Linky Friday #123: Middle East Meets West

Jihadism:

[J1] Four dead, three injured in Chattanooga.

[J2] ThinkProgress has a good story on an Imam talking kids out of joining ISIS.

[J3] So happens when a Jihadi returns home?

[J4] This is disconcerting: a website is creating a blacklist of Pro-Palestinian activists.

Anglosphere:

[A1] David Cameron is doing a good job of making me think maybe I’d be a Liberal Democrat.

[A2] The thing is, if Australian officials can’t actually be expected to look at every game that’s released, the best solution is not “well, then, games just won’t be released.”

[A3] From Brother Judd: All Anglospheric Politics Is Identical.

[A4] Written before the shooting (but published after), Robert Greene II’s piece about black lives mattering in South Carolina takes on an added significance.

[A5] The HUD SCOTUS ruling was a policy victory for the left, but could create problems politically.

[A6] Canada appears to be (formally) opening the door to ecigarettes.

[A7] Scott Gilmore says that Canada is too self-satisfied with the status of its racial progress. I can’t speak to that, though it seems the comparison with the US (and the racial concerns of African-Americans therein) is rather unfair. Aboriginies/Indians/etc – especially with regard to reservations – are a uniquely difficult issue in the US and Canada.

Labor:

[L1] From Oscar Gordon: I’m sure someone will find a way to put this in a negative light or just claim they aren’t doing nearly enough.

[L2] This corresponds with my experience: Employees of small and locally owned businesses tend to display more loyalty.

[L3] A medical resident in Mexico was caught sleeping on the job and attempts were made to shame her. Residents from across the western hemisphere responded with pictures of them also sleeping on the job.

[L4] Should unemployment insurance duration terms change with age?

University:

[U1] From Oscar Gordon: I support the idea of public universities, but they need to be more insulated from the whims of political wiles. My Alma Mater had it’s issues, but Walker is taking a sledgehammer to drive a finishing nail.

[U2] Americans may be able to take advantage of low tuition rates in Germany. It’s an intriguing proposition.

[U3] Average SAT scores and graduation rates track very, very closely (in California).

[U4] Mormons pay their debts. Their student debts if they went to BYU, at any rate. Other praiseworthy schools: Vassar, Harvey Mudd, and Notre Dame.

Science:

[S1] From Oscar Gordon: The debate has been won, but the winners are so busy trying to wipe out all dissent that they are building distrust.

[S2] From Oscar Gordon: The big one. Why I focus on disaster prep (and also want to be able to own guns).

[S3] From Oscar Gordon: Theory predicts, experiments confirm. Science bitches (it works)!

[S4] A battle of stars versus lawns: astronomers and the maker of robotic lawnmowers are going at it.

Progress:

[P1] From Oscar Gordon: Nuclear rocket engines!

[P2] From Oscar Gordon: Plastic Roads. I am intrigued. Pros: Light, easy to install, as recyclable as asphalt, more efficient production. Cons: Traction? Strength? Durability? Cost? Feedstock source?

[P3] The Atlantic looks at what it would take to double a cell phone’s battery life. Getting to 24 hours with intense use is something that absolutely happens. If you want to take away my removable batter, you absolutely need to do that first. If Samsung hasn’t by the time I need a phone, I may have to get LG (assuming they don’t flip).

[P4] Michael Brendan Dougherty says we will not all be having sex with robots in the future. I tend to think he’s right about it not replacing traditional relationships (for anybody), but it might make other sorts of sexual gratification more enjoyable.

Culture:

[C1] Churches are often told they need to liberalize in order to avoid irrelevance, but Alexander Griswold argues that liberalization leads to irrelevance. Along similar lines, Mollie Hemingway is sadly correct when she criticizes the New York Times for calling United Church of Christ (and the Episcopal Church) “major denominations.”

[C2] Here is a thought: If someone goes so far as to change their name to avoid undue public attention, how about we do not actually publicize their new name?

[C3] Damon Linker argues that Choice Paradox is making us romantically miserable, a position with which Jason Kuznicki disagrees.

[C4] From Oscar Gordon: BLM wants more money & lavish accomodations in order to approve the permit for Burning Man

[C5] John McWhorter argues that black people need to stop caring so much what white people think, while John Metta says that white people need to be confronted.

{Feature image adapted from the original WisPolitics.com photograph}

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104 thoughts on “Linky Friday #123: Middle East Meets West

  1. C3: The evidence seems to suggest that it is harder to get into a relationship but actual relationships are happier with more choice.

    J4: Considering the antics of Pro-Palesitnian activists, including a lot of Jew-baiting, accusations of dual loyalty, and votes scheduled on Shabbat and Jewish holidays to exclude as many Jews as possible from BDS votes; they deserve it.

    C1: I actually agree. The conservative and strict religions are thriving in the way that liberal denominations are not. Once religions go liberal, there is a big incentive to go into secularism for the flock.

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  2. [C2] – that’s not quite right though. Jackson didn’t change his name to “avoid public attention” – he changed his name because he hated *his name*, and he was getting bullied over it.

    You could make an argument that the *best* thing you could do for such a person, is to help them publicize that they have a new name. Otherwise, everybody keeps calling them “Blanket”.

    Also, it seems weird to have that “thought”, as you link to a news item about it, further publicizing it.

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    • That’s fair. The original article I read seemed to insinuate that he wanted a bit of a fresh start, in addition to not liking the name. But this article doesn’t say that and I can’t find the original.

