Linky Friday #178: Crime, Death, & Urban Living

Will Truman

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

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266 Responses

  1. j r says:

    Ed3: As the piece points out, part of the reason that we so often talk about the first student loan problem – the kid six-figures in debt with a useless major – is that is what the NYTimes likes to tell you about. And keeping attention focused on the outliers is a very handy tool in keeping attention away from the where the meat of the problem lies.

    I’ve never thought of the third crisis as much of a crisis, but in thinking about, I think the post is on to something. I left college a little less than 20 years ago with ~$25k in debt, a dual degree in English Lit and Philosophy, and not much idea what I wanted to do. I had terrible grades and my summer jobs were not particularly relevant to any professional field. And yet, I found a job, not right away, but through temping I was able to transition into full-time employment within a year of leaving school and I was making entry-level professional pay the whole time.

    I don’t know for certain, but it certainly seems that enough has changed that this third type of debt profile will start to become more and more of a problem. And the obvious way forward appears to be figuring out what’s driving up student costs and figuring out how to stop it.

    Where the post loses me a bit is in ascribing the problem to falling public support and this vague talk about treating students like consumers. The former is a financing issue and it doesn’t speak to the underlying cost drivers. Less public support doesn’t make college anymore expensive; it just passes on more of the costs to the student. Putting aside whether or not that is good or bad, there is still the whole issue of why the costs are rising in the first place. And the latter thing about students v consumers gets the causality backwards. If the incentives are there for schools to get into a marketing/amenities/administrative services arms race, then it doesn’t matter how you label the players, the game is the same. You don’t change the incentives by changing how you treat people. You change how you treat people by changing the incentives.Report

    • dhex in reply to j r says:

      the times writes about those kids because:

      a) it’s a man bites dog story at first glance. the kid goes to top flight school, gets good grades, and something something something success doesn’t happen. that life is not a checklist to be followed like one were assembling ikea furniture is, very strangely, completely lost on people.

      b) it’s a story the times readership is afraid of. they can send their kid to oberlin. they’re afraid of that ladder of success – doing a, b, c, d, etc – not paying off. what happens when he comes back in pajamas or writes the hit hbo tv series annoying white people of brooklyn?

      c) the stories are dramatic because the numbers are large. that in reality it’s smaller numbers hitting more people very hard…but this is not as dramatic.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to dhex says:

        D’hex is right about the ladder of success and who the NYT articles are written for. I commented to @kazzy in another thread about this, can’t remember where though… Basically, having a certain amount of debt is not a bad thing, and as my son will graduate in a year here, his having 25-30k in debt is in my view a healthy thing. This is because it has made him aware of the choices he has been making in his education, with the effect of (in his case) not wasting money that he doesn’t have on trivialities. But it is not so much that if push came to shove he would be in a massive hole.

        All that said, we do need to look into where much of the moneys re; education are going, and start to look for ways to push back on unnecessary spending to allow the those moneys to be used for greater academic purposes.Report

    • Gaelen in reply to j r says:

      I think a big part of the problem is how we have passed on the cost to students and their family’s. If college is publicly funded it seems easier to cut down on the administrative bloat and super fancy dorms and gyms that are causing much of the increase in price.

      But at present we fund a good deal of it by having children and their family’s take out loans. If you build a a few fancy new dorms, a new rec center, a new arts building, and add a few non-faculty admin positions the necessary tuition increase can be passed on to the ‘consumer’ who will just take out a slightly larger loan. Rinse and repeat every few years. I don’t know what the answer is, but we’ve designed a system that creates some pretty perverse incentives.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Gaelen says:


        I agree but the counter-argument is always that 2/3rds of Americans do not attend college so essentially publicly-funded colleges is a tax on the majority to the minority. Now I think easily available college is a public good but this is a minority view right now.

        What is interesting about the super-fancy dorms is that they seem to be mainly at what are B-list universities. As far as I can tell, my very hard to get into undergrad still maintains a tradition of sub-par food and spartan dorm rooms. They have developed a reputation in the last few years for having a relatively to very socio-economically diverse student body and helping poor and/or non-traditional students like older vets.

        The schools that seem to go fancy are ones that need to compete for dollars and cannot compete on prestige.Report

        • Gaelen in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I would just point out that those B-list universities you mention educate the majority (I’d bet the vast majority) of students. As dhex notes below, part of it is that increase in cost (by building better amenities), and just raising tuition generally, is about increasing prestige.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Gaelen says:

            B-list might not have been the best word to use. I think what Saul meant were the semi-elite universities like NYU, GWU, American University, Emory, Rice, Vanderbilt and company. These are universities that take good grades to get into but aren’t exactly at the HYPLS level. Its these levels of schools that are the amenities race along with some state schoolsReport

            • Gaelen in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Hmm. Maybe we run in different circles, because, to me, those schools are elite.

              That aside, I think if it’s happening at state schools, ‘semi-elite’ schools, liberal arts colleges (it is), community colleges (necessary because of expanding enrollment), and even elite universities (which have built/upgraded their amenities), we can generally say that its a problem affecting most of higher ed, not one limited to B-list universities.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Gaelen says:

                I have a hard time imagining social circles in which any school that’s not in the top half dozen in the country is perceived as semi-elite and less selective. Do you only socialize with Supreme Court clerks, @leeesq ?Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Gaelen says:

                I call the above schools semi-elite because they need more than just brand name to distinguish themselves. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford do well by name alone to attract top students. Places like GWU, NYU, Duke, and many other universities might require very good grades to get in but can’t rest on name alone to attract top students. The entire idea about promoting yourself through amenities seems to have originated at GWU as a way to distinguish itself and attract better students than similarly situated schools.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Is that true, though? Certainly when I was applying to colleges nobody needed to be told what Duke was. For most students, there will be a selection of plausible schools in the relevant area or region, and they will all have reputations that students and parents are well aware of.Report

              • Autolukos in reply to Don Zeko says:

                I definitely remember a major contrast along those lines between Princeton and Duke’s pitches when I was visiting colleges.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Well you are from NC and Duke is a Tier 1.

                What about Davidson?

                Even elite colleges can have relatively small geographic pulls. 60 percent of my undergrads population came from the NYC and Boston suburbs. The college still boasted about having students from all 50 states and several countries.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Ok, I think you guys may well be right and I’m wrong. Out of curiosity, has anybody seen numbers to back up the anecdotal impression that top 5 schools spend less on shiny new facilities than other selective schools do?

                Although I will add that I think Dhex is on to something in terms of frames of reference. In my graduating high school class, nobody went to an Ivy, although the top handful of students probably could have. Going to Duke, or MIT, or something similar, was regarded as an impressive academic accomplishment. The vast majority of my classmates that went to college wound up somewhere in the UNC system. My little brother, for example (a much better student than I ever was) was the valedictorian of a class of hundreds, visited ivy’s, but wound up at a state university on a full ride scholarship.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Don Zeko says:


                I think it depends on the school and subjectivity. My alma mater seems to have a reputation for being relatively stingy when it comes to amenities. We are not winning any contests for food quality or nice dorm rooms.

                I simply think that brand name schools can get away with not having the best dorms. If a university has no name reputation and is trying to get students that can pay full freight, they need fancy dorms.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I simply think that brand name schools can get away with not having the best dorms. If a university has no name reputation and is trying to get students that can pay full freight, they need fancy dorms.

                I remember reading something somewhere somewhen regarding university dorms to the effect that for a long time (and perhaps even now) crappy dorm rooms was viewed by the university as a good thing, since it compelled students to engage in social activities and not sit alone in their rooms. If so, that may be another way culture and markets have changed. Or at least a change in the way university’s respond to those things.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Don Zeko says:

                If anecdotal evidence is right, there are people living in the United States who aren’t first generation Americans that don’t know if MIT is a good school for aspiring science oriented students. Among the out family has been going to college for generations set, schools like Duke, GWU, and company might be well known but for the majority who do not go to college, I’m guessing they are relatively unknown. If college education or higher isn’t part of your social circle than you aren’t going to be able to reliably place most colleges outside the most famous institutions. Even than you might struggle.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

                For what it’s worth, my own definitions track with Lee’s in this discussion.Report

              • dhex in reply to LeeEsq says:


                you grew up in one of the wealthiest areas of the country. your sense of what counts as “name brand” is slightly distorted. going to duke was not really a bfd for your cohort – in the social circles of your birth there are schools and then there are schools, ya know?

                all those you named are “name brand” schools. some due to academic (or to some extent, social) reputation; some due to athletics and television broadcasts, and some due to both.

                but all of these schools are well known in the united states. all of them. no exceptions. All of them are within the top 30ish USNWR-wise as well. none of them have any recruitment difficulties in the sense the other 99.9% of colleges would understand the term.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Gaelen says:


                The joke for GWU is that it stands for Georgetown Waitlist U.

                The President of GW was the first to realize that you could raise tuition as a way of turning education into a Veblen good. He wrote about with without shame or reptence in the Atlantic.Report

            • pillsy in reply to LeeEsq says:


              What’s the ‘L’ stand for?Report

      • dhex in reply to Gaelen says:

        cost is complicated, and varies from institution to institution. it’s easy to say “cut non faculty, add faculty, voila” but every time you add faculty (depending on an institution’s student/faculty ratio and desired ratio, of course) you also need to add support staff for that faculty. this gets more wacky when you get into federal and state reporting requirements, etc. or student support services – healthcare, counseling, etc – that adds to it.

        another issue is usnews. usnews provides some of the encouragement to building projects for two reasons – as a main driver, and as a reputational score push AND alumni participation push. it’s a lot easier to get people to give to shiny new building than to revamp old hvac system in an older dorm. unfunded depreciation is an issue at a lot of places, so old buildings catch up and start being unfunded drags on your budget. and those are hard to fundraise for.

        so big building projects = something to crow about to alumni = brag point for USNWR voters (who are other presidents, provosts, and admissions vp’s at other institutions)

        everyone knows usnews is stupid and their rankings are stupid…but until people stop paying attention to them, everyone else will as well.

        eta: there are not a ton of widespread proxies for quality in higher education, so usnews does play a strong role there. being in the top 100 for a slac, for example, can be very helpful. being in the top 50 is very, very helpful. but not perfect…enrollment goals were not met by about 70% of all slacs this past yearReport

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Gaelen says:

        I largely agree, but I think you have a bit more work to do to sell me on public funding cutting down on bloated costs.Report

        • Gaelen in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I don’t know that it would (I kind of think it would, but that is an opinion based on little but a gut feeling, looking at the current university funding methods, and looking at how universities operated in the past). It could certainly be that the prestige race and admin rules and regs dhex mentioned above would continue with public funding, and bring with it a host of other ills.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Gaelen says:

            That’s what I’m concerned about, political types are probably even more prone to the prestige race than others. How many cities damn near bankrupt themselves for a sports team, or to host the Olympics?Report

            • dhex in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              prestige for colleges is important, simply because of the lack of useful predictors for an individual student’s success (from the pov of the family of said student, i mean). word of mouth is incredibly strong from a marketing pov as far as initial applicant affinity goes, and a huge part of that is the simple reputational hurdle of “what college whatnow? university of whom?”

              there are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the united states. that’s a lot of “who?”

              admittedly (har har) for smaller schools it matters (or rather, used to matter) a bit less if you have a specific and lucrative niche…but we see how well that worked out for sweet briar. (which, until it’s folding, i had not heard of. but monied mid atlantic types had most certainly heard of it, even if had ceased to be relevant in its current form in the mid 90s. see also: hampton sydney)Report

            • Gaelen in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Very true, and I can imagine schools like Alabama having no problem upgrading their football stadium (not that they have much trouble now). My only push back would be to point to how quick those politicians are to cut higher ed funding when budgets get tight.Report

      • j r in reply to Gaelen says:

        I think a big part of the problem is how we have passed on the cost to students and their family’s. If college is publicly funded it seems easier to cut down on the administrative bloat and super fancy dorms and gyms that are causing much of the increase in price.

