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November 17, 2011

Occupy Chaotic Good
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:13 PM * 426 comments

Occupy Wall Street—and thus the entire Occupy movement—is two months old. And I’m seeing the same messages from the pundits and the editorial writers today that I’ve been seeing the whole time: OWS has done very well, but if it doesn’t change tactics now, it’s going to die out. It’s time to get some leaders and adopt a coherent message.

There’s always a logical reason for the recommendations. Every time OWS hits one or another of the standard obstacles that popular movements do, all the helpful‡ bystanders urge it to solve the problem by following the well-known rules of lefty protest movements:

You have leaders with a plan. You have a simple message that fits on the signs you hand out. There are clear demands, preferably in neat sound bites. Speeches expand on the message and illustrate it with touching anecdotes. After the speeches, everyone marches somewhere symbolic. And if you do it all just right, the people in authority will see that you are many and you are mighty. You will get what you want. If you don’t, it’s probably because you didn’t follow the rules.

But we know this tune, albeit with different words.

You finish high school. You go to college, even if you have to stretch a little to afford it. You major in something sensible and get a good job after graduation. You buy a house as soon as you can, even if it’s tight for a little while, because its value will appreciate over time. You work hard, and hard work is rewarded. And if you do it all just right, you’ll have a better standard of living than your parents. If you don’t, it’s probably because you didn’t follow the rules.

How’s that one working out for folks? Everybody happy?

If the game is rigged against ordinary people just trying to get by, we’d be fools to believe that it’s going to be fair to people trying to change the rules. The Noise Machine, in all of its manifestations, is ready. It was built for this.

Message? Today’s news is tomorrow’s fishwrap. Without a new sound bite, you’re buried after one news cycle. And if you do have one, it’s either the same as yesterdays, meaning your movement is out of ideas, or it’s not, and you’re flip-flopping. And we haven’t even gotten to the content, which can be spun, misinterpreted, or just labeled “socialist”.

Leaders? Oppo research will already be underway on any good candidates from OWS. If they can be broken, they will be. If they can be discredited, they will be. If they can be hurt through their loved ones, they will be. And if none of that works, they will be smeared with lies that will never be fully refuted. One way or another, being the leader of a movement like OWS will be markedly less pleasant than standing in front of a sewage outfall.

OWS has avoided that entire trap so far, because it’s not following rules. It is, in Dungeons and Dragons terms*, Chaotic Good, and quite happy to be so. No matter how much the punditocracy urges it to straighten up, get a haircut, and put on a tie get some leaders and sort out a simple message, it keeps rumbling on, consultative and confusing. And when they claim that it’s losing steam and losing America’s sympathy, their columns sound more like wishful thinking than real understanding. Meanwhile, the social discourse is moving from deficits to inequality, and the establishment is uniting like it’s facing a real threat.

I say, keep doing what’s working. But that’s just my vote. Let the General Assembly decide.


‡ or not
* Third edition, or better yet, Second†
† Speak not to me of the Fourth Edition. I am the blogger, and I want my ruby-eyed demon.

Comments on Occupy Chaotic Good:
#1 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 07:04 PM:

Wisdom. Let us attend.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 07:33 PM:

Wearing neck ties ironically could be fun, though.

* * *

Chaotic good characters are strong individualists marked by a streak of kindness and benevolence. They believe in all the virtues of goodness and right, but they have little use for laws and regulations. They have no use for people who "try to push folk around and tell them what to do." Their actions are guided by their own moral compass which, although good, may not always be in perfect agreement with the rest of society. A brave frontiersman forever moving on as settlers follow in his wake is an example of a chaotic good character.

- 2nd edition Player's Handbook

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 08:35 PM:

Well, now, as a Scots makar put it a while back:

A! Fredome is a noble thing!
Fredome mays man to haiff liking.
Fredome all solace to man giffis,
He levys at es that frely levys!

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 08:48 PM:

On the other hand, there are things they could do that would improve their situation. Like setting rules for behavior by participants: drug use, for example. Or drumming.

#6 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:03 PM:

P J Evans, they seem to be working those things out just fine on their own. I get the desire to shout advice from the bleacher seats--I've done my share--but for me, the strongest sign that this is a revolution is the people are doing it themselves.

#7 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:04 PM:

P J Evans @ 5: I'm with you, brother! Make the drummers take enough drugs that they can't drum any more, or else provide enough drugs for everyone else that they don't mind the noise. Whatever works.

#8 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:06 PM:

Excellent. I agree.

PJ Evans, no modern progressive movement can survive without drumming. It's an essential component for solidarity.

-Xopher, who owns a djembe, two ashikos, two bodhrans, a doumbek, a kenkeni, a talking drum, and assorted minor others

#9 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:09 PM:

I think "Jump! You fuckers," despite being— nay, partially *because* it is— vulgar and awfully general, works quite well as simple and coherent message for OWS. It fits better on a sign than does "We're Mad As Hell, And We're Not Going To Take This Anymore."

One imagines that even your average sociopathic Wall Street risk management desk officer can appreciate the absolutely sublime quality of a slogan like that.

p.s. While searching for the link to that image, I found this fairly awesome YouTube video by Gene Burnett, which absolutely needs more exposure. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TYezSrzUUs]

#10 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:26 PM:

We needed leaders, because peer-to-peer coordination increased in complexity with an increasing number of people; but centralised management increases in complexity much more slowly.

We needed a centralised message because the interface between us and the people we were trying to reach was narrow: effectively all communication had to go through a very few professional journalists in the main stream media (because that's the only media that reached the vast majority of people).

But perhaps we don't any more. Perhaps new tools for coordination and for communication fundamentally change the rules.

#11 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:29 PM:

Agreed on all counts -- the "you need to organize so we can crush you" line is pure concern trolling. (Who was it who defined that as "trying to convince you to abandon a winning position"?)

When Anonymous declined to organize, they got dismissed as "a few rogue hackers", not that it's slowed them down much. But OWS is already too numerous for the establishment to get away with that, thus the hard-line crackdowns.

The big mistake of the establishment here, is that they've left a significant part of the population with no stake in their power structure. And reversing the old song, "nothing left to lose" gives them... freedom to act.

#12 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 09:31 PM:

Doug Burbidge #10: Perhaps new tools for coordination and for communication fundamentally change the rules.

Which casts the government's latest attack on the Internet in an even more sinister light....

#13 ::: Matthew Ernest ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 10:03 PM:

"It’s time to get some leaders and adopt a coherent message."

Well, if it worked for the Tea Party...

"Like setting rules for behavior by participants:"

They do set rules that are relevant to the group objectives and police those rules, such as detaining people busting up storefronts that have nothing to do with the protest issues and identifying them to the cops. They decline the role of nannies over individual behavior, since that is not a group objective.

#14 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:37 PM:

Tempting to use the tag #penitenziagite for economic justice posts. But it would be wrong. I guess.

Why yes, I have been watching The Name of the Rose. Why do you ask?

#15 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2011, 11:37 PM:

I love the Occupy movement and all its associated movements. I regret only that it has all finally started to happen when I am too old and infirm to participate much. I like the new rules for communicating in the group and as a group that OWS has developed. (Have you all seen the video of a group doing a mic check at a speech by the infamous Governor Walker? Look for it on You Tube using the words "mic check governor". It is beautiful.)

Something needs to be done about the government in this country, and it may be that the time has come when "mob rule" can work. Remember, that's "mob" as in "MOBilize". I can imagine a time when every town and city has its own General Assembly which meets as often as the local need for it requires, and with a changing population of attendees. When these assemblies *govern*. It seems to me that they have shown that they can govern, and do it well.

My kids have asked me about the 60's, and I have replied "We Changed the World! And then everyone just went home." Maybe this time we/they won't just go home.

#16 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 01:47 AM:

How’s that one working out for folks?

Just dandy. 2 years of grad school, 6 years as a professional and I'm back where I started when I was just out of art school, unemployed in Greenland! and now, with twice the debt. I played by the rules. I tried anyway. And all it's gotten me is a grey streak in my hair and a beer belly.

So yeah, I'm pissed. And "Jump! you Fuckers!" has a nice soothing ring to it.

#17 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:30 AM:

What I'm wondering is how much of OWS is driven by people remembering that time they did play by the rules, backin 2002-2003 when you had several hundred thousand people marching through New York to protest the upcoming War on Iraq and all the nice, decent, respectable liberal organisations telling them to put their trust in the Democratic Party to sort things out and how well that all worked.

We played by the rules in 2003 and were ignored.

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:38 AM:

Martin @17:

Well, I certainly remember. And I remember the anti-globalization protests in 2005, when the G7 came to Scotland (where I lived at the time).

I also remember what happened when we put so much grassroots energy into the Obama campaign: how we succeeded, and how he failed us.

#19 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:45 AM:

I've never played D&D, so the concept of Chaotic Good is unknown to me.

The cops are certainly adding to the chaos, however. Charging unarmed crowds with shields, nightsticks, pepper spray, and carrying other weapons with much greater potential for violence than those? In service to whom?

It's appalling.

#20 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 03:30 AM:

Dans ce pay-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un financier pour encourager les autres.

#21 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 04:47 AM:

David Harmon @12: "Perhaps new tools for coordination and for communication fundamentally change the rules." Which casts the government's latest attack on the Internet in an even more sinister light....

What's the secret of comedy?

Timing.

#22 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 05:02 AM:

@19 Linkmeister - D&D has two axis alignment (for characters or monsters) goes by

One is: good - neutral - evil
The other: lawful - neutral - chaotic

Where lawful is people who like rules and regulations and hierarchy and obeying etc. so the stereotypical evil corporation is usually lawful evil, while the joker in batman is clearly chaotic evil.

Lawful neutral is following the rules and etc. without particularly caring if they're for good or evil in a bigger sense.

It can be a handy shorthand for describing a moral axis very very briefly to people used to the concepts.

#24 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 05:05 AM:

Jacque @23:

Nope. Google the last four words in quotes.

#25 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 05:45 AM:

John Robb, who presents himself as an expert on this kind of thing is saying the same this morning, here. However, Abi explains it better.

#26 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 05:51 AM:

Got into a match of verbal fisticuffs with a fellow on Twitter the other day who was complaining that the Occupy movement had "no coherent message" (even as cops moved in to beat people up with real batons.) He seemed to be an otherwise liberal chap, so this puzzled me.

I said that if the problem could be solved in a sentence, it would have been already, and it would have to be a much longer conversation than that; and asked what he had in mind. He offered several sentences, which I pointed out I'd seen on Occupy signs, among other things, and he was proving my point, and his problem was what exactly...?

He then decided that the problem was that people weren't fixing things by voting. Y'know, because that's been working so well. Best guess is, he sold himself so hard on the idea that the system works - because believing otherwise would be too miserable - that he fell right into a portable hole of sunk cost fallacy and pulled it in after himself.

#27 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:04 AM:

Sica @22, that two-axis representation is far older than D&D, and can, with the right labels, make distinctions that a single axis can't. The crude left/right split of politics, for instance, can't tell you anything useful. Pick the wrong labels, and a two-axis system is no better. But sometimes no-difference means there really is no difference.

Like so much, it may well go back to the Ancient Greeks

#28 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:05 AM:

Some people would not get a coherent message even if it was written on their forehead with a weapons-grade laser.

#29 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:08 AM:

Dave, I know it's older than D&D, I was just explaining that particular incarnation since that's the one referenced in this post.

My friends are to a large extent gamers so I'm very used to that particular set and we do use it a fair bit in casual conversations.

#30 ::: Russell Arben Fox ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:15 AM:

Hooray for Second Edition D&D! That's still all I use when I DM.

#31 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:43 AM:

It seems like Anonymous might start teaming up with OWS: Occupy the Airwaves?

The gameplay aspect of the D&D alignment system was essentially that while only a few of the intelligent species you met were absolutely hostile or guaranteed friendly, a third to half were potential allies -- or opponents -- of the moment. (With the remainder being more-or-less inconvenient.)

My bookshop recently picked up a copy of the AD&D Monster Manual, the very same edition I once played with, ox-like red dragon and all. The boss had me look up the price, then he sold it by a phone call, the same day. I noted that I'm still fighting goblins, gnolls, etc. in modern computer games. (Guess which page the book would "fall open to"....)

#32 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:12 AM:

I think the Occupy movement is trying to beat Goodhart's Law.

#33 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:07 AM:

Someone with a coherent message and a face and title and name can also be negotiated with. He can be threatened or coopted, but also can be convinced to call off the demonstrations in exchange for some concessions of the kind a politician can make--a few high profile prosecutions of financiers, a law to make student loan debt dischargable in bankruptcy after five years, whatever.

I think that's part of the elites' frustration with the various occupy movements. They're not really adapted to play the game politicians and media organs and think tanks and PR firms and lobbyists are adapted to play. Even if he wants to, Mayor Bllomberg isn't able to, say, sit down with the leaders of this movement, hash out a compromise, and get the protesters to mostly go home in exchange for appointing a few of their people to some government positions, shifting around the budget a bit, passing some new laws, etc. For people who live and breathe that sort of deal, OWS must be really annoying. For people who have internalized the model of theworld in which that's how progress gets made, OWS must seem silly and pointless--just as they are often portrayed in the respectable media(1).

(1) Respectable media in the US are the ones who were certain there were WMDs in Iraq, who have never referred to any official US treatment of any captive as torture, etc.

#34 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:07 AM:

I can imagine a time when every town and city has its own General Assembly which meets as often as the local need for it requires, and with a changing population of attendees. When these assemblies *govern*.

That's going to give you a much more conservative politics in most respects. Obviously, I'm in favor--subsidiarity is something I'm strongly in favor of.

But the "Occupy" movement is hostile to local rule-making unless it's more liberal, as far as I can tell. (This may be Richmond-specific, but the local Occupy group is not happy about state (esp brtn) and local (especially homelessness-related) rules.)

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:08 AM:

Lovely, Abi.

Not to give myself any unearned credit, this post is like the fully unpacked version of what flashed through my mind the first time I heard that OWS had no central organization, no leaders, and no fixed message. I would translate demands that they get all those things as "Please install receptors in your cell walls that can be targeted by our standard antibodies."

Attempts to suppress OWS have been shocking and infuriating, but they've also been fascinating. For decades, I've been watching the Powers That Be ignore and dismiss heartfelt, cogent, well-thought-out protests and initiatives. This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?

#36 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:28 AM:

SamChevre @34:
But the "Occupy" movement is hostile to local rule-making unless it's more liberal, as far as I can tell.

The "Occupy" movement is currently more popular among liberals than conservatives, for a variety of reasons. So it reflects the values of the people in it.

That would change if more conservatives joined in. But that's not the culture of that side of the political spectrum right now. Too many people are gleefully participating in the Noise Machine, or are more interested in following leaders who are Lawful than ones who are Good.

Frankly, I'm not going to suggest we hold back the pace of change waiting for them to come round. There are too many places where conservative politicians already gridlock formal politics; I'm not going to set up similar roadblocks to informal politics.

Conservatives can join in and be part of the movement, or not. Complaining that no one is representing them in their absence isn't a viable third option.

TNH @35:

I, too have been thinking about this for a good while. But I wanted to see if the movement itself had figured it out before I wrote it up formally. After two months, I reckon it's in the cultural DNA.

The D&D alignment aspect only occurred to me about a week ago, when I was explaining the difference between breaking rules and being naughty to Alex.

#37 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:35 AM:

Teresa:

I think one reason is that it's happening all over the world. Not just the Arab Spring, but big long-running protests in Spain and Greece, too. Another is that the Tea Party, for all that it has been largely coopted by a part of the power structure on the right (the least accountable, least responsible part), is also a warning--centrist Democrats surely dont want challenges from the left fueled by whatever OWS morphs into.

At a deeper level, a sequence of unusual events, alongside the increased access to information brought by the internet, has made it easy to see that the US ruling class isn't actually all that competent, and that they're very willing to screw the rest of the nation to protect their own individual interests. The wars, Katrina, Guantanamo and the war on terror, domestic spying scandals where nobody goes to jail but the whistleblowers, the financial meltdown and subsequent bailout of the well-connected, the secrecy about who has gotten help and how much, the huge difference in quality of informatiin between US media and Al Jazeera reporting on the Arab Spring and related stuff, the increasing visibility of issues rhe respectable media have long since decided won't be discussed--the elites are visibly not especially elite or competent, and even more visibly not working for us.

And then there's the fact that Bush betrayed a hell of a lot of the ideas conservatives hold or say they hold--something not brought up much by the noise machine, but noticed by others. And Obama has done much the same, riding into power on this huge bunch of excitement about bringing big change, and then mostly abandoning the left on the theory that they won't dare stay home when they see the wingnuts the Republicans are going to nominate. For a lot of people, I think the two parties' leadership has lost its credibility. Certainly, Congress and the rmedia show up as being held in stunningly low regard in polls. All that both encourages people to protest (or do SOMETHING outside of voting and organizing), and makes those protests more scary if you are counting on being able to keep the "too big to fail" guarantees, subsidies, no-bid contracts, etc., coming.

#38 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:44 AM:

Teresa @ 35: This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?

I've been asking that question myself, seeing as I had concluded some time ago that the US had ultimately found the dissent-erasing strategy that China was looking for in all the wrong places and missing dramatically. (It is: ignore them until they shut up.)

I think it took people camping in tents in parks to break through the ennui / free speech echo chamber barrier. I'm amazed by the simplicity of it, but it seems the best conclusion. I honestly think that the 24-hour nature of the Occupation gave it that quality of significance, detectable by everyone for or against it, that all the other protests have been missing for years.

That, and it's pretty darn multi-partisan and multi-racial. Which I think is one of the things that get under the skins of the people who complain there's no unified message!!!!111eleventyone!!!

Since, why, no, the loggers and the militant tree-savers (to give an Oregon example) don't want exactly, precisely the same thing and would not create exactly, precisely the same government if they had a go at it. But they can all agree that they're against bad decisions leading to an economic collapse that affects everyone.

Which ties back into the "you have not presented us with a receptor appropriate for attaching our antibodies" complaint, really. If you can blame it all on one race, gender, religion, ideology lather, rinse, repeat, you can find an appropriate antibody. The thing about Occupy is that you can't that way.

Similarly, the fact that people have been living in the protest encampments means that they're no longer a single, ignorable, discrete event ("Oh, someone's picketing on the bridge again, I'm going to crank up my headphones and sacrifice a few hair cells") but rather they're neighbors, a location.

#39 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 10:41 AM:

David Harmon @31

Anonymous has been been supporting Occupy Wall Street from very early on.

#40 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:10 AM:

Teresa @ 35: This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?

Because OWS is a mob following updated and revised rules -- specifically Thoreau's Civilly Disobedient Rules.

The standard, old-school mobs are destructive to property and people. They are tornadoes and hurricanes of emotion formed by pressures and tempers. Once the fuel in the engine has been exhausted, the rage expended, it's all done except for the cleanup, the rebuilding and a few people turned into either examples or scape goats.

The Civilly Disobedient Mob members aren't a single, well defined group that's been targeted by (an)other well defined group(s) for decades and generations. They're all unique individuals from many different easily identifiable groups who are feeling the same pinches in the same ways at the same time and it's got them ticked off. Instead of retreating to a handy pond to build a cabin and not pay their taxes, they decided to pay their taxes and camp out on the front door of the well defined group that's been pinching them. And they're doing it civilly -- as in no destruction of property, not harming others, no threats. They've switched paradigms.

They've become an endless swarm of chaotic, yet self-policing gnats. A plague of signs and catcalls and angry songs without the violence or organized rhetoric that allows the authorities to use standard responses that require no thought, just action. Now the occupied are having to think, because all their standardized actions will only make their situation worse. They're being forced to adjust their paradigms against their will.

#41 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:23 AM:

Fourth Edition D&D, alas, has done away with both “Chaotic Good” and “Lawful Evil”, replacing it with a single axis: Lawful Good—Good—Neutral—Evil—Chaotic Evil.

Kids today and their newfangled ideas....

#42 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:39 AM:

A.J. Luxton @26, a favorite quote by Upton Sinclair: 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'

albatross @33, regarding the "coherent message", a tom tomorrow cartoon from a month or so ago: http://www.credoaction.com/comics/2011/10/what-do-they-want/

#43 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:52 AM:

I saw early on that the financial crisis came down especially hard on people who'd "done everything right".

They might not be worse off than less conscientious people. They might even be somewhat better off, on the average, than less conscientious people.

However, they'd spent their lives following the rules because they'd believed that they'd get a good outcome, and they'd gotten nothing for it.

I can't think of any other oppression which has selected so thoroughly for a personality type, and a rather capable personality type at that.

#44 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:56 AM:

Yesterday NPR-American Public Media's "Marketplace" opined the top of this entry word-for-word, and did it via the mouth of P.J. O'Rourke.

Now "Marketplace" may though this was comedy or satire it was O'Rourke, that very not funny guy -- but public radio has never had good ears for funny or witty, which is funny in itself as -- hey! radio! -- but as this was word-for-word from other sources as well sneering, criticizing and dismissing Occupy, it was neither.

The rest of the show was equally trivial and stupid -- and downright qeonf in facts, particularly as to what was going on at least here in NYC with Occupy ("Marketplace" is based in California).

How stupid are these people who keep drumbeating that Occupy do exactly what Occupy patiently repeats the movement is protesting against, particularly getting branded and marketed by the large corporations political parties, all two of them? Does the media and its mouthpieces really not understand that Occupy understands that branding = co-opting, pulling the teeth?

Another of yesterday's "Marketplace" drumbeats was that Occupy and the 99% are all wrong about pies. Just because 1% has more, even a whole lot more, than everybody else doesn't mean that everybody else isn't getting more also. And also everybody else has to get a job and make more pie (while dressing neat respectful corporate). That's how wealth works.

-- even though the 1% has taken over all the land, all the schools, all the roads, all the sidewalks, all politicians, all the jails, all the media and sent whatever is left overseas.

But the 99% are too stupid to get this thing about making their own pie, even though the cupboard is bare of ingredients. Such a shame, because until they get it, nobody will respect them.

Love, C.

#45 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 12:11 PM:

Constance #44 - but that is what I find so amazing - the stats show that the 99% are worse off now than 10 years ago, and yet people refuse to see this or refuse to think that it has anything to do with the actions of the global kings of finance or anyone else. Or if they do they blame dirty hippies and foreigners, despite money lovers having the actual power all the time.

#46 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 12:16 PM:

My only criticism of the Occupy movement is spawned by the limitations/laziness that keep me from going down and joining their General Assembly: I wish that some of the ideas constantly being generated over at Eschaton and Hullabaloo would reach some of the protesters and result in signs that might be picked up by media and amplify discussions.

Supercommittee proposals will be worse for the National Deficit than doing nothing

How about giving them some free money?

I went to the Occupy website's IRC channel a couple of weeks ago and made a few posts linking to Atrios' "Give ordinary people Free Money" proposals. But there didn't seem to be any real Occupy participants on the IRC channel. Instead, there was an endless flamewar scrolling between a gold-standard libertarian and a Noam Chomsky fan that drowned out any peripheral comments.

This may be no more than what should be expected of trying to participate in the dialog the lazy way instead of showing up in the flesh.

#47 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 12:33 PM:

guthrie -- It is astounding but on another national, historic plane, it's utterly American. We've always been that way. This is not a cooperative nation, despite the sepia tones of western ho films of neighbors cooperating in barn raisings. It is a nation that not only has always enshrined and hero worshipped violence, but the Lone Solitary HERO who does violence better than anyone else, and this makes HIM THE GOOD WHITE HAT HERO, who is entitled then to employ violence as he so pleases, when he pleases.

The more of it's backstory you dig into deeply, the more you see what a weird country this one really is.

I've wondered if this entitling and glamorizing of violent men as the #1 favorite national hero -- from Indian fighter, to vigilante, to Jesse James who was not a Robin Hood but a sociopathic killer -- to the homicide detective - P.I., to the Godfather has anything to do with how little history we'd had as a nation before the advent of mass media.

That sort of figure is perfect for the mass media of movies and televison, which have never done too well with subtlty and ambiguity, particularily as so much of the revenue comes from overseas. We've now gone so far that we see as heroes serial killer torturers -- Dexter.

Love, C.

#48 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 12:44 PM:

I liked the first season of "Dexter" because it was about a monster learning to make itself into a human. After that it became a grisly soap, and I had no interest in that.

#49 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 01:09 PM:

Teresa, #35: They tried ignoring and dismissing it first. They were expecting it to go away as soon as the novelty factor wore off. Only when that didn't happen did the tactics change to violence -- and they still have their lapdogs pushing the "ignoring and dismissing" meme to the general public, with all this claptrap about OWS being a bunch of rich, bored college kids with nothing else to do.

abi, #36: I think part of what you're seeing here is a reflection of the way the Overton Window has moved over the past 30 years. A lot of traditionally-conservative values -- and the people who support them -- are now considered to be liberal.

#50 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 01:31 PM:

TNH @ 35:

"Please install receptors in your cell walls that can be targeted by our standard antibodies."

That immediately made me think of Peter Watt's story "The Things", where the shapeshifter of John Campbell's horror story becomes a hero liberating our cells from the central control of our brains. A whole new way to think about that story, as political allegory.

This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?

I think one large clue to the answer is the reaction that Republicans and other conservatives still have to mention of the demonstrations and civil unrest of the 1960s and early '70s. They froth at the mouth when talking about it, and part of their mythology of the period is that they were responsible for ending it and pushing the "hippies" off the political stage. Occupy reminds them of that period, when so many of their beliefs were attacked and so many of their shibboleths disrespected.

albatross @ 33:

They're not really adapted to play the game politicians and media organs and think tanks and PR firms and lobbyists are adapted to play.

Which is poetic (or political) justice, because the current Noise Machine/Big Lie game is something that liberals and moderates were not adapted to play.

#51 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 01:46 PM:

Perhaps another contributing factor to the frothing rage that Occupy puts some people into is that they are seeing those participating as getting something for nothing at their expense, just like the welfare queens with 25 babies and a cadillac gotten at the expense of their taxes. The infuriated sputtering of some I've heard / seen sure sounds like that.

In the meantime the Berkeley Occupiers in mourning for their library and their tents have made them a monument in the sky.

Love, C.

#52 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 01:51 PM:

abi @36: I was explaining the difference between breaking rules and being naughty to Alex.

::grins, plants palm on chin, and waits with pleasant anticipation:: Yes? And that would be...? :-)

#53 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 01:55 PM:

Teresa 35: I'm going to use that ("Please install...") next time someone complains that OWS doesn't have a coherent message or a clear agenda.

Seth 41: Fourth Edition D&D, alas, has done away with both “Chaotic Good” and “Lawful Evil”, replacing it with a single axis: Lawful Good—Good—Neutral—Evil—Chaotic Evil.

In other words, they've joined the conservative/authoritarian mindset in a major way, probably to make Republican parents happy.

#54 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:29 PM:

Years ago, when I played D&D on a regular basis, my second-most successful character was a Chaotic Good half-orc fighter-cleric (who int retrospect I probably should have named "Hyphen") who went into battle with the cry "Whatever!" She drove the DM and my fellow players crazy because of that, which also in retrospect should have been a sign to me that we were not politically well-aligned. The DM, it turned out, was extremely conservative as a result of his growing up in Idaho, and quite racist besides. The rest of the players were libertarian wannabes, probably just because that was the political flavor-of-the-month among techies in the 1980's.

Chaos does really seem to get under some people's skins.

#55 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:41 PM:

Lee @ #49, re the Overton Window, I wrote this in a comment to something Skwid said yesterday on Google Plus: It occurs to me that in a sense the Occupy movement is doing what Wm F Buckley said conservatism was supposed to do: Stand athwart history yelling "Stop!"

#56 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:46 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 54... Chaos does really seem to get under some people's skins

We have Maxwell Smart to thank for that.
And Agent 99, of course...

#57 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:51 PM:

Bruce Cohen STM @54: the Whitmore family motto (actually -- I'm not making this up!) is "Either Forever!" which goes very nicely with a war cry of "Whatever!"

#58 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 02:59 PM:

Lee @49:
Can you unpack that? I'm not sure how the Overton Window affects the absence of present-day conservatives' views in the discussions of present-day liberals in General Assembly.

I confess that I may not be aware of all Overton Window traditions.

#59 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 03:23 PM:

TNH @35: Because ever since the 60s assassinations, corporate power has known that they could successfully derail any protest movement either by co-opting movement leaders with sinecure jobs (which is why Obama was directly in the line of black/Hispanic mayors who simply changed the ethnicity of those in power receiving bribes), agents-p guiding the movement towards violence, or outright kill those leaders too strong to be co-opted.

By OWS saying outright, "leaders? what leaders" *and* not using that anarchy to call for the violence so handy to use by undercover cops, they disarmed their opposition, especially when OWS' message survived the initial DFH media barrage to reach the rest of the country. They even survived past the stage of co-optation the Tea Party didn't -- has anyone seen a serious Tea Party rally attempted, since?

It's pure jujitsu -- use your opponent's strengths to disarm him. For the second century, PR is the main weapon to control our populace, and in OWS' use of individual narratives -- the "conversion" story Obama's campaign successfully used to recruit more OFA members -- it uses the media's cell wall receptor for human interest stories, to make mass media weaker. It's only when out-and-out lies are propagated -- the bad sanitation and crime meme -- did the opposition attempt coordinated violence, and even then it didn't convince, as soon as those individual narratives resurfaced.

I knew mass disruptions would happen prior to the holiday season; if your family had a choice between volunteering at a soup kitchen, or volunteering at an Occupy site that served meals to anyone, including the homeless, which one would you choose? *That* was the unspoken concern -- that OWS could dislodge the institutions backed by the 1% to show They Care, in favor of real social change that would not stop at the noblesse oblige donation. Business, you understand....

But, luckily, it's going to take more than Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Kutcher-Moore divorce to dislodge OWS from Americans' consciousness. That's why I'm concerned -- but not overly so -- about Iraq. Once Obama lost Libya as an Axis of Evil member, we knew Iraq would be brought out of the chorus....

#60 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 03:46 PM:

@ Martin @17: Yes. In 2003, we all said we would take to the streets. And we did. I did, at least. But only for a day or two. This is different. Back then, some of us protested the decision to become an occupying force. Now, some of us occupy our own countries. It's really too bad that some tents and drum circles are inconveniencing local residents. And to them I say this: you know what else is inconvenient? Armed checkpoints. Showing your papers. Keeping your hands empty and in sight at all times. In 2003, we expected somewhere else's locals to suck it up and deal in exchange for freedom and democracy -- now our own locals get to do the same.

#61 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 04:11 PM:

I often tell people about Frank Herbert's pledge to buy no _new_ internal combustion engine, and how it created a huge non-organization with no leaders and no membership rolls. I also tell them the Buddhist parable of the finger pointing to the moon.

#63 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 05:07 PM:

Xopher... Heheheh

#64 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 05:37 PM:

abi, #58: I was responding to this bit: The "Occupy" movement is currently more popular among liberals than conservatives, for a variety of reasons. So it reflects the values of the people in it.

I have gotten the impression that there are actually a fair number of traditional conservatives who are in sympathy with the OWS movement, who are now being classified as liberals because the Overton Window has moved so far to the right as to push them out the left side of it.

#65 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 05:46 PM:

I vaguely remember a line from the "Last Whole Earth Catalog" (~1971?) discussing how various progressive leaders (the Kennedys, King, and others less famous) had been killed, and suggesting that the right way forward was to "need leaders less". That was the first thing I thought of when I read pundits claiming that "OWS needs leaders".

#66 ::: Bill McDonough ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 06:11 PM:

Agreed on all counts -- the "you need to organize so we can crush you" line is pure concern trolling. (Who was it who defined that as "trying to convince you to abandon a winning position"?)


My disposition of forces must be indiscernible. If it is indiscernible, then I can concentrate my strength where my enemy is weak. Thus, the pinnacle of military deployment approaches the formless. If it is formless, then no spy can seek it out, and no foe defend against it. -Sun Tzu

#67 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 06:31 PM:

Xopher @ 62: I have watched just enough eps of Firefly to recognize almost all those characters--and they do make for a pretty concise explanation of the various alignments. Thanks for that!

