Linky Friday #173: Build, Pray, Love

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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190 Responses

  1. Brandon Berg says:

    E4: “Has its own subway.” Having its own Subway isn’t nearly as impressive.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    U2: Houston like many southern big cities seems to be a collection of suburbs with some non-residential neighborhoods under one government. If at least part of that is because some form of law or building code passed by the city government, Houston has zoning even if they don’t call it zoning. The second link goes to an article about teen romance.

    S1: I don’t think that the average suburbanite is going to take up gardening for food anytime soon.

    S2: Families lived in cities for thousands of years and still do. There is no real reason that urban areas can’t be kid-friendly except the American belief that this isn’t how we do it.

    R2: Link doesn’t work.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      U2b is fixed. R2 appears to be lost, I’m afraid.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Urban areas can totally be kid friendly, but that requires setting aside open spaces for kids to play, and dammit, that space has other very valuable uses.Report

      • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Greenspaces provably reduce crime. Put some nice trees on the retail streets, and have a decently wide sidewalk (help to reduce people speeding too, nice bonus) — kids’ll play where they can play.

        Of course, in Pittsburgh, we’ve got so many “do not build here” slopes and ravines…Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


        Have you heard of Golden Gate Park or Central Park? There are plenty of parks and open spaces in cities and not just those two parks.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:


          As someone who has done both the city and the suburban thing with kids, I can say that pointing at Central Park and other parks and saying, “Problem solved,” shows a lack of perspective.

          In a home with a yard, you open your backdoor, kick the soccer ball through, and you’re off playing. You don’t need to lug a diaper bag or pack snacks or bust out the stroller or Bjorn… you just go. The space is yours to do as you like.

          A park has certain benefits… play equipment, other children, you don’t have to care for it… but even a few block walk can be a ton of work with young children. And that is assuming you have one within a few blocks.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          The yard has an advantage of being nearby. You can do chores in the house or outside the house while your kids are playing. If one has to go to the bathroom, it really is less of a big deal at your own home.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

            It’s why I love my house. We share a giant yard with 9 other houses. The yard is legally a public park, but all the houses face it, so it’s kinda our yard. That is how you do family friendly.

            Another way is places like City Museum in St. Louis. Those should be scattered all over urban landscapes (out here, we have indoor parks filled with giant bouncy houses, $8 for 2 hours and he’s quiet for the rest of the day).Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              St. Louis is a seriously underrated city. When I was there visiting my friend’s parents on a cross-country drive I really loved it. The zoo is one of the best in the United States, and free to boot, but you also have the Blueberry Hill Cafe.

              Your backyard seems like a shared courtyard more than anything else.Report

    • Troublesome Frog in reply to LeeEsq says:

      S1: I don’t really get the “sustainability” obsession with tiny gardens. This type of thinking seems to be the result of “believing everything you think” instead of actually critically looking at the facts:

      This transforms a consumptive landscape into a productive property. No one is suggesting this is “self sufficient”. But it’s a huge step up from having a kitchen full of Lean Cuisine, Fruit Loops, and Go-Gurt from the supermarket.

      OK, we can all 100% agree that a little garden is light years from self sufficient. I mean, we used to be subsistence farmers, and when we spent 100% of our time, land and effort doing it, we were chronically malnourished, so clearly the average suburbanite with a 4×8 plot that he waters when time permits isn’t going to feed himself.

      But is it even a “huge” step up from buying food at a grocery store? And is there some rule that says that if you don’t grow your own 5 heads of lettuce per year, you must buy Lean Cuisine instead of just spending a few bucks buying an extra 5 heads of lettuce from the grocery store every year? Am I missing something, or is this “huge” improvement just aesthetics?Report

      • Kim in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        Somewhat. Buying from a grocery store (californiaproduceallthetime) detaches you from the world around you. You lose track of seasons, and get used to getting lettuce in the middle of fucking winter.

        Some things never, ever taste as good as when you grow them (asparagus! dill! snap peas!).Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Kim says:

          I’m rather a fan of having fresh produce all the time, eating salads whenever I damn well please with freshly-picked kinda-local lettuce and avocados all year round.

          Some times of year, particular foods are more expensive than others. Stonefruit, for instance, is much more abundant and affordable in the summer months than otherwise. But yes, there are peaches available in December, if I’m willing to pay for them.Report

          • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

            In Los Angeles, you can probably get good peaches most of the year — flown straight from the other hemisphere. $20 a peach? something like that…

            But there’s a particular pleasure in having something when it’s time to have it.

            And you won’t be having real green beans (gotta have some beans inside!), cause that’s a southern thing, or wild strawberries, or half a dozen other non-commercial things.Report

            • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kim says:

              But there’s a particular pleasure in having something when it’s time to have it.

              I think this hits on the heart of my objection. It’s people projecting their own hangups about what’s an allowable indulgence, pleasurable excess, and noble suffering on others. There are some who say that abstaining from sex or taking a vow of silence have their own spiritual rewards, and that’s all good and fine, but attempts to spin those things as objective goods by making vague appeals to “sustainability” or being “in touch” with something are going to raise a lot of questions like, “What were we trying to improve by doing this, again?Report

            • veronica d in reply to Kim says:

              It seems to me that the ideal approach is to let different people approach “food aesthetics” as best matches their feelings and lifestyle.

              When did I turn into a fucking libertarian?

              I need a hug.Report

              • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

                I can be a snob. Yes. Approach life how you will. I will approve or disapprove, and it really shouldn’t matter that much to you.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d says:

                @veronica-d /hugReport

              • North in reply to North says:

                Though to quibble: I object to ceding that concept to libertarians. It ain’t theirs alone.Report

              • veronica d in reply to North says:

                Oh I know.

                (Not to toss a hand grenade into the forum, but, well *pull the pin* *toss*.)

                The full-on libertarians [1] want to qualify the “mind your own business” with “except people can NOT mind their own business when they want to make life unlivable for minorities or gay people or whatever” — cuz I guess it’s just SO UGLY having me exist beside someone at a lunch counter that the whole “mind your own business” principle just goes away at that point. Or something. Like, this stuff doesn’t feel quite balanced.

                Turn the crank. Move forward. We start winning the “culture war,” and these same libertarians suddenly find the “fair play” gospel and pitch a shitfit when Brenden fucking Eich gets shown the door, in a private decision by a private company, or when courts actually demand that a government employee do her job and serve gay members of the public as the law demands. Like, the same libertarians would go apeshit on a sheriff who refused to follow a “shall issue” law on conceal carry permits, cuz moral qualms. Or something.

                It’s almost as if people pretend to be principled, but are not.

                Round and round it goes. I keep linking to this:

                Social power is complicated. Coercion takes many forms. The myth of “coercion free” is just the “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” [2].

                I don’t have an easy answer. I want to eat in restaurants the same as my neighbors. I should have access to public restrooms they same as they. These things seem worth fighting for. Social norms help, but sometimes we need laws.

                And yes, I know the “free market” is supposed to magically fix all that ails us. It certainly works sometimes. But not others. The idea of a perfectly rational market that always “clears” is a myth. It is just as idealistic as the myth of a “well informed” democratic electorate, of a “marketplace of ideas” freely exchanged, where the “best ideas” naturally rise to the top.

                It’s more complicated than that. People won’t wait around for these fantastical social processes to find their way to justice. We muddle through.