        I’m wary of counterfactuals, but maybe. Maybe if higher education were completely nationalized, it would be easier to control the amenities arms race. But, that is not the system that we presently have and trying to nationalize all colleges and universities from this starting point would likely cause more harm than good.

        We could try to publicly fund college education with the same system in place, but that’s just doubling down on what presently exists. I don’t see how that puts any pressure on college administrators to change the way that they do business. If anything, all we are doing is guaranteeing more customers.

        Also, look at the thread above. It’s a whole conversation about relative school quality that is almost entirely focused on reputation and selectiveness. No one has mentioned teacher ratios or class size or course selection, etc. I suggest that we have the higher education system that reflects our revealed preferences.

        PS – I get that conversation isn’t necessarily reflective of anyone’s personal preferences, but it is an accurate depiction of how many people choose schools.Report

        • dhex in reply to j r says:

          It’s a whole conversation about relative school quality that is almost entirely focused on reputation and selectiveness. No one has mentioned teacher ratios or class size or course selection, etc.

          i mentioned student:faculty ratio, actually. it matters for some families, particularly those looking at liberal arts colleges. others, not so much. again, there’s not very many proxies for quality that a family can use when filtering for colleges, and there are a large number of schools to pick from within each tranche of student achievement. thus, name recognition, reputation, word of mouth, counselor recommendations, cost, location, selection of majors, even pedagological outlooks (even if this is just “we require all of our students do field work/community service/maker space apprentiships/internships, etc.

          not sure what else people are supposed to use to filter for choices, even in an ideal world. reputation has always been a huge driving force in that world.Report

          • j r in reply to dhex says:

            I stand corrected on your comment.

            I’m not making any claims about what people ought to do. I was making a statement about what people do. People select schools on reputation, which gives administrators the inventive to spend money on upping a school’s prestige factor. And that drives prices up.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to j r says:

              Of course, prestige is not dependent upon money spent, which is something that people seem to lose sight of.Report

              • dhex in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                People select schools on reputation, which gives administrators the inventive to spend money on upping a school’s prestige factor. And that drives prices up.

                concur, to a degree. pricing rises despite prestige initiatives (or for the other 95% of schools, better market positioning) if only because the money is there.

                prestige is a weird thing. it’s is based upon a number of factors, not least of which is history and having centuries of wealthy and well-connected alumni. schools do move up and down, but it tends to be the usual suspects swapping in the top 30 or so.

                interestingly, you do get newcomers like the u of rochester…who did it by basically making very much money from grants and research (having a med school helps too!) and using that to fund greater admissions selectivity. it took a few decades, however.

                it’s a really weird business. i’m mostly glad it’s no longer my day-to-day.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to j r says:

          I suggest that we have the higher education system that reflects our revealed preferences.

          But isn’t the current system an expression of individuals revealed preferences? That’s the way markets work. And I don’t mean that trivially. If a student’s choice is that the expected value of a high priced prestigious school is greater than the expected value of a low priced less prestigious school they’ve revealed their preference.

          That’s the great thing about subjective utility/revealed preferences: you can’t be wrong.Report

          • j r in reply to Stillwater says:

            I think that you’ve misread that statement.

            The suggestion is not that we move to anything new, but that we accept that the current system is reflection of students’ preferences and choices.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to j r says:

              j r,

              My apologies. When you wrote “No one has mentioned teacher ratios or class size or course selection, etc.” I thought you were making a normative rather than merely descriptive claim.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to j r says:

      Yeah, the third crisis is really quite a bummer… but how do you deal with a kid who graduates with a not-particularly-dismissable degree (Botany with a minor in Forestry, say) but has $25,000 in debt?

      My first (and immediate) response is to say something like “Congratulations, Citizen! Welcome to the Wacky World Of Adulthood!” but then I remember that I graduated with somewhere between $600 and $800 in debt and I paid that off by the end of the summer. By the middle of it.

      How much good did that do me compared to what my life would have been like had I had to pay $300 a month for a decade instead of merely having to do it for a few months?

      That’s a car payment (if you buy crazy cars). That’s a rent payment (well, in 1995, anyway… and it wasn’t the best part of town). That’s a hell of a lot of money, every month, for a person whose resume is most likely to include… what? An education field that is longer than the job field? A job field filled with part-time (customer service) jobs?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

        I graduated with some student loan debt, about $20K. I didn’t need to, because the VA paid for my education, but it helped defer living expenses, which meant neither I nor my wife had to work crazy hours to keep the pantry stocked with ramen, and my wife could take out smaller loans.

        The thing about loan repayment is that it’s not actually that bad. The term is long so the payments are low when you graduate, but generally there is no early repayment penalty, so upping the amount you pay as you make more money, even by a little bit, can take a lot of time of the loan term.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          I’d be interested in seeing what the average debt load of new college graduates were over time (adjusted for inflation).

          If it turns out that college graduates have always graduated with $20,000 in debt in 2016 dollars, I guess I’m sputtering over nothing and the only reason I graduated with zero debt is because I went to a dinky commuter college.

          My hypothesis, though, is that we used to graduate an overwhelming majority of graduates who then went on to pay off their (miniscule, reasonable, manageable) debt (which was much smaller than twenty large!) after only a short while but that turned into some sort of “we’re leaving money on the table!” race to the bottom among these institutions that used to have cinderblock dorm rooms.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

            As a random note on tuition prices: My son attends the same community college I spent a year or two in back in the 90s. It has not really added a lot of frills. Several new buildings to keep up with enrollment, but no fancy stadiums or highly paid staff or dorms or whatnot.

            It’s running him considerably more per semester than when I attended. Like three times as much, minimum.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

              That feels like something is off. If you went and asked the professors if they were getting more money/better bennies than they were when you were there, I imagine they’d gigglesnort.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yep. Except I’ve looked at community colleges all around — it seems to be about the same. My math may be a bit off (I’m a bit cloudy on how much I paid, but even stretching the numbers as generously as possible I know I paid no more than half of what he pays now) I admit.

                Community colleges have increased in price (as a percentage) at roughly the same level as state supported schools, which have also doubled to tripled in price over the last few decades.

                And it’s not going to professors, it’s often not really going to amenities or grounds or expansion (the latter should, you know, pay for itself with a growing student population anyways. At least over a reasonable time frame), and places like our local CC it’s not going to sports (long story that boils down to “It did once, and now they don’t have collegiate sports because they got the snot sued out of them multiple times and just gave up”), so it’s really admin that’s left.

                Or, in the more famous schools, bloating the endowment as well. (Harvard springs to mind. If your endowment is so large you don’t need to charge tuition and it’d still last through eternity, why are you charging admission? Why not hit up the alumni for contributions when you need new buildings and crap instead of sitting on billions that does nothing but grow as you beg for money?)

                And even then, I’ve interacted with admin enough to know it’s not because the department size has bloated beyond all means either. They clearly don’t have a better staff-to-student ratio.Report

  2. Kazzy says:

    Cr5: People should really watch the video. The judge shows compassion, decency, and respect towards the defendant and outrage towards those who put her in that situation. And it began even before she became aware of her situation, challenging the sentencing request relative to the charges against her. Going off only what we see in this video, we need more judges like this. And not because she is pro-defendant or anything but because she is in favor of treating people right. Anyone involved in the defendant’s holding should be fired, full stop. We won’t see that, obviously.Report

    • KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

      Anyone involved in the defendant’s holding should be fired, full stop.

      I don’t know, I didn’t watch the video but from what I read, it sounded more like there were rules about issuing jumpsuits and the staff were following the rules, even though this was a case where the rules didn’t fit the situation. I would guess that no single person involved in the defendant’s holding felt empowered to deviate from the rules. Such is bureaucracy.Report

      • KenB in reply to KenB says:

        On an unrelated note, that article had an awesome dangling modifier at the end:

        Although initially being sentenced to 75 days behind bars, Judge Wolf handed down a $100 fine and ordered that the woman be released.

        Nice to see that the judge can still do her job behind bars.Report

      • Gaelen in reply to KenB says:

        There are rules which say if a person is dressed inappropriately for jail they need to be issued a jump suit. The Metro Corrections director quoted in the article acknowledged as much.

        I practice in Jefferson County and there is serious overcrowding at the jail. It leads to entirely avoidable incidents like this, as well as so much worse.Report

        • KenB in reply to Gaelen says:

          The Metro Corrections director quoted in the article acknowledged as much.

          Well, no, the article just says that the director said she “should” have been given a jumpsuit — that might just mean a statement about desired outcome, not policy.

          If there are rules saying that the jumpsuit should have been issued, then fair enough — it might be a training issue, it might be a resource issue, or it might actually be because these are horrible people who deserve to be fired. But the article and video don’t give us enough info to convict them of the last option.Report

          • Gaelen in reply to KenB says:

            Ken, the ‘should’ in the directors sentence is because there is policy that inmates dressed inappropriately for jail or court should be given a jumpsuit. The inmate in question was dressed inappropriately for both jail and court. I’m not taking a position on why this happened, just pointing out that rules weren’t followed.

            If the person would have gotten a talking to from the judge for showing up dressed like that off the street, and I’ve seen people read the riot act for less, then the jail should have issued her a jumpsuit. That is in addition to the issue of sitting in a cold, concrete and metal room with, basically, no pants on for a few days.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to KenB says:


        And the denial of feminine hygene products?Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to KenB says:

        ” I would guess that no single person involved in the defendant’s holding felt empowered to deviate from the rules. ”

        See, that’s kind of the general theme of modern governance–a brutal insistence on following the rules. And it makes sense. Nobody ever got fired for following the rules, after all. And it’s been made bloody fucking obvious that the people in charge will not support you if you failed to follow the rules.Report

    • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

      Anyone involved in the defendant’s holding should be fired, full stop.

      Yes, just ignore any due process, civil service protections or union agreements.Report

      • pillsy in reply to notme says:

        Yeah, @kazzy, what are you doing jumping to conclusions like that?

        As far as we know, none of the people involved in the defendant’s holding were Muslims!Report

      • Kazzy in reply to notme says:

        If you flagrantly fail at your job — and denying your charges basic tools for necessary health and hygene is a flagrant failing — you should be fired. Do you disagree?Report

        • KenB in reply to Kazzy says:

          So if you were the boss, you would just round up these people and tell them they’re all fired, without asking them to explain themselves or otherwise try to understand exactly what happened? No offense but I’d hate to work for you.

          IMO the fact that multiple people were involved points more to an organizational failure than individual bad people. But really we don’t have enough info to say.Report

          • notme in reply to KenB says:

            But really we don’t have enough info to say.

            Clearly we do have enough to say and immediately fire them despite whatever civil service protections or due process they may be entitled to. Calling for them to be summarily fired may feel good and satisfy Kazzy’s righteous indignation but simply isn’t realistic in this day and age.Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to notme says:

              They’re probably racists, too, and I’m sure if we look hard enough we can find that one of them played video games or liked comic books or supported Bernie Sanders.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to notme says:

              I never said any of that. Doesn’t firing include those steps? Whoops.