#68 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:11 PM:

And, entirely relevant to "alignment", a reminder that some cops are on our side.

#70 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:33 PM:

David 68: A good reminder, and one I needed. I've shared it on my Facebook.

Bruce 69: Now that's just plain SILLEH.

#71 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:36 PM:

The alignment chart meme was going around last year. Googling on the phrase yields a lot of them: this page includes one with all the Doctors listed by type. I disagree, however, with their computer geek types....

#72 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:48 PM:

Lee @64:

My point was less about whether the liberals in question were originally conservatives and more about the idea that the views SamChevre @34 mentions were not being expressed in OWS. Which fact I attribute to people who currently call themselves conservatives (and have those views) not generally being involved in the movement.

I think that Bruce @50 has a key piece of the reason:

I think one large clue to the answer is the reaction that Republicans and other conservatives still have to mention of the demonstrations and civil unrest of the 1960s and early '70s. They froth at the mouth when talking about it, and part of their mythology of the period is that they were responsible for ending it and pushing the "hippies" off the political stage. Occupy reminds them of that period, when so many of their beliefs were attacked and so many of their shibboleths disrespected.

That view of the 60's and 70's is so alien to what I learned growing up in the counterculture that I keep mislaying it if I don't remind myself of it from time to time. It's part of a kind of epistemic closure for me (and, I suspect, many of us on the left); I simply don't see that part of our history with the same eyes at all. That makes several actors in this little drama incomprehensible until I once again am reminded of this cultural gap.

#73 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 07:54 PM:

Seth @ 41: WTF. That makes me splutter. That's a slightly fancier version of what was in D&D Basic, circa 1970s. Talk about devolving.

(At one point I made a cat alignment table. The axes were "Clever - Housecat - Doofy" and "Good Cat - Housecat - Bad Cat." Almost all of you have certainly met a cat that fits in each of the nine boxes on that table. Currently we have a Clever Good Cat, a Doofy Housecat and a Housecat Housecat, to the best of my ability to gauge.)

#74 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:01 PM:

TNH @ 35 ::: "This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?"

It's the insubordination.

The core message of Occupy is that We Don't Accept Your Subjugation. It isn't on the side, or tacked on as an afterthought or as background to explain the reasoning behind a bill of particulars and policy demands. It's not dressed up in fancy rhetoric and presented by well-coiffed celebrity spokespeople. It's not "Oh, by the way, it would help if you were generally more humane when we talked about all this other stuff we want you to care about."

It's naked, sublime, dangling on the end of the proverbial fork: "Non Serviam, You Motherfsckers!"

The purity of the insubordination is what makes Occupy a direct assault on the conservative mental framework. It penetrates so deeply under their skin, because they know that Occupy is openly and directly challenging the conservative paradigm that subjugation is a civic virtue, and it isn't going to be very easily distracted from that. The conservative mind can't help itself but to react. It's what animates their most basic urges: reacting to movements that excuse insubordination when it's organized in the furtherance of the cause of social justice.

#75 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:06 PM:

TNH @35:
This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?

I don't know at what point they became alarmed. I know when they should have, though: Mic check.

Seriously. That's when the movement took one of the restrictions designed to make protest inconvenient and discouraging and turned it into a gift. Mic checks are now part of the culture of OWS, and every time they're used they reaffirm the participants' membership in the movement. Furthermore, they underline its values, since no message is transmitted without the cooperation of the people around the speaker.

It was important enough to be part of the bat signal on the Verizon building. (May there be more such displays!)

The authorities must be wishing they'd never implemented the ban. Bullhorns enforce a hierarchical, me-talk you-listen structure that's not nearly as consistent with the aims and means of the movement. They train people to be shouted at.

We should use mic checks in future demonstrations, even when the authorities don't give us the gift of requiring them.

#76 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:18 PM:

jh woodyatt @74:
The conservative mind can't help itself but to react. It's what animates their most basic urges: reacting to movements that excuse insubordination when it's organized in the furtherance of the cause of social justice.

I find myself taken with the desire to shower after reading this. Are you describing ants, or cockroaches, or untermenschen? It reads like the classic "the only thing these people understand..." constructions that are so often used to dismiss the humanity of the people discussed. Or those evo-psych theories that explain how everything we are is based on our history as hunter-gatherers.

I don't know how to build a rapport with people whose values and beliefs about what America is line up so poorly with my own. But I'm fairly sure that this kind of half-fastidious, half-fascinated external analysis doesn't really make us smarter in the pursuit of it.

And we're going to need them. They're part of the 99% too.

#77 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:44 PM:

Abi @ 76... And we're going to need them. They're part of the 99% too

...but do conservative Christian Libertarians need us? Maybe they do, but I doubt they'll listen.

#78 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:45 PM:

My apologies for the above, Abi. You're a better person than I am.

#79 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 08:58 PM:

Mic check in particular drives everyone crazy!

"Stop it now for pity's sake!"

I'm hearing that more and more.

Maybe mic checks will replace the cadillac welfare queen meme?

Love, c.

#80 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:19 PM:

@77

Well, I'm listening.

With substantial loss of generality, I'm going to talk a little about Occupy Richmond, where I have the benefit of actually being able to speak from first-hand knowledge.[1]

First, it's very very much a left-liberal group. The march to Downtown started at a rally protesting Virginia's tightened restrictions on abortion providers. At least half the people involved are veterans of many other very-left protests (e.g., keeping the homeless population near downtown rather than having shelter-centered services, gay rights, anti-war, and so forth.)

And the left-liberalism is very much the educated/culture-wars variety, not the economic variety. I'm very glad that the occupation has moved to Ray Boone's property, as his long-term commitment to helping the poor is strong.

Part of my unease with the Occupy movement is that I'm on the lawful good side of the spectrum, and I think most conservatives are on the lawful side. [2] Part is that I think some of their desired "rights" look more like "privileges".[3] And part is that frankly, they look to me more like a faction of the same ruling class that has been steadily centralizing power for the last 70 years.

1) Note well: a lot of the people involved I know, and most of the ones I know, I like. I'm not talking about some group of "others." These are people that I ride bike with my 4-year-old with, have over to my house for supper, and so forth.

2) Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

3) Using the definition that I find helpful, that rights are universalizable and privileges are not.

#81 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:20 PM:

Mic Check

With this mic device
I spit nonfiction
Who got tha power
This be my question
Tha mass or tha few in this torn nation?
Tha priest tha book or tha congregation?

***

The importance of leaders to social movements is an interesting thing to consider in light of this advice to OWS by a veteran organizer:

Whether they will grow larger and sustain themselves beyond these initial street actions will depend upon four things: the work of skilled organizers; the success of those organizers in getting people, once these events end, to meet over and over and over again; whether or not the movement can promote public policy solutions that are organically linked to the quotidian lives of its supporters; and the ability of liberalism’s infrastructure of intellectuals, writers, artists and professionals to expend an enormous amount of their cultural capital in support of the movement.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 35: "This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?"

It's amazing, isn't it? Tents. Who knew?

More seriously, spatial segregation has been an incredibly important tool in the quiet war to institute a radically unequal society. From suburbanization and gated communities to ghettoization and militarized borders, keeping undesirables out of sight (out of mind) has become crucial to maintaining the ever more gaping income disparities. OWS challenges that head on.

#82 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:27 PM:

You know, I've been looking fascinated at OWS since it started while pondering why the movement hasn't managed to gather any meaningful traction in France (I like to claim it's because we French would never condescend to not be the avant-guarde - bullshit but brings a smirk to my face).

This thread makes me wonder how much the fact the movement was co-opted from the very start by the Usual Suspect representatives, not to mention random public persons like Kassovitz, played a role in preventing the emergence of a similar decentralized grass-root movement.
Though, to be honest, I can't help but notice the Anonymous manifestations against Scientology - which in many ways I regard as the blue-print for OWS - never managed to catch up around here either.

It's not a lack of penetration in the needed technology, by any means. Nor the lack of a culture of dissent. Maybe it is that - being generally a very conservative people - we tend to remain conservative even in the way we express said dissent ?

There's a general disillusionment and resignation I can observe also - a complete lack of faith... people I've know to mock my political pessimism now tell me I was right all along. But instead of wanting to fight back, the claim I hear most nowadays is of people wanting to leave the country.

It just leaves me heart-broken.

#83 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 09:33 PM:

A big thank you to SamChevre... I knew I was remembering that bit about the devil and laws from somewhere.

#84 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 10:14 PM:

#41: Fourth Edition D&D, alas, has done away with both “Chaotic Good” and “Lawful Evil”, replacing it with a single axis: Lawful Good—Good—Neutral—Evil—Chaotic Evil.

Ironically, that decision itself was Lawful Evil. And the way around it is simply to ignore the rules, i.e. to be Chaotic Good.

#85 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 10:18 PM:

SamChevre #80: that rights are universalizable and privileges are not.

And which of those would you consider covers getting your due from a contract or promise? Or for that matter fair dealings in general?

A big part of the impetus for OWS is that the government is trying to unilaterally withdraw from their obligations, especially the promise of the New Deal, that having paid into Social Security taxes, folks should get back a pension sufficient to live on. Or that those who risked their lives and suffered injury in our wars, should be cared for by the government for whom they fought. Likewise, the idea that our taxes should go to public goods rather than private pockets, is surely one of the basic assumptions of "government for the people, and by the people.

Trying to paper over this sort of thing is why the Media Noise Machine has done their best to make "entitlement" a dirty word. That's the missing middle ground between your false dichotomy of "right" versus "privilege" -- there is that owed to us by the government, not because it's a universal human right, nor out of their benevolent generosity, but because the American government has made bargains with its people, and now it wants to renege.

#86 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 10:31 PM:

SamChevre @34: This may be Richmond-specific, but the local Occupy group is not happy about state (esp brtn) and local (especially homelessness-related) rules.

Sam, I believe you're correct that Occupy Richmond is no happier about state and local rules than about federal rules -- surely not a big surprise given that it's state and local police who've been swarming us. I haven't seen especial emphasis on the rules you mention (I've been an occasional rather than a steady part of our General Assemblies, so might have missed something). It's true we've had an emphasis on doing better by homeless folks. This is partly because some of us are homeless folks, and like any group we listen to people we know. It's also because we made a mistake in our first occupation: there were already homeless folks living in Kanawha Plaza, and when we got kicked out, so did they. (I believe most are back there now, except a few who got active in Occupy Richmond and have other arrangements.)

You mention subsidiarity. The OED says that's "the principle that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level." If I can read that as "people should have a voice in decisions that affect them", then it works for me.

There's a difference, though: the first statement presupposes that there are authorities scattered about the landscape performing tasks. The second statement doesn't mention authorities, but people.

The people in Kanawha Plaza were certainly people -- and by the second statement should have had a voice in decisions that affected them. If the General Assembly was an authority, then it was certainly more immediate and local than the mayor; so rousting people from their beds, slashing and bulldozing their tents, and throwing equipment in the dumpsters would be a violation of subsidiarity.

But the General Assembly, I'd guess, would not want to be called an authority. "Conversation" seems to feel more comfortable to most of us. So if subsidiarity is inextricably bound up with authority, perhaps we should bring on the bulldozers. Then again, I'm no authority either. Does that mean the mayor can bulldoze my house?

Fred Clark says "Subsidiarity + Solidarity = Democracy" and "Subsidiarity – Solidarity = Tyranny". Maybe it would guide us toward solidarity to use "conversation" rather than "authority": a central conversation should not drown out conversations happening "at a more immediate or local level."

#87 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 10:52 PM:

SamChevre @ 80: The march to Downtown started at a rally protesting Virginia's tightened restrictions on abortion providers.

I understand it, this arose from a scheduling conflict: at the first General Assembly (which I didn't attend) folks wanted to schedule the decision on a location to occupy at Monroe Park on October 15, but the Rally for Women’s Health was already scheduled there from 1-3. So the decision-making GA was scheduled to start at 3 after the rally. We took an hour or so to decide on Kanawha and started the march. (To be sure, I imagine almost all of us supported the goals of the rally.)

At least half the people involved are veterans of many other very-left protests (e.g., keeping the homeless population near downtown rather than having shelter-centered services, gay rights, anti-war, and so forth.)

That's not my impression, nor that of people who have been a lot more active than I in those things. What I keep hearing is "it's not just the usual suspects". Again, most folks I've met would support the causes you mention -- but most haven't been active previously. (Those causes don't seem so very left to me -- but then, I'd be one of the usual suspects if I had stayed as active as my conscience tells me I should.)

#88 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:00 PM:

abi, #76: And we're going to need them. They're part of the 99% too.

I agree with this. The problem is that too many of them don't, and will say so, loudly and at length. A large part of the tragedy of early 21st-century America has been in watching the very people who should have been loudest in its defense aligning themselves with the forces trying to destroy it.

I don't know if there's anything at all that we can do to change that. It's like dealing with someone who has an addiction -- you can't make them wake up and see that there's a problem, they have to do it on their own. And even then, they still need to decide that they want to do something to fix it.

David, #85: And not just contracts from the government, either. When did the ability for most people to have a job -- not 2 or 3 McJobs, but a job -- which would allow them to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table become a "privilege"? The unobscured unemployment rate in America is now over 20%, and the under-employment rate (i.e. the people working those multi-McJobs for lack of anything better) is even higher. What happened to the responsibility of corporations toward their employees? Why do I know so many people who were laid off from a full-time position, and then after 6 months or a year invited to come back... either part-time or as an "independent contractor", with lower pay and no benefits for doing exactly the same work?

Don't anyone try to give me crap about OWS wanting "privileges". What we want is to be recognized as real, live human beings with the right to be treated as such. And the opposition is making it clearer every day that they consider THAT to be a privilege.

#89 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2011, 11:09 PM:

Sam 80: Part of my unease with the Occupy movement is that I'm on the lawful good side of the spectrum, and I think most conservatives are on the lawful side.

Hmm. You don't include lying sacks of shit like Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachman as "conservatives," then? Because lying isn't a Lawful thing to do.

Also, being on the Lawful side is not the same as being Lawful Good. I note that you claim only the Lawful part for "most conservatives." That matches my experience, actually; I just wanted to highlight it.

What do you call people who profess conservative ideas, but whose Lawfulness applies only to others, not to their own behavior?

MD² 82: But instead of wanting to fight back, the claim I hear most nowadays is of people wanting to leave the country.

I want to live in a civilized country. This isn't one. I've been hoping this might become one at some point, and doing my part to push it in that direction. But it seems to be going the opposite way, toward authoritarian oligarchy, where people in the uppermost class can do anything they want to anyone they want to do it to, and everyone in the other classes can be arrested for any reason or none.

I can understand wanting to get out. Wait too long and you end up with a number tattooed on your arm, waiting for your turn in the "shower."

Stephen 84: Ironically, that decision itself was Lawful Evil. And the way around it is simply to ignore the rules, i.e. to be Chaotic Good.

As I was saying above. But of course another way around it is to play a better game; avoiding the reprehensible Fourth Edition is only the beginning. D&D was first, but it's the VisiCalc of roleplaying games now.

#90 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 12:59 AM:

tnh, #35: "This one instantly got under their skin. That's so interesting. Why does it do that?"

I don't think it was quite instant. It got under their skin when it became clear it was media-savvy, gaining a following, getting coverage, and not going away.

Occupy seems to be the right word at the right moment. I don't think the movement could have taken hold before the deficit bargain, before it was clear that the last hope that the USA would avoid oppressive austerity policies was gone. It also arrived at a moment when a great many people are thinking What have we done? and What has been done? Perhaps, even, finally, the 1% are not after all immune to shame. Who knew?

#91 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:10 AM:

You know...this whole Corporate Personhood business....

I wonder how long it's going to be before Corporate Persons evolve far enough to work out that squashing the 99% is the corporate equivalent of autoimmune disease.

It also occurs to me that the 1% may not be as immune to attack from Corporate Persons as they think they are.

#92 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:51 AM:

abi @ 76 ::: "And we're going to need them. They're part of the 99% too."

You're right, we need them— they're part of our society. We need them engaged in discourse with us, because democracy depends on discourse that involves everyone, and that includes the conservatives. The conservatives also need us, because they need someone to oppose, someone they can see as an enemy of the old regime, which is a regime they themselves want to revolutionize too, but not the way that we would want to do so.

They need us and we need them, because, between us and them is the impetus required to make systematic change.

That said, I would say that we can't afford to look away from what conservatives think about us— and about how they think our society should be ordered— just because it's horrifying. We would be chumps to believe they will come to share our vision of social justice if only we can explain it to them in clear enough terms. It would be stupid to pretend they don't really believe that subjugation is a civic virtue. Take them at their word. They really do believe the strange and crazy things they say.

Yes, the urge to persecute the dirty hippies— and even to exterminate them— is real. Yes, those who would burn books eventually do get around to burning people when they secure enough power. And yes, we have to live with people who approve of all that. About not just when it's directed at the hippies, but at anyone who refuses to accept that subjugation under a cultural hegemony is the natural order of humanity.

People with a conservative mind are something like a quarter, to a third, of the 99%, and they won't be disappearing from the discourse. Ever. However, I'm not going to pretend there's some magical common ground between them and me, where we can agree on a synoptic vision of how the world should work. There just isn't one. And looking for one is a sucker's game.

That's one of the things I like about the involvement of the American Left in the Occupy movement. For once, it looks like the Left has stopped assuming there is some point of common philosophy to be found with people who want the Left eradicated from civil society, on general principle, once and for all, and violently if needs be. Occupy just takes it as axiomatic that democracy and the rule of law are virtues, and you're either for them or you're eventually going to come around and be for them once you see them in action. And if, after seeing them in action, you still don't come around to our side of the argument, then we'll find a way to work around you. I like that approach.

#93 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 03:22 AM:

akicml: i remember seeing a daytime photo, of people sitting with linked arms on the right side of the photo and a cop swinging a baton on the left. probably at uc berkeley, maybe uc davis. it might have been pepper spray, but i'm pretty sure it was a baton with motion blur. two or three people have jacket hoods over their heads, and one closer to the right edge of the photo has her hands over her face. i think i found it on my way to celeste langan's account of her arrest.

so.... can anyone find that photo again for me?

#94 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 03:39 AM:

jh woodyatt @92:

I don't have a problem with the thrust of your thesis—that just because we're on their side (in the broad goals of OWS for all of the 99%) doesn't mean they're on ours.

I'm having a huge squick at your phrase "the conservative mind". Because it sounds, the way that you use it, as a catch-all explanation for why people you don't like do things you don't like. It sounds, in other words, like an explanation that excuses understanding, rather than one that leads to it.

Could you expand on what you mean by "the conservative mind"? Is it always and universally a bad thing in all of its effects? How does one acquire, or rid one's self of it? Can you picture, to riff off of SamChevre, riding your bike with them (with offspring, if you have 'em) and having them over to dinner?

Are they as human, as complex, as unpredictable and quirky and wrong and right all at once, as much the righteous heroes of their own narrative as you? Even if they're wrong in your view? Because your comments containing the phrase don't sound like you think they are.

#95 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:36 AM:

Sam @ 80

"Part of my unease with the Occupy movement is that I'm on the lawful good side of the spectrum, and I think most conservatives are on the lawful side."

I really don't think that's a fair distinction. I'm on the lawful good side. So are most of my kin. My friends fall into different camps regardless of political affiliation; there truly is not a pattern I can perceive there. Except for the radical anarchists -- who are not the left, but something quite different -- I think most people are basically law-abiding.

That said: the United States has a long tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience by otherwise law-abiding citizens, in cases where the authorities we entrusted to uphold justice used their powers instead to oppress select members of our citizenry. To that end, I would suggest that even most of the people involved in the Occupy movement are lawful good. It is simply that they are following the exception strongly carved out by custom; that when the cause is weighty enough, and the harm of inaction severe enough, people are justified in violating unjust or unreasonable laws in the name of the greater good. In fact, I believe this to be a moral law which supercedes all other laws, and I believe that many liberals and conservatives would agree with me. The only difference is how we define gross injustice.

#96 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:21 AM:

To be clear: I think the Occupy movement is Chaotic Good. I think it's substantially made up of Lawful Good people, because Americans tend toward the Lawful Good in general.

I'm Lawful Good. I'd love to live in a rules-based society where honorable inputs predictably yield just outcomes. I believe that would produce a society where the police are a respected and trusted force for peace and justice. I aspire to a nation where we are governed by fair laws made by honorable politicians, and can take our disputes to impartial judges and receive justice.

I'm uncomfortable with a Chaotic Good force having too much power in American society. But you know what? I'm even more uncomfortable with Lawful Evil*, which seems to be the alignment of the forces that the Occupy movement is opposing and being opposed by.

I would also point out that Occupy may be Chaotic, as opposed to Lawful, but it's not unlawful. The deepest law of the land explicitly protects its activities, and the secondary laws being used to inhibit it are showing their unlawfulness thereby.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-----
* Where, in societal terms, Good is "oriented to the betterment of all" and Evil is "oriented to my own betterment at any cost".

#97 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:33 AM:

This whole subthread, by the way, is the reason I avoided the use of the word "Lawful" in my original post. Because in this context, it doesn't mean "following the law", as opposed to "breaking the law". It's a term of art, and easily misinterpreted by people who are unfamiliar with the jargon.

Lawful, in D&D alignments, means "rule-based" rather than "obedient to the legal code". It's about the approach that a character takes to problems and situations, and how a character organizes their view of the world.

A Lawful character will fall out most heavily with a Chaotic character of the same alignment over the phrase "the end justifies the means". A Chaotic character will fall out most heavily with a Lawful character over the phrase, "the greater good".

#98 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:00 AM:

Jacque @52:

Yesterday, my 10 year old son was playing a game rated 16+ with his father. He called his dad a "loser" after a cooperative maneuver went wrong.

Guess which one is categorically deprecated in our household, and which is negotiable depending on circumstances?

#99 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:31 AM:

Yarrow @ 86

OT for the post, but I'll identify myself as I'm pretty sure we have mutual friends. I'm the guy in the green shirt in this picture.

#100 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:37 AM:

SamChevre @99:

Staying off-topic, is that your bike? Do you take your 4 year old on the tagalong behind it?

We used ours for my daughter when she was 4 (it's actually how we took her to school every day), and we think it made it easier to learn to ride on her own. It taught her a lot about balance.

Also, it was fun.

#101 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 07:15 AM:

* Where, in societal terms, Good is "oriented to the betterment of all" and Evil is "oriented to my own betterment at any cost".

abi @ 96: I think that fails by asymmetry, and also lets Evil too far off the hook. The symmetrical versions would include either "focused on my own betterment", or "oriented to the betterment of all at any cost". I think that's important, since one version either makes Evil sound moderately reasonable or writes most people off as vile; whereas the other either makes both Good and Evil sound crazy and scary, or writes most people off as moral nonentities. So I can go along with you in excluding the symmetrical versions of your thesis, but not in accepting the justice of the asymmetry that amends them.

'Good' has got to keep pretty much its sense of "oriented towards the betterment of all" to remain intelligible. The way I instinctively flip it over to 'Evil' really is as simple as "oriented towards the worsening of all".

That is not necessarily silly. Somebody who views the universe as essentially hostile, and the necessary impairment of enemies as more important than the luxury of nice things for themselves, is one common kind of negative-summer. Somebody whose great drive is the monkey lust for status in a dominance hierarchy is another. And what shall we say of the perverted Good of the True Believer Boskonian, who believes that a ruthless hierarchy of might is the stern precondition to the best global outcome for all, and acts accordingly even while it still has the power to revolt him?

I think that a pure egoist will usually descend into active malice by the sheer logic of their own actions; and that somebody who simply despairs of individual ability to affect the level of good within their sphere, and "does what they have to do", is at least in danger of it. Likewise the hard and dour zero-sum gamer, who gives and expects nothin' for nothin', but only value for value by the weights they honestly believe in. But I also think it's wrong to confuse any of these faults of smallness, these lukewarm Neutralities, with the active Evil to which they conduce.

Good - benevolence - wants to help the stranger, even at cost to itself. Neutrality - selfishness - doesn't especially care about them.

Real Evil - malice - actively wants to hurt them, even at cost to itself. And it is not in my opinion a negligible player on any side of the political game, mine included, nor is it confined to ranting villains.

I'm Chaotic Good by my own view of such things, Lawful or Neutral Good by yours if I understand them rightly. But I also know very well that, in the same sense Father Brown was right to accuse himself of being a moral murderer, I am also a moral Sauron. I don't want to destroy the Ring of Power and raze the foundations of the Dark Tower because I think that worse people are likely to get hold of them. I want to do it before people just like me, who happen to fear them less, get hold of them. And if meantime I will fear or fight an orc if it comes to it, and call their cause or its shadow upon them openly evil - that does not entitle me to say they are not my neighbour, nor doing the best they know how. Nor even this: that I am not an orc.

I wish I could say these things more clearly, but I can't tell how.

#102 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 07:30 AM:

That was my bike, and yes, the 4-year-old was the usual passenger; I also have a trailer for the two little children. It was stolen about a week after the picture was taken--with both the tag-along hitch and the trailer hitch on it.

If you look at the "Kessel Run" tag in the picture I linked, there are several pictures of me with my 4-year-old.

#103 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 07:57 AM:

Gray Woodland @101:
Real Evil - malice - *actively wants to hurt them, even at cost to itself*. And it is *not* in my opinion a negligible player on any side of the political game, mine included, nor is it confined to ranting villains.

I think I would like to see some examples of this phenomenon before I'm willing to buy it.

I don't mean Republicans who would rather blow up the budget than raise any taxes; they're looking toward a "greater good" where Democrats are utterly defeated and they can get their way. I mean a genuine rational actor who is willing to do as much damage to himself as he is to his enemies, purely to hurt them, with no greater benefit to himself or his cause in the offing.

Because, absent proof, I can't believe it happens. Not even in insanity. And, given that, I'm excluding it from my analysis of how things really work, just as I'm excluding any other things I don't believe in.

I think that fails by asymmetry, and also lets Evil too far off the hook.

I don't think it does. The symmetry is not what you do, it's how much empathy you use in evaluating the consequences of your course of action. The more other people matter to you, the more your actions tend toward what I consider to be good. Somewhere along the line, some people even disregard their own benefit because the other beneficiaries of their actions matter more. We call that heroic sacrifice, or charity, or parenting, or the end of The Wrath of Khan.

Meanwhile, evil is what happens when other people don't matter at all in the pursuit of your goals. So polluting a water supply with your factory outfall doesn't matter, and there are poorhouses for people like that, and if they don't have bread they should just eat cake. And anyone stupid enough to [insert action] deserves [insert thing that benefits me and harms them]. Because their suffering isn't as important as my benefit.

(Selfishness, by the way, may or may not be evil. It's not evil of me to put my oxygen mask on before helping others, because if I'm unconscious, I'm no good to anyone.)

I also know very well that, in the same sense Father Brown was right to accuse himself of being a moral murderer, I am also a moral Sauron. I don't want to destroy the Ring of Power and raze the foundations of the Dark Tower because I think that worse people are likely to get hold of them. I want to do it before people just like me, who happen to fear them less, get hold of them. And if meantime I will fear or fight an orc if it comes to it, and call their cause or its shadow upon them openly evil - that does not entitle me to say they are not my neighbour, nor doing the best they know how. Nor even this: that I am not an orc.

I maintain that anyone who doesn't acknowledge their own capacity for evil has one foot on the path toward embracing it. And anyone who writes off another human being, any other human being, has the other foot off the ground and swinging forward.

#104 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:00 AM:

...from me @ 101, responding to abi @96: Aha! I've got what I meant by that last bit. It's another perspective on your idea about Occupy and its chief opposition being institutionally CG/LE.

Put a random bunch of average people, with no more than the usual sprinkling of saints and heroes and villains, into a mental, circumstantial, or institutional context whose logic is one of those negative-sum games I've collectively dubbed Evil. Leave to simmer. Say hello to Shagrat on his way out the gate.

By the way, his imps are crazy for those Special Agent Splicewire! adventures, and he'll stand you a hot flagon of Bossbrew down the Pale Moon any old time, if you can only tell him where to get hold of SAS#5: At the Mallorns of Madness!

#105 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:16 AM:

abi #96 I'm Lawful Good. I'd love to live in a rules-based society where honorable inputs predictably yield just outcomes.

And this, I think, is where the AD&D alignments (or at least their usual interpretation) become actively misleading. Everyone wants to live in a world where the rules are known and predictable. That's not "lawful", it's human, and the lack of such a ruleset is itself corrosive to human development and human psychology. (Not just humans, either. Think about what happens to a dog that's subjected to multiple conflicting rulesets, or rules that are beyond their ability to understand.3)

The difference is in where we think those rules come from, and how negotiable they are. I'm deeply impressed by the Red family, Blue family pattern. (Look again at my Blue response to SamChevre's Red attempt to dismiss anything that's not A Right, as a mere privilege.)

Your family is by all accounts a Blue family, as your adopted society is a Blue society. (As is my family, as is the version of America where I grew up.) Rules are negotiated, and can be re-negotiated as circumstance changes.1 Refusal to negotiate such rules is seen as self-centered, inflexible, and various other offenses against Blue society.

The Red morality comes from a different starting point: The Rules are the Rules, they were given by {God(s)/tradition/the King/the Law}. Attempting to change the Rules is seen as immoral in its own right. This especially includes attempts to change the pecking order, because if a given group has been set beneath another, that's part of The Rules.2

In Revolutionary times, defying the will of the King was an offense against Red/Lawful values. So, in Civil War times, was freeing the Negro from slavery. In both those cases, there were also Lawful Good types about, arguing for a less disruptive protest -- but the option they wanted simply wasn't there.

I'd say the great mistake of Reconstruction was failure to push forward that renegotiation, thus leaving both huge swathes and isolated pockets of society still going by the rule that "the Negro was born to serve." Similarly, the fatal flaw of the New Deal was, exactly, the failure to complete a social conversion from "the poor must depend on the kindness of strangers", to "nobody gets left behind".

In our times, I'd say the way to bring in the conservatives is to focus on how the bankers and elites are trying to smash all those beneath them into a single pool of Underlings, dismissing the privileges and status of the professions, the middle class, and even the working class.

Remember that the original American Dream was that a person or family could rise in status by working hard enough, all on their own, without the indulgence of the nobility. That's another Rule of America that the oligarchs have been trying to dismantle, and another opening into the conservative community.

1 I started to say "surrounding circumstance", but then I noted the etymology.

2 I "leave to the reader" the discussion of why this is more attractive to high-status people.

3 Note that the human relationship to dogs is fundamentally Red/Lawful -- we expect them to obey our rules, and a dog that tries to renegotiate is a Bad Dog.

#106 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:28 AM:

Addendum to #105: And just to get it out on the table, I do feel that Blue morality represents an social-evolutionary advance over the Red morality (which latter is more natural to our psychology).

#107 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:39 AM:

Gray Woodland @104:
Put a random bunch of average people, with no more than the usual sprinkling of saints and heroes and villains, into a mental, circumstantial, or institutional context whose logic is one of those negative-sum games I've collectively dubbed Evil. Leave to simmer. Say hello to Shagrat on his way out the gate.

You, or I, or both of us, are perilously close to calling the current American economic system, and the structures that uphold it, Lawful Evil.

#108 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:48 AM:

Two quick follow-ups, before I go try for my first half-century.

When I say conservatives tend to be lawful, I mean the game sense, not the "law-abiding" sense. If your response to "what should be done?" is "what are the rules?", it's more likely that you are conservative; if it's "what would lead to a just outcome this time?", it's more likely that you are liberal. (I find Red Family, Blue Family, and Sowell's A Conflict of Visions to be reasonably fair and useful taxonomies.)

And my real fear is captured by a response I see a lot to "elites are trying to smash all those beneath them into a single pool of Underlings, dismissing the privileges and status of the professions, the middle class..."--which is for portions of the professions and the middle class to ally with the elites against the working class.

