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On “For The Record

My opinions on a variety of topics has evolved but my old views still remain, you get tuned up in the comment sections and take positions you don’t really believe in, etc. Too much of a footprint.

Whenever I come out to a friend or relative and tell them about my blogging, I try really hard to say, "if you look into the history of my comments, you'll find me saying things that I don't believe anymore and sometimes never believed. You'll also find me occasionally losing my temper or saying things that are incredibly rude." (Most of the time, they probably could care less about what my blog posts or comments, and they'll read just one or two posts as a favor to me and not because they really have an itch to. So in my case, my reputation is usually secure.)

On “The Return of the Hitchcockian Thriller

Ditto to what Em said. I stopped reading once I got to the spoiler warning.

I will say I've always had a strong distaste for Hitchcock's shtick. I didn't like the music, his lispy affectation, or his ploy of playing small roles in his movies--those things just turned me off. However, the actual shows, a few of which I've seen, I usually liked and they're the type of shows I like anyway.

On “For The Record


I'm somewhere in between you and @Pinky on this. Or maybe it's the case that you and he (and I) are both agreeing but emphasizing different things. I do agree that digital records* make it more likely going forward that there will be some records of what happens. I also agree that we probably more and more lack control over such evidence.

But I'm also skeptical that these records will last that long or will be retrievable or discoverable. And your point about emails (for example) being in the hands of at least two people is a good point, but the context may potentially be lost if only one person's copy is found.

I'm very ignorant of the technology involved. I have only the slightest notion of what a "cloud" is. I have a stronger notion of what a "server" is, but even then I'm a bit unclear. But two hats I wear regularly make me skeptical that digital records will play out quite as you suggest:

1. My historian's hat: Technology requires people to make affirmative decisions to implement and perpetuate. It requires an infrastructure that must be maintained. The decisions to build and maintain this infrastructure exist in time and in society. In other words, we (as a society and a polity) may lose the will to maintain this infrastructure. [ETA: That's true of analog records, too, but perhaps not as true. Analog records can last longer under more "passive" preservation measures than digital records, which require more "active" preservation measures. As a counterpoint, however, digital preservation allows for more redundancies and safeguards, which partiallymitigates the need for active management.]

2. My archivist's hat: Information exists in context and that context contributes a great deal to the meaning of any given piece of information. It's hard to reconstruct context in the digital world. (It's hard in the non-digital world, too, but the digital world seems to be a new animal.) Digital preservation is difficult and costly. Discovery--finding the information or even finding out if the information is likely to be there--can be more difficult. Digital preservation is even more difficult and costly because it's more "active" and less "passive" than preservation of analog items usually is. The surfeit of information is very hard to sift. It might even approach impossible.

Again, though, digital records are more information than before. In many cases, such as in the examples you describe, they're extant information where there wouldn't have been any such information.

*For lack of a better word

On “When The Past Becomes Your Present

I third this. It must have been hard to write.


I guess I go back and forth on this, but you're probably more right than wrong.

On “Sunday!

I'm re-reading Glass Bead Game. I read it for the first time about 18 years ago.

I'm also re-reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I plan to soon re-read John Christopher's Tripods trilogy and read (for the first time) his prequel.

On “Briefly, On Diversity and Tucker Carlson’s Bastardizing of the Term

I hadn't thought about whether the OP's definition is idiosyncratic or not. I do think Andrew touches on common-sense notions of what diversity is or what diversity is imagined (at its best) to achieve.

I do agree that diversity has the other meanings you ascribe to it, especially on-the-job "diversity training," which to my mind operates more like a risk management ploy o a way not to get sued. In that way, it kind of works like ethics training.

I believe that most people would agree that it's tolerance (or acceptance, which perhaps isn't exactly the same thing?) is the real virtue. A related claim, one that I think we (as in, I and other people) disagree about, is whether diversity makes tolerance easier or at least more likely. I'm not sure it does. I do agree, though, that we need to define very precisely what we mean by "diversity" before we can understand if it's a good thing.

Sorry to be rambling so much.....

On “The Key To Success in High Tech

I used to be the type of person who adopted the attitude this OP is lampooning. Maybe I didn't have that attitude specifically about silicon valley, but I had it as a generalized critique of everything, especially things I knew little to nothing about. The focus of my critique was what I presumed to be what "business majors" and "engineers" (a category of people I looked at with disdain or condescension) studied. In the one case, I presumed they just did soft "projects" or line up numbers on a ledger and added them up. In the other case, I thought they were professional word problem solvers and nothing more, the kind that "didn't really think things through" but just solved math problems presented to them. I probably looked at computer programmers as something like engineers.

Two things changed my mind.

First, I started to learn how little I knew (and how little I still know) about accounting, marketing, management, engineering, and computer programming.