              “Man, I can’t wait to eat dinner tonight.”

              • notme in reply to Kazzy says:

                Anyone involved in the defendant’s holding should be fired, full stop.

                No, sorry I don’t see anything about progressive discipline in there.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to KenB says:


            I guess I should have explicitly said that if the woman’s claims prove true… As implied by the “if” directly above.

            We know for a fact she was sent to court in a manner inappropriately, which I’d consider fireable.Report

  3. J_A says:


    In Houston, Walmart has done one of the most devious things imaginable. They’ve opened a store in between some of the most expensive and fashionable neighbourhood (for those that know Houston, in Yale St. in the border between The Heights and Rice Military, five minutes drive from River Oaks). To me, it’s a 15 minute drive, compared to less than five to my regular Kroger.

    They have lobster, they have smoked salmon, they have organic berries, they have grass fed eggs, they have craft beers, they have gelato. And they have the regular stuff I used to buy at Krogers, but cheaper.

    When Walmart applied to open the store, there was huge opposition from neighbours because they were concerned that Walmart would attract “those” people to “our” neighborhood (*).

    Rest assured that “those” people have been driven out of that locale by “our” people, the people that park their Mercedes, Lexus, Range Rovers or Audis in front of Walmart. Those, and my slightly battered CR-V.

    Next door to Walmart is a specialty foodie and farmer market store. They have now to compete with the giant. Their avocados now are cheaper than Walmart’s (which are cheaper than Kroger’s)

    Kidding aside, upscale Walmart have the potential to disturb the market in the same way as downscale Walmart did. When I first walked in, I sensed big trouble for the area retailers.

    (*) the Walmart closest to me after this one is indeed a scary place, I was confronted by a guy in the cashiers queue because he thought I was ogling his girlfriend. I went there because there was a table game my mum wanted that, according to the Internet, only Walmart carried in-store.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to J_A says:

      You’re familiar with the website, people of Wal-Mart, right?Report

      • J_A in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I wasn’t. I should start one: “Cars of Walmart”

        Jokes aside, is there a reason why Walmart cannot replicate its model in an upscale version, and squeeze the last penny out of organic kale growers and artisanal goat cheese makers? Or of goose down pillow manufacturers? It doesn’t need to be as cheap as a 99cents store. It just needs to undercut Whole Foods. I bought my goose down pillows in Ross (“Dress for Less”). Six goose down pillows for less than 100 dollars. They are about $120 in Macy’s. And once they are in my bed, I can’t see the Ross price tag.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to J_A says:

          Walmart has some of the best house brands on the market. Their World Table Salsa is quality, their fancy cheese (provolone) is good, etc.Report

          • dhex in reply to Will Truman says:

            their fancy cheese (provolone)

            i’m a jerk, but i giggled.

            “oh yes, we got this imported cheese…all the way from northern new jersey!”


            • Will Truman in reply to dhex says:

              If it’s not good old fashioned American Processed Cheese Food, Velveta, Cheez Whiz, Easy-Cheese, or cheddar, it’s “fancy cheese” to me!

              (But seriously, cheese is a real staple in our house, and I’ve had a lot of house brands. Walmart is good.)Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to J_A says:


          My guess is that there are economy of scale issues. Craft Beers tend to have small distribution networks. Bells is well-regarded all over the country but they don’t distribute to the Bay Area because they can’t scale that much.

          Another is that small cheese producers tend to make relatively small batches of product.Report

          • J_A in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            I agree, but you don’t have to scale that much. There’s not that much craft beer variety in Walmarts compared to Kroger (1:2 ratio more or less). But you can stock the local craft beers. Would I want to sell 20 beers cases to Walmart at 10$/case or would I try to sell 20 cases to 20 different small gastro pubs at 15 $/case each?

            I think there’s a market of rich people wanting cheap reach people stuff. Cheaper lobsters. Cheaper smoked salmon. Cut one dollar per lobster compared to Whole Foods and let the Audis roll in.Report

            • Mo in reply to J_A says:

              The problem is that’s not what Walmart is good at. Walmart is good at logistics at scale and leveraging their purchasing power to maximum effect. That falls apart at the fancy end of the scale.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to J_A says:

          Besides the problems of scale, there is also that producing expensive things in high enough qualities to cheap can have environmental problems for food or quality problems for everything else. Chicken used to be very expensive as a meat until the mid-1960s because you couldn’t factory farm them. Now its cheap but we know that there is a price to factory farming for heath and environmental reasons. For non-food goods, the cost in expensive products is in the labor. It takes time to make a suit by hand rather than machine but the end result tends to last a lot longer as Sam Vimes noted with boots.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to J_A says:

          Aha, of this I can speak. For both Whole foods and Walmart it is actually an automation and distribution problem. In a weird way, the system actually “breaks” if you try to source pastured eggs from, say the 10 [large] farms you’d need to stock a single store (estimating ~10,000 dozen per week, per average foot traffic per store).

          Now, if someone were to consolidate the 10 farms and provide a single SKU and delivery process, then you might almost be able to sell to a single store… but, Walmart doesn’t allow single stores to buy from small consolidators (Whole Foods tries, but the red-tape and delivery process is a disaster). So you’d need a regional consolidator to consolidate the 87 consolidators just for the 87 stores in Virginia.

          What you then have, though, is an egg consortium coordinating 1,000 farms for one state. There aren’t 1k [large] pastured egg farms in the state of VA. As a result, there’s no consortium, and, with no consortium there’s no distribution entry-point into Walmart… and so on.

          That doesn’t mean that there aren’t businesses out there trying to create distributed consortia of various whole foods – Vital Farms in TX is doing this for pastured eggs; but there’s a proverbial chicken/egg business problem in that the food distribution system doesn’t scale down, so it is difficult for a food producer to start small and scale up.

          Somewhere there’s a $1B business to be made making that transition.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    Ci1: Another issue is that city-people can become sort of immunized to schizophrenia and/or might just see emergent behaviors as quirks instead of signs of danger. City liberalism also tends to just sort of let schizophrenics be in a kind of compassion. There are incidents every now and then where a well to-do techie writes some kind of open letter on the Internet complaining about homeless and mentally ill people in SF and “why should rich people need to see homeless people peeing on the street?” The response is usually “Fuck you, rich techie dude-bro.” Also there was the story about other cities just giving their mentally ill populations one-way tickets to San Francisco.

    I am largely able to sort of tune-out seeing homeless people do things like pee and defecate on the street. I am not sure what to make of this ability.

    Ci2: This story ignores the facts that other countries like Singapore and Austria managed to do public housing well. The story also ignores the fact that suburbanization happened because the government created policies to make it happen including easy-access to loans for white-people.

    Ec5: Reason is straining here. I’ve noticed that libertarians are starting to imagine themselves oh so above the fray to everyone else.

    Ed2: I agree!! The one thing I got out of this article as well is that “futurist” should just be short-hand for “sycophant who wants to eat at the trough of the rich by stroking their egos.”

    Ed3: FWIW, the Atlantic and other media outlets are starting to report that the real issue is not 4 year college grads with high 5 or low 6 figure debt but the people who never graduate especially if from a four year college. The Atlantic is trying to pushback against the typical image of a college student as a 19 year old living in a dorm.

    H7: I imagine that it is a form of self-medicating, yes.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      [Ci1] There’s also The Last Psychiatrist’s “Terrible Awful Truth” theory, that the reason schizophrenia is so much more common is that if you’re schizophrenic then you can be put on the “medically incapable of work” dole rather than the “able to work but can’t/won’t find a job” dole. And so there’s a strong incentive for governments to define people as schizophrenic, because if too many people are on the latter then taxpayers start to get antsy.

      It could also be that the forced interaction of high-density urban living results in schizophrenics being easier to spot. If a lady screams at the voices she hears every time the toilet flushes, then you will hear that if you share a wall but not if she lives in a house 200 feet away. If a guy is having a bad day and can’t control his tardive dyskinesia, in a city he has to go out and people see him; in the suburbs he just stays home.


      A couple months ago I read John Brunner’s “Stand On Zanzibar”, and a major plot point is how more and more people in high-density urban environments have been going violently insane; to the point where personal-defense weapons are a standard item of dress for someone leaving their house.

      The book was written in 1968. It is scary how well it describes the present world.


      • pillsy in reply to DensityDuck says:

        The book was written in 1968. It is scary how well it describes the present world.

        It was completely unrealistic. Brunner suggested that MTV would still be playing music videos in 2010!

        More seriously, a lot of the book feels so eerily prescient, even as the fundamental underlying “crisis”–overpopulation–seems like a pretty quaint thing to worry about.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

          What amused me, at first, was how Brunner went to some length to describe the nightmarish info-dump broadcast of Future News–complete with flashy graphics, fast cuts, and background music–and presented it as an aspect of horrible dystopia, and here’s me thinking “yeah, that sounds like any old thing on CNN these days”.Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    Chloe Valdary writes about the problems of BLM embracing BDS.

    I generally remain committed to liberalism and the left and still support BLM but sometimes it seems like there is no place for Jews on the left or the right.

    The left seems to have a problem separating X from Y and is just starting to see Jews as another strain of white person. There are only 14-15 million Jews in the world and we have just as much right to self-identity as anyone else. Certain sections of the left seem to have trouble separating the domestic from the international. What does BDS have to do with BLM? Last year, CUNY students blamed high tuition on a “Zionist” university administration.

    But I am not going to embrace Republican talking points because of this. I still believe in the welfare state and agree that sky-rocketing inequality is an issue.Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The left has no fucking place for people threatening to assassinate peaceful protesters.
      If that’s you, you can kindly fuck off. I don’t want you on my side, and I’ll give money to make sure you get the hell out and stay out of my sandbox.
      If that’s Israel — and MOSSAD, we got a bit more of a fucking situation to deal with.

      (Zionist university administration? Can someone please go give those people a spanking? No, really, that’s idiotic. You want to blame Jews in the admin for being ivory tower intellectuals? Fine, do that (yes, you can be idiots while being correct). Leave Zionism out of it, it’s a different thing.)

      And, yes, obviously, trolling Israel is FUN.Report

    • Don Zeko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I find it… odd that anyone would feel homeless in American politics because of their support for Israel. Seems to me that you are both magnifying the size and influence of the hard left and letting the worst parts of two decentralized movements (BDS and BLM) characterize the whole. That, and this whole notion that lefties are critical of Israel because they’ve decided that Jews are white, rather than because of Israel’s actual actions in the West Bank and Gaza, is nonsense on stilts that belongs on the Glenn Beck program or some such.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko says:

        The only other people who support Israel are Evangelicals. And that’s some weird stuff, hanging out with those Young Earth Creationists who read stuff like Jerry Jenkins and keep asking whether Jews are going to rebuild the temple as soon as that Red Heifer is born.

        Better to be homeless.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Don Zeko says:


        I admit to being hyperbolic.Report

        • Don Zeko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          It happens to the best of us. I came down harder on you than you deserved anyway. I wonder to what extent this spat reflects our different geographic locations and social circles. It wouldn’t surprise me if the parts of the left that barely seem to exist at all in NC are thick on the ground in San Francisco.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Don Zeko says:

        My main problem with the critics of Israel is that they ignore the issues on the other side, widespread Jew hatred in the Muslim world, that makes it hard for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians. According to the NYTs, Fatah is campaigning on killing 11,000 Israelis in upcoming West Bank elections. Several months ago, the Bangladesh Interior Minister blamed an assassination campaign against secular Bangladeshi bloggers on Israel rather than the local Islamist population. A decent sized plurality or even an outright majority of the Muslim world has consistently held that the only just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from their point of view is the complete elimination of Israel and its’ replacement with Arab Muslim Palestine. You shouldn’t need to be that smart to realize why this is a no-go solution from the Jewish standpoint.