                [1] We need an abbreviation for “libertarian.” “Lib” doesn’t work for obvious reasons.

                [2] The “surface reading” of this article is about certain feminist social spaces, but it should not be too hard to see a broader message in how we structure society in general.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d says:

                In fairness in my meager 16 years of arguing onling for gay rights and SSM I’ve found many many (to be frank the majority of) libertarians who are consistently for GLBT rights in general. The ones who’re all squishy on social rights tend to not be very consistently libertarian on a lot of stuff. I personally call them republitarians.

                And yes, a good abbreviation for libertarian would be nice.Report

              • veronica d in reply to North says:

                @north — Maybe it’s a thing among the Silicon Valley “techno libertarian” set. It’s not that they are anti-gay. It’s more, they are anti-social-penalties for homophobia. When Brenden Eich went down, they squawked. In fact, anytime a loud, bigoted person finds themselves on the “wrong side” of social approbation, there is a set of “libertarian until they ain’t” types who take a very particular side.

                Like the recent arguments here about Twitter’s anti-hate-speech policies. We’ve gone round and round on this, to varying degrees.

                But more, they oppose the Civil Rights Act, and likewise anything resembling ENDA or public accommodation laws.

                Which fine, but if all social conflict has to play out in some “no public interference at all,” well then what are the rules? We can’t use violence. Okay. Fine. Can we use scorn? Can we lie? Can we bully children? (They bully ours.)

                It’s ugly. It’s all very ugly.

                (For the record, I have no intention of bullying anyone.)

                The thing is, society always wields a kind of power. It can play out at the ballot box, or in the legislature, but it can also play out in the boardroom and among television writers.

                You might be forced to bake a cake. However, you also might find that everyone in town mocks you, or that every time you turn on the television, people like you are the targets of relentless scorn.

                And how should this play out?

                They we want a world where men like Eich cannot get fired. Fine. I want a world where literally no transgender person is fired for who they are.

                None of us get what we want. And so the culture war rolls on.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d says:

                For sure, it’d help if our side were angels but obviously we’re not. Remember Memories Pizza? I mean who the fish would want to book a pizza joint for marriage catering? Some journalist intern went trolling for a reaction and got it, next thing we know you have gays (or more likely allies) calling in death threats. I mean Memories Pizza did fine, got a couple million dollar payola out of the deal but it’s enough to make you double facepalm. You’d think we’d know better.

                How should it play out? In my dreams we defeat them, eliminate social conservatives unwarranted power in the public sphere and then ignore them to wither in their own impotence. In my nightmares we go crusading into their purview, done the aggressors hat, alienate the next generation and enable those revanchist motherfishers to have a revival and drive us into the gutters again. We forget, at our peril, how few of us there are.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to veronica d says:

                A lot of libertarians have a blind spot when it comes to “soft” power. If there isn’t a Letter of the Law, or a situation where eventually, if you keep resisting, you will be shot by government agents for resisting arrest, a lot of them have a tendency to deny that there can be an entrenched power differential.

                Communities of like-minded people given to shaming those who are visibly different, or round tables in dark rooms with cigar-smoking men seated evenly around them – aren’t official government actions, so they don’t have any real power over the rest of us.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to El Muneco says:

                Its not so much that they have a blind spot towards soft power, many Libertarians will admit that it exists, but that they see the penalty for fighting against soft power as worse than the ills caused by soft power. Since state action is the number one evil to many Right Libertarians and state action is usually necessary to eliminate soft power, Libertarians are more likely to want to go against state action than soft power.

                Libertarians also tend to be highly idealistic and individualistic people and this makes them unwilling to fight against soft power. On the idealistic side, they take the idea of freedom of association very seriously. They really do seem to believe that people should not have to deal with people they don’t want to deal with. From the individualist angle, they really can’t understand why disadvantaged groups like African-Americans, the LGBT community, Jews, and Hispanic Americans don’t like being in a constant guessing game.Report

              • veronica d in reply to El Muneco says:

                @el-muneco — Exactly. But the point is, they start noticing fast when they are on the wrong side of it.

                Which is to say, because of my “culture space,” I spend a lot of time interacting with the “techno libertarian” type, who is maybe different from the old school libertarians I remember from my gun show days. But anyway, this is the “disrupt, disrupt, disrupt” crowd. And OH BOY do they notice when they find themselves on the wrong side of a social power structure.

                I mean, they are largely nerdy men. They often have been bullied a lot. They are very sensitive to social scorn.

                So as soon as you prick that even slightly — oh heavens!

                Which, I don’t mean to be cruel. These our my people. I share their background. My point is, their so called “libertarian” principles go right out the door as soon as they are on the wrong side.

                Like, get them started on corporate diversity policies or HR. Yeesh. Then point out, “Well you know this is just the free market, so therefore it is clearly the optimal solution or companies wouldn’t do it. If it bothers you, don’t worry. Competition will solve it. So if you lose your job or whatever, and get blackballed cuz some racist tweet you made, hey! Free markets. It’ll all work out.”

                They love that.


                To be honest, I’m not such a big fan of how HR departments handle shit. I mean, I’m on the side of diversity (obviously). And I have zero sympathy for sexist jerks, to say the least. I’m all for a set of standards and some basic diversity training, cuz it does help to explain stuff to people. Like, not everyone understands transgender issues the first time they meet us. A basic “once over” on how to show respect for gender identity is obviously good.

                That said, in my career I haven’t personally encountered a situation that was not best handled face to face, honestly, with the person in question. I have a friend who played the “run to HR with each gripe” game. It was really fucking dysfunctional. HR handled it in a very clumsy way. Everyone came out looking bad.

                Blah. Don’t do that. HR is not your friend.

                I mean, if someone grabs my ass, yeah, I’ll report them. No one has ever grabbed my ass.

                (I mean, not at work.)Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kim says:

          How does this only apply to produce, though? Why don’t my neighbors look down on me for not tanning my own leather or making my own pants? It all reeks to me of some peoples’ idealized view of the noble farmer rather than any real attempt at improving some measurable variable.

          I do grow a small amount of food in my suburban garden. Primarily herbs and tomatoes. Why? Because fresh tomatoes are delicious and easy to grow and herbs stay fresh while they’re still attached to a live plant. But I don’t grow staple foods because we’d eat all of the staples we could grow in no time and the return on effort/land is lousy. It’s a hobby and a luxury, not something that actually makes a dent in our actual diet.

          What most of these articles are really saying is, “My hobby is better than yours because it’s holy and great, and people with different hobbies are morally deficient.” It reads to me the same way as a political pundit going to a farm to figure out what “real Americans” think when hardly any Americans are actually farmers and the median American is closer to being a latte-sipping urban just-older-than millennial. It says more about the views of the writer than anything about the real world.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

            @troublesome-frog +1

            Smug is ugly.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

            You wear store-bought pants? Who let the riff-raff in?Report

          • Kim in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

            I think making your own pants and leather is fun too. More people should do that.
            It’s less seasonal, but really — why not learn leatherworking?Report

            • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kim says:

              Learning leatherworking is a cool thing to do and a nice hobby. And like most hobbies, it’s a luxury rather than a way to effectively replace some necessity.

              I’m all for essays suggesting that we should all learn how to make shoes because it’s fun and learning new skills is awesome. I’m less impressed by essays that push it as a way to make a “dent” in [mumble mumble something something consumer badness] as if the average person could actually reasonably meet his clothing needs with his leatherwork hobby and we’re just a home shoemaking revolution away from doing away with Big Shoe forever.

