Linky Friday #180: The Liberal Arts

Language:

[L1] We clarify misunderstandings every 90 seconds.

[L2] The psychology of online bullying and trolling… written in 1847. Also, how to avoid being a creep on Twitter.

[L3] Language biases we don’t realize we have.

[L4] From Oscar Gordon: John McWhorter explains the weirdness of English.

[L5] Sarcasm is the best thing about the Internet.

[L6] Here’s an interview with a language inventor.

Music:

[M1] Chloe Angyal has a good piece about the stultification of the country music man.

[M2] Mene Ukueberuwa writes of millenials, love, and opera.

[M3] Remember Take That? I only remember that one song, and here’s why I pretty much only have that one song to remember them by.

[M4] Meghan Neal wonders why we are satisfied listening to music in two dimensions. I can already feel myself being something of a fuddy-duddy, unenthused about video (much less audio) moving to the third dimension.

[M5] Scream! To Primal Music!

Fiction:

[F1] Will Sloan at Hazlitt looks at movie novelization and its struggles. In high school I did a book report on the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey novelization. Hadn’t seen the movie.

[F2] I thought that everybody knew that Disney ripped off the Lion King?

[F3] This look back on Gargoyles makes me want to go back and watch all of it again from start to finish. Preferably through the eyes of a teenager or pre-teen, but even as an adult.

[F4] Alan Sepinwall ranks NYPD Blue characters. I’m glad to see that someone else liked (pre-drama) Kirkendall as much as I did. Charlotte should be at the bottom, though. Good list, though.

[F5] Does anyone else remember Marvel’s New Universe?

Classics:

alice wonderland photo

Image by FelineNoir.com

[C1] Miguel Monjardino makes the case for Thucydides and why studying him remains important. The History of the Peloponnesian War was, without a doubt, my favorite classical assigned text.

[C2] Mary McGinley objects to giving the Moby Dick audiobook a British accent, and makes some pretty good points. I’m not clear why the world needs another audio Moby Dick, though.

[C3] Austin Gilkeson argues that Aragon’s claim to the throne was illegitimate. Oooh, and annotated map of Middle-earth!

[C4] The enduring influence of Alice in Wonderland in the world of video games.

[C5] Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, revisited.

History:

[H1] The interesting history of George and Martha Washington.

[H2] Michael Hoffman has a couple pieces on the Meiji era of Japan (1868-1912), the second of which talks of their interest and fascination with the US. Also, check out this awesome nine minute video of the history of Japan.

[H3] The truth of Dr Strangelove.

[H4] Ethan Siegel explains how we stopped Hitler’s atomic bomb.

[H5] Jason Sorens explains how Greece became rich… when it was rich, anyway.

[H6] It appears maybe humans arrived in the Americans by boat.

Technology:

painting technology photo

Image by Schteeve2010

[T1] So humanity becomes redundant at this point, right?

[T2] I’m pretty sure this is a superhero origin story, while this sounds like a superhero death story.

[T3] Via Aaron David, the Faraday Cage for live conversation. Yeah, totally illegal in the US, but I don’t know about Britain.

[T4] Shape-shifting, amphibious drones! Actually, that’s just an application for a developed composite material that can go from sturdy to shape-shifty back to sturdy relatively easily.

[T5] Here’s what a 1987 iPhone might have looked like.Image by FelineNoir.com


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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250 thoughts on “Linky Friday #180: The Liberal Arts

  1. C3: I have clicked the links yet, but I suspect from context that it is supposed to have “Aragorn.” I was figuring that it was going to be about Ferdinand and Isabella, perhaps with a discussion of Salic Law or the like, until I saw the bit about the map.

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  2. C3: Space awesome. And totally true.

    It’s a thing of beauty when you apply rigorous thinking to fantastic woolgathering. It’s when Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams happen.

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    • meh. The first time someone came up with “Mordor is the force for law and order and Frodo is a terrorist” it was clever. Then we got the same thing with the Empire and the Rebel Alliance, and it was less clever (though more defensible internally). Since then it has devolved into cheap contrarianism.

      All the stuff about how Aragorn’s claim goes back three thousand years is a dedicated exercising in Missing the Point. The extended time spans is a feature of Tolkien’s world. Their gradual shortening is a manifestation of the reduced stature of Middle Earth, with our modern time spans a continuation of this reduced stature, here in the late stages of the Fourth Age. The point about the Council of Gondor rejecting the line of Isildur is a better argument, though I’m not sure we really know what the succession laws of Gondor are. The council might have been exceeding its powers for all we know. But really, this line of argument also misses the point. Gondor is not a modern, or even a Medieval Europrean monarchy. Arvedui was unsuitable for the throne of Gondor because he was himself reduced from the stature of his ancestors. Aragorn is a throwback, as kingly as the greatest of the Numenoreans. Kingship is a matter both of lineage and personal qualities, and while the two are intertwined they do not correlate perfectly.

      Yes, Middle Earth is a dangerous place. Is there anything in any of the books to suggest otherwise, or that Tolkien wants us to think otherwise? Gandalf, in the early chapters of LotR, is quite explicit on this point. This doesn’t even rise to the level of cheap contrarianism. It is merely a banal statement of the obvious.

      The thing is, Tolkien wasn’t writing potboiler Extruded Fantasy Product the way the vast majority of his imitators do. His works have themes and stuff. This confuses and distresses some people. They wonder why there are all these stretches where no orcs are being slain. Their eyes glaze over and they start composing pieces like this.

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      • Glad you wrote it so I didn’t have to. :-)

        I’d only add that it is also something of a treatise on Kingship… and a theory of Kingship that differs importantly from the 16th/17th century emerging theories of Divine Right – which in most ways clouds our 21st century notions of kingship.

        {It is also one of the interpretive failings of Jackson for which I don’t really fault him… he misses Aragorn because he doesn’t get Tolkien’s understanding of Kingship, but I don’t see that as a willful misunderstanding – unlike several other points :-) }

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      • I yield to few in my love for Tolkien, but I prefer much more the symbolism and philosophical meta of the Ainulindale and The Silmarillion, that the action packed Lord of the Rings.

        But if you want a complete -and very intelligent- counter to Tolkien’s lookback to the pre industrial Shire and his not totally Christian (*) outlook, you probably can’t do better than Kiril Eskov’s The Last Ringbearer (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Ringbearer ). I truly vow that it will make you think.

        (*) There is no Jesus in Tolkien, God does not redeem mankind. Mankind redeems itself, because, as Tolkien says “through the works of Men, all shall be completed, up the last and smallest” (**)

        (**) Going on memory here, I’m quite sure I didn’t get the quote right

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        • The Last Ringbearer

          A very satisfying story. It was the first Tolkien fanfic I ever read that had the heresy that Orcs weren’t just vermin waiting for the knife, and the immortal creepy psychopathic Elves made me wish I had a time machine and could go back to my teenage self and rework my D&D world to make that race of immortals as inhuman as Eskov’s take.

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          • I’m intrigued by that story and might try reading it. I’ve been bothered by the all orcs are an evil race sentiment I got from LOTR.

            I probably got that more from the films than from the novels. The moments in the film where Gimli and Legolas compete to kill the most orcs was particularly off-putting to me.

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            • Be aware that The Last Ringbearer is a big novel , not a short story. It’s several hundred pages long, though the middle part is quite a lot of filling (or a good novella on its own, with little that moves the beginning and end stories)

              There’s a lot of world building in it: this is how Barad-Dur is described

              “…that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic. The shining tower of the Barad-dûr citadel rose over the plains of Mordor almost as high as Orodruin like a monument to Man – free Man who had politely but firmly declined the guardianship of the Dwellers on High and started living by his own reason. It was a challenge to the bone-headed aggressive West, which was still picking lice in its log ‘castles’ to the monotonous chanting of scalds extolling the wonders of never-existing Númenor.”

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            • The orcs are monsters, they are not a people. Tolkien wrote about the importance of monsters in “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” — the use of monsters elevates the conflict to a cosmic scale, where the stakes for mankind are the gravest. Gollum btw/ is not a monster.

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            • I hated JRRT’s treatment of the orcs from the first time I read Lord of the Rings. I’m sure the movies were worse (I only saw the first of the three, and that was different enough from the first book to stop me from watching any more of them) but the racism in the books was more than enough for me.

              I still read the series a couple of times; it’s very well written, and you get the looming weight of history out of it much better than a movie, but — as someone who’s used the pseudonym ‘orc’ since the internet reached UW-Madison might think — it’s much less of a story than The Hobbit is.

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              • I hated JRRT’s treatment of the orcs from the first time I read Lord of the Rings.

                I’m curious about this. Do you think he should have spent some pages detailing Orc culture and family life? Establishing their individual goals and cultural aspirations? That sort of thing?

                Or do you mean the one-dimensional, and therefore unrealistic, role Orcs play in the story?

                Something else?

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                • There is something of this, which also bothers me a lot.

                  Orcs are perverted elves (because Morgoth cannot create sentient creatures), so yes, almost all of the orcs we see in The Hobbit and LOTR must be descendants of the relatively few original elves that Morgoth captured in the First Age. So yes, there must be Orc families, female orcs, Orc children.

                  It is also clear that for long periods vast quantities of orcs have been sundered from Morgoth or Sauron, and they have prospered on their own. There is Orc culture, just as there is Dwarve culture. They create tools, forge metals, read and write.

                  Tolkien was able to display very well what Elvish, Dwarve and Hobbit culture were, what made their hearts tick and how their brains worked. But orcs are caricatures. Never it is explained what drives an orc’s mind or what does it do in its downtime.

                  It would have been quite interesting to see Tolkien apply his gifts in trying to describe an “enemy” society. The orcs are a society that wants to destroy what Tolkien thinks it’s valuable. It would be ctremelyextremely interesting to know why.

                  We have Elvish, Dwarvish, Manish, Hobbitish P.O.V.s in LOTR. Why nor Orcish? It would make the story (and the world) more complete.

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                  • Tolkein struggled a lot with the orcs for exactly the reasons brought up by people in this thread. He wasn’t comfortable with the initial idea of a species of sentient creatures that didn’t have the freedom to choose between good and evil but he needed them for their role in the greater mythology.

                    As a result he played around with a bunch of different ideas about their origin (corrupted evils being one amoung ideas like beasts without true intelligence or autonmatons animated by the diffuse spirit of Morgroth). This is a big reason the orcs aren’t sketched out much after the initial idea, as the author himself isn’t all that clear about what exactly they are beyond their dramatic and world building role as Team Evil’s cannon fodder.

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                  • Dragons are also evil, intelligent, and self-directed We do see Smaug’s point of view in The Hobbit; he’s miserly, vengeful, and easily enraged. His avarice is without bounds, but he has no appreciation of the treasures he’s stolen; while to everyone else who sees it, the Arkenstone is supremely beautiful, to Smaug it’s just another item in the pile. And even though he’s rich beyond dreaming, he’s alone and basically miserable.

                    It’s not hard to see Smaug as a portrait of people generally considered successful, but whom Tolkien thinks are complete wastes of space. Or, given what a medievalist Tolkien was, someone with modern rather than traditional values.

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                    • I think that the main difference is that Dragons are lonely predators, like lions. Im not sure if it’s canon that they don’t mate, but I think that’s the idea. I’m not even sure if they are not Ainur. But orcs are (perverted) children of Iluvatar. They have not only sentience and self direction but societies.

                      If no one can “alter the Music” against Iluvatar’s will, then dead Orcs must go to Mandos and wait there for the second Music, near, if separated, from the Elves to which they belong by their birthright as Children of Iluvatar.

                      The orcs as described do not really make sense in the world of Arda. I’m disappointed that Tolkien couldn’t find a place for them in their mythology. We do know less of them than we know of dragons (not only Smaug but the ones in the Silmariliion)

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                • In LotR there are good humans and evil humans, dwarves, elves, and hobbits. And then there are the orcs, who are universally evil (including the one-drop rule; the half-orcs mentioned in LotR are all one variety of thug or another) and which none of the good races need show even the slightest trace of mercy towards.

                  And this is a fantasy where the evil boss mentally controls people. Except the orcs. They’re just evil(tm). So let’s kill them all without mercy.

                  It’s problematic.