        I’d really like the critics of Israel to acknowledge this rather than continually frame the issue as “evil, white, capitalist Israel” against the “good, people of color socialist Palestinians.”Report

        • Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

          OK. I will. The Israelis are guilty as hell for building a wall, screwing over the local Muslims, even the ones with citizenship, etc. And the Palestinians as just as bad. Christ, people have been killing each other in this land for millennia. I see no reason why it will stop. They are equally both offensive to me and if I was pres, I’d write off the entire area.

          We good?Report

        • Don Zeko in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Whereas my problem with many liberal defenders of Israel is that they seem to forget that human rights and international law aren’t things that you have to earn with good behavior, or that you make peace with your enemies, not your friends. Hamas, and to a much lesser extent Fatah, are terrible in a variety of ways, but that doesn’t make indefinite occupation, or the various bad behavior on the part of the Israelis, OK. Israel is far richer, more powerful, and more democratic than its neighbors, which is why it can relinquish the occupied territories without being driven into the sea.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

          ” A decent sized plurality or even an outright majority of the Muslim world has consistently held that the only just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from their point of view is the complete elimination of Israel and its’ replacement with Arab Muslim Palestine.”

          According to Gallup, these are the SAME people who are most interested in democracy. An Arab state where Jews have the vote isn’t ethnic cleansing. Isn’t genocide.Report

        • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Yeah Lee, and that’s all true.. but utterly beside the point.
          Israel has never in her history been safer than she is now. Her every enemy is shattered, weak, disorganized or in near chaos. Her allies are ascendant, dominating the globe and the only vague challenges to that order (China) are both indifferent to friendly to Israel and deeply invested in the existing order. Israel has never been safer. Never been stronger. Her enemies, deplorable, backwards and primitive as they are, have never been more powerless to resist Israel’s dictated peace.

          And what has Israel done under the imbecilic leadership of her right wing? Quite literally continue to bind herself ever closer to the Territories while demanding that in order to save itself and disengage it requires those meaningless, worthless things that the Palestinians still have the power to deny them: words and promises. So, demanding worthless words and empty promises Bibi and his clowns keep Israel shackled to the only things that can endanger her. So accordingly the Palestinians refuse, Israel looks like it doesn’t truly want to give up those territories, the demographic poison deepens and the space grows between Israel and her liberal allies both diaspora and nation alike.

          If ever a dark future day comes when the Jews of Israel are driven into the the sea if the Arabs have any sense of history they’ll erect a statue of Bibi Netanyahu on the beach where it happened.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Don Zeko says:


        The inclusion also strikes me as a bad tactic (even if sincerely felt) because it allows for a diversion. As the tablet article says, we are not talking about police brutality or income inequality and structural racism, we are know talking about foreign affairs.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I’m (really, really) far from a fan of either BDS or the tendency for many leftists to make Israel, if not the source of all evil in the world, at least emblematic of all evil in the world…

      …but this is pretty silly. It collapses the entire American political spectrum into left-wing protest movements and the Republican Party–ignoring, you know, pretty much the whole Democratic Party.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to pillsy says:

        What’s your problem with a relatively harmless protest movement like BDS?
        It’s peaceful, which I count as important because it’s my relatives who put their lives on the line on a daily basis.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Kimmi says:

          They seem to have a very shaky idea of how to achieve their goals, to the point of being actively counterproductive. They also have a remarkable talent for provoking circular firing squads among left-of-center advocacy groups and protest movements. Finally, they incorporate a lot of people who range from “very irritating” to “distinctly creepy”.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to pillsy says:

            Perhaps you might consider that they don’t have the goals you think they do.
            I admire their ability to troll Israel and the left at the same time.
            Allies aren’t always what you desire. At least they aren’t actively recruiting rapists, unlike some people I might name — if I had no sense.Report

        • LTL FTC in reply to Kimmi says:

          Harmless? Maybe harmless in that cloaking oneself the radical chic of indiscriminate killers like Hamas isn’t really that much worse than cloaking oneself in the radical chic of killers who target their victims like Che and Mao.

          Maybe harmless in that, while whining about Israeli “pinkwashing,” none of those brave QTPOC would ever dare walk down the street in Gaza while identifiably non-heterosexual. But they prefer to be white knights from a distance, so the reality of day to day life with the people they have so much solidarity with doesn’t really matter in practice. Kind of like prison abolitionists from sleepy lily-white college towns.

          But it’s not harmless to Jews in US, UK and Canadian universities, who are subject to threatening eviction notice stunts and getting booted from student groups.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to LTL FTC says:

            Bullets are bullets, wherever they are.
            Likewise, the screams of Israel’s allies as she murders them can echo out to your desk, if you like. I can post Israeli footage.

            Pardon if I care a bit more about the dead and dying innocent than someone getting threatened.

            When I criticize Israel, it is with the knowledge of the dead on both sides. When Israel murders her allies, how does she expect anyone to side with her?

            Her allies flee from Israel’s own misplaced wrath, much moreso than they do their more patriotic brethren.Report

            • LTL FTC in reply to Kimmi says:

              Any nation’s first responsibility is to protect its people.

              The Arabs and later the Palestinians (who could have been Jordanians but for their usefulness as pan-Arabist pawns) had opportunity after opportunity to reach a deal and have their own independent country, but they always choose trying to drive the Jews into the sea. Every. Single. Time. And Israel is supposed to respond to this by just letting the bomb-throwers and suicide bombers across the line do their thing because fair’s fair?

              If you have the power to protect your people from those who would obliterate you from the face of the earth if they had the means, you use it.

              I’m sorry, I just can’t abide by the “both sides do it” canard. Hamas hides rockets in schools, houses and hospitals, then waves the bloody flag when commandos raid those places. If you want to validate the use of human shields, you’re not going to like the world you get.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to LTL FTC says:

                Israel killed her own allies, not people at all allied with Hamas. If she cared enough about her allies in Gaza, she could have easily gotten them out. And they weren’t being used as human shields (at least at that time and place). Israel just dropped bombs willy nilly, and hit some people being interviewed on live, Israeli, radio.

                That is rank stupidity of the highest order.

                Hamas is not BDS. I am not trying to defend Hamas (although, I would caution that people ought to understand Hamas, if they want to destroy it, and understanding it means knowing that it is at least one third charitable shit that actually does help people.)Report

              • LTL FTC in reply to Kimmi says:

                If you think that taking some video clips of the friendly mujahadeen handing out shoes to the little children is anything more than a palate cleanser between bloody martyrdom videos, or you take the “human rights standards for the, but not for me” BDS line, you veer into the territory of Lenin’s “useful idiots.”

                Besides, it’s not like anyone on campus knows or cares whether Hamas and BDS are or aren’t the same thing.


              • Kimmi in reply to LTL FTC says:

                Do you actually want to understand why Hamas got elected or not?

                I don’t hang with people “on campus”. I hang with the people with blood on their hands. Got some on mine too. My friends aren’t anywhere near friends of Hamas.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                Hamas got elected because Arafat’s group was so freaking corrupt that the Palestinians threw the bums out.

                The analogy is closer to why the Canadians elected Harper in 2006 than anything else.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                Hamas was (is) also a lot better at Tammany Hall style politics and had (has) Iranian money to use that style.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

                This is truth, pure and simple.
                What is also truth is the look of “oh, shit, what do we do???” on Hamas’ faces when they realized they had won.

                Schadenfreude. I can has it.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    “There are innumerable places on the web for fans with a pre-existing love of the comic books to talk to each other about Suicide Squad, but that’s not good enough: The “Crush the Tomato” faction wants to live in a world where other opinions don’t exist, or at least they don’t have to hear about them. They’ve inherited a once-marginalized subculture’s grudges despite the fact that most of them aren’t old enough to remember a time when comics were “just for kids.” It doesn’t matter that they effectively control the culture: Any threat to their dominance, be it a negative Suicide Squad review or a female Ghostbuster, has to be met with maximum force, repelled like an unwanted invader. It’s not that the system is rigged: It’s that it isn’t rigged for them.”Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      And yet there’s nothing they can actually do to Rotten Tomatoes, so apparently they don’t control the system.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

        They’re men, so obviously they’re in control.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Well yeah, sorta.

          Men are (largely) in control, and this does manifest in a ton of unconscious sexism. The issue for the “angry nerd” gamergate type is, the men in control are at least trying to be a bit better, whereas the sadsack pissbabies of gamergate are not.

          A nice illustration is this post that recently came across my Tumlr feed again, here:

          It is from a male comedy writer, about how sexist bias works in his field.

          Yes, men largely run things. Indeed this results in sexism. But still, most men are trying, and the pissbaby sadnerds hate that fact.

          But the pissbabies, while not a majority, are a very dedicated minority. They make much noise and cause much mischief and really they are fucking garbage who stink up the room.


          • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

            The people pissed at the bad reviews Suicide Squad is getting seem to be men and women. People in fandom want their hobbies taken seriously but they don’t want the downside of the critic’s eye.Report

            • Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Often, they just don’t want bad movies about their precious.
              Which is fine, but they’d rather call a bad movie good so that there will be a sequel, and that’s just not going to happen.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

              They should insist on better movies, not critics lying about how bad the movie is.

              Although again, anyone that heard “We’re re-editing SS after the release of Deadpool and the response to BvS” should have expected “red hot mess”.

              There might be one or two movies, in the history of cinema, that have seen a massive reshoot and re-edit within three months of release and turned out good. I’d be shocked if you could find three.

              It’s not like they tweaked the ending after having test audiences watch it.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

                As Saul points out, the way to demand better movies is to withhold your money from Hollywood. This strategy worked before. During the 1960s, Hollywood moguls kept to the studio system and produced a lot of epics and big musicals that most Baby Boomers did not want to see. Because many young people were staying away from the studios in droves, Hollywood changed the system and began producing more realistic and darker films that began drawing crowds again. Fans can do the same but Hollywood seems apt at playing fans like a fiddle.Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Morat20 says:

                In researching reshoots, I discovered two things:
                1) You’re completely right – the only real success stories abandoned original production in the first third of the process, not the last third.
                2) The scene in Star Trek: Generations, where they created a trope namer by literally dropping a bridge on Kirk? There was a reshoot, after test audiences reacted negatively to the original. Unfortunately, the bridge scene was the reshot version. Now imagine how bad the original was…Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

        What a great name for a movie: “Attack on the Rotten Tomatoes”.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I wonder how many of these people’s problems would be solved if they would simply stop caring about all the shit they claim not to care about.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to pillsy says:


        Concurred. I used to be involved in fandom but dropped out. I really liked the recent Star Trek movie but am getting bored with all the grimdark superhero movies that mistake violence and ponderousness for seriousness.

        But there seem to be a lot of fans who still embrace an “us v. them” or “snobs v. slobs” attitude when it comes to this stuff and any attack is evil even as the Industry dominates the box office and popular culture.