              Worse still is contempt for the average person who just buys leather boots from a specialist who makes them for a living and (gasp!) ships them from the factory to places where people need boots. I mean, heaven forbid we specialize and reap gains from trade.Report

          • El Muneco in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

            Re: the last paragraph – I’ve read that the area of the country that best matches the median demographics of the country as a whole is New Haven, CT. Which is not what people picture “average America” to be.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

            It’s certainly the case that growing my own food and making my own clothes has taught me that I am, as it were, pants at these activities, and that people with the proper skills and equipment and experience can do a job so much better that I’m better off paying them to do it for me.Report

      • North in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        It’s 80% aesthetic and 20% woo.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        Its actually a big throwback. Commerce depends on buying things from others and specialization. You have people devote themselves to food productions so other people can do other things full time. Its Civilization 101. Plus, I’d be tempted to mainly grow fruits rather than vegetables. If I ever move out to California and get some land there, I’m going to put up a fig tree.Report

      • dexter in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        @troublesome-frog, First and foremost, if all you are getting from 32 square feet of raised bed are five heads of lettuce you need to take a class or something.
        I have about 120 square feet of raised bed and, in the summer, get fresh tomatoes for about two months with enough to freeze to make sauce for the entire year. And I also get a winter crop that last about two to three months depending on the first freeze. I also get about 15 water melons, twenty to thirty cantaloupes in the summer. We also get enough bell peppers to freeze enough for the tomato sauces and to make about thirty stuffed peppers. We get enough Japanese eggplants to eat until we are tired of them and enough to make lots of lasagna. Plus enough cucs to eat all we want and give some away. Every two or three years I get really industrious, rent a rototiller and plant about250 square feet of corn which usually last about two or three years.
        The above are the summer crops. In the winter I plant carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, kale, swiss chard and whatever other green strikes my fancy the day I decide to plant. We get enough broccoli and carrots to freeze that will last a year. Plus we give away a lot to my ma-in law who, though she lives about two hundred yards away, is our closest neighbor. Plus we give some to my uncle who lives next to the ma in law and he insists of giving us catfish in return.
        I also pick around two gallons of wild black berries every year and around thirty pounds of satsumas which, if you if you ain’t from around here, is sorta an orangeish tangerine.
        The wife does herbs in pots on the porch so they will be near when she decides she wants some.
        As for labor, the hardest week takes about ten hours and the rest of summer I spend about two to four hours a week in the garden weeding and picking.Report

  3. Chris says:

    B4: Almost an Escher drawing.Report

  4. North says:

    U3 oh me oh my, look it’s not like anyone is saying historical preservation is bad in an absolute sense (I think one’d be hard pressed to find anyone who dislikes historical preservation in of itself) but it’s silly to pretend there aren’t trade offs. Hell, that’s how it works with any policy. It’s nice that one wants to preserve agricultural near city land so the wealthy can enjoy locally sourced produce. It’s nice that one wants to give property owners in any given neighborhood veto power over what changes happen in their neighborhoods. It’s nice that one wants to preserve the pretty brickwork on the hundred year old single family across the street. It’s nice one wants no one to have to lose their view or suffer from increased traffic or demand for parking. It’s all nice but if one holds to a lot of those and then clutches their pearls and exclaims in horror over the rent being so high there’s a great deal of hypocrisy churned in with the niceness.

    R6 doesn’t surprise me at all. Trees are the bomb. Minneapolis is just chockablock with em and I love it.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to North says:

      Of course there are trade offs. Is anyone claiming otherwise? Probably. No position is so stupid that you can’t find someone espousing it. But is this a widespread claim?

      Here’s one that I do see a lot: the idea that private property so sacrosanct that the owner can do anything he wants within his property limits, with no consideration for how this affects the people around him. Increased traffic or parking demand? That isn’t on his property, so what does that have to do with him? feh. I noticed long ago that libertopian fantasies tend to be set in rural locales, with people owning large properties making it easy to avoid direct interaction. This fantasy is harder to maintain when living cheek by jowl.Report

      • North in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        Yeah you see it implied pretty heavily or handwaved at furiously, particularly when rent control advocates or nimbys crawl out of the woodwork on housing questions.
        I’m no libertarian myself and I’d definitely agree that cities present some serious problems for libertarian thinking. There definitely is a level of group coordination need there that isn’t friendly to the solitary pioneer fantasy.

        I’m all for people pursuing their self interests vis a vis traffic, views etc. but it’s when they start weeping tears for the poor homeseekers and renters or mau mauing about gentrification that the scorn starts coming home to roost in the belfry.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

        Increased traffic or parking demand? That isn’t on his property, so what does that have to do with him?

        These costs could be fully internalized if roads and parking space were fully paid for by user fees instead of being subsidized by taxes. Note also that these aren’t hypothetical problems peculiar to libertopia, but real problems that we have right now, with our abundance of regulations, because tax subsidies for drivers are popular with voters. As usual, the problem is too much being allocated by politics rather than markets, not too little.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          The free movement of people kind of requires that they don’t have to pay a freaking fee every time the use a street, road, or sidewalk. Not everything needs to be a conscious cost benefit analysis every single time.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

            That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about.

            There are no free roads, only subsidized roads. Besides, we already require people to pay for their own gas and cars. By your logic, that’s a violation of their human rights. So why not use of roads?Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              What you see as a subsidized road, most people see as a free road. If the majority of people decide that tax dollars are the best way to pay for transportation infrastructure and can live with this than we really don’t need to go get the market involved. It works well enough and more people are happier this way.Report

            • Richard Hershberger in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              How would that work? I understand how it works with highways from one city to another. But how would it work if I am running down to the corner store for a gallon of milk? Are there EZ Pass detectors on every corner? And what if I decide to walk rather than drive?Report

            • Because there have never been pay-per-use urban streets in the history of the world, so saying that instituting them would solve more problems that it would cause is purely conjectural. It’s also the kind of thing that causes the word “libertarian” to make people roll their eyes.Report

            • El Muneco in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              This is actually one of the (somewhat few) ideas from my libertarian past that I’m still in agreement with. Road maintenance is a Tragedy of the Commons situation where at least we have a first-order proxy for usage in the form of gas taxes.

              Which are constantly at risk because everybody hates them – my pseudo-Trumpite co-worker was grousing because WA’s gas tax is going up to second-highest in the country. His head probably would have asploded if I’d told him that I’d support it being double, or perhaps triple – assuming it was earmarked so that they could afford something to fill potholes with that would last longer than a month.

              If it could be expanded to cover more of the road/traffic system without RFID chips, or exempting state highways in a bid to buy rural support, or silly crap like that, I could go along with a usage-based system.Report

  5. R5: What’s the alternative, to let Finnish-Americans run around loose?Report

  6. The link in S3 404s.Report

  7. Dave Regio says:

    Can I add this to the mix?Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    U3: I will support this article against North. The issue seems to be what makes a city a city. Specifically can San Francisco be San Francisco without the Victorians and Edwardians. Can New York be New York (or Brooklyn Brooklyn) if you get rid of the Brownstones? I would say getting rid of it all will take away a substantial part of the cities character.

