Re: The Anxiety Epidemic

1

I think not smoking is partially to blame for the the anxiety epidemic and the obesity one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:59 AM
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And the social security crisis!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:00 AM
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And the Crisis on Infinite Earths.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:02 AM
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I chew the skin on the sides of my finger nails. It seems to help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:03 AM
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And the terrorism crisis. Look what just happened on the M6. Never have happened if there was still smoking allowed on buses.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:04 AM
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I don't know what happened on the M6, so now I have to worry about that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:08 AM
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I often forget that cigarettes actually have positive results for some people, other than "Fulfil desperate need for cigarette".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:08 AM
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OT: the Guardian plays a blinder with a list of Discontinued Olympic Sports including boar shooting, mail-coach racing, and aquatic obstacle course.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/jul/06/joy-of-six-discontinued-olympic-sports


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:11 AM
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6: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/05/m6-coach-passengers-evacuated-police?INTCMP=SRCH


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:13 AM
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That article was sort of incoherent, but it does make sense to look for the sources of American anxiety in our material conditions. Lack of universal health insurance leads to a certain amount of anxiety for most working people, for example. Similarly with expensive higher education and declining opportunities to earn a decent living, retain self respect at work, etc. Lack of social supports for families that have both parents working.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:24 AM
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Working makes me terribly anxious -- I'd be immensely happier and more productive if I could channel some of the fretting I do into actually getting stuff done. But that's a different problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:30 AM
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Maybe you need a boss who won't give you air conditioning until you've finished.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:37 AM
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No, I need clients who will answer their phone. I've lost weeks on this one case trying to figure out what an agency wants me to do, complicated by the fact that the person at the agency responsible for the matter just went off for three weeks in Russia. If I'd been able to figure out who he was earlier, it would have been all right, but now it's a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:53 AM
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I think I have an anxiety quota, and I will fret that much no matter what's going on in my life. Right now I have plenty of money and essentially zero responsibilities but I'm still maintaining that baseline anxiety, except without any proximate stressors to project it onto. It's making me feel a little crazy. I keep thinking things like, OH NO what if I someday have a bad job interview??


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:07 AM
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Working makes me terribly anxious

Uggh, me too.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:10 AM
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Not working is what makes me anxious. And yet.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:17 AM
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(The same agency just sent me looking for someone in my office I don't know personally -- her name is an ordinary English word like, say, "Fish". After half an hour of searching the directory, I have determined that while it is pronounced "Fish", it is spelled "Ghoti". They could have mentioned that.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:19 AM
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"Well, it's spelt Luxury-Yacht, but it's actually pronounced Throatwobbler-Mangrove".

Dalziel?
Cholmondeley?
Menzies?
Featherstonehaugh?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:20 AM
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Amanto Hugandkiss.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:27 AM
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Reminds me vaguely of Graeber's explanation of why most societies have seen debt-based servitude as more inherently offensive than that based on birth, war, etc. - it's a relationship that starts out with two parties notionally equal in the same society and one being dragged down by the other. It makes some sense that a gap between expectations and reality regarding one's place in society is going to be particularly burdensome.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:32 AM
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8: the Guardian plays a blinder with a list of Discontinued Olympic Sports including boar shooting, mail-coach racing, and aquatic obstacle course.

Nice, as is the other one that is linked in the article; makes me want to read the whole series. Although they seem to make the classic Austrian-naval-captain-in Sound-of-Music-is-a-goof-right? mistake when they imply that the Austrian competitor in the aquatic obstacle course was hurt by Austria being landlocked.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:46 AM
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||

Last winter, colleague got very sick. I tracked down ~100 former students and asked if they'd like to write down something nice and I'd give it to her.

Colleague responds amazingly well to treatment. I want to send an update to these students saying "Hey, she didn't die and we're all very happy."

To get to 100 emails over FB, I have to scroll and scroll and "click here to load more messages" two times - EVERY FUCKING TIME. It kicks me back to the top after I send an update. It's taking me SO FUCKING LONG and I want to kill everything.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:46 AM
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. It gave over a whole column to the event, with the delicious heading: Olympic Games: Sports that foreigners excel in

The thing I love about this is that headline applies to pretty much every traditionally English sport, except maybe cricket at the moment.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:53 AM
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Let's not forget darts.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:57 AM
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Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.
Scroll scroll scroll scroll.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:59 AM
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The thing I love about this is that headline applies to pretty much every traditionally English sport, except maybe cricket at the moment.

The British team generally does OK on sailing, rowing and cycling, which are also traditionally British sports - sailing because of Ruling the Waves, rowing because of Oxbridge and cycling because we invented the bicycle.

Basically anything that can be done while sitting down.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:01 AM
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I think I have an anxiety quota, and I will fret that much no matter what's going on in my life.

That is my experience as well.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:03 AM
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Basically anything that can be done while sitting down.

Equestrianism isn't a sport, but you do well at that too. And then there was the one British gymnastics medalist in 2008, who specializes in the modified bench (or "pommel horse").


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:04 AM
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Now that I've done this 50 times or so, I also have to scroll through the 50 updates that are now at the top of my FB inbox. Also there are no folders or anyway for me to sort and file some of this junk away.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:04 AM
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I definitely do not have an anxiety quota. During the summer I am one mellow blogger.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:05 AM
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28: Equestrianism is an Olympic sport, indeed three of them - dressage, eventing and jumping. And, yes, generally that's not a bad one for the British team.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:08 AM
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SCRRRROOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. My scroll finger is tired.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:09 AM
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Scroll, the scroll
The button, the button.
Scrolling's so smooth like the butter on a muffin.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:10 AM
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I'M SO ANNOYED.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:14 AM
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But are you anxious?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:16 AM
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Not particularly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:18 AM
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I'm up to needing to hit "Load older messages" five times to get down to send the next message. SO MUCH SCROLLING.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:22 AM
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Also it takes me two "load older messages" to get through the happy updates that I've sent so far this morning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:29 AM
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I do think the direction of the societal arrow sets a significant context for how people process . For instance, this from the op Since the 1980s, we've been descending towards a third world country, and it's terrifying to sink into generational poverty. is significantly overstated*, but does capture the current zeitgeist well. For me it is clearly evident in the contrast in the level of anxiety between my children and their peers' experiences of the period going from adolescence->adulthood and mine**; rightly or wrongly all involved felt much more confident that things would work out eventually and felt that was a lot less riding on every little application/interview/test/whatever.

*I do think the form of the economic trajectory during that time frame--overall societal wealth staying relatively high, but with a growing gulf between how evenly it is allocated coupled with a decrease in income security--is absolutely aligned with the increase in anxiety.

**Somewhat interestingly this happened for me during the mid-late '70s a period often viewed as full of malaise, but my experience is that it was basically still a much more hopeful time (possibly just a delay in internalizing that the post WWII to 60s boom was in fact dying).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:29 AM
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39: That is supposed to be "how people process events, both personal and societal." Something like that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:35 AM
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FINISHED.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:39 AM
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About 90 minutes of almost uninterrupted scrolling. A little bit of pasting a form letter message, and a little bit of commenting here. Mostly scrolling. SO MUCH SCROLLING. FUCK SCROLLING.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:40 AM
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A hunch that I hope is totally wrong:

I wonder how much of this spike in anxiety has to do with people's perceptions of judgment by others, and sense that they are fairly defenseless against (the negative personal consequences of) judgments by others. There does seem to be a general tendency, over all media, to maximize the number of shitty things people can hear about themselves, or about possible versions of themselves. Our political culture is based on relentless shittiness. There's all the socioeconomic insecurity, of course, but it's also always accompanied by smug defenses of the rectitude of the status quo, and you have to find some way to block them out. (It would be one thing if the media were full of delusions of national grandeur, but they seem to be more full of delusions of worthlessness, of a more equal-opportunity sort than the relevant class warfare would predict.) And this stuff trickles down into more private interactions-- whether it's you & your Republican cousin, or you & other parents at daycare, or you & your fellow gamers on a Friday night. Everyone knows when and how the worthiness/worthlessness cards are supposed to get played. Nobody can call it off with any authority. It poisons a lot of things.

I think this often, and continue to hope that it's bunk.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:41 AM
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Scroll

Scroll

Scroll


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:43 AM
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I recently chose to connect with an old friend via Facebook by starting with an intemperate rant against Facebook after being annoyed by various of its "features" encountered while reconnecting. It took him a relatively long time to reply, and he just did so with a relatively earnest discussion of Facebook pros and cons. I feel like responding, "This is *me* you fucking dipshit, do you think I was really that fucking serious?" and seeing if he rolls with that. I find am really not interested in renewing the friendship on some kind of earnest basis. This is someone who for a brief time during some mutual rough patches back in the day I was extremely close with. He is now on his third marriage since then so maybe all his whimsy has leaked away.

Why I hate and loathe mixing the past and the present Facebook part XXVII.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:43 AM
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That didn't work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:44 AM
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46 to my 44-enabled learning that several dozen hard returns won't show-up in the comment box.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:47 AM
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Sadly ....
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
...... not!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:50 AM
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49

I must say that the realization that one will not be as successful or wealthy as one's parents, and that the generational trajectory is likely downward for a while, is indeed depressing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:53 AM
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rightly or wrongly all involved felt much more confident that things would work out eventually and felt that was a lot less riding on every little application/interview/test/whatever.

This more or less matches my experience. I started grad school in the early 90s and part of my circle of friends was made up of textbook "slackers" of the era - MC and UMC kids who had graduated from good colleges and were now working at low paying jobs they were over-educated for.

Despite that, and despite the handwringing newspaper headlines about us being the first generation that didn't expect to do better than our parents, the situation didn't seem that serious. Something would turn up, maybe we'd eventually go back to law/medical/grad school* & etc. Maybe it's rose colored nostalgia glasses, but I don't recall the pervasive sense that if you slipped off the "A" track even once you were doomed.

Not being crushed under $200,000 of non-dischargeable debt probably helped.

*Not applicable in my case obviously.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:53 AM
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49: Maybe I didn't want it bad enough. My parents would have tried harder because they weren't crushed by debt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:55 AM
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. Since the 1980s, we've been descending towards a third world country

ever been to a third world country?


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:56 AM
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I had a former colleague, now a professor in CA, who was in town a few weeks ago and sent me a facebook message asking if I wanted to get together. There was some bug in their notifications so I kept getting a notice that some message my sister in law had sent me months ago was new, and his message never showed up in the list until a couple weeks after he had been in town. Thanks, Facebook!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:57 AM
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I constantly have problems with Facebook's message system and rarely get anything people send me until weeks after. I'm quite sure that I've hurt some people's feelings (well, marginally), etc by not responding because Facebook has eaten all their messages!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:05 AM
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52: understand the difference between absolute quantities and rates of change?


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:06 AM
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ever been to a third world country?

Yes. Ever been to extremely poor towns in the US?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:06 AM
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And, what 55 said.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:07 AM
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Although I've made the case before that we're actually a 3rd world country, already.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:07 AM
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Not the most tragic of 3rd world countries, by any stretch. There are plenty of places facing much more devastating conditions than us, to be sure.

Actually, the case I've made is that we're no longer a 1st world country. I stand by that. It helps ease my cognitive dissonance.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:10 AM
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@58

A friend from New Orleans tells me that everyone there used to joke about how Louisiana was a 3rd world country.

In the aftermath of Katrina the joke apparently became a lot less funny.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:11 AM
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I don't know what the third world means exactly anymore. I'd say we're worse off than northern europe, Japan, probably Singapore, and better off (including in trajectory) than just about anyplace else.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:15 AM
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50 gets it right. There's this new show called "Workaholics" about three idiots who have low-paying white-collar jobs where they do no work. In a Slate interview you get this quote:

Holm pointed out that for a lot of young people these days, the show--weird as it may be--depicts reality. "I don't think it's a 'slacker comedy,' because when that term was popular, there was an abundance of jobs for dudes out of college, and you just didn't do them because you didn't want to be an office drone like your parents," he pointed out. "But now there are no jobs for people coming out of college, so you've got to take a job like this."

And frankly they are lucky to have any job that pays them for more than 30 hours a week.

It's hard to look at things like "Singles" and see 23-year-old people complaining about their employment situation despite having a job.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:17 AM
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Since the 1980s, we've been descending towards a third world country

ever been to a third world country?

Does China count? If so, the average lifestyle of the average Chinese person is not as much below ours as we like to pat ourselves on the back about. Horrible pollution aside, life is concretely, measurably improving for pretty much everyone, especially in the past 3 years with the significant rural investment campaigns in healthcare and job creation. Materially, goods are cheap enough that almost everyone can own a color tv, refrigerator, air conditioner, and increasingly, a computer with high speed internet access. The government is promising universal healthcare within the next decade, and dumping money into education, two of the major expenses especially for the rural poor. Maybe China doesn't count as "3rd world," and certainly it still has a very long way to go and some significant issues (corruption, environmental degradation, wealth inequality), but people can reasonably expect their lives to continue getting better and can reasonably expect their children's lives to be better than theirs.

I live surrounded by Chicago's ghettos, and the lifestyle of most residents there is very different but probably on par with miserableness, stress, and environmental unhealthiness with that of a poor Chinese peasant or migrant laborer, and below the quality of life for the average Chinese peasant or urban dweller.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:17 AM
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Oh, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, too, of course.

In some ways New Orleans is less third-world-ish now than it was pre-Katrina.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:17 AM
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. Since the 1980s, we've been descending towards a third world country

ever been to a third world country?