      Yeah, the irony had crossed my mind.

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  3. A2: I had thought from watching Ben Yahtzee’s reviews (the zero punctuation guy) who lives in ‘Stralia that a lot of titles didn’t make it down under, or at least not in a timely fashion. I seem to recall that he had to get some more or less smuggled copies to review from his family/friends back in his native UK.

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    • There are two issues with getting games in Australia.
      1) Geoblocking. Console games are region locked, much like DVDs are. They can only be played on a console that is set to the correct region. If the manufacturer hasn’t bothered releasing the disc for your zone yet, then you can’t get it. Admittedly this is less of a problem than it used to be.

      2) Censorship. Up until very recently Australia had no rating for computer games higher than MA15. Note that unlike in the US, these ratings are set by the government and are legally binding. So if a game was too violent / sexual / whatever for the MA15 rating, it was banned, much as if a game is too violent / sexual / whatever for the 18+ rating in New Zealand it gets banned. It is illegal to distribute banned media, so the only way to get a copy in Australia would be to get it through back-channels. While Australia now has an 18+ rating for games, the same political forces that blocked its introduction for so long are still causing the Australian censors to be conservative in the application of that rating.

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  4. S1: I think the reason this is going on is because it is easy whereas Climate Change is hard. Oh it’s not hard to prove, no problems there. Science is pretty open and shut on it.
    At that point, really, unless science develops some kind of emission free power source* AGW stops being an exclusively scientific question and becomes an economic question. How do you motivate people to stop producing CO2 as they do? How do you do it with the least economic distortions/costs? And speaking of those costs how are they distributed? Who pays for them? The people who’ve emitted the most? The people who’re emitting the most now? The people who’ll emit the most in the future? Also low carbon power is expensive. The developing world isn’t really interested in curbing emissions if they get trapped in poverty as a result. The developed world isn’t really interested in just handing over trillions to the developing world** How do you get everyone to play along and not cheat in a multiple sovereign nation world? How do you get people to give a crap when the costs are immediate and stark while the dangers are a generation or two out and hard to perceive right now?

    Those questions are hard hard hard. But chasing the AGW deniers around with a stick? That’s easy, that’s fun, that makes the people who care about AGW feel good about themselves. So of course that’s what happens.

    *That isn’t nuclear, mind, because nuclear is scary and everyone’s trained to be scared of the scary nuclear power.
    **Especially when the funds tend to end up in the Developing World Leaders’ Swiss bank accounts instead of in the Developing world.

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      • I don’t know if they’re intractable or just extremely difficult but either way much like water the political activism is flowing through the easiest channel into merely throwing rocks at the denialists instead of trying to turn that brutally stiff turbine of “what is actually the best way to deal with this problem?”.

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      • I’m with North, it’s not intractable, but we need to stop treating it like we did WWII. You can’t just point out the enemy and watch the might of the American people rise up to smite it. It worked with Hitler because people could imagine the Nazi war machine rolling down main street.

        Climate change is more subtle and insidious that the SS or the Red Scare, at least, until it isn’t. Thus it requires a different approach.

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        • The problem is that getting the US government on board is only a small part of the problem. Even the countries that are doing something about climate change aren’t doing very much. The European Carbon price is persistently under USD 10, which is less than a third of what it needs to be, based on the studies I’ve read. And then there’s countries like China who need to be persuaded to abate as well, otherwise the whole thing is basically pointless.

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    • Fair enough, but …

      the group of non-scientists who spend their days chasing around deniers with a stick is really pretty small; and

      the mission of a scientist is to do and explain science; and

      there really is a group of professional rat-fishers out there whose lineage is traceable right back to the tobacco wars. If the professionals ignore what they say, they claim victory. If the professionals attack it, they claim persecution. And with Exxon-Mobil and the Koch Bros as financiers, they can make a level of noise disproportionate to their scientific credibility.

      So when denialist stuff is repeated on the floor of the senate (recovery of arctic ice, for example), (a) Who should be the one to speak up, and (b) What should be said?

      In an effort to change the way the conversation is conducted, a small group of people tried to do an analysis of the point of view of actual professionals in the field. This lead to the famous 97% number. This study has been attacked, supported, counter-attacked, ridiculed and the ridicule cited in these pages.

      What, according to the good Dr. Pielke, is the appropriate course of action? Not to do the study in the first place? Ignore the opposition?

      Let’s go to the article. The good doctor writes: “The first [obstacle to action] is a failure of imagination. … A second obstacle to action is the pathological obsession of many environmental campaigners with the climate sceptics.”

      The message I get from Dr Pielke is “You activists are incompetent.” (with nary a mention of the power of the vested interests in opposition) Based on the track record of US and Australian governmental action, surely he is correct. Now what? Might the Honest Broker favor us poor mortals with some wisdom as to how to overcome our incompetence and have some success?

      [crickets]

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      • There is a reason I prefer Gavin Schmidt to the likes of Mann (even if I think Dr. Schmidt is a bit overly optimistic about his models). He gets it. If you push doom & gloom, people resist for two reasons:

        1) Big claims are more often than not big lies, or at least poorly supported. For instance, SSM-opponents like to claim that SSM will destroy our civilization. For the faithful, that works. For everyone else, it’s resisted. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that becomes very difficult when, despite having evidence, getting laypeople to understand that evidence, especially when the implications will run up against their immediate self interests, is a herculean task.

