Linky Friday: Prisoners of London

Cities:

Image by _dChris

[Ci1] Krutika Pathi seems somewhat skeptical of Beijing’s new new city, and possibly next ghost town.

[Ci2] My younger self is rolling his eyes, but I dig it.

[Ci3] Robert Colville says that George Osborne’s fall was caused when he put London first.

[Ci4] So if we want to increase housing and upward development, it appears we may need to go autocratic.

[Ci5] This article needs to separate out the logistical arguments with the moral arguments, and then throw the latter into the dumpster. The former arguments aren’t bad (which is, of course, why I would favor a plan that would address that for some).

[Ci6] Well, I’m sure there are some other cities that would love to have them.

Crime:

emoji photo

Image by frank-hl

[Cr1] In Israel, emojis can prove intent. On one level this makes sense, but on another level emojis are often tongue-and-cheek.

[Cr2] In Louisiana, prisoners at the capital, working. Here are the qualifications

[Cr3] It’s hard for Colombian farmers to quit the main crop.

[Cr4] Here’s what happened in the Kansas town in the aftermath of the anti-Muslim terror plot.

[Cr5] Well darn if this isn’t the most boastable basis for a not-guilty verdict ever.

Education:

princeton photo

Image by Nouhailler

[E1] Yeah, if you’re hoping to impress corporate employers, a major that indicates a desire not to work for a corporate employer does seem like a bad idea. The notion that this is a bad thing undermines that higher education is anything more than credentialism.

[E2] Beatrice Faleri says Labour’s free tuition plan will destroy their system.

[E3] Off the top of my head I can think of at least a couple ways this is a bad look for Princeton admissions officers.

[E4] Some students are getting ripped off by essay mills, apparently. Or so some people would have you believe.

[E5] When adulting school has some adulting problems.

[E6] Devin Helton wonders how many jobs really require that college degree.

Food:

taco truck photo

Image by colecamp

[F1] I’m not sure it still qualifies as coffee if it’s clear.

[F2] Here’s a thing: When I find you’ve misrepresented one thing, I don’t trust you on other things. On the other hand, I personally have little desire to consume raw milk. Russell Saunders chimes in on Raw Milk here.

[F3] Toronto chef says we need to chill out about the horsemeat.

[F4] And here’s your sign.

[F5] Well, it definitely seems reasonable that something the Belgians call Filet Americain should have undercooked meat.

[F6] This seems pretty straightforward to me: Complaints against “rice” as a noun seem reasonable, but “riced” as an adjective seems more than fair.

[F7] Gustavo Arellano looks at the Unauthorized White Person Burritos incident in Portland. At Hit Coffee, I also shared my thoughts.

Space:

alien space ship photo

Image by rafeejewell

[S1] I vote alien tank. Maybe put out of service by massive tornadoes.

[S2] So how did space end up so empty, anyway?

[S3] Good point.

[S4] {Ominous music}

[S5] A long, long time from now, in a galaxy far, far away, humanity may make its last stand.

[S6] Space costs a lot of money, but hope is priceless.

[S7] Huh. We accidentally made a radiation shield.


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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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158 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Prisoners of London

  1. Ci5: The problems with that article go well beyond the confusion of logistical and moral issues. The writer does the thing that so many who write about poverty on the interwebs do, which is to suggest that getting people to act with efficacy in their own lives, even if they’re in really crappy situations, will somehow work against the larger project of “social justice.” And if that is true, then that ought to tell us something about that larger project of social justice.

    To address the cycle of poverty, we have to address increases in rent itself, not just where people choose to live. To suggest that the solution to the rent crisis is for everyone who’s being priced out is to “just move” is to derail a much bigger conversation about why people live in poverty and what can be done.

    Here’s the thing. If you look at your finances and find that you are paying more than about 30% of your take-home pay on rent or a mortgage payment (plus associated maintenance costs) then you are paying too much in housing. And unless you are expecting your housing costs to drop or to be making more money at some point in the foreseeable future, you should start taking concrete steps to either move someplace cheaper or increase your income.

    If you remain in a housing situation that eats up too much of your income, you are inhibiting your ability to save or to pay off any outstanding debts that you have. And if you’re not saving and/or paying off debt, you are setting yourself up for a really difficult time the next time some very expensive unforeseen event comes up. And it will come. Your car is going to die. Your roof is going to leak. You’re going to get sick and have to miss some work. Something is going to happen and the best thing you can do for yourself is to start preparing immediately for the inevitable.

    Or you can sit tight and wait for the social justice fairy to show up and solve all your financial problems. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Bernie Sanders gets into the White House and Occupy Wall Street storms the ramparts.

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    • You can make a case that in a given area, finding affordable housing would require that a person move far enough from work that the time & cost of commuting would consume any savings.

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      • I made that calculation for myself in Houston. Moving from where I am to the suburbs (not the exurbs), I could have twice the house for less than what my 1,900 sq ft, just ten miles from downtown (in Texas even “very close to” is BIG), would sell for, halving my property taxes (the bulk of Texas state taxes).

        Just the extra gas and wear and tear in my car would completely wipe those savings. The extra aggravation of an additional 45 minutes in traffic in both directions would just be the -totally free- cherry on top

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        • I’ve done similar math at times.

          That said, the article strikes me as saying that poor people should not have to do that math, they should just get cheaper rents. That’s a crap argument.

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          • It struck me as saying that for many of them, “doing the math” doesn’t solve the problem, because the math still may not be in favor of moving.

            That being said, some of the relevant challenges listed have policy solutions other than lowering rents.

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            • Doing the math may not solve the problem for a given person, but you need to do the math before you can determine what the best assistance is. So suggesting that it is bad advice is only true if it is the only advice given.

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              • Implicit in a lot of articles like Ci5 is the assumption–often justifiable–that the suggestion isn’t being made to help the recipient, but as, well, virtue signaling. I don’t know what she was responding to in this specific instance, but you may remember this classic of the genre.

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                • The best solution is for the poor people to kill wealthier people almost at random, which will spike the area’s crime rates and thus cause both home prices and rents to fall back to affordable levels due to white flight. See Detroit.

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                    • Seriously. A bunch of dead SJW’rs would go a long way toward making an area more affordable.

                      Back when I was in college I had a friend working at a local park out by the Kentucky river. She was complaining that the park had become too popular and the trails and wildlife were not coping with the booming popularity very well.

                      After listen to her explain the problem for ten or fifteen minutes, I said, “What you all need is a bunch of unexplained killin’s”

                      Finding a few murdered young girls near the trails would’ve brought the park’s popularity and carrying capacity back into balance.

                      Sometimes a solution is just that simple.

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                        • Well those would certainly be other options a city could pursue.

                          But of course a lot of cities won’t pursue them because the SJWs are trying to make some kind of white upper-class utopia that’s not burdened with working class people, and those added homes aren’t going to build themselves, they’re going to be built by rednecks and Mexicans. The result of the additional housing will of course be falling home prices, and the losers are going to be the homeowners who go underwater when they sell.

                          So the SJWs want to encourage the poor people to just move somewhere else to free up additional space, but more importantly to move someplace where the SJWs don’t have to rub elbows with smelly people who don’t have much money.

                          I’m sure the SJWs don’t see a problem with moving because they’re almost invariably young and mobile, with no close ties to anything but their peer groups and Facebook friends. The world is their oyster and they can freely move anywhere they want.

                          They don’t have kids who are closely bound to playmates. They don’t have long and deep ties to dense networks of friends and acquaintances across a few square miles of the city, relationships built on place.

                          Those relationships are both a financial and emotional support system. Losing those is worse then being homeless, it’s being cut out of one’s tribe and all the long-standing beneficial relationships that tribal membership conveys.

                          So instead, what I’m saying is that the poor and working class people need to come together, and someone needs to explain to them that if young urban professionals continue to flock in, home prices will skyrocket, rents will skyrocket, police patrols will skyrocket, and they will face bankruptcy and personal destruction.

                          Then I would address the most impulsive, anger prone, unintelligent, suggestible, and criminal elements of the local working poor, unemployed, and homeless, and say this:

                          Look. You may not think these cute little college girls and urban hipsters are robbing you of $1,000 a month, but they are. It’s indirect, but they’re still robbing you, taking food right out of your kids mouth by causing your rent to skyrocket. Now what would you do if some low life huckster rolled you for $1,000, money you had to work and sacrifice and scrape by for? That’s right, you’d deliver justice. And justice is all I’m asking you to deliver. Street justice – because these are your streets, not their streets. You need to stand and deliver and defend what you have from these thieving, sanctimonious, clueless parasites. That extra rent money you’re supposed to come up with? Those hipsters are the reason you have to pay it, and they’ve got their hands in your wallet. So steal it back! Robbing the hipsters is an act of justice, and an act of fairness. If you don’t do it they’re just going to keep screwing you and screwing you. And if a few get killed, so much the better.

                          So over the next few months the crime skyrockets, the murder rate triples, especially the “shocking” murders that make the cable news cycle, and then rents plummet and the city becomes vastly more affordable for working people.

                          See Baltimore.

                          (Me) <– Should have been a community organizer and civil rights leader.

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                          • But of course a lot of cities won’t pursue them because the SJWs are trying to make some kind of white upper-class utopia that’s not burdened with working class people,

                            Mayor Daley: “Upper middle class white SJWers aren’t trying to create utopia, they’re trying to preserve utopia.”

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                            • Well, to the hive mind I’d say:

                              This is part of the vast disconnect between middle America, especially the rust belt, and the coastal elites. Middle America has to suffer an implosion of jobs, the collapse of home prices, a massive opiate epidemic, suicides, and despair.

                              But the coastal elites get wildly upset if anyone mentions it in any way other than the usual snobbish derision, because they don’t want to allow anything, even satire, that makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable.

                              So things go unsaid. Lots of things go unsaid, and lots of problems go unaddressed and unacknowledged.

                              And thus the bubble is maintained.

                              That, and they’re missing out on a lot of top-notch humor. ^_^

                              “What y’all need around here is some unexplained killin’s”

                              That line had a car load of college girls laughing uncontrollably for five minutes. It was all in the timing. The conversation had just hit one of those pregnant pauses of thought and worry where nobody says anything, and I waited another moment and lobbed it out there.

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                              • George ain’t from the rust belt, folks.
                                George ain’t got a clue about places like where I live.
                                George ain’t gotta worry about someone putting a brick through his car window (granted, I don’t either, because no car)

                                George is really a WHOLE LOT more outta touch than most folks around here.

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                          • So over the next few months the crime skyrockets, the murder rate triples, especially the “shocking” murders that make the cable news cycle, and then rents plummet and the city becomes vastly more affordable for working people.

                            I know you’re kidding, but in reality what happens is that people don’t *stop* committing crimes. And all the rich white people quickly huddle up in their fancy neighborhoods with 24/7 police protection, and maybe tear down some buildings and create a buffer zone.

