Linky Friday: Crime & Sustenance

Crime:

[Cr1] Like flesh-eating bacteria, brain-eating fungus will always sound like something scifi/horror to me.

[Cr2] You’d think if anyone would know what donut crumbs look like…

[Cr3] Tage Rai wants us to stop acting like mental illness causes mass shootings, on the basis that it’s unfair to the mentally ill.

[Cr4] In addition to being terrible, this story seems odd. What did she think would happen once he got out? I guess that he’d be too ashamed to say anything, or that nobody would believe him. And this one is less severe but way weirder.

[Cr5] This stands to reason, given that most people in the Witness Protection Program are themselves criminals.

[Cr6] A look at murders they didn’t commit. Also, the history of skeleton confessors.”>tobacco smuggling by state, and the implications of cigarette taxation.

Transportation:

[Tr1] Bill Wirtz makes the case for rail privatization (for Europe).

[Tr2] This is going to be pretty great. I’ll be able to see the light change from the corner of my eyes that are glued to my smartphone.

[Tr3] It’s hard to overstate what an astoundingly terrible idea this is.

[Tr4] #BanCars. The argument makes sense, but good luck with that.

[Tr5] A look at ridesharing and why people can’t have nice things.

[Tr6] How insurance companies are charging minority neighborhoods more, despite similar risk profiles. The best explanation for this I’ve heard so far is that they target places where people do the least amount of comparison shopping. So a solution could be to add more transparency to that process. Auto insurance exchanges?

Food:

Image by JeepersMedia

[Fo1] It’s Popeye’s. I’m not sure what they’re complaining about?

[Fo2] Maybe Bill O’Reilly’s next book can be called Killing Applebees, which has the added benefit of letting him attack millennials.

[Fo3] The quick rise of pumpkin spice has been something to behold, though I remember the same thing with chipotle peppers going from something I’d never heard of to something on everything this side of ice cream.

[Fo4] This is how Macron loses to LePen in four years.

[Fo5] It is to our eternal shame that this wasn’t invented in the USA.

[Fo6] Gustavo Arellano writes of the death of the Nacho King, and what his life and timesmeans about cultural appropriation and food. I am skeptical of a lot of cultural appropriation, but especially when it comes to food.

Money:

[Mo1] Jon Evans declares the startup era to be at an end.

[Mo2] It’s amazing how those nefarious schemers in the tobacco industry could ever have come up with such sneaky sales tactics as lower prices to increase sales.

[Mo3] Maybe conspicuous consumption deserves to be defended.

[Mo4] I feel about rent-to-own companies the way a lot of people feel about payday lenders. The existence of such a thing and how it has been implemented represents a failure of… something.

[Mo5] Mining jobs are dangerous, dirty, and underpaid. Worse yet, they may be going away.

[Mo6] I don’t expect China to overtake us any time soon, but if this is any indication of Chinese ingenuity, maybe I’m wrong.

Energy:

geothermal power photo

Image by ThinkGeoEnergy

[En1] A look at tidal power in Scotland.

[En2] This is important: Universal energy access possible by 2030.

[En3] Germany is having some real difficulty meeting its climate goals. Meanwhile, optimism in France.

[En4] Geothermal in Nevada!

[En5] Drill, Baby, Drill, because climate change mitigation won’t pay for itself.

[En6] A look at the psychology of onshore wind power. As someone who prefers Works of Man over Works of God, this is really lost on me. Wind farms are beautiful.


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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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126 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Crime & Sustenance

  1. Cr1: There are things in this world that are better left to science fiction movies and novels.

    Cr2: Maybe these were elite cops who ate healthy and stop your ethnic stereotyping.

    Cr4: Based on how previous sexual assault victims act, she probably did expect him to stay silent and that nobody would believe him. Mental health care seems to have a very long tradition of employing people who abuse the patients. The other story, I really can’t understand the thought process that leads to people doing these actions but there seems to be a lot of really socially maladjusted and weird people out there.

    Tr1: We know that this site is always going to argue for privatization.

    Tr3: I’m not sure why anybody takes Southwest airlines unless they really can’t stand the idea of a quiet plane ride. You would have to pay me to get on one of these flights.

    Tr4: Bloomberg tried congestion pricing in lower Manhattan and nobody would have it. Most American big cities don’t have the public transportation network to handle a total car ban either.

    Fo4: I’m wondering if the friends and family of my French friends are having them send emergency butter rations back home.

    Fo5: No, its to our credit that we didn’t create something so gross looking and probably awful tasting.

    Mo3: Over hundred years latter, somebody responds to Veblen.

    En1: They have to do something with their waves after their failed attempt at becoming a surfing mecca.

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  2. [Cr1] I worked for a competitor of Corizon for several years. Without going into details I can say that the way healthcare is delivered to people in prison is one of the nastiest aspects of mass incarceration that isn’t discussed enough. Most facilities have outsourced their infirmiries to fly by night staffing agencies operating on tight margins. Allegedly there’s a prison doctor overseeing care but that usually consists of someone who you can call but is rarely at the facility. Meanwhile care is provided by nurses who may or may not have any experience in these environments. Litigation is rampant.

    [Cr4] So that’s what Louis CK was doing??