        2) Fear & hopelessness. As I said below, climate change is a huge problem, a collective action issue on a global scale. You have to convince people that they can do something, and that it will be worth it. That second part is critical. Lots of people resist not because the little things are inconvenient, but because if India & China & third world nations are just going to keep at it and spew even more CO2 into the atmosphere, why bother?

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  5. P2: it will be the end of civilization in that area. Nothing can be done and people will die. Those that survive will have to make hard decisions, and some of those decisions will be…”you have something I want and I’m taking it”. So, will you let them or have a way to protect yourself?

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  6. [cw: sex stuff]

    [P4] — Of course I’m going to comment on this!

    Look, I love my g/f and I enjoy sex with her, and she enjoys sex with me. We have hot sex. Sometimes we invite other people to join us. It’s nice.

    All the same, I’d totally shag a robot. Why not?

    From the article:

    real problem is that Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded. That’s really the only word for it. It’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict, dressed up with a few phrases from Fleshlight promotional literature and juvenile dilations on the Gigolo Joe scenes from the Kubrick-Spielberg movie A.I.

    OMG what a fucking prude. Seriously? “Degraded”?

    Sure grampa, I’ll drive you to church this Sunday. But I ain’t going inside.

    Sex is awesome. Sex with people is great. Sex alone is great. Sex is really cool.

    Look, there are some really weird lonely people who cannot find love. Right now I guess some of them become “chronic masturbators” or whatevs.

    But wait! That’s supposed to be a bad thing? Why?

    I mean, sure, I guess these people would be happier with a partner, but then maybe not. People are different. Our brains are different. We are not all the same.

    (It’s called “typical mind fallacy,” the notion that how one person’s brain work tells us precisely how others work. For example, I’m transgender. Most people are not. A cis person is ill-equipped to evaluate my genderfeels.)

    But anyway, some folks have appalling social skills and might just “settle” for a love-bot. I’m fine with that. I mean, if they choose instead to work on their social skills, I support them!

    I fixed my social skills. After all, I’m a weirdo autistic tranny, but I figured it out. Folks can. But it’s harder for some than others and that’s okay.

    Which, I suppose mountain climbers might scoff at those of us who cannot climb mountains. Whatevs.

    Anyway, what a preposterously stupid article.

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    • Phrases like “the view of the chronic masturbator” should only be delivered via scratchy black-and-white educational filmstrips by scientists with white coats, thick-black-frame glasses, and flat-tops. It just doesn’t work otherwise.

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    • I find that conservatives, even the well-meaning and charitable varieties, have a hard time coming to terms with romantic and sexual relationships outside of a fairly narrow band. To a certain extent, it is built into the world view. There is a fear that anything that deviates too far from man-woman, committed relationship, for procreative purposes, pleasuring but not overly-indulgent will invariably lead to “dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.”

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      • It’s completely unfair, but fear like that always makes me think of a former alcoholic living a rigid life to avoid falling back into drinking.

        I seriously doubt the folks with that narrow view of allowed sexuality are wanting to marry dogs or anything, but that’s the impression it leaves. I suppose the occasional moralizing scold popping up dead in a wetsuit is not helpful to dismissing that imagine.

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          • Yeah, I always wonder when anyone says “We can’t relax these rules even a bit or Awful Thing X will happen” — is it that they really want to do Awful Thing X, and only the iron rules are preventing it?

            Or do they just believe other people are that way?

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        • Oh it’s important as hell, to individuals, but is it important as a matter of public policy? Beyond negatively keeping people from screwing with each other through violence or fraud and beyond keeping society from shoving its snout into individuals activities (basically all negative duties) I don’t see that public policy needs to have much of a stance on it.

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          • — Oh I agree, but I didn’t see the source article as a policy suggestion as much as a “think about what our culture is like and your place in it.”

            Which is to say, it has the same importance as a feminist article about dating “nice guys.” It’s not about policy; it’s about the shape of our culture.

            Anyway, I see this as an object-level dispute (there is nothing wrong with weird but consensual sex) rather than a meta-level dispute (making broad claims about sex/romance is wrong).

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  7. C5: I am pretty much wholly agreement with the McWhorter piece. The only thing that I could add is that it is mostly old news. It is a relevant piece, because of this particular moment, but the logic underpinning the piece is quite old. And it’s that logic, which puts me in the split position of being mostly in agreement with the left on the history and the present reality of racism, but largely in opposition to a good chunk of what progressives offer in terms of solutions.

    The idea that we are all going to link hands in solidarity and march in-step into a glorious post-racial future is a fantasy. There are some injustices that collective action and activism are quite good at overcoming, but lots more that it is not. The existing social justice playbook is lacking when it comes to the sort of institutional racism and generational poverty that persists now, which is largely about the lack of economic development and human capital formation. What’s more, lots of people are looking to co opt the issue of race to sell a more robust welfare state as the solution. As someone who knows where that road leads, I say no thank you.

    A black person in present-day America has to walk a somewhat perilous tightrope. He or she has to forge successful relationships with lots of individual white folks, cause that is the road to advancement; at the same time, he or she has to come to terms with, and really just stop caring, what “white people” in the abstract think. It ain’t easy, but I am aware of no other way.

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    • I did appreciate McWhorter clearly calling for the end of the Drug War. I can not imagine the result of that being anything but an unalloyed good.

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      • I’m interested in seeing how the gummint eventually categorizes the attack.

        Terrorism might not be 100% accurate, given that the attack was against a military base and is therefore a military target…

        But to go there would mean that the attack happened as part of a war and that has all sorts of strings attached to it.