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                  • You joke, but there is a lot in common between the opinion the characters have of orcs, and Jim Crows attitude towards blacks.

                    It’s also probably a result of the age when Tolkien lived. His attitude towards any non white men in LOTR or The Silmarillion (the Swarthy Men, supposed to be middle easterners) is not too dissimilar: stupid, untrustworthy, treacherous, easy to manipulate, without honor.

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                    • Orc oppression!!!

                      Made to clean the stables for their betters, and when they combine to go to war, asshole elves and dwarves play counting games while they try to break a siege. Why don’t Gimli and Legolis understand this is just like Rosa Parks?

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                      • I object PD. I think anyway. I’ll say it this way.

                        I want to consider the work of J.R.R. Tolkien in terms of its reception, which combines remarkable popular success with extraordinary critical hostility. What are so many readers finding so rewarding in these books that so many professional literary intellectuals think is so bad? The solution to this riddle, I suggest, arises out of the meaning and values of his work as apprehended by both sets of readers, constellated around the idea, values and projects of modernity – something which Tolkien’s alternative, “re-enchanted” world fundamentally questions. Crucial too, therefore, are various aspects of what has come to be called postmodernity which, taken together, imply a passing of modernist hegemony. To put it crudely, then, I intend to use postmodernism to defend the contemporary meaning of Tolkien’s anti-modernism against his numerous Marxist, materialist, psychoanalytic and structuralist critics. But I shall also use the issue of re-enchantment to criticize postmodernist secularism.

                        That’s an actual quotation from a post-modern academic intellectual. Which either does or doesn’t, or may or mayn’t, respond to your comment.

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                        • Reading thru that paper, it appears you may be right: Orc bigotry apparently arises out of racial animosity and isn’t class based:

                          …orc speech is not all the same: there are at least three kinds, and none are necessarily “working-class” (see Rosebury 1992:75-6)

                          Note that the claim is cited.

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                  • I don’t know if anyone has written any dissertations on it, but there is a largeish handful of scholarly articles that talk about racism in LotR. What you’re looking for, though, may not be possible since that field was well salted by Alan Sokal’s “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” in ’96

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                    • I pulled out the article

                      My lawyers will be contacting you about the lawsuit filed against you for emotional distress and loss of income while I recover from the traumatic experience of being exposed to so much concentrated stupidity.

                      Be aware we will also ask for punitive damages. Our objective is that you ever again type the words “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, or even say them out loud within hearing range of other humans, or birds capable of mimimicking the human voice.

                      We are serious here. This will not go unpunished.

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                        • I wasn’t aware. My estimation for the article has gone up.

                          Real story: in high school (late 70s) we were assigned to write an essay on a modern novel I could not make heads or tails about it (nor apparently, could any of my fellow students).

                          The day before the essay was due I walked into a book store and copied random paragraphs of the backcover of as many contemporary novels as I could get my hands on, pasted them together more or less randomly. My essay had absolutely no meaning, and nailed a B+.

                          Had I known, I could have nailed a promising career as a postmodern lingust

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      • I agree, and thought framing this as a 3,000 year issue was a bit of moving the goal posts. The issue would be about the disruption in the kingship and the plausibility of re-establishing the line over the 900 years or so when the Stewards ruled. Overlooked is that Elrond actively protected, cultivated and prepared the line of the last kings of the North in Rivendell, and they all are named Ar- to signify the royal line. I think the underlying premise is that their genealogy is insufficient on its own to claim the throne, and that the leadership in the war that saved Gondor was necessary. There are not a lot of realistic chances for a distant line to make a claim to a throne that wouldn’t otherwise result in civil war; the Northerners were waiting for their moment.

        And about the dead; I think he is confusing the move with what really happened. :) The dead who owe their allegiance to Isilduer’s heir did not arrive to enforce a claim to the throne, but chased off pirates from the coast, freeing Aragorn to lead his rangers and the armies of Southern Gondor to the rescue of Minis Tirith. The significance of the dead is that those who witnessed them, knew this was Isildur’s heir, and they were willing to follow him into battle. It also doesn’t hurt that the Steward had committed suicide and possibly killed his only heir when the claim for the throne is made.

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        • This, I thought, was a good move on the part of the moviemakers. You’ll recall that in the film, the dead serve as critical shock forces in the battle of Minas Tirith, fighting directly under Aragorn’s command. Instead of a wide range of battles across a complex series of fronts (recall that Tolkien conceived and at least partially wrote the story during World War I) we get a condensed, climactic battle whose back-and-forth narrative is conveyed visually.*

          This is a simpler way to deal with that facet of Aragorn’s claim to the throne: it shows he is not merely a warlord but carries the legitimacy of a time since passed to legend, as well as makes more plausible that Aragorn’s army could save Minas Tirith from the seemingly overwhelming army of Mordor.

          The literature can afford a greater degree of complexity as to both the military narrative and the symbolism associated with Aragorn’s royal lineage. A movie? It needs to be more directly and visually stated, which requires a simpler narrative. I’m not sure I want to call that “dumbing down,” because it does show that the dead warriors recognize — if reluctantly — Aragorn’s claim to be Isuldur’s heir and thus the personified vindication of the battles from the now-legendary past. I’d agree with “simplification.”

          * And which includes that cinematically-perfect moment when the Witch-King gets knocked off his dragon but boldly proclaims “You fool. No man can kill me. Die now!” and the stunningly gorgeous Miranda Otto takes off her helmet and says “I am no man!” and finishes the job. Mmm. It approaches the emotional satisfaction of “I want my father back, you son of a bitch!” from The Princess Bride.

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          • I don’t like to beat up on a film adaptation simply because of changes, and think Jackson did a very good job overall. But I didn’t like the depiction of the dead as a devouring horde of ants. It quickly raises the question of why did Aragorn release them, kind of useful to have around as I think Gimli said.

            In the books, the dead’s chief attribute appears to be to cause fear and panic and the corsairs jump out of their ships and drown or run away. That’s a pretty nifty ability in a naval setting, but it might not have broad utility in other circumstances, or against orcs and other dark creatures being bent to Sauron’s will.

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            • I don’t like to beat up on a film adaptation simply because of changes, and think Jackson did a very good job overall

              I don’t. Some changes were clearly unavoidable due to length. These changes are regrettable, but what are you gonna do? But when we get orc-surfing and the like, we have descended into the stupid.

              It took me a while to come to formulation of what is wrong with the movies, but I think Jackson fundamentally misunderstood (or worse, understood but disregarded) the nature of the book. The Lord of the Rings is not an action adventure. It is mythos and world-building, with some action-adventure stuff taking place in within it. A lot of people think that it is an action adventure novel with a bunch of filler, which they skim over. Jackson is solidly in that school (at least as a practical matter–I don’t presume to judge what is in his heart).

              So while Jackson did a very pretty job of adapting the book, I think the movies fundamentally miss the point.

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              • You can’t really film world building as movie though because it bore all but the most devote Tolkien fans to tears. LOTR and the Hobbit as action-adventure movies are filmable if you have the budget and technological abilities.

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                • What impressed me about LotR even in my teens was that it was clear that Tolkien knew a lot more about Middle Earth than whatever bits the characters happened to run into. Many of his imitators try to replicate this by tossing out occasional references but hese guys were bullshiting. I could tell, even before reading the backstory material, that Tolkien had put in the homework. I don’t see any reason why that couldn’t come through in a film, but it would be a different film than got made.

                  Also, themes and stuff. I hear that movies sometimes have those, too.

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                  • I could tell, even before reading the backstory material, that Tolkien had put in the homework.

                    One of the great virtues of storytelling which almost all storytellers miss is the power of a coherent backstory which isn’t necessarily made explicit in the frontstory. Seems to me most storytellers want to tell just enough backstory to make the front story work, rather than having a rich and unstated backstory in which the frontstory takes place. Or in other words, that the backstory is a hinted at yet coherent structure which accounts for but doesn’t clearly explain the frontstory.

                    In contemporary terms I’m thinking of Gene Wolfe’s work – certainly series like The Book of the New Sun exemplify this type of writing strategy – but it seems to me TLOTR does as well.

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                • It is possible to make beatiful, entertaining, and enjoyable movies without a single fight or chase scene in them. It requires a good story, good writing, good characters.

                  Presumably you could even do the same set in a world with dragons and orcs and stuff. Story, writing, and credible characters don’t have to be driven out by the presence of fantasy tropes.

                  Jackson did a competent job of what he did. I just don’t think it was the only way of making a good and profitable LoTR movie – it may have been the most profitable LoTR movie one could make, but I don’t think it was the only option.

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                  • Yes, I know that you can make a very good movie without any fight or chase scenes. This is not why people wanted to see LOTR on the wide screen. Maybe a less violent LOTR was possible with a lot of exploring and learning about the world but that seems unlikely.

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                    • As a reader, what really stuck with me from LoTR was the epic journey. The battle scenes were there and I even kind of remember a few, but it was the sense of vast distance traversed on foot and horseback, the traversal of physical and (meta)human geography.

                      And in the movies, that didn’t come through. I remember reading the scene at the pass of Caradras where the storm forces the party to turn back, and feeling the sense of how much time, hardship, and danger that cost them.

                      In the movie, it felt like a day hike cut short.

                      One thing I thought they could have changed in their design – not used a single moment more of screen time for it, just made a design choice – was whiskers.

                      That is – the designers apparently decided that Aragorn’s look includes a three-day beard. All the time. He sets out in pursuit of the captured hobbits (with a three day beard), tracks them to Fangorn where he meets Gandalf (still a three day beard), they divert to Edoras (arriving with a three day beard), free Theoden, and set out (still the three day beard).

                      How are we supposed to accept that this was any kind of epic journey? He could have looked like Chuck Noland midway through Castaway on arrival at Edoras, and Forest Gump when he set out again.

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                  • I’d call that HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which generally has had only one or two big battle productions a season. The bulk of what we watch is is drama, talking, politics, historical exposition of the world-building, costumes, acting, intrigue. Used to be a lot of sex too, but now not even that so much. Maybe some fisticuffs or waving-about of swords, but big set-piece battles? Pretty much one per season.

                    And we love every minute of it.

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                • For myself, Jackson was not able to accept the epic nature of the source material and the material Tolkien drew upon. LOTR is like the Illiad, with larger than life people engaged in an elevated, mytholigical conflict. Jackson appeared to think the heaviness of the story needed to be broken up with occasional slapstick like dwarf-tossing, which is something I don’t recall in say Troy (2004), which did well at the box office.

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              • For me, the value in a good movie version of a complex book is that after I watch the movie, I can kind of offload part of my brain with regard to parsing the visuals the author is describing, and focus on details the movie can’t really detail (like history, mythology, etc.).

                The problem with bad movie versions is now I’m stuck with crappy visuals I have to somehow purge from my brain the next time I read the book (re: Starship Troopers).

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              • Some changes were clearly unavoidable due to length. These changes are regrettable, but what are you gonna do? But when we get orc-surfing and the like, we have descended into the stupid.

                I agree, and yet….

                ….it got me to reread the books and see them for more than the adolescent adventurism I had thought they were when I read them the first time. I now own the books and reread my favorite passages quite often. Maybe I would have come back to them anyway. I went through a C. S. Lewis episode in 2006-2008 and that might have brought me back to Tolkien. But the movies helped.

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            • PD Shaw: It quickly raises the question of why did Aragorn release them, kind of useful to have around as I think Gimli said.

              Um, because the whole point of the story is that the ability to resist using cheat codes is a measure of moral worth?

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              • Um, because the whole point of the story is that the ability to resist using cheat codes is a measure of moral worth?

                Seems true enough. Myself, I saw Tolkien as talking about faith. Like, it’s not just “cheat codes.” It is also trusting the least of God’s children. Gandalf alone had the wisdom to see that only the hobbits were strong enough to carry the ring, despite the fact that any reasonable person would think otherwise.

                I dunno. I found that a powerful message, although it’s been filtered down over the years due to my atheism.

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                I don’t think anyone can say that Jackson caught Tolkien’s spirit. Not even close. That said, I quite like the movies on their own terms.

