Linky Friday #195: Pillars of Sand

Family:

[F1] Jane the Actuary talks about contraception, and how some of the jokey forms of birth control may actually be more effective than the Pill. {More}

[F2] An important article involving the the existence of Santa Claus.

[F3] This sounds truly horrible, though there may be some context for general advertising censorship that we don’t have over here that makes it somewhat less horrible?

[F4] Family stability is improving for children born to married couples, but fewer couples are getting married. There may be reasons to cohabit, such as financial concerns, but Scott Stanley and Galena Rhoades argue testing a relationship is not a good one. On the other hand, it does make women feel as good as if they’d gotten married. (Sort of.)

Cities:

fantasy city photo

Image by ??? TORLEY ???

[C1] Too many, and in such small portions.

[C2] Matthew Schmitz looks at cities and tribes.

[C3] Richard Florida laments the rents. But we’ve gotten some good news on that lately, potentially due to increased supply!

[C4] Matthew La Corte explains how refugees are helping struggling cities.

[C5] Utopian dreams of free private cities.

[C6] In 1956, Jane Jacobs discussed cities and development in a piece that still resonates. Lev Bratishenko, though, says we need less Jane Jacobs.

Healthcare:

cuban hospital photo

Image by Anthony Knuppel

[H1] Incompatible kidney donation is saving lives!

[H2] Well, this isn’t good.

[H3] There are various aspects of my wife’s job that can get her very worked up. This is one of them. She proverbially (and sometimes literally) weeps for patients that are kept past their time.

[H4] New Zealand is compensating organ donors! Just to recoup losses, though.

[H5] Ecstasy may be a solution for PTSD!

Media:

Image by leighblackall

Image by leighblackall

[M1] Chris Beck believes that “post-truth” and “xenophobia” – the named words of 2016, are over-relied upon. Maybe? I actually think xenophobia is under-used, because people keep saying “racist” when they mean “xenophobic.” (Relatedly, Mirriam-Webster needs a hug.)

[M2] Buzzfeed is suddenly worried about unions.

[M3] Speaking of Buzzfeed, they’re taking a lot of grief for this piece. To me, the bigger criticism is less about the LGBTQ battles (politicization of everything or whatnot) but the process by which the writer went from “I hate the people on that show” to actually writing a substanceless smearish piece over the course of a few days

[M4] After Rob Ford, a Canadian journalist has some advice on how to approach Trump.

[M5] Let Trump be Trump, at least on this issue. If he doesn’t want a pet, we shouldn’t foist some poor animal on him.

Religion:

simpsons photo

Image by limpfish

[R1] Alana Newhouse says that America’s Jews need to be Jewish again.

[R2] It’s like freemasons. Except in Germany. Involving Jews. This is not the beginning of a good story…

[R3] Christ is King! Of Poland.

[R4] An interesting discovery in Ireland.

[R5] We’ve discussed religion, TV, and The Simpsons before. Adam Gurri has a good post on the subject.

Sports:

cuban hospital photo

Image by dbking

[S1] Randall Cunningham was pretty awesome! He’s the only quarterback I ever won a Superbowl with in Tecmo Superbowl, and that was only because I never used him. Though, I guess that wasn’t Randall Cunningham, as he went by “QB Eagles” on the game.

[S2] I don’t know what’s worse, the state of college football depicted here, or that Bret Bielema comes out of the story looking pretty good.

[S3] Well, I’m glad that they’re no longer relying on the all-star game to determine home World Series field advantage, though I think they ought to give it to the league from the team that won the most interleague games.

[S4] When baseball left him behind, wrestling embraced Babe Ruth.

[S5] A good story on Superman’s Jewish Strongman roots.

[S6] San Diego is the 8th largest city in the country. The area is the 17th largest metro. Now, they are down to one professional franchise in the top five sports as the Chargersh have decided to leave.


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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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331 thoughts on “Linky Friday #195: Pillars of Sand

      • Yeah, both my parents are doctors*. No, they were actually very supportive of it seeing as it was something I was greatly interested in.

        *In fact, so are my sister, her fiance and my brother’s wife. My brother is a geneticist at the forensics lab. My wife and I are basically the only ones who are not in the life-sciences biz (though I did do my undergrad in it).

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        • Ah. An Indian-American friend of mine said his parents were disappointed that his brother became a software developer, because that’s pretty much the default expectation for American-raised Indians. Is it not like that in Singapore?

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          • No. There isn’t really a default expectation among the indian community at large. The Brahmin community is different. It is a lot like the Ashkenazi Jewish community in the US. There is a default expectation that you should be either some kind of professional* or academic. Starting your own business is unorthodox, but is acceptable so long as you’re successful or an extension of previous professional work (thus likely to be successful). Blue collar work is out of the question.

            *Includes doctors, lawyers and engineers as well as accountants, programmers, teachers, insurance agents, financial consultants etc.

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  1. R1: Tablet’s political sympathies are all over the map and they seem dedicated to making Jewish right-wingers more than a minority while also not alienating the majority of liberal Jews. I am not sure what the purpose of this article was. I do think that lots of Jews in my generation are more comfortable with making their Judaism all about kitschy jokes though. Why be about Seth Rogan and Amy Schummer when you can be about Spinoza, Arendt, Rothko, LeWit?

    R2: Sounds more like the “sovereign citizens” idiocy.

    C2: I wasn’t impressed here. People look way too much into ice breaker questions and concern trolling young liberals to be more traditional. Ross Douthat just came out with another concern troll essay about why the Democrats should move to the right cause he wants farm to table restaurants but not having to be cool with LBGT people.

    C5: More unbridgeable chasms between the liberals and libertarians. I don’t get the libertarian desire for private over public goods for all things. There was an article in New York on the rise of mega housing in cities for the uber rich. This is usually done by buying adjacent housing or whole floors of apartments. I don’t have too many strong opinions except when it takes apartments off the market and this hurts local business because of decreased foot traffic. Former OTer disagreed with these concerns and said we should not be concerned with whether something is necessary like lots of big houses. I am not sure I agree. One of the things that I don’t like about libertarianism is that it seems to conflate what does happen with what should happen and to think otherwise is wrong when it comes to economics and business. This seems like giving yourself an easy pass.

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    • C2: While I agree in a very general way that Douthat’s article was of the concern troll “move right young Democrats” flavor; your criticism of Douthat would be more persuasive if it actually addressed his points.

      C5: You managed to skip completely over C3 where it talks about how, shocking, astonishing, building more housing supply, even for the wealthy, is causing rents to decline in high demand markets.
      All else being equal the wealthy are a lot like the non-wealthy; if you build housing to their tastes and price points they’ll buy it. If you don’t, however, they’ll buy multiple lower price point homes and combine them to get the kind of housing in the location they want exactly like what you’re talking about. I deal with these kinds of deals at my work all the time. You can map the apartment and condo combination deals in almost perfect correlation with the building restrictions in the country.

      Am I misreading you or are you doing a sidewise sidle up to the idea that housing should be rationed in high demand areas?

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      • North, Saul isn’t criticizing building new housing for the rich. Its taking existing housing for multiple families and combining them into bigger housing for one wealthy family or person. Like if you have two or three town houses turned into one house and it holds only a few people.

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        • Yes, I am cognizant of that. My point is this: Wealthy people will find a way to live in an area they want to live in. The only way to keep them from doing so is to make the area so undesirable that they don’t want to live there.
          All else being equal wealthy people would rather buy/build new housing tailored to their preferences but if that is not available they can and will do what Saul is griping about: buying and combining multiple lower end properties into something to suit their desires. Where do I see this happen a lot? High end markets with strong legal or physical barriers to new construction. New York and California especially.
          So, if you don’t want the wealthy cannibalizing lower end housing stock then let ’em build/buy new construction top end housing units. Any other policy strikes me as pointless windmill tilting.

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        • I read the article. The thing is that while there are a few quixiotic owners who want to cobble together these things you won’t get it happening in any great number except for in markets where building new stock is limited. Like New York, for instance.
          Cobbling these “franken homes” together is a pain in the ass. Buying the units can be dicey, then you have to sort things out with the HOA and then leap through hoops with the Dept of Buildings and even then you’re stuck with the space you’ve acquired which may not be the space you want. 99% of your rich buyers would much rather just buy a really spacious new construction unit in the market they desire. These franken homes pop up when the new construction units are, or in the past were, blocked.

          I think the moral argument against franken homes is dicey at best but setting that aside as a the practical consideration the idea of trying to ban them is ludicrously bad policy.

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    • R1: I think that the article’s point is that American Jews need to overly identify as Jews more more and that they need to go back to the basics of Jewish civilization, Torah and Talmud.