        Simpler to just call it a crime. Less messy. “We don’t know what his motives were. He was so handsome! He seemed well-liked! What has our society done to make people want to shoot others?”

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        • I love the struggles with the label “terrorism” in America. I mean, I get the real problem — if you use a simple, easy to understand label then suddenly certain groups get labeled “terrorist” or “potentially terrorist” that would be…politically inconvenient.

          And I don’t mean PETA. You can freely call any left-wing group ‘terrorists’. It’s pretty easy.

          But once you start talking about, say, some of the more extremist militia groups.Goodness, that’s just censorship and anti-American, no matter how closely the shoe fits.

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          • I personally don’t think the “terrorism” tag applies here, as such, given that he attacked a military installation.

            In any event, I actually saw a lot of eagerness to call Roof a terrorist. (And rightfully so.)

            Oddly enough, the Administration seemed to disagree in both cases.

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          • After the Charleston Massacre, I saw a lot of hand-wringing about awful it is that “we” don’t call white people terrorists. And also a lot of triumphalism over a government report showing that right-wing terrorists have killed more people in the US than Islamic terrorists since…the day after that one incident that killed thirty times more people than all subsequent domestic terrorist attacks.

            Which leaves me wondering…the people doing the hand-wringing call white people terrorists. The government calls white people terrorists (It also calls Islamic terrorists white people, but even aside from that). Who is it that refuses to call white people, or the extreme right, terrorists, when they commit terrorist attacks. Did I miss the backlash against labeling Roof as a terrorist?

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  8. [C3] — Okay, the facts in evidence: we have an angsty essay by a young woman about the travails of modern love. The counterpoint: tons of essays written by adult women who found traditional courtship and marriage stultifying. After all, why do the feelings of a young woman like Jordan trump the feelings of older women like Virginia Woolf and Alice Munro?

    But anyway, yeah, people feel rootless these days, and that’s worth talking about. But we arrived at this place not because the old ways were so great. There were reasons women (and some men) began to demand different relationship patterns. So now we struggle with new narratives, and (some) young people find it hard to operate without easy answers. But who can say Jordan would have been happy pregnant and married at age nineteen? Who can say she would have liked the “easy answers” her grandparents had? In that world, she might have been writing an essay about the crushing sadness of married life.

    Who knows.

    In any case, she is young. She has decades to figure this out.

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    • As an aside, the second link in [C3] leads to this article, which I quite liked:

      Unfortunately, Freitas’ recommendations won’t improve the situation. Students who do couple up don’t necessarily fare any better than those who hookup. And again, women often fare worse. One 2008 study, which tracked the sexual experiences of a group of college women over the course of a year, found that even the women engaged in more traditional relationships were not totally satisfied, or even safe, just because they had found committed partners. Women with boyfriends faced the risk of “stalking and emotional abuse,” “anxiety or depression,” and months wasted “attempting to repair or end a relationship.” In a culture where “men’s sexual pleasure is prioritized over women’s,” Wade writes, “women’s negative experiences with hooking up may be less related to its casual nature than to the fact that it occurs within a system of gender inequality that makes women vulnerable to men generally.” If young women can’t find someone they like making out with just once, the solution is not to make out with the same person over and over again.

      Yep. There is this thing that happens, where people, “Oh look, people are not blissfully happy all the time in every way outside of traditional relationships, so they should be in traditional relationships.”

      Which is irrational in very obvious ways.

      Anyway, although I’m doing the (semi-)monogamy thing now, most of my friends play around in this cool, queer poly space, and they all seem pretty happy with their little romances. They still have problems. Life remains hard — cuz life is hard. Who says otherwise? But in any case, the lack of hetero-structure seems to play a central role in making this work.

      In some ways it’s better to be queer. If cis-het folks ever figured this out —

      Well, who knows.

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    • How about us who are not doing well under modern courtship standards, who are basically unsuited for modern courtship but are lonely and feel left out and excluded? I don’t think I’m alone on this but the entire modern dating scene doesn’t work for me but finding something that does work seems impossible and non-existent. I feel that there I’m getting the worst of the old and the new with the advantages of neither.

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      • — Well, I dunno.

        I guess the question is, what specifically is the difference? What I mean is, what particular things from the “old way” do you think would make it easier for you? Furthermore, are you sure it would help? After all, history produced much terrible poetry written by lovelorn men. Your condition is not new. Would it really have been better back then? Furthermore, would you really have been happy? Would she? Would a long, bitter marriage have been better than the single life?

        It is easy to romanticize the past, but we should be careful. Things are pretty good today, even if not perfect. The past had tons of romantic pain and sexual failure. The biggest difference: people talked about it less. They judged deviation more harshly.

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          • This seems, well, an unreasonable attitude.

            In any case, in 1950’s America, you would still get invited to dinner parties, and while the other guests might not specify the kind of sex they are having, you would see married couples, plus engaged couples, plus people courting; on and on, you would see these things. When you went to the movies, you would see boy meets girl and boy loves girls and girl loves boy. Then fireworks. Happily ever after.

            You would not see gays or sex parties or “hookup culture,” but so what? Is that what you are missing?

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            • Sex parties seems like a dubious concept to me and I’m pro-gay rights but I do feel excluded from hook up culture or one night stands or even the more traditional relationships and romance. I realize that in the large scheme of things that my individual unhappiness is unimportant to the fact that more people are not being chaffed by an oppressive and malign culture. That does not make my personal loneliness and feelings of exclusion any easier to bear and I wish people would just shut up about sex and relationships at times.