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                • I don’t think Jackson caught Tolkien’s spirit – but I do think that some of the craftspeople involved in the movie, as well as some of the actors (SOME of them, I’m irritated at you still, Cate Blanchett whom I otherwise love), did. So I love the movies, and watch them, not for the overall plot arcs – in fact I find some of the Important Big Battles darn near unwatchable – but for this architectural detail, or that costume, or a fine set of choices of lighting and setting….

                  I give a lot of credit to John Howe and Alan Lee for that, but not all of it. There were people who Got It at all levels of the movie. And I can still see them when I watch it.

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                • I’m not sure faith by itself fully captures what’s going on in Tolkein. In very Catholic fashion, faith alone is insufficent. Good outcomes happen by going out into the world and doing your best to improve things. What happens though is that everyone, grand as Sauron to as small as a Hobbit, has their designs confounded by the world. But by doing the right thing events lead in the general direction that you needed.

                  Attached to that is the concept that God himself doesn’t micromanage the universe and gives great scope to free will. But he does intervene minutely to nudge things along towards the direction things were supposed to go.

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      • “The council might have been exceeding its powers for all we know.”

        Right, that’s certainly one option. The other option is that Arvedui’s claim was not as strong as Earnil’s claim as a distant cousin. Arvedui had two basis for claiming the throne: one is that he is married to the last king’s daughter, and the other is by descent from Isildur. But Earnil was also descended from Isildur, and a much closer relation to the last king of Gondor. Rejecting Arvedui’s claim by marriage was not a rejecting of his claim through Isildur, it was just a weaker claim on this point than Earnil’s. When Earnil and his line cease, the claim through Arvedui strengthened.

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    • But while “commands a terrifying ghost army” is a fantastic qualification for fronting a Norwegian black metal band or a community Halloween parade, it’s less than ideal for ruling a vast and diverse country of the living.

      Right up there with:

      King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king.
      Dennis the Peasant: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
      Arthur: Be quiet!
      Dennis the Peasant: You can’t expect to wield supreme power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
      Arthur: Shut up
      Dennis the Peasant: I mean, if I went around saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they’d put me away!

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  3. F2: I had heard that The Lion King was Hamlet and thought that’s what you meant. I had completely forgotten about the Simba cartoons, even though I had watched them as a kid (never fond of them, but it was television. In the long forgotten world of two or three TV channels, it beat turned off TV by a wide margin)

    The article is true. It’s a complete rip-off. If I were Disney I would have made sure to quietly buy the bankruptcy creditors and thus to hold any possible claim. The Lion King is too valuable a franchise to even allow a lawsuit to come forward, even if they know they will win at the end.

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    • Yeah, it’s a complete ripoff, just like the part where Timon and Puumba steal Mustafa’s stuffed head and use it to fool Simba into thinking he deserves to be in charge.

      Also the part with the carnivorous buffalo.

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    • No need to, “Disney may have “borrowed” the idea, but they were legally protected. Mushi Productions, the company that made Kimba the White Lion, went bankrupt in 1973 and U.S. rights to the show ran out in 1978.”

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  4. L4:

    Englsh is a classical creole language. Just a surprisingly old one. Things like dropping gender and conjugations are typical of creole languages like Papiamento (world’s most recent Romance language).

    For those that want a feeling of what original English would be now, the classical Paul Anderson’s technical paper Uncleftish Beholding is a must go. Caution: High schhol chemistry strongly suggested

    https://groups.google.com/forum/message/raw?msg=alt.language.artificial/ZL4e3fD7eW0/_7p8bKwLJWkJ

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  5. L4 again

    What’s with the orthography, guys? It’s fine to say that in Shakespeare’s time everyone more or less made up how to spell a word, but it’s been fishing 400 years. There’s been plenty of time to put that in order.

    The Turkish sat down in 1922 to select an alphabet, and now have one single letter for every Turkish sound. And you spell every word exactly as it sounds. That wasn’t that hard(*).

    (*) Talking about Turkish, I love that for everything that existed before the 1700s there is a Turk word, but for everything newer, apparently the Turks just gave up and started using French words. Things like insurance, cars or high schools are just said in French, properly transcribed phonetically to the Turkish alpabeth (since the French, their precious Academy notwithstanding, are not that good in correlating spelling and sound). It makes reading billboards in Turkey quite amusing, because you know that they are talking about insurance or cars, but have no clue what’s going on about them.

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    • That’s largely what the Japanese do with loan words too, right? And they include a seperate orthography those borrowed words, too.

      (Compare with academy French, which tries to stop english derived tech words at every turn)

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    • If you look at those countries that successfully pulled off spelling reform you will find that they were some combination of small (at least for the literate class) and with a strong central government (that could issue fiats that people had to pay attention to) and had a single standard dialect with a prestige accent as the basis for the new spelling. English, by the time anyone got around to considering spelling reform, had none of these traits.

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      • Actually, phonetical orthography helps prevent drifting accents become drifting dialects becoming separate languages.

        I have a hell of a time with my Ulster in-laws. I can understand my mother in law with some difficulty, but for the life of me I cannot understand a word my father in law says, so I stand there looking like a deer in the headlights until someone takes pity on me and translates English into English.

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        • phonetical orthography helps prevent drifting accents become drifting dialects becoming separate languages.

          I am extremely skeptical of this claim being true. What is the evidence backing it up?

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          • Anecdata

            Every Latin American country has its peculiar accent (and I can recognize most of them) but there is no issue of dialects or difficulty in understanding the words. You never have to ask ¿Qué? because you don’t know what the other person said. The music and tone might be different, but every letter can be heard in its proper place.

            Go to the West Indies, Trinidad or Jamaica, and unless they are making an effort to talk to you, I promise you won’t understand half of what they say. You have troubles even when they are making an effort.

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    • Turkish was only spoken in one country and modern Turkey had one very determined autocrat willing to do nearly everything necessary to modernize his country including large scale language reform. English is spoken in many countries as the official or semi-official language and is used widely as a lingua franca. There is nobody who is Atarturk’s statue in the current English speaking world and English speaking nations are still the most modern. There is no need for reform.

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  6. C2: meh. This is simply naval gazing. This audiobook has British accents because it is a British production. If you don’t like that, there are any number of American audiobook editions of Moby Dick available. And really, if you have read the book it is obvious that no modern American accent is authentic, and any attempt at it risks sounding like Talk Like a Pirate Day.

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  7. [L2] Basically that post boils down to the bog-standard “hey guys, unless a woman specifically requests interaction with you, then you should never ever ever EVER EVER under any circumstances WHATSOEVER attempt to interact with her in any way, otherwise it’s creepy and you’re a creep, and plus which we shouldn’t have to explain this because you should already know it, CREEP.”

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    • The thing is, most guys successfully and non-creepily interact with women on a daily basis. If you are fending off accusations of creepiness, you might reconsider how you are interacting with women. Which is, come to think of it, the point of the linked article.

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      • I think much of the problem is the whole issue of unattractive men not understanding that creepiness is a function of unattractiveness.

        A guy who is a solid 10 can get away with a hell of a lot more behaviors that would be “creepy” if made by a guy who is a solid 7.

        Let alone guys who are solid 4s.
        Or 3s.
        Or worse.

        I suppose that there are discussions of “fairness” here but it’s not like this is something that is even theoretically redistributable.

        So we’re back to having rules that you shouldn’t be creepy and make those rules explicit and we just know that 8s can get away with breaking these rules more often than 5s and, no, it’s not fair that a guy with a 30-inch waist, blue eyes, and chiseled jaw can introduce himself to a woman and it be received well when a guy with a 44-inch waist, hazel eyes, and two or three less than chiseled jaws wouldn’t be.

        Even if the latter guy had posted more essays about intersectional feminism to his tumblr.

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        • I don’t buy it. True confession: I am not a 10. Or even a 9. What am I? Keep going. I’ll tell you when I get there. Yet I manage to have mace-free interactions with women–both strangers and acquaintances–on a daily basis. I can talk to a woman without giving the impression that I am hitting on her, much less pondering raping her. I don’t consider this ability to be extraordinary.

          If the intent really is to hit on her, then I will grant you that it is trickier, and that 10 had an advantage on us schlubs. But even back in the days when I might actually hit on a woman, I managed to avoid accusations of assault. In retrospect, it might have helped that I preferred to hit on women I actually knew, and who knew me, rather than hooking up with random strangers. That and being willing to take “no” for an answer.

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              • [Warning, this will be a bit ranty. I will probably swear.]

                — It’s more complicated than that. And look, this sounds like sour grapes. So. I dunno. I wouldn’t want a HAWT guy creeping on me either, and trust me, it happens.

                Hetero interactions are really fucking complicated. And honestly, men endlessly speculate about what drives women, and come up with endless bullshit, and it’s insulting and wrong and stupid and cut it out.

                Yes, being attractive helps. Duh. Cuts both ways. Trust me, the way I look has everything to do with what I get. It just does. But I don’t go all sour grapes over it. I do my best. Do your best.

                But creeps — look if I had a dollar for every sadsack nerdling crying out “Oh but if I looked like Brad Pitt” (or whatever) — ‘cept even if they looked like that, if they come across as a needy bundle of insecurity, women will steer clear.

                “Looks matter.”

                Duh.

                “Looks are the only thing that matters. When women complain about creeps, it’s just ugly guys.”

                Fuck off with that. I’ve been creeped on by hot guys. I’ve had hot guys try to buy me a drink, when I literally just told them I’ve had enough, but they push it and try to get me to drink
                more. They get shitty when I say no. They keep trying.

                I avoid overuse of the r-word. I do. I think feminists overplay that word.

                If you are pushing drinks on me, you are a fucking piece of shit rapist.

                It doesn’t matter if you’re hot.

                Good God. Just cuz a guy is good looking doesn’t mean I want him. If he’s trying to game me, or if he’s being a soul-sucking “nice guy,” or anything like that, gah! Blah! Ewwww! Get away!

                Regarding Twitter — OMG can’t we just post like normal people without having to fend off an endless stream of swinging dicks?

                “Dick is cheap and easily available.”

                That’s a really hurtful message. The problem is, men make it true. Stop doing that.

                And take the sour grapes bullshit and put it away.

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                • So we agree that something is true (if more complicated than I painted them as being).

                  The difference is that my noticing amounts to sour grapes?

                  I assure you: I have achieved my grapes.

                  My observations come from a place of grapetude.

                  Not that that matters. I understand the phenomenon where one has a rant that one wishes to give and, hell, here’s an opportunity.

                  I suppose I set myself up for the “you’re just saying that because you’re unhappy with your current relationship status” and, seeing that, I suppose I cannot blame you for going straight to that.

                  I can only blame myself.

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                  • — Look, it’s hard to talk about this stuff in an abstract sense, since we all deal with dating, romance, and gender in all kinds of ways. We all have to deal with the minefield.

                    But look, I’m serious, the whole “creep means ugly guy” narrative is some seriously fucking bullshit. First off, there is not unified standard of beauty. After all, there are people who find my tranny ass attractive, whereas most guys find me repulsive. Plus plenty of women like men of various types. You just cannot know which women will be attracted to you.

                    But social calibration is a thing. Look, if some HAWTY muscle guy suddenly starts creeping on my Tumblr profile — I am not going to like that. It’s going to creep me out hard. On the other hand, if I see him interacting with my other friends, in smart ways, and it seems like he’s a math-nerd or whatever, plus good looking! — well that’s different. But “good looking” is not the big determining factor. It’s not that simple. Women are not that simple. Many factors go into who I find attractive. If a guy is kinda goofy looking, but he has a physics PhD, and he makes really smart and funny posts, then his attractiveness shoots up.

                    To me! But maybe not to other women. It’s complicated.

                    The point is, we build a relationship. If he has decent social calibration, he might sense when he can push things a bit. If we’ve communicated a fair bit, then maybe he can send me a private message.

                    Maybe I’ll send him a private message.

                    Cuz look, I get that close to maybe four or five guys, and maybe a dozen women. Even if all of them hit on me — it’s only four of five guys, only a dozen women. I can talk through that. It’s not an endless stream of swinging dicks, of various degrees of HAWTNESS, but I don’t care cuz it’s the endless stream part that is the problem. These are randoms hitting on me. I don’t wanna be hit on by randoms.