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    • R1: Newhouse has a weird definition of anti-semitism where it is not about anti-jewish prejudice. It really is a bit nasty in how it includes some legitimate criticism of israel together with some dreadful hatemongering. Its hardly anti-semitic to note that the ADL does tend to over-react to criticism of israel and does exert considerable lobbying power which is arguably used for ill at least some times. The way she expands the definition to include conspiracy theories involving just likud party members seems just silly. So, suppose some Labour party (Zionist union) members think that the Likud party is conspiring to lead Israel into war, they are anti-semitic? Government leaders have conspired to lead the country into aggressive wars. That is what the Showa government did. I’m pretty certain that the Bush administration did so as well vis a vis the Iraq invasion, and almost as certain that the Obama administration stoked tensions by arming and training insurgents in the middle east leading up to the Arab Spring.
      http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2012/02/29/sheer-folly/

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      • That is where Tablet gets weird in my opinion. They are willing to publish articles and essays praising what would be highly not-Orthodox Judaism like how a liberal congregation is helping a transgender teen for his/her Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Or other LBGT interest stories but when it comes to foreign policy and Israel, they are very much all Likuid and all the time.

        They were very anti-Trump on the grounds that a candidate that is not good for America is not good for Israel. They were also disturbed by the enthusiasm neo-Nazis like Spencer had for Trump.

        But the essay disturbed me because she talks about “alt-right” and “progressive liberals” with an equivalence that is just not there. I consider myself a progressive liberal and a Zionist.

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        • They are willing to publish articles and essays praising what would be highly not-Orthodox Judaism like how a liberal congregation is helping a transgender teen for his/her Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Or other LBGT interest stories but when it comes to foreign policy and Israel, they are very much all Likuid and all the time.

          Isn’t this just the Jewish version of the big-business Republican who don’t care about the pelvic issues? This is what is often billed as being a “moderate.” There is no particular reason why the pelvic issues have to be packaged with the rest of the conservative agenda. There are historical reasons for it, but they are really pretty much unrelated.

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          • For a variety of reasons, Jewish-Americans have been overwhelmingly reliably Democratic voters for decades. They are the second most reliably Democratic bloc outside of African-Americans.

            The majority of American Jews are also part of the Reform Judaism branch. Reform Judaism started in the 1800s in Germany and the United States as a way of creating a Judaism that meshed with mainstream European and American society. The basic gist of Reform Judaism is that a kind of anti-biblical literalness and being able to interpret biblical laws as being old and outdated if one wants. For example, most Reform Jews do not follow the dietary laws and the laws about not using any electricity on Sabbath.

            Reform Jewish congregations were the first to ordain female rabbis and eventually embrace LBGT rights.

            About 20 percent of American Jews are steadfast Republicans. These Jews are driven crazy by the fact that Jews are generally liberal and our observances are more on the lax side. Many American Jews generally only attend services on the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and maybe a few other times a year even if they belong to a congregation for Hebrew School. Passover and Hannukah and Purim are also celebrated. Simchas Torah, not so much.

            When Lee and I were growing up, we had neighbors who were Modern Orthodox and they would walk to and from services on Saturday. The eldest son would tsk tsk as we went into town for Pizza for lunch on Saturday when they were walking home. Jews are also not supposed to carry money on the sabbath.

            Many American Jews are pro-Israel but they are not necessarily pro-Likkud. They are likely firm believers in the two-state solution. This drives a lot of publications mad. IIRC Tablet is bankrolled by a really rich Jewish guy whose personal politics tend towards the Republican. He knows he can’t completely alienate the majority of his readership so the magazine goes for “domestically liberal and Israeli Likkud.”

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  2. I actually think xenophobia is under-used, because people keep saying “racist” when they mean “xenophobic.”

    Very much Agreed.

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      • One hundred percent yes to both of you.

        I also find the jump from “this person has some misogynistic positions” to, “this person hates women” equally unhelpful. You can completely love women and want the best for them and still believe they shouldn’t have jobs because of their inferior reasoning ability and weak hands. Telling somebody who believes those things that they hate women just makes them think you’re an idiot.

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  3. second article on C6 [we need less Jane Jacobs]: Is there a paywall issue with that article. The link goes to that magazine’s site, but for me I can’t find the actual article. (It could also be the weird security features on my browser.)

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  4. H1

    Let me say the most unPC thing ever

    What are we going to be supposed to die of?

    As we make more and more diseases treatable, and turn them from certain death to a chronic management issue, people are dying of less and less things, and in most cases the things people die of are becoming more expensive and more difficult for both patients and their families.

    We don’t die of infections, we no longer die of heart attacks the way people did when I was a teenager, we don’t die of industrial accidents.

    We just linger, healthy, but weaker and weaker, longer and longer, until we catch one of the few things we can’t treat, and then we keep on lingering for a long time, but sick.

    I come from two extremely healthy families. Cancer, heart problems, diabetes, are unknown in both sides of my family. My mother underwent brain surgery at 88 and recovered. But even she is frustrated that every day she can do less and less, but remains healthy as an oak. Just a weak oak. And more and more lonely, as people and things she has known her whole life pass away.

    I don’t think I want to be 88, weak, and healthy as an oak, though, if I manage to avoid a car running me over, I will probably be.

    Oh, for to be like the Numenoreans of yore, to go sleep and embrace the Gift of Men.

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      • I read an article a few days ago that doctors were casting back to some pre-penicillin drugs.

        (Although it does always amuse me when I see a TV show that has something like “Deadly disease from the Dark Ages might be released, killing millions!” because “It’s probably bacterial, and if so, penicillin will kill it dead. 1000 year old bacterial strains aren’t antibiotic resistant”).

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          • I’m pretty sure the research on that one is widespread. Looking at a lot of avenues, including the equivilant of tailoring diseases to attack diseases. (Phages and the like).

            Culture whatever is affecting you, fiddle with a phage or virus until it loves that bad boy, and inject you with it.

            It’ll kill off the infection before your T-cells get around to killing it.

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            • The problem is a fair bit more complicated than that, in that a culture disk is a significantly different enviroment than the human body and what works there doesn’t necessarily transfer over for a merry meriad of reasons.

              On the other hand, finding good ways to kill bacteria in hosts is one of those difficult but tractable problems that can profitably employ thousands to millions of STEM types ranging from industrial chemists to epidemiologists so long as there is government funding on the front end an guarenteed market on the other. This is in contrast to things like heart disease or many types of cancer where we are a lot less clear about how to go about engineering a solution in the first place. The problem for the last generation or so has been that there hasn’t been that kind of commitment of resources to the task.

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              • There has been a clear market to add Nexium to Alleve and market the pills for over 10 bucks a pop. (Nope. Not kidding. OTC doses of Nexium and Alleve, put together as a “NSAID with fewer stomach problems” and sold for 400-500 bucks for a 30 day supply).

                That’s roughly a 10x markup on the OTC name brands.

                Because they’ll get enough doctors who don’t know the prices, and insurance companies that don’t realize what they just paid for, to make the minimal costs with putting it to market (less research and studies needed on older formulations with a long history of dual use) and marketing it to doctor’s.

                (I’m not kidding about the price. The doctor that prescribed it to me had no idea it cost that much. He gave me the dosages for OTC and advised me to get that and wouldn’t prescribe it again).

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    • There seems to be a certain kind of person that is trying to become immortal.* Nothing good will come of this and it is probably futile. The body just seems to breakdown eventually.

      *Usually but not always the people I know who want this are very strong libertarians of a very cranky bent.

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      • You want fun? Look at the computation numbers for simulating the human mind. We’re…not nearly as far off as I’d thought we were. A lot depends on where you think consciousness lives, so there’s an argument over exactly how fine the simulation level has to be, but even the more ‘pessimistic’ (for lack of a better term) numbers aren’t centuries off. Just decades.

        In any case, digital immortality aside (and fun things like quantum immortality — I think is the term — which speculate that in an infinite multiverse, there’s a version of you that just never dies. A version of everyone, really), even if you could engineer away aging and sickness, people would still only live to an average of 600 or so years before an accident took them. (Assuming that any society good enough to engineer away aging and sickness was pretty good at trauma care too).

        I suppose if we’re able to engineer our bodies, we could probably extend that by making them a bit less fragile….

        I wouldn’t mind a few hundred years of life, as long as everyone else got the same ride.

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      • That actually clears up a lot for me. Non-libertarians make much more sense to me now that I know that you guys literally want to die.

        The body just seems to breakdown eventually.

        This isn’t magic. There are specific, well-documented forms of damage that accumulate at the cellular and molecular levels. While it’s a tough engineering problem (several tough engineering problem, really), there’s no reason in principle that this damage can’t be repaired.

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      • Two cheap shots at libertarians in just a few minutes? , did a nasty FYIGM libertarian swoop in and buy up that cute apartment you had your eye on and then laugh at you as he exclaimed, “I will live here FOREVER! Muahahahahahahahahaha!”

        He probably kicked a puppy too, didn’t he?

        Seriously, develop some nuance. Every group has it’s FYIGM types, it isn’t unique to libertarians, and it’s not even widely prevalent among the philosophy, except by people who have only a terribly shallow understanding of it. Go find another boogeyman or whipping boy.

        You are starting to sound like notme with regard to liberals.

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        • I was probably being cranky because I’ve tried debating with sincerity how liberals and libertarians have different notions and definitions of freedom/liberty and the response I’ve gotten from libertarians is something like “Yeah our definition of freedom does not involve stealing from others” more often than not.