#109 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:49 AM:

abi #103: I think I would like to see some examples of this phenomenon before I'm willing to buy it.

I think that Gray Woodland has missed that "evil" types do get payback from their actions -- they're just paybacks he, and most of our community, can't empathize with. The satisfaction of revenge, or of making sure someone "doesn't get anything they're not entitled to".

I'd say that the real distinction between Good and Evil is something he only alluded to in passing, the difference between a positive-sum versus a zero-sum view of society in general. If you feel that any gain for another "naturally" implies a loss to you (including opportunity loss), then any solution where "everyone wins" is at most second-best, because "you could do better".

We're seeing that in the corruption and dismantling of government disbursements and projects -- the offenders see no reason why that money should go into the pockets of workers or welfare recipients, when it could go into their own pockets instead.

#110 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:52 AM:

abi #107: The economic system doesn't have to be evil -- the New Deal was a concerted attempt to build a positive-sum game. The current dismantling of that, and attempts to set all parties against each other - yeah, I call that evil.

#111 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:12 AM:

abi @ 103: I think I would like to see some examples of this phenomenon before I'm willing to buy it [...] I mean a genuine rational actor who is willing to do as much damage to himself as he is to his enemies, purely to hurt them, with no greater benefit to himself or his cause in the offing.

I don't think that such people, so stringently defined, exist either - or if they do, they don't for very long.

Let me give you a stripped-down example of what I mean by an evil context. Alice believes that persons who are not Wonderlandists are constantly plotting to purge all wonder from the world. Bob is no lover of Wonderland, but has done nothing either good or bad to Alice - indeed, they don't care to interact with each other at all. The Queen of Hearts offers a hungry Alice a plate. She may choose between having jam tarts on it, or Bob's head on it. Alice, who cannot conceive of wanting to live in a world without wonder in it, chooses Bob's head, and goes to bed with nothing in her belly but righteous anger and triumph.

Sheer malice may not have been the original driving force. That may have been naked dread for all that Alice loves best. But the urge surrendered to, it will get self-justified, and it will grow. Soon Alice will become the Queen of Heart's very fit successor - she will have internalized the malice of her context wholly, unless she changes her road and the beliefs that lead her down it.

Now, in the light of this, consider somebody who would like nice things for themselves and their family, but will without any particularly close analysis vote every time to spend great swathes of their own loot on scattershot bombing of swarthy foreigners or mass imprisonment of their suspicious compatriots, because This Is A Dangerous World and They Are The Enemy. These may be the same people who will, under other circumstances, unite to do something really good and wonderful. But in the case of the evil context they've adopted, not only is it instrumentally good towards some comprehensible goal like safety to hurt the Other, but it also with practice and custom feels good in itself. (There is also group bonding and dominance buffing reinforcing this, IMO.) Analysis ceases, and becomes suspect - even threatening to one's identity and self-opinion, for what if one has done all that harm for idle reasons after all? How to bear that?

Did you never hear normal people cheering when something really nasty happened to someone they thought a really nasty person? That isn't the sound of rational relief. That is the sound of joy mediated through hate. It is more than distilled selfishness. It has come out the other side.

And skilled political operators of any shade of opinion know how to manipulate that. They may choose not to - but they surely know.

Evil, to me, is what happens when the ruin of certain Others gets mashed right in with your goals, so you can no longer see it as separate from them. A ruthless neutral may act evilly towards one person if they meet them in their way, and kindly to them if they meet them by the wayside. But somebody evilly disposed towards that person knows that the road leads right over them by definition. And some belief-systems, and even moods, have a much wider range than others of persons who are existential threats, or at least must be utterly humbled and disempowered before being tolerated.

That is what I mean by Evil. And I think you're right about the progressive nature of the empathy-killing it entails: do ill to one, practice doing ill to all. Conversely, one reason I think that selfishness - depraved neutrality, if you like - mainly conduces to active malice, is that by suppressing empathy, it makes it cheaper to buy into evil contexts instead of taking the trouble to challenge them.

This has been my ration of big monster posts for the day, and it surely hasn't left me starved for things to think about.

#112 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:13 AM:

David Harmon @109:
I'd say that the real distinction between Good and Evil is something he only alluded to in passing, the difference between a positive-sum versus a zero-sum view of society in general. If you feel that any gain for another "naturally" implies a loss to you (including opportunity loss), then any solution where "everyone wins" is at most second-best, because "you could do better".

We disagree there. I think there are genuinely unselfish people who believe in a zero-sum society, and would still act to benefit others, even to their own detriment. (There are certainly examples of people doing that in objectively zero-sum situations.) And I think those people are good people.

I think that it is easier to benefit others—to be good in my spectrum of good and evil—in a non-zero-sum society. One of my overarching goals is to work to build one, for that specific reason. I think it is better to live somewhere where it's easier to be good.

Kind of a non-zero-sum model of sanctity, that, when you squint at it right.

#113 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:24 AM:

abi @ #103: I have been personally acquainted with two would-be murder-suicides. (Both succeeded in the suicide, one failed in the murder.) Both were willing to die in order to (1) remove the object of their hatred from the world and (2) escape the consequences. Whether you call them "rational actors" or not is somewhat beside the point: they exist, and they are not vanishingly rare. Of course, you can assume that the fact that a person is willing to do X implies that they're anticipating a greater good; if so, you've set up conditions that are a priori impossible to fulfill.

#114 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:24 AM:

103 abi

I think that Hitler near the end would count as evil in the most extreme sense. If what I've heard is accurate, he was willing to wreck Germany because he was angry at it for losing.

GK Chesterton was right to fault earlier Nazis for being success-worshippers.

*****

In re contracts: I believe that a contract which can be changed at will by one of the parties is not a contract. It may be a contract-shaped object. I'm thinking about some credit-card and mortgage contracts.

#115 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:37 AM:

I haven't read this thread as carefully as I probably should to post, but skimming through, was snagged by the discussion between abi, SamChevre, Gray Woodland, and David Harmon about liberal vs. conservative and lawfulness/rule-following.

abi @103 says The more other people matter to you, the more your actions tend toward what I consider to be good.

SamChevre @108 says If your response to "what should be done?" is "what are the rules?", it's more likely that you are conservative; if it's "what would lead to a just outcome this time?", it's more likely that you are liberal.

David Harmon @105 says The difference is in where we think those rules come from, and how negotiable they are.

And here's what occurs to me. Let's set aside robber-baron attitudes for a moment. I believe they exist and I believe they are influential, but I don't think they're the whole story. There are too many people in the 99% who are conservative and who vote Republican for it to be purely a matter of haves vs. have-nots.

I think if you are liberal, your fear is that you will work hard, follow the rules, and be screwed because the rules are stacked against you. If you are conservative, your fear is that you will work hard, follow the rules, and be screwed because someone will come along and change the rules. They therefore have very different attitudes toward rule change and, by extension, toward the Occupy movement.

And I should say that to the extent this is true, a large part of my sympathy is with the conservatives.

To say "never change the rules," of course, institutionalizes privilege and unfairness. On the other hand, to say "change the rules, this isn't fair! Change them again, this other thing isn't fair! Change them a third time, look at this" ... starts to make a mockery of the notion of there being rules at all.

Since I deliberately left the robber barons out of this piece of discussion, that leaves out the "rules apply only to the little people" attitude (which infuriates me).

And I agree with the quote from abi @103, but have to say that I think the rules exist, or should exist, to protect us against other people's misguided good intentions as much as to protect us against their evil intentions. Wanting to do well by other people does not guarantee that they would agree that you are doing so.

Darn, lots of places this thought could go, but real life calls. Back later.

#116 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:37 AM:

abi @ 107: For my part, I think Lawful Evil is a fair shorthand for a lot of what ails the political and economic institutions of our day - and, yes, for a country standing where it is, I should say that the USA has come down with a pretty bad case of it.

David Harmon @ 110: I think that better describes the justification for the New Deal, than what it actually did. I wouldn't disagree with you that the New Regime is looking actively worse. The difference between "entrenching one's dominance with a dole of bread" and "entrenching one's dominance with a dole of lashes" comes to mind.

and @ 109: a lot more agreement, but one extremely major correction. The payback from hurting or overbearing my neighbour? I empathize with it, I feel it, and I hate it. I've met a few people who seem to lack any of its thousand faces whatsoever. A very few. And some of the best people I have known - better far than I - have shown at least an ordinary share of it.

But having a Beastie doesn't mean anybody needs to be led by it on a string, at that!

#117 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:43 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @114 says "In re contracts: I believe that a contract which can be changed at will by one of the parties is not a contract. It may be a contract-shaped object. I'm thinking about some credit-card and mortgage contracts."

Unilateral change is not the same as negotiated change. If you have a contract and BOTH parties agree to negotiate a change, that's a different thing entirely.

#118 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:47 AM:

abi @ 107: "[T]he current American economic system, and the structures that uphold it, [are] Lawful Evil." There. I said it.

#119 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:52 AM:

Abi #103: I don't mean Republicans who would rather blow up the budget than raise any taxes; they're looking toward a "greater good" where Democrats are utterly defeated and they can get their way.

That explains the honchos' behavior, but not that of their supporters in the underclasses. I maintain that the honchos draw their social support from the principles I described. Furthermore, the goal of "exterminating your opponents" is itself a comprehensive rejection of positive-sum solutions.

SamChevre #108: Yeah, that last bit is the scary part.

abi #112: There's a difference between the immediate context and someone's view of society in general. Someone who aids others even at their immediate cost can still be considering human society as a whole as positive-sum -- and I think they're right, as demonstrated by how we mark such actions as "inspirational", lauding the actors instead of dismissing them as "just stupid". A Good society is one that rewards Good actions, an Evil society is one that rewards Evil actions (in both cases, over and above the "natural" rewards of the action).

I've thought of another aspect to this as well, one which is explicitly not covered by the AD&D axis: Very often, we see a split between positive- and zero- sum strategy based on tribal identity. Those who count as "your people" get a much more generous approach, with an implicit positive-sum framework. Those who don't, the "outsiders", get zero-sum at best, with the assumption that any generosity to them is unlikely to be reciprocated. (In fact, we've seen that in this very thread, with those commentators who dismissed the Republicans as The Enemy.)

#120 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 10:00 AM:

Sometimes, in NaNoWriMo, you find yourself writing stuff that hardly advances the story, but you're provoked by passion, and it can be a thousand easy words. And besides, have you read First Lensman recently?

An historian of our modern Civilisation knows of the differences which Arabella and Commissioner Stagg were speaking. North America, in those days, was dominated by the old system of the United States, hardly the whole of that Continental Sector, but it had been a power in the world. And the people who ran it were a group—perhaps "tribe" is the right word, perhaps not—which sought, above all else, power. And they sought that power by any means possible. Their politicians were bought and sold almost as if they were pork bellies on the Chicago markets. They opposed, fervently, any political system which sought to challenge theirs, and tried to bind their neighbours in the chains of trade agreements which allowed the movement of Capital, but not of people.
During the Atomic Wars, they threatened total destruction on their enemies, and to protect themselves fought wars by proxy, funneling munitions to their puppets and unleashing them on those this "tribe" saw as opponents. Plots did they lay, inductions dangerous, that brought strong nations to civil war, setting brother against brother, and giving an opportunity to a ruthless local who suited their tribal ways. These foolish fellow travelers they supported, so long as they were useful, and then discarded with much wailing and washing of hands, claiming revelations of barbaric iniquities as a cause—iniquities which they had participated in with hidden zeal for so long as there was a profit in it.

A little later, there is a mention of a sniper, about to shoot from a school library, who discoverad: what the words "a well-regulated militia" really meant, the hard way. A fourteen-year-old schoolgirl walked into the school library at the wrong moment, for him. A single-volume edition of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" is a terrible lesson to learn, in the right hands.

Something of "Doc" Smith's descriptive passages seem to be flowing unbidden from my keyboard; not slavish copies, but imbued with that style.

#121 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 10:04 AM:

OtterB @ #115, the problem I have with your analysis is that, from my perspective, the last several major rule changes (deregulation of the mortgage industry, corporation=person, money=speech) have made things much less fair for nearly everyone--except the ones at the top. These are not misguided good intentions aimed at leveling the playing field.

#122 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 10:48 AM:

OtterB #115: To say "never change the rules," of course, institutionalizes privilege and unfairness. On the other hand, to say "change the rules, this isn't fair! Change them again, this other thing isn't fair! Change them a third time, look at this" ... starts to make a mockery of the notion of there being rules at all.

Expanding on Lila #121, you've forgotten the part in Blue morality about rule changes being negotiated. The recent changes have not been negotiated, they have been imposed arbitrarily from those in power.

Unfortunately, that begs the question of the moral difference between that sort of self-serving changing the rules, and the imposition of rules, e.g., protecting workers from exploitation -- or, in a prior era, abolishing people's property rights to their slaves.

Which brings us back to the distinction between the Lawful/Chaotic (or Red/Blue) axis and the Good/Evil axis....

#123 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 11:01 AM:

OtterB @115:

I think if you are liberal, your fear is that you will work hard, follow the rules, and be screwed because the rules are stacked against you. If you are conservative, your fear is that you will work hard, follow the rules, and be screwed because someone will come along and change the rules.
I think that's a little too simplistic: those conservatives who fear that they will be screwed because $NOT_US (immigrants, blacks, Hispanics, ...) will benefit over them feel that the rules are stacked against them, whereas those liberals who fear that they will be screwed because their savings will be given away to banks instead feel that the rules are getting changed on them. (Which is not to claim that you have them reversed, but rather that the division isn't that clear.)

#124 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 11:22 AM:

A single-volume edition of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" is a terrible lesson to learn, in the right hands.

Truth.

#125 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 11:33 AM:

David Harmon @ 119... That explains the honchos' behavior, but not that of their supporters in the underclasses.

"Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor."
- Dickinson in '1776'

#126 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 11:37 AM:

Antonia T. Tiger @ 120: Heh. Meddle not with the users of libraries, for great are the printed word's powers, some of them not very subtle!

David Harmon @ 119: The point about the ethical phase-change at the borders of one's tribe(s) is very well taken.

To the 4th Edition rule change: I'm torn between re-naming this gnoll-witted monstrosity Bandits and Bureaucrats, or Paladins and Perverts. There are supposed to be a lot of underemployed philosophy graduates knocking about today. Couldn't the culprits afford to hire one for a week for a few hundred dollars, before flashing quite so much of their naked cranial vacuity before an unsuspecting public?

Of course, I did use to play and DM a fair few Chaotic Good characters under the old system*, and these days I'm effectively a great big anarchist riding on a giant tortoise, so maybe Homeland Security considerations have compelled the transformation...

*The party mentor in one long campaign phase who was essentially and covertly Bilbo's sex-magician daughter from the world next door, semi-retired at seventy-seven, in a Carmen Miranda hat and the Cosmic All's tackiest sense of humour, comes particularly to mind.

#127 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 12:14 PM:

abi @ 103:

Real Evil - malice - *actively wants to hurt them, even at cost to itself*. And it is *not* in my opinion a negligible player on any side of the political game, mine included, nor is it confined to ranting villains.
I think I would like to see some examples of this phenomenon before I'm willing to buy it.

One of worst aspects of evil IMO is the one that espouses the doctrine of Hard Choices: "There has to be someone in charge who can make the Hard Choices, and that someone is me." Recent historical examples are Ollie North and Dick Cheney, further back in time we find President Andrew Jackson. These are people who are 1) attracted to the actions they will have to take when they've made the Choices, 2) are perfectly content with their being massive suffering and damage to other people, even those of their own tribe, as a result of those actions (in fact, even find those results themselves attractive), and 3) are convinced that being able to make the choices that result in those actions makes them superior, both morally and intellectually, to other people.

OtterB @ 115:

One of the great advances in creating lawful human organizations occurred in the Enlightenment (and was at least partially implemented in the Constitution of the United States) in which mechanisms for controlled change were built into the system. The people who championed this idea realized that no human organization survives more than a generation in a fixed environment: either the organization changes internally or the environment surrounding it changes, or both. Controlled change allows the organization to cope with these evolutions in a way that maximizes conservation of those rules that still work, while allowing thoughtful modification of those that don't.

#128 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 12:31 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 127: I recently revised my Worst. President. Ever. list, leaving Buchanan in first place but bumping George W. down to third. Despite what good he did, Jackson committed a genocide, violating the rule of law to do so. He's number two now to me.

Take that last sentence however you like, but if you take it orally, please follow it up with a round of antibiotics.

#129 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:06 PM:

Definitely running scared. UP with Chris Hayes got hold of a memo from a lobbying firm to the American Bankers Association pitching a campaign to discredit OWS.

and here is the PDF.

It's probably just the tip of the iceberg, at that.

#130 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:43 PM:

The occupation of public squares is, perhaps, an especially powerful image for many middle-aged people, such as me: we remember a formative news story of our youth when we see one man standing still like that.

WTF? Since when has a policeman had enormous pepper-spray cannisters and the inclination to use them like that? I find myself asking Auden's questions: In what pubs are they welcome? What girls marry them? Nice day at work, darling?

I see from its website that UC Davis is 'A community that embraces civility', which is nice.

#131 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:48 PM:

Steve with a book @ 130: UC Davis embraces civility as a snake embraces a mouse.

#132 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 01:55 PM:

abi @ 103: "The symmetry is not what you do, it's how much empathy you use in evaluating the consequences of your course of action. The more other people matter to you, the more your actions tend toward what I consider to be good."

I sometimes think that good and evil are best conceived of not as points on a spectrum, but a series of circles radiating outwards. It emphasizes, among other things, the importance of knowing widely: you cannot be good to what you do not understand.

Gray Woodland @ 111: "Let me give you a stripped-down example of what I mean by an evil context. Alice believes that persons who are not Wonderlandists are constantly plotting to purge all wonder from the world. Bob is no lover of Wonderland, but has done nothing either good or bad to Alice - indeed, they don't care to interact with each other at all. The Queen of Hearts offers a hungry Alice a plate. She may choose between having jam tarts on it, or Bob's head on it. Alice, who cannot conceive of wanting to live in a world without wonder in it, chooses Bob's head, and goes to bed with nothing in her belly but righteous anger and triumph."

First of all: marvelous. Second of all: but doesn't that example bolster abi's argument that there is no such thing as "a genuine rational actor who is willing to do as much damage to herself as she is to her enemies, purely to hurt them, with no greater benefit to herself or her cause in the offing"? Alice benefitted quite a bit from that little exchange: she has won (as far as she understands*) safety for her home, as well as no small measure of personal satisfaction. Her evil is the evil of too narrow a community of care: Wonderland, herself, rather than a wider circle encompassing Bob.

It isn't hard to come up with weaker examples of your case, i.e. people who inflict self-harm in order to inflict a greater harm on another. Isn't that all war ever is? And in cases where the harm seems to fall disproportionately on the initiator, sometimes that is due to a mismatch between your measure of benefit and theirs: perhaps my actions shrunk the economic pie at substantial harm to myself, but perhaps I increased the size of the hierarchal pie (by increasing social inequity) and carved myself a larger piece of that.

* See? What we believe to be true about the universe conditions what we believe to be righteous.

#133 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 02:05 PM:

In other news, I'm bemused by the conviction that 4th edition alignment changes are a malevolent attempt at social engineering. Or maybe they just thought that Neutral Good and Chaotic Good were insufficiently differentiated? No?

#134 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 02:13 PM:

abi, #94: It's easier for us to understand them than it is for them to understand us. David has said a lot of what I'd have said here @105. From personal experience -- my parents were both very much Red Family-oriented*, and although I grew to understand their thinking (although I never agreed with it), they made it very clear that I was a Space Alien. I've seen the same thing happen since with other people from that tradition. You try to explain something about the way you see things, and you don't get disagreement, you get the total blank stare of incomprehension, as though you were speaking gibberish.

KayTei, #95: And alongside that tradition of non-violent civil disobedience is an equally long-standing one of having it be met with violence, from the authorities and from people who don't want to see changes in the status quo. It happened to the Civil Rights movement, and to the Vietnam War protest movement; it happened to the gay Civil Rights movement; and now it's happening to OWS.

Gray, #101: "Actively wanting to hurt strangers, even at the cost of harm to oneself" is exactly the impression I have of much of the neocon philosophy. They don't care how miserable they are as long as someone, or some group, that they hate can be made worse off. That explains the opposition to health care reform on the basis that undeserving people might have access to it; it explains the opposition to any sort of social safety net, even among those who have used those nets themselves**; and it definitely explains the racist elements of the position.

I also think it describes the current Republican Party policy to a T. They (which is to say, the Republicans in Congress) have made it absolutely clear that they don't care what happens to the country as long as Obama can be made to fail.

abi, #107: I think that's a reasonable statement. Note that the current American economic system is very different from the one which was in operation as recently as 50 years ago. Many things about that system which did operate for the common good have been either sabotaged or deliberately dismantled. And one definition of Lawful Evil is "regulatory capture".

Gray, #116: Yes. That ability to take joy from the pain of someone you dislike is... well, if I were a Christian, it's what I would call Original Sin. I think the vast majority of people have it, to a greater or lesser degree. What matters isn't what you think or feel, it's what you do about it.***


* And why that viewpoint didn't take on me I have no idea; my working hypothesis is that it might have been because we lived so far away from family on either side while I was growing up, so there was no frame to fit it into.

** I don't have a link handy, but there was a study recently which demonstrated that something like 50% of the people who are benefiting, or have benefited, from government programs will swear themselves blind that they've never drawn government benefits in their lives. I don't think they're necessarily lying; I think they just draw the lines of reality wherever it suits them, so of course any program THEY have used can't possibly be a government program. Because people like them don't use government programs.

*** This is also the root of my disagreement with the "adultery in your heart" argument. If thinking something is as bad as doing it, what reason is there for not doing it? That argument deprives people of the emotional and moral benefit of being able to rise above your baser impulses!

#135 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 02:29 PM:

Ken MacLeod quoting something last year:

Take the word bureaucracy literally, it refers to those working in bureaus or offices. The observable fact about the socialist economies is that they employed far fewer people in bureaus or offices than capitalist economies at a comparable stage of development. Capitalist cities are high-rise, their skylines dominated by office tower blocks. Socialist cites were low rise, dominated by the long sheds of industry. Material production not information processing dominated their economies. In fact it is capitalist economies that are dominated by, choked by a constantly rising overhead of unproductive bureacratic work, for what else is the banking, insurance, sales and marketing that fills the tower blocks?

Wall Street, the street itself, might be occupied, but one is only seizing a metonym for the actual location of power, which is set back a little from the street and has guards on the front door and card-swipe-access only to each floor. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, you could commandeer a train station or a General Post Office or a palace with big results, but not now, in a white-collar world of digital information. Which isn't to call OWS futile by any means; it's just that only symbols can be seized now, rather than the real thing. Is this a problem?

(Back in 2000 there was that odd, alternate-world-like business of the refinery blockades, when everyone panic-bought a lot of bread. A sort of right-wing strike. Very odd time, it was. I see no plausible analogous action that the Occupiers could carry out in the UK with popular support).

OWS has no charismatic leaders, and I think the lack of leaders is less important than the lack of charisma: they're making what are actually quite boring and mundane points that won't go away. A march makes a splash on the 24-hour news cycle but then is forgotten; OWS look as though they're in for the long haul, banging on about the same stuff again and again and again, neither manageably (from the point of view of their opponents) nor debunkably.

#136 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 02:43 PM:

Steve with a Book, #130: Since when has a policeman had enormous pepper-spray cannisters and the inclination to use them like that? I find myself asking Auden's questions: In what pubs are they welcome? What girls marry them? Nice day at work, darling?

In case anyone else gets distracted by the Auden bait and wants to go chasing it, let me save you a bit of time and note that the original Auden line was actually "bars" not "pubs". The latter misquotation seems to originate (so far as I can tell) from Clive James's Cultural Amnesia, in a passage excerpted in Slate (in a essay titled "Assessing Terry Gilliam", in a paragraph about Peron).

The lines appear on p. 758 of Auden's collected poems, in a poem called "Eleven Occasional Poems" -- I can't tell which subsection, since I'm not at home and don't have my copy of Auden's Collected Poems at hand and Google Books is blocking the apposite page. Here's the immediate context, though:

Today we smile at weddings
where bride and bridgegroom
were both born since the Shadow
lifted, or rather
moved elsewhere: never as yet
has Earth been without
her bad patch, some unplace with
jobs for torturers
(In what bars are they welcome?
What girls marry them?),


or her nutritive surface
at peace all over.
No one, so far as we know,
has ever felt safe...

And yes, it's a lot easier & more fun to chase the cultural threads than to confront the hard issue of America's slow slide into one of the unplaces with jobs for torturers.

(I will say, though, nice as Auden's lines are in some way, that I doubt most torturers have ever had much trouble finding bars to welcome them, or more than the ordinary level of trouble finding girls to marry them.)

#137 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 03:28 PM:

Stephen Frug@136: thank you and well caught; Auden isn't on my shelves but Cultural Amnesia is, and the Slate interview of Terry Gilliam was almost the only hit for the approximation of the phrase that I Googled.

#138 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 03:40 PM:

SamChevre @ 99: Thanks for the picture. Maybe we'll run into each other. I don't seem to have any online except at my more-or-less unused Facebook page.

P.S. I see that my favorite sports team is Occupy Wall St.! Who knew?

#139 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 03:50 PM:

Steve with a book @ 130, Stephen Frug @ 136: Sylvia Plath has an answer of sorts for Auden:

Every woman adores a Fascist The boot in the face, the brute Brute heart of a brute like you.
#140 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:11 PM:

Subsidiarity is one of those concepts that answers less than it seems to at first glance: well, yes, things ought to be dealt with at the local level when the local level is more efficient at dealing with them. Who would disagree? The conflict, then, is over what scale is most efficient for dealing with any particular issue--few advocates of larger scale do so believing that will be less efficient. Subsidiarity clarifies the question, but cannot answer it.

And of course people overwhelmingly tend to think the appropriate scale is the scale at which their side will prevail. Witness the alacrity with which state's rights-supporting conservatives leapt to pass DOMA, and the vigor with which environmentalists defend state-level anti-pollution regulation from federal interference (except when state laws allow more pollution).

(If these are well-worn points about subsidiarity forgive me--this is the first time I've encountered this particular term, and am still thinking it over.)

#141 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:24 PM:

Steve with a book @ 130: When I see John Pike calmly and methodically pepper-spraying people sitting peaceably on the ground, I can't think of anything but Lawful Evil. I can hardly imagine what was going through Lieutenant Pike's mind: was he as callous as he seems in the video, spraying students like insects? Was he worried about his job? Was he worried about his subordinates and doing this so they didn't have to? Maybe all of those things at once; but what makes this a Lawful evil is that he was acting within a system of rules that say brutality is permissible or obligatory when people pitch their tents in a public place without permission.

#142 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:28 PM:

I'm curious why the chemical weapons convention doesn't apply domestically.

#143 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:33 PM:

John A Arkansawyer #139:

So I've now arrived home and checked the poem, and it's actually a more interesting and complex context than I'd have guessed -- you see, the poem was written about -- in honor of -- someone who himself was a fascist -- albeit briefly.

The poem (or that subsection of "Elven Occasional Poems" -- not sure what to call it) is called "Josef Weinheber", and is about an Austrian poet who lived in a town where Auden was later to live. Weinheber's story is complex; it's told in this article in The Guardian (about Auden):
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/feb/03/poetry.whauden
...scroll down, or search for "Weinheber".

Here's what Auden said about Weinheber's Nazism:


Yes, yes, it has to be said:
men of great damage
and malengine took you up.
Did they for long, though,
take you in, who to Goebbels'
offer of culture
countered -- in Ruah lossen?
But Rag, Tag, Bobtail
prefer a stink, and the young
condemn you unread.

"in Ruah lossen" is, if I understand correctly, Austrian dialect, and means "leave us alone". Again, see the Guardian article for the context.

Anyway, sorry for continuing to drift the thread, and thanks to Steve with a Book for making me trace down an Auden poem I'd never read (always a huge pleasure).

#144 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:38 PM:

Yarrow #141: Was he worried about his job? Was he worried about his subordinates and doing this so they didn't have to?

He might well have been worried that if he ordered his subordinates to do so, they might refuse, damaging his authority. Or maybe they did refuse....

#145 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:44 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @ 142: The chemical weapons convention has an explicit exemption for "law enforcement including domestic riot control." I've heard that this was at the behest of the U.S. but can't find a cite (and I tend to think many states, not just the U.S., would be protective of the right to gas their own citizens).

#146 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:53 PM:

Xopher, #142: Pepper spray is not considered a chemical weapon under those rules, because it's non-lethal (most of the time). Pepper spray and tear gas are both considered "riot control agents" which are legitimate for use by the civilian police.

#147 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 04:55 PM:

Antonia Tiger #120 - I don't recognise any of what you quoted as being from "First Lensman". Mine is the UK Panther 1970's edition. IT does contain some fulminating language about the voters of north america, but nothing and no characters like you quote.

#148 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:02 PM:

Tomorrow, the veterans from the Civil Rights non-violent movement, the Council of Elders, are meeting and worshipping with the Occupiers are various places around the country.

[ " The Council of Elders promotes compassion and non-violent action as the highest values to reverse trends that put profits ahead of people in its quest to contribute to the much-needed movement for a more just society and a more peaceful world.

The council members are urging elders from around the nation to join the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In New York City on November 20th, members of the Elder Council will spend time with those encamped at Zuccoti Park, beginning at 2:30 PM. They will lead a worship service in front of the “red structure” within Zuccotti Park at 3:30 pm. Elders will then host a dialogue with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and other interested individuals at 5pm, at 74 Trinity Place. Both events are open to the public. " ]

.

We'll attend.

Love, C.

#149 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:04 PM:

Dang, the press release for the Council of Elders link line disappeared between preview and posting.

Here it is again.

Love, C.

#150 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:09 PM:

It's there, Constance, it's just that the link text is a period.

#151 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:11 PM:

#141 ::: Yarrow

That is the most chilling video I've seen a while.

The undefended students, chanting, "Shame on you! Leave here now," the cops, in protective and masking armor, carrying an arsenal of weapons from billy clubs and spray to what look like assault rifles, walked slowly toward the cops. The cops knew they'd screwed up and they didn't know what to do next. They were terrified, which terrified me, because terrified cops already armed and dangerous could have fired upon the crowd.

They left. They didn't even drag all the pepper sprayed ground sitters to the police vans.

That was an astounding demonstraton of People Power.

Love, C.

#152 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:31 PM:

This is also the most astoundingly non-law abiding nation.

The authoritarians are emphatic in demands that everyone else obey every law and regulation, while they themselves ignore them.

Laws, like taxes, are for the little people.

Every time I walk out of my apartment I see laws broken by the dozen right in front of my face.

Love, C.

#153 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:49 PM:

guthrie@147: I don't believe she's quoting First Lensman (although I see how you could conclude that from her phrasing) she's quoting her own NaNoWriMo manuscript.

#154 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 05:53 PM:

Took me a while to work out what really horrified me about the UCD video: the cop's posture and gestures, and the reaction of the onlookers and victims, show that he's doing something metaphorically equivalent, on multiple levels, to pissing over the protestors.

#155 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 06:35 PM:

Ahh, thanks, silly me.
I saw a photo of the UC Davis pepper spraying, and it is horrendous - policeman casually walks along spraying sitting down passive people in the face for no reason.

#156 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 07:03 PM:

OtterB @ 115

"On the other hand, to say "change the rules, this isn't fair! Change them again, this other thing isn't fair! Change them a third time, look at this" ... starts to make a mockery of the notion of there being rules at all."

... Actually, you've pretty well described the incremental theory of governance, which I personally think is one of the most effective tactics we have. Establish a program, let it run for a while, identify problems, and fix them as you go. We're never going to get everything perfect the first time, so why is fine tuning things "making a mockery" of there being any rules?