                    My current maybe-kinda-ex-kinda-poly-partner hit on me, but only after we’d been FB friends for a few months, and I’d interacted with her in a really positive way, and she got to liking me (which, wow! color me surprised), and so she told me. Yay!

                    She wasn’t a random whoever who just stumbled into my life with crass bullshit. Like, she’s gorgeous, one of the prettiest people I’ve ever spoken to. But even so, I’d would not have appreciated if she’d just plowed through my boundaries. We got to know each other first.

                    You wanna get to know a woman on Twitter? Interact with her respectfully. Have overlapping friend circles. Be solid. Be cool. See if she responds to you. Let it work naturally.

                    Or not. Your choice. But creeps are as creeps do.

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                    • But look, I’m serious, the whole “creep means ugly guy” narrative is some seriously fucking bullshit.

                      And that is not my position.

                      But I agree that the position you’re arguing against is bullshit and should be argued against as if it were bullshit.

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                      • — Not to play the receipts game, but you said,

                        I think much of the problem is the whole issue of unattractive men not understanding that creepiness is a function of unattractiveness.

                        A guy who is a solid 10 can get away with a hell of a lot more behaviors that would be “creepy” if made by a guy who is a solid 7.

                        Let alone guys who are solid 4s.
                        Or 3s.
                        Or worse.

                        Feel free to clarify, but I understood that to mean that HAWT guys can get away with stuff that not-HAWT guys cannot, which I summarized as “creep means ugly guy.”

                        *shrug*

                        I don’t think my interpretation was unreasonable. But I’ll accept any clarification you want to give.

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                        • Well, let’s assume that there are behaviors that are creepy no matter who does them.

                          Okay. I’m not talking about these things.

                          Let’s assume that there are behaviors that are not creepy no matter who does them.

                          These are the behaviors that we all should follow. Good boundary stuff.

                          I’m not talking about these things either.

                          Are there things that we might want to describe as… what? Borderline? “Risky”?

                          These things. This category. That’s what I’m talking about. The things that, if one person who is well-groomed and well-dressed and properly bespectacled attempted them would be seen as “oooh, that’s a bold and flirty person” but the exact same someone who is mussed unaesthetically and wearing *THAT* (as in “are you wearing *THAT*?”) and wearing contacts would be “ew, sorry, I don’t really wish to converse or share more personal space than is required to terminate this conversation quickly”.

                          That is the category of which I speak.

                          And physical attractiveness is one (though, certainly not the only!) thing that can help the slider move from the “eehw” to the “whee!”

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                          • That is the category of which I speak.

                            I’m not sure that category exists.

                            To make that category exist, you need to (1) have some objective standard of attractiveness that all people adhere to and (2) have some objective standard of ‘creepy’ that all people adhere to and (3) assume there are some objective ‘creepy behaviors’ that all people adhere to and (4) that some of three vary with (1) and (2).

                            Which is a lot of assuming.

                            In the real world, I think it’s a pointless discussion because even if Tammy was willing to call Bob creepy and John flirty for the same behavior because she thinks John is hotter, Jennifer a bar stool down finds them both creepy even though she thinks Bob is hotter, and Tiffany thinks neither is creepy and they’re equally as attractive.

                            And Jaybird the student of human behavior at the end of the bar, tries to deduce some objective formula from the subjective criteria of three women, two men, and a series of acts, words, and gestures.

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                            • I don’t think that there is an objective standard of attractiveness but there is a squishy standard. Creepy has some squish to it… but, yeah, there’s more or less a great definition of creepy out there that can be summed up as “misreading the signals of the other person”. Not merely not getting the hint despite crossed arms, frowny face, turned head, etc, but stuff like a pleasant conversation turning into a weird conversation by something as simple as the guy leaning and touching her forearm with his fingertips. Sometimes this seemed to be a great way to move forward a little bit. Sometimes it resulted in the woman jerking her arm back.

                              In the latter case, it was creepy.

                              Is there an objective formula? No… But there is something squishy.

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              • Dude, I suspect that women will find even really super attractive men whom they’re not interested in liking all of their tweets creepy, and if they’re interested in a not-super-attractive guy, him liking a lot (all, really?) of tweets is probably OK.

                DD’s response requires a terribly uncharitable reading, which is unsurprising, but not any more charitable for being predictable.

                There is an extent to which creepiness and attractiveness interact, as variables, but you are greatly exaggerating that interaction (perhaps intentionally), and the linked article presents a bunch of stuff that would largely be creepy regardless of attractiveness.

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                • For the record, I tend to agree that guys should not do anything at all mentioned in the article. Odds are, if a girl tweets something about her appearance and you are not within her circle? You should not comment about it at all. Why? Because it’s a lot more likely to come off as “creepy” than not.

                  What’s a nice stereotypical tweet that I can make up to use for an example…

                  “Hey, I got my hair styled! Here is a selfie of the finished product!”

                  What’s the appropriate response?
                  Well, you have to take into account your relationship with her.
                  Do you have one?
                  If not, posting something as innocuous as “you look great” or “looks good” is well within the grey area of “may be creepy, may not be creepy” and it’s always best to stay well outside of that grey area.

                  I mean, at work? If a coworker tells you “I got my hair done!”, it’s 100% perfectly acceptable to say “you look great” or “looks good”. If a coworker is telling her friend as part of a conversation that you are not part of (like, you’re in the break room and hear her say this) that she got her hair done, saying “you look great” or “looks good” falls into the grey area.

                  Stay out of the grey area.

                  Do you know whether what you’re saying falls into the grey area?

                  Best to either rephrase until you know that it doesn’t *OR* avoid the interaction entirely.

                  Do you know whether this other person is more likely to have a large grey area or a small one?

                  Better to assume it’s large… which means that if you don’t know, rephrase or avoid the interaction entirely.

                  If we really want to dig into semiotics of unsolicited openings for interactions, we can dig into the difference between tweets like “here’s a selfie!” and “here’s my opinion on a topic!” and “I enjoyed something I’m not familiar with and am asking for examples of similar things!” and how it’s a lot less creepy for a complete stranger to say something in response to the third than to the first. (Though, let me point out, it can still be creepy and if you don’t know whether it is, avoid the interaction.)

                  And, wouldn’t you know it, the default for interaction should be, you guessed it, “don’t”.

                  Because anything else might be creepy. Not “is creepy”. But might be. And if you don’t know it won’t be, you shouldn’t.

                  And that’s pretty straightforward. Straightforward enough to put uncharitably, of course. But an uncharitable reading that remains true is an uncharitable reading that remains true.

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                  • I think that’s a charitable reason. The explanations under each “Thou Shalt Not” in the link are pretty clear, to me at least, about what makes them creepy, and therefore revealing at least the existence of gray area, if not delineating it perfectly. To so delineate it would likely defeat the purpose of a simple guide, and I think most people are smart enough to figure out when “Oh, you liked Attack the Block? Let me tell you about some other movies you might like” is OK, and when it’s butting in. And I think if they’re not smart enough, or even if they are, men would do well to listen to women, because we really have only the vaguest sense of what the social world is like for them.

                    Or we could be DD, and just shit on it. Either way.

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            • If etiquette is the art of making others comfortable, the key words here are “art” and “others”.

              The article listed rules, which I read as somewhat tongue in cheek, since the “art” of human interactions doesn’t lend itself to simple formulas.

              Also, the “other” aspect implies that the rules wouldn’t be universal or self-defined anyway. If someone feels uncomfortable in my presence, they feel uncomfortable, even if I am scrupulously obeying all known rules.

              Maybe the best takeaway is for all of us to have a heightened awareness of others, and how we affect them.

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            • I have no difficulty imagining circumstances where liking too many of someone’s tweets could be creepy. The thing is, this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. An action that is innocuous under normal circumstances can be creepy under others. This is the underlying strategy of stalking. If someone greets you as you walk out your front door, that is merely being friendly. But if this person greets you every time you walk out your front door, at any time day or night, then that is decidedly creepy.

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              • — Just recently I had this cool looking dyke gal friend me on Facebook. Then over the next day or so, she liked literally every selfie I’ve posted in the last year, plus a ton of other posts. I mean, it was flattering. I’m not sure if it was “creepy.” I dunno. But she was definitely not “my type.” A few days later I started dating this other girl, and then like-everything dyke suddenly unfriended me.

                I dunno. That was weird.

                I suspect she wanted one particular thing from me. That’s not okay.

                If I “freindzone” you, well I’m a pretty good friend. It goes both ways. If I like you, but you “freindzone” me, well I liked you. I’ll totes be friends.

                I dunno. I’m not sure if we can compare het-space to trans-dyke-space. Something something gender blah.

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          • Well, there are goal posts moving there (which you acknowledge) but, again, it is true that actions that we are hammering out as “creepy” are actions that can become “less creepy” if not “not creepy” when performed by a very attractive person.

            I have no doubt that you were not creepy and you managed to maintain not creepiness. Hey. So did I.

            I’m not talking about what is not creepy. We know what is not creepy.

            But creepiness is also a function of attractiveness.

            And more attractive people have more… oh, what’s the word? “Privilege”.

            This isn’t an end-all, be-all. We can point to any number of less privileged people and show how they’ve become successful.

            That’s not proof that this privilege doesn’t exist. That’s not how privilege works.

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            • There is a difference between attractiveness and charisma. People can be likeable, funny and good with people while not being attractive. Attractive people can lack charisma or skill with people. To not be creepy its best to be attractive and have charisma/people skills. But its the people skills that will lead you to be Not Creepy. Because many attractive people come off as hella creepy in my experience of listening to what people find creepy.

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              • Sure. Absolutely. Charisma can modify physical attractiveness.

                We all have experiences where someone very physically attractive to us managed to become someone very ugly over time… and, if we’re very lucky, someone who was superficially ugly to us in the first moments of meeting them became someone who practically radiated beauty after really getting to know them.

                But that doesn’t change my point.

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                  • You’re assuming that my acknowledgement of privilege existing has me hiding a “therefore we ought to level the playing field” somewhere.

                    I’m not.

                    I’m saying that people who are less attractive need to be a lot less creepy. As a matter of fact, let’s keep it to “not creepy at all”.

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                    • No i wasn’t assuming any “level the playing field ” at all. Not be creeps seems to have been covered in the original link with a list of suggestions on how to accomplish that goal.

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                    • Basically, yeah. This is the way things are. This is how they are, this is how you are. It’s not up to them to be how you almost certainly aren’t. And if you’re yelling about it a lot, chances are you’re yelling at a lot of people who are actually better on these things than you are. (In fact, if you’re a guy yelling about women, chances are most of them are better than you because most women are better than most men.)

                      Which is all, incidentally, why this advice is important. Whether you’re attractive (and/or charismatic) or not. Especially if you’re not.

                      And if you’re response to all of this is “Well if I have to do all of this to avoid being a creep, well screw it” the congratulations you’ve talked yourself into being a creep.

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                      • I’m not certain that that is the dynamic.

                        I agree that people should not be creeps. Nobody should be creepy.

                        The problem is that a lot of guys see “okay, this guy attempted this thing and it wasn’t creepy when he did it… what happens if I attempt this thing?” and they’re confused that it turns out that they’re creepy.

                        Of course, there’s the dynamic where what they attempted was only an approximation of what was actually done (and those little things mean a lot) but there’s also the whole “unattractive adds to creepiness” dynamic which exists.

                        And focusing entirely on the whole “maybe you’re just not that skilled at being Rico Suave” is avoiding a very, very important dynamic.

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                        • The problem is that a lot of guys see “okay, this guy attempted this thing and it wasn’t creepy when he did it… what happens if I attempt this thing?” and they’re confused that it turns out that they’re creepy.

                          Yep, but you are missing the dynamic. It’s not “attractive” versus “not attractive,” unless you are using a completely circular definition of attractive.

                          Instead, this is about social calibration and genuine self-confidence. Trying to map that onto “attractive” is going to badly mislead. Very good looking men can be very creepy. Honestly, they can be way creepier than the hapless nerd-guys.

                          (Trust me on this. I’ve dealt with bad shit.)