                            So the poor, as always, end up robbing the slightly-less poor, or sometimes even manage to rob the working class.

                            Alternately, everyone leaves, and you get Detroit. Where housing is, indeed, *really cheap*, so…congrats?

                            The *actual* solution to lower the cost of housing in cities is, obviously, we all know it, is to increase supply. As you point out people NIMBY that. (1)

                            Or instead, we could to make cities ‘bigger’, i.e, have mass transit so travel is faster. See, for the ultimate example, New York City. Housing prices are *absurd* in Manhattan (Baring stupid rent control.), but *people do not need to live in Manhattan*. Plenty of people work in Manhattan but live comfortable in other parts of NYC, or even in New Jersey.

                            1) It, honestly, is amazing how many things the ‘No one can invest anymore, so everyone should just invest in their house!’ nonsense has broken, across all of society. We’d be much better off if ‘property value’ wasn’t the *very first* thing half the population thought of when evaluating local government proposals, if people treated their house like buying half a dozen cars at once…yeah, you need to do it *carefully*, but then you do it and then just live with your choice and don’t really worry about what the market is pricing your car.

                            I suddenly feel like reminding people that almost all housing discrimination was not based on people saying ‘I do want this person living near me’, it was all instead justified with ‘I do not care, but they will bring down property values’…which was, strictly speaking, entirely true. You’d think at some point we look at that and decide ‘You know, maybe we should stop *caring* about idiotic property values.’

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    • I recently got fairly far along in the interview process for a job in a much cheaper housing market. I’m getting paid a fair amount under market in a job that offers me flexibility and free time, but my life is changing and I really need to buckle down and earn more. Making market salary and cutting my housing costs significantly could be a great move. I don’t even take advantage of half the things my city has to offer anyway, so why not, especially if it means financial security?

      Then I get the salary offer. It’s what I’m making right now, which is market over there. Sure, I’d save on rent/mortgage, but then there’s a car for me and a car for my wife, who also needs to find a job and will probably have to settle for less. I’m right back where I started financially, except I’d be living in a better part of a cold, dumpy post-industrial city.

      This comes from a guy who can take a week without salary and can hire a moving van without much financial pain.

      You can’t win.

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        • At first blush, that sounds basically like percent of income spent on rent.

          http://www.governing.com/gov-data/economy-finance/housing-affordability-by-city-income-rental-costs.html

          Lowest is Sunnyvale, CA, which is full of millionaires. Take out the wealthy suburbs, of which there are many, and the first best option is Fargo.

          Highest? Flint, Detroit, Dade County’s majority black cities, Paterson, NJ., then some college towns.

          So this statistic really just counts how rich the citizenry is, not how affordable the housing is if you can take comparable jobs.

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          • I agree with your analysis. Sunnyvale is not a cheap place to live, and in all likelihood, the people whose incomes are way above the median rent there are probably not among the population paying median rent. They’re two different distributions and the way they overlap is going to be totally different from place to place. At minimum, we’d want the actual ratio of income earned by a specific household to housing costs paid by that specific household. Otherwise, a city full of wealthy mansion owners with one renting family barely making ends meet looks like a pretty amazing deal.

            It also doesn’t help that the ratio in Sunnyvale provides very little useful information to the average person. “Having trouble with housing costs where you live? Well, if you and your spouse can both get software engineering positions at a successful tech company, Sunnyvale is a golden opportunity.” OK then.

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    • jr,
      My, how unfounded your assumptions sound!
      1/3rd is fine, if you’re the standard American Idiot. Good rule of thumb for idiots, really.
      If you decide NOT to throw money into depreciating assets like a car (What’s that, rolling at $50,000 to buy, and MORE if you lease, like most American Idiots?), you can afford a good deal more.

      Yes, economics is a harsh mistress. I support people moving.

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    • The writer does the thing that so many who write about poverty on the interwebs do, which is to suggest that getting people to act with efficacy in their own lives, even if they’re in really crappy situations, will somehow work against the larger project of “social justice.”

      I disagree. The writer suggests that suggesting that getting people to act with efficacy in their own lives will somehow work against the larger project of “social justice”. Maybe that claim is wrong, too, but it’s logically distinct, and to my eyes it’s a lot more defensible.

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      • Question: But doesn’t that amount to the same thing? The suggestion is that suggesting people act as rational agents in their own lives runs counter to the SJW project, but if so it means that that project is about changing institutional arrangements effecting people’s lives rather than empowering those folks to change their lives on their own.

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        • I think not, for two reasons. The first is simply that, frequently, the suggestions aren’t actually useful for empowering people [1], and the second is that I don’t see a bright line between altering institutional arrangements and empowering people to change their lives on their own.

          [1] Depending on presentation, “Why don’t you move then?” can definitely be less than useful.

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          • OK. But the issue isn’t the suggestion, as you not above, but the suggestion of a suggestion. So the criticism takes place one level up (meta) from the actual goals of SJWism to the ideological or theoretical justifications for SJWism as a project. The criticism is that suggesting individual agency could remedy some of the (first order) real world problems SJWers are concerned with is inconsistent with the SJW ideology and runs counter to the program. But that could only be the case (in that person’s view, seems to me) if the program itself is primarily or entirely motivated by changing institutional structures which currently adversely effect individuals and not motivated by promoting individual agency as a solution to those problems.

            Let’s suppose that both agency and institutional structures combine to create adverse outcomes for certain types of individuals. If that’s the case, then the criticism seems even more misplaced (and j r’s critique even more on point) since it reveals that SJWism, as a program, rejects the reality on the ground, specifically, that individual agency has a role to play here.

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            • So the criticism takes place one level up (meta) from the actual goals of SJWism to the ideological or theoretical justifications for SJWism as a project.

              Yes, it’s rooted in a perception that a suggestion that people exercise individual agency is less about encouraging people to actually exercise individual agency and more about deflecting attention from a consideration of institutional factors. The issue (problem or not) is that left-of-center social justice advocates generally do not believe appeals to individual agency are usually offered in good faith.

              Interpreting the rejection of that encouragement as a rejection of the agency supposedly being encouraged is not likely to lead to an accurate understanding. If SJ advocates are wrong to reject that encouragement, they’re probably wrong because they mistakenly believe sincere, useful advice is a disingenuous “derailing” tactic, not because they don’t think agency is important.

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              • Hmmm. Thanks for elaborating a bit more. I guess we’re gonna have to agree to disagree, tho. I think SJWers, and SJWism, deny agency because the ideological basis of that ism is restricted to identifying and blaming/correcting institutional factors to improve individual outcomes. One way to make the point is that a person who believes that both individual agency and institutional structures are necessary components in describing and resolving certain types of social problems is a pragmatist or realist (or similar) and not an ideologue.

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              • The issue (problem or not) is that left-of-center social justice advocates generally do not believe appeals to individual agency are usually offered in good faith.

                This is a lazy cop-out. It’s easy to determine if the advice is given in good faith, and I already provided one simple metric by which that could be determined (is the advice to simply move offered alone, or as merely one act an individual should explore among a list of possible actions).

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                • OK, and assume a given advocate applies your heuristic and, based on it, concludes that most appeals to individual agency are not offered in good faith?

                  ‘Cause to be blunt, there’s a shitload of disingenuous appeals to individual agency out there.

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                  • Pillsy,

                    OK, and assume a given advocate applies your heuristic and, based on it, concludes that most appeals to individual agency are not offered in good faith?

                    Seems to me that on a practical level merely identifying a political dynamic which accounts for the validity of this particular criticism doesn’t change the fact that the criticism is valid, and that SJWers exclude individual agency as a part of the ideological presuppositions which constitute the “program”.

                    If anything, tho, it seems to me to reinforce the belief that SJWism is entirely focused on changing institutional structures to the exclusion of individual agency since – on this account – conceding that agency plays a role promotes the “disingenuous” perspective that agency, in fact, plays a role, and therefore no such concession should be made.

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                      • Where’s the straw? A commenter expressed the view that suggesting people act with agency runs counter to the SJW program but is defensible. I asked him how. The account was that those suggestions are disingenuous. And here we are.

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                    • The problem is that rejecting the comments and appeals to individual agency doesn’t entail rejecting individual agency–unless, that is, you believe those appeals are basically useful suggestions that enhance individual agency. Absent that belief, it’s not a conclusion that follows.

                      That’s true regardless of whether the belief itself is justified.

                      Otherwise, you end up saying that someone who doesn’t want to buy a tiger-repelling rock must want to be attacked by tigers.

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                      • Strikes me as more like “anyone who says you should buy a Tiger repelling rock offers that suggestion disingenuously (even tho you agree that they work)”.

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                        • Not if you view the suggestions as the means to empower people, which seems to be a necessary step if you want to equate rejecting those suggestions as rejecting empowerment itself.

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                          • Not if you view the suggestions as the means to empower people,

                            But this perspective only makes sense from within the conceptual apparatus of SJWism. The initial point of contrast j r mentioned wrt SJWism is that people don’t need to be empowered, they often merely need to act on their own volition, their own agency, and make rational decisions for themselves. I’m still not seeing how that objection isn’t valid as a general critique, nor the correlated view that SJWism, as an ideology or program, isn’t in tension with individual agency.

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                            • Ah OK. I think I probably mis-tracked how some language was used.

                              But basically, the argument still remains the same: this is only a rejection of individual agency if you think the suggestions and advice being offered is a useful way to encourage people to use that agency. Without that premise, dismissing the suggestions implies nothing about the importance, or possibility, of agency.

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                              • If the knee jerk towards suggestions of individual agency is to dismiss it as disingenuous, absent some other evidence it is being offered disingenuously, then you have a problem.

                                Well, it’s a problem if you want to have an actual conversation about it. If you just want to engage in some virtue signalling (since that’s a somewhat current topic of late), then by all means, knee jerk away.

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                                  • Expanding: the piece does a thing that screw up pieces like that, whether they’re really virtue signaling or just written without proper thought about who the intended audience is.[1] The author threw in a comment that would be pretty uncontroversial with people who, well, already agreed with her, without thought of how people who didn’t agree with her might take it.

                                    That’s a bad way to persuade people! It’s a bad way to communicate!

                                    I think the author screwed up because quite a few commenters here got the same (IMO) wrong idea what she meant.

                                    But I still think they got the wrong idea.

                                    [1] These two problems are… not easy to distinguish.

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                            • I’m probably being too cynical but this elides the bigger issue that, in housing scenarios, the majority of the anti development opposition are economically self interested current owners and residents who find adopting the SJW talking points as a very convenient fig leaf for what is, in essence, nakedly harming the general welfare in pursuit of their own interests. The true believer SJW’s are just useful cover. Sort-of like how the GOP uses libertarians and libertarianism to sugarcoat their pro-rich people policies.