#157 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 07:04 PM:

Heresiarch @ 133: I think it's more the removal of Lawful Evil that I find upsetting. The Nazi regime was the classic given example of Lawful Evil; if you say that Lawful Evil can't exist, by extension that denies the Holocaust. I don't know that they had that in mind. But I tend to get angrier about what people don't bother to think about than about what their intentions actually were.

(ObGodwin: not comparing ideology to Naziism, just to denialism.)

OtterB @ 115:

"change the rules, this isn't fair! Change them again, this other thing isn't fair! Change them a third time, look at this" ... starts to make a mockery of the notion of there being rules at all.

Not at all. Formulating rules, finding out they don't work the way you thought they would, and re-formulating accordingly... that's an inherent aspect of science, engineering, medicine, and the process of improving at any task or skill. Ask any working scientist if they managed to get a great paper out of the first attempt at any given experiment...

Governance is complicated, and not changing the rules when they aren't working is hugely problematic.

Of course, before one decides to put a lot of resources into constructing a new experiment, one should consult the journals to see if this experiment has been tried and failed already. Our government has a lousy hit-rate on doing that, hence the removal of protections that were supposed to keep the market from going out of control, and... yeah.

#158 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 07:05 PM:

Heh, KayTei, I think we expressed the same thought at the same time.

#159 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 07:31 PM:

A.J. Luxton, KayTei: The thing is, I don't think it's "just a matter of not looking at prior experiments".

Remember, our government was one of the first modern attempts at democratic government... and I have the sense that we somehow screwed up on structure -- that the details of our electoral system actually make the system unstable.

For starters, the Electoral College was meant to be a buffer of "reasonable people", between the popular vote and the presidency -- but that decayed (pretty quickly, IIRC) into a pile of rubber-stamps for the popular vote. That, the simple-majority rules for elections, and with the power of the Presidency, combine to more-or-less enforce a two-party system. (I'd say that in itself is asking for trouble in a population this diverse.) We get more screwiness from the vast contrast between the distribution of House of Rep seats versus the Senate seats, and the process for drawing electoral districts has been gamed into oblivion.

All of this (except, IIRC, the districting) is set forth in our Constitution -- but that in itself has become a battleground, and any attempt to change it opens up the whole thing. Later democracies seem to prefer parliamentary systems, and that might be better for us -- the problem is how to get there (or anywhere good) from here.

#160 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:13 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 157: "I think it's more the removal of Lawful Evil that I find upsetting. The Nazi regime was the classic given example of Lawful Evil; if you say that Lawful Evil can't exist, by extension that denies the Holocaust."

Changing the alignment system is Holocaust denial? Were someone else to have attributed that belief to you, I would have unhesitatingly castigated them for offensive and over-the-top hyperbole.

Meanwhile, allow me to float the idea that perhaps the designers of 4th ed had slightly more immediate goals in mind when redesigning the alignment system than denying the existence of ordered evil.

#161 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:38 PM:

Lee @ 146: Pepper spray is not considered a chemical weapon under those rules, because it's non-lethal (most of the time).

That's not the case for tear gas, use of which is a war crime in battle, but legal (according to the Convention!) against a country's own citizens. I imagine the same would be true of pepper spray.

#162 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 08:44 PM:

152
I was on my way out to do errands this morning, and I saw a car making a left turn from a location which I know-as-a-fact is clearly posted 'No Left Turn' (and the street is blocked to prevent it). The driver had to travel the wrong direction through one set of lanes, and through the left-turn lane for oncoming traffic, to do so. (He could have made a legal right, gone fifty yards, and made a legal u-turn. But it would have made him ten seconds later to the intersection.)

I also see people routinely running stop signs. At crosswalks. With people standing there.

#163 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:41 PM:

What is telling is when you call people on their law breaking they insist they can neither hear nor see you but the smirk they can't control gives away who and what they are.

Love, C.

#164 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 09:50 PM:

Xopher@89:

As I've been telling my friends:
a) If everyone who can help fix things leaves, who's going to do the job ? (Provided I don't begrudge anyone who does, especially if doing so convinced we're past the point of no return).
b) Even if they leave, where do they think they can go, that will not suffer from the same issues ? It's not as if some of the issues we face aren't global, at least on the financial front (Provided, maybe they'll find the struggle for community more bearable elsewhere).

All in all, I think what upsets me most is the direct transition from "Oh, come on, you're just a pessimistic curmudgeon" to "You were right all along, we're leaving".


On a totally different note, the thing that never really satisfied me with the AD&D alignment chart is that - while it can be a convenient shorthand for certain kind of fictions - it doesn't describe anything I can relate to from my experience. I don't know good or evil people. And as far as I can tell, the vast majority of people are lawful. It's just that we're all playing crazy parallel, yet intersecting games of Nomic gone haywire with imperfect information and concealed rules.

#165 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 10:12 PM:

Constance@163:

I went to college with some of the richest kids in Paris... they'd just park their car wherever they felt, whenever they felt, and paid parking tickets by the dozen - to them it was just like paying the rental of a parking lot, there was no violation of law - just a tax they dutifully paid.

They're the people who'd tell me there's no poor in France nowadays... at least no real poor, people claiming to be being just slackers abusing the safety net kindly offered by the real working people (by which they meant, *them* of course).

Yeah, I know that smirk.

#166 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 10:27 PM:

Heresiarch @ 157: You cut out the part of my post where I had already said that I didn't think that was intended on their part but rather an oversight. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you skimmed a bit, or that my language was a bit unclear, rather than ascribe disingenuity to your motives.

The article you linked does clarify things, and I am mollified by the fact that "Good" appears to have been redefined to what Chaotic Good meant, and "Evil" appears to have been redefined to what Lawful Evil meant. Which basically means that in terms of the full descriptions, they've actually just rolled the neutral alignments into the rest of it, and have not actually made the ideological shift that seemed to be the case from Seth @ 41's comments.

But anyway, there is a large difference between accusing someone of something and making a comparison. I had said that the extension of saying that "Lawful Evil" can't exist is saying that evil government regimes did not exist. The parallel between this and Holocaust denial is like the parallel between rape culture and actual rape.

Rape culture is a pattern of thoughtless behaviors and beliefs which makes it easier for people to get away with rape. Someone who tells a bar joke that promotes rape in an offhand fashion is incredibly unlikely to be an actual rapist, or even to know that their joke contributes to an unhealthy cultural dynamic. But that doesn't make the joke harmless, either.

Unfortunately we don't have a fashionable, rolls-off-the-tongue term for small ideological shifts in the culture that make it easier for people to decide, at the very least, that genocide could never happen here and that evil is always obvious and never legal.

Fortunately it sounds like that's not what they've done after all, and I withdraw my objection.

#167 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2011, 10:35 PM:

Just to bring up one point that is not quite making sense to me, in the idea of iterative, negotiated changes in rules.

How do you figure out who gets to negotiate? To make it concrete, the widespread acceptance of divorce in the US today--who could have negotiated it?

And what are you counting as a negotiation? If Little Rock 1957--elite combat troops suppressing a non-violent protest--counts as a "negotiation", I'm not sure what wouldn't. If it doesn't, then I'm not seeing that the biggest social-rules change of the past century actually was negotiated.

#169 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 12:52 AM:

SamChevre @ 167: If Little Rock 1957--elite combat troops suppressing a non-violent protest ...

Eh? The governor of Arkansas sends the national guard to stop nine children from coming to school -- this is a non-violent protest? Or was it the mob threatening to lynch the children that you meant?

Of course the Civil Rights movement was a negotiation -- the whole damn country is still negotiating it. And of course in a society where such negotiations are routinely distorted by violence and the threat of violence, people with guns will play a part.

But how can you look at the history of that movement, pick out that episode, and describe it that way?

#170 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 01:28 AM:

I think the combination of mass media and pre-mass-media political systems is a dismal failure: consider what has happened to the initiative in Western states. So major reforms are called for. But what would they look like? Perhaps...like Occupy?

#171 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 02:04 AM:

abi @ 94 ::: "I don't have a problem with the thrust of your thesis—that just because we're on their side (in the broad goals of OWS for all of the 99%) doesn't mean they're on ours.

I'm having a huge squick at your phrase "the conservative mind". [...] It sounds, in other words, like an explanation that excuses understanding, rather than one that leads to it.

I'm sorry it sounds that way to you. I think that's probably an artifact of the medium in which we're communicating. I feel like I'd have a better chance of defending my claim that the phrase signifies respect for the actual mindful practice of conservative thought if we were having this discussion over coffee and toast at the cafe down on Market Street where I have breakfast on weekend mornings.

Could you expand on what you mean by "the conservative mind"?

I'll try.

Is it always and universally a bad thing in all of its effects?

I don't think so. Your mileage may vary.

How does one acquire, or rid one's self of it?

Same way you acquire a social democratic mind, or a secular humanist mind, or a scientific mind, or any of the various other reasonably identifiable and overlapping clusters of personality traits and philosophical dispositions by which humans tend to differentiate themselves from one another.

How did I get my neo-Pragmatist mind? By reading a lot of philosophy essays, arguing and debating with friends and colleagues in social discourse, and thinking really hard about what I believed. I'm told that conservatives often come by their way of thinking by a slightly different route, but not all that different. Usually. Not having got one, I'm really not able to speak from experience.

How did you get your mind, and how would you go about ridding yourself of it?

Can you picture, to riff off of SamChevre, riding your bike with them (with offspring, if you have 'em) and having them over to dinner?

Picture? Abi, I do this all the time. I desperately wish I had more friends, family and acquaintances whose philosophy were more in line with mine. When I count the number of family, friends and colleagues who are welcome in my home, and who are absolutely positively definitely the proud owners of conservative minds, I run out of fingers and toes. I live in a major city in California. I'm a senior engineer at a Fortune 100 company. I simply could not function in my life if I weren't capable of being in social contact with conservatives. You make it sound like I've been living in a Fuller-dome house up in Laytonville since I was in safety pants. I wish.

Are they as human, as complex, as unpredictable and quirky and wrong and right all at once, as much the righteous heroes of their own narrative as you?

Probably more so on that last part, I suspect. I haven't been able to feel very heroic in a very long long time. Yes yes yes, on all the other counts.

Even if they're wrong in your view? Because your comments containing the phrase don't sound like you think they are."

I understand why you're concerned. You're concerned that I might be Othering them, preparing to Dehumanize them, to allow for a Preemptive Strike. Get them before they get us. All that. I know that smell, and I don't like it either.

I'm not Othering them. I'm differentiating myself from them. I've encountered enough conservatism now to have gotten more just a noseful of the highly un-Pragmatic philosophy that originates from their leading thinkers. They are mindful and deliberate people, with an intellectual framework that rests on a completely different set of axioms than mine does. From their perspective, people who hold to a worldview like mine are somewhere between deluded and naïve dupes, and willing agents of a pure and supernatural Chaotic Evil deity— depending on how much they need to be the righteous heroes of their own narrative at the time, I suppose. And anyway, they have a whole intellectual super-framework that reinforces and rationalizes their view. As people get to do. They are not the Other. They are part of us.

However, if simply by recognizing openly what differentiates the conservative mind from my own is enough to make me seem like some kind of Leninist bully, then I guess I had better shut up and keep my thoughts to myself. Sorry for disturbing the air.

#172 ::: strawhat ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 02:55 AM:

The video from UC Davis *amazes* me. The discipline of the peaceful protesters under provocation -- and then the continued discipline as they chant "You can go, you can go," never coming too close to the uneasy little phalanx of cops slowly backing away.

My God, that was delicate. Campus cops aren't necessarily top-drawer trained law-enforcement professionals. I'm sure it wouldn't have taken much to unnerve one of them into violence. Wow.

Something new in protests: The many little cameras in phones always recording, recording, recording, the power of broadcast in the hands of the less-powered (not powerless, never powerless). I think the presence of all those cameras surprises and frightens the 1%.

#173 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:12 AM:

Yarrow @145

The USA was against a ban on chemical weapons, because they thought they might be less barbaric than explosives and bullets. It's an argument with some merit, not to be dismissed out of hand. UC Davis, or Kent State?

And the USA was certainly looking at chemical weapons, looking for temporary psychological effects, in the 1950s. It wasn't even kept all that secret--I saw a mention of it in Readers' Digest sometime in the 1960s, though I would not be surprised if that article had been a leak of assured dead ends.

#174 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:14 AM:

jh woodyatt @171:
I understand why you're concerned. You're concerned that I might be Othering them, preparing to Dehumanize them, to allow for a Preemptive Strike. Get them before they get us. All that. I know that smell, and I don't like it either.

Well, not the preemptive strike or the full dose of Dehumanizing, but yes, Othering. Not everyone who does that acts on their feeling that the political opposition is sufficiently categorically unlike them not to merit the same respect and consideration as their allies.

What set me off, as you can probably guess, was the phrase "conservative mind". The unfortunate resonance with "female mind" and "female brain", in all of its manifold pop-sci excuses for sexism, isn't your fault, of course. And the fact that I've had a particularly difficult colleague add blatant essentialist sexism to his other (lack of) charms is, while an explanation, not an excuse at all.

I appreciate your explanation and apologize for my reaction. Please don't shut up.

#175 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:16 AM:

The UC Davis situation has left a lot of us reeling. I am dismayed -- it really isn't behavior consistent with the values I associated with UCD before this. I'll be at the protest Monday, along with several other alumni I know.

If it hasn't been linked here yet, there's a powerful open letter making the circuits.

(P.S. - A.J. @ 158 - Great minds!)

#176 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:24 AM:

More amazing behavior from the students at UC Davis here.

The discipline and commitment of the protesters is impressive.

#177 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:35 AM:

Technological determinism keeps raising its head.

It's no longer a matter of snatching a camera or two and busting it, before proceeding to bust heads. One in three people is holding up a video device that records everything in colour. There are hundreds of records being made, and it's going out here and now. It's not a matter of slapping a publication ban on the material, or leaning on a couple of editors or producers. It'll all be over the internet this day.

I'm a natural instinctive conservative, but that's an innovation that I think's a good thing.

#178 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 04:08 AM:

I just read up on tear gas (2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile) and found what I read to be utterly appalling. For one, it's usually dissolved in dichloromethane (a toxic carcinogen) or methyl isobutyl ketone (not that great for you either); and then there's the fact that the compound itself is a mutagen and metabolizes to cyanide.

I'm wondering if the repeated use of it in basic military training contributes to the health collapse syndromes that disproportionately affect US veterans.

I'm suddenly glad the police have been using pepper spray. Small mercies.

#179 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 05:05 AM:

Dave @ 177

I find myself wondering if it isn't an innovation that keeps people safer than they would otherwise have been.

#180 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 09:20 AM:

A long ramble, in which I'll try to answer Yarrow @ 169.

I see two problems with the "negotiated rule change" explanation of the Blue/Red difference, not considering which in my opinion uncomplicates the Blue position rather a lot.

The first is that in some cases, it's really not obvious who can negotiate--and the Blue assumption that the people directly involved can really rather misses the point of the rule involved. [1]

The second problem is, "What's the alternative to a negotiated rule change?" The descriptions make it sound like what we're talking about is "we can change the rules if we agree to do so."[2] In that case, the alternative is that the rule stays the same unless there's an agreement to change it. If the alternative is "change, or we'll send in our army and impose our rules"--that's a rather different scenario.

1) Best well-known example is the class of workplace sexual harassment laws that deal with superior/subordinate relationships. For example, there has never been anything to suggest the the relationship between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky was anything other than enthusiastically consensual on her part; the point of the law, though, is that people who don't want sexual availability to be part of their job description are greatly disadvantaged by a climate where such relationships are normal, even if both participants in all such relationships are happy with them. Similar considerations apply in most rules relating to divorce and single motherhood.

2) I'm using "agree" for a large variety of decision-making processes. Depending on the question and the society, an agreement can be anything from consensus to 51% in favor.

#181 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 09:30 AM:

#171 ::: j h woodyatt :

I believe that the way people are seen is apt to be influenced by the worst-behaved people on their own side. This is a generalization that I wish weren't true.

#182 ::: Leigh Kimmel ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 09:33 AM:

KayTel @ 179

Which makes SOPA and the threat it poses to all Websites with user-contributed content look all the more sinister. Maybe it was in fact a case of Unintended Consequences, but alongside all these other examples of the elite's unwillingness to be held accountable by those they regard as Underlings Who Exist To Obey, it really does look an awful lot like a preemptive strike on the systems by which we the people can call our elites on things and provide documentary evidence of what they've done.

#183 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:27 AM:

SamChevre #180: The nature of the negotiations actually comes from the other axis. Good people bring to the table not only the prospect of mutual benefit, but also the offer that their proposals will place their opponent in better moral standing -- not just with themselves, but with the society the opponent is themselves embedded in. Evil parties can also offer benefits ("do what I say and I'll make it worth your trouble", but instead of moral standing, they offer escape from harm -- ("do what I say or I'll hurt you", or even "without my protection, you're toast").

And yes, negotiations can include violence... but there's a funny interaction between violence and dominance: when you look at various animal species -- especially primates, especially humans -- it's the low-dominance types, the deltas and gammas, who most often attack others. The betas and alphas rarely need violence, because "everyone knows they're in charge".

That UC Davis incident represents a direct conflict between Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil.... and the good guys won, as evidenced by the public reaction -- and by the reaction of the other cops. The police took the strongest action the could get away with (see below), and the protesters withstood it -- they didn't fight back, but neither did they surrender or flee. And so they claimed the dominant position in the eyes of everyone watching, including the cops themselves.

For the next 20 years, that cop will have to explain to his family and friends why he attacked people who not only weren't threatening to harm him, but didn't so much as throw a punch in response. And if he tries to say "we had to show them who was boss", the reaction will be "dude, they showed you".

"the strongest action they could get away with": Because not everyone is Chaotic Good.... If they had started breaking heads or shooting, then they would have been not only condemned, but punished, by the Lawful folks -- the Good ones wouldn't want them on the team, the Neutrals wouldn't trust them anymore, and the Evil would have exploited their sudden lack of allies.

Worse, way too many people, of all alignments, would start considering them fair game for "preemptive self-defense" -- that is, they and their peers would start taking bullets themselves - not there and now, and not from these folks, but certainly over time, and from people who wouldn't otherwise be shooting at cops. A police force depends on holding the dominant position, because they are always outnumbered by the populace -- if they have to fight out every battle, they've already lost the war. That's what the dominance hierarchy is for -- allowing a minority to control the tribe without having to fight (and risk their own butts!) over every order. (Imagine if every traffic stop turned into a high speed chase, and half of them into gun battles.) People obey cops because they know that if they do, they won't be arbitrarily maimed or killed. If the latter changes, so does the former.

#184 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:48 AM:

Yarrow@169: As you say, the then-governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, had deployed the Arkansas National Guard in support of the segreagationists. What SamChevre is referring to, I believe, is the sequel to that deployment, when the Justice Department asked for, and was granted, an injunction against the deployment, and then-President Eisenhower sent elements of the 101st Airborne to enforce the injunction and escort the students.

I don't think anybody would consider the Arkansas National Guard of that time to be "elite combat troops"; on the other hand, it's hard to regard the 101st Airborne as anything else.

(Just to make things perfectly clear: I'm fully in accord with the idea that what President Eisenhower did was a good thing. Stuff like that is what the armed hand of the central government is supposed to be for. Doesn't stop it from being an armed hand, though, which is why it's probably a good idea to keep an eye on it.)

#185 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:57 AM:

Leigh Kimmel #182: Yeah... besides the current response of Freenet, I'd guess the next technical response for our side will be ad-hoc networks on mobile devices. "The Internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it."

#186 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 11:24 AM:

Orval Faubus is perhaps the most tragic figure in Arkansas history. He might have been the greatest had he done what he knew in his heart was right. He didn't, and he went to his grave trying to excuse the inexcusable.

#187 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 11:46 AM:

David Harmon @ 183:

I think that's an excellent analysis. The police depend on a balance between acceptance by the populace as a beneficent, stabilizing force, and respect for the their ability to use force to resolve dangerous situations1.

I have to say that I'm surprised at the actions of the Davis campus police. I was on staff at the UC Davis medical school for 4 years in the 1970's; I was very impressed by both the campus police and the town police force; they were both highly educated , professional, and cooperative with each other and the town and gown populations (and that town/gown distinction was not as strong as at most campuses I've seen). It is a shame to see they've fallen so far.

1. Note that I wrote "respect", not "fear". Fear is corrosive to the connections between the police and the populace that allow a small number of police to be multiplied by the assent, support, and assistance of citizens.

#188 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 12:07 PM:

187
My understanding is that the particular campus officer involved was previously in the Sacramento PD, and before that had been in the military, in the Middle East, in the 1990s.

#189 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 12:48 PM:

Bruce Cone #187: I have to say that I'm surprised at the actions of the Davis campus police.

I suspect they haven't fallen all that far... that looked to me like a bad leader who tried to lead them on his path, and overreached himself. He'll surely get canned or resign soon, because even if his superiors were willing to tolerate that, I'm pretty sure he's lost the respect of his subordinates.

#190 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 01:02 PM:

strawhat, #172: Of course it does. That's why a number of municipalities have enacted ordinances making it a crime to take photos or videos of the police in performance of their duties. Cameras in cop-cars are fine -- the PTB control that video, and can edit it as necessary. Video that they don't control? Not so much.

Leigh, #182: Ouch. I hadn't thought about that, but I suspect you're right. The fact that it's coming up right now is probably coincidence -- it takes time for legislation to make its way thru the system -- but, as noted, there have already been local-level laws aimed at shutting down accountability video. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that someone in Congress had realized this bill included a backdoor way to offer support for those efforts on the Federal level.

David, #183: For the next 20 years, that cop will have to explain to his family and friends why he attacked people who not only weren't threatening to harm him, but didn't so much as throw a punch in response. And if he tries to say "we had to show them who was boss", the reaction will be "dude, they showed you".

I wish I were as certain as you that this would happen. I'm afraid that the reaction will be more like, "Heh. You stuck it to those uppity kids, all right. They got what they were asking for." Class warfare, remember? College kids are going to be perceived as on the elite side of the equation.

It would be good if he lost his job over that action -- but I don't expect that to happen, either.

#191 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 01:10 PM:

What gets me about Davis isn't so much the brutality of the cops (we've seen that long since) as the dada bafflegab that officialdom offers to justify it.

The action was taken for the safety of the students, who were endangered in the encampments. Hokay. What concrete dangers were they subjected to in a sleeping bag, in a tent, on a quad, in a fairly isolated campus, that they would not have been just as subject to in a dorm room a hundred meters away? The justification is like one of those phantasms you see out of the corner of your eye, in dim light, that vanishes when you try to look at it directly.

Then again, maybe that's not new either. After all, one of Bloomberg's major complaints about the original OWS encampment was poor sanitation conditions --- that his government had acted to create by refusing to let them put in porta-potties.

(Hmmmm... I do still have a blog over someplace. It may be time to dust it off, though given Google's current attitude towards the pseudonymously inclined, I might want to move it first...)

#192 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 01:27 PM:

P J Evans @ 188:

IMO one of the major factors in the militarization of local police forces in the 1970s and '80s was the large number of combat veterans who returned from Vietnam to find jobs as cops. Unfortunately, their training and instincts were not really appropriate for police work, and their superiors didn't understand the dissonance involved. It didn't help that budget cuts motivated police forces to concentrate on squad car patrol as opposed to foot patrol and community outreach; that tended to isolate the police from the community and further exacerbate the feeling of being in an occupied country.

#193 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 01:56 PM:

Bruce Cohen@192: would the training and experiences of a Vietnam-era US solider be all that different from that of a WWII/Korean War/Elvis-era soldier? I presume there were lots of the latter in US police forces in the 60s and 70s, and probably quite a few in senior positions... certainly in Britain, the military culture wasn't very alien to police forces (though it tended to come out as an emphasis on marching and correctness of uniforms and saluting rather than actual use of paramilitary force).

#194 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 01:59 PM:

Lee #190: That video is pretty damning -- no chance of claiming "oh, they attacked us" there. And again, the real reason I think he'll lose his job is the reaction of the other cops, not to mention there are already calls for his boss's resignation over this incident.

#195 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 02:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 127... One of worst aspects of evil IMO is the one that espouses the doctrine of Hard Choices: "There has to be someone in charge who can make the Hard Choices, and that someone is me."

I seem to remember that someone on this site quoted Miles Vorkosigan's comment about the Romance of the Hard Choices.

#196 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 02:16 PM:

Debra Doyle @ 184: What SamChevre is referring to, I believe, is the sequel to that deployment, when the Justice Department asked for, and was granted, an injunction against the deployment, and then-President Eisenhower sent elements of the 101st Airborne to enforce the injunction and escort the students.

To be sure. SamChevre characterized that as "elite combat troops suppressing a non-violent protest". I have no quarrel with describing the 101st as elite combat troops. What I'm trying to figure out what's meant by "non-violent protest" here. Who were these non-violent protesters? The National Guard? The would-be lynch mob?

And the larger point is that Sam (by implication in 167 and explicitly in 180) characterizes the Civil Rights movement as having said "change, or we'll send in our army and impose our rules". That's bizarre.

Yes, in a society with police and armies, a non-violent movement which achieves its goals by moral example and persuasion will eventually find armies and police (however grudgingly) on its side. The Civil Rights movement didn't say "change, or we'll send in our army." It said "change, or we'll sit down in your buses and lunch counters until you get sick of beating us and hauling us away." That convinced people; some of them were Supreme Court justices and one of them was an ex-general and current Commander in Chief of the U.S. armed forces. Those people used the tools they were familiar with.

#197 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 02:32 PM:

@183: For the next 20 years, that cop will have to explain to his family and friends why he attacked people who not only weren't threatening to harm him, but didn't so much as throw a punch in response. And if he tries to say "we had to show them who was boss", the reaction will be "dude, they showed you".

He might -- if people can identify him and associate him with his actions. (Do we have his name? I'm not in the mood to Google thoroughly.)

On the Left, we don't *have* much of an ability to generate shame, and that's a problem when you're dealing with government and corporate entities that are increasingly Lawful Evil. I think the world would be a better place if that police officer *did* have to face hard questions -- not just in front of a (probably very sympathetic) court but also at the bar and at PTA meetings. But we don't live in that world, and I'm not sure we ever did.

#198 ::: Sgaile-beairt ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 02:49 PM:

ObRef: "Coppers were always outnumbered, so being a copper only worked when people let it work. If they refocused and realized you were just another standard idiot with a pennyworth of metal for a badge, you could end up as a smear on the pavement."

Except this time, the "rabble" neither dispersed nor rioted.

This time, the peaceably-assembled let the the armed rabble disperse.

Game has been changed. (The only winning move is...)

#199 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:28 PM:

As of this morning, the officers in question have been suspended, and the deadline for the Chancellor's proposed student-faculty-staff investigation has been shortened to 30 days, from 90. The Chancellor is desperately trying to save her job, but I wish she would step down, given that she has shown so little understanding of the importance of questioning and freedom of expression in an institution of learning.

#200 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:33 PM:

Bruce Cohen #192: Unfortunately, that could be a problem again in the next few years, as the vets (and mercenaries) come home from our current wars....

#201 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:50 PM:

199
I wonder if what happened was that she saw the videos and was ashamed of what the cop did; it's possible that up until she left last night that she only had the version that the officer gave. (Not likely, but possible. People whose jobs depend on their superiors not knowing they've f8cked up will lie as long as they can get away with it.)
There are always stresses between towns and the universities that are present; UCSB wasn't popular with Santa Barbara, except in the abstract, even before the Isla Vista riots. (It's telling that IV is still unincorporated, even while it's surrounded by the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara. And university property.)

#202 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 03:58 PM:

On Othering and religion:

As I was reminded in church this morning, I belong to a religion that has as one of it's basic tenets a prohibition on making someone, anyone, Other. And that's what makes me a member of the Christian left, because I believe that implicitly, even when I have to remind myself that no, that person over there is not an Other, that person is my neighbor. And while Occupy has limited its Othering to the 1%, it is one of my problems with the movement. Even the 1% are children of God, however misguided, wrong, and sometimes evil they can be. But forgiving is *not* forgetting *or* accepting.

I have more about religion, red and blue families, Occupy, and today's lectionary, but that'll probably go on my linked blog...

#203 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 04:22 PM:

@187

Depending on which end of the 70's you are referring to, that could be 40 years ago, almost a half century.

The country has long long long been a different one, with continueal amping up of militarizing the police, private armed security (non-government contractors) and surveillance while closing down of media access and space for dissenting voices via privatization as well as militarization.

We've been watching this happen, warning about it, for decades. It has reached a cusp now, just as the corruption of the political system reached a cusp with the stealing of the election in 2000, when mobs forced the halt of recounts in Florida and elsewhere.

Love, C.

#204 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 05:46 PM:

Steve with a book @135: OWS look as though they're in for the long haul, banging on about the same stuff again and again and again, neither manageably (from the point of view of their opponents) nor debunkably.

...Wherein it could be said that the Left finally gets a clue?

I've heard it said that one reason the Republican party has had the degree of success it's had in the last decade is that they have all of their members carefully conditioned to stay On Message. Heh.

#205 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 06:03 PM:

Sisiule @ 202

If it can go here, I'd love it. I think we heard the same sermon today (and the same reminder, in the Gospel, that how we treat others--any others--matters rather a lot.)

Yarrow @ 196

I see the civil rights movement pre-1954 (boycotts, sit-ins) as very much a negotiation; after Little Rock, in my use of "negotiation", it stopped being one. All the well-known violence EXCEPT the lynching of Emmett Till happens after 1957.

#206 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 07:12 PM:

abi @ 176: I find it a little hard, in the light of events like that, to think of the Occupy movement as Chaotic in any meaningful sense. The more I think on it, the more it seems to me to represent if anything a higher form of Law than that which it opposes: self-organizing rather than hierarchal, but no less governed by respect for order.

SamChevre @ 180: Who can negotiate is one of those things that has to be negotiated.

#207 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 08:16 PM:

OtterB @ 115

"On the other hand, to say "change the rules, this isn't fair! Change them again, this other thing isn't fair! Change them a third time, look at this" ... starts to make a mockery of the notion of there being rules at all."

You must not develop software for a living!

Seriously though, this reminds me very strongly of the "agile" methodology for software development: everything gets listed as to what needs done, it's prioritized by the requestors, sized by the implementors, and then an agreement is reached as to what will be done this time. Then we do it again.

I'm doing this at my current job and it both makes the work much more pleasant and also get stuff done. It's astounding if you've always been in top-down organizations, forever pressured to do more than you have time for and with no say in whether it is reasonable or not.

As far as I can tell, this seems to be the model the General Assemblies are following.

#208 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 08:41 PM:

Here comes the well-wishing outsider advice:

I am sorry that the "Occupy" part of the name has stuck as the movement's brand. The central idea (if there is such a thing; "a" central idea, then) is not, in my opinion, occupation. The occupation of Wall Street, and then all the other geographies, was tactics, not goal.

The goal, I think, is liberation. A small group has seized power in the US. We are already occupied.

#209 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 08:59 PM:

Sisuile, SamChevre: yes, the Gospel this morning was pretty explicit. And this afternoon, in case I hadn't gotten it, I attended an event in which someone from a prison ministry talked about that ministry. He said, bluntly, We don't go into prisons to bring Christ to prisoners. We go there to meet Him. He is in prison, and that is where we find Him.

#210 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 09:14 PM:

Joe McMahon @207
I no longer develop software for a living; I once did so, but long ago, in an age of mainframes. I would consider the agile software development method, as I understand it, an excellent example of successful negotiated rule change. If I were to make a software analogy to my original comment about arbitrary rule changes, it would be more Dilbert-esque. (Well, I know we told you this application needed to take data A from source X, but it also needs to take data B, C, and D from sources Y and Z, but not take any longer or cost any more to develop, and by the way, source X has been discontinued but nobody told you and we still need data A.)

I think the question of who gets to participate in negotiating the rule changes is key.

SamChevre @167 said How do you figure out who gets to negotiate? To make it concrete, the widespread acceptance of divorce in the US today--who could have negotiated it?