                          #####

                          It’s true that the same behavior can be received differently depending on who says it. For example, I say things to my kinda-poly-partner-kinda-ex-g/f that you cannot. Like, duh. The problem is, the creep in your scenario lacks the social calibration to understand what he is seeing, to understand the dynamic, to understand why it works for the one guy. First, the successful guy might already know the woman. They could already have an understanding. (If you at a club watching, how can you know?) Even if they are strangers, they might have already exchanged “the look.” The successful man knows how to give the look. He knows how to receive it. The hapless man things he did “the same thing,” but he did not. He did something very different, cuz he literally cannot see the full dynamic.

                          Round it goes. I like to observe men pick up women on the subway. It’s an interesting dance.

                          Really, most of the interesting stuff has already happened before either party even speaks. Watch for it.

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                          • The problem is that a lot of guys see “okay, this guy attempted this thing and it wasn’t creepy when he did it… what happens if I attempt this thing?” and they’re confused that it turns out that they’re creepy.

                            Yep, but you are missing the dynamic. It’s not “attractive” versus “not attractive,” unless you are using a completely circular definition of attractive.

                            And this is where I wish that you had bothered to quote the next part of my comment.

                            But, yes. Please explain this to me some more. I obviously do not understand it.

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                            • Of course, there’s the dynamic where what they attempted was only an approximation of what was actually done (and those little things mean a lot) but there’s also the whole “unattractive adds to creepiness” dynamic which exists.

                              Okay, fair enough. But that first part is the whole fucking point. Everything else you said falls down here. In other words, the fact that you include a proviso that gestures to the real issue does not change the fact that you are focusing on the not-actually-important part. The fact that I attacked your central point and overlooked your proviso doesn’t change the real argument.

                              You’ll get fewer dates if fewer women find you attractive. Duh. But whether you are a 4 or an 8, you can still creep out women. Trust me on this. Plenty of “torso shot” guys with great bods end up creeping out women on Tinder. We even write articles about how fucking useless these guys are.

                              But are they 8’s or 4’s? Well, they work out in the gym. They probably have nice smiles. They probably “get women.” Surely they ain’t some flabby nerd-guy with bad facial hair.

                              But they’re still fucking creeps, cuz they’re random swinging dicks who push themselves on women who do not want their sleazy attention.

                              And that’s the heart of creepsville. Pushy guys. Hoards of them. There is a reason str8 gals go to gay dance clubs. It’s not to avoid ugly guys. It’s to avoid pushy guys. Understand that.

                              Likewise, there is a reason that sleazy-ass str8 fucks are figuring out to go to gay bars as well. (And then get all weird when I dance near them. Fuckers.)

                              So that’s a thing. Welcome to the thunderdome.

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                              • My last real experience with dating was long, long ago (it predates tinder by more than a decade) and so I’m merely basing my observations on The Various Scenes around town… The Northside Old Chicago, Meadow Muffins (now Mother Muffs), The Ritz (Johnny remains the best bartender *EVER*), and other varied and sundry restaurants somewhere between college and home.

                                When I was sitting in corners, half-reading books and half-people watching (I didn’t really meet that many people… going to The Ritz and reading Kierkegaard is a good way of meeting the PERFECT person, but you have to have her show up too and if she went to a different bar/restaurant, you’re outta luck), I saw a number of human interactions that struck me as absurd… but what can you do. Guys that I might now describe as “walking torso shots” tended to do better (defined as nothing more than conversations that resulted in them leaving at the same time as someone else) than flabby nerd-guys. And that’s not even counting the dork in the corner who brought a goddamned book to a goddamned bar.

                                (And this is not me saying “ooooh, she should have gone home with *ME*” about any one of the people who left at the same time as the smoother guys. I knew damn well that I was never, ever going to make time with many of the women there because of who I am and what my various personality ticks happen to be. I didn’t want to find merely somebody. I wanted to find a very particular person and was merely flailing about by going to bars/restaurants because I had no idea where this particular person would be found.)

                                As someone who looked out and saw people successfully do their mating dances around each other in person, I’m pleased to know that the internet sorts for different traits than the bar scene.

                                Because the bar scene was brutal. I have no idea how people did it.

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                                • Not to overplay the trans card, but I’m the only person on this forum who has lived both sides of this shitshow. Anyway, you all are running your mouths about things you have not experienced.

                                  Okay, let’s talk about creeps.

                                  Look, a guy hitting on me is not automatically a “creep.” It’s more complex.

                                  Hey, I was sexually assaulted last night. It was actually kinda funny. Okay, so I went out. I looked good. I was wearing the cute skirt that didn’t used to fit, but now fits. Yay. I stopped by this trashy drag bar, where I haven’t been for some time. Folks freaked out at new-me. I got much attention. I was the “it girl” (and what a nice experience that is). Anyway, some old queen started chatting me up. She wanted a hug. I hugged her. Without asking, she groped my breasts.

                                  This is sexual assault, technically. On the other hand, I kinda didn’t care. Whatevs. Anyway, she groped. Then she said, “Oh! They’re real!”

                                  I’m like, “Yep sweetheart. I’m a real transsexual.”

                                  She didn’t creep me out. I mean, she was remarkably unattractive. There is no way. But she was straight-up who she is. Whatevs. I’m out to dance. Old queens are old queens. One takes them as they are.

                                  The guy who creeped me out was this old chaser sitting in the corner, who just stared at me. Just stared. Stared more. Stare, stare, stare. Just lingering eyes. Thirst.

                                  “Creep” is about my spidey-sense. It’s about weirdos. Ewwwww.

                                  At least he didn’t try to talk to me. I’ll give him that much.

                                  #####

                                  The last time I got seriously creeped out went like this. I’m heading out to Boston’s best queer dance night, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I’m dressed totes schoolgirl. I look really good.

                                  On the train platform, I’m listening to Robyn through my headphones. I’ve popped an adderall, prepping for some serious dancing. I’m already dancing, on the subway platform.

                                  That’s me, bitches! I’m the high-as-fuck dancing girl.

                                  Some gnomish freak guy notices me. He gives me the look.

                                  Okay, I cannot describe the look, but I bet every woman knows it. I recoil, roll my eyes, move away from him.

                                  Sorry dude, you ain’t my type, not even close.

                                  I keep dancing, cuz fuck that guy. I’m free!

                                  The train arrives. I board the train, a bit down from him, but he rushes over to get onto the same train car that I boarded.

                                  Fucker!

                                  It’s a free country. He can ride any train car he wants. He walks down the length of the car and sits opposite me. I ignore him. In fact, I actively ignore him.

                                  I bet every woman here knows what I mean by actively ignoring a creep like this.

                                  He gets up and crosses the car and sits beside me.

                                  Through my headphones the music blares. I cannot hear what this trollish creep says, but I say (loud, in full “guy voice”) “NO FUCKING WAY DUDE!” Then I stand up and stomp down the length of the car and sit at the other end.

                                  I guess he gets the message at this point.

                                  I’m so glad I’m not some skinny-ass 120 pound cis girl. This guy was a little troll, but he was scary.

                                  #####

                                  I described the guy as “gnomish.” Was that the problem?

                                  Honestly I don’t know. All I know is he gave the look, like I’m a fucking piece of meat. I’ve seen it too many times, from too many men (but almost never from women). The point is, I have “creep-dar,” and my creep-dar was totes correct. This guy had zero interest in my comfort level. He was gonna push his sorry ass onto me without any respect. Fuck him. Fuck guys like him. They’re garbage.

                                  #####

                                  I get hit on often enough. Look, I describe myself as a “4,” but by trans standards I’m more than that. Among my age cohort, I’m quite a bit more than that. Plenty of dudes make a play.

                                  Most of them are not “creepy.” They’re just thirsty dudes. So long as they respect my boundaries, then we’re good. If they cast a glance my way, I’ll look away or roll my eyes or whatever.

                                  After all, I’m pretty sapphic. Not many men interest me even on their best days. So whatevs. They can look. They can give me a smile.

                                  I almost never smile back. Most dudes respect that.

                                  Some dudes have good game. They can get a conversation going without creeping me out. They never get far. I like women. But still, it can be fun, letting some dude play out his game.

                                  (I recall one chaser dude was chatting up a friend and me, so he went and put Lou Reed on the Jukebox. That was kinda transparently hillarious. Anyway, he wasn’t creepy, just silly.)

                                  Blah. Men. Whatever.

                                  #####

                                  Obviously what you look like matters. But on the other hand, women vary in their tastes. Honestly, we vary in our looks, our status, in what level we play at. It’s all a big freaky dance.

                                  Honestly, if you pay attention to women, if you care about our comfort level, and you can read basic body language, then you won’t have a problem with “creepy.” Just read our signals.

                                  After all, women get thirsty also.

                                  #####

                                  Work on yourself. I work on myself.

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                                  • I appreciate that you really, really disagree with the points that you’re disagreeing with, it’s just that I don’t think that anyone is arguing those points.

                                    For what it’s worth, I disagree with the points that you’re disagreeing with too.

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                                    • — I guess I just don’t see your point. No one will deny that looks matter, and that people generally regarded as attractive will have better luck than those regarded otherwise. This is true, but in a banal sense. We already know it. But regarding creepiness specifically, nope, I don’t quite buy it. I’ve given plenty of men the brush off, and a few women. It’s a very particular subset who set off my creep-dar.

                                      I cannot speak for all women, but [citation needed].

                                      #####

                                      For exampke, non-creepiness happened tonight at the fetish dance club, with “Josh,” who came up and introduced himself. We chatted a bit, but he had no chance. There was no chemistry. But he wasn’t a creep. He was just a sweet, slightly awkward guy. I totes hope he hooked up with someone.

                                      Tonight I encountered zero creeps, although there were a few douchebags on the dance floor. There is always at least one obnoxious wannabe domly guy flailing his limbs and taking up too much space. Blah. Some of us can actually dance.

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                                        • — Well, not exactly. Your initial comment was deeply misguided. I disagree with it 100%. Since then you have failed to clarify the difference between being “creepy” and merely getting rejected, which is the point I’m trying to make. You haven’t provided a single concrete example of a “4” being creepy, while doing what would not be creepy for an “8.” Like, I can provide concrete life experience. You can provide vaguery from observations at a bar, except you don’t know how those women actually felt — unless you asked them. Did you ask them?

                                          You might say a “4” probably lacks experience, so he is more likely to fuck up than an “8.” Maybe. But I am unconvinced. I know too many non-creepy “4’s.” I’ve been creeped on by some pretty hot guys. It’s about a sense of threat. It doesn’t matter what the guy looks like.

                                          My point: I don’t think you have the tools to distinguish the “creepy” from the merely undesirable. They are not the same.

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                                          • The difference between being creepy and being rejected is exceptionally straightforward.

                                            Two people. X and Y.
                                            X can be creepy to Y without Y being involved.
                                            X being rejected by Y requires Y rejecting X.

                                            You haven’t provided a single concrete example of a “4” being creepy, while doing what would not be creepy for an “8.”

                                            I thought I did. “Counting shoulders“.

                                            And, no, I have no idea how these women actually felt.

                                            I thought it would have been creepy for me to even talk to them without knowing them in the first place and so I avoided talking to them at all.

                                            I don’t think you have the tools to distinguish the “creepy” from the merely undesirable. They are not the same.

                                            Perhaps not. My where I sit, it’s a sorites problem. Being asked to pinpoint where a heap ceases to be a heap could, indeed, indicate that I don’t have the tools to distinguish between things.

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                                            • (And, no, this is not an argument that in every single case that this would be okay for the one and creepy for the other. Just pointing out something that could fit in the squishy grey area of “creepy” down there for that guy but a smooth guy would be considered “flirty”.)

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                                              • And, no, this is not an argument that in every single case that this would be okay for the one and creepy for the other. Just pointing out something that could fit in the squishy grey area of “creepy” down there for that guy but a smooth guy would be considered “flirty”.

                                                There are six (plus) billion people in the world. I’m sure everything happens somewhere at some point, but is this a thing that men and women need to worry about?

                                                You’re making a claim. If it covers some rare-marginal case that seldom happens to anyone, then fine. But so what? Is it something that I will encounter? Is it something that anyone on this forum will actually struggle with, compared to the general difficulties of physical attractiveness?