    U4: I checked out Ms. Chen’s twitter feed. It said she quit her job and bought a one-way ticket to Europe. Very few people can afford to do this (or there are lots of people who have come what may attitudes towards running out of money.) I would hate to think about how expensive Vancouver is if she can just quit her job and go around Europe. She could have just moved to a nice commuter suburb or sister city. Does Vancouver have an Oakland or a Berkeley?

    S1: The guy seems to be arguing for mandates for people to grow veggies and have hens and he is making an awful lot of assumptions about how people finance their stuff (though probably correct ones). He is also doing some really passive-aggressive writing here, “I am not saying that people should not have playthings” = “I am saying that people should not have playthings and they should do exactly what I want them to do.”

    S3: Most of my friends with children (who are more Gen X than Millennial) seem to split 50/50 about whether they move to the suburbs or not with kids. One friend moved before giving birth to her first child. A couple in my apartment building did the same thing. Others seem to wait a year or two until the kids reach school age before making the plunge to the suburbs. The ones that stay in cities either seem to have a lot of money or absolutely no money.Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      So you’re saying there aren’t trade offs to historical preservation?Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

        I think what he’s saying is that he forever forfeits his right to complain about high rent.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:


        There are trade-offs. Some historical preservation is worth it.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        Also what is it about technocratic/wonkish types that makes them completely immune to thinking about aesthetics? Design matters. The world would be a depressing place if everything was a brutalist concrete monstrosity!

        Yet MY and his fellow upzoners of everything seem completely indifferent to actively hostile to any consideration of design and aesthetics in everything.Report

        • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Wonkish types would retort by asking what is it with emotional idealistic types that make them try and hand wave away practical considerations? Aesthetics are important and you’ll find few to no wonks who say otherwise.
          If the conversation starts with screams about housing costs and demands for intervention*, as it so often does, then when one retreats to aesthetics then you’re implicitly saying that a given street view or neighborhood vibe is more important than poor people. Now that’s a plausible position to take but it’s not a popular one.

          *Which always tends to fall on the backs of the poor as well.Report

          • veronica d in reply to North says:

            Of course, then you get two (or more) groups of people, none of whom are actually poor, using “poor people” as some playing piece in their rhetorical game.


            I would imagine you can find poor people who care what things look like. I imagine you can find poor people saying all sorts of things — that people seldom listen to.

            I have literally no idea what poor people want. Sometimes I sit near them on the subway.Report

            • North in reply to veronica d says:

              Literally? Likewise. But if I were betting money I’d bet that an easier commute and lower rent would beat out locally sourced vegetables and authentic brownstone street facades.Report

              • veronica d in reply to North says:

                @north — Well yeah. I don’t disagree.

                I mean, I give zero fucks about “locally sourced” whatever. Good grief.

                The buildings themselves, however. History matters. It’s like, a thing lost cannot be had again.

                For example, our New England triple deckers are — well, people don’t want to lose them. I agree. (I live in one.)

                And “gentrification” and real estate and so on. Fine. I dunno.

                Better transit would help a lot. It seems like the Bay Area has like utter shit for transit, not that Boston is so great either. But I think we’re better than the bay. So that is a thing that matters. Even if you can’t afford that cool apartment on a cool historic street — which is now priced at freakout-luxury levels, if you can still manage a 30 minute commute, well fine. If it pushes up to an hour commute, well, a lot of people make that work. You can read or listen to music. Or something. It’s not ideal.

                If you’re like in “three bus transfers” hell, then no, that’s terrible. Make the transit good.

                My ex-g/f is poor. She lives on an “unpleasant” edge of Boston, from where she has to walk a mile to catch a bus. There is also a light rail station, just beyond the bus stop. But that’s expensive, so she seldom uses it. Anyway, the bus takes her to the end of a subway line. She rides that into work. It’s an hour plus, and rather awful on a snow day.

                I deliberately choose a subway station a mile from my house, just for exercise. There is another one 2 blocks from my apartment.

                I’m a smug, privileged bitch.

                But the buildings — they’ve stood for over a hundred years. Let us not be so hasty in bringing them down.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d says:

                Believe me, contra Saul’s assertion I love old buildings and have much sympathy for historical preservation. Love it. But I also am a DINK middle class yuppie and I try and be conscious of the fallout of those preferences. Those same rules that can be used to preserve fabulous buildings can (and are) also sometimes used to preserve crumbling shitholes to block moar peoples from moving into a neighborhood. And don’t get me started about third party “do gooders” who ponce into a transaction between a building owner and buyer and proclaim “You can’t buy dude A’s house and tear it down! Dude A’s house is historical!! What? No I don’t want to buy it you capitalist pig.”

                So I am down with preserving awesome historical buildings. I just wish people could be clearer eyed about what the cost of that preference is and who pays it.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                Preserving particular buildings is fine and good if the building is of particular architectural, historical, or cultural importance like Grand Central Station or Carnegie Hall. Saving entire districts as historical preserves should only be done in extreme circumstances where the district as a whole is more economically valuable as his rather than in a different form. Height-Ashbery in San Francisco or the French Quarter in New Orleans are examples of such districts. Most places are not.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          It seems to me that you’re saying that you want other people to subsidize your esthetic preferences via higher rents. Is there some more charitable interpretation that I’ve overlooked?Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @Saul, you know that Berkeley is almost as expensive as SF, don’t you? And Oakland depends on if you mean Peidmont or the Deep East.Report

  9. Richard Hershberger says:

    R3: This is only incidentally about letting dying towns die. It is mostly a defense of globalization, including a fair amount of whacking at straw men. I especially appreciate the condemnation of cheap moralizing combined with the facile advice to simply move, as if there were no barriers to this other than mere sloth.Report

  10. Mo says:

    V1: This only makes sense if the airline is looking to optimize boarding speed over everything else, like passenger loyalty.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Mo says:

      yeah; there was a Mythbusters episode where they came up with some mathematically-determined “best way” to board the airplane. Then I go to the airport, and between first-class fares, businessmen buying special boarding, and frequent-flier cardholders, half the passengers have boarded before they get anywhere near the poor slobs who just bought tickets.

      The fun part is when they say “well folks in order to speed up boarding, all carryons must be checked”. Not even the fig leaf of “we’re um like out of um overhead space and um”Report

  11. Chip Daniels says:

    Shorter architects:
    “This building is really ugly, but is very smart and comes from a respectable family.”

    Thus illustrating the total estrangement of the profession from the public it claims to serve.

    Its common within architecture circles for architects to complain that we are misunderstood, but the truth is we don’t want to be understood. The leading theorists and trendsetters, like Hadid, Liebeskind, Gehry and others, very consciously mold the image of the architect as a mysterious priest behind a curtain of jargon.

    Laypeople, in the NYT article, are urged not to trust their own judgment and vision, but to trust in the pronouncements of the priests. So, this building which appears ugly is actually wonderful because Reasons, while that one that appears charming is actually horrid, for other Reasons.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      So, what you are saying is that Architects are the original hipsters?Report

      • El Muneco in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        When I was in grad school, they offered a course in computer animation that was co-branded as CS and Architecture – in fact, most of the work up to the final individual project was in cross-disciplinary teams so that you could learn enough from the other guy to get by.

        I’m pretty sure that all the hipsters in the class were from the Architecture side. A few CS people made it out of the “nerd” category, but I think the closest we managed was “slacker”.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      HA! and awesome!

