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September 25, 2013

Open Thread 188
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:43 PM *

Jack the Ripper mystery solved by top detective after 125 years

“Hullo, Miss, I’m here to say I solved the Jack the Ripper case.”

“Solved it, you say?”

“Indeed I have.”

“Right, then. Are you one of the nobleman-gone-wrong lads, Duke of Clarence and all that? Room 27.”

“No, Miss. Disproved that one right in my first chapter.”

“Oh, so you’ve written a book?”

“Oh, yes, Miss. Would you care to purchase a copy? Happy to autograph it.”

“That won’t be necessary. Are you one of the blokes says it was a conspiracy; Bavarian Illuminati, Freemasons, Learned Elders of Zion, or suchlike? Room 18, ‘round the corner and down the stairs.”

“No, Miss. That’s just silly. In my lectures—”

“You give lectures, then?”

“So I do. Rent halls all across the country; pack ‘em in. I have slides…..”

“I’m sure you do. Is your theory that it was some unlikely famous historical character? Charles Dodgson, Gilbert & Sullivan, Louis Pasteur…. That’s room 8.”

“That would be daft, wouldn’t it? No, my solution is far more clever.”

“Something more outré? A time-traveler or a space-alien perhaps?”

“Please, Miss, this is sober police science, not science-fiction!”

“What is it, then, some poor sod no one’s ever heard of, perhaps a merchant sailor, a butcher, a bawdy-house keeper?”

“No, I’ll tell you who he was! There’s no such person as Jack the Ripper. Made up by the newspapers, took a bunch of unsolved crimes, gave ‘em a catchy name, and hey presto! the headlines wrote themselves. Sold a lot of papers, too.”

“Ah, that one. You’ll want to join the fellows in Room 34, in that case. Someone will be along presently to take your statement.”


Continued from Open Thread 187

Continued in Open Thread 189

Comments on Open Thread 188:
#1 ::: John Costello ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:07 PM:

You can't "solve" a myth.

#2 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:41 PM:

I'm watching the (last) season finale of Person of Interest.

How wonderfully Gibsonesque!

This is old hat by literary SF standards, but seeing it in a mainstream broadcast TV show makes me giddy.

#4 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:46 PM:

Sounds like a tearing good yarn.

Speaking of yarns, I will have some for sale in the very near future. I've been spinning. Most of it is alpaca.

#5 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2013, 11:49 PM:

It all reminds me of when the Soviets caught and executed the serial killer of Rostov, after having gotten numerous confessions from a variety of people and driven four of them to suicide.

(My memory played me false. I thought they'd convicted and executed a couple before they got the right guy.)

#6 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:48 AM:

Everyday racism: Are "black" names really weirder than "white" ones?
On Twitter ... I mused on this double standard with a comment and a joke. "I will take your 'questions' about 'weird' black names seriously when you make fun of Reince Priebus and Rand Paul," followed by "White people giving their kids names like Saxby Chambliss and Tagg Romney is a clear sign of cultural pathology."

I've seen some pretty strange names on white folks in my time -- and remember the huge foofaraw about Sarah Palin's kids having names like Track, Bristol, and Trig? But I've also heard a fair number of comments, ranging from amused to contemptuous, about the "weird names" that black people give their kids. Seriously, is "Trayvon" any stranger than "Trevor"?

Bearing in mind that last names are (generally) not chosen for children in the way that first names are, what are the oddest first names you've ever encountered on a white person? I'll start off with a high-school classmate named Klohn, and the child of an acquaintance who got tagged Xevious.

#7 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:54 AM:

I recall someone online complaining about those "made-up names" and thinking "but *all* names are made up". As for weird names of white people, twenty years ago I briefly worked with a guy whose first name was 'Nimrod'.

#8 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:04 AM:

Heck, plenty of weird white people first names just in celebrity kids. "Moon Unit Zappa". Abbie Hoffman's kid - "america".

#9 ::: Dan Boone ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:06 AM:

What's weird about Nimrod? He's in the Bible, one of Noah's descendants I believe. Said to be a mighty hunter.


(I know the name because there was a colorful dude in the history of my town with that nickname. I've been in his cabin, long after he got frozen into a block of ice by accident.)

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:17 AM:

'America' isn't that strange a name. I've seen it several times, mostly in the 19th century (which was the golden age of off-the-wall names).

#11 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:29 AM:

In general, African Americans are more likely to have unusual names because of a cultural trend the last few decades of parents wanting to give their kids unique or at least distinctive names. I remember one article a decade or two ago on testing name sorting for computers where they ended up deciding to use a book of "Top N Baby Names" plus a mailing list from the Michael Jackson Fan Club. (The article also mentioned names like Porsche and Mercedes; I've seen the former more often with white kids, and Mercedes has been a common name since well before the car.)

That's not to say there isn't #EverydayRacism involved; labeling names chosen by black people as inferior because they're chosen by black people is primarily racist, with a certain amount of get-off-my-lawnism that also gets used on people named after Britney Spears or other noise-the-kids-are-listening-to-these-days pop stars.

And yeah, Southerners are hardly in a position to point fingers, though they'd probably say that their weird names are ok because they're typically old family names, and people often go by [FirstInitial][MiddleInitial] instead of names down there anyway. My father was named Clare Augustus Stewart Jr., usually got called "CA" (it beat "Gus", which is what some of my cousins called him), didn't get called "Clare" around home because that was his father, and he also got constant gender and spelling mistakes in paperwork when he used it.

#12 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:48 AM:

Strangest name I ever saw was years ago, in an article about a young boy who’d died — I think he was killed in a bit of street violence, but I’m not sure, it could’ve been a car crash. The poor kid’s first name, horribly, was Carrion. Though I suppose it’s possible that it was really just something that sounded like that, and the paper had gotten it wrong.

(Or maybe his parents had expected him to be wayward.)

(Sorry.)

#13 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:25 AM:

My English teacher always swore blind she used to know someone called Percy Vere. I was never sure whether she was telling the truth or that was just one of her jokes.

#14 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 06:16 AM:

Isn't Room 34 where they write the pron?

#15 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 06:46 AM:

As the clipper ship carrying Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't reach the UK until tomorrow, I can only hope they bring back David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury.

Unrelatedly I wrote this:

To my dearest friend Miss Lacey Lee,
This unresolved sexual tension is killing me
We should discuss this over a cup of tea
When you’re not so busy solving mysteries
Yours, so very sincerely
Constable Jonathan Peabody

Dear Jonathan, my favourite constable,
I hope the delay in my reply is understandable
I have been investigating a body on a raft (inflatable)
Do you think a relationship of this sort is desirable?
Perhaps a quiet liaison, to our colleagues deniable
Or a wild, tawdry affair to the whole world visible?
Forgive me. This topic tends to make me irascible.
We should speak when I’ve caught this criminal so contemptible.
Detective Lacey Lee
C/O The Ivies B&B
Dunstable

Does Lacey Lee
Take anything seriously
(Except for mysteries)?

#16 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 06:57 AM:

In high school, I knew a Van Iden . What always boggled me there was that he was a IVth.

My grandfather's middle name was Rankin -although family legend says that no one knew this until he died because he hated it so. And my mother's name is very clearly male (think John or Robert) because her father wanted a first birth son and was going to have one.

#17 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 06:57 AM:

In high school, I knew a Van Iden . What always boggled me there was that he was a IVth.

My grandfather's middle name was Rankin -although family legend says that no one knew this until he died because he hated it so. And my mother's name is very clearly male (think John or Robert) because her father wanted a first birth son and was going to have one.

#18 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:05 AM:

Americans all have odd names.

(Ducks and runs.)

Actually ... many years ago I knew a trainee bank manager, back in the days when bankers were people who dealt with customers face-to-face. And when she started on the floor at a large branch, as part of her orientation she (and the other new staff) were presented with a list of account holders. "Get your laughing done here and now so you can keep a straight face when you see them in your office," she was told. And apparently they were allowed half an hour for giggling and guffaws to subside.

(The only name that stuck in my head was the joint account owned by Morris and Minnie Minor. Which is probably only funny in the context of the British automobile industry from the 1960s through the 1980s when those models of car were on the road ...)

#19 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:14 AM:

Well I have a distant relative named 'Unique'...

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:33 AM:

cyllan @17:
My grandfather's middle name was Rankin -although family legend says that no one knew this until he died because he hated it so.

Only my uncle knows what my maternal grandfather's middle name was. Not even my mother does. We all know it started with a V.

I'd have guessed Vivian, or some other name that has drifted toward the feminine over the years, except that he was known as Paul in his youth and Lynn as he got older. So whatever the issue was, it wasn't having problems with names that were increasingly used by women.

There is no documentary evidence. His birth certificate was apparently lost in a courthouse fire in Oklahoma*. Instead, he used a letter from his sister attesting to his identity. I don't recall any time that it was questioned.

-----
* Actually, we have some doubts about this, for reasons, but no one's gone back to find out for sure.

#21 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Two names I've come across in the years I've been employed, both of whom used to do a great deal of business with my company and would come into the office regularly. (This is me, working desperately to keep a straight face...)

Neither first name was odd. But in combination....

One was Jack Frost. The other fellow was (no lie) Dick Wacker. (The latter, I could never figure out. He could have gone by Richard, or Rich, easily enough. Why he wanted to be known as a wanker is beyond me...)

Both men, incidentally, were white.

#22 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:40 AM:

Open threadiness: Didn't see this coming.. Decency crops up in surprising places, sometimes.

#23 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:46 AM:

There's an Italian politician (or there was; don't know if he's still in the frame) whom I really grew to dislike, because he was just such a thoroughly unpleasant person. Every time anyone interviewed him, he was rude, dismissive and aggressive. What really got me was that his name was Vittorio Sgarbi. Sgarbi is the Italian word for "insults".

And in a more benign case of nominative determinism, for many years in the town where I grew up there was a shop sign reading "W Butcher, Meat Purveyor".

#24 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:05 AM:

re 16: When my wife worked in the Philly naval yard there was a fellow name of Theophilus Luchard VII.

#25 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:36 AM:

"Theophilus Luchard VII"

To be fair, Theophilus Luchards I through III probably wouldn't have seen it as *that* strange a name.

#26 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:42 AM:

I knew a girl in high school called Brandy Alexander. Her brother was Ryan, called Rye, and the family had dogs named Gin and Tonic.

One sensed a theme.

#27 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:58 AM:

I have a friend who works with large databases of names and sometimes sends me examples; it takes a lot to startle her these days. Manless Head being the most recent one.

As far as targeting-based-on-name: I agree. There's a lot, and it doesn't START with the name. Fourth-generation-recycled WASP names sound just like "stereotypical black" names. No, the other stereotype, like "Sanford Otis."

#28 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:14 AM:

My mother knew a family named Berry who called their daughters Holly, Ivy and Myrtle.

In my father's office, there worked a man name Oliver Nickleby. He changed his name by deed poll to Nicholas Twist.

#29 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:31 AM:

A girl I knew in high school had a name so ghastly that I'm not going to write it here, because any google search on it will go directly to her. Note for future baby namers: not all feminine versions of a grandfather's name work, especially if said grandfather's name is extremely out of date and now has "hick" connotations.

(Fortunately for her, I suppose, she was a pretty cheerleader type and very popular)

#30 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:36 AM:

Charles Stross's comment about "Morris and Minnie Minor" reminds me that everyone in America has to be told that "Ford Prefect" was a joke.

#31 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:39 AM:

Rural Great Plains names of my grandparents' generation certainly tend toward the odd by current standards - there was a neighbor of my grandparents who I never heard called anything but "Junior", even when he was in his eighties, and I never actually learned if that was his given name or a nickname. For that matter nobody called my grandfather by his given name of Arie; he was always "Bud".

Neither white nor black, but there's an Indian-American (that is, his parents are from India but he was born in the US) man my wife knows named Aristotle Socrates. He seems remarkably good-humored about his rather memorable name considering the amount of teasing he must have received. (His explanation of the origin of the name.)

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:43 AM:

Bill Stewart #11: Mercedes is one of the titles of the Virgin Mary (Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, Our Lady of Mercies), which is why it is a common name in the Hispanosphere since it helps distinguish among the myriad Marías. My own mother is named after a different attribute of the Virgin being María Dolores (and thus named for Our Lady of Sorrows). The car got the name from a person originally.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:47 AM:

Mongoose #22: When I was doing my fieldwork in Surinam 21 years ago, everyone I met insisted that there was one honest politician in the country. In the end, I interviewed the other deputy from his party, a man with the quite Dutch name of Ernie Brunings. The exemplar of honesty's name, however, was one I found quite cheering: Frank Playfair.

#34 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:49 AM:

I've seen a post by a black woman whose first name is a little-known name from the bible. She was annoyed at people who assume it's "ghetto".

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:53 AM:

Charlie Stross #18: Wot, no Morris Oxford or Austin Cambridge?

Many moons ago, when I worked for a market research firm I came across the name "Lynn Merry Christmas" which struck me as truly cruel. More recently, when I found myself working for a phone company updating its book preparatory to Y2K (I was between academic jobs at the time), I came across one Lyndon B. Johnson living quietly in South Carolina. All I could think was "poor man".

#36 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:54 AM:

Unique names make it easier to find people I went to high school with, like Elmar Schmeisser (mentioned in the last OT) or Mansfield Ralph Cleary IV. This can either be a feature or a bug.

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister hath been taken by the Gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:54 AM:

It's a fair cop, gov. I did mention a dead president.

#38 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:57 AM:

There was a young black woman working at a pharmacy in Cincinnati 27 years ago whose name tag read "Deaferteria". Her coworkers called her Terry. I'm thinking uniqueness can be a burden.

Something like 50 years ago, our family dentist was Dr. Toothaker. Name as destiny. On the other hand, Dr. Lawyer up on the hill is a chiropractor.

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:59 AM:

Niall McAuley #27:

What the dickens?

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister has been arrested by the Gnomes again ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:00 AM:

For what? I ask. I have grapes. Nice grapes.

[Fragano: You have three blank spaces in a row hidden after your name in the "Commenter" block. Suggest you delete everything in that block, re-type, and save that as your auto-fill version. -- Mariosi Coegray, Duty Gnome]

#41 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:02 AM:

Everyone knows that Jack was actually abducted by the Vorlons. Any other claims aren't canon.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:02 AM:

We fear to echo what the sunlight speaks
in voices that cannot be raised too loud
for fear we might stand out within the crowd
or be admonished as monsters or freaks
so we are silent, do not strain our breeks
in the assurance we will not be proud
of course or carriage. Nothing is allowed
to harm the tenor of our days and weeks.
For normal passage this might be enough,
but more is needed when we have to find
the kind of courage that you only need
when life has taken all your other stuff
and you’ve been driven mad as well as blind
yet have a chance for one more human deed.

#43 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:03 AM:

Stefan @2 -- POI became my must-see show during season 1, and only continues to get better. That second season finale was a blast.

#44 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:08 AM:

These days, in this country at least, it's more usual for a priest to be called Father [firstname], but in the past it was always Father [lastname]. I used to know a Fr John who told me, with immense relish, about an old priest he used to know when he was younger who insisted on being known as Fr Stephen, although he wasn't exactly progressive in any other respect.

"Why was that?" I asked innocently.

Fr John grinned. "Because his surname was Christmas!"

#45 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Since we're talking about naming: for anyone who hasn't seen it, I recommend poking around on Laura Wattenberg's Baby Name Voyager and the associated name mapper. Both are really fun interactive graphics based on US Census data back to the 1880s, letting you see, to take an example from upthread, how "Vivian" shifted over that time in the US. Her blog on that site is also entertaining, looking into various aspects of how names are perceived and chosen.

(I'm amused that, in a good example of "knowing your audience", paid subscriptions for the more sophisticated searching tools on that site are available in terms of "One Trimester (3 months)", "Full Term (9 months)", and "Name Enthusiast (12 months)".)

#46 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:14 AM:

My father has three younger sisters, named after their position in the family. So it's not google-able: famous perfume #5, the Roman numerals for 6 twice, 7a.

Also, my wife had not one, but two, female ancestors (or maybe ancestral relatives) named Buena Vista (byoona vista).

#47 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:22 AM:

Revilo P. Oliver could hardly have been whiter.

#48 ::: Ouranosaurus ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:32 AM:

Because of regional immigration patterns in Canada, some areas are used to certain kinds of names, others aren't. I live out in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, and when a fellow named Kos Van Wermeskerken was elected head of the school board some years back, we local reporters took it in stride – there has been a big Dutch community here since the 1950s. But it was fun to watch the TV reporters trip up when they came in from Vancouver every now and again and tried to pronounce it.

#49 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:32 AM:

Naming someone after the position in the birth chain used to be relatively common -- source of such names as Septimus and Octavia.

#50 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:33 AM:

Oh, and lots of unusual Bible names. I have a close friend named Carmi whose younger son is named Lael.

#51 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:49 AM:

C. Wingate #24

She knew Teddy the Snipe? Small world, eh?

#52 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:59 AM:

Until this thread, I'd forgotten about the stint I worked in the childrens' section of the local library. A man was signing up his kid for a library card; he signed, as parent, "R. Valentino". (This would have been in the '80s, and he was probably about forty years old at the time.) I looked at him and said, "Not Rudolph, surely?" He sighed and nodded, and I immediately felt horrible for asking. Apparently, his mother had had a crush as a teenager, and when she married a man named Valentino she couldn't resist...

#53 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:59 AM:

Lee@903/-1: Not the UK, but the NA colony that thought the UK was OK. Doesn't change anything. Also drives me nuts that you Exceptional Americans are throwing away the potential of people like me (except you're not, because 90% of my clients are American).

In general (and therefore, less @Lee@903/-1, and getting more less every sentence), there seems to be a culture that says "I succeeded because I'm a superior being. It's clear that I'm a superior being because I'm successful." Which leads to, sometimes, "I'd be more successful (and therefore more superior) if I didn't have all these restrictions on what I could do (in general, but in particular with the non-superior beings; after all, they're inferior). From what I understand of the Objectivist philosophy, the next statement is "and it's because of the inferiors ganging up and making all these regulations to hobble superiors like me so they won't fall any further behind."

I find this heartless, and cruel, and incredibly appealing to two groups of people: the ones that are willing to feed the inferiors poisoned milk if it will make them more money, or are comfortable with an "acceptable" rate of workplace suicide; and the ones who are sure they're superior, but "are hobbled" from being successful by the same governments and societies that pull down Galt et al. I'm sure I'm missing at least something here, but I have a similar reaction to theories that would consider me being dead a correct outcome that Xopher does, so I can't see it.

Saying that (and I'm sure that there are Objectivists that think I shouldn't have been left to die in total inability, rather than lived and trained to be the productive person I am; I know there is one who is willing to consider me people *now*; who knows about *then*), I find the Kickstarter to be pure Objectivism in action: if I can get people to buy nothing so I can do what I want (and make a healthy living in the process), and "guarantee" an audience of paid players at the end (because they feel they have a stake in it), then I've succeeded, haven't I? Because, of course, I'm superior - not *to my backers*, of course <wink/>, just in general.

And who knows? Maybe enough people want this to go that crowdfunding it is the right way. It goes around the traditional restrictions put up by the movie industry to hobble the product of clearly superior people, in favour of talking to the clearly correct. After all, it worked for AFP and SJG!

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:05 AM:

Theophylact #47 Or more of a racist. Or, for that matter, more of a Pendleton (his middle name). I used to read his essays and have to say that, since he died the standard of literacy on the racist right has declined dramatically.

#55 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:10 AM:

cyllan #16: Thus, V.I. IV? Oy.

#56 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:21 AM:

On names: I have two, very common, Biblical given names; and a last name that evokes "are we related" whenever I run into someone else with that name (which is one of the reasons why I'm pseudonymous here; there is one of me On The Net).

Of course, growing up, boys were known by their last name...

re: Ouranosaurus: "northern" Alberta has a heavy Ukranian population (which I always thought was a Stalinistic effect; looks like the ones I'm thinking of are from 19th century famines, not 20th). "Weird" white names, at least around here, are (anglicized badly, but) just taken for granted - at least the Ukranian and anglicized German ones. Traditional southern U.S. names would feel "weird" here in the same way that Chantal Krevaziuk, say, or Chuck Kobasew (pronounced "Koba-sioux'", which drives me nuts, because I *know* it's "Ko'-ba-chev" :-)

Of course, what you Louisianans have done to our Second Official Language is astonishing. I always get in trouble because I pronounce it the way I read it - with a Parisian accent rather than a Quebecker, because of how I was taught - rather than the correct way, and it's as incomprehensible to Louisianans as modern Anglicization is. Having said *that*, I'm sure I mangle the Ukranian names (and know I mangle the Polish and Czech ones) about as badly.

We have a Mircea at work. I used to answer the general line, and we'd get "I have this email from Me--, Mr--, M--" "Mircea. I'll pass you to him". Very common (Romanian) name, it is.

"Andrea", Italian male, *always* catches me out.

#57 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:31 AM:

I believe Mr Barebones may have something to say on this thread.

#58 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:37 AM:

There's a religious component to names, too. My daughter attended a Catholic grade school, and at one soccer game the parents noticed that every girl on the field for our team, with the exception of one stray "Kelsey," had a name that included some form of Elizabeth, Mary, or Claire.

Re unusual names, I was charmed to find from a genealogy of my mother's family that we had an ancestor named "Obadiah" in New England in the 1700s. But I wouldn't have named a child after him.

#59 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:43 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @35: [..] I came across one Lyndon B. Johnson living quietly in South Carolina. All I could think was "poor man".

I recall reading an account that stated the former President had been so vain that he sent a gift to the parents of any child they named after him. IIRC, the gift was a ham.

#60 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:56 AM:

Everybody else's naming customs--like everybody else's wedding and funeral customs--are always weird.

(Listening to the people whose funeral customs call for open-casket talking about those whose customs call for closed-casket, and vice versa, can be entertaining, in a morbid sort of way. And the cake-and-punch wedding reception people versus the full-banquet-with-an-open bar people.)

#61 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 12:10 PM:

I can use my full Real Name (tm) here and yet be more or less pseudonymous because there are so many people with this firstname+lastname combination. (I guess we're all named after the novel that was published when I was two)

Incidentally, the other person in my zip code with my name that I know of (people trying to reach him reached me) is African-American.

#62 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 12:16 PM:

I would have expected anyone with the surname 'Soul' to avoid giving their offspring a first name beginning with 'R', yet last year I saw an inscription on a bell to 'Robert Soul'. Were his parents oblivious, or what?

#64 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 12:32 PM:

"Seal Ann Rio de la Plata" as the given name.

I have a great-great-grandfather where I've found at least two versions for both first and middle names.

Genealogy can be such fun.

#65 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 12:35 PM:

Rob @62:

So, you would think. My last name sounds exactly like the last part of #48's Ouranosaurus. So, when we were looking for kid names, one of the requirements was "not a plausible dinosaur name". Nothing ending in a, anything that could be singsongily added to rex. I couldn't do that to a kid.

Of course, pets are a different matter. If I ever get a large dog, I'm naming it Bronte or Tyranna.

#66 ::: eric is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 12:37 PM:

There's cold coffee I could reheat.

#67 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 12:47 PM:

I used to go to school with a guy named Hari Krishna. He got called down to the office a lot.

We also had a Ronald McDonald and James Bond.

#68 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:00 PM:

I remember an Air Force O3 whose last name was "America," who was very happy to be promoted to O4 (for more than the usual reasons).

#69 ::: Keith Edwards ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Lorax @31:

'Bud' must be a generational nickname, not limited by region, as my grandfather was Baltimore born and was known by that moniker. (his first name was Albert, so who knows where Bud came from).

#70 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Ginger @891/OT187: Good luck with finding homes for the new foster kitties. What happened to Marilee's cats that you were fostering (if I remember correctly)?

#71 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:11 PM:

Cassy B #52: I used to know a Robert Louis Stevenson. His mother really liked Treasure Island. I'm not kidding.

#72 ::: Fragano Ledgister is Gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:12 PM:

Gno!!!!!!!!!!

[Caught by the triple-space filter again. This time between the period after Treasure Island and the I in I'm. -- Marisuo C'quomo, Duty Gnome]

#73 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Back when I was first working at DHEW Office of Audit, we were doing a birthdate match, comparing Social Security numbers and names from the food stamp printouts.

I got to see a lot of weird baby names. But the lad I felt the most sympathy for was the young man whose parents had named him "Demitresse."

I think they were trying for Demetrius, but I'm not sure.

#74 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:18 PM:

Oh, in this morning's paper, I read that Miss Piggy has joined Kermit at the Smithsonian.

She got her own photo-shoot, and posed with Dorothy's ruby slippers. She got to wear the Hope Diamond as well...

#75 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:37 PM:

BTW, for those in need, McGuckin's Hardware now has garden moai in stock.

#76 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Re: names

My grandfather's eldest son was called Junior by the family and his age-mates until almost his (my uncle's) death, and my cousin was nicknamed Bud.

One of his cronies was Gerlactus Bouricius, called Guy. His kids had strongly white bread names. No, not "Wonder".

#77 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 01:57 PM:

I used to know (in different contexts) women named October* and December. One was white, one black.

Why are some months "normal" names--April, May, and June for females, August for males--and others weird?

*Her mother-in-law used to call her 'Tuesday'.

#78 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Re: names (Southern US edition)

Virtually every female in my Mother's lineage that I know about has two first names, and my Mother's could be (and is often written as) two separate names but is actually only one.

My late paternal Grandfather's name, after whom both my Dad and I are named (He's legally Jr, I'm III, we changed my son's middle name so he didn't have to be saddled with being IV and used his maternal Grandfather's first name instead so there was no argument from my Southern parents/relatives... Bonus is that my Brother in law is also III, and we're not sure he'll have kids, so this way the names keep going - if my son has kids) is not actually the one he was always known by. At some point, presumably before or soon after he was legally able to sign for things, he started using the name my Dad and I got. His legal name was never changed, but nobody in small-town Mississippi cared, they just called him by the name he wanted to be called. His actual first name? Crayton.

#79 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:39 PM:

HLN: Local woman drives for 6.5 hours to attend wedding on Saturday, runs 50-mile trail race Sunday... then crashes bike and bruises/cracks ribs on end of handlebars on Wednesday. Trying to be philosophical she says "at least I'd finished the "5 x 50-milers" I'd set myself for this year before the accident."

#80 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:53 PM:

I ran across a file once for a kid named James T. Kirk (and the people in the file room didn't get why I expressed sympathy, which boggled me). There's also a guy called James R. Kirk around, but he's probably old enough to have been named before the show.

#81 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 02:59 PM:

dcb @79, ouch.

#82 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 03:29 PM:

Fragano, #32: My first association to "Mercedes" is not the car, but white author Mercedes Lackey.

Tom, #36: This is the primary reason that I do not use my birth name on my Facebook account. While my first name is not unusual, my last name was rare enough that anyone you run into in this country who has it is related to me by either birth or marriage. There are a lot of people I used to know who I do not want finding me that easily.

Cassy, #52: My now-ex has a cousin whose first name is Arwen. Yes, for the obvious reason. I imagine that she got a lot more grief about it after the movies came out.

Mycroft, #56: Re Mircea, I wouldn't stumble over pronouncing it (although it's quite possible that I would mispronounce it as if it were French) -- but I would be quite grateful to you for giving me the gender cue, because that name parses to me as female.

Rob, #62: Apparently I'm oblivious too. [*]?

Mary Aileen, #77: I will not be at all surprised if we start seeing the occasional girl named October (and nicknamed Toby) in another 5 or 6 years.

#83 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 03:39 PM:

"Apparently I'm oblivious too."

Doesn't have the same trouble in American English -- think A. Soul as a slightly less obvious version of the same problem.

#84 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 03:39 PM:

dcb @ 70: Well, funny you should ask about Marilee's cats. Junie B is doing just fine, but Loki is dying of his cancer (which was diagnosed around the time Marilee died). I am currently attempting to reach him with a syringe full of analgesic, but he moves when I try to touch him. He'll sniff my finger, but that's about it. He is resting comfortably on an old dog bed, and shows no signs of distress, but I am hoping to move things along for him, hopefully tonight or tomorrow. He'd been fine all year; the decline occurred fairly suddenly, which is typical.

The kittens were introduced to one of my dogs this morning, and it was fascinating to see their different personalities erupting. One kitten met nose-to-nose with the dog, but the next one right along after had a little fit and scared the dog into hiding behind me. I'm waiting for the laundry to dry so I can bring up another clean bed for them, and I'll spend some time in the room to desensitize them.

#85 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 03:53 PM:

OtterB @81: Yes, exactly. At least the diclofenac means the ribs (well the muscles) are no longer spasming, which makes things less uncomfortable. And I can breath okay, just not bend over, stretch te reach something etc. etc.

Ginger @84: Thanks for the update. Sympathies for Loki; hope he goes as peacefully as possible.

#86 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 03:55 PM:

Lee (82): Good point. But the October I knew in library school must have been born in the 1950s.

#87 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 03:55 PM:

My last name is short, easy to spell (though often misspelled anyway) and to pronounce, but uncommon enough that essentially anyone in the US who shares it is a relative or ex-relative.

#88 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:03 PM:

Rob Hansen #62: Imagine my surprise, a bit over two decades ago, meeting the Aussie friend of a friend of mine, who had the euphonious name of Richard Head.

#89 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Count me among the clueless; why is "Robert Soul" bad?

My father has an slightly unusual first name. It's the "Mount" where George Washington lived. When he was a kid, listening to Walter Winchell on the radio, Winchell said something on the order of "There are at least 11 other people in America with the name Walter Winchell". My dad sat there thinking, "I bet there isn't another person on earth with my first and last names together".

Imagine his surprise when he met one, about 40 years ago. That one was a plumber, while my dad owned a hardware store, so their jobs were even tangentially connected.

His father was E.R. Always E.R. It wasn't until he was long dead that I found out his name was Erwin Rudolph. I suppose it's not surprising that he went by his initials, though his sister Zdenka (or possibly Zdeňka) had it far worse. "Zdenka" sounds like "stinker" to a six-year-old on the playground. She had it changed legally to "Don" when she was old enough.

#90 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:26 PM:

Cally, it's the initial and last name. Say "R. Soul" aloud a couple of times, and you'll get it.

Think British.

#91 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Prominent Houston socialite Ima Hogg. It is apparently not really true that she had a sister named Ura.

I once encountered a Wayne County assistant prosecutor named Luke Skywalker, but he had apparently cheated by changing his name.

#92 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:38 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 77: There's Junius as a male name, and Augusta as a female name. I wouldn't think anyone in a northern climate at least would want to name their kid after a grim winter month in which staying alive was the first priority.

As Fragano mentioned, Mercedes the car was named for a woman - Mercedes Jellinek, daughter of a board member of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft.

#93 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:42 PM:

My last name is short, easy to spell (though often misspelled anyway) and to pronounce, but uncommon enough that essentially anyone in the US who shares it is a relative or ex-relative.

Mine, too, with the additional data point that some who have it were evidently my ancestors' slaves.

#94 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 04:43 PM:

I have a plea for literary help - and where better than a Making Light open thread?

I want to buy my wife a surprise copy of a favourite book from her childhood - one whose title she no longer recalls. Since I want it to be a surprise I can't dig for more details.

What I know:
- it was a children's book
- it was about a cow who wanted to make a plum pudding
- the plums in question were damsons
- my wife is 45. The book was originally her mother's book, so certainly nothing recent.

My Google-fu has failed me utterly here.

Anyone?

#95 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:01 PM:

One good plea for help deserves another!

A co-worker asked me if I could come up with a word other than "boastful" for public displays of one's own wonderfulness. My one good thought was "self-aggrandizing" and he'd already rejected it as too long. I'm a little stumped.

(The context? A vehicle with a sign in the window explaining that the driver had been awarded the Bronze Star.)

#96 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:02 PM:

Ahh, I speak a very Midwest dialect of American English, so R. Soul is a mispronunciation for me, unless I think "British English". Completely different vowel sound at the beginning, and no R at all, audible or inadible.

#97 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:03 PM:

Prideful.

#98 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:11 PM:

Lori @73, I knew a Demetrius when I was a kid -- except I thought his name was "Jim" for years. He never acknowledged his legal name. (I don't recall how I happened to find it out.)

#99 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:27 PM:

The "Prideful" was a suggestion to John.

Cally, I don't think the dialects that use the word that sounds like "R. Soul" pronounce the R in either word.

#100 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Okay, I need some help with an e-book issue. I just got a new smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S3. I wanted to buy the "Two from the Mageworlds" book that was only offered in e-format. So I went over to Madhouse Manor, which linked me to the book on Smashwords; I created a Smashwords account, bought the book, and then downloaded the Kindle version of it from my cellphone. I got a notification that the download was successful, but it's not showing up in my Kindle app, nor is it in the native e-reader that came on the phone.

I sent a query to Smashwords about this, in which I gave them all the information I just laid out here, and got back this in response:
If you have previously downloaded a sample or a previous version, please delete those versions first. Then revisit your library page, select the book you want to download. At the top right, you should see "You own it!" Click that, or scroll down, and you should see a table labeled "Available ebook reading formats." On the right, click the "Download" link for the format you want.

Do you see the problem here? I can't find the bloody file, so I can't delete it! And why didn't it download properly in the first place? (Actually, I may have an answer to that last; their FAQ describes the downloading process to a Kindle app as rather more baroque than just "click the version you want to download" and suggests that I may have to use my desktop as an intermediary.)

Not a happy camper right now. Help?

#101 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:37 PM:

One of my uncles was only called Spud, have no idea if it was his real name, but then my father was Ralph Marion Helm (Spud was his brother).

There is a PR professional in Kansas City named Sandy Beach. One of my bosses swore to me her father named all his kids punny, but he may have been pulling my leg.

I work in a very large building and with a large number people of all races. Names are sometimes really, really weird.

#102 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:37 PM:

Back at uni a friend tutored chemistry, and his class included both Darvas Grunden and Tvyat Quatch.

I'm guessing at the spelling here, and I never saw either of them so I can't give clues about ethnicity.

To me they sound like they wandered in from a little known Dickens novel.

#103 ::: Kyndra ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 05:59 PM:

Steve Taylor @94

That seems vaguely familiar. Almost certainly English. I might check with Ambleside Online. They are Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers with a great interest in good children's literature and someone there may recognize the tale. I'll tuck it into my brain and see if something rattles free...K

#104 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 06:24 PM:

There's a young woman who occasionally sings the national anthem for my favourite sports team (and very, very well) named "Lovely Andalay". I always feel that that is an unfortunate name in combination.

My geographical region tends to have hyphenated names like Marie-Eve; I'm not going to type out my one classmate's name because it's probably googleable, but she had a double-barrelled first name, a double-barrelled middle name, and her parents' surnames hyphenated together (my geographical region also doesn't tend to having women taking their husband's name, if they get married at all). Forms were hell for her and her brothers.

My sister Nicola gets guff around here for having a "boy's" name; my folks had only been in Canada for three years or so after we immigrated from the UK, and had not yet made enough francophone friends to pick up on this being a potential issue.

#105 ::: Sylvia Sotomayor ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 06:48 PM:

I have a cousin in Central America named Mercedes. And another named Auxiliadora.

And once upon a time I took a check from a woman named Aida Verdi. That's the only really unusual one that I remember.

#106 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:09 PM:

I worked for a time with a Sandra (went by Sandy) Shore. Very nice lady--I never quite reached the point where I could ask if she married into that last name or not, though.

#107 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:14 PM:

No, it's not just black people. For every Laqueisha there's a Nevaeh. (That's a backwards spelling of Heaven ™ estate of V. C. Andrews.)

#108 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Steve Taylor @94: Have you checked Purple House Press? They have lots of old classic children's books that they got the rights to reprint. Named after Mr. Pine's Purple House (the book they founded the press to reprint!) - my husband's favourite book as a child. :)

This isn't helping with the name of the book, I know, but I thought perhaps if you browsed something might jump out at you.

#109 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 07:25 PM:

Steve Taylor @94, you might also ask at the LJ community "whatwasthatbook"

#110 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:04 PM:

Now I'm very confused.

When I saw the R. Soul, I connected it immediately to "arsehole", which is in my native dialect.

Then Cally in 96 said Ahh, I speak a very Midwest dialect of American English, so R. Soul is a mispronunciation for me,
unless I think "British English". Completely different vowel sound at the beginning, and no R at all, audible or inadible.

But that makes no sense to me, since arse is not a mispronunciation of ass, it's a different word that means the same thing.

Then Xopher in 99 said Cally, I don't think the dialects that use the word that sounds like "R. Soul" pronounce the R in either word.

Of course we pronounce the R in arse. Otherwise it would be ass. Which would still work in context, but would not be the word I wanted to say.

So, did I not get the joke? Was R. Soul not supposed to sound like arsehole?

And I'm swearing on Making Light because if I keep using euphemisms I'm just going to sink. Sorry.

#111 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:14 PM:

One of my great-aunts was named Aurelia, shortened to Aunt Really. It's one of those times you look cockeyed at your family to see if they're pulling your leg.

#112 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 08:21 PM:

Cheryl:

Well, you see, in my dialect of Midwest American English, "arsehole" simply doesn't exist as a word at all. On those rare occasions it's seen, it's as a loanword from English. All we have is "asshole", and various euphanisms. With the initial "a" sounded as in "cat".

#113 ::: Ouranosaurus ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:09 PM:

Eric - I wish my last name sounded like saurus! I've already suggested to my wife that when/if we have a child, "Tyrranosaur" would be an excellent middle name. She begs to differ.

Another name oddity – names that change when you cross borders between countries that speak the same language. I know a fellow named Guy, a former American, who moved to (English speaking) Canada. His hame had always been pronounced as in "Go talk to that guy over there." In Canada, people assumed it was French-Canadian and called him Guy-as-in-Lafleur. He liked it and switched pronunciations.

#114 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:41 PM:

13 Disney heroines swap clothes with their heroes.
Terrific fan-art! The full set is here.

I should mention that it's just the women dressed like their associated guys, not the other way around. Although that would have been fun too.

#115 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 09:54 PM:

>> ... McGuckin's Hardware now has garden moai in stock.

This is outstanding news. My desultory search for employment has now become urgent.

How tall are the biggest ones?

#116 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:00 PM:

In my father's family, which is not deep (for most of my life, it's been five siblings and their families plus Great-Aunt Elinor, not much of anyone else), boys go by the nickname of their middle name. Lawrence Robert becomes Bob, John William becomes Bill, and my brother was supposed to be Mike, but Mom was in the hospital for a week after having him and instead of her saying, "Hi, Mike," Dad had him and kept calling him John Michael. This has confused many people, including every single elementary-school teacher.

They got used to Mom coming in after Parent-Teacher Night and having a Talk about how his first name is John Michael. No, not John. No, not hyphenated. Yes, you will do that on the reading wall because right there's Ashley Lynn.

At graduation, both he and my father went up to the announcers and explained the first-name thing. As everyone else was read, "First, Middle, Last," with grand pauses, he was, "John Michael, Last," and my mother felt so vindicated.

Of course, his semireal middle name is Fred.

My mother's side of the family, related by marriage to the Boobs of Centre County, has an uncle, now deceased, named Rodney. Except this wasn't his name, nor his middle name, and the only people who called him Rodney were his wife's family, who had known him from childhood. We couldn't figure it out until someone mentioned it was a nickname based on a cartoon character when he was really little. It stuck and stuck hard.

I just get called Cassandra when people who don't actually know me want to be playfully intimidating.

#117 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:07 PM:

Mary Aileen@77: "May" and "June" derive directly from names of goddesses, and a quick perusal of online etymology suggests that "April" ultimately derives from "Aphrodite". In the case of "August", I think people are being named after the man the month is named after, rather than being named after the month. Other month names are mostly just numbers.

#118 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 10:48 PM:

We had a recent, high profile teen suicide of a young woman named Rehtaeh. Heather, backwards. I can't help wondering if that contributed to some of the bullying she suffered from.

#119 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:03 PM:

We picked Stefan for our son, hoping to have something that would be reasonably unusual, but not unheard of in both the UK and the US. It seems to have worked well, except now he's in a French Immersion school, and everyone calls him StefAHN, and I'm stuck picturing the SNL Weekend Update character. That said, I talk about some of the kids he goes to school with at work, and one of the girls asked "Where does he go that all these kids have such weird names?" Just because I've mentioned Ace, Raine, Peetsie, Coco, Goldie, and Camille. All white, none of them French. Our boss named his son Ruffin, an old family name, after Edmund Ruffin the confederate general, not Kermit Ruffins, the jazz musician. This is the south. Nobody has any room to judge on a name basis. Not that racism is logical or that anyone will be convinced of the stupidity of their positions.

#120 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:15 PM:

David G., #117: What about January? That's named after a god, but never seems to get translated into a name. IIRC, the Northern European "Jan" is cognate to John.

#121 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:17 PM:

The preferred pronunciation of my name is something like "steffen," but I find myself telling people "steFAHN" not because I like it pronounced that way, but in the hope that they SPELL my name correctly.

More often than not I get email that begin "Dear Stephen:" Sometimes, an inch of screen space below my work email address, stefan.jones@____.___.

I'd be less picky, but there is an actual Stephan at work, and there's enough cross-over in our product duties that we get meeting invitations and phone calls meant for each other.

#122 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:32 PM:

HLN: I might be jinxing myself by announcing this, but I think I've successfully deterred an infestation of pantry moths.

I developed a passionate hatred for these things when I was living alone for a summer at my parents' house. I didn't pay attention to the moths flitting about. It was the larva, which at first started appearing in the dish basin. I emptied and scrubbed the thing twice, and poured hot bleach water down the drain, but they kept appearing in the water.

Then I looked up. The ceiling was crawling with the things. I swept them up, for days on end. Somehow or other, in the pre-Internet age, I found a reference to them and started tossing infested items.

So, when I spotted a couple of the moths in my dining room, I went into fury mode. I discovered the source: A bag of dried date pellets in a box on a shelf. It was full of moths, trying to get out. I tossed the whole box of dried fruit, and an adjacent box of dog treats, in a trash bag and put it outside.

A number of moths escaped. I spent the last week or so swatting moths, putting out traps, and looking over every damn box and bag of food in the kitchen and pantry. Nothing else was visibly compromised, but I put all of my food boxes in sturdy bags or clear boxes . . . both to keep moths out, and to keep any hatching larva in. To top things off I deployed bay leaves, peppermint extract, and blocks of cedar.

No new moths have appeared in the traps for a couple of days.

Damn, I hate those things!

#123 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:33 PM:

120
It's used mostly by Italians: Gennaro.

#124 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2013, 11:53 PM:

There is a candidate for mayor here in Minneapolis whose name is Captain Jack Sparrow. (He legally changed his name a couple of years ago.) There is another candidate who is Christopher Robin Zimmerman, and I think that's the name he was given at birth. Of course, the mayor's race this year is far crazier than usual, with 35 candidates, and ranked choice voting.

#125 ::: Lillian ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:44 AM:

I used to work in an answering service (remember those?) and used to take messages from a Paige Turner and a Jingle Bell. And my nephew went to school with a girl named Jazzy.

#126 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:59 AM:

I was just playing with the map of "buildings in the Netherlands, by age," that's in Abi's Parhelia. It's color-coded, but the user can click on a building to get the address, area, year constructed, and current use.

A lot of red-coded buildings in one area of Amsterdam are labeled as built in 1005. OK, I wondered, what happened in Amsterdam in 1005?

Nothing. Or at least, nothing on that scale: the town didn't exist then. Its namesake dam was a couple of centuries in the future.

So I followed the "report data errors" link, and have just been having fun with Google Translate to figure out how to use the form. I had to resort to Wikipedia again, to find a Dutch postcode I could give it, because it rejected my comment when I gave it my actual postcode here in the US. (There's a space for country; having pasted in the Dutch for "United States of America" didn't seem to help.)

I wonder how many non-Dutch-speaking users they hear from.

#127 ::: Vicki has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:04 AM:

The gnomes seem to find my post tasty. Would they care for some blood orange sorbet?

#128 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:09 AM:

I used to have to to paperwork about an "Algernon P. Quattlebaum".

Oddly, I know of two people to have those first and last names (the middle is different). They are no relation, one to the other.

#129 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:14 AM:

My first name is Joy and my last name is of Polish extraction. While there were two other "Joy"s in my grade when we lived in Utah, and there were many other people with that Polish last name in the midwest (to the point where every now and again the pizza joint would deliver us the pie for the other ___ski in our zip code) I always assumed that the combination was fairly unique. Until a couple of years ago I googled myself and found the most prominent person with my name is a physician in Italy who runs marathons. Even if I wanted to use my True Name on the book of faces and whatnot, I couldn't, because that poacher is already there! I'm much more prolific under my 'nym on the web anyhow.

#130 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:26 AM:

I went out with a woman named Quasar as well.

#131 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:27 AM:

My actual name, as given, isn't, "odd", just variant. I had a teacher tell me I didn't know how to spell it.

She was awful in other ways too.

#132 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:29 AM:

On a different topic (one near and dear to many hearts here), I was included in a post someone wrote about learning how feed the trolls until they burst

#133 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:55 AM:

John @ 95

I usually use "smug and superior" (pronounced as a single compound word), "a bit superior," or "remarkably self-impressed."

But I'm going to put in a strong vote for "vainglorious," because that's a word that doesn't get used enough.

#134 ::: joel hanes ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 02:26 AM:

Gwendolyn Hoofnagle-Tmcsm

attested from sometime in the 1950s

#135 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 03:34 AM:

Open Threadiness.

Some people in NZ were having fun on the Twitters (not surprising) and mentioned some of the banks. The banks joined in (say what?). BNZ (formerly Bank of New Zealand) wins at least a small internet

#136 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 05:04 AM:

I come across a lot of customer names in the course of my work. Some of them are pretty funny.

But my favorite was one T. Froissart. "Any relation?" says I. "Hm?" "Oh, I was just being a smartass, there was a medieval French chronicler by that name." "Oh, okay. No, no relation... My husband's his direct descendant."

#137 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 05:14 AM:

Devin @ 136: I've done something similar. There's an MP with a moderately uncommon name, and I once issued a student union card to a young man with the same surname. I asked if he was any relation, as you do, and he was. He was the MP's son.

Also, Fragano: I owe you a minor apology. I'm on some medication at the moment which is messing with my short-term memory. I saw your poem yesterday, meant to compliment you on it, and then got distracted replying to another comment and forgot all about it until I woke up this morning. So, another fine poem, and do you publish your work at all?

#138 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 06:50 AM:

Xopher @ 97: I'd proposed "prideful", but that didn't have enough emphasis on the vocal part of the situation to suit my co-worker. Now that I've looked up the definition, it fits, but only if you look it up or know it well.

KayTei @ 133: Vainglorious, now. That has just the same problem as prideful, except that the word just looks and sounds the right way. I'm going to offer that and see what he says.

#139 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 07:35 AM:

To Fragano's fine sonnet, #42

"Think what you like, but not too goddam loud":
I learned that principle, oh, long ago.
My father would assert it, even though
He rarely followed it. He rarely bowed
To principle, for also he avowed
That circumstances alter cases. So
Is that principle, as well? To know
No principle? Is anything allowed?

When life has taken all you have to give,
When there is nothing left, then testify
To what remains, and shout it loud, and die.
What else? And does it come to that? Why, yes.
But if it doesn't? Then speak it still, and live.
Give great for greatness, but to lesser, less.


In other news, when I was a young man teaching in a small West Australian country town, the Shire Clerk was a Mr Duck. He was in his sixties then, so born about 1920 or so. His parents, unaware of what was about to happen, had bestowed on him a great name, drawn from their Scots ancestry: "Donald".

#140 ::: Dave Luckett has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 07:37 AM:

Oh, dear, I hope Their Lownesses are not offended by the surname "Duck".

#141 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 07:54 AM:

Mongoose #137: Thank you.

The answer to your question is yes. See: http://www.hammerandanvilbooks.com/#!authors/ciya

Dave Luckett #139: Back in 1678, a tropical wave brought flood rains to Jamaica and isolated the plantation of a Captain Duck. The slaves on that plantation promptly rose in revolt, killed Duck and the other whites on the plantation, and headed for the hills. This marked the start of the First Maroon War which ended in 1738 when the descendants of those slaves forced the British to treat with them and recognise their freedom. As I'm, inter alia, descended from some of the people who killed Captain Duck it is an act I happen to consider rather honourable.

#142 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 08:32 AM:

Thanks Kyndra, Claire, OtterB - somehow that plum pudding will get made and the cow will be happy!

#143 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 08:46 AM:

John, how about 'braggart'?

#144 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 08:57 AM:

That reminds me -- I used to have a co-worker named Danny Duck. He was white, though. I suppose he got off lucky in terms of first name. He always said he felt sorry for his sister Vera, not in terms of the name itself, but because she wound up with the initials "V.D."

#145 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:08 AM:

AKICIML: Why are people waving the Lion of Flanders in this video of the Proms?

#146 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:20 AM:

There is an academic whose last name is Weiner-Johnson; fine names on their own, until you get caught sexting the whole world, but I can't help giggling when you hyphenate them.

#147 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:30 AM:

Lee @ # 6: late to the party, but I went to school with Lance Justice, and local mini-celebrities include Zippy Morocco and Reign Strider (realtors) and Speedy Arnold (actor).

I'm fairly certain Zippy is a childhood nickname, and I know Speedy is, but they're the names they use professionally.

#148 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:36 AM:

And twins get it particularly hard. In my high school class we had Neyda and Neysa (pronounced nay-dah and nee-sah), and also Wanda Sue and Rhonda Lou (they went by their first names only, not first+middle like a lot of Southern girls).

The only male twins were named Jim and John, but I've run across boys with Cute Matching Names. Local twin physicians are named Bruce and Wayne, which MIGHT be accidental.... (All examples in this and the previous comment are white, BTW.)

#149 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:50 AM:

Xopher @ 143: An excellent noun for the subject! But I was asked for an adjective.

And am I off in my perception that a sign like I described in #95 is out of the norm? I've only known one Bronze Star recipient. I learned that he'd received that award in his obituary. That seems to me one of the few appropriate places to announce it, but it's not my culture.

#150 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:51 AM:

SamChevre #145: On the Last Night of the Proms it has become customary to indicate patriotism, local or national, of all kinds. If you watch it, as my wife and I do, you'll see all sorts of flags including English regional flags, Old Glory, the Vatican flag (that one crops up year after year), the flag of the Bahamas, the Jamaican flag (I noticed that one this year), and a lot of others. I did notice the Vlaamse Leeuw, carried, presumably, by a Fleming.

#151 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 10:24 AM:

Cheryl@110: Here's the thing. In British (or, more precisely, English) English, the function of 'r' is very often to modify a vowel. Therefore, if we modify the vowel, we think we are pronouncing the r. In standard American English, however, r is always consonantal, so from an American point of view, if you aren't sounding it as a consonant, you aren't 'pronouncing the r'. This can lead to considerable confusion.