                                                Note this happens in a context where MRA-types are claiming that the word “creep” is just a weapon to be unfairly deployed against ugly men. For example, start with this comment: https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/on-creepiness/#comment-7998

                                                My point, this is a big conversation. You’re not adding much.

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                                            • — “Counting shoulder”???

                                              Yeah I saw the video. Who are those women? Are they friends? Are they lovers? Are they playing to the camera? Honestly, to me it looks staged. Her sudden look to the camera response does not seem natural.

                                              But I was not there, so I don’t know. Neither were you, so neither do you. Without context that video means nothing.

                                              Plus, honestly, comparing a “male-4” verus “male-8” is a very different situation from a video showing two “female-8’s.” The fact is, like it or not, gender matters here. They might both be str8 women. Perhaps they both know it. This is not convincing.

                                              You really find that convincing of anything?

                                              #####

                                              Oh wait, here is the source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpMaLd45ztA

                                              Okay, I couldn’t watch more than twenty seconds of those women without wanting to jab a fork into my leg. But whatevs. You are welcome to watch the whole thing and let me know if it gives us any info about creepy men.

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                                              • Sorry, I thought you wanted an example of something that existed in the grey area of something that could be considered “flirty” or “creepy” depending on the dynamic (a dynamic that would be modified, though not decided, by the “number”).

                                                And, honestly, if giving an example such as that one results in a discussion of what was going on in that particular case, I’m not sure that it would be possible for me to provide what you’re asking for at all.

                                                So I will concede the point.

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                      • (In fact, if you’re a guy yelling about women, chances are most of them are better than you because most women are better than most men.)

                        Internalized misandry is a terrible thing.

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                • Charisma can modify physical attractiveness

                  I’d suspect it’s more the other way around. Easy on the eyes is nice, sure, but there are a lot of schlumpy men and women out there who become actual god{desse}s when they turn on the charm.

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                  • While I would agree wholeheartedly, I’d say that I’d only agree with the caveat that we’re talking about more time than can usually be found at a Friday night at Meadow Muffins.

                    I’ll tell a story about a former coworker. When I first met her, my first thought was that she was unattractive. She was overweight, her skin said that she had some pretty bad acne problems in high school, and she dressed as if she considered herself dowdy.

                    In working with her over the next months, I found that she was really, really friggin’ smart. She had a lot of insight into the various dynamics of the various co-workers we had… who I could trust, who I couldn’t. Her sense of humor? Wicked.

                    I remember one day as she was telling a story and she was smiling and unselfconsciously laughing in the telling that I realized that, holy crap, this woman is gorgeous.

                    I was struck with the thought “holy crap… my first impression was so wrong as to be considered some combination of stupid and laughable.”

                    It took a couple of months for me to realize that this woman was one who was freakin’ gorgeous instead of one who was freakin’ dowdy. But, after a while, I did realize it.

                    I hope she’s happy now.

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            • Sure, there’s probably privilege there [1], but like many other forms of privilege, actually doing something about of it is actually a hard thing to figure out.

              Also, gotta say, a lot of the involvement of privilege seems to involve letting stuff that’s legit weird and sketchy slide because the guy [2] in question is good looking.

              [1] Attractive people are privileged is not, I think, a particularly shocking argument.

              [2] Women–even good-looking women–can be creepy as hell, but sexual pursuit culture [3] means this come up less frequently.

              [3] Shout-out to for this term.

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                • OK, so… I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to get at here.

                  I also think you may be underestimating the extent to which attractive people can be creepy [1], because the privilege you describe means that the folks who are creeped out are reluctant to tell anyone or complain. Articulating clear guidelines about what behavior is creepy may actually serve to make things more, rather than less, fair in this situation.

                  [1] As in actually creeping someone out, not just acting in a way that might creep someone out if the person doing it were less attractive.

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                  • I’m certain that attractive people can be creepy and there’s also a dynamic where a subset of people are… what term should we use… “optimistic” about their own number. That is, they are a solid 7 and they rank themselves at a solid 8.5. Or they are a solid 4 and they think “I’m a 7!”

                    And, lemme tell ya, when it comes to the whole “charisma” thing, being more than half a point off of where you actually are is a good way to make oneself even *MORE* unattractive.

                    Which will create one heck of a feedback loop.

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                    • OK, if you are trying to lay out guidelines to prevent people from being creepy, and the people listening to it are likely to overestimate their own attractiveness…

                      …Won’t mentioning this dynamic around attractiveness be counterproductive?

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                    • But … like … women don’t all agree on any guy’s “number.” This is not a measure of an actual thing.

                      You can say “on average,” and sure, but that woman might think your an 8 and that other woman might think you’re a 4. Furthermore, what you actually do, your actual behavior toward the woman, will determine your “number” as much as your biceps will.

                      This is not a useful analysis.

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                      • Also worth noting that guys don’t agree on a woman’s number. There is a standard that the media pushes, and most guys understand how that works, but for actual physical interaction, my reaction to the standard often pushed by the media is “too skinny: that hip bone would be a dangerous weapon in bed.”

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                      • And we all know that there are people who are, at first glance, amazingly attractive and, through time, become horribly unattractive and, if we’re lucky, we’ve met people who, at first glance, were unattractive but, through getting to know them, you see that they have an inner something or other that makes them shine.

                        And if, after you get to know these people, the person who is a 4 tries something that would be charming if the 8 did it, it’d be creepy.

                        Even if, at first glance, you’d mistakenly categorize them due to surface stuff.

                        Note: this is not saying that the guy who says “I’m physically a 4 but internally a 10!” is, in fact, 10 inside. He might even be even more ugly inside than his 4 would indicate. He might deserve to be called a dudebro neckbeard animenazi. These people exist too.

                        But their existence does not disprove the existence of others.

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                • “I’m not suggesting we “do” anything.”

                  I think what you’re suggesting we “do” is recognize the same thing that people who talk about “white male privilege” and “playing life on Easy Mode” want us to recognize about not-white not-men.

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        • Despite all my dating difficulties, I don’t think creepiness and attractiveness have much to do with looks. A person could be an almost stunner and still come across creepy because the target does not like how he or she is behaving. Crude sexual jokes are crude sexual jokes regardless of who makes it. We also have some anecdotal evidence in the news that women do consider unethical; actions by high status men to be bad based on how many more are getting in legal trouble these days.

          A lot of creepiness depends on personal preferences. People tend to remember me in a good way and can meet me briefly and remember me if they seem me latter. I consider this very touching but had other people told me that they would be creeped out if somebody they met briefly told them that they remember them months latter.

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          • Oh, it’s certainly possible for a physical 10 to be horribly creepy. It’s also possible for a physical 1 to be suave and charming.

            And, of course, one person’s solid 7 is another person’s “how in the heck did you ever land a 9.5?!?”

            I’m specifically talking about the dynamic where a thing that a 4 attempts is creepy but an 8’s attempt is not creepy. If you’re thinking about an example that is *NOT* this as a counterfactual to this existing, know that my immediate response will be something to the effect of “but I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about something else”.

            Oh, what would be an example… Oooh! Counting shoulders!

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            • I have never personally experienced a situation where a four attempted to do the same thing as an eight but the four got called out as creepy and the eight got away with it or was even praised by it. And I hang out in the partner dance community where we have the entire range of the look scale and an interesting combination of really suave, really nerdy, and average people when it comes to social skills.

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          • Creepier is a whole list of things, mostly behaviors and things said, that add up. It’s not “one thing”.

            And yeah, physical looks can be one of those factors. That varies with the person, though, but yeah — say the person you’re talking to finds you on the low end of his/her personal scale of attractiveness. That might mean you start off closer to ‘creep’ than someone on the top end. But that’s not sufficient.

            You and Hottie McHotPants can then proceed to both do and say identical things and progress straight towards creepdom. You might get there 60 seconds before he does. But it’s not looks, it’s a summation of a huge number of actors, 99% of which are “Things you did and said”.

            That’s independent of other variables (like you’re more likely to get labeled ‘creep’ if that person has already dealt with creepy people and has a low tolerance, etc).

            Your looks are…a pittance. I mean if you’re an actual Nosferatu, maybe not.

            But I’ve found people like to SAY “it’s how I look” because that makes the other person seem shallow. It’s…justification. “It’s nothing I did or said, it’s HER. She’s shallow and bitchy and stupid and unfair and a bad person. I don’t have to change anything, I did nothing wrong”.

            That’s a great story to tell yourself, bro. But odds are, it ain’t true. “What women find attractive in men” is so freaking varied that it’s probably, on average, not even a minor handicap.

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            • Um, this is basically what I wrote but a bit more elegantly stated. I was disagreeing with Jay. Creepiness depends on a wide variety of factors including personal taste. There were certainly things I found touching that were called creepy when I related these stories to other people. Looks might play a factor but I think they might be a minor factor.

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              • I was concurring with you and thinking through it.

                However, if people want a definition of creepy — they’d be better off focusing on “unwanted and persistent attention” and less on “washboard abs or equivalent”.

                I think the problem is a lot of people want to rules lawyer it, you know? Like they want to keep doing what they’re doing, but stay JUST short of the line. That’s…not going to really work. It’s not tennis. There’s no bright line and a judge to let you know whether it was inside or outside.

                Every person is different, going to judge someone as “creepy or not” on different criteria with different thresholds.

                But really, if I was gonna be forced to try to lump as many creepy people under a single creepy act, it’d be “unwanted and persistent attention”. And unfortunately, that’s the one act they don’t want to drop because it’s a weird delusion that if they just keep trying, surely minds will be changed.

                And if they aren’t, it’s because the other person was a b*tch anyways.

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                • “Unwanted and persistent attention” reads more as annoying than creepy to me like really attentive wait staff at restaurants. Very annoying but not creepy. I think that creepy behavior needs to have an element of menace in it. “Unwanted and menacing attention” works better as a definition than “unwanted and persistent.”

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                  • You might have put your finger on at least part of the problem What used to be called annoying has verbally migrated to creepy. And with this verbage creep, so to speak, the context of what others do and how it is considered has migrated from annoying to dangerous. Though the actions are the same. Perspective may have changed on the actions, which is cool, but those who are behind curve will not realize that.

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                    • Annoying can be menacing in romantic context though. When I’m at restaurant I know the staff is just doing their job when they pay me constant attention. If I were a woman at the bar and a man kept pestering me while i just wanted to drink than it might be creepy even if he never did anything that was definitionally menacing. Actual menace would make things worse though.

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                    • I wonder to what extent our cultural norms are regressing to the mean on this stuff; as push-back against a more recent cultural norm (from the 60s & 70s?, well probably the 70s…) where cold-calling chicks for sex was regarded as cool, and open-minded and all that. Which isn’t to say that dudes haven’t hit on women in a creepy way going all the way back, but that the traditional cultural norms governing socialsexual behavior were shattered not too long ago.

                      As you say, perspective has a lot to do with this (as does context, the prevalence of certain isms, and so on). Seems like today’s creepy is yesterday’s sexual liberation cool, which is the day before’s outright Cultural Rule Violation: “you can’t just walk up and talk to her!, you need a mutual friend to introduce you!”.

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                      • Cat-calling and other forms of sexual harassment existed before the Sexual Revolution. Chivalry did not rule the day and all men did not treat all men with courtesy or even close to it.

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                      • My point exactly. And I would say that the changing perspective may be the realization that the so called sexual revolution was indeed sexist in how it played out. Not that rumpy-pumpy is bad or sexist, but that what is and was creepy is not liberation per se, but rather women taking control of their sexuality is. And part of that liberation is currently manifesting itself as calling creepy, well… creepy.

                        And that is a good thing.

                        But, to s point, a woman I worked with once said “It isn’t sexual harassment if you are attracted to them.” (And, no she wasn’t talking about me.)

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                  • “Unwanted and persistent attention” reads more as annoying than creepy to me like really attentive wait staff at restaurants.

                    Your analogy glosses right over “unwanted”.

                    It’s more akin to standing on a sidewalk, and having a guy dressed as a waiter keep trying to give you food. Food you don’t want. Food you didn’t ask for. Food you’ve said you don’t want. Food you don’t like. And he won’t go away.

                    I suspect you’d find it creepy if you’re eating a sandwich in the park, and a guy in an apron kept trying to give you a menu and pour you water, even after you’d told him to please freaking stop and he won’t freaking GO AWAY.