          Non-coercion is an interesting argument but it seems to be taken to ultra extremes and in ways that cause me to be perplexed with things that are very basic like seatbelt laws. I’ve seen right-wingers and libertarians get hopping mad about mandatory seatbelt and helmet laws since the 1990s and it just seems like such a waste of energy over a very common-sense and effective regulation.

          Or as I said in another thread, it would be nice to see libertarians try and grapple with “Why do minorities push for legislation like the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, EDNA, and government recognition of SSM” instead of just trying to present the total abolition of government involvement in marriage is a win-win (it is a win for libertarians and the social conservatives. Not so much for LBGT people) and/or simply thinking that the invisible hand can end businesses that discriminate against serving and/or employing minorities.

          History shows that businesses can do fine while being highly discriminatory and states’ rights/social conventions will often go against businesses that try to buck local discrimination. When Calvin Trillin reported on the Civil Rights movement, he would encounter small businesses owners that wanted to integrate their restaurants but said that they would be driven out of business if they did by the white population. These were often non-Anglo Saxons living in the South. There is a whole history of Jewish owned businesses and institutions (read: Our Crowd) because the WASPS of New York City refused to hire Jews and this continued well into the era when New York was no longer majority WASP. Goldman Sachs was a Jewish investment bank because Jews couldn’t work at J.P. Morgan.

          Again, it seems in these talks on “liberaltarian” alliances, liberals are always the ones who need to make the concessions and my I am getting increasingly fed-up about all the concern trolling and refusal to make anything more than vague statements on “we are not totally against the Welfare State…”

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          • My observation is that self-identified libertarians often are entirely comfortable with authoritarianism–not infrequently downright enthusiastic about it–so long as the authority goes by some name other than “government.”

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          • I gotta ask, what libertarians are you arguing with? Because “Yeah our definition of freedom does not involve stealing from others” is about as shallow as it gets.

            It’s a decent starting point, right up there with “Do no harm” and “Do unto others…”, but that’s all it is, a starting point.

            Again, whoever you are arguing with, it sounds like a person who isn’t libertarian so much as hard right in libertarian face paint (a noted problem).

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          • There is an old saying in the military that no strategy survives intact first contact with the enemy.

            There should be a similar saying for ideology, e.g. No ideology survives intact first contact with reality/the human condition.

            If you are arguing with someone who is insisting that their pure ideology is workable as is, or is only willing to consider minor concessions, just stop arguing with them. Nothing constructive will come of that.

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    • I would say that when a person decides they don’t want to live any longer, they don’t. People often discover when they are threatened with things, like a brain tumor, that they don’t actually want to die just yet. And when my grandfather died, at age 101, he had only recently noted that several of his children had died before him, and he really wasn’t up for more of that.

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  5. S2: You’re looking at this the wrong way. To deliver maximum entertainment over the long term, BERT needs to look just good enough to escape firing. “Doing things the right way” is perfect: it does make firing him a bit tougher, but it doesn’t involve something distasteful like winning games.

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  6. F2:

    The “spoiler alert” is unintentionally funny. (How many children read the “Grauniad,” and anyway, SHOULD a small child be that exposed to news? I know I wasn’t when I was a kid but I grew up in the Dark Ages before 24/7 news channels).

    Also, I know the singular of “data” is not “anecdote” but: I enjoyed the whole Santa thing. I didn’t feel lied to, it didn’t undermine my trust in my parents. When the inevitable figuring-out came (I wasn’t told, I just figured it out on my own, at an embarrassingly-late age) I was SAD, but I didn’t feel betrayed.

    Then again: I am 47 and my parents are in their early 80s and we STILL do stockings and there are still “from Santa” gifts under the tree, so….

    I dunno. It feels killjoyish to me. It’s like, “Let’s take away everything that differentiates childhood from adulthood. Teach the kids that existence is grey and bleak from the get-go.” If I didn’t have the fantasy world I had as a kid, I probably wouldn’t have survived public school.

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    • There are people that believe that the world is such a harsh and fierce place that the sooner children are exposed to reality the better. Some of them just want to raise their kids to be the toughest, baddest mother-fishers out there and others believe it is necessary protection.

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        • I also know some extremely devout Protestant Christians who won’t do Santa, because they fear it will later undermine their children’s belief in God (“Well, if Santa isn’t real….”) or the idea that it’s some kind of thinly-veiled popery to celebrate what is fundamentally a character based on a saint.

          Some of the non-Santa parents, it may also be a way to give their kids fewer gifts, I dunno. I think my parents did it (and still do it) as a way to get away with giving more presents….”Oh, but THAT one is from ‘Santa'”

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          • The “Santa” gift in our family is either the most highly desired thing (for the litte ones), or the most expensive (for the older ones). It’s often a joint gift from several members of the family.

            My son’s digital piano, which he got when he was 16, was a “Santa” gift. (It was actually a gift from us and my parents. Those things ain’t cheap!).

            Nobody really cares much about credit, but the older kids (and teenagers) know that “Santa” tends to be a collaborative effort.

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          • I also know some extremely devout Protestant Christians who won’t do Santa, because they fear it will later undermine their children’s belief in God (“Well, if Santa isn’t real….”)

            I know of atheists who are in favour of Santa for precisely this reason.

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          • I also know some extremely devout Protestant Christians who won’t do Santa, because they fear it will later undermine their children’s belief in God (“Well, if Santa isn’t real….”) or the idea that it’s some kind of thinly-veiled popery to celebrate what is fundamentally a character based on a saint.

            Along those lines, at my brother’s pentacostal church, sometime in the 1980s or early 1990s, I heard a sermon about how Santa was an imposter. My memory is faulty and probably self-serving, but I think it was less about anti-Papism and more about anti-materialism and a fear that children might be “worshiping” Santa instead of God.

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    • We’ve been honest from day one with Bug that Santa is imaginary, he doesn’t believe us.

      Not sure if I should be proud of his refusal to accept our authority on the topic, or worried.

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      • Bug has a pretty strong individual construct of Santa, I think that is healthy. I’m sure we can make assumptions as to how that individual construction will evolve as more data and time are added.

        ;)

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      • Among my generation of orthodox Catholics, there’s a strong preponderance of folks who simply ignore Santa. In our case, Santa never brought any presents and just wasn’t a topic of conversation and certainly not some sort of focal point… we celebrate (in a minor chord) St. Nicholas day, and everyone pretty much connected the dots that “Santa” was an overwrought marketing idea (that jumped the shark about 50 years ago – those are our dots, not the kids’ dots). No muss, no fuss, no tears, and no need to try to “debunk” Christmas. cf. Easter Bunnies.

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            • It’s Pratchett’s take on Christmas (well, and belief in general). Kind of like his version of A Christmas Carol.

              Except it’s Pratchett, so Death ends up taking on the role of Hogfather (the Santa expy).

              The whole thing, at the end, being a story about belief. And why the Tooth Fairy collects teeth, of course.

              If you haven’t read any Pratchett, I’d only recommend it since it’s Christmas. (I mean it’s really good, but it’s not really the best as a “here’s a total stand-alone work you’ll get 100% out of even if you’ve never read anything he’s ever written). I’d suggest Small Gods (for Discworld) or Good Omens (his collaboration with Neil Gaiman).

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              • Yeah Hogfather had some epic stuff. The bit about teaching kids to believe in the small lies so they’ll believe in the huge important lies was especially salient.

                I still haven’t read Terry’s last book. His degradation shone through so brutally in Raising Steam that I haven’t been able to bring myself to read a similar treatment of his Lancre theater.

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                • I’ve actually come to a different conclusion about his later books — especially given the statements from his family that there really wasn’t that much degradation of his mind.

                  His books started suffering when he switched from writing to dictating. (There’s a rather jarring shift, in fact). And slowly started regaining form from there,

                  I suspect “dictating a book” and “writing a book” are sufficiently different that skill does not transfer over 100%, you know?

                  He switched to a new medium, effectively, and it had a learning curve.

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            • The shorter version: It’s Pratchett’s Discworld Santa expy.

              Which, in the book of the same name, he traces both it’s roots backwards to more ancient, primitive times and muses on why we teach children to believe in such things.

              All of which takes place at the end of a rather funny book. :)

              (Santa and Christmas trace back to solstice festivals, which are all about encouraging the sun to come back. Because it’s dark and cold and the food situation is a bit bad. And sometimes, well, we’d feel the sun needed a bit of encouragement. Blood on the snow, as it were — hunted animal, if you were lucky. Poor sucker who got the bean in his pie if you weren’t).

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                • That’s where Prachett went, as the Hogfather went backwards closer to it’s roots. From Jolly Saint Nick to blood-covered hunter to wounded boar being pursued by hungry hunters in the snow.

                  All tracing to the fundamentals of winter (cold, dark, hunger) and the desperation for spring.