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      • I disagree. The writer suggests that suggesting that getting people to act with efficacy in their own lives will somehow work against the larger project of “social justice”. Maybe that claim is wrong, too, but it’s logically distinct, and to my eyes it’s a lot more defensible.

        Maybe there is a meaningful distinction, but I’m not sure that I care for either mode.

        Let me try different approach. There are conversations about poverty and there are meta-level conversations about the issue of poverty. Conversations about poverty are focused on useful interventions that get people out of poverty and those conversations can either be focused on societal level political changes or individual level behavioral changes. I’m fine with those conversations, whether they focus on the societal level or the personal level.

        My problem is with the meta-level conversations. When someone says that it’s wrong to focus on one level, because it distracts from the other level, that is a pretty good sign that person is focused more on the conversation than they are on the issue.

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        • My problem is with the meta-level conversations. When someone says that it’s wrong to focus on one level, because it distracts from the other level, that is a pretty good sign that person is focused more on the conversation than they are on the issue.

          Now it’s my turn to be unsure about whether this is a meaningful distinction. People often believe that thinking about a problem the right way is an important prerequisite to addressing it, and that’s always struck me as reasonable. This is a particularly common belief among SJ advocates, and it can absolutely go wrong [1], but it isn’t limited to them by any means.

          I think the author messed up her piece by forgetting how that statement would read to people who don’t share her priors, which is a hard thing not to do [2], but really doesn’t help persuade anyone.

          When you look past that, though, the argument she makes is pretty substantive, and outlines the problem of relying on individual agency and “good choices” for solving the overall problem.

          [1] Perhaps ironically, like an excessive focus on privilege, it can ultimately turn attempts to address social problems into programs of self-improvement which I don’t really help anybody all that much.

          [2] I sure do it a lot.

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          • People often believe that thinking about a problem the right way is an important prerequisite to addressing it, and that’s always struck me as reasonable.

            It can be reasonable or it can be unreasonable. Likewise it can be reasonable, but wrong. Heck, it can even be unreasonable, but still right.

            That’s the way social science works. We don’t know what is effective until we do the work to find out what is effective. And even then, our results may be ambiguous. What that means is that when you go into a situation saying that one set of interventions is off the table, because they are associated with the wrong team, then you’re doing very poor social science. Everything else s window dressing.

            This criticism extends equally to those who insist on only focusing on personal-level choices and who dismiss any attempt to talk about societal-level changes.

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    • Put simply, yes and no.

      If people really believe that promoting agency and helping people see that poverty isn’t something that is simply done to them but rather a confluence of factors, some of which they can seize control of and possibly improve their situation is “bad” because it undermines the SJW mission, than fuck those people and the SJW mission.

      But moving isn’t always so simple for one reason or another AND is no guarantee that things will change. So, yea, yes and no.

      Thinking more about it though, I do think there is actually a credence of value to the point about the “mission”. If I stand up and say, “Poor people can help themselves by considering choices they’ve made that are contributing to their situation and perhaps make different ones,” some people will glom on to that and say, “See? Poverty is a moral or intellectual failing. They chose poverty. We shouldn’t help them.” That IS damaging to certain missions (SJW and otherwise).

      Which is why I think knowing your audience is really important. If I was talking with a person living in poverty, I’d say something to the effect of, “Yea, man, I get the system has screwed you. But there are some options… let’s explore them.” If I was talking with a person at the other end of the spectrum, I’d say something more along the lines of, “The system is screwing people. How can we fix it?”

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    • Here’s how I relate to this article. I can’t tell you how many times, in my career as an engineer, somebody would come into my office and tell me how dumb I was for not doing some simple thing. Because they’d thought about it for a total of 5 minutes and concluded that I was stupid. The thing was, their proposal wouldn’t work. Because computer systems, just like life, are complicated. Their “common sense” solution was wrong for reasons that they hadn’t yet realized, but that didn’t stop them for calling me wrong, or lazy, or worse.

      It’s also not a coincidence that what brought them into my office is that what I (or my team) had actually done had an impact on them that they didn’t like. They would have to do something. Maybe it would even hurt them a little. Though that’s up for debate, too.

      The suggestion, ‘why don’t you just move?’ usually comes across as exactly this sort of thing. Somebody with about 5 minutes worth of background making a suggestion that frames the people who aren’t making that decision as stupid or stubborn or both. Often it seems that the argument is made in order to preserve the state of non-action on the part of the speaker.

      This may or may not be true in all cases. However, as the “logistical” parts of the article show, moving isn’t that simple, and it’s not a good option for everyone. Sometimes the obstacles are economic or social. Sometimes the obstacles to moving are just fears, which are real enough.

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      • The suggestion, ‘why don’t you just move?’ usually comes across as exactly this sort of thing. Somebody with about 5 minutes worth of background making a suggestion that frames the people who aren’t making that decision as stupid or stubborn or both.

        This is a pretty good summation of a variety of responses that I got to my original comment. And my only response in turn is, “so what?” If someone is in a tough financial situation and they’re getting all manner of advice, some conflicting, about how to get out of that situation, they only thing that they should be focused on is the efficacy of the advice and not whether it comes wrapped in a pretty bow or now.

        So, is there anyone who thinks that someone in a difficult financial situation should be paying 40% or 50% of their take home pay on housing?

        By the way, notice in the original comment, I didn’t say “just move.” I said that people in those steps should start taking concrete steps to get into a better situation. Those steps could be researching other areas or other housing arrangements or it could be thinking about what skills they need to acquire to get a promotion or a better job.

        In the short run, we can’t control the policy environment. All we can control is our own behavior. And the only way that I know of to build wealth is to increase the amount of money you have coming in and/or decrease the amount of money you have going out and save, then invest, the difference. If there is another way for people to reach some modicum of financial security, I’d love to hear about it.

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        • In a free market, rents and home prices going up are a signal to home builders to build more houses and rental properties. Builders, seeking profits, would then start building like crazy.

          But they can’t do that because development has to be approved by the city council or some designated city office that’s under the control of the city council. The city council is almost entirely representing existing home owners (the majority of voters) who want home prices to spike, and are using their power in a democracy to create an artificial housing shortage.

          But this could be described not as democracy, but a cartel engaged in a criminal conspiracy to illegally prevent builders from building homes in response to market forces. In the absence of the city council, the homes would get built. But the existence of the city council means the extra housing won’t exist because the city council is abusing its power over zoning, a power that is in itself constitutionally questionable as it infringes on the property rights of individuals.

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          • In some places, zoning is a concern as it stops new buildings from being built.

            In other places, the *actual* problem is people purchasing real estate and sitting on it, and zoning laws sometimes actually *reduce* that behavior. Like they do in NYC, requiring new buildings to have a specific amount of ‘not super-rich’ housing.

            Not because they mind the super-rich having housing, but because those guys just like buying NYC condos they don’t even use, truly giant condos that could house 50 people, sitting on them as an investment for decades, wasting the incredibly limited space in Manhattan. There are top floors of buildings in Manhattan that are ghost towns, where there are 6 units and perhaps one of them is occupied for two months out of the year.

            Or like in my town. Here, about half a dozen moderately wealthy families own a lot of the town and surrounding areas, and they appear to have decided to keep a lot of unused property as an investment. Every few years, they sell off another piece, and then live off that money. We’d be much better off (As would, probably, *them*.) if they’d sell the property and stick the money in the market or something, or, hell, if they’d *develop* the property and rent it to people. But they are blithely unconcerned with that sort of thing.

            Occasionally, someone who *isn’t* like this ends up in control of the property, and sells off a huge spat of it. Otherwise, our housing is…batshit stupid. We don’t build it in town, and outside of town we create some of the weirdest meandering dirt roads through inaccessible areas to build houses. And you look at those thing haphazardly wedged onto the side of hills and guttering dirt roads that go miles…and then you look at the giant unused pastures and flat forest and other properties and are like “What the fuck is going on here? Was that really the sanest place to build housing?” No, it was not, over there would have clearly been better, but *that* land literally wasn’t for sale. It has been, and will continue to be, a completely unused field for the next fifty years.

            As I’ve said before, there are a lot of things that are a lot more destructive to America than people realize, and the idea of using real estate as an *investment* really belongs right up at the top.

            This is causing the problem I describe, *and* the problem you describe!

            And zoning, of course, can’t help with real estate hording. They’re not *using* the property, they do not care how it is zoned. There really is no way to fix this…well, barring fairly large property taxes.

            In this country, we have come up with the idea that we should tax your *additional* houses more money than your first house, and that we shouldn’t tax the first $X of your first house.

            I’d like to see us continue that idea. Actually, I’d like to see us, in addition to taxing the property value, tax the acreage…but you get like 10 acres for free, so it doesn’t impact most people. And it steadily increases with each additional acre.

            I wouldn’t be opposed to some sort of reduction for enterprises that *require* large amounts of land like cattle farms. And if you’ve rented the land to other people, you get a reduction…you’re not hoarding quite as bad. And it really should be based, at least a little, on how dense the surrounding area is populated, because someone owning a hundred thousand acres in the middle of nowhere is better than someone owning fifty acres in the middle of a dense city.

            So, , how about a hypothetical compromise? Obviously, we can’t actually do anything, but how about *you* agree to some changes in property taxes designed to make large property hoarders more likely to disgorge their property (While designed to not affect even the largest personal house.), and *I* agree that zoning regulations, especially ones WRT housing density, are a very stupid idea that also causes housing prices to go up?

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            • Is the empty NYC apartment thing as prevalent as people say? I know it happens (my sister’s boss only 12ish properties in the tristate area) but I also know that NYC’s resident income tax leads some folks to claim residency elsewhere despite living primarily in the city (like my brother and sister each did for a little while); it makes those units look empty on paper but not in actuality.

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              • Kinda weird to lead with an anecdote confirming what I said, and then question it. But okay.

                but I also know that NYC’s resident income tax leads some folks to claim residency elsewhere despite living primarily in the city (like my brother and sister each did for a little while); it makes those units look empty on paper but not in actuality.

                But, anyway, if that is true, than that just changes the problem from ‘people are legally hording property without using it in NYC’ to ‘people are pretending they are hording property without using it in NYC to *illegally* avoid income tax’!

                Which sorta makes my suggestion just as good. If we start hitting them in taxes for the unused housing, maybe new space won’t open up, and instead a bunch of people will ‘move back’ into those apartments and start paying the income tax they’ve been dodging!

                A win either way. (And it’s theoretically possible that those people have set up empty houses or apartments somewhere else to maintain the lie, so maybe *that* housing will open up.)

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            • We should relax laws on squatting, so that if a person has been using an idle property for a much shorter span than allowed under current laws, he gets title.

              As Hernando De Soto remarked, such laws, which started in Frankfort Kentucky, made America an economic powerhouse.