                    Even if you’re in a bar, it’s akin to shopping in the clothing department and the guy from auto sale’s keeps trying to sell you a muffler, even after you explain you’re there for t-shirts and also not in his department.

                    “Unwanted”.

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        • There’s another phenomenon that exists that is tough to quantify (but, seriously, exists).

          It’s the X+N in the basement but, get out in a social setting, and the guy/gal magically transforms into an X.

          I knew a guy who, in the basement, was a great guy, not too bad looking, he didn’t have one of the two default nerdbods (1. “it’s not my fault, I have a glandular problem” fat or 2. “it’s not my fault, I have a glandular problem” skinny), and his personality was stellar. He was smart, personable, a good judge of group dynamics and good shepherd of them, had a sly sense of humor, and was an all-around good friend.

          And put him in a social setting and whammo. Are you near a mirror? Look in the mirror. That’s your normal face. Now crinkle your nose and knit your eyebrows. See what that does to your upper lip? Yeah, that. He turned from a guy who had a normal face into a guy who looked like he was smelling something. On top of that, he can’t string three words together. His ear starts itching and now he’s digging in his ear. Get your finger out of your ear!

          Get back in the basement and he’s the best DM ever. Good stories, he does voices, and draws you in and then slaps his hand on the table for a cat scare and you jump a little bit and you realize that he had you in the palm of his hand.

          Go out? He’s the reason somebody created the advice of “just be yourself”.

          It’s frustrating to see that.

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    • [L2] — Okay, now that I have my rants out of my system, let me talk about the article itself. I don’t think it is very good. In fact, I can’t see how it will help much. It’s all pretty blah.

      The thing is, you can’t make simple rules for this stuff. People want rules. They want a nice set of principles they can follow and not fuck up. But it doesn’t work that way.

      First off, some women no doubt get hookups on Twitter, and are glad to do so. So this woman has no standing to tell those women how they should relate to men.

      So men have to guess which sort of woman they are dealing with.

      Welcome to the big leagues.

      Honestly tho, Tinder exists. OkCupid exists. Like, those are spaces designed for hookups/dating/relationships/etc. If you’re looking to hookup, why the fuck are you using Twitter anyhow?

      On the other hand, most of my recent dating experience has happened via Facebook.

      Which I guess is different from Twitter, cuz FB “friending” is two-way. Likewise, this is trans-dyke-space, so the gender dynamics are just different.

      And they are just different. Sorry, but they are. We gals have our own little subculture. It’s really nice. Men are not invited.

      Still, I don’t like these rules. They are too simplistic.

      I mean, perving on someone’s Tweet history and liking everything is a totes beta move. Don’t do that. It’s just — actually kinda creepsville. Ewwwww.

      Geezus fuck, guys. Do two things:

      1. Lift weights

      2. Go read Mark Manson’s book: https://www.amazon.com/Models-Attract-Women-Through-Honesty-ebook/dp/B005EOTH24#nav-subnav

      Then be cool and flirt on Twitter with grace, dignity, humor, and class. Don’t be a fucking creep.

      You don’t actually have to lift weights. But really it helps. Heck, I lift weights.

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      • Let me add, it’s not that I disagree with all of her points. The thing is, I break them sometimes myself. But, I dunno. I’ve never been called out as creepy. So how do I do that?

        Well, maybe will say I’m just super attractive?

        Heh. I wish!

        Anyway, this is me these days (save one of those pics is a few years old; it will be obvious). I’m actually pretty happy with how I look, for a middle-aged tranny. (You can see me losing weight, I think, as you go back in time to older shots.)

        But still, it ain’t like I’m miss super hottie-hot-mc-hotpants. When it comes to interacting with other women, I’m careful. I don’t push.

        Trans women do have a culture where we compliment each other, woman to woman. So yeah, I can tell a friend she looks really nice. It’s tricky, tho. I’ll even say stuff like “OMG HAWT!” But I would not say “Nice ass.” There are boundaries. One has to think through how this will be received. One must judge how must trust there is between this woman and myself.

        For example, my kinda-ex-kinda-poly-partner-sorta-not-quite-g/f is really young and HAWT-AS-FUCK, so she gets creeped on pretty bad sometimes, from other women. A few times she’d called someone out, saying, “Hey, that was too much.” On the other hand, I say all kinds of stuff to her, very specific. :)

        So it goes. There are a few women where a “nice ass” would make sense. I cannot explain how I decide which is which. But I’m careful. So far I haven’t fucked up bad. At the same time, I’ve gotten dates. So…

        You can flirt, I guess. If you do it well, then some women won’t mind. Some will. Some will have social power and come back at you. It’s a minefield. But it’s a shitty minefield and it ain’t our fault. We’re not to blame for your boners. We’re not to blame for your complete lack of social calibration. We get to talk frankly about ourselves, as sexual beings, without every swinging dick in the room making his cheap-ass play at us. At least, when you make your cheap-ass play, don’t be surprised if we cut you down hard.

        Dick is cheap and easily available. That’s your fault, men.

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        • Well, maybe Jaybird will say I’m just super attractive?

          Yeah, and by pointing out that I’m a cis-het white male, you’re saying that I must have been raised by millionaires.

          That’s not how privilege works.

          You used to know this.

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          • — I was being a bit snide, which okay. But look, I’m pretty average looking. I’m probably above average when you consider my age and transgender status, but those are pretty big hurdles. (Keep in mind, age hits women harder than men.) But honestly, will anyone here rate me higher than a “4,” versus “women in general”?

            But I get action. In fact, I have people who think I’m profoundly hot (which kinda baffles me, but I’ll take it). Anyway, my point is, I bet out of any 100 random people-who-like-women, more than half would find me literally repulsive, and maybe 40% would find me meh, so that leaves me with at best 10% to work with.

            And so I play the game in that space. We all do. No one is universally attractive, except maybe Scarlett Johansson or whatever. But even then.

            I manage to 1) get action and 2) not be a creep.

            I’ll grant it’s a little different for sapphic gals like me, but not 100% different. Women can still creep out other women. (Oh believe me on that.) So how do I do it? Simple, I’m not creepy. I get to know people. I play in social spaces, and make sure a person at least kinda likes me before I try subtle flirting. If that flirting is not returned, I stop doing it. And I take my time and accept my limits and, slowly, find people who genuinely like me.

            They are not common, but they exist.

            Men can do this very same thing. In fact, tons of men do. I know weirdo nerd dudes who have cool girlfriends. I know weirdo nerd dudes who have multiple poly partners. It happens. How do they do it? So far as I can see, exactly the same way I do.

            The point is, I ain’t buying what you are selling. If you’re coming across as creepy, it ain’t cuz you’re a “4”. I’m surely no better than a 4.

            Now if you’re a “1” (or whatever, as if that system really makes sense) — but yeah if you’re just way-outside of beauty standards, then fine. That sucks. If you are saying “Guys who are 400 pounds flabby and covered in acne can’t do what the captain of the football team can do,” then yeah sure. Fine. But that’s different from 4-versus-8.

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            • If you’re coming across as creepy, it ain’t cuz you’re a “4”. I’m surely no better than a 4.

              This is not my argument.

              I appreciate that you seem to think that it is, though.

              Perhaps you’d like to insinuate that I do not have a relationship with someone who is pretty cool and that’s probably why I’m arguing the position that you’re arguing against? Might work!

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  8. T3: Got a cite on the US illegality? Active jammers that transmit a signal, absolutely. But a Faraday cage is entirely passive (and for most potential applications, prohibitively expensive). Dead spaces exist naturally, and can be created accidentally by combinations of things like steel studs in walls, metallic duct work, and sheet-steel office furnishings. I no longer pay close attention to the things the FCC does in the RF sphere, but it seems unlikely (at least to me) that they have issued rules that require construction to be transparent to radio.

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    • If you make the Cone of Silence illegal, then you let KAOS win.

      Though it can be argued that banning the Cone of Silence is needed for CONTROL to win the War on Terror.

      More seriously, you can’t ban talking inside a chicken coop, which is a decent enough Faraday Cage

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    • I can’t find anything on the FCC website saying that it’s illegal to incorporate RF-shielding features into a structure with the specific intent of preventing radio communications from inside to outside.

      And they are quite explicit that jamming devices (which actively emit a signal intended to prevent communication) are illegal.

      So, cage away, I suppose.

      PS searching for “RF blocking faraday cage” on the FCC website returns a surprising amount of testimony from people who are utterly certain that their various maladies were caused by all those damn radio waves.

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    • Walk-in fridges in restaurants are legal, as are shipping container houses and galvanized-steel sheeted quonset huts.

      My old office had a disused server-room air conditioner (the size of about two domestic fridges) directly through the wall behind my desk. The nearest tower of my cellphone provider at the time was apparently directly across the AC unit from my seat – If I got a call while sitting at my desk, it never came through. When I next got up from my desk, even just to walk to my colleague’s desk a few meters away, I’d get the notification I had a voicemail message.

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  9. [L6] I’d be interested to see Peterson’s thoughts on Diane Duane’s Star Trek books about the Romulans, where the invention of a new language is a subplot.

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  10. Manafort has resigned. This doesn’t strike me as surprising considering his functional demotions over the last couple of days. As a Dem this is pleasing news to me since this seems like a reversion of Trump to his primary style of campaigning which, I persist in believing, won’t fly for the general. Also ousting the establishment man strikes me as fanning the fires of those within GOP Inc. who’re calling to cut Trump loose.

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    • How Esablishment was Manafort really? He’s a DC insider, for sure, but his portfolio doesn’t really make him establishment, I think. He’s in the same niche as Abramoff, tangential to the establishment/populist axis.

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    • This roughly coincides with a more reined-in speech by Trump, staying on message, without any outrageous quips or rhetorical bombs and (I’m told) free from shady double meanings and code words. In other words, as close to the sort of speech a Republican nominee ought to be giving in the general election as Trump is probably capable of giving, and that seems to have the fingerprints of the much-more-mainstream Kellyanne Conway all over it.

      Clearly, the man is ready for the nuclear codes now.

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        • Byron York has been swooning a long time, though. Most of his criticisms have been “He’s making it hard to swoon here.”

          He made the Buckley List early and among #NeverTrump folks is actually a shorthand for sellout commentator.

          Ben Shapiro might be a better example. He was a hard critic, but has softened and had nice things to say in the last couple of days.

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  11. T1

    I’m quite sure we do not know yet how the brain stores and processes information. But my basic understanding of computer information storage and processing, I feel brains and computers do it quite different. Neurons are simultaneously bits of information, transistors operating an algorithm and connecting wire, and that doesn’t feel right to me.

    Tl/dr I don’t think you can replicate a brain in a computer, unless they change the way computers are structured.

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  12. [F1] I think we’ve discussed this article before, or at least I remember reading it before.

    Foster is one of those jobber authors who is good at what he does, and has had a lot of work published, but unfortunately never really broke big. Same with, e.g., Walter Jon Williams–a good writer who was present at the start of a big cultural phenomenon (read “Hardwired” and you’ll see most of what we’d know today as “cyberpunk”, rather more in fact than in Gibson’s work) but that didn’t turn into much of anything.

    I will say that I really liked his writing of “The Last Starfighter” and “Alien”. And I’d almost want a “Special Edition” of the “Aliens” novel, with the cuss words put back in :D

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    • He (Foster) has got quite the catalog of original work.

      He’s got a few interesting tics that show up in his own work (especially the stuff he’s done in the last 20 years) that don’t in his novelizations, mostly involving vocabulary choices and his particular style.

      It’s a bit baroque at times.

      He does throw up a few interesting ideas. For instance, he’s got one near-future novel set in the midwest that involves aliens, Navajo sand art, and a large array of cyberpunk themes. Wrapped in, I think, a stock police detective novel.

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      • It was pretty funny that I ended up reading that and “Snow Crash” at about the same time, because when people say that Snow Crash is a cyberpunk satire, “Hardwired” is the sort of work that they have in mind.

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      • No it hasn’t, if only for the CGI. It was obviously artificial back when it was made. I expect it’s even more glaringly bad now. Hell, what I remember of it was worse than the original witcher game.

        Do you remember Flash Gordon?