(In Scottish English, though, the r is always sounded as a consonant, and I think Scottish speakers do sometimes say 'arse', sounding it as 'arrse'.)

#153 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:18 AM:

On the subject of oblivious parents, I was at school with a Mike Hunt, usually introduced as Mike Hunt-with-an-H.

#154 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:32 AM:

David Goldfarb (117): That sounds right. I do keep half-expecting to find someone named 'July', possibly pronounced like 'Julie'.

Emily H. (146): I sincerely hope that his first name is not Richard.

Andrew M. (151): Fascinating! I had no idea.

#155 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:37 AM:

Google doodle for Sep 27. Particularly appropriate here...

#156 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:45 AM:

There was an entire set on 10 O'Clock Live about the visit to the UK of Sen. Randy Baumgardner (spelt there, and pronounced, Bumgardner). Not so unfortunate on this side of the pond.

#157 ::: academic ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:59 AM:

I wondered if I could ask for some book recs. My father is stuck at home for a couple months so he can recover from an injury, and he's going a bit stir-crazy. I thought I'd send him some new books.

He doesn't usually read outside what I think of as the guy-style action adventure genre. Clive Cussler, cold-war era spy books, Tom Clancy, Grisham. But he's run through most of the big bestsellers. He likes mysteries on TV, so I was thinking of trying him on something like that, or perhaps some non-fiction that's well written.

#158 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:01 PM:

Cheryl @110: So, did I not get the joke? Was R. Soul not supposed to sound like arsehole?

Yes, it was. I had assumed that everyone knew we Brits say 'arsehole' rather than 'asshole', but given the degree of confusion this appears to have caused here, apparently not. Since over here we all know 'asshole' is used in the US in place of 'arsehole' this lack of reciprocal awareness is disappointing.

#159 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:03 PM:

#157 ::: academic

He's probably already read them, but does his list include Lee Child?

#160 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:06 PM:

wrt 157: if his reading includes Cold War settings, do you think his historical fiction parameters might stretch far enough for the Aubrey/Maturin books?

#161 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:21 PM:

Rob: I knew that "arsehole" was something the Brits said instead of "asshole", but it's in the "translation" part of my brain as opposed to the main vocabulary part, so, lacking pointers that this was a specifically British thing, it didn't register.

#162 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Rob @158: I had assumed that everyone knew we Brits say 'arsehole' rather than 'asshole', but given the degree of confusion this appears to have caused here, apparently not.

What actually tripped me up for a while was not the R portion of R. Soul, but the H in 'arsehole'. In my dialect, such as it is, the H in that word is clearly said, which makes the overall sound quite distinct from R. Soul - and thus not inadvertantly funny. Once I figured out that R. Soul was supposed to equal arsehole, I had to do quite a bit of mental fiddling with the pronunciation to get the linkage.

#163 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 12:31 PM:

@112 Cally Soukup, 151 Andrew M, 158 Rob Hansen

Thanks. Sorry about the whine; I need to sleep more.

#164 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:21 PM:

Just one comment, actually, and it’s not about the content: please go to the trouble of using an apostrophe at the beginning of shortened words like: ’em. What you’ve got here (repeatedly) is a single open quotation mark. I expect more careful composition on Making Light!

Because it’s distracting, that’s why.

#165 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 01:46 PM:

academic @ #157, seconding the Aubrey-Maturin recommendation; for nonfiction, try "The Cuckoo's Egg" by Clifford Stoll, which is a story of computer espionage being investigated by a newly-hired astronomy professor in his spare time (for values of "spare time" that include "sleeping on the lab floor with an alarm attached to the dot matrix printer that will wake him up when Mystery Person logs on"). I couldn't put it down.

(Note that there's also a C.J. Cherryh book of the same name, which is also good, but definitely not nonfiction.)

#166 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Rob @158: I initially totally missed the pronunciation angle, and thought "What, people thought he was named Rubber Soul?" Which, being Beatles, is British at least...

#167 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 02:12 PM:

academic, #157: Does he like noir mystery? If so, I recommend J.D. Rhoades.

Rob, #158: I do know that, but my brain was going at it from the wrong direction -- trying to turn "Soul, R." into something more unfortunate than "solar". Also, my dialect has the same thing with the "h" that oliviacw mentions @162.

John B., #164: The single-quote is right there on the keyboard. The "smart-quote" apostrophe takes significant finagling, unless you're using a word processor. (And while we're on the topic, do you also find the use of single-quotes in contractions distracting?)

#168 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 02:19 PM:

My father-in-law used to have a friend named John Goff (not sure of the spelling). He was adamant about never wanting to be called Jack.

My first name was quite rare when I was a kid; I don't think I met another Jeremy until high school. It's become much more common in recent years.

My surname is a product of Ellis Island. My grandfather, named Ludsky (which I was told may have been a reference to Łódź), chose Leader when he arrived here from Poland, aged 13, because his uncle, who'd arrived a few years earlier, had chosen it. It used to amuse me when we'd get letters from some company offering to sell us a pamphlet on the "coat of arms and genealogy of the Leader family" (from England, apparently).

My closest Google rival is a composer who shares my last name, and has my first name as his middle name. There's also a site about the wedding of a Jeremy Leader who's not me, and on LinkedIn there are 2 others.

#169 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 02:21 PM:

academic (157): If he's gone through the bestseller types, he's probably already read W.E.B. Griffin and Jack Higgins. What about Wilbur Smith?

And given that he reads John Grisham, maybe some other legal suspense: John Lescroart, Steve Martini, Lisa Scottoline, Perri O'Shaughnessy.

Other suggestions: Lisa Gardner, Lisa Jackson, William Lashner.

#170 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Rob @158:

I know the "arsehole"/"asshole" translation, but didn't know you were British, so I didn't have it in the relevant part of my brain to understand the story.

#171 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 03:27 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 149

Yeah, that's a bit odd. I almost wonder if it was something official and the car wasn't the recipient's? If I got a major award of some kind that came with a "Here's your $AWARD" letter or the like, I'd never display it in a window but my mom would snap it up.

The only Bronze Star vet I've known was my friend Ethan's grandfather, but he was 442nd, so it's a bit different. For one thing, it ain't no secret: about a third of the 442nd did receive Bronze Stars.*

He never kept it a secret, he wasn't one to brag but he was very proud of his service and I'm sure if you'd asked about the war he'd have shown you his medals. But he sure as hell wasn't making any signs. (I could maybe just about see him posting a sign about serving in the 442nd, maybe.)

*Yes, this is basically insane.

#172 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 03:31 PM:

Huh, Jim's link is to the Daily Express, whose reputation for revealing reliable solutions to mysteries is... not great. They were generating Diana Princess of Wales conspiracy headlines for years, then there was the inquest verdict and they shut up for a while, and now they've started again. A quick go on Google Images gives SHOW US DIANA'S MURDER LETTERS / DIANA KILLED BY FIAT DRIVER / DIANA BLOOD RESULTS FIDDLED / SPIES TAPED DIANA DEATH CRASH / DIANA: THE 500 HIDDEN CLUES / SAS 'ORDERED' TO KILL DIANA.

Crime writer Patricia Cornwell was convinced that 'Jack' was Walter Sickert, and went as far as taking out newspaper ads to defend her theory, which I'd forgotten about till just now.

#173 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 03:32 PM:

Bruce H. @115: "garden moai" This is outstanding news. My desultory search for employment has now become urgent. How tall are the biggest ones?

Roughly knee-high. Depending on the manufacturer, though, one might be able to special order larger/smaller. I need to go pick up lab bottles tonight; I will inquire.

I'm still kicking myself for not buying one of the glow-in-the-dark-speckled glass marble (as in sphere, not stone) grounds-lights when I had the chance.

#174 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 03:41 PM:

academic @157--for good non-fiction, some with the 'thriller' quality, there's John Barry, who's written about the 1927 Mississippi River flood and the 1918-19 influenza pandemic; Jeannette Keith's book about the 1878 yellow fever outbreak in Memphis, Fever Season; The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson, which concerns John Snow's efforts to track a cholera outbreak to its source (before there was a clear germ theory of the disease); Richard Rhodes' books about the Manhattan Project and the H-bomb; just about anything of David Halberstam's; Hew Strachan's The First World War; Lauro Martines' April Blood (plots against the Medici!) and Fire in the City (Savonarola) (Let me note that Martines also has some more scholarly works on the Italian renaissance which are not aimed at an general reader); Vermeer's Hat by Timothy Brooks; and William Shirer's Berlin Diary.

Then there are Patrick O'Brian's Aubury & Maturin books...

#175 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 03:55 PM:

HLN: local woman is bemused that the canned dog food she just bought is labeled "Kosher for Passover."

I realize that there are rules about what can be stored in your house during Passover, even if you're not planning to eat it yourself, but it was my impression that keeping dogs is also frowned upon by strict keepers of the Kosher laws. How fractally wrong am I?

#176 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 04:51 PM:

171
The closest I ever saw was a license-plate holder that said 442nd on it. (The driver was an elderly Asian man.)
A neighbor had a bumper-sticker on his car announcing he was a veteran of Anzio.

#177 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 05:23 PM:

academic @157: guy-style action adventure genre.

Dean Ing has a lot of fun books. Somewhat Clancy-ish in tone. Solidly techno-thriller, often with some stfnal elements.

John D. Berry @164: please go to the trouble of using an apostrophe at the beginning of shortened words like: ’em. What you’ve got here (repeatedly) is a single open quotation mark. I expect more careful composition on Making Light!

Problem is: I don't find that on a standard QWERTY keyboard, so it requires special character coding. Given that it's a special character, it not uncommonly comes across in gibberish when translated through various character sets. So: no, not gonna do that.

Lila @175: keeping dogs is also frowned upon by strict keepers of the Kosher laws

Back when I got my first couple of guinea pigs in '01, an Orthodox Jewish friend of mine started fussing that he was concerned that I would get "too emotionally invested" in them, because, you know, "animals are things you eat." I don't recall having any particular reaction to his cautions beyond fish-like gawping. Why this was of such concern to him still escapes me, since he was unlikely to ever encounter them much, and besides, I'm not even Jewish. Puzzles me to this day.

#178 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Dave Luckett #139: *Applause*

I should note that I am currently teaching one Imran Khan. He has played cricket only once, he says, even though he was named for the most famous holder of the name.

#179 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 05:47 PM:

On naming one's child after famous people: in England, males with the surname Smith born between the mid-sixties and mid-seventies to right-wing parents are quite often called Ian.

#180 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 06:25 PM:

I think part of the R. Soul issue (which I didn't get either, because I wasn't thinking British without any context. After a minute, I got it, and then thought "I guess he's from the UK") is that NA assholes are aspirated-h's; British arseholes are unaspirated (as well as unvoiced r (which I have as well)).

Which leads to the great joke about Arsenic-containing unsaturated rings of size 5 and the many arsole-derivatives.

#181 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 06:33 PM:

Ooh. I knew I had another awful name story, and I've just remembered it. This is my Most Embarrassing Moment. For background, you need to know that in many areas of the UK, "John Thomas" is a polite euphemism for part of the male anatomy, but apparently this is not the case in Liverpool.

Many years ago I went to visit a clergyman in Liverpool. It had been a long and tiring train journey, and once I finally arrived he installed me on the sofa with a cup of coffee, for which I was truly grateful. As I was sitting drinking it, one of his congregation came in. "John Thomas has just died," he announced, solemnly.

Well, you absolutely cannot laugh in circumstances like that. Whoever the late John Thomas was, it was clear from the grave tones of the conversation that he was well known and liked by both of them. Thankfully I didn't laugh, but I felt absolutely terrible for wanting to. Later, after the parishioner had gone, the minister explained that this John Thomas had been a long-standing member of his congregation, originally from Wales. He'd been christened Ogwin John Thomas, but he'd dropped the "Ogwin" as soon as he moved to Liverpool, because he didn't want everyone calling him Oggy.

Well, no, I said, understandable, you wouldn't want that, would you?

#182 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 06:54 PM:

#167: That's the straight ("typewriter") apostrophe that's on the keyboard. But in this post, that's not what appeared: what appeared was a single open quote. If you turn on "smart quotes" in a word-processer or a page-layout program, it has no way of telling the difference between a single open quote and an apostrophe, and quite logically assumes it should be the former. When that's not what you mean, though, you need to insert the right character. (The easiest way to do this is to copy one from the end of a word, where the software will have made it a single end quote.)

Sure, it distracts me to see typewriter quotes and typewriter apostrophes in anything set in a real typeface. They belong in a monospace typewriter face, but are glaringly out of place in traditional proportional typeface. But at least they're consistent. (It takes a little bit of extra effort to use them right; but then, it also takes extra effort to insert an HTML code to use italics in one of these posts or replies. If it's worth saying, it's worth saying well – and that includes it's form.

I look forward to the day when we have no more legacy programs that ignore Unicode values and therefore get confused by ordinary typographic characters like accents, ligatures, and even apostrophes. We ain't in the ASCII age anymore.

(Yes, I know all this is marvelously off-topic!)

#183 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 07:40 PM:

John D Berry @182: If it's worth saying, it's worth saying well – and that includes it's form.

Shouldn’t that have been an em dash, not an en dash?

#184 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 07:41 PM:

John D. Berry:

I am happy that you cherish apostrophes and sorry you are distracted by substitution of single quotes.

I appreciate the posts here, and assume everyone is doing their best under whatever their circumstances.

So as not to appear curmudgeonly, I will let others point out to you that in
"If it's worth saying, it's worth saying well – and that includes it's form." your third usage should not have one of your beloved diacritical marks, even if it is an apostrophe rather than a single quote.

#186 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 07:43 PM:

John D Berry @182 and Avram @183:
and "its form" instead of "it's form", if we're nitpicking. :)

#187 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 07:48 PM:

For anyone who would like to be able to control the directionality of their quotes/apostrophes in these comments using only an ASCII keyboard, I recommend the following HTML codes:

&lsquo; will get you ‘
&rsquo; will get you ’
&ldquo; will get you “
&rdquo; will get you ”

Use these as you see fit; I offer this information merely in the hope that some may find it useful, with no implicit criticism of anyone’s punctuational preferences intended.

#188 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 08:20 PM:

academic @157: The best action-adventure book I ever read is Game Wars by Marc Reisner. It's a mystery / thriller with multiple stories, each amazing. Even more amazing, they all really happened.

I picked up a copy of Bernard DeVoto's The Course of Empire at a used bookstore in Lodi. It's great. DeVoto was fascinated by exploration, appreciated vigor and initiative, and wasn't afraid to write what he really thought.

If he likes the Aubrey and Maturin books, get him a biography of Lord Cochrane. Just sayin'.

#189 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 08:56 PM:

John D. Berry @182: it distracts me to see typewriter quotes and typewriter apostrophes in anything set in a real typeface

Well, you know, if you were sufficiently motivated, you could write yourself a browser with a "smart quote" function that would do all that for you, and then you would be free from all that distraction.

Avram @183: Shouldn’t that have been an em dash, not an en dash?

Ooo, snap! :-)

#190 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 09:18 PM:

Apparently, there was a major black nationalist figure known as Malcolm S. This is news to me.

#191 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:39 PM:

Fragano -- grading time already?

#192 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:41 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @178 writes:

> I should note that I am currently teaching one Imran Khan. He has played cricket only once

Turns out there's a Christian rock singer called Steve Taylor. Every day I give thanks that he's not too well know outside those particular musical circles.

#193 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2013, 11:45 PM:

academic @157: I second the recommendations of giving Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series a try. Also The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson. I'm in the process of culling my bookshelves, which brings an oldie to mind—Dick Francis. His mysteries are dashing. As to nonfiction books, I recently read Mary Roach's Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal and was both entertained and informed!

As to funny names, I once worked at a very small company with these 3 men: Wbua Qvpx, Crgre Ybiryl, naq Qvpx Pbpuena. (I've concealed their names as it would be impolite to have them easily searchable). Why he chose to use that nickname for Richard, particularly with that last name, is a mystery to me.

When I was working as a TA in college, I was grading tests with two other TAs, one from Iran and one from Brazil. They both spoke flawless English; however, they were flummoxed when they had to pronounce their students' last names. This was in the midwest, and the class was the usual mix of English, German, Czech, Polish, Spanish, French, and on down the list. Growing up in America, you're likely to have an idea of the Anglicized pronunciation of a wide variety of last names.

#194 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 12:35 AM:

Mary Aileen@154: As with "August", there's the name of the man the month was named for, to wit, Julius. Not an incredibly common name, but by no means extinct.

On the "weird names of white people" thread, how about the well-known Baseball Commissioner from the mid-20th Century, Kenesaw Mountain Landis?

John D. Berry @164: ' is the character easily reachable on my keyboard, and ' is the character I'm going to use for all contractions. I'm sorry if that bothers you, but not sorry enough to go to any effort to do otherwise.

#195 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:14 AM:

Magenta @124: As Naomi Kritzer remarked on her excellent LJ rundown of all the candidates, the funny thing is that the Pirate Party candidate is someone other than Captain Jack Sparrow.

#196 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:36 AM:

Apropos of absolutely nothing other than "wow", I offer for your perusal this photo collection of pagan costumes of Europe, related mainly to the rituals of the "Wild Man".

They're all very primal and many stir something in me, at least, that feels-like-a-memory-but-isn't-quite, at a deep level. Some of them strike me as almost comical, while others (the ones associated with the memorylike feeling) evoked everything from "wow, impressive" to mildly apprehensive reactions.

Your mileage, as always, may vary. But if nothing else, the photography itself is exquisite.

#197 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:42 AM:

John 149: I've definitely seen it used attributively. "To give a character braggart personality, draw him* with an exaggerated chest..." I suppose you could say braggartish or just braggy, but English is full of attributive nouns (and no, they do not thereby become adjectives), so personally I wouldn't bother.

Andrew 151: OK, to be technical, non-rhotic dialects like most of the ones spoken in England don't pronounce postvocalic 'r' as a liquid consonant, except as an automatic consonant as a juncture mark between a word ending in a vowel and a word beginning with a vowel. There are multiple "standard" American dialects, depending on who you talk to, and some of them are also non-rhotic (and use 'r' as a juncture consonant). The rhotic dialects of AE use only the glottal stop as a juncture consonant.

When we American speakers of rhotic dialects hear the lengthening of the vowel but not the liquid consonant, we call that "not pronouncing the 'r'," and in fact it is realized by a lengthening (possibly other modification, but mainly lengthening) of the preceding vowel, which isn't really quite the same thing as being pronounced as such.

John 164: There's no separate apostrophe character on my keyboard (and most I've seen); single quote and apostrophe are the same character here. Not going to go to the trouble of putting 'em in with HTML, sorry.

Ibid. 182: Ah, you meant in the OP. I didn't get that from your 164.

Carol 184: Not diacritical. Diacritics are marks that appear above or below a main character, so the accent mark over the e in Sinéad is a diacritic, but an ’ by itself is not.

*Drawing female characters with exaggerated chests doesn't tend to give them braggart personality.

#198 ::: Ole Phat Stu ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:03 AM:

REALLY subtle : Room 34 in the British Museum is themed "The Islamic World" ;-)

#199 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:29 AM:

academic @ #157, they're mostly out of print, but libraries may still have Hammond Innes's books, which are definitely in the manly adventure category but written by a man who can write rather than just string nouns and verbs together.

Also see Desmond Bagley. His books are in the same genre but are still in print, and there must be about fifteen of them. Here's the Wikipedia article, which cites Bagley and Innes and Alistair MacLean as similar authors.

#200 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:41 AM:

Today is September 28.
On this day 28 years ago:
(1) I bought Bradbury's story collection "A Sound of Thunder".
(2) I bought Roger Dean's book "Magnetic Storm".
(3) Sue and I moved in together.

#201 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:57 AM:

If a word-processing system encounters an ASCII single-quote, has no way of telling the difference between a single open quote and an apostrophe, and "quite logically assumes it should be the former", I would humbly submit that calling the feature "smart quotes" is perhaps over-optimistic.

In practice, I usually encounter "smart quotes" after they've been translated from a Word document to a web page which doesn't have a representation for those glyphs in its character set and substitutes some mangled alternative, whether it's a Unicode number representation or a Macintosh escape sequence or whatever, while if the original typed single or double quotes had been left alone, they'd look just fine.

#202 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 03:05 AM:

Academic@157 - You might try Mira Grant's "Feed" - if your father can get past having zombies in the novel, it's a really well-written political thriller and has two followon books. Or maybe Charlie Stross's "The Family Trade".

And yeah, another rec. for the Aubrey/Maturin novels. And if he hasn't read Le Carre's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", he should; I assume he's old enough to remember the Cold War (do spy novels even work for people under ~40?)

#203 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 03:17 AM:

John D Berry @182, it’s a bit much to expect people to memorize the character codes or keyboard combos for curly quotes and the like. My fingers learned ’em back in the days when I used to sling QuarkXPress for my supper and flip through copies of U&lc for inspiration, and nowadays I type in a text editor that has a covert-to-HTML-entities command and paste into the comment field. But I don’t expect most people to jump through those hoops.

I don’t know how Jim composes his posts here; I assume there’s some automated thingamabob that smartens up the quote marks, and botches the apostrophes at the start of words.

#204 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:27 AM:

Avram: I actually would have no trouble memorizing the character codes after a few passes; I'm just not willing to put in the time to type them. :-)

#205 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 07:09 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 202

I'm 28, my first historically-fixed memory is the beginning of the first Gulf War, and I just finished Tinker, Tailor. (Well, actually, I got it in an omnibus with The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. Read 'em all straight through.)

I am a bit of an oddity, far more interested in history than most humans and with a particular interest in the Soviet Union, so I'm not sure that's as strong a proof as it might be.

Nevertheless, they certainly worked for me. I'm not sure, obviously, if I'm missing some resonance or layer of meaning, but I think they translate fairly well. (Though on second thought, perhaps I am: I am personally and historically much more sympathetic to the project of the Soviet Union than le Carre's expected audience would have been, so the absence of revulsion towards Communism on the part of many characters doesn't carry the weight of ennui that it might to those readers.)

#206 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 08:24 AM:

Avram #203

I don’t know how Jim composes his posts here; I assume there’s some automated thingamabob that smartens up the quote marks, and botches the apostrophes at the start of words.

I type directly into Moveable Type's edit box. If you look at the entries in the back end you'll see that they still have the straight quotes and apostrophes that I typed, not the "smart" quotes that you see.

#207 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 09:21 AM:

David Goldfarb (194): Yes, but 'Julius' is not 'July'. My question is, why no 'July' as such?

#208 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 10:00 AM:

Eric #191: It's one of the penalties of continuous assessment.

#209 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 10:07 AM:

Serge #200: A joyous anniversary to you both.

#210 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 10:12 AM:

SummerStorms@ #196, those are magnificent and creepy. Horror-movie material, in the right (wrong?) hands. I definitely get a sense of Mana from them.

#211 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 10:19 AM:

Fragano @ 209... Thanks! Provided that my office project ends early enough, we may celebrate today (instead of tomorrow) in the appropriate manner. Hugh Jackman's "Prisoners" is out.

#212 ::: Paul Herzberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 12:39 PM:

I figured that Malcolm Tucker must have been caught saying "arsehole" on YouTube. And indeed he is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBdSA0M6vuo

But whoever transcribed it wrote "asshole", which might just be one of those things.

Apropos of nothing I went to school with a Wayne Scales.

And all of this reminds me that there was a fairly recent foofaraw about Mr & Mrs Peacock naming their son Drew.

#213 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Mycroft W @ 180: The joke is not referenced in the Wikipedia article. I blame Wikipedia.

#214 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:35 PM:

https://twitter.com/KimKierkegaard

Kierkegaard quotes mashed up with Kim Kardashian Twitter feed. Somehow it blends strangely well.

#215 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:41 PM:

Loki was humanely euthanized this morning. He passed on peacefully, with his sister, Junie B, in attendance. I wrapped him in an old shirt, and petted him until he was gone. He was a big, sweet cat with an incurable cancer, and he was loved by all. I hope that he finds Marilee again.

#216 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:42 PM:

Ginger, I'm sorry for your loss.

#217 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Ginger, my condolences.

#218 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Ginger, my condolences.

#219 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:15 PM:

My condolences, Ginger.

#220 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:33 PM:

Ginger, #214: My condolences. I'll give our Loki an extra snuggle for you and him.

#221 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:36 PM:

Condolences for Loki. He was lucky to have such a loving caregiver.

#222 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 02:53 PM:

Ginger: sorry for your loss.

#223 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Ginger, my sympathies.

#224 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 03:44 PM:

Why people should, under no circumstances, attempt to write expository prose when stoned:

Mencius and Xunzi where Confucians who had agreed with some of Confucius ideas but they also had their own ideology said but also had their own ideals. Mencius emphasized on the importance of the common of the state. Xunzi was his conception of social and political order, and ritual should be about of governing.

#225 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Jacque @204, that’s one reason I’m still a Mac user. Smart quotes, em dashes, and stuff like that are all double- or triple-buckies that don’t take any longer to type than regular straight quotes. My jaw drops when I contemplate what Windows and Linux users have to do to get at those characters.

Jim @206, so it’s Moveable Type’s automated thingamabob, and it sounds like Berry’s suggested fix (copy-and-paste from a different part of the post) won’t work.

#226 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 04:44 PM:

HLN: Mr. or Ms. Red-Ribbed Flicker is pitching woo / warning off Mr. or Ms. Reflection in local window. Mr. or Ms. Reflection could not be reached for comment.

#227 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 04:59 PM:

Ginger @214: Glad to know that Loki's passing wasas good as possible. Hope JunieB adapts okay.

#228 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:02 PM:

AKICIML: Does anyone know of a widely-available font (ideally, one that comes with Macs, as that's easiest for me) that is sans-serif BUT ALSO has visibly different characters for capital I, lowercase L, and the numeral 1?

#229 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:17 PM:

Paul Herzberg @212 wrote:

> But whoever transcribed it wrote "asshole", which might just be one of those things.

Data point: I'm an Australian an I pronounce it more like 'arsehole' (at least to the extent that the first syllable rhymes with 'lass' instead of 'pass') but I spell it as 'asshole'.

Do people in Britain actually spell it as 'arsehole'? The only time I ever seem to encounter that spelling is on the net during discussions of pronunciation and spelling of this word - which seem to happen remarkably often.

#230 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:21 PM:

Addendum to my last: apparently Comic Sans fits my criteria, but I feel mildly dirty when I use it. :->

#231 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:24 PM:

Steve T., #228: In my dialect, "lass" and "pass" rhyme, and both of them also rhyme with "ass".

#232 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:26 PM:

227
Tahoma works. So does Trebuchet.
This page has a list.

#233 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:30 PM:

@228 Steve Taylor

Data point: I'm an Australian an I pronounce it more like 'arsehole' (at least to the extent that the first syllable rhymes with 'lass' instead of 'pass') but I spell it as 'asshole'

Since 'lass' and 'pass' rhyme for me, that doesn't help. Also, 'sass', 'bass'(the fish), and 'mass'.

If you go here, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/arse, and click on the "Hear" button, you will hear the way I pronounce it.

Do people in Britain actually spell it as 'arsehole'?

Based on Archive of Our Own: yes.

#234 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Condolences for Loki, Ginger. It's always hard to lose a friend.

#235 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Steve @ 228: yes, we do. Also, in Standard British English, "lass" rhymes with "ass", but "pass" rhymes with "arse". Most northern dialects rhyme all the first three words.

Obligatory linguistic geekrocket: the northern pronunciation is the more historically conservative one. Evidence suggests that Shakespeare pronounced the A in these words more like modern northerners than modern standard-dialect-speakers. This explains how the short A got established in Standard American English, and may also explain how "ass" developed from "arse", which is certainly the earlier version (you can find it in Chaucer if you are so minded). My guess is that Americans heard British speakers pronouncing words like "pass" and "glass" with a long A because it had become established in their standard dialect, and so when they heard "arse" they assumed it must be spelt "ass" by analogy with the other words.

If anyone can confirm/correct/further elaborate, it would be interesting/useful/fun.

#236 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:46 PM:

Thanks, everyone. After I finished taking care of Loki, I went upstairs for a kitten chaser, literally as well as figuratively. All four of them were starving, as usual, despite feedings three to four times a day (and an extra one late last night). After a quick meal, they romped around my guest room with boxes, cat toys, and me to play on. My dogs sat in the outer part of the room, my son's old bedroom (which is now the office), and watched with canine wonderment. I let them go for more than an hour and a half, until 3/4 of the kittens were beginning to want to settle down. I took them back to their kitty condo (in my son's new bedroom, the old office/guest room) and gave them fresh KMR, plus a new small box and a new blankie.

I needed that.

In between Loki and kittens, I had a chance to chat with the FF; we had a mutual session of virtual crying on shoulders, and then cheered each other up.

#237 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Mongoose@234 - Well I'm Welsh, but I use the short A pronunciation as a matter of course.
Words like 'glass' and 'bath' I pronounce as they're spelled; my English workmates would say
'glarse' and 'barth'. I say 'arse' rather than 'ass' because 'arse' is a word over here that's spelt that way.

#238 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 06:03 PM:

arse gratia artis.

farce gratia fartis.

#239 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 06:06 PM:

234
It probably helps if you know that the middle-American pronunciation comes from the many people from northern England who settled in Pennsylvania and went West. Southern American is from the West Country, mostly, and New England was settled mostly by East Anglians.

#240 ::: Teka Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 06:11 PM:

@196: I've been invited to participate in a Perchtenlauf in my city, so I, with no successful costuming or maskmaking experience, will have to come up with something along these lines myself before the end of the year.

Eep.

#241 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 06:27 PM:

Ginger, I'm sorry. If acceptable -- hug.

#242 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 07:21 PM:

Ginger, my condolences.

#243 ::: Ian C. Racey sees spam @285 ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 07:40 PM:

Steve with a book @172

They were generating Diana Princess of Wales conspiracy headlines for years, then there was the inquest verdict and they shut up for a while, and now they've started again

Indeed, when I clicked on the link, one of their three "Recommended Articles" at the end of the article was something they published last Sunday claiming she was murdered using remote-controlled brakes developed by the CIA. The assassins, of course, then nipped in and retrieved the technology before French police arrived.

The best part was that the individual that the headline credited with making this allegation actually says in the article that such a theory is ridiculous.

#244 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 08:16 PM:

I got gnomed earlier when trying to share a link to

https colon slash slash [what a bird says] dot com slash KimKierkegaard

which is a very skillful mashup of quotations from Kim Kardashian and Kierkegaard.

#245 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 08:59 PM:

Off the various topics... Did you know that the dog featured in "A Boy and His Dog" also was the family dog in "The Brady Bunch"?

#246 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 09:35 PM:

Serge @245, I didn't know that. Did you know that the horse that became Trigger for Roy Rogers made his movie debut as Maid Marian's horse in the Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood?

#247 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 09:40 PM:

OtterB @ 246... I didn't know that.

#248 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 10:54 PM:

Steve 229: at least to the extent that the first syllable rhymes with 'lass' instead of 'pass'

Others have said everything I was going to say about '-ass' words rhyming.

Mongoose 235: In fact, the evidence suggests that British Standard and American Standard dialects weren't much different at all until after the American Revolution, and it was the British who changed. And they changed deliberately, or so I hear.

As far as the word 'ass' is concerned, my understanding is that the word 'ass' was in use as the name of an animal (and last I heard no one knew where the word 'donkey' came from), and became a euphemism for 'arse'. Once it became almost exclusively an anatomical term (the aforementioned 'donkey' having taken over as the name of the animal), eventually 'arse' became a euphemism for 'ass' in America...leaving 'arse' one of the few words to become a euphemism for itself.

#249 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 10:59 PM:

@Ginger: I'm glad Loki had a good and caring home after losing Marilee.

#250 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2013, 11:05 PM:

Just wanted to say Thank You, Fluorosphere, for all the many useful clone novels, stories, movies and TV citations, not to mention Clone Fun Facts. The Fan Guest of Honor gig was fun, and I think we did well. Alas, our clone panel was up against a very, very big draw (a panel on cosplay at a largely anime convention), AND was scheduled for first thing in the morning... and so we had no audience. But the research for the panel was fun, even if the panel itself, erm, didn't quite happen.

#251 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 06:12 AM:

Xopher @ 248: yes, that's pretty much what I said, except that it wasn't all the British who changed. I said that northern British dialects were historically more conservative (at any rate with respect to the pronunciation of the A in words such as the ones we're talking about; different dialects have changed in different ways).

You're correct that the standard British dialect changed deliberately (at least as far as any dialect ever does change deliberately); I don't know if you meant to imply that the aim was to become distinct from speakers of American English, but, although there was an aim, it wasn't that. The aim was to distinguish upper-class speakers from everyone else, and it came about because people were becoming more mobile. It was growing fashionable among the upper classes to spend extended periods of time in London, and also other places such as Bath, whereas previous generations of the aristocracy would have spent most of their time on their own land. Where you get large numbers of the upper classes spending a lot of time together (and ignoring everyone else as much as possible), there will be social pressure towards a distinctive form of speech as a class marker, which you don't get when they're all swanning about in their own manors or travelling around as individuals.

Of course, once that dialect was firmly established among the upper classes, it became viewed as the only "educated" way to speak, so that there was now pressure on middle-class professional people to adopt it as well. It started to be pushed in schools, and referred to as "talking properly". In the early days of the BBC, everyone on air talked with what sounds to the modern British ear like terribly exaggerated, ultra-posh accents; the only regional accents you would ever hear would be either comedy characters or those few entertainers who were popular enough to be accepted regardless of accent. (George Formby springs immediately to mind; he had a strong Lancashire accent which was very much part of his public persona.)

In the end, ironically, I suspect it was largely broadcasting which made regional accents acceptable again, but even now there are still echoes of that linguistic snobbery. The BBC still occasionally gets letters complaining that there are too many northern (or other) accents on air; I know this because I have friends who work there. I also know an extremely talented and intelligent writer who has a strong Wiltshire accent and is sometimes not taken seriously because of it.

I am, incidentally, well aware of the difference between an accent and a dialect, in case anyone is thinking of accusing me of careless usage; however, they generally do go together. (Not invariably. I know someone who is bidialectal, but doesn't lose his Yorkshire accent when speaking in standard dialect.)

Sorry. Wall of text. I'm a language nerd...

#252 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:35 AM:

Even as I pressed send, I was thinking "Damn. Wonder how many people out there pronounce 'lass' and 'pass' with the same vowel?"

#253 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:47 AM:

Mongoose @251

One of the stories about the use of non-standard accents on the BBC is that it started in WW2 so as to make it harder for those evil Nazis to fake BBC broadcasts. Partly, I think, it was a counter to William Joyce, "Lord Haw-Haw", and several other Nazi propaganda broadcasters who had that sort of ultra-posh accent.

Both sides put out "black" propaganda: radio stations that pretended to be somehow broadcasting within enemy territory, run by dissidents. If Sefton Delmer can be believed, we British were rather good at it.

Wilfred Pickles was one of the first BBC announcers/newsreaders with a regional accent.

I have seen videos on YouTube with subtitles for the English regional accents, claimed to be added for US broadcasts. I'm sceptical.

#254 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:49 AM:

Dave, 253: No, subtitling non-RP accents is common over here. I've even seen Appalachian accents subtitled.

#255 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:56 AM:

And the BBC is now reporting on the MoD setting up a cyber-warfare force. I'm wondering what the uniform will be.

This is serious, so I don't expect tinfoil hats, but look at the uniform for RAF Bandsmen. You can be a modern service, using the latest technology of the age, and tradition still won't let go.

#256 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 09:18 AM:

Dave Bell@255: BBC article illustrated with unpatriotic stock photography of a German QWERTZ keyboard. (But if they're recruiting geeks they'll just switch it to Programmer Dvorak layout anyway.)

#257 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 09:23 AM:

Dave Bell (253)/TexAnne (254): I took Dave to mean that he suspected that the subtitles were actually added so that other Brits could understand the regional accents in the videos, with Americans just a convenient excuse.

#258 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 09:39 AM:

Elliott Mason @228: I have Terminal.app (which I still use for Usenet) set for Monaco. It's a system font that meets your criterion. It didn't when I first got a Mac, actually; I can remember when they changed the lower case l's. But it does now.

#259 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 11:14 AM:

Re fonts: a web search for "programming fonts" turns up many lists, although a lot of them are focussed on monospace fonts (not necessarily what you're after).

Monospace fonts: Consolas, Inconsolata, Source Code Pro, Menlo (comes with MacOS), Monaco (what I use on my Mac), Liberation Mono

Sans-serif proportional fonts: Verdana, Source Code Sans, Junction, Tahoma.

All of those either came with my Mac (I'm pretty sure) or are open-source and can be downloaded legally.

#260 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 01:05 PM:

Ginger @236: Really glad that the "kitten chaser" was available. Even when you know it's the right, indeed the necessary, decision, that end time is never easy (when I was in practice I don't think I ever put someone else's pet to sleep without shedding a tear, never mind when it was my own animals).

#261 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 01:40 PM:

dcb@260: I've never -- not once -- euthanized a pet, mine or someone else's, without shedding a tear. It's part of the process for me, so I've learned not to fight it.

I'm so glad I have the kittens to focus on as well as my other three cats, one of whom is fighting cancer, and apparently succeeding (Brady has myeloma, and came very close to dying a few months ago).

I've got a short list of potential names; now I just have to match each kitten to the proper name.

#262 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 02:02 PM:

Elliott Mason @228: In Futura, Lucida Grande, Optima, and Skia the lower case ‘l’ is a bit taller than the capital ‘I’. The difference is subtle. In Monaco, Tahoma and Verdana the capital ‘I’ has a different letterform (I think it's a slab serif) to distinguish it. In Monaco and Trebuchet the lower case ‘l’ has a different letterform. You didn't mention what you need the font for. Monaco was created as a programmer's font and I still like it for that purpose, but I wouldn't use it for anything else.

#263 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 02:43 PM:

One problem I have had with Monaco, (at least as it was in 1985 on a Mac; they may have fixed things since) is that the zero is pixel-for-pixel exactly the same as the capital O. And that's actually an easy typo to make; they are near each other on the keyboard. I had a heckuva time wondering why my program didn't work until I figured this out, once.

#264 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 03:01 PM:

TomB@262: I use Monaco for reading Usenet with, and reading Usenet in other fonts somehow doesn't really feel like Usenet.

Erik Nelson@263: I just checked, and nowadays the 0 has a slash through and the O doesn't. So quite easy to tell apart. (I suspect they did that when they put the top-and-bottom serifs on the lowercase l and the slab serifs on the capital I.)

#265 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Ginger, my sympathies on sending Loki across the Bridge.

The hardest thing I've had to do was to sing Tao home this past Spring. (Super-fast kidney failure)

You see, Tay would get out the door, and we would have to lure him back in. I found that he would return if I sang to him. So I made him his own little song, to the tune of the "Banana Boat Song."

I made sure that was the last thing Tao heard...

#266 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Mongoose #251: These days, one of the accents I hear on Radio 4 is a clearly middle-class Jamaican one, from one of the newsreaders. That would not have done in the days of my childhood.

Lord Reith must be rolling in his grave.

#267 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @266 writes:

> These days, one of the accents I hear on Radio 4 is a clearly middle-class Jamaican one, from one of the newsreaders. That would not have done in the days of my childhood.

I didn't have much awareness of this till a few years ago, but the ABC (Australia's national broadcaster) used to transmit in an obnoxiously plummy English accent. It wasn't till the 70s that the idea of a well bred Australian actually sounding Australian became palatable.

I was too young to notice this as it happened, but it's quite bizarre to hear the accents on old newsreels.

#268 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 05:48 PM:

Erik Nelson @263: Yes, I remember that. It was a relatively minor annoyance to me because I'm an accurate typist, and I avoided creating variables named “O” or "OxFFFF" or anything like that. And then I moved to the “MPW” font, an improved version of Monaco that had been created by the developer of MPW. He wasn't a font designer, but if he couldn't get the real font people to do it, he was going to do it himself. Eventually they came around and the TrueType version is a proper programmer's font with slashed zeros.

#269 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 05:58 PM:

Given that our Gracious Hosts Patrick and Teresa are going to be appearing at FenCon this coming weekend, should we consider having a Gathering of Light?

#270 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 06:31 PM:

Mary Aileen @257

The only regional-accent subtitles I have seen on British TV have been for comedic effect, and it's been a combination of accent and dialect with the dial turned up to 11.

But since I'm a northerner I was brought up speaking properly, while those BBC announcers were talking funny.

#271 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:02 PM:

They're going to be moving the F-1 engine from the former Rocketdyne location to the current one, both in Canoga Park, sometime this week. They figure the actual move will only take half an hour or so - it's about three and a half miles - but it's definitely an oversized load.

#272 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:10 PM:

Ginger, I'm sorry for your loss. Thanks for caring for Loki after Marilee passed on. (Still missing her, too.)

#273 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:12 PM:

I worked at an answering service, too, back around '77 or '78. Long periods of boredom, punctuated by sudden overstimulation, but not a bad job.

It wasn't at the service that I got the longest name I ever delivered a message to, though. I was working in the interlibrary loan department at Rice when a book came in for a professor named Narayanaswami Darmarajan (or possibly Dharmarajan). I got the tiny thrill of impressing his secretary by pronouncing it right.

#274 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 07:47 PM:

Lee @269: We should definitely consider it. My question is when, given all the concerts etc.

#275 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 09:41 PM:

Ginger, my condolences. You did good giving Loki a home for his last year or so.

#276 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2013, 11:18 PM:

Ginger @215:

Condolences on Loki's passing. I hadn't realised that you had been caring for Junie & Loki. I am slow of mind.

(I miss Marilee)

#277 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 02:10 AM:

iamnothing, #274: Having looked at the schedule, I suggest dinner on Saturday, meeting shortly after 6 PM when the dealer room closes. That gives us 2 hours before the Cabaret, and AFAICT our Gracious Hosts don't have anything scheduled for those hours either, so they could join us if they like.

If there are a couple of people with cars, we have a wide range of options within 15 minutes of the hotel. Walking-distance options are also available but less varied. Unfortunately, our vehicle will be in cargo mode (2 seats only), so we could take ourselves but no one else.

#278 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 02:50 AM:

Lee @277: It's practically mandatory that I attend the Sassafrass concert at 6:00 pm. It's one of the reasons I'll be at FenCon instead of Necronomicon this year. Otherwise, OK. Who else here is attending?

I vaguely recall mention of a hotel shuttle for transportation within a 3-mile radius. I should verify that.

#279 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 03:26 AM:

Ginger: Despite being beset by a truly unfair amount of difficulty and grief, it sounds like your family, feline & hominid alike, function very well at keeping each other going. You have my condolences, as well as my admiration.

#280 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 03:57 AM:

On the strange names front, I used to work in the radiology department at a local hospital. One of the more memorable names I came across was "Lieutenant Kelly." Yes, AFAICT, the patient's given name was "Lieutenant." That was not a military rank. I'm guessing that someone's parents were a) fans of the TV show M*A*S*H, and b) not native speakers or English or otherwise unclear on the meaning of the word "Lieutenant."

#281 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:39 AM:

I'm catching up on Making Light after a few days away, which means, among other things, that I've just read the entire subthread about single open quotation marks in one hit.

Somewhere around the sixth instance, I developed an actual twitch every time I read another person making basically the same response, with varying levels of hostility, to a suggestion John D. Berry had not actually made.

For heaven's sake, people. We're usually better at reading comprehension than this.

#282 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:45 AM:

(Well, and that was an unproductive outburst, even if it did make me feel better. Sorry.)

#283 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:07 AM:

It was, indeed, unproductive. The quarrel had subsided, and now you're picking the scab off. That's even less helpful than anything that was said in the original conversation.

I'm glad it made you feel better. It certainly had the opposite effect on me.

#284 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:54 AM:

Here, have some linguistic squee. A linguist has reconstructed what he thinks Proto-Indo-European may have sounded like.

Obviously, as he says himself, this needs to be viewed with a fair amount of caution, since there isn't even 100% agreement about what Shakespeare sounded like (though we can be pretty sure we're at least very close). But I like to think that if he had a time machine, he might at least be intelligible to our remote ancestors.

#285 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 06:59 AM:

abi @283 writes:

> It was, indeed, unproductive. The quarrel had subsided, and now you're picking the scab off.

Though that does make me think of the more general question of when is now on the internet. I'd hate to think that conversations are over just because I've shown up late to the party - and I usually am at least a little late simply from the timezone I live in.

(Note that I took and take no part in the earlier conversation about quotation marks - I'm just thinking idly about the nature of forums.)

#286 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 07:03 AM:

I am sorry, abi. I was self-centred and thoughtless. I apologise to you (inclusive-plural-you, not just abi) who have been hurt by my actions.

I will endeavour to conduct myself better in future.

#287 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 08:25 AM:

Mongoose: I'm of the opinion that, if you took someone who knew the current best-guess reconstruction cold and set hir down somewhere in the "Proto-Indo-European" sphere (whatever that means), se'd be able to talk to anyone se might happen to meet--but everyone would think, "Huh, that person must be from pretty far away." The big problem would be "What set of laryngeals is this group using?" :)

#288 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 08:47 AM:

Carrie @ 287: that sounds at least plausible. And now I am thinking that if time travel is ever invented, the very first thing I would want to do would be to go back to that period, take copious language notes, and bring back a shedload of recordings taken at various locations. The idea is enough to make a mongoose bounce!

#289 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Hyperlocal news... The weekend saw the completion of local man's big work project of the year. It involved the mandatory once-a-year's switching of our processing from the main unix server and its database to the backup. Once that was done, the full daily cycle was run, after which users validated the output, and then the switch back to the main server occurred. That has been local man's responsibility since 2007, when he managed the backup's setup. This year local man once again prepared the timeline of the exercise, arranged for the resources in other departments and within our team. Things went smoothly overall, with a couple of technical hiccups, but those were resolved quickly, and finding those potential issues are why this is done once a year. The whole thing started on Friday at 7am with some prep work and ended on Saturday at 11pm. Local man slept about 4 hours out of the whole affair's 40 hours, and not all of it in one session, but he did a bangup job, if he may humbly say so.

#290 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 10:15 AM:

If I had a time machine, I'd like to find out what actual baroque music sounded like. And what Mozart's music sounded like when it was wildly popular.

I also have fantasies of becoming Hitler's art agent. Would it be too cruel to tell him why after a couple of decades and his chance to become a dictator had passed?

#291 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 10:26 AM:

Thanks, Paul.

#292 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 10:32 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 290... Ever read Norman Spinrad's "Iron Dream"?

#293 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:08 AM:

Whitmore@49: or "Oona" -- originally Una, as in Puck of Pook's Hill; I guess the spelling drifted to match the ~classical pronunciation.

Mycroft@56 et al re mangled names: my favorites include
* "Roberts" (reportedly because an immigration official didn't like the fact that "Rogow" was pronounced "Rogoff")
* "Brill" (not the building, she told me, but pasted on a group of people (all without last names) who were being shepherded (~="fathered"?) by a Rabbi lamed-something (ben R L)
* "Mankiewiecz" pronounced "ManKeeWee"

Andrew@ 151: the post-vowel and pre-vowel "r"s are not identical in all forms of American English; in my somewhat mid-AtlanticCoast accent the pre-vowel is more forward in the mouth.

This pronunciation cue courtesy of my most recent ex-music-director, who was so down on the "American [post-vowel] 'r'" that her farewell presents included an r-extractor. Neither she nor any of my other recent conductors think much of the pre-vowel 'r' either, but the usual substitute is (1) rolled 'r' (using the tip of the tongue), or (2) 'd'. Granted that singing pronunciation varies from spoken, but the variance can be mapped....

Berry@182: how can you possibly be off-topic in an open thread? If you are, then so is most of the thread, which as of your comment was ~50% weird-or-not names and <10% who-was-Jack-the-Ripper....

Goldfarb@194: that may vary with ethnicity; the one individual Julius I know has the last name Siarra.

Fragano@224: I take it you have prior evidence that this person isn't subliterate?

Taylor@229: When USA NPR interviewed Pratchett (wrt ]euthanasia[), one of the branches (on UK vs US English) included "arse" vs "ass"; Pterry clearly pronounced them differently. This may be an outlier as he has a mild version of the consonantal-r-as-w ]lisp[.

Mongoose@251: so Lucky Jim (in which the title character shows his out-of-placeness as a grad student every time he opens his mouth) couldn't have happened pre-Regency?

#294 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:09 AM:

Serge @289--Hyperlocal news from this location indicates that reaction here to your results combine both happiness that things went so well and the hope you got a good nap on Sunday.

#295 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:19 AM:

Fidelio @ 294... Thanks! No nap was had on Sunday, due to non-work tasks that work had gotten in the way of, but once local man hit the sack, he slept until 7am today, which qualifies as grossly oversleeping for him.

#296 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:36 AM:

Steve Taylor @285: when is now on the internet? I'd hate to think that conversations are over just because I've shown up late to the party

I think that is addressed by the etiquette of "read the thread through before commenting." Sort of the lexicological equivalent of fast-forward, like. :-)

But "now" is a very interesting concept, generally, in media. Whenever I'm watching a movie, for example, I'm conscious my "now," which is when I'm watching, the in-story "now," which is when it's set, and the creation "now," when it was filmed, all of which affect how I interpret the work. I really wish Netflix would put the year made in the scroll-bar next to the title, for easier reference, because I'm constantly having that question and, yes, I can pop out to the queue page, or over to IMDb or Wikipedia or whatever. But it should just be right there. IMHO. :-)

#297 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 12:07 PM:

#292 ::: Serge Broom

It's been quite a while since I've read The Iron Dream. As I recall, Hitler was a pulp sf writer as a matter of chance rather than intervention.

#298 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 12:37 PM:

280
I've run into people with the first names of Ensign and Major. They're long before television.

#299 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 12:48 PM:

PJ Evans #298: They're outranked by an Admiral I used to know.

#300 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 12:48 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 297... a matter of chance rather than intervention


That's what I remember too, although in that reality he started as a pulp artist before taking up the pen.

#301 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 12:52 PM:

You know that SF has become respectable when my Party sends an email the title of which refers to the Tea Party as living in a parallel universe.

#302 ::: Quixote ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 01:23 PM:

Jacque @ 296

I often feel that way when I see classic films in an actual theater (I've seen Roman Holiday, The Great Escape, and To Catch a Thief this year). Often there is a weird pseudo-connection to the people who watched the movie when it was new. I often wonder if they had an inkling at the time that they were watching a movie so good that it would be considered a classic worth replaying fifty to sixty years later.

I sometimes need to work extra hard to suspend my disbelief. The tropes in these movies were fresh once, and not cliched as they are now.

#303 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 01:29 PM:

PJ Evans @298:

Apparently "Major" as a name is enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the last few years:

http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#prefix=major&ms=false&exact=true

#304 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 01:29 PM:

299
Too true. There's a Commodore, also, but since the rest of his given name is Oliver Perry, I didn't think it counted.