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              • I’m not *opposed* to making squatting easier, I’ve always thought that would be a good idea, although I’m startled to find a conservative…or, really, even a liberal suggesting that, because I’ve been a distinct minority there.

                But that is hardly likely to fix the New York problem, because squatters can’t get to penthouse condos, and even places they *can* get to present unique problems.

                How exactly do you handle squatters in an apartment building? They now ‘own’ part of the building? But a) that building might not *have* any condos, so has no structure to handle ownership of part of the building, and b) actual condo owners obviously have agreed to pay maintenance costs and whatnot. What happens when things break? Heck, what happens when part of the building breaks and the condo squatter does not allow maintenance into their part to fix it? (Which they would have to do under the condo agreement, but they didn’t sign that.)

                So I don’t know what to do there. Combined with the fact that squatters are much easier to spot and drive off now, I’m not sure that allowing more squatter’s rights would do anything.

                Meanwhile, I know conservatives are opposed to any sort of wealth tax….

                …but real estate is, in fact, physically limited (So there is justification to stop people from hording it.), and already taxed, and I think some sort of *density*-based tax would be reasonable.

                Like, wherever your primary residence is, you get…five times as much space as the average person has (calculated minus your property) to stay within normal property tax. You live somewhere where houses are on one acre lots, you can have a five acre lot. You live in Manhattan where the average apartment is 1000 square feet, you get 5,000 square feet. And there’d be some sort of calculation for more than one person, obviously. (And probably this should be set by law and recalculated every few years instead of a number that would change constantly.)

                Or, rather, you *can* have more than that, and in fact people would, but there is a tax penalty for everything over that amount, in *addition* to whatever the property value is.

                And some sort of exemption for homes that are used as businesses. And actual commercial properties, of course…unless they’re apartment buildings.

                Again, we sorta, haphazardly, do this, with letting people have less property taxes on their *first* house. But that results in the weird fact that someone with a thirty acre estate with a 40,000 square foot house gets that deduction, whereas someone with two properties totaling four acres and two houses totaling 3,000 square feet doesn’t.

                I’d rather we just let everyone have ‘reasonable’ amount of property, and then increase taxes on all the rest, connected or not, and have those taxes based on the density of the area they are in. (Because people owning 100 square miles of wilderness are not the problem here.)

                Now, there are some practice problems here, like trust ownership and other things that get screwy, so maybe this won’t actually *work*. It’s just an idea.

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                • I don’t think conventional squatting laws could apply to apartment buildings because the building is continuously occupied. If not occupied for a number of years then it’s an abandoned property and perhaps fair game. Of course another component of our squatting laws was that the claimant had to have made significant improvements (building a house and a barn, etc), so that would likewise rule out most urban squatting situations.

                  Of course the beauty of squatting laws was that they allowed land to be transformed from dead assets (dirt with trees and no owner) into the real economy, with an owner and a deed. Pretty much every square foot of most urban areas has an owner, whether private or city.

                  The road I live on was a rare exception due to an oopsie. It was set aside as a trolley easement in the 1920’s but never claimed by the city, county, or state. When we discovered this, everyone on my street got title to the street itself, with I guess an automatic easement for the neighbors to drive on it.

                  Anyway, perhaps we’re abusing our zoning laws to protect existing values without weighing whether that’s causing external harms. There are people who don’t own property (or rent) because the housing isn’t getting built, which means the city isn’t growing naturally (if not somewhat chaotically). Sure, it means nobody is going to build a flop house or a strip club next to your house, but where in the Constitution did it say your property value must never drop? We are guaranteed a right to own property (at least in the Kentucky Constitution). But it doesn’t explicitly grant us a right to control what someone else does with their property.

                  Yet we use government to do just that.

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  2. Ci2 – I don’t see how they *can’t* do this, preserve and re purpose the iconic phone booths. Reminds me of what they’re doing with old fire call boxes in DC (and probably elsewhere) which were decommissioned in the 70s when modern 911 systems came to full operational capacity.

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  3. Cr3- opium eradication and crop substitution have, at best, a mixed record in Afghanistan, and that’s probably significantly overstating things. Though it may be better in Colombia, because, as the article says, there’s already a baseline of legal cash crops. Still, as the article says, that doesn’t help the people that live where the coffee doesn’t grow. Maybe financial incentives to just get them to move (and make the land a wilderness preserve or something)?

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  4. [cr5] except the acquittal wasn’t because the defendant had a big dick, it was that the Medical Examiner didn’t provide enough evidence to prove the state’s case [/kiljoy]

    [E1] “Yeah, if you’re hoping to impress corporate employers, a major that indicates a desire not to work for a corporate employer does seem like a bad idea. ”

    Come on, you’ve heard of negging, right?

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  5. Ci4: Getting urbanism right in a democracy can be very hard because the electorate tends to want order in their urban design and to protect their property values. The cities that people really love were either built organically over the centuries like London or Rome or are the result of an autocrat imposing his design on a place like Paris or St. Petersburg or a combination over the two. Modern electorates aren’t willing to allow for organic an anarchic development and lack autocrats that can impose their will.

    Cr1: This shouldn’t be surprising. Lawyers are supposed to be zealous advocates for their clients cause. If they can use emojis to win a case for their client than they will even if the original emoji use was done without intent or meaning.

    Cr3: Growing cocaine is addictive.

    E3: I agree, this looks bad for Princeton.

    E6: It depends on what you mean by requires. There are a lot of jobs that really don’t need a college degree for somebody to do them well but if boss person wants a college degree than the job is going to require a college degree. I’m currently reading City of London by David Kynaston. Its a history of London’s business district from 1800 to 2000.

    During the late 19th and early 20th century, most people usually started their career as an office boy in their early teenage years, like around 14, by a quick interview after getting referred to a few firms. You would than start out on menial tasks like emptying chamber pots and over the years and decades work up to a quite senior business position. Its very different and I don’t know if we can go back to that system or even something between that system and what we do today. From my historical understanding, most corporate and financial jobs in the United States did not use the informal interview method at this time and tended to prefer people in their late teens and early twenties for white collar jobs done by much younger people in the United Kingdom. They also wanted college graduates. So American employers had a preference for college graduates for white collar work for a long time compared to other wealthy countries.

    F1: The next Crystal Pepsi is upon us.

    F3: Horses are seen as noble animals so Americans are always going to be reluctant to eat them.

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  6. F7 – the only thing that bothers me about this story is that the narrative is a bit too pat. Portland! Hipsters! Foodies! Exoticism! Outrage! Closure!

    Everyone is playing their parts to perfection. Almost too perfect. Are we sure we’re not post-hoc fallacing this, that the food cart closed because of Outrage!, and not because running a food business these day is a highly competitive, difficult enterprise with a sizable failure rate?

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    • It’s possible! However, what happened to the website to me suggests that it was more than just not making it (unless they just wanted to leave people with that impression). When a restaurant with a website closes, there is usually an announcement. If there isn’t, it’s because the website was taken completely down (they didn’t pay their bill or whatever). In this case, the content of the site was removed. Seems kind of slapdash in a “Leave us alone!” sort of way.

      But I could be wrong.

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      • I thought your blog post was pretty good.

        This story fits one of my criteria for “inappropriate use of material originating elsewhere” which is that the material (the recipe and method for making tacos) was not given freely to the people using it.

        However, it fails on another of my criteria, which is that the new use transforms the meaning of the work, giving it a new meaning in the new, ethnically differing, setting. Tacos stayed as tacos, and burritos stayed as burritos. Contrast that horrifying performance of Miley Cyrus at the MVA. She uses hip-hop dancing to “come out” as a sexual being and a sex symbol. And she does so with some ironic detachment as well. Not good.

        No, the tacos were just meant to be tacos. Which puts it in a gray area for me. It’s not clear that any Mexican American was denied an opportunity because of this.

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        • This story fits one of my criteria for “inappropriate use of material originating elsewhere” which is that the material (the recipe and method for making tacos) was not given freely to the people using it.

          That seems a stretch to me and requires a pretty uncharitable reading of the woman’s account.

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      • I’m curious about what sort of “secret” burrito/taco making secrets they discovered. I’d guess there a few thousand secret recipes on the web. It’s not like they were the first white people to discover Baja. My guess is there is nothing unknown or unheard of about how they made their food. So if the knowledge was already out there, they couldn’t even steal it.

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  7. Ci3: London does seem to be the white-collar hub of England/UK but I am not sure it is the only place that is really more centralized than other places. Tokyo is the Ur-City of Japan. Paris rules over France even if other major cities are prosperous.

    Ci4: Going autocratic might be stretching it but we could probably end veto points and make the things more centralized and erase some democratic say in construction that goes on.

    Ci5: I am not sure you need to discard the moral arguments against “just move”. Discarding them seems to be a real risk. Do you keep families together or bust them up? How do you aclimate people to a new location/culture? Etc.

    Ci6: Part of Seattle’s problems are their unique geography. The other issue is pre tech booms, a lot of cities had reputations as places where assorted misfits and weirdos and assorted bohemians could go and live while letting their freak flags fly. Not so much anymore but pre-tech SF was known for being this kind of place for punks, hippies, LBGT people, etc. Also Amazon probably isn’t moving because Jeff Bezos wants Seattle and he wants employees who want Seattle or someplace similar.

    E6: On a fundamental level, I just don’t get arguments like this or I think my priors are just fundamentally different. I did some googling and found a tweet from Helton arguing that we also send way more people to high school than we need to. In my view educational advancement is a fundamental sign of civilization/economic advancement. The reason most people did not graduate from high school or college decades ago is because we were a much poorer country and people needed to enter the workforce as soon as possible because they needed to help their families or they were forced out on their own. By being able to turn most people into high school grads and then more people into college grads, we are advancing as a society from a cruder version.

    The tuition thing/student debt is an issue but my preferred solution would be to subsidize public universities heavily like we used to.

    I don’t understand why so many people are attached to an older order when kids needed to enter the workforce sooner because of economic deprivation. Isn’t it good that this is no longer the case?

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    • The moral argument in the article is basically “It’s wrong to suggest that people who have difficulty paying the rent consider moving to places where they wouldn’t have difficulty paying the rent.”

      Well, says who? And what about the people who do move? Are they just chumps? Are they victims? And why should people who don’t get to live where they prefer have to bend over backwards to help those who want that? They may do so out of generosity, or because they think it’s in their best interest, but there is no obligation because there is no right.

      I have a lot of sympathy for people who want to stay close to family. Even for those who want to attend operas. Likewise, I have sympathy for people who want to live in the mountains and stay near their families there. What doesn’t exist is any sort of societal obligation to accommodate them, whether we’re talking about rural West Virginia or urban California.

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      • I think people are being awfully hard on Ci5, which seems to briefly mention a moral argument, and then lists a ton of reasons why “move for lower rent” isn’t going to be feasible, or will simply fail to solve the problem, for many people.