Been to third world countries, and can vouch that parts of California are pretty damn third world.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:17 AM
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I agree with that. But those are all the benchmarks that we used to compare ourselves too. We've fallen out of that group and are heading towards the best of the rest.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:18 AM
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67

63 last is, by I believe any quantifiable measure, utter nonsense.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:18 AM
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life is concretely, measurably improving for pretty much everyone, especially in the past 3 years with the significant rural investment campaigns in healthcare and job creation. ...The government is promising universal healthcare within the next decade, and dumping money into education, two of the major expenses especially for the rural poor. ...people can reasonably expect their lives to continue getting better and can reasonably expect their children's lives to be better than theirs.

And this is going to instill a real sense of "upward trajectory". Here everybody expects those things to all get cut, and things to generally get worse. (ACA aside.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:20 AM
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55, 56: Yes. Ever been to extremely poor towns in the US?

Holy shit, heebie--go to those same towns in the 60s (or any place in Texas in the 60s) and tell me which feels more third world. It is a stupid fucking construction, and the rate-of-change riposte is insulting and stupider.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:21 AM
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66 to 61.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:21 AM
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67: it does sound pretty unlikely. The average poor Chicagoan is worse off in quality of life terms than the average Chinese peasant? Jesus.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:22 AM
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69: I say all this while in agreement with your general thesis.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:22 AM
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I'm not sure that 1st/3rd world is a useful concept in describing huge countries like the USA and the BRICs. In the richest, the marginal poor would populate a normal sized country, and in the poorest, the elite would likewise. So you have a huge visible spread of standards of living whereas in smaller countries the extremes are less obvious. I could show you bits of London that are poorer than Mississippi but they don't define it, whereas Mississippi would be a nation if it weren't a state.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:24 AM
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and the rate-of-change riposte is insulting and stupider.

Why? It's well-established that equivalently wealthy people feel worse if they're relatively poor in a rich community than if they're relatively rich in a poor community. People have very little sense of absolute anything - that's basically not how our brains are built. It's mostly all comparative.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:25 AM
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I wish the article would have pointed out that there are obvious, low-hanging regulations and social programs that could be enforced or funded, and alleviate a lot of the stress.

Heck, forget about social programs, there are minor tweaks we could make in our own processes that would have a major effect. Take for example retail workers' schedules: A major source of anxiety and stress is not knowing until the last minute when you will be scheduled to work, or being able to take planned time off for a medical appointment.

Yet there have been some interesting studies done on self-scheduling software for nurses (that allows people to swap shifts with each other etc) that successfully manages the twin goals of a) management knowing for sure there will be sufficient staff coverage, and b) workers being able to plan their lives a little in advance.

We don't need a law to implement stuff like this -- we need management [capital] to decide it is in their own economic self-interest.

But as a recent post on CT outlined, the fantasy that markets are already optimally efficient is alive and well.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:25 AM
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Also, while Southern Europe may be marginally worse off than we are, at least they have better weather, better food, better architecture, and better looking people.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:26 AM
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|| When I waited until the pain in my shoulder was interfering with everyday activities before scheduling an appointment, I forgot to account for how long it takes to be seen. I may be wearing this t-shirt for the next two weeks.
|>


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:26 AM
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Plus, give the average poor Chinese urban dweller the offer of a life in inner-city Chicago and see how he reacts.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:27 AM
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I have the same irritation with this kind of overstatement as with "ZOMG, We're all going to die pronouncements about global warming! And the bunny rabbits too!" What? Massive relocations and forced changes in agricultural practices inadequately supported by government policies resulting in millions of excess deaths aren't enough to spur sympathy or action? We all got to fucking die?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:27 AM
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Holy shit, heebie--go to those same towns in the 60s (or any place in Texas in the 60s) and tell me which feels more third world.

Plenty of small towns were doing much better in the 60s than they are now. Didn't small farms go bust and then meth eviscerate everything that's left?

And yes, poor Texas has always been super depressing. I'm not sure what your point is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:27 AM
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My understanding is that the "First/Second/Third World" formulation is deprecated in international development circles these days, and it doesn't really make sense now that the Cold War is over anyway. The currently (or at least recently) trendy alternative is "Global North/South," which has its own problems. It might be better to just talk about rich countries and poor countries. The US is definitely a rich country by any measure. Maybe it's getting poorer in some ways.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:28 AM
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I liked the article a lot.

I am not so sure about this part:

"The SAT was supposed to level the playing field so that the Ivies, for example, were not just the provenance of the elite," Barron notes. But the game has become rigged in favor of the wealthy, who can afford to pay for years of test prep and college application tutoring for their children. "

Although SAT scores are strongly associated with parental income, I can't find any article discussing the the effectiveness of SAT prep based on parental income. The evidence of the effectiveness of SAT prep based on race is very strange though:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/19/study-finds-east-asian-americans-gain-most-sat-courses

SAT prep is super effective for east asians. Plus, more blacks do SAT test prep than whites. And, test prep is twice as effective for hispanics as for whites.

the abstract to the study also says that one-on-one tutoring isn't very effective:

http://soe.sagepub.com/content/85/1/40.abstract?rss=1

It is all very confusing.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:29 AM
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It might be better to just talk about rich countries and poor countries. The US is definitely a rich country by any measure.

But there are resource-rich countries which ill-serve their citizens, which you don't really want to lump in the "good" pile.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:32 AM
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Some googling suggests that the official poverty line in China is about $360/year. That is below the World Bank world poverty line of $1.25/day. There are roughly 100 million poor chinese. Even strongly adjusted for purchasing power, I am not seeing how $360/year gets you a better life than an extremely poor Chicagoan who might earn, say $10,000 per year.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:34 AM
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74: Why? It's well-established that equivalently wealthy people feel worse if they're relatively poor in a rich community than if they're relatively rich in a poor community

Sure, but that seems completely non-responsive to real ffeJ's invocation "rate-of-change" other than maybe in a "We feel worse because we are not that so astronomically better off than China and India these days" construction. Which I do not have much sympathy for, since the vast, vast majority of that gap closure has been them improving the conditions in their countries. The continuing erosion of income security in the extremely wealthy (materially much more so than in the 60s/70s) United States of America is something I have a lot of sympathy for.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:39 AM
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85 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:40 AM
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Plus, even well-off Chinese have unsanitary water coming out of the taps, and no easy way to tell if store-bought products will poison their children, never mind random death-by-black-Audi.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:41 AM
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Global North/South is also flawed, as countries like China are very hard to place as either.

Also, I wasn't allowed to study for the SATs by my mother, who considered it cheating (it's supposed to be an 'aptitude' test.) My family had a bit of the, "if you're smart you'll do well, if not then you didn't deserve to do well" attitude. But anyways, these 'rich people do well because they groom the system' articles annoy me because while it's certainly partly true, but there's a huge in between range between huffing glue on the streets or having expensive consultants write college applications. I did very well on the SAT despite not studying because I was raised in a middle class family with educated, nerdy parents who did educated nerdy things with us. This is a much more subtle and difficult advantage to point out, and one that isn't immediately identifiable as "unfair." Things like reading to us before bed, taking us to the library and museums, making us feel crappy if we didn't do our homework, discussing Kierkegaard at the dinner table, or even my mom not drinking while pregnant, breastfeeding, making sure we ate healthy foods and got enough sleep are all advantages I have that gave me a leg up far before any SAT prep class showed up in the picture, and it's harder to point to them without advocating for significant overhauls to the US welfare system to genuinely make it more fair.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:44 AM
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I am not seeing how $360/year gets you a better life than an extremely poor Chicagoan who might earn, say $10,000 per year.

Word. When we were starting out with a new baby and just me working we were at around 15K a year plus WIC foodstamps and living in a one bedroom basement apartment. It wasn't great but comparing it to life in a Guatamalan village is godamn ridiculous.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:46 AM
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other than maybe in a "We feel worse because we are not that so astronomically better off than China and India these days" construction.

This is a jack-ass misreading of what I'm saying. I'm saying that we are no longer in the same class with first world countries.

I count corporate lobbying as corruption. They wouldn't do it if it didn't work. Now, it's not petty corruption where you have to bribe the mailman to get your mail. But it renders government dysfunctional - serving businesses instead of people. Having testing corporations write education policy for the past ten years, for example. That's extremely corrupt.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:47 AM
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Banana Republic describes our trajectory better than third world.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:47 AM
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I thought "third world" meant "poverty-stricken" or what now prefer to be called "developing" countries. Either way, there's no way the USA could be called that. Isolated communities, yes.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:49 AM
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Also, Southside of Chicago is going to have massive amounts of incarceration and consequent never-employable people. And levels of gang violence that rivals wartime situations, which aren't going on in China. Income per capita is not the only measure of how things can be devastating.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:50 AM
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I wonder how much of this spike in anxiety has to do with people's perceptions of judgment by others, and sense that they are fairly defenseless against (the negative personal consequences of) judgments by others.

I wonder how super-judgy heebie feels about this theory.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:50 AM
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I'VE BACKED AWAY FROM CALLING THE US A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. Will you all shut up about that already?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:51 AM
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Heh to 94.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:51 AM
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Then what does "we are no longer in the same class with first world countries" mean?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:52 AM
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I think a better way of putting it is that it feels as though we're dropping behind, or moving away from, enlightened topless Europe. I'm not sure how much of e.t.E is a fantasy, and certainly you guys have plenty of ghastly problems of your own, but all of the deteriorating infrastructure and corporate-owned government and all that jazz feels like we're falling away from the class of grownup, respectable developed countries.

We're still wildly richer than really poor countries, of course, but that's not what Heebie's talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:53 AM
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I define that to mean "US, 2012".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:54 AM
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90: This is a jack-ass misreading of what I'm saying.

Well I will certainly cotton to being that jack-ass--because if you want to say that, say it; but don't be bringing the stupid third-world smack into it which weakens both your argument and the substantive claims of the article, which as I noted, I agree with.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:54 AM
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95 to 100.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:55 AM
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But 100, as you will note, to 90.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:56 AM
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But also, take a country like Costa Rica - universal health care, not constantly fighting wars, etc. I have no idea what the poverty is like there, once you move away from the tourist industry. But there are plenty of people in San Jose with about the same quality of life as people in Texas (except with much better weather), and I bet it's less stressful for them, because of the trajectory-thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:57 AM
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102: I do contritely note that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:58 AM
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How do you quantify quality of life when so many people are moving in and out of the prison system? That is not a first world thing. That is inhumane.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:01 PM
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Seriously, though, I'm kind of fascinated by heebie's worldview because it seems so vastly different from my own given how similar our socioeconomic backgrounds seem to be. If I believed the things she claims to believe I would be either paralyzed with despair or sputtering with impotent rage literally 100% of the time. And yet she's not like that at all, and indeed she's super jokey and upbeat and mellow most of the time. I guess different personality types just make a huge difference with this stuff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:01 PM
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I mean that as less of a bland generality than it came out. I hear people talking down the hall, who I'm about to be meeting with, and I had a whole point planned, but then I just hit 'post'.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:01 PM
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If I believed the things she claims to believe I would be either paralyzed with despair or sputtering with impotent rage literally 100% of the time.

No, it came about the opposite way - I found it to be a huge stressful mindfuck to keep reconciling the Bush administration with my other belief that we were a basically well-enough functioning country. Finally I let go of the idea that we function well-enough. Now it's just a fact about life - ducks quack, cows go moo, and we go downhill. I'm not constantly trying to make a duck go moo.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:04 PM
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How do you quantify quality of life when so many people are moving in and out of the prison system?

Each prisoner is a discrete unit so this can be quantified with a simple integer. A ration of this integer to the current population can also be used.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:04 PM
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The belief that for the first time ever, young Americans were going to be worse off throughout their lives than their parents was very big when I was in high school during the Carter administration. It's a major theme of pop music from that era, Like Billy Joel's Allentown, and a fair amount of early Springsteen. It turned out to be false (on average, certainly some poeple are less successful than their parents).

This was also the era when Club of Rome was telling us we would starve because of overpopulation, the President was telling us we should just get used to wearing more sweaters because the nation couldn't afford to heat itself, and weveyone was telling us we were going to die in a nuclear war or perhaps nuclear Winter. None of those anxities seem veyr compelling by now.

I see no reason to doubt that the current economic downturn will end eventually, and that young people will be able to slack off securely again. They already have health insurance!


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:06 PM
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I only have two sweaters that aren't stupid looking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:08 PM
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So I'm as grateful for cheap fossil fuels as anybody.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:09 PM
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Now it's just a fact about life - ducks quack, cows go moo, and we go downhill. I'm not constantly trying to make a duck go moo.

But believing this doesn't seem to interfere with your everyday life at all, whereas if I tried to embrace pessimism like that I would never be able to do anything except brood over it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:09 PM
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ACA does significantly alleviate this sense of mine. A lot of the problems hinged on drowning in medical bills, almost predictably, whenever your health finally fails.

It's so recent that I haven't yet updated my worldview, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:11 PM
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I update my worldview every time Adobe updates Flash. That serves as a nice reminder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:12 PM
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I see no reason to doubt that the current economic downturn will end eventually

hey aren't you the dude who makes a million dollars a year?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:15 PM
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I found it to be a huge stressful mindfuck to keep reconciling the Bush administration with my other belief that we were a basically well-enough functioning country.

Here's a question: how does the U.S. compare to Italy, in your mind? Better, worse, roughly the same?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:15 PM
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consequent never-employable people. And levels of gang violence that rivals wartime situations

Wartime? Really? What war? Have any numbers to back that up?