#305 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 01:46 PM:

"Mr Stark."
"Phil! Come in."
"'Phil'? Uh, his first name is 'Agent'."
- from 2012's 'The Avengers'

#306 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Quixote @302, I'm reminded of the alas-probably-not-apocryphal woman who, after seeing a performance of "Hamlet", was asked what she thought of the play.

"It was ok, I guess, but it had far too many quotes in it."

#307 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Cassy B (306): That is in fact very similar to my reaction on first reading Hamlet, in college. Most of the oft-quoted lines and speeches I knew the source already, but-- "What are all these cliches doing here?! Shakespeare's better than that! ...Oh. This is where they came from."

#308 ::: Mary Aileen has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 02:34 PM:

The gnomes are laughing at my initial reaction to Hamlet. Would they like some peppermint drops? I've already eaten my lunch.

#309 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 02:36 PM:

CHip @ 293: that's correct! He could certainly have demonstrated that he wasn't local to the area, but that would have been all. The plot would have had to use something other than accent as a class marker. (If I recall correctly - and it's a while since I read it - it did use other cues, but accent was certainly the main one.)

Now I think of it, there's a very good example in Tom Jones. Mr Western is clearly a rich landowner, not titled, but certainly described as "a gentleman". He speaks in a dialect very different from his fellow gentleman, Squire Allworthy. This book was first published in 1749, just around the time that a standardised upper-class mode of speech was starting to evolve. From the way his speech is written, Mr Western comes across (and is clearly intended to come across) as uncultured and somewhat boorish, but there is no indication that there is anything at all odd or unusual about a "gentleman" speaking the way he does.

#310 ::: Ruth Temple ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Elliott @228 : You're off the hook with Comic Sans, the number 1 has a serif and adds to the overall anathema.
Century Cothic is pretty nice, the one is a slightly different letterform from the ell; rounder than Ariel.

#311 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 03:18 PM:

Cassy B. @306: woman who, after seeing a performance of "Hamlet", was asked what she thought of the play. "It was ok, I guess, but it had far too many quotes in it."

Hah! I watched the Mel Gibson one, because I found it to be the most accessible I'd run across. All the Quotes displayed in my brain with bright yellow halo-ing around the letters. Very distracting.

Fonts 1 l I O 0: Well, my machine claims ML displays in Verdana, which seems to have distinctive letterforms for the characters in question.

#312 ::: Quixote ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 03:21 PM:

Cassy B. @ 306

OTOH some people utterly fail to absorb these things. Case in point, a friend was at the theater watching Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. At the climax, a teen in the row behind her exclaimed to her friend, "I... I think they're going to kill themselves!"

Of course, you need to learn these things sometimes, and as XKCD says, better to celebrate learning an awesome thing than to admonish the person for not learning it earlier.

#313 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 03:44 PM:

Quixote @312,

Very true. But I have to admit I cringed a little when I attended a performance of "Sweeney Todd" and heard the people behind me, before the curtain opened, musing out loud, "It says 'the Demon Barber of Fleet Street'. Do you suppose it's a drama...?" I so very much wanted to warn them what they were in for, but restrained myself. (Later, I heard loud gasps of shock and dismay when Mrs. Lovett got the idea for a better pie filling...)

The performance was wonderful. But I sometimes think a *few* spoilers aren't necessarily a bad idea. I honestly think the little old ladies behind me nearly had a heart attack...

#314 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Since this was the topic of a Sidelight a few months ago, thought I would point out the latest news. For the Associated Press, Nicole Winfield writes:

Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27 at a ceremony that might see two living popes honoring two dead ones.

#315 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:04 PM:

Cassy B @313: Oh, dear Ghu. Another entry for the traveling exhibition of Cultural Literacy Fail, I guess.

#316 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:09 PM:

Cassie B @ 313... "It says 'the Demon Barber of Fleet Street'. Do you suppose it's a drama...?"

this reminds me of the time my wife and I were waiting for del Toro's "The Orphanage" to begin when two young women sat in front of us with their very young kids. They soon realized this was not going to be about Little Orphan Annie.

#317 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Side note: We performed Sweeney Todd as the spring play in my junior year of high school (1981). I think there were probably a few shocked folks in the audience, although perhaps not quite so many as there might have been had the musical not been in very recent memory a hit on Broadway (1979) and in London (1980). The farther off the radar/out of memory a show is, the fewer people who are likely to be familiar with it.

#318 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:15 PM:

Major Garrett is the chief White House correspondent for CBS News.

#319 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:36 PM:

I think that this modern passion for canonizing recent popes is a bad idea.

#320 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 04:51 PM:

319
I'm wondering what JPII actually did that he deserves being canonized. 'Back to the Middle Ages' isn't exactly the kind of thing that you want as your epitaph.

#321 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:02 PM:

Do popes get cannonized during knaval battles?

#322 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:02 PM:

SummerStorms @315, Serge Broom @316, I certainly don't wish to put myself on some Cultural Literacy Pedestal; we went to see "The 39 Steps" last year, and based soley on the director's note in the stagebill that the play was based on a Hitchcock story (which I had not seen nor heard of) I was expecting a drama, probably a gripping murder mystery.

Instead, we got a wild farce entirely performed by four players, two of whom playing dozens of roles each. It was very funny, and ENTIRELY unexpected.

When the curtain opened I thought the staging was rather spare; I figured it out a few minutes later when the Ominous Figures Lurking Under the Streetlight "forgot" to bring their streetlight onstage and had to scurry offstage for it.... (Did I mention that it was a very funny farce?)

#323 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Quixote @312; Cassy B @313:

That reminds me of my own experience reading Stanisław Lem’s Hospital of the Transfiguration. I was an undergraduate reading my way through all the Lem available in the university library; all I knew of him so far was his science fiction, and especially his funny science fiction (like the Cyberiad). So I picked up this book, knowing only that it was by Lem—the library had rebound it, so there were no back-cover blurbs or front-cover art to give me any further clues.

Well, as it turns out, it’s a realistic novel set in a mental hospital in Poland during the Second World War. With all that that entails.

As I recall, I spent about the first half of the book suspecting that the narrator’s father was going to invent a time machine. It was a rather strange reading experience. I sort of feel like everyone should do something like that at least once—plunge into a book or a play or a movie with absolutely no idea what it’s going to be about, or even what genre it’s supposed to be.

#324 ::: Quixote ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Cassy B. @322

Is that normally performed with only four actors? If not, I might have seen the same production of the 39 Steps as you did. Vertigo Theatre, Calgary?

Of course, it's a very popular play - I imagine it gets produced all the time.

#325 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:27 PM:

And who here would even blink at being introduced to a man named "Earl"? I suspect a lot more of us would think of it as somewhat old-fashioned, and be surprised if he was 20 rather than 80, than find it incongruous for meaning.

#326 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:38 PM:

Quixote@312; Cassy B. @313: And then there was the young couple behind us in the cinema a few weeks after Titanic came out; at a certain point in the film the young woman asked her boyfriend: "what happened?" and he replied..."they hit an iceberg."

Cassy B. @322: Oh! Since I -do- know "The 39 Stepes", that would have been even more unexpected! But if it was done well, then great.

Q. Pheevr @323: That does sound like a rather surreal experience.

#327 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Quixote @324, I have no idea if the staging I saw is the normal staging; I'd not seen it before and have not seen it since. But I was completely flummoxed and very impressed when, during a railway station scene, one man never left center stage but was in quick succession (with an instant hat change) a newpaper crier ("Extra, Extra!"), a police officer, and... um, someone else. Seamlessly and rapidly back and forth between the characters, which were all very different.

I saw it at Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre in the Chicago suburbs.

#328 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 05:55 PM:

Anybody else saw the "Wonder Woman" short film that's now out there?

#329 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 06:07 PM:

Q. Pheevr @323: I sort of feel like everyone should do something like that at least once—plunge into a book or a play or a movie with absolutely no idea what it’s going to be about, or even what genre it’s supposed to be.

That's my favorite mode to go into a movie with. The second I get the idea that I might like to see something, I immediately make everybody around me STFU about it: I don't want to know any more. Adds an extra couple of dimensions to the experience when I have to spend the first part of the movie trying to suss out what kind of movie it is, while still tracking the story. (Two best examples that come to mind are the movie Seven Pounds and the Firefly series.)

Had to have a few, um, negotiations with my best movie buddy, because his approach is to go out and found out everything he possibly can before going to see it. There have been a couple of cases where he's mentioned some obscure fact about the movie, causing me to instantly decide I wanted to see it, and the he would proceed to tell me more in an effort to convince me to go. Had to shake him by the lapels a few times to l'arn him not to do that.

#330 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 06:21 PM:

You know what your life is missing, and you didn't even know it was missing it?

Thug Notes

Just watch Beowulf, and then tell me I'm wrong...

#331 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 07:01 PM:

Serge Broom #301: Well, Tom Tomorrow (and I suspect other cartoonists) have been riffing the "parallel universe" thing for years. (In two flavors, really, one is nominally an alien planet.)

Cassy B #306: Definitely not apocryphal -- the trope used to be "Hamlet is derivative", but TVTropes has changed a lot since I used to frequent them, and I'm not sure what they're calling it now.

#332 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 07:18 PM:

Dave Harmon @ 331... True, but Tom Tomorrow isn't exactly an official voice of the Democratic Party.

#333 ::: Beowulf ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 08:14 PM:

Dave Harmon #331 the trope your looking for is Seinfeld is Unfunny. I'm pretty sure the trope name has never involved Hamlet, but the page quote does so maybe you were thinking of that.

#334 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 08:44 PM:

Beowulf, #333: But Seinfeld was never funny. At least the Hamlet version has the advantage of being real.

#335 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 09:09 PM:

I used to work with a guy whose last name was Senior. He and his father had the same first name, too, so he was [firstname] Senior, Jr. In a prior job he was a senior graphics designer, so he was [firstname] Senior, Jr., Senior Graphics Designer.

Inquisitive 280:When I was a kid there was a guy who made the local papers by naming his newborn son "Incumbent Judge [lastname]."

Mongoose 284:Yes that's interesting, maybe exciting, but...you've heard the expression 'take that with a grain of salt'? I'm not sure the ATLANTIC has enough salt to take that with. I'd want to see more details of his evidence.

Listening to it I hear an intonation pattern much like American English, and his pronunciations, to my ear, don't appear to match what I think are tone markings in the transcription.

Carrie 287: I'm of the opinion that, if you took someone who knew the current best-guess reconstruction cold and set hir down somewhere in the "Proto-Indo-European" sphere (whatever that means), se'd be able to talk to anyone se might happen to meet--but everyone would think, "Huh, that person must be from pretty far away."

Probably they'd kill ser almost right away. They were pretty warlike from all I hear.

Also, if they get the tones wrong they'd wonder "Why does this person keep talking about sheep farts?"

CHip 293: Since my surgery I am no longer physically capable of pronouncing the rolled 'r'. This isn't a huge problem, because I'm a choral singer, but it's mildly annoying.

I wish our choir director cared enough about text sounds to tell people that they have to sing non-rhotically! Or even to try to get us to sing the same vowel. Dongemmestahted.

Bill 10π: John XXIII, yeah. Best Pope EVER IMN-CO. But J2P2? Canonizing him reminds me how far the Church still needs to come, again IMN-CO.

Jacque 329: Adds an extra couple of dimensions to the experience when I have to spend the first part of the movie trying to suss out what kind of movie it is, while still tracking the story.

So much this. The opening narration of Dark City is stupidly spoileriffic for that reason; I skip over it when introducing the movie to someone new. The movie is much more fun if you think it's going to be a pynffvp abve qrgrpgvir zbivr jvgu na nzarfvn cybg. (Just in case anyone here has yet to see it.)

Also, I wish I'd gone to see The Matrix without knowing anything about it in advance.

Lee 334: I agree. Never found it funny even when it was first on. Annoying as all hell, in fact.

#336 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 09:19 PM:

#329, #335: I knew a lot about Terminator 2 when I sat down to watch it for the first time. Several minutes in, I realized that the Big Thing I knew going in was fact a huge spoiler, and the "get down" moment would have been amazingly cool had I not been pre-spoiled.

#337 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 09:22 PM:

Seinfeld had moments, but mostly -- no, not funny to me. I don't like humiliation humor, and that was a major part of it.

#338 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 09:32 PM:

Xopher, I wasn't aware that they were reconstructing tones for PIE these days. Unless I'm meaning the same thing by "laryngeals" that you mean by "tones", which is entirely possible--I'm not up on the latest in that field by any means. :)

Laertes: It annoyed me immensely that every single trailer for T2 involved a spoiler for that surprise.

#339 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 09:34 PM:

Xopher at 335: The lab the Amazing Girlfriend and I are both members of has a historical fondness for Dark City (our advisor loves it). So, for a lab movie night last fall, the lab watched it... I haven't been that actively annoyed by a movie in a long time. Thinking back on it the better part of a year later, I think most of my problem with it is a lack of explanation and context (the ending also gets me; I don't mind tragedies, but Dark City's ending is particularly bleak to me).

That said, it does have one of the great lines of recent memory: Shut it down! Shut it down forever!

#340 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 10:19 PM:

Vicki #325: And who here would even blink at being introduced to a man named "Earl"?

I once worked with someone named Graf Von Lastname. His brother is Baron Von Lastname. Von is their given middle name.

#341 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 10:46 PM:

There's going to be a show about how an ogre comes out of the ocean and terrorizes all the lifeguards on the beach.

It's called Beowatch.

#342 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 10:52 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 341... If SyFy ever shows up a movie by that title, we know who to blame.

#343 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:14 PM:

Carrie 338: Well, my degree is mumble years old, so I could be out of date on that. When I was in school it was believed that PIE was a tone language, and that differences in tone conditioned things like Russian o/e alternation, which became distinctive once the tones dropped out. Also, Swedish tonal accent was believed to be a remnant of PIE tone.

Benjamin 339: Fascinating. I don't see the ending as tragic at all. Ur trgf evq bs gur rivy nyvraf, naq trgf n punapr gb ohvyq n erny eryngvbafuvc jvgu gur jbzna ur ybirf, jvgu erny zrzbevrf vafgrnq bs snxr barf. It's been a while since I've seen it, so I could be misremembering.

#344 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:27 PM:

Xopher 343 I can understand that view of it, but zl ceboyrz jvgu gur raqvat vf gung juvyr ur trgf gb perngr n arj yvsr sbe uvzfrys naq gur jbzna ur ybirf (jub qbrfa'g erzrzore uvz, fvapr ur - nf V erpnyy - vf gur bayl bar jub tbg gb xrrc uvf zrzbevrf), rirelbar va gur raivebazrag unf orra, cerfhznoyl, chyyrq njnl sebz Rnegu naq vf qbbzrq gb yvir va Qnex Pvgl jvgu ab jnl bs tbvat gehyl ubzr. Can't exactly say it's one of my favorite movies.

#345 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:28 PM:

Huh, OK. I thought the laryngeals accounted for all of those alternations. Now I'm curious and will have to look it up.

:wanders off to look for Fortson:

#346 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2013, 11:34 PM:

For some reason, it was important to me to read Mieville's Un Lun Dun without knowing anything about it except that it was likely to be sf, and I think my intuition paid off.

And it wasn't about the thing that most people seem to think was coolest about the book (gung gur "pubfra bar" raqf hc abg pneelvat gur cybg), it was the puns and the surrealism and the rather surprising naturalistic problem.

#347 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:06 AM:

Skwid @330

Thanks for the pointer.

and huh, i learned something new. The analysis section made Beowulf make sense (reading it on my own didn't). Haven't explored the others, but they are now on my list.

#348 ::: Mea was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:07 AM:

Kim chee?

#349 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:36 AM:

Spoiler for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007): Wrffr Wnzrf vf nffnffvangrq ol Eboreg Sbeq

Remember, be careful out there.

#350 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:54 AM:

Over on the S.H.I.E.L.D. thread I had mysterious trouble posting a comment containing certain text, which has happened in the past as well, and Jim Macdonald suggested I should post the error I get, and also to take it to the nearest open thread. The error's pretty generic-Apache:

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@nielsenhayden.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

It occurs only on attempted posting, not on preview. I just checked my text for funny characters and found only the “, —, and ” that I intended to post.

I've had this problem at least once before, and so far all the evidence indicates that posting specific text always fails, and slowly (it takes over a minute to return the error). The following text, if ROT13'd, will cause the error if I try to post it (at least, in that thread). If the moderators are willing, I or someone else could (try to) post a bunch of comments containing binary-search fragments of this and at least find out what the minimal problematic text is.

Nabgure gevpx haeryngrq gb rapelcgvba, juvpu zvtug or hfrshy vs lbh pna trg yvar bs fvtug ohg vg jbhyq or hafnsr gb fubj hc, vf gb cbvag n uvtuyl qverpgvbany nagraan ng gur ina. Guvf unf orra hfrq va gur erny jbeyq gb qrsrng nffhzcgvbaf bs “guvf qbrf abg arrq gb or frpher orpnhfr gur enqvb fvtanyf ner fubeg-enatr” va frireny vafgnaprf — JvSv, Oyhrgbbgu, naq ASP. Ryrpgebzntargvp jnirf qba'g unir na vaurerag “enatr”.
#351 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 03:56 AM:

#306, #307.

"Full of film-music cliches" was the reaction of some people in my choir to singing Prokofiev's music for Alexander Nevsky. And they were right, in a way.

#352 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 04:25 AM:

PJ Evans @ 298: I mentioned M*A*S*H specifically because there was a character bearing the patient's name in the show. Well, mentioned in the show anyway; I don't remember Lieutenant Kelly ever actually appearing on screen.

#353 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 04:40 AM:

Quixote @ #324, Cassy B. @ #327:

Yes, that's the standard staging for that particular adaptation of The 39 Steps. One actor plays the hero, one actress plays the key female roles, and two more people play everyone else.

There was a production here a while ago, but I never actually got to see it, because a few days before I was planning to go the actor playing the hero was struck down by illness, and as it was coming up to the end of the season they had to drop all the remaining performances.

(Actually, that's not quite true. They did one more performance, on what would have been closing night, where they'd reached out to the local theatrical community to pull together a show where the hero was played by a different actor in each scene. Which may have fitted in perfectly well with the rest of it, for all I know - if you've got an actor playing a dozen roles, why not also a dozen actors playing one role? - but it wasn't the experience I'd been looking forward to, so I gave it a miss.)

#354 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 04:53 AM:

Erik Nelson @ #341, Serge Broom @ #342:

When Neil Gaiman was working on the script for Beowulf that was eventually filmed by Roger Zemeckis, he found that a significant proportion of people, on hearing the words "I'm writing a film based on Beowulf", automatically translated the last word into one they were more familiar with.

Which is why his short story collection Smoke and Mirrors includes a story called "Bay Wolf", in which the hero is called on to deal with a monster terrorizing beach-goers.

#355 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 06:00 AM:

"Well I have a distant relative named 'Unique'..."

You're not the only one..

#356 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 07:25 AM:

Re: the sidebar "Peru makes book writing into a spectator sport and invites desperate writers into combat"

There was definitely an SF short-story about that, but I don't retain the title or author. I probably read it in the early 80s or late 70s. The authors' efforts were announced like a sports event, and there was a Captain-Ersatz drink representing coffee/booze. Ends with a bit of the protag's work, a pulp involving a woman and green Venusian tentacles.

#357 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 08:07 AM:

I have some more delicious linguistic goodness for you all to enjoy.

One of the things I particularly like to try to do is catch language change in the wild as it happens, which is not an easy undertaking. Today, however, I believe I have spotted an example in a Guardian headline. They've now changed the word in question to "guide", but it originally read "an explainer for non-Americans", and this word "explainer" is still in the URL. Not "explanation", but "explainer".

I've been puzzled for a while by the word "ouster", which has always seemed linguistically out of whack to me because I associate the "-er" suffix with an animate agent, not a process. But lo! It now has a sibling!

#358 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 08:41 AM:

Cassie B @ 322... entirely performed by four players

That sounds like "Monty Python's Alfred Hitchcock's 39 Steps"

#359 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:08 AM:

Mongoose @357 I've been puzzled for a while by the word "ouster", which has always seemed linguistically out of whack to me because I associate the "-er" suffix with an animate agent, not a process. But lo! It now has a sibling!

I've seen "decider" used similarly, not as in "one who decides," but as in "the thing that causes one to decide one way or another." I connect it with real estate - e.g. the decider on purchasing that house was the bay window looking over the yard - but I would guess it has been used otherwise as well.

#360 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:09 AM:

I can see the Masked Writer competition happening at a con near you, quite easily.

#361 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:20 AM:

Serge Broom @ 358; it was, rather. There was a scene where Our Hero was struggling across a windy moor... and one of the other players was walking backwards in front of him, with a large electric fan trained on Our Hero....

#362 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:21 AM:

Forthcoming Productions:

Edward Scissorhands (in Braille)

The Sound of Music (on Aldis Lamp)[1]

Doctor Zhivago (in naval flag hoists)[2]

Cadbury.
[1] Patrons are advised that this production uses flashing lights.
[2] Due to the length of this production, overnight accomodation is available, discounts by the fortnight.

#363 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:23 AM:

Dave Bell @361, coincidentally someone just suggested to me that at a forthcoming convention we should do an Iron Writer panel. (Iron Writer SF, Iron Writer Fantasy, Iron Writer Horror, Iron Writer Humor....). Give them a secret ingredient plot point and an hour. How to make it visual for the audience is a bit of a stickler, however....

#364 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:49 AM:

Cassy, #363: My immediate thought would be to give them the writing hour behind the scenes, and have the actual panel be readings of what they came up with. An hour is enough time to read 3 or 4 short stories. Get audience investment by having a list of "secret ingredient" ideas for people to vote on all day Friday; announce the winning idea at the beginning of the panel, and leave time at the end for the audience to vote for their favorite.

If your con has sufficient budget and someone who's willing to do the prep-work, make up a chapbook containing all the results, which could be sold at a nominal fee on Sunday.

#365 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:59 AM:

Speaking of Seinfeld is Unfunny: We saw the original Wicker Man this weekend, and kept having the feeling that things have changed so much in the last 40 years that we need an explanation. "It just wasn't very scary" was the conclusion.

#366 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 10:06 AM:

Lee @363, that sounds like a workable idea. I'll pass it along to next year's conchair; thank you. "Iron Artist" was also suggested, (sculptor, painter, cartoonist, charcoal) but that's easier because people can SEE the art being made. Other than putting up the word processor outputs on a giant screen, writing isn't really a visual process...

#367 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 10:15 AM:

On Pope John Paul II:

For me, his apologies on behalf of the church to the Anabaptists and Protestants, and to the Jews, were hugely significant and a welcome move away from the Middle Ages.

#368 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 10:24 AM:

Mongoose @357, OtterB @359:

Ouster sounds weird to me, too, but explainer and decider seem like fairly standard (if not very familiar) uses of the -er suffix to create nouns denoting instruments. So we have agentive -er in teacher, writer, bricklayer, etc., and instrumental -er in washer, dryer, typewriter, turkey baster, etc., and decider and explainer seem to me like (somewhat more abstract) instances of the latter category. A decider causes a decision to happen, and an explainer is an instrument by which something is explained. Ouster seems different in that it’s an event of ousting, rather than the cause of such an event.

(The OED says ouster has the same legal Anglo-French suffix as waiver, disclaimer, misnomer, and that it’s related to the -er of dinner and supper—which I guess are also events, after all.)

#369 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 11:06 AM:

Q. Pheevr @ 368: ahhh! Thank you. I hadn't thought of "waiver" and so on. That makes perfect sense.

#370 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 11:07 AM:

Lee @364, my conchair thanks you for the ideas. She sounds enthusiastic in her email to me.

#371 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 11:26 AM:

Aw damn. Handing out breakfast this morning, discovered that Glory had passed. Can't be sure, but I think she went while I was getting dressed. Makes me sad for being slow getting out here this morning. They will often wait for me, and then pass shortly after I discover them, laying on their side in the back of the cage.

No clue what happened. She'd said she wasn't feeling well, last coupla days, and I was just starting to think about taking her into the vet. Last night, after I'd given her crew their dinner, and while I was giving Gustav her bottle (we sit on the floor in front of the big house), Glory went dashing downstairs, and made a big show of "lying down" at me. They do this on the rare occassions when they actually want a snuggle.

I thought it was odd at the time, but didn't think more of it, especially since she was in the most inaccessible part of the cage. Well, I guess I know what that was about, now. ::sigh::

Shannon, over at Cavy Care, has commented that they're most likely to pass during spring and fall. Something about the season change is extra stessful for them during those times. I was kind of wondering if I was going to lose somebody this fall. Wouldn't have expected it to be her, though, since Glory was one of the "healthy" ones.

It's really hard not to feel like I've failed her, especially since she wasn't one of the ones who liked to cuddle, so she didn't get a lot of individual attention.

Now we're down to 11.

#372 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 11:45 AM:

Jacque @ #329
I sort of feel like everyone should do something like that at least once—plunge into a book or a play or a movie with absolutely no idea what it’s going to be about, or even what genre

I’ve always wanted to show Gangs of New York to someone without telling them the title, so they can spend the first scene trying to figure out what Mad Max-type post-apocalyptic world they’ve been dropped into, before we pull back and reveal it’s New York in the 1850s.

#373 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 11:47 AM:

Sandy, #365: I haven't actually seen Wicker Man, but somebody gave me a CD of the soundtrack a few years back, which was apparently ripped from TV and contained a fair amount of the dialogue as well. My conclusion was that its horror component depended heavily on the assumption that everyone in the audience would (1) be Christian and (2) have no knowledge of paganism whatsoever, so that anything presented as a pagan custom would be instantly perceived as Weird And Scary.

Cassy, #370: Glad to be of service. :-)

Jacque, #371: My condolences on your loss.

#374 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Jacque @371, Condolences

#375 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 12:09 PM:

This is me, putting off going to work, because, well.

Xopher Halftongue @335: Senior, Jr.

My little old man Junior was so named because his fur was the same color as that of the family chihuahua, Peanut, so he was originally Peanut Jr. But when he came to my house, he became simply Junior. Fast forward six years, and one of his little boys comes out looking almost exactly like him, so this little boy is obviously Junior, Jr. JJ for short.

Inquisitive Raven @352: I don't remember Lieutenant Kelly ever actually appearing on screen.

Lieutenant Kelly

#376 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 12:15 PM:

That isn't the impression I got from The Wicker Man at all.

I saw it back on its first US release, and didn't get the impression that it was meant to be scary; more bizarre. The policeman was made stuffy and ridiculous, the townsfolk presented as cheerful, and right.

#377 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 12:20 PM:

Kevin @ 350 (and attention mods):

This could be caused by a typo in a regular expression (in the spam filters) causing the pattern-matching evaluation to "run amok" and take an infinite (or at least indefinitely long) time to complete. This problem is a known possibility when backtracking is used, and can also occur with certain regular expression engines even with apparently innocuous (but complicated) expressions.

IIRC my Apache experience, in that case the Apache subprocess handling the post will time out and you could end up seeing that error message.

If it's possible for one of the mods to pull out a list of all the anti-spam expressions used for checking posts and time them all against that text fragment, preferably from a shell on the web server, that might well nail the problem quickly. If that's not so easy, maybe try eyeballing recently added anti-spam expressions against the text to see which might be triggering, or do a binary search with them enabled/disabled to see in which case posting the text succeeds.

#378 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 12:25 PM:

Jacque @ 371: so sorry to hear that.

#379 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 12:35 PM:

Jacque @ 371: My condolences on your loss; our companions just never spend enough time here with us. You gave Glory the best life she wanted, and you paid attention to her needs as she explained them to you. Please don't feel guilty about not being perfect.

Actually, I feel a bit guilty myself, since Loki had an incurable cancer; but I know there was nothing anyone could do. My only other option was to treat aggressively, potentially making his life miserable, which I chose not to do. I would make the same decision knowing what I know now, because his life was pretty good right up until the end. I think Glory had a pretty good life herself, too.

#380 ::: Raul Flugens, Test Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:03 PM:

Testing continues.

#350 above for what this is all about.

These posts will vanish after I've located the cause.

#383 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:15 PM:

Jim: Dunno if it makes a difference, but not that your second range has a straight-close-quote, instead of curly.

#384 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:19 PM:

Ginger @379: And it seemed to come on pretty quickly, so at least she didn't have to suffer with months of ill-health, like others I've had. For that I'm grateful.

Yeah, that treating the cancer thing. Speaking for me, personally, I'd have to be sure of a cure, or at least a significant prolongation of life, to be worth putting them through all that. It's tough. Especially when they can't tell what they want.

Silver lining: now, at least, the only bully left in that house is Kit Fox.

#385 ::: Raul Flugens, Test Gnome ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:26 PM:

Jacque:

It does. range followed by a straight double-quote gets through. Range followed by a curly double quote ... doesn't.

Testing continues.

#386 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 01:56 PM:

Raul Flugens, Test Gnome @387: Oh, I think they're quite fun!

Jacque @ 371: Sympathies. Somtime it can be harder when you-re -not- expecting to lose one. I'm sure you gave Glory a good life, including NOT petting her when she didn't want that. {{{{{hugs}}}}} if they're useful.

#387 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 02:24 PM:

Ginger @379, Jacque @391: Mabel's cancer was uncurable (large cell lymphoma), and without any treatment she would have been gone in a week. With the modified Madison protocol, she had a really healthy-seeming six months, and a less-healthy final month that involved minimal pain. She remained very much herself up through the last week, when we realized that she really wanted to finish about 12 hours before we could have an appointment with the vet to euthanize her. She'd have a day or two of being lethargic around the chemo every week or two, but bounced back incredibly well.

It wasn't cheap. And while it was a little difficult for her, she really told us that she wanted the summer (and she got it). We'd do it again.

And if I ever get cancer, I hope I have as good a doctor as she had. I'm talking about Dr. Chelsea Tripp, at Animal Medical Center in Shoreline (just north of Seattle). She was careful, responsive, and knew how to deal with all kinds of people dealing with animal cancers. I watched her in the waiting room with many different people, and she met each one of them right where they were. She taught me a lot about dealing with serious life issues. May she have a long and influential career, and may her colleagues aspire to be like her.

#388 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 02:43 PM:

Kevin Reid #350

Got it.

A right hand (close) curly quote, followed by [ENTER] causes the error.

The error is prevented if there are at least four characters (any combination of alpha-numeric, punctuation, and/or spaces) between the close-curly-quote and the carriage return. (Note: three blank spaces in a row will activate the gnomes' filters.)

There's nothing remotely like this in the gnomes' spam filters. Therefore it's off somewhere in the guts of Moveable Type.

#389 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 02:51 PM:

Sandy B. #365

Speaking of Seinfeld is Unfunny:

I didn't think Seinfeld was funny on first broadcast, either.

#390 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 02:54 PM:

I found Seinfeld both funny and unfunny, from episode to episode.

#391 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 02:55 PM:

Jim Macdonald @388: A right hand (close) curly quote, followed by [ENTER] causes the error.

Hmm. I wonder how I got away with it at 187, then. Maybe because I was typing the html code instead of an actual close-right-double-quote?

#392 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 03:00 PM:

Q. Pheevr #391

Exactly. You used HTML rather than pasting in the actual curly-right-quote character.

#393 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 03:29 PM:

Oh, for the love of Pete. The PA I had my yearly checkup with (who I like, but) managed to:

1. Lose my pap test.
2. Mess up the dosage on one prescription.
3. Order the wrong kind of another prescription.

Now, I find out that

4. The "corrected reorder" of 3 that she promised apparently never happened.

You know, I'm all for being understanding about human error, but when I get caught out in an error like that, I put processes in place to keep it from happening again. Dammit.

#394 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 04:54 PM:

I've think I've always seen the word explainer used like that (i.e. since I started learning English as a foreign language). Isn't it a common usage?

#395 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Roy @ 394: I can't speak for anywhere else, but not in the UK. This is the first time I've ever seen it used like that, and it seems the Guardian decided it was an awkward usage, since they subsequently changed the headline.

#396 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 05:44 PM:

You know how most university-level scientific research in the United States is government funded? The ongoing shutdown means some really lovely things for those of us working in labs funded by federal agencies. It's even more fun for those of us (like the Amazing Girlfriend and myself) who have direct federal funding -some of you might remember a few years ago, the Amazing Girlfriend and myself were awarded NSF (National Science Foundation) Graduate Fellowships. You know what the really fun part of the shutdown is? NSF isn't disbursing any funds for the duration of the shutdown. Since NSF pays out our (and those of a couple hundred other graduate awardees) stipends to the University on a monthly basis, it means that we are almost certain to not get our stipends this month. I'm enraged and disgusted.

#397 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Well, I don't know how they've managed it, but NSF Fellows will actually be getting stipends - just got an email from my fellowship officer. I don't know if the university is, essentially, fronting the money or what - but I am going to get paid this month. That's a relief.

#398 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 06:11 PM:

Mongoose @ 395: It's probably an Americanism then - but I can't figure out where I've picked it up. Most of the print media I've consumed over the years has been of UK origin.

#399 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 06:38 PM:

Okay, need a little pick-me-up. Discovered last night that Netflix is streaming Lilo & Stitch again.

There are very few things that will make me laugh out loud, but that's one of them.

  • Peanut butter sandwich day.
  • "Nononoonono! You don't want that dog!"
  • "Disciplining" Stitch with a squirt bottle.
  • "GRRRRrrrrrr."

Scared the guinea pigs.

#400 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Benjamin, that's better than no stipend. I hope the shutdown is short.

#401 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 06:53 PM:

Believe me, I agree. After looking at NSF's site, I fully expected to hear "sorry, but if NSF doesn't give us money, we can't pay you" - I was quite surprised to hear that we'll actually *get* paid.

#402 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 06:59 PM:

#322, #358, #361:

Once I was trying to explain to Barry Gehm why he would enjoy Hitchcock's film of John Buchan's novel The Thirty-Nine Steps.

"At one point," I explained, "the hero is handcuffed to this girl, and they are on the run in the highlands of Scotland. And the police are searching for this guy with an autogyro."

Barry raised one eyebrow.

"Any other distinguishing features?"

#403 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 07:25 PM:

re: Wicker Man

I don't know what link to give you; just google "muppets wicker man" and pick what looks good to you (or check Images).

#404 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 08:10 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #396: I'm just glad my SSD payment came in before the shutdown!

The Republicans are being despicable, pulling out all stops to prevent the government from helping people. I hope they suffer deeply for it in the polls; unfortunately, it's not a Federal election year, and the mass media works hard to keep the public memory short regarding such things.

#405 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 08:27 PM:

L'arnin' teh Skillz...I dunno. Guy on the right seems to...lack commitment.

#406 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 09:29 PM:

re: 405

"Teaching" (as per header)? Phooey.

What I saw was a young male sheep working up his head-butting. That the bull (steer?) wasn't engaging with it didn't matter (I agree with Jacque as to his interest level).

Sexually dominant behavior develops by practicing. Our Hero hasn't quite worked out his moves, one of which should be challenging the right species.

His backing up was the cutest thing I've seen today.

#407 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2013, 10:50 PM:

To me, an "explainer" would always be a person. But then so would a trainer, which may or may not be a useful insight.

Jacque 371: I'm sorry for your loss.

Benjamin 397: Glad to hear it!

#408 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 12:05 AM:

Coming in late to the "name that name" thing. I went to high school in a really mixed neighborhood. White, Hispanic, black, Polynesian, Filipino, Indian, Native American, Japanese, Chinese, assorted Europeans from west and east, an assortment of middle east names of various flavors. I think the only thing we didn't have much of was Vietnamese at a time when "the war" was winding down. After plowing thru a marvelously ethnically mixed football team list of names as they came on the field, I'm not sure if everything is strange to me or nothing is. (Why yes, I can pronounce Manumaleuna without stumbling.)

This also led to my realization some years later that the Slavs* got all the consonants while the Polynesians got all the vowels.

*I probably have the ethnicity wrong. Is there a group ethnic name for those with names with lots of consonants strung together? My dentist is a good example: Luczszak.

#409 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 12:13 AM:

I'm saddened to hear of the death of Elliot Shorter, one of the 60s conrunners who helped me get into fandom way back when. People used to say that Rosie Greer looked like him. He was a larger than life character, and will be missed.

#410 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 12:56 AM:

Lin @ #408 -

My father's family is of Polish extraction and my mother's is Czech (her mother) and Samoan (her father). More than once doing genealogy I have attempted to redistribute vowels and consonants.

#411 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 01:55 AM:

Lin #408, I'd say Luczszak is either a Western Slavic name or it's a Slavic name that's been Hungarianized or vice-versa, because of who uses cz and sz like that. I think Poles are more likely than other people to slap the cz and sz right in a row, but the name is not at all distinctive.

I adore Czech surnames. A lot of them are completely unflattering. They translate into weird little jokey phrases or the names of agricultural implements. I've heard conflicting explanations -- either the German speaking officials of the Austro-Hungarian Empire imposed them, or the Czech speaking citizens identified themselves this way to perpetrate pranks on the officials.

On the other hand, the feminine form of the surname is the possessive adjective (as in "property of the Dvoraks"), and the law of Czech republic requires women to use the feminine form unless they have foreign names. Which led my daughter in law to change her name at marriage as an act of feminist defiance.

#412 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 05:40 AM:

The president of the students' union when I was at university was called Szczerbiak. And I was the proofreader for the student newspaper.

He was so happy when I took on that role. Finally he got his name spelt right!

#413 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 06:04 AM:

Stanisław I Leszczyński, King of Poland and Duke of Lorraine.

You're welcome.

#414 ::: Dave Crisp is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 06:06 AM:

Probably for using accented characters in a URL.

Home-made sausage rolls, your Lownesses?

#415 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 07:51 AM:

Jacque #405, Carol Kimball #406: I beg to differ -- the adult is engaged, f'rex he's teaching the kid that you have to actually make contact, and then the other guy's supposed to go backwards. ;-) What he's not doing, is responding to it as a real dominance challenge, -- this is a play version for the benefit of the lamb.

#416 ::: Dave Harmon, gnomed. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 07:52 AM:

For sheepish comment. I'll have coffee in a bit....

#417 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 08:39 AM:

Ginger, how is the shutdown affecting you? I expect it must be particularly annoying.

#418 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 08:49 AM:

Dave Harmon @404--Benefits, both disability and retirement, will continue to be paid. (The link is to SSA's own website, which has a shutdown page.)

Benjamin Wolfe @396--I suspect the university is fronting you all, with expectations of being reimbursed by the NSF. They may also have been given the term's payments in a lump sum at the start of the term. I know the state government here has agreed to front my agency up through October 11, and who knows what will happen at that point? They have explicitly indicated they expect to be reimbursed by the Feds when things get settled.

Most large federal agencies will have a shut-down page on their website like SSA's, so if people have questions I'd suggest checking there first.

#419 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 08:59 AM:

fidelio #416: Ah, thank you. I like their dig at Congress....

#420 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 10:12 AM:

Dave Harmon @419--I urge you to pass that around to anyone with questions about their benefits.

The VA's funding, unlike Social Security's, come via appropriations. Here's a a .pdf covering what to expect there.

Here's the page from the White House's website that pulls together contingency plans government-wide. Page two of this .pdf. October food stamp (SNAP) benefits should come through; the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children's) benefits program does not appear to be funded. School lunch programs should be good through October. Other food support programs are doubtful, from what I can tell.

If anyone has questions about a particular program, I urge them to check the White House page, and work from there.

Also, if you are in a position to donate to your local food bank or other anti-hunger charity, now might be a good time to do that.

#421 ::: fidelio thanks the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 10:39 AM:

I'd like to thank the gnomes for being public-spirited enough to let that post, with its links, go through. Nice to know we can count on you guys in times like these!

#422 ::: Duncan J Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 11:27 AM:

Cadbury Moose @362

See also IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service

#423 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 11:29 AM:

Re: Government shutdown

Federal retirees' pension payments will continue.

The President signed a bill that guarantees the military will receive their pay. (Shame they didn't think keeping the VA funded should be in that legislation.)

And a rousing cheer for the folks with Honor Flight who took the veterans into the WWII memorial despite the barricades --

"I can hear the people sing..."

#424 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 11:32 AM:

Lori @423:

(Shame they didn't think keeping the VA funded should be in that legislation.)

I understand the logic. There's a faction in the House that's trying to cherry-pick certain pieces of the government to re-fund, including the VA and national parks (but not, say, WIC or salaries for the 800,000 suddenly unemployed federal workers), so that they can unilaterally de-fund everything else. Yes, the VA should be funded - so should WIC and the NSF and Head Start.

#425 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 12:05 PM:

Fragano @ 417: I am at work, as an excepted employee. It means I will eventually be paid, that is guaranteed, but the actual delivery of pay will be delayed.

It's very quiet here. I am updating spreadsheets.

#426 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 12:34 PM:

Ta-nehisi Coates has a couple of shutdown threads open, with requests for expert observations from his commenters. Bad news about the influenza programs...

James Fallows is also on things.

#427 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Ginger #424: Gail's an excepted employee too, and she's in a similar situation with reference to being paid as the payroll staff have all been furloughed. People who go on scheduled leave, as she will next week, have been told that they they must go on furlough at the end of the leave unless the shutdown ends.

I gather that Fixed Noise is calling this a "slimdown". I have an opinion on that.

#428 ::: Fragano Ledgister has been enGnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 01:17 PM:

But I don't speak Gnomish, and my lunch is gone.

#429 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 01:37 PM:

My question is why this won't just become a standard feature of political dysfunction in the US, like never getting a budget done on time, or having an ever-increasing number of federal judge positions open to avoid the partisan nomination battle.

Perhaps in another couple decades, this will just be what happens in early October, and federal employees will plan their vacations around it.

#430 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 01:46 PM:

albatross, it WILL if the Dems (especially the President) don't stand up to it right now and have it fail to work (and hopefully hurt the people who did it in 2014, when they're all up for re-election).

That's why they can't negotiate: for the same reason you can't negotiate with terrorists. Actually, calling the Teahadists "budget terrorists" doesn't seem very wrong to me. People are going to die if this shutdown goes on too long.

#431 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 02:49 PM:

427
The Senate kept asking the house to name people to a committee to reconcile the budget bills, last spring. The House never did. It's on them.

#432 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Cassy@322: sounds like a publicity failure; I know both the Hitchcock movie and the Buchan novel that provided the title and chase scene (and not much else), but knew in advance that the performance I saw was going to be ... different.

Xopher@335: said director told me when I complained offline about something that she had to pick her battles; I suspect that's true of all music directors. (We miss her, but the prospect of a full-time tenured position made even Indiana acceptable; we're hoping the campus accepts her partner.) I remember one of her predecessors moaning at us about his other gig in Dallas, where one singer told him <thick Texas accent>But if we talk like y'all want us to, none of our friends will understand us!</thick Texas accent> (He parlayed his forcefulness into choral direction at the Met, where he doesn't have to put up with anything....)

Cadbury@362: don't forget Wuthering Heights in semaphore....

Macdonald@376: Reaction to The Wicker Man may depend on where the viewer stands; I read the townsfolk as stuck in Summerisle's conjob/delusion so far they didn't blink at human sacrifice -- but (based on past comments) there's a large gap between your belief system and mine. (My having read the Cinefantastique Quarterly's discussion before reading the movie may also have had an effect, but they were mostly whinging about how hard it was to find the unaltered version.)

#433 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 03:16 PM:

P J, yes, the Senate made 18 attempts to have a budget conference committee. Having the House call them after all that and say "let's talk about how we're going to fuck the country over as much as we possibly can unless you give us everything we want because Obamacare ISN'T FAIR WAAHHHHHH"—well, it's not surprising that the Senate told them where to stick it.

ALL the blame for this belongs to the GOP. Moreover, all of it belongs to the GOP in the House. Most of it belongs to the Teahadi "Suicide Caucus," but fundamentally the blame belongs to John "Crybaby" Boehner. The votes to pass a clean CR exist in the House; Boehner won't allow it to come to the floor because he's afraid of the hardcore Teahadists.

Of course, this all hurts the Democratic base more than the GOP base. The occasional exceptions like the KKK rally don't change that. Rich people aren't suffering too much from this. They will, eventually, but it may take a while.

Otherwise I'd think the Senate should take the position of "Pass a clean CR or go fuck yourselves." Not sure I don't, even so.

#434 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 03:37 PM:

431
Xopher, that's how most of us feel. (The first word I think of when I see or hear GOP/Republican is seven letters beginning with A. Or eight letters, if you go with the British version.)
(I hear that there are a number of businesses in DC that are offering discounts to furloughed federal employees - but not to members of Congress.)

#435 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 03:52 PM:

PJ Evans @ 432... discounts to furloughed federal employees - but not to members of Congress

"A second flood, a simple famine, plagues of locusts everywhere, or a cataclysmic earthquake, I'd accept with some despair. But no, You sent us Congress! Good God, Sir, was that fair?"
- John Adams to God in '1776'

#436 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 03:59 PM:

"You see, we piddle, twiddle, and resolve;
Not one damn thing do we solve!
Piddle, twiddle, and resolve --
Nothing's ever solved
In foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy... Washington, DC!"

#437 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:07 PM:

Chip @430, to be fair to Drury Lane Oakbrook, I'm a season-ticket holder, so I pay no attention to the publicity. I'm going to see the play no matter what, after all...

#438 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:10 PM:

Lee & Serge, thanks for the reminders of 1776. Maybe I'll pull out the DVD and watch it ...

#439 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:19 PM:

Dave Harmon @415: I beg to differ -- the adult is engaged

I actually think they're both full-grown.

What he's not doing, is responding to it as a real dominance challenge,

The bull/steer is all, "Yeah, okay, fine." ::half-hearted butt::

this is a play version for the benefit of the lamb.

It may, in fact be play, by the way the ram slows down and doesn't actually butt the bull (steer?) full force. But I think that is a full-grown ram. Or at least young-adult. What cracks me up is the ram's, "Aw, c'moooon! See? Here? I'm gonna really get you...!"

I remember the time I encountered a ram. You do not make the ram go away by pushing on his head. I didn't know you could just decline to contest, though....

albatross @427: My question is why this won't just become a standard feature of political dysfunction in the US

You mean it's not already?

Xopher Halftongue @431: Teahadi

::GRIN:: I hadn't heard that one before.

Rich people aren't suffering too much from this. They will, eventually, but it may take a while.

"Trickle-up economics?"

CR: I can't find the unpacking of the acronym...?

#440 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:22 PM:

Here in the UK, we are getting the speeches from the Conservative Party Conference. These are not at all like the Party National Conventions in the USA, but they are a big opportunity for the political parties to lay out what they want to do.

Currently, the Conservative Party control the government. They're the right-wing party and, compared to the speeches at the Labour Party Conference, last week, you get a sense of a very different set of policies.

Amongst the policies they have announced, already on the path to actuality and brought forwards three months, is a scheme to subsidise what seem very like sub-prime mortgages. Also in the mix is the intent to reduce benefit entitlements for those under the age of 25: at best, this will force them to stay with their parents rather than re-locate to somewhere there might actually be jobs available.

It's all stick and no carrot.

As with the effects of the shutdown in the USA, it's very easy to point at the details as evidence for sociopathic behaviour patterns. They don't seem to be troubled by the reality that they are hurting people.

#441 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #428: The problem is, it already is -- it worked against Clinton, so this is now part of the GOP's arsenal.

#442 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:39 PM:

>Jacque @ 437... Yes, there is dysfunction, but that doesn't absolve the GOP from the current mess, which *is* entirely their fault. Yesterday, I asked elsewhere when was the last time the Democratic Party had forced a shutdown and was told we have to go back to 1987, for a one-day shutdown that was over their objection to provide financial help to Contras. By the way, when I saw that photo of Boehner with the big mallet, I thought of Thor's Hammer, which in comics and in movies, can be used only by he who is worthy of it.

#443 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:40 PM:

Jacque @437
CR = Continuing Resolution, a bill to continue funding government at current levels until a new budget is passed.

The "clean CR" is the one that just does that, and nothing else.

#444 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:47 PM:

Dave Harmon #439

I'd been under the impression that what happened with Clinton was that while everyone was sitting around with the government closed a young lady walked in and said, "Would you like a pizza and a blowjob?" and Bill had no more sense than to say, "Sure!"

I don't think that's the way things'll go with Obama.

#445 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 04:54 PM:

Dave 440: Not really. The Republicans got the blame for that government shutdown. While Clinton may have done some of what they wanted, it cost them dearly, and no sensible Republican wants to do it again.

#446 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 05:16 PM:

Otter B, both the Senate and the House HAVE passed budgets. Unfortunately, a budget on paper does not fund the Federal government.

Every year, the House is supposed to pass 13 appropriation bills based on a budget that has been passed and agreed on by both the House and the Senate. Boehner wouldn't name members to be part of a conference committee, even though the Senate made 18 different requests for him to do so.

No budget conference, no template for the appropriation bills, so the House spent their copious free time repealing Obamacare. Forty-one times...

Passing a budget, no matter which part of Congress does so, means absolutely nothing.

#447 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 05:41 PM:

At this point there appear to be two parties in DC, the Sane Party and the Fucking Nuts Party. No guesses for which of them is symbolised by a very large animal.

#448 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 05:58 PM:

Dave @ 439: current government policy is the reason I'm on anti-anxiety medication. It's bad enough not being able to get a job (and repeatedly told I'm "not good enough" even for minimum-wage or near-minimum-wage jobs), without being permanently made to feel I'm somehow to blame for the fact that there aren't enough jobs to go round.

At some point in the very near future I'm going to be put on one of those government slave labour schemes. You know the ones. They make you go and work for some big company that could jolly well afford to pay you a proper wage, but it doesn't, so its shareholders get the profit out of your work and you go home at the end of your working day to the same frugal meal and you still can't afford to get the boiler fixed. It ought to be illegal. I've already had enough of working for free in the hope that someone will eventually want to pay me; it doesn't work. All that happens is that people say "oh yes, very nice work, can we have some more of it free, please?"

#449 ::: Mongoose has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 06:00 PM:

...for ranting about the UK government. I presume there were some Words of Power in the mix.

I have some cheesecake, if that is acceptable?

#450 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 06:33 PM:

I went to the Post Office just before closing today, and there was no one in line ahead of me. Usually there's about 10 people, and the clerk said that normally there's be more people, especially at the beginning of the month.

It seems plausible that people are assuming that the PO is shut down.

If anyone's been to a post office in the past couple of days, what did you see?

#451 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 06:42 PM:

446
A very large animal which appears to be have late-stage rabies?

#452 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 06:59 PM:

I think the implement which best characterizes the Republican Congressional delegation in recent history, in in the general category of overflowing bedpan, honeybucket, or chamberpot...

#453 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 07:08 PM:

Lori Coulson @445, yes, sorry. I was thinking of a "budget" as the result of an agreement between House and Senate - which of course we never got this year - but forgetting that even that is only the prelude to the appropriations bills.

Sigh.

#454 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 08:54 PM:

fidelio @ 418:

Thank you for that link.