    [Fo5] Our reign as super power has ended.

    [En3] Germany has hit most of the low hanging fruit with available technology. What they’ve done is laudable but this shows their decision to phase out nuclear power at the same time may have been premature.

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  3. En6: Drive the 25-mile length of the Smoky Hills wind farm along I-70 in Kansas. The only place I’ve ever driven that has the same nasty industrial feel is the refinery and chemical plant stretch of the NJ Turnpike south of Newark Airport. The NREL test plot of a half-dozen windmills turning gracefully against a backdrop of mountains, way over beyond the lake near where I live, is pretty. Smoky Hills is ugly by any standard.

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    • I think the piece is amusing in claiming that there is no evidence of sensory harms from wind turbines, but when the most recent push for wind energy began, state (or more typically local) government passed setback/ noise restrictions. It’s not clear that there can be evidence to prove or refute the issue, which is true of a lot of environmental standards. Maybe some state will pass a law requiring prisons to be surrounded by wind turbines and we’ll see if it helps or hurts.

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      • Yeah, in the sense of “it’s a cool touristy sort of thing to see every now and then.” Not on a daily basis from, say, your back porch. When I was doing recruiting and interviews for Bell Labs years ago, I made a point of bringing that memorable strip into the conversation. Large fraction of people, particularly those lacking broad experience with dense urban areas, were terrified that if they chose to live in NJ they would be unable to avoid seeing such all the time.

        Most every large metro has some sort of “Wow! Enabler of modernity!” area. Most are not in-your-face about it the way that stretch of the Turnpike, or the Smoky Hills wind farm, are.

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  4. En2: The UN defines access to power to mean 100 kWh per person per year, with no definition (that I could easily find) of “reliable”. For comparison, US consumption (tenth in the world) runs about 12,000 kWh per person per year (household plus commercial plus industrial). Iceland runs a bit over 50,000 kWh, but they smelt a lot of aluminum per capita up there.

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  5. [Cr2] And some wonder why a lot of people are scared MORE of cops than criminals.

    [Cr3] Ok, now, what, if any, drugs were in the guy’s system?

    [Tr2] Christ, if we keep inventing things to keep stupid people from killing themselves, the surplus population will continue to grow. Invent shit that allows stupid people to more easily kill themselves!

    [Tr4] Well, it’s silly, but how about this. In many parts of Europe, certain areas of the city (I’m thinking Sienna Italy for one) only residents are allowed to drive into certain parts of the city.

    [Fo2] Ugh…”There is an awareness at these kinds of places that eating the food, as Fuller said, isn’t the point.” No, it’s about the frickin’ food nitwits.

    [Fo4] Exactly!

    [En6] You ever live near a wind farm?

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  6. Fo3: I bet chipotle ice cream would be pretty good. I have yet to find a food that doesn’t taste better with the addition of red pepper, including desserts. Water tastes worse, but no actual foods I can think of.

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  7. Tr6 is exhibit B in my “Pro Publica does crappy analysis” file. One major flaw is that their measure of an insurer’s average loss in a zip code is the average payout per car, rather than average payout per mile driven. But when they look at the premiums, they hold the number of miles driven constant. So, for example, if drivers in zip code A average 10,000 miles per car year and drivers in zip code B average 20,000 miles per car per year, and insurers pays out $300 per car per year in each zip code, then PP’s analysis would consider zip code A and B to be equally risky, when in fact drivers in zip code A have twice as much in claims on a per-mile basis.

    Then PP goes in and looks at quotes for drivers driving 13,000 miles per year in each zip code. All else being equal, a 13,000-mile driver is riskier than the average driver in zip code A and less risky than the average driver in zip code B, so it makes since to charge that 13,000-mile driver more in zip code A than in zip code B.

    Here’s their description of the reference driver they used for insurance quotes:

    In order to control for factors outside of geography, we limited our analysis to a single profile – a 30-year-old female safe driver who is a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and excellent credit, with no accidents or moving violations, and who is purchasing standard coverage with the company for the first time. She drives a 2016 Toyota Camry, and has a fifteen-mile commute, and drives around 13,000 miles a year. She is purchasing a policy for $100,000 of property damage coverage and $100,000 to cover medical bills per person up to $300,000 per accident.

    Let’s consider a high-income white zip code and a low-income minority zip code. What are some ways they might plausibly differ? For one, the minority zip code is more likely to be urban, which probably means fewer miles driven per car, which triggers the problem discussed above.

    The low-income minority zip code might have fewer teenage drivers, because cars are expensive. All else being equal, that means lower payouts per car, but remember that PP is controlling for payouts per car. To give an extreme hypothetical to illustrate the point, suppose drivers in zip code A are 90% 30-year-old women and 10% 16-year-old boys, and zip code B has the opposite, yet both have the same loss payout per car. This implies that, on average, one or both types of driver are much more dangerous in zip code A than in zip code B. So it makes sense to charge a 30-year-old woman more in zip code A than in zip code B, even though both zip codes have the same loss per car.

    The low-income minority zip code probably also has cheaper cars. If both zip codes have a loss of $300 per car, but the average car in zip code A is worth $5,000 and the average car in zip code B is worth $10,000, what does that say about the expected costs of insuring a $25,000 car in zip code A vs. zip code B?