I mean, some of us have actually lived in the south side of Chicago, and contrary to popular belief you could step outside the borders of Hyde Park without being instantly shot.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:15 PM
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Speaking of health anxiety, I was in college when AIDS had just been invented/discovered, there were no treatments, and it was expected to kill a significant percentage of the U.S. population, starting with the college age group.

Also didn't happen.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:16 PM
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Hi guys! What's up? My cousin used to hang out here.


Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:19 PM
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It wasn't great but comparing it to life in a Guatamalan village is godamn ridiculous.

I don't see anyone doing this. I've never been to Guatemala and from what I hear life is kind of grim there. China is a very different story.

As to the empirical question of whether a poor Chinese peasant would want to live on the Southside, the answer is no. I haven't done any statistically valid quantitative surveys, but the peasants I've talked to think America is too violent and crime-ridden. They also tend to be scared of black people, so...no, I don't think you'd find a Chinese peasant willing to be plopped down on the Southside.

This post is about trajectories and the narratives people tell themselves. $360 is very little, and yes, hard to live on in China (but housing and food are very cheap or free for peasants, so much easier than it might appear), but it's a big improvement over $20 a year, which is what peasants I've talked to earned in the 70s. Poor Chinese peasants do not have to worry about starvation or malnutrition. 50 years ago, people in the countryside were eating each other for food. Now there's a saying, "dajia dou chi de bao, kuai neng chi de hao." (Everyone can eat to fullness, and soon can eat well.) While substantial improvement from a low base might be low, it's still an improvement. On the Southside of Chicago, 20 people are getting shot a day in gang violence, much of which is fueled by massive youth unemployment and not much hope for the future.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:20 PM
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Back to the technology-is-stupid stuff, I was annoyed by Hotmail recently when it locked me out of my account, saying I had been spamming people or otherwise violated the terms of service. I stewed on anxieties of sending virus-ridden links to friends (I've got quite a few of those links so it was on my mind, but never clicked them AFAIR). The problem was, I couldn't get back in. The only backup e-mail Hotmail had on file for me was from where I worked six years ago. It took me two days to figure out how to get them to send the password reset e-mail to a new address. I didn't remember the answer to my security question either, but I guess all the other detail I provided was enough to convince them.

Here's something else annoying: I can't figure out why they blocked it in the first place. I don't see anything suspicious in the "Sent" folder. I haven't heard from friends complaining about suspicious links. So either a hacker did something completely invisible and harmless with my account, or something I did myself set off the red flags that made Hotmail think it was compromised, and I have no idea what.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:21 PM
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The racism of Chinese peasants is the evidence that they're better off than South Side Chicagoans? Really?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:23 PM
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110: If only we had some objective way of comparing loud economic situation to that of the seventies.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:25 PM
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Chicago's murder rate is approximately one per day, which I'd of course fucking awful, but by no means equivalent to an actual war zone.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:30 PM
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Fucking autocorrect.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:31 PM
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116: No, that was me but it wasn't ever that high, and it has declined during the current downturn. I am doing better than my parents.

On average, my generation is much wealthier than our parents were. It's highly likely that your generation will be much wealthier than my generation is.

401k's didn't even exist until the late 1970's.

And that's not even getting into the stuff we all have now that the middle class didn't have back in the day, like air conditioning, power steering, chicken pox vaccines, kidney transplants (the reason I am alive at an age my father is dead) and internet porn.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:41 PM
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Did communist bloc countries actually refer to themselves as "second-world countries" or was that just a hegemonic term?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:42 PM
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Go on, you guess.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:43 PM
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401k's didn't even exist until the late 1970's.

I really don't think this helps your thesis. I mean, the US is richer now than it was in the 1970s, but replacing defined-benefit pensions with 401Ks isn't why.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:43 PM
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They had retirement funds, but not in a way we can understand.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:46 PM
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It sounds like heebie's thinking of First v. Third World in terms of stuff like governance rather than income or wealth, which makes the idea that the US is on a downward trajectory more plausible but is also a lot harder to measure.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:46 PM
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My parents had air conditioning when they were my age. I don't. (Probably buying a window unit soon. But they had central air and a house more than twice as big as my apartment, plus two cars. Of course, a lot of that's down to location.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:46 PM
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"401k's didn't even exist until the late 1970's"
Is that meant as evidence of improvement or deterioration? Given the associated displacement of defined benefit pensions, I'd consider it the latter.
Isn't there some better stat than median income that includes government services? At some point other countries are going to be delivering such better public services relative to the US that $1000/year plus free health care, food or housing subsidies, etc. might be comparable to $10k that has to buy a lot of things people in other countries get exclusive of their nominal income.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:48 PM
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I'm still grumpy over the Chicago thing. Is no one going to yell back at me? Practically everyone I know from outside the US and a lot of Americans seem to think Chicago is so scary they're reluctant to even visit, and I think it's some kind of racist Fox News-style framing that infects the way even reasonable people think about the city.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:49 PM
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I'd say replacing pensions with 401ks has made *some* people *much* richer, and am now wondering if mean/mode elision is enough to make 'my generation' richer.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:50 PM
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My parents didn't have air conditioning when they were my age. My school wasn't airconditioned. They just closed early if it got over 90 or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:50 PM
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135: I've been to Chicago and it seemed nice enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:51 PM
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I'm actually a bit surprised that Chicago seems to have quite that bad of a reputation. I was certainly aware of the South Side's general reputation for poverty and violence, but it doesn't even come close to being the dominant picture in my mind of the city as a whole.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:52 PM
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135: This isn't going to help, but Chicago made me nervous back in the early 90s. People got mugged around Hyde Park a lot more than I'd ever heard of in NYC, and the South Side, once you left Hyde Park, was scarily abandoned feeling in a way that I wasn't familiar with. But that's twenty years ago now -- I'm sure it's different.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:53 PM
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Maybe people are afraid of broad shoulders.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:53 PM
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I've only been to Chicago once (except for changing planes), and only to Hyde Park, which seemed fine and not at all scary.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:54 PM
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The Loop was nice, and there were plenty of pleasant neighborhoods -- the scary bits just seemed scarier than anything I was used to from around here. Some of that may have just been unfamiliarity, but the actual mugging rate was wildly higher than my previous experience.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:55 PM
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130: I don't think it's an unalloyed good, but it's a significant factor, in some fields. I've never gotten a raise that's less than 10% (since being out of undergrad in '03) because my employer knows that I can get a 20+% raise by jumping ship. Instead of losing unvested pension benefits, I get a signing bonus and options or RSUs by moving.

I don't know that I deserve it -- I'm not really any more productive than I was nine years ago, but that's another topic.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:55 PM
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130, 134: Yes, I think the defined benefit to defined contribution is one contributor to income insecurity which is a significant component in heightening overall societal anxiety, regardless of which way overall wealth has gone. Was looking for some numbers and found the following from a Social Security report (% of workforce)

1980 38% defined benefit, 8% defined contribution
2008 20% defined benefit, 31% defined contribution

And there has been a trend of "freezing" the DB plans. On the other hand, before ERISA in 1974, a number of Defined Benefit plans turned out to mean nothing like that in the face of corporate bankruptcy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:56 PM
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144.1: I think this is not a broadly shared experience, nor one that is tightly linked to the transition to 401Ks from defined benefit pensions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:57 PM
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You guys are super nice.


Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:57 PM
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Link to some charts showing constant dollar median household income:

http://pileusblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/stiglitz-on-deregulation-and-the-rich/

There's a definite upward trend.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:58 PM
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Contributions plans are contributing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 12:58 PM
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149 a substance-free comment to 145, not 148.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:01 PM
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Practically everyone I know from outside the US and a lot of Americans seem to think Chicago is so scary they're reluctant to even visit

I'm from outside the US and I'd have no problem with visiting Chicago. I mean on the SWPL scale we're talking a major city with two world famous universities and a solid financial sector. Al Capone died before I was born. I get that the South Side can be a bit rough, but I'd like to go for the music, if somebody could point me at the right clubs.

Now some redneck Peasantburg in S.Carolina, that would make me nervous.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:01 PM
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According to the wikipedia maps of cold war alliances, Angola, Somalia, and Iran are first world countries.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:03 PM
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148: Sure but the anxiety point is that income insecurity plus huge rises in relatively essential items like education expenses and health-care are addressed adequately at all in the straight "inflation-adjusted" family median income numbers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:04 PM
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I'll say something more on point after my run--finally exercising after a week and change of slothfulness--but has everyone already seen this Rolling Stone piece on formerly middle class homeless people in Santa Barbara? It's easy to see how the fear of being one or two bad breaks away from that situation would generate serious stress.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:05 PM
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Chicago's never seemed especially scary to me, but maybe I've just not been to the right/wrong neighborhoods. I've actually been thinking about moving to Chicago. Or maybe Minneapolis.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:06 PM
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Also, on the defined-benefit pension plan point -- does the current value of a d.b. pension plan show up in income stats? Because the 401K does. So someone who's making $X, but is also accruing pension benefits on top of $X, is doing better than someone who's making $X but is saving for retirement, even in a nifty tax-assisted program, out of it. I'm not sure if that is a problem with the stats given, or if it's a big enough factor to change the numbers much, but it seems like something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:08 PM
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Now some redneck Peasantburg in S.Carolina, that would make me nervous.

I'm driving that way next week. The secret is to not ever take a canoe ride.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:09 PM
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You make such subtle, thoughtful comments. I'm learning!


Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:09 PM
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Now some redneck Peasantburg in S.Carolina, that would make me nervous.

Okay, but a more relevant comparison would be Detroit.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:11 PM
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An incidental but related claim from trying to get some data is that in the UK the move away from Defined Benefit plans has been much more rapid due to changes in accounting rules. I know the whole overall retirement scheme is different, but still:

A Towers Perrin 2008 survey of private employers in the United Kingdom documented the shift away from DB pensions through plan freezes and found that the percentage of new employees able to join a DB plan declined from 67 percent in 2002 to only 11 percent in 2008. Almost half of employers surveyed expected to make further changes to their pension schemes in the next 5 years, partly in response to personal account legislation proposed to become effective in 2012


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:11 PM
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Essear,

I'll yell at you. I live in the Southside of Chicago right now, and the shooting rate on the Southside is averaging about 20/day (check out the Chicago Tribune breaking news for a daily summary of all the people shot the night before). The murder rate is about 3-4/day. Homicides are up 60% over last year, now over 250. Over 80% of these of these people are being killed in a few neighborhoods, especially Englewood (population 30,000). The murder rate for people in these neighborhoods is higher than for US soldiers in Afganistan. (Those statistics annoy me, because they're ethnocentric, but whatever, no one thinks fighting in Afganistan is not risky business.)

I am also cranky because I don't have air conditioning and it's over 100 for the third day in a row. I also don't own a car and bus service is no longer offered except at rush hour due to budget cuts, so getting to the air conditioned library involves a walk in the heat, and one can only sit in a coffee shop for so long before its impolite to the owner and other customers.

For Chinese peasants, the answer I gave was to the question "would peasants want to live in the Southside of Chicago?" Whether they'd be better off is more complicated, but given relative skill sets and job opportunities, the answer would probably still be no.

Real wages for the bottom 85% of the US have stagnated and fallen since the 70s, but most Americans didn't notice because of cheap credit propping up our in retrospect unsustainable middle class. In reality, y'all were right to think that things stopped getting better for the 'average' American about then. Also, we've been distracted buying by cheap material crap so we haven't noticed that things that make a real difference in social mobility are crumbling. Why should we focus on power steering (the only car I've ever had didn't have power steering, it really wasn't that bad) when things that really make a difference, like education and healthcare, are becoming more stratified. 20 $2 Old Navy tanktops does squat for you when you have a heart attack and don't have medical insurance, lose your job because of time off, and then lose your home and have to live in your car and then can no longer get another job because no one wants to hire a homeless person.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:11 PM
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Detroit is too close to Canada. I'm afraid that healthcare will seep over the border.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:12 PM
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Practically everyone I know from outside the US and a lot of Americans seem to think Chicago is so scary they're reluctant to even visit

A lot of Americans think every city is so scary they're reluctant to visit, including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Richmond, Grand Rapids, etc. Stay in the suburbs and you won't get mugged, that's the word.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:12 PM
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There's a definite upward trend.
For whom, and over what time period? And what JP said in 153.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:14 PM
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For Chinese peasants, the answer I gave was to the question "would peasants want to live in the Southside of Chicago?" Whether they'd be better off is more complicated, but given relative skill sets and job opportunities, the answer would probably still be no.

That sort of question is not very meaningful, though. Back in the 70s Hmong peasants were taken from a place where they were being constantly shot at and living in caves to heavily subsidized apartments in the suburbs of Fresno, California and they weren't happy either, mainly because all their skills had become useless.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:14 PM
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164: ,i>And what JP said in 153.

Hmm, re-reading 153, I left out the critical "not", but apparently the sentiment comes through.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:16 PM
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The quality our HTML-usage is falling.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:17 PM
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Okay, but a more relevant comparison would be Detroit.