This points out to me that we are talking about two different kinds of "rules," the legal rules and the social rules. Legal rules are more clearly negotiated. Social rules are ... not, in any meaningful way I can think of. I think they are led.

As things change, often one of social or legal rules lags behind the other. (Also, social rules are more dependent on subgroup.)

#211 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 09:39 PM:

sisule, SamChevre, Lizzy L, agreed on the gospel and Othering. Our pastor, who is often too conservative for my taste, rose to the occasion on this one, pointing out, among other things, that it's not just about donating money, it's about making a human connection.

I also would like to see sisule's thoughts here - but if you prefer, just post a link when you've posted them there?

I had a similar reaction to the gospel some time in October about loving your neighbor as yourself. A priest was responding to "Respect Life" month with a highly annoying homily on *b*rt**n; among other things, saying that the early pioneers in the US didn't need to be told to respect life. I looked at the black family in front of me and wondered how they and in particular Native Americans would feel about that interpretation of history. And so I spent the time I was trying not to listen to the priest thinking of the much more persuasive argument he could have made by defining "respecting life" more broadly, and considering the ways in which our society over the years has failed to recognize various groups as our neighbors and therefore worthy of respect and protection.

#212 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:42 PM:

Please pardon me if I'm missing something obvious -- the question "who gets to negotiate?" has been raised, repeatedly.

It seems self-evident to me that anyone who lives within a system of rules must, in any system even pretending to be just, have a voice in that negotiation. Isn't that what representative democracy is, at core, supposedly striving to achieve?

So when elected representatives are no longer voicing the electorate's concerns, but prove instead to be ventriloquist dummies mouthing only the concerns of the corporations that ponied up the money to sponsor the costs of the campaign that resulted in their election in the first place, then the people disenfranchised by that subversion of their negotiating mechanism have not only a moral right but, I'd argue, an ethical obligation to protest.

If you're all talking about something much more specific and obvious, and I'm just too slow to follow along, then don't mind me. (Although, if you'd be patient enough to unpack the shorthand to me, in small words, I'd be grateful.)

#213 ::: Debio ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 10:49 PM:

I have been watching off and on the OWS movement. Off and on because I have been living in Japan for the last 14 years.

I do not have cable. I do not subscribe to any English language papers or magazines, so my sources for news are actually quite limited, such as Making Light and one or two other blogs. From what I have seen, I agree with the movement.

This is NOT the America I left in 1997. Over the past 14 years, I have slowly gone from "Proud to be American", to "mildly embarrassed to be American". Worse, I think I'm actually slipping into "ashamed" territory.

I keep trying to tell myself, "American doesn't do this to its own people". Then something new shows up on you tube and I have to go sit in a corner for a while to try and figure things out.

I'm sorry to break the flow of the conversation, but I felt a need to express that.

#214 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 11:21 PM:

David Harmon @ 200: It won't be a problem if we change the law so that you can only be a law enforcement officer or a member of the armed forces, but not both, not at the same time and not serially, not at all, not ever.

Give soldiers better retirement benefits, earlier retirement, all the college or training they want, whatever it takes to make sure they can do well after their service, but under no circumstances allow them to serve in law enforcement, ever, ever again.

Now, about Lawful Evil: What people remember about the Little Rock crisis is the first year, where the Nine went through hell to integrate Central High. What they forget is the next year, the lost year, when the entire Little Rock school system was shut down rather than let integration advance. The white power structure hurt its own children, its friends' and neighbors' children, its economic future, and its reputation in the world at large, in order to hurt the black children.

#215 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 11:49 PM:

SamChevre @ 205: I see the civil rights movement pre-1954 (boycotts, sit-ins) as very much a negotiation; after Little Rock, in my use of "negotiation", it stopped being one. All the well-known violence EXCEPT the lynching of Emmett Till happens after 1957.

May 7, 1955 - Belzoni, Mississippi: Rev. George Lee
August 13, 1955 - Brookhaven, Mississippi: Lamar Smith
August 28, 1955 - Money, Mississippi: Emmett Louis Tilli
October 22, 1955 - Mayflower, Texas: John Earl Reese
January 23, 1957 - Montgomery, Alabama: Willie Edwards Jr.
April 25, 1959 - Poplarville, Mississippi: Mack Charles Parker
September 25, 1961 - Liberty, Mississippi: Herbert Lee
April 9, 1962 - Taylorsville, Mississippi: Cpl. Roman Ducksworth Jr.
September 30, 1962 - Oxford, Mississippi: Paul Guihard
April 23, 1963 - Attalla, Alabama: William Lewis Moore
June 12, 1963 - Jackson, Mississippi: Medgar Evers
September 15, 1963 - Birmingham, Alabama: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley
September 15, 1963 - Birmingham, Alabama: Virgil Lamar Ware
January 31, 1964 - Liberty, Mississippi: Louis Allen
March 23, 1964 - Jacksonville, Florida: Johnnie Mae Chappell
April 7, 1964 - Cleveland, Ohio: Rev. Bruce Klunder
May 2, 1964 - Meadville, Mississippi: Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore
June 21, 1964 - Philadelphia, Mississippi: James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner
July 11, 1964 - Colbert, Georgia: Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn
February 26, 1965 - Marion, Alabama: Jimmie Lee Jackson
March 11, 1965 - Selma, Alabama: Rev. James Reeb
March 25, 1965 - Selma Highway, Alabama: Viola Gregg Liuzzo
June 2, 1965 - Bogalusa, Louisiana: Oneal Moore
July 18, 1965 - Anniston, Alabama: Willie Brewster
August 20, 1965 - Hayneville, Alabama: Jonathan Myrick Daniels
January 3, 1966 - Tuskegee, Alabama: Samuel Leamon Younge Jr.
January 10, 1966 - Hattiesburg, Mississippi: Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer
June 10, 1966 - Natchez, Mississippi: Ben Chester White
July 30, 1966 - Bogalusa, Louisiana: Clarence Triggs
February 27, 1967 - Natchez, Mississippi: Wharlest Jackson
May 12, 1967 - Jackson, Mississippi: Benjamin Brown
February 8, 1968 - Orangeburg, South Carolina: Samuel Ephesians Hammond Jr., Delano Herman Middleton and Henry Ezekial Smith
April 4, 1968 - Memphis, Tennessee: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The idea that all but the first five of these murders are to be laid at the feet of Dwight D. Eisenhower is an interesting one.

(The list from the Southern Poverty Law Center has a bit of information about each murder.)

#216 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2011, 11:58 PM:

SamChevre @ 205, et al.

OWS and Matthew
It's still something of a rough draft. I may go back tomorrow and edit.

One of my goals for the new (church) year is to get back to posting once a week.

#217 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:07 AM:

I've noticed there's one alignment that doesn't get a lot of attention, and that's Neutral Good. It makes me a little nervous how enthusiastically everyone even here seeks to align themselves with lawful good when neutral good is an option.

As someone who aspires to be neutral good, I sort of have to love chaotic good people, though I am neither brave enough nor individualistic enough to be one. Lawful people are a huge majority, and neutral people often find themselves beaten down and made to compromise their ideals. A little chaotic good on the other side helps keep lawfulness from dominating everything forever. It makes me feel like there may really be some achievable balance out there... and the OWS movement feels to me like an alliance of chaotic good and neutral good.

Here's my breakdown of the alignments, so you understand a bit better where I'm coming from:

Lawful good says that sometimes the rules have to be followed even when they result in painful outcomes, because having rules and having people follow them is a valuable goal in and of itself; so valuable that it's worth doing things that are not as good to ensure it continues.

Chaotic good opposes the idea of rules at all, and just wants everyone to act in a way that is good while maintaining as much personal freedom as possible. Rules do more harm than good in their eyes, so subverting order provides such a large benefit that it's worth it even if things get messy.

Neutral good realizes that sometimes rules help, and sometimes they need to be broken. You judge everything on a case-by-case basis, and you think solely and exclusively in terms of what is the most good, what will help society the most in the long run, how can we balance things being static and things changing?

I think the "most people are lawful" thing is true. I also think that the percentage of lawful-aligned people is getting higher these days, and that is bad. I've been interacting with young people lately and have noticed a disturbing trend: nobody is afraid of fascism anymore. I was recently having a discussion with a bunch of people younger than me about a particular fictional universe. In this universe, there is a group of people who have special abilities that mean they could be dangerous. I was shocked and saddened by the number of people who said that, in the face of a legitimate threat, one must submit to authoritarian government practices for the sake of community safety... that authoritarianism was forgivable if it was in the pursuit of "keeping people safe."

For me, whenever you preface your alignment with Lawful or Chaotic, you are saying that there is some structural thing that is just as important as... well... Good. You start excusing things that support that structural thing but that don't actually do "good." When Lawful Good is presented with a choice between Neutral Good or Lawful Neutral, which way they go is essentially a coin flip.

This is something I see all the time in threads about OWS. Lawful neutral people say "Hey, these people are breaking the law. The banks have not been found guilty of breaking any laws. Thus the banks are right and these guys are wrong. Until OWS stops breaking laws, they have no value. I'm sure that if the banks did break laws, our system will take care of that." And they drag about half of the lawful good people into their court, and I get very sad.

The problem with lawful good is that when things are obviously bad, very bad, when thousands of people are suffering, lawful good people will often say "well yes, things are bad, but there are rules for how we're supposed to change things, and so we should change things that way." It takes a lot to make a lawfully aligned person realize that the system in place to change things might not be working, whereas a neutral person doesn't default to supporting the system, and it's easier to see the cracks.

I'm not saying that lawfulness doesn't have its uses and its benefits... I wouldn't be neutral if I didn't see significant value in law. But if you're lawful good, you have to be very very careful to never let the law become more important than the good.

#218 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:48 AM:

sisuile @ 202: Here's a letter from the minister who walked Chancellor Katehi from her office, past the UC Davis students, to her car. She in her eloquence, and the students in their silence, seem to me to be models of how to see the humanity in your opponents.

#219 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:53 AM:

Leah Miller @ 217: Speaking as a self-identified Chaotic, may I offer a defence of this apparent lemming rush towards Law in its days of little glory? Simple Good is not simply achieved, law and chaos and not caring about either contain each their own paradoxes, and you've hit the core of it already in your own posting with:

Lawful good says that sometimes the rules have to be followed even when they result in painful outcomes, because having rules and having people follow them is a valuable goal in and of itself; so valuable that it's worth doing things that are not as good to ensure it continues...

What I think people who prefix something else to good are usually saying, is that a great deal of things that are not good at all will follow when one is not guided by the prefix - that the choice, where such is necessary, really involves two evils either way.

For instance, I'm not 'Chaotic' because I'm really a wild brave free spirit: in fact I'm rather conventional when the mad muse isn't riding me, and fond of peace and quiet and order and traditions and knowing where I stand. But I am also firmly convinced that the typical enforcement mechanisms for such things, especially the multiplication of regulations and authority and pressures to social conformity, are evils in themselves, which lead rapidly to greater evils down the line. One of these evils is precisely your complaint: the fetishization of all those would-be means to good, at the expense of the actual good itself. I feel about Legalism pretty much as a Christian might feel about Satanism, for instance.

But you could call me Neutral Good on the meta-level, because my general opposition to imposed order is simply because I think it tends to do serious evil. (There is a separate question as to what is actually good or evil in itself: I place a very high value on human agency, and consider actions that abridge it to be forms of treating people as things.) I will accept rules and acknowledge authority where I really believe these are good things to do - I am just disposed to take a lot of convincing, and not to consider my own decision in this to carry just authority over anybody else's.

My Lawful opposite numbers are presumably acting on pretty much exactly the same meta-rules. 'Neutral Good' as a useful definition then becomes something pretty much like scepticism as to the usefulness of 'law/chaos'-like categories, in predicting whether some behaviour or institution is going to be good or bad in its effect.

At least, that's how I call it, so it must be the Law!

#220 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:03 AM:

Joe @207

I have experience of seeing that "agile" software development as a customer.

It doesn't seem to be good at the big things; reliability in this case. We get some new features, but the simple stuff is well-implemented. and the big, complicated, things are a mess.

If anyone wants to apply that observation to politics, feel free.

#221 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:11 AM:

Understanding that the D&D alignment system is actually a convenient way to decide how to play a character that was borrowed from a series of sword and sorcery novels . . . I still think that it's also at least as useful in describing people as any test currently used by some prospective employers.

@Leah Miller #217: Here's my own shorthand for it:

Lawful Good: Everyone should be at least as well off as I am and the way to do that is to have a system. Call it laws, customs, traditions, whatever. The system is important. If the system stops promoting the general welfare, I have to change it. (Example: Paladin.)

Lawful Neutral: Look, I don't want any trouble, and the way to make sure that I live a trouble-free life is to have a system. Even if it messes up my life, it's better than the chaos of not having a system!(Example: Bureaucrat.)

Lawful Evil: There are winners and losers. I aim to be a winner. That's why I am working the system. The system is okay by me as long as it serves me and if it quits serving me I have to change it. If that hurts you, then obviously you're a loser. (Example: Corrupt sheriff.)

Neutral Evil: I want what I want so badly that I cannot think about anything else and I will do whatever it takes to get it. What I want happens to be very bad for other people. It may also be bad for me, but the satisfaction of getting what I want is of overriding importance. (Example: Serial killer.)

Chaotic Evil: System? What system? There is no system. Climb as high as you can and stay there until they pull you down, that's the system. It's a dog-eat-dog world. (Example: Bandit gang.)

Chaotic Neutral: Freedom is the most important thing: freedom from obligation, guilt, regrets, angry people chasing me . . . whatever it takes to avoid entanglements, that's what I'll do. Just don't tie me down and I will try not to give you a reason to come after me, okay? (Example: Wandering minstrel.)

True Neutral: Freedom, order, public welfare, whatever. I got kids to feed and a shop to run. (Example: Most of the ordinary people in any game world.)

Neutral Good: I want the best possible life for the most possible people. I will do whatever it takes to attain my goal, even if it kills me. Laws are good if they help me but if they don't I will just go around the system. (Example: Hard. I tried to play one once, a wandering martial artist who had taken a vow of poverty and gave her share of the party treasure wherever it appeared that it would do the most good.)

Chaotic Good: Everybody should be at least as well off as I am and the way to do that is to avoid tying people up in a system. Personal honor, fine; traditional obligations, not so much. (Example: Robin Hood as portrayed in modern mythology.)

#222 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 02:05 AM:

Steve with a book @ 193:

would the training and experiences of a Vietnam-era US solider be all that different from that of a WWII/Korean War/Elvis-era soldier?

Based on conversations I've had with WWII and Korean era veterans, I think there are some differences. For one, WWII and Korea involved mostly symmetrical warfare, with battles usually involving large units on both sides fighting across large, well-defined fronts (there were exceptions to that, but I'm talking about the average soldier's experience most of the time). Vietnam, at least up until 1969 or so, was primarily asymmetrical, pitting US Army and Marine ground units against Viet Cong irregulars (the North Vietnamese Army regular units didn't enter South Vietnam in large numbers until well after Tet in 1968). This meant that the average US soldier experienced the sense that any local he saw could be an enemy, and meant that he could expect to be attacked anywhere and at anytime. I think this experience created a hypervigilance that carried over with veterans who became cops after discharge.

David Harmon @ 200:

Yes, IMO it will be a serious problem. I don't have the personal experience with the veterans of this generation that I had in the Vietnam era, so I can't say exactly how they'll react; but I expect they'll have many of the same problems of inappropriate responses to civil as opposed to military situations. Iraq and Afghanistan are even more violent asymmetrical battlegrounds than Vietnam was, so I expect even more carryover for veterans who become cops.

Constance @ 203:

I was talking about 1970 to about 1976 or 77, though most of those returning combat vets came back before 1972 IIRC.

Yarrow @ 215:

Thanks for posting that list. I thought about it, but I just didn't have the heart to look at all those names again right now.

Dave Bell @ 220:

So as not to derail this thread, I'm not going to comment here on agile development; it's one of my hot buttons. But I'm on record at Making Light, and on my own blog, and on Charlie's Diary (and a few other places I'd have to google) with my opinions and experiences. Anyone who wants to discuss it, drop me an email at brucecohenpdx at gmaildotcom and I'll set up a post on my blog where we can hash it out.

#223 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 03:31 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 221: That's an interesting list - not quite the way I conceptualize it, but a pretty fair approximation.

(One of the ultimately most 'Good' and heroic characters I've played started as a Chaotic Neutral fighter, and ended up where he did through repeated iterations of (a) "Oh, come on, that'd be a bit shitty even for a guy who doesn't give much of one!"; (b) "Actually, that feels kind of shittier than I expected; stuff doing that again!"; and (c) "D'you know what, I just don't feel like standing by and watching this shit go down?" This led him, in his rather irritable and cynical manner, to some of the most astonishing places.)

I think this cartoony system is as surprisingly productive for real-world discussion as it is, just because it's sufficiently detached from the familiar contexts which make certain principles automatically suspect when uttered. In the game, it is or has been an assumption that 'Lawful Good' and 'Chaotic Good', if not necessarily equal, are at least things, and really good things. There is less of the learned suspicion that "Duty!" is really code for "Do the hell what I say!", or "Freedom!" for "Get the hell out of my way!"

To have that space for ethical play, where we can relax our political instincts to watch our conversational backs, is IMO quite a Good thing indeed.

#224 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 07:13 AM:

Gray Woodland #223: In the game, it is or has been an assumption that 'Lawful Good' and 'Chaotic Good', if not necessarily equal, are at least things, and really good things.

Morever, there's the openly fantastic addition, that various entities and powers can accurately and reliably evaluate and classify a creature's moral nature, independent of their public behavior! Most notably the player characters being judged by their gods, but the "Detect Evil" spell has a lot to answer for....

In the real world, I've commented that a plague of possession by demons would explain a lot of current news; In a D&D-style context, there's "a test and a pill for that".

#225 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 08:22 AM:

MacAlister @ 212

when elected representatives are no longer voicing the electorate's concerns

This is definitely one mode of negotiation failure. (Call it the DINO/RINO problem.)

The negotiation question I have, though, is different. That is "how do you ensure that the people affected are represented when you can't identify them?" This question comes up when you have a system design including rules to protect the overall system. (I brought up subordinate-superior relationships as an example; another would be leverage rules (down payment requirements) for loans and banks.)

#226 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 08:35 AM:

David Harmon @ 224: Oh, yeah. In my later campaigns as a DM, "detect evil" was pretty much the spiritual equivalent of a rotten meat detector - a somewhat more accurate version of the unaided mortal Reek of Wrongness (TM) sense, and equally spoofable in principle. It would light up somebody who was only Jack the Ripper in character, instead of being Made of Evil like a Nazgul. "Know alignment" was so sheerly ridiculous that I just got rid of it as soon as I got a clue, on the grounds that the best it could plausibly offer under most circumstances was the not very interesting opinion of some eighth-rank spritelet or mindless template-matching daemon. I could in hindsight have had much more fun abusing spells like these than I actually did.

And let's not even contemplate the raving idiocy of alignment languages...!

#227 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 09:26 AM:

Sam Chevre @205. Because I know you to be a man of good will, I am not going to take this: I see the civil rights movement pre-1954 (boycotts, sit-ins) as very much a negotiation; after Little Rock, in my use of "negotiation", it stopped being one. All the well-known violence EXCEPT the lynching of Emmett Till happens after 1957.
to mean anything like "And if only those uppity black people had stayed satisfied with what they were given and these outside agitators hadn't come in and stirred up trouble, none of this unleasantness need ever have taken place." I must want you that it can sound like something awfully close to that. You might also want to ne wary of the implication that hovers in there, that there weren't any ugly acts of racially-motivated violence prior to the death of Emmett Till. "Strange Fruit" was published in 1936, and the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill was introduced in 1918; it didn't pass, because of action in the Senate by senators from the southern states.

I suppose you can call the Atlanta Compromise the outcome of negotiation, but you can only call it a good one in a very limited sense.

Federal intervention, sometimes in the form of the military, was not called in because it was more amusing than negotiation. It was called in because it takes two sides to negotiate, and in too many of the southern states, it had been made painfully apparent this wasn't going to happen, ever, at all. The possibility for negotiated change in most of the southern states was not on the table; the Dixiecrats had made that plain in 1948.

We've heard about Little Rock, most of us; how about Hoxie, Arkansas, where the school board took Brown v. Board of Education in good faith, and proceeded to integrate its schools in 1955? They were trying to follow the law, and could have used a little support from somewhere, but did they get it? Dan May's plan for stair-step integration in the Nashville schools was only implemented without such intervention because the community was willing to support it, and even with that, "outside agitators" showed up and bombed one of the schools involved.

The sit-in strikes came after Little Rock, by the way; the first notable one was in 1958 in Wichita. I don't have time to look up all of the significant sit-ins, but I can assure you that the campaign here in Nashville was only nonviolent on one side. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began in December of 1955 and didn't end until December of 1956, and it was also marked by one-sided violence.

#228 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:22 AM:

fidelio:

How do you distinguish between the case where the other side won't negotiate, and the one where the other side isnt willing to accept any terms you are willing to accept? ISTM that was what was happening wrt the civil rights movement, much of which was absolutely imposed from above on state and local govenments that didnt want it at all--to the point that the did nutty crap like shutting down all public schools to get away from having it imposed. In many or most of those places, a fair majority vote of adults (even allowing blacks to vote, which many of those places made as hard as possible in practice) would have come out against the civil rights laws, against ending Jim Crow laws, against integrating the schools, against laws forbidding discrimination in employment and housing, against allowing interracial marriage.

It's hard to call that a negotiation. There was a power struggle. In this case, the good guys won and imposed their will on the losers. You can argue that this was a negotiation in the sense that it was done broadly according to the rules, but southern senators blocking an anti-lynching law is actually much more following the normal rules of politics than sending the army in to force integration of the schools. And I do not believe you would call an equivalent imposition of values against your values by anything as nice as "negotiation."

#229 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:35 AM:

And if only those uppity black people had stayed satisfied with what they were given and these outside agitators hadn't come in and stirred up trouble, none of this unleasantness need ever have taken place.

NO No no no no...

If I sound like that, I'm sorry and that's not what I'm saying.

The unpleasantness was on-going. In 1957, we already had the integrated army; we already had sit-ins (as I learned it, the first one was in Alexandria in 1939); we already had the "don't buy gas where you can't use the restroom" campaign; we already had the bus boycott. It was getting more and more obvious, to Southern whites, that the system was unsustainable.

My point is narrower than you are reading it. It's that "or we'll send our army and make you" isn't a negotiating position. It may be the right answer; it may get you a good outcome. It just is not a negotiation.

#230 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:38 AM:

Hardly anyone weighs the well being or happiness of themselves and their family the same as that of strangers. That looks to me to be something like the ideal that Christ preached, and I'll admit I don't come anywhere close to it. I am not, for example, willing to give my daughter a 10% chance of dyning in order to take away an 11% chance of some child I've never met dying.

I think we all walk around with several different models in our heads, each of which gives different answers to the questions "who is my neighbor?" and "how much?" A lot of moral decisions come down to which model gets into the driver's seat. The same people can be and are convinced to donate money to save starving kids in some foreign country, and to cheer on bombing those same kids, depending on context.

One kind of model involves hatred and revenge. There are almost always acceptable targets for hatred and revenge--terrorists, criminals, Muslims, blacks, Jews, Communists, gays, liberals, conservatives, evangelicals, Catholics, bankers, cops, child molesters, racists, nazis, satanists, witches. Those are the targets for whom you can, acceptably to yourself, cause them harm even while causing harm to yourself--like spending critical resources during a war to murder more of your least favorite ethnic group, or shutting down your public school system rather that let blacks and whites go to the same schools.

The most dangerous moral position in the world is the one where you've convinced yourself that you currently have a target against whom there are no limits--no decency or compassion is warranted, the only good fitb is a dead fitb, it's us against them, the only thing these people understand is force, etc. That's how a decent guy who loves his wife and kids ends up turning the spigot on the poison gas after he's helped herd a few hundred undesirables into the showers.

#231 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:40 AM:

Hardly anyone weighs the well being or happiness of themselves and their family the same as that of strangers. That looks to me to be something like the ideal that Christ preached, and I'll admit I don't come anywhere close to it. I am not, for example, willing to give my daughter a 10% chance of dyning in order to take away an 11% chance of some child I've never met dying.

I think we all walk around with several different models in our heads, each of which gives different answers to the questions "who is my neighbor?" and "how much?" A lot of moral decisions come down to which model gets into the driver's seat. The same people can be and are convinced to donate money to save starving kids in some foreign country, and to cheer on bombing those same kids, depending on context.

One kind of model involves hatred and revenge. There are almost always acceptable targets for hatred and revenge--terrorists, criminals, Muslims, blacks, Jews, Communists, gays, liberals, conservatives, evangelicals, Catholics, bankers, cops, child molesters, racists, nazis, satanists, witches. Those are the targets for whom you can, acceptably to yourself, cause them harm even while causing harm to yourself--like spending critical resources during a war to murder more of your least favorite ethnic group, or shutting down your public school system rather that let blacks and whites go to the same schools.

The most dangerous moral position in the world is the one where you've convinced yourself that you currently have a target against whom there are no limits--no decency or compassion is warranted, the only good fitb is a dead fitb, it's us against them, the only thing these people understand is force, etc. That's how a decent guy who loves his wife and kids ends up turning the spigot on the poison gas after he's helped herd a few hundred undesirables into the showers.

#232 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:45 AM:

When I played D&D, I always played Chaotic Good. Most of my friends played Neutral Good. We had a perpetual argument about which one was the purer Good. The Neutrals seemed to think Chaotic Good involved devotion to Chaos ("no," I said, "you're thinking of Chaotic Neutral."), whereas my position was that I would do Good with no constraints of silly rules and laws.

(Granted, I also had to be CG to keep my alignment-dependent power, which was a kind of foreshadowing/literalization of my learning, years later, to Draw the Moon; in dire circumstances (because it caused unHealable damage) I could call in the personality and powers of my patron (or, in my case, matron) deity. Killed a couple of Nazgûl that way. But to be fair I chose CG as my alignment before rolling the 17 Charisma that qualified me for that special character class.)

This DM was pretty good at opposing points of view. For example, the Evils in that world used torture, which no Good ever would; so far this is exactly like our world. But Goods used Charm Person (a spell for mentally enslaving someone) to get information and turn Evils into obedient robots. Evils claimed that THAT was evil (of course, they called themselves Good), and that torture at least respected the integrity of the victim's mind; they also said that when THEY enslaved people at least the slaves knew what was happening to them!

I didn't buy those arguments, but I did use charmies (as they were called) less than some did. Though since I was a fighter, not a magic user, that means less than it might!

#233 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:56 AM:

Isn't War an act of negotiation?

#234 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:07 AM:

Serge:

Only in the sense that someone occasionally pulls a gun on a bank teller and negotiates an unscheduled withdrawal of funds.

#235 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:12 AM:

I can't remember whether war is supposed to be the continuation of diplomacy by other means, or the other way around. But: one of those.

#236 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:14 AM:

War may be a negotiation between groups with armies.

"Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not"

Broadens the concept of negotiation beyond all usefulness.

#237 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:15 AM:

Xopher (235): Online sources quote it both ways around, but I'm pretty sure it was originally "war is a continuation of diplomacy..." (Clausewitz)

#238 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:22 AM:

albatross: How do you distinguish between the case where the other side won't negotiate, and the one where the other side isnt willing to accept any terms you are willing to accept?

Given that the actions of the segregationists were in direct opposition to the US Constitution and often worked to shield law-breaking (lynchings, arson, riots, and similar actions), I believe we have to work in a position along the lines of "willing to negotiate, but only in bad faith, inasmuch as we plan to give up nothing while demanding as much as we can get in the way of concessions from you in the process"*, which was predominant in the segregationist position's approach to politics. This sits on the line between "won't negotiate" and "Won't accept terms the other side can live with".

One of the things that makes it very difficult for many white southerners to get their heads around the later Civil Rights Movement is that the eighty years between the end of Reconstruction and the integration of Central High School represent a concerted failure by the US Federal government to enforce the whole of the Constitution, and because of that failure, what went on must (in their minds) have been legal and acceptable. The fact that it was not legal, and was accepted as part of a dubious bargain rather than any inherent moral correctness in their position gets overlooked in this worldview. Southern segregationists, and those who enabled them, operated on the assumption that this bargain would continue, failing to take into account that events had outstripped it and made it increasingly untenable, as the rest of the nation became less and less willing to overlook the illegalities of their behavior. Hence, all the bargains they made, and all the negotiations they entered into, were in bad faith on their part. I've mentioned the Dixiecrats in 1948--they broke off in direct reaction to Truman's Executive Order 9981, integrating the armed services, which shows pretty plainly that they were not prepared to accept any bargain that resulted in significant and substantial changes.

The use of troops in several situations in the southern states is unfortunate, but it did not happen at the start of the social negotiations represented by the modern Civil Rights movement, but after numerous violent provocations and demonstrations of the intent to ignore the law of the land.

There is a point where negotiation can no longer take place.


*similarities to current Reoublican negotiating practices are not accidental; where do you think the modern Republican Party comes from?

#239 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:23 AM:

"You have it. I want it."
"Sorry. Mine. Over my dead body."
"That can be arranged."
"Come and get it."

#240 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:27 AM:

Many of the questions that divide people politically are moral questions--basically,what's good and what's evil? Historically, slavery was this kind of issue--there are two incompatible views of morality driving a political split. Abortion, and to a lesser extent gay marriage/gay rights, are current examples of basically irreconcliable differences in moral beliefs leading to a political split.

That makes the whole good/evil sort of alignment issues pretty unhelpful. If I cheer for gay marriage, some people will see me as cheering for something evil. We can find a way to agree to disagree, but there's not really a meaningful moral compromise between our positions. (Though we may be able to come to a political compromise, like calling the gay marriages something else.)

Similarly, most political disagreements are about what the rules should be. My sense is that most of the time, when someone wants to see some laws not enforced or rarely enforced, it translates to thinking those laws aren't a good idea or are overbroad. That is, the decision of most conservatives and most members of the power elite of all political alignments that laws against torture should not be enforced strikes me as basically meaning "this shouldnt really be illegal" rather than "rules are not all that important, and should be interpreted flexibly.". I think that view is not uncommon in the big wide world, but is extremely rare among the kind of people involved in making and enforcing the rules.

And one of the biggest issues which I hope will become more visible thanks to OWS is this awful policy we have in practice to make the rules and laws become less binding and important, the higher up the social and political food chain you go. This bit where 17 year old crack dealers do hard time because the law's the law, but Berkeley law professors and ex-Presidential advisors who set up a worldwide torture regime aren't punished because that would be needlessly harsh and criminalizing policy differences, that has to stop if there's to be any respect for the law in the future. That highlights a fundamental breakdown in using lawful/chaotic to describe political blocs or movements--the pracitical bipartisan policy for the last decade or two has been that laws and rules apply to the folks at the bottom no matter how harsh or unfair they are, but that they're more suggestions for people at the top.

#241 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:30 AM:

Sam Chevre @229--I was confident that you did not mean that. However, any non-regular reading what you had written might easily have made that interpretation, and I wanted to make sure you clarified it.

Sending the troops is a negotiating position; it's what happens after they get there that is not negotiating. "If you do not peaceably and voluntarily consent to obey the law of the land in this matter, we will have no choice but to compel you to do so" is a negotiating position. It's not a nice one to confront, or to have to employ, but it is a position. It should not, more than likely, be your first, or even your second or third offer.

#242 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:32 AM:

fidelio:

Would Mayor Bloomberg, or the chancellor of UC Davis, or the mayor of Oakland, say anything different than that to the protesters?

#243 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:33 AM:

MacAllister @ 212: "It seems self-evident to me that anyone who lives within a system of rules must, in any system even pretending to be just, have a voice in that negotiation. Isn't that what representative democracy is, at core, supposedly striving to achieve?"