    There are probably some factors that bias it in the other direction, as well, but the whole approach is fundamentally flawed. You simply can’t answer the questions they’re asking with the methodology they’re using.

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    • From the link in Tr6: On average, from 2012 through 2014, Illinois insurers paid out 20 percent less for bodily injury and property damage claims in Nash’s predominantly minority zip code than in Hedges’ largely white one, according to data collected by the state’s insurance commission. But Nash pays 51 percent more for that portion of his coverage than Hedges does.

      I get nervous when someone claims “X” and “Y” expenses, rather than “total expenses” or “cost of doing business”. It makes it sound like they’re deliberately excluding expenses to reach their conclusion.

      Just off hand, the lower income Zip code probably has higher incidents of theft (which is supposed to be the huge driver of higher costs in Detroit) and fraud.

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      • To be fair, I think part of the problem is that they just don’t have access to all the data they need to do a proper analysis. That doesn’t justify doing an improper analysis and then going on a self-righteous crusade about the results, but that seems to be Pro Publica’s MO.

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        • that doesn’t justify doing an improper analysis and then going on a self-righteous crusade about the results.

          This reverses cause and effect.

          The self-righteous crusade came first, the analysis was an after thought. The poor are charged more than the rich and that’s WRONG, and facts or math after that simply don’t matter.

          If they’re right then giving the poor different services would be tremendously profitable, which makes it weird none of our profit seeking companies have stepped in to seize that money.

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  8. Cr3: The vast majority of diagnosably mentally ill people don’t commit mass shootings. The vast majority of gun owners don’t commit mass shootings. If this isn’t a mental illness issue, it can’t be a gun control issue either, right?

    That’s my first problem with the article. My second is how carefully the author switches from factual statistics about diagnosable mental illness to general talk about (no adjective here) mental illness. But the frustrating thing for me is that I agree with a little bit of the article’s central point, although from a different perspective than the author might have. I believe that there is such a thing as evil. Some people choose the bad over the good because they lack a proper understanding of the difference (due to mental illness, for example, or a really screwed-up upbringing), but some people deliberately choose to do wrong by others as they pursue what they want. Or, rather, everyone does the latter, at least sometimes, but most of us don’t do it from a sniper’s nest.

    The article doesn’t prove that mental health efforts would be ineffective in reducing the number of mass shootings. It seems like the only argument against such efforts is their costs, both in dollars and in the dignity with which mentally ill people are treated. I wish the author had made that argument more directly.

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      • This makes intuitive sense, though what I can’t understand is if this was known in Republican circles why wasn’t it used in either the 2010 or especially the 2006 GOP primaries? Riley could have taken him out pretty early. It’s possible that this was only discovered since then, but that would be weird for such an old accusation.

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          • Possible, though as a Republican there were probably *some* state politicians she liked, and beyond that you don’t need the same level of proof for a political hit that you do for an article in the Washington Post. I mean, you might want that if you’re the Riley campaign proper, but some independent group? It’s weirdly respectful of a guy who was loathed by a lot of people and not especially popular with most.

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            • I think the information is new, or rather, I think having *an actual accuser who was willing to be named* and who was under the age of consent at the time of the alleged assault is new, regardless of what whispers may have been whispered about not leaving your daughters alone with the man, or whatever, in the past.

              I think some folks in this discussion underestimate how terrifying it has historically been for a woman to tell that kind of story about someone important in the community. The fact that he likes to wave guns around probably didn’t make her feel a lot more secure about it either. Stuff like this makes me think things really are changing. At least a little bit. Even though I don’t expect it to affect his election….

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              • To be clear, I’m not asking why she didn’t get involved at that point or even why the other campaigns didn’t find her. I’m just talking about good old fashioned political innuendo and smear. It was notably absent from the campaigns against him.

                Back home there was a congressman that had such things thrust his way. No evidence was ever provided, and he denied it, but there was enough looking away and shuffling of feet that it did him some real damage. I don’t know if it was true or not, but if it wasn’t it at least involved some things he didn’t want to talk about.

                Anyway, wouldn’t surprise me if it were well known (or strongly suspected) among the people of Gadsden. Sounds like it kind of was. And I can see why they would protect their own. But for county party chairs on the other side of the state… less so.

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                • FWIW, my guess is that it was not “known” by many, or even strongly suspected. But there were things that made the revelation less surprising. They knew he was 30 and liked college girls, for example. It was therefore not shocking that he didn’t quite draw the line there.

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                  • In the article I read, the woman said she didn’t want to risk dragging her kids through the ordeal of her going public with the story. Her children are grown now. She also worried that her own history… financial troubles, multiple marriages… would get brought up and wanted to spare them and herself from that.

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                • FWIW I agree with your take, I wasn’t really meaning to suggest that you didn’t grasp it so much as some other folks in the discussion (here and elsewhere) don’t.