Relevant in terms of being like people's worst nightmare of Chicago, or in terms of what would scare me? I'm a city boy, me.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:18 PM
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152: Third world was originally the bit left over after Old and New worlds. This First, Second, Third world usage is one of those things like "begs the question" which starts out as a misunderstanding and becomes accepted usage.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:19 PM
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I am really concerned about what incarceration is doing particularly to the black population of the US but the whole society in general. This got mentioned above, but I think it changes the whole equation in terms of anxiety and a lot else. My understanding us that M's dad is not allowed to vote and has to report his felony conviction on every job application because he was convicted of not paying child support at the felony (above $1000 in arrears) level. He's applying for a second job and is hoping having a friend in that kitchen already will help offset any negatives. Nia has been jumping every time we hear fireworks because she's always afraid it's gunshots and has had some bad experiences with that. That seems like a different kind of anxiety from the sort I have.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:20 PM
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Also, forgive me for not thinking much of anyone who tries to pass a chart of government spending over time as evidence against deregulation.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:21 PM
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168: Relevant in the sense that at least within the States it has a near-universal reputation as a scary, poor, dangerous city, which seems to be the same reputation Chicago has in a lot of circles. So I guess the question is, if your impression of Chicago is that its advantages outweigh its problems, do you have the same impression of Detroit, or do they fall into different categories?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:22 PM
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I've always heard it as first world was US and allies (hence Iran pre revolution), second world was Soviet and client states, third world was unallied.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:27 PM
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Cryptic Ned

I agree. I originally ask it though, I'm merely answering it. Maybe a more meaningful question is, are people who immigrant from China unequivocally better off? I know someone who researches the life trajectory of people from Fujian who immigrate to the US vs. their relatives back at home (who are peasants), and the answer also appears to be no.

Even on a higher level, the answer is not clear cut. I present some anecdata: My roommate's father left China in the 1980s to do a PhD in the US after getting a medical degree there. Back then, this was universally seen as the golden ticket to unimaginable success, especially for a family devastated by the Cultural Revolution and whose older children had to forfeit education to eat yams and farm for about a decade. Now? He's the poorest one in his family, and the least successful of his med school graduating class. His siblings are wealthy officials who've bought condos for their kids in Shanghai and have servants. His classmates are directors of hospitals, and he has some mid-level research job at the NIH after struggling in grad school poverty in Ohio. My friend is happy to have grown up in the US, but she honestly can't admit her life is materially better off.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:28 PM
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of not paying child support at the felony (above $1000 in arrears) level.

They really should adjust that type of thing (the $ at which a crime becomes a felony) for inflation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:29 PM
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I've never gotten a raise that's less than 10% (since being out of undergrad in '03) because my employer knows that I can get a 20+% raise by jumping ship. Instead of losing unvested pension benefits, I get a signing bonus and options or RSUs by moving.

I literally can't think of a job where someone would be able to write this other than "computer programmer".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:32 PM
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172. I think Barnsley.

I could tell you stories about casual criminality in Barnsley that would make your hair curl. The drugs are ubiquitous. If you park your car on street, leave nothing in it at all, including the dashboard radio/CD.

But I go there when I have a reason to, and I'm not quaking in my boots.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:34 PM
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175: I'm pretty sure that one will get you comity here, if not with my state legislature yet.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:34 PM
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There's probably some subset of pro athlete that could say the same.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:34 PM
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177: Sounds about right.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:35 PM
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18:

A lively young damsel named Menzies
Inquired: "Do you know what this thenzies?"
Her aunt, with a gasp,
Replied: "It's a wasp,
And you're holding the end where the stenzies."


Posted by: OPINIONATED IRREGULARITIES OF ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:35 PM
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IMO American economic decline is no illusion, it's very real and very tangible for a lot of people. The increasing availability of electronic gizmos and miracle cures is cool and will continue, but the increase in costs for basic life goods like access to quality inexpensive education, medical care, and even housing adjusted for neighborhood quality (although the housing bust helps there) is very present for lots of people. The decline in job security and job quality is an even greater factor in terms of security for everyday life. Think about the 50s or 60s generation graduating from even high school (!) and having the resources for a house, marriage, and children by the age of 25, along with job security and an employer-provided pension. Yeah, it would suck to have only three TV channels but the sense that your life is basically pretty secure is a huge thing. I also think the instability of families (growth in single-parent households, etc.) is a big factor contributing to a general sense of insecurity, as is the growth in incarceration and petty authoritarianism in ordinary life. Some of these cultural factors are hard to put on the left or the right of our current politics, but I think economic security is connected to many of them.

I'm not convinced we won't see absolute material decline for people here (and in some geographic areas we may already see it -- think about certain parts of California today compared to 20-30 years ago), but we also have plenty of historical examples of relative decline. There is no question that 1970s Britain had far greater wealth than Edwardian England, but the mood as a nation was much darker.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:36 PM
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174 and the like are incredibly stupid and offensive -- and I'm using those harsh terms deliberately -- if your point is that poorer people in Chicago are worse off or comparably worse off to poorer people in China. Yes there has been an economic boom there that has made many people substantially better off than their parents. The same is true (or was true until 2008) in the United States -- lots of well situated people got very rich. That does not change the fact that poor Americans are immensely better off by almost every measure than poor Chinese (excepting perhaps crime rate in certain areas, and there's no way I believe the chinese statistics there). While its true that the overall trajectory of China since 1980 has been one of the more incredible lifting of people out of poverty in history, the relevant baselines are incredibly different. As I said, a poor person in Chicago earns roughly 30x as much as a poor person in China. While undoubtedly there is more to life than income, including social ties, etc., that go into happiness, the fact is that by any plausible measure the US is a richer country than China, including for its poorest citizens.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:36 PM
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"His classmates are directors of hospitals"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:38 PM
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As I said, a poor person in Chicago earns roughly 30x as much as a poor person in China.

This is worthless to me until I know what portion of the income is being used up on housing, food, supporting unemployed family members/dependents, healthcare, and education.

You have a grandmother in Chicago who falls deeper in debt in each month? She would fall 30x deeper in debt than her counterpart in China.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:40 PM
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There is no question that 1970s Britain had far greater wealth than Edwardian England, but the mood as a nation was much darker.

I always wonder about things like this. That's undoubtedly true if you were, say, a director of a multinational British corporation. But is it meaningfully true if you were, say, a factory worker in Leeds? A lot of the constructions of "national mood" and the like seem to rest on weird nationalistic senses of relative superiority that don't actually matter that much to ordinary people's lives. And, my understanding at least is that 1970s Britain did extremely well on the metric we are worrying about here for the US -- a sense of income security and social stability.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:42 PM
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It depends on their velocity relative to the velocity of light.


Posted by: Opinionated Misapplied Theory of Relativity | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:42 PM
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187 to 185.


Posted by: Opinionated Misapplied Theory of Relativity | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:42 PM
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Thanks for the first paragraph of 161, Britta.

Am I scared to walk through terrible neighborhoods of Chicago during the day? Absolutely not. Am I at risk in those situations the way young black men are at risk? No, not at all.

So mocking white squeamishness, or boasting about your own lack-there-of, does nothing to clarify the actual risks of the people that live in violent neighborhoods.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:43 PM
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Practically everyone I know from outside the US and a lot of Americans seem to think Chicago is so scary they're reluctant to even visit

It's the U. of Chicago Economists. They've ruined the reputation of the whole city.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:43 PM
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But is it meaningfully true if you were, say, a factory worker in Leeds?

Well, right. Down and Out In Paris And London makes the bottom end of the economic spectrum sound pretty ghastly in the 1930s, and People of the Abyss is as bad or worse (although not nearly as well-written) in the 1900s. Saying that poor people now mostly aren't malnourished doesn't mean they're not badly off, but they do, mostly, have enough to eat most days.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:46 PM
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Here is a discussion of poverty in China. Taking purchasing power into consideration, the Chinese poverty level (below which roughly 100 million people live) is equivalent to about $1.83 per day. That is, the number that takes into account things like housing and food accounts is at about $1.83 per day. I don't know if it accounts for social services, but education and health care are generally fee-for-service in China and you have to pay for your own education after age 15.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:50 PM
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||

Tech Bleg: Google edition

I hit something on my iphone authorizing gmail to send me push notifications. I thought that I was authorizing push to the Apple mail. These things are popping up on my e-mail, and it's driving me crazy.

Does anyone know where the setting is for me to turn this off?

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:52 PM
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Related to anxiety and safety and discussions we already had here recently, society has infused us with fear about what terrible things will happen to our kids, while of course changes in smoking, lead levels, food and car safety mean they're safer than any of us were growing up.
I brought my 5.5 year old to my hockey game last night, put him in the stands and told him to stay there while I dressed in the locker room until I got on the ice. Partway through about 15 minutes of changing I was convinced he was going to wander away or someone in the nearly empty rink would convince him to go out into their unmarked white van. Of course he stayed right where I said, and during the game he wandered through the stands and found five pucks.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:53 PM
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Settings -> notifications -> mail, set alerts to "none".


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 1:55 PM
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and during the game he wandered through the stands and found five pucks.

One of which had conveniently gone over the boards and lodged in his mouth.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:01 PM
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Homicide rates have been consistently declining since about 1990 in the United States.

1990: 23,340 murders, 248 million Americans
2010: 14,780 murders, 308 million Americans.

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

Also a steady decline in Chicago, except for the first half of 2012:

1990: 851 homicides. 2.78 MM people
1994: 929 homicides
2011: 440 homicides, 2.70 MM people

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Chicago
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago#Demographics

Apparently there were 228 homicides in Chicago in 2012 by early June, which was a significant increase from the previous year, but hugely below the 1990's figures. A six month outlier period is not grounds for generational despair.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:01 PM
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174 and the like are incredibly stupid and offensive -- and I'm using those harsh terms deliberately -- if your point is that poorer people in Chicago are worse off or comparably worse off to poorer people in China.

As I recall, life expectancy of black males in the NYC ghetto during the epidemic of crack violence was lower than the life expectancy for men in Bangladesh. Not sure what the situation is now. You can add US incarceration practices to that -- I imagine prison is incredibly dehumanizing and spiritually destructive for everyone involved, including the mother and child of the man locked up.

Not necessarily saying you're wrong generally, comments like 186 are sensible enough and probably right. I just think we don't have a great sense for the balance between material and other goods in making a happy life. As long as the basic goods in life are taken care of, being respected and appreciated in a stable community strikes me as a more valuable than more stuff. This issue probably has more relevance for comparing the US in the 50s to the 70s to the US today than for comparing the US and an incredibly poor area like rural China. I'm not sure who is better off, the median American today or the median American 40 years ago, despite the fact that incomes are higher today.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:05 PM
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WTF stupid and offensive??? I *research* Chinese peasants. I also live in the Southside of Chicago. How many peasants have you talked to? How many Chinese villages have you lived in? How many Chinese peasants are you friends with??? I thought so. 1) I never said "all poor Chinese people are materially better off than all poor Chicagoans." That's not true I said that "quality of life isn't incontrovertibly better for the desperately poor in the US vs. the desperately poor in China" in terms of stress, anxiety, and outlook on life, particularly since things are getting better for Chinese peasants, and not for poor black men in Chicago's ghetto. Yes, it's a strong and polemical statement, but not a stupid offensive one. Please please point me to something reputable that disputes that things are getting better for black men in Chicago and not Chinese peasants. 2) That Economist article is dumb. Purchasing power in China??? What the hell does that mean? Beijing =/= inner Mongolia. Again, life really sucks for poor peasants in China. It also really sucks for poor people in the US. I've heard a dozen times, mostly from Rightwing sources "a homeless person in the US is better off than a peasant in China." It really isn't true.

Finally...what do you mean you dispute my statistics? You don't think homicides are up 60% in 2012? You don't think they're disproportionately clustered on the Southside? um, google "Chicago homicide," or look at the the Chicago tribune breaking news page I referred.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:05 PM
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And as college education has been getitng steadily more expensive, lower education remains taxpayer supported, and food and clothing have been massively less costly. The conversation keeps switching back and forth between "is the median worse off" and "are the pooor worse off", but those who spend most of their income on food and clothing are better off.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:07 PM
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@154
but has everyone already seen this Rolling Stone piece on formerly middle class homeless people in Santa Barbara? It's easy to see how the fear of being one or two bad breaks away from that situation would generate serious stress.

This.

I believe unfogged has talked about this before, but having a reasonable standard of living at the moment and having a reasonable degree of security about your future are two very different things.

I don't know about the reality, but certainly the perception is that it's harder (for a white middle class person) to bounce back from a bad break now than it was a 20-30 years ago.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:07 PM
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Finally...what do you mean you dispute my statistics? You don't think homicides are up 60% in 2012?

I agree with your point about the relative misery of the two populations, but this pointing to crime statistics seems to imply that your point would not have been valid a year ago.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:07 PM
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but those who spend most of their income on food and clothing are better off.

Better of than what? Not clear that % of income spent on clothing and food (that is not very good for you) is a good proxy for much of anything on their own.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:10 PM
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110 -- But a lot of that 70s gloom was justified. We got out of it by abandoning security, embracing debt and inequality, and outsourcing the future. Isn't a lot of where we are today a direct result of stupid (and immoral) decisions in the 80s to avoid dealing with the problems identified in the 70s?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:10 PM
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It is stupid and offensive because the gulf of relative poverty at issue is so great that you are both bizarrely romanticizing the life of very poor chinese and bizarrely dismissive of the lives and situations of poor black Chicagoans. It is dumb, and you should stop it.

in terms of stress, anxiety, and outlook on life

Maybe, but the same is true for lots of desperately poor people. I strongly doubt that the comparison you want are poor urban Chinese, however.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:10 PM
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Actually, there have been 250 homicides in Chicago this year as of June 27, so the rate is more like 1.4 per day. Still unacceptably high, but half the rate of 3-4 per day that Britta cited. This is slightly higher than the rate for 2010 and 2011, in which there were 449 and 440 murders respectively. Which are less than half of the peak, which was 943 in 1992.

Nine of this year's muders have been in Englewood.