      My brother is an architect, makes a mint doing remodels and such. Used to do urban infill, but after the crash no one wanted that and he needed to keep his fledgling self owned office open. Stumbled into a gold mine apparently, doing what other archs feel they are above.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Most people hate modern building styles and prefer the more approachable architecture that existed before World War I or in mid-20rh century suburbia for housing. Trying building neo-classical and being taken seriously as an architect though.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

        There is a surprisingly thriving niche of architects doing period and traditional styles of architecture, but yes, they are outside the mainstream of the field.

        I don’t think there is anything magical or sacrosanct about period styles so much as, they reference a conception of space and people’s relationship to the built environment that is shared by laypeople.

        The conception expressed by a Zaha Hadid building is not shared by anyone outside of the tiny circle of architects and fellow travelers, so it comes off as mysterious, perplexing, and ultimately unpleasant.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to LeeEsq says:

        “Most people hate modern building styles and prefer the more approachable architecture that existed before World War I or in mid-20rh century suburbia for housing. ”

        Which gave not a single thought for disabled access, walkability, proximity to mass transit…Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to DensityDuck says:

          I was talking more about the terms of building styles, classicalism, neo-classicalism, art nouveau, art deco, bungalows, ranches, Second Empire, etc. rather than the other forms of urban design. The Boston T, New York subway, Chicago El, and Philadelphia subways were built during the last period where most people liked what the architects were doing on public building. Compare the beauties of old Penn Station and Grand Central to any airport.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      @chip-daniels @oscar-gordon

      I’ve heard that most people generally prefer traditional architecture over modern stuff in everything from housing from public buildings. I suspect that traditional building styles are not used anymore for a variety of reasons:

      1. It is probably too expensive to make neo-classical public buildings filled with columns and marble. Likewise, traditional housing styles like Brooklyn Brownstones or Tudors or Colonials or Edwardians are also probably really expensive to make from the ground-up.

      2. Building traditional architecture sticks out like a sore thumb. There is a section of Novato, CA where a developer made some very traditional (and large) Victorians/Edwardians rowhouses. They are brightly colored highly-detailed and share walls and surround a not very well-maintained square that is supposed to be a shared green space/park. Across the street is a light industrial zone but you are walkingish distance to a small and quaint downtown.

      3. Traditional housing is very difficult and expensive to maintain. San Franciscan Edwardians with all their detailing are pains to keep clean. A curved bay window that breaks is expensive to replace because the replacement glass needs to be custom made.

      4. Architects are still artists and like all artists want to do something new and original instead of the tired and true. As a theatre director I wanted to work on new plays or classics with a lot of meat on the bone that can be endlessly reinterpreted. I did not want to direct the umpteenth production of the Sound of Music even though the public generally likes the umpteenth performance of the Sound of Music.Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Depends on where you’re at. Pittsburgh had a grand tradition of arrow-slit windows, because every window got soot-blackened quickly, and they were easier to clean.

        Most people seem to like mid-century moderns, and ranch houses seem to be all the rage.

        I suspect it takes a true artist to reinterpret The Sound Of Music.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Some architects might have artistic ambitions but many also have a more professional and commercial approach to their job. Even those who are artistically bent are working in a commercial marketplace. Its amazing that they seem to think going against their customer’s desires so much is a valid thing to do.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        1. Not as much as one would think. Simple ornament-free construction can be cheap, but then the architect usually adds some minimalist thingy that costs a fortune to detail (Must have hidden fasteners! No visible seams! )

        2. “Sticking out like a sore thumb”, translated into architect lingo means “My building will make me immortal!”

        3. Probably so, but then again, I’ve never met an architect who gave a rip about that, or an owner brave enough to insist upon it.

        4. Bingo. I give my fellow architect a ration of crap because we accept the definition of artist that relies too heavily upon the solo auteur theory of creation.

        Maybe that can fly with other endeavors but architecture is very much a collective endeavor. We use other people’s money, other people’s land, and the created work is assembled by vast teams of other people, then used by vast numbers of other strangers, even long after our death and has externalities that affect everyone who inhabits the urban space.

        Dismissing the cultural posture of others, ignoring their desired relationship with the building and space is not just arrogance, it makes it impossible for us to make work that is transcendent, that can rise above our particular topical notions.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      It certainly seems to me that architecture criticism is entirely removed from the real world. I was living in Philly when it got a new concert hall and a new baseball stadium at roughly the same time. I was fascinated to read the reviews from the architecture crowd. What struck me in both cases was their utter indifference to whether or not the damn thing actually did what whatever it was supposed to do, much less did it well. Are the seats comfortable, and angled correctly? How are the sight lines? What about the acoustics (in the case of the concert hall)? And bathrooms: are there enough, and can you actually get to them? These are the things that actually affect me, the person paying to get in. Reading the critics, it seemed as if these questions weren’t so much dismissed as never arising in their consciousness enough to be dismissed. feh.Report

  12. veronica d says:

    [V1] Ha! This guys thinks passengers will queue up in the order you tell them to. How cute.

    The article on “when to book” matches my knowledge of revenue management. Note, I don’t actually work on that part of the business, but I interact with it a lot, so I understand some of what they do. The article matches my understanding.

    Note that “price finding tools,” such as this one (which she recommends quite randomly) have a neat “flexible dates” tool (click around; yes, the UI could be better) that can help you see when things are cheaper. Likewise they have some historic price graphs, which also help the bargain hunter. Basically, if you are flexible about when you take your vacation — like if it doesn’t have to be on a certain date — then you can save muchly. If you are flexible about where you go, you can travel cheap-as-heck.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

      uh-heh. so i can travel hella cheap as long as i don’t care where i go or when? “honey, why do we always vacation in El Paso on August 14th?”Report

      • veronica d in reply to DensityDuck says:

        It’s more complicated than that. Basically the airlines want to fill up planes. So you can get really great prices when 1) they’ve scheduled a flight and 2) the flight is not filling up as fast as they thought. Likewise they are in competition. A popular market with much service can sometimes be cheaper. For example, it is often pretty easy to find cheap fares to Las Vegas. Sure, tons of folks want to go there, but then in turn the airlines compete hard.

        But then, they also know which weekends are “popular.” Likewise, they have pricing experts, who track “big events” in various cities, such as conventions and sporting events. For example, sometimes you’ll be booking a flight, and one particular weekend will have a weirdly high price. When this happens, if you Google around, you’ll often see there is some big sporting event or whatever in town that weekend. A flight anytime near Super Bowl, to anywhere near where Super Bowl is being played — you’re gonna pay top dollar.

        The Hotel business works the same way.

        Furthermore, much of this also depends on airport capacity. The airlines are constantly fighting for “slots” at the airports, which is governed by the number of physical gates, plus FAA stuff on how many planes can safely take off and land per runway, and how crowded the airspace above the city is (which is why a lot of tickets to NYC end up landing in Newark or whatever). But the point is, they cannot always add more flights to meet more demand, unless more airport slots are available. Busy markets run at capacity.

        On and on. It’s a very complicated industry with an actually-mathematically difficult business model.

        For example, compare the prices from Boston to Dallas with Boston to El Paso:;f=BOS;t=DFW,DAL;d=2016-07-19;r=2016-07-23;f=BOS;t=ELP;d=2016-07-19;r=2016-07-23

        (Airline data is real-time, so what I see could change by the time you look at it. But for me, the Dallas prices are in the $200+ to $300+ ranges, whereas for El Paso they hover closer to $500. This is not unusual.)