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                  • That isn’t quite what I meant. As the Christian Church grew bigger, they knew that they needed to make some accommodations to existing customs even if they really preferred not to. One of the biggest and most popular festivals in the Roman Empire was Saturnalia, which lasted from December 17th to December 23rd in the Julian calendar. Solicit festivals were popular in the Celtic and Germanic areas but not really in the Mediterranean where winter wasn’t that bad. Christmas was invented as a replacement not an evolution for these festivals and because celebrating Jesus’ birth at its more probable time in the spring would be to close to Esther and lead to holiday overload.

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                    • Well yeah. Fewer people will want to convert if they can’t keep their favorite stuff.

                      Which includes holidays, celebrations, and other key cultural elements.

                      “Stop being who you are” is rarely a selling point.

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            • Hopefully not. My girlfriend is not Jewish and not religious but she loves secular Christmas. I kind of like Christmas but for reasons that are probably not typical.

              I like the time of year because it grows quiet. In San Francisco, this is true because a good chunk of the city leaves for the two weeks around Christmas and New Years. Christmas Day is like the ultimate free day for Jews (and other non-Christians). I have no responsibilities or commitments!!!

              But I don’t like Christmas music at all except a few songs and those are odd ones like Father Christmas by the Kinks and Fairy Tale of New York by the Pougues. I see so many people put so much effort into “Christmas Magic” that I wonder if this is the focus of all their joy and happiness during the year.

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        • Wife & I are irreligious/agnostic – Christmas is all about the season, not the creche. We both grew up in religious households, so the traditions stick, even if the religious significance is lost.

          With Bug, it becomes a bit of a needle to thread. We don’t want him to feel excluded from the holiday that he hears about at school and sees everywhere, so we celebrate and focus on the valuable secular bits of it (charity, goodwill, etc.).

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        • This would be my druther’s, had I any say in the matter. My wife made it entirely clear early on that I don’t. On the other hand, my kids have a healthy sense of play. I think that is important in the whole “Santa” discussion. They know perfectly well that those conversations with the plush dog hand puppets are pretend, complete with backstory that extends years before the current generation was born.

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          • One thing that was pretty simple and has worked really well was to just unpack the St. Nicholas story. Its a really great story… more akin to St. Francis than anything else. [though he makes St. Francis look positively privileged #firstworldsaint]

            It gave our kids a pretty easy handle to grasp that the idea of Santa was the thing that was “fake” about St. Nicholas. So Santa becomes an overblown idea of a real thing that was really pretty solid. It also gives them a way to understand that some families might be doing “Santa” as a way to introduce the deeper meaning of Christmas – and thus there’s no real disconnect between Santa and Christmas. He’s just a prop that some people use. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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    • I remember when my mom told me that Santa and the Easter Bunny weren’t real.

      “But the tooth fairy is… right?” I was clinging to the hope that my entire childhood wasn’t a farce.

      My mom laughed and said she, too, was a lie.

      It was all downhill from there.

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    • “If I didn’t have the fantasy world I had as a kid, I probably wouldn’t have survived public school.”

      As I say below, I don’t think this is about denying children opportunities to pretend and engage in imaginative or fantasy play. Rather, I think it is about letting them initiate those experiences rather than carefully cultivating a particular fantasy world.

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      • I don’t precisely disagree so much as think the cause hopeless. Kids are not insulated from the broader culture, nor should they be. There lies dysfunctional cults. Given my druthers I would have kept my kids away from the whole Disney princess culture, but this is effectively impossible unless I was willing to isolate them from other kids. And Barbies. I held out for a couple years on Barbie dolls, but to no avail in the long run. Santa is very much part of American kid culture. You can emphasize it or not in your home, but you can’t without paying a high price keep them away from it, complete with Dancer and Prancer and *shudder* Rudolph and all that other stuff.

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          • There is a lot of gray area. I don’t want to be that guy who breaks into a conversation with an explanation that that thing they are discussing is totally not real. And I don’t want my kids to be doing that on the playground. That’s one end. The other is the “Santa is totally real!” brigade, which starts large among parents of young children and shrinks as they grow older. As I said elsethread, I would treat Santa as cultural background noise if I had the choice, but my wife and her family are enthusiastic on the topic, and this isn’t the hill I choose to die on.

            But I also think that for the vast majority of kids, this is less of an issue than we sometimes imagine. They engage in imaginary play all the time. Reassigning “Santa” to that category isn’t a great stretch, and need not be traumatic.

            By way of example, when my older was about four or so we had a discussion about imaginary creatures: unicorns and winged horses and the like. This likely was in conjunction with her “My Little Pony” phase, though I don’t think I realized it at the time. I think this because she got a pensive look on her face and asked if ponies are real. This mostly told me I should get her to a petting zoo.

            Consider also the Easter Bunny. This is treated in some ways, including marketing, very much like Santa, but we don’t invest nearly as much cultural capital in the Easter Bunny, and you don’t read accounts of people being traumatized by learning it isn’t real. Kids understand it to be the Easter holiday imaginary character. Most kids understand Santa the same way, once past a certain rather young age.

            Personal anecdatum: When I was five or six my older brother told me Santa isn’t real. I distinctly recall being insulted at the suggestion that I didn’t already know that.

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          • What’s right with Rudolph? You have a reindeer who is different from the other reindeer, who naturally make his life a living hell. Then an authority figure realizes that he can exploit Rudolph’s difference. The other reindeer, being weaselly little suck ups, immediately fall over themselves to be nice to Rudolph, who having finally found external validation from said authority figure, lives happily ever after. Or at least to the end of the song. I’m guessing that if the weather is good the next year, back Rudy goes to the shit pile.

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    • My parents do that too. It’s more about tradition going back decades.

      One of my favorite stories of my mother is that one year she decided she wanted to start a tradition of pancakes on Christmas morning. My brother and I (in our teens) were horrified — we’d had pigs-in-a-blanket every Christmas morning we could remember.

      She hadn’t realized we had a tradition until she went to change it. :)

      I should probably ask my kid (he’s 20 now) what he thinks are the traditions of Christmas in our family. I wonder what we do, without thinking, that defines Christmas to him?

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      • One year my stepfather tried to bring down the Santa presents in mid-December. “All the kids are teenagers or older,” he reasoned. Fuck. No. Dude, we know you’re new here… try to follow along… AND DON’T YOU DARE RUIN SANTA FOR THE TEENAGERS!

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        • My kids, the oldest now taking driving lessons, have never admitted to knowing Santa isn’t real, nor have we asked. So, this is going to be another year where I’m assembling Santa gifts in the basement and hauling them upstairs at 2 in the morning. If it wasn’t fun, I would do it, but the fun is a little more absurdist now, and I’m wondering when they move out, if I’ll have to get an extra key so I can pop in on Christmas Eve.

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          • I have been told that when you tell your parents you no longer believe in Santa, you only get socks and underwear for Christmas.

            As I said before: I am 47 and I am distinctly unwilling to test that hypothesis with my own parents.

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  7. And R5: I’ve long thought that for all the ridiculousness he is portrayed with sometimes (all the diddley-doos), Flanders is really a pretty sympathetic portrayal of a Christian. Yes, he can be ridiculous and rigid about some things (the fact that they have something like 200 cable channels, all blocked), but he actually does, in many episodes, show an understanding of “love your neighbor” that few other characters do.

    Also, apropos of nothing, there is a Ned Flanders themed metal band called Okilly Dokilly

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  8. F2: A few years ago one of the NPR shows, I think it was This American Life, had a story about a young man who was in his late teens or early twenties when he figured out that Santa Claus did not exist. He had two siblings and they figured it out about the appropriate age but his parents and siblings found is belief so innocently charming that they continued with the charade. It turned out to cause him a lot of trust problems because his nearest and dearest were maintaining a very big lie to him and he is having trouble maintaining romantic relationships.

    H5: Not if the drug warriors have anything to say about it. The New York Times had an article on how certain magic mushrooms are relieving the anxiety of people with severe or terminal illnesses and allowing them to go forward with life. There are too many puritans and people with vested interests to allow us to have nice things though.

    R3: Disturbing but not surprising. The Polish people were so Catholic that the Communists found that they had to allow a relatively high amount of religious freedom rather than do a typical Communist style crackdown. They even had Catholic universities and schools during the Communist period. You saw a similar thing in Buddhist countries where many people saw themselves as good Buddhists and good atheists.

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    • I would submit that the Santa-believing teen probably had more than just trust issues. For all that believing in Santa is part of kid culture, that is younger kid culture. Did he not interact with any non-relatives his own age?

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  9. C5:
    Ha, funniest thing I’ve read in awhile, for some reason they skip over the primary function of state is to provide a mechanism for conflict resolution among individuals and factions within social constructs. I have no doubt that part could be minimized among people that prefer individual constructs, but the folks who prefer society provide social constructs for resolution will doom this experiment by infinite law/rule creation and infinite costs in parsing social constructs to fit infinite types/amounts of demand. That’s without going into who will control initial parameters of social objectivity and how those goal posts will move around like a greased pig.

    The people that could live there and make it function will not prefer it, and the people who are assured to doom it will be the first through the gates.