Second, I somehow eventually remembered to retrace my steps and reconsider why I liked the humanities in the first place. When I was quite younger, say in high school or the first couple years as an undergrad, I believed the humanities encompassed "the way the world works" and varied philosophies to explain that way. In other words, a true humanities person, I believed then (and believe now, though there was a period when I stopped believing it), at least acknowledged the need to learn math, the sciences, and even things as allegedly mundane as accounting or marketing.

On “Briefly, On Diversity and Tucker Carlson’s Bastardizing of the Term

Yes, that's mostly true. And where it's not true, it's not true because nothing is perfect.


It's not clear to me what exactly Carlson is asking, since I didn't follow the link, but I assume it's "is diversity a good thing?"

I'll say it is, but there are smarter ways and less smart ways of approaching it. There seems to be an approach to diversity that goes, "all we have to do is put people of different backgrounds together and people will learn to tolerate, welcome, and accept each other." Maybe that's a strawperson policy and maybe no one ever really says that, but it does seem implied in comments of several of my friends and acquaintances who say they seek "diverse" experiences or like a neighborhood or city because it's so "diverse." To the degree that by "diversity" is meant only a "put people together and good will happen," then it's potentially a bad thing or at least less of a good thing than its promoters claim.

Or....what isn't quite the same thing, "diversity" can become a preachy attitude, in which some people have to paper over their own differences of opinions or differences of background to accommodate some model. There are liberal'ish and conservative'ish (for lack of better terms) and everything in between versions of those models.

None of that is the type of diversity I see Andrew talking about, though. As he points out in the OP, diversity in the military, in marriage, among neighbors, as learned from his father, and probably in the example of his children's school (although the OP isn't entirely clear on that point). diversity is something that has to be worked hard at and enforced through daily practice and probably daily reflection.

On “Nurture In Reverse

Not being a parent, this all is for me more an abstract issue than anything else. Growing up, I had thought, and in retrospect still tend to think, that my parents over learned certain lessons from raising my five (much older) siblings and those lessons were probably a poor fit for me, in that they seemed more overprotective than I think may have been good for me.

However, I haven't really grappled with what the OP mentions, and maybe there was something about my own personality and temperament that may have influenced my parents to act in a way that I've come to think of as overprotective. I tended to be much more bookish and much more of a rules-follower than my siblings seem to have been.

On “My Feminism is Not a Novelty

I agree with this post, but here is one thing I might have put a little differently:

We need not push down men or demand they be less in order to bolster ourselves. My feminism includes the freedom to acknowledge the biological differences between men and women without assuming a hierarchy of worth. If one feels the need to lower the stature of men in order to elevate that of women, one is essentially agreeing that the natural state of things is that women are beneath men.

I do think men in a male-dominated (or patriarchal) society do lose something when the props of that society are challenged or eroded. In that sense, feminism of the sort you argue for (and that's the type of feminism I claim to mostly believe in [1]) does (and ought to) "lower the stature of men in order to elevate that of women." Eroding the existing hierarchy by definition erodes the stature of those who benefit from that hierarchy.

I do, however, believe that eroding that hierarchy is the right thing to do. And in addition to being the right thing to do, men (or most men) benefit tremendously from it, if only by not having to live up to a version of toxic masculinity.

Great post, Em. Thanks for writing it.

[1] For the sake of simplicity, I'll call Em's feminism "liberal feminism." That's the type I find it very easy to sign on to. However, I do think I have something to learn from other types of feminism, such as feminism from a Marxist perspective, or from a "radical" (whatever that means), or from "post modern" (whatever that means) perspective. I don't call myself an adherent to those types of feminism. And I see Em's OP largely as a critique of those types of feminism, or the excesses some of their adherents engage in. But they do have a place in the discussion.

ETA: I added a quotation mark to close a scare quote. I hate leaving unclosed quotation marks (or unclosed parentheses).

On “Signal Disturbances

That's a really good article, and I'd recommend reading the whole thing. I, too, succumb to the temptation to criticize others for their virtue signalling without grappling with what I take to be McCloy's point that it's impossible not to always in some way be signalling something. At the same time, of course, I virtue signal as well.

As we know from the excerpt Will provides, McCloy compares virtue signalling with hypocrisy. I'll take the comparison in a slightly different direction from what she does and add this: A legitimate charge of virtue signalling, like a legitimate charge of hypocrisy, should prompt the virtue signaller to reconsider what they're doing or how they're doing it, just like it should prompt the hypocrite to reconsider their own actions and professions. That "should" doesn't, to my mind, by itself invalidate the virtue being signalled any more than a hypocrite's hypocrisy invalidates what the hypocrite professes, but it does (ahem) signal that something isn't quite right.