That works very well as a normative statement, but in practice doesn't answer a number of conflicts. It doesn't, for example, put any limitations on the tyranny of the majority, and it doesn't address what you do when the phenomenon being negotiated over is smaller or larger in scale than the rule-system of nearest scale. It also doesn't address what happens when, as SamChevre notes, anyone says, "No. And we'll use force to get the outcome we want if you won't give it to us."

SamChevre @ 236: "War may be a negotiation between groups with armies....Broadens the concept of negotiation beyond all usefulness."

I can't say that I find the concept of negotiation very useful unless it includes war.

#244 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:35 AM:

Mary Aileen 237: OK, but my point was that diplomacy and war are like matter and energy in that one can easily be converted into the other...and, come to think of it now, entropy opposes the conversion in the other direction.

They are not, unfortunately, mutually conserved.

#245 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:40 AM:

Clausewitz:

"We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means." (That's Book 1 Chapter 1 Section 24 in the Princeton translation, per Wikiquotes)

The shorter, familiar form is "War is merely the continuation of politics by other means."

He also noted:

"War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will." (Book 1)

"War is an act of violence pushed to its utmost bounds." (Book 1, Chapter 1 Section 3)

He also said:

"Determination in a single instance is an expression of courage; if it becomes characteristic, a mental habit. But here we are referring not to physical courage but to courage to accept responsibility, courage in the face of a moral danger. This has often been called courage d'esprit, because it is created by the intellect. That, however, does not make it an act of the intellect: it is an act of temperament. Intelligence alone is not courage; we often see that the most intelligent people are irresolute. Since in the rush of events a man is governed by feelings rather than by thought, the intellect needs to arouse the quality of courage, which then supports and sustains it in action.
Looked at in this way, the role of determination is to limit the agonies of doubt and the perils of hesitation when the motives for action are inadequate."

and

"We repeat again: strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one’s balance in spite of them. Even with the violence of emotion, judgment and principle must still function like a ship’s compass, which records the slightest variations however rough the sea."

He also brought us the concept of "the fog of war", a useful notion which applies to so many human endeavours besides military conflict.

#246 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 11:41 AM:

albatross @ 242: "Would Mayor Bloomberg, or the chancellor of UC Davis, or the mayor of Oakland, say anything different than that to the protesters?"

Which is exactly why it is a negotiating position: one which the Occupiers are declining. The PTB are saying: "Occupying public spaces is not an acceptable negotiation strategy." The occupiers are saying: "Yes, it is." As I pointed out above: one of the things that is under negotiation is what the bounds of acceptable negotiation.

#247 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:12 PM:

One of the big differences between the the sides in the Civil Rights era was the difference between change and stasis. The Civil Rights side had participated in a lengthy process of moral evolution, and they wanted that process to encompass the entire nation. The segregationists, like the slaveholders before them, were fighting to keep the rules of their territory exactly the same -- no matter what was happening to the world around them. This is not symmetrical, because demanding No Change Whatsoever is flatly not realistic in this world -- something that was explicitly recognized in the founding of the USA.

The current OWS movement actually has an easier row to hoe, because they're setting one change (regulation and dispersal of power and capital) against an opposite change (uncontrolled concentration of same). The OWS folks have the long term advantage in their negotiation, exactly because numbers do matter. OWS wants changes to benefit the nation as a whole, whereas the rogue capitalists want to benefit a small minority at the expense of everyone else. The advantages given by great power and wealth are considerable, but not enough to overcome being overwhelmingly outnumbered.

#248 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:12 PM:

David Harmon @85:

...the government is trying to unilaterally withdraw from their obligations, especially the promise of the New Deal, that having paid into Social Security taxes, folks should get back a pension sufficient to live on.

Please, as a former SSA employee, I beg you to stop saying that the benefit is supposed to be sufficient to live on -- Retirement and Survivors Insurance was intended to be a supplement to a pension and the person's individual savings (IRA). It was NEVER intended to be an individual's sole sorce of income.

#249 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:23 PM:

albatross @242: I'm sure they would. Whether such use is well-supported by both law and reality is another matter.

In the meantime, Governor Haslam has decided that prosecuting the Occupy protestors whom he had arrested on Legislative Plaza might not be such a good plan, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol has indicated that they are more worried about the work needed to police the roads during the upcoming holiday season than they are about keeping the protestors off of the Plaza, and since funds are limited, they think safe roads should come first.

Also, too, the Occupy people smuggled some ringers into a fund-raising appearance by Donald Rumsfeld; video of this, according to Southern Beale, is up at Youtube.

#250 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:27 PM:

For some background on previous long-term occupations, consider the Flint Sit-down Strike, which brought about the unionization of General Motors.

#251 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:41 PM:

Yarrow @ #215, from my own neck of the woods (Moore's Ford Bridge, Walton County GA):
July 25, 1946: Roger Malcolm, Dorothy Dorsey Malcolm, George Dorsey, Mae Murray Dorsey. George Dorsey served in WWII, and had only been back home for ten months.

#252 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:51 PM:

"Of course you know this means war!"
- Groucho Marx

#253 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 12:55 PM:

Leigh Kimmel @182: Maybe it was in fact a case of Unintended Consequences, but [...] it really does look an awful lot like a preemptive strike on the systems by which we the people can call our elites on things and provide documentary evidence of what they've done.

Not as preemptive as all that. Wikipedia dates the start of Arab Spring to 18 December 2010. Mubarak's attempt to shut down the internet came in January. Protect IP Act was introduced on May 12, 2011. Occupy Wall Street began September 17, 2011. SOPA was introduced on October 26, 2011.

The timing generally suggests that TPTB are scrambling to play catch-up.

#254 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:07 PM:

David Harmon @185: besides the current response of Freenet, I'd guess the next technical response for our side will be ad-hoc networks on mobile devices. "The Internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it."

At which point, Teh Tøøbz will have well-and-truly escaped into the wild. If I was a Plutocrat with half a brain, I'd really be shaking in my boots, about now.

The remaining vulnerability that I see is that mobile communications (as currently confugured) are still tied to cell-towers. Is there any work being done on peer-to-peer transmission? That seems like the next obvious evolution.

#255 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:13 PM:

Older @15: Have you all seen the video of a group doing a mic check at a speech by the infamous Governor Walker? Look for it on You Tube using the words "mic check governor". It is beautiful.

I may be stating the obvious here, but it occurs to me that this ban on amplified sound blew back into the authorities' faces in another respect: the mic check trick not only obviates the restriction, but also serves to enhance and reinforce solidarity and rapport, both in the group and in the larger culture, in the same way that the call-and-response does in the Gospel tradition.

Oops. :-)

#256 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:19 PM:

Lee @190: a number of municipalities have enacted ordinances making it a crime to take photos or videos of the police in performance of their duties.

Which laws are being successufully challenged in federal court.

#257 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:20 PM:

We've already got ad-hoc WiFi — and potato chip canister WiFi extenders. The means are there when the need arises.

Also: what the PTB would no doubt call "pirate" uses of FRS, GMRS, amateur, citizens band, and part 15 unlicensed radio. The former two are easily and cheaply available, and the latter is sold as kids' toys and baby monitors. Admittedly, none of these are encrypted or even (aside from some recent trivially-defeated modifications to baby monitors) obscured.

#258 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 01:34 PM:

Jacque:

My sense is that actual freedom of speech is quite unpopular in the US (and more so other places) if that's defined to mean that there is no way for anyone to suppress publication of any information. That includes child pornography, detailed bomb making instructions, celebrity gossip which has been suppressed in some countries via libel suits, government secrets (both ones that shouldnt be secret and ones that should be), addresses and pictures of every gay rights activist in Nebraska or every suspected illegal immigrant in Utah or every DEA agent in Mexico, etc.

Now, because I'm one of those libertarian-leaning wackjobs, I would prefer a world where nothing could be censored to one where anyone had the power to censor information. But I don't imagine that will ever be a popular position, or that it is without cost. If the PTB decide to censor the internet, I think we will see a spectacular propaganda campaign in the US media about all the scary evil stuff on the net, one that will make the "be afraid!" style of media stories look very tame.

The "stochastic terrorism" meme seems to me to be tailor made to justify this. If saying some things will statistically cause crackpots to flip out and kill people, then clearly, unfettered free speech is not safe. The US citizens we asassinated in Yemen recently on the president's authority (IMO proper grounds for impeachment, but don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen) were alleged to have been involved in some planning of terrorist plots, but the thing that seems to have been the big reason for wanting them dead, particularly Alwaki, was their production of high quality, English language propaganda justifying jihad and terrorist attacks against the US.

Looking at the way that was covered in the US MSM, the way the Wikileaks stories were covered, I have no faith whatsoever that the US media will fight attempts to censor the internet in any form at all.

#259 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 02:12 PM:

Xopher, #232: That's a really interesting pair of opposing views, each with a perfectly reasonable underpinning behind it! I can completely grok both sets of arguments, because "Charm Person" as you've described it here is a spell of compulsion.

I still think Savages is one of the best Disney songs ever, because it models precisely the same sort of conflict in terms even a young child can comprehend. I've heard that Pocahontas was unpopular with neocons because it portrayed a non-Christian Native American religion in a favorable light, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to learn that the existence of that song was also a factor.

fidelio, #238: I would say, rather, that "negotiates only in bad faith" (perhaps better described as "pretends to negotiate") is a subset of "won't negotiate". Negotiation is like tolerance -- it can't exist as a one-way street.

albatross, #240: While the double-standard of law enforcement is as old as the concept of law itself, I submit that many of our current social woes are traceable (directly, or by only a couple of intermediate steps) to Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. Very directly, in that many of the high-level people working for Bush II got their political start as low-level people under Nixon, and the pardon meant that none of them were ever brought to book either; less directly, in that we failed to establish a clear precedent that the law applies even to the President and his assistants -- and we've been paying for it ever since, as that arrogance trickles down to anyone who perceives themselves as one of the Upper Classes.

Anecdotes != data, but I think this one is worth telling here. I have a friend who teaches high school, who has lately been having bad trouble with one of her students. This kid bragged about how he was planning to make some money by taking the SAT exam for another student, and he did it right in the classroom where my friend could hear. She reported him (as she was legally required to do), and he was caught and removed from the testing session.

He has no concept of having done anything wrong, and has made it clear (to the extent of threatening words and behavior) that he thinks she is the one who did something wrong by reporting him. This kid is white, privileged, the son of a wealthy lawyer. You will have a hard time convincing me that he isn't modeling what he's learned at home.

#260 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 02:12 PM:

@248: Retirement and Survivors Insurance was intended to be a supplement to a pension and the person's individual savings (IRA). It was NEVER intended to be an individual's sole sorce of income.

... Speaking of failed social contracts.

#261 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 02:29 PM:

Steve with a book @193: would the training and experiences of a Vietnam-era US solider be all that different from that of a WWII/Korean War/Elvis-era soldier?

No, but the sociology would be very different. Remember, Vietnam vets were often vilified as "baby-killers." It was in response to that ostracization that the more recent "hate the war, respect the warrior" principle evolved.

MacAllister @212: the people disenfranchised by that subversion of their negotiating mechanism have not only a moral right but, I'd argue, an ethical obligation to protest.

Wait...haven't I heard that somewhere before?

Why, yes. Yes, I'm sure of it. :-)

Debio @213: Then something new shows up on you tube and I have to go sit in a corner for a while to try and figure things out.

I'm right with you. But it does help to remember that "America" comprises not only the UCD police and chancellor, it also (and perhaps more to the point) includes the UCD students and faculty.

abi @103: I think I would like to see some examples of this phenomenon before I'm willing to buy it.

Would John A Arkansawyer's @214 qualify? Now, about Lawful Evil: What people remember about the Little Rock crisis is the first year, where the Nine went through hell to integrate Central High. What they forget is the next year, the lost year, when the entire Little Rock school system was shut down rather than let integration advance. The white power structure hurt its own children, its friends' and neighbors' children, its economic future, and its reputation in the world at large, in order to hurt the black children.

#262 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 03:12 PM:

#240 ::: albatross:

Sometimes, there's the idea that a part of life should be regulated vs. the idea that it should be left up to individuals (or possibly groups?) within very wide limits. Wasn't the separation of church and state rather surprising when it was new?

Something I've heard from only one source, but which seems plausible, is that there was no enforcement set up for the Emancipation Proclamation, and as a result, there was no effective prevention of slavery committed through the legal system.

#263 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 03:21 PM:

Thank you, Yarrow, for that letter link.

I've got a bit of how it was here yesterday with the Council of Elders and Occupy on LJ, with a photo.

It was a profound day.

Love, C.

#264 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 03:36 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers)@222, Jacque@263: fair points.

The Bloody Sunday report has been covered here before; Bruce's comment about bringing home the mentality of asymmetrical warfare reminded me of this contribution to the debate on the report by Conservative MP Bob Stewart (it starts at col 977). He was a soldier in NI in 1970:

We started our training immediately, but we did not know what to do. We watched parts 1 and 2 of the film, "Keeping the Peace," which was made by my battalion in the 1950s. We were being trained to go into Northern Ireland as though we were going into somewhere like Singapore, Palestine or Amritsar. It was dreadful. We did not know what we were doing. We practised dealing with riots at Weeton camp in Lancashire using formations that the British Army had so often used in the past. In the formation, we had snipers, cameramen, diarists and banner-men, and the banner that I was issued said, on one side "Anyone crossing the white line is liable to be shot" and on the other, "Disperse or we fire". We took that banner to Londonderry, but what was farcical was that the second language on it was Arabic.

#265 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 03:49 PM:

Gray Woodland @219: But I am also firmly convinced that the typical enforcement mechanisms for such things, especially the multiplication of regulations and authority and pressures to social conformity, are evils in themselves, which lead rapidly to greater evils down the line.

I think it's worth keeping in mind what laws are for: essentially, their pupose is to clarify (codify) agreements between each other. In the larger sphere, they are also supposed to protect us from each other.

The function of law is to automate these processes, so you don't have to (necessarily) re-negotiate your relationship with Every Single Person you meet, and also to establish relationship agreements with people you don't know, and/or haven't nor never will meet.

Laws have the same limitations as any automated system, however: they're blind, stupid, and inflexible. We depend on human interpretation of laws to make them responsive, intelligent, and adaptive.

But that takes a lot of work and attention on everybody's part, though less than having to work this stuff out afresh with every encounter.

Also, the automation aspect is what makes laws vulnerable to gaming.

#266 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 05:11 PM:

"Something I've heard from only one source, but which seems plausible, is that there was no enforcement set up for the Emancipation Proclamation, and as a result, there was no effective prevention of slavery committed through the legal system."

Well, the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to rebel areas of the country, so, like the Declaration of Independence, it was only "enforced" by prevailing in the war. But again, like that Declaration, it provided a legal color for things (like slaves leaving their masters, or Union soldiers and sympathizers helping them do so) that the other side saw as blatantly against the law. (See the "How Not to Talk Like a Pirate" thread for Revolutionary examples.)

#267 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 05:16 PM:

albatross @258: I have no faith whatsoever that the US media will fight attempts to censor the internet in any form at all.

Then we agree. :-)

I predict that, in the next while, at least, one of the most vigorous battles of the Age will be fought over who controls the Interet. I'm a little suprised that it's taken TPTB this long to really clue in.

I think they don't really comprehend (and certainly didn't back when it was still ARPA's well-behaved pet) what they've loosed on the world. I think they're beginning to get scared, but if they were really as scared as they should be, I think we would have much more frantic attempts to shut it down than we have.

Heh. It's interesting that Colossus: the Forbin Project and Terminator are fairly typical conceptualizations of tech end-points. I'm well behind on my SF, but I don't recall anybody predicting Arab Spring and OWS. Probably for the same reasons that personal computing wasn't predicted.

In the same way that the Internet's distributed nature has made it such a challenge to centralized power, I think it's perhaps predictable that centralized power's illogical extreme is really really centralized power. Centralized power being overcome by distributed power just isn't in their (our) meme set. It's not a direction their brains can go unless pushed from the outside.

#268 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 05:34 PM:

me @267: It's interesting to follow that line of thinking to ponder what a illogical extention failure mode of distributed power might be. But that's probably topic for another thread....

#269 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 05:50 PM:

Jacque @267: it didn't predict precisely those things, but Brunner's The Shockwave Rider predicted that the kind of distributed information sharing that the Internet provides would give some very interesting social results. I should go re-read it.

#270 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 06:54 PM:

It's decades since I read it, but didn't Heinlein's "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" put a lot of emphasis on control of the computing/communications infrastructure in a revolution? And an attempt to decentralize said infrastructure played a key part in the climax of the book.

#271 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 06:59 PM:

Jeremy Leader @270: Long time for me, too, but as I recall, much of the rebels' attention went into making damn sure Adam Selene was never identified as the computer.

#272 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 08:25 PM:

Jacque @ 267:

TPTB have a serious blind spot wrt distributed systems of any kind. I think it's a cultural attribute of most, if not all, of western civilization, because just about all western social systems are based on hierarchical organization and control.

For more than 10 years of my career as a software engineer I tried to educate and persuade people about the benefits of distributed systems. Many people just couldn't understand how distributed control could possibly work, many who got that far couldn't believe that it could possibly be reliable, or as effective as central control.

Until recently, I think TPTB weren't even aware that the internet was distributed, so they assumed that they automatically had control of it, since they sit at the center of all centrally-controlled communications. And even when they realized what the internet really is, I don't think they grasped how little control they actually had. Now some of them may be waking up to what's really out there, and they're panicking, trying to ram through laws to get back the control they thought they had.

#273 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 08:28 PM:

Jeremy Leader #270, Jacque #271: I'm not sure what Jeremy means about "decentralizing" -- what they had was a classic centrally-controlled system, where the nominal authority (the Warden) had no clue that the system itself was controlled (much less inhabited) by a rebel. Since then, the idea of a central control system being subverted in one way or another has become common currency in the security world -- I'm afraid that like certain other books, TMIaHM wrote part of its basic scenario out of existence.

On the other hand, his "cell system" for organizing a revolution likewise became common currency, in both the security community and their opponents. The cell system has partly been superseded by modern encryption, but is probably still useful for real-world interaction.

#274 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 10:04 PM:

Jacque@267: I think they don't really comprehend (and certainly didn't back when it was still ARPA's well-behaved pet) what they've loosed on the world.

Er.

The Protect IP Act is far from the first legislative effort at formalizing corporate control over huge swaths of net traffic.

Messing with the leadership of absolutely fundamental elements of net operation has been going on some time now too.

Big traffic carriers have been altogether unaccountably favoring some traffic and suppressing other traffic for years.

It hasn't yet gotten the full-bore highest priority treatment, but the pace and scale of efforts to make sure that the net is altogether corporate-controlled continue to escalate. Avedon Carol has been saying for some time that she'll miss the net as we know it when it's gone, and I've learned that it may be very unwise to bet against her judgments like that.

#275 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 01:49 AM:

Jacque @271: Good point.

David Harmon @273: My foggy memory says that at the end of the book, "Adam" had been redundantly decentralized for greater survivability; the tragedy was that it seemed to have destroyed his self-awareness.

#276 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 04:00 AM:

My foggy memory has it that Adam went silent after Luna had been bombed, and that even though more capacity was added later, he never resurfaced.

I've seen a suggestion that he decided that he wouldn't be good for Luna anymore, and wasn't actually dead. I don't think this is supported in the text.

I think he turns up alive in The Cat Who Walks through Walls, but I've only read that once. (I seem to be unusual in thinking that it's the worst Heinlein novel.)

It wouldn't surprise me if Mike had gotten all the fun he could see from interacting with humans, and was thinking about something else, but again, this isn't supported by the text.

#277 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 04:00 AM:

My foggy memory has it that Adam went silent after Luna had been bombed, and that even though more capacity was added later, he never resurfaced.

I've seen a suggestion that he decided that he wouldn't be good for Luna anymore, and wasn't actually dead. I don't think this is supported in the text.

I think he turns up alive in The Cat Who Walks through Walls, but I've only read that once. (I seem to be unusual in thinking that it's the worst Heinlein novel.)

It wouldn't surprise me if Mike had gotten all the fun he could see from interacting with humans, and was thinking about something else, but again, this isn't supported by the text.

#278 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 05:11 AM:

The text doesn't say what happened to Mike, just that he went silent after the central complex was bombed and he was never heard from again.

(As for worst Heinlein novel, in my experience it seems to be about evenly divided between Friday, The Cat Who Walked Through Walls, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset. I personally think the latter two should both be forgotten.)

#279 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 06:09 AM:

Jacque @ 265: I think it's worth keeping in mind what laws are for: essentially, their pupose is to clarify (codify) agreements between each other. In the larger sphere, they are also supposed to protect us from each other.

The function of law is to automate these processes...

Granted: as I've mentioned, my own preference is for a society which is quite richly ordered. But richly is not rigidly or homogenously, and laws aren't the only (or necessarily even the most orderly) way of achieving those goals. Customs, conventions, shared values and stories, practical virtues, witness and example, or even simple reason and mindfulness and memory working on a common environment, can produce the same kinds of civil predictability. And whereas they have the weakness of not being so consistently enforceable, they also have some converse power of acting without enforcement.

It isn't so much that 'chaotic' people aren't inclined to less orderly behaviour than 'lawful' ones. It's that we're less inclined to consider desirable common principles of action as commandments, and more to treat them as things like manners and virtues and knacks and wisdoms. The chief dispute is then over how far social norms must be imposed by authority, and how far they should evolve in conversation.

I don't think the answer can plausibly be the same under all circumstances. I most certainly do think that the latter is, all else being equal, much better than the former; and I'm equally aware that a lot of people in the world think this approach not just implausible, but chaotic in the bad sense, inherently morally horrible. These folk are what I call a tough audience.

#280 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 06:20 AM:

Not just the Adam alias, but Mike the true personality, was apparently lost after his peripheral nodes were destroyed in the fighting. In (iirc)The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, a team assembled from other universes retrieves his hardware, with the explanation that they know enough about AIs to fix him.

geekosaur #278: Yeah... Number of the Beast was a decent going-away party, J.O.B. and even Friday had redeeming values, but otherwise those last few novels were completely off the rails.

I've heard a story that RAH's last books represented the effects of a progressive brain tumor. Frankly, I'd really like to believe that.... :-(

#281 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 08:03 AM:

On the change in the alignment system in 4th edition D&D. It occurs to me that a conceptual problem with the change is that the new system (intentionally or not) invites us to place the alignments on a linear scale.

However, looking at the descriptions, the arrangement is more like a bowtie.

Which could be sort of cool, because we have it on good authority that bowties are cool. :-)

Also fezzes, although there is some disagreement on that subject... :-)

#282 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 09:27 AM:

Jacque @ #254: The remaining vulnerability that I see is that mobile communications (as currently confugured) are still tied to cell-towers. Is there any work being done on peer-to-peer transmission? That seems like the next obvious evolution.

The Serval Project is working on getting cell phones to link in peer-to-peer networks. The planned mechanism is an easily-distributable software package that runs on an ordinary phone and lets it link up with any other phone within range that's also running the software. (The target applications are emergency rescue and disaster relief in regions with no cell tower coverage.)

#283 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 09:37 AM:

The evidence keeps getting stronger and stonger that certain western alleged democracies are in reality fascist police states which are getting more and more abusive and less and less concerned about maintaining the appearance of "democracy."
Considerations:
o Got to a supermarket and look at the "information distribution" objects on display--there are a few, increasingly dumbed down and consolidated and reduced in coverage, newspapers. The sports sections, which are hardly a source of information and metrics about the status of health, wealth, life, liberty, and the general happiness of the population
o There are lots of publications focused on marketing products consisting of highly processed comestibles (products full of high fructose corn syrup are more congenial to development of diabetes, the primary contributor to 2/3rds of the healthcare costs in the USA, and geometrically increasing production of pancreatic cancer cell masses than "health"), "beauty products," and all sorts of insecurity conditions regarding appearance and lifestyles as being inadequate and needing advertised products to attempt to mitigate...
o There are lots of publications which feature salacious gossip or even outright malign misinformation about Celebrities and the current President of the USA and the Secretary of State and her husband, as lures for people to buy and read them--with the goals that include getting eyeballs inputting the marketing memes above.
o Where are the magazines which talk about issues? Where are the publications other than the few newspapers, which give any indication of the levels of poverty, of negative net worth, of joblessness, of unemployment, of corporate greed and the economic inequities and divides in the USA? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Anniston and Lady Gaga and Madonna and Justin Bieber have wealth and income such that unless they go into assets squandering modes which make conspicuous consumption look like parsimony, they will never unwillingly go hundry, unclothed, or homeless. The poor and indigent only get attention in supermarket checkout stand magazines when the Angelina Jolies and Mother Teresas of the world get shown in those settings, or ever more occastionally, for the amusement or edification of readerships as examples of Jerry Springer grade crazypeoplestuff, or of Inspirational Tales of "see how that person went from nothing to riches!"
o It's all media circus, product marketing, and adulterated bread.... it's fascist information distribution control, and the avenue for showing that truth and the image doctoring of the mass media don't match, the Internet, is unded attack--and that copyright, enshrined in the US Constitution as for the benefit of the public and exclusivity for a limited time prescribed to encourage authors to write for the PUBLIC, is become a fascist weapon to on the one hand, enslave those who write what the corporations want to publish, and on the other hand, to silence and disenfranchise completely those who write what the corporations want extinct...

( I followed the link to techdirt and discovered there is an abomination called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and that the discussion on it is all -secret- http://acta.ffii.org/?p=853
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110927/10504716112/us-eu-canada-japan-australia-others-to-sign-acta-this-weekend-despite-legal-concerns.shtml

#284 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 09:59 AM:

re 278/280: I never made it past I Will Fear No Evil.

#285 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 10:17 AM:

I got halfway through I Will Fear No Evil and that is as far as I got. I though it was a piece of absolute crap, only rivaled by the one with the fallout shelter in Colorado as worst of Heinlein.... Some of my outlook on those also includes being female...

====
"Lawful" merely means in compliance with laws, it says nothing about the morality of the laws... order and chaos are more absolute terms as regards absolutes as opposed to compliance to arbitrary rules. Order is minimum energy, chaos involved randomness (though, it turns out, there really is an underlying structure to chaos/additive white Gaussian noise--research that I was on the sideline of at GTE Government Systems Strategic Systems Division done in the mid-1980s on meteor burst communications proved that.... (I was monitoring the research, I was not directly involved in doing it but was working on projects which involved it as a systems engineer and proposal team member., and may have some of the papers on it still...)
There are rules which one can choose to obey, or not obey, and then there are rules which one nearly automatically will or won't be in compliance with. Anyone Jewish in Spain from 1492 - 1992 was automatically breaking the law. Anyone Roman Catholic in Spain in that time, was compliant with that law. ..

#286 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 11:34 AM:

Jacque @ 265:

I think it's worth keeping in mind what laws are for: essentially, their pupose is to clarify (codify) agreements between each other. In the larger sphere, they are also supposed to protect us from each other.

Which implies a requirement that the laws relevant for a person be few and simple enough that there's actually a clarifying effect.

We've got laws which are too numerous to keep track of and a legal system which is too expensive for most people to use for anything but emergencies, and I don't see a likely way out.

#283 ::: Paula Lieberman:

I don't see low quality magazines and common availability of mediocre food as evidence of a fascist state.

You can still get real food in a supermarket, as distinct from a bodega or 7-11.

I'll grant that a lot of good quality information has migrated online, and not everyone can get online.

#287 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 12:43 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) @272: Now some of them may be waking up to what's really out there, and they're panicking, trying to ram through laws to get back the control they thought they had.

I can just see some CEO, sitting in his penthouse office, yelling into the phone, "You can't just shut it down? What the hell do you mean?"

Heh.

Where we have to be really alert and really careful is that they will, in all likelihood, as they fail (we hope) in their increasingly frantc attempts at control, they'll get more irrational and desperate. My fertile immagination suggests things could get really ugly. I pray I'm wrong.

Bruce Baugh @274: The Protect IP Act is far from the first legislative effort at formalizing corporate control over huge swaths of net traffic.

Verily, which is why the EFF even exists in the first place.

Avedon Carol has been saying for some time that she'll miss the net as we know it when it's gone, and I've learned that it may be very unwise to bet against her judgments like that.

Yeah.

Our only hole-card may lie in the 99% getting hip to what they have to lose, and finding/building more robust workarounds to corporate control. The good news is that we have a lot more brains to bring to bear on the question than even the original ARPA planners.

Gray Woodland @279: I don't think the answer can plausibly be the same under all circumstances.

Automating human behavior is a prospect that is, um, fraught. Ya gotta have some stuff precalculated, particularly in this day and age when you're dealing with people Ns of handshakes away, just to scale the problem down to something manageable. But at the same time, as Dr. Phil is so fond of saying, every relationship has to be negotiated.

The chief dispute is then over how far social norms must be imposed by authority, and how far they should evolve in conversation.

For my money, I think it's useful to have a minimum baseline to back up against: you don't kill people. You don't take their stuff. For that, I think it's worthwhile to have stuff written down explicitly while heads are cool that can be pointed to at need. While that doesn't elimiate the need for negotiation, it does reduce it. "You killed this guy. You know you're not supposed to kill people." "But he was trying to kill me. What am I, chopped liver?"

Paul A. @282: The Serval Project is working on getting cell phones to link in peer-to-peer networks.

Oh, good. Yes, I think I vaguely heard something about that. I would predict that capacity will be an issue, for a while yet, until Moore's law gives the equivalent of a PowerPC in our phone. I wonder how long, once implemented, it will take the process to move from emergency use to general use? The next obvious piece is to have satellite back-up for when you're too far from a peer or tower, or when your car dies in a box canyon. (Which, of course, makes for a weak point, but I don't know what the fix for that would be.)

C. Wingate @284: I never made it past I Will Fear No Evil.

My chronology may be off, but ISTR that one was his last before the bypass surgery. After his brain was getting enough blood again, the books got better for a while. (I've heard it posited that Number of the Beast was a self-lampoon. No doc'n, though.)

Nancy Lebovitz @286: Which implies a requirement that the laws relevant for a person be few and simple enough that there's actually a clarifying effect.

That would be optimal, yes. Though I'm not a Person of the Book, I have to concede that the the Ten Commandments do have a certain appealing simplicity. (Though, to be clear, I can only really claim commitment to #s 6, 8, & 9.)

We've got laws which are too numerous to keep track of and a legal system which is too expensive for most people to use for anything but emergencies, and I don't see a likely way out.

Legacy code. ;-) Patches on patches on patches, modulo bad actors gaming the system.

It would be an interesting exercise to start from scratch. If one did so, one enhancement I would want to see would be that a law has to have a desired outcome stated, a metric to measure that outcome (e.g., a measure of the law's efficacy), and an expiration date.

#288 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 01:25 PM:

#286 Nancy
It's the suppression of information and the suppression of unprocessed foodstuffs which are among the symptoms/results. The content of magazines reflects what the advertisers want, AND the publishers pay for placement--that is, it's basically a payola system, of pay for distribution and those who don't, have no distribution. The latest is that the shelves which used to have books and magazines in the local supermarkets, have been replaces with corporate greeting card aisles and the books cut back to a rotating rack of bestseller publisher paperbacks and the magazines at the checkout counters only... Given how the commercia weorks, that means that the card companies offered more money for their products to be on display... The position of products in supermarkets is not accidental or based on direct popularity, it's based on pay for placements, and I have actually talked to people whose jobs include going into supermarkets to make -sure- that the products have the premium placement the distributor or manufacturer has paid for...

#289 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 01:29 PM:

#288 [myself]
There are some magazines which have some limited mitigational techniques for the payola of content--e.g. Women's World and Women First, I think they are, list ingredients with fats and oils etc. listing the type of ingredient and in parentheses, "such as [name of brand made by advertiser]" -- which promotes the advertiser but leaves the reader free to us some other brand or noncommercial ingredient instead of the Brand Name goods of the advertiser...