CHip @ 431:

(He parlayed his forcefulness into choral direction at the Met, where he doesn't have to put up with anything....)

*peals of laughter*

#455 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 09:25 PM:

I only comment occasionally, but I am a part of this community because I read with interest everything everyone writes, and I really appreciate the civil forum for interesting conversation.

Well, and only a few people that I know in the flesh are interested in science fiction.

I am a furloughed federal worker. The scuttlebutt is that this time we might never get paid. I hope that is false. We have had three years of a pay freeze, and then this year we had a 10% pay cut (the sequester-mandated budget cuts leading to mandatory furloughs). We don't know how long we will be without pay checks, but what I do know is that a lengthy furlough can permanently affect some of our benefits if it goes on too long.

So this past week, my week began with ending the federal fiscal year with a flurry of settlements, and i had several respondents thanking me for my help or commenting on the thoroughness of the legal documents I sent them (a lot of complements are pointless noise or attempts to curry favor but these comments were made after the deals were done so the people I just sued on behalf of the American people must have thought I was doing something right to be throwing gratuitous and completely unnecessary complements my way). in other words, i was having a good time, and doing good work to protect public health and the environment. and then a minority of disaffected Republicans in Congress decided that they would shut down government and I am now sitting on my hands, unable to do my job. It is infuriating.

We had an office-wide meeting the day before shutdown, and a question to our political appointee was "so, if I hear the news tonight that there is no deal, can I keep working up until I get the official email telling us to start shutdown procedures?" Answer was that we can't work while the shutdown continues. Well, the criminal side can (since past shutdowns have illustrated the problems with squaring fair and speedy trials with sending everyone home indefinitely).

And on grants - grant recipients can't draw down money if there is no one there to do the work. Some grant recipients can front load and carry costs, but if the shutdown lasts too long then a whole lot of state functions that have hidden federal funding may start grinding to a halt.

I'm obviously making these comments in my individual capacity.

My first federal job started with a one week course on the Anti-Deficiency Act and it isn't rocket science. When Republican leaders close down enforcement agencies and then try to look like heros by offering to fund national parks (national parks are one of the very narrowly and specifically designated corners of government allowed, under certain circumstances, to accept private donations), they are intentionally playing to the ignorance of their base. They caused this problem. They are undermining the American economy, and they are such believers in the ability of the American public to not be able to tell.

Augh. I am sorry, I don't mean to rant (although obviously I can't stop myself), but I do want to tell all of the communities to which I belong "this is affecting me personally. You know, in at least some slight way, someone who is being prevented from doing her job and not being paid"

So, you are one of my communities. I am very, very glad that the NSF grant funding is, for now, not mucking up needed pay checks @396, and that the exempted employees are at work.

I hope that the impasse gets resolved soon.

And, re the October vacation idea - our vacation time was cancelled so yes, we have time off but it isn't paid even if we scheduled to be on holiday before the crisis started.

#456 ::: Mea has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 09:27 PM:

Kim chee again? Yes, I need to go grocery shopping.

#457 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 09:47 PM:

http://boingboing.net/2013/10/02/bet-you-didnt-know-that-dino.html

A topic that has been discussed here before

#458 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 10:11 PM:

If they cut your pay by 10%, they should give you every other Friday off.

#459 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 10:20 PM:

One thing I said makes no sense without further explanation.

My first job was in a budget department, so I was supposed to be ready to answer weird questions about funding. That is why I took a week-long course on the anti-deficiency act. Not because the law is complicated to understand on a conceptual level. The basics are really simple and easily explained: congress controls the budget, and agencies can't go out raising money or augmenting resources in new and inventive ways.

Congress - not individual congressmen, not workers volunterring to work without pay, not corporations donating funds - Congress decides what part of the federal government gets what funding. Some exceptions apply, like the special authorization from Congress that allows the national parks to partner with private funding in some circumstances. But even the details in the micro-budgeting level were an exercise in "yes, we are saying the same thing 100 different ways. Has it sunk in YET?"

#460 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 10:23 PM:

Xopher, they did give us the time off, and lots of my co-workers did take it as every other Friday off. It just was an unexpected and involuntary cut in pay.

And it isn't like our work went away.

#461 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 10:48 PM:

459
That's like the place I worked ran us through a basic (like an hour or two) on-line class in anti-trust law, which amounted to 'these are things you shouldn't do'. It isn't rocket science either, and it isn't about the size of the companies involved (the fictional Bad Example they were using was small business).
FERC compliance was harder to follow, and driver ed was more stressful.

#462 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2013, 11:59 PM:

O.K., the last time I had a dumb question about iTunes here it was answered in seconds so I'm hoping for another burst of satori this time. I recently updated to the new iTunes on my Mac, and if I play a podcast it plays that podcast and instantly starts the next one it can find instead of stopping the way it used to. What do I need to set for "Play this podcast and then quit?"

#463 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 12:03 AM:

Mea @ 455

My sympathies. We just went through furloughs in my State, too. It hurt a lot of good people who had the misfortune not to be high-enough salaried that they could set aside significant reserves.

I hope they get their acts together soon, up there at the capitol... and I hope you and yours get through this as gently as possible.

#464 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 12:05 AM:

Bruce: There might be an arrow-wrapped-into-an-oval icon somewhere that if you click it, will turn off autoplay.

But in my experience, iProducts tend to have a preset for that functionality in podcasts (not music; music is customizable) that is either OFF or ON and you can't do anything. My old iPod, it was OFF and no podcast would ever autoplay anything else; now it's ON and if there is a next podcast in the same series it always plays-next. On my mac it stops after one, but I haven't looked for the setting.

My bet (if you're doing it on a computer, not a device) is to look for the mystery-meat picture-only icon control.

#465 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 01:06 AM:

Someone saw this on Twitter this morning:
"America was not shut down properly. Would you like to start America in safe mode, with free healthcare and without the guns? (Recommended)"

#466 ::: Mea ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 01:25 AM:

Kaytei, I appreciate the good thoughts.

I'm angry, but financially OK in the short term. Several of my co-workers are in much tougher spots. It is particularly stressful for folks responsible for supporting small kids, dependent spouses, and with mortgages/student loans to pay.

#467 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 03:46 AM:

Dave Harmon @415, Jacque @439: No, they're definitely both juveniles, as indicated by Carol Kimball @406. I'm going on all sorts of things to state that, but it's all a matter of proportions (body proportions and size relative to each other) and muscle size/definition (or rather, lack of that) in the case of the young bullock.

And it's play - the young ram is desperate to play "head butt"; the bullock is willing to play, but the problem is that bulls/bullocks (probably a bullock, in this case, as I don't see a scrotum) don't do the head butting thing! Head pushing they're okay with.

Mongoose @448: Sympathies. Rant away!

P J Evans @ 465: Oh I like that.

#468 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 03:47 AM:

I have been spending a little too much money through ebay on my late Mother's sewing machine. But it's in good working order, and I have a shirt with sleeves that are rather too long, and I am obviously a weird shape.

I am looking at a sort of cosplay project for the Worldcon, next year. I might even enter the formal competition, if things work out. Or I might never get past frightening the neighbours' kids at Halloween...

#469 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 05:49 AM:

Mea: sympathies. The whole situation is ghastly.

One thing I don't understand, and have not understood for a long time, is why the Republicans are referred to as the "GOP" even by their opponents. I'm told it stands for "Grand Old Party". Why? What's grand about them?

#470 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 06:04 AM:

Mongoose, 469: That's a common misconception. It really stands for "Greedy Old Pricks."

(Most Republican congressmen* are millionaires, and they're STILL GETTING PAID.)

*gendering deliberate

#471 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 06:39 AM:

dcb #467: Ah, thanks. I'll defer to your knowledge, as my own experience with either species is on the level of petting zoos. Funny situation, though.

#472 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:05 AM:

Just as I expected... I'm back from the gym and, in the changing room, I overheard two of the other regulars, who work at Sandia Lab, and guess what? They blame Obama for the govt shutdown.

#473 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:29 AM:

Glinda @418--You're welcome. I know there are people who need and want this information, and aren't sure where to start looking. I'm not a bureaucrat, as I don't get to make the rules; I'm a civil servant. So I'm supposed to serve, don't you know. (I do specialize, so people asking for a sandwich will be directed to an establishment that serves same. Civilly. At least the first time...)

#474 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:33 AM:

Mongoose @448--my sympathies!
and @469--it really is Grand Old Party, no matter how tempting other interpretations are right now--it refers back (like so many things in US politics) to the American Civil War--Wikipedia (usual caveats apply) has some details; you might want to take a look at the work of Thomas Nast, political cartoonist and illustrator of Santa Claus/Father Christmas. His Anti-Trust cartoons are interesting.

#475 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:35 AM:

Mea @455--my sympathies! I'm employed in one of those state-run/federally-funded programs. The Great State of Tennessee has promised us funding through the end of next week. I am hoping to not have to look into Christmas retail employment...

#476 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:36 AM:

I don't really know cattle, but, having been born and brought up in the English Lake District, where there are quite possibly more sheep than people (at any rate during the winter months), I'm pretty familiar with sheep.

Or, at least, I always thought I was.

My friend the Star Tenor, whom I have mentioned in earlier comments, was due to sing at the Stour Music Festival, which is in the middle of Nowhere, Kent. He is a lovely chap and also one of the cleverest people I know, but he can be just a little absent-minded, so his idea of giving directions was "The church is not in the village". This was all very well, but it didn't tell me where the church was.

I was staying in the nearest town of any size, which was about five miles away, and since it wasn't raining and taxis are expensive, I decided to walk it. Now, I was, of course, dressed for a concert. I was not over the top - I don't tend to walk round glittering like Elton John - but there were some sequins. And some little jingly things. The background was pine green, so it was perfectly tasteful, I promise.

So I got as far as the village, bumped into a couple of the locals, and asked where the church was. They didn't know. I couldn't see it from the village, so all I could really do was to keep walking. And walking. After a while, I started to worry that I might have passed it, or perhaps missed a crucial turning at the village, so I apologetically knocked on the door of an isolated house by the roadside and asked for directions. I was told to go down the path by the house and through the gate on my right, which would take me into a field, and the church was just across this field - I'd see it as I went through the gate.

I thanked the kind lady and followed these directions. Sure enough, I did end up in a field, which was full of sheep.

OK, now look at it from the sheep's point of view. You're quietly grazing, minding your own business, and all of a sudden this strange human comes through the gate and starts striding purposefully through your field, glittering, faintly jingling, and looking for all the world like an animated Christmas tree. What are you going to do?

I'll tell you what they did. They panicked. As one sheep, they fled into the furthest corner of the field. If I'd been so minded, I could probably have herded them like a collie. It was the most bizarre experience, especially since I've always been used to sheep completely ignoring me and doing their own woolly thing.

Ever since that incident, the ringtone on my mobile phone has been Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze".

#477 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 09:01 AM:

...the Stour Music Festival, which is in the middle of Nowhere, Kent.

As someone who lives on the far side of Nowhere, Kent, I can assure you that in fact it is not anywhere close to the middle. After all, it's almost within walking distance of the train station at Wye*.

* "Excuse me. Can you help us? We're a bit lost."
"Where are you trying to get to?"
"Wye?"
etc. The only more confusingly named place for directions in the county is Ware.

#478 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 09:38 AM:

Neil @ 477: why, or indeed Wye, didn't it occur to Star Tenor to mention that?! He sent me to Ashford, which was where I stayed.

Actually, I can probably answer my own question. I expect he had a head full of Handel at the time.

#479 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Serge:

Most people don't pay much attention to politics. It's easy to convince them (or for them to convince themselves) of all kinds of stuff that isn't true, for the same reason you could convince me of all kinds of deeply silly things about what's going on in pro football.

Now, it's clear that either side of *any* negotiation can be held responsible for an impasse, because either one *could* give in. But it's very hard for me to look at the current situation and see anything like equivalence--the Republicans in the house are pretty clearly dealing in bad faith, using the government shutdown and later the debt ceiling to wring some concessions from the Democrats.

And really, this is a minority of Republicans wringing concessions out of the Democrats and most of the Republicans. From what I've heard, if Boehner allowed a clean continuing resolution to come to a vote in the house, it would pass. He's afraid he will lose his position if he crosses the Tea Party types, and they are overwhelmingly in safe Republican districts where the only challenges they need fear are from other Republicans.

The right answer for this, ultimately, is for this strategy to *visibly* fail, for it to cost the Republicans enough in the next election or two that shutting down the government as a negotiating strategy loses every bit of its appeal. I don't know whether that will happen or not, though, and if it doesn't, we're likely to see shutdowns every year. The unthinkable, irresponsible strategy that *works* very quickly becomes just another one of those things that everyone does while agreeing that it would be a better world if nobody did.

#480 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 09:46 AM:

fidelio: What if we use sudo?

#481 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 09:51 AM:

Mea @455, my sympathies. My wife is also a furloughed federal worker, and while we'll be okay if the shutdown is brief (no more than a few weeks), we'll need to start making some serious cuts if it goes longer. Most people aren't expecting back pay for those affected (the "exempted" workers, who are currently working without pay, will eventually be paid.) Since we live in the DC area a large number of our friends are affected to one degree or another - the people we really feel for are the dual-fed couples who are both furloughed and suddenly have no income at all.

It infuriates me when I see the news coverage about how the shutdown is affecting "regular people" that focuses only on things like tourists trying to visit the Smithsonian, or passport applications being delayed, as though federal employees who are now struggling to pay the bills aren't "regular people".

#482 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 10:33 AM:

Mongoose:
The visual of a gently tinkling Christmas tree herding sheep is stunning!

#483 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 10:46 AM:

Mongoose @476, it is NOT professional to giggle at work; it is NOT professional to giggle at work; it is NOT professional... oh, hell. <giggle>

#484 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 10:47 AM:

My ex has been furloughed too, so she is providing kitten "day care" as a distraction for herself and a benefit for me. As a result, we now have temporary names for the kittens: George, Charlie (as in "Chaplin"); Harry (as in "Houdini"), and Rocky (as in "Balboa").

#485 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 10:53 AM:

Best Holiday Ever (and we won't see it again fr 70,000 years, due to calendrical convergences): Thanksgivukkah! Recipes and crafts within. :->

#486 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 10:55 AM:

Recently seen: The Republicans are going to hold their breath until the country turns blue.

#487 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:01 AM:

Re Gathering of Light at FenCon -- We have been unexpectedly saddled with hosting the ApolloCon room party, so I suggest shifting the venue to that location, somewhere from 9 PM onward on Saturday. As in, it's a nice opportunity to sit and hang out and chat, and my partner and I will both have to be there for most of the evening anyhow, and whoever shows up is welcome. Look for party signs to tell you which room.

#488 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:17 AM:

467
Someone else did it as a grpahic, with the advice to 'spread it around'.

#489 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:27 AM:

Mongoose #476: Having herded sheep, I know they're dumb (unlike goats, which are actively malicious). That was funny.

Having, when I were a lad, enjoyed the Swallows and Amazons books, I long cherished a wish to have grown up in the Lake District , Wordsworthian associations and all.

#490 ::: Fragano Ledgister has been Gnomulated again ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:28 AM:

Okay, what did I do this time? Is it the lurking Trotskyism of expressing a liking for Arthur Ransome? Are their Lownesses that Stalinist?

#491 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:29 AM:

In the middle of the Irish famine, in 1846, the Whigs finally managed to break the Corn Laws. It was far less than the least they could have done to relieve the dreadful suffering of Ireland, and they did little else. But that much they did do, over the entrenched embittered opposition of the county gentry, whose screams of outraged entitlement sound oddly familiar today.

In the tumult, with the extreme Tory rump attempting to close Parliament and go home, while the new-minted Disraeli acted as their chief thug and wattlebosher, the Duke of Wellington, a Tory, brought his faction in for repeal, saying, (and I quote) "The Queen's government must be carried on."

I would have thought that was true for the government of the United States, too. Obviously, I'm ridiculously naive.

#492 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:30 AM:

Serge at 472: face/palm

The NYT this morning informed me that President Obama is "hugely impressed" by Pope Francis. My first thought, upon reading this, was that the American right wing will now conclude that Pope Francis is a liberal/socialist/anti-American/alien from the planet Morg -- some of which he may be -- simply and only because President Obama has pleasant things to say about him.

Oy.

#493 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:57 AM:

albatross @ 479... you could convince me of all kinds of deeply silly things about what's going on in pro football

Same here.

#494 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 12:00 PM:

Lizzy L @ 491... Isn't there a joke going around that, if Obama spoke in favor of oxygen, Republicans would immediately stop breathing?

#495 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 12:34 PM:

493
Serge, there have been people suggesting (in jest, I hope) that he speak out against self-immolation.

#496 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 01:26 PM:

Lee @487: I've made a note of that on my schedule.

#497 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 01:54 PM:

albatross @480--excuse me while I go find a rubber band to flip at you.

I don't think sudo would work, though, as I'm not a Linux-based system.

#498 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 02:21 PM:

Serge Broom @494: Nah, they'd just try to repeal the Clean Air Act.

#499 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Given that Michelle Obama's campaign to get people to drink water is currently being attacked as some sort of nefarious plot, I suspect that if her husband came out against suicide there would be people on Fixed Noise defending seppuku within hours.

#500 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 02:30 PM:

Given that Michelle Obama's campaign to get people to drink water is currently being attacked as some sort of nefarious plot, I suspect that if her husband came out against suicide there would be people on Fixed Noise defending seppuku within hours.

#501 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Breaking news: Gunshots on Capitol Hill, occupants of House Office Buildings told to shelter in place.

This is, unfortunately, not a joke.

#502 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 03:02 PM:

501
A Capitol police office was injured. (Note that they're working without pay.)

#503 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 03:11 PM:

Lockdown at the Capitol lifted. Reports are still of one police officer injured, gunman at large. The Washington Post is liveblogging here.

#504 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 04:41 PM:

Fragano @ 489: I really enjoyed those books too, though there was always a sense of my suspension of disbelief being overstretched. I mean, they were full of children who were allowed to do things. That didn't make sense to me. In my experience, children weren't allowed to do things, other than within a very limited compass. Generally speaking, if it wasn't something you normally did, it was not allowed.

In the specific case of "boating on Windermere unsupervised", that was actually sensible; it frequently was not. Windermere is a glacial ribbon lake. That is to say, it sits in a U-shaped valley carved out by a glacier. It's not only very deep, but it gets deep very quickly as you move out from the shore. Moreover, the weather is unpredictable in that area and can change on you with little or no warning. If a storm blows up, you should be able to get to shore quickly if you're in a motorboat, but if you're sailing it's another story.

#506 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 05:16 PM:

Mongoose #504: All I can say to that is eek! The stories were lovely, and the setting seemed so romantic to a boy in London. Especially to one as sickly as I was.

#507 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 05:59 PM:

Fragano @ 506: I know what you mean. I was a sickly child too - used to get bronchitis every winter with monotonous regularity. My respiratory system's never been the best part of me.

The area is lovely, though, and that's one of the reasons why I'm trying to relocate back to it now. (Other, far more pressing, reasons include elderly parents still living in the area, and clean air. I would prefer to take as little medication to control the asthma as I can get away with.) Did you ever get a chance to visit it when you lived in London?

#508 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 06:48 PM:

As someone who has complained here and elsewhere about not enough difference between the Democrats and Republicans, I need to acknowledge that they are playing quite different parts in the current fiasco.

#509 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 07:10 PM:

Ok, THIS STORY made my blood boil.

#510 ::: Cassy B. has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 07:11 PM:

Ok, I've pissed off the gnomes. That's ok; the story I linked to pissed me off, too. Nice fresh asiago-cheese bread for the gnomes and for me, to get the bad taste out of my mouth..


#511 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:12 PM:

They got the rocket engine moved last night, and on its base today.
http://photos.dailynews.com/2013/10/photos-saturn-v-engine-lifted-on-display/
You'll notice they partially disassembled it to move it.

#512 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:27 PM:

All over the news is an event in NYC (video) which is being portrayed as an attack by a group of bikers on an innocent guy in an SUV.

What it looks like to me is hot pursuit following a hit-and-run with injuries, rather than Innocent Guy Attacked For No Reason.

#513 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 08:58 PM:

Jim, the police got a hundred or so calls about the bikers before they brake-checked the SUV. The guy that did that wasn't licensed for a bike, and had had his driver's license pulled because he had so many tickets. The bikers as a group had no plates or unreadable plates, and were apparently using the freeway as a playground. They were also the ones making the video.
There was an incident in Oakland last year or earlier this year where a group of cars blocked traffic on a freeway so they could do donuts and people made videos of it. They were lucky no one was hurt. And they were cited.

#514 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 10:22 PM:

The guy in the SUV was with his wife and small child, and the people on motorcycles were passing on the right (and left), preventing the SUV from going anywhere.

I can't really blame the driver for freaking out, and can't really work up any sympathy for reckless bikers who think they can block the West Side Highway and use it as their private stunt track.

The biker who was hurt worst by the SUV was probably intentionally trying to blocking the SUV in and otherwise not keeping a safe distance.

#515 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 10:55 PM:

5114
That's the guy with no license.

#516 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:10 PM:

I ride a motorcycle. I do so safely and responsibly, with respect for others in traffic, and I wear appropriate safety gear including helmet, riding jacket, gloves, and boots. (I admit I don't always wear the overpants or chaps; those get hot...)

I don't exceed the prevailing speed of traffic, I don't lanesplit, I don't do wheelies or stoppies, and I don't weave in and out of traffic lanes.

(I also give the "biker wave" to everything motorized on two wheels, which has very much confused some scooter riders.... <grin>)

I have no patience for squids. They ruin it for the rest of us.

#517 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2013, 11:45 PM:

Please, does anyone know where I could send money and be reasonably certain it would actually reach the internally displaced of Syria? There's a month-old baby in a photo on NBC's site who is not long for this world if she doesn't get some milk soon. They are trying to raise her on herbal tea.

#518 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 03:05 AM:

Cassy B @509:

This quote stood out for me:

“The football players were certainly not the only audience members that were being offensive last night,” Ledbetter said. “But they were definitely the ones who seemed to initiate others in the audience to say things, too. It seemed like they didn’t know that they were representing the university when they were doing these things.”

The worst mod brangles I see are where trolls egg each other on.

#519 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 08:10 AM:

Mongoose #507: Sadly, I never did. Then I moved to rural Jamaica where I had sheep, goats, cattle, chickens (and mongooses) to deal with. No lakes, sad to say.

#520 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 08:16 AM:

I've been caught in traffic snarls once or twice caused by two-wheeled vehicles deciding that people in four-wheeled vehicles should be denied proper use of the road. As someone who finds that arsholery is evenly distributed, I tend to be annoyed by this, whether it's a herd of bicyclists deciding that they alone own Peachtree Street, or a group of middle-aged motor-cyclists playing amateur traffic cop.

#521 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 08:27 AM:

Mongoose: I'd love to live in the Lake District. Unfortunately that's impractical, but at least with running one of my 50-milers there this year I not only got to spend that weekend in the Lakes but also several recce weekends. Flying visits. Must manage a slightly longer trip there next year. And I did enjoy Swallows & Amazons etc., although I've never done any sailing.

#522 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Interesting article on the level of review in peer reviewed open access scientific journals -- worth looking at!

#523 ::: Tom Whitmore visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 02:15 PM:

I can see how that might have been thought to be spam, but it wasn't.

Like a candy bar?

#524 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 03:28 PM:

Found on the Site of Birdsong (link goes to a screencap on the Book of Face) by my friend Thomas. There seems to be a version of this poem for everything!

#525 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 03:33 PM:

Related to the story of the kids on the bikes taking over the freeway and acting unreasonable and generally risking their lives and the lives of others...

You remember reading all those studies about rats in a cage having wires hooked up the pleasure centers of their brains and hitting the button until they died from lack of food and water?

Well, have you heard of Rat Park? (I actually expect several of you have, because, hey, it's Making Light)

Suggesting that maybe the reason rats in a cage self-medicate themselves to death is because they have nothing to live for, anyway?

Because when I see a bunch of young people taking huge risks with their life and disregarding consequences at the same time the economy is stagnating and news jobs are almost universally minimum-wage jobs I can't help but wonder if we aren't building ratcages and stealing hope and creating the perfect circumstances for, you know, exactly the kind of behavior we're seeing.

Your move, Republicans-trying-to-slash-the-social-safety-net.

#526 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 05:36 PM:

Noted with amusement: GovUptime.

#527 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 05:44 PM:

Eric, didn't know Treasury was second under civilian DoD employees in number. I'm in that group.

#528 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2013, 10:54 PM:

Re: the most recent Sidelight

AAAAGH PATRICK YOU WICKED CREATURE STOP MAKING ME HUNGRY FOR TACOS AL PASTOR FROM TACOS MATAMOROS!! NOT FAIR!

Ahem. Sorry about that. But I have just had a food craving inflicted on me, and am many many hundreds of miles away from being able to satisfy it.

I can taste the lime juice....

(Also, he's totally right about them reheating beautifully for breakfast.)

#529 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 12:01 AM:

Back to names for juuuust a second:
The VP of corporate planning for an electric company is named Rocky Miracle. I cannot do justice to the awesome.

#530 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Jim's Diffraction on Scamdex looks OK, it warns about real scams, but I clicked on one link to a recent Scam report, and got diverted to one of those PPI-claim adverts. Such things may not be outright scams but they're hardly honest.

So be careful with that site.

#531 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 01:51 PM:

Jim Macdonald #388:

A right hand (close) curly quote, followed by [ENTER] causes the error.

The error is prevented if there are at least four characters (any combination of alpha-numeric, punctuation, and/or spaces) between the close-curly-quote and the carriage return. (Note: three blank spaces in a row will activate the gnomes' filters.)

That sounds interestingly like something bizarrely mis-processing UTF-8 encoded text (which most text is or should be these days). A right double quote in UTF-8 is three bytes, e2 80 9d.

Thanks for the analysis, and I'll break out the &…; next time I trip over this problem.

#532 ::: Kevin Reid understands he should mention the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 01:56 PM:

Irony: I just replied to #388 about the non-gnome punctuation problem and met the gnomes for the very first time. Would they, perhaps, care for some pasta cooked water-conservation style?

#533 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 03:13 PM:

On names: I recall, many years ago walking into an office in Kingston and seeing the nameplate "Mr N. Peck" on a desk. I goggled but did not burst into laughter.

I've avoided, so far, getting into the issue of the names inflicted on his children by my sainted father.

My birth certificate announces that I am Fragano Sorgrid Jubildeo Ledgister. The old man refused, when I asked, to pay to have it changed. I don't think he understood how heavy a burden a stupid name can be (his good friends called him "Alex", I wouldn't have minded being an Alexander, but no, he had to dump a "where's that from?" on all his children -- google "Ledgister Stavanger" for my baby brother). One reason that I use my initials for professional purposes is that if and when I once more become ordinarily resident in England I am going to take advantage of the relative ease by which names can now be changed to alter my monicker. My dislike for the name really has not changed in more than four decades.

#534 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 03:26 PM:

#532 ::: Fragano Ledgister

Did Mr. N. Peck look like a Casper Miquetoast?

#535 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 05:32 PM:

What is it about the number 20 billion?

I've seen it come up in a couple of news stories associated with Russia. In one, there was an allegation that around $20 billion had been diverted from the budge for the Sochi Winter Olympics. Last week, the story was of €20 billion in brand new banknotes that has been sitting at Moscow airport since 2007.

One suggestion is that it is hot money from Iraq.

Both stories have the problem that money laundering on that scale is difficult. You need a lot of legitimate transactions to hide behind, and 20 billion of anything is a lot of millionaires.

I'd be looking for a large, lightly-regulated, financial market, and even then you have to get the money out of banknotes and into the electronic systems the modern markets use.

There are €500 banknotes, but €20 billion is around 10% of the €500 banknotes in circulation. How do you collect them together without being noticed? It would be even harder to hide with either €100 or €200 banknotes.

This isn't something that a gentleman of the Sicilian persuasion could hide with a florist's shop in New York City.

#536 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 07:23 PM:

Carol Kimball #534: He was not at his desk.

#537 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 07:24 PM:

Carol Kimball #534: He was not at his desk.

#538 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2013, 11:06 PM:

glinda @ 454: should I have said "...doesn't have to take anything from the chorus"? I've seen how desperate people are to get into the Met chorus; I expect he still has to put up with artistes at higher levels.

Dave Luckett @ 491: I suspect that (regardless of my opinion about Tory MPs in general) Wellington had had the concept of duty pounded into him to go along with his sense of privilege; the Republicans are owned by rich people with no such concept, helped by several decades of think-tanks "proving" the correctness of their positions and talk-radio hosts telling blatant lies -- the latter made worse by the fact that the U.S. still hasn't understood that the prosperity of the 1950's was an unusual situation caused by much of the rest of the world being half-ruined.
Also, the Republicans have spent decades gerrymandering districts, such that there is some reality to the fear that Republican congresscritters who don't stand up to the loonies could be replaced by loonies in the next primary (i.e., candidate-selection) election. (This contrasts with the UK, which IIRC had cleaned up rotten boroughs in the 1830s.) Not much reality, though; cf a recent comment that Boehner could play all three of Dorothy's companions in Oz....

#539 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 12:41 AM:

Nancy Lebowitz @486 From your lips (keyboard?) to god's ears ...

#540 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 02:23 AM:

Jenny Islander @ #517, CNN has a page of links to relief agencies working for Syrian refugees.

#541 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 07:37 AM:

Apropos of nothing, last night we saw (and heard) the indie comedy In a World... which is about voice actors. We found it delightful.

#542 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 12:45 PM:

Open threadiness:This blog post and the one that follows it propose an explanation for the GOP shutting down the government that seems quite likely to me. When you build an apparatus of propaganda and enforce ideological conformity to your propoganda, sooner or later even the functionaries you expect to be thinking clearly start absorbing the propaganda and treating it as reality.

It takes a very unusual person to be able to immerse yourself in propaganda all day every day and not have it color your thinking in all kinds of subtle ways. I'm visualizing hundreds of homes and offices where If someone is watching CNN instead of Fox, or is listening to NPR, it's a little socially uncomfortable--c'mon Bob, switch that liberal crap off and lets get some *news*. The sophisticated listeners know that some of the propaganda is crap, but they also absorb a lot of it without noticing, and everyone they talk to is living in the same bubble. Some ideas and questions simply do not come up. Some points are accepted as valid that few outside the bubble will accept as valid. And so smart people fool themselves while thinking they're just putting out BS for the rubes.

#543 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 12:47 PM:

Gerrymandering is done by both parties, but right now, it seems like the creation of solid-red safe seats for Republicans is having a really bad effect on the world.

#544 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 02:12 PM:

Yep, that's Boehner -- no brains, no heart, and no guts (what is there is probably pickled as well).

#545 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 02:19 PM:

albatross @ 543... Gerrymandering is done by both parties

Has the Democratic Party done any of that in recent memory?

#546 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 02:24 PM:

Absolutely, Serge. Gerrymandering is done at the state level, and redistricting is mostly done to keep seats safe -- it's a time-honored tradition. Whatever group is in power in a state does what it can to keep that power -- and some states are very solidly democratic. It was a standard in California when I was growing up. It's hard to change.

#547 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 02:36 PM:

I note, purely as trivia, that the Netherlands is a single electoral district for elections to the Tweede Kamer (the main legislative body). I'm still weirded out by this, but in an increaslingly good-weirded-out way.

#548 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Tom, 546: Yet more "both parties suck!" which as you know is not true. The way the Republicans are cheating is so extreme as to be a difference of kind, not merely degree. Look up the 2005 Texas redistricting if you don't believe me. They cheated, nothing happened, and now look where we are.

#549 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 03:09 PM:

I think it's possible to say that both parties have gerrymandered without saying that both parties suck equally.

The current Republican gerrymandering, which turned more votes for Democratic candidates into more Republican representatives, is clearly entirely toxic. That doesn't erase instances of less-material Democratic gerrymandering, nor do the latter excuse the former.

Nuance, dear people, nuance. It can be combined with passion and a clear sense of right and wrong.

#550 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 03:16 PM:

I did not intend to say that both sides suck equally. Abi's right -- there's nuance here.

Actually, both parties do suck. That doesn't mean that I'll vote Republican, or not vote -- I'd rather see a less-sucky party in power, and maybe in the long run we'll get more individuals in who don't suck.

#551 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 550... Actually, both parties do suck.

I'll beg to differ. I could give quite a few examples of why I feel that way, but I'll narrow it down to "When is the last time Fox News said anything positive about a Democrat whose actions differed from those of a Republican?"

One last thing... I asked for recent examples of Democratic gerrymandering. That it was going on when you and I were growing up is no more relevant than someone saying he can smoke on a plane because people used to when I was a young man.

#552 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 03:57 PM:

Per Mother Jones, this year: a comparison of states where the popular vote and seat distribution differed materially. Conclusion:

There was serious gerrymandering in only one Democratic state: Illinois, for a total advantage of 1.7 seats. But there was serious gerrymandering in six Republican states, for a total advantage of 13.2 seats.

In other words, both parties appear to gerrymander, but it's a much more serious issue on the Republican side.

And Tom is allowed to think that both parties suck. Serge is allowed to disagree. We are allowed to differ, and if anyone can't do it civilly, I invite them to abandon their comment at preview.

#553 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 04:34 PM:

HLN: area man prints address and return address labels for church newsletter and applies them to stack of envelopes. Area man then notices all the return address labels are incorrect. The labels have area church's address but area man's postal code.

Area man sought out and destroyed the incorrect file on area man's computer. Area man then printed and applied corrected stickers. Area man is somewhat peeved, wants to blame automatically filled fields, but suspects PEBCAK.

#554 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 04:38 PM:

Henry Troup @553:

Local woman is sympathetic. It seems to her to be a kind of autumn inevitablility that these things only come to light once a sufficiently large amount of work will be required to fix them.

#555 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 04:57 PM:

Indeed, abi. I'm quite glad to disagree, and will defend Serge's right to his own opinion. If I'm not being appropriately civil, please tell me. I hope can still learn better ways to be. (For the record, I believe Serge has been appropriately civil as well -- in all instances relating to me that I can currently recall.)

#556 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 05:05 PM:

"The Republicans suck" is a statement I have made, with much sincerity. "The Democrats suck" is a statement I have made, with equal sincerity, at different times.

I wouldn't say "Both parties suck" -- without further explanation -- because that conveys (to my ears) an additional connotation of equivalence.

#557 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 05:49 PM:

Henry Troup @553: My dear husband ordered stamps from the post office. They didn't arrive, and they didn't arrive, and he checked their website: it said they'd already been delivered. I had no stamps.

Then he actually looked at the info he gave them and it turns out he told them we live across the street, in the house one house-number larger than our ACTUAL address.

So now we've met those neighbors ... :->

#558 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 06:05 PM:

AKICIML: Here is a topic I'm researching for a story. Briefly, what does a religious order say to a person when they're throwing them out? Frex, say a nun or priest has engaged in civil disobedience for a cause, has been told emphatically to stop, and has not stopped. (I'm assuming this doesn't reach the level of excommunication.) What does the order say to communicate "You're not part of us any more?"

#559 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 06:28 PM:

Andrew Plotkin #556 et preq.:

I'd say that not only is there not an equivalence, but the Democrats' problems are largely imposed by the Republicans. I've been thinking for a while that the Democrats have a sort of collective "battered-wife syndrome" -- besides the repeated double-dealings and abuses from the GOP, my understanding is that the latter have for several decades been systematically targeting, and "assassinating the career", of Democratic leaders. (Clinton was only the most prominent example, but otherwise typical.) By now, the resultant attrition is bad enough to actually impair their collective abilities.

#560 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Dave:

Maybe, but that kind-of seems like an all-purpose excuse. I mean, can't you just use that as an explanation for everything Obama (or before him, Clinton) has done? When do we hold them accountable for their actions? Doesn't this kind-of let them off the hook when they protect war criminals and hammer whistleblowers and spy on Americans and the world and bomb helpless third-world countries for murky reasons?

Granted, the mainstream of the GOP is worse on most of those issues. But that still doesn't make, say, Obama's 180 turn on domestic spying and the war on terror any more okay.

#561 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 07:16 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 555... Same here.

#562 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 07:34 PM:

albatross #560: Certainly we need to step on that sort of abuses, but the difference is that the Republicans need to be dealt with first. The Democrats cannot clean house with the GOP waiting to pounce on and exploit any admission or apology as a useful vulnerability. Attempting to do so will just let the Republicans weed out any Democrats who reveal any sign of remorse, while closing ranks to protect their own.

#563 ::: Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 08:35 PM:

Re: government shutdown -- We live in a fairly remote area of Arizona's high country (in a place were it actually snows and freezes for months at a time), and the main cabin is primarily heated with wood. In order to cut firewood from the national forest, you need a permit from the forest service. It's usually something like $25 for four cords worth of juniper or oak (and we need about two cords to get through the winter).

The forest service offices are shut down. Oops, we should've got that permit earlier ... dang it.

The cold weather is coming fast.

They stop issuing permits in November or early December. (IIRC after the first good snow.)

We have about a cord's worth left over from last year. We could buy wood (not cheap) or heat with propane (really expensive). Right now, however, we're hoping the sequester is over within the next few weeks so we can go get the permit. It's all very annoying.

#564 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 09:18 PM:

AKICIML:

Is Flash 11.8 seriously FUBAR?

I had a friend call me for a Flash problem: any site that uses Flash freezes (at least the browser (using Firefox) and sometimes the whole machine). Eventually the famous/annoying "The Flash plugin may be busy..." window pops up, and Stop Plugin lets him continue for a while (maybe 5 minutes) before it happens again. He cannot, of course, watch any Flash video.

I tried uninstalling and reinstalling Flash. This had no effect other than advancing the clock somewhat.

I've had similar problems, but not nearly as frequently, and I can watch Flash video. Now that I think of it I think it started when I "updated" to Flash 11.

Is the right answer to uninstall Flash 11 and install Flash 10, and wait for them to fix the problem? Or is it worse than that? This is fairly crippling to web browsing on his machine, since so many sites use Flash. I Googled for answers and found a lot of people asking the question, but the only solution offered was to uninstall and reinstall Flash, which did not work, and lots of people are saying it doesn't.

He's on Windows 7 Home Premium.

(W7 is a huge PITA, btw. I hate what they've done with the quickstart icons; you can't tell what's actually RUNNING without going to the Task Manager.)

#565 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 09:43 PM:

Brenda #558

Frex, say a nun or priest has engaged in civil disobedience for a cause, has been told emphatically to stop, and has not stopped.

I've never heard of it being done. I'm not certain that an order can throw anyone out.

Even if they're excommunicated, they're still, for example, an excommunicated Jesuit (e.g. Leonard Feeney).

#566 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 10:04 PM:

Brenda @558, Jim @565

Yes, it's quite possible for a religious order to expel a member for e.g. breaking the vow of obedience. Suggested google terms: expulsion from religious order.

#567 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 10:13 PM:

Cygnet #563: Enforcement is probably shut down too. That might become a serious problem for the forests, though.

#568 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 10:15 PM:

@566
Or better yet, replace "expulsion" with "dismissal", which seems to be the correct technical term.

#569 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 10:18 PM:

Dave @567:
Enforcement may not be shut down. "Protection of life and property" is the exception to the shutdown mandate.

#570 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 10:20 PM:

Chris @ 568

"Defrocking." At least in the Catholic circles I grew up in.

#571 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 11:00 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @564

>> ... you can't tell what's actually RUNNING without going to the Task Manager.

On the Win7 installations I have used, if there is a border around the icon, the application is running, and clicking the icon will minimize/maximize it. If there is no border, the app is not running, and clicking the icon will start it.

#572 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 11:10 PM:

Brenda Kalt, Google "Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois." You can start here.

#573 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 11:16 PM:

In my estimation (which I'm not pretending is worth much—I'm not a very close observer of American politics), the Democrats suck in more or less the same way that FEMA sucked in 2005: they're uncoordinated and ineffectual and slow to help the people who need them the most and not always good at accepting help from potential allies.

The Republicans, on the other hand, suck in the same way that Hurricane Katrina sucked.

#574 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2013, 11:58 PM:

523
The Democrats are a coalition of cats. The Republicans, at the moment, seem to be a coalition of dogs - and dog packs are dangerous to everything around them.

"I'm not a member of an organized party: I'm a Democrat." (Attributed to Will Rogers. It's been around a long time, because my grandparent's house had a cartoon of it in the kitchen.)

#575 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 12:17 AM:

Chris @568, thanks. "Dismissal from religious order" led me to a page of canon law with specifications for warnings, responses, etc.
See this.

The only currently famous case of dismissal seems to be that of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who favored the ordination of women as priests.

#576 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:08 AM:

Cygnet @563: You say a permit allows four cords and you need two. Got any neighbours with similar needs (quantity) who DID already get their permit? Help them to cut and store with the understanding that if you get your permit, fine, and if you don't then you get what you need from what you helped them with? Or is getting assistance from a neighbour in cutting your allowance/giving some to a neighbour specifically prohibited?

#577 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:45 AM:

Serge, #551: I asked for recent examples of Democratic gerrymandering. That it was going on when you and I were growing up is no more relevant than someone saying he can smoke on a plane because people used to when I was a young man.

Or saying that Bill Clinton was unfit to be President in his 40s because he smoked pot in his 20s.

And I'm really, really tired of all the false-equivalence bullshit, when it is painfully obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain that the Republicans have taken a lot of things "traditionally done by both parties" and dialed them up to 11. Saying, "But Clinton the Democrats did it too!" under these circumstances isn't being fair or even-handed by any standards other than those of Faux News.

Dave H., #562: A good point. And meanwhile, the Republicans can't eject the batshit-crazies partly because of their gerrymandering; any Republican who takes a stand against the teahadi is now at serious risk of being "RINO'd" in the next primary election by a batshit-crazy with big-donor corporate money behind him.


#578 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:53 AM:

Fragano @ 533: what would you like to change your name to, and would you prefer us to call you that in the meantime? Having changed my own name, I'm aware of the cringe factor one gets from being called by a name one really doesn't like.

I actually "worked into" my present name for some time before officially changing it, because it was a pen-name. I liked it so much I decided to adopt it permanently.

#579 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:05 AM:

551: The torturous pattern of Maryland's congressional districts has occasioned national remark, especially considering that the previous pattern wasn't exactly a model of compactness either. Historically we've had 2-3 Republican seats, which until Beverly Byron was forced out in '92 in the Dem. primary tended to be spread around. She was our last conservative Democrat, though, and the 6th went to the other party until this election, when they managed to get Roscoe Bartlett out by taking away the NE part of his old territory and tacking on some of Connie Morella's old territory. She was a liberal Republican who lost her seat in 2002 due to the last redistricting. As it stands we've been reduced to one Republican seat (the 1st) which historically has been very unstable as to party. I have to wonder how necessary it was to make that horrible rat's nest in the middle of the state (you can draw a line from Carroll to Calvert County which lies in seven out of the eight districts) but at any rate nobody doubts that getting Bartlett out was an object of redrawing the map.

#580 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:37 AM:

Indeed, Maryland is one of the very small number of states where serious gerrymandering by Democrats is currently in effect. Still, I find the simplest way to examine these issues is to look at who would lose out the most if things were done properly.

On a national scale, if the impossible happened and the entire country was redistricted fairly, it's pretty clear that the Republicans would be the ones to suffer.

Similarly, if everyone in the country who should be able to vote were allowed to vote, the Republicans would be the ones to suffer. If poll lines were shortened so voting wasn't a horrible time sink, the Republicans would suffer. If law enforcement changed so that felony charges and convictions were the same for offenders regardless of race, the Republicans would suffer.

When you look at almost any theoretical law that would enhance electoral fairness on a national scale, Republicans would suffer more than Democrats if the law were to be enacted. States may vary, but nationally, the Republican strategy has become focused around creating and enhancing electoral unfairness.

#581 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:46 AM:

Lee #577: Indeed, the Republicans have summoned up what they cannot put down. Which, unfortunately, was likely part of the original plan by the PNAC¹ gallery -- remember, their openly announced goal as of the Clinton era, was "shrink government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub".

¹ People for a New American Century, a think-tank/rogues-gallery from the 60's. AIUI their original membership draws a line straight from Nixon through Reagan, both Bushes, Newt Gingrich, and so on. I'm not too clear where the Koch brothers fit in there, but I'd bet they do somehow.

#582 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:31 AM:

Serge Broom @551

One last thing... I asked for recent examples of Democratic gerrymandering. That it was going on when you and I were growing up is no more relevant than someone saying he can smoke on a plane because people used to when I was a young man.

I've not read all the way downthread, but my house was just gerrymandered (by the Democrats) into a lakefront-Chicago Congressional district. I live a considerable distance and some six or eight suburbs away from Chicago. It is now a "safe" Democratic seat. (A couple of years ago, I was in a western-suburban district that was a "safe" Republican seat, because of Republican gerrymandering. This without changing my residence.)

I'm not suggesting that the Republican gerrymandering isn't more politically toxic at this particular point in time, because I think it is. But there's plenty of Democratic gerrymandering going on as well, and I think it's important to bear that in mind.

I'd really like a computer program to assign districts bases SOLELY on population density and logic. But that will never happen; it would result in too many purple districts...

#583 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:32 AM:

And I'm really, really tired of all the false-equivalence bullshit, when it is painfully obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain that the Republicans have taken a lot of things "traditionally done by both parties" and dialed them up to 11.

When the Republicans norm-breaking undoes LBJ's norm-breaking, I'll start worrying. So far, conservatives haven't even managed to hold the line on norms where Clinton put it.

(Yes, I think the Democrat/Republican equivalence is a false one; I think the Democrats reset the playing field outside the norms to their advantage in the 1960-1993 timeframe, and until that's undone "let's go the wrong direction at half-speed" isn't a compromise in any useful sense.)

#584 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:51 AM:

SamChevre @583:

One of the disadvantages of being in a minority position in the cultural/political landscape of a community is that many of your references and assumptions are not shared by the other people in the thread. They may then make other assumptions, argue against them, and then we all end up agley.

Perhaps you'd like to unpack LBJ's norm-breaking, the Democrats reset the playing field outside the norms to their advantage in the 1960-1993 timeframe, and what precisely you are awaiting the undoing of.

Everyone else, please do not make assumptions without this clarification.

Thanks.

#585 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:07 AM:

Leah:

Yeah, I don't think anyone is disagreeing that right now, Republican gerrymandering is having a worse effect on the world than Democratic gerrymandering. I suspect the GOP's dysfunction involves a lot of things working together--safe red districts, lots of PAC money available for primary challenges, the ideological bubble of conservative media, the discrediting of much of the GOP establishment thanks to the disastrous years of W's presidency, etc.

I wish I saw how this was going to get better.

#586 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:23 AM:

abi @ 584

I had no intention to be cryptic, but will happily unpack what I said.

LBJ is hugely important, in very many directions. I think two are critical.

The first was his active ignoring of Congress and deception of the public in getting the war in Vietnam going. The "national security" establishment has never seemed to be under Congressional control since.

The second was the Civil Rights Acts, which I admit were necessary[1]--but like martial law, are subversive of liberty over time.

And 1993 is The Motor-Voter Act; that was hugely beneficial to Democrats, and nothing Republicans have proposed in the way of voting requirements comes close to having a comparable effect.

What do I want the undoing of? A "national security" establishment that is unaccountable to anyone but the President, and more and more seems to be accountable to the President only on paper. Anti-discrimination law that means businesses can't legally reflect their owners' opinions about how the world should be, but must pursue the dollar as the be-all and end-all of existence. Voting systems that are national one-size-fits-all, rather than being the best balance of taxation and representation as determined on an local basis. (While I'm dreaming, Abington Township could be overturned.)

1) I can see no way of breaking the entrenched racism of the established order in the 1960's without forbidding private discrimination; however, forbidding private discrimination really makes freedom of association a nominal right. Freedom to be yourself in public is a right I think very important. "You can think what you want, so long as you don't act on it where anyone has to see you" isn't a level of freedom anyone finds (or should find) satisfactory.

#587 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:30 AM:

Cassy B. #582: Creating "safe" Democratic districts can still be to the disadvantage of the Democrats! Even a hostile gerrymander will generally have to give at least some seats to the opposition, but they can make those districts include as few as possible "top dog" votes ("hey, you want a safe district, don't you?"), while their own safe districts also include, say 20%-30% "underdog" votes, effectively neutralizing those.

#588 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:37 AM:

The skew between the 2012 House popular vote and the seat allocation has some to do with gerrymandering, but it also has some to do with patterns of voter concentration. In the Philly area, for instance, we have some ridiculously gerrymandered districts in the suburbs, but my own district, which has one of the "safest" D seats around, is relatively compact. That's because most of the city of Philadelphia is heavily Democratic.

Generally speaking, Pennsylvania Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters, but are heavily concentrated in the major cities, whereas Republicans are more spread out. Getting rid of gerrymandering would alleviate some of our disproportionate R House representation (where Rs have 13 seats and the Ds have only 5 seats, despite them getting more overall votes). But to get proportional representation with the current districting system, you'd need to have cities like Philadelphia sliced up into multiple wedges that extend out to various suburbs, and those districts would look rather odd (and be easily subject to fiddling) as well.

Going to a different representation system (for instance, having bigger districts that cover multiple seats) could also balance out party representation here. Though many people would lose having a "local" representative in that system.

I found an interesting blog post by a political science researcher that goes into some of the issues.

#589 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:40 AM:

re: my #586

There's actually a summary.

I want a government that actually requires the active co-operation of local institutions, and so is effectively constrained by its citizens.

#590 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:07 AM:

Cassie B @ 582... I stand corrected.

#591 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:19 AM:

As a furloughed Fed, I'm relieved to know that I'll eventually get back pay. But for people without a lot of liquidity, "back pay" is like "back food": go long enough without, and you're either bankrupt or dead when your ship comes in at last.

#592 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:27 AM:

Dave Bell @ #349: The ROT13ing is wonderfully transparent because of the unusual pattern of the key word.

#593 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:37 AM:

Mathematically, what would be a good definition for "not gerrymandered"?
So far I have

1) Should be one contiguous area [no "islands"]
2) No more than one "concavity": a straight line from one point in the district to another should not leave and re-enter the district more than once.

The problem with 2) being that if a county line follows a river, a straight line might cut four or five loops and you can't avoid that if the electoral boundaries follow county boundaries.

I'm probably overcomplicating things.

#594 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:48 AM:

Sandy B. @593--The traditional language requires that districts be 'compact and contiguous' (which is the source of one of the late Molly Ivins' jokes about the Texas state legislature)

#595 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:19 AM:

SamChevre 586: And 1993 is The Motor-Voter Act; that was hugely beneficial to Democrats, and nothing Republicans have proposed in the way of voting requirements comes close to having a comparable effect.

So you're really going to compare something that makes it easier for more people (of varying classes) to vote, thus benefitting the Democrats, to a set of things that disproportionately target poor and minority voters - qualified US citizens, making it harder for them to vote, and thus benefit the Republicans?