Posted by: tulip | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:11 PM
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I'll dispute those statistics of 3-4 murders a day and 20 shootings, which would be roughly 1100-1400 murders a year and over 7000 shootings. Chicago has something like 15K agg assaults a year and I'm highly doubtful that approximately half the agg assaults are shootings.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:11 PM
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148: Holy shit, the best place you could find the graph is in a post full of stupendous political hackery? The last goddamn thing I want to do with my day is read about how lucky we are to have such wonderful rich people among us. I should have stopped looking the post where it quoted Veronica de Rugy, who is genuinely too stupid to be an economist. She once defended a piece of dishonesty by saying that regression is how we can determine causation. This is literally mathematically equivalent to the statement "correlation = causation".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:12 PM
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...genuinely too stupid to be an economist.

Is that even possible? See 190 above.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:14 PM
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I just think we don't have a great sense for the balance between material and other goods in making a happy life.

This is what seems to me to be ignored in this discussion (and many like it). And it's hard not to ignore, because it's difficult to quantify. But "income" is so very far from capturing "well-being" that it's crazy to use it alone as even a rough proxy.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:15 PM
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Maybe the abnormally warm winter boosted the murder rate. No murderers had to wear gloves so they could aim better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:16 PM
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Britta is home free, because no one who researches a certain group of people has ever said anything offensive or stupid about them, and no one who lives in a place has ever misperceived it.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:18 PM
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209: Yes. It's a difficult challenge, but de Rugy manages it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:21 PM
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212: I can see that Harvard Law education is working!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:22 PM
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I agree with 186. I think the elite hated the 70s, which is why they always go on about how awful it was, but I suspect it was a more hopeful time than the 00s, or the 10s are shaping up to be.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:23 PM
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I agree with 186. I think the elite hated the 70s, which is why they always go on about how awful it was, but I suspect it was a more hopeful time than the 00s, or the 10s are shaping up to be.

According to CharleyCarp all the paranoia about Soviet domination and nuclear war was just propaganda to make people fearful and no elites believed it. Whereas now people's fears are founded.


Posted by: Crpytic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:25 PM
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"Veronique de Rugy Is As American As Apple Pie, And Nearly As Smart". Jonathan Chait snark."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:29 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:31 PM
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To go back to the original linked post, the WHO statistics on personality disorders by country really are very striking. These are random population surveys using standardized questionnaires graded by project staff, so they are to some extent independent of the diagnostic infrastructure. The US has much higher prevalence of all kinds of disorders (mood, anxiety, substance abuse) than any other country. In fact, we lead the world in every disorder, including adjusted for severity. For whatever it's worth, surveys were done in Beijing and Shanghai and the US incidence of every kind of disorder is far, far higher than at least those areas of China.

I think this is not just a recent thing and as the author of the piece suggests, is linked to some very deep things about how status and community work in America. People don't have defined roles here, are constantly comparing themselves to ideals, and we put the blame on the individual when we don't live up to those ideals. This has always been a very unstable country -- e.g. American divorce rates have apparently been high compared to other countries for well over a century.

Here are some of the 2004 WHO mental health results .


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:33 PM
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No, I never said no elites believed it. I say that morons and grifters believed in it (or affected to believe it, in the latter case): and only people who believed it could move up into elite policy making positions as the decades went on.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:35 PM
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I don't know this literature well, but there is a huge and burgeoning industry on international happiness comparisons -- that is, comparing actual life satisfaction, as opposed to income. Obviously, there are huge methodological problems with this. Here's one such example. It suggests that by almost all measures the US is a substantially happier country than China in the aggregate.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:36 PM
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Effected. Whatever.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:37 PM
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In the 70s, some people thought we'd be better off in the long run embracing renewables and energy conservation. Others scoffed and thought it would be more manly to embrace excess, because only weenies care about the long run.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:40 PM
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For symbolism, you can't beat Reagan tearing down the solar panels Carter had installed on the White House.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:42 PM
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223: because only weenies care about the long run.

Don't forget dead people.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:44 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:47 PM
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221: something is very wacky about those happiness metrics when you compare them to the personality disorder metrics in the WHO data. E.g. the fraction of North Americans who rank themselves 6 or less on the 10-point happiness scale is about equal to the WHO 12-month incidence of personality disorders. So if you're not crazy in America, you're ecstatic. Or perhaps, excessive pressure to see yourself as happy drives you crazy. In any case, the North American distribution is quite weird -- worldwide the distribution centers at 5 on the 10-point scale, in North America it centers around an 8. Maybe we all feel obligated to say we're happy? Maybe all the Canadians are deleriously happy?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:47 PM
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Apparently there is also something called the "East Asian Happiness Gap" in which Confucian cultures, specifically, rank very low on the international happiness comparisons, even given economic growth. I'm not sure how that factors in.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:50 PM
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176: I'm not going to argue that it's true for more than, say, 1% of the population, but I believe it's true in a lot of engineering fields. It's true in mine (one of the largest EE specialties), and I hear similar things about a lot of other EE and ME specialties. I don't think it's true for civil, and I don't see why it shouldn't be true for chemical, but it doesn't seem to be (outside of a few specialties, like petroleum).

Finance folks and consultants seem to do a lot better than programmers, too.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:51 PM
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192: General Assistance for a single, childless adult in my county is about $2.76 per day. Admittedly, you would be eligible for a bunch of other services, IF you had all your documents in order, which is often a pretty big if.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:52 PM
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"East Asian Happiness Gap"

That was $9.99 on the hotel's TV.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:53 PM
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Poor US Cities. Obviously the total population of these towns is still trivial. 38 out of 100 are in Texas. In the poorest 23 towns, the per capita daily income is under $10.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:55 PM
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228: that is evidence for the 'pressure to be happy drives you crazy' hypothesis as China was also quite low on personality disorders.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:55 PM
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In the city where I teach, the per capita income is 13K.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:56 PM
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Or possibly "You'd have to be nuts to think you were happy under these circumstances."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:56 PM
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read, what do you mean in 218.2?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:57 PM
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Actually, also in the city that I live in. I thought my town was wealthier than Heebie U town.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:57 PM
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PGD: I'm BeingAlB, but "personality disorder" isn't the term you want, and it's distracting. "Mental illness" or "psychiatric disorder" would do fine. "Personality disorder" is the term for stable characterological deficits in interpersonal relationships -- a nicer way of saying someone is some kind of an asshole, and categorizing how. Examples are borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, etc.

To add fairly on topic value: has this article been discussed here yet? I just read it -- not even all of it yet -- and rarely does an opinion piece really jostle my thinking about something the way this did. Yes, I thought, it *is* meaningless to say that crime has gone down without considering crime in prison, and yes, we should just be willing to tolerate a higher crime rate for a lower prison population.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:57 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:57 PM
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Via.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:58 PM
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227: I should probably read the literature, but I don't understand how these studies can adjust for differences in how culturally acceptable it is to say you're happy.

Just from the experience my high school friends, people who, to me, seemed to be at similar levels of satisfaction, told stories about their their lives wildly differently depending on whether they were at a school where everyone played misery poker or they were at a school where people were supposed to be generally happy. I imagine differences across countries are much larger than differences between colleges in the U.S among people who went to the same high school.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 2:58 PM
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Also in my town, the elementary schools range between 60-80% of the students on free or reduced lunches.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:00 PM
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when things that really make a difference, like education and healthcare, are becoming more stratified

As good a time as any to note that the City College of San Francisco, California's largest community college (~90k students, which is more than 10% of the city's population--though of course part of what makes it so important is that it's a resource for the whole Bay Area, not just the city proper), is going to lose its accreditation, and thus be forced to shut down, if it can't fix a long list of long-standing issues in the next 8 months. This is a big, big deal.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:01 PM
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161: 20 $2 Old Navy tanktops does squat for you when you have a heart attack and don't have medical insurance

Everyone has health insurance now! Do not question the PPACA! We live in a workers' paradise!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:02 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:02 PM
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How the hell could "all that jazz" possibly be construed as racist there? That's just bizarre.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:04 PM
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"all that jazz" is an idiom. It does not refer to jazz music.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:05 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:08 PM
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no it's not


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:08 PM
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I could be wrong, but I think that "all that jazz" is a pretty common idiom with essentially no racial content--it is 50 years old, was the title of a major musical and film...


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:09 PM
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I wonder if 245 is the stupidest comment in the history of the universe. Admittedly, it has got some tough competition. Also, while I'm not in favor of banning anyone, just insulting them, isn't read banned (as in, for real banned)?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:09 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:09 PM
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238.2: I think I have made that point on a number of occasions in various discussions here.

Saw a white lady getting nicked for shoplifting at Target today.

The majority of panhandlers I meet (and I meet quite a few), are nearly as fat as me.

The other day I saw a mother push her 2 year-old daughter down the last step off the bus. The daughter fell on her hands and knees on the hot pavement and predictably started bawling. The mother was all "shut up, stop crying!" and when I saw them over across the street (after I had entered the bus), the mother was hoisting her daughter up by one arm, all the way off the ground, and walking along with her like that for at least 20 feet. That's the kind of violence and dysfunction that's pretty hard to capture statistically, but it sure seems to me that I've seen a hell of a lot more of it over the last 15 years or so than I did for the first couple of decades of riding the same bus routes.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:09 PM
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I guess it could have been, way back, but that's really, really, really, not the association I think folks make.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:10 PM
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248: Okay, back up your yap then: HOW is "all that jazz" an inherently racist phrase?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:11 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:11 PM
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I object to the phrase "topless Europe". We're not so poor that we can't afford shirts, you know.


Posted by: OPINIONATED JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:12 PM
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238: sorry, the actual term was "DSM IV mental disorder", including all anxiety, mood, and substance abuse disorders.

It is stupid and offensive because the gulf of relative poverty at issue is so great that you are both bizarrely romanticizing the life of very poor chinese and bizarrely dismissive of the lives and situations of poor black Chicagoans.

I'm kind of with Britta here. My instinct is that it's hard to infer from very aggregate statistics on material poverty to actual well being without pretty extensive experience living among at least one of the groups. That's particularly true when dealing with groups that are totally disparate in relative status (Chicago ghettos are near the bottom of American life, peasant Chinese are closer to the norm in rural areas).

This is less relevant but I related to what Britta said in 199 about dickish right-wing claims that 'homeless people in America are better off than average people in 3rd world country X'. It's an extreme symptom of American provincialism to assume that the mere fact that someone lives here they are automatically better off than half the world's population. Especially because America clearly does a really good job at making poor people miserable. Always struck me as obvious that homeless in America is a miserable existence by any standard.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:12 PM
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I don't understand how these studies can adjust for differences in how culturally acceptable it is to say you're happy.

I don't understand either, but this book authored by blog favorite Kahneman claims that you can meaningfully compare happiness levels and that differences in reported levels can be meaningful. Maybe someone should read it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:14 PM
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From comment 251, I can only conclude that this is the only site on the Internet that Halford reads, except for paleo diet sites.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:14 PM
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Wait, the ToS is posting as read now? That's... something.


Posted by: Joshj | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:14 PM
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260: to be fair, you could easily find much stupider comments on paleo diet sites.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:15 PM
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260 was me.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:15 PM
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Erm, 261 was me.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:15 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:16 PM
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HOLY FUCK IS THIS RACIST.

Also, Bob Fosse was a known Klan member.

Admittedly, the sport of shooting a slow moving Mongolian fish in a barrel is not challenging, and I should stop.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:20 PM
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Just to take 266 to its conclusion, the link is to the first definition of "all that jazz" at urban dictionary. It reads: "From the origin of the hit theatre and film "Chicago" and the song "All that Jazz" is the origin of the saying. It is used on the end of a sentence or list instead of the word "Etc.""


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:23 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:24 PM
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To paraphrase a saying: when you don't know who the racist is in the room, it's you. Wait, that's the opposite of what I mean here. Hmm. Seems like there's gold in that vein (or is that racist against Goldfinger?)


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:25 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:26 PM
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There's a serious contention that the word "jazz" is racist. http://groovenotes.org/2012/01/14/what-to-make-of-nicholas-payton-and-the-j-word/

I don't find myself agreeing, today, but these things are often fluid.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:27 PM
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271 not intended to contradict 267.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:29 PM
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I believe "jazz" was originally a New Orleans brothel slang for sex. OMG THE RACISM.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:30 PM
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265: So we're back to your old standby defense, to wit: "Even though I'm a medical doctor who's lived in several different countries and speaks several different languages, I insist on stridently criticizing people on the internet for their diction, despite my profound lack knowledge of idiomatic English phrases and their connotations. But if you point that out, you're mean and xenophobic."


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:30 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:31 PM
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259: Thanks for the reference! This (PDF) book review makes it sound like they explore that exact problem thoroughly. I know enough psych people that I should be able to bum of copy of the book off someone.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:32 PM
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275 -- I think you're mishearing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:33 PM
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I guess it's good we're not discussing the German Black Forest in the thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:33 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:37 PM
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259, 276: thanks for the reference and the review. From the brief summary in the review, it seems that the findings in the book imply that one should look with great skepticism at cross-national comparisons of simple happiness metrics such as those used in the report linked in 221.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:38 PM
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271: Where I part company with that critique is in the way it conflates linguistic and economic causes and effects. Yes, jazz, like salsa, hip-hop, rock'n'roll, punk, etc. etc., has functioned as a marketing shorthand in a way that tends to elide the differences of style and content within those genres. Likewise, there's a very real degree to which these appellations tend to dehistoricize and decontextualize aspects of popular culture in a way that often cements white supremacist narratives.