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              • And to add to this, the idea of being put through a sort of Chasing Amy experience is not thrilling. The entire idea of the past is the past but she is with you now never made sense to me. Maybe applying the lessons of history to relationships isn’t the best idea but anybody who reads history knows that the past actively shapes the future.

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  9. “Churches are often told they need to liberalize in order to avoid irrelevance, ” By whom?

    ” liberalization leads to irrelevance” So what? This is faith we’re talking about, not politics. If five people want to split off from the pastafarians and establish a sect that elevates rotelli above all other forms, who cares?

    ” the winners are so busy trying to wipe out all dissent that they are building distrust.” Right. Senators are bringing snowballs to the Senate floor because Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann and the rest of the team at RealClimate are being mean to them. Do you believe this or are you just fishing for an argument? Exxon Mobil funds climate change skepticism because it wants to stay in business. So there are direct economic incentives (ie, a nice fat payday) to crank out dissenting BS, then claim persecution when it gets torn apart in the scientific community.

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      • It seems to me that there are three types of churches growing:

        1: Mega-churches where the Christianity is… well, the bad way to put it is “ahistorical”. The nicer way to put it is “post-protestant”. Binitarian as opposed to Trinitarian, fun and upbeat worship songs, singles groups, couples groups, youth groups, elder groups, 20-something, 30-something, 40-something, 50-something groups. Softball, basketball, volleyball, bowling, D&D groups. Maybe AA in the basement. (Christianity optional.)

        2: Catholic churches (primarily because of immigration).

        3: Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other, erm, non-traditional denominations.

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      • Yes, I read the article.

        A. It’s by Pielke junior, a man ‘humble’ enough to write a book entitled The Honest Broker (himself, of course) and yet who is viewed extremely dimly by the Real Climate crowd. So either he’s not such an honest broker or all those climate scientists are trying to crush dissent. Having met more than a few working scientists in my life and having read some of the dispute between him and them, I’m going with the first option. your mileage may differ, but at least you should recognize that a lot of people don’t see him as the truth-teller he sees himself.

        B. The key quote from the piece appears to be: “A second obstacle to action is the pathological obsession of many environmental campaigners with the climate sceptics. ” Of course, not followed by any cite. What would be persuasive evidence to you of the existence of “pathological obsession” as opposed to, say, fury at the existence of a community of fakers who have a lot in common with the tobacco denialists?

        And more to the point, he should just get over it, if he actually cares about the issue. We can’t do the right thing because a small group of people are being mean? The Heckler’s Veto is just a bullsh!t excuse commonly used by people who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo.

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        • A – my mileage does vary (Pielke doesn’t bug me).

          B – Seriously? Climate advocates constantly devote considerable attention on skeptics who should, at best, be ignored. Links aren’t needed because it’s so ubiquitous. One example is this.

          We can’t do the right thing because a small group of people are being mean?

          And finally, why is doing the right thing hard? It’s spelled out right here:

          If public opinion is not an obstacle to action on climate change, then what is? The first is a failure of imagination. Conventional wisdom on climate policy has long been that energy prices need to be made more expensive. Dearer energy fits into a complex causal chain of policy action as follows:

          Win public opinion via closing the science deficit, defeating the sceptics?then the public will pressure politicians for action?politicians respond by passing laws, and signing international treaties?dirty fossil energy then becomes more expensive?people consequently feel economic pain?not liking economic pain, people demand additional actions on energy efficiency and fossil fuel alternatives?such actions will stimulate innovation in the public and private sectors, as well as in civil society? these innovations then deliver low carbon alternatives?problem solved.

          Laid out from start to finish, this entire causal chain seems like a Rube Goldberg invention. If the causal chain founders at the first step where the deficit model shows up, it completely collapses at the point where energy is supposed to become more expensive in order to create incentives (experienced by voters as economic pain) to propel efficiency and innovation.

          The idea that higher priced energy can be used as a lever to transform the global energy system may work in abstract economic models, but fails spectacularly in real world politics. As Martin Wolf explains, “A necessary, albeit not sufficient condition, then, is a politically sellable vision of a prosperous low-carbon economy. That is not what people now see.”

          In short, the focus has been too much on a grand plan & not enough on all the smaller things we should be doing anyway.

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          • So Mike Mann should just take being slandered. I’ll take his judgment about the best course for his life over yours. And it’s the actions of a single man. Sure you can point to a handful of other climatic activists (Joe Romm, the people at Skeptical Science) who take an aggressive approach to the denialist community, but have you taken a look at some of the denialist work product?

            As to the failure of public policy, take a look at the US Senate. The problem is real. There are real steps that could be taken to address it, like revenue-neutral carbon taxes. There is public support for doing so. The bill never had a chance. And Pielke Jr has the gall to blame a small group of noisy radicals, as opposed to the conservative Senators who actually killed the bill in service to their constituents.

            The words “Exxon” “Saudi Arabia” “oil” and “coal” appear nowhere in Pielke’s post. That’s why he’s a hack.

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            • I try not to look at Denialist “work product” (an oxymoron if ever there was one, poo-flinging would be more appropriate), it hurts my brain.

              The US Senate votes the way it does because the public has not been sold on the ideas. This is not to say that the fossil fuel industry is not culpable in working against that interest, but that is very much besides the point. Everyone knew walking in to this that there would be significant opposition to the required changes. Climate advocates had no game plan for how to overcome that. Despite that, they’ve still gotten the message across that we can’t keep going “Business as Usual”. The truth actually won out (despite noisy denialists & performance artist politicians).