You do realize that you're saying that if every qualified person voted the Republicans would be severely disadvantaged? Don't you see that that means they should not be in power? Or do you simply think of this as two teams jockeying for position, with absolutely no belief in democracy at all?

There was nothing in Motor-Voter that made it disproportionately easier for Democrats to vote, except that rich people generally have little trouble registering in advance.

I've said this before: If you want fewer qualified people to be able to vote, you're the bad guys. Period. Because that's just plain unAmerican. I didn't think you were one of them, particularly.

I cannot understand how you can make the statement above without believing that some people's votes should count more than others. Please clarify.

#596 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:26 AM:

On gerrymandering and district boundaries:
There are actually people who use computer programs to see what kind of reasonable lines can be drawn. The programs actually work pretty well, but do need tweaking by humans at times.
The real problem is getting people with power to give up some of it for the purpose of drawing the lines.

#597 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:29 AM:

Anyone have any input on the Flash issue discussed in my AKICIML at 564? Putting this in again because these threads move fast and not everyone reads back.

#598 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:43 AM:

Re Gerrymandering: Iowa has a reasonably sane policy, and they're the only state that follows the rules that they do. From here:

The Iowa Legislative Services Agency uses computer software to generate a proposed redistricting map, disregarding all factors except population. ... "The thing that makes us unique to most states is basically we don't take into account any political information."[3]
For congressional redistricting, the Iowa Code does not permit redistricting maps to split counties. For state-level redistricting, counties and cities should be split as little as possible. Greater leeway is given in splitting larger counties and cities. State law also mandates that all districts are drawn within one percent of their ideal population.

If you look at the maps of their districts, you can pickout the county boundaries. It helps that Iowa is one of the more regular, rectangular states. It even extends to their road grid, which is predominantly ns/ew and on mile or 5 mile grids. (though, that tends to make travelling diagonally a bit slower than one would hope.)

#599 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:44 AM:

P J, we need federal law on it to make it work.

The Democrats in Illinois will join virtually all Republicans in opposing it, or any other anti-gerrymandering legislation.

#600 ::: eric is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:45 AM:

I was talking about the one state that I know of that has an anti gerrymandering process.

#601 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:46 AM:

Shorter me, 595: SamChevre, it appears that you're saying that making elections fairer advantages the Democrats, and therefore shouldn't be allowed. Please explain why that's not what you're saying, or why that's not equivalent to being pro-oligarchy.

#602 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:51 AM:

Xopher @ 595

I'm just flatly not a believer in democracy per se, for two basic sets of reasons.

First, I'm in favor of liberty--people being able to live their lives together as they see fit--and I haven't seen a better system for protecting liberty than a constrained democracy. (Here, being of Jewish ancestry and German Anabaptist heritage combine to make for substantial fear of unconstrained majority rule.)

Second, I have been involved--in school, at work, in church life--in a sufficient number of decision-making groups to say that decision-making is not improved by adding people who don't know much and don't care much to the process. My observation is that being in favor of as many people as possible voting goes with being in favor of those votes having as little effect as possible (powerful regulatory agencies, judicial willingness to substitute elite preferences for those of voters); that makes sense, but it's an equilibrium I dislike.

#603 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 12:26 PM:

SamChevre @ 586:
"You can think what you want, so long as you don't act on it where anyone has to see you" isn't a level of freedom anyone finds (or should find) satisfactory.

Actually, this is what I consider the highest and best. You (generic, not specific) can be horribly bigoted against any person or group as long as you don't carry it into daily interactions. This changes nothing for you, but it means your co-workers, peer group and kids have a chance to learn a better society than you grew up in.

#604 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 12:45 PM:

Mongoose #578: I haven't decided. Honestly. I'm most inclined to replace my middle names, both of which I abominate even more than my first name.

My children's names were decided by my then wife and myself after serious discussion (including a desire to avoid what we called the "Mara Liasson problem" -- i.e., was the NPR correspondent's name "Mara Liasson" or "Mar Eliasson") in order to ensure that they were normal but not too common (the thought of a teacher calling "Jason" in a crowded playground and having twenty heads turn occurred to both of us).

#605 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 12:52 PM:

SamChevre, #586: Just FYI, this is how you're coming across here. When you say

"You can think what you want, so long as you don't act on it where anyone has to see you" isn't a level of freedom anyone finds (or should find) satisfactory.

what a lot of people are hearing is, "Telling people that they should act like civilized human beings in public is anti-freedom" -- which is one of the classic troll arguments. You are effectively telling the targets of discrimination, "Well, if you don't like it, then get off the Internet" about THE WHOLE WORLD.

And when you say

Anti-discrimination law that means businesses can't legally reflect their owners' opinions about how the world should be, but must pursue the dollar as the be-all and end-all of existence.

what I hear (as someone who runs a business) is, "It's okay for someone who sets up a business to serve the public to not actually serve the public, but only those parts of it that they happen to like".* And also "It's okay for a business owner to enforce their own religious views on employees who don't belong to that religion." If you don't see why both of these things are anti-freedom, I don't know how I can explain it to you.


* Which is not the same thing as saying, "This business has a target audience." If I walk into $CHRISTIANFAMILYBOOKSTORE to buy a reference book about the Bible, I'm not their target audience -- but they shouldn't be able to refuse to sell it to me because I'm wearing a pentacle. Or because my skin is the wrong color. Or because I have the wrong kind of genitalia, or use said genitalia in a way they don't like.

#606 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 12:53 PM:

SamChevre @601: [D]ecision-making is not improved by adding people who don't know much and don't care much to the process.

I agree that it's better to have an engaged and well-informed electorate. But I'd rather achieve that by making it easier to be engaged and well-informed than by making it harder to vote.

#607 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 12:55 PM:

So what system do you favor, SamChevre? Because the Republicans are pushing toward hereditary oligarchy, which I hate enough to become a freedom fighter to overthrow should they succeed.

#608 ::: Q. Pheevr is sorry to have made more work for the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 12:58 PM:

I seem to have been gnomed. I hereby declare my intentions to have been good; you may judge for yourselves whether you find them amusing. Also, I understand bribes are customary; would the gnomes care for an apple?

[Gnomes love apples. They also enjoy cream pies. Just sayin'. What held up your post was a broken link. -- Deoliso Zrieo, Duty Gnome]

#609 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 01:05 PM:

re 593: That's actually one of the things that's making me uncomfortable here. Ideally, if you want equal representation, then you want districts that look like communities, or agglomerations of similar communities. That isn't necessarily going to give you geometrically "nice" shapes, nor would a "nice" pattern necessarily respect communities. I don't know how you deal with this pure statistically.

That said, it is striking how "wrong" some of the numbers look in the GWU post (i.e. how big the discrepancies are).

#610 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 01:19 PM:

SamChevre @ 601... I'm just flatly not a believer in democracy per se

I myself am such a believer that I chose to become a member of America's democracy, and the 20th anniversary is be less than one year from now, an occasion I hope to celebrate with others. I like a system where, while some people can choose not to participate, other have the possibility of choosing to participate. This is to say that we'll have to agree to disagree.

#611 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 01:22 PM:

Lee @ 604

When you say, "You can think what you want, so long as you don't act on it where anyone has to see you" isn't a level of freedom anyone finds (or should find) satisfactory, what a lot of people are hearing is, "Telling people that they should act like civilized human beings in public is anti-freedom"

Should is fine; should is great. I object to "must", not "should".

(And seriously--have you never talked a gay person who's over 30? Being able to be "gay in public" is a VERY big deal for many of my friends.)

On businesses, I think we fundamentally disagree what freedom looks like. I think being able to say "you are (an annoying jerk)/(the wrong race)/((too young) so I don't want to (hire you)/(sell to you) is a fundamental part of freedom of association. Freedoms are misuseable.)

#612 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Look, right now I'm subject to the Ohio Republican party's assinine redrawing of districts.

Before, my Congressman had offices in Columbus, Ohio. Now, the one that I acquired courtesy of the GOP is located somewhere called Genoa Township, which appears to be in a totally different county (and about an hours drive away).

I am NOT happy. I don't have the gas money to drive out to the middle of nowhere just to see this fool.

#613 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 01:40 PM:

The trouble, SamChevre, is that you're privileging the freedom of the business owner over that of the customer. Not only the freedom of disprivileged groups, but their economic well-being; if it's permitted for business establishments to put "No gays, Jews, or blacks" signs in their windows (not that they phrased it that way when they were), then gays, Jews, and blacks will have to pay more, on average, for all the goods and services they consume.

And that's what's wrong with the whole "they can always go to some other establishment" argument, too. If the business owners believe "we won't get straight/Christian/white customers if we let gays/Jews/blacks shop here" (whether their customers are really that racist or not) nearly every business will act that way, regardless of their personal feelings. Then we're back to segregation, which as you know, or should, is an economic burden on the entire society (duplication of effort is only one of the reasons).

Put another way, you think the freedom to "be yourself" in a way that harms others, even if indirectly is more important than the freedom to "be yourself" in a way that does not. Or perhaps it's just that you think the freedoms of the already-privileged are more important than the freedoms of the heretofore-disprivileged.

Neither one is exactly like believing in freedom.

It comes down to the old saw: your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose. What you're saying, essentially, is that fist-swinging is a more fundamental freedom than unpunched-nose, and glossing right over the fact that unpunched-nose is a freedom at all.

#614 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 02:08 PM:

I think there's a fundamental difference between "I won't invite you to my birthday party" and "No one with your skin color can buy coffee in my shop."

Bars ban individuals all the time; this is okay. Bars have, in the past, banned entire ethnic groups. This is not okay.

#615 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 02:18 PM:

@553 & 554: Additonally, local analyst points out that labels were corrected before envelopes were mailed. So, while area man is entirely entitled to be peeved, justice was served and success, ultimately, achieved.

#616 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 02:22 PM:

Brenda Kalt @558: I wonder if this might apply? (Even if it doesn't, it's still a great story.)

#617 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 02:57 PM:

Some time ago, I finally figured out the conservative definition of "liberty." For years I had no idea what they meant by it, because they usually used it in the same breath as they advocated denying someone life or a reasonable expectation of participation in society. Then one night, during a long, long discussion with a right-libertarian, I finally understood. While I define liberty as the right to life and societal participation, when we strip things down to the bones, conservative thought defines liberty as the right to control and retain ownership of property.

It is when these two definitions of liberty come into conflict that we get the biggest liberal vs conservative clashes. Slavery is the most irreducible example of this - conservatives were fighting to not be deprived of their property, while liberals were arguing that the right of the human being to live and participate in society overruled the property thing. Jim Crow is only one step removed from that - conservatives argue that the right of property owners to do whatever they want with their property trumps the right of other people to live and participate in society. Modern conservatives argue that the wealthy should have the right to prevent the poor from having access to voting, and call that liberty... because their definition of liberty prioritizes property rights over human rights.

This has helped me understand a lot of things I previously thought were just insane or stupid. The most conservative conservatives believe that the oligarchy their policies seek to bring about is the apotheosis of liberty... a world where the property owners have absolute control, and almost all of the country is private property. To them, that isn't a bug, it's a feature. A property owner having tyranny over anyone who lives or works on the property he owns is "liberty." If one of his "subjects" doesn't like it, they have the right to go find another property owner to control them, or they can attempt to buy their own property... if they were lucky enough to have a previous property owner who payed them well enough to allow them to do so, of course.

#618 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:02 PM:

re 614: If there is a fundamental difference between the two, it's not a telling difference. The problem edge case, after all, is "we don't allow just anyone into our club."

#619 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:02 PM:

Leah, I can't see how there can be anything but bitter conflict between those belief systems. If you're right, everyone who believes in the property version of "liberty" is my enemy, and will be as long as I draw breath.

#620 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:21 PM:

Yup, Leah.
From the late 60s (for me):

"Get off my land"
"Why is it your land?"
"I got it from my father."
"Where'd he get it?"
"From his father."
"Where'd he get it?"
"He fought for it."
"I'll fight you for it."

#621 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:28 PM:

Leah Miller @ 617

conservative thought defines liberty as the right to control and retain ownership of property.

That's a fair summary.

Note, though, that without the ability to control property, you can't do much else. That's why I--as a conservative/libertarian--care so much about liberties with regard to property. There's a theoretical difference between "you can't build a synagogue because zoning" and "Jews aren't welcome in this part of town"--but historically, it's been a distinction without much of a difference.

#622 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:35 PM:

Sigh....

We've managed to avoid taking in another young adult waif into our household. Em is 19, her mom who is nuts has kicked her out yet again, and her grandma who now lives in Minnesota called us to ask if we could take her temporarily.

She stayed with us last night, but we told her it could only be the one night and she couldn't hang out at our place all day. We fed her thoroughly (she ate three huge bowls of home-made vegetarian pad thai) and got her set up this morning with a big bag for lunch, and I dropped her somewhere convenient for her to hang out during the day. She may be able to stay with one of her friends tonight; longer term she's trying to get into the Job Corps but doesn't know how long that may take.

I've put out a call to people I know for someone who could host her for a couple more days until her mom cools down, so she doesn't have to go into a shelter. (It's not like home is even a good environment for her; for one, the power's off, probably because mom blew the money for the electric bill on something stupid and won't admit it.)

We did as much as we could reasonably do, given that we're just managing to cope with all we need to do, and are still not doing well at coaxing/pressing the hanai kid to get her act together. I still feel like shit.

#623 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:42 PM:

Oh, and I've also just heard about how Em was getting bullied throughout high school, which I did not know about, and how the school did nothing, facilitated by her mom claiming there was no problem and no bullying. Great.

#624 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:55 PM:

SamChevre @ 621... without the ability to control property, you can't do much else

What if the 'rules' are set up so that it's difficult if not impossible to acquire property?

"Sorry, Ma'am, but what you owned is now your husband's."

#625 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 03:58 PM:

Leah Miller @617: Huh. That pulls a whole lot of things into focus for me that didn't make sense before. Not least, the origins of this country, and Europeans' conflict with the First Nations.

#626 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:12 PM:

Part of the gerrymander/urban-concentration effect could be mitigated by creating larger, multimember Congressional districts. In the limit, if Pennsylvania's Representatives had all been elected at-large, the state's delegation would be solidly Democratic. That would also be unfair. But proportional representation on a statewide basis would be fine.

#627 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:17 PM:

C. 618: re 614: If there is a fundamental difference between the two, it's not a telling difference. The problem edge case, after all, is "we don't allow just anyone into our club."

Nonsense. When a bar bans a specific person, it's because of the behavior of that person. Banning an entire ethnic group isn't because of the behavior of every single person in that ethnic group.

I agree with Jim: the difference is fundamental. And also obvious, if one isn't trying to draw a false analogy to justify the unjustifiable.

#628 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:48 PM:

Leah Miller @ 617

Rather dovetails with Graeber's analysis of the origins of liberty and property in Roman slave law. (Debt, 198-207-ish for property rights.)

#629 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:53 PM:

Xopher, there's more degrees of discriminants here than that of "people I personally know" and "race, which I've already decided is a discriminant I'm not going to permit to be used." There's also degrees of privacy between that of a room in one's house and a public accommodation. What we all want is to be able to draw rather large box of the latter and to identify a rather large set of discriminants forbidden within it. One of the "solutions" to that was to privatize accommodations. How and to what degree does the government forbid that? "Private" (and by extension "public") has a whole range of meanings here, and it doesn't just mean "things going on in my own house."

#630 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:54 PM:

SamChevre #586: According to what you are saying, my having gained equal liberty with you is subversive of liberty in the long run. That is absurd on the face of it, and directly threatening to any claim to liberty that I or anyone like me might advance or wish to advance.

#631 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:57 PM:

SamChevre, #611: Should is fine; should is great. I object to "must", not "should".

And what part of "actions have consequences" do you disagree with? Because you seem to be arguing that they shouldn't.

Also, "being gay in public" is not at all the same thing as "being racist in public", and you're palming a card by trying to claim that it is. Being gay doesn't hurt anyone else. Being racist does. It really is that simple.

I think being able to say "you are (an annoying jerk)/(the wrong race)/((too young) so I don't want to (hire you)/(sell to you) is a fundamental part of freedom of association.

One of these things is not like the others, and you're palming a card again. "Being a jerk" isn't a matter of race, sex, or age, and a store owner is fully entitled to refuse to serve someone who is being a jerk no matter what they look like.

And what about MY right to be able to shop in my own neighborhood? You're throwing that under the bus in the name of YOUR right to discriminate. That's not "freedom", it's anti-freedom.

#632 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 04:58 PM:

SamChevre @621:

Unfortunately, one of the pieces of property that conservative liberty has had a bad habit of trying to control is other people. As someone whose personhood under law and custom is still pretty fragile*, I'm deeply distrustful of a property-based axis of liberty. It's let us property-type people down pretty badly.

Also, its failure modes tend to bias toward the people who have more property. I kind of prefer liberty based on the intrinsic value of human beings, which gets stronger with more people rather than more stuff.

I do find it disappointing that these models of liberty spend so much time breaking each other rather than finding common ground.

-----
* When you unpack "smile, baby" called to me on the street right down to its bones, it's a claim to me as property, which the caller can demand things of. Guess why I live somewhere where catcalling is not a socially acepted behavior?

#633 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:05 PM:

"Mr. Hancock, you're a man of property, one of us. Why don't you join us in our minuet? Why do you persist on dancing with John Adams? Good Lord, sir, you don't even like him!"
"That is true, he annoys me quite a lot, but still I'd rather trot to Mr. Adams' new gavotte."
"But why? For personal glory, for a place in history? Be careful, sir, history will brand him and his followers as traitors."
"Traitors, Mr. Dickinson? To what? The British crown, or the British half-crown? Fortunately there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy."

#634 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Note that the "property" of the era of Hancock and Adams was land. Note further that the land in question, being in North America, was stolen property, usually taken with the assistance of either an invading army or some form of genocide.

The second great form of "property" defended by the Founding Fathers was people.

The notion that "property" to be defended could also be capital is a rather late addition to the situation. I'm not sure, on balance, that it's proving to be a much more inherently moral class of property than land or slaves.

#635 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:16 PM:

#627: Nonsense. When a bar bans a specific person, it's because of the behavior of that person. Banning an entire ethnic group isn't because of the behavior of every single person in that ethnic group.

Yes, for an ethnic group, because membership in an ethnic group isn't defined by behavior. (Generally.) Membership in a sexual orientation isn't *quite* defined by behavior either -- depending on how you define "behavior" -- but it's much closer, and ISTM membership in a religion pretty much is a behavior. (Although, if it's a covert behavior, the discriminator can only actually exclude the people they know about, it can still be pretty offensive to try.)

And, in some cases, the defining behaviors of a sexual orientation or religion are precisely the thing being objected to by would-be discriminators.

Not to mention cases where one of the precepts of a religion itself is to discriminate against infidels, heretics, or some other disfavored group.

ISTM that people ought to have a right to engage in certain behaviors without those behaviors being used as a basis for discriminating against them in other areas. But then you need quite a lot of work to specify all the qualifiers in that sentence.

Because clearly there are behaviors that ARE valid reasons for discriminating against people and excluding them from spaces/activities -- but IMO you have to be pretty careful spelling out which ones.

#636 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:16 PM:

Abi @ 634... Thanks for the clarification. Still, whatever the meaning of the word in 1776, or in 1972, the message remains valid.

#637 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:19 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 630

According to what you are saying, my having gained equal liberty with you is subversive of liberty in the long run.

If that's what I'm saying, I'm saying something rather distant from what I intend to be saying.

What I'm intending to say is that the means by which you gained equal liberty with me involved very significant restrictions on everyone's liberties. That was probably necessary; it was certainly proportionate. However, the significant restriction on liberties have persisted, and grown.

The analogy I'd use is martial law. Imposing martial law in Baltimore in 1861 and suspending habeas corpus was an impairment of liberty, but a proportionate response to the riots; if it had continued for 50 years, it would have become subversive of liberty.

#638 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:30 PM:

SamChevre @637: What I'm intending to say is that the means by which you gained equal liberty with me involved very significant restrictions on everyone's liberties.

??? Such as...?

#639 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:34 PM:

Abi, "land" was and is "capital". The late invention isn't the notion of capital; it's the corporation as the predominant owner of capital.

Also, I disagree vehemently with the notion that only conservatives like to control people. The dire history of communism shows how universal the lust for power is.

Finally, Lee, you've palmed a HUGE card by saying "being gay in public isn't hurting anybody else." Um, says who? How do you presume to speak for others? There's a whole unspoken level here that the common morality of, well, this social circle trumps everyone else's moral system, and that certain people get to decide what is held harmful and others do not. My picture of how rights are supposed to work in the American system includes a certain expectation of tolerance, which means putting up with things one objects to. There come points at which absolute positions have to be staked out, and mostly what we're talking about here are those points. But not everything is that kind of a point, and not everyone is going to concede that everything we discuss here is one of those kind of points.

#640 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:40 PM:

SamChevre @586:

I've been trying for hours, and I can't parse this one:

Anti-discrimination law that means businesses can't legally reflect their owners' opinions about how the world should be, but must pursue the dollar as the be-all and end-all of existence.

As far as I can see, anti-discrimination laws are about pursuing treating people equally as the be-and and end-all of existence, to the extent they're pursuing anything in that fashion.

Indeed, the forces that pursue the dollar as the be-all and end-all of existence tend not to like anti-discrimination laws, because they hamper their freedom to pursue those dollars where they flock thickest. That's usually not in the pockets of people commonly discriminated against.

#641 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Self-immolation was mentioned earlier in the thread, and now it's happened. No relation between the two, except for me pointing at both at the same time with a slightly horrified expression.

On a happier note, I was directed to where the NY Public Library's blog mentions the OED's "Appeals" blog, which mostly looks for earlier cites. The article mentioned that "milquetoast," for instance, dates to a reference in a New York newspaper in 1931. I leapt into walked into action, all the way down the hall to one of the bookshelves of comic-related volumes, and dug into The Best of H.T. Webster, where I found a paragraph stating that Caspar Milquetoast, "The Timid Soul," first appeared in 1924 in (I believe) the NY World, sans monicker. A second appearance came shortly after. "Two or three months" after that, he was given his name in his third outing.

I sent this information to the OED, using a form I finally found at their website. I don't know if they'll take it, because it's a reference to the fact, not an actual cite for it, but it gave me a good feeling, and I can say, like Popeye, "I bet I yam the first guy which found a mistake in the dictionary."

(He said it after looking up "yam.")

#642 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:42 PM:

I think that if someone thinks that my existence in public is harmful--not even what I'm doing while there, but that I am in public and exist--then, honestly, I do not care what they think! Except insofar as I need to in order to oppose them! Because they are clearly evil people. (I don't bring out the word "evil" much, but at this point, it is appropriate.)

I get to exist.

I do not intend to feel bad at length over the delicate sensibilities of people who think that is up for debate.

#643 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:49 PM:

re myself: Let me hasten to add that I'm not trying to defend some contrary set of values; I'm not trying to defend some right of businesses to discriminate against classes of people. The problems I'm seeing here are that (a) the form of argument invites perceiving it as a battle of moral systems, which is exactly how the rightists want it to be seen, and (b) the terms are inviting a very invasive view of how the government can regulate pretty much any interaction outside the immediate household. It seems to me that there needs to be some other way of talking about this that doesn't sound like "leftists want to impose their tyrannous and immoral social engineering on everybody."

#644 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:49 PM:

C Wingate @639:

1. Yes, good point. I was talking about mobile capital, which land is not. That's tied to the rise of the corporation, but much of it that is problematic it is still controlled by individual shareholders of those corporations.

2. Please show me where people have said that only conservatives like to control people.

3. Please explain how one person being gay hurts another person. Use clear, verifiable examples.

4. You have just been firmly disagreed with by women. You have a bad track record regarding what happens next. Don't repeat that history.

#645 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:51 PM:

C. Wingate @ 639 - Who am I hurting by being gay in public, pray tell? What terrible injury am I doing by holding hands with my wife, or daring to wear my hair cut short, or putting on a suit and tie? Whose existence am I threatening? Who am I making feel unsafe, as though it's open season to beat, spit on, catcall, or kill them?

And if "having your religious values challenged in public" is what you are calling harm, then where are your demands that our grocery stores stop selling pork? How about that liquor sales must stop? Or maybe that everything must be closed on Fridays, and Saturdays, and Sundays? I call shenanigans.

#646 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:51 PM:

@639 C. Wingate

Finally, Lee, you've palmed a HUGE card by saying "being gay in public isn't hurting anybody else." Um, says who? How do you presume to speak for others? There's a whole unspoken level here that the common morality of, well, this social circle trumps everyone else's moral system, and that certain people get to decide what is held harmful and others do not.

My nephew is "gay in public" all the time. He takes the bus; he goes to school and sits in class; he goes to work and serves clients. He is, as we speak, being "gay in public" right now. And you're defining his existence as harmful?

I have no words to speak to you.

#647 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:56 PM:

C. Wingate @ 639: but how can being gay in public hurt anyone else? Granted, excessive public displays of affection can make other people feel uncomfortable, but that applies just as much to heterosexual couples as to gay couples. I can't think of anything specifically connected with being gay that could harm anyone.

#648 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 05:59 PM:

Mongoose @ 647... that applies just as much to heterosexual couples

Especially if they are of obviously different ethnic groups.

#649 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:00 PM:

C Wingate @643:

Am I right in reading Let me hasten to add that I'm not trying to defend some contrary set of values; I'm not trying to defend some right of businesses to discriminate against classes of people as "not that I think that being gay in public harms other people"? Because you might want to be a little more explicit if that's the case.

the form of argument invites perceiving it as a battle of moral systems, which is exactly how the rightists want it to be seen

The thing is, it is a clash of moral systems. I maintain that all people are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That is a moral statement. From it falls my belief that discrimination among these equals on the basis of gender, race, color, sexual orientation, creed, or any other irrelevant trait, is morally wrong.

That's outrages many conservatives, because they want to have a monopoly on moral arguments*. But they also don't want to not discriminate.

-----
*See also, the assertion that atheists can't have a moral code.

#650 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:04 PM:

Sometimes I think "Off Topic #___" would be a more appropriate title than "Open Thread #___."

Oh, hey! My first six prints from this semester are up at my flickr page. The last one, I just pulled this morning. (Caution: It's a picture of the big spider in my garage, on his or her web.)

I'm very happy with it, and with the first crit, which was today. I made a photoset of my prints while I was at it.

#651 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Kip W... Did I ever show you the photo of the baby tarantula I once found in our garage?

#652 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:10 PM:

Open-threadery: saw this series of posts about tipping, and thought it very interesting. Unfortunately, I can't credit whomever lead me to it (likely a very few degrees of separation from ML anyway) as I've forgotten, closed the tab, and habitually run Chrome "incognito" so no history to look over. Apologies for that - and thanks to whomever did send me clicking in that direction.

Anyway, here goes: Observations from a tipless restaurant (part 1)

There's stuff in there relevant to the current discussion, wrt property, power, discrimination, laws about such, etc. Most of that happens after the first few parts, which are about how eliminating tipping made the restaurant a better place to work at. Plenty of links to studies, etc. and some good numbers, too. Guy writing it was either owner or head or similar of the restaurant in question, so there's that bias, but otherwise it is a good read.

#653 ::: cajunfj40 is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 06:12 PM:

Probably a munged link or excess spaces - it previewed OK, though. Coworker just opened a bag of candy, so if the gnomes would like some, feel free.

#654 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:23 PM:

@639: Ruh-roh!

#655 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:23 PM:

Going back to names for a second, particularly one name, quote from a recent ISIHAC:

"As the Vicar of Destiny offers prayers for our souls, and for some people who aren't..." - Jack Dee.

In other news, a blanket, for sale, was pointed out to me. It was the Confederate Battle Flag. The other one advertised was Black Velvet Elvis. Now, this is Canada, which is one point of "huh" against it, but it was being sold in the middle of a neighbourhood labelled "International Avenue" for its - ethnically diverse - population.

#656 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:27 PM:

Being white in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being black in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being Hispanic/Asian/Native in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being American/Tongan/Dutch/Chinese or even British/Malay/Swedish/Irish in public isn't hurting anyone else.

Being male in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being female in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, atheist or a devotee of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being Republican/Democrat/Libertarian/Socialist/Green/Pirate Party/completely apolitical in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being blonde, or brunette, or bald in public isn't hurting anybody else.

Being gay in public isn't hurting anybody else.

#657 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:31 PM:

#641 ::: Kip W

On a happier note, I was directed to where the NY Public Library's blog mentions the OED's "Appeals" blog, which mostly looks for earlier cites. The article mentioned that "milquetoast," for instance, dates to a reference in a New York newspaper in 1931. I leapt into walked into action, all the way down the hall to one of the bookshelves of comic-related volumes, and dug into The Best of H.T. Webster, where I found a paragraph stating that Caspar Milquetoast, "The Timid Soul," first appeared in 1924 in (I believe) the NY World, sans monicker. A second appearance came shortly after. "Two or three months" after that, he was given his name in his third outing.

I own that book! It's on my lap! And I'm holding it and loving it and petting it...

#658 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:35 PM:

"Caspar, the milquey toast..."

#659 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:43 PM:

I've started reading the tipless restaurant series that cajunfj40 told the gnomes about, and I just wanted to highlight a line that horrified me into a different frame of mind about tipping: "It’s the Stanford Prison Experiment meets Yelp."

#660 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:44 PM:

C. Wingate, I'm honestly looking forward to reading your answer about the gay in public question, assuming you have one. If you can identify some harm that's not pure handwavery, you'd fill a gap in current public discourse in the U. S.

#661 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:52 PM:

abi @ 649

The thing is, it is a clash of moral systems. I maintain that all people are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That is a moral statement. From it falls my belief that discrimination among these equals on the basis of gender, race, color, sexual orientation, creed, or any other irrelevant trait, is morally wrong.

I agree (at least mostly). As is commonly noted, not everything that is immoral should be illegal.

What I disagree with quite strongly is attempting to define for someone else what is and is not harmful to them. If they find whatever-it-is harmful, I would as much as possible prefer to let them live their lives in the way that they find best.

#662 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:52 PM:

C. Wingate, everything I have to say to you has been said by others. Just imagine my voice lifted among the chorus of theirs.

And yeah, I hope you're prepared to justify (or back away from) your statement about being gay in public causing harm. Because I'm about at the point of skipping whatever comments you make.

abi 649: Yes. This. All of it. It's the so-called "conservatives" who are unAmerican, not us.

#663 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:57 PM:

C. Wingate, #639: Okay then, you tell me how being gay in public hurts other people. I dare you. Because that's the argument the H8ers have been using for the last several decades, and It's. Just. Not. True. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, it neither breaks your leg nor picks your pocket. If you're going to come up with any kind of "harm" about this, you're going to have to do some very pretty verbal dancing and redefinition, because otherwise it boils down to "WAAAAH! It hurts me not to be able to hurt these other people, because I WANNA!"

Which is pretty much what SamChevre is saying too, in his defense of racism, sexism, and other forms of public bigotry.

#664 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:57 PM:

Leah 617:

I don't think that's capturing what most conservatives would think of as liberty. It certainly isn't capturing what most libertarians would think of as liberty--opposition to the drug war and the draft don't have much to do with property rights. Conservatives in general and libertarians in particular think of property rights as more important than liberals do, I think, but it's far from being an exclusive definition of liberty.

Also, I think linking current conservatives to slavery in your description is about on a par with linking current liberals to Stalin's USSR--it doesn't really inform you much about what anyone alive now or in the last several decades thinks. Nobody sane is arguing for a resumption of slavery, and while it's fun to slyly suggest that that's the secret desire in the hearts of your enemies on the right, it has about as much credibility as slyly suggesting that Obama wants to impose a Stalinist tyranny.

#665 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 07:58 PM:

SamChevre 660: Since you're ignoring me, I guess it's for the benefit of the others in this thread that I point out that "What I disagree with quite strongly is attempting to define for someone else what is and is not harmful to them" could be used to argue that since they say "other people being gay in public harms me" you take their word for it and treat that as harm, on a par with being discriminated against or, say, beaten senseless in the street.

That is, of course, pure bullshit.

#666 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:00 PM:

SamChevre, 660: They are welcome to live however they want (within the bounds of legality), but only so long as they can do so without curtailing the rights of others to do the same.

Being gay (or black, or female, or Jewish) in public is only harmful to those who can find harm in the right of others to enjoy as much freedom as they themselves seem to feel entitled to have. I submit that such individuals have less harm to fear from those who are gay/black/female/Jewish/differently-abled than from the boogeymen of their own making who inhabit the dark recesses of their own minds.

#667 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:00 PM:

Gnomed

#668 ::: SummerStorms sees a gnomed albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:02 PM:

and offers fresh sweet potato casserole to be shared with the keepers of the keys.

#669 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:13 PM:

Serge, you did not show me that photo! What can be done about this? Eh?

Carol Kimball, I first read that in 6th grade and am still quite fond of it. I have just one question, though: Where are his other books? That one must have been a Book of the Month or something, because I've seen it many times out in the wild. (Shary Flenikin actually parodied Webster in the Air Pirates tabloid that I, naturally, hesitated to purchase and consequently don't have.)

#670 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:15 PM:

Xopher,

I have no intent to ignore you; I simply don't have a fully-worked-out answer to your question. (I know my answer would include a strong priority for legal rights that are universal (both parties to an interaction have the same rights), and a sense that force is a last resort, but that's somewhat short of a fully-worked-out program.)

abi @ 640
I'm having trouble articulating my point more clearly. If this helps: the current rules say that you can not sell to Jim if he doesn't have the money, but not because he is Jewish. This makes all dollars equal, but not all persons. That's why I say that it requires everyone to set the dollar as the ultimate good.

#671 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:21 PM:

EDDIE POE STOLE YOUR PLUMS

Last night, as I wandered weary
Bored of teevee chatting cheery,
Drearily with rigid stare,
Forth my mind went glumly, dumbly,
To a small container, plumbly
Full of purple fruit, so comely
Lurking in the Frigidaire

Dare I eat them? Would it matter?
Could they make my figure fatter?
Eat I must, or be a hatter,
Madder than a marching hare!
Grabbed I they, did fairly huff them,
Cooked them I did not, nor duff them
Merely did I seek to stuff them,
Stuff them in my face, just there.

Only then my conscience teased me,
Though the stolen bounty pleased me,
Pangs of guilt straight after seized me,
Feazed me in the frigid air.
Thus, this note of explanation
Begging for some expiation
Of my sin of annexation
Of those sweet, cold fruits, so fair.

By this note, I full do blame me.
Stoop ye not to mock or shame me
Promise you will not defame me
For this midnight treat so rare!
For I suffered in that second,
Racked with purple pash unreckoned,
At those plums that lewdly beckoned,
Wishing I could grow a pear!

#672 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:23 PM:

Kip W @ 669... Didn't he also write "Arthur Gordon Plum"?

#673 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:23 PM:

SamChevre, 668: Recognizing all dollars as equal says nothing about them other than that they are dollars, and equal.

The same is true for recognizing all persons as equal.

There is nothing about an "ultimate good" in either of these two things.

#674 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:27 PM:

Kip W @ 667... HERE is a photo of the 2-inch long baby tarantula. For some reason, this has led some people to say they'd NEVER come visit me. :-)

#675 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:29 PM:

I also have a photo of a vinegaroon scorpion, for those who are interested. :-)

#676 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:40 PM:

In 1962, while I was still in high school, I read a book by one of the great American novelists. It was in the library, in the locked case, but the librarian was a friend of mine, and she trusted me with it. It remains, in my judgment, one of the greatest modern American novels. There's a scene in it where a young white man is trying to coax his black girlfriend, Ida, to visit his family. She says to him, "I'm not at all interested in the education of your family." And goes on to say, "I am not to be bugged by any more white jokers who still can't figure out whether I'm human or not. If they don't know, baby, sad on them, and I hope they drop dead slowly, in great pain." And that's it. I don't share Ida's fury, but I'm done educating people. When second wave feminism crested and broke through my life like a tsunami, I spent way too many hours cajoling and coaxing my leftist brothers to see that women were people too, until I woke up one morning and said, Fuck it. If they don't know, baby, sad on them. I'm NEVER having one of these conversations again. When I came out as not-hetero-normative, in 1971, I decided, No explanations. I'm here, I'm queer, get used to it. SummerStorms at 655 has laid it out very clearly, and I'd add a few more to her list: Being fat in public isn't hurting any anybody else. Being disabled in public isn't hurting anybody else.

But mocking people publicly because they are fat, tormenting people publicly because they are disabled, attacking people (physically or verbally)publicly because they are black, or wear a turban or a hijab, or are holding hands with a same sex partner, is hurting others, and the mockery and violence hurts and shames and corrupts our shared lives and our communities. It would be best, of course, if we as a community could deal with public bigotry through churches and families and schools, through "education." But the starting point in this country is: we are all human, and as abi said, created equal, with unalienable rights. And if the churches and families and schools can't deal with the violence -- and we all know, sometimes they direct the violence, Westboro Baptists, yah -- then sometimes the voice of the government, which is our voice too, needs to be heard.

*climbs down from soapbox*

Anyone know what novel it is? It is, truly, a wonderful book. I don't mean it as a trick question. I'd really like to know if anyone else in this incredibly educated community feels as I do about it.

#677 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Oh my bleeding God, Serge! I went and looked at that photo, and… christ on a crutch… LJ still has me as an active member. I quit that hole, like, a year ago, and had it cancel me completely and take out all my references and everything. Pulled the core. Pushed the red button.

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK ARE THEY PLAYING AT?

Cute tranch.

#678 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:44 PM:

Ah! Whew. False alarm. My bad. I'm just confused.

Saw "LJ," thought "Facebook."
.
.
.
I'm okay now. Anybody wants to slap me or sprinkle me with water, though, might as well go on ahead. Mon face, it is red.

Furrfu!

#679 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:50 PM:

"What the fucking fuck?" is SOP for Facebook, and I say this as a regular user.

It can occasionally happen with LJ as well, though while I maintain an account there I don't post terribly often anymore.

#680 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:50 PM:

re: H. T. Webster

He was widely syndicated in newspapers, perhaps his "Best of" was all there was?

It was my dad's book, and I devoured it at approximately the same age Kip W. did. It's well worth seeking out, folks. This link features several of his cartoons, including the retiring Mr. Milquetoast.

Kip - gorgeous prints! Yay for spiders! Serge: yay for baby tarantulas!

#681 ::: Carol Kimball seeks sustenance for the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Help! Help! My comment is imprisoned in the tower of gnomeliness!

#682 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:12 PM:

albatross, 664: I call trollery. Stalin killed people; modern US liberals want to keep them alive. Slave-holders wanted to treat people as property; modern US "conservatives" want to treat people as property--or had you not noticed their constant efforts to destroy all unions?

#683 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:14 PM:

SamChevre, #637: Imposing martial law in Baltimore in 1861 and suspending habeas corpus was an impairment of liberty, but a proportionate response to the riots; if it had continued for 50 years, it would have become subversive of liberty.

Allow me to point out that the Supreme Court recently argued your position on this WRT the Voting Rights Act. The decision gutting it said (paraphrased) that while it was necessary at the time it was imposed, we are now past that and retaining it was an unnecessary imposition on states' rights.

What promptly happened? A dozen states implemented voting restriction laws (or revived ones which had previously been attempted but shut down by the Voting Rights Act) specifically targeting poor black voters. A Texas spokesman flat-out admitted that they were targeting black voters -- not because they were black, but because they were more likely to vote Democratic. (He seemed to think that this made it "not racism".)

Whose liberties are genuinely at risk here? AKA "do not try to pull this shit on people who are paying attention to current events."

#684 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:16 PM:

Carol, see page 255 in Best of: Bibliography. I guess I could start searching some of these titles online. I think each of the sections in the book may represent a subset of one of those books.

(And thanks. The spider thanks you too. Probably.)

#685 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:26 PM:

While I obviously can't speak directly to either Sam's or C. Wingate's exact position, I want to try to help translate a little. Based on debates I have had with conservatives, here is how the standard right-libertarian conservative stance goes.

When "socially liberal" conservatives are having this argument, it's not about proving that someone being gay in public could actually harm someone else. The fundamental disagreement is about what places should be considered public and what places should be considered private, and how we apply laws to those different places.

Conservatives argue that if you own property you should be able to prevent people from using or interacting with your property for any reason you like. Any property owned by a person or corporation is not really public, it's private. Saying that a restaurant must be considered "open to the public" rather than "open to who I want" is tyranny in their eyes, because the restaurant is owned by someone, and that owner has the same right to control access to his property as a person has to control access to their home. If a parent has the "right" to kick a gay kid out of their house when he turns 18, a restaurateur should have the right to not allow gay adults into his restaurant. We might think those actions are reprehensible, but they relate to property rights, which are more important than our opinions. Only property owned by the government or held in common should be subject to government equality laws. The government can establish rules on the street or in a national park, but not in a privately-owned restaurant, store, or apartment complex. If a restaurant can say you have to wear a suit coat, they can establish any other requirements they wish. If a company will only hire people with college degrees, it should be able to chose to hire only right-handed people, or only men, and it should be allowed to do so openly.

The US government has made laws that say you can't make these decisions based on race, religion, gender, and in some places sexuality. Conservatives are arguing that participation in society is not a fundamental liberty when it involves interacting with property a person or corporation owns, and that any law that limits the ability of a property owner to decide who can interact with his property is a violation of that owner's liberties.

Decreasing an individual or corporation's rights to absolute control over their property (and anyone who wants to interface with that property) is only acceptable when it is serving to offset immediate and specific violations of human rights. If an entire class of people is in danger of being murdered, enslaved, forcibly deprived of property, or physically assaulted, then we can compromise property rights to prevent stop those things from happening. A group of people being economically or socially disadvantaged is "regrettable," but to conservatives, a person's right to health and commerce is fundamentally less important than a person's right to absolute control over his property. Access to adequate food, water, shelter, medicine, and protection from any danger other than physical violence is not a right at all, in the eyes of many conservatives. Or, if they are rights, they are less important than the right to control personal property and pay only those taxes that contribute to the military, law enforcement, and property law perpetuation.

The "post-racial society" argument in conservative media goes like this: people aren't getting lynched anymore, and threats of direct violence aren't being used to keep people away from the polls. So the bad stuff that was serious enough to justify temporarily compromising on the absolute sanctity and tantamount importance of a man's right to control his property is now over. Most will admit that there is still racial discrimination, but if it doesn't involve outright violence or threats to illegally deprive someone of already-owned property, it's not bad enough to justify political intervention that in any way affects personal property.

In their minds, only direct violence, theft, and enslavement are "bad enough" to justify compromising on the sanctity of personal property. Once the risk of those things is gone, it's back to "absolute property rights" time. This "absolute property rights" ideal also relates to taxes. Revenue from taxes should only ever be spent on things that directly punish or prevent violence, theft, death, or literal enslavement. Taking any amount of money from one person and using that money to help another person gain access to voting is wrong (which is how the motor-voter act could be seen as diminishing personal rights - the program costs money). They argue that use of government money for anything other than preventing that very narrow set of "bad enoughs," enforcing and tracking property ownership, and facilitating traditional commerce is therefore inherently unethical.

When I figured all this out, I stopped trying to argue with a lot of conservatives. Typing this all out was very difficult. I still do not understand how someone could be that far to the extreme on the property rights end of the spectrum, but many people are.

A quick aside: conservatives consistently fail to understand that all the modern bogeyman authoritarian governments, whether communist, capitalist, or nationalist, have relied on reducing both human rights and property rights. This is the reason the Godwin can come from both sides - however, this also means that labeling WWII Germany or soviet-style communism "conservative" or "liberal" is foolish, useless, and inaccurate in the context of the "human rights vs property rights" argument that defines much of modern political discourse.

#686 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:30 PM:

Kip W @ 677... The last time I saw a fully-grown tarantula, she was ambling across our backyard lawn, and our puppies might not have had the sense to stay away, so I sent them back inside then proceeded to shoo the spider away.

#687 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:32 PM:

Serge @674: Awwwww! He or she is teh fuzzy! Waw.

#688 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:32 PM:

I think I've had just about enough of tarantulas now.

#689 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:36 PM:

Lizzy -- according to a quick Google search, that novel is probably Another Country, and I'd guess it's the one by James Baldwin (published 1962, featuring a young black man who commits suicide) -- not obvious from the cite of the quote I ran across googling "baby, sad on them", a part of the quote you'd be particularly likely to have remembered verbatim...

#690 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:37 PM:

Lizzy L #676

Anyone know what novel it is? It is, truly, a wonderful book.

Another Country by James Baldwin

#691 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:38 PM:

Sam Chevre #637: I was going to say that you were being disingenuous, then I realised that I was not being accurate. You, sir, are lying through your teeth. You are claiming that assertion of social power and superiority over others by virtue of privilege of colour is freedom. It is not. It is what I have just said, it is privilege. No different from privilege of sex, or privilege of sexual orientation. You have, dishonestly, appropriated the great name of freedom for your privilege and are now whining that people who look like me share it. If you don't like the fact that I have as much freedom as you, what you are doing is declaring yourself my enemy. You might want to avoid gaining the enmity of someone whose ancestors achieved their freedom by slaughtering the bastards who tried to enslave them and forcing the so-called master race to sign a peace treaty with them. But then, as my father used to say, you can put a fool in a mortar and pound them, but they'll come out the same fool.

#692 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 09:48 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @691: And he still hasn't answered my question @638.

#693 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:01 PM:

Open thready interruption: Yuletide signups have begun.

You have until Oct. 15th to sign up.

Over 3500 fandoms this year. (Including Agents of SHIELD!)

We now return to your regular serious political content.

#694 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:11 PM:

There is a certain subset of humanity who would considered themselves harmed by my being female in public. I don't cover my face. I don't cover my hair. I wear clothing that accentuates rather than hides my figure. I even have the temerity to drive, own property and talk to men to whom I am not related.

They genuinely believe this behavior harms them by its immorality. Is that belief sufficient to require me to wear a burka in public?

#695 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:17 PM:

TexAnne:

opposing unions:slavery :: Obamacare:Stalinism

Inflating your opponents' bad positions or policies into massive nightmare villainy is a way of making yourself dumber, not smarter.

#696 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:18 PM:

SummerStorms @ 688... Drat.

#697 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:22 PM:

albatross... Did you just say that TexAnne is dumb?

#698 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:22 PM:

Kip 671: Magnificent! Bravo!

Fragano 691: If you don't like the fact that I have as much freedom as you, what you are doing is declaring yourself my enemy.

And mine.

#700 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:32 PM:

And mine.

#701 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:36 PM:

I saw Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine on Saturday.

It was . . . dark. Funny, but . . . dark. You don't realize how dark until the last few scenes.

It was really well done, but there's an aspect to its darkness I'm a little uncomfortable with.

Gur yrnq punenpgre vf rkcyvpvgyl qrfpevorq nf univat unq n oernxqbja, naq gnyxf gb urefrys ba-pnzren frireny gvzrf qhevat gur pbhefr bs gur zbivr. Ng gur raq bs gur svyz fur vf pyrneyl, jryy, qryhfvbany.

Vg vfa'g pyrne gb zr vs guvf vf Nyyra orvat n ovg pehry -- eriryvat va gur qbjasnyy bs n funyybj, zngrevnyvfgvp pyvzore -- be ratntrq va n hafcnevat punenpgre fghql gung vf yrnirarq jvgu qnex uhzbe.

But still . . . a good film. It is interesting seeing Allen use San Francisco as a setting.

#702 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:45 PM:

Serge, it's fine. This isn't the first time Albatross has played devil's advocate, or trolled, or whatever cute thing he thinks he's doing. I keep falling for it, which probably does make me stupid. Maybe this time I'll learn to stay away.

#703 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 10:46 PM:

Fragano, 691 and Xopher, 698: And mine.

#704 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:01 PM:

Fragano @691, Xopher @698, Serge @699, Carrie @700, SummerStorms @703: And mine. In several ways.

#705 ::: D. Potter got gnomed! ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:04 PM:

Must have been the brevity of the comment combined with the string of prior comments with which I was agreeing.

As it happens, I have the makings of cookies and a very ripe banana.

#706 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:08 PM:

Kip, that's wonderful. Your last line certainly caught me off guard.

#707 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:12 PM:

Kip W #671: That's magnificent!

#708 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:14 PM:

Another Country, yes.

Leah Miller at 685: thank you. This makes sense -- not moral sense, not in the moral universe I inhabit, but it's consistent, and it does clarify.

#709 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:16 PM:

Thanks for that effort, Leah.

This left libertarian does not feel like trying to translate for the right libertarians while the gay-in-public thing is still floating about.

#710 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:20 PM:

SamChevre, I'm not really understanding what you're getting at when you assert that a shopkeeper is only allowed to sell to people who have dollars. So far as I know, there are no laws restricting shopkeepers from accepting produce or farm animals in trade, or even from giving their stuff away; it belongs to them, after all. But we don't call that 'selling', do we? We call it 'giving' or 'barter'. And we call shopkeepers who refuse dollars (or whatever generally used currency is called where they have their shop) 'eccentric' for a few days or weeks, and then we call them 'out of business'. Unless they're surrounded by people who value produce or farm animals as trade goods. Then it's just sensible.

What it isn't, is some strange valuing of 'dollars' out of proportion to their actual value. It's jolly useful not to have to cart three chickens and a goat around, making change gives the children nightmares.

So far as business owners being absolute lords over all they survey, to which they hold title, anyway: I'm okay with that. Have at it, business lords! Smite the infidel at your gate, an it please you. So long as the road fronting your domain is not a public one, built by public funds, and the water you use to cool your branding irons not supplied by publically built works, or the waste removed in such a way, and the gas and electric and police and fire and...

It's a nasty old world out there, without a community to make things safe and warm. When a community forms, every stinking one of them as makes it up, is full partner. Even the ones you don't like. So this fantasy you're all by yourself, all Galtie and such, you are so not.

#711 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:23 PM:

And in an unrelated matter, I want to vent here where some of you will understand my frustration. My other half has started taking pre-orders for his self-published book, promising shipment by the end of October. And now he's started still yet one more additional round of editing the manuscript.

#712 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:32 PM:

Allan: Ouch!

#713 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:38 PM:

Leah, #685: My partner, who is also a business owner, says that when you open a public business you abdicate that right of exclusivity -- that if you're serving the public, you must serve the public; exceptions can be made for public-health reasons (aka "no shirt, no shoes, no service"), legal liability (aka "we're cutting you off, sir") or in cases of individual jackassery, but not otherwise.

The idea that property rights are more important than human rights is OBSCENE. And anything else I could say about that would get its vowels pulled.

Fragano, #691: Time to pull this one out again...