My word "legitimate"--buried in the preceding paragraph--does a lot of work, I know. It's even circular reasoning. We can say that McCloy's article and most of the bickering about accusations of virtue signalling (or even hypocrisy) center precisely around whether those accusations are "legitimate" or not. So as a working, preliminary standard, maybe I'll settle on saying that *any* accusation of virtue signalling or hypocrisy, even if not "legitimate," should be a prompt for the accusee to look at themselves and determine in what ways the accusation might be right. At the same time, I should avoid making such an accusation myself unless I can meet some sort of strict-ish scrutiny standard for the accusation's legitimacy.

On “Why Even Non-Catholics Must Care About the Sex Abuse Revelations

Thanks so much for your comment, J. L. I appreciate it.


Do you believe what you’ve seen or heard, or do you convince yourself that you imagined the entire thing? (Do you let yourself admit the obvious to yourself, that others in power must have known? It took me over three years to do this.)

I've read you enough over the years to trust you when you say you've come to the conclusion, in the case you mention, that someone was guilty and that certain others helped him cover up. And while I haven't followed the issue with the Catholic Church all that closely, I'll stipulate to what so many others, who I also trust, have said after careful study of the known facts.

But sometimes things aren't so obvious. I'm referring to specific things I've been told about one specific person and one specific thing I think I witnessed at a very young age with another person. In both cases, it's hard for me to come to a conclusion. What I've been told was by someone who didn't claim to be a victim of the person and whom I don't always trust to tell the truth even though I can't imagine they'd lie about that. If I heard from the alleged victim, however, I would be much, much more inclined to believe that what is alleged to have happened happened actually happened. It's an awkward situation because I don't believe that person has any obligation to tell *me* anything, but I'm not prepared to act without hearing it from that person.

What I think I may have witnessed at a very young age regarding another person was so improbable and I was so young and by itself was too ambiguous for me to make an informed decision.

(The example of the person I witnessed is about someone no longer living. The example of what someone told me refers to someone who is still very much alive.)

Perhaps what I'm saying here is too different from the points under discussion. You've arrived at a point of certainty, or at least a point where you believe it more likely than not that something happened. People who have studied the Church abuses, I'll assume, have similarly examined the evidence and reached similar conclusions. And of course, I, too, believe none of us should be complacent or smug about how well we'd handle things if put to the test.

But again, sometimes the evidence is inconclusive. Sometimes it *is* indeed possible that "the entire thing" or a good part of it, was imagined or over-interpreted. Perhaps that's part of the test, but the test isn't only about adopting the appropriate response, but weighing the known and unknown evidence and coming to the appropriate conclusion in the first place.

ETA: I realize this comment rambles a bit. It just is, as you might imagine, a very upsetting thing to think about, even though it is much more upsetting for actual victims.

On “Morning Ed: Law & Order {2018.08.29.W}

I, too, didn't like the article. Not necessarily for the reasons you mention (which I didn't think of but make sense), but also because something just doesn't seem right.

On “Anthony Kennedy to Retire From SCOTUS

I differ from you about whether it's a good or bad thing, but I think you're probably right that the decisions are likely to get broader.


Remember how they reacted when GWB (still popular with the party, and at that point regarded as a reliable ally by pretty much every major GOP constituency) nominated Harriet Miers?

I know too little about Miers, although I remember the fiasco you're referring to. Still, I can't help but wonder if the Court would be a better thing if we had Miers on it now instead of Alito. (I'm assuming that Roberts still would have been picked to replace Rehnquist.)

On “The Case For Occupational Licensing


True story. In 1998 I got a summer job at a bagel shop and in order to work there, I had to get a "food handler's license." The process involved going to the place that distributed the license, shelling out $5, accepting a sheet with the answers on it, and taking a test (answer sheet in hand) about food safety. As far as I could see, the function of this particular license was to tax low-income workers. (I don't know the original intention behind the license.)

I realize you admit such regulation "isn't 100%" and I suspect you probably don't agree with the particular regulation* I'm relating in my example. But I just wanted to put it out there.

*It might not necessarily have been a "regulation" in the sense of mandate. It might have been something like the bagel shop (which is a chain everyone has heard of) "voluntarily" complied even when it didn't have to, all so it could claim, "we require all our employees to get a food handler's license."



The debate doesn’t even seem to exist in other countries about what the proper scope of occupational licensing.

I could point to some controversies in Canada over licensing of coal dealers in the early 20th century.

On “There’s a Strike On

Reagan might have been a monster and I'm prepared to say that for public safety reasons, he probably made the wrong call in the ATC strike. I believe, however, that the ATC union was in the wrong in that dispute.

I believed the Chicago teachers union was also in the wrong in their dispute. I have no informed opinion about the West Virginia strike. (My opinion about the CTU strike isn't particularly informed, either, but it's more informed than my opinion about the WV strike.)

On “Reflections on a windfall

Thanks for your comments (and sorry you had to do it twice!). What you say seems to make sense to me.


(((I think I just rescued your original comment, but I'll read both before responding.)))