        Moving is generally a high-risk decision; if things go wrong, you can end up much worse off than if you’d just stayed where you were and struggled with rent.

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        • The logistical arguments are fine. The moral arguments – even if only briefly stated and softly implied – draw things towards a more limited set of policy responses as logistical arguments are more problems to be solved (for some, hopefully enough, people) rather than rights to be addressed.

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          • Right, but the moral argument itself seems to be, “Don’t suggest people move because moving is a non-solution for many people, and failing to address the real problem is wrong.”

            Importantly, proposing policies that would make it easier to move wouldn’t run afoul of the article’s injunction.

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            • “proposing policies that would make it easier to move wouldn’t run afoul of the article’s injunction.”

              Congratulations, you invented White Flight.

              The article is indeed claiming that “just move” is not merely impractical but immoral–like, even if people did have enough money to move somewhere else, greedy landlords would still be charging way-too-high rents, and this is a sign of moral failure in society that must be illuminated and rectified.

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              • Congratulations, you invented White Flight.

                Well, I wouldn’t endure the parts where housing policy was designed to only make it easier for white people to move. That seems like a bad plan.

                The article is indeed claiming that “just move” is not merely impractical but immoral–like, even if people did have enough money to move somewhere else, greedy landlords would still be charging way-too-high rents, and this is a sign of moral failure in society that must be illuminated and rectified.

                Well, if the situation is such that some people can’t solve their problem by moving (for one of the many reasons listed in the article), I’d say the author kind of has a point, even if it may not be precisely the point you’re attributing to her.

                “Greedy landlords” wouldn’t be in the top five reasons I’d cite for the rent being too damn high. The article doesn’t seem to list the author’s beliefs on the subject.

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    • Ci4: Going autocratic might be stretching it but we could probably end veto points and make the things more centralized and erase some democratic say in [building a border wall][going to war with Syria/Lybia/Yemen][extending drone assassinations to US citizens].

      Heh, it never sounds autocratic when its for something you like!

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      • It seems strange to conflate “removing veto points” with “eras[ing] some democratic say” in policy. The two are often diametrically opposed.

        Whether one or both tends to move us towards autocracy is a separate question.

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        • Not really when it comes to building in the United States. Aspects of the American political system make it a lot easier to gum up infrastructure projects in the United States as we saw with Kolohe’s post on Maryland/DC’s purple line project and many other transit projects. Upstate New Yorker’s were able to starve funds from the NYC subway building projects for decades in a way that would be nearly impossible in other countries. You see a similar aspect with housing and communities fighting densification for decades even when it makes a lot of sense.

          You can see these veto points as democratic because the citizenry or at least the citizenry that really cares about certain issues can not be steam rolled over when decisions are made. In European countries, once a project is voted on or a development allowed to go forward than it is nearly impossible for the citizens to stop it even if it is very unpopular. In America, citizens can stop projects even if they don’t live in the affected city, like upstate New Yorkers and the MTA. Its NIMBYism but its also democratic.

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    • Seattle might be the birth place of grunge but it never had the city of misfits, by misfits, for misfits reputation that San Francisco had before the tech boom. It was always seen as a techie sort of place because of Boeing and it being an early home of the computer industry. It was one of the few cities that did not really suffer a decline in population after World War II.

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      • But it REALLY wants to be Far North San Francisco (since Portland is North SF).

        Except for all those engineers and developers who refuse to play along.

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    • E6 – Two comments. I don’t think anyone’s wishing for the days when people were disadvantaged. But they are recognizing that some people are still disadvantaged, or unable for other reasons to complete their schooling. If there are jobs that they can do, we shouldn’t be sidelining them by requiring educational levels that they don’t have.

      The second thing is a comment that I’ve made so many times around here that I should set my F1 key to print it out automatically. It doesn’t address your question, but it’s pertinent to the subject. Most of our educational requirements for jobs are driven by the need of HR people to legally defend any decision they make. If 1000 people apply for a job, and an interviewer goes with his gut and hires someone for unquantifiable reasons, then how do you defend that decision against a lawsuit? If you restrict the interviewer to 5 candidates who pass the same quantifiable educational standard, even if that level of education has no relationship to the ability to do a job, you can protect yourself. That’s what’s indirectly driving our over-credentializing, and even more indirectly driving grade inflation.

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      • E6 – Two comments. I don’t think anyone’s wishing for the days when people were disadvantaged. But they are recognizing that some people are still disadvantaged, or unable for other reasons to complete their schooling. If there are jobs that they can do, we shouldn’t be sidelining them by requiring educational levels that they don’t have.

        Like I said, I agree with this but it seems odd to have a tweet talking about how our high school and college attendance rates are overshot by around 80 percent. That is a bit more than recognizing what you mentioned above and more like “ideological ax to grind on how the world should be.”

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      • Has anybody ever done a study between workplaces to small to justify an HR department and workplaces with an HR department when it came to require a college degree? If companies without an HR department require college degrees at the same rate that companies with an HR department than your thesis is wrong.

        My historical understanding is that American companies required credentials long before anybody on this site was born or even before our grandparents and great-grandparents were born. Like I mentioned above, I’m currently reading City of London by David Kynaston. Its a history of London’s financial district from 1800 to 2000. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most people got a job in the City, as the British call their Wall Street, by a private interview at a very young age like around fourteen. If you passed the interview you became an Office Boy and started doing minimal tasks and gradually rose up in rank, pay, and responsibilities.

        From my historical knowledge, American companies did not do this. They preferred to hire men in their twenties who graduated college to do Office Boy tasks from the late 19th century to the present. Yes, some people started in the Mail Room and rose up the corporate ranks but this was comparatively rare compared as an experience. So, I think that American companies liked credentials long before HR came into existence.

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      • Most of our educational requirements for jobs are driven by the need of HR people to legally defend any decision they make.

        I do not disagree, but I also do not think that this has all that much explanatory value. The companies that hire college grads tend to have more than enough screening criteria to winnow down the pool of available applicants that they don’t need much legal cover. Consider two firms.

        One is in heavy industry and needs people to do some kind of semi-skilled manufacturing work. Ostensibly what they need is someone who can learn a bunch or rote tasks reliably and efficiently. Lots of people can do that, though. What they’re really looking for is the subset of folks who can show up everyday on time, is free from any substance abuse problems, and can take instructions from management without too much attitude. So, HR puts out an ad asking for a high school diploma, maybe an associates degree, a couple-few years work experience and references. If someone has all that, there’s a chance that they can show up everyday and not cause any problems.

        The other firm is a professional services firm (consulting, finance, whatever) that needs a bunch of fresh college grads to be analysts. Again, on the surface, what they need is a bunch of people who can learn rote tasks and repeat them reliably day after day (populating spreadsheets, building slide decks, doing random admin tasks, etc.). And again, lots of people can do that or can be trained to that. But what these firms really want is young people with a certain modicum of cognitive ability, people smart enough to work independently and problem solve when needed, but who are conscientious enough to show up everyday to cubicle jockey and not wake up one morning to decide what they really want is to study bread making in the south of France. So, HR goes recruiting at certain schools, because the kids there have the grades and the SAT scores to signal intelligence and the ability to work for good grades, and they look for certain majors, because majoring in finance or accounting signals an interest in office work in a way that interpretive dance or comparative literature do not.

        The other thing to remember is that for most professional-level positions, HR is doing the hiring. They’re just doing the initial screening and handling logistics for the hiring manager, who will make the ultimate decision. Being afraid of lawsuits is a much better explanation for the first firm. But for the second, the credentialing is mostly a way of corporations outsourcing a portion of their screening to colleges and universities.

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      • Most of our educational requirements for jobs are driven by the need of HR people to legally defend any decision they make.

        Does HR make hiring decisions? AFAIK, they haven’t at any company where I’ve ever worked. Granted, I’ve only ever worked in the tech industry, but for the kinds of jobs where a college education is even ostensibly a requirement, shouldn’t hiring decisions be made by the people most familiar with the specific requirements of the job?

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  8. Telephone Boxes: Everyone knows they are The Doctor’s Tardis. But I’m not surprised some hipster isn’t trying to make a “tiny house” out of it.

    Ci5 And a quick scan of the article didn’t show any recommendations on lowering rent.

    [Ci6] My recollection of Seattle in 91-92 was that traffic was already bad, particularly on I-5. Seattle and Washington had a habit of taxing the hell out of Boeing, and King county had the highest sales tax around. The only thing going for it was no state income taxes. I doubt much has changed.

    [E5] Heinlein was correct. “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”

    E6] ““Learning how to think” is what grade school and high school should be for.” Sadly, that ain’t happening anymore

    [F4] This is just idiots who don’t know how to handle a knife. And this is from a guy who has cut himself with knives like 15 times in 30 years. See above for what kid’s ain’t being taught in school.

    F7] I had a date one time with a korean woman, at a sushi restaurant. She remarked that ALL the staff was korean. I asked how she knew and she said, “duh, I’m korean’. The horrors!!! Koreans appropriating Japanese culture and food. Damn racist koreans. Or maybe that’s ok but when white folk do it, that’s a prob?

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    • Telephone Boxes: Everyone knows they are The Doctor’s Tardis. But I’m not surprised some hipster isn’t trying to make a “tiny house” out of it.

      Fortunately, a lot of people know that the TARDIS is not a public phone booth (for starters, in the U.K, those are red, like mailboxes). The TARDIS (all capitals, it’s an acronym) is a police phone booth, used to call for emergency services from the days when there was no 911 (or 999, we are Brits here). It’s the same contraption that Officer Charlie Dibble was talking into all the time in Top Cat. and that Top Cat was not supposed to use.

      The horrors!!! Koreans appropriating Japanese culture and food. Damn racist koreans. Or maybe that’s ok but when white folk do it, that’s a prob?

      Given that Koreans have a still living memory of being conquered and exploited by the Japanese in what was a fairly brutal episode of colonial oppression (google comfort women, for instance) I can understand that a Korean person might be surprised to see Koreans promoting Japanese culture.

      And, contrary to popular belief, Chinese, Mongolian, Korean, and Japanese people look very different. It’s just to us imperialistic westerners like me that they look the same.

      In the words of the immortal villain The Craw (I mean The Craw, sorry, the C L A W ), kidnapping blondes all over D.C. in his search for Pricess Ingrid

      The Claw: Actually, the only girl we want is Princess Ingrid.
      Maxwell Smart: Then why did you abduct the others?
      The Claw: Unfortunately, Mr. Smart, all Americans look alike to us. We may be diabolical, but we are not perfect.

      Get Smart – Diplomat’s Daugher, 1965

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      • Shesh and I thought i was pedantic :) Yes, the blue box is a police box. Color my memory bad from watching dr. who in the 80s.