"You don't like the Goths?"
"No! Not with the persecution we have to put up with!"
"Persecution?" Padway raised his eyebrows.
"Religious persecution. We won't stand for it forever."
"I thought the Goths let everybody worship as they pleased."
"That's just it. We Orthodox are forced to stand around and watch Arians and Monophysites and Nestorians and Jews going about their business unmolested, as if they owned the country. If that isn't persecution, I'd like to know what is!"
"You mean that you're persecuted because the heretics and such are not?"
"Certainly, isn't that obvious?"
- L. Sprague de Camp

For Orthodox, substitute conservatives; for Arians and Monophysites and Nestorians, substitute gays, blacks, and women. Funny how little these things change.

698-700: And mine.

#714 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:48 PM:

Tom Whitmore at 689: BTW, describing Another Country as "featuring a young black man who commits suicide" is -- is -- I don't have a word. Can one make a portmanteau word of "glib" and "inept"?

Glept?

#715 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:51 PM:

#671: I seem to have left out a whole line in the first stanza. So let's say the third line is:

Eyelids gummy, optics bleary,

…and I'll fight the urge to make a host of other changes and go to bed. TO BED, I SAY!

#716 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:57 PM:

691
Mine, too. I don't know if there are GLBTQ in my family anywhere, but I can swear to minority groups. Women, of course, and disabled in more and less obvious ways.

#717 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2013, 11:59 PM:

Kip, 714: Yeah, yeah... that's what I always tell myself at times like these when I'm struggling to restrain myself from making just one more change to the currently-in-progress chapter of the fiction project in which I am immersed involved embroiled of late.

It doesn't seem to be working. Ah, well. I suppose I can sleep when I'm dead.

#718 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:04 AM:

Lee @712: The idea that property rights are more important than human rights is OBSCENE.

Yes. Yes, that's the phrasing I was searching for. Thank you.

#719 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:08 AM:

@714 & 716: I'm so proud of myself: I finished two sculptures over the weekend, and then I stopped! And have successfully resisted the urge to fiddle.

#720 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:11 AM:

Lizzy @713 -- I have not read the book, and I was going by other people's description there. So -- yes, both glib and inept, but I was attempting to find an identifier that might make the identification more certain. I was not attempting to characterize the book, just mention a (very salient) plot point from my readings about it.

#721 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:12 AM:

Jacque, 718: Show-off.

(I kid. Seriously, that's fantastic.)

#722 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:24 AM:

albatross #664

"I don't think that's capturing what most conservatives would think of as liberty. It certainly isn't capturing what most libertarians would think of as liberty--opposition to the drug war and the draft don't have much to do with property rights. Conservatives in general and libertarians in particular think of property rights as more important than liberals do, I think, but it's far from being an exclusive definition of liberty."

Ending the drug war, surveillance, and the draft are neither conservative nor liberal ideals. In recent years, I haven't observed any real correlation between liberalism and conservatism in the advocacy for those things, and I've encountered many people who hold all sorts of views related to those things on both sides of the divide, so I did not include them in my description of how the primary definitions of liberty differ between liberals and conservatives.

Many libertarians, anarchists, and OWS supporters share that definition of liberty, but I was not talking about libertarianism as a whole, only right-libertarianism as it relates to the mainstream conservative movement in the US. I did specify that I was only talking about right-libertarians, thus I assumed it would be obvious I was highlighting where they differ from left-libertarians. I apologize if that was unclear in some way. In general, the differences between right-libertarians and left-libertarians are based on the property rights prioritization I outlined. Unless you're arguing that left-libertarians are conservative, and that it was conservative politicians who are primarily responsible for the recent wave of drug decriminalization, I don't entirely understand where your implication that these are primarily conservative concepts comes from.

I was not seeking to outline the differences between authoritarian and anarchistic definitions of "liberty," because that is not within the scope of the discussion we're having here. I believe almost everyone here, liberal and conservative alike, are far enough from the authoritarian end of the spectrum to want to decriminalize most drugs and reduce government surveillance. But these beliefs are unrelated to liberalism and conservatism, and exist on a different spectrum. Sorry again for any confusion my decision to limit the scope of my argument may have caused for you.

Also, I'm confused about the second paragraph in your post. Are you really saying that the history of race in america has little to no effect on the current strategies of minority voter suppression in the south, and that mentioning the historical connections between the Civil War, Jim Crow, and modern voter suppression is somehow unfair and gauche?

#723 ::: Leah Miller has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:25 AM:

I tried to do some fancy formatting, and I'm sure I messed something up somewhere.

#724 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:29 AM:

Fragano @691: and mine. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Leah Miller @685: That makes a lot of sense.

KipW @ 671: Lovely!

Oh, er: Update time, I suppose. The FF has returned home, after her mother was stabilized and released to home care at FF's sister's house. Probably not very long for this world, but at least no longer in imminent danger of leaving, much to everyone's relief. However, the postponed nuptials are still on hold, pending further developments along the maternal health issues.

In additional news, I -- along with most of my institute -- have now been placed on "intermittent furlough" due to lack of appropriations. In other words, although the work we do is "essential" for life or security, it's not essential enough to keep us around every day. This irritates me to the point of actually engaging the FB trolls, but then I go play with the kittens, who are growing rapidly. By leaps and bounds, they are. It's amazing to watch them grow.

#725 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:33 AM:

TexAnne:

Do you really think you become more informed or insightful about the modern conservative movement by equating their opposition to unions to supporting slavery? The process you go through to make a statement like that is, as best I can tell, indistinguishable from the one someone on a right wing site goes through in order to toss off some idiocy about how liberals all want a Stalinist dictatorship.

There is a hell of a lot wrong with the Democratic party right now, and probably an order of magnitude more wrong with the Republican party right now. And turning the other side into some historical demons (slavers, nazis, commies, whatever) is pretty much guaranteed not to make any of that any better. There is plenty of real stuff to call the Republicans (or Democrats) on, without making stuff up.

Take this as trolling or not, as you see fit.

#726 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:38 AM:

Apropos of nothing beyond "Ah, blessed relief!" allow me to state that the combination of hot spiced wine and weapons-grade fexafenadine appears to be just the thing for vanquishing stubborn back-of-the-throat itchiness (damned autumnal allergies).

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled discussion, already in progress.

#727 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:43 AM:

Albatross, wanting a workforce that is not in a position to advocate for itself seems truly to be not that far removed from the same mentality that wants... well, a workforce that is not in a position to advocate for itself. Taken to its logical conclusion, what is the ultimate situation in which one's workers lack the agency to look to their own interests? Slavery certainly seems to be a valid answer to that question.

I really don't know what's so hard to grasp about this.

#728 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:43 AM:

Fragano @ 691, and everyone else already saying it:

And mine.

#729 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:49 AM:

Fragano @ 691, and everyone else already saying it:

And mine.

#730 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:49 AM:

Oh crap, that double posted. Apologies, all.

#731 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:51 AM:

Also, there were a number of posts over the last two days, from several people, that I wanted to say I'm in emphatic agreement with, but the list is longer than my saying that.

I've also, for I think the first time in the years I've been mostly hanging around in the background here, wished for a Usenet-reader-style killfile.

#732 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:53 AM:

And on a lighter, um, note:

Chip @ 538:

Nah, I got the "...from the chorus" (implied) part (as a choral singer for about half my life). Brings to mind the saying "There's no such thing as democracy in the choir room"... *grin*

#733 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:54 AM:

Albatross @725: The condition you seem to be overlooking is called "wage slavery"; it's when a person is trapped in a job due to low wages -- it is defined as quasi-voluntary slavery. Unions have helped workers fight against this, to everyone's benefit.

Overblown rhetoric about Stalinism is not equivalent to actual wage slavery, and in fact, the ACA is an incredible tool against modern wage slavery.

#734 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:01 AM:

I think the "and mine"s have reached the point of "so say we all."

Jacque 719: I'm so proud of myself: I finished two sculptures over the weekend, and then I stopped! And have successfully resisted the urge to fiddle.

I should think a bit of musical distraction would be just the thing, really, if you have a talent for bowed instruments.

Oh, you meant...never mind.

#735 ::: KayTei thinks this popcorn is disappointingly stale ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:46 AM:

Xopher @ 734

Who is this "we all" you're speaking for? At least two (three?) of our regular members have been at pains to disagree with you on several points. Not to mention a few I suspect of lurking quietly in the background until the storm blows over.

I'm not sure that this conversation, in this form, can do anything but polarize people.

#736 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 02:49 AM:

Albatross @725, yes, I for one think there is a great deal one can learn about the modern conservative movement by educating oneself about the relationship between capital and labor, and how that relationship is expressed in the form of slavery, strike-breaking, child labor, debt bondage, and various other practices that drive the cost of labor down.

#737 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:11 AM:

abi @ 644

Do individual shareholders control corporations?

I anticipate being a shareholder in the Royal Mail later this week. The expected dividend is hugely more than any bank interest being paid and, one thing and another, I have the cash sitting around. (That is an uncomfortable corporatist attitude: the selling off of the Royal Mail is politically controversial.)

The control I have of the corporation may be summed up as sweet F.A.

Whether I own shares directly, or through some entity as a pension fund, I control nothing. The overwhelming majority of shares in the typical corporation being traded on the public exchanges are held by other corporations. People such as the Walton family and the Koch brothers are unusual (and their wealth depends on the market price of the shares they don't own. Are their billions partly a product of over-high dividend payments, most of which never leave the control of the billionaires?)

#738 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:36 AM:

Mongoose @647

One of my now-dead American cousins, when he visited us in the 1980s, got rather agitated when he saw a mixed-race couple in Lincoln Cathedral.

I knew the young lady. She has unusually dark skin for a North European, but I had been to school with her, and I never heard any hint that she was foreign. Culturally, she was pure yellowbelly, Lincolnshire bred to the core. Maybe it was an adoption, but so what?

Every so often, when these topics come up, she comes to mind. I see, in pictures from the US, and their captions, plenty of examples of people with lighter skin who are considered "black".

My cousin didn't make a blatant fuss. But, while it was never likely, it wasn't hard to imagine me as the young man holding hands with a nggr. And my cousin's attitude seemed horribly wrong to me, even if it was, with what I knew, rather risible.

My father, incidentally, thought he knew the young man's father: family resemblance.

I don't know what my cousin would have made of the current Earl of Yarborough and his wife, but there's nothing about the way they look that anyone could think alien.

[I have disemvoweled one word. It's just too much of a slap in the face, even in the context you've used it.—Abi]

#739 ::: Dave Bell was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:39 AM:

I think I can guess exactly which word did it. In context, reflecting the attitude of an elderly American cousin to a mixed-race couple he saw in England, I think there's some justification.

#740 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:45 AM:

(not using bold here for names because I really, really want to not look like I'm shouting at people.)

TexAnne, I don't think that albatross is trolling. He's expressing sincerely held views, not for the purpose of stirring shit or getting an emotional reaction, but because they're relevant to a conversation happening in our community.

Albatross, you've managed to put your finger on (or your foot in) the hole in Patrick's otherwise excellent "makes people smarter" formulation. The non-inflammatory way to make that negative is not "makes them stupider". I'd suggest "doesn't make them smarter" would be a better choice in a conversation like this.

I'd also suggest that an apology for the use of the word "stupider" might not go amiss.

(But it's a bigger hole than that, because the word "smart", while handy, is not really the right word. "Wiser" might be better, or "more knowledgeable.")

#741 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 04:05 AM:

Last week, the Conservative Party Conference was in full swing in England, and they were expressing some really ugly attitudes.

It's not slavery, but one of their "solutions" to long term unemployment is to force people into unpaid work, under the threat of denying them unemployment benefits. The corporation providing the work doesn't have to pay anything to the worker, and the benefits can be far less than minimum wage.

They're not necessarily the same as US Republicans, but it seems to me that it's an example that supports the claims of inhumanity in right-wing political movements. It's all being done for "hard-working people", yet it competes with actual paid workers. Yes, the victims get money, but even slaves are not zero-cost. They need food and shelter, and this is close to the government giving slave labour to the corporations.

The lawyers have already ruled on this sort of thing. It's not slavery, honest. But it's happening now, and it seems to me to be less an exaggeration to call it slavery than to claim socialism is Stalinism. And it's a right-wing political party, in Government, abusing workers to subsidise large corporations.

#742 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 04:15 AM:

Just reported on the BBC website.

Elmo and the Cookie Monster are to appear in a joint production by the BBC and Sesame Workshop for the Cbeebies TV channel.

#743 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 05:01 AM:

And albatross, if conservatives hate slavery so much, why do I keep running into right-wingers who are apologists for it? It’s not at all uncommon to encounter people who argue that the American slave system wasn’t so bad, or that slaves had it better here than in Africa. A couple of members of the Arkansas state legislature have done just that, one going so far as to write a book about it.

Here’s a Salon article listing more conservatives who’ve praised slavery. The list includes Pat Buchanan, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Trent Franks, and David Horowitz. Those are hardly marginal figures in the conservative movement.

#744 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 05:24 AM:

Oh my. A lot has happened while I was asleep in my little mongoose nest.

Kip @ 671: *applause*

I notice that in all these comments there has still been no answer to the question I asked just before I went to bed last night, which was: how does being gay in public hurt anyone? I therefore repeat the question in case it was missed. (With regard to excessive public displays of affection, I don't care what your sexuality, gender, race or anything else is. If you play tongue tennis or inappropriately fondle your partner in public, I will ask you to get a room. I'm all about "live and let live", but there are reasonable limits to sexual behaviour in public places.)

My personal feeling on rights is that they're not a limited resource. Giving gay couples the right to marry, for instance, doesn't mean that there are now fewer marriages available for straight couples. (Actually I cringe at the whole idea that gay couples have to be "given" such a right in the first place, as though it were a concession rather than a restoration of equality, but I don't know what else to call it.) Giving me the right to practise my religion doesn't alter your right to practise yours. But there does seem to be a tendency in some quarters to talk about rights as though they were invariably a zero-sum game.

I passionately detest all forms of unfairness. The quickest and most reliable way to anger me is to attack or take advantage of someone who, relative to you, is in a vulnerable position. If Mongoose sees someone behaving like a snake, Mongoose may bite. Nonetheless, I prefer not to be anyone's enemy. Sometimes a quick mongoose bite is all it takes for someone to realise that they didn't really want to be that snake.

#745 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:11 AM:

I don’t know if magic is an ingredient of all cakes
But I’m sure my friend put some in the latest she baked
The icing is so bright in colour it makes my eyes ache
After eating a slice, I can feel my feet quake
One piece is not enough – another I have to take
Dream or nightmare, from this I won’t wake
So much for those who thought they would be fake
There’s just crumbs left, make another for goodness sake

(Because this thread needs more poetry. Or more cakes.)

#746 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:24 AM:

The earphones at Pseuds' Corner.

I got an email from a well-known British supplier of electronics gear, telling me of some really expensive headphones.

"Every stitch of its seams is accurately placed, every frequency accurately reproduced. Its genuine materials are in complete harmony with each other."

That text is in a graphics image, not easily indexed by Google. Is the company a little embarrassed by it? I figure they ought to be. As it is, the headphone cost more than some computers. The brand is of the same general sort as Apple, a high reputation for both good design and product quality.

With my ears I don't expect to be able to hear any different, and the blurb does reek of the less sane end of the hi-fi market. It's not quite as loony as the $700 USB cable to connect your iPad to your hi-fi, but it feels somewhere well beyond avoiding the $5 Walmart headphone set.

#747 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:24 AM:

Avram @736:

I was thinking about this as I cycled into work this morning.

I think it's important that we make a distinction between those forms of control that include the notion of ownership of people, and those that do not. The former are no longer a good indicator of future trends, not since outsourcing, the "ownership society", and zero-hours contracts/at-will employment have replaced job stability.

Now workers are free to choose their own course among a range of unpalatable and impoverishing alternatives, and those who want their services don't have to worry about feeding and housing them. I'm not going to try to compare inhumanities on a linear scale, but it's certainly differently dehumanizing than ownership.

(It's analogous to the trend of corporations moving assets off of their balance sheets via sale and leaseback.)

This does not, alas, mean that there are not people trying to control said workers. It just means they don't have to fulfil the other side of the bargain, not even a little bit.


Dave Bell @737:
Do individual shareholders control corporations?

Some do—the Waltons and the Koch brothers spring to mind.

The vast majority of the shares in most publicly traded corporations are held by pension and investment funds. These are institutions that, when they vote in shareholder meetings, do so very conservatively (in the non-political sense of the term). Their general objective is the good old "maximize shareholder value" thing, meaning they either vote for things that improve dividends or improve the capital value of the shares themselves (income vs. growth).

The existence of these large, conservative voting blocs means that it takes a lot fewer shares to matter in annual general meetings. And most of the more interesting elections are to the Board of Directors. Choosing your nominee there is much more useful than trying to sway the votes in shareholder resolutions. Get the institutional investors on board (and most of the people I'm thinking of are going to find that easy; it's the same community, having gone to the same schools and speaking the same dialect), and you do, effectively, control the company.

#748 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:40 AM:

albatross @ 664: Opposition to the drug war and draft absolutely have to do with property in very many libertarians' eyes; specifically, they have to do with self-ownership. I own myself; the state doesn't. Therefore, the state forcing me to do something (as in the draft) can be recast as the state taking property away from me, and this is a mortal sin in a libertarian world. And the state forbidding me to do something (buy drugs) can be seen as limiting free association on the market -- property, again -- which means damaging the libertarian ideal.

@everyone talking about unions and slavery: As far as I know, right-libertarians are opposed to slavery, once again, because of self-ownership. (The one thing that a libertarian state prohitibs that has nothing to do with property is direct violence and possibly also fraud.) People who get paid five dollars a day for sixteen hours of work own themselves; they can leave. They'll starve if they leave; this is irrelevant, because no one's forbidding anything. And only forbidding anything or forcing anything -- only the direct use of force -- is disallowed.

The paragraph above doesn't depict a view I agree with, much. (There's more to freedom than the absence of force.) Mostly I can find sense in left-libertarianism (which makes a distinction between property rights as they concern natural resources and property rights as they concern produced objects); it allows things like welfare and state-funded healthcare, especially if you start with a pretheoretical commitment to some sort of equality. But -- AFAIK -- it doesn't allow things like the state forcing banks to serve women (because property rights, where available, are generally still inviolate), and I suspect I'd be less happy in that sort of political system than I am now.

I got the impression that some of you find a political theory which focuses on property as opposed to either justice or freedom to be fundamentally flawed; I don't have time to reread the entire discussion now, but if anyone actually is of that opinion, it's worth saying that I disagree. Property is something absolutely vital in any modern state; it is the most common reason for restrictions on freedom and the most common object of justice. While there might well be some things we ought to value which are not property, a description of an ideal state in terms of property seems to me comparatively easy, and any description of an ideal state which leaves out a lot about property seems to me entirely unusable.

#749 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 07:20 AM:

Kip W @671: I enjoyed that; thank you.

Allan Beatty@711: Sympathies.

Jacque @ 719: Congratulations! I think that's one of the things I like about the embroidery projects I do (mostly bookmarks, because they're small, so don't take too long, and I can give them away): they have a definite end point after which I can say "it's done".

Leah Miller @685: I have read and comprehended what you wrote, but I can't grok it. Grasping the concept, and that people actually believe this and try to live by it, made me feel nauseated.

Lee @713: Add me to the chorus; "obscene" is an accurate descriptor.

SamChevre@670: The problem with "a strong priority for legal rights that are universal (both parties to an interaction have the same rights)" by itself, is the old saying about sleeping under bridges being illegal for everyone - but the law in practice only applies to those who are homeless, not to those lucky enough to own or be able to rent accommodation. So if everyone has the right to not serve, in their business, those groups they don't like, or don't approve of, in practice that gives all the rights (and all the power) to those who presently own land/businesses, and no rights/no power to those who don't.

Alternatively, logically, if a person wants the right to refuse to, in their restaurant or store, serve, for example, black people, or Jewish people, or women, or gay people, then they should, if your preference is to be applied in an even-handed manner, legally have no access to any services or goods which at any point in their design/creation/manufacture/handling /delivery have been designed/created/manufactured/handled/delivered by those groups which that person is refusing to serve: including the engineer who designed the road, the people in the factories who made the trucks, etc. etc. And if they are having a heart attack, then they should have no right to treatment of any sort provided directly or indirectly by those people. Nor access to medicinal drugs the development of which was undertaken by such people... Or, before accessing such, they should have to contact every single person who has been involved in said creation, explain which groups they are refusing to serve in their establishment, and ask if they might, nevertheless, use the fruits of their labour.

#750 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:06 AM:

rat4000 #748: I'd say that a "description of a political system" in which human welfare has to be justified in terms of property rights, is, as Lee put it, obscene.

Fragano #691: Amen! Also, "you can put a fool in a mortar and pound them, but they'll come out the same fool" may explain a lot about the Republicans.

I'll spare you folks the detailed bragging, but my family gathering this past weekend (nephew's Bar Mitzvah) was as big as it was, because despite diversities of race, religion, sexual orientation¹, neurology, wealth, and even politics, my family manages to get along and avoid feuds amazingly well.

¹ Has there been any progress on referring to that in less than six syllables? :-~

#751 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:11 AM:

"But from little what you've told me, I would say she was a pearl of great price."

#752 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:27 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 750: I figured out that sentence was prone to misunderstandings shortly after posting it. I only meant that property rights are a fine way to describe political theories, because so much of politics is about who can use what. What you're describing, and why that's the thing you want, is (I'm thinking) mostly independent of how you describe it; libertarians give us a wonderful way of talking about political theories while also giving us a... polarizing... political theory.

#753 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:57 AM:

Leah Miller @ 685

Thank you for a useful summary; I'd consider that pretty accurate as a statement of the right-libertarian position.

I lean heavily toward that position, but tend to emphasize freedom of association more than most right-libertarians.

Mongoose @ 744 repeats a question that's been asked several times--"how does being gay in public harm anyone?" I'm deliberately not answering that question: I don't perceive myself as being harmed, and my key point is that I don't get to decide for you that something is harmless to you; whether it's cat-calling, or men with handlebar mustaches, or openly gay couples in public--you, not me, get to decide what is harmful to you.

Lee @ 713

My partner, who is also a business owner, says that when you open a public business you abdicate that right of exclusivity

That is true, legally, today; it was NOT true prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Heart of Atlanta decision. It's that change in the law that I oppose.

#754 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:25 AM:

A general thing about property rights: For me, protecting property rights can be a means to the end of protecting people's freedom. It's a tool. When it becomes an end in itself, or a measure of the effectiveness of the political system, I'm off the bus. Because the axis of evaluation becomes, inevitably a kind of goal; what we measure is what we target.

SamChevre @753:
I don't perceive myself as being harmed, and my key point is that I don't get to decide for you that something is harmless to you; whether it's cat-calling, or men with handlebar mustaches, or openly gay couples in public--you, not me, get to decide what is harmful to you.

That would work a lot better if all of the harms people perceived were treated equally. But they're not. Cat-calling men don't have the same problems as publicly gay people, neither with the law nor with extralegal persecution.

This is one of those "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" moments for me. Somehow, whether it's because God said so or part of the cost of preserving our freedoms, it's the same people getting it in the neck: women, gays, people of color.

I want a definition of liberty that actually makes people freer, rather than just recasting the same people's freedom in terms more defensible to modern palates.

#755 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:26 AM:

I've been staying out of this discussion as I think I can only offer heat, not light.

I remember the separate "blacks" and "whites" entrances to my hometown doctor's office. I remember Lester Maddox and his souvenir ax handles labeled "n*gger knockers". I remember those who felt that others being black in public was harming them, and what their solution to that harm was.

SamChevre's last comment takes me past the point of "With those who follow a different Way it is useless to take counsel."

See y'all in the next open thread.

#756 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:31 AM:

If you recognize that seeing men with handlebar mustaches in public harms you, I suggest that the proper course of action is not to stone the mustache-wearer, nor pass a law banning such mustaches, nor even to quit the public space yourself. The proper course would be to seek competent psychiatric care.

#757 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:36 AM:

I for one second Lila's suggestion for a new Open Thread.

#758 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:46 AM:

SamChevre #753: So you're saying that anyone can decide that having {gays,blacks,Jews,etc.} walking around in public is harmful to them, and implying that this "perceived harm" is real and actionable.

What I'm seeing here is that what you're identifying as "right-libertarianism" takes several tenets of liberal society as unwarranted assumptions requiring exhaustive justification. Things like, "all humans have equal membership in society, and equal rights to participate in said society". Things like "every member in society has an obligation to help maintain that society and its underlying resources".

There are some classic statements and claims lurking behind the political arguments you're making. While you have confined yourself to the political "cover", those arguments normally get marshalled in favor of statements amounting to:

  • How dare anyone tell me what I can or can't do with my land/property/money/family/employees?
  • How dare anyone tell me I have to treat Them like real people -- show them courtesy, listen to what they say -- instead of showing them their place beneath me?
  • How dare They go around acting like they're just as important as me?
And you know what? All of those statements share a single root, and that root is called narcissistic rage. A primal lashing out at any hint that the speaker might not be top dog, that they might have to defer to someone else, that they might have less than total control over their own "territory" (no matter how large or small). Political talk in general is usually marshalled to support someone's natural alliances and moral sentiments -- but narcissism's moral sentiment is "I get to do anything I want, and nobody can stop me". And not only can you not build a society out of that, the attitude is actively corrosive to any realistic society.

#759 ::: Dave Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:48 AM:

While being rather annoyed with Sam. Feel free to exercise moderatorial judgement.

#760 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:03 AM:

Here's the thing. I'm mostly out of time, and I think I've said, as clearly as I can, what I want to say. I probably won't be back in this thread until after work tonight. I'm not ignoring anyone.

Please, though, keep in mind: the fact that I argue "people should be legally allowed to do such-and-so" does not mean that I think "it would be a good idea for people to do such-and-so"; it does not mean "I think well of people who do such-and-so". All it means is "I think that using force to prevent people from doing such-and-so is unnecessary and/or unwise."

#761 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:03 AM:

abi @ 754:

I want a definition of liberty that actually makes people freer, rather than just recasting the same people's freedom in terms more defensible to modern palates.

Right on the button. And, no, of course we don't get to tell other people what is harmful to them, but there are patterns which help in defining what "harm" is. If Person A habitually behaves in a particular way towards members of Group X, does it tend to make members of Group X feel fearful or constrain their freedom in some other way? (Obviously this doesn't need to be every single member of Group X.) If it does, then saying that Person A's behaviour is harmful is not telling members of Group X how they ought to feel about it. It's simply a recognition that a significant proportion of Group X is getting hurt.

Now there may well be someone who is harmed by seeing someone with a handlebar moustache in public. Maybe that's because they were abused by a relative who had just such a moustache. Maybe it's because they're an ex-soldier, and their sadistic colonel had such a moustache. I'm not going to deny that the person is being harmed - PTSD is a scary and very real thing; however, the harm is not actually due to the person in the here-and-now who is quite innocently wandering around with the impressive facial hair, completely unaware of the unfortunate reaction he's setting off. The harm is due to what happened in the past, and our hypothetical moustachioed gentleman has just inadvertently triggered it. It's no more his fault than if he were, say, a fire hydrant that had set off a similar stress reaction. It's not a matter of his behaviour, which he can control; it's a matter of his simple existence.

Therefore Jim is correct. The person with the stress reaction needs to see a therapist. And I'm also in favour of a new open thread, please.

#762 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:12 AM:

I for one think that Sam Elliott's handlebar moustache is awesome.

#763 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:17 AM:

SamChevre @753: I don't get to decide for you that something is harmless to you; whether it's cat-calling, or men with handlebar mustaches, or openly gay couples in public--you, not me, get to decide what is harmful to you.

This is an interesting perspective, and one for which I have a certain degree of sympathy. One of the things that has been impressed upon me (particularly by discussions of gender, race, and sexual orientation) is the ethical duty of considering whether my words and actions may cause someone else harm that I had not contemplated—the idea that, if someone tells me that I have hurt them, the appropriate response is to take their report of their own feelings seriously, and never simply to say, "No, you're wrong; what I did wasn't offensive."

However, it seems to me that the sort of radical agnosticism about harmfulness that you are proposing is completely and utterly impracticable as a basis for running a society. If we accept the old saw that your right to swing your fist stops short of my face—that the one instance in which it is not only acceptable but absolutely necessary to curtail liberty is the case in which exercise of that liberty infringes upon the rights of others not to be harmed—then we really have to have some general societal standard of what constitutes harm. If someone cannot articulate how (for example) witnessing the existence of gay people harms them in some demonstrable way, then I cannot condone curtailing the rights of gay people for the sake of sparing anyone the putative harm of having to see them.

Remind me again which one of us is supposed to be the libertarian? I seem to have lost track.

#764 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:22 AM:

SamChevre #760: All it means is "I think that using force to prevent people from doing such-and-so is unnecessary and/or unwise."

To which I'll fetch a reply from the frontpage Commonplaces: “If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

And adding to my prior comments: “When liberty is mentioned, we must observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests.” (Hegel)

#765 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:53 AM:

SamChevre @760, If seeing women in public may be psychologically harmful to someone, does that mean I must be required to wear a burkha at all times?

What I'm trying to get at here is, how do you balance the harm? There is real harm to that hypothetical Islamic fundamentalist; I'm not saying there is not. But there is also real and tangible harm to me, if you privilege the harm done to him over the harm done to me and require that burkha at all times in public.

Where do YOU draw the line? That's something I'm just not seeing, in your statements; a line.

#766 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:08 AM:

Sam Chevre: What I'm hearing you say is that individuals should have the right to kill other individuals*, so long as they use economic force**, not physical force, to do this, and no legal force should be in place to prevent this. And you think this economic force is good (because property rights are the most important thing), but legal force (constraints placed by society to prevent, amongst other things, abusive use of economic force) is bad. Yes/No?

*e.g. refusing to sell medication, in the pharmacy you own, to someone who will die without said medication, when it is impossible, due to e.g. economic circumstances, for that person to reach another establishment selling that medication in time to save their life.

** And it is force.

#767 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:14 AM:

Oh yes. I should, in fairness, have mentioned the other good way to annoy me.

Fleas.

Seriously. Fleas. I cannot abide the little vampire bugs. Usually there aren't many because I keep Miss Cat well squirted, but we're having an unusually warm autumn over here and Miss Cat is spending so much time outside (no doubt making the most of the last of the sunshine) that it's quite hard to get hold of her to administer the squirt. At the moment I'm playing catch-and-drown. Grrr.

#768 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:30 AM:

...whether it's cat-calling, or men with handlebar mustaches, or openly gay couples in public--you, not me, get to decide what is harmful to you.

The only possible response to that is "One of these things is not like the others."*

The guy with the mustache and the gay couple are not doing anything to me. They are walking around, living their lives as they see fit, and if I have a problem with that it's my problem. Whereas a person cat-calling me is doing something to me. And that is HIR PROBLEM.

I mean, seriously, Sam, do you not see the difference? Do you really actually think that these things are the same? Because that's...wrong. I don't get to dictate how anyone is being, beyond the very most basic "Don't wear so little clothing you scare the horses" level.

If a shaven-headed white guy walks into my theoretical establishment and starts complaining about how the nggrs** are allowed to shop there, I can throw him out for being a jerk. I don't get to refuse service to every shaven-headed white guy on the off-chance he might turn out to be a jerk. And if that's not a distinction you're OK with, I can only hope that you someday understand the true content of your character.

*: Well, OK, the only possible response for me.
**: Self-disemvowelment

#769 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:35 AM:

SummerStorms @721: Show-off.

::strut:: *preen* :-)

And you have no idea how much willpower it's taking to resist the urge to just sand down that one little rough spot, right there. Because, you know, That Way Lies Madness.

#770 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:56 AM:

rat4000 @ 748:

I think the problem here lies in the perception of a hard-and-fast dichotomy between a focus solely upon either property or human rights. While I do think that a society in which private property was at most a minor consideration while human interaction received the bulk of attention could function perfectly well (witness certain Native American/First Nations tribes) and would be healthier than anything ever dreamed up by devotees of Ayn Rand et al, I don't see why the two spheres should have to be pitted against each other at all. Rather, what is needful is balance, and when one absolutely must be sacrificed, human rights should trump property. Why? Because it becomes exceedingly difficult to acquire property when one is deprived of opportunity, and equality of opportunity (or something at least approximating it wherever and whenever possible) is a stated goal of protecting and promoting human rights.

#771 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:04 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @734: I should think a bit of musical distraction would be just the thing, really, if you have a talent for bowed instruments. Oh, you meant...never mind.

Thank you, Xopher, you made me giggle. :-)

#772 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:05 PM:

It seems to me that much turns on the meaning of "harm" in Sam's comment. Nobody can tell you what offends or upsets you to see, whether that's gay couples or men with handlebar mustaches. But both the law and social custom have to work out where that level of upset or offense becomes something that needs to be prevented, potentially by arresting the people who are offending the sensibilities of others. Different levels of that are appropriate in different venues, and different rules can and should apply in different venues.

In general in the US, we allow a really wide range of behavior and speech that will give offense to take place in public spaces. The Klan can have a march down Main Street, and that will offend and upset a whole lot of people for very good reason, but in general, they get to do it. The next week, it can be Act Up, or PETA, or the WBC, or the Communist Party of the USA, or the goldfish fanciers. Similarly, if you want to walk down the street wearing a T shirt with a swastika on it, you aren't supposed to be arrested for that, though probably everyone will think you're a really nasty person and you may get into a fight.

In private spaces, things are handled differently. We generally let people decide what speech may take place and who may come into their homes and churches. There aren't really any legal restrictions on that that I'm aware of--if you hate blacks, gays, and men with handlebar mustaches[1], you can refuse all of them entry to your home with no legal consequences. That's a reflection of some nasty beliefs, but it's not illegal. Nasty beliefs aren't illegal. Nor are irrational or even crazy dislikes of people for weird reasons.

Businesses and private clubs and such are an intermediate case, and that's where a lot of the argument about antidiscrimination law really lands. I imagine that there are people who own bookstores and coffeeshops and restaurants and bed and breakfasts and such that feel very much like their business is an extension of their homes. Forcing them to let people in who make them feel uncomfortable or who offend them by their presence is genuinely an imposition on them, it makes them feel worse off. It is no use arguing about whether they should feel that way, because some people demonstrably do feel that way. And my (limited) understanding of the law is that a store owner can exclude people for all manner of silly or crazy reasons without much legal trouble, but that there are a small set of reasons for excluding people which are specifically forbidden by law. That is, I think the coffeeshop owner can refuse to serve me because he doesn't like my looks. But if he refuses to serve me because he doesn't serve Catholics, that runs afoul of the law. (Someone who knows more about the law please correct me here.).

What is going on there is, as far as I can see, not a decision about whether to respect property rights or not. Rather, it's a balancing decision--respecting property rights at the level of allowing store owners to refuse to do business with blacks was demonstrably causing a huge amount of harm to blacks and to the surrounding society, and so we made that particular decision illegal. There are costs to that--not only unhappiness of people who are forced to interact with people they hate[2], but also the costs of having all kinds of business decisions subject to legal oversight, the cost of false accusations, etc. But since the costs to keeping widespread private discrimination against blacks were so huge, it was worth it to enact those laws despite the costs.

Arguments about how far those laws should go don't look to me like arguments primarily about property rights. Among people anywhere close to the mainstream in the US, everyone agrees that you get to keep using whatever criteria you like in inviting people into your home. Does that make them all property rights extremists? Similarly, business owners can refuse to do business with people for pretty arbitrary reasons, I think. The coffeeshop owner can tell me to get out and not come back because he doesn't like my looks. Again, this is pretty widely supported.

The real argument here seems to be about where the tradeoff should be. What criteria for excluding people from various private spaces are legitimate? What are the costs and benefits of those criteria?

[1] I am now somehow visualizing a gay black man with handlebar mustaches wearing a T shirt with a swastika. My examples are making my head hurt.

[2] It's tempting to just say "you shouldn't feel that way" and ignore this cost. But someone requiring that a devout Jew must serve pork and shellfish in his restaurant could say the same thing. We don't in general want the law to steamroller over peoples' beliefs, even minority beliefs, even despicable ones. Any of us may find ourselves in the minority soon enough, holding and living by beliefs many of our neighbors think are despicable.

#773 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:11 PM:

Jacque @ 760... the urge to just sand down that one little rough spot

Sand and deliver?

#774 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:19 PM:

I should have been shouty, clearly.

#775 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:29 PM:

*offers Abi the use of her megaphone*

#776 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:37 PM:

abi/Avram:

Isn't it funny how, if you take one side at their word about their goals, and extrapolate the worst rhetoric of the other side out to the worst imaginable dystopian future, you can draw a really big distinction between the two?

Like, if there are policies the Republicans support, which could conceivably be continued for decades to get to some situation that would make coal mining towns in the 1800s look like utopia, then that must be what they want. And it is totally reasonable to talk as though that's what they believe in and want. You should definitely use this as a tool to analyze their values and beliefs, as well as their morals.

On the other hand, if there are policies the Democrats support, which could conceivably be continued for decades to get to some situation that would make the old Soviet Union look like utopia, it's obvious that only a right-wing crackpot would accuse Democrats of wanting that sort of future. What could be more clear than that?

I do not mean to insult you, but I truly do not see how this mental process helps you understand things better. Nor do I see any difference at all between this process and the one that leads people like Orson Scott Card to imagine a world where Obama is running a socialist dictatorship and using access to nationalized healthcare as a tool of social control. When I see OSC talking like that, I think "there is a smart guy who is using his ideology and his Fox news bubble to make himself believe silly things." And likewise here.

#777 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:49 PM:

abi @ 774... I could lend you the Infinity Horn.

#778 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:53 PM:

I have now caught and squirted Miss Cat. Let's see what difference that makes.

#779 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 12:58 PM:

Anyone here have an active account on the JREF Forums?

I've been asked to get a message to the community there by a formerly active forum participant who is dying, and I neglected to sign up for an account until about five hours ago and my account is still in moderation. (Besides, I think the "Community" boards have some extra restrictions, and a new account wouldn't be let in)

If anyone would care to pass along a message, my email address is linked near the bottom of the page my name links to. The message is basically what I posted as a comment at http://yankeeskeptic.com/2013/09/28/real-science-real-hope-for-als/

#780 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Albatross, I honestly can't see how "increase access to healthcare through increasing access to and affordability of health insurance and requiring people to carry it so as to spread out the risk" can be reasonably extrapolated out to Stalinism without making some pretty big leaps. Whereas the historical record in this country indicates to me that "selectively reduce the access of minority voters to actually exercise their vote" is of a fabric with poll-taxes that served not all that long ago to protect Jim Crow laws from challenges, which in their turn served to reinforce second-class citizenship for blacks in the former slaveholding states, which--within my mother's lifetime, if not my own--produced a share-cropping system that recapitulated slavery pretty well, except that the owners of the land no longer had to pay to keep their "employees" fed and clothed, however marginally. So there's a pretty clear line of extrapolation, to my stupid mind. But it's probably just because I'm too partisanly dumb to draw the obvious bright line between healthcare and gulags.

#781 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:12 PM:

Sorry, I think I'm adding heat rather than light at this point. I'm done.

#782 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:15 PM:

Mongoose @778--Congratulations! I managed to get all of mine late last week, including Bob, Despiser of All Humans. I don't know if he was drowsy, or simply willing to tolerate being grabbed and squirted in the interests of less itching. By his standards he was positively complaisant.

The current flea population is now slower and less vigorous. We are hoping for the best. It was a warm (but not bakingly hot) and wet summer here, which is excellent weather for fleas, damn them.

#783 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:20 PM:

fidelio @ 782: fingers crossed!

Squirting Miss Cat used to be an absolute nightmare, but it's become a lot easier since I worked out that I need to do it when she's sitting in my lap, rather than running round chasing her and stressing her out. She's very highly strung. Everything in her life has at least three exclamation marks.

#784 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:28 PM:

#772 ::: albatross

I'm reasonably sure that it's permitted under Jewish law to sell cook, and serve tref food. There might be issues about serving it to Jews.

Anybody know?

#785 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Re: Jews handling non-kosher food.

I think that to some extent it varies from group to group, even among the Orthodox. However, in most instances it's still something an Orthodox Jew would probably avoid.

Of course, there's little danger of it ever being made illegal for a restaurant or shop owner to decline to stock or serve non-kosher, non-halal, or non-whatever else (vegan, vegetarian, whatever) comestibles, simply because there'd be no point. Allowing them to refuse to do business with customers of a particular race, gender, orientation, religion, or what-have-you is another story, and there is good reason for that to be illegal.

#786 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Serge Broom @773: Sand and deliver?

That's safe only if the piece is already Olmos finished.

#787 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:54 PM:

albatross @776:

I don't think you're nearly as calm and rational about this as you think you are. I also think you're doing a disappointing amount of elision to keep the "liberals and conservatives are talking about equally unlikely disastrous endgames" line going. Sometimes things aren't nearly so evenly balanced. Sometimes one group is more wrong than the other.

I also think that you're in a very poor position to start casting such widespread aspersions about people's intelligence or thought processes. That's really beneath the standards that you have set for yourself over the time you've commented here. It's also beneath the minimum level of respect that you owe your fellow commenters.

You used to have a better sense of your own fallibility, more grace, more humility, and more respect for your fellow community members, even the ones you disagreed with. I miss that. I think a lot of us do.

#788 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 02:04 PM:

Ah. Timely, given the discussion about opportunity:

U.S. in a real state of crisis says Secretary of Education

The United States is in "a real state of crisis," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday, as findings of a study showed that American adults fare poorly in mathematical and technical skills needed for a modern workplace compared to their counterparts in most other developed nations. ... The exams were administered to 166,000 people, ages 16 through 65, in 23 countries in 2011 and 2012. Results show a startling pattern of the United States lagging behind several other countries, starting with test scores and young adults' graduation rates and later corresponding to a skills gap after graduation.

Young adults in the U.S. also did poorly compared to their international equals not just in technology and math, but literacy, too.

Yes. About fricking time. This:

"We have to stop playing catch-up," Duncan said, who proposed that early intervention in the form of pre-school for every child in America is the educational solution for raising U.S. test scores.
"Getting our babies off to a good start is often the best investment we can make. There's nothing political to this," he said.

Pre-school . . . and nutritional support during pregnancy, parenthood education, and environmental cleanup.

All the stuff that would make a difference . . . and would cut or never get out the door if conservatives have their way, because by gum if people can't afford food and health care and to live in a clean neighborhood with good schools maybe they shouldn't be having kids, right?

#789 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 02:22 PM:

wrt the supposed harmfulness of being gay in public (or indeed in private), afaik it starts with gay sex being inherently nonprocreative (except for cis/trans pairs, but I don't think that's even on the radar for the usual proponents of this argument). Therefore, if you condone the gay, you accept that sex can be had just for fun instead of for procreation. If it's okay to have sex just for fun, then it's okay to use contraception. If it's okay to use contraception, then it's not necessary to get married before having sex (since marriage is usually described by that side as existing primarily for the production and support of children). So if you don't have to get married to have sex, then no one will bother getting married at all?

(I've tried to avoid distorting the logical sequence as I understand it, though it's possible I've misunderstood any or all of it along the way.)

Though interestingly, istr reading that marriage really is becoming less common among working-class couples... because the bridal-industrial complex has so inflated the expectations and supposed norms of the festivities that they simply feel that they can't afford to hold a wedding.

#790 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 02:46 PM:

KayTei, #735: The "and mine" posts are not in response to Xopher, but to Fragano, who was objecting forcefully to the claim that his civil rights come at the cost of white men's freedom.

abi, #747: There is certainly a range of options short of actual chattel slavery, but some of them are closer to it than others; the "company town" model comes strongly to mind, as does "indentured servitude". I think the current trend of "unpaid internships" is the modern equivalent of the latter, only (as you note) with absolutely no obligation on the employer's side. And then there's wage slavery, and the big one of recent decades -- medical-coverage slavery, wherein an employee literally cannot quit their job because they, or someone dependent on them, would die for lack of access to health care.

Libertarians, by and large, consider slavery to be the Ultimate Evil, and are therefore heavily invested in finding ways to argue that such-and-such isn't at all comparable to slavery even when there are large and obvious similarities.

rat4000, #748: And don't forget jury duty! I've heard any number of Libertarians describe that as slavery.

People who get paid five dollars a day for sixteen hours of work own themselves; they can leave. They'll starve if they leave; this is irrelevant, because no one's forbidding anything. And only forbidding anything or forcing anything -- only the direct use of force -- is disallowed.

Furthermore, it's only force if undertaken by the government. Coercion, using the same tactics, by private entitles is perfectly fine.

(Before anyone tries the No True Libertarian argument here -- those are positions I have heard argued, repeatedly, in real life, from self-described Libertarians. Some Libertarians doubtless disagree with them, but there are plenty who espouse them.)

Also, it's not a political theory which emphasizes property rights per se that I find both fundamentally flawed and dioxin-level toxic; it's one that holds property rights superior to human rights.

SamChevre, #753: And it's because you oppose that change in the law that Fragano and many other people (including me) are saying that you have declared yourself to be our enemy.

Note that your #760 does not absolve you of this. Intent is not magic; when you say you want X, you also take upon yourself the consequences of X. If X is "the removal of civil liberties from certain groups," it doesn't matter whether or not you approve of the people who would do so -- you have aligned yourself with them.

This is not the first time you've pulled this "I don't agree that X would be a good thing, but I want it available anyhow" stunt, but it's the most overt that I can recall. Do not feel surprised or put-upon that people are angry at you, because it's a breathtakingly unprincipled (not to mention cowardly) argument. You are effectively saying that you're fine with other people suffering for your ideology, but you don't want to face any personal consequences for saying so. And that's not how the world works.

abi, #743: I want a definition of liberty that actually makes people freer, rather than just recasting the same people's freedom in terms more defensible to modern palates.

THIS. Exactly.

Dave H., #758: narcissism's moral sentiment is "I get to do anything I want, and nobody can stop me"

AKA the canonical troll statement. Note that they also routinely try to marshal "freedom" in their defense.

Q. Pheevr, #763: If someone cannot articulate how (for example) witnessing the existence of gay people harms them in some demonstrable way, then I cannot condone curtailing the rights of gay people for the sake of sparing anyone the putative harm of having to see them.

Well put, and strikes to the heart of the issue. When rights collide, whose absolute right is more absolute?

To date, every single attempt to defend the argument that being gay in public harms people boils down to the people claiming harm doing so on the basis that it's against their religious beliefs. And we have a certain well-established body of precedent about legally privileging the religious beliefs of one group over any other.

albatross, #772: That's a good analysis.

#791 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Jacque @ 786... already Olmos finished

Groan. :-)

#792 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 02:59 PM:

Serge @791, that's the plane truth.

#793 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Lee @790:

In SamChevre's defense, I think he wants to keep a firm distinction between legality and morality. In other words, he wants there to be things that he thinks are immoral that are not illegal.

Given our society's wide divergence in matters moral, I do kind of see his point. I do know people who feel that homosexuality is immoral, but still support marriage equality because they don't think that society's legal code should necessarily match their moral one.

I think we all draw our own lines where the legal and moral codes should overlap. Murder is both immoral in most value systems I'm aware of and illegal. But adultery (in the sense of a breach of the founational agreements that underlie an intimate relationship) is also immoral in most value systems, but I don't know of a lot of Western societies that forbid it. So there is a line in there for all of us.

I just don't agree with where Sam draws it, or why he orders his priorities that way.

#794 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:07 PM:

Cassy B @ 792: Smooth.

#795 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:10 PM:

KayTei 735: You either missed the reference or are being disappointingly literal.

SamChevre 753: I'm deliberately not answering that question: I don't perceive myself as being harmed, and my key point is that I don't get to decide for you that something is harmless to you; whether it's cat-calling, or men with handlebar mustaches, or openly gay couples in public--you, not me, get to decide what is harmful to you.

Suppose I think the existence of people who lean to the right-libertarian position is harmful to me? I'm not sure what remedies I'm supposed to have for things that harm me, in your view. Is it just that I should be allowed to refuse service to them, or am I allowed to get the villagers together with pitchforks and torches?

I think that position ("you decide what harms you") is patently absurd. I think some kind of reasonable-person test should be applied, and that such a test would exclude both "being gay in public" and "leaning to a right-libertarian position" as harmful. (I'm speaking here about the kinds of harm which society legitimately takes action against. Mongoose's examples at 761 made me note this.)

abi 754: I want a definition of liberty that actually makes people freer, rather than just recasting the same people's freedom in terms more defensible to modern palates.

There we go. All the right-libertarian descriptions are doing is giving an alternative reasoning for all the same people having power over everyone else.

Jim 756: If you recognize that seeing men with handlebar mustaches in public harms you, I suggest that the proper course of action is not to stone the mustache-wearer, nor pass a law banning such mustaches, nor even to quit the public space yourself. The proper course would be to seek competent psychiatric care.

Or being black in public. Or being gay in public. Or being an interracial or same-sex couple (or both, like me and one of my exes) in public.

Dave 759: Yes! "Narcissistic rage" puts the finger on it exactly. And the reasonable-sounding tone with which these ideas are expressed doesn't change that fact.

Carrie 768: Hmm. I seem to be saying "Yeah! This!" a lot in this comment. But there are so many good things that I wish I'd thought of or said, and here's yet another. Particularly speaking as a shaven-headed white guy! And you're right, SamChevre doesn't see a distinction there at all.

Jacque 771: You're quite welcome!

abi 774: You can force people to hear, but not to listen or understand.

alsafi 780, Julie 789, Lee 790: Dammit, everybody is saying things I wish I'd said! Please don't stop.

#796 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:16 PM:

Mongoose:

I'm glad to hear that Miss Cat has been medicated.

I love "everything in her life has at least three exclamation points" and will be working it into my conversation as appropriate IRT some folks I know.

#797 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:35 PM:

Mongoose @783 Everything in her life has at least three exclamation marks.

I use to live with that cat. She was a beautiful marbled Bengal we called Zaza, and she existed in a near-constant state of agitation, unless she was asleep.

#798 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 03:37 PM:

Cassie B @ 792... This topic is a total bust.

#799 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 04:14 PM:

Conscience Creep, and the problems with it.

Given that much of the discussion here has been about where one person's freedom starts and another's ends, this seems relevant.

#800 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 04:42 PM:

re 799: I have quite a bit of sympathy for this, but on the other hand I would have a huge, huge problem with extending this to an insistence that any given OB/GYN be expected to perform an abortion for birth control. In the Hobby Lobby case I think the argument can be made that providing a health insurance benefit isn't enough agency to imply a moral responsibility, and there's other casuistry that could be thrown at that; on the other hand, in extremis the argument could also be made that they must close down their business if that's what it takes to get out from under such a forced responsibility. I would agree though that the aim of discouraging their employees from getting abortions is an abuse of the employment relationship: my boss is not my father.

#801 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 05:38 PM:

C. Wingate @800: should Christian Scientists be allowed to be licensed physicians? Should witch doctors? Somewhere you have to draw the line between personal beliefs, and standards of professional conduct. For the Ob/Gyn example, I'm fine with one doctor in a practice saying "I won't perform certain procedures", but if there are standards saying that a rural hospital has to have one Ob/Gyn on staff to qualify for accreditation, then that Ob/Gyn probably has to actually provide all the services that are normally expected from that specialty, and an Ob/Gyn who doesn't want to provide some services probably shouldn't be eligible for that job.