HOWEVER, if we are going to militate against those less savory aspects of the business of popular culture, it seems to me that the focus should always be on changing actual behaviors, both on the micro level of how we relate in everyday life, and on the larger scales at which the flow of popular culture is channeled. Boycotting the word "jazz" is fine, but if it's not backed up by some kind of actual organizing around changing how the music business works, it winds up being a fairly weak and pointless salvo in the culture wars.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:39 PM
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279: It matters who you are if you're the same person who's come around to hassle people and then re-attacked them by claiming that any response to your bizarre and often horrendously insulting rhetoric is illegitimate because you happen to be from another country/culture.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:42 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:44 PM
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Yes, read is officially banned. She's also switching up IP addresses. I'll take care of this after the kids are in bed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:45 PM
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283: which attacks were those?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:45 PM
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284: I didn't realize that was official. Okay, all done with that I guess.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:46 PM
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281. Jazz musicians, it should be noticed, are generally cool with the word. I wonder what would have happened if you'd accused Dizzy of racism.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:46 PM
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I like ice cream. Not that most interesting observation in the world, but still more interesting than the direction read has taken this thread.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:46 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:47 PM
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Did we really let Read derail this thread? Or do people really find the question of whether 'jazz' is racist interesting?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:48 PM
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The list in 232 is interesting. There are some definite patterns that emerge in the types of places on the list.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:49 PM
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280 -- Actually, AFAICT the survey cited in 221 relies heavily on the book cited in 259 as a basis for thinking that it is reasonable to put together valid cross-national happiness measures. But I am not really qualified to actually defend this literature.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:49 PM
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Also, I've lived in one of those places, or at least near enough that it was my mailing address.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:50 PM
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261 ToS ?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:53 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:55 PM
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290: I just thought she was mistaken and might appreciate being able to chill out.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:55 PM
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It has been like, months and months without a ToS sighting, right? I hope he is doing okay. I know there is still some good in him. If only we could defeat him in a lightsaber duel (plus Force lightning), maybe it would become apparent.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 3:55 PM
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297: After he got the nomination, he's been too busy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 4:01 PM
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I know there is still some good in him.

Not with the power outages and the high temps. He must be too spoiled by now even for a paleodietor.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 4:04 PM
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Was ist ToS?


Posted by: Kaiser Wilhelm | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 4:06 PM
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And yes, 245 is close to being the dumbest comment on the internet. The Artificial Stupidity folk toiling away at our elite universities are going to have trouble beating that benchmark.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 4:11 PM
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301: But it is probably the "rational" solution to some blog-commenting game theory problem.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 4:15 PM
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I took a game theory class at an elite for the land-grant schools institution. I got an A.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 4:21 PM
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Too bad I never made any money off anything but my maths. I had the strategy shit down.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 4:41 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 5:50 PM
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I am so over being jerked around endlessly by you, Read. Please do not comment here anymore.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 5:56 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 5:59 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:06 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:16 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:20 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:25 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:30 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:37 PM
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OT:

Everybody should probably do this check -- it takes like 1 second -- to confirm (hopefully) that you don't have the DNS Changer virus that's apparently somewhat widespread, and might can kill your internet connection this coming Monday, or redirect you to bad places, or other bad things.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:38 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:40 PM
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Posted by: Polly Shore | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 6:46 PM
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315: How do we know you aren't just sending us to a site that will infect us?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:03 PM
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How do we know that you aren't just dissuading us from visiting the site that will fix us because you don't want to see us fixed?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:10 PM
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Because I have an honest way about me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:22 PM
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Glad to see Halford, tulip, and gswift said things I would have said if I weren't distracted by work and dragging lots of physicists to B/ckbar. Seriously, there are not 3-4 murders per day in Chicago, certainly not in a single neighborhood, and using "war zone" to describe specifically US deaths in Afghanistan seems totes disingenuous.

Also, PGD's psych study seems really questionable to me. Psychiatric disorders vary by cultural context, and the DSM is based mostly on things affecting westerners. I wouldn't bet that Chinese people are way mentally healthier on average than Americans, or that it's even a well-defined question.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:47 PM
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Also Bave in 212 with the snark.

The last hundred-odd comments are hopelessly confusing. You all successfully ignored Polly until she said something about the word jazz that seemed worthy of a long subthread?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:56 PM
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||
Holy shit the tiny anonymous fancy cocktail place I just went to was amazing. I have no idea what I drank but it was *delicious*. Also we did aperitif shots with the bartender.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:57 PM
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And yes I am totally Btocked at the moment.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:57 PM
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Wheeee fancy cocktail places.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 7:58 PM
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dragging lots of physicists to B/ckbar

That's damn good.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:00 PM
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I decided that drinking alone in my office Tuesday night was not a sufficient way to celebrate the Higgs discovery.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:02 PM
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I find the term sorority pretty offensive. Historically sororities were all white so that's implying that heebie's some kind of honky just because she lives in Texas.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:09 PM
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We jazz June. We die soon.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:39 PM
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330 means I love essear too.

I'm sitting in the back yard with the electricity out, watching to see if the energy company can fix the tangled wires that were shooting sparks from green explosions where the wires touch. I'm not particularly anxious about this, or at least not since the fire truck showed up and called the power company. Plus I get bonus points for letting the fire fighters in our back yard and getting them ice water.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 8:53 PM
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Would red or yellow explosions from touching wires alarm you?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:02 PM
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I guess what I'm saying is that fire truck or not, I'm not every relaxed around electrical sparks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:04 PM
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I have a more than average fear of fire and this was incredibly freaky, but becoming a parent has increased my ability to be very calm in a crisis and then freak the fuck out after everything's safe. Though everyone else is asleep now, so maybe that part needs to wait.

The explosions getting more blue-white over the 1.5 hours did not allay any worries, certainly, nor did the electrical guy telling me to call tomorrow if the wires seem to be getting closer than their current 2-4 inches. Apparently it's a heat-related problem and they'll come back later to put in new wire since the insulation is shot.

I am definitely jumping every time a firework goes off because I think our house is going to explode.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:22 PM
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326,327: if you guys are ever in SF you have to try this place. It's tiny, and they have no menu; you just tell the bartenders what you're in the mood for and they come up with something. My first drink was some sort of rum/bitters/grapefruit concoction, and I don't even know what was in my second other than mint. And then we had Torani Amer as a farewell.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:24 PM
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49

I must say that the realization that one will not be as successful or wealthy as one's parents, and that the generational trajectory is likely downward for a while, is indeed depressing.

On the one hand liberals claim social mobility (in the US) is low and decreasing and that this is bad on the other hand they claim downward mobility is high and increasing and that this is also bad. Something doesn't add up here.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:34 PM
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becoming a parent has increased my ability to be very calm in a crisis and then freak the fuck out after everything's safe.

Excellent. That's the proper order for a real adult human. Function before histrionics.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:39 PM
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336: Doesn't seem like you've thought that through, James. The two things actually dovetail quite nicely.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:41 PM
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(Recollecting that by "social mobility" people do not generally mean "downward social mobility.' This would provide an opportunity to talk about liberalism and expectations. That's good, right?)


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:43 PM
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337: Minus explicit panic attacks, that's long been my m.o., but being a parent just makes holding steady a bigger priority. I'm so, so glad Nia slept though all of this, since the "Oh no, if you hear an explosion around here it's fireworks and nothing to worry about, not guns!" message might have been undermined by scary electrical explosions in the back yard, which are indeed not guns but also not safe.

(Is this where I confess that we didn't worry more sooner about the explosions because the angle was perfect for a neighbor we wouldn't have been surprised to see shooting off off-brand fireworks after the holiday? I absolutely hate fireworks too.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:44 PM
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336: What if every person became 10% poorer? The generational trajectory would be downward with zero mobility. No contradiction there.


Posted by: sral | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:46 PM
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If you can make everybody else move downward, that's pretty much the same as moving upward yourself. Unless you've got talents or ethics, it's probably less work in the short run.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:46 PM
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Making everybody else move downward seems like it would require some sort of talent.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:48 PM
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Kim Jong-il managed it and he couldn't even get a haircut right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:56 PM
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340.2 IMX, perfection in parenting is impossible to sustain; somehow the kids mostly turn out okay anyway. I do wonder a bit about the cortisol levels in helicopter parent's engines.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:58 PM
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339

(Recollecting that by "social mobility" people do not generally mean "downward social mobility.' This would provide an opportunity to talk about liberalism and expectations. That's good, right?)

When people talk about social mobility they start doing things like comparing the prospects of people born into families in the various income quintiles. More people moving from the bottom 80% into the top 20% means more people born into the top 20% falling out of the top 20%. More people moving up implies more people moving down.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 9:58 PM
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346: Only, of course, if there is no actual growth happening. Which of course is a possible scenario, although the "American Dream" narrative wouldn't admit it.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:08 PM
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345: I more meant that I've been suppressing the me who used to hole up in my bedroom on the 4th to worry about people blowing their fingers off because the kids don't need to hear or worry about that. I don't think I'm aiming for anything near perfection or that I'll end up helicopteing, or at least that's the goal. With Mara, I put in a really intensive first year so I could pull back later, and that seems to have paid off.

I also could be totally deluded about what I'm doing. It's hard (at least for me) to know what to normalize when dealing with kids who have specific trauma histories. And again that probably sounds silly, but planning meals to help a kid learn not to hoard food and dealing with polire friendliness versus stranger danger for a child you know has been molested and has unhealthy boundaries and so on, it's a slightly different set of issues even if the topics or "food" "strange adults" and so on are the same. I admit that I overthink, but I believe I keep most of that from seeping through to the actual parenting.

And apparently tonight's response to worry is that I'm staying up ridiculously late even though I need to be up early so Nia can get her bath and I can do her hair before we go to the farmers' market.

(Oh and Biohazard, I don't mean to sound defensive or like I think you're being unfair. I'm just thinking out loud, and not in smart ways.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:10 PM
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347

Only, of course, if there is no actual growth happening. Which of course is a possible scenario, although the "American Dream" narrative wouldn't admit it.

It doesn't matter how much economic growth is occurring (or not occurring) there are a fixed number of slots in the top 20% .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:13 PM
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Assume a population P divided into N groups on the basis of income of household of origin. One definition of social mobility might be moving from one of the N groups to another. Baring immigration or emigration or vastly different mortality rates, this is basically a zero sum game and upward mobility implies downward mobility. However, if the highest of the N groups (N') is far outpacing all of the other groups(NN'), then everybody who didn't move from NN' to N' is experiencing a decline relative to economy as a whole. (This probably requires N to be bigger than 3 and when N = 100, you get to the logic behind the "We are the 99% crowd".)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:17 PM
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PGD,

Yes, exactly, since we're talking about quality of life/anxiety, talking about poorly interpreted statistics of certain material measures of wealth doesn't really address the point. My larger point which I fear has been lost is that the poor in the US really are terribly off, and, by more holistic measures, not necessarily inherently better off than the poor in particular (but of course not all) developing countries. Much of that is psychological. If your life is immeasurably better off than it was even 10 years ago and is only getting better, even if life is objectively very hard one is less likely to be anxious. If there is no realistic chance of your life improving and by and large everything is getting worse, then anxiety increases.

A related point is very few Americans travel internationally, so if US politicians say that Europeans are lining up to get medical treatment in the US, or if they say that Chinese people are starving in the rice paddies, they believe it. The post-WW2 idea that America is the best place on earth has coasted past any sort of objective or even subjective reality. We're currently one of the most unequal societies in the world ruled by robber baron elites with a crumbling infrastructure, failing social services no public desire to invest in the collective good. I feel anxious about this, and I am an incredibly luck and relatively well-off American.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 10:44 PM
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Third World is mostly by analogy to Third Estate.

Soviet terminology was always capitalist and socialist camps.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:10 PM
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352

Here are some classic examples of the ridiculous rhetoric from the Right on how the US is so amazing:

"From the graph, it appears that about 85% of the Chinese people have a standard of living that is poorer than the poorest people in America. That's right. If we take the poorest inner-city families, the poorest reservation Indians, or the poorest Appalachian top-land farmers, all live better than 85% of the Chinese people. As for the richest 15% of the Chinese, most would not even be considered middle class in the US-by US standards they are still quite poor."

May 5, 2011
http://treeofmamre.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/china-may-be-rich-but-the-chinese-people-are-very-poor/

"China is boosting their determination of poverty to an annual income of $229.30. In the United States, the poverty level is $10,890.

So a poor person in the U.S. makes nearly 50 times as much money as a poor person in China. Additionally, American poor get all sorts of free services (subsidized public transportation, welfare, libraries, food stamps, etc.) from the government that the Chinese poor do not receive.

In fact, China's per capita GDP is just $4,382. An American living in poverty has higher income than the average person in China."

April 11, 2012
http://thepathtotyranny.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/american-vs-chinese-poor/


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 6-12 11:54 PM
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I thought "Third World" was coined by Nehru, but apparently he said "Third Force". This thread makes it sound like First and Second World are back-formations.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 12:18 AM
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353: I actually don't see what's so terrible about those quotes. I'm sure the context makes them worse, but no force on Earth is going to make me click on those links. The link in 148 was enough for today.

The key point that gets elided in the right-wing argument is that countries that are poor are poor because they are less productive (output is lower for the same set of inputs). The US is a rich country because its workers are so productive, but now most of the reward for increases in productivity goes to the rich.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 12:36 AM
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348: I'm not at all thinking you're doing it wrong. You seem to be dealing with assorted difficulties as they need dealing with, and your kids aren't Opie clones from Mayberry.