        Koreans: Well, my date was Korean and she told me everyone the restaurant was Korean. She new this 1) since she was Korean and 2) had been there before. She had no problem with it. I however, am still learning to tell the differences between Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese. I was, however, more interested in getting into my date’s pants than the ethnic make up of the folks rolling my “spicy tuna roll”.

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        • @j_a I represent Asian immigrants so I can explain. There aren’t that many Japanese immigrants to the United States compared to Chinese or Korean immigrants. The few Japanese immigrants to the United States do not go into the food industry for the most part. People really like Japanese food though. Many Korean and Chinese immigrants take advantage of the “all Asians look alike” stereotype that many non-Asians have to open up Japanese restaurants.

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    • E5- Heinlein was incorrect and he was incorrect in a way that many self-proclaimed admirers of free market capitalism often are. One of Adam Smith’s most important observations was that generalization is the way to poverty but specialization creates wealth. A society composed of generalists will be poor because very few people can master all those skills well. People should focus on what they are good at and exchange with others good at something else that they suck at.

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      • I’ve always taken Heinlein’s quote to mean that a person should not narrow their focus so completely as to be without basic proficiency and competence in a range of skills.

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        • That is a plausible interpretation but based on how it is being used and who quotes it a lot, it seems to be a valorization of the person that can do anything. The Ace of All Trades.

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          • I think you’re overlooking the fact that a person might specialize in more than one thing.

            This past weekend, I was stranded. I fixed my car using a pen, a steak knife, and a pair of channel locks.
            And I feel good about myself.

            Now pardon me while I go roll up my next Ranger/Magic-User/Acrobat/Assassin . . .

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          • Other than me, I know no one use quotes that Heinlein comment at all. Guess I don’t run in the correct circles. And I’ve always understood it to mean exactly what Oscar said, rightly or wrongly. Especially, given the context of the post, it’s clearly the intent. I can’t tell you how many people I know that can’t do many things for themselves. My mom taught me how to sew, iron, do laundry, dishes, starch a shirt. Dad showed me how to change tires, motor oil, bait a hook, fish, hunt, skin an animal, etc. The only thing he didn’t think I didn’t need to know was how to type, as that was “women’s work”.

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  9. E6: Two thoughts…

    One is that the college requirement is not for the first job, but that the employer is hiring for the succession of jobs at the same firm the employee will fill. Or within the same “job”, the changing set of skills that will be required. A four-year degree demonstrates some mastery of: (1) the ability to learn on one’s own and (2) putting up with a certain degree of unpleasant activities. To (1), few high schools don’t provide hand-holding all the way through. To (2), I’ve known very few BA and BS graduates who enjoyed all of those block requirement courses; some of them were unpleasantness that had to be tolerated in order to reach the final goal.

    Two is that if you want to know someone has mastered skill A, then you want them to go one level beyond that and master skill B where A was a prerequisite. To pick a trivial example, if you want to hire someone who has mastered algebraic manipulation, don’t hire someone who passed algebra and stopped; hire someone who passed first-semester calculus, where you have to do algebraic manipulation every day and get it right. In every Calc I class I’ve ever taught, early in the class the students’ algebra is full of errors, but those have all disappeared by the end of the term.

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  10. [Ci6] Sure, I bet a ton of cities would love to have them, except a couple problems. First, do the cities really want them long term? For example, take a nice shiny town smack in the middle of “real America” — do they really want us? After all, we like lattes and our boys wear pajamas sometimes. Evidently “real Americans” hate that shit. Second, would we want to go there? Honestly, there is a reason I live in Boston. I can imagine moving to NYC or Seattle or the bay area, but {red state city}? Oh gawd no!

    Okay so I’m trans. Sure. I’m a small demographic, but looking around the the tech dudes surrounding me — do they want to live in the cookie-cutter “burbs” where insecure men buy too-much-truck so they feel a bit less intimidated by the “real Americans” living three miles out of town?

    I’m exaggerating, a little bit.

    And then there are the megachurches.

    My point, there is a reason that tech companies find themselves in the coastal cultural meccas. Likewise there is a reason those very same places fight back against the homogenization of tech. Likewise there is a reason that the techies themselves are often sympathetic, even as they download their “disruptive” apps.

    It’s not a great cycle, but these are places with something worth fighting for. Vibrant, tolerant cultures don’t just happen by accident. Tech found a home in these spaces for a reason.

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  11. E5 – Wow.

    The idea of there being an online site with ‘Here are some basic skills’ is not a bad idea. Not only because we are, inexplicably, neglecting those in schools, but there are situations where someone can have a perfectly normal upbringing and not know things…someone who grew up in NYC might literally have never known anyone with a personal car, and then they move somewhere and get one. When, exactly, were they supposed to learn how to maintain a car, if their school didn’t teach it? (Mine didn’t teach it, and we *do* use cars here.) How?

    But charging for it? On a subscription basis? Really?

    That really sounds more like a curated wiki, with perhaps a discussion forum that people can get more specific help.

    In fact, isn’t that basically what wikiHow is, except a bit broader? A site that merely collected the *useful*, general purpose wikiHows (They literally have, on their front page right now, ‘How to Make Snow Golems Useful in Minecraft’. Really guys?) would probably be useful.

    Have some sort of team that verifies the information is, in fact, general purpose, and true. And get some discussion forums for general things ‘House stuff’, ‘Car stuff’, ‘Cooking stuff’, and try to attract knowledgeable people willing to donate some time to answering basic questions there, and turn the repeated ones into new articles. There you go. Not really rocket science.

    Yes, you might want to do something things that cost money, make some videos, but a few donations would probably cover that.

    Hell, there literally are people making howto videos just for the ad revenue right now, all over youtube. If you actually became successful as a site, bringing a big audience, you’d probably have them falling over themselves to produce videos for you…if you let them keep the ad revenue.

    This entire school premise is dodgy. Hey, everyone, here’s perhaps the first rule of adulting: Don’t give random people money because they might tell you random basic human knowledge later. Basic human knowledge, like how to prepare food and operate basic levels of technology, is *freely available* from other humans, and can be acquired from a lot of sources…and that’s now a thousand times easier than it has ever been in all of human history! (In fact, even *very complicated* human knowledge is generally available for free, but it’s much harder to understand by yourself so you may have to pay someone to teach you.)

    Granted, it appears millennials already figured this out. Only 100 people signed up, and what do you want to bet that half of the sign-ups were just people intending to write articles about how millennials need adulting school?

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    • w.r.t. Wikihow, I have never found a useful wikihow article – if there is a complicated thing somewhere in the process, that will inevitably be the part where the instructions say “do the thing” without telling you how it’s done. If I am googling for how to do something and accidentally click a wikihow link, I consider that a minor failure of research technique.

      Youtube, on the other hand, is immensely useful. If you want to know how to dismantle and service a Sturmey Archer 3-speed bicycle hub, or an AK-47, or a 1960s bathroom faucet – you will be spoilt for choice of youtube videos.

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  12. Cr3 – apparently there was a while when the US and Colombian governments were collaborating on a program to spray glyphosate (Roundup) from planes onto coca fields – which ended up driving farmers to coca farming, not away from it.

    The spraying was done from much higher altitudes than normal crop dusting – due to hazards of both mountainous terrain and people trying to shoot them. So in practice they sprayed all the fields anywhere near a targeted coca field – beans, corn, coca, bananas, all of it.

    Then all the farmers in the area were left scrambling to get a replacement crop in. And guess which entity in the area was organized enough to supply them with seeds and material, as an advance against the eventual harvest? Not the corn wholesalers…

    Then glyphosate resistance started to evolve in some of the plants that kept getting sprayed. And guess which entity was organized enough to undertake a serious selective breeding program and get a sizable stock of glyphosate resistant seed ready for distribution? Not the bean wholesalers…

    So the planes would come along and spray all fields on the same hillside as a coca field – eliminating all the other crops, and helpfully suppressing the weeds in the coca field. Next time they came by, they at least didn’t have to worry about killing a bunch of food crops by accident, because all the fields in the area were coca fields.

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  13. F3 – At some point, as a pluralistic nation, we’re going to have to stop getting bent out of shape about people eating different animals. I think it makes sense to say ‘The only meats you can provide *without telling people* is this list…’ and to exclude some meats entirely (Dolphins and apes, for example.), but, look, if a bunch of people deliberately want to eat horse, we need to learn to deal.

    And, no, asserting they can’t be raised properly (Because we don’t have specific farms for that.) is nonsense. In fact, the fact we *don’t* regularly eat them means they can’t possibly be raised in cramped and unsanitary factory farms, which is basically the entire reason we needed regulations to start with! Some sort of basic ‘This animal was healthy when killed’ certification should be fine.

    F7 – There’s a reason I gave, back when talking about cultural appropriation probably a year ago, food as an example of something *it is impossible to appropriate*.

    Cultural appropriation is when you take things that are sacred (Sacred, incidentally, should be understood to mean ‘set apart’, and is not synonymous with ‘holy’.) to a culture, something *you would not be allowed to participate in*, or only allowed under certain conditions, and decide you’re going to do it yourself. Usually in a mocking or at least somewhat disrespectful form. You’re a white guy pretending to do a religious rain dance of Africa, or wearing a fake Indian headdress, which is a specific military award. Or, hell, you’re an atheist club that opens with a mock Communion.

    As I said in that discussion, cultural appropriation doesn’t apply to normal stuff, just sacred. That discussion was about kimonos, a *perfectly normal* piece of Japanese apparel with no significance at all. It’s no more sacred than a cowboy hat, and the Japanese have as little problem with us wearing a kimono as we would have with the Japanese wearing a cowboy hat. A bunch of liberal idiots *in the US* decided, because they are stupid, that kimonos were cultural appropriation, but it wasn’t. (The issue of *fetishizing* kimonos and Japanese culture is something else…but not cultural appropriation.)

    And the thing about food is that almost no culture, in human history, has ever asserted ‘This food is inappropriate except for situation X’. There’s plenty of *reverse* situations like that, where cultures decide not to eat specific foods at all, or decide not to eat specific foods in specific circumstances, but basically no one has ‘This mix of ingredients is sacred and may only be eaten when X’. It is hypothetically possible such things do exist, but none of the food here applies.

    And food is, very specifically, one of those things cultures share with outsiders, and have always done so. If you were to somehow be a guest of a Mexican household in the 1800s, *you would be fed Mexican food*. Duh. That’s so obviously I can’t believe I have to explain it. Clearly *they have no problem with white people eating Mexican food*,and never had…because, like I said, that isn’t actually a problem *any* culture has.

    And if you had your own place or something, there is no culture on earth that would have a problem with you, while you were there, cooking their food and eating their food. (If anything, considering how xenophobic most of human history is, they’d probably *rather* you make their food than your weird foreign food.)

    So how the hell can it be cultural appropriation to do it when not there? If they are willing to let anyone participate in it, if anyone can lead it and do it in the culture is it from, if people from other cultures are expected to participate, it’s not ‘appropriating’ anything.