I'm sure if you try you can think of plenty of examples of personal religious beliefs that rule out certain careers. Some examples involve belief in the sanctity of all life vs. jobs that require killing (soldier, butcher, etc.), belief in keeping specific weekdays holy (Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, etc.) vs. jobs that require performance of duties regardless of day of the week (emergency personnel, law enforcement, national security etc. especially in remote locations where it's not reasonable to bring in a replacement once a week), oaths of silence vs. jobs that require speaking to people, etc.

#802 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:11 PM:

Rat4000 @748: As far as I know, right-libertarians are opposed to slavery, once again, because of self-ownership.

Right-libertarians, in my experience, tend to believe in the inviolability of contracts. And, as you’ve pointed out, they express individual rights in terms of property rights — that is, they see people as possessing themselves as property.

Put those two beliefs together, and you have a framework for slavery. Here’s how it works: 1. You own yourself as property. 2. You can sell property, at which point you no longer own it. 3. Therefore, you can sell yourself, at which point some other person owns you.

I’m not engaging in some kind of fanciful speculation here; what I’ve outlined is exactly how slavery worked in many real societies. (Still does — read about debt bondage.) The main ways of becoming enslaved are either to fall into debt, or to be captured in a war, or to be the descendent of someone to whom one of those things had happened.

The way a proper liberal society prevents this is by establishing freedom not as a property right but as a fully inalienable right, which cannot be contracted away.

#803 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:24 PM:

And if you have the power that wealth brings, you can influence the laws about contracts to your own advantage, and soon enough you end up with serfs and lords and hired bullies to enforce it all.

#804 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:42 PM:

Albatross @776, how many liberals have you ever heard talk about how great a guy Stalin was, or how they’d like to have lived in Stalinist Russia? I’ve never heard so much as a single one.

How many conservatives have you ever heard talk about how great Thomas Jefferson was, or how people in the 19th century had so much more freedom than they do now? In my experience, those are pretty common things to hear.

Also, there’s a big difference between worrying that US will import some strange foreign aberrational political system that only lasted for three decades, and worrying that we’ll fall back into the system that we ourselves ran under, and that was defended for centuries as the proper way to do things.

#805 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:49 PM:

Serge Broom @791: Groan. :-)

Hahaha!! I did it!! I made Serge groan. I made Serge groan!!

#806 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 06:53 PM:

...for falling off her chair in enthusiasms. Basil pesto with whole wheat toast?

Xopher Halftongue @795: [KayTei] either missed the reference or are being disappointingly literal.

Nah, zie just took it in a different, unvarnished direction.

#807 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 07:01 PM:

Sam Chevre @753: my key point is that I don't get to decide for you that something is harmless to you

How does that work, exactly?

I mean, one of the key features of harm is that it justifies extreme reactions. We don’t, in the normal course of things, get to (legally) hit people, or sue them, but if we’ve been harmed in some way, or if harm seems likely, then we do. And when that happens, the people involved tend to wind up in court, and then society (or a specially-empowered subset of it) gets to — probably has to — decide whether that harm (or possible harm) was real. Right?

#808 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 07:13 PM:

Been reading & learning. This article attempts to explain why there is so much anger in a way that makes sense to me (YMMV).

I have never been comfortable with the mandatory tipping culture either as it casts the servers in a position that feels servile to me. It's not the egalitarian relationship I want to have with the people who provide a service to me. (I think it's partly growing up & living in a no-mandatory-tipping culture but also as someone with minority aspects, any form of perceived inequality provokes an allergic response in me)

In lieu of a cookies, hybrid pastries/desserts are "a thing". Not only cronuts™ (croissants/donuts), but also duffins (donuts/muffins), townies (tarts/brownies), the list goes on. Not all names are created equal: muffnuts or crapjacks anyone?

#809 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 07:19 PM:

C. Wingate @800: I would agree though that the aim of discouraging their employees from getting abortions is an abuse of the employment relationship

Not to mention a violation of HIPAA, if I understand correcly. As would be a refusal to cover contraception.

#810 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:01 PM:

re 801: When you go to "that rural hospital" you're treading into "employ at will" territory: there's nothing that prevents a hospital from making such a demand as a condition of employment. But there is also the reality of making arrangements. I work for a orthodox Jewish company. One contract we have requires us to maintain support even on some days where the company cannot work. Therefore there is always one gentile who isn't an employee and who handles the funds to pay for people to work on these holidays. Realistically no state is going to be able to push "we won't license you to practice in the boondocks if you won't take patients on Saturday/Sunday".

Also, this principle heads out into requiring people to do any kind of business that they find repugnant, such as insisting that magazine have to take tobacco ads.

#811 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:09 PM:

Do forgive me for blathering.

dcb @ 766: The post right above yours deals with the distinction between catcalling and being gay with public: in one case, one isn't doing anything to actively harm another. Intuitively, in such cases there is less to call immoral than in the other sort. And a similar distinction exists between not giving food to, and taking food from, a starving person. One is a case of force; the other patently isn't.

There might well be a right to life; I believe there is. But the two cases are different. Similarly, forcing someone to give food to someone, and prohibiting someone from taking food away, are different actions that should be justified differently.

SummerStorms @ 770: The two things are intimately connected. If you're hungry, and you have a positive right to life, you have to get food somehow; we cannot assume someone will give it to you as a gift, so we must say that the state has to provide it. But the food came from somewhere; some farmer made it. Has the farmer been paid? If not, his property rights were infringed. (Also if he was paid but didn't want to sell.) And if he has been paid, he was paid with someone's money, which means the state took money from someone, and that person's property rights were infringed. Redistribution limits property; redistribution is necessary once you assume any positive right at all, let alone a right to equality of opportunity. So the two things inevitably have to be pitted against each other.

Talking about balance... Let's talk about welfare again. What right does the state have to take food from someone (violence!) and give it to someone else? Is it that the state can do this whenever it likes? That's clearly madness; so when can it? When lives are at stake? Can the state also infringe other rights (than property rights) when lives are at stake? Maybe the state determined that lives are at stake in some civil war somewhere, and the best way to protect them is by instituting a draft, waging total war, occupying the country and ruling it under martial law for five generations; maybe, even, the state is right, and nonetheless I wouldn't want it to be allowed to do those things. So now I have to explain why it can't, and I have to do so while maintaining that the state absolutely can infringe rights, generally. Do I order rights somehow? How exactly? Why not another way?

Balance is a very problematic thing because it ends up being about lines, and lines are arbitrary. You can't have a discussion about which of two things that differ only by degree you want to prohibit; your opponent can always say that they feel differently, and there's no ground to tell them they're wrong. See abi @ 793: I think we all draw our own lines. [...] I just don't agree with where Sam draws [his.] I don't presume to speak for abi, but I doubt she'd have anything more to say; there is nothing more to say. So libertarians decide that rights, even property rights, are inviolate; lines are too dangerous. There remain ways to arrive at something similar to a modern state -- some left-libertarians want to tax property on natural resources, which would mean that the state has money which it can use to open apothecaries which serve everyone (to get back to dcb's example). This is, in effect, redefining "property". And there are other ways to redefine property rights, or rights generally, that lead to other coherent systems (theoretically); or one can avoid speaking of rights at all. But a theoretical commitment against any violation of any right is actually not a bad start.

Avram @ 802: Wait, we want to prohibit voluntary slavery? I'm for a person's ability to sell themselves forever, much like I'm for permitting euthanasia and legalizing heroin. Libertarians are against involuntary slavery, I should've said, but I assumed that was implied. ("Voluntary" used here in the sense that the person did it and it wasn't done to them -- in this sense, the guy working fourteen hours for four dollars to stave off starvation is working voluntarily. He's still not free, though. And someone might have to sell themselves, so they'd also not be free -- but I'd rather work to give them freedom so they don't have to sell themselves than make laws which say they can't.)

#812 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:12 PM:

A gift from congress to climate-change deniers, thanks to the shutdown:


Shutdown Cancels Entire US Antarctic Research Program


Other projects that could be affected by the pullout include NASA's Operation IceBridge, which tracks yearly changes in the polar ice, as well as the ongoing monitoring of climate change. Interrupting the unbroken data sets researchers gather to gauge global warming makes it difficult to analyze trends, many scientists have said.

#813 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:39 PM:

rat4000, #811: Your "where does the food come from" paragraph sounds as though you're getting into "taxation is theft" territory, because food bought by the state is almost certainly paid for by tax money. And that's another Libertarian thing that I consider both toxic and incredibly selfish and greedy; they want to live in a society and take advantage of all the benefits pertaining thereto, but (1) they don't want to pay for them, and/or (2) they want to make sure that only "deserving" people have access to them. (cf. the entire Tea Party tantrum about health care)

What right does the state have to take food from someone (violence!) and give it to someone else?

But the state isn't taking food from anyone. It's buying food from people who sell food, and redistributing it to those who can't buy it themselves. So your example falls rather flat.

And your final paragraph is more or less the equivalent of "quack, quack" in terms of comprehensibility. I think we're getting into one of those weird Libertarian redefinitions again.

#814 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 08:57 PM:

rat4000 @811:
Wait, we want to prohibit voluntary slavery?

YES.

If it is possible for one to cease to "own" oneself, it will be possible for those who want to own others to coerce them into doing so. That is an evil great enough to outweigh any possible good that could come from even "voluntary" slavery.

#815 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:04 PM:

Lee: Whether taxation is theft depends on how exactly you define the two terms; but as the words are usually used, taxation and theft (better: mugging) are of a kind. After all, both involve someone asking someone else to surrender property and backing the request with threats. (The paragraph above the one you refer to mentions how even if the farmer is paid property rights are being infringed somewhere.)

The parenthetical in the last paragraph might be incomprehensible even to libertarians. It's getting late where I am. (If you're interested, I can write another wall of text explicating it. Tomorrow.)

#816 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:21 PM:

@815 rat4000

Whether taxation is theft depends on how exactly you define the two terms; but as the words are usually used, taxation and theft (better: mugging) are of a kind.

That doesn't seem right. After all, if I'm mugged, I don't expect the mugger to give me anything back.

When I'm taxed, I get stuff: clean water from the tap, garbage pickup, paved roads, public schools, and in my country's case, health care (etc., etc.).

That's really not like being mugged.

#817 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:26 PM:

rat4000 @ 811:

You appear to think what you posted functions in some way as a meaningful rebuttal to what I'd posted to you upthread, but I'll be damned if I can see how what you said is in any way related to what I said.

Here's a hint: You may have made the mistake of thinking that I agree with you that property rights trump all or that I even think they are and/or should be inviolate. I do not. Therefore, you've wasted an awful lot of pixels that would probably rather have been doing something else.

In my view, while property rights are not without meaning, human rights trump property rights every time, because people are more important than things. You've thus far given no useful argument in support of the opposite view.

Also, if you're going to go down the "taxation is theft" road, I'm not even remotely interested in your itinerary. Loon-land is not a place I care to visit, no matter how many travel brochures you wave about.

#818 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:28 PM:

Jacque @ 805... I made Serge groan!!

And he *liked* it.

#819 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:29 PM:

Rat4000 @811: What right does the state have to take food from someone (violence!)

Wait, what? How is that violence? I could see describing it as theft, and violence could result if someone were to resist having their food taken, but the taking of property is not violence.

The confusion of property with person seems to be a recurring theme in this discussion.

Also, if you find yourself endorsing obviously self-contradictory notions like “voluntary slavery” that may be a sign of problems in your belief system.

#820 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:33 PM:

C. Wingate @810 said: Also, this principle heads out into requiring people to do any kind of business that they find repugnant, such as insisting that magazine have to take tobacco ads.

One obvious way that we don't end up on that slippery slope relates to why, say, a northside Chicago business can put up a sign saying "No customers wearing White Sox team gear will be served" and make it stick legally, but that the same business canNOT legally put up a similar sign saying "I don't serve blacks, gays, or Jews," no matter how politely the sign is phrased.

The specific groups of people protected by non-discrimination legislation are groups that have historically had massive amounts of discrimination and contempt aimed at them -- 'historically disadvantaged' groups is one way of putting it. Sox fans don't qualify; you can quite legally be fired in Chicago based upon which sports team you support. Or if you refuse to wear safety orange at work (or insist upon doing so when your employer would prefer otherwise). None of those are protected classes, so all of them are fair game for the free exercise of the preferences of employers/vendors.

Why? Because it's likely any of those folks can just walk next door with no trouble and BE SERVED. Whereas if it were legal to discriminate against any of a range of Historically Hated Groups, they could probably be assured that many/most of the vendors in 'good parts' of town, at minimum, would refuse to serve them in a blanket way. This is not acceptable to our society, and so our society legally forbids it.

To me, one of the purposes of government is to referee baselines of access and civility -- to be the kindergarten teacher, as it were. Plus, to allow us to club together (through taxation) to spread around the costs of things we have collectively decided need to happen, but are too expensive or onerous for each of us to manage separately.

#821 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:37 PM:

re 811: I'm quite happy to forbid trafficking in human freedom simply on the basis of the Commerce Clause; I don't feel a need to appeal to anything more abstract or general.

It occurred to me on the way home that the constitution sees regulation of business practice as a normal power of government. So I think it's a real stretch to try to trump this power with a freedom of (non-)association which at best is implied.

#822 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:41 PM:

#815 ::: rat4000 @815:

Lee: Whether taxation is theft depends on how exactly you define the two terms; but as the words are usually used, taxation and theft (better: mugging) are of a kind. After all, both involve someone asking someone else to surrender property and backing the request with threats.
No. That is neither true nor correct. In a democracy we tax ourselves, using a process which is mediated by our legitimately elected representatives. Everyone involved is accountable to rule of law and the will of the people.

A great many social mechanisms involve (1.) a request for payment, and (2.) a statement of the potential penalties for noncompliance. To state something which I think should be glaringly obvious to anyone, that doesn't mean they're all the same mechanism, or that they're equivalent mechanisms.

Legitimate authority, the rule of law, and communal decision-making and voluntary self-taxation in support of communal projects are not new concepts. If you're interested in politics, perhaps you should acquaint yourself with them?

#823 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:46 PM:

No, rat4000, taxation is not theft; taxation is the dues we pay for living in civilization. If you want to not pay taxes, I suggest you not use any of the services taxation pays for.

#824 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:50 PM:

#811, rat4000: "Wait, we want to prohibit voluntary slavery? I'm for a person's ability to sell themselves forever"

I think this is enough to establish that "rat4000" is someone I have no interest in conversing with on any subject, ever.

#825 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:51 PM:

"He taxes me and I shall have him! I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round perdition's flames before I give him up!"

#826 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 09:57 PM:

Rat4000, what you're arguing here is stick-figure libertarianism. It's a sterile, pointless game, a reshuffling of loosely-defined generalities that has nothing to do with the complex realities of public policy, communal decision-making, or effective political action.

When I'm in a particularly conspiracy-minded mood, I sometimes wonder whether that style of libertarianism is a crafty intellectual trap designed to politically neuter a segment of the population that might otherwise make trouble for entrenched power and privilege.

If it doesn't connect with people around you who aren't like you, it isn't politics.

#827 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:02 PM:

Like Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., I view taxes as the price we pay for a civilized society. Just as I wouldn't try to sneak into the movies without having purchased a ticket, I see no reason to suppose I should expect to enjoy the benefits of civilization without paying my fair share of their cost. It's simply the price of admission.

#828 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:17 PM:

rat4000, #815: I see several other people got there first, so let me just add this: Anyone who tries to claim that taxation is theft is not just a greedy, selfish bastard, they are also LYING THROUGH THEIR TEETH. The amount of mental gymnastics required to make that statement with a straight face is more or less equivalent to the amount required to claim that slavery is God's will, and both of those things are about equally toxic.

If you don't like paying for the benefits your taxes buy you, I'm sure you could be very happy in Somalia.

#829 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 10:48 PM:

In a society that runs on contracts, lawyers and the people who can afford them will effectively become a government, as coercive and overbearing as any we are familiar with.

#830 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:03 PM:

C. Wingate @800, speaking as a believing Catholic, I am weary beyond words of anti-abortion sentiments being elevated above all other moral concerns. IMO, they don't belong there. The worship of the Sacred Hypothetical Fetus is not the centerpoint of my beliefs.

It's not your place or anyone else's to decide that an abortion is being done for purposes of birth control, or to limit or prohibit access to abortion if it is.

Here's the real principle: medical personnel, especially hospital employees, do not have the right to selectively refuse to perform tasks that are part of their jobs on the grounds that performing those tasks is not in accord with their personal preferences.

Try this one: "That person isn't sick, just lazy, and I refuse to coddle them." Or: "I don't believe in giving patients a lot of painkillers, even though they've been prescribed, because it just encourages them to become addicts." Or: "It's unconscionable to report parents whose children have multiple unexplained traumas -- some kids are just accident-prone." Or: "Why should they get to take up a hospital bed when they brought their problem on themselves?" Or: "Everyone knows [fill in the blank] isn't a real disease."

I used to get my prescriptions from a pharmacy that also served a disproportionate number of inner-city blacks who suffered from painful conditions. We were all there to get our legitimately issued prescriptions filled. I was on Dexedrine for narcolepsy. Many pharmacies disliked dealing with that. They weren't supposed to refuse to fill prescriptions, but they could drag their feet like you wouldn't believe. The inner-city cases were there because many pharmacies would assume without checking that a black teenager with sickle-cell anemia and a prescription for Percocet had forged or stolen the prescription.

People whose scruples are offended by standard medical practices can either suck it up, or quit and go into another line of work. It's their choice. But if they stay in medicine, their patients can't choose to not need care. They should treat them, trust that God will sort out the sinners, and otherwise shut the f*ck up.

#831 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:24 PM:

Stefan Jones @829:

In a society that runs on contracts, lawyers and the people who can afford them will effectively become a government, as coercive and overbearing as any we are familiar with.
Amen. When I point out to stick-figure libertarians that some happy little schema of theirs is wide-open for abuse, and they reply that those who are wronged can sue, I know they're not operating in the real world.

Another cornerstone of unreality is their failure to notice that the basic entry fee for real-world politics is innumerable hours of tedium: everlasting meetings, arcane rules that must be mastered, intricate legislative procedures that start and stop over and over again, and so on. The rich and powerful can hire people whose full-time job it is to tend to their political interests. The rest of us, who don't have that option, will only disenfranchise ourselves if we adopt a political model in which we all act as individuals.

They have the same blind spot about organized labor. The powers that be have resources and specialists and far more options than we do. Making individual pismires of ourselves will not help.

#832 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:29 PM:

Albatross @781: For the record, Albatross wasn't wrong about everything. Albatross is also a regular around here. You know you'd feel bad if it happened to you.

#833 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 11:31 PM:

Just to be contrary, I’m gonna back rat400 up a little. (Just a little, though.)

There definitely is a spectrum upon which “taxation” and “theft” are both points. I’m pretty sure most of us are coming to this discussion with an implicit context of current life in the US (or maybe Canada, or the UK, or some other modern more-or-less democratic nation). If you live in a functioning democracy (and the US is currently sorta teetering on the edge of that category), yeah, taxation is part of the social fabric that holds the nation together and keeps us all from living in a Mad Max movie.

But there have been — and still are — societies that, well, kinda resemble Mad Max movies. Last year I was researching the history of European joint-stock companies, and I learned about the Genovese maone, groups of wealthy merchants who’d band together for purposes of tax farming back in the 14th and 15th centuries. The maona would pay a fee in advance to the Genoese government, earning the right to collect taxes in the government’s stead. As this practice continued, some maone became mercenary companies, conquering neighboring lands for the right to impose taxes upon them.

Still, I hardly think rat4000 is a 14th-century Genovese.

#834 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 01:01 AM:

Taxation is theft in the same way that jury duty is slavery, and arresting a criminal is kidnapping. If you ignore any ideas about society being allowed to do things that individuals aren't (which means giving up any ideas about society continuing to exist), these pairs of concepts are identical to each other.

I'm very uncomfortable with any social theory that claims to be able to derive all policy decisions from a single principle (in libertarianism's case, property rights). Sure, it's more mathematically elegant that way, but mathematical elegance is not the deciding factor upon which I base my choise of political philosophy. Besides, property rights are a social construct. That means we made them up over the course of time, and the meaning of them has varied over time. Once upon a time, if you walked away from your property, it stopped being yours. Now, we no longer think that in most cases. Note that if you walk away from your property, and someone else says it's now theirs, you may have to threaten violence (or get your local state representatives to do so for you) in order to get it back. So much for "minimizing state violence" as the principle underlying the concept of property rights!

Today there are influential people arguing for the existence of "intellectual property", meaning they get to apply the same "property rights are inviolable" approach to information that they currently apply to physical property. Both kinds of property are fundamentally made up by society, it's just that the idea of real property is older. Both concepts are claimed to help society, and in some cases they do, and in some they don't. I would argue that means that neither should be made the highest principle on which to organize society.

#835 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 01:51 AM:

Open thread observation: I succeeded in signing up for Covered California. I'm amazed at what I got. For a dollar a month, I'm getting:
-- my own doctor that I already go to
--$15 copay for doctor visits
--$40 copay for specialist visits, including physical therapists
--$5 to $15 for drugs
and the other benefits are in line.

I don't understand why there was so much variety in what was offered for my income level and other characteristics. I mean, I could also have spent several hundred dollars a month and much more for each copay, but why would I?

I's really telling that the governments of states with more poor people are the ones that refused to provide the full coverage, even though under the Affordable Care Act it costs them practically nothing to do it.

#836 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 01:58 AM:

The story of the non-pilot who successfully lands a plane after the pilot falls ill is part of aviation legend. Many people will tell you that it can't happen, that all the stuff about somebody in the Tower talking the plane down is just not going to work. It's been a plot for books and films, but real life?

Well, it does happen. Not often, but it does happen.

Last night, in the dark, it happened at Humberside Airport.

#837 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:04 AM:

Avram @ 833: Just to be contrary, I shall read your comment as a poorly executed sonnet. "Little," I am afraid, rhymes with neither "though" nor "points." I cannot imagine the rhyme scheme you think you are using, and your meter is entirely shot.

Just to be contrary, I shall take spurious issue with your use of historical examples. There's no such thing as the Genovese! They are a myth invented by Venezians to explain why they kept wearing those silly hats.

Just to be contrary, I shall not complete this

.sdrawkcab tnemmoc siht epyt llahs I ,yrarnoc eb ot tsuJ

You make a valid point! Taxation can certainly be a form of theft; those who think otherwise haven't read of the British salt tax in India. Don't belittle it with contrarianism.

#838 ::: heresiarch, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:06 AM:

I offer sandwich?

#839 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:28 AM:

heresiarch, contrarily:

Here's your t; I think it must accidentally have flipped round when it fell out. (Or perhaps it felt there weren't already enough levels of contrarianism?)

#840 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:42 AM:

SummerStorms @ 839: Always running off, that one. Wriggly like you wouldn't believe.

#841 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:59 AM:

Heresiarch @837 ¡uʍop-ǝpısdn noʎ oʇ ʎןdǝɹ ןןɐɥs ı 'ʎɹɐɹʇuoɔ ǝq oʇ ʇsnظ

#842 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 03:49 AM:

rat4000 @811: re.me @766: False equivalence. I was talking about someone who owns a pharmacy refusing to SELL someone the drug they need, simply on the basis that they disapprove of the (for example) colour of their skin, gender, religion or sexuality, while knowing that their refusal will kill the other person. The property rights argument seems to say that that is fine: the person owning the property has the right to do that and it would be wrong for the government to "use force" (pass laws saying they can't discriminate in that way. I say that it's an abuse of power equivalent to force to refuse to sell the drug and that it is perfectly appropriate for society (in the form of "government" to say that such an abuse of economic power is not permissible and that the right to buy your required medication trumps the "property rights" to not sell to someone belonging to a group of which you disapprove.

However, re. the "food/starving man" I would suggest that while withholding the food may not be an act of physical force, both are deliberate abuses of power.

But then, I was raised in a religion where the phrase "giving charity to the poor" is actually better described as "giving JUSTICE to the poor", and I totally agree with that.

Lucy Kemnitzer @835: That's great.

#843 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 04:22 AM:

This is yet another wall of text. I want to mention that I'll absolutely listen if everyone is tired of reading them, or dealing with the weirdness therein.

Taxation: Taxation is similar to mugging in some ways, and dissimilar in other ways (obviously). One way in which it is similar is that the transaction is not voluntary. But one way in which it is dissimilar is that you get something back. And this does make it fine for me, but not always.

I'm fine with taxation on resources. If you own some sort of natural resource, you should pay for the privilege; you didn't make it, and you're keeping others from using it. There is a benefit you want, so making you pay for it seems justified; also, you can opt out by selling or giving away the resource. Sales tax also seems to be fine: the state enables sales (by creating a safe environment). There is a benefit you want; also, you can opt out by skirting the sales tax somehow, which probably also skirts the safe environment.

I'm less fine with justifying taxation on earnings and capital by saying that you get clean tap water for it. Maybe you don't want clean tap water -- but you get it anyway. Maybe you think you'd get cleaner tap water if taxes are abolished and private companies own the water -- but that can't happen even on a small scale; you can't just secede from a modern state. The taxation of capital (or earnings) for tap water is, however, also a transaction where I can easily conceive of someone wishing to opt out.

I would love to let them. I disagree with the reasoning that it's all fine because democracy and rule of law. (Talk about "poorly-defined", incidentally.) It's not fine because, while I personally agree to paying taxes for clean tap water, I don't want us, as the majority, to grind down those who don't, even when they're compensated to some degree, even on a small scale. I want a society that everyone is fine with because the option of leaving exists.

This is why I'm sympathetic to the libertarian position. The reason I'm not libertarian is that I recognize the utopia I've been describing is just that. Modern states are too complicated to allow leaving; modern cities are too complicated to let anyone opt out of clean tap water if they don't want it; modern society is too bureaucratic to deal with the overhead. I see that. I just also see where someone can find injustice in it.

Slavery: If I sell myself to John J Random because I have nothing to do with my life, I am in voluntary slavery. None of the actions I perform are voluntary; I can't leave -- but I agreed to be forced. If John J Random wages war on me and mine, captures me, and enslaves me, I am in involuntary slavery -- I did not agree to be forced.

Obviously, we want to prohibit the latter case. (This is what I was talking about originally -- libertarians justify the prohibition through self-ownership.) But the former?

If I can't sell myself to John J Random, there is a valid life choice that I'm not allowed to make. Much like in the situation where I'm not allowed to ask a doctor for a lethal injection if I've got one pain-ridden month left; or in the situation where I'm not allowed to buy heroin, or alcohol, or tobacco.

Therefore, I have no theoretical problem with the state allowing me to sell myself to Random, any more than I have a theoretical problem with euthanasia or drugs. Chris @ 814 is right, of course: in today's society, permitting this is... sort of dangerous. Maybe it will always be. So we should prohibit it! This far, I'm following very easily. But the reason for this prohibition is practical and contingent; a right to freedom does not have to be inalienable.

#844 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:06 AM:

Teresa, I simply do not see your analogy, but in the interests of not continuing an abortion discussion I'm not going to go into that. At any rate it was simply the first example that popped into my head, and it was easy enough after the fact to come up with more universally repugnant acts which this line of argument is heading down demanding that people participate in and which do not involve goring someone's ox here.

#845 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:19 AM:

... in fact I came across a case yesterday. It turns out that there are websites who are putting up publicly available mugshots on websites and essentially holding people's reputations for ransom: "pay up and we'll take your picture down." MasterCard has been telling banks that they ought not to process charges for these kinds of businesses, but if we aren't giving moral exceptions, they don't get to refuse to do business.

#846 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 07:00 AM:

rat4000 @ #843:

I shall blithely mostly ignore your waffling on taxation or theft (suffice to say that your stated logic for the justification some taxation extend to the types of taxation you seem to be disinclined towards).

As regards your hypothetical "voluntary slavery", no. No, no, no. I think it is fine for someone to place themselves ("themself"?) in a position where they blindly follow the instruction(s) of someone else, as if they were a slave. That, however, does not remove their legal responsibility for their action(s), nor does it make them "actual property" (although they behave that way). The exchange of money or other compensation is neither here, nor there.

To start with, if we allow A to be compensated to become the property of B, where does that compensation end up? As the property of B. This means it is not a fair exchange, by any sensible theory of fair exchanges.

The life-choice you are left with is to behave as if you were a slave. It doesn't mean that you are a slave, under any legal definition of it, so if you one day decide that, no, you'd rather not be, you are free (barring any other conditioning, of course) to walk away and stop behaving as if you were a slave, unlikely as that would be, having voluntarily placed yourself in the position.

#847 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 07:38 AM:

In fact (continuing from my 842), rat4000 is engaging in further false equivalence re. the distincion between someone catcalling and someone walkiing down the road "while being black". It's not about active versus passive, it's about abuse of power. As far as I can see, the right-libertarian viewpoint is claiming not only that property rights trump human rights, but that power exercised by an individual (or company) is automatically good and that power exercised by a community to prevent abuses or potential abuses of power by individuals is automatically bad. I totally disagree with this. The fact that they label "protecting the potential for abuse of power" by the individual as "exercising property rights" and "exercising freedom of association" doesn't stop it from being about protecting the ability to abuse power.

That's what this whole argument is about and why there is such strong disagreement. Most of the people commenting here seem to think that placing restraint on powerful individuals to prevent them from abusing their power (e.g. preventing someone from refusing to serve women, or gay people, or black people, or Jewish people etc.) is a good thing, while a few people are defending the right of those with (economic, in particular) power to be able to abuse that power, by cloaking this in the term "property rights" (and claiming that property rights are the most important thing, far above human rights), while labelling the methods which society uses to reign in such abuse (anti-discrimination legislation) as "force".

#848 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 07:38 AM:

I think it's a fallacy to try to break down taxation into its components, and then say "well, I don't need Component X or Component Y, so I should pay less tax". It's perfectly possible to imagine someone who doesn't need a water supply; perhaps they live near a spring, or they have an efficient means of collecting rainwater and a septic tank. But they still use other infrastructure. Maybe they also have children who go to school; a lot of tax money is spent on education, and rightly so.

If the person who doesn't need a water supply can pay less tax, then the person who doesn't have children and therefore isn't using the education system should also pay less tax. But in reality, that is exactly what happens; not everyone uses all the services paid for by taxation. If you're paying for some services you don't need, there's also someone else somewhere who is paying for services that they don't need but you do, so you pay less than you would otherwise for those services. On the whole, that's going to balance out pretty well.

#849 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:04 AM:

I wonder, a little, if those who equate persons with property might not tend to think of their possessions as 'alive,' much the same way I get sentimental over an object I've had around for a long time. But only a little. Time presses.

I must say, though, that I'm impressed with how some people have taken religion (and life frameworks that work much the same way on the surface) from being a bothersome series of sacrifices and accommodations to being a license to be exactly as they would have otherwise. Anyone else feel a little pang after helping others, doing unto them as they'd be done by, giving up small bits of this and that — to see someone who gladly accepted some authority-to-whom-they-give-up-some-of-their-brain who told them, "The greatest good lies in doing exactly what you would have otherwise! You help people more by ignoring them and profiting from their misery! To do anything else is a form of evil!"? Pretty cushy gig!

Anyway, gotta run. No time to think about it much more, or this might be shorter. Possibly nonexistent.

#850 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:05 AM:

Oh, and another thing, this time regarding property. A person's property is not, and historically never has been, sovereign territory. Nobody has ever been able to defend themselves against a murder charge by saying, "But it happened on my own property!" (It's true that, historically, nobles have been allowed to execute criminals on their property. That, however, was a case of the nobles upholding the law of the time, not setting it aside.) The law applies to a person whether or not they are on their own property.

Having said that, I do believe in "property rights", but not in the same sense that some commenters have put forward here. I believe, and English law upholds my belief, that I have the right to what is quaintly referred to as "peaceful enjoyment" of my property. In other words, I have the right to live in this house without being harassed or unreasonably disturbed. I have a right of redress if someone makes a noise all night and keeps me awake, damages my property, or refuses to leave it when asked to do so.

These rights have nothing to do with what I may or may not do to other people on my property. They are rights which are intended to allow me to be safe and comfortable. They're called property rights, but really they're human rights, especially since most of them would apply equally well if I were a tenant rather than an owner. (The exception would then be that the landlord had the right not to have their property damaged, either by me or by a third party.) But if you are in my house, you are fully protected by the law, and I don't get to set that aside on the grounds that it's my house.

And that, I maintain, is exactly how it should be.

#851 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:40 AM:

Dimo! Yes!

#852 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:44 AM:

#833 ::: Avram
[...] researching the history of European joint-stock companies, and I learned about the Genovese maone, groups of wealthy merchants who’d band together for purposes of tax farming back in the 14th and 15th centuries. The maona would pay a fee in advance to the Genoese government, earning the right to collect taxes in the government’s stead. As this practice continued, some maone became mercenary companies, conquering neighboring lands for the right to impose taxes upon them.

Is this where taxation became the name for tribute? How do the two differ? Is tribute a fixed rate (thinking of the Knights of Malta and their fabled falcon), whereas taxation can be a sliding scale based on production? Or does taxation imply a return benefit? Doesn't sound like the folks mentioned above got anything back.

#853 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 09:16 AM:

Xopher @ 795

Suppose I think the existence of people who lean to the right-libertarian position is harmful to me? I'm not sure what remedies I'm supposed to have for things that harm me, in your view.

Well, what I've been arguing--and would argue--is that you have an entire right to: not invite them to your house; not hang out at the coffee-shop they frequent; not accept a job working for one of them; not hire one of them to work for you; not rent a room to or from one of them. In other words, public space--the courthouse lawn--belongs to them too, so you don't get to keep them from it; their right to be physically safe means you can't beat them up; but outside those limits, you are perfectly free and within your rights to avoid them.

Lee @ 790

In my view, "I think X is a bad thing, but I don't want it to be stopped by force" is an important principle. I think my neighbor starting to drink at 7:30 in the morning is a bad thing; I think the world would be a worse place if me, or anyone else, beat him up to make him stop.

#854 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 09:31 AM:

Dave Bell@836

The Mythbusters actually tested the "passenger landing a plane" scenario back in 2007. At least as far as they could test it, since they had to use a simulator. Both Adam and Jamie successfully landed a simulated plane under radio guidance without too much difficulty.

The simulated plane was some sort of passenger jetliner. According to that Mythbusters episode, most modern planes of that general class can actually land themselves on autopilot.

(Hope this doesn't double-post. I think I may have simply not posted the earlier message.)

#855 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 09:33 AM:

I'm having trouble coming up with the time to deal with all the older responses here with I left hanging, so I'm going to try to catch up in a very summary fashion, in two separate responses. My apologies for all that I'm probably going to end up skipping past in the process.

In the first case I'm going back to Leah's "definitions" back in 617. I put that in quotes because I think one of them is inaccurate and the other isn't a definition (though I think Leah is close in spirit to what I'm about to say). Google proposes two perfectly good definitions of "liberty", albeit in the wrong order: "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views" (which I think should actually be the second definition), and "the power or scope to act as one pleases" (which should come first). People with property are going to construe both of these to include "the right to control and retain ownership of property," and at some level they are utterly right to do so on the presumption that one acknowledges ownership at all. On the other hand, I don't see how a "right to societal participation" has any specific relationship to being free: societal participation, unless one lives in a cabin in the wilderness, is not optional, regardless of how free one is.

So maybe this is better talked about as a tension between the desire for freedom and the reality that life in community necessarily limits that freedom. But it's also important to add to this that life in community for pretty much anyone necessitates economic interaction, and thus that there is a certain inherent lack of freedom involved in those interactions. This is where I find the faults of right-lib theorizing. Business isn't sacred; it's not more protected than other kinds of power, and the need of others to buy does create power on the part of the sellers, acknowledging that the need to sell likewise gives buyers some power. But in practice it's extremely asymmetrical: business power is the default, and employee/buyer power is usually comparatively weak. Usually the powerful buyers are other powerful businesses. Also, economic power is coarse: it's very focused with the point of contention is one specific product from one seller, but beyond that it fades quickly. Thus it's not true that market forces are sufficient to police companies to engage in ethical business practices. There's nothing wrong with having an FDA or SEC or USDA or other agencies which ensure that businesses do business honestly; it's just basic police stuff.

And there's another aspect to this business of property, going back to Screwtape's remark about all the different shades of meaning in the word "my". A business is not "mine" (even if I own it all) to the same degree that my house or my toothbrush are "mine"; as institutions of social interaction, the other interactors do have some claim on how they are conducted even if they have no claim on if they are conducted. Furthermore, pouring soot into the air is an impingement on everyone else; it's a "taking" every bit as much as what the taxman does, and since the air is in reality everyone's, it's not up to any individual to pollute it as they please. But even one's land is not going to be one's own forever; eventually a man dies, and other people inherit or whatever, and again trashing the property is a taking from the next generation, whoever they be.

That's my problem with the right-libs as theorists. In practice the rightist powers in politics now simply don't want to have to bear any kind of social responsibility. Saying "taxation is tyranny" is a kind of autocracy, and therefore a tyranny unto itself.

So, to apply this to Obamacare: mandatory health insurance is a perfectly reasonable expectation of social responsibility. Twenty-year-olds need such insurance not just because they do get sick and injured, but because they will eventually become sixty-year-olds with all the heath issues they've picked up along the way, and because there are two-year-olds who get stuck with disease from the start. One can make an argument (in my opinion somewhat implausible) that it cannot be made to work economically, but I don't think that being free to not spend money on this is an absolutely defensible freedom.

#856 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 09:40 AM:

Speaking of taxation and such. The libertarian experiment has already been tried. Laconia, New Hampshire, 1989. The Straight Arrow Party, a strict libertarian group, won the majority on the town council and promptly abolished all taxes. Instead, they set up a voluntary system. Want lights on Main Street? What's it worth to you? There's a basket in town hall. Want the roads plowed? What's it worth to you? There's a basket in town hall. And so on.

They were voted out, one and all, the following election. Folks didn't like unplowed roads, unlighted streets, potholes, and the worry that if their house caught fire no one would come.

#857 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:01 AM:

C. Wingate @ 855

I find this very cogent. Especially, it addresses some of the spots where I trip over the property-rights/human-rights dichotomy model--where I find myself trying to fold some right-libertarian claim into origami to make it fit that mold. Thank you for it!

#858 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:09 AM:

C. Wingate @855 didn't like Leah defining one kind of liberty as the freedom to participate in society. He said: I don't see how a "right to societal participation" has any specific relationship to being free: societal participation, unless one lives in a cabin in the wilderness, is not optional, regardless of how free one is.

I believe what Leah is talking about, and how this relates to the areas of governmental suasion being objected to in some subsets of this thread is as follows: that liberty is the freedom to have the government PREVENT your fellow citizens from depriving you of access to the same parts of society that they take as a matter of course.

Sundown towns and 'no blacks' signs deprive African-descended citizens from many of the benefits of living in the society to which they pay taxes. Etc. She doesn't mean 'freedom' to not go live in a shack in the woods and eat whatever you can find on your land; she means people preventing you from exercising your full liberty as a citizen.

This is the kind of liberty protected by non-discrimination law, among other things.

#859 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:22 AM:

I agree wholeheartedly with Mongoose @850.

And I think this important distinction between property and sovereignty is why "I own myself" is an inadequate theoretical basis from which to derive individual human rights. If I buy some land from the government, then it ceases to be Crown land and becomes my property; I can do things with it that I would not have been entitled to do before, but it is still subject to the laws of Canada. Similarly, when I sell my services to my employer, that entitles them to determine my duties within the scope of the contract, but I retain sovereignty over my person (including the freedom to resign from my job). "Voluntary slavery" would make sense under a property model of human rights, but not under a sovereignty model.

The analogy still isn't perfect. A sovereign nation can give up sovereignty over a piece of land, by ceding it to some other nation, and I don't think it makes sense for individuals to be able to do the equivalent. This difference, though, follows pretty straightforwardly from a fundamental biological fact: I can't move out of my body and go live somewhere else. Because my residence in the territory of my body is non-transferable, my sovereignty over it needs to be irrevocable.

#860 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:45 AM:

845
I believe that Mastercard has legal advisers who have pointed out that that kind of site is questionably legal, since it's been used as an incitement to harm people, if not actually kill them. Also, ever heard of revenge pr0n?

#861 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 12:44 PM:

Elliot, I have a quite concrete example. There is a public park and elementary school directly abutting my yard, which also leads over to the next street which in turn connects to a path to the local shopping center. Most of the property line along the park is either impassable or fenced, but there is a gap (with a gate) on my lot line because back in the day my kids used it to go to and from that school. But I do not make an issue of other people using it, within reason; however I regard this access as a privilege which I can revoke if it is abused, and which can go away if for instance I decide I need to make an impassible fence along the lot line (not entirely hypothetical, considering the damage my shrubbery suffers from browsing deer). I wouldn't agree that people taking this access for granted gives them a right to demand a permanent easement across my property, especially since they can instead walk down the street to get to the park and the stores.

One of the things that makes the tea party bigger is that they have been able to appeal to people who have some property by depicting the opposition as having no respect for any property. I understand your examples but there needs to be something that draws a line between "can't use property rights to run everyone else's lives" and "can't use the government to run everyone else's property". Just how full is "your full liberty as a citizen"? That's not an expression that puts a boundary at my lot line, especially not when it is put in opposition to property rights.

#862 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 12:53 PM:

Yahoo Mail, as part of their ongoing effort to drive customers away, has revised their interface again. They've made the list screen uglier, using an eyesore font, but the worst thing is that they've eliminated tabs, so now I can have only one email open at a time.

The upside is that this may finally push me over the edge to getting a better email address.

#863 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 01:00 PM:

C. Wingate @ 855: "So maybe this is better talked about as a tension between the desire for freedom and the reality that life in community necessarily limits that freedom."

Rather, life in a community provides nearly every freedom a human enjoys. I can, at the present moment, walk out my front door and have myself flung through the air to the far side of the globe, and in that place find food and shelter.* This is not something I can do despite community, despite society, but because of them. The coherent question here is not "how do we balance desire for freedom against the restrictions necessarily placed by community" but "how do we shape our community so that the freedoms it offers us are most perfect?"

* This ability is mediated via money, and therefore distributed among human beings in an unequal way. Money is of course a form of private property, a principle which must not be violated--oh, hm.

#864 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 01:32 PM:

C. Wingate @861: My understanding (and IANAL) of English Common Law (which is used as a basis of law in the United States as well), is that an easement such as you describe can become a permanent right of public passage, unless the property owner periodically enforces their right to block access. I grew up near Princeton, NJ, and one of the streets that crossed the campus actually belonged to the University. Once a year that street was closed; I was told the University closed it in order to preserve their right to do so. If they allowed unrestricted public access for too long a period, they would lose their right to control that property.

#865 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 01:51 PM:

That life in society giveth doesn't get me a single thought process closer to "and therefore power-wielding people can rightly take away in the name of Society." Or to put it other terms, both "the freedoms it offers us" and "most perfect" beg the question that "restrictions [...] placed by [the necessity of living in] community" enter both into the attainment of perfection and the identification of "us". Your second question cannot be coherently answered without addressing your first question. It's also central to the whole discussion that human beings have a dismal record of trying to work this through, so that saying "well all we have to do is work this through" itself means "all we have to do is cut all the wrong-thinking people unlike ourselves out of the thinking-through process and not incidentally get a hold of the powers needed to carry out our program."

#866 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 01:59 PM:

Xopher @ 862

Finally, a subject on which we are whole-heartedly in agreement. Yahoo Mail has an incredibly annoying interface, and it keeps getting uglier and worse. (I'm very happy with gmail, but I still have my yahoo address for some lists--it makes them much easier to ignore.)

#867 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:10 PM:

Jeremy Leader @864 -- it's quite possible that the gate C. Wingate mentions acts as a block to access (as long as it's usually kept closed) -- at least, I'd argue that if someone tried to claim a permanent easement. And it would be up to the courts to decide. (IANAL, of course.)

#868 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:13 PM:

dcb, #842: You've just spotlighted another common Libertarian trick: goalpost-shifting. It's not at all unusual for them to recast anti-discrimination laws as "forcing us to GIVE our property away!" when, as you point out, they are no such thing.

rat4000: Who says the transaction isn't voluntary? Fuck that noise. I have no problem whatsoever with paying my taxes, because I recognize what I get in return.

I also disagree that selling oneself into voluntary slavery is a "valid life choice". If you want the experience of being enslaved voluntarily, there are people who will be happy to provide it for you (in some cases, for a fee) without turning you into a domestic animal. HUMANS ARE NOT PROPERTY, period.

Mongoose, #848: I also have no problem with paying taxes for public schools, even though I have no children. Other people's children are going to be my store clerks, my doctor and dentist and lawyer and vet, my business suppliers; it behooves me to see that they are properly educated* to have the skills to do these things or pursue those careers.

Kip, #849: I wonder, a little, if those who equate persons with property might not tend to think of their possessions as 'alive,' much the same way I get sentimental over an object I've had around for a long time.

No. Or at the very least, it doesn't work like that in the other direction.

However, I am convinced that there is considerable overlap between those who don't understand grieving for the death of a pet ("It's just an animal! What are you getting so worked up about?") and those who don't understand helping the less-fortunate. In both cases, it's a failure of empathy.

Mongoose, #850: I will note here that some states (including mine) have what is called the "castle doctrine", which holds that if someone invades your home with ill intent, you are allowed to use lethal force in your own defense in person -- you are not allowed to set up lethal booby-traps when you are not present. So this is more of a refinement to "it's still murder if it happens on your property" than a refutation of that claim; some killings on your own property are simply not defined as murder.

SamChevre, #853: It should not be necessary by now to point out that comparing "drinking at 7:30 in the morning" to "refusing to serve people with dark skin" is a false equivalence**, but apparently it is. Come back when you've got a VALID example to offer.

C. Wingate, #855: Bravo! That is one of the best dissections of the issue I've seen in a long time, especially the bit where you bring in the different shades of meaning in the word "my". I think that conflating those shades of meaning is at the heart of the entire argument.

Jim, #856: Thus demonstrating two points: (1) that most people are "takers" by the teahadi definition -- they want services without being willing to pay for them; and (2) that there are things government should do because they can be done more cheaply and efficiently that way than by turning them over to private entities.

Elliott, #858: Very well put. I would go further, and phrase it that liberty is the right to be able to participate fully**** in your society, and if your fellow citizens are depriving you of that right, it is the duty and responsibility of the government to put a stop to it.

This is similar in some ways to the nominal paradox that a "free market" with no regulation at all very quickly becomes not free at all.


* I do have some serious problems with the way my state is currently handling public education, but that doesn't mean getting rid of it or turning over my tax money to private entities -- it means voting people in who will fix the problems.

** And since you don't seem to comprehend the difference: drinking at 7:30 in the morning doesn't hurt anyone else.*** Refusing to serve people with dark skin does.

*** Don't even think about extending the metaphor with "but what if he does X harmful thing while drunk?" or "but what if he loses his job and can't support his family?" because those are something else. The act of drinking at 7:30 in the morning may damage the drinker, but does not in and of itself harm anyone else.

**** Modulo physical/medical issues, modulo reasonability. It is reasonable to require a business to accommodate a customer in a wheelchair; it is not reasonable to require a football team to accommodate a player in a wheelchair.

#869 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:14 PM:

re 864/867: Well, I keep closing it.... I having these urges to put a sign over it saying "Pedo mellon a Minno".

#870 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 02:17 PM:

C. Wingate @869, I occasionally think of setting up a foot, a melon and a minnow beneath that sign ...

#871 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 03:26 PM:

Taxes, or "The bill at an American Restaurant."

A man is wandering through the city, and he finds himself inside a nice building. It has a bunch of lovely tables with white tablecloths and candles. A waitress says "right this way, sir," and sits him down. "Can I get you anything?" the waitress asks.

"I'm a bit thirsty." says the man.

"Well, we have some lovely white wine from a local vineyard, can I get you some of that?"

"Oh, certainly!"

The man is handed a menu. This is a fancy place, with no prices listed anywhere. He is hungry, and all this food is available, so he eats: truffles, caviar, coq a vin, assorted cheeses, the other kind of truffle, and some fancy cocktails to finish it all off. He gets up to leave.

"Sir, you have to pay for that." says the waitress.

"You said no such thing!" the man says indignantly.

"Sir, pay or I will call the police." she says

"This is THEFT!" he cries.

Taxes aren't "theft" any more than a bill from a restaurant where you have just enjoyed food and service. Taxes aren't theft any more than rent is theft. Taxes are money you pay to be able to stay in a place and use its utilities and amenities. They're the bill for the services you used.

"But what if I don't use any of America's services?" he might ask. "What if I just want to sit at the table and eat free bread?"

That would be rude, but it is possible. What most conservatives fail to realize is that the Chateau du USA's signature dish is a relatively functional and secure currency, land ownership, and economic system in a white wine sauce. If you want in on that, you're going to have to pay the bill. Some people do the "living in america" equivalent of eating bread and never ordering anything... they simply don't own land, and don't use currency, banks, or transactions that are counted as commerce by the government. It's not the best life, just as complimentary bread is not the best meal. If you're not going to pay, you can get some protection from violence from our law enforcement system, and the right to walk on our sidewalks, and even, yes, free food if you choose to sign up for food stamps.

I know a bunch of people who live like this in America. A few are anarchist foresters who live on someone else's land (usually with express permission, sometimes without). Others are homeless people, punks living in squats, or kids playing the bum-rides-and-couch-surf game. Other than the anarchists, most of them would gladly order the "economic participation salad with a light balsamic vinaigrette" and pay the bill, if they could. Some people I know who used to be bread-eaters are now bill-payers, and that's a very good thing for everyone involved.

So, to return to the argument in our restaurant:

"If you don't like the prices, there are a bunch of competing establishments you could try. The place upstairs is even fancier, pricier, and more French, so you probably don't want to go there... but the Casa de Mexico is an option. The Cayman island country club is nice, though they do have a cover charge and are rather exclusive... don't let just anyone in, you know?"

"You know full well there's no other country that will let me in AND serve me an economic system I'd actually want to eat for free!" The man argues. "I'm trapped! I'm hungry for economic participation, and this is my only option! It's my favorite restaurant too. I'd want to eat here no matter what!"

"That's very complimentary sir."

"Shut up. If I could I'd make my own restaurant, but all the real estate in this town belongs to somebody already. Once again, I'm trapped."