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    • This is simply a variant on anarcho-capitalist utopianism I have seen flogged for years now. Whenever I read this stuff I wonder if the writer has ever met an actual person. Or corporation, for that matter.

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  10. Things that will probably get me in trouble. Slate had a snarky review this week for a company that is trying to do “Birchbox for Single Women.” There are some valid points that a lot of the products in the subscription box are romcom stereotypes from the 1990s:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/11/28/singlesswag_the_subscription_box_company_for_single_women_will_finally_make.html

    One paragraph made me pause though:

    SinglesSwag’s founder, noted nonwoman Jonathan Beskin, made a “smart play on the market,” according to Inc., by zeroing in on single women. Women, Beskin found, were meme-ing all over the ‘net about being single (presumably with lots of Cathy cartoons and Bridget Jones GIFs), but tragically, no one was making any money off of it: “So he created a product he knew they would want, a box that was all about their single-dom, that catered to their single lifestyle, and that even helped them in the areas of personal growth and relationships.”

    To me when the author wrote “noted nonwoman”, there is a strong implication that men should not start businesses targeted at women because it is only going to be sexist and wrong. Maybe it is write in this case but there is also something that I am balking at in the vision here. Am I reading too much into “noted nonwoman.”

    I think it is this kind of snarky comment and Internet progressivism that did not help HRC very much.

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    • I know a guy who heard about all the “single mothers” out there, and decided to start a website:
      “The Art of Manliness” (If you haven’t read, it gives tips on how to shave or do a proper tie knot, among other things).

      It’s staffed entirely by women (pen names are fun, ain’t they?).

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  11. Fuel for the Bernie or Busters (maybe). There was not so much of a switch to Trump this year among Rust belt Democrats but a collapse of Democratic voters who decided to stay home.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/12/the_myth_of_the_rust_belt_revolt.html

    Two interpretations:

    1. HRC was a horrible candidate image wise to the WWC and this caused them to stay home, another candidate could have gotten margins up in the mid-West and possibly helped swing PA and WI’s Senate races; or

    2. This was just going to be a really rough year for the Democratic Party because of the eight-year itch and the Democratic Party’s answers for the WWC might be true but they are also more complicated and depressing.

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    • The “basket of deplorables” gaffe haunts me on this. Sure it caused a ruckus but both Obama and Romney had basically had their own equivalents but Romney lost* and Obama was running at a time when the WWC was directly associating the GOP with the killing and maiming of their kids and neighbors in a failed middle eastern quagmire.

      I still cannot imagine that Bernie would have been both solid enough with the WWC and not lacking enough in other areas that he would have won. But that’s on Hillary too. There’s no getting around that HRC is responsible for the loss however one looks at it.

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      • A funny thing about this election is that there were arguments that “Anybody Republican but Trump would have run away with this” and “Any Democrat but Clinton would have run away with this”… but in both cases, I think the runner up presented a different set of significant problems.

        I think Biden would have won against Trump. I think Jerry Brown would have won against Trump. O’Malley probably would have won against Trump. Kaine. On and on. Sanders? Not so sure. Different problems, but problems.

        Likewise, I believe Rubio or Kasich or Romney would have pulled off a popular vote win. Even Jeb might have! But Cruz? Not so sure. Different problems, but problems.

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          • The strongest attacks against him would have been neutralized by his opponent. Throughout the entire race, her approval ratings were worse than his were on the day he lost. The last poll I saw on the subject (shortly before the election) had him beating her by 10. I don’t think he would have won by 10, and his county map would have looked different (more like Toomey/Johnson/etc), but she was really weak and I don’t think he would have been as weak.

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            • If he had run like the rest and won I can see that argument holding. If he’d been nominated in some kind of convention coup or the like, as he would have had to since he didn’t run, I don’t think the same assumptions work. I certainly think it’s likely that the Trump WWC voters would have, at the very least, stayed home in disgust.

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              • I’m talking about a conventional nomination.

                A convention coup is really, really hard to nail down, but I don’t know that the party would have recovered from the bad blood there regardless of who the nominee would have been.

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                • Hillary’s “deplorables” and failure to connect with the wwc vs Romney’s 47% and literally being the person who shut the factory down, plundered the pension fund and then dumped you on the street, that would have been a very different campaign.

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                  • It would have, but it also would have excluded everything that gave Trump a 37% favorable rating on election day. The popular vote picture looks especially sunny to me, as a lot of Trump’s losses were in places that didn’t matter (Romney would have done better in the south, California). The EC is trickier, and where I am less certain, but it seems to have veered towards a Republican year in the overall, and it definitely helps not to be running against Barack Obama.

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                  • Yeah… one of the many posts I didn’t write during my hiatus was whether Hilary needed to reach out at all to the opposition to signal that, hey, she’s a Clinton and Clintons don’t do radical… so if I’m elected there’s a period of truce and retrenchment.

                    Not that any of my folks would have considered voting for her, but (even) more folks would have sat it out. So, while she was suppressing her supporters, it turns out she wasn’t suppressing her opposition quite well enough.

                    The Deplorables comment was the one thing I couldn’t overcome in my tribe… she convinced many that she wasn’t going to govern as a Clinton, but as a radical. The imperative to vote for the unthinkable to stop the unbearable rose to a tipping point.

                    {Of course, I thought for sure she couldn’t lose… so why even make a gesture or two – I couldn’t fault her in realtime… but in hindsight, maybe she’d have done a couple things differently, duh}

                    [and by the way, I think that’s really the gist of Douthat’s post… not that she needed to move right… she needed to signal where she probably already was]

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                      • I find it odd that Clinton calling half of Trump’s voters deplorable was a vapor-inducing gaffe, but Trump calling Mexicans and Muslims rapists and terrorists won him the election.

                        What that means to me is white people are hyper-sensitive to slights, while heaping insults to minorities bears very litle political liability.

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                        • Face it Chip, that is true. The minorities Trump was crapping on are concentrated mostly in non-competitive states and for some reason they didn’t seem to take what he said seriously. Trump beat Romney’s numbers for Latinos and Black Voters for fish’s sake.

                          Here’s the thing though: crapping on minorities was one of Trumps’ things. It is how he cracked the door open to become a contender in the nomination fight. That’s how he got where he was. It’s awful but it is what it is. There’s a strictly a-moral sense to Trump’s minority bashing.

                          Nothing, absolutely nothing, defends Hillary’s “Deplorables” comment. It was pure political communications failure of a kind we’ve seen before: Politician gets with a friendly crowd, feels safe and then goes over the top speaking to them. Romney did the exact same thing with his 47% comment. That’s why the two respective things aren’t the same.

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                            • HRC’s job was not to sit in a secure campus sinecure or a corner of the interwebs and take to her fainting couch over horrible it is that Trump could happen. Her job was to beat him and the “Deplorables” comment was political malpractice. I say that with enormous sorrow and with the benefit of hindsight but there it is.

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                              • It was a classic Kinsleyan gaffe then, something everyone agrees is true, but which must not be said.

                                And while we are on it, can it also be said that it is the white folks who are the tender sensitive souls in need of coddling and shielding from the harsh truths?

                                I’m just trying to imagine what good can come of pretending that the white working class Trump supporters are the innocent victims of a massive global conspiracy of coastal elites, and what wonderful outcome awaits us by nodding and pretending that bashing Muslims and Mexicans is a shrewd political move that we should applaud.

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                                • Yeah, what we need to do is double down on how much better we are than those people are, do what we can to sell that message, and then have our best person sell that message!

                                  What’s Barbara Boxer doing? Get her over here! We need her!

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                                    • The WWC, like any component of the electorate, are in aggregate quite unfond of harsh truths and are quite fond of coddling. The WWC also happens to occupy geographical space that magnifies their electoral significance above their (far from inconsequential) numbers.

                                      On practical merits alone not pouring out scorn the WWC is simple common sense. As a matter of principle seeing left wingers saying stuff about the WWC that would have them shrieking in livid fury if the exact same was said about a minority is a very bad thing. I have watched, in my own short political lifetime, as hypocrisy and puckered prudishness has hollowed out ideologies and movements that once bestrode the political landscape like a colossus. I am not sanguine at seeing the same symptoms popping up in movements and ideologies I hold dear.

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          • Yeah, only Rubio* seems plausible for popular vote win.

            Kasich I’d bracket as not enough info, but I doubt he rallies the troops needed to break through the Blue wall, and he certainly doesn’t add any Blue votes. Probably, he loses the way Romney and Jeb! would. Red States Red, Blue States Blue. Cruz I’d put in a similar bucket with a lower ceiling.

            * But, Rubio the actual candidate is quite a bit less than Rubio the idea. If he wants to build something out of the rubble of the Republican party, now is the time… but that’s what he needs to do for the next 4-8 years. Honestly, I didn’t see any sort of actual leadership qualities in the man that would make me think he 1) knows he needs to do this, and 2) can do this. But, hey, he’s got 4-years to show me I’m wrong.