              The problem now is one of scale, across the whole world, and multiple generations. That’s a big problem, it’ll need a big solution, and that is what they keep trotting out. The BIG solution.

              Problem with big solutions (as demonstrated in the quoted piece) is they can be complicated, with multiple failure points. They contain a whole lot of “ifs”, and the more painful one of those “ifs” is going to be, the more likely it is going to fail. All the opposition has to do is convince enough people that one or more of those “ifs” is gonna hurt, a lot.

              They need messaging that can convince people that the pain is worth it NOW. Or they need messaging that breaks the problem down into little, digestible chunks. Chunks that are all inter-related, but maybe not obviously so. And the messaging has to be such that people want to do it, or at least don’t mind it so much.

              Anyway, the point is, engaging the denialists in some kind of game of ego-salving or total surrender is a waste of time & effort that could be spent getting changes passed. Scientists suck at messaging, if we didn’t, people like Carl Sagan or NDGT would not be so damn valuable. They need to stop fighting a battle that is already over and start focusing on the issue at hand, figure out a message that works, or find PR folks that can & explain it all to them so they can dress it up.

              But, as North said above

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  10. S2: If we’re going to speculate, we can speculate about the really big one, when the Yellowstone caldera blows its top again. There have been a rash of conspiracy theorist reports in the last few years that the federal government is suppressing information about an impending eruption.

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  11. L2: It was not always this way. In my father’s generation, if you got in with a Big it became part of your personal identity, and a bit of a potential social miscue if you quit on them to work somewhere else.

    That’s all very different now, of course. The blame, IMHO, lies entirely on the Bigs for deciding to treat their employees a interchangeable and disposal commodities. That employee loyalty would erode in that environment seems more than unsurprising; it seems inevitable.

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    • That, and the depth of an org chart.

      Really shallow org charts allow a person to feel as though they can speak up and be heard by folks in charge.

      When I was at Boeing, the org chart was so deep that I had no illusions as to my ability to be heard.

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  12. S2 is why we need to start relocating people to Kansas! Nebraska! Iowa!

    Patrick pointed out, though, that Detroit might be a better idea. Also, Cleveland, Toledo, etc.

    So, either Great Planes or Great Lakes.

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  13. [A7] I can’t really contrast things with the situation in the USA, as I have only the most cursory second-hand familiarity with it. But my impression is that there are racist views that any person in the US who valued their public respectability would hesitate to publicly express about black people, while I’ve heard ‘decent’ white folks here utter things as vile without any seeming notion of shame.

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  14. C1
    In my new home in the Episcopal Church we talk about this quite a bit.

    I suppose my first reaction would be to remind Alexander Griswold that popularity shouldn’t be the model of a church, that organizations that comfort the comfortable and reinforce the status quo will always be popular.

    But that would be defensive, and not even correct.

    There IS a problem with churches not attracting new followers. Even if we comfort ourselves with the idea that we boldly proclaim the truth, which most find difficult to accept, that is at best, a self serving excuse, and not at all what Christ asked of us. He didn’t just say, “Proclaim a theologically correct doctrine, then go home.” He wanted us to engage and serve the needs of our brethren, above all else.

    So is Griswold right, that we should follow the lead of the conservative sects and reject gays?
    This is where he errs, I think.

    What makes the Mormons so popular? Do people say, “I really like those Episcopals, but the Mormons think gays are icky like I do, so I’ll join them?”
    Is their rejection of gay people the driving factor?
    I don’t think so.

    What distinguishes growing churches isn’t usually their creedal statement, or list of who they hate. What I have heard, and witnessed, is that when you join churches like the Mormons, you are enveloped in a warm embrace of a community where you have a place of respect and acceptance, provided of course you accept their norms. And for the 90% who are straight, those norms usually aren’t so stringent as to be unacceptable.

    Even if the embrace can sometimes be a bit snug, even suffocating and chafing, they do an amazing job of serving the innate desire for community and family. You don’t just go to church on Sunday then forget about it for the rest of the week; when you are a Mormon, or Muslim, or Orthodox Jew, or any other strict denomination, that community and identity is woven into every aspect of your life. Your business contacts, your friendship circle, your kids and their schoolmates, are all a part of it.

    For those of us in more secular worlds, this can be offputting, almost cultish. But for a lot of people who may be single parents, isolated from their natural family, alone and adrift in a very large world of strangers, having those nice young men in white shirts come to your door and tell you that you are loved and accepted and part of a family is a very powerful draw.

    Rather than fixate on a list of who we hate and airless theology, I think those of us in the mainline denominations can learn a lot from them.

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    • I suppose my first reaction would be to remind Alexander Griswold that popularity shouldn’t be the model of a church, that organizations that comfort the comfortable and reinforce the status quo will always be popular.

      This is a very good point. The talk of churches as marketing entities is interesting, but it seems like they either hold a set of beliefs or they don’t. If you believe something that makes marketing tough, you could potentially alter your beliefs to make marketing easier, but was it really a belief at that point? Or was it more of an opportunistic platform like what a political party would put together to get votes? I would expect a church to operate in a, “This is what we believe. Take it or leave it,” sort of way.

      Practically speaking, it hasn’t always worked that way, but that makes me wonder how much of a church’s existence is about sustaining itself as opposed to being a reflection of a sinceerly held belief system.