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        • I don’t mind special effects being particularly dated if the story is strong and the characters are pretty good. (I can still watch Babylon 5, for example, and be charmed. I can go back to The Original Series and not mind the papier mâché boulders.)

          If we’re going to start talking shit about Flash Gordon, this conversation is over.

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        • Flash Gordon is awesome in so many, many, MANY WAYS that I shan’t hear a bad word about it.

          If you need me, I’ll be singing the theme song to myself quietly.

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          • The unfortunate thing is, Armada could have been so much better. Cline couldn’t seem to figure out whether he was just doing a straight “this is like being in a video game for real, isn’t that cool” or some cynical Philip Dick-style thing.

            To be honest I’d have really like to see the latter–like, the main character has to reconcile “this is exactly the scenario from a low-rent knockoff sci-fi game” with “but these aliens actually *are* killing people and blowing things up”, and it ends with a Watchmen-style “it was fake, but maybe fake is what we need–or is it?

            Also the guy didn’t do his research, because there’s one part where he lists all the space-warfare games that might have been part of training simulators, but he doesn’t talk about Akka Arrh which would have been a perfect fit for the story he was trying to tell.

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      • I think, if you can look past the really crude CGI, that The Last Straighter holds up quite well. It’s fast paced, the characters are appealing, and “What do we do now?!”/”We die!” is as great as it ever was.

        Krull, on the other hand, turned out to be almost unbearably dull when I tried watching it again as an adult.

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  13. C1 and H5 – Love both articles on Greece. In True life, one of my in-law relations is named Alcibiades, actually Fr. Alcibiades (it’s pronounced Al-ki-vi-athez – with the accent on the “vi-a” – v’s, b’s and d’s having a complicated relationship to English from the Greek). To date, no relatives named Themistocles…

    My one question on H5 is the seeming agnosticism on the Delian league?

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  14. From L6:

    He’s also familiar with fictional languages — both famous ones like Klingon and deep cuts like Pakuni (the caveman language from Land Of The Lost).

    I have noticed this in similar pieces. Invented languages are a thing in recent years, and specifically invented languages for fictional worlds (as contrasted with the fictional world where people speak Esperanto). One would think that Tolkien would be the patron saint of this, and every discussion of the topic was harken to Elivish (or, if you want to show off your geek chops, Quenya). More often then not, however, Elvish seems to have fallen down the memory hole and Klingon is the referent for the classic example of an invented language. This is very weird.

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  15. H4: Color me skeptical. The claim is premised on a but-for: But for the Germans’ lack of heavy water, they would have developed the bomb in time for it to be meaningful. This is not at all clear, and the works I have read on the subject suggest otherwise. This isn’t to say that sabotaging the heavy water production wasn’t a good idea. An excess of caution is a virtue for this sort of thing. But the article has the air of “This amazing event you have never heard of that changed the course of the war!” hype to it.

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    • I am not familiar with a lot of the details, but I’m skeptical of this claim:

      More than any other reason, this [heavy water] was the impetus for the 1940 Nazi invasion of Norway

      The invasion plans were an initiative of the German Navy, which wanted better positioning for naval operations than they had in WWI. I think the simplest explanation for a lot of decisions in WWII were that the actors were doing what worked the first time, or doing something different than what didn’t work the first time.

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      • That and German industry would have been screwed if the allies held Narvik and cut off the Swedish iron ore shipments. Which is why the French and British were about to invade neutral Norway themselves when the Germans beat them to the punch.

        Nobody was thinking of heavy water as being that strategically vital in 1940. If it was, they would have built their own plant to make the stuff.

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    • The proportion of American industrial capacity that went into the Manhattan project was absurdly huge. No other state at the time could have possibly have managed it while fighting a war. This was the reason the Brits (who were closer to the bomb than the Germans were) handed off their project to the Americans, they knew they couldn’t afford to build a viable weapon.

      Long story short, a Nazi nuke wasn’t in the cards unless they won the war elsewhere first.

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      • Agreed that the UK could not have afforded to develop the Bomb by 1945. Even without the knowledge gained from UK/Canadian participation in the Manhattan Project, I suspect the UK going it alone (Tube Alloys on steroids) would have gotten the Bomb by the early Fifties: part of the reason the Manhattan project was so expensive was trying everything in parallel.

        Manhattan project budget was $2B, mostly for construction and operation of the fissile material production facilities. B-29 project budget was $3B including development, production, and deployment (I can’t find a specific development cost alone).

        An Avro Lancaster could have carried both Little Boy and Fat Man (similar to the B1 special Lancasters that carried the much heavier although smaller diameter Grand Slam), although probably only at about 18000 feet (extrapolating from the Tallboy raids) rather than 30000 feet for a Silverplate B-29 (i.e. at Nagasaki). Combat radius for a Lancaster in that configuration was at least 600 miles, which is just enough to reach Tokyo from Iwo Jima.

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  16. [L1] We clarify misunderstandings every 90 seconds.

    Ninety seconds is, not coincidentally, roughly the frequency with which new comments are posted during peak usage hours at Ordinary Times.

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  17. T4 – Pretty cool. The trick will be finding a way to efficiently and quickly heat it, reshape it, and cool it such that it can change shape quickly.

    I suspect combining this with ceramic heating elements and electroactive polymers will open up some interesting design possibilities.

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  18. [m1] OMG what the fuck!!!! Good holy shit turtles!

    Okay, I challenge anyone here to defend this article as anything but the most sexist self-indulgent garbage in the history of sexist self-indulgent garbage.

    It’s hard to be a dude in a country song, cuz: 1) they stomp on the dignity of women, 2) they get all the airplay and women do not, and 3) they act like total bro-tastic shits, which is of course how they have chosen to act.

    Sure sounds rough for the guys.

    Dear men, if you want to be better people, just choose to be better people.

    There, I solved all your fucking problems. You’re welcome.

    Blah. But seriously, am I wrong here?

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    • …what? The article concludes with “[B]ro country sees the shifting norms around masculinity, and is actively pushing back against it. In this reactionary view of the world, women are girls—drunk, hot, ogleable girls—and men are real men, who work hard, drink harder, ogle women, and get laid. None of this nuanced masculinity, thanks, where men can contain multitudes.”

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    • The article is not one of profound insight, but I think the center of it is the contrast between bro’ country masculinity:

      work hard in a “real” job, blow off steam drinking and ogling women with your boys, then demonstrate your heterosexuality by picking one of them up.

      and masculinity in early country music:

      Throughout the history of the genre, there have been multiple ways of being a man; you could be a highwayman, or a domestic abuser, to be sure, but you can also be a heartbroken crying cowboy or a loving father. The only emotion bro country truly permits men to express is lust

      The point being that the modern ideal is more constraining. My take on this is more straightforward: modern country music mostly sucks.

      I listened to a lot of country in the ’80s and ’90s, and to some extent have dipped into earlier stuff (Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, the Carter Family, etc.) So I’m not anti-country music by any means. There has always been lots of really crappy country music. It’s not as if it was ever immune to Sturgeon’s Law. I particularly remember from a favorite on my local station “I thought happiness was Lubbock Texas in my rear-view mirror.” Ptui! But there was also good stuff: So far as I can tell, nowadays the crap has nearly entirely driven out the good stuff. And by “crap” I don’t mean in a “rap sucks, put on some Zeppelin and get off my lawn!” way but in a “this sounds just like the crap from back in the day” way. What drove this home to me was when I read about the Maddie & Tae “Girl in a Country Song” video a year or so ago I pulled it up. Yes, the conceit was well taken and amusing, but the song itself successfully reproduced the musical esthetic of bro’ country, which is to say it sucked.

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    • Weird. Plenty of schools track children exactly for that reason.

      I mean outliers exist even then — while talking Cal I and Cal II in a single high school year, or even dual credit HS/college classes are common now, back when I was attending the same school HS Calculus covered all of Cal I and about 70^% of Cal II. We had one guy who did all of Cal I (and the rest of Cal II) in his junior year. They actually arranged for him to take college classes his senior year (Cal III and Diffy Q, I think).

      More affluent school districts can afford that. Many can’t.

      By and large though, you’re kind of stuck dealing with the fact that kids are a bell curve. Tracking just lets you sort them into two or three bins based around a different median, but there’s always going to be tails. Short of individualized instruction, which is…problematic and expensive…you’re always going to have bored kids and confused kids, and teachers are gonna have to focus on the latter out of sheer practicality.

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      • My take from the article is that schools shouldn’t be so rigid with regard to what grade a student has to be in in order to take a given class, and should have a way to asses and track students who have mastered material sufficient to bump them.

        But, as you say:

        More affluent school districts can afford that. Many can’t.

        Plays more of a role than I feel the article wants to admit.

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        • Honestly, a lot of the age related restrictions is more for social reasons than anything else. Yes, there are 13 year old kids who could consistently do the schoolwork of 18 year seniors without a problem. The question is, could a 13 year old do well socially among a bunch of 18 year old kids all day, especially if say that 13 year old girl is an quick developing or otherwise conventionally attractive young woman to give one example.

          Having limits for people already in the same school, such as a freshman taking classes marked only for seniors.

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          • Sure, but the 8th grader ready for senior level work is the far right of the curve. Then you are talking gifted and probably should be in a special program.

            Now a sophomore taking a senior level class, on the other hand…

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            • Just something to think about, my wife skipped a grade in grammer school. When she graduated HS, she was a very bright, very burned out, very young 17yo. It might have seemed right at the time, but if you asked her now…

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                • I, by contrast, feel like I was somewhat cheated when my parents chose not to skip me a grade in elementary school.

                  They did it because I wasn’t very mature socially even if I was academically advanced. But my feeling is that being that much more academically advanced than the rest of my age group isolated me in ways that further stunted the social maturity that keeping me in a lower grade was meant to foster.

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              • I skipped first grade (was moved to second in November because the teacher thought I was bored in first) and was thus the second youngest in my High School graduation, but it wasn’t anything special.

                Though I hated my high school, and never walked into it or looked for my H.S. costudents, so it might be that I was actually stressed.

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              • I would be very careful about skipping a whole grade. But bumping ahead in certain subjects where a student has shown mastery isn’t skipping a grade.

                A student can be advanced in Math (or any other academic subject), but on par in all other subjects. Such a student shouldn’t be advanced a whole grade, but should be allowed to advance in mathematics as far as possible, and if the age gap becomes concerning, perhaps private tutoring is an option (although how to fund that…).

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      • More affluent school districts can afford that. Many can’t.

        If the stories some of the people of my grandparents’ generation told me are accurate, single-room schoolhouses — about as poor as you can get — managed it quite well. Not that that model translates particularly well into a more contemporary setting.

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        • If the stories some of the people of my grandparents’ generation told me are accurate

          They probably weren’t.

          People have weird, hazy memories of their own schooling. That’s not even getting into the way nostalgia changes things. (Or the way curriculum has changed).

          Like take the common core math approach. 40 year olds are screaming about, flustered and claiming THEIR math education was superior — not that they can remember being 8 and learning math.

          I know one guy personally who was screaming about some ‘stupid method of teaching multiplication’ that was, in fact, the very method every adult uses to quickly multiply two numbers together. 17* 13? That’s 10 * 13, which is 130 plus 7 * 13….7*10 is 70. 3*7 is 21…130+70+21 = 221.

          They also learned how to do multiplication problems by hand, but stressed the far more useful mental algorithm — not just for practicality’s sake (calculators exist), but because learning to approach a math problem that way — especially early on — is an incredibly solid foundation for later problem solving.

          It may not look it, but that’s the same way of thinking you need to do algebra or calculus. Picking apart the problem into easier, component pieces.

          Anyways, you had a guy here who barely passed high school math screaming about how he got a superior education because he thinks he spent all of elementary memorizing multiplication tables.

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  19. Pingback: On Not Being That Guy | Hit Coffee

  20. “In high school I did a book report on the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey novelization. Hadn’t seen the movie.”

    #TrumwillFacts.

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  21. F4: Hard to believe that NYPD went on for 12 seasons. I watched regularly for 1 and 2, and sporadically after that, I vaguely recall Bobby Simon dying, which was, what, 6? Anyway, I’d never even heard of a lot of the characters in that list.

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