        If you want to get a “spread” of prices around the country, this is a nice tool:;f=BOS;t=SFO;d=2016-07-19;r=2016-07-23;mc=m

        Right now that tool is showing, $301 to Las Vegas, $342 to Phoenix, and $555 to Tuscon. Airline pricing is weird.

        (The links I shared have embedded dates. If anyone is clicking on them after a few weeks, you may need to change the dates to get good data.)


        Look at it this way, the airlines are two businesses mixed together. The first is to safely fly planes with passengers in them. The second is to model passenger behavior and seek optimal pricing. To be profitable, the second business must be as sophisticated as the first.

        This is a fascinating book:

        I’m seldom the type of person who is down for reading business books, but as part of my job I read this one. It’s quite a story.Report

  13. Saul Degraw says:

    The Toast is closing today. HRC wrote a nice note:

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      This immediately makes me feel Zic’s absence keenly.

      Also if HRC did read/enjoy the Toast I think that’s cool and it makes me like her a bit more. OTOH if HRC has an operation savvy enough to act this way towards the Toast closing that is kind of impressive and also makes me like her operation a bit more.Report

  14. Burt Likko says:

    E2 — Waiting for the Fallout mod. I guess the brand-new DLC comes pretty close.

    E3 — Now that I know this exists I have become instantly obsessed with the idea of staying in this room. Not so much because it’s in the Grand Canyon (although that’s pretty damn cool) and not so much because JFK had a personal hand in its creation (although that’s pretty damn cool too). It’s the line at the end of the article that this may be the quietest room in the world. How awesome is that?Report

    • North in reply to notme says:

      Yeah because if the Clintons wanted to have a nefarious secret meeting with the AG they’d do it midday in a jet on a public airport tarmac *eyeroll*Report

      • KenB in reply to North says:

        I thought this was an interesting possibility [source]:

        Many won’t believe Lynch and Clinton only discussed grandkids and golf in her cozy jet. But I do.
        That’s all they needed to discuss for Bill to interfere with a criminal prosecution. Sophisticated insiders don’t need to use clumsy and explicit language. Merely having the tarmac summit interferes with the investigation, even if golf and grandkids were the only topics discussed.

        The tarmac summit sent a signal. It is a signal to all of the hardworking FBI agents who have the goods on Hillary.

        The attorney general has made it clear what team she is on. The attorney general isn’t on the side of justice. She’s on the Democratic Party team.

        This is the unspoken message from Lynch to all of the FBI agents on the case and to all the front-line lawyers at the Justice Department:

        When you send your recommendation to refer Hillary’s case to the grand jury, you had better realize your burden to convince me I should sign off on a grand jury request is higher than you thought. These are my friends.


        • North in reply to KenB says:

          Heh, that’s high quality Clinton mongering for sure.Report

          • Jesse Ewiak in reply to North says:

            Isn’t the simpler reasoning that Bill Clinton doesn’t give a fuck? I mean, he knows that he got a blowjob in the Oval Office from an intern, the whole nation knew about it, and his approval rating went up, and then he proceded to world to pretty much go to shit the second he left office, and as a side hustle, he helped reelect Obama in 2012?

            If I was Bill Clinton, I probably wouldn’t give a fuck either. The Gingrich’s, Ken Starr’s, Rush Limbaugh’s have been coming after me for 25 years and I look better than I did back then, I’m richer than I was back then, and my wife is about to become President.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to KenB says:

          I heard on Facebook that Bill simply strode inside the jet, stared at Loretta for a moment, then tossed a small object onto the table, the soft clink indicating a piece of metal, the glint showing it to be a jewel.

          Bill abruptly turned and strode out wordlessly.

          Loretta leaned to pick up the object and as her hand touched it she recoiled in horror recognizing it as…

          Vince Foster’s college fraternity ring.

          [shriek of discordant violins and fade to black]Report

        • Francis in reply to KenB says:

          Right. The mere fact of Bill Clinton’s existence wasn’t enough to affect the AG, but bring him into her presence and ZAMMO the Big Dog’s magnetic personality corrupts the investigation.

          Don’t the people writing this stuff have lives? Phones don’t exist? High level politicians can’t have friends?

          Appearance of impropriety my ass. This is about right-wing hacks and journalists who should know better drumming up a story on a slow Friday and showing to the world that their coverage of Trump and Hillary is fair and balanced.

          Long story on NPR about the story about the story (always a favorite. Nobody covers the Washington press like NPR.) Nothing about Trump campaign sending fundraising requests to foreign politicians.Report

          • KenB in reply to Francis says:

            Appearance of impropriety my ass

            Pardon my cynicism but I suspect if it were GW Bush having such a meeting, you’d have a somewhat different opinion. Or if not you, then certainly many other D’s who are saying no-harm-no-foul here.

            This is the prospect of another Clinton presidency — they don’t give a crap about doing things that look suspicious as long as they stay just on this side of the line (or keep the line-crossing successfully hidden), and so Republicans will freak out while Democrats will swear that they’re pure as the driven snow and Republicans are just out to destroy them. Woo-hoo.Report

            • Mike Schilling in reply to KenB says:

              Remeber when Scalia refused to recuse himself in a case where Dick Cheney was a party because they’d gone hunting two months earlier?

              In a 21-page memorandum filled with scorn and with lessons in the ways of Washington, Justice Scalia wrote that if people assumed a duck hunting trip would be enough to swing his vote, “the nation is in deeper trouble than I had imagined.”

              He said that throughout American history, justices have been friends with high-ranking government officials, and that as recently as Christmas other justices socialized with Mr. Cheney at the vice president’s home.

              “A rule that required members of this court to remove themselves from cases in which the official actions of friends were at issue would be utterly disabling,” Justice Scalia wrote.


              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                And nobody disagreed with that, so nobody should disagree with this.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                Anyway, it was completely different because Scalia was a pillar of integrity and you see Hillary’s picture in the dictionary when you look up “corrupt”.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                At least we know that the people who supported Scalia but get all huffy about this are not demonstrating even a pretense toward a deeper ethical rule but only transparently using an argument that they think will work against their opponent. We can look forward to them not caring the second that someone on their side does something like this again.

                Maybe even using this particular incident as an example for why nobody should care about this sort of thing.Report

              • KenB in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Not sure what the point of that was — I’m not saying Republicans are better. As Jaybird suggests, if you wanted to push back on my comment you’d have to give examples where a Republican did something with questionable optics and Democrats were totally cool and understanding about it.

                Just because I criticize Hatfields doesn’t mean I’m a McCoy.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to KenB says:

                That is,

                This is the prospect of another Clinton presidency — they don’t give a crap about doing things that look suspicious as long as they stay just on this side of the line (or keep the line-crossing successfully hidden)

                is simply the long form of “they’re all alike”?Report

              • KenB in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I said “the Clintons”, not “all Democrats”. Have your vision checked, you can only see black and white.Report

              • KenB in reply to KenB says:

                I was a solid Democrat in the 90s, but even then I found it intensely frustrating that they were always flirting with scandal. And not to further Democratic/liberal policies but to further their own personal interests.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to KenB says:

                Ah, so

                Pardon my cynicism but I suspect if it were GW Bush having such a meeting, you’d have a somewhat different opinion. Or if not you, then certainly many other D’s who are saying no-harm-no-foul here.

                wasn’t saying anything about partisanship.Report

              • KenB in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I’m confused now — what exactly do you think I’m arguing?Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to KenB says:

                You appear to be arguing that the Clintons are uniquely corrupt, as evidenced by their acting the same way that Scalia acted and moreover wrote a 21-page memo explaining is the way everyone else in Washington acts. And furthermore that anyone who disagrees about the Clintons being uniquely corrupt is lying from partisan motives.Report

              • greginak in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                When you have as many convictions as the Clintons how can you say they aren’t the most coruptest pols ever.Report

              • KenB in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Regarding partisanship, I’m saying (and thought I was clear) that the same people who are insisting that there’s no possible appearance of impropriety in this meeting are the same people who would be arguing the opposite if the Rs and Ds were switched (and the same in reverse for Republicans). Who do you think Scalia was defending himself to? What did you think about his actions and his argument then?