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    • (and and others)

      As I mentioned to Francis, the piece I link to is a response to suggestions that the Catholic Church – and other conservative denominations – need to “modernize” and moderate – in order to stay relevant. The problem is that the churches that have done that have suffered far, far more than the churches that haven’t. Does that mean that the Episcopal Church would be in perfect shape if they hadn’t veered left? I definitely wouldn’t say that. But it certainly didn’t help and it’s consistent enough to constitute a pattern.

      For TEC in particular, the fact that it made no headway in picking up frustrated Catholics during the priest controversies and Benedict era is extremely discouraging and frustrating. But as things stand, Catholics would rather belong to a church whose values they object to, or would rather find some way to resolve the apparent conflict (like Kyle Cupp)… or would rather leave organized religion entirely, rather than join the church of Scripture, Tradition, and Region.

      Now, it is quite reasonable to respond to this “We shouldn’t cater our doctrine for the same of popularity!”… and that’s actually a very good point! I don’t want my church to take a hard right on gay marriage or abortion, that’s for sure. A lot of this does come down to the question of what a church is therefore. It’s impolitic – to say the least – that it should be there to maximize its numbers. However, that’s what the conservative churches are being told every day.

      And even if we accepted that churches should bend to avoid attrition, it doesn’t appear that modernizing and moderating is actually a particularly good way to do so.

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      • I wouldn’t say the Episcopals made NO headway- they picked up me, for one. ;-)

        I think its a false dilemma to pit modernizing against tradition.

        As issue of membership, while raw membership numbers itself may not be important, it seems to me to be important in terms of being a one of several metrics of what really is unequivocally important, which is serving the needs of the people.
        I mean, our mission isn’t to broadcast the eternal truth of reality, but more to minister to the spiritual needs of our brethren.

        I happen to be currently taking classes in Education For Ministry, administered out of The University of The South at Sewanee, and one of the things we covered is the discussion floating around the theosphere about how we may be in the midst of a periodic 500 year upheaval in Christianity.

        The theory is articulated by Phyllis Tickle as the Great Emergence, and she puts forward the idea that the contemporary churches- all of them- are rapidly losing authority, but that people are searching for a new spirituality, some way to connect to the divine.

        Diana Butler Bass covers some of the same ground in talking about spirituality after religion, about people connecting directly without the need for mediation.

        So for me this is where I get the notion that having the correct creed is secondary, while finding ways to form a communion with others is crucial, and we can be free to embrace or discard rituals and practices as need be to accomplish that.

        In this view, the test of whether a ritual or liturgy is worth embracing or discarding isn’t based on a theological argument, and not by whether it is popular, but whether it allows us to form a communion or not.

        I sit on the Vestry at my parish, and was drafted to head up the Evangelism and Outreach Commission (mostly because I was the only one who couldn’t protest strongly enough).

        So after a lot of discussion we decided to imitate those aspects of the successful churches that seem to offer such a possibility.

        Hating on gays doesn’t fit that bill, but actually going out into the neighborhood and evangelizing, literally knocking on doors and networking with young families does. Our approach is that we offer families the practical resources of community- babysitting, day care, preschool; elder care and company, social networking and so on. I call it the Loaves and Fishes approach.

        Far too early to see if it works yet, but it is the approach we are going with.

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      • I think the problem is that the Catholic Church is huge. There are a lot of conservative Catholics and there are also a lot of liberal Catholics. Daniel Berrigan is a Catholic priest who went to prison for burning draft cards in the Vietnam War (look up the Catonville Nine).

        There are plenty of liberal Catholics who did not like the conservative stances taken by Archbishop Dolan, Pope Benedict, etc.

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      • There’s “size now” and there’s “eating your seed corn”.

        I’ve noticed that ‘modernizing’ Churchs are attempting to convince younger Americans to come to Church. They do this, often, at the expense of older members who don’t like the changes or the new focus.

        But without new blood, your Church will wither away.

        Judging by Americans as a whole, it appears that evangelical Churches appear to be concentrating members — offering a mix of things (from community to political leanings to theology) that attracts members from other churches, both young and old. They seem more successful with the younger Christians (not “youth” but say 30s to 50s) who seem easier to convince to change churches and adapt to theological changes.

        The young appear to be drifting away, which is a pretty big area of concern. The evangelical and fundamentalist churches see the same problems.

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    • My take on C1:

      The idea that what the UCC or Episcopal church are doing aren’t relevant because of their overall size or their shrinking membership is, I think, pretty misguided.

      The UCC has always been a fringe liberal church–but fringe liberal churches have an important part to play in the conversation. If you’ll permit me to bring a political analogy into this, Eugene V Debs never got very many votes when he ran for president, but that didn’t stop his socialist platform from becoming a mainstream success years later.

      Similarly, I think the Episcopal church’s teaching are far more similar to the beliefs of many who belong to churches who are more doctrinally to the right. See, for example, lay Catholic views on homosexuality and birth control. People are pretty willing to participate in a church while rejecting its doctrines, and that’s something that matters very much for the conservative churches being urged to modernize. Do they risk the danger that otherwise, people will leave for a more more welcoming church? Not really. But they do risk further eroding the connection between the church authority and the adherents. The Episcopal church is losing members mostly because they don’t feel like they have a reason to show up. I think the Catholic Church is a success story in giving its members a reason to show up despite doctrinal dissonance–to the point at which I am entertaining the notion of converting from Atheism to Catholicism. Conservative protestant churches, on the other hand, are will find themselves facing the same challenge in a generation that the Episcopal church is facing today. On sexual morality, at least, the liberals are winning the culture war. And if the appeal of the conservative church is tied up in the culture war, what’s going to keep butts in seats once the dust has settled and the losers are looking to move on?