It's what to me seems to be a much higher level of anxiety about childbearing across the whole country that strikes me as nuts, the reaction to the "Free Range" kid and his mom being a good example. I used to think my mother was over-protective, nowadays she be shunned as being oblivious to the horrors about to devour us. My experience with "worry" of all types is that hamstering once around the possibility wheel is usually enough, sometimes twice is necessary. More than that means I need to find an immersive distraction, take a nap, cook something complicated (for me) for dinner, wash the floors, whatever.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 3:53 AM
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354: yeah, I would imagine so. For a French communist, Third World is such a clear reference to Third Estate it is very likely that was the original.

Ended up with a lot of conceptual linkages to the non-aligned movement thing.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:40 AM
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I think not smoking is partially to blame for the the anxiety epidemic and the obesity one.

On the other hand, smoking -- or, more precisely, honesty about slipping from the quit from time to time -- renders you ineligible to have your birth control prescription extended. Yes, I am aware of the increased risks of cardiovascular problems. I am also aware of the problems with alternative methods. I was unaware of my inability to weigh such considerations for myself. Next time, I lie.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:55 AM
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I think it's specifically Moby not smoking that's responsible for the anxiety and obesity epidemics.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:31 AM
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Next time, I lie.

"Don't worry, I'm on the pill."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:52 AM
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it's great to keep people on alert, much fun!
"It doesn't matter how much economic growth is occurring (or not occurring) there are a fixed number of slots in the top 20% ."
how there are fixed number of slots, surely anything can expand, if it's just numbers, the number of millionaires for example could grow from hundreds to millions in the past hundred years, i am not sure about billionaires, maybe they were not present even maybe at that time, the buffett style, and how many of them now, making 1% of your population

it's curious how you treat JBS, he would say something reactionary and racist, at best he would provoke some half-assed critique, but never pollyshoring or deleting that could threaten him, that's bc he is a UMC white male, one of you, just a bit more honest in what he thinks and says, must be works like the voice of the conscience of this place, perhaps
in the name of the individual internet freedom of speech, i am not of course saying he should be deleted when he says such things, just shouldn't there be working some kind of equal treatment of "trolls" applied there too
it's true, he does not comment personal comments, i too start mostly with just what i think, unless provoked  by some "horrendously something something insults" about other people's culture and get personal after how many, serial pollyshoring, or that, "ignoring" , anybody would


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:08 AM
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360

... how there are fixed number of slots ...

For the same reason everyone can't be above average.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:48 AM
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360: He lacks your talent for hurting other people's feelings.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:51 AM
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how one can't be above average, what the sds do then there
and that morw people moving up causing more people sliding down is a meaningless trick in the discussion, maybe there are limited slots for university professors, but for income and wealth, it could expand however it could, maybe then all kinds if inflations would occur, to devalue all that wealth, is that what you are saying? and more people moving upward should surely cause anxiety for the UC/UMC


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:59 AM
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really, do i hurt them deliberately, i just tell the truth which people don't like how i take it


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:02 AM
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364: People who are emotionally abusive always use that excuse, they're just brave truth-tellers. But it's still abuse.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:07 AM
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Thorn, it sounds as though you're quite thoughtful concerning not only the potential impact of anxiety around kids, but about the fact that you are anxious, and that this isn't always the healthiest/most functional response (an attitude that I've been trying to adopt for decades). My mom has made anxiety an art form, in contrast, resulting in one highly anxious kid--me--and one counter phobic daredevil.


Posted by: J Robot | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:08 AM
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i get deleted,pollyshored, shunned, ignored, and i still abuse?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:12 AM
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I don't really have the sense that people are anxious because some Zuckerberg might become an instant zillionaire, and knock them down a peg. It's more like how difficult it is for a UMC kid in a UMC suburb to see living the lifestyle they grew up in. My parents owned a home in a nice little East Bay suburb from 1974 to 1991. They sold it -- a house they'd bought when my dad was 42 -- for 5 times what they paid for it. This wasn't some one'off lucky fluke, but right on the market both at buying and at selling. I don't have any interest in living in that town (for various reasons, including have arrived at 15 and left at 17: it's not my hometown) but I can feel a little bad for my classmates who do: you have to really win at income generation to live in your own hometown.

My mom's anxiety, though, derives not from that so much as constantly being told, via Fox News, that the communist takeover she spent so many years being afraid of is at hand.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:14 AM
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don't say mean discriminatory stuff and you safe from my abuse, do i abuse you, WS? maybe you don't say things like "all that jazz"


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:15 AM
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363

... but for income and wealth, it could expand however it could, ...

Income and wealth can expand (or contract) but the top 20% will represent a fixed slice of the population with the dividing line moving up or down appropriately.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:23 AM
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368

... It's more like how difficult it is for a UMC kid in a UMC suburb to see living the lifestyle they grew up in. ...

This contradicts all the whining about how if you aren't born UMC you have no chance of moving up. Somebody will be living in those houses.

It's always going to be hard to be as successful as your parents if your parents were really successful.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:28 AM
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nothing is infinite of course, so the more people moving upward, reaching the average wouldn't it be a desirable effect, not something to cause anxiety, the upper 20% sharing whatever they have excessive if they only could grow some part of the brain where there is conscience, voluntarily one wishes, well thanks for keeping me a company at dmv, adios as ToS would say amigos!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:39 AM
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Anecdata: I've lived in two different apartments in Hyde Park in the past year, each of which is mostly for students but has some black people too. Both buildings have had loud arguments including explicit threats of domestic violence going on regularly after 11:00pm.

My personal theory is it's bad energy from all the windowless government-mandated jail cell/apartments on 55th... those places seem nightmarish especially in the summer.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:39 AM
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Anecdata: I've lived in two different apartments in Hyde Park in the past year, each of which is mostly for students but has some black people too. Both buildings have had loud arguments including explicit threats of domestic violence going on regularly after 11:00pm.

My personal theory is it's bad energy from all the windowless government-mandated jail cell/apartments on 55th... those places seem nightmarish especially in the summer.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:39 AM
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On the other hand, it's been 100+ degrees the last week or so and a pair of 18-year-olds broke open the fire hydrant and put a post in the way of the nozzle so it would spray up and all over the street, and the 30 or so little kids they were taking care of took off their shoes and ran screaming through the water, barefoot on asphalt.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:42 AM
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373.1: each of which is mostly for students but has some black people too

I'm guessing you got an A in Rhetoric 204: Awkwardly Revealing Sentence Construction.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:54 AM
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Point obviously being there really aren't very many black students here...


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 9:14 AM
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Right, and maybe a bunch of those houses will be owned by a bunch of those kids, after 30 years of anxious striving. I would't call UMC a fixed percentage of the population, but rather a lifestyle based category. So it wouldn't be that every time someone falls out, someone else moves up (as it would be, obviously, with quintiles).

In 2007, the two bedroom one bath starter home next door to where I lived sold for 625. To sustainably buy a house like that you need, what, 125 in the bank and an income of 200. I can certainly understand anxiety on the part of both parents and children if you're hoping for that kind of thing for late 20 somethings.

I suppose the same sort of thing is happening at every level. This, I think, might have more to do with things than slipping relative to Europe or Canada.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 9:19 AM
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A probable contributor to the anxiousness: the habit of pathologizing a vast range of human reactions in order to justify medicating them, and thereby describing every other social phenomenon as an "epidemic."


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 9:45 AM
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A probable contributor to the anxiousness: the habit epidemic of pathologizing a vast range of human reactions in order to justify medicating them, and thereby describing every other social phenomenon as an "epidemic."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 9:49 AM
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379: Fortunately Pfizer is coming out with a drug to treat that condition, which is known as Anxiety Anxiety Disorder.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 9:50 AM
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Whereas when I lived in Hyde Park apartments, including a truly miserable building at 54th and Ellis, student parties were by far the biggest noise source. Anecdata: what good is it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 9:54 AM
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My sister's husband's cousin used to swear by anecdata. 'Course, that was before he got hit by a truck.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 9:59 AM
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378

In 2007, the two bedroom one bath starter home next door to where I lived sold for 625. To sustainably buy a house like that you need, what, 125 in the bank and an income of 200. I can certainly understand anxiety on the part of both parents and children if you're hoping for that kind of thing for late 20 somethings.

What is it worth now? In the long run houses won't sell for more than people can afford (in the short run speculators can distort the market).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 10:06 AM
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The long run can be pretty fucking long.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 1:39 PM
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I live in London, my wife and I have a combined income several times the median UK wage. We have no fucking chance of buying a place to live. None. The same would apply if we still lived in Oxford. I don't see much likelihood of that changing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 1:41 PM
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"In the long run houses won't sell for more than people can afford (in the short run speculators can distort the market)."

The price of houses can easily stay at a much higher level in desirable neighborhoods.

1. Population growth makes a difference. If the population doubles, an area that used to be only affordable by the top 20% can now be only affordable by the top 10% or so.

2. The rise of dual income families can mean that some families can afford to pay a lot more for a house. Especially since those guys are not going to double their costs on other things.

3. Due to rising income inequality, prices for certain things have risen significantly. Baseball tickets for example:

http://www.thesportsbank.net/basewars-chicago-cubs/chicago-cubs-bleacher-ticket-inflation-1000-in-14-years/

The top x% can now afford to pay a premium for positional goods like baseball tickets and houses in desirable neighborhoods.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 1:44 PM
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What is it worth now? In the long run houses won't sell for more than people can afford (in the short run speculators can distort the market).

So, the houses now occupied by UMC people may later be occupied by non-UMC people if there aren't enough UMC people to go around. Kind of cancels out your #371.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 1:46 PM
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335, 345: Here is, I think, what you are not getting, James: What has actually happened in the US over the past 40 years is that the bottom 3 quintiles have stagnated or receded, the second quintile has moved up just a tiny fraction, and the top quintile has massively increased its wealth, with, as we all know, the top 1% amassing a truly staggering level of wealth. What people are justly afraid of is seeing this progression work until its natural conclusion: a bottom three quintiles that are almost indistinguishable from each other in their immiseration, with a 2nd quintile that looks like what the 4th quintile used to, if we're lucky. That's where you get your lack of upward social mobility and increase in downward social mobility. A distribution curve for personal wealth that basically looks like a right angle* is not a prospect that most people imagine will be good for them.

*Maybe with a slight bump up representing a bunch of people who are currently lower-end of the UMC.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 1:54 PM
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386

I live in London, my wife and I have a combined income several times the median UK wage. We have no fucking chance of buying a place to live. None. The same would apply if we still lived in Oxford. I don't see much likelihood of that changing.

What are you saying? That there are no houses in the entire city of London that you can afford? Or is it just that you can get a better deal renting?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 2:22 PM
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387

The price of houses can easily stay at a much higher level in desirable neighborhoods.

A much higher level than what? Not than what people living in these neighborhoods can afford.

The top x% can now afford to pay a premium for positional goods like baseball tickets and houses in desirable neighborhoods.

There is a feedback effect here, desirable neighborhoods become more desirable as they become more expensive as people don't like living near poor people. If you want to claim greater income inequality increases this effect perhaps I will buy that.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 2:44 PM
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388

So, the houses now occupied by UMC people may later be occupied by non-UMC people if there aren't enough UMC people to go around. Kind of cancels out your #371.

Some people live in nicer neighborhoods than they can afford on their income because they got lucky and bought when the neighborhood was cheaper. Naturally their children can't expect to do as well unless they similarly get lucky (or inherit their parent's house).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 2:49 PM
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389

... That's where you get your lack of upward social mobility and increase in downward social mobility. ...

Social position is usually defined in relative terms. If you want to argue that social position matters more than it used to so that people are more anxious about it perhaps I will buy that. But that doesn't mean downward mobility is increasing just that the consequences are (arguably) worse.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 2:54 PM
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||

"A dialogue carried on within a common set of rules
cannot be identified as a dialogue with the "other." Such
a dialogue, or internal dialectic, can be converted into or
considered a monologue."

...K Karatani, discussing Meno and Wittgenstein dissing Godel (1937 Remarks)

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 3:20 PM
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When wealthy people are wealthy enough, they can buy up many more homes than they need and let them sit empty most of the year, pushing up prices in certain areas to the point where no one who isn't at least a millionaire can buy a house. This has happened in much of Manhattan, London, Venice (a ghost town), and will continue to happen. Even the above average Londoner can priced out of a market inflated by Saudi princes and Russian billionaires, and there's no 'market' solution for prices to come back down.

On the top 20%, of course by definition not everyone can be in that 20%. The difference in an egalitarian society is that the difference between the top 20 and bottom 20 isn't all that great. When falling out of the top 20% means a life of financial insecurity, diminished life opportunities, ill health and early death, then people in the top 20% worry about their children slipping down. When it means owning a smaller home, living in a less fancy neighborhood or driving a less fancy car? Then it doesn't matter so much, and parents don't worry so much.

I don't get on what grounds people can defend extreme concentration of wealth into the hands of a few. Even if you have no moral qualms about human suffering, who thinks life is more pleasant for dysfunctional banana republics or tinpot dictatorships over social democracies? Does seriously anyone think Angola is a better place to live than Australia?


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 3:28 PM
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I feel like I'm being an asshole in this thread, so maybe someone should tell me to shut up and go away, but: I find it completely implausible that any substantial fraction of Manhattan real estate is going unused because it's owned by rich people who leave it empty most of the time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:07 PM
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re: 390

There are basically no houses in London I could get a mortgage for, yes. The flat we currently rent, which in terms of rent is about average for not-sketchy bits of London, would be something like 15 to 20 times UK median wage to buy. While we both earn more than UK median wage, we don't earn enough to get a mortgage for that amount. We'd have to move a long way to get into an area where it would be affordable, even if anyone was lending to people without a substantial deposit, which they aren't. It shouldn't be inconceivable to you that there are lots of places in the world where the property ladder is effectively closed to new entrants.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:23 PM
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395: When falling out of the top 20% means a life of financial insecurity, diminished life opportunities, ill health and early death, then people in the top 20% worry about their children slipping down.