#290 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 01:45 PM:

Jacque @ 287:

The next obvious piece is to have satellite back-up for when you're too far from a peer or tower

This would be nice, as it would fill the holes in any given carrier's coverage (at some additional cost per minute, no doubt). But it won't happen anytime real soon because satcom requires higher power than phone-to-tower (the satellites orbit at over 400 miles from the surface, and slant range can be considerably longer); note the size of a satcom phone compared to a cell phone, that's mostly battery and RF power circuitry. Also, the current constellation, called Iridium, has only 10 Mhz bandwidth between satellites (and each sat has 4 inter-satellite links) so the system can't handle anything like the traffic of a terrestrial system. Launching the next generation constellation of 66 sats is supposed to start in 2015 (slipped 1 year from 2014, Cheops Law in action).

a law has to have a desired outcome stated, a metric to measure that outcome (e.g., a measure of the law's efficacy), and an expiration date.

Oh, you want laws to have content and logical consistency? IIRC there was a project in the UK a few years ago to examine some proposed laws by parsing them and analyzing with semantic and logic checkers. One many-page bill turned out to have completely null semantic content and therefore no logic to check: various parts cancelled each other out.

While I am a great fan of automated support for legal systems, I'm also a great skeptic of any kind of automation that people might try to replace themselves with, as a result of many years in the software business. Observe how many people were ready to toss the entire electoral infrastructure in the US as soon as vendors like Diebold announced they had developed electronic voting machines; also observe just how reliable and secure those machines turned out to be1.

1. In the early 1980's I did QA at Intel on the single-board computers that Diebold bought for ATMs. There was a story we all told about how when the engineer who designed the board walked past an ATM, the screen lit up with the word "Daddy" and the machine spit out all of its cash. Maybe not true, but extremely symbolic.

#291 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:15 PM:

Michael, #281: The central issue I see with trying to put both axes of alignment on a single scale is that... well, they're two separate axes! The nature of the goals you're trying to achieve is not inherently connected to the means you prefer using in trying to achieve them.

To tie this back into the thread discussion, organized crime leaders and the 1% both have the same basic goal: "as much money as I can get for myself, and the hell with anyone else". But organized crime approaches this goal in a Chaotic manner ("I don't give a shit what the law says, I'll just buy a judge if I have to"), while the 1% approaches it in a Lawful manner ("What I want to do is illegal? I'll change the law!").

Trying to shoehorn both of those approaches into a single axis gives an unrealistic picture of the world. Implying while doing so that Lawful=Good and Chaotic=Evil is actively propagandistic.

Paul, #282: You're talking about a peer-to-peer app. And wouldn't that put the cat among the pigeons!

#292 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:30 PM:

Further ObSF:

A couple of days ago I picked up our copy of Oor Charlie's Wireless, and the story that wanted to be read was Unwirer.

Quite relevant to both this thread, and Save The Internet.

J Homes.

#293 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:33 PM:

I've seen some mentions on The Agitator of an ap that immediately uploading the video you record on your cell phone. Anyone know the name of the ap?

#294 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Gray Woodland @ 279: "It isn't so much that 'chaotic' people aren't inclined to less orderly behaviour than 'lawful' ones. It's that we're less inclined to consider desirable common principles of action as commandments, and more to treat them as things like manners and virtues and knacks and wisdoms."

I don't think that's quite fair to the lawful--I feel the core of lawfulness is the belief that the desirable part of desirable common principles of actions is that they are common, i.e. shared by all, and principles, i.e. generalizable to all situations. Minus that uniformity of application and benefit, they really aren't all that desirable: not stealing 99% of the time from 99% of people is quite different from not stealing from anyone. Thus, even when violating the principle would yield a better result in this particular situation, it still ought to be followed. As an example: pacifists believe that violence is never desirable, even when it would protect the lives of innocents.

The virtue of law is its rigidity; its flaw is rigidity. The virtue of chaos is its flexibility; so too is its flaw.

#295 ::: Krinn DNZ ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:49 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 293: To the best of my knowledge, that's part of what iCloud does for up-to-date iOS devices, but there are probably other things that do it too. There are for example "streaming" apps, those are a good bet.

#296 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:51 PM:

Do the Keystone Kops belong in Lawful Chaos?

#297 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 02:56 PM:

Jacque @287:
The current generation of smartphones and tablets has multiple cores, and ARMv7 and up are not all that far from desktop CPUs to start with; the main shortcomings are in the peripherals, for example as the U.S. cell system is currently designed it is not really possible for cell towers to handle (standard) voice and data on the same connection to a given phone (I blame Qualcomm), so the phones don't include that capability or it's present (since non-U.S. GPRS supports it) but not accessible in U.S. models. (The flip side of that is that, for a peer to peer setup, you're probably going to be using VOIP anyway; but it does mean more work for the implementors.)

#298 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 03:23 PM:

Bruce Cohen @290: This would be nice,

Sorry, what I should have said was, "The next obvious piece is to figure out how to have satellite back-up for when you're too far from a peer or tower"

One many-page bill turned out to have completely null semantic content and therefore no logic to check: various parts cancelled each other out.

This doesn't surprise me in the least. Scale that to the whole legal system and, well.

While I am a great fan of automated support for legal systems, I'm also a great skeptic of any kind of automation that people might try to replace themselves with, as a result of many years in the software business.

This mis-reads what I postulated slightly; I'm saying that the legal system is an automated system that supplements person-to-person negotiation. And your skepticism is precisely to my point.

Or, as heresiarch @294 so neatly summarized:

The virtue of law is its rigidity; its flaw is rigidity. The virtue of chaos is its flexibility; so too is its flaw.

Bug, meet feature.

#299 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 03:29 PM:

Heresiarch @ 294: And then there are the people who DO steal from 99% of the people, 99% of the time, which is where we came in....

#300 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 03:41 PM:

Lee @281:
Implying while doing so that Lawful=Good and Chaotic=Evil is actively propagandistic.

Look, I'm as much a fan of the two-axis alignment system as you are, but this is getting old. Did you read heresiarch's link at 160? Here it is again for your convenience. The Fourth Edition change clearly was not an act of propaganda. It was game design, influenced by the failure modes of the original system.

Here, from that link, are the basic definitions of the five alignments:

Lawful Good: Civilization and order.
Good: Freedom and kindness.
Unaligned: Having no alignment; not taking a stand.
Evil: Tyranny and hatred.
Chaotic Evil: Entropy and destruction.

Reading that, it looks to me like you have to modify basic Good to make it lawful, and modify basic Evil to make it chaotic. There's an argument to be made, based on that, that they're saying that "vanilla" evil (tyranny and hatred) is Lawful unless otherwise stated.

Given the ambiguity there, given that you don't even play the game (and thus only have an outsider's view of the mechanics) and given how very much fun the discussion in the other thread was, can I please request that you drop that assertion unless you bring a bit more proof in?

#301 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 03:48 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ #285, on the Heinlein issue, I find myself in complete agreement with you, and I too view being female as an important factor in that judgment.

#302 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 03:50 PM:

Rigidity is not stability.

Stability is not always stable, as humanity's usual mode of locomotion on two legs shows, but I prefer it to rigidity.

#303 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 04:04 PM:

In re judgement of Heinlein based on his women, I think the correct answer is he's never done a very good job of it, and sometimes it shows more than others.

#304 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 05:04 PM:

geekosaur @ 303:

Yes, but what's most annoying is that he did try on occasion to write strong female characters, and each time his (lack of) understanding of females (and maybe people in general) failed him: Friday1, The Door into Summer2, and Farnham's Freehold3 in particular, though I could probably cite half a dozen more. I think I'd be less disappointed in him if he had been a complete misogynist.

1. Rape used in interrogation is trivial, just ignore it or act like you're having fun? Really?
2. Very squicky relationship between Danny and his best friend's prepubescent daughter. But she turns into a strong and empowered adult who really loves him, so it's OK.
3. This time it's father-daughter squick. But it's OK, we've just survived an atomic war, so lifeboat rules appply: got to diversify the gene pool, give me a break.

#305 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 05:44 PM:

Noodling on the rule of law...

William Roper: "So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!"
Sir Thomas More: "Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"
William Roper: "Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!"
Sir Thomas More: "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

This has been quoted a lot lately, and I don't by any means disagree with it. It's basically the same principle we were trying to point out about the "unilateral Presidency" -- did the Republicans really want to see that kind of power in the hands of a Democratic President?*

It seems, though, that we've now come to the point where "rule of law" itself is unilaterally applied. OWS is being pilloried because "they're breaking the law", while the people they're protesting against calmly do whatever they like, legal or not, knowing that they will never be brought to book for it.**

Where do you draw the line, when one side says "YOU have to obey the law, but WE don't"? When the law is no longer a restraint on both sides, but a trap for one side only? I don't have an easy answer for that.


* That argument failed, in large part because the Republicans confidently expected that they would never be out of power again, so they considered it irrelevant.

** The Enron prosecution was (depending on how you look at it) either the last gasp of the rule of law, or proof that something about the Enron mess actually hurt the People Who Matter.

#306 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 07:54 PM:

Serge Broom@296

Do the Keystone Kops belong in Lawful Chaos?

More like chaotic lawfuls...

#307 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 08:41 PM:

Bruce Cohen (#304), I have never thought Heinlein was such a *great* writer, and have been puzzled by his renown pretty much all of my reading life. His women *are* awful and unreal, but although I am not a man, I have known quite a few, and I find his men awful and unreal also. His assertions that the people he was writing about were amazing geniuses convinced me that he didn't know anyone that smart, nor was he that smart himself.

As to a father-daughter pairing "diversifying" the gene pool, unless something revolutionary has been discovered since I majored in genetics (way back in the dark ages), that's not how it works.

Heinlein was just a guy who wrote his kinks and was practically *worshiped* by people who shared at least some of them.

#308 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 08:50 PM:

I'm not going to argue that Heinlein was a great writer, but he did have at least one virtue which isn't all that common-- he thought the world was an interesting place, full of plausible interconnected details.

For example, in "The Green Hills of Earth", he didn't just figure out that spaceships would have a smell, he also figured out that there would be a legal system for space crew, and people who could rules lawyer it.

#309 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 09:20 PM:

Early Heinlein brought to the field an attention to detail, and a respect for science, which at that time was rare and noteworthy. I'd say several of his early and even middle works -- not just novels, but novellas and short stories -- are still worthy of being called classics, but many of his best works were among his so-called "juveniles".

It's a shame that those have been overshadowed by his last few novels....

#310 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 09:52 PM:

I'm sorry, but I'm skipping over the comments to make two:

1) The Lawful whatever discussion is to my mind half-irrelevant. The irrelevant part, and one which OWS has been pointing out, is that the elites are not lawful. They use the law when it benefits them, and break it with impunity when it doesn't. The only real crime is screwing over somebody with the clout to strike back (the 'bigger shark' rule).

2) "you need to organize so we can crush you" is IMHO worse than people think. In addition to the standard tools, the current establishment in the USA has a whole host of anti-terrorism laws, IP/copyright laws, and an increased ability to keep things out of the courts (combined with a SCOTUS who doesn't like the 1st or 4th amendments). The vulnerability of leadership to attack is pretty high; the establishment would be smart to crush a few leaders, and only then start co-opting them.

#311 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 10:26 PM:

Nancy @308: he also figured out that there would be a legal system for space crew, and people who could rules lawyer it

Was that "figuring out", or was it Heinlein taking his naval experience and transplanting it into a new setting?

#312 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 10:54 PM:

I wish I had an e-text at hand for Farmer in the Sky. There's a passage early on where Heinlein is quite good on the purpose of rule of law*. He points out that the Boy Scout code wasn't designed to make it easy to push Scouts around.

Equally, the law is supposed to provide justice and allow people to live together freely in relative peace and safety, not to make us easy to exploit and oppress. When the law loses that purpose, then rule of law loses its value, even becomes a Bad Thing.

*He was generally good on that throughout the juveniles.

#313 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2011, 11:20 PM:

Avram @ 311; Nancy @ 308:

Nancy: he also figured out that there would be a legal system for space crew, and people who could rules lawyer it

Avram: Was that "figuring out", or was it Heinlein taking his naval experience and transplanting it into a new setting?

I think that, either way, that goes to David Harmon's point about adding realistic detail. Heinlein was the first to not just extrapolate the scientific elements, but to extrapolate the details of human life, carried over into the new world. We adapt to change, it doesn't change everything ...

#314 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:57 AM:

Barry, #310: Since you say you skipped over most of the comments, I hope you don't mind my pointing you back at my 305, which is an attempt to address your point #1. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about it.

Re Heinlein: I have my issues with him too, some of which are well expressed by Older @307 (and that was exactly my thought about father-daughter pairings, too!). However, reading Starship Troopers once gave me the vocabulary to communicate something needful to the Big Boss at one of my jobs -- he was ex-military, and the phrase "a good general makes a very poor sergeant" made the point with crystal clarity, and without putting him on the defensive. That I, with no military experience of my own or in my family*, could do that -- it says something about Heinlein's attention to detail in his writing.

* My father served in Korea, but nobody ever talked about it. The only reason I know is that there are a couple of surviving pictures of him in uniform. I have no idea in what capacity he served.

#315 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:59 AM:

The reason I said that I'm disappointed in Heinlein is that he was my introduction to SF at the age of 6, and I imprinted on his idea of SF for a long time. But it wasn't just that as I got older I found his flaws and limitations, true as that is, but also that he stopped writing the kind of stories that he started with, the ones that had a place for his view of the world, and started writing stories that preached for his view, and glorified his kinks.

I still go back and read the juveniles and the early short stories occasionally, because there really is some interesting stuff there.

#316 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:43 AM:

There are a lot of writers who never seem to have written a good female character. And there are settings, not just in SF, where they don't need to.

Only the world is changing, and such settings are becoming more and more a matter of history.

For instance, in the Royal Navy

#317 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:09 AM:

I can't help but feel Heinlein gets such relentless flack for his awful women less because his women are substantially worse than the rest of the early SF writers', but more because he gives them enough space in enough stories that the awfulness is unmistakably obvious. It's difficult to make the case that his women are worse than Asimov's or Bester's--when they had female characters at all.

#318 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:14 AM:

And yet, and yet.

Yes, I hear you on the late, and the bad Heinlein. But I still read the last page of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and weep, for Mannie listens at terminals late at night (which is when I read this) and listens in case Mike should whisper, "Man... Man, my greatest friend..."

It's up there with "I can't do that, Dave", but, oh, so different.

#319 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:52 AM:

#311 ::: Avram:

"Figured out" might be a little too strong, but "realized" might be right. He was hardly the only sf author with military experience at the time, wasn't he?

I reread "Magic, Inc." recently, and while Heinlein was subtly bad about African Americans and had some nasty paragraphs about women not belonging in politics that I'd literally never noticed on previous readings, he was excellent about what it's like to be fascinated by a business (something which I think is rare in fiction of any sort) and had a background theme of Alex's world getting opened up.

I suspect it was part of Heinlein's magic that he could have a viewpoint character who's fascinated by a business while somehow keeping the story interesting.

As for details and connections, I'd put Rowling somewhat in his category, though I don't know whether she read him. Even though she didn't go in for meticulous consistent world-building, she had the full of interesting details attitude, especially in the earlier books, and she knew enough to give her wizards newspapers (including a sleazy newspaper) and a government.

It might be interesting to categorize authors by how much they've got the "world full of many interacting features" attitude. Delany would be another.

Are there any top authors who don't have it?

Borges might count, but I don't think he wrote any novels, and he was really doing something else.

Which reminds me....Librarians in the Branch Library of Babel.

In re not noticing those paragraphs about women (though I think they were spoken by a character): I miss the days when I only noticed the stuff about women if it was particularly awful, and I'm talking about mignonettes in Anthony's Chthon.


#320 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:16 AM:

Nancy, 318: In re missing our good old not-noticing days, a friend tweeted this handy summary of things the Fluorosphere knows, but of which most of us need reminding every so often.

#321 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:38 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #318: I'm afraid you've borked a link again: You had: "http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/www.strangehorizons.com/2011/20111017/librarians-f.shtml". -- I think the ML engine does that when you skip the http:// part, which in this case the site does in the address it feeds back to the address bar.

Librarians of Babel works.

#322 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:29 AM:

This time it's father-daughter squick. But it's OK, we've just survived an atomic war, so lifeboat rules appply: got to diversify the gene pool, give me a break.

Except...that's not what happens in Farnham's Freehold. Hugh has sex with Barbara, who is his daughter Karen's friend. Karen herself is pregnant by someone not present.

FF is bad for all sorts of other ways, don't get me wrong, but not that one.

#323 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:36 AM:

#321 ::: Carrie S.

Karen offers to have sex with her father. He turns her down.

#324 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:44 AM:

We need a careful study of the conditions under which Godwin's Law can be extended to discussions which end up at Heinlein.

#325 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:57 AM:

Nancy: Wow, I really don't remember that. It's been years since I read the book, and mostly what I've got left is "Seven no trump".

I recall a conversation with Barbara about how Karen's going to end up with Joe, and Hugh commenting about how it's bad that of the six people they have four are from the same family. And that's about it.

#326 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 09:57 AM:

What squicked me more about Farnham's Freehold was the mother-son relationship....

#327 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:34 AM:

#325 ::: David Harmon

What squicked me more about Farnham's Freehold was the mother-son relationship....

This may not be the time or the place, but I wouldn't mind a dysfunctional fictional families discussion at some point.

#328 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:34 PM:

Not having read it: is that part of Farnham's Freehold invoking the story of Lot's daughters?

#329 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:50 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 323: Hear, hear.

#330 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:26 PM:

The Occupy Wall Street Walk all the way from NYC to Washington D.C. has been completed.

The article in the WaPo describing the trek, , including photos, that also include the Walkers' damaged feet.

One of the commentators to the article stated, ""Tea partiers would never do this." No truer words could be uttered than these by one of the Walkers, "Most people don't know what it is to walk two miles."

There's also a long article up by the New Yorker describing the origins and perhaps the future of the Occupy movement. This bit from the bottom of the article is heartening:

[ " No matter what happens next, the movement’s center is likely to shift from the N.Y.C.G.A., just as it shifted from Adbusters, and form somewhere else, around some other circle of people, ideas, and plans. “This could be the greatest thing that I work on in my life,” Justine Tunney, of OccupyWallSt.org, said. “But the movement will have other Web sites. Over the coming weeks and months, as other occupations become more prominent, ours will slowly become irrelevant.” She sounded as though the irrelevance of her project were both inevitable and desirable. “We can’t hold on to any of that authority,” she continued. “We don’t want to.” ]

Love, C.

#331 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Barry @ 310

[ " "you need to organize so we can crush you" is IMHO worse than people think. In addition to the standard tools, the current establishment in the USA has a whole host of anti-terrorism laws, IP/copyright laws, and an increased ability to keep things out of the courts (combined with a SCOTUS who doesn't like the 1st or 4th amendments). The vulnerability of leadership to attack is pretty high; the establishment would be smart to crush a few leaders, and only then start co-opting them. " ]

Along these lines you will find this article in the Nation, "Two Scandals", about the connections between these two academic systems, UC-Davis and Penn State, the FBI and our "Homeland Security" system.
\
Love, C.

#332 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:50 PM:

We need a careful study of the conditions under which Godwin's Law can be extended to discussions which end up at Heinlein.

More generally, we need a careful study of subjects to which conversations converge, given an indefinitely large period of time.

#333 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 03:04 PM:

Jacques # 287
There are cell phones which have dual core ARM chips in them, which are more powerful than most of the PowerPC chips have been...

# 307 Older
Heinlein was writing female characters who acted in their own right and were emancipated and made their own decisions in the days when the general choices in SF were no female characters, female trophies awarded as prizes to male characters, evil bitch queens, stay at home purdah wives and mothers, or the typing pool... he was from a military family and a graduate of an male-only school (US Navy Academy). There were no women on ship duty except as nurses on hospital ships, no female cadets in military academies, no women in military cockpits or flight training, no women on the Supreme Court, hardly any women in Congress, there were laws against women working more than a certain number of hours per week, laws prohibiting women from keeping maiden names professionally, women didn;t even have their own finanicial records, if they wanted to buy a house, in most states a husband or father or brother or son or uncle, etc., had to sign the loan!
"Delilah and the Spacerigger" was written way back in time when women were actively barred from the workforce except as scut and clerical labor (can't be a manager but no limit on being the cleaning lady or stuck in the typing pool....) and looked down upon for working for even those livings. It's annoying to me -today- to run across books in which the trope is there is an all-male profession and the heroine dearly wants to break into it and does so.... uh, it's 2011, not 1968 or 1975 or even 1980, the military academies integrated in the mid to late 1970s with the last government (state) school holdouts, Virginia Military Academy and the Citadel caving in the early 1980s. The Supreme Court got female justices. The first women entered miitary flight training around 1976. Dartmouth and Caltech and Yale etc. banned women until the 1970s. When Heinlein wrote Delilah and the Space Rigger, women were banned from all of those....
He was lightyears ahead of his contemporaries regarding the status of women. That someone relatively early in the 20th century when women didn;t even have the vote in the USA, wrote stories with female combatants, female pilots, women who ran their own businesses, and the ruler of the galaxy being a women.... was far far more equal opportunity than his contemporariers, many of whom strove to their retirements or even death, against allowing women into flight training, cockpits, on-board ships as crew, the military academies, onto the Supreme Court....

(But I do agree Farnham;s Freehold is abominable. I don;t remember much about it other than thinking in reeked.... )

#334 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 03:05 PM:

LMM, and the cases in which this is pernicious. I think both the Nazis and Heinlein tend to cause thrashes that end useful conversation (and no, I'm not comparing the two!); but if we found that a lot of conversations gravitate towards discussions of food, I don't think that would be a worry.

Pun wars, a common conversational attractor, might be controversial in this regard. I personally favor them.

#335 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 03:55 PM:

#332 ::: Paula Lieberman

I think there are two angles which are apt to get combined on that sort of question-- one is whether the author is supplying emotional nourishment for some part of their audience, and another is whether the author is culpable if they fail to supply nourishment and/or supply poison and/or incite some or all of their audience to mistreat people.

IIRC, Kornbluth was better than Heinlein in at least one respect-- he had women in respected professions as part of the background, rather than the "she's intelligent and capable, and goshwow, she's beautiful too!" that I get from some of Heinlein.

On the other hand, what Kornbluth did wasn't emotionally charged, so it may have had less chance to make any difference whether for good or ill.

Sorry, no cites for the Kornbluth-- I've got it mentally stored as a conclusion.

#336 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:07 PM:

Hey, I've got an Occupation on my front lawn at work! How cool is that?

As is traditional, 11 were ticketed for violating Boulder's camping ordinance.

While chatting with folks on my way in to work, I opened my big pie-hole and made mutterings about online fundraising to back the protesters' legal defense.

Upon investigation, I find that Occupy Boulder already has a donations page up, and I've tossed in my 2¢.

I'm curious what the collective wisdom here has to say, however, about how to proceed.

(Reposted from the Open Thread.)

#337 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:44 PM:

Older @307: I have never thought Heinlein was such a *great* writer, and have been puzzled by his renown pretty much all of my reading life.

I don't know what it is, exactly, but Heinlein wrote with a voice that fit just perfectly into my brain. Same with Spider Robinson. I don't worship either one of them, but they are deeply valued influences in my life.

His women *are* awful and unreal,

That's not the really sad part. The really sad part is that Heinlein's women were the closest I came to women I wanted to identify with until I was well into adulthood. That's sad.

#338 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 05:26 PM:

As an aside, there is s very general problem that we're dancing around the edges of in the alignment discussion. We have some very complicated multidimensional datapoints, and we want to efficiently describe them on a small number of axes. This is the same problem whether you want to talk about performance on all sorts of mental tasks in terms of a single number (IQ), or political positions in terms of a single left-to-right spectrum, or the experience of eating at different restaurants in terms of a number of stars, or whatever.

The first thing to understand about this problem is that you can't really ever do it well. If there is some pattern of association between different attributes or dimensions in yiur data--people who play chess well tend to solve math problems well, people who want to ban handguns tend to also want to raise taxes on the rich--these models can be useful. But they are inevitably wrong. There are typically examples where they give you completely the wrong answer, like someone concluding that Radley Balko and Rick Perry are very close politically because they both come out as pretty far to the right on yiur one-dimensional chart.

One way to simplify the vast complexity of sentient beings' moral behavior is to map it onto a single axis, As you move to the left on that axis, you tend to become more chaotic and more evil; moving toward the right, you become more lawful and good. Another way is to map it onto two axes; one involves evil vs goodness in terms of how you want to affect others; the second involves willingness or unwilingness to follow or violate rules and laws, keep to your word, etc.

Bot of thee are, of course, incredible, massive oversimplifications. For some contexts, either one may be useful (just as knowing whether a piece of literature is more highbrow or lowbrow may be useful), but both necessarily lose a great deal of information.

One of the most common ways to confuse yourself is to get tangled up in appying a model in a context where it's not all that useful....

#339 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 06:12 PM:

I guess the most basic reason the 4E alignment system offends me is that I always played CG, and kind of think that way. They're outlawing that alignment, and that feels like they're saying I don't exist.

I've been told by too many people that I don't exist, and treated as if I didn't by even more. I respond to that with a degree of outrage that may strike some as out of proportion.

#340 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 06:24 PM:

@334: I think both the Nazis and Heinlein tend to cause thrashes that end useful conversation (and no, I'm not comparing the two!); but if we found that a lot of conversations gravitate towards discussions of food, I don't think that would be a worry.

Pun wars, a common conversational attractor, might be controversial in this regard. I personally favor them.

I think the Nazis and Heinlein end conversations in different ways. A conversation can climax in a Nazi analogy, but the *subject* remains whatever it was originally (modern movies or what-have-you). Heinlein seems to turn the *subject* towards Heinlein. No one hits the shelves -- or even Wikipedia -- to support the nuances of a Nazi analogy. Puns seem to fall into a third category: the subject remains the same, but the format of the discussion (and the tone) changes considerably.

On a related note, did you know that universities now offer degrees in "Internet Studies"?

#341 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 06:53 PM:

Jaque (337) I guess I was lucky to have my older female relatives to want to be like. They were women who got an education, who were leaders in their fields, who worked, who supported families, etc. I don't recall ever, as a child, thinking I was less likely to do those things than was, for instance, my brother. Although I do wish someone had told me sooner that it was possible to be a mathematician for money.

I liked Heinlein's juveniles, when I was myself juvenile and later, but they were not among the Heinlein books that people I knew in college thought were "great!" and "deep!" and that I thought were disgusting or worse.

#342 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:04 PM:

Albatross #338: performance on all sorts of mental tasks in terms of a single number

In fact, AD&D split mental performance into Intelligence and Wisdom. (One could argue that Charisma fits in there as well.)

#343 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:33 PM:

Heinlein at least tried where some didn't even bother. I recently reread Podkayne of Mars. I didn't notice any of this as a teenager, but through his POV character he tries to convey that (A) girls can go out in the world and accomplish big things, but (B) what is traditionally thought of as "women's work" is pretty important too. I thought it came out rather clunky, but at least he dealt with both parts of this dichotomy.

#344 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:41 PM:

And I should add: it's been a long time since I read any Anne McCaffrey, but ISTR she was good at providing the same character with adventures both domestic and in the wider world.

#345 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:02 PM:

Jacque @337, "The really sad part is that Heinlein's women were the closest I came to women I wanted to identify with until I was well into adulthood"--you and me both. I with I'd encountered Harriet Vane younger, or that Amelia Peabody had been around when I was at an impressionable age. Heinlein was what I imprinted on, to cross the threads a bit. Didn't help that I was a bright, tall redhead.

#346 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:04 PM:

Allan Beatty: #344: She also had male characters who (a) had domestic challenges of their own, and (b) couldn't just out-fight or out-compete their enemies.

#347 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:15 PM:

Jacque #337, Janet Brennan Croft #345: Just having female characters who were not only foregrounded, but both smart and sexually aggressive, without being stigmatized for it, was pretty striking in its own right, for SF at least.

While everybody being gorgeous-and-horny1 grates a bit now, remember that Time Enough For Love was published in 1973 -- a Sexy Future would have been very much in tune with the author's times.

1 I'm tempted to give him a half-break for the courtesan who was noted as "just before her rejuve", but that's a shot at ageism, without breaking the Sexy pattern.

#348 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:24 PM:

Older @341: I guess I was lucky to have my older female relatives to want to be like. They were women who got an education, who were leaders in their fields, who worked, who supported families, etc.

You know, I should have had that growing up? My mother was in the Navy during WWII, trained pilots in the Link simulator, all sorts of stuff. But then she got steamrollered back into the home by the post-WWII cultural imperative, and I think it really messed her up.

I got plenty of non-gendered reinforcement growing up. In addition to the dolls that were handed down from my brother (!—including a black one, now that I think about it.), I also had a wee hammer from an early age, and my dad's gift to me when I graduated high school was a basic set of hand-tools.

So while I did manage to escape the gendered limitations, I never really got the potential side of that indoctrination. </dfd>

Between Star Trek and Heinlein, plus the women's movement, there was no chance in hell I was going to have anything resembling a "traditional" life trajectory. (Let me tell you, I was a real pain in the ass in jr high Home Ec.)

Janet Brennan Croft @345: you and me both.

I didn't hit on a proper example of a "me" until I was in my late 20s and encountered Whoopi Goldberg for the first time. Now there was a lady I could dig growing up to be like. Wouldn't mind growing up to be a Sam Carter, either.

#349 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:33 PM:

Jacque @ 348... I was a real pain in the ass in jr high Home Ec.

For your enjoyment... Home Economics - as revised by the Mystery Science Theater

#350 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:16 PM:

Jaque, sounds like you almost had it. Maybe it's that the post WWII cultural imperative didn't really have the same force in families where dad didn't come back. My mom *had* to work, so it seemed normal to me. It was pretty much all I'd ever known.

"I was a real pain in the ass in jr high Home Ec." Oh, so was I! I think the teacher really lost it when she found me embroidering roses in my calluses (which were substantial, because of my leisure-time activities, which included climbing everything in sight. Or often, preferably, in the dark.)(So as *not* to be in sight and made to come down.)

I think everyone should get the entire suite of toys -- the dolls, the tools, the cars and trucks ...

One of my sons had a doll which he named Baby Marshall (we have no idea why) and carried everywhere when he was about two, making sure to give Baby Marshall his bottle several times a day. By this time it was the (relatively) enlightened days of 1990, but people were still pretty freaked out by our cheerful acceptance of the possibility that *our son* would want to care for a child. Of course, his dad cared for him, and often gave him a bottle when he was very small. But I don't suppose they approved of that either.

The change since then is impressive. I think I see almost as many fathers caring for small children as I do mothers these days.

On the other side of the scale, a first tool for every one of my kids, boys and girls alike, was one of those 10-ft pocket measuring tapes. My oldest daughter credits this "toy" for her current position as the director of the Standards Lab at a nationally known calibration and measurement technology business.

#351 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:18 PM:

I recommended Time Enough For Love to a friend of mine, who could not get past what currently reads as sexism enough to enjoy it much. (I'm female, late 20s; friend is male and a year younger than me.)

I was surprised because as a woman of the same age/generational context and similar progressive politics as my friend, I have no trouble at all suspending my disbelief about the Sexy Future and getting into the plot (and staying up all night reading). Even with the annoying political rants, I can happily skip ahead. Like Jacque, it's a voice that just works for me, somehow, even though the politics and sexism ought to turn me off. I notice them, I argue with them and roll my eyes, but I'm still taken by the characters and plot.

Frankly, I think it's that I just find multi/omnicompetence terribly attractive. So as much of a Gary Stu as Lazarus Long is -- I like the bastard. (Goes for most of the characters.)

#352 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:24 PM:

Janet @ 345, I was a tall, bright redhead, too, and I ate Heinlein up and made an ass of myself in a Heinleinish way for quite awhile*.

I also identified with the Heinlein women and wanted to be them, far more than I wanted to be Lazarus Long, or even Valentine Michael Smith.