        No one is criticizing Suicide Squad because it is a comic book movie. People are saying that the movie is bad because it has no cohesive vision, questionable acting ability outside of Margot Robbie and Will Smith (Jared Leto also gets mixed reviews), and seems designed to appeal to 14 year old boys who have learned how to get a rise out of their moms but quickly retreat as soon as the rise was given. Vox quipped that the movie was designed for boys who want to but are too scared to shop at Hot Topic so they shop at Spencer’s Gifts.

        In the end I think I have a different attitude about critics and criticism. The fan attitude seems to be that you can’t judge a movie until you see it for yourself so following a critics advice is just being a sheeple. My view is that Hollywood only cares about the box office and I don’t want them to learn the wrong lesson. Withholding money says “don’t make movies like this”Report

        • veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          @saul-degraw —

          Vox quipped that the movie was designed for boys who want to but are too scared to shop at Hot Topic so they shop at Spencer’s Gifts.

          Link? That achieves a level of snide that impresses me. I want to read more.


          You know, I actually encounter guys who maybe fit this profile. I mean, okay I’m going to be not-snide here, cuz I’m about actual people dealing actual real life shit. But I’ve literally read nerd-guys complain about cool gender-weird folks, cuz the nerd-guys (this person claimed) can’t be “shiny” that way — like they just can’t do it. It ain’t in them. They don’t have a “cool sparkly gender.” The complaint is, instead of being judged on {mumble mumble}, people are being judged on “superficial” shine.

          But then they love movies like this, which are full of folks with shine. I dunno.

          I feel like there is a ton of “ressentiment” here, or something. It strikes me as really unhealthy. On the other hand, I recall my years in the closet, living outwardly as a “neckbeard,” and yeah, back then it was hard to shine.


          On the other hand, so many of these guys make a turd like Milo Y their hero, so… *shrug*Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

            Has anybody ever consider sending them into the local hipster neighborhood. Hipster men might not dress shiny but they are evidence that men can be dandies and that looks beyond a hoodie and jeans are possible for men.Report

            • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

              @leeesq — I dunno. The thing is, the guys in question have literally nothing in common with hipsters. Plus, well I don’t want to generalize over hipster-space. In fact, I’m not really sure if there is a uniform “hipster space.” I don’t think I could draw a line around it. But anyway, my (maybe totally ignorant read) is hipster space is hella full of byzantine status signalling games that make sense to hipster folks, but would make no sense to weird-brain nerds.

              With we gender-freaks, however, we are part of nerd space. Like, there is actually a notable correlation between being transgender and being neuro-diverse. Like, I’m ADHD freak girl. In November I’m gonna get evaluated for ASD. I do math for fun.

              So anyway, you get a people who can social, and who have cool hair and cool clothes and sit in groups, mixed among people who can’t even figure out how to dress themselves, but who also gather in groups where they can all go full “sperg brain” over the tedious rules of some elaborate game.

              Then the groups mix, cuz some of the “colorfuls” think the game looks cool, and some of the gamers want the colorfuls, cuz pretty, and some of the colorfuls actually can both social and sperg-out, and — well — it’s hard. Over time the game morphs into something more pleasing to the colorfuls-in-general and the spergy types are dismissed as “rules lawyers.”

              Plus gender. Always gender. Gender, gender, gender.

              Back in the day we all just muddled through. Feelings were hurt. Groups spun up and broke apart. People went their own way. On Usenet, was filled with long-dumb arguments over the correct way to game and which gamers were ruining everything.

              And then decades passed, and the -chans came, and then — well — you know.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

                I live in hipster ground zero, Williamsburg, and there is a very big gaming store in this artisanal neighborhood. Many hipsters are also big nerds, just with a splash of dandy.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Those hipsters are the type of ‘cool nerds’ that Gamergaters and the like claim to be fake nerds that didn’t deal with the pain and suffering of being a nerd in the bad ole’ days.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                @jesse-ewiak — There is definitely some of that. It’s all bullshit, of course. RPG space always had a variety of people. Like, I dunno what Arneson and Gygax’s first group was like, but by the time I was gaming in the early 80s, there was a nice mix of mathy nerds and drama nerds, and sure there weren’t many women — I mean, I was, but no one knew that yet. Anyhow, by high school there were a number of women playing, and yeah, we were all “nerds” of a sort, but the notion that we were all weird social misfits just was never the case. Move forward ten years, and by then the White Wolf stuff is going strong and all kinds of people are playing.Report

              • Zac Black in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                “See, the problem is, nerds are people who have fundamentally misunderstood why they suffered. I don’t doubt that many of them did suffer. Not in the slightest. I know many nerds/geeks/whatever suffered terrible social humiliation, and I’m very sorry for it. No, the problem is that they think they were made fun of because of what they liked. That’s not why they got made fun of. They weren’t bullied because they loved Star Wars. Star Wars movies are the most popular ever made. The bullies loved Star Wars too, they had the lunch boxes and the toy lightsabers and the T-shirts too. Star Wars may have been the object of their derision, what they focused on, but it wasn’t the cause of the bullying and the harassment. Neither was Dr. Who or Dungeons & Dragons or action figures or whatever else you want to pick.

                No, the reason they made fun of you was because they thought you were weak. That’s why they made fun of you. They may have fixated on your C-3P0 lunchbox, but perfectly popular kids had the same lunchbox. If you didn’t have it, they’d have fixated on your hair, or your weight, or your skin, or your accent, or whatever else they could find. They bullied you because they thought you were weak, not because of the stuff that you liked. That is the one and only reason anyone ever makes fun of anybody else, because they think the other person is weak and that they can get away with it. But because nerds and geeks have misinterpreted a symptom for the disease, they refuse to acknowledge the reality that no aspect of popular culture is more popular or celebrated than geek culture. They say to themselves, “I still feel the way I feel, I still feel vulnerable and hurt, and that came from people making fun of the books and movies and games I liked, so therefore those things must be hated the way I feel hated.” But it was never about what you liked, and as long as they let their feelings dictate their perception of the world, they’ll always be operating under a delusion. And they’ll always misidentify why they’re unhappy.”

                – Freddie deBoer


              • veronica d in reply to Zac Black says:

                I think Freddie oversimplifies there. I was bullied, and the bullies were certainly not into D&D. Likewise, it was not only weakness, although certainly weakness played a role. But not every weak kid is bullied the same.

                Trust me, my neuro-diversity played an enormous role. I was preposterously weird.

                Anyway, Freddie does not allow his staggering ignorance and boundless presumption stop him from pontificating on any other topic, so why not this?

                (It is possible to despise gamergate, but at the same time find some of its critics to be loudmouth jerks.)Report

              • Damon in reply to veronica d says:

                Freddie is sorta right. And so are you V. I think it’s the “differentness”. Just like lions and pack hunters, predators look for weakness/differences/illness in their prey. I suspect that those kids that got bullied the worst were different, acted different, and most likely, projected an image of weakness. That’s bully chum in the water right there.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Damon says:

                @damon — Yeah, but I think when you start unpacking that, you’ll find you need a pretty flexible definition of “weakness.” It’s the same with how nerds use “status.” It’s a nice enough concept, but the definition gets wiggly and kinda circular.Report

              • Damon in reply to veronica d says:

                Any difference from the norm suggests weakness. That’s what I meant.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to veronica d says:

                Weakness isn’t being a nerd, dork, whatever. That’s just a label used when weakness is attacked. Like “slut” or “tramp” or (more often back in the day) “gay” or “fag”.

                Weakness, especially in the High School venue, is not having enough integration into social circles.

                Weakness isn’t what you like or what you look like. Weakness is not having enough friends. Or not having the right sort of friends. Or generally both.

                High School is about punching down. It’s a numbers game (what is ‘popularity’ but a word for ‘the number of people that want to be on your side’). Weakness is anyone with fewer backers than you.

                Attacking weakness makes you look stronger, makes more people ‘on your side’. It’s crude social dominance.

                It’s got jack-all to do with Star Wars or D&D. Those were just convenient labels to pin on those on the fringe, those without enough social power. Freddie’s right about that, at least. If it wasn’t D&D it’d have been something else.

                In-group, out-group stuff done by people with only the crudest social understanding and immature brains. With about a zillion groups whose composition changed fairly rapidly, and you could belong to multiple groups.

                Numbers. The jocks had large numbers. The chess club didn’t. (Well, physical strength and attractiveness also played into it, but that’s yet another grouping….)Report

              • Maribou in reply to Morat20 says:


                As someone who was bullied starting in grade 5 (before that I was popular! friends with everybody!) and who watched some of her friends get bullied all the way through senior year:

                Numbers are not the biggest or the only deal. The worst bullies in my high school were attractive and strong, yes, but when it came down to it what they mostly had “on their side” was the willingness to be ruthless, to take advantage of opportunities where they did temporarily have the upper hand. There were way more of us than there were of them, but they were a) the children of actual privilege, some of the richest kids in the school and b) able to engage in violence to a degree that would have made any of us sick, and to do so in opportune rather than obvious ways (so that it came down to “he said / he said”). Some of the worst bully hangers-on (not bully leaders, but capable of being egged to evil action) were terrified of being seen by the bullies as being among the challenges to their authority, terrified of their own hidden nonconformity.

                Really, it’s not weakness, it’s threat. Bullies respond to threats to their dominance, and independence is threatening. So they pound down anyone who isn’t willing to concede / support.

                At my high school we had dominant, aggressive individuals who were bullies and dominant, aggressive individuals who weren’t. The right way to interact with each of those varied. The ones who weren’t bullies were usually delighted by a show of force / independence / fearlessness and would shift you into the “people who are alright by me” category, even going so far as to stand bullies down if you were being cornered. The ones who were, man, the minute you stood up to them or acted like they weren’t scary? Target on your back forever, because they couldn’t let go of that one time you faced ’em down in public and made them look weaker than you. And/or couldn’t let go of your insistence that what you cared about was more important than their disapproval.

                Some of the kids who got beaten up Every Damn Week had dozens of friends, success academic and extracurricular, etc. They just were stuck in situations (eg guys locker room during gym class) where they were isolated from their friends and outnumbered temporarily. And they weren’t violent themselves. Maybe the bullies justified it by framing the lack of violence / cruelty as weakness, but really I think it was the success and independence outside of that limited window that drove them mad. Other than getting beaten up Every Damn Week, neither of the two guys who took the most beatings gave a shit about any of those bullies. And actually one of the guys got beaten up because he stood on his friend’s side, instead of joining the bully pack. The bullies would’ve been happy to accept him if he would’ve just stood down.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Zac Black says:

                “Your entertainments are popular so stop pretending that you’re being bullied because of your entertainments” is a point that doesn’t strike me as being half as important as Freddie seems to think it is.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Zac Black says:

                While weakness makes nerds an attractive target, I don’t think that its the only reason why people make fun of nerds. There are plenty of people that come across as weak who don’t get bullied without mercy because they are also normal in their interests and behavior. This makes them less off-putting to other people and it also makes it harder for bullies to grasp onto something to make fun of. Basically, they were saved by a lack of material.Report

              • veronica tcdod in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Right. Weakness matters. It’s part of the deal. For example, I was bullied heavily, but in high school, when I started lifting weights, the bullying began to drop off.

                Like, duh.

                But anyway, it’s not just weakness. It’s other stuff also. Which, if you redefine “weakness” to mean that stuff that attracts bullies, then sure, but that is circular.