"That is an unfortunate consequence of how restaurants, land, and countries work, yes. I apologize for the inconvenience. Look, I know you're upset that you can't get access to the goods and services you want for free in this establishment. But maybe the reason there isn't any place that provides these goods and services for free is that the ingredients cost money. You need a public records office to write down that you own that plot of land, and keep that record so that when another guy claims he owns it, there's someone who can impartially figure out the truth. You need law enforcement to keep people off your land once the records office proves you own it, and you need currency that can't be easily counterfeited. I think you also like some of the other stuff we provide... roads, educational system, and food inspection system. "

"Yes, OK, I'll have all that - the economic participation, the property records, the law enforcement, the schools, roads, and food inspection, and I'll even pay for it. But the only reason your prices are so high for the dishes I order is that you're got too many dishes I don't like and services I don't need. I NEVER use the guy who brings 'round the fresh ground public transportation, you should fire him to save me some money. And why are programs like WIC, SNAP, and birth control even on your menu? I bet the people who order those things can't even pay. It's a waste of money - my money. I paid for my meal, I should be assured that I'm only being charged for the specific ingredients in the items I ordered… and that you're not going to use any of my hundred bucks to buy ingredients for any dishes but the ones I think you should make."

"That's not how a restaurant works, sir. We provide a variety of services at a wide range of prices to suit the needs of customers with a wide range of tastes. If you don't like it, go somewhere else."

"Are you deaf, or just stupid? I told you, I don't want to go anywhere else and this place is my favorite anyway."

"Have you ever stopped to think that maybe some of the things you like about this place are the result of us spending money on other stuff you might think are a waste? When we buy nutritional security in bulk, we get a coupon that makes the law enforcement you order cheaper. That kind of thing."

"I still don't know why you're serving those freeloaders. I haven't seen a single one of them put down an Income Tax card the whole time I've been here."

"Most of them do pay, but with payroll, excise, and sales tax."

"Surely that can't cover the full cost of the ingredients in their meal!"

"Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Regardless, we're building customer loyalty and helping the community. Give someone a deal today, and when they have money they'll come back and ring up a nice big bill."

"Why can't i get that deal then? I pay all those other taxes."

"Yes, but you're ordering economic security and flexibility for a large amount of currency and property. That uses a lot more enforcement than most recipes, and enforcement is one of our most expensive ingredients. Look, I could stand here and talk about the restaurant business for hours, but I've got to clock out soon."

"Why?"

"This elaborate mixed metaphor is about to close for the night."

"Fine, I'll pay, but I'm going to go complain that you robbed me on reddit!"

"You're free to do so. That's what we call the liberty special."

#872 ::: Leah Miller has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 03:29 PM:

Probably for the longest post I think I've ever made, composed last night while in the grips of a powerful insomnia.

#873 ::: ErrolC ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 03:47 PM:

Michael I@854 re planes landing themselves.
Landing themselves is currently more practical than moving around the airport afterwards. Making sure that you don't taxi into another plane, or parts of infrastructure requires more equipment than guiding you onto the runway.
Apparently the runway at McMurdo in Antarctica has a huge 'whiteout overrun'. If you can't see, but have to land (not having enough fuel to get back to Christchurch), you land and keep on going. There is nothing to run into in the overrun area, and you can get back to the base when visibility improves.
The other interesting landing incident recently was a Virgin Australia 737 landing at Mildura (near Adelaide) in fog, with no external landing aids (fog had also closed Adelaide.) An approach was made using GPS (which isn’t that good for providing height information). The co-pilot could just see the runway (looking down) as the pilot aborted, so they knew the GPS was getting them lined up correctly. With no other choice, they tried again, having the passengers in the ‘brace’ position (as they would not be able to ‘flare’ before touchdown as is normal). It worked, and they made a safe, heavy landing. The investigation into how they (and a Qantas 737) got themselves into that situation is underway.

#874 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 04:00 PM:

Leah Miller, that was the best mixed metaphor salad I've had in a long time! I hope the gnomes enjoyed it too.

#875 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 05:13 PM:

Great Scott. I need re-geeking, people.

Someone has just asked me in all seriousness, "What does Minas Tirith mean?"

*blink*

#876 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 05:21 PM:

Without looking, "Tower of the Guard"?

#877 ::: Quixote ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 05:48 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 701

It's my understanding that Blue Jasmine vf n ergryyvat bs N Fgerrgpne Anzrq Qrfver. Gung gur Wnfzvar punenpgre raqf hc gur fnzr jnl nf Oynapur QhObvf vf n srngher, abg n oht.

#878 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:01 PM:

Soon Lee @ 875: that's correct, but it wasn't what the questioner was looking for. They were actually unfamiliar with the reference.

You know how most people pick up references to popular books, films and so on, even if they don't read them or see them themselves? This explains why I can quote from things like The Princess Bride without ever having seen it. This person clearly... doesn't do that.

#879 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:11 PM:

It means "Guard Tower".

Built by Finrod Felagund on an island which was later taken by Sauron and became known as the Island of Werewolves, until Huan the Itchy defeated Sauron at tiddlywinks.

#880 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:14 PM:

Mongoose #877:

" They were actually unfamiliar with the reference."

Inconceivable!

#881 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:18 PM:

I seem to recall that the Two Towers wer originally the Towers of the Sun and Moon (can't remember the Minas names) and were changed to Guard (Tirith) and Black Sorcery (Morgul) after Sauron took over the latter.

That's from memory. Gotta go look this up.

#882 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:27 PM:

Xopher @ 880: correct - they were originally Minas Anor and Minas Ithil. (The areas around them were still called Anorien and Ithilien at the end of the Third Age.)

#883 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:28 PM:

Xopher:

Minas Anor & Minas Ithil.

(There is debate as to which towers were the eponymous ones because there are more than the two candidates & the case can be made for Isengard &/or Barad-dur too. I favour the Minas Tirith & Barad-dur combination)

#884 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:39 PM:

Tolkien had no notion of naming the combined books III and IV anything in particular, so "The Two Towers" was chosen during publication, and may have been just some editor's idea (bah!).

If it was Tolkien's idea, Christopher Tolkien would by now have published proof that it was originally "The Two [rendered illegible by semicircular stain, probably ale, possibly Fullers]"

#885 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 06:53 PM:

Wait, are Barad-dur and Minas Morgul the same?

#886 ::: Carrie S ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 07:08 PM:

No, they are not. Barad-dur is inside Mordor proper; Minas Morgul is outside, in Ithilien.

#887 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 07:08 PM:

Minas Morgul is the fort on the border of Mordor, the one from which the hordes emerge as Frodo and Sam watch. Home base of the Nazgul.

Barad-dur is the baddie of baddies, northeast of Mount Doom.

#888 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 07:19 PM:

In other political news, the results of the election in Azerbaijan were announced a little early....

#889 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 07:55 PM:

There is a strong case for Isengard and Cirith Ungol being the "two towers" given that they are actually visited in the book while the Barad-dur and Minas Tirith are not.

#890 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:13 PM:

Wikipedia has citations that says Tolkien eventually settled on Minas Morgul and Orthanc. Believe it if you dare.

#891 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:26 PM:

#871: Thanks, you put it much better than I could have. The libertarians argue (against all of history, of course) that governments can't own territory in the way that individuals or corporations can.

#892 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:27 PM:

Leah Miller @871 (and the gnomes):
That was well worth the wait! I do like a good extended metaphor.

#893 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:53 PM:

I have a privet hedge, so I don’t see
My neighbours’ capers, what they get up to.
I will not take a fence: you can see through
A fence. Nor do I want a wall. For me,
To hedge is right. I trim it carefully.
No mending wall. No frosted stones. For who
Would throw? My neighbours? What else might they do,
If they should take offence at what they see?

Perhaps their walls are glass. But mine are, too.
Better that we have no stones to throw;
Better still to hedge and trim, take no
Offence. Break through the hedge? Some would, no doubt.
Then may be time to take up stones, and so
To cast them, build up walls. Or do without.

#894 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Leah, #871: That's excellent. It's a shame that the people who need to understand it will, by and large, refuse to do so, claiming that it's all a bunch of Socialist lies.

Off on a slightly different tangent: If It Were Happening There -- the first in a series of reports on the shutdown, written using the kind of language American media typically employs to write about foreign countries. The description of Ted Cruz is particularly choice... and accurate.

#895 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:54 PM:

Leah, #871: That's excellent. It's a shame that the people who need to understand it will, by and large, refuse to do so, claiming that it's all a bunch of Socialist lies.

Off on a slightly different tangent: If It Were Happening There -- the first in a series of reports on the shutdown, written using the kind of language American media typically employs to write about foreign countries. The description of Ted Cruz is particularly choice... and accurate.

#896 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 08:55 PM:

Sorry about the double post. The first time I tried, I got this error:

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@nielsenhayden.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.


I didn't do anything differently the second time, just hit Post again.

#897 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 09:31 PM:

Niall McAuley #889 & C. Wingate #890:

Thanks, but I'm not going to let something as paltry as "facts" get in the way.

La la la la la la!

#898 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:00 PM:

Leah: "And why are programs like WIC, SNAP, and birth control even on your menu?"

That right there is why I am a left libertarian and not a right libertarian. The menu items I don't care for are the bombing of countries inhabited by non-white people, the corporate welfare, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

#899 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:07 PM:

Well, Sam gave a non-answer to the gay in public question at # 753, so I'm still not following up on that.

#900 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:11 PM:

Actually I do have a question that indirectly follows on.

There is a term that's come up when we discuss online communities that I have never quite grokked the meaning of for more than a moment at a time. When somebody says that they have no objection to X but they are speaking up for the rights of others who feel harmed by X, is that an example of concern trolling?

The people who object to X can speak for themselves if they care to. I am not learning anything from somebody who defends the rights of others to object to X but does not know their reasons.

#901 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:50 PM:

Alan Beatty @900, Speaking "on behalf of" people is indeed concern trolling (example: declaring that Democrats are racist for offering policies which benefit African Americans, since this is a way of "keeping them on the plantation").

Another common form is offering unsolicited advice to people to whom you are openly hostile ("nominating Obama will backfire on you Dumbocrats -- you should go with Biden").

#902 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 10:52 PM:

The canonical concern troll is "I support X too, but I am concerned that your support of X is actually harming the cause." (By being too vociferous, too public, too campy, too... etc.)

What makes it trolling is of course that they're *lying* about being on your side; they just want you to shut up.

What you describe may be clueless or useless, but doesn't sound like trolling unless there's extra bonus dishonesty.

#903 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2013, 11:54 PM:

C. Wingate @ 865: "That life in society giveth doesn't get me a single thought process closer to "and therefore power-wielding people can rightly take away in the name of Society.""

Nor did I claim that it ought; the observation that it's all society, all the way down is equally valid regardless of whether society in question holds that "therefore none shall compel another" or "therefore we must all subsume our individuality in the Great Whole." There isn't one of those where society doesn't "interfere" with the individual. The point is that there's no there there, when you try to base a theory of freedom on the Natural Liberties of Man Before Society. Liberty is a worthy goal--the worthiest. But it comes out of society, not before it.

"It's also central to the whole discussion that human beings have a dismal record of trying to work this through, so that saying "well all we have to do is work this through" itself means "all we have to do is cut all the wrong-thinking people unlike ourselves out of the thinking-through process and not incidentally get a hold of the powers needed to carry out our program.""

I keep looking over my shoulder in an attempt to determine who, precisely, you are talking to. When did I say ""well all we have to do is work this through"? Where did you get this cutting out of the wrong-thinking and seizing of power? I am baffled.

#904 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 01:00 AM:

Leah Miller @ 871: That's brilliant! So much so that I've bookmarked it to give as a reference link the next time I find myself arguing engaging in debate with someone who fancies himself or herself a (non-left) Libertarian.

#905 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 01:09 AM:

Leah 871: Definitely brilliant. I've bookmarked it as "Leah Takes Down Libertarianism on Making Light."

#906 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:13 AM:

Leah @ 871

That's a good summary, but I think it is missing something important.

Here's the thing: I accept that taxes are the price that living in society costs. I pay taxes, and society provides lots of valuable things to lots of people. I get that.

But my taxes also pay for the NSA to monitor my email; they pay for the city inspectors to harass and fine my neighbors for not moving their trashcans[1]; they pay for my city police to enforce ABC laws in ways that look more like an extortion racket than an attempt to keep anyone safe[2]. They paid[3] to have Joseph Hofer die of pneumonia chained to his cell door.

What most conservatives fail to realize is that the Chateau du USA's signature dish is a relatively functional and secure currency, land ownership, and economic system in a white wine sauce.

My sister lives in Kenya; I don't need any convincing that those are very valuable things. But we had those things a century ago--along with a great deal more society that wasn't controlled by the state.

1) Note that the geography of our street means there is nowhere to move them to.
2) A couple restaurants that cater to unpopular clients and have property that the government would really like are endlessly harassed by the police for extremely minor ABC violations.
3) Not mine, but ours--I'm not that old.

#907 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:44 AM:

The good old days of 100 years ago are made to appear good mainly by squinting to focus on those few groups who had it good and letting the eyes blur to efface those whose underpaid labor went to make it good for the fortunate ones.

Otto Bettmann, of the famed Archive, authored a remarkable antidote to all this in a volume called The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible that shows what a wretched lie nostalgia is. Toxic food, blighted air (shit blowing everywhere, piss-saturated hay littering the streets), useless schools, and horrific living conditions are just a few of the highlights.

#908 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Kip W @ 907

I'm not disagreeing; to say I need little convincing that life is much better than it was 100 years ago would overstate how much convincing I need. (For one thing, my wife would have probably died, and my son certainly would have died, without medical care that wasn't available then.)

But we did have a relatively functional currency, relatively secure land ownership, and a basically functional economic system. (We were more like Kenya today than like Somalia.)

#909 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 11:41 AM:

SamChevre, #908: Here's the thing -- I don't see how you get from there to here without having "a lot more of our society controlled by the state," because that's how people who are not well-to-do white men end up with rights. You appear to want to eat your cake and have it too.

Those regulations that you rail at the abuse of? ANY regulation can be abused. The cure for this is not deregulation, it's oversight -- because the abuses that come from lack of regulation are worse. (cf. our current state of corporations running amok, which is the direct result of 30 years of deregulation)

#910 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 12:08 PM:

Lee @868 Thank you.

Leah Miller @871 Fantastic.

Sam Chevre:I note you've not yet answered my question @766, nor my points @749, for that matter. And while you're at it, please explain why a person's rights to absolute control over his property should be more important than a person's rights to have access to adequate food, water, shelter, medicine etc. (examples taken from Leah Miller's summary @685). Because I can't see any fundamental justification for that - it certainly isn't self-evident.

Lee @909: Absolutely. Checks and balances. Oversight is needed of regulations - and regulations are needed to minimise abuse of power by individuals. And abuse of power is wrong whether it's carried out by the state or by individuals - and whether using/backedup by physical force/the threat thereof or by economic leverage. I don't see any fundamental difference between use of physical force to kill someone and using economic power to do so (whether by action or deliberate lack of action) - the person still ends up dead.

#911 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 12:53 PM:

On the earlier conversation about the relationship between slavery and wage labour, this seems relevant.

#912 ::: C. WIngate ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 01:28 PM:

re 903: I was about to go at this from another direction, but upon reflection I have to challenge one of your assertions. It is not true that there are no "Natural Liberties of Man Before Society". The first men who crossed the Bering Strait could (and his ancestors eventually did) walk all the way to Tierra del Fuego without running into the kind of border guards which now would bar his way. You may wish to argue that without Society they couldn't have made it that far, but even such community as they brought with them was free to make the trip by becoming free of the old community from which they departed.

See, I may be free to say what I want on the internet, but the mere existence of the internet isn't that freedom, in the same way that the mere existence of territory doesn't given me freedom to walk across it. Society gives a person a lot more things to be free about, but it does so at the price of a lot of constraining too. I don't see anything about how your "shaping for most perfect freedom" doesn't have to balance all these things out, and that's even before addressing the far bitterer argument about what constitutes the approximated perfection. Every person who snaps back, "what would perfect would be to get the damned government off my back," threatens to derail the process at the outset. It's a strong temptation to say that what we have to work for the is the least common disastrous, because we cannot get anywhere near a common most perfect.

#913 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 05:35 PM:

SamChevre @906, we also had this a century ago — labor conditions so awful that workers had to go to war against their employers. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire had been just two years earlier.

Remember a couple days ago, when Albatross claimed it was ridiculous to claim that conservatives wanted to roll labor conditions back to the 19th-century? Now here you are, all nostalgic for the days of Mother Jones and the Pinkertons.

Also — functional currency and economy? Who are you kidding? October 1913, we were in the middle of a recession with a roughly 25% downturn in business activity. Look at that chart. Notice how the period from the middle of the 19th century to the Great Depression is filled with recessions having double-digit drops in business activity? And after WW2 the recessions are further spaced out, and have single-digit drops in GDP? Well, part of that is that the statistics switch from business activity to GDP (they should have broken it out into two columns to make that more apparent), but another part of that is that the gold standard creates a swingy economy that alternates between periods of inflation and deflation. The post-gold economy, which avoids deflation, is actually more stable.

#914 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 06:08 PM:

Jeremy Leader @864: If they allowed unrestricted public access for too long a period, they would lose their right to control that property.

Just exactly this happened in Boulder a few years ago.

#915 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2013, 07:57 PM:

Jeremy spoke at # 834 of mathematics and derivations, and that led me to ask a question in a different way.

For you guys who have been standing up for property rights, do you hold property rights as a fundamental axiom, or do you derive them from self-ownership and the labor theory of value?¹ I hesitate to label the axiomatic stance as the conservative position, because even Ayn Rand began with self-ownership. But what is your position?

Here's the thing about promoting property rights—there's a trap you can fall into. It's easy to defend property rights in a way that most benefits the people who have the most property—especially if you take property rights as a fundamental principal that is not based on anything else. But it's actually the people with the least property who need property rights the most.

  • Suppose for example that someone steals Bill Gates's car and it's never recovered. He'll just buy another one and barely notice the difference.
  • If the same thing happened to me, I could pay cash for an old clunker that's not as nice as the car I have now², and I'd be wary about driving it out of town, but I could still get to work.
  • But if someone less fortunate than me loses their car, they may lose their income too. This is the person whose property rights I want to protect. Bill G's property rights come along for the ride because it's simpler to include him than to decide how rich is too rich to care about.

So if you find yourselves defending rights and liberties in ways that don't much benefit poor people, you're not defending freedom, you're just defending rich people. Apply the same observation to men and women, managers and employees, dominant and minority ethnic groups, etc.

¹ This doesn't work for land and natural resources. See Geolibertarianism and Georgism.

² I am in denial about the value and reliability of a 2005 Dodge Neon with 160,000 miles.

#916 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 11:07 AM:

Ingvar @ 846: suffice it to say... Suffice it, then! And there are ways to work compensation into it: "become my slave, and I'll give the rest of your family money in perpetuity", or similar. I disagree with the idea that there is a sort of action which harms none but the agent and is nevertheless, as such, unjust.

dcb @ 847: The only way you can prevent abuse of power is through force, no? (Through threats of force, maybe.)

No one's arguing against preventing abuses of power. (Most sensible people will agree that sometimes force is justified.) The problem is defining "abuse". It sounds reasonable to say that an abuse of power is anything that damages any fundamental human right. Here right-libertarians might say that all rights are negative (so you can't infringe them through inaction, only through action) -- which is to me a fairly odd position. But if you hold freedom of (economical) association to be a right, then forcing a restaurant owner to serve all who would pay is an abuse of (state) power.

That's not much of a problem for me practically, because I don't see freedom of economic participation as an absolute right; it seems to be a problem for left-libertarians, who as I gather would rather solve it through public restaurants than through anything like current anti-discrimination laws.

Leah @ 871: If you don't like it, go somewhere else. Eh. The problem is that most countries which actually offer sensible protection of as much as bodily autonomy also offer all the things that libertarians don't want to pay for, and it's always, always a package. But, like I already said, I don't have very much of a dog in this fight. Like Lee @ 868, I pay taxes gladly, even though unlike her* I'm bothered by the existence of people doing it less than gladly.

Brilliant post indeed, by the way, though there's a slight quibble: most right-libertarians I'm aware of want to pay only for protection of person and property, nothing more. (So the guy in your restaurant wouldn't agree to the schools; in my last post, the tap water was a metaphor for schools and everything other than the aforementioned protection.)

Allan @ 915: Well, by now it ought to be obvious that I find Georgism sensible. I like the idea of self-ownership; I like the idea of a labour theory of value. I'm less than sure that it all works philosophically, but I can imagine it working in reality.

*I'm hoping that this is the correct pronoun; sorry if it's not.

#917 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 11:30 AM:

@916: Funny that the stuff libertarians like always comes in a package with stuff the don't like, huh? Almost as if they can't be separated.

The annoying thing with libertarian objections to "just take your business elsewhere" is that they will never allow that from anyone else. Restaurant doesn't serve "your kind"? Go somewhere else. Your employer makes you work in dangerous conditions? Go somewhere else. The country has a lot of regulations? You can't expect me to go somewhere else!

#918 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Erratum, me @916: The tap water was intended as a synecdoche, of course, not as a metaphor.

#919 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Allan Beatty @915: Really silly philosophical quibble about this question: do you hold property rights as a fundamental axiom, or do you derive them from self-ownership and the labor theory of value?

Doesn't the concept of self-ownership rely on a concept of ownership, in other words property rights? I suppose you could create a theoretical construct called "self-ownership" that happened to sound like the application of property rights to the self, but was defined as an independent axiom, with no reference to other kinds of ownership.

Thank you for the pointers to Geolibertarianism and Georgism! They're a fascinating contrast to what I see as the stereotypical US pioneer ethos (shared by some libertarians) of "the land was just sitting there, useless, until I, the rugged individual, came along and made it mine".

#920 ::: Jeremy Leader was gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:26 PM:

... for an expression of gratitude. Oops!

I just ate all the cashews, but I can offer the gnomes some Greek yogurt with Mango and Guanabana (a fruit I've never actually seen whole).

#921 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 01:46 PM:

rat4000:
For the past few days, I've been trying to figure out a system of voluntary slavery that would not quickly turn into de facto hereditary slavery. I haven't managed it yet. How do you ensure that after Jane Downonherluck sells herself to Sweatshops Incorporated, her future children will have a meaningful choice to not do the same?

#922 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 02:25 PM:

#921: "Well, that's just too bad. You entered into that contract voluntarily. If you were too lazy and unmotivated to read the fine print in the codicil which was available in the records department for a full hour every day your children are probably better off being slaves. If they're not happy with that they can sell a kidney. Unless your contract disallows that."

#923 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 02:33 PM:

rat4000 @916: Preventing abuse of power requires the use of other power, yes, but there are different types of power. Totally non-violent protest has been effective, sometimes, at persuading people to stop abusing power.

Personally, I see a moral difference between "abusing power" and "preventing abuse of power". You don't?

Re. "But if you hold freedom of (economical) association to be a right, then forcing a restaurant owner to serve all who would pay is an abuse of (state) power." That only holds if you consider "freedom of (economical) association" as a higher right than the right to not be discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, religion or sexuality. I don't.

#924 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Chris: This is an exercise in creating a fictional society, because I'm (still) aware that legalizing any sort of slavery is practically speaking evil in anything resembling what we have now. But in the utopia where the conditions are so wonderful that anyone giving all of their rights away may be said to be making a free choice (so Jane is more likely to sell herself to Rich van Eccentric than Sweatshops inc. anyway), you establish a law saying that slaves' children go to orphanages, and enforce it by yearly questioning slaves, with terrible punishment for any owner who breaks it. Then their fates aren't worse than those of any other orphan.

The state-funded orphanages this implies are quite justifiable, but I won't bother with giving my reasons since everyone here agrees with the statement anyway.

Jeremy @919: The concept of self-ownership does require a concept of ownership. The philosophical question that follows is not how you can conceptualize ownership in anything but the self -- it is how you can justify it. So you can hold that property rights in external objects are axiomatically justified sometimes, or you can hold that they somehow arise from (axiomatically justified) self-ownership, and I think Allan was asking us to choose between those alternatives. I find the latter better than the former, philosophically; a low number of axioms in a theory is generally a good thing.

#925 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 03:09 PM:

Apologies for double posting.

dcb @ 923: Re non-violent protest: libertarians generally explicitly allow that; moreover, it's not something a state can really do, and I'm only really concerned with what actions a state can or can't take.

I believe there is a difference between abusing power and stopping abuses of power, and I don't know what I said to give the impression I don't.

That statement you quoted also holds if you believe that no right is more important than another. But that's not really something that allows for discussion. Either you believe that rights are ordered (in some specific way), as a brute moral fact, or you don't. (Or you have some moral theory that derives rights and their ordering from something more primitive; or rights but no ordering; or perhaps no rights at all; and those options allow for discussions that I don't have the time for.) Libertarians, AFAIK, generally don't believe in an ordering. I've been defending libertarians so far; I myself am agnostic on the question. And that's all I can say concerning it.

#926 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 04:37 PM:

I keep hoping I'll have the time and spoons[0] to write a long, complete answer; at this point, a partial answer now seems like a good idea.

There are several varieties of liberalism in it's classic/European form, for which libertarianism is the common name in American English today. Like the various varieties of feminism, they agree on the 90% of the current political questions 90% of the time, but they start from different premises and so answer utopian questions, and the edge-case question like voluntary slavery, differently.

One (Objectivism) is associated with Ayn Rand; it's very focused on the individual and hostile to the idea of obligations (and hence has close ties to feminism). It's strongly anti-religious; it should be obvious that I'm not much of a fan.

One is the strong-property-rights idea which Leah Miller articulates well in comment 617. That's probably most associated with Locke.

Another is focused on strong self-ownership--this is associated with Nozick. (This is where the "can you sell yourself into slavery" question comes from; it's an attempt to answer a genuinely tricky question, which is "if you have the right to kill yourself, why don't you have a right to sell yourself?")

The one I find sensible is based on a concept of the state as having a delegated right to use force. Major influences would be Bastiat[1], Montesquieu[2], Bastiat, and more recently Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn[3] and Wendell Berry. The key here is that the state can't rightly use force on my behalf unless I could rightly use force on my own behalf. (This is why dcb @ 766 poses a question that isn't an issue for me--I think someone who's starving has the right to steal food; so I have no right to keep someone from the means of life.)

dcb @ 923, the issue is that I don't think associations involving money ((economical) associations) are different from other associations; almost any form of association has an economic component somehow. [4] And I think that freedom of association is central to the ability to live in a diverse society, rather than spending all our time fighting over whether everyone has to accept Lee or Sam as the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not harmful.

Probably key to my thinking is that society is a "thick", multi-layered, multi-faceted thing, to which the state is both necessary and dangerous. (Think of me as the anti-Corey Robin). I want more society and I think you get more society with less state. This disagreement also applies to abi's Parhelion on charity not being able to replace government; I want inclusion in voluntary groups to replace much of both charity and governemnt, and think "you are free to leave" is a pretty strong and generally sufficient check on private groups.

0) This conversation would be less spoon-demanding if I wasn't asked to argue for things of which I've asserted the opposite, and for such utter commonplaces of liberalism as "I disagree with what you say but will defend your right to say it" and "I can't decide for you that something is harmless to you."
1)"What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense."
2) a link to an excellent summary by Corey Robin.
3) In my list of "five books everyone who thinks about politics should read", Leftism is number 1.
4)I also can't figure out how you'd get a sensible right to not be subject to private discrimination--I have a perfect right to eat in a restaurant where I think highly of the owner, or to sell my car cheaply to a friend, both of which are forms of discrimination.

#927 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 05:26 PM:

SamChevre, when you ignore what's been said upthread about the grounds of the discrimination being the relevant point, and put up disingenuous statements like

I also can't figure out how you'd get a sensible right to not be subject to private discrimination--I have a perfect right to eat in a restaurant where I think highly of the owner, or to sell my car cheaply to a friend, both of which are forms of discrimination.
—your credibility is eroded still further.

#928 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 05:42 PM:

SamChevre @926, you were doing pretty well there until you recommended a book on leftism by an old National Review writer who considered Hitler a leftist.

#929 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 05:57 PM:

SamChevre, your #4 has nothing to do with discrimination, unless you're doing it as a normal part of doing business.
Going to a restaurant where you like the owner? Fine, I've done that myself. It's also okay to NOT go to restaurants where you don't like the owner. Selling stuff to a friend? Fine; no one's going to do anything to you for that.
Choosing who you'll do business with as a businessperson who's open to the public? There are laws that cover that, and you have to obey them or face the penalties.

#930 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 06:28 PM:

rat4000, 924: What on earth are you talking about here? "But in the utopia where the conditions are so wonderful that anyone giving all of their rights away may be said to be making a free choice (so Jane is more likely to sell herself to Rich van Eccentric than Sweatshops inc. anyway), you establish a law saying that slaves' children go to orphanages, and enforce it by yearly questioning slaves, with terrible punishment for any owner who breaks it. Then their fates aren't worse than those of any other orphan."

Why would anybody living in a utopia *need* to sell herself (also: ugh, did you really need to use a woman as the example of a willing slave? Really?) and furthermore, do not utopias generally provide a way for families to stay together? If not, why are they utopias? And why are you so invested in proving that slavery isn't bad? Do you really want a woman who cannot ever say no? Because that's where you're going.

#931 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 07:06 PM:

Avram @ 928

I find it extremely difficult to find an argument for why someone who proudly identified as a socialist, headed the National Socialist Workers' Party, and ruled in a way that exactly matches Bastiat's definition of "socialism" wouldn't be identified as a leftist. ("Left" is a fairly ill-defined term, but Kuehnelt-Leddihn defines it coherently and clearly, if not in a way that all leftists agree with.)

Xopher @ 927

It seems we are engaged in entirely orthagonal arguments. I'm arguing that discrimination (standard definition) is sometimes right and sometimes wrong (depending on the grounds, the circumstance, and so on)--and that deciding when it's reasonable, when it's allowable, and so on isn't helped by introducing a notion of a universal right not to be discriminated against.

Again: I'm arguing that when we can avoid having to have a force-backed, universal rule, we should.

#932 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 07:14 PM:

Sam Chevre@931,

Again: I'm arguing that when we can avoid having to have a force-backed, universal rule, we should.

Who makes that determination? Where are the lines? If I walk down the street dressed in what I consider normal modest clothing in Saudi Arabia, I'm subject to stoning or rape. Should there be a force-backed, universal rule to stop that? If so, why? If not, why not?

If I do the same in Japan, I'm reliably informed that I'm subject to groping. Rule? No rule?

How about walking past an American construction site, where I'm subject to cat-calls and hoots? Rule? No rule?

I can't figure out where you draw lines, or why. The mere fact of my being female in public is offensive to some people. Should I not be in public?

#933 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 07:35 PM:

SamChevre @931 Bastiat? Since when was he a socialist, or an authority on socialism? I thought he was generally considered a proto-libertarian, or “classical liberal”. Why should I take his definition seriously? Same for Kuehnelt-Leddihn, who you yourself admit that not all leftists agree with. (Do any leftists agree with him?)

Do you really think that an ideology that calls for the people to subsume their interests to those of the state, incarnated in a supreme leader, in order to create a nation that would rule the world for a thousand years, is the same as an ideology that calls for states to subsume their interests to those of the people, to the point where states would wither away?

#934 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 07:52 PM:

TexAnne @930:
(also: ugh, did you really need to use a woman as the example of a willing slave? Really?)

"Jane" was the example in rat4000's reply because she was the example in my post. I chose to use a woman for my point about voluntary slavery becoming hereditary because the mother's connection to the child is more direct than the father's.

#935 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 08:03 PM:

Chris, 934: OK, I owe rat4000 an apology about that point--but it still leads to an unsavory conclusion, which he does not seem to have noticed--and I still think he should explain why he's so fixated on proving that slavery is OK.

#936 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 09:35 PM:

A source of problems in this discussion is the collision between two questions:

1: What is the best way to regulate the society we have now, and ideally to improve it?

vs.

2: What is the best theoretical foundation for all societies ever?

One problem I see is that the "theoretical foundation" folks either admit that our current situation makes their theories moot (as with the claim that in theory legal slavery could be ok, even though in practice right now it would be a horrible thing to introduce), or they ignore inconvenient aspects of reality that complicate the application of their theories (as with various commenters arguing that life 100 years ago was "freer", with the hidden caveat "for white non-immigrant males whose families weren't too poor").

If a theoretical answer to question #2 could be found that was so elegant and robust that it could be applied to our current society, without ignoring any inconvenient variables, that would be wonderful, but I've yet to see such a theory that shows any signs of such robustness.

This desire for a universal theory also leads to arguments about what other approaches will lead to when "taken to an extreme". An ideal theory, taken to an extreme, must still work. A pragmatic approach to the current situation doesn't have to work when applied to other, more extreme situations. So leftism taken to the extreme leads to Hitler? I don't agree, but even if I did, that just means that we need to avoid getting too extreme with our leftist solutions to current problems.

#937 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 09:49 PM:

I have learned that the words 'classical liberal' generally mean that absolutely no discussion will follow, just pontificating. 'Classical liberal' is what Libertarians call themselves after they learn that 'I vote straight-ticket Republican' won't get get them laid.

#938 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 10:19 PM:

rat4000, #916: Oh, I'm bothered all right by the existence of people who call taxation "theft" -- I consider them to be leeches on society. "Takers," if you will -- people who want something for nothing. That they have the unmitigated gall* to call it "freedom" just makes it worse.

SamChevre, #926: Off the top of my head, you can kill yourself but not sell yourself because after you kill yourself, you're DEAD. They are equally irrevocable decisions, but in the first instance that doesn't matter once it's been done. In the second case, it does.

Beyond that, I continue to be annoyed with you because you argue for things which, if they were implemented, would have the effect of throwing me** under the bus, and then say, "But *I* don't agree with these things!" and expect that to be a Get Out Of Opprobrium Free card. Doesn't work that way.

Diatryma, #937: Dammit, you owe me a new keyboard. :-)


* For lack of a more accurate term that won't get my vowels pulled.

** Or people I care about.

#939 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 10:35 PM:

Re: Georgism — came across this article recently which describes the origins of the game Monopoly in a game designed to teach the philosophy of Henry George.

#940 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 10:41 PM:

Rat4000 @ 924:

I think any place where a person who wishes to place themselves under voluntary slavery but might get pregnant* has as hir only options A) Let the child grow up a slave or B) Lose the child to the state INSTANTLY disqualifies itself from utopia. People can have contradictory desires, such as entering a master-slave relationship** and yet to also have full rights to their own children and right to input on how they are raised, and for their children to be independant and free.

I know this is a thought experiment to answer the question "Why can't a person sell themselves?", but I think the experiment is getting dangerously close to trying to actually justify the concept not merely debate it in the abstract. I think that's what texanne is reacting to.

* Or get someone else, be it a fellow slave or a mistress or a third party outside that power structure, pregnant, and have interest in helping raise the child.

** I am aware that in the BDSM world some people who like that full immersion into the concept of slavery DO in fact write up contracts in legalistic language. I think the extent to which these should be actually binding in a court of law is Null. (Including any exchange of money, goods, or blackmail material; it may be part of the agreed upon game to not actually protest these consequences should the contract be broken, but I also think they cannot be legally enforced, or else the consenting part of the relationship rapidly becomes not only non-consenting but impossible to consent to.)

#941 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2013, 11:02 PM:

Rat4000 @924, I’m not sure if you caught this when I mentioned it earlier, so let me make it explicit: This idea of “voluntary slavery” isn’t some hypothetical thing that only exists in some fictional ideal world of yours. Slavery contracts, entered into in order to escape debt, are how slavery was implemented in the real, actual, historical world. This isn’t make-believe, or hypothesis, or fiction. If you support “voluntary” slavery, then you support slavery.

#942 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:16 AM:

SamChevre, if you believe that Nazis were socialist, then you must also believe that Republicans are Communist, because after all the German Democratic Republic and the People's Republic of China are Communist. Also, Republicans are terrorists because the Irish Republican Army were a) terrorists and b) Republicans.

It is DOLTISH to go around claiming that the same word means the same thing out of different mouths and in different social (and grammatical) contexts. Christian Science is not science, no matter what its adherents believe, and National Socialism isn't socialism, no matter what its adherents believe.

And, really, Hitler is fairly notorious for having beliefs and definitions widely at variance with what we believe nowadays. My opinion of your sincerity and intelligence is dropping.

#943 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 12:28 AM:

As for slavery: there are some things that cannot be owned. You do not own yourself; you cannot be owned, by anyone, not even you. You have rights to self-determination within certain limits; but you cannot sell yourself because you are not property at any time.

Personally, I think the world would be a better place if the European concept that land can be owned had been strangled in its cradle, but alas, we're stuck with that one.

#944 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:38 AM:

Yay! The Next Open Thread doesn't seem to have continued this discussion! I'm a Libertarian, of the type most of you would consider right-libertarian (though I think of us as more like deep center field), and won't go into philosophical arguments about it here.

One thing that's happened on the Internet for the last decade or so is that almost all discussions eventually devolve into arguments over what to do about Spam. You may think it's annoying, but it replaced "Libertarians vs. Socialists" as the sinkhole into which all discussions used to descend. While I usually vote for the Libertarian Party, was active with them for a decade or so, and have even run as a candidate, it's more of a debating society than an actual party, and listening to internal debates between ideologues there sounds a lot like doing the same thing with a bunch of Trotskyites; listening to the "Libertarianism Vs. Socialism" debate is way too much like listening to "Trotskyites vs. Maoists", with the added burden of being expected to root for one side or the other.

#945 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:42 AM:

Sorry for sounding extra-grumpy there.

#946 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 03:35 AM:

C. Wingate @ 912: "It is not true that there are no "Natural Liberties of Man Before Society". The first men who crossed the Bering Strait could (and his ancestors eventually did) walk all the way to Tierra del Fuego without running into the kind of border guards which now would bar his way."

Unless you are arguing that the men (and women, presumably) who crossed the Bering Strait were not part of a community which raised them with a certain set of skills and technologies of survival and navigation which provided them with the means to accomplish what they did, but rather originated all such skills and technologies ex nihilo, I don't see how it is anything other than another example of how our freedoms emerge out of the community in which we always already are. This point seems particularly obvious when considering the journey to Tierra del Fuego in its multigenerational and thus perforce communal character.

"Society gives a person a lot more things to be free about, but it does so at the price of a lot of constraining too. I don't see anything about how your "shaping for most perfect freedom" doesn't have to balance all these things out, and that's even before addressing the far bitterer argument about what constitutes the approximated perfection."

Certainly the case; the point is that there isn't any shortcut through those issues by appealing to negative rights as in some way prior than positive rights, by appealing to Natural Liberty as prior to Social Justice. If individual liberty is a goal which society ought to aim for--which I without a doubt think it is--its basis must be found on other grounds than the sort of pseudo-historical narratives of Rousseau and Locke.

#948 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 06:35 AM:

Jacque @947:

Yes, but just so we're all clear: the political discussion stays here.

#949 ::: rat4000 ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 07:49 AM:

I'm starting to believe that I really ought to pull back from the slavery discussion (which I also sort of started, yes, I apologize), because I'm realizing that my position on the issue isn't really firm enough, or informed enough, that I should go on bothering you with it.

Jeremy @936 hits the nail on the head: I'm thinking about imaginary societies, borderline cases, in order to arrive at the rules that I'd want to underlie any society. But I (now) suspect I know too little about how slavery worked historically, and about the world in general, and about myself, to be really sure what I'd want in that particular borderline case.

Basically, y'all seem to have changed my mind. Not the first time, either.

#950 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 08:57 AM:

R.e. Nazis and socialism - it's complicated, but there was a lot more overlap back then between certain strands of thought that are not thought of being particularly related today.
The final proof of the pudding being who voted for Hitler - the answer is the conservative right wingers with nationalist tendencies, overwhelmingly so. (Source "Hammer or Anvil" by Evelyn Antony)
There was also an increased turnout, a bit like the tea partiers getting all their friends to go and vote.
There is an interesting amount of overlap between even your modern anti-capitalists and people who read the Daily Mail, insofar as the latter don't want or appreciate a 'free' market except insofar as it benefits them and the country. There certainly used to be a strand of conservatism which took the welfare of people in the country (certainly in Europe) seriously, because you need strong, well fed people to get and maintain an empire and to compete properly in the world markets. This overlaps with the socialist desire for proper welfare reforms and the like.

Moreover, Hitler isn't a good witness except that after seeing the rise and fall of his regime, we know that he was sponsored by some right wing corporate folk who wanted someone to divert some of the potential vote for centrists and socially minded people, and that he told everyone what they wanted to hear. The ultimate form of his vision was definitely not socialist, insofar as it was racist, imperialist and statist in a way which differed from actual Socialist party's and manifestos etc of the time.

Of course the similarities to another famous dictatorship, the USSR, are obvious. What I find interesting is the disjunction between rhetoric and actions and the way in which in any situation involving power, in politics, people say one thing but mean or do another.

#951 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 10:45 AM:

The Nazi party leaders that considered the "socialist" part as more than propaganda (Strasser et al) got purged during the Night of the Long Knives.

That should be enough for that particular argument.

#952 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 10:49 AM:

rat4000 @949: I think you gained knowledge and understanding, and that is a real gain (and I mean that sincerely).

SamChevre: @931: "I'm arguing that when we can avoid having to have a force-backed, universal rule, we should." But you think that there -should- be force-backed rules to protect property rights and the right to "freedom of association": just not to protect rights that many people here think are important, such as the right to not be discriminated against - when such discrimination can be injurious to your ability to (for example) find shelter, food, clothing and medicine?

How do you square your "I think someone who's starving has the right to steal food; so I have no right to keep someone from the means of life.)" with " I think that freedom of association is central to the ability to live in a diverse society" when it's been shown, again and again, in society-as-we-live-in-it that giving people the "freedom of association" to discriminate against (in their daily business practices) people belonging to groups of which they disapprove leads to them "keeping someone from the means of life"?

In my view, think it goes back to what SummerStorms said @ 666: "They are welcome to live however they want (within the bounds of legality), but only so long as they can do so without curtailing the rights of others to do the same." (my bolding). That requires that they respect the rights of others to buy goods and services, get a job etc.

#953 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 01:19 PM:

rat4000@949: I just want to say: far too few people make the sort of acknowledgement you made here, explicitly, that the discussion has changed one's mind. Good on you!

#954 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 05:21 PM:

rat4000, #949: That does happen when you hang around a good online literary salon such as this one. It's happened to me several times, here and elseNet as well.

#955 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 06:02 PM:

Thanks to everyone for the kind words about my madness at 871. I've had a tough week, and knowing that I wrote something other people enjoyed has helped me a bit.

I grew up in a neighborhood that was very "whose woods these are, I think I know." Kids in my neighborhood wandered around a pine forest with glacier cliffs and wild blackberries; a paradise straight out of an 80s movie. There were multiple "no vehicles" signs, but only one "no trespassing" sign, so we stayed at least ten yards away from that one sign (yes, this was silly). When I was 18 and in college, my family moved to another town, in a similar wooded area - but this one had "No trespassing" signs every ten feet. I wanted to explore, but I was afraid of getting shot or arrested, so I stayed inside and played video games all summer, and wondered what my childhood would have been like if the woods had been behind a fence.

While I was having all those childhood adventures and reading a lot of mythology, I became interested in Native American history (I remember reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee when I was eleven, and sobbing for hours). This, combined with multicultural exposure and a bunch of fantasy reading, helped me grow up without the assumption that people owning vast swaths of land was some kind of inherent reality. It was possible to have society where ownership of items and livestock existed, but land ownership was less of a codified thing. I also became painfully aware that almost all land in this country was forcibly and violently declared "private property" just a few hundred years ago. So the "free society where anyone can leave and people just take care of each other as best they can" proposal put forward by the private-property-obsessed libertarians strikes me in the heart like a knife made of pure irony. I know Native civilizations weren't perfect, but if you want an example of a society in recorded memory that even remotely resembled the libertarian community-based solution, native tribes in the US are the closest thing I can think of. And what destroyed that society's ability to function? People obsessed with the western-centric concept of owning huge areas of land - not just owning a house or a village or your tools, but owning an entire forest, or a hundred acres of farmland. Of course, organized, governmental violence and adventurism played a huge part too, but they were used in service of land ownership obsession.

So now you're saying "Ok, we're going to keep a massive army to defend our land (that we took from other people using violence), and we're going keep a massive police force and bureaucracy that enforces ownership of that land by its current holders, but everything else is going to be voluntary and membership-based." That's like three steps from feudalism for anyone who doesn't already have land or huge financial resources. And if "you can do what you want with the land you own" is absolute, imagine that some wealthy religious conservatives manage to buy 60% of the land in Alaska. Should they be allowed to secede from the US and declare all the land they owned to be part of Russia, with the intent of adopting Russia's hideous anti-gay laws? If all membership in everything should be voluntary, where does it stop? Should we allow states to secede? Parts of states? Individual homesteads?

Land ownership is necessary for industrialized society. You need to be able to invest in improvements for mass production of things. You need to know how much farmland you'll have next year so you can put away just the right amount of seed. There are economic efficiencies of scale. No one with any real political weight is seriously talking about abolishing private property. But right now, most of the land in the US belongs to descendants of people who had real, serious, enormous economic advantages - advantages that still exist to this day. A lot of it belongs to descendants of the people who literally declared public land to be private property by fiat, and shot anyone who argued dead where they stood.

In my mind, those of us who are descended from people who happened to be white and male in America during a time where that gave you a big leg-up in the property game have a responsibility to make it possible for those who didn't have that kind of advantage (or who simply had unlucky ancestors) to move up. And yes, because there is literally not any additional land being created to own, that might mean that the Walton's descendants only inherit 80% of their current wealth, instead of 100% of it. That's not socialism, it's acknowledging that racism and white supremacy happened, and that they had a huge effect on who owns land and has money today. Unfortunately, unwillingness to acknowledge that the history of racism is directly related to the current distribution of property has become a defining characteristic of modern conservatism.

Libertarians are basically saying "the absolute sanctity of property begins... I don't know, in like 1907, when we denied the indian territory individual statehood? Whenever we broke our last treaty... from then on, though, private property is like totally sacred you guys for real." It's like the kid who is really far ahead after round one of a game, so he wants to change the rules so nobody has any chance of catching up. What he doesn't realize is that the mechanics that seem unfair now that he's ahead are there to make the game balanced. Yes, if you're doing well in a game and you encounter rules that give players a chance to knock you off your perch, those rules feel unfair... but to players who got an unlucky dice roll in the early rounds, it's what let's them have fun playing, because they still have some slim hope that they might be able to do well.

Large-scale land ownership isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I'm not even saying I think it should... (though I'd appreciate some laws that make it easier for kids to play in the woods). But if society is going to maintain the ability for a person to own more land and property than a single house can hold, we have to acknowledge that the hereditarily houseless are inherently disadvantaged. This inherent disadvantage isn't the only reason we want to provide social safety net services. It's not even the biggest reason. But it is the reason that we can't let the "I've got mine" people excuse themselves from participation.

#956 ::: SummerStorms ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 07:17 PM:

Diatryma @ 937:

*applause*

#957 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2013, 10:26 PM:

Nearly 40% of land in the US is public land. In some states, the majority is public land — 96% of Alaska is public land, and 88% of Nevada. (At the other end of the spectrum, less than 2% of Rhode Island is public land.)

Nothing about industrialization requires private land ownership. Federal land is used for grazing animals, and mined for natural resources. One of the greatest scandals in the history of the US had to do with oil on public land. (Science fiction note: Ever hear Larry Niven joke that the best advice he ever received was “Here’s a million dollars; don’t spend it all in one place”? His family made its fortune off the Teapot Dome oil.)

#958 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 01:22 PM:

This thread has obviously petered out, so I just want to drop a few final thoughts. I keep coming back to the Screwtape passage: "my" is not a single, absolute relationship, and thus, neither is ownership. But I don't see, in particular, how to do without "my" relationships with areas of land that are proprietary to some degree. I plant a field of wheat, and until it be harvested, that claim needs to be honored, and indeed, I needed some context in which to establish that claim in the first place. A building represents a more permanent claim of the same ilk. It is perhaps possible for hunter-gatherer cultures to do without such claims, but agriculture at least requires them. And without defending the European system of land ownership, I must say that the appropriation of the "improvements" (as they are called) to a plot of land, in the name of the community, is not something that is going to sit well with those who made the improvements, at least not with some very considerable negotiation over the conditions under which they were made.

That said, I have no use for the notion that the community has by nature no say in the regulation of land usage. Nobody owns a plot forever; at the very least some thought must be made for the right of descendants to receive the territory in good condition, not to mention that the air and the water flow as they please.

#959 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 05:30 PM:

958
You're still thinking of property as more important than people.

#960 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 06:01 PM:

Also, C. Wingate? 'appropriation' of improvements to a plot of land are completely irrelevant to 90% of what we've been arguing about here, primarily the right of all citizens to equal access to the machinery of society (instead of being excluded on traditionally-discriminated-against grounds like race, religion, etc). That almost never has anything to do with depriving a property-owner of the use or existence of imrovements on their land.

#961 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2013, 10:17 PM:

Elliot, I responded to one small set of points made late in the discussion. What I said earlier addressed earlier points. Nothing I said in my last response precludes forbidding discrimination in commerce or public access, as is quite clear from what I said much further up. When people are talking about the notion that land be unownable, it is reasonable to address the limitations to that sentiment without participating in the all-or-nothing theories of ownership which I have denounced from the start.

P J, yours is harder to respond to, if only because the only way to make sense of "privileging property over people" is to translate it into a preference for the desires of one class of people over those of another. That has nothing at all to do with anything I said. The point simply is that it is a fact of nature that some land uses require respecting the sense of "my" through which people feel ownership, so that completely forbidding that sense is impractical. I said nothing about resolving the conflicts involved, but merely that some of the time they have to be resolved in a direction that respects some sense of ownership; if you are growing a crop of wheat you surely have grounds to object if I run my Jeep across it at my pleasure. How that conflict gets resolved I did not address and do not intend to address; nevertheless, even if you want insist that one large farmer's land is confiscated and in some manner given over to cultivation for the benefit of others who are more deserving, the issue doesn't go away.

#962 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2013, 12:43 AM:

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the right to property as a human right (not using quite those terms).

#963 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2013, 04:46 PM:

The Coates piece is an excellent one.

Another excellent piece is this one from Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

I keep wanting to reply with a thorough restaurant response, and not getting it done. But sketchily--think of a restaurant that is at the same time doing three things: excluding fewer people, increasing the visible privilege of a small group of people, and reducing people's ability to control the food at their own table.

I continue to find P J Evans @ 959 unanswerable. People can't survive without property; people can't participate in society without property; in my mind, valuing people requires valuing property.

#964 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 05:01 PM:

As on-topic as anything on an open thread, this moose watched a recent documentary on the JFK assassination a few days ago. It really did look like a case of cockup followed by conspiracy. (Gubhtu gur svefg fubg gung uvg WSX zvtug jryy unir cebirq sngny naljnl.)

#965 ::: Cadbury Moose is discussing conspiracy theories with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2013, 05:04 PM:

Toasted bread product, anyone?

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