                  I would guess though, even though my expectation is that they *didn’t* know, that most of those county party chairs don’t necessarily see it as that big of a deal for 30-something-year-old men to “date” 16-18 year old women, which is what they are most likely, IMO, to have heard as rumors. When I was a teenager, there were men who dated my classmates (even in junior high! the age of consent in Canada was 14 until 2008) who were in their late 20s or even older. Most of us were bothered by that, and there were Concerned Conversations in that junior high and high school kind of way that girls discuss such things, both about the girls and with them (none of which did any good), but we were also Very Aware that no adults were interfering with the situation, despite it being so very obvious that the men would *pick the girls up at school*. So we presumed it was socially tolerable for some baffling-to-us reason, that given that what they were doing was technically legal, no one was going to make any serious effort to stop them. (I had my own reasons for not paying overly much attention to such things, of course.) And that was a good 10 years more recent than what these women claim to have experienced.

                  It seemed to us back then that the adult consensus was both squicked and envious in balanced proportions, as far as we could tell. Like a “how dare they pick that delicious forbidden fruit??” sort of a thing. About *30 year olds* and teenage girls as young as 14 and 15 … yuck. And I say that as someone who was more than capable of happily consenting to sex with a 30-something year old man at 18 and 19 years old… but that was a whole different thing. Those 4-5 years were huge. I knew the 14-16 year olds I’m talking about here, and they were NOT grown enough to know their own minds about adults. As an adult, it breaks my heart that someone didn’t step in. And breaks it even more to think that in some of those situations, the men who were taking advantage of them may very well have been abusive and exploitative, but less abusive than what they were used to at home.

                  It seems as though (ew ew ew) the social norm, whether admitted or not, for the folks who aren’t especially bothered, is a much lower age limit than it is for the rest of us. So once they decide the behavior *could* be okay if she consented, they then turn it into a “typical he-said she-said” , assume the she’s are lying to preserve the appearance of virtue (a common social assumption in said circumstances), and write it off. If there’s a rumor that some of the girls were younger than 16, well, they “looked older” and “knew what they were getting into” and all those other things I hear over and over any time people defend rock stars for sleeping with underage groupies.

                  I find the whole thing pretty awful but it’s not that surprising to me that people tolerated it for so long, and will probably continue to do so. The social consensus around ephebophilia, and even hebephilia, is still pretty inconsistent depending on geography. And I say that not to slam Alabama, but because I come from somewhere similar.

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                  • (Sorry, this comment was so long that I didn’t see your comment about college girls until after I finished mine. As I mentioned, I think you and I are largely in agreement anyway.)

                    Also I should note that the grownups in question would probably be rather horrified to have it suggested that their consensus was as I describe. But it wasn’t just *me* who thought that was what they thought – it was most of my year at school who thought that (girls anyway. we didn’t discuss this sort of thing with boys.)

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                    • Also I apologize if my comments about the environment that enables this sort of behavior are too gross for anyone. Honestly the whole topic is so awful for me that I’ve been in a state of high reactivity for weeks.

                      But I feel like if we can’t look how people actually think, actually cover for this stuff, in the face, we won’t ever be able to change it.

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                    • What caught my eye as well was how Moore seemed to be enabled by an entire community.

                      Which is to say, an entire community gave its tacit permission for a 30 year old man to seduce a minor girl.

                      Including her mother!
                      Imagine being an adolescent girl, and having your mother give an adult man permission to do that. To whom do you turn, or trust, when all the adults around you seem to be in league with him?

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                        • She was 14. Are you saying it was acceptable for a mother to allow a 14 year old girl to go on a date with a 30-something year old man? It’s flatly not.

                          To be crystal clear, that’s NOT an acceptable position to take in these comments. (Nor is the position you seem to be taking above, that labeling unwanted and scary inappropriate touching of a 14-year-old girl as sexual assault is “cavalier”.)

                          At this point, based on the sum total of your comments in the last few days, I’m assuming you are primarily a troll and possibly a sockpuppet. Please cease trolling or be treated accordingly.

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                              • Fun fact, if you like terror: Child predators don’t look like child predators until after the fact.

                                If they acted like predators, they’d never get to be around children after all. And like any serious obsession, people get very, very good at what they’re obsessed over.

                                So, like psychopaths, a lot of sexual predators will only send up warning flags in hindsight. Same with a lot of spousal abusers and repeated date rapists.

                                They obsession involves people. As such, they often get very, very good at handling people.

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                                • Fun fact: I’m the child (and former victim) of a child predator (and, for that matter, a spousal abuser). As such I have a pretty clear understanding of both how much people are innocent of and how much they are cheerfully (or fearfully, desperately) oblivious to. I’m also not really in need of your assistance to feel terror, I have plenty of that left over.

                                  “Why don’t you leave your sweet daughter out here with me so she doesn’t have to go through all that awfulness of your custody hearing?” is *at best*, slightly under 40 years ago, something a mother should have been suspicious of. And if her daughter trusted her in the first place, it most likely wouldn’t have taken a decade to tell her mom what happened. (Trust is quite a different thing than love, or even closeness.)

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                                  • Less tartly, I should say that my intent is not really to tear down the accuser’s mother. She’s not in any way uniquely oblivious – far from it, as you say.