*After than, I found new and bigger ways to make an ass of myself....

#353 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:45 PM:

Caroline, I fell in love with lazarus long for a while. And if there is someone necessary to blame for my polyamorous ways, Heinlein serves as much a scapegoat as does Robert Rimmer They both served up an example of other living styles and I thought my parents way was kind of ... unsatisfying.

I'm getting ready for Christmas by girding up my loins to brave various used book stores for the Heinlein juvies for the four nephews of the apocolypse. I'm also planning a 'not a christmas gift' of the Time-Warner What Life Was Like in ... series (all volumes). She home schools a couple of her children and is a participant in a larger lending library of resources for home schooling.

#354 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 12:19 AM:

Good heavens, is this a "tall redhead" problem? Our son (the parent of Baby Marshall) is a tall redhead, although he was a short redhead most of his childhood, before he suddenly grew up without growing out. And he also had major problems as a child. Hmmm.

Oddly enough, I also was a tall redhead and much too smart, apparently. While discussing this with my husband, I said that I never set out to be disruptive; I was just myself, and things disrupted around me. He was that same kind of person, always cooperative, and yet, always in trouble, or always being found troublesome by someone.

It should be comforting to people who are young now to know that kids like us can sometimes find each other, eventually.

On the other hand ... there is a previous husband, also that sort of kid, who nevertheless found me to be troublesome when we were married. We had a cartoon on the wall, showing a very old lady strapping on her roller skates with an expression of fiendish glee, while her very old husband said plaintively (one imagines) "I had always hoped we would grow old together *gracefully*."

Eventually I gave up hope of that marriage working out. Or rather, I recognized that it might "work out" forever without managing to develop the muscles necessary to deal with the problems. He was never a redhead, even as a child. I feel a hypothesis coming on.

#355 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:37 AM:

Older @341 -- my mother got her math PhD in the early 1940s because it was easier than being a debutante.

For her. I think she was right about that. She worked as a cryptanalyst for the NSA in the 50s and on machine translation of languages in the 60s for Lockheed.

#356 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:52 AM:

Older @350: Baby Marshall

Um...go click on my name, above. :-)

#357 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 06:58 AM:

Older #354: I can think of two ways that it actually could be a "redhead" issue, perhaps even with a connection to height.

The obvious one is social -- a conspicuous kid gets treated differently, even without the British prejudice against "gingers", or a sexist prejudice against tall girls/women.

Less obviously (and much more conjecturally), melanin apparently has some hormonal effects (at least through that Vitamin D synthesis), and variations appear in some nerve cells. Replacement of eumelanin (eu-? ew!) with pheomelanin (the "red" version) might well have a subtle effect on personality (through certainly not as simple as the stereotype!).

I couldn't quickly find whether there's a actual (synthesis) relationship between melanin and the more prominent hormone melatonin -- for obvious reasons, googling melanin picks up a lot of racist chaff, and I don't have the time/energy to sort through that.

I think the teacher really lost it when she found me embroidering roses in my calluses

As in, body-modding, in high school circa the 1970's? I'm unsurprised she got thrown for a loop! (But now I'm wondering how such a thing might be useful... built-in grip-pads?)

#358 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 09:01 AM:

the British prejudice against "gingers"

I've found this quite startling, being an American myself. We're not talking about people telling jokes or just not wanting to date redheads; an online friend told me that he was riding his bicycle along a roadway, and some guys drove by in a car, shouted "Ginger!" and threw a beer bottle at him, hitting him in the back.

There's an American prejudice against redheads too, but AFAIK it rarely comes to physical violence. But I'm not a redhead myself, and now I expect that five American redheads will come out with stories of violence. But the British anti-redhead prejudice is so intense that it's like racism (and may not be unconnected).

#359 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 09:13 AM:

I'm married to a former redhead. I'm a brunette. He was "disruptive" in a mild way as a child (convinced an elementary school classmate that he and his best friend were space aliens); I was worse (got spanked on the hand with a ruler in kindergarten for starting a wolf howl contest during naptime).

He's much, much easier to get along with than I am--milder temper, better people skills.

#360 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 09:26 AM:

Four thoughts on Heinlein women. I'm sure exceptions can be found to the three general statements.

1) Earlier Heinlein women are better than later Heinlein women.

2) Heinlein women in juveniles are better than Heinlein women in adults.

3) One-dimensional Heinlein women are better than three-dimensional Heinlein women.

4) Heinlein's heart was in the right place. It was head and hand that failed him.

And, come to think of it, a fifth one I'm not so sure about and which is deliberately ambiguous, but I'll throw it out there:

5) Heinlein women in person are better than Heinlein women on the page.

#361 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 09:52 AM:

Xopher @358: it IS based in racism. Red hair was highly uncommon amongst Anglo-Normans, so go back far enough, and any redheaded people found in England were highly likely to be Irish.

#362 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 10:05 AM:

Dave, that's what I thought, but I wasn't sure enough to say so.

Of course, the redhead gene is a Norse mutation, so there's a bit of irony there (Normans being Norse).

#363 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 10:58 AM:

John Arkansawyer #360: 4) Heinlein's heart was in the right place. It was head and hand that failed him.

Or perhaps another organ that led him astray... ;-)

#364 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 12:39 PM:

Xopher, #358: The only thing I've ever heard that might be considered an American prejudice against redheads is the stereotype that they're hot-tempered and volatile. Is that what you're talking about, or something else?

Also, I notice that in the communities I hang out with (fannish, artistic, alternative, counterculture in general), red hair seems to be the most popular choice for women (including me!) who want to dye their hair without going into totally unnatural colors. I don't think so many women would be doing it if they ran into significant prejudice after doing so.

#365 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 12:58 PM:

David Harmon @357:

I couldn't quickly find whether there's a actual (synthesis) relationship between melanin and the more prominent hormone melatonin
No relationship to speak of. Melanins are simply black pigments, and about the only relationship they have even with each other is being polymers with a large number of reactive electrons (leading to the strong dark coloration); melatonin, a relatively simple molecule found across many species, is named because it was found to be involved with camouflage in reptiles and the like, before its role as a neurotransmitter in mammals was discovered. (You can sort of get that from their names, via Greek: melanin -> "is black", "melatonin" -> "makes black".)

#366 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 01:18 PM:

I only knew L.A. Banks (a fantasy author who died recently) from her lectures, but it seems to me that she was the nearest thing to a Heinlein character in the best sense that I've ever met.

She was intelligent, energetic, pragmatic, willing to set her hand to whatever was useful, and decent.

To put it another way, I didn't hate the historical parts of To Sail Beyond the Sunset, though I thought the Sexy Future [1] parts were dull. In particular, I thought Maureen's attitude towards life was generally admirable.

There are probably exceptions, but I feel as though Heinlein's female characters are more likely to be living in a realistic world while the male characters are sprinkled with Plot Fairy Dust, not that I mind Plot Fairy Dust, and not that I wouldn't have minded seeing more of it sprinkled on his female characters.

Podkayne giving up a cool-sounding ambition that she hasn't really thought about in favor of something vaguely in the neighborhood is the sort of thing which happens in the real world. Maureen making a decent life for herself by a combination of hard work, talent, and some help from the Howard Foundation is a lot more likely than being in a position to save the world.

[1] Heinlein is rarely entirely bad-- the idea that rejuvenation is highly skilled work is at least plausible, and I don't remember anything about this from other authors.

#367 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 01:25 PM:

geekosaur #365: Thanks! Indeed, all knowledge is contained in Making Light!

#368 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 02:26 PM:

Jaque (356) So, um ... we're ... relatives? Do come by and say hello if it's ever convenient. We're in western Oregon. Actually, anyone from Making Light is cordially invited.

Tom Whitmore (355) It would have been easier for me, too. Not that I was given the choice. Unsuitable as I obviously was, I nevertheless was required to attend the coming-out ball (closest thing to a debut where I lived), where I was, as is customary with tall girls, taller than all the boys. And I wish someone had said to me "Hey, you can make a living with math!" I'd have been all over it. My great-aunt Lucile was one of the early developers of digital technology. She was in the records business and taught me to pin-sort when I was pretty young.

David Harmon (357) Actually, I was in high school in the 1950's, middle school age in the late 40's. And as I recall, I did make one effort (very successful) at being deliberately disruptive in high school, when I felt I had been very unfairly used by the authorities there.

I don't know about prejudice against redheads, at least, I never noticed it. Pretty much every child in my family (all of the numerous cousins etc) was red-headed as a tot, but only a few kept it all their lives. We went to a family reunion event some years ago with our (adopted) red-head. When we released him into the kids' room, he just disappeared into the crowd.

It wouldn't be a good idea to try to imbed gripping aids actually *in* the calluses, because there is a very rapid turn-over in callus skin. Gloves make better sense. Too bad, really. Think of the artistic possibilities.

#369 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 02:47 PM:

David Harmon @321, that's not something ML's back end does; it's something your (and everyone else's) browser does.

If a URL starts with http://, that's a way of telling the browser that the characters that follow constitute an address that can be managed with the HypterText Transfer Protocol. If it starts with ftp://, that means use File Transfer Protocol. Starting with mailto: means handle it with your email client, and the lack of two slashes means that it's not a path to a specific file.

If you leave off the protocol marker, you're telling the browser to resolve the URL relative to the URL relative to the current web page. This is used to create relative links to other pages in the same website. If you're on http://www.foo.com/faq.html, and there's a link to contact.html, the browser will treat that as a link to http://www.foo.com/contact.html, and then if you move the whole site to www.bar.com, the link won't break.

#370 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:01 PM:

Nancy @319, I dunno. I just can't be too impressed by a guy writing about how, since the present navy has navy lawyers, the future space navy will have future space navy lawyers. Wouldn't it be more imaginative if the future space navy was different from the present navy?

If anything, I'd say that one thing Heinlein was really good at was bringing a lot of details from the world he lived in into his fiction --- and this is both a strength (where it lends verisimilitude) and a weakness (his writing has not aged well).

Hey, ever noticed how it seems to have been a near-universal assumption of SF writers that the future space military will resemble navies (either current or historical), when in the real world, the military parts of NASA are drawn from the US Air Force?

#371 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:09 PM:

Avram @370 -- but sometimes Heinlein was casual about details that have become ubiquitous: cell phones and metal detectors in Tunnel in the Sky, for example. Those certainly weren't common features of his time, and current readers can read right past them and not notice they were revolutionary.

#372 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:12 PM:

Tom Whitmore @371:

I'd be a little more impressed about the things Heinlein casually got right in Tunnel in the Sky if he hadn't had Rod use a slide rule to calculate the population of the world.

#373 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:20 PM:

Actually, for that "dropped on another planet" scenario, I'd give him the slide rule and ding him for the cell phones!

#374 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:21 PM:

I don't think anyone got the speed, much less the ubiquity, of the electronics revolution right.

#375 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:32 PM:

Umm, wait... calculating the population of the world? On second thought, that's a groaner no matter what he used.

#376 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:38 PM:

Well, slide rules are good for dealing with exponentials. As long as you don't need very precise answers (and on very large populations, precision isn't going to be useful).

#377 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:39 PM:

Gone and looked up the reference. It was was slightly more complicated (and rather more problematic) than I recalled. He was actually calculating whether, if you lined all of the Chinese people up four abreast and marched them past a fixed point, they would march forever because the birth rate would keep up with the marching.

Apparently, it's not true. According to his slide rule.

#378 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:51 PM:

#370 ::: Avram

I think rules and rules lawyers are pretty likely. To those who know, is the Air Force lacking in rules lawyers?

I'm comparing Heinlein to writers who are less interested in social infrastructure, so they'd just leave it out. Sorry, no examples coming to mind, so I may be overvaluing Heinlein.

#371 ::: Tom Whitmore

Were there cell phones in Tunnel in the Sky? I thought he had them in Space Cadet.

On a reread, I was surprised to find something rather like voice mail in Stranger.

#379 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 03:53 PM:

Thinking about social infrastructure is something which has evolved in sf. What was the earliest story about vampires needing to have some sort of protocols so that they could unlive with each other?

#380 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 04:31 PM:

David Harmon @357: I don't have the time/energy to sort through that.

Try Googling: melanin adrenaline.

Older @368: So, um ... we're ... relatives?

Relatively speaking. ;-)

Do come by and say hello if it's ever convenient. We're in western Oregon.

Hm. You going to be around in May, give or take? Many things will have to happen to make this possible, but I've got an invite for something in, um, I think eastern Oregon 'round then. (Hey, plus-or-minus a few hundred miles, right?)

It wouldn't be a good idea to try to imbed gripping aids actually *in* the calluses, because there is a very rapid turn-over in callus skin. Gloves make better sense. Too bad, really. Think of the artistic possibilities.

There's always Super Glue.

Tom Whitmore @371: current readers can read right past them and not notice they were revolutionary.

The last time I read Space Cadet (I think it was; might have been Starship Troopers), there's a scene when Our Heroes are checking in, and the officer on duty calls up their record and prints out some documents for them. I was a couple of paragraphs past it when I pulled up short. "Wait, why'd he print it? He could have just ... oh! Oh, yeah, I live in the future. Cool!"

(On a related note, I hand-carried the printout from my OCT test from the opthamologist's office over to my optometrist. The receptionist at the latter then scanned it in for their records. I had my hands full suppressing the twitch, "You know, they could have just printed it to PDF and emailed it to you...." (BTW, if you have an excuse to get an OCT test, I highly recommend it. The lightshow is rilly rilly cool!)

P J Evans @376: Well, slide rules are good for dealing with exponentials. As long as you don't need very precise answers

Well, I find 4 decimal places is usually enough for everyday use, and you preserve precision if you don't reset the rule between related calcs. (Hard to strike a good balace between tightness and smoothness of the slides. I never used a really high-quality slide, though, I must admit. Ctein deeded me his Versalog long after I'd graduated electronics school.) For my money, the main advantage of electronics is storage.

#381 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 12:18 AM:

Remarks in posts 379 and 380 crossed two streams in my brain and brought this bobbing up: I read a scene once in an urban vampire thriller romance--by . . . ? Memory fails--in which a consultant has been hired to attempt to facilitate vampire cooperation. The problem is that vampires are a bunch of Tasmanian devils around each other--they simply can't not start fights. So how to defeat this instinct? How can a bunch of vampires all come to a firm agreement on anything if they can't be in the same room?

The consultant points out that the vampire who hired her exchanges signed documents with his publisher (he writes bodice rippers) via the fax machine on his desk. Guess what, you several-centuries-dead folks? You live in the future. That'll be $25,000.

#382 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 07:44 AM:

Jacque #380: Ahh, thanks!

Cliff's Notes for the reader: Melanin and adrenalin are synthesized from a common feedstock, with possible competition between them. Redheads have not just a variant form of melanin (pheomelanin), but less of it overall; it's suspected that this leaves them with more adrenalin and related hormones.

A massively technical overview of melanin biochemistry.

#383 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:47 AM:

What was the earliest story about vampires needing to have some sort of protocols so that they could unlive with each other?

Including, or distinct from, vampires needing to have some sort of protocols so that they can unlive among humans without attracting too much attention?

#384 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 09:08 AM:

#383 ::: Paul A.

If the protocol is enforced by other vampires, it counts. If it's something enforced by humans or deduced by individual vampires, it doesn't.

I think someone was complaining about NPR being right-wing. I heard part of a news report about someone accused of terrorism having a plausible entrapment defense, and all the concern was about a terrorism suspect possibly being declared not guilty, and none of the concern was for the use of techniques that might be entrapment.

#385 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 09:12 AM:

Jenny Islander (381): The vampire who writes romance novels is in Tanya Huff's Victory Nelson books.

#386 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 09:44 AM:

384
That sounds about right for our current political system. Half of Congress doesn't want accused terrorists to get fair trials, or to be locked up anywhere in the US because they might possibly be able to escape from a maximum-security prison. The other half seems to be fine with killing half the Bill of Rights and having the FBI (and other law-enforcement groups) running entrapment/sting operations to catch people who would probably otherwise never have shown up on their radar.

#387 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:19 AM:

There was an interesting point made over at Hullabaloo, that if we can get Congress to just do nothing, the combination of the spending cuts resulting from the super-committee failing and the Bush tax cuts expiring would give $6 trillion in deficit reduction without affecting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Which is a rather odd way for the current situation to have ended up.

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/no-deal-by-david-atkins.html

#388 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 10:50 AM:

Jenny Islander @ 381... In the 1980s, Marvel published a one-shot comic-book called "Greenberg the Vampire", about a Jewish horror writer who, among other things, is worried about his mom finding out he's become a vampire.

#389 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:09 AM:

Serge Broom #388: That was a graphic novel, rather than a "comic book". But as it turns out, "a mother knows these things!"

#390 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:10 AM:

Open threadiness wrt persnal responsibility and thr mortgage meltdown: Matt Talibbi article

#391 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:24 AM:

Let's see. Vampire: The Masquerade was 1991. Harry Turtledove's "Gentlemen of the Shade" was 1990, and has a group of vampires enforcing mutually agreed-upon rules of behaviour (particularly vis a vis not making oneself too obvious). Barbara Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night was 1988, and has the vampires of a particular neighbourhood working together to deal with one who was making himself too obvious, but I don't remember if there were formal protocols or just an implicit sense of Things That Are Not Done.

I thought I knew of one considerably earlier than that, but it turns out I was getting "Gentlemen of the Shade" mixed up with a Robert Bloch story with no vampires in it.

#392 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:38 AM:

One of the subplots of The Queen of the Damned (1988) was that the vampire community was angry at Louis and Lestat for violating their norms by becoming visible to the human community. But my memory is that there are references to that part of the vampire subculture the previous books as well. That pushes the date back to Interview with the Vampire (1976).

#393 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:41 AM:

David Harmon @ 689... If I remember correctly, she then says that a mother knows when her son grows fangs.

#394 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:50 AM:

Serge (393): Would that be on Fangs-giving?

#395 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:52 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 394... More of the grave than of the gravy?

#396 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 06:31 PM:

Xopher @358, Lee @364: Redheaded women are also presumed to be lustful, of course.

One of my favorite character bits from Barbara Gordon (Oracle, formerly Batgirl) was when she sighed over the high school and college fate of a highly intelligent, socially backward girl with red hair and big knockers.

Nancy @366: Your model maps very well to the lives of female Heinlein characters. I knew there was something different about them.

#397 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 07:29 PM:

Jaque (380) "Hey, plus-or-minus a few hundred miles, right?" In May, yeah. (In December, not so much -- but in May you can enjoy the scenery without having to worry about sliding off it.) So by all means, get in touch when you're in the neighborhood.

I think the best use for super-glue as a slip reducing agent would be to dip your palms in it and then in sand. But what did you have in mind?

I remember being extremely accurate with a slide rule, back in the day. I think there's a trick to it, but of course I can't remember it.

#398 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 07:58 PM:

John M. Burt @ 396: Alas, part of the problem with being a redhead is I basically have no visible eyebrows to waggle at that.

#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 01:11 AM:

David Harmon @382: Jacque #380: Ahh, thanks!

Ah, whew! (It's always such a massive relief when I find I'm not totally blowing smoke. Came to mind because of the coat color/temperament connection they've been finding in studies of animal domestication.)

Older @397: I think the best use for super-glue as a slip reducing agent would be to dip your palms in it and then in sand. But what did you have in mind?

Heh, that would work. I'd want to lay down a thick layer of glue before I added the sand, though, just so you don't wind up sanding off your skin. If you want your grip to be REALLY firm, go with emery powder. :-)=

Actually, all joking aside, a local luthier suggested Super Glue as a solution for those of us who have a hard time forming proper calluses for playing stringed instruments. I think he was also the person who commented that someone finally caught a clue, and Super Glue now comes with the solvent included in the same package. What a concept!

Tangentially, turns out that one of the functions of fingerprints is to provide traction. Friend worked in the meat department of a grocery store for a while. His hands were wet all the time, and he wound up wearing off his finger prints. Had to be very careful to hook a little finger under the bottom of a water glass when he picked it up, or it would slide right out of his grip.

#400 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 07:59 AM:

Jacque #399: I will say that interactions like that illustrate how Biochem Is Really Complicated!

Super Glue now comes with the solvent included in the same package.

Sounds good for those of us who don't keep nail polish remover (acetone) on hand (so to speak). I don't think I've seen that yet, but then, I haven't bought any glue in a while.

#401 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:19 AM:

Going back to the original thread topic, last night my BiL noodged me to finally set up my new iPad on Mom's wireless. Afterward, I was playing with it and showing my nephews XKCD's recent Money Chart (took a looong time to load, but yeay, it's big).

At one point, we got to the hourly pay in 1965 and 2007 for production workers (pretty much unchanged), and for CEOs (holycrap). I didn't go off too far on that, but I did say "and this is what Occupy Wall Street is about". (The older boy was suitably horrified.)

#402 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:29 PM:

On the topic of redhead stereotypes, I must confess I relish the meta-redhead-stereotyping among the Amber gaming community. But I, of course, am innocent of all but malice.

(...Jewish by descent, ginger by choice, eccentric by all accounts.)

Heck, Zelazny was another author who wrote excellent female characters not entirely excellently... I say he wrote excellent female characters because it's clear sometimes, re-reading these favorite books, that they are there all right, and he doesn't always know what to do with them, so that is the "not entirely excellently" part. But at least he doesn't usually answer that by shoving them into incompatible roles.

Rather, they wind up being offscreen a lot and cryptic a lot - a more pronounced version of his already notable tendency to denote characters in a few, striking brushstrokes rather than microscopic details. And that gives us Amber gamers quite a bit to work with, because it makes it relatively easy to 'sell' a version of events in which Flora masterminded the whole thing.

Oh, dear, I am off topic, aren't I.

#403 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 08:57 PM:

I am getting just a bit tired of the iconic female lead in so very many stories, who has red hair and, of course, unruly curls.

It's so *cute* and all. I was never cute, and I always thought of it as a sort of taking of unfair advantage.

I have unruly hair, but without the oh-so-cute curls. It's just too fine to be ruly. Speaking of which:

Years ago, my sweetie and I wrote a comic strip about the Man With Unruly Hair, who tamed it, using Skinner's Excellent Conditioner, so that it went from insulting passers-by, to greeting them politely and offering to bring them tea.

#404 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 12:09 AM:

Older @ 403: What about an iconic female lead with red hair who comes to realize she's taking unfair advantage partway through the story? (I ask, my novel resembling that remark. I've been experimenting with the book as a place to explore my favorite fantasy cliches and some of the uncomfortable truths behind them.)

#405 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:28 AM:

Prejudice against redheads: Growing up in the States, I've heard jokes about hot-headedness, but don't believe I've encountered any real obstacles -- thought the persistence of the phrase "redheaded stepchild" is disturbing. I was told a story about a family adopting that was able to get a child sooner than expected because they were willing to take a redhead. I believe it referred to an adoption in 1940s.
I do think the best way to be a redhead is with hair dye. I'd trade the sunburns for some more melanin in a heartbeat.

#406 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:41 AM:

Dianna Wynne Jones' The Game is good in many ways, but in particular, there is unruly hair which turns out to be important.

#407 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 03:33 AM:

janetl, #405: World Wide Words (which is the best etymology site I know of) suggests that the phrase "red-headed stepchild" is shorthand for "a child who doesn't resemble anyone else in the family" -- IOW, a suspected product of adultery. Red hair is a very noticeable trait that generally runs in families, so the presence of a redhead in a family otherwise without any would be considered more-or-less dispositive. The site also gives a nod to the anti-Irish prejudice of the 19th century.

#408 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 01:49 PM:

Unruly hair often 'witch' hair, i.e. Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches. i.e. Speshul = OOOOOO, my hair is so thick, so remarkably colored, Ooooooo how awful = how very MORE beautiful than mundane everybody else!

Love, C.

#409 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2011, 11:41 PM:

Xopher #362
Red hair is in central Europe, not only Norse. And the Bible refers to King David in a fashion indicating he might have been a redhead.

#370 Avram
A lot of those writers are Navy veterans (Mike Moscoe I think, John Hemry, Heinlein, Jim Macdonald.... I get annoyed, spacecraft are not surface vessels, or even submarines, and the environments are very different. And then there are the pernicious influences of especially Star Wars, and of Star Trek, and Babylon 5. I was SO happy with the line, "injection into orbit" Alien.... (Though, Star Trek at least showed the Enterprise -orbiting- planet. Yeah, the relative scale was off, but that's something often shown for the purpose of the space vehicle to be visible against "the planetary limb"
My experiences as a "space wienie" tracking satellites and managing space systems RDT&E and deployment, were that the barriers that the Navy had between officers and enlisted were a LOT less absolute when I was in the USAF, in the USAF than the USN. Also, the space side of the Air Force, the barriers were less absolute than the flying puke and ground support for flying puke parts of the Air Force.
Coming off the "second swing shift" on the rotating shift schedule, officers and enlisted from the same section headed out together to nearby bars (getting off at midnight didn't leave much time...) to socialize together over a few drinks--not get drunk, but relax and talk and listen to music, usually from a jukebox, in the bar.
Parties thrown by Space Defense Center types usually had both officers and enlisted present, and ran with different shifts of people--the people who were offduty for the day being there the whole time, the people going on the midnight shift leaving in time to go on shift, the people on the day shift coming to the party at night, and the people on the swing shift only making it if the party started before 3 PM, because they had to be up in the Mountain by 3:45 PM, or lasted past the midnight hour when they got off shift.
It was somewhat similar up in Thule Greenland
C. J. Cherryh's novels have some of the general feel, especially Rimrunner[s] (I never remember if that ess is there or not...

#384 Nancy
Colin Powell's rightwinger son got installed in the public broadcasting hierarchy. NPR/PRI I would not call left-liberal in the sense that it very often has righwinger commentators and when going for opinions trots out rightwingers along with non-rightwingers.....as opposed to that stations which don't have ANY voices offsetting the rightwinger talk show hosts and commentators. WBZ "CBS-Boston" [ptui on the latter] doesn;t have ONE female talk show host, every one of them is male, and not one of them is from the extinct branch of politics called Moderate Republicans, much left any who could be mistaken for being lefty or liberal or progressive. Meanspirited illiberal misogynists is a much more encompassing description.
Where NPR is probably less liberal than Richard M Nixon was--and tht;s WITHOUT the rightwing mouthpieces on the NPR shows.

#410 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 12:44 AM:

Paula Lieberman @409 and Xopher HalfTongue @362:
Speaking of redheads in the Bible, let's not forget Esau. A recent shiur I get from a Modern Orthodox yeshiva took it as a given that both Esau and David were redheads, btw.

#411 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 07:38 PM:

Abi @ 103
late to the party...

I mean a genuine rational actor who is willing to do as much damage to himself as he is to his enemies, purely to hurt them, with no greater benefit to himself or his cause in the offing. ... Because, absent proof, I can't believe it happens. Not even in insanity.

My ex's late and unlamented grandmother. I didn't believe it either, until I saw it in action. She would damage herself to destroy her daughter, my mother-in-law. Repeatedly. To friends, clergy, even the police. She would do things to herself that would cause hospital emergency room staff to blanch. Not at what was done, but that she did it to herself. She wasn't crazy enough to be institutionalized, not until the very end, when she forgot enough that she wasn't keeping her lies straight. Or even who the lies were about.

#412 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 04:25 PM:

Lin D:

Genocide and ethnic cleansing are probably seldom done at a profit, but they're tragically common in history. You're not running all the fitbs out of town or herding them into showers or gathering them up in the middle of town and shooting them all because it benefits you or yours, but because you hate those fkrs and want them all dead.

#413 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 04:54 PM:

albatross, I agree with you overall, but there IS a profit motive, especially if the people involved are perceived as richer than "your" people. You get to take their property. That happened in Bosnia.

And in the Holocaust, the victims were cheap slave labor in most camps. An excuse for enslaving a large portion of the population economically benefits the government that sinks that low. Can't rule it out as a primary motive in all cases.

Remember that the propaganda and the underlying motive don't have to be the same thing. They lied to us about Iraq having WMDs; don't you think a government would lie to the people about the reasons for a genocide?

#414 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2011, 06:00 PM:

The (literal) witchhunts in 17th-century Europe and America also were driven and funded by property confiscations.

#415 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 12:23 AM:

Xopher @79 - "I want to live in a civilized country. This isn't one. I've been hoping this might become one at some point, and doing my part to push it in that direction. But it seems to be going the opposite way, toward authoritarian oligarchy, where people in the uppermost class can do anything they want to anyone they want to do it to, and everyone in the other classes can be arrested for any reason or none."

One of my favorite lines lately has been: Welcome to 1790 France. Occupy!

#416 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 12:35 AM:

Abi, may I repost your initial message on my Facebook Wall? Sans link to ML, of course, and credited (or not, as you wish). It speaks quite well to the main criticisms I get to my frequent pro-Occupy posts there... :-)

#417 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 01:09 AM:

edward @416:

Feel free to post. Attribution a must, linkage is OK. We can deal with anything that comes our way to Sort Us Out.

#418 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 02:48 AM:

Albatross @412, what Xopher said @413. Probably the most common motive for genocide is grabbing land. Did European settlers in the Americas kill off the natives out of hatred, or greed?

#419 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 06:48 PM:

Indeed, in the case of the Pequots the massacre was very shortly after the nearby settlers adopted wampum as their currency (or so I've been told). So not even land in that case, but plain old money.

#420 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 08:53 PM:

the revolution
will not be organized

ObSF: Terry Pratchett has already written a novel about the Occupy movement, several years ago. It's titled _Night Watch_...

And a note I haven't quite gotten from anyone else up there yet: Chaotic, in D&D, wasn't ever "doesn't obey laws". It was "puts the rules and regulations one imposes on oneself ahead of those that are imposed from outside, by other people and by society". Nothing _stops_ a Chaotic Good person from following community laws, if she wants to and thinks that's going to work best for her. But she's also going to flout them with almost no thought when she sees that following one would conflict with her own moral system, or would cause avoidable harm to her or those she cares about, etc. Lawfuls follow the rules because they're there and they're right and need to be followed; Chaotics follow them if it makes sense, and don't follow them if that makes more sense...

So whilke an easy description of Chaotic is "acts at random according to their whims", if you look deeper there's not actually much randomness involved - it's just that they're not paying attention to some portion of existing laws, whether legal, social, religious, or whatever. An OCD person can have a more rigid complex of self-imposed restrictions and rules to follow than almost any regularish person would stand for - but it's still Chaotic, because they're HIS rules, not society's.

Bruce @290: "One many-page bill turned out to have completely null semantic content and therefore no logic to check: various parts cancelled each other out." Heh - as Asimov illustrated decades ago...

--Dave

#421 ::: Consumer Unit 5012 ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2011, 08:43 PM:

David Harmon @414 - Property confiscation is also one of the great engines that keeps the War On Some Drugs(1) grinding along. (Others include the Prison-Industrial Complex, racism, and the fact that EVERYONE in American politics hates hippies.)

(1) Thank you, Robert Anton Wilson, for this more accurate name.

#422 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2011, 02:19 PM:

I thought posting here better than the OpenThread.

I was interviewed by John Ydstie of NPR last week. And this week, I was quoted on his report on Morning Edition!

The State Of The Long-Term Unemployed

It's part of an ongoing series called "Still No Job". Yay NPR!

#423 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2011, 05:53 PM:

Consumer Unit 5012 #421: Yup... The WOSD is actually a hobby-horse of mine, but I didn't want to get too far into it just then -- but it certainly is closely tied to "ethnic cleansing" efforts, both historically and currently.

This includes active demonization of "criminals" and "felons"-- carefully obscuring the reasons for their charges -- and the attempts to keep them out of worthwhile jobs, not to mention the voting booth.

#424 ::: Cally Soukup sees Spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 10:14 PM:

Comment spam at 424. Self-referentiality in five, four, three....

#425 ::: Serge Broom sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2012, 09:54 PM:

say noe to Woodrow.

#426 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2012, 10:14 PM:

Same name, same URL as another spam I noticed before, yet they don't show up in each other's "View all by." Coincidence? I think not!

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