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    • What kind of meats should you be able to serve people *without telling them*? I can’t think of any, myself. Maybe the tiny amount of insect that is inevitably present in any plant based food.

      Or are you thinking just that it’s OK to let words like “bacon” and “prosciutto” have the “pork” part be implicit etc. – but you still have to tell people you’re serving them bacon or prosciutto. (And if in fact it’s turkey “bacon” you have to spell that out, because you’re serving turkey not pork)

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      • dragonfrog,
        In America? Human, of course, and pork. those we got from DNA testing.
        (How the hell they got pork into a factory that didn’t even slaughter pigs is the real question).

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      • I think it’s common courtesy to label things that some major religion considers ritually unclean. Particularly if there’s a norable community in the area.

        I personally would like to be warned if someone serves me meat from a possibly-sapient animal – cetaceans, apes, many humans…

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        • WeI just don’t know of any circumstances where i would be eating meat and not knowing. I mean, restaurants might not give you an ingredient list for the barbecue sauce, but the surely want you to know what the meat is – usually with lots of vague superlative sounding adjectives, but always with the noun that tells you what animal.

          Like, the menu always says “beef stew” (the beef usually being “premium, Alberta pasture raised, AAA” etc) never “mystery meat stew”

          And in stores, every last ingredient, down to the ones at near-homeopathic levels, should be labeled.

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          • Ah, I’m thinking of less commercial situations – cookouts, potlucks, that sort of thing. Or dishes where the meat is just another ingredient – is there pork in the ground meat in the lasagna? Does the “fish” stew have scallops in?

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    • I think there’s another dimension, which applies a lot less often than most people who worry about “cultural appropriation” think it applies [1], but has been known to happen, and could happen with food just as much as with any other sort of cultural artifact. That’s the belief that it’s wrong for people from outside a culture to use benefits to accrue to them because they’re outsiders to profit off the culture while people who are actually a part of the culture are excluded from being able to do so by (basically) discrimination.

      This seems to be a pretty ridiculous thing to worry about in this particular instance because there’s a ton of taco carts run by people of Mexican descent. But it hasn’t always been an unfair complaint, or at least a complaint about a situation that’s unjust even if the “appropriator” isn’t especially culpable for creating it.

      [1] This goes back to my belief that “cultural appropriation” inappropriately lumps together a few bad things and a whole lot of benign things.

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      • If I understand you right, an example might be (and I’m not sure how much it actually takes place – just a hypothetical) :

        Lots of taco carts and cheap taco joints are run by Mexican people. Lots of white people are happy to eat there because it’s tasty, cheap, convenient food.

        Lots of hipster bars and restaurants sell tacos at high prices, surrounded by fancy decor. The food quality is not notably better than what’s sold from taco carts, mostly just the setting is fancier. Lots of white people are happy to eat there because they like hipster bars with $12 tacos and bartenders with $150 haircuts serving $16 cocktails in mason jars.

        But if a Mexican person tries to open and operate a fancy hipster bar that sells high priced tacos, it would likely fail because enough white people would stay away, associating tacos sold by actual Mexican people with “cheap and cheerful, may cause indigestion”, and tacos sold by white people with “fancy hipsterization of a cheap and cheerful staple.”

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        • Yeah, that might be an example of something that could plausibly happen and wouldn’t seem very fair.

          On the other hand, if it did happen, it also doesn’t really seem right to place too much blame on the “appropriator”.

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      • That’s the belief that it’s wrong for people from outside a culture to use benefits to accrue to them because they’re outsiders to profit off the culture while people who are actually a part of the culture are excluded from being able to do so by (basically) discrimination.

        Well, yeah, the most obvious example is in music. Half the history of music in this country is basically black people inventing a form of music, and then everyone ignores it until white people repackage it.

        And here we get into the problem of people labeling completely different things the same thing.

        Part of the problem with the music thing was *lack of attribution*. And another huge problem was, frankly, huge amounts of racism in the cultural institutions of this country.

        Whereas no one is complaining people are not attributing tacos to Mexico.

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    • The go to example for cultural appropriation should be Jews for Jesus/Messianic Jews/any other group pretending to be Jews. Nearly all people in these groups are not Jewish under Halacha or even under the more relaxed standards of more liberal branches of Judaism. They have beliefs and practices that are outright contrary to even the most liberal interpretations of Judaism let alone Orthodox Judaism. Yet, they claim to be Jews and the real Israel. Its whole sale appropriation/theft of a real national/religious identity and one that received for than its fair share of persecution.

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    • Re F7 – I can think of things that are consumed orally and are considered sacred / set apart, but they’re not what you’d generally call “food” – psilocybin mushrooms, peyote cactus, ayahuasca…

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      • Well, yes, but oddly no one can appropriate those, either, because the people using them didn’t invent them!

        There are, I am sure, specific rituals that cultures hold as sacred *around* those things, and it would be inappropriate for outsiders to try to mimic them…

        …but no one owns the concept of ingesting a specific hallucinatory substance.

        And it’s worth pointing out that, weirdly, US law *encourages* people to mimic those cultural practices, as it gives specific exemption to various control substances laws for religious specific religions.

        This is…really stupid, in all sorts of ways, and a little noticed way is that people run around claiming they’re following Native American religious practices when they just want to trip balls.

        Of course, this doesn’t actually work, because the law is also, inexplicably, racist, and only applies to people of a specific heritage. Again, very stupid law, in a lot of ways,and ‘encouraging cultural appropriation’ is just one of them.

        Additionally, I want to propose that cultural appropriation only applies to when something is appropriated for *cultural* reasons, to mock or to mimic as part of culture.

        If it’s appropriated because *it is useful*, that’s something else entirely.

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    • Fretting about cultural appropriation is probably a natural outgrowth of anti-imperialist strand of Leftism that developed since the 1960s. A big part of Far Left thought since the 1960s concerned how Western nations exploited non-Western nations and people of color and how amends need to be made because of that. If you think that the West still has a lot to answer to because of imperialism than being concerned about cultural appropriation even for secular things makes sense because its just another sign that the West/White people have not learned their lesson.

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      • A lot of the opposition to “imperialism” comes from Nazi and Fascist party propaganda, which was especially focused on Anglo-American imperialism. As Mussolini framed it, the issue was between exploitive Anglo-American capitalist nations and exploited working class nations like Italy. Goebbels really lashed out at the morals of the rich, namely Britain, who lived high on the hog because they’d enslaved half the world.

        Elements of Nazi and Fascist philosophy was unknowingly picked up by the far left in the 60’s, especially after the ’68 student revolution. Cultural relativism would be a case in point. That was dreamed up to protect Nazi war criminals from moral condemnation.

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  14. [F2] It drives Fledermaus batty (heh) that the guides one finds for what pregnant women should eat / avoid eating seem so often based around “not troubling their pretty little heads”.

    Like, the guide that you get in Alberta will say “don’t eat soft cheeses” – nothing about “unless they’re made of pasteurized milk or have been cooked”. The guideline is there because unpasteurized soft cheeses, which are illegal in all of Canada and harder to find than the most obscure of experimental drugs can be dangerous. You could literally only expose yourself to the dangers they’re trying to protect you from, if you have an illegal milk dealer. Which I’ve been trying to find for years, without success. I could get all kind of drugs in a phone call or two, and I’m not even looking for those.

    So pregnant ladies who trust the health authorities not to be bullshitting them, as they ought to be able to, fear eating an omelette that has some pasteurized soft cheese cooked in it – not just pasteurized shortly after emerging from the cow, but re-pasteurized immediately before serving.

    [F3] I missed my chance to try horsemeat back in the day – there was a stall in Kiel selling horsemeat sausage (ready cooked, on buns, with sauerkraut and fries and whatnot), but I kept going by it right after breakfast, so I wasn’t hungry. So I skipped breakfast my last day there – and the stall was closed.
    (? ??????????? )

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    • I’m picturing a squirrelly-eyed guy smelling of stale dairy walking up to a guy in gang colors standing on the street corner and asking him, “hey, buddy, got milk?”

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        • My mattresses-with-the-tags-removed-before-they-reach-the-consumer dealer hooked me with a great illegal milk dealer. You might try asking your MWTTRBTRTC guy. (Unless you’re one of those saps who pays for *tagged* mattresses.)

          Failing that, try your local horsemeat dealer. (Just make sure it’s not horse milk. (Unless you want horse milk.))

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  15. As I commented over at Will’s place, it makes little sense to me why it’s cultural appropriation for two white ladies from Portland to figure out how to make Mexican food and sell it at a profit, but it’s not only not cultural appropriation but in fact a celebrated cross-cultural culinary triumph for two white ladies from Los Angeles to figure out how to make Mexican food and sell it at a profit. (When in Santa Monica, or DTLA, or Las Vegas, do NOT pass up a chance to eat at Border Grill, which turns out to be fantastic.)

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    • To be fair, if you pointed that out to most of the people currently protesting the Portland burrito place, they’d be opposed to that as well. They’re probably just not aware of it.

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      • And they would further damage any serious discussions about actual, harmful cultural appropriation. Because swapping recipes and preparation techniques is a reach for Cultural Appropriation.

        Now if they’d been learning this stuff through dishonesty and subterfuge from some of the other local Mexican restaurants and food trucks, we’d have something real to talk about. But since no one has offered evidence that the tortilla ladies from Baja are looking to breakout in Portland, I just can’t see it.

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      • They probably cam’t afford the time away from protesting the Chinese restaurants that serve Egg Fu Yung and/or fortune cookies. Oh, wait…

        Seriously, though – in cooking everyone steals from everyone whenever they can, and always have. While muscians do similar, but only the white ones get paid.

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    • It’s horrifying that we’re graduating people from college who think cultural appropriation is not only a thing, but a bad thing.

      Suppose white people start defending our culture against appropriation? “Hispanics trying to open a burger stand or a steak house? No way! We’ll burn it down!”

      A lot of people came to America to get away from stupidity like that, as many parts of Europe limited what people could do based on who they were. Sometimes towns would even come to blows over the right to make something like flower print cloth. A culture that claims exclusive rights to something, or people who claim a race, ethnicity, or nationality has exclusive rights, is the real racism. An individualistic stance is that anyone can adopt and do anything they want.

      By the way, you know those Mexican mariachi bands who come by your table playing the accordion? It sounds like polka because it is polka. They appropriated it from the German and Austrian missionaries who flocked to northern Mexico in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Mexican beer was likewise appropriated from Germany and Austria, and some old German styles only survive in Mexico. Spain was not a beer culture, it was a wine culture.

      But lets talk about the sacred. Their Catholic religious beliefs? They appropriated those from the Spanish, who appropriated them from the Romans, who appropriated them from the Israelis. I’m sure Mexicans, many the descendants of Aztecs and Mayans, also appropriated things from the Olmecs, too.