                                    But it’s usually fairly easy for me to detect people like this (yes, well beyond confirmation bias – trusting my awareness of such awful people has actually been more of an issue, historically, than being unfair) and it baffles me that they’re so good at slipping through other people’s radar. To me many of them (eg, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, to pick celebrity rather than personal examples) might as well have been wearing giant blinking “this person is awful” signs over their heads since long before I ever heard of any allegations against them.

                                    Over time I’ve become very very aware of the ways in which we as a society – not just individuals who are innocent – *look away* from predatory cues, rather than just not noticing them. I’m not talking about needing to become a nation of paranoids, I’m talking about ignoring actual cues that someone is less than reliable around children, because very few predators are actually nearly so perfect in their performances as it would be reassuring to believe they are. We *see* it, as a flash here or a flash there, and the abusers provide us with sufficient cover to doubt ourselves, or to value treating them with the most possible respect over protecting people we don’t have *proof* they are harming, or to fear what will happen to us if we allow ourselves to keep looking until we are sure of what we are seeing, and we look away.

                                    Until we stop looking away, things are not going to get better.

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                                  • That came off as more snarky than I intended. I’m just rather unhappy with the general belief many seem to have (aided by Hollywood, although to be fair the bad guy is supposed to give you clues he’s bad in film. If you get to the end and the good guy was the villain all along, it tends to throw audiences) that sexual predators are clearly creepy sorts, that any keen parent or indeed well taught child could have noticed.

                                    Especially when it comes off victim blaming, which it does way too often. Better to believe it’s a mistake in someone else’s judgement, then an act that would have fooled even you, you know?

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                                    • Better to believe it’s an act we can’t penetrate, despite child predators only being human and many of them not being as smart as they think they are, than to take responsibility as a society or as individuals for all the ways we fail to penetrate it, you know?

                                      I’m not victim-blaming here, and neither was Chip’s original comment that I was agreeing with. I can see how it comes off that way and I will admit to projecting some anger that I still carry towards adults who didn’t protect me. But what I’m saying is that society is so screwed up that *even her mother* didn’t notice how illogical she was being to leave her kid with this charming near-stranger. (And I do regret earlier thinking her mother was pushing her into it, I traced the origin of that claim and it was with sneakmaster assholeface the judge himself, ugh. who will no doubt be believed by his followers even as he simultaneously *denies* it and claims her mother *approved* it.)

                                      Of course there are a few predators who are so brilliant they don’t show ANY sign.

                                      But the idea that no one could have known in most cases is as much a myth as the “child predators all wear a giant blinky sign that only idiots ignore” myth.

                                      And they’re both harmful.

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                                    • Sexual abuse is so horrific because it is usually at the hands of those who are the most trusted and intimate.

                                      The creepy guy at the park doesn’t have any realistic access to your 5 year old, but your husband/boyfriend/brother/minister/coach does.

                                      One of the downsides to groupishness and team loyalty is that it can leave us vulnerable to the predator who is inside the gates.

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                  • There was a girl in my high school that took her 35 year old boyfriend to the prom. The administrators and teachers didn’t like it that much but figured that they couldn’t do anything about it because she is legally an adult and her parents didn’t seem to mind.

                    I think the social consensus around ephebophilia and hebephelia is inconsistent because as my brother Saul noted, dating men in their twenties and thirties seems to be the heterosexual female teenage equivalent of doing daring acts of physical courage that teenage boys do. The trope of an older woman initiating a teenage boy into the art of love is also persistent and popular. Going after this at a mass level is not going to happen.

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                    • “dating men in their twenties and thirties seems to be the heterosexual female teenage equivalent of doing daring acts of physical courage that teenage boys do”

                      That is not what it was for most of the girls at my schools who were doing it (a very few of them saw it as proving how “adult” they were, but honestly most of them were seeking comfort and love they didn’t get in the family they were living in; like me in my healthier and postponed dating choices, they had what the common parlance calls “daddy issues”); and not what we all thought of them doing it. The social ambiguity around it (the forbidden fruit thing) seemed to come mostly from people our parents’ age.

                      Perhaps it’s different where you are from.

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                        • Maybe, or maybe things really are different where he’s from. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about the perspectives of any commenters of goodwill on this topic.

                          It’s a complex situation, and one in which culture in general seems to have some huge blind spots, blind spots that trump gender in many respects. If I’ve seen commonalities in *belief* (rather than in practice, where there’s definitely a gender bias IME), they mostly have to do with age, unsurprising given that the blind spots seem to be shrinking if you compare this century to the middle of the last. The comments I noted about, for eg, “knowing what they are getting into” are as likely to come from adult women as adult men.

                          Everyone feels safer when they assume victims did something wrong. If they can assume victims are lying, that’s even safer still. We’re only just learning to stop going for those two assumptions in the case of more vulnerable parties (women, people of color, children, adolescents, etc.).

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                          • I’m also working from a limited sample and human memory from an upper middle class suburban childhood. I remember more the few girls I knew who dated older men complain about how much more mature they were compared to boys their age. Its also possibility of being both daddy issues and daring. They aren’t necessarily mutually inconsistent.

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                          • I should clarify: I was not responding to Lee as much as Les’s description of the response. My hunch is that the idea that teenage girls having sexual contact with older men is paralell to teenage boys engaging in risky behavior strikes me as viewing the behavior from a male-specific lens as opposed to understand the perspective of the females involved.
                            “Why would girls do that? Probably the same reason we climbed trees, right? I mean, why else?”