                That said, I recommend weight training to everyone. I plan to get going on some light weight training myself. (I’ve made some recent changes to my shambling meatsack such that I no longer produce much natural testosterone. Which yay! However, I don’t want my T to drop too low. Even cis women have some natural testosterone. So lift weights I shall.)Report

      • aaron David in reply to pillsy says:

        Thread winner.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The reaction against the bad reviews Suicide Squad got seem split among the genders. I can kind of understand why many people in fandom are somewhat to extraordinarily anti-critic. One of the things that I remember distinctly from fandom when I was more involved in it was the sense of specialness and persecution that many of them built up. This showed itself in different ways like calling non-fans mundanes or thinking that normal social graces and fashion sense were very superficial things and that true authentic people didn’t need to pay heed to them. They also had to deal with their interests suffering from severe social stigma for decades. Its not anything close to being Black or LGBT but it was enough to kind of warrant a feeling of being besieged.

      Fans are currently having their moment but just as they were about to enjoy their moment, they were put under siege again in their mind by people criticizing them from the Left, for being too white, straight, and male, and from the Right, the people who continued to do the traditional cultural attacks against fan culture even if said people were otherwise Liberal. If you felt bullied all your life, its enough to drive you bonkers.Report

    • I could basically just reprint this essay I wrote about Batman v Superman and change the title.

      On a side note, I received a free ticket to see Suicide Squad this morning, so I will be seeing it in all its terribleness!Report

  7. Damon says:

    Ci2 Well, yeah. This is not obvious? Did they look at exemptions on regulations for building the units? Doubtful.

    Cr7 Yeah, no. What are you going to do if I try to evade the stop? Shoot me with a gummy bear gun?

    H2] Yes, I buy this. Of course I think female doctors or nurses in scrubs are hot. But I”m a perv.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon says:

      If I’m reading the housing article right, one of the big problems is the cost of land & the associated taxes. Seems cities want affordable housing near services, but they don’t want to make it cheap for a developer to acquire the necessary land, nor do they want to lose the tax revenue that land could bring. Coupled with NIMBY, I can see the problem.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        There’s also regulation. The article is coy about it, with vague mentions of “building codes”, but it is definitely the case (and other articles have pointed it out) that the basic requirements for building any kind of structure at all put a floor on how low of a cost you can achieve. If you are required to have a minimum width and pitch of stairwells (for ADA needs and for fire-evacuation) then that takes up a certain amount of floor size. If every room needs at least one window, that dictates a certain building layout. Energy-efficiency requirements dictate triple-pane windows. And so on.

        In a very real sense, most structures are designed by regulation before an architect even gets near them. You can pick the finishes and what kinds of decorative foofraw is applied to the outside of the building, but that’s it.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

          From what I recall from other articles that discuss this, regular building codes aren’t the issue as much, it’s the extras that get tacked on if the developer applies for subsidies to keep their costs under control. So if the project, in order to be profitable at the price point others desire, needs some assistance, the developer can apply for financial help. That help not only comes with additional reporting requirements, but other building requirements, both of which drive up costs. Now I’m not opposed to additional reporting requirements, because of fraud and all, but anything above and beyond basic building codes is, to me, a tough sell.

          But that aside, a city that wants affordable housing can start by accepting that meeting the services requirement means letting a piece of high value property sell at a discount and/or giving the property a significant tax break because it fills a public need.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        The cost of land is far and away the biggest driver of rents.
        Affordability has two sides, one is the cost of the rent, the other is the wages needed to purchase it.

        In Downtown LA, our small studio apartments go for around $1800 and up. This translates into a minimum monthly income of around $4000, or almost 50K/ year.

        What sort of jobs pay 50K/ year? Not ones that people earning the federal poverty level have.
        Fussing around the edges with regulatory cost, or density, or whatever doesn’t address the fact that there is a yawning chasm between wages and rents.

        So why don’t rents tumble, if no one can afford them?

        Because some people can afford them. There is another yawning chasm, between those who can and those who can’t.

        It isn’t as if there was ever a time in history when every single person could afford a nice shiny apartment. What has changed is the volume of people who can’t afford it, whose incomes have tumbled while others have surged.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Which brings me back to, are cities serious about affordable housing?

          I don’t know what the stats on this are, but how much land does a city come into ownership of, through tax default, eminent domain, or other means, which it then turns around and sells for market value? How much of that land would serve well as a site for affordable housing?

          Seems ridiculous for a city to ask developers to acquire a very expensive piece of land at market value, and then not maximize it’s profitability for the sake of a public good, while still having to handle the tax burden, etc.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            The only true affordable housing policy is more building. Anything else that makes housing more affordable for some people necessarily makes it less affordable for others.

            Well, I guess there’s also the option of reducing demand by making the city less desirable. Detroit had some success with that approach.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              Or making other places more desirable to live.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine says:


                This raises the question about what makes an area a desirable place to live. Most of my college classmates are living in or near major cities. I think of one person who decided to move to Montana because he liked outdoors activity. He is from suburban NJ. My classmate from Montana now lives in NYC.

                Zic used to complain about how the siren call of TV and media created brain drains in her rural Maine area because the bright 18 year olds would rather go to college and get city jobs than working seasonally or spending their lives as Wal-Mart workers. I always thought her complaint was kind of odd. Does she just want to have a society that encourages no ambition?

                Likewise, I have seen people complain about how 22 year old bio majors would rather be bartenders in a city than use their degrees by working for a rural forestry service or some such. Surely people can’t be that dense about why cities are more exciting for single 20-somethings than middle of nowhere surrounded by old people or no one.

                I guess everyone just wants special pleading.Report

              • Ruralia basically acting as a far system for future city-dwellers and families being priced out of the urban cores seem to me both to be pretty inevitable and, with the suburbs as a buffer, a pretty symbiotic relationship.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think most will end up in suburbs or exurbs. Though most of the people I know moving to the burbs of NY are priced out of the inner ring suburbs in Westchester and Nassau. They tend to move to be in the Hudson Valley because it is much prettier.

                I see very few people moving to say Lake County (north of Sonoma) or really far upstate NY.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                @saul-degraw I’d put it differently; its not so much that people are living in cities, its that they are migrating to one of a small subset of cities. How many of your friends are moving or would move to Cincinnati? Or Kansas City? Or St. Louis? Or, Mobile? Or Memphis. etc.

                The story of the last 50-years isn’t that people have moved from the country to the cities (that happened the previous 50-years) its that the cities that used to sustain a region are now bleeding to the top 5+.

                There’s not a simple single policy that will assist in reversing the trend, but I would at least start by looking at any policy and tweaking it so that it is neutral to negative for NYC/Boston, LA/SF/SD, Houston/Dallas, Chicago, and DC (etc.). Negatively incent one positively incent another.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine says:


                I know some people who moved to Modesto, Fresno, Sacramaento, Santa Cruz, etc. for legal jobs but many chose to stay in the Bay Area.

                A friend moved to St. Louis for a position at Washington U. But these could be outliers.

                I know some people who moved from NYC to Portland (OR) but that is a special cases of Bohemia probably. And I even know a guy who grew up in the Bay Area, went to college in NY, and ended up in Cleveland. Another friend from college grew up near Rochester and ended up in Ohio.

                The big issue is that the Internet and air travel have destroyed the need for regional cities instead of enhancing the need for them.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Seems to me like it’s mostly a tit-for-tat. There are a lot of growing cities outside the top five. There are cities that are receding. Different reasons in both cases. Me being me, I do look at some of the receding cities as potential hubs of opportunity because they are affordable and have under-utilized capital. But I’m more interested in scalability than sheer size. DFW and the San Francisco Bay area may have a similar amount of people, but there’s a lot more room in one than the other for future growth. (Probably.)Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Will Truman says:

                Sure, that’s what I’m saying. Our urban policies ought to favor urbs that are under utilized and can expand and grow (all over the US). The top ten that everyone here complains about? Let us not try to “fix” them, let us try to drain them.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Will Truman says:

                Not what I was thinking, but sure, if it works. Seems though that what we’re really looking to do is jack minimum wage in NYC so that the shiney new highspeed rail we build to Scranton makes moving some work and offices to low status Scranton… now that it’s only 50 minutes away.Report

              • When I worked for the Colorado legislature, I spent time with the folks in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Their job is to provide assistance to businesses looking to expand or move to Colorado. The most highly ranked features such companies are looking for include: transportation (major airport, rail, roads); existing large skilled workforce; K-12 and higher ed; quality of life stuff (museums, weather, etc).

                If you quarter the contiguous US states, the large majority of the urban areas that are falling behind are in the NE quadrant. Many of them, and the smaller ones in particular, fail in some or all of the list above. They’re far from a major airport, or they’re not on major rail lines and interstate highways, or they lack a large research university, or (IMO, at least) the weather generally sucks. These are not things that government policy is likely to change.Report

              • notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Sure I can understand but then I don’t want to hear from that same 20 something how they can’t pay their college loan, are underemployed or can’t use their major.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              From a purely utilitarian POV, yes. But we have a habit of building highly desirable cities in geographic locations that severely limit their ability to grow. NYC & SF are both limited not only by the limit on actual square footage, but also on the fact that more building requires more infrastructure (water, sewer, power, etc.) that is non-trivial to upgrade.

              If enabling low income people to live in a given city is socially desirable, and you can’t just increase housing supply such that there is affordable housing available, you are going to have to interfere in the market.

              What I’m saying is, if you are going to interfere in the market to achieve a specific goal, then don’t do it half-assed or try to pass the cost onto a select few (i.e. rent control).

              Personally, I like the idea of new construction having some spaces for low income tenants, I think that does a good job of not only addressing the issue, but also preventing ghettos. I just get annoyed at people who think that just because a low income person lives in a luxury complex thanks to a legal condition of development, that person should also have unfettered access to the services that market rate tenants do.Report

              • …if you are going to interfere in the market to achieve a specific goal, then don’t do it half-assed or try to pass the cost onto a select few (i.e. rent control).

                For an example of not doing it small, see Singapore.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:



              • Here’s the link to Singapore’s Housing and Development Board site. About 80% of the population lives in residential space built by the HDB. Down near the bottom, the site spells it out:

                In pricing our flats, our principle has always been to keep homes within the reach of the majority of flat buyers. In 2006, the Additional CPF Housing Grant Scheme was introduced to help lower income families own their first homes. Since then, other grants have been put in place to help home buyers afford HDB flats. On average, buyers can expect to use less than a quarter of their monthly household income to pay for the mortgage instalment [sic] of their first flat…

                The descriptions there and at the Wikipedia page also demonstrate heavy doses of urban planning.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:



              • Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                If enabling low income people to live in a given city is socially desirable

                Someone has to teach the kids, sweep the floors, and work the ER as nurses. Also cut the lawns, fix the cars, unplug the toilet, clean the houses… It’s not just “sociably desirable” — those people are actually needed.

                I vaguely recall an article about a public school in or near Silicon Valley, that had to purchase an apartment block and offer subsidized housing to teachers because otherwise they couldn’t get enough teachers willing to drive the 2+ hours from “affordable” housing to SV. (And this was ontop of high pay, because even very high pay — against national standards — didn’t make SV affordable).Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

                I’m not actually questioning the validity of a decision to provide housing for people of limited means. The rightness or wrongness doesn’t really enter into it. If the decision is made to provide it, because it isn’t something the market is able to supply, then fishing do it.

                I swear half of government incompetence is directly attributable to the unwillingness of politicians to take risks that might anger key (but usually minority) constituencies.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                In SV?

                I think it is the homeowners who don’t want to build more and denser housing. Atherton needs to keep their mansions and estates.