                Re the Clintons, I wouldn’t and didn’t say they’re uniquely corrupt, but I did say they seem to have a habit of doing things that look suspicious, unlike the other two Democratic presidents in my lifetime. “Looks suspicious” isn’t the same thing as “corrupt” but I do think it’s partisan to claim that there’s zero reason to suspect them of it.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to KenB says:

                Of all the Clinton “scandals” investigated by a series of highly partisan special prosectors, the only one that led anywhere was his affair with Lewinsky and its aftermath. So I think it’s fait to say that looking suspicious has not in general meant being corrupt.Report

              • greginak in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                But that just proves how corrupt they are. After many investigations have found no laws broken ( just to be fair, Bill’s bj was seriously wrong) and they haven’t been convicted just shows how devious they are. Only truly corrupt types could get away with all their crimes and not be convicted.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

                He isn’t known as”Slick Willie” because of his liberal use of hair gel.Report

              • notme in reply to greginak says:

                Was clinton’s perjury wrong?Report

              • Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to notme says:

                You can make a more than decent case that there was no perjury at all. Earlier in the depositions, a definition of “sexual relations” was promulgated by Ken Starr’s team that was excruciatingly specific and precise. Oral sex was explicitly not part of that definition.

                So I’m hardly about to condemn Clinton for not volunteering to categorize his own behavior in a way that would do him harm before a panel of inquisitors that had turned investigation of a real estate deal into a three-year, no-limits adversarial witch hunt.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Snarky McSnarksnark says:

                He’s a lawyer. They played word games with a lawyer.

                I’m shocked the perjury thing stuck, and I suspect it only did because Clinton wasn’t planning to practice law again and was sick of the whole issue.Report

              • notme in reply to Morat20 says:

                And then the dems concocted a fantasy story he was being persecuted bc of a bj.Report

              • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to notme says:

                No, he was being persecuted for being an effective liberal-ish president during the Gingrich era.Report

              • notme in reply to Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

                Next you’ll tell us Eric garner was murdered for selling loosies.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to KenB says:


          That is an interesting angle. But if we run with that, does the criticism really lie with Bill? Or with Lynch?

          If Bill went there hoping to send a message… “If they see me waltz onto her plane and hang for a while, they’ll know the deal…” the message only gets transmitted if Lynch takes the meeting. And as the person with formal responsibilities in the matter, it would seem the onus is on her to hold the line.

          That doesn’t mean we can’t criticize Bill for attempting to interfere with/influence the proceedings (if that is indeed what he intended), but if an “innocent” meeting is enough to compromise the investigation, Lynch has to draw that line in the sand.Report

          • KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

            Sure, I’d agree with that. Hopefully after this she met with her staff and told them that under no circumstances were they to treat Hillary Clinton any differently than they would anyone else in a similar situation.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to KenB says:

              I’d go further and hope that she said that well before the ‘meeting’ and then reiterated it afterward.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to KenB says:


              Some very important context.

              Some takeaways:
              – Lynch seems to have been totally caught off-guard by Bill
              – Lynch’s staff was present
              – Lynch’s staff immeidatley recognized the political ramifications of the meeting
              – Lynch’s security detail couldn’t stop Clinton from boarding the plane

              The article/source didn’t say as much, but putting the first and last takeaway together, it seems the only way to have prevented the meeting was to have Clinton somehow barred/removed from the plane or to have left the plane herself. Neither seem beyond her ability/power and you’d hope someone who ascends to such a powerful office would have the strength to stand up to even a former President. That said, seems like a power/dick move by Bill and he should be criticized. Lynch deserves some criticism as well. I’d be hardpressed to criticized Hillary baring some more evidence that she was aware of or somehow contributed to Bill’s actions in advance. While it is generally reasonable to assume spouses are aware of one another’s doings, I think we need to do our best to evaluate a candidate on his or her own merits, not those of her family. This certainly might cast suspicion on the investigation itself but I’m not comfortable saying Hillary did anything unseemly as we simply have no evidence that she did.

              This shouldn’t have happened. Bill shouldn’t have initiated it. And Lynch should have exercised an out the moment she realized what was going on.Report

              • KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

                That’s really interesting, thanks for finding it. He definitely put her in an awkward spot. As someone else here mentioned (though with a different spin), it’s not like he couldn’t have called or otherwise contacted her privately, so one wonders what exactly the purpose of this was.

                It’s also hard to know how much responsibility to assign to Hillary – on the one hand, Bill’s definitely his own person and unlikely to stay on leash, but on the other, they could potentially use that as a way to have him do things that they both want done but that she doesn’t want to be seen as involved in.

                Wheels within wheels…Report

              • Kazzy in reply to KenB says:


                I agree on both parts.

                Regarding the second, I’m curious to see how we (collectively) handle these issues with regards to Hillary. I can’t help but think she will get different treatment as a woman. However, she is also in the unique position that her partner is not only a pol himself, but a former President! It will be hard to disentangle the two.

                It has been suggested (earlier, here and elsewhere) that Hillary might have to answer for Bill’s policy decisions while in office. This doesn’t sit well with me. I could see possible legitimate threads to pull on as it’d be naive to suggest that there is no connection between the two. But there often seems to be an implication that Hillary is uniquely tied to her partner because, ya know, women are just extensions of their husbands… never individuals with their own ideas and agency. It’s tricky, to say the least. And, for the record, I was similarly bothered when JEB was constantly asked to answer for W’s actions in office. More so, in fact, because their connection is even weaker than Billary’s.

                Also, I don’t expect you to answer for these issues as I’ve never seen you walk that sexism line. I’m just putting it out there as another wrinkle in these matters. Whenever Hillary is called on to answer for Bill’s actions, we have to wonder how much of it is legitimate, how much illegitimate, how much is because he’s a former President, how much because she’s a women, etc….Report

              • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

                Her detail couldn’t stop one man from getting on her plane? That’s not much of a security detail.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to notme says:

                I mean, what do they have tasers for?Report

      • notme in reply to North says:

        It wasn’t a public meeting on the tarmac. It was a 30 min private meeting.Report

      • notme in reply to North says:

        Did you ever realize the meeting wasn’t in public?Report

        • greginak in reply to notme says:

          It sure as heck wasn’t a secret meeting. And again they could have had 92 secret conversations on the phone, so how does a meeting that really wasn’t a secret prove anything.Report

  15. j r says:

    B4: Yeah, that’s what Hong Kong looks like, but those pictures are a little misleading as they are close-ups. Pull back a bit and you get a different perspective.