                            I don’t imagine Lee necessarily had this position as much as adults around Lee did. And if they did, I have a thought on why they did.

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                            • Yeah, I just realized you probably didn’t mean it that way and was coming back to say, wait, I didn’t mean to blow you off either.

                              Thanks for clarifying.

                              I started to comment a bit more on my experiences of the people discussing the topic, having been sometimes being treated like a girl among teen girls, and a boy among boys (and for that matter a woman among women and a man among men and vice versa), but then I realized I’m SO INCREDIBLY compartmentalized on this topic (not surprising) that I have at least 4 contradictory sets of experience that I can pay attention to one at a time, but not access to the whole coherent thread at once.

                              Oh well. Maybe someday.

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                              • High school girl dating (w or w/o scare quotes) an older man has been enough of A Thing on our time that it’s a movie trope – Jennifer Jason Leigh in Fast Times (as well as Phoebe Cates making up such a relationship), and then in Dazed and Confused, Matt Mcconaughey’s famous “Every year I get a year older, but high school girls stay the same age.”

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                                • You’re not wrong and I didn’t mean to imply a hard and fast line so much as I did a gradient of reverse correlation to age, one that’s weaker than regional norms, and one that’s only fairly recently started to “steepen up” as slopes go. (sorry for all the faux math to describe my own impressions, but I actually think in curvess and solids about my own impressions much of the time, and am translating out of that.)

                                  For example, Fast Times is enough before my time that it doesn’t even ping on my consciousness unless someone brings it up (I was 5 in 1982) – and in Dazed and Confused, all the people I watched it with (ie people about my own age) thought it was quite successfully characterizing that guy as creepy – creepy in the way my junior high classmates and I found the older men dating younger women creepy, not in the lock him up and throw away the key way that some Millennials I know responded to it – but also not in the actually-funny-haha way that some of my older friends respond to it (not that they’d do that, but the line stuck with them as entertaining in a way it didn’t stick to us; we thought the humor came out of how utterly creepy he was and how blind to it they were). Though the latter one also bleeds into “awful or relatable? depending on your priors, it can be either” which is more or less its own trope these days.

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                                  • Also, if I’m really honest, I do recognize that somewhere in the 16-21 year old area is where things get fuzzy. I know plenty of now-older women who were married at 16 or 17 to a much older man whom I believe when they say they don’t regret it one bit. There are also plenty of cases where it seems super-messed-up (and not just the teacher/boss/other-power-dynamic ones), and I don’t trust my own laxitude (i’m skeptical, i’m actively concerned if it’s someone i know, but i’m not kneejerk angry if there’s no glaring power dynamic) after the younger partner hits age 17 or so. I suspect myself of being culturally inflected.

                                    But 14 year olds? 15 year olds? That’s who these 30-somethings at my junior high were picking up after school. There was also a 13-year-old dating a 25-year-old which wasn’t any more okay.

                                    Maybe there have been some cultures where 13-year-olds had to be full-grown enough that consent to someone 5 or more years older might be meaningful. I’d actually like to believe that because my favorite ancestress-of-yore was 13 when she left her Dutch shopkeeper of an adopted mother in Kerala, and married an 18-year-old Irish clerk in the British Navy. I would very much like to believe that was a free and happy decision on her part, especially given that they were both long-lived as 18th century/early 19th century people go, and they had a whole passel of children. I have conflicting cynical opinions about my desire to believe that, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to.

                                    But that’s a very very far piece from thinking it isn’t totally f’d up and twisted that anybody now, or 35 years ago in 1982, or 39 years ago when Roy Moore is alleged to have assaulted his accuser, thought 30-somethings should be stepping out with 14-year olds (even leaving aside the whole sexual assault piece). It was a *norm*, in some places at least, but that doesn’t mean it was *okay*.

                                    Which I am not suggesting that you are suggesting, at all at all at all, and I apologize if it comes off that way.

                                    It’s just…. the culture sure does still have blind spots.

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                                    • Dazed and Confused is roughly contemporenous w Fast Times (1976 v 1981) so they’re both snapshots of the same ‘era’ more or less. Which is also about the same time that we’re talking about with Moore. So maybe it’s just *that* era (but not just Alabama, or any other specific exceptional place in North America, which is what I was getting at.) In both movies authorial intent is for the older dudes are rather unambiguously creepy, as I see it.

                                      And apologies, it wasn’t meant to be a rebuttal of anything you said, just what had been generally talked about.

                                      I thought this tweet was pretty good at capturing the fact that stuff like Moore did/tried is common enough, and fairly invisible to nearly half the population.

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                                      • That is a very fine tweet.

                                        Unfortunately my observation from women my mother’s age or older (again, at least where I grew up) is that while they are aware these things happen b/c things happened to them or to other women their age they knew intimately… very very many of them are so compartmentalized that they are shocked and amazed and go to victim-blaming and other denial mechanisms (/ conflicts about their own feelings of guilt b/c they were blamed at the time) any time news comes out about someone they admire, rather than “oh right, this again”.