                The pols tend to be part-time and also homeowners in the area so they don’t want to build either.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:


                Nope, just in general.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                The proper term for this is exclusionary zoning.Report

              • North in reply to Morat20 says:

                I dunno, the implication in your argument is that if no housing is provided for teachers, sweepers, nurses etc. that those jobs will go unfilled. What seems more likely to me is that if that housing isn’t provided then wages will rise until people are either willing to commute from affordable housing to take those jobs or they’re being paid enough to live closer. So looked at that way is affordable housing not kind of a subsidy to low wage payers enabling them to keep paying shitty wages?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:


                Examples of this happening? Or is the market interfered with before it has a chance?Report

              • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon I don’t have any. People will commute a significant distance for one thing and most dense urban areas have significant interventions in housing both for good and ill. I’m strictly noodling it over here.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                Darn, I was hoping you had some good, concrete examples.Report

              • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I’d love that too but frankly the whole notion only occurred to me as I was reading Morat’s comment.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to North says:

                Well, see….think about it from, say, the perspective of a school district.

                What’s cheaper? Paying the teachers enough to live there (or otherwise raising salaries to get teachers to spend two to four hours a day in a car) or perhaps buying an apartment block?

                From the school’s point of view, you can make a large real estate deal, probably via bond (low interest rates, over two decades) and cut out an entire layer of profit seeking. (Heck, being school property it might even be exempt from some property taxes). You rent them out in lieu of salary, and this might be cheaper — year after year — than increasing salaries 20 or 25% across the board.

                It also insulates your school district against future jumps in costs — if rents increase 15% a year over a pretty packed period of years or something, the school district won’t have to frantically raise salaries or deal with teacher shortfalls.

                Silicon Valley is a bit of an outlier in the fact that good salaries weren’t sufficient to house you there. It wasn’t people on minimum wage, or even low-paid teachers (for all the talk about teacher pay being too high, it’s very variable. SV paid rather high, but they had to — long commutes and no housing AND a rich area with the money to afford it. ).

                Whether or not subsidized or free housing makes sense would depend entirely on the local market. Whether or not it’s actually putting more or less money in the employee’s pocket would also depend on local conditions.

                It could range from a perk, to break even (the loss in salary is roughly equivalent to transport costs and the difference in housing), to a hidden way to screw the employee.

                Then there’s subjective stuff — how much of a pay cut would I be willing to take to get back two or four hours a day in traffic?Report

              • North in reply to Morat20 says:

                For sure Morat but what you’re talking about is still a pay raise. If I offer you a job that pays 50k a year and gives you free housing worth 50k a year as long as you work that job you’re functionally being paid 100k per year (and if you claimed only 50k on your taxes I believe the IRS would have some salty things to say to you).

                My point is that if you’re running a Starbucks and paying minimum wage it’s really good for you if the local municipality starts slapping down interventions so that at least some people that can afford to only work for minimum wage can live close by to where you run your business. That’s a great deal for you! Probably a shitty deal for the tax payers and your employees though.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to North says:

                For sure Morat but what you’re talking about is still a pay raise.

                Actually “benefit” might be the better word. Like health insurance, sick pay, retirements, etc. (And probably cheaper for the district that way).

                However, as I’ve said, SV is an outlier. Any place with high enough real estate values (ie, where people want to live) is going to run into that problem.

                You’re going to need people who can’t afford to live there, and you’re not going to be able to pay them enough to live there. That’s just the nature of scarcity and high end real estate. (As an example — a high end gated community is never going to pay landscapers enough to live there, even if the landscapers are making 5 times what they’d make in any other community in the area).

                So they either live somewhere else and commute there, or you subsidize housing somehow.

                Commuting’s pretty easy if there’s cheaper real estate within a reasonable distance. But some places, due to geography or other restrictions (like the ability for enough people to commute in and out of the area), run into serious problems.

                A school district investing in an apartment block for employee’s is one particularly private market solution. Rent control is another. Subsidized state housing is another. Raising wages until enough people commit to long, long commutes is another.

                What works depends on the situation. I thought the apartment blocks was a rather clever patch (it makes sense for a school district, for instance). It’d only work for very large employers with sufficient resources (Google, Apple, or MS could probably manage it if they cared to. But I think only Google has real issues with housing availability despite a well paid for workforce).

                In the end, the real problems seem related to geography. There has to be cheaper housing vaguely close. 20 or 30 miles is good. 60 or 100 miles, not so good. (Of course, sprawl has it’s own issues….)Report

              • North in reply to Morat20 says:

                Sure, and really it’s semantics. Their compensation in total is larger, part of it is money part of it is other stuff.

                I’m not wedded to the idea but when I roll it around in my head it works for me. You say they can’t pay people enough to live there? Why not? If the answer is they’d just not have those services I would say yeah right. If the answer is they’d have to raise prices then I’d nod and say “So what? The people living there can afford it.” If those rising prices made the area less desirable for people to live and visit well wouldn’t that then be a countervailing effect against the overheating housing costs?

                Isn’t having a third party providing below market rate housing functionally a subsidy to the lowest wage providers? Enabling them to get workers at lower wages than they otherwise would have to pay? I know we don’t look kindly on companies that pay wages/benefits that people can only afford by tapping on food stamps and the like. Isn’t this just a housing equivalent?

                Now I’m not saying housing interventions are wrong (you have absolutely awful ones like rent control and then potentially less harmful ones like affordable housing requirements, then unambiguously helpful ones that’re crazy expensive like public housing). I’m just saying that’s another thing to consider. Personally I’m still a huge fan of density and development, no mater how many SFR owners it sends to the fainting couch.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                There doesn’t seem to be evidence of wages rising for people like cops, teachers, nurses, garbage collectors, and company to live close enough to really expensive places like the counties of the Bay Area. What usually seems to happen is semi-legal living arrangements or really long commutes.Report

              • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Yes, though it’s not like we have any examples of markets where intervention doesn’t produce a certain quantity of below market rate housing either.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                If enabling low income people to live in a given city is socially desirable, and you can’t just increase housing supply such that there is affordable housing available, you are going to have to interfere in the market.

                My point is that doing this necessarily makes housing less affordable for the people who are actually paying their own way, and will inevitably price some out. It has to, because of the pigeonhole principle.

                If you have n housing units and n + k households want to live there, you need some way to decide how to allocate the housing units. Either 2k households need to double up, k households need to live in another city, or some combination of the two.

                Any policy that helps a low-income household either stay in the city instead of moving to a different city, or live in their own housing unit instead of doubling up, will reduce the number of housing units available for the other residents of the city by one. This drives up rents as far as necessary to get one more household to move out or two more households to double up.Report

  8. Former inmate looking for work? Applebee’s to the rescue. (Well, at least one franchise owner.)

    They gave him a job stocking the salad bar, though if he screws that up he might be demoted to writing a column for the New York Times.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    Hoo boy. World Vision was one of the charities my family gave to when I was growing up.

    The Palestinian manager of the Gaza branch of World Vision, a major Christian aid organization, was charged by Israeli prosecutors on Thursday with infiltrating the charity on behalf of Hamas and funneling about $43 million in the group’s funds over the past six years to the military wing of the Islamist militant group.


  10. Jaybird says:

    Oh, and remember that shooting of that guy who was on the ground with his hands in the air?

    Good news! The Police Commander will *NOT*, in fact, be charged with anything. It turns out that his conflicting statements were just the result of miscommunication.Report

  11. Roland Dodds says:

    ED1 I can confirm how few teachers are actually out there looking for work. When I first got into this career, you were fighting tooth and nail with dozens of strong applicants for a half-time position. Now, you have to throw crazy money and perks to get even nominally qualified candidates to apply.

    I teach in a good school right next to San Francisco. They pay well (at least, relative to other Bay Area schools) and have good benefits. Yet we struggled to fill a very basic 6th grade humanities position this year. Don’t even get me started about what we had to do to find an Algebra teacher…Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Roland Dodds says:


      Any idea why people are not interested in the profession?Report

      • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        It is probably a couple of things:

        1. I can’t street enough how the experiences one had in school has impacted people going into the field. Most of the bright young people I speak with recognize that their teacher’s were not treated well by students/parents. They may have even been one of those individuals to give their teacher grief. Why would they want to go into a field where they know they will be treated with that disrespect? Politicians have not helped with this either.

        2. More and more is expected of teachers and that is made pretty clear to students who have an initial interest in going into a teacher prep program at a university. Not that lots of other jobs won’t have long hours and stress, but considering the pay some districts provide, young people may see the sacrifice/reward calculation to not be in their favor.

        3. Being a public school teacher is “below” many graduates. I wrote a piece a few months ago urging those with doctorates in humanities to consider middle school as a profession. I got some good feedback from Phd holders but most seemed to agree that they did not want to have spent all that time researching and studying to teach kids. That’s unfortunate (especially since I have better pay and benefits than they do fighting for jobs at local junior colleges).

        Probably some other factors, but that’s what jumps off the top of my head.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        High education requirements, general low pay. Little respect. Long hours. High continuing education requirements. A LOT of flack from parents. A lot of “outside the job” responsibilities.

        I know people like to claim teachers make bank — they don’t. They might in a handful of school districts, although less so than you think when you look at the cost of living in the area. You don’t get “summers off” (you about six weeks of unpaid leave in the summer. To balance that, districts get shirty as heck if you try to take vacations any other point of the year.). The benefits are often crappy.

        And with all that, you’re generally blamed for everything wrong with public education, you’re looked down on by many people (“Teaching kids, how hard is that? I can teach my kid, I’m sure”) and treated like daycare workers.

        That’s not even getting into parents with a “My Precious Princess” attitude, who will be about 90% of the interactions you have with parents. The other 10% is primarily people blaming you because Johnny failed, despite the fact that Johnny skipped class constantly and never did any work.

        It is, bluntly, a crappy job. And if you complain about the pay, the hours, the out-of-pocket expenses, you’re told to shut up because you should be in it “for the kids” not the money.

        There’s a reason education has a high burnout rate. It’s often an underpaid, thankless job.Report

        • Damon in reply to Morat20 says:

          All this and more..

          Since the teachers are unionized, which naturally make things difficult to fire crappy teachers, a lot of states have difficulty getting rid of bad / incompetent teachers. I recall a series of articles on New York’s difficulty in doing just that. So they keep those teachers around….getting paid. And the union every year wants more money for merit/cola increases. You have no idea how happy I get when I hear the union wants a 4% increase and 1) the state is running a deficit, 2) My pay increase was ZERO.

          And then there’s the administration…..don’t get me started..My lady friend teaches and the admin can be major tool bags. (if what she says is true)Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Damon says:

            Since the teachers are unionized, which naturally make things difficult to fire crappy teachers

            There is no national teacher’s union. You’re speaking as if there’s one fundamental union and union rules across all 50 states, which is BS.

            Texas doesn’t have tenure, for instance. They have 1, 2 and 3 year contracts. (Technically they can offer ‘permanent contracts’ but nobody has in 50 years). Now, I admit — they rarely fire teachers. Because iffy teachers get 1 year contracts (as do new ones) and by the time school districts have gone through the “let’s try to help you” bit (it’s easier to salvage a poor teacher and get them up to speed than hire a new one, because you never know how the new one will turn out. And often-times bad teaching can be trained out) it’s well into the spring semester so they just don’t get rehired.

            As for pay raises — again, Texas. My wife saw her first pay raise in about 5 years last year, for a grand total of about 3%. The pay scale is awful, and the benefits…Jesus. Awful. (Guess what getting a Master’s degree gets you? Nothing. And it’s expected you’ll get one if you want to have some say in curriculum, and you need a PhD if you want to have real say — or move into administration.).