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      • The concern for any Evangelical Church is that it will run in to the same problems the Episcopal Church has. People would rather attend a church with a strong value system, even one with which they disagree, than one that seems to be without one. Or one that too expressly endorses liberal views (in the case of the Anglicans that left).

        If things have not been good for the conservative evangelical churches, they’ve been a lot worse for the churches that have softened their views. There is a real pattern here that goes beyond the two mentioned.

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        • Hasn’t the Episcopalian Church usually been a small denomination in the United States? Ever since the American Revolution led to the disestablishment of the Anglican Church, the Episcopalian Church mainly had an educated, middle to upper class membership for the most part.

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  15. J4: The passions on this will never cool down until Palestinians and Israelis (and their supporters) realize that neither side is going away. I don’t expect this to happen anytime soon.

    A3: Anglosphere politics rhyme at least.

    A5: This is tricky because you are dealing with variant issues in Democracy. There is Democracy of personal freedom and choice and there is democracy in allowing for equal opportunity and outcomes. Creating legal or quasi-legal barriers to diverse neighborhoods is wrong and immoral. There is a lot of proof that lower-income whites were less likely to receive subprime loans than high-income African-Americans. A lot of black suburbs are struggling and often because of direct neglect and systematic racism. I am also from two of the most dense parts of the U.S. I am used to diversity being a matter of fact especially in New York where you can see some huge income divides on the same street, depending on the direction you look. When I lived in Brooklyn, I lived between a huge public housing project and a very chic shopping street of New Brooklyn.

    L1: Liberals have been praising this but there are 7 billion people in the world. Of course someone is going to criticize it. You can imagine critiques from the right (Corporations should not be acting like social workers!!) and the left (This is servitude in disguise).

    L2: This makes intuitive sense. You feel like you are part of a team. Things might be less formal in terms of HR. You can establish a relationship with your supervisors and bosses which can be good if you are in a jam, etc.

    U4: Go Vassar!!!!! :)

    C1: I don’t know if this is a question with an answer. Fire and Brimstone are going to attract people who are predisposed to conservatism anyway probably. It will also turn off people who are moderate and liberal and not too into the hellfire stuff. Liberal San Francisco and Berkley have plenty of inclusive liberal churches that are pretty filled with young people and families. This just seems like a squabble. There are always going to be conservatives in every generation but if Millennials are by and large more liberal than the fire and brimstone churches are going to see a decline in attendance. I’ve never bought into the idea that having kids makes you a conservative.

    There is also a difference between numerosity and influence. Episcopalian and UCCs might not be the biggest denominations anymore but many leaders (from both parties) are UCC or Episcopalian.

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  16. Thanks for the link!
    Judith Shulevits hits on the point, when she distinguishes between the different varieties of “strict”.

    Which is sort of what I was trying to fumble for- that there are some “strict” churches that I sincerely admire and would like to emulate- the Mormons, Muslims, and Jews among them. These churches have a strong identity, but it isn’t defined in the negative- it isn’t defined entirely by what they oppose or hate.

    But there are others, frankly, whose “strictness” seems entirely convenient.

    For example, what good is it for a married straight man to declare that he is so strict and disciplined that he never yields to the desire to suck another man’s dick? Or have an abortion? Or go on welfare, shoot heroin, or do any of the other things that conservative churches pride themselves on being strict about? What do they really demand of their followers?

    I think it would be terrific if churches could approach the difficult and painful task of societal and personal transformation that they bring to doctrinal disputes.

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    • Deport him to where? The article said that he wasn’t sent back to Haiti because they/he couldn’t find documentation showing that he was a Haitian citizen. I believe the general method for deporting people is to plunk them onto a commercial flight, which runs right into the airlines not wanting to fly undocumented people because they run the risk of being bounced back to the USA.

      I’m not really sure what your solution to this would be, unless you plan to send in the marines to escort him through Haitian customs.

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        • Clearly the Obama admin SOP is to let them go rather than trying to find out about the guy. We can find OBL but not anything about this guy, really? Besides, he might vote democratic.

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          • I don’t believe that Barack Obama was President in 2002 (when ICE first ran into the documentation problem) or 2001 (when the Supreme Court made the ruling that ICE claimed was why they let him go free), so I’m not sure why you’re mentioning him? Do you think that the President should individually monitor everybody with a prison record in the United States? I can’t see that being a particularly productive use of a CEO.

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        • According to the INA, it is the burden of the government to prove that an alien is removable from the United States by a preponderance of the evidence. If the government desires to remove a particular alien, they are served with a NTA placing them in removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Depending on the alien’s criminal history, they could be in detained or non-detained hearings. At the first hearing, the alien could either conceded removability or make the government prove removability by a preponderance of the evidence. Mostly the government can meet their burden but if they can not, the proceedings against the alien are terminated.

          If removability is established, the alien can apply for various forms of relief he or she may be entitled to. If the alien meets his or her burden of proof, he or she gets some form of status in the United States. This could be full permanent residence or something less. If not, an order of removal is issued against the alien but the alien can appeal. If the Board of Immigration Appeals affirms the removal order than the order is final and the alien becomes removable from the United States. USCIS can pick the alien up and ship him or her back to their country of nationality at anytime.

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