                                        That’s the part that seems to have shifted, in my mindspace’s set of curves/gradients/etc.

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      • Maybe but I am not so sure. I think it is just more about how the Alabama right views themselves in the world. They don’t care about what Moore did or they honestly don’t think it is wrong because he is in-tribe. Look at all the “biblical” defenses that they are giving him.

        What the Alabama GOP and probably voters care about is all the Ten Commandments and Holy Roller stuff and Moore will give them that in huge dividends. This is ultra-tribal. Ultra-tribal against Liberals and the GOP establishment. The Alabama GOP is now Breitbart territory at least for National Politics.

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        • Back in the 90’s, when the Lewinsky saga was in full roar, I remember warning my fellow conservatives not to make too big an issue out of a sex scandal.

          Because as the recent revelations make clear, sexual predation and misbehavior transcends all political boundaries, and is found in every field from business to religions to colleges.

          So as appalling as Moore sounds, I don’t think the public is going to somehow see him as being uniquely evil, or as this being connected to his politics.

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          • I agree with you on the nature of sex scandals. They will always be with us and they have transcendent qualities. But the 1990s had a different electorate and we see sex scandals taking down (some) people more quickly.

            We shall see about Alabama which is unique though. But it should be noted that there Governor needed to resign over a consensual affair. Then again, there was no chance of him being replaced by a Democrat.

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            • Will your assessment of Moore change if the accusations don’t come to anything? Will your assessment of the AL GOP change if they boot him from the ticket, fail to vote for him, or do something that gets him elected but not seated?

              ETA: It looks like Moore has lost a double-digit lead in the latest polling, on the basis of allegations alone. Will that change your opinion of anyone?

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      • He was impeached twice and they kept reelecting him. I’m pretty sure that, to a lot of Alabama voters, voting for Moore is some sort of victory over…something.

        Liberals? Atheists? Democrats? The faceless “other”? They don’t care who he diddles, because he’s standing up for Christianity’s god-given right to run America.

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        • He was impeached, then he lost decisively lost in the 2006 gubernatorial primary (against an incumbent widely perceived to be primary-vulnerable) and then came in fourth in the 2010 primary. He actually surprised people by sneaking back into office in 2012. Democrats nominated somebody with the expectation they’d be facing someone else and changed their nominee when they saw it was somebody they could possibly beat. (They didn’t, of course, but came unusually close.)

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          • I stand corrected. :)

            But I’d bet ten to one that he’ll win on the back of evangelical voters.

            I really hadn’t thought my opinion of them could drop any lower, but the recent comparisons of Moore to Mary and Joseph indicate that once again, I can never be cynical enough.

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            • This does take IOKIYAR to new depths.

              Somehow I have a hard time imaging the guys defending him would be okay with a 30-something guy pawing their 14 year old daughters. But hey, he’ll vote for tax breaks and piss off liberals, so…

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              • I’ve realized that the Trump base doesn’t see things in such trivial terms as tax breaks or even pissing off liberals per se.

                They really do see this as a clash of civilizations, like they are defending the ramparts of civilization from the hordes.

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                • They really do see this as a clash of civilizations, like they are defending the ramparts of civilization from the hordes.

                  At some point, you gotta ask yourself — if your President was on tape bragging about leering at and pawing at non-consenting women, and a surprising number of people are all “Eh, so he fondled a 14 year old. Who among us can cast the first stone?” — are you certain you know which side of the ramparts you’re actually on?

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                  • Agreed.
                    But I also remember Democrats doing a similar handwringing with Bill Clinton and Bob Packwood.

                    I mean,history books routinely praise FDR for shrewdly making a peace with Stalin to defeat Hitler.

                    Would I abandon Candidate Elizabeth Warren and allow Trump to have a second term, if she had some awful scandal?

                    I don’t think personal scandals have as much motivational power over the electorate as we like to think.

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  9. From John Rowe, China unleashes the trackless train. Its really a bus buts designed to look and move more like a rail vehicle. Its kind of cool. Setting up trackless train systems would be a lot faster and cheaper than building rail systems but the appearance of the trackless train could get people to take a bus when previously they would have avoided it.

    https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/11/can-we-just-call-this-a-bus/545189/

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    • Do people not ride the bus because it looks like a bus, or because it has all the drawbacks of public transit but still gets stuck in traffic? I feel like “dedicated lane” is doing a lot more heavy lifting than “looks cool,” but that’s just me.

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      • People seem to really like trains over buses and even light rail without a dedicated lane. So there is something about trains that people prefer and this has been causing transit wonks to bang their heads for a long time.

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      • Since we moved to the city and got rid of our car, Mrs. Daniels takes the bus every day.
        Our friends from back in the suburbs react with various degrees of pity, confusion, and bewilderment.

        I never got this treatment when I took the interurban trains from the suburbs to the city core. Trains were viewed as something respectable working professionals did.

        There is a big class component to how buses are viewed at least here in Southern California.

        Funny thing, Uber pooled services don’t have the stigma, even though it is a smaller version of bus service (and not even as convenient).