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            • I think Kasich would have been the strongest, though it would have depended on the kind of campaign he ran. His primary campaign was… not good. But he had a lot of strengths and it bears repeating that Hillary Clinton is Hillary Clinton. The best counterargument, in my view, is that she would have taken Kasich seriously in a way that she didn’t take Trump as seriously.

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              • Sure, there were rumors that Kasich could maybe pull of a regular guy lunch-pail campaign, but he didn’t. He could have stolen Trump’s best ideas and pulled them out of the fever swamp, but he didn’t.

                So that leaves me wondering what he would have done differently than Romney/Jeb! to flip a state that needed flipping?

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                • He did, though! He was the guy talking about how denying Medicaid expansion was heartless and the party was in danger of losing its heart. That’s part of why I think he would have been a more formidable general election candidate than he was a primary candidate. On the left-right spectrum, he was in many ways the closest to Trump. To the left of him on immigration and such, to the right on abortion, but kind of evening out.

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        • Biden wouldn’t have won against Trump, but almost anyone else would have. (including OMalley, Webb, Tester, or Heitkamp. Or Franken or Warren from the liberal wing). [I take this to mean that Biden has stuff on him that we don’t want to know about. Kinda like you don’t want to know what Clinton’s been deep into].

          Clinton’s own polling said that she only had a chance against Trump. that’s why she pressed so hard to get him the Republican nomination.

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      • FWIW, I think it would take more broadly. A single gaffe does not down a President and this can also include plenty of minority voters. There was this article in the Times about African-Americans not voting in Wisconsin because they were displeased with the state of things.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/us/many-in-milwaukee-neighborhood-didnt-vote-and-dont-regret-it.html?_r=0

        These voters were not part of HRC’s “basket of deplorables”

        I am with you on Bernie. He largely was an untested politician from a very small and unrepresentative state. I wonder how many people saw him as Bartlett from the West Wing with a Brooklyn accent. I still think he would have been hit with a lot of anti-Semitic attacks.

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        • Hillary had to do a bunch of things wrong and her people had to miss a bunch of things in order for Trump to win. Because of how close the loss ended up being each individual error basically represents the difference between winning or losing. That is a horrible bitter painful thing but there it is.

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          • A lot of people don’t seem to get that things usually have more than one cause and those causes are often chained together such that each one was necessary. That’s how you get two people saying, “X caused it!” and “No, Y caused it!” without realizing that they’re both sort of right in that both X and Y were necessary for it to happen.

            I don’t know why, but this annoys me a lot more than it should.

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            • I’ve considered it occasionally. I haven’t seen any reason to believe it myself. If he can deliver even one or two of the impossible things he promised or if he can convince his supporters that he did the same then I’ll definitely reassess my appraisal of him.

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              • Trump has always been able to sell stuff. That is his basic skill set; he is a slick salesman with all the positive and negative implications and stereotypes about salesmen. There shouldn’t be much doubt about that.

                Running stuff, making things work, well he has always pretty much sucked at that.

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              • If he can deliver even one or two of the impossible things he promised or if he can convince his supporters that he did the same then I’ll definitely reassess my appraisal of him.

                He’s not even President yet and workers are thanking him on network news for saving their jobs.

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                • And yet layoff notices have still gone out. More than our bribe “worked” to keep here. Thats the story.

                  People are still losing their jobs, and they are likely to pay a higher tax on whatever mcjob they get for the privilege.

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                  • Without getting into whether that’s Trump’s fault, Obama’s fault, or, well, actually, it’s nobody’s fault because the new economy will have effects like this one and those jobs aren’t coming back why don’t you people move, I’d point out that the optics are that workers are going on the television and thanking Trump.

                    Those are powerful optics.

                    And pointing out that he only saved a thousand jobs or so and the rest are moving to Mexico anyway is one of those true statements that will elicit shrugs.

                    I mean, technically, he’s not even president-elect, yet. And he’s scored a handful of points. Saying something like “he didn’t score as many as people think he did!” is only important if your team is scoring more.

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                    • You can’t pay the bills with “powerful optics”.

                      Trump promised to bring back the jobs. If that turns into “keep some of the jobs from leaving,” I suspect quite a few people may not be satisfied.

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                          • But without snark, look at it this way for a moment:

                            Alternate Universe in which Clinton wins:

                            Are these jobs going to Mexico?
                            Yep. They are.

                            Trump’s election changed this little tiny thing of a handful of jobs in Nothingburger, Indiana.

                            Big picture? Would we, as a society, have been better off if we shipped those jobs to Mexico? Of course! Air conditioning is expensive! If you understood the modern economy you’d see that it’s good that the factories moved down there.

                            Small picture? These workers are going on the television and thanking Trump.

                            And those are powerful optics.

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                            • SO not only are we indulging hypothetical counterfactuals, but only tiny slivers of them? Coolbeans.

                              I get you’re saying, “This will happen,” and not “It’s right that this will happen.” But if you don’t think the latter, there is plenty of room to say, “This will happen and it’s wrong.”

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                            • Yeah, it is.
                              We know how this works.
                              El Commandant Maximo makes a big show of giving a poor widow a Cadillac paid for by the Treasury, and buys the votes of an entire neighborhood.

                              The optics are dependent, tho, on a craven and cowed media afraid to point out the truth.
                              Which is why it’s so important to have people, lots of people like reporters, bloggers and even commenter pushing back and calling bullshit.

                              Just calling it Heap Big Magic, Powerful Optics lends it the air of inevitabilty.
                              But the narrative of how we understand the world is shaped by our collective conversations.

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                              • The optics are dependent, tho, on a craven and cowed media afraid to point out the truth.

                                Hey, Chip. Did you see this on CNN?

                                https://youtu.be/eOCcRnvMPEU

                                The craven and cowed media has a bit of a fake news problem going on right now.

                                When I call it “powerful optics”, I’m not trying to collaborate on Trump’s behalf.

                                I’m merely trying to not be in denial about what I am seeing.

                                I think that not being in denial will be very, very important over the next few years.

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                                  • “I think that the Defense will really need to step it up in the game against the Patriots. Tom Brady has proven to be able to throw touchdowns when he has 2 seconds to read the field.”

                                    “If you love Tom Brady so much, why don’t you freaking marry him, you Patriots fan! Tom Brady sucks!!!!!”

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                                • Agreed, political theater is very effective, very powerful.
                                  And for every move there is a counter move.
                                  See, even your use of the word “optics” demstrates the effectiveness.
                                  That word was popularized by the same cowed media that prize horserace savviness over truthtelling.

                                  Whether it is the “gamechanger” Palin VP pick or giving a widow a Cadillac, they savor their role as detached from the theatrical posturing but in fact they are the most active participants.

                                  When Chuck Todd or Mark Halperin tell us this is “powerful optics” they aren’t giving us insight- everyone already knew this. What they are doing is telling how savvy they are for seeing the little man behind the curtain.

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                                  • So the proper response to the Carrier deal is to say “Well, actually, Trump didn’t save that many jobs. Besides, those tax breaks would have gone to schools or something so this deal is actively harming our children. On top of that, other companies now know that they can negotiate better tax deals by threatening to go to Mexico even if they weren’t going to go to Mexico! And you’re enabling him! You need to support my preferred political outcomes!!!” or something like that?

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                                    • other companies now know that they can negotiate better tax deals by threatening to go to Mexico even if they weren’t going to go to Mexico!

                                      I could see this becoming a big ole pile a mess, and not necessarily due to firms trying to leverage tax breaks on phantom-moves to Mexico. I could also see Trump-voting workers – for example coal miners – demanding tax breaks be given to coal-fired electricity generators sufficient to reopen/boost the mines.

                                      Do air-conditioner workers matter more than coal miners in Trump’s economy?? (Will Trump dance with those that bring him?))

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                                      • The crèche discussion? My takeaway from that was that we were telling these people in these tiny homogenous towns that they couldn’t have *ANYTHING*. No, not even a crèche in front of city hall.

                                        And now we’re surprised that they rejected our offer.

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                                        • What if the offer on the crèche was “If you want a crèche on City Hall’s lawn, okay, but you also have to a) have a sign disclaiming governmental endorsement of the crèche, and b) let the Muslims put up an equally-prominent Ramadan commemoration there at some other time.”? I think that offer got sidetracked.

                                          Because you can’t have everything. But sometimes, you can have some of the things you want if you’re willing to let others have some of the things that they want.

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                                          • Burt, here’s how that discussion strikes me as going in our New Era:

                                            “We want some Christian symbols on the lawn at City Hall.”

                                            “Well, I understand your sentiment American Christian small-towner, really I do. But our society is governed by laws, one of which is separation of church and state. It’s very simple really. You are perfectly justified in placing your Christian religious stuff on the City Hall lawn as long as you also do A, B, C, D, X, and Z. Y doesn’t apply in this case, unless in doing B and X you HAVEN’T done Z, but ALSO if you fail to do A in conjunction with ….”

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                                            • Why is that how this goes in our New Era?

                                              Speaking of which, what is this New Era?