      If we strip away all the appropriated parts of a culture, there’s nothing underneath.

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      • But if you start seeing “memes” as “DNA”, you’ll understand that “Cultural Appropriation” is the equivalent of race-mixing. Like, the non-consensual kind.

        Which is why you should support…

        Wait.

        I’ve lost the thread.

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        • I’m not super hip on all the latest sociological research into expanding the concept and moral imperatives surrounding cultural appropriation, but one argument that always made intuitive sense to me runs along the lines of violations of intellectual property rights: it’s not so much that you violated those rights, it’s that you’re making money by doing so. I mean, that’s something identifiable which is materially, and perhaps morally, at stake.

          So, is money what’s at stake in the cultural appropriation debate? I think the answer is probably “no”, that it’s something with even more value and moral significance. I just wonder what it is.

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            • I think the justification of the concept – if it makes sense at all – will be based more on relational properties within power paradigms than on positional goods.

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              • Dude. If you have enough to eat and a main squeeze to hold onto after sundown, we’re now, 100%, within the realm of power paradigms that have foundations in the positional, rather than whatevertional, goods.

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          • The whole concept is so wrong and absurd that it’s not worth pursing “research”. If it’s wrong, then as a white person I demand everyone else stop using toilets, cars, airplanes, televisions, and computers. The third world also has to stop playing soccer.

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          • The genuine concern in cultural appropriation accusations is that (white) people will just grab some random thing from another culture and turn it into an accessory, a fashion, something to be exploited, and the actual meaning of that thing will be either forgotten or actively hidden.

            Like, Dia de los Muertos; it’s not just sugar-skull facepaint, it’s not Mexican Halloween.

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            • Yes, and people from other cultures will just grab something from white culture, like cars or airplanes or about 10,000 movies, the movie role, the signature lines in the movie, and the whole attitude conveyed by the movie.

              Norwegians have a weekly Tex Mex day. The have Friends parties. In a big part of Africa the natives dress like people in country music videos, drive pickup trucks, and wear cowboy hats and big silver belt buckles, all while driving around listening to Reba MacEntire and Willie Nelson.

              I bothers me not in the slightest. I can’t even imagine being bothered by it. It’s great.

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              • Yes, and people from other cultures will just grab something from white culture, like cars or airplanes or about 10,000 movies, the movie role, the signature lines in the movie, and the whole attitude conveyed by the movie.

                It’s almost surreal watching conservatives arguing that nothing has any sacred value. Conservatives are possibly most sacred-having sub-culture in this culture.

                How would you feel if someone spit on and walked on an American flag?

                And people wearing fraudulent military honors….that’s peachy, I guess, no one should complain about that.

                Or, hey, we just had some people eating horse. What about that? Or dogs?

                Of course, that sort of stuff bothers most Americans. But conservatives, in particular, spent a decade arguing that the word ‘marriage’ was sacred and could not be, uh, ‘appropriated’ to include same sex couples.

                Norwegians have a weekly Tex Mex day. The have Friends parties. In a big part of Africa the natives dress like people in country music videos, drive pickup trucks, and wear cowboy hats and big silver belt buckles, all while driving around listening to Reba MacEntire and Willie Nelson.

                None of *those* things are sacred to Americans.

                And, as I pointed out in the article, food isn’t sacred either. Anywhere. Humanity isn’t going to waste food like that, so no one’s culture developed that. And so the people complaining about it are morons.

                That doesn’t mean *anything goes*. That means understanding there are some aspects of other cultures that you are not invited to participate in (Along with, often, some people from *that* culture), and if you go and get the stuff yourself and play-act at this thing that is important to them, you are an ass.

                Unlike how both the right, and certain stupid parts of the left, have decided to understand this concept, this doesn’t mean most, or even more than like 1% of other cultures, is off limits. It’s a very, very small amount.

                But there really is 1% that you need to leave the hell alone. Sadly, that 1% is often the cool mysterious aspect of the culture, and so gets endless parroted.

                As I said, a really good way to tell them apart is…if you moved into that culture, would your behavior be acceptable there? Is it generally acceptable for visitors?

                The answer with food is ‘obviously’ (What the hell else would people feed visitors?), and likewise someone from Africa who moved to Texas and drove a truck and listened to country music would fit right in.

                But someone from Africa who uses American flags as bathtowels…that’s not going to play as well. He doesn’t understand the context of the symbols he’s using, or how us them. He has appropriated part of our culture that *is* sacred, something we treat with (secular) reverence and have specific rules about.

                But that’s not really what you’re complaining about. You’re complaining about the cultural appropriation concept of ‘no one is allowed to touch anything from other cultures’, which the right presents to make the left look like idiots, and idiots on the left present to, I guess, prove them right.

                Oh, dumbass left academia, is there no somewhat reasonable concept you can’t fuck up by failing to come up with firm constants on where it applies? Thus sending out thousands of totally moronic people to see it everywhere?

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                • “It’s almost surreal watching conservatives arguing that nothing has any sacred value.”

                  Almost as surreal as watching liberals argue that some things do, and that they’re special things that only people of certain races can engage in without being offensive.

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                  • Appeals to “the sacred” all but certainly are more appealing to the tribe which lacks substantial representation within the offices of the powerful than to the tribe which has many of its members in power. After all, calling a thing “sacred” tends to limit the ability of the powerful to act with respect to it.

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                  • Almost as surreal as watching liberals argue that some things do

                    If you think liberals do not believe things are sacred, than you either do not understand anything about liberals, or, more likely, you are misunderstanding what ‘sacred’ means.

                    There are a few things that basically all people find sacred (Dead bodies, for the most obvious example.), but, even ignoring those, there are a lot of things that liberals are more likely to find sacred than the right.

                    For example, liberals often hold certain aspects of the environment sacred. Not it as a *whole*, (Except for a few fanatics) but certain aspects, specifically certain *untouched* (Or supposedly untouched) aspects, are set aside and completely off-limits to alteration or defacement.

                    And, of course, plenty of people on the left hold religion beliefs.

                    But this supposed point is absurd anyway. The left does, indeed, have less sacred things than the right does. No one has claimed otherwise. That’s actually one of the psychological differences between the left and the right.

                    Here’s the actual situation:

                    The right’s sacred things are *sacred things everyone generally respects* in this country. Even the left, pretty much all the way. Everyone respect the White Christian Cultural Sacred Stuff.

                    And the right, of course, don’t seem to notice *anyone else exists*, and seem to think it’s fine to disrespect *everyone else’s* sacred stuff.

                    The left is pointing out the absurd hypocrisy there.

                    It’s yet another example of the ‘Default’ culture having absurd invisible levels of privilege, and then *freaking the fuck out* when other cultures even *slightly intrude* onto the privilege.

                    How dare someone object to a teacher leading everyone in Christian prayer! And also how dare a Muslim student pray by herself in the hallway!

                    and that they’re special things that only people of certain races can engage in without being offensive.

                    No. They’re things that only certain *cultures* can decide when they are appropriate.

                    Hey, conservatives, how did you all feel about Piss Christ? Do you think the iconography of Christianity should be reserved for Christians…maybe not by *law*, but just that people should be respectful of it, and people who do not are assholes and should be called out?

                    Congratulations: You’re against cultural appropriation. You’re just only against appropriation of *your own* culture. (Or possibly just against appropriation of the ‘default’ culture if you aren’t a Christian.)

                    How dare a non-Christian use the iconography of Christianity and put it in urine to make a point! Can’t they see how disrespectful that is? And how dare those Native Americans object to someone making a fake headdress and making war cries at a football game! Can’t they see that people are just having fun?

                    The premise of a lot of the left is mostly ‘Look, we think a lot of this is silly, but we’re willing to respect *everyone’s* sacred stuff, and call out anyone being disrespectful.’ The premise of the right appears to be ‘Fuck with our culture’s sacred stuff and we’ll scream blood murder. But we can do whatever we want to *other* culture’s sacred stuff.’

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                    • “If you think liberals do not believe things are sacred, than you either do not understand anything about liberals, or, more likely, you are misunderstanding what ‘sacred’ means.”

                      You said “it’s almost surreal watching conservatives argue that nothing has any sacred value”. I’m replying to that. You can do your wall-of-text thing if you want but you led off with a silly-ass statement, and that’s what the issue was.

                      “The right’s sacred things are *sacred things everyone generally respects* in this country. ”

                      Ah yes, it’s this old thing again. “There’s no such thing as laudable conservative values! Oh, this or that? No, those good ones are EVERYONE’S values really! Unlike liberals who have all sorts of good values that conservatives don’t share!”

                      Which is kind of a funny argument to make in a discussion about grabbing things unique to a particular culture. Appropriating them, one might say.

                      “Hey, conservatives, how did you all feel about Piss Christ?”

                      Serrano’s a Catholic, bro. Try again.

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                      • Ah yes, it’s this old thing again. “There’s no such thing as laudable conservative values! Oh, this or that? No, those good ones are EVERYONE’S values really! Unlike liberals who have all sorts of good values that conservatives don’t share!”

                        Uh, I think you completely misunderstood that.

                        First, ‘values’ and ‘sacred things’ are not the same thing. Sacred things don’t even have to be valued…all sacred means is that we *don’t use them in certain ways*. Dead bodies are sacred for all human cultures, for example, but we generally end up throwing them away because they smell funny. (And that remark was slightly flippant *exactly because* we hold them sacred, so talking about throwing them away is against expectations.)

                        More to the point, you somehow decided to read what I said exactly backwards.

                        I said the left *tend to treat things people that hold sacred* respectfully, even if they do not, themselves, hold those things sacred. They’ve done it to conservative sacred things for ages, and have recently branched out into do it to other cultures.

                        This is not saying those are ‘Everyone’s value’. (And values is the wrong word.) The point I was making is that they *aren’t* sacred to the left, but the left is willing to play along with them to some extent. (As long as the sacred thing don’t involve ‘actively discriminating against people’ or something.) So I have no idea how you read that backwards.

                        The left understands that we living a pluralistic society and if are to get along, than we don’t do things that enrage our neighbors by disrespecting or treating causally their sacred things…or at least we do it out of sight.

                        Meanwhile, the right not only *doesn’t* act respectfully to things the left (Or anyone else) holds sacred, but pitches giant fits when it vaguely suspects the left might be, even slightly, being disrespectful to anything they hold sacred.

                        Moreover, they’ve recently started getting upset when the left have started *humoring other cultures*, which is absurdly hypocritical of them, considering the left have been humoring *them* for decades.

                        And, of course, as in any post where ‘the left’ and ‘the right’ are talked about, there are plenty of counterexamples. But the behavior I am describing is how *the top* acts, the leaders.

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      • “Suppose white people start defending our culture against appropriation? ”

        The kind of people who get angry about cultural appropriation also get angry at the suggestion that there is any such thing as “white culture”.

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