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        • I agree with everything you said except the last sentence. Lyft and Uber are much more convenient than buses and they are generally quicker. A Lyft will pick me up where I want and drop me off where I want. You sometimes need to wait for a ride but I’ve had to wait much longer for buses if I am leaving work after rush hour on a weekday.

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          • Her experience with a pooled Lyft was that once it picked her up, the algorithm dictated to the driver that he had to go pick up another fare in the opposite direction, which ultimately made the trip longer and more circuitous than the comparable bus route.

            It had the added aggravation of unpredictability; a bus route is known and roughly on schedule, but the pool algorithm changes every time, so you have to build added time into the trip.

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        • The class component is not just a SoCal thing. I used to routinely use public transit in and around Philadelphia. The system is a total kludge of legacy systems. There is a distinct hierarchy. The regional rail (full gauge, mostly dedicated lines) is totally respectable. White middle class people will ride it without hesitation. At the other end of the spectrum are the buses. There are some surprising exceptions depending on the route, but mostly middle class don’t ride them. I often was the only white person on the bus. Between these there are two subway/elevated lines and a few trolley lines. White folk will ride the subway, especially since it is the most sensible way to get to the sports complexes in South Philly, but there is a bit of hesitation. I didn’t use the trolleys much, but my sense from the few times I did was that the dynamic was closer to buses than the regional raile.

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          • Rail typically has controlled access and some degree of shelter from the elements while waiting for the next train*. Buses typically don’t. Factor in dedicated lanes/lines & rail has an element of exclusivity to it.

            *exceptions abound, but not enough, I think, the alter the perception.

            OK, back to the road.

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          • These different transportation modes aren’t perfect substitutes for each other though.

            The commuter trains tend to be larger, have better ventilation, are faster, travel further between stops and have reliable schedules.

            Rapid-transit systems don’t have schedules but arrive/depart with greater frequency. They usually stop at the most popular areas, and will get the passenger to a destination quicker than walking or by motor vehicle.

            Buses are slower, stop more frequently and have less reliable scheduling. The advantages of bus systems being free from the need for a track can be offset by routes that are intended to maximize coverage throughout the city (i.e., the grid pattern that will require taking the red line to a street corner to wait for the blue line).

            Certainly these are generalizations, but if someone has a car, buses usually don’t offer a lot of advantages. Rail systems do, as long as they are going your way.

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            • Most bus systems outside of North America have pretty reliable schedules from my experience because they don’t have the raw class component that they do in America. When I was in in Japan busses were just as reliable as subways and trains and often less crowded, so you could usually get a seat.

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              • You can have a more reliable bus schedule in the U.S., you’ll just need to build in very conservative assumptions about traffic into the schedule and not allow the buses to leave a stop early. I don’t know what the class element is besides people who can afford cars and parking will not frequently find any advantage in taking the bus, and perhaps some of this is a collective action problem because people driving make it more difficult for buses to be reliable/fast.

                In terms of foreign comparisons, I think Americans have twice as many cars per household than most peer countries and its such a longstanding reality that its shaped most urban spaces.

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                • Another challenge for bus schedules is that in most cases, fares are collected by the driver, while stopped, requiring passengers to board one at a time and perhaps fish around in their pockets/purses for change.

                  I don’t know if it was mentioned above, but even without changing any of the scheduling challenges, one nice improvement would be an Uber-like tracker app so that you could see where the next bus was and have some idea of when it was likely to arrive.

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      • It seems to be a combination of two factors. One is that that busses get stuck in traffic. The other is that it seems more plebian and unpleasant than rail based transit. People can imagine taking a streetcar, subway, or train even if they can afford a car. They can’t seem to imagine taking a bus to work if they could afford a car. The bus has connotations of poverty that trains do not.

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  10. Trump’s lasting contribution to the United States is going to be appointing young right-wing culture warriors to the Federal Bench.

    I’ve mentioned this before but as hypocritical as I think Evangelical Social Cons are, they are the ultimate strategic voters. They care about winning the judiciary and will do anything to get it. So far Trump has been paying them off in spades.

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    • No no Lee, cultural appropriation is only a thing when it’s an unambiguously low power minority in America (and usually on the internet) doing the protestations. Jews are too borderline to be victims of appropriation from and too white.

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    • I think you are being too serious and kind of butthurt here. The authors of both articles clearly don’t care and they think it is pretty cool.

      The Japanese seemingly take from everything and everyone and make it into a blender mess.

      “Dybbuk”

      Hey! That second one isn’t even a terrible understanding of what a Dybbuk is, though I guess Kaneko thought that shtreimels as a choice of headwear don’t match his standards of haute couture.

      When somebody (say, Japanese video game developers) tries to depict a culture or tradition that they aren’t familiar with (say, Jewish mysticism), they tend to try and cram it into the framework of whatever they’re making. The creators take these Jewish concepts and filter them through their own perspectives, adding in their own cultural context and also their weird idiosyncrasies. The result is a series of games that often reveal a lot more about the game designers than they do about Judaism. It’s also completely bonkers, and a lot of fun.

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      • In general, claiming that other commenters are being “butthurt” is not civil. Given that Lee’s your brother, I’m going to assume y’all have your own ways of deciding what is and isn’t civil – but try to be self-aware about your epithets in future.

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