                                              I mean, wouldn’t go just as Bert said. They have the right to put up Christian iconography, but Muslims and Satanists have the same rights. I really don’t understand where you are getting the complicated bottom analysis from.

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                                              • Why is that how this goes in our New Era?

                                                Because in my view, Trump’s Victory signals the end of PCism. Those folks are gonna act and believe without shame according to what moves them. They already are, actually.

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                                                • Ok, I’m with you on Trump’s election being a signal about political correctness from a significant portion of the population.

                                                  I’m not sure how that translates to the analysis at the bottom of your comment. At most it’s A or B right? A being allow other religious/atheist symbols, and B being part of a larger secular display. So what why the change because people are done with PC’ism?

                                                  *This isn’t an area of law I’m that knowledgeable about, but I believe that’s the basic analysis. If I’m wrong let me know.

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                                                  • Gaelen, it’s a matter of perspective, I think, more than anything substantive, tho the two can’t be completely separated.

                                                    Seems to me that a small town christian who wants to put a creche on the City Hall lawn isn’t thinking in advance of that as an act of civil disobedience, say, or protest. They’re just expressing themselves according to their beliefs. That doesn’t make them anti-American, or anti-Constitution.* It just makes them pro-their own beliefs. Something like that anyway.

                                                    * It certainly makes them anti-something tho, at least according to other isms. I just can’t clearly say at that point what it’s anti about and at what level of meta it operates in.

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                                                • Trump is without shame, but he’s got Billions of dollars and decades of practice. If his kids can’t/don’t/won’t copy his act then odds are good that no one else can either.

                                                  I can think of some PC branches which could use trimming, but the normal things which are illegal or banned are still illegal or banned.

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                                          • Yeah, this whole thing strikes me as petulance (in the mind of Jaybird’s hypothetical, small-town, rube) on the part of the folks who want their culture displayed *AND* want to keep others from doing the same.

                                            Tell me again why Burt’s view makes him the bad guy?

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                                            • Tell me again why Burt’s view makes him the bad guy?

                                              It doesn’t.

                                              But if you want to know why we’re suddenly asking “wait, is the other team allowed to refuse our offer in the ultimatum game?”, this is why.

                                              Ain’t no good guys.
                                              Ain’t no bad guys.
                                              Just people making offers.
                                              And people refusing them.

                                              Things to keep an eye out for:

                                              Denial
                                              Anger
                                              Bargaining
                                              Depression

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                                              • And let me just say again: I was trying to brainstorm a small handful of culture war victories/losses (depending on your point of view) that could be rolled back to achieve some kind of détente. I mean, even in *THEORY*.

                                                And there wasn’t anything that people were willing to agree should be rolled back. Even silly stupid examples like the crèche.

                                                Hence: Trump.

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                                                • My offer is a rollback, a proffer of compromise. You’ll recall my original position was “City Hall is not a church. A crèche is a religious display, so it has no place on City Hall’s lawn. Period.”

                                                  Left to my own devices, I say that the disclaimer sign isn’t enough to dissociate the government from endorsement and endorsement is an Establishment. So allowing the crèche at all is a concession.

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                                                    • The people that are upset about not being able to put a nativity scene in the public square are not the ones that switched over to Trump this time. (They are the ones that some people, myself included, thought incorrectly would not turn out in sufficient numbers to sustain the GOP base, due to the top of the ticket being a vulgar womanizer from New York City)

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                                                        • This is true of leaders, though such stand-offs can recruit people.

                                                          My ex-girlfriend’s high school stopped doing the pre-game prayer before football games while we were dating. There were a lot of Democrats who were pissed off. I don’t think all of them are Republicans now, though some might have voted for Trump.

                                                          That doesn’t mean these standoffs aren’t worth doing. It does mean that it’s not so pat as to say “Anybody on the other side of it was never with us anyway.”

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                                                      • There’s a distinction here to be made between people who:

                                                        (A) Would like a nativity scene in front of City Hall
                                                        (B) Go apoplectic that we *can’t* have one because The Political Correctness Police have decided we can’t because it’ll offend somebody.

                                                        Some are both A+B, but the overlap is far from complete. A lot of people in B haven’t been to church in ages. Some of the people in A think it would be a nice gesture but that it’s not a big deal.

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                                          • Because you can’t have everything. But sometimes, you can have some of the things you want if you’re willing to let others have some of the things that they want.

                                            Provided they’re actually winning to let Islam, the Atheists, and the Church of Satan be up there too I think it’s fine…. but I don’t think they are willing to share.

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                      • You can’t pay the bills with “powerful optics”.

                        But they can pay the political bills.

                        The economy generally and jobs in particular are getting better towards the tail end of Obama’s admin. If the trend continues it’ll be because of Trump’s policies, if it reverses it’ll be because of Obama’s failed policies.

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    • Two is almost certainly false. Clinton lost by such razor thin margins and won the popular vote by millions. This implies that many people really don’t care that the Democratic Party would old the Presidency for four years. The Democratic Party also picked up Senate and House seats, which usually doesn’t happen when they lose the Presidency.

      One is the most likely interpretation. Both Clintons are heavily associated with free trade under NAFTA and the TPP and free trade does not play well in the rust belt. A candidate that was not associated with free trade could have gotten more people out to vote in the key electoral states. This meant that the Bernie or Busters might have been right.

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      • Assuming that centrists wouldn’t have put up their own candidate or defected or stayed home just like the rust belters did. Bernie didn’t have Hillary’s flaws, but he had plenty of his own.

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        • I can’t see the centrists putting up their own candidate in the same way that the NeverTrumpers attempted and failed spectacularly to do with McMullen. Most Democratic moderates or centrists would have fallen behind Sanders in the same way that Republicans fell behind Trump. I’m not really sure that Sanders could have lost states that Clinton won. He could have won a few states that Clinton lost. Sanders did have plenty of flaws of his own but that would have hurt him in states where Clinton would have lost to the most.

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            • Bloomberg is hated by many in the Democratic Party because he abandoned the party to run as a Republican as mayor of New York. This is true even for Democrats who agree with him. He would have to run as an independent and I can’t imagine Clinton supporters preferring Bloomberg over Sanders.

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          • I like Bernie but I just can’t parse the idea that he’d both have covered Hillary’s weaknesses and had no different ones of his own. As Will notes there were people just waiting to leap into the center if both Trump and Bernie abandoned it.

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            • North,
              Bernie would have had different weaknesses, he’d probably have done slightly worse with teh brainwashed boomers (who are the only ones who really care about socialism as a bad thing anymore).
              He still would have won, because even Republicans like Bernie. They say, with a bit of a frown, “at least he’s honest.”

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      • Lee,
        Put more simply, Clinton was the worst candidate in modern electoral history, bar none. All countries, seriously.

        Failing to run on an issue, any issue, other than Trump Is Satan (or Hitler, or ….). [And by this I mean failing to rally the liberal base], really made people want to stay home.

        Apathy won more than anger did.

        Bernie would have won, Webb would have won, Tester would have won. Heck, any democrat save Biden would have won. Even Kaine, if he had been top of the ticket.

        I get this stuff from someone who worked for Hillary, and consistently told her what she was doing wrong (until she fired him, of course).

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  12. C3: Is there anything that Richard Florida likes these days? He bitches about the big cities; he bitches about small cities; he bitches about the suburbs. Seriously, what does the man want?

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  13. C3:
    Richard Florida’s assertion is that amenities and square footage are behind the rise in rents.

    But notice that he doesn’t provide figures for who it is that is renting.
    In the past, in the golden age of home ownership, renters were mostly the “newly wed and nearly dead”, that is, childless singles and couples. The norm was that as soon as possible, young couples with children would buy a home and leave the rental market.

    So most renters back then didn’t need much space or amenities. In fact,in the late 60s there was a phase when entire complexes were constructed of singles apartments, where all the units were studios or 1 bedrooms catering to the crop of young childless Boomers.

    But now, if you are a couple with a child or two, you very much do need a washer, a playground/ clubhouse/ pool.

    Also, the amenities are actually a minor part of the cost of rent. As always, the single biggest component of rent is land cost; The same economic factors that make Iphones and tee shirts cheap as dirt, also make dishwashers and air conditioners cheap as well. But land isn’t being manufactured in China and new cities are not sprouting up in the vacant plains of America.

    The biggest unexamined line in his essay is this:
    But after 1970 something puzzling and troubling happened: rents have increased while the incomes of renters have fallen. (Bolding mine).

    As I see it, the stagnating incomes of workers is a result of the growing surplus of labor.

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    • This is much of what I mean when I say that problems with wealth/capital formations in local environments will cause problems. Honestly this isn’t even scratching the surface.

      I disagree a little bit with the growing surplus of labor, in the context of surpluses of labor will eventually go away with access to capital formations. This is somewhat where I derive the position that the minimum wage should be abolished.

      Unless the position to continue forward with minimum wage is to make stagnation a big enough problem that it will have to be addressed. Unfortunately I think the past few months have shown that creating that problem can create bigger problems. The cure being worse than the disease in the long run.