    Yes, the living is cramped. I live in a two-bedroom apartment that has half the square footage of my one-bedroom in NY or about about the same as my studio in DC. And I’m relatively well-off here.

    At the same time though, I can walk out of my building and be on a hiking trail in 15 minutes. Most of the land in Hong Kong is undeveloped, which is part of why it’s so dense. Most of Hong Kong Island is a mountain, with everyone living on a few strips of mostly reclaimed land on the shore. Yesterday, I took a 40-minute cab ride to a pier and spent the day on a boat, anchored off a beach surrounded by lush green sub-tropical islands. Hong Kong has access to nature that not a whole lot of other really big cities have.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


      I was just hanging with a friend who lives in Hong Kong and mentioned the article and she said that it is really hard to compare the States to HK. She is well off (husband is a lawyer, she teaches in an international school) and they have an 850 square foot apartment for them and their 5-year-old daughter and that is on the larger side. It’s just a different standard.

      As for the density, I did a little research and found that NYC is actually more densely populated than HK but because of the reasons you cited, HK has some areas of hyper density.

      But before we judge, I’d be curious to know about the standards of living for the people in those apartment blocks. My friend couldn’t really speak to it. Do you know anything about it? If people are more or less happy, I’d be hard pressed to be disgusted or outraged in the way it seemed the article wanted me to be.Report

  16. notme says:

    Another day and another Muslim bombing. I guess since no ISIS membership cards were found, some here will tell us they can’t be responsible.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to notme says:

      What exactly is a “Muslim bombing”? A bomb that killed Muslim people? Was set by a Muslim person or Muslim persons? The bomb itself was Muslim?Report

    • North in reply to notme says:

      Honestly notme, you and the conservative usual idiots play into ISIS’s hands in this area so hard it’s easy to imagine you’re on their payroll.Report

    • veronica d in reply to notme says:

      I’m often very critical of the evangelical Christian movement in America, due to their manifest homophobia and transphobia. I certainly think it is fair to point out that evangelicalism and anti-LGBTQ bigotry go hand in hand. That said, I make some effort to separate the evangelical movement from Christians-in-general. For one thing, many people are born into the Christian faith, and thus grow up with a deep connection to those those traditions and culture. However, one can be a Christian, but turn toward versions of the religion that reject bigotry. Those who remain attached to evangelical strains have chosen those versions for reasons.

      I don’t think I’ve ever said anything critical of Catholic people in general. Of course, there are many aspect of the Catholic doctrine and hierarchy that I object to, but you won’t hear me making anything like an “all priests are pedophiles” joke. It’s tacky and unfair.

      I don’t believe we have any Muslim members of this forum. I don’t see how we could expect a Muslim to join us, given that anti-Muslim hate speech is seemingly accepted.

      I hate Isis. They are monsters. Likewise, I have virtually no patience with extreme, hyper-conservative, or radical forms of Islam. They go again all of my values.

      This is completely not the same as rejecting Muslims-in-general.

      At some point the moderators need to step in. The garbage coming from “notme” (and I believe some other members) is nothing more than anti-Muslim bigotry. It’s gross and unacceptable.

      There are measured ways to criticize Islam, which target those aspects of Islam that should rightly be criticized, without leveling a general condemnation of Muslim-people-in-general, who vary widely, with different views, different values, even if they are unified under a common creed.

      Just like every other religion.

      Please moderators, this is gross. Put an end to it.Report

      • notme in reply to veronica d says:

        Put an end to what?Report

      • North in reply to veronica d says:

        I respectfully disagree. We won’t defeat this kind of pablum by censoring it; silencing it lends it an undeserved aura of respectability. It’s best dealt with through confrontation and mockery.Report

        • David Parsons in reply to North says:

          Notme is cleek’s law personified; all it will take is some prominent Dem saying something critical about Islam and he’ll be frantically posting links claiming that the Republicans are the true progressives. There’s no dealing with it, there’s just wishing that killfiles still existed.Report

        • veronica d in reply to North says:

          @north — These things are not all or nothing. But I honestly don’t see how we could expect a Muslim to ever participate here knowing this hateful person is given a never-ending mouthpiece. The point is, he never gives it a rest. Like how much time do we want to spend on people and ideas like this? When instead we could have a space more welcoming for a broader range of interesting people who might contribute intelligent views?

          It’s a low-quality broken record endlessly squawking. It’s petty.Report

          • North in reply to veronica d says:

            Notme is a commentor, nothing more. Also they present such an unsympathetic representation of their philosophies that as a partisan matter I’m happy to let them stand as a representation of all that conservatism has devolved into. Notme isn’t given a mouthpiece, they simply don’t have it taken away.

            While I try to be sympathetic to the position that safe spaces need to be created to encourage engagement I struggle with it. All of the social advancements in our society came from people engaging despite the fora not being safe or welcoming.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to veronica d says:

        @veronica-d Further to @will-truman ‘s handling of the matter elsewhere in this thread, be aware that this “ID card” hobbyhorse is aimed at me. Since it addresses an reductio ad absurdum rather than my actual claim, I’m quite content to let the commenter whack away at a straw man rather my actual argument.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Burt Likko says:

          @burt-likko — I’m more than happy to watch silly people cement their reputation for silliness. Likewise, we all have our hobby-horses around here. (Anyone wanna discuss gender?) But still, there is a matter of tone. Likewise, there is a matter of over-generalization that long ago has crossed the boundaries into naked prejudice.

          If the person in question made noise every time “Islamic radicals” or “jihadists” or “Isis” did something terrible, I would roll my eyes, but I couldn’t argue. Those groups indeed do those things. They are terrible things. We need to talk about them.

          Let me provide an analogy. (This will maybe be controversial, but here goes.) If we had a member here who frequently railed against Israeli policy, the government of Israel, their military and intelligence apparatus, along with the more aggressive West Bank settlers, I assume some of the Jewish members of the forum would be uncomfortable. On the other hand, Israel is a nation of the world, and its policies and practices are open to criticism.

          (Gosh I hope I didn’t just toss a hand grenade into the forum. My goal is not to argue over Israel. I find the situation there complicated and depressing. I don’t have a strong opinion.)

          The point is, however, that if that person instead constantly ranted about “the Jews” — well at some point, I believe, the moderators would need to step in, for obvious reasons.

          What is happening here is more like the latter and less like the former. I think a line was crossed long ago, of naked anti-Muslim bigotry, unambiguous, unchecked. This is not good.

          Topics of race, religion, and other deeply held identities are very hard to discuss in good faith. We’ve all fallen short at some point. However, these conversations are possible. It can be done, but only in an environment with certain boundaries. If you let any loudmouth barge in and make noise, the good faith evaporates quickly.

          Anyway, I shall let it go for now.Report

        • notme in reply to Burt Likko says:

          I thought the issue was whether or not the Orlando shooter’s claim of ISIS affiliation was sufficent absent other evidence such as an ID card?Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to notme says:

            No, it wasn’t. And I don’t think you’re interested in actually understanding what I did say. If you are, you’re welcome to go back and research what I did say and should you be able to fairly restate my argument (which does not mean you agree with it), perhaps you’ll raise a point which may lead to a useful exchange in which case I might engage or I might defer to someone else who steps in with substantially the same statement I might make or perhaps I will have lost interest. As for now, you still demonstrate neither comprehension of what I said nor interest in acquiring that comprehension.Report