            New York is New York. Texas is Texas. People talk about “teacher’s unions” and “teacher pay” without realizing (or admitting) that whatever they say only applies locally — state-wide at best.

            Even the Satanic Common Core is a state-run project, which the Feds had jack-all to do with. And Ye Gods, the people screaming about that simply refuse to believe it. 33 states got together because there are no national standards, and colleges were getting tetchy over trying to deal with variances with out-of-state students. It’s bad enough normalizing GPA over school districts. 4.0 isn’t always the cap, and the systems can be confusing and hard to compare).Report

            • Damon in reply to Morat20 says:

              “New York is New York. Texas is Texas. People talk about “teacher’s unions” and “teacher pay” without realizing (or admitting) that whatever they say only applies locally — state-wide at best.”

              I’m not so sure about this. Teaching is predominately a local issue as you state, and I think most people understand that…well those that are being honest and have a modicum of subject understanding. I WAS speaking state wise, and my familiarity is with the East Coast. Those states are heavily unionized, generally have larger tax bases and pay their teachers pretty well. And the anecdote about raises comes directly my county’s budget negations over the last few years, where starting teachers make 70K+ a year.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Damon says:

                And the anecdote about raises comes directly my county’s budget negations over the last few years, where starting teachers make 70K+ a year.

                Yeah, and I bet the COLA is quite a bit higher than Texas.

                You think 70k is too high for one of the more expensive places to live in the country? (Although I’ve found references to median salary for teachers in New York State to be anywhere from 54k to 70k, so I’m not sure how accurate that number is).

                My wife makes twice what some teachers in Texas makes, and she makes quite a bit less than she’d make in New York. (As do I, honestly. Average salary for my field in NY is…significantly higher).

                Not that you’ve explained why 70k is too much for your district. I mean clearly you feel it is, but so?Report

              • Damon in reply to Morat20 says:

                Actually the 70k was an example of how well they are paid. The problem I have is the insistence for merit and step increases totaling 5+% when the economy was stagnating and wage increases for the non gov’t sector were flat or declining. Having a bunch of well paid teachers bitching about needing more money (because education!) , when I, and many others, are seeing NO increase, is pretty damn annoying.Report

  12. LeeEsq says:

    Ed2: One thing I never understood about the tech-enthusiasm for online training was how were the things that you need meat space for like labs, learning the practical aspects of nursing, or the fine arts are supposed to occur.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Not every subject requires hands on learning, and campuses could make agreements with other schools for lab space or other practicum.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        I mean yeah this is true but online education is supposed to be a panacea for the working class people that are supposed to be burdened by the costs of traditional meat space learning. Many of those people are going to go into careers that require hands on learning.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Granted, no one is going to be learning a skill like welding from an online course, but that doesn’t mean there is no place for online learning in a welding program.

          What is cheaper – Operating a facility large enough for classrooms, staff offices, parking, amenities, and lab space; or one that largely does away with classrooms, a large amount of parking, and other amenities.

          Come to Oscar’s Welding School, take all your lectures online, only come to school when it’s time to put on the helmet and melt some metal. We save on real estate costs and pass the savings onto you!Report

    • pillsy in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Many of those people come from professions where the only things they need to put their hands on are keyboards.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to pillsy says:


        It’s the same problem where a lot of IT heavy fields have this weird belief on job availability, wage negotiation, and retraining.

        People in one of the few fields with heavy headhunting and poaching attempts, and where “retraining” can often mean “two weeks playing with a new language/paradigm that’s really not terribly different from the one I already know” don’t seem to have a good view of what it’s like for everyone else.

        They also push STEM like it’s a panacea, whereas I know two people with degrees in biology who shifted into public education because a BS in Biology got them jobs with salaries that were about what I was making as an non-degreed intern in a programming field.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

          Yeah, for most of the computer’s history, people who knew how to program were so valuable that they could demand a lot simply because of their skills. My maternal uncle was a would be PhD in linguistics in the 1970s but taught himself computer programming and managed to land him a job that got him a decent sized house with enough land for a horse and chickens. This is changing because more people are learning IT but it is still true enough.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I get regular recruitment calls from resumes I haven’t updated in years, left on Careerbuilder or whatnot, or languishing in some company’s files. (Admittedly, have seem to be calling me based on one keyword, like the six months I did ColdFusion work 15 years ago — I don’t think that’s what the hiring company has in mind. Pro-tip — six months of slapping together some internal web tools using ColdFusion makes me a hack, not an expert at ColdFusion. I don’t even like web development, which is why 95% of my resume doesn’t have it).

            I know that’s not true of, well, virtually every other field out there.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

              It definitely ain’t true for law. The big problem with IT is that they seem to think the IT job experience is more universal than it is as you pointed out. When you have a job experience like the one you describe than your not going to understand struggling with employment.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Actually, IT job experience is pretty universal. Learning a new programming language is nothing next to the challenge of learning a new code base, and you have to do the latter every time you change jobs, so it’s no big deal if you also have to learn a new language. When HR posts the job listing, they say they want a candidate with x years of experience in this and y years of experience in that and z years of experience in that other thing, but the reality is that they know they’re probably not going to find a perfect match, and will settle for a good programmer with a different skill set.Report

              • When HR posts the job listing, they say they want a candidate with x years of experience in this and y years of experience in that and z years of experience in that other thing,

                Which were invented x/2, y/2, and z/2 years ago, respectively.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                When HR posts the job listing, they say they want a candidate with x years of experience in this and y years of experience in that and z years of experience in that other thing, but the reality is that they know they’re probably not going to find a perfect match, and will settle for a good programmer with a different skill set.

                Which has led to everybody in the tech industry assuming that “requirements” in the job listing are meaningless, so they submit resumes for every job. The on the receiving end, those same HR people get resumes for people who have no business applying for anything like their job posting.

                It’s “may contain nuts” all over again.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

              I get regular recruitment calls from resumes I haven’t updated in years, left on Careerbuilder or whatnot

              This, at least once a week. Half the time, the positions they are advertising to me indicate to me that they found me via keyword search, and didn’t actually read the resume, but still…Report

              • El Muneco in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                No matter what the currently popular programming paradigm and language might be, COBOL and Fortran programmers won’t lack for work if they want it during their golden years. Soon you’ll be able to add C/C++ to the list. Or append, if you’re in a Python and not a Java shop…Report

              • I get lots of headhunter mail these days too, I suspect based on the fact that I have a full-time job a at a well-known company in the Bay Area. Which they think I am eager to leave for a six-month contract in Omaha.Report

  13. Pinky says:

    CR4: I knew what scene you were linking to before I read the description. I probably would have known if you left out which show it was. Homicide was phenomenal.Report

  14. El Muneco says:

    Re: [Ci3] – Back in the day there was a wonderful film called “Johnny Dangerously”. Released in 1984, halfway between Airplane! and The Naked Gun, subverting genre conventions hadn’t nearly been played out, and it was a decent takedown of gangster movie cliches. Unafraid to venture into the land of in-jokes and genius bonuses, any bit of seemingly innocent dialogue could be a reference to something.

    There was a scene where a prosecutor (Griffin Dunne, post American Werewolf) was grilling a gangster on the stand: “Can you explain how your fingerprints got on this gun that was used to kill everyone in the building at 110 East 40th Street?”. Given how much Dunne hammed up the line, it was natural to assume that said building was special – the Polo Grounds, say, or the Empire State Building…

    But nothing. Fifteen years after the movie, the Web was still bright-new. Even today, google only has one high-rated hit for the quote, and practically nothing on the building itself.

    It’s on Google Maps street view, now, though – which wasn’t around in 1995.

    And… nothing. It’s just another building, like the medical/dental building I used to go to for checkups in the 70s, nothing remarkable at all. Unless they were talking about Brooklyn and not Manhattan, in which case it’s a single-family home.

    So unless someone slipped in a reference to the house he grew up in, a parody movie put particular emphasis on a line with no hidden meaning at all. I feel robbed. Which, considering the subject matter of the film, is perhaps appropriate.Report

  15. notme says:

    Muslim machete attacker injures police. Yells, Allah Akbar but can’t be Isis.

    • Kazzy in reply to notme says:

      The article itself says they suspect it to be a terrorist attack and included a rundown of other ISIS-related attacks in Europe. Surely you aren’t suggesting we make declarative statement prior to a full investigation!Report

      • Zac Black in reply to Kazzy says:

        Well, obviously, dude! He’s a Muslim, therefore ISIS! I mean, c’mon, there are no other possibilities, right?

        Now, on the other hand, if it’s a black guy getting shot by a cop, hey, let’s not jump to conclusions here.


        Notme, what do we do if it’s a black Muslim shot by the cops? These heuristics are confusing.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Zac Black says:

          I read somewhere that a child was killed, and immediately I wondered if it was ISIS.
          Then it turned out that he was shot to death accidentally by his toddler brother.

          Boy, was I relieved!
          For a moment, I thought we lived in a world of senseless death and destruction!

          But yeah, I’mm still on vigilant alert in case a person dies on the other side of the planet. That keeps me up at night.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to notme says:

      Is it better if it is ISIS, or better if it isn’t?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

        ISIS can, in theory, be dismantled.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

        For the world at large, ISIS seems a distraction. China and her territorial chest thumping should be more front & center.

        ISIS is a PITA, a China that is feeling expansionist is a much more real threat to global security.Report

      • notme in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Probably better if the incident wasn’t tied to some form of religious terrorism. The part about ISIS was for those here that no matter what seems to happen don’t want to acknowledge there is a problem. The usual response is something like 1) even if it was ISIS attacks like this don’t matter b/c ISIS can’t really hurt us 2)this is just a random mentally disturbed person 3)this can’t be ISIS b/c there was a ID card or other “proof” to connect this person to ISIS, etc. At some point it would seem that attacks like this are becoming so common that we have to take a look at what’s going on here.Report

        • greginak in reply to notme says:

          Who here has said ISIS isn’t’ a problem? They are a problem. They are not, however, an existential threat to us. They can’t destroy us or invade us. They are a threat for terrorism in the west, a threat we have faced before and being all panicky and terrified doesn’t help. We are supporting the people pushing them back which is working and for some reason you don’t seem to recognize.

          What would you have us do? Invade? Utter harsh words?

          You said you were in the military. Well isn’t part of tactics and strategy appropriately judging the strength and capabilities of various threats so you can respond with the correct amount of force.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to notme says:

          And what do you mean it was “for” those people, assuming they even exist? Was your intent to ignore the facts of the article and simply needle people who disagree with me?

          I mean, we know that is what you are doing… but it is at least a little refreshing for you to finally admit it.Report

  16. LeeEsq:
    Meanwhile, in reality, Fatah is campaigning on killing 11,000 Israelis, read Jews, in the upcoming West Bank elections.

    Fatah is, um, not the brightest political party out there. Even the most lefty pacifist Muslim in the Knesset is likely to disapprove of that sort of activity, and last time anyone checked the IDF was still one of the best fighting forces on this planet. “We’ll kill 11k joooows!” is the sort of idiocy that ends up with neighborhoods being turned into tanker racetracks.

    I suppose if you were a conspiracy theorist you’d say that Fatah has been infiltrated by Israeli intelligence and is being maneuvered into being extra stupid to discredit the whole BDS movement, but that gives both sides too much credit.Report