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    • @michael-cain

      There are sound policy reasons why it is better to rent than own. Germany is a very wealthy country where a majority of the country rents I believe. This includes upper-middle class professionals.

      Not having most of your wealth tied up in home equity can level playing fields and make people go for different investments instead of creating incentives for NIMBYism and constantly raising housing prices. People might also be more willing to move if they rented rather than owned.

      On the other hand, stability is nice and the current American rent market seems to include people moving frequently. A lot of people in NYC especially young people do seem to move from apartment to apartment every year or two. I’m a bit of an odd duck because I have been in my apartment for eight years.

      America would need to change a lot of policies.

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      • Anecdotally, when we first moved to our current area, the rental options for houses were extremely slim. Given our reasonable-for-the-area parameters (1100sqft, less than $1300/mo) we had something like five option.

        Between then and now, there’s been a huge shift. Now there are houses for rent just about everywhere. I don’t know if it’s our area (reasonable commuting distance to DC suburbs if not DC itself) or if it’s part of a broader trend. I’m hoping it’s the latter.

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      • I may be fixated on it, but the softness of the labor market IMO drives a lot of other factors.

        When young people envision a future in which they have no stability, no fixed career path, no expectation of support from society, and potential skills obsolescence lurking around every corner, I have to wonder, what does that do to their decision-making wrt family formation, lifestyle, spending and savings habits?

        What we know from experience is that people in this position don’t always react the way we imagine they should.
        Poor people often make reckless spending choices, that seem stupid to us, but actually make sense when we take into account their general lack of belief in progress and upward mobility.

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      • Owning worked out well for us, both lifestyle and financially. The financial part was some luck, some good planning. We were able to ride a fairly predictable interest rate decline down for more than 15 years (planning), and the one big move we made resulted in us leaving one area at the peak of a small real-estate bubble and moving into an area with a minor bust going on (luck). And certainly I’ve been able to make decisions about what to do with my life over the last dozen years that I wouldn’t have been able to make if our housing expense hadn’t been reduced to taxes* and maintenance when I was caught on the wrong side of a corporate merger.

        * Because of Colorado’s own strange rules about property taxes, taxes haven’t increased at anything like the rate of increase in the value of the house and land.

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      • No, actually it isn’t.
        Blocking immigrant workers from coming here to make stuff only increases the desire to send the work to wherever they are.

        Tee shirts are going to be made by Chinese workers, either working away in a Los Angeles sweatshop or in a Chinese one, or by a robot.
        No one can afford to pay American workers to make stuff, and increasingly, no one can afford to pay Chinese workers to make stuff either.

        There is a surplus of labor, not just here, but globally.

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  14. F2: I’ve been struggling with the Santa myth since the boys were born. Thus far, I’ve stood on the sidelines while certain trappings have taken hold. We’ve visited Santa (which neither boy particularly cared for) and have had presents from the big guy each Christmas morning. My mom loves playing Santa and it is something that remained a family tradition even as we aged; despite all of us knowing that Santa wasn’t real, presents were still delivered on his behalf and remained hidden until the wee hours of Christmas Eve.

    But it feels wrong to actively lie to children. It is one thing to encourage their own sense of wonder and meaning making in the world. If a child posits that something happens because magic or elves or mysterious forces, there is value in allowing that belief to persist. But to introduce a myth… one we know to be false and one we know we will soon take away from them… feels strange.

    Further still when Santa and his minions (DO NOT GET ME STARTED WITH THE ELF ON THE SHELF!) become tools for manipulation and control. It takes what can be a joyous poorly-kept-secret and turns it into an ugly, ugly thing.

    I don’t know how much longer I’ll let the myth persist. This year, in fact, I insisted that the boys receive gifts from family members (in prior years all gifts were from Santa) because I want them to be able to show direct appreciation and reciprocation. We do have plans to visit Santa, but maybe this will be the last time. I recognize that Santa can be a valuable tradition and that much of what is being discussed can feel like concern trolling. At the same time, who is Santa for? We say he is for children but, really, isn’t this about us as adults? If we all agreed to do away with Santa tomorrow, within a few years it’d be like he never existed and the only ones who’d miss him would be adults. Young children who never were pulled into the myth would miss nothing. It is the adults who’d lose out. And that isn’t insignificant… adult feelings matter, too. But at the expense of children and the relationships between the two? I just don’t know…

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  15. F1 looks like Marchmaine bait. But in a No Politics, No Religion spirit; I’ll chirp in that the NFP of the past 30-50 years is very scientific and not at all what the jokey stuff implies (which is, I think, a big part of JTA’s point). Many of the folks teaching it were certainly Catholic; but there was an equally large (i’d estimate close to 50%… quite possibly more) contingent that was purely secular. Probably the same people who are buying my grassfed organic lamb and chicken. The crunchy far left/right singularity.

    As a practitioner, it worked 100% of the time… both when we wanted to conceive and when we were spacing. In our case, all we had to do was say… “Maybe we should have another ba…” and boom, pregnant. In fact, if you dig into it, much of the marketing is actually to people who are trying to conceive. The added benefit (without too much detail) is that understanding a woman’s natural cycle can really help the marital relationship.

    If you go online and look at all the technology that has come out in the past 10-years to support the method(s), its almost idiot proof. You’ll also note that most of the marketing is for pro-contracepting folks… its the Catholics who are the afterthought. Very much a pro-women’s health movement.

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  16. C5

    Thus, you are a contracting party on an equal footing with a secured legal position, instead of subject to the government’s or majority’s ever changing will.

    Imagine a society in which nothing ever needs to change. Tax revenues and expenses are fixed and unchanging for eternity. The opinions and interests of the participants never evolve and are never contested.
    Imagine a contract which was written like this, where there were no provision for future alterations, cancellations, or abridgment or extensions.

    There are no collective actions, only simple two party actions. The humans who live here are remarkable creatures, wholly different than any who are in existence today. They don’t segregate into groups and tribes, castes and classes, and never take actions as a group.

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    • I hadn’t even noticed that this was a thing. An important thing, apparently.

      Does this boil down to something worse than, “Some people on TV have the wrong religion” or am I reading it correctly?

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      • Remember the Journolist? Out of the thousands and thousands of relatively innocuous emails, they did find a juicy one from Spencer Ackerman:

        “I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a right winger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously, I mean this rhetorically.”

        If I had to guess, I’d say that we’d seen this tactic used a handful of times over the last few years or so.

        The sics of right wingers were rhetorically smashed through plate glass windows.

        I think that this was another attempt to smash a sic.

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  17. [F4] Ceteris paribus I’d expect fewer couples getting married would accompany family stability among married couples to increase. That is, I’d expect that the couples most unsure about whether they should get married – who were getting married in previous decades’ social climates but are not in the current one – would likely be the ones with the worst prospects for the marriage’s durability.

    I’d also expect to see an increase in the stability of common-law relationships, as the most stable common-law couples – who in previous decades would at some point have stopped being counted among the common-law and started being counted among the married – increasingly remain among the common-law counts.

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  18. S2: I have no particular knowledge of the inside workings of college football, but I would be surprised if this article weren’t broadly accurate. It is implausible that there can be buckets of money floating around athletic competition, and some of it not go to the actual athletes.

    Baseball underwent this process in the mid-1860s. Professionalism had been largely marginal before that–helping a guy get a job, waiving club dues, that sort of thing. There simply wasn’t enough money floating around baseball for any serious professionalism to take hold. Then they discovered that people were willing to pay hard-earned cash to see a good game. Initially the usual admission fee was 10 cents, which basically paid for a professionally maintained playing field. Then experiments revealed a willingness to pay the lordly sum of 25 cents. That meant money going into club coffers. That in turn meant “inducements” to prospective recruits, loud protestations of an ideology of amateurism notwithstanding. The process from raising the admission to 25 cents and legalizing professionalism took under three years.

    As for college football, such shenanigans go back at least to the 1890s. My suspicion is that they were never actually stomped out–merely driven further underground.

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  19. Not intended to be an argument about Charter Schools.

    I’m just pointing to this opening from Slate Star Codex:

    He starts with a meta-level point: most criticisms of Trump’s Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos merely point out that she will promote schools vouchers instead of public schools, expecting their audience to be suitably turned off. But this won’t change the minds of DeVos supporters, whose whole point is that they want more school vouchers. In order to convince people, you’ve got to convince people. If this doesn’t seem like a suitably profound insight to you, the click the link, read the piece, and notice how there’s something weird about it. Is it written in a funny font? Is the computer screen flickering or something? Finally, you realize with dawning horror that this is the first time you’ve read a logical argument, written in good faith and intended to convince someone, in the past you-can’t-remember-how-many months.

    If you want to read the article he’s talking about, it’s here.

    But I was a lot more interested in his introduction to the piece than the piece itself.

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  20. After McCain/Romney crashed/burned, the Tea Party was the first sign of life in what would eventually evolve into Trumpism.

    It’s a hair early to ask around to see if a Democraticish version has started showing up around out there… but there seem to be some indications that the conditions are good.

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