompetitive but NOT toxic, and has firm moral lines she won’t cross such that if she were to cross them, she would feel like she was cheating and therefore none of it would count. She can be cut-throat, but only when everyone is on a level playing field, sort of thing? As a competition-averse person it’s kind of fascinating to observe. She’s also very active in supporting inclusion and *part* – not all – of that seems to be that she wants to be the best of EVERYBODY, not just the best of the few people who luck out enough and/or are willing to abandon their own morals enough to be able to compete. Beating all the soft rich white boys at their own game is just… insufficient competition for her. Like playing in the bush leagues or something. (There are other sides to her personality, ftr – she’s an amazing mom and stuff – but this is the one I see most when it comes to her business dealings.)

          I know there was a lot wrong with the British cult of “games and empire” (sooooooooo much wrong) and I certainly do NOT want to bring it back wholesale, but I also feel like some of what’s lacking in toxic competitiveness is a healthy ethic of fair play. Like, if investment bankers were invested in something akin to “sportsmanship,” would the culture be better?

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          • The problem with the concept of sportsmanship is that it happened because everyone was from the same and small class of elites. Britain during the 19th century (or even most of the 20th century) wasn’t exactly an egalitarian society in terms of socio-economics. They were honorable with each other because they saw each other as equals, otherwise upstarts could not join or get social respect.

            I think the whole thing is rather difficult to unpack

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            • That is one of many problems with the concept, as I acknowledged in my first comment, perhaps less directly than I meant to.

              However, my sister’s competitiveness is grounded in fair play, and it is explicitly and implicitly inclusive. (I won’t get into her personal history, but she’s taken some striking, risky-seeming-to-me and meaningful actions against the “old boy’s club” in her career, on behalf of people other than herself.) And so when I think about “what would make competition less toxic?”, especially from my intensely non-competitive point of view, fair play is where I go.

              It’s not like the elites are the only ones who’ve ever had a concept of fair play…. I was actually trying to dissociate myself from that particular elitist context for it (while acknowledging that my own perception of competition is very shaped by it).

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          • Wealthy 19th century Americans really and I mean really tried to emulate the British gentry, to the extent that more than a few of them taught their kids to speak with British accents even though they were born in the United States. They imitated their manners, their religion, how they educated their children, and their social rituals including having a Season and debutante balls even though that made no sense in the American social and economic crisis. That didn’t prevent them from competing very hard and toxically in business. Sportsmanship wouldn’t blunt the edges off American business practices at all.

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            • Blunted edges was not what I was looking for, and I already explicitly and repeatedly said I think there’s an aspect of fair play that extends beyond traditional British stylings thereof. That’s why I said “akin to,” and why I further clarified when it seemed I was too fuzzy.

              If you want to keep arguing against something other than the argument I’m making, by explaining things to me I already know, I’m not really sure how to proceed. Have at, I guess?

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        • Toxic masculinity is a phrase that should be considered void for vagueness. There is too much of an element of I know it when I see it around toxic masculinity. It covers everything from boorish financial types to actual murderers and men who just keep close to gender norms. Many women like men that feminist women and liberal people would describe as toxically masculine. Based on an informal sampling of women I know, even a few self-described feminist like their men more traditional/toxic.

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    • [Lo3] — (Probably) unpopular opinion…

      Not so unpopular. It’s basically just a variation on the ideas that got Trump elected.

      And you both have a point. There are a lot of “bad hombres” out there.

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  6. [Lo6] The hell?

    Something like 90% of people install their car seats in some way incorrectly.

    There is no way this charge against the mother would have happened if someone who wasn’t a cop had killed a baby that wasn’t black. No. Frigging. Way.

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  7. Here is a story about a guy pulling long cons on women and draining them of their finances:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/our-time-com-con-man/554057/

    Some thoughts:

    1. I am generally against cash bail but every now and then I read a story about someone who really deserves it and I don’t know how to treat the outliers who seemingly refuse to behave. The guy basically would skip bail and repeat the scam. But keeping cash bails keeps truly harmless (and possibly truly innocent) people in jail because they can’t afford it and this creates a horrible cycle of losing their jobs/getting kicked out of school.

    2. I don’t get cons because they often seem like really hard work compared to just getting a job, even a highly stressful job.

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    • Wanting to keep cash bail for the people who really deserve it is the just in case theory of the death penalty advanced my criminal law professor in law school. There are some real rotters out there that humanity would be better off if they are dead. Trying to craft a death penalty statute that deals with the real monsters but lets other people go is impossible. Same with cash bail.

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  8. representative quote from LO5:

    A few years ago, a colleague asked me, “Why was your father sent to prison?”

    Everything stopped. There was a hard, dead beat of silence. My mind raced. I could lie. I could sugar-coat it. I could make a joke out of it. But could I just . . . say it?

    I’d written it down, published it even, but I had not said it aloud, in casual conversation, to someone I barely knew. I had only ever said it in private, in confidence, in the safety of friendship or love.

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  9. LO4: At my last school, we began conducting active shooter drills after Sandy Hook. We had much discussion about what to call them so as not to scare the children. We decided that we’d re-brand our “fire drills” as “Outside Safety Drills” and our “active shooter drills” as “Inside Safety Drills”. Even the term “fire drill” can be scary for young kids, so by emphasizing the goal of these experiences (safety) instead of the threat (fire; shooter), we were able to lean on familiar language and concepts without alarming the kids.

    It didn’t feel like rocket science and yet so many schools seem intent on terrorizing their children.

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  10. Speaking of guns, this came out. A political candidate decided to make a political video of her cutting an AR-15 apart with a power saw/angle grinder. Problem is, under federal law, there is a very specific process by which a firearm may be destroyed, and it involves cutting torches, not saws/grinders. It also involves destroying the part that is legally the gun (the receiver) first. Cutting the barrel, as she does, turns a legal rifle into an illegal short barreled rifle (SBR).

    Here’s the fun part. Obviously her intent was not to create an illegal SBR. Problem is, the law, as it is written, makes no allowance for intent. It’s malum prohibitum. Cutting the barrel of a functioning firearm to below the legal length is creating a SBR, regardless of why, or how long it remained an SBR.

    Why does it matter? Because folks have gotten nailed on it, and similar gun regs, before. It’s a gotcha reg, often used when the ATF or other agency can’t make the charges they want stick, or when they want to force a plea, etc. So it’s enforced when they feel like it, and, as in a case like that of David Gregory, in this case I expect she’ll get off with a stern talking to.

    Laws and regs like this irk the hell out of me.

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