True enough, no doubt, though my own first thought is: what about the currently existing bottom 80%? The bottom 50%?! Bottom 20%?!! rather than any thought about the fears harbored by the top 20.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:24 PM
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397

... It shouldn't be inconceivable to you that there are lots of places in the world where the property ladder is effectively closed to new entrants.

It isn't but I find it a bit surprising that this includes the entire city of London. Doesn't London have bad neighborhoods where housing is cheaper?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:39 PM
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"The proportion of part-time apartments in the borough [Manhattan] peaked at nearly 4 in 10 in 2007, then dipped with the recession and has been rising again."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/nyregion/more-apartments-are-empty-yet-rented-or-owned-census-finds.html?pagewanted=all

I would say 40% is a "substantial fraction"


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:39 PM
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395

I don't get on what grounds people can defend extreme concentration of wealth into the hands of a few. ...

People generally don't advocate inequality explicitly just policies that lead to it like open borders.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:42 PM
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400: weird. But that article contains a lot of internally inconsistent numbers -- I suspect they keep changing the definition of how often people have to be away.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:50 PM
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The article tells us:

- Manhattan has 840,000 apartments.
- 34,000 have absentee renters or owners
- but: 102,000 are vacant
- *of those*, 33,000 have owners or renters there less than two months
- 40% are part-time

I don't know what to make of all that. Some of the last few years I've been away from my apartment for a month or more at a time, and something like a third to half of the whole year, albeit intermittently rather than in blocks. I didn't rent anywhere else -- would they call me "part-time"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:56 PM
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And "vacant" to me sounds stronger, not weaker, than "only around two months a year".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 4:57 PM
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And if it's that large a fraction, it casts a lot of doubt on your argument that these people are all so rich they're pricing others out of the market, unless they're not included in Manhattan income statistics.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:03 PM
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400: From the same article --

Among all of the 845,000 apartments and houses in Manhattan, 102,000 were identified as vacant in the 2005-9 American Community Survey. Of those, about 33,000 -- or about 1 in every 25 Manhattan homes -- had an owner or renter who lived there less than two months of the year.

That's 4%.


Posted by: tulip | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:03 PM
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The NYT should make its editors pass some kind of numeracy test.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:04 PM
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I've lost track of what's at stake here: if it's not the case that, in fact, no more than 4% of Manhattan owners or renters are in occupancy for less than two months of the year, then it's not the case that top income earners are hogging real estate in Manhattan and driving prices there up. Is that it?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:07 PM
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The 40% refer to apartments which are occupied part time (undefined). 4% of apartments are occupied less than 2 months. 36% of apartments are occupied more than 2 months and less than full time, however that is defined. Essear asked about apartments going empty most of the time (undefined), so I quoted the section with the part-time occupancy rate.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:21 PM
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Actually I think Britta has a point, ownership of multiple living units does affect housing demand and prices and isn't all that uncommon.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:24 PM
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In any event, 395.first remains true in a number of what are now viewed as vacation spots. There's a little island off the coast in British Columbia (Hornby Island) on which an increasing number of homes are second -- or third -- vacation homes for the well-off. The actual year-round residents are increasingly forced to move away, as they can't possibly afford to buy property on the island; occasionally some part-time property owner will rent, but more often they're inclined to hire the actual residents as house-sitters during the owners' away time. Those slots are limited, and competition for them is fierce. The house-sitters, if they stay once the owners return during the summer, often live in trailers.

The result is that the institutional structure of the island -- the schools and so on -- are stripped of full-time residents.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:32 PM
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/propertynews/7318920/Second-homes-cause-house-prices-to-more-than-double.html

Here are more numbers. If 10% second home ownership in a region probably not attracting the top luxury market can cause housing prices to increase 130%, then we can imagine what it does in London, with second (nth) home ownership at 25%, and NY, where it is more than 4% and up to 40%. (My guess is the number we're looking for is in the ballpark of London's, though I could be wrong.)


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:33 PM
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Isn't that article begging the question? If people want second homes in a given town rather than other surrounding towns it's probably because it's known as a vacation spot, and thus might command higher prices regardless of the second home market. The high prices and the desire for second homes there seem to me to likely be correlated consequences of other appealing aspects of the place.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:38 PM
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412: Okay, now I'm being an asshole, but the "City of London" is a fairly small part of central London, where all of the banks are. According to wikipedia, about 11,000 people live there.


Posted by: tulip | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:39 PM
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Yeah, more analogous to some part of Lower Manhattan than to Manhattan as a whole.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:42 PM
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I may be continuing in the asshole vein, but is the point of objections like 414 and 415 to say that second home ownership by individuals wealthy enough to pay above-market value for residences *is not a problem at all* for the rest who are priced out of the market?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 5:56 PM
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wow, a lot of people to defend the rich, but i don't care about the UMC slipping into "poverty", so whatever


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:00 PM
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I really don't understand this. Well-off people colonize places. They drive prices up, because they can afford to pay higher prices in order to edge out competitors who can't, and the people selling the places go with that because they want more money, broader-scale consequences be damned. People who used to be able to live in those places no longer can, and are increasingly driven to less-nice places. This is a bad thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:02 PM
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But there's a difference between, say, gentrification, where relatively well-off people colonize a neighborhood and drive up prices, and Britta's hypothetical slew of wealthy Saudis who double every house price in a city by buying second homes. The super-rich aren't really in the same market in the way that, say, young professionals taking over a hip lower-income area are.

I'll stop sniping now, I just feel like this thread is full of exaggerations and weird, unconvincing arguments, often in support of ideas I might basically agree with if they wframe argued based on examples or data that didn't seem like bullshit.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:11 PM
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412: An enormous number of the part-time homes in NYC are first homes of people who work in the city and own or rent second homes elsewhere. They would own in NYC regardless and are therefore not increasing the total number of homes demanded.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:11 PM
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Damn typing on a phone.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:12 PM
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I'll stop sniping as well, I think, but I feel like there's a weird kind of normalizing of the expected experience of the 20% -- as though their realm of experience is the only frame of reference -- with little to no awareness or acknowledgment of the experience of the 80%.

That's 80% of the rest of the people. That's very many people. Or how about the lower 50%? They don't disappear. The mighty 20% are not actually running the country world all by themselves.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:28 PM
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you just tell the bartenders what you're in the mood for and they come up with something

JM and Mr. Blandings took me to a place like this in Brooklyn. It was great, but I wish I'd paid more attention to what was in it so as to recreate it myself. Something bitter with orange something and rye whiskey.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:31 PM
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Or how about the lower 50%? They don't disappear. The mighty 20% are not actually running the country world all by themselves.

One thing that this voter ID controversy has taught me is that humans' tendency to make assumptions based on their own social circle is extremely strong. As a result, it's really hard to help someone who has always had multiple forms of valid photo ID to understand how many people do not, and why.

Similarly, unless you've seen a community get hollowed out by hitting a tipping point of part-time residents, it's hard to understand how devastating it can be.

Belle had a great phrase over at CT recently: Imaginative empathy fail.

I don't think people in this thread lack empathy, so this is more in the nature of musing about why it can be hard to imagine your way into a situation very far from your own experience.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:35 PM
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Solution: People should read more fiction! And buy it from parsimon & co.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:36 PM
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Oh, thanks, Witt, but parsimon & co. aren't selling fiction these days. The prices bottomed out a long time ago.

I've rallied from my pique (which is not gone, by a long shot): a friend came by with a load of hot fresh cooked shrimp, with a spicy tomatoey dip for it. We harvested some fresh green beans from the garden, steamed them and dressed them with olive oil and a bit of lemon and parmesan cheese. Utter noshing has been had.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 6:55 PM
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Related, possibly defeatist question: once the officially nicest places become expensive, is it

a) impossible to make equally nice places elsewhere?
b) possible, but it takes long enough that we're unconscious of it?
c) possible, but gentrification happens faster than the placemakers can gain equity, so each ebullition displaces many and dispirits most?
d) inevitable that wonderful places will be made elsewhere, and sensible to find someplace adapting to your tastes and build a local career there?

---------
I spent a little time trying to figure out how residency and income tax in NYC interacted. In a NYC-real-estate way, is how: MEGO. I knew someone who lived in France exactly one day less per year than would have required him to pay the taxes that supported the hellish socialism he enjoyed so much. It seemed expensive and inconvenient to me, but he regarded it as a matter of principle.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:02 PM
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I don't doubt that rich people wanting to buy things that are scarce drives up the prices. But I would be shocked if a major reason that ttaM and his wife can't afford to buy in London is that rich foreigners have second homes that they are leaving empty most of the time. The article linked in 400 says that there are 250,000 second homes in all of England. For a country with 50+ million people, that doesn't seem like it would be a huge driver of prices, except in very specific areas.

I live in DC, which has pretty expensive housing, and I do not think it's a factor here. By far the bigger factor is lack of density in close-in areas and near Metro, I would guess.



Posted by: tulip | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:04 PM
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Belle had a great phrase over at CT recently: Imaginative empathy fail.

I dislike that phrase for exactly the reasons you bring up . . . it seems to gloss over the real difficulty in performing "imaginative empathy."

In particular I think there's a lot of grey area between questions which are essentially matters of philosophy and thus amenable to imagination ("how would I feel if the government said, we need you to feed and house the four soldiers for the next six months? Can I imagine why that would piss people off very quickly?") and problems which are fundamentally empirical ("how many people don't have ID, why don't they have id, and how difficult would it be for them to get ID?"). I can imagine answers to the second question but I'd have no idea if they were correct without having some empirical evidence for support.

In the latter case I think it's perfectly reasonable that people aren't going to "get it" without significant prompting. But, again, the line is blurry. There are a lot of situations that people *should* be able to imagine but don't. But it still isn't something that comes automatically.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:18 PM
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366: I don't think I'm an anxious person anymore, though there are specific things like buying a car that totally freak me out and make me queasy. I don't think I perseverate on negative outcomes most of the time, though I am an overthinker. I have a history of some panic attacks and tendency toward negativity, but I manage pretty well in most situations and seem to keep the catastrophizing to my relationship if it's going to happen at all, which is not great but probably better than some alternatives.

The 4-bedroom 2-bath house beside ours is on the market for 250K but the seller will settle for 220 and should probably go lower. We'd be willing to go halfsies on cutting a gate in the separating fence if a Mineshafter moved in there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:18 PM
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Also, PGD's psych study seems really questionable to me. Psychiatric disorders vary by cultural context, and the DSM is based mostly on things affecting westerners. I wouldn't bet that Chinese people are way mentally healthier on average than Americans, or that it's even a well-defined question.

I share your skepticism about the possibility of objectively defining mental disorders in a manner independent of culture, but in many ways that's really a skepticism about the discipline of psychiatry as a science studying objective disease states. The World Health Organization survey I referred to is really state of the art and I think the most extensive effort ever to compare mental states cross-culturally. It's an extensive survey developed over many years by experts from numerous countries, administered face to face by trained native speakers in the native language to a large random population sample with a 70 percent response rate, graded by a standard procedure that should remove subjectivity, with lots of research on validity and reliability. If you're curious, here is the panel of questions for depression , and here is an overview of the survey history.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:20 PM
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I am with 419.2.

Also, to snipe super bitchily about things that have moved on, anyone who thinks that inner city poor mostly African American neighborhoods are more hopeless now than in, say, 1990 didn't live in or near one in 1990. Things have tangibly gotten better, though from a baseline of the crack epidemic, which isn't saying much (but which still beat, say, the Great Leap Forward).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:21 PM
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a) impossible to make equally nice places elsewhere?

Well -- and I should specify that I am *not* necessarily thinking of NYC or London here -- one of the things that can make a place "nice" is convenience. Being close to a major port, rail station, or institution is worth something.

For example: There are neighborhoods in Philadelphia where rents are driven up by their proximity to hospitals. Obviously it's good for the neighborhood to have a hospital, and obviously the doctors and other staff have to live somewhere, but the on-the-ground effect can be for a series of 1- to 3-year transients to end up driving up prices for everyone.

One of the things that most irks me about urban cosmopolitan utopianism is its (sometimes willful) disregard of the realities of placemaking. A nice neighborhood needs anchors and it needs institutional memory. It may need a block captain, a ward leader, even a nosy busybody.

You don't get a strong neighborhood without strong neighbors. And while that can sometimes mean parochialism and resistance to change, it's my overwhelming experience that nobody cares as much about a neighborhood as longtime residents.

You need someone to show up at zoning meetings, call out the water company when there's a problem, advocate for the fire station not to be closed when budget cuts put it on the chopping block, support the library, and on and on.

If the critical mass isn't there -- and it's hard for a neighborhood with too many transients to have that -- then everybody suffers.

You could call them free riders, although somehow they seem to escape that tag.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:26 PM
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429: Can you say some more about this distinction? It's not totally clear to me.

(Also, I don't know if it matters, but I wrote kind of sloppily -- when I said "how many people do not, and why" I meant something more like "how it is that many people come to not have ID," not "the quantitative number of how many people do not have ID.")


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:31 PM
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Unfortunately I don't have much clarity to offer.

he distinction between theoretical and empirical questions is a long-standing one. But, as I was writing my comment, I realized it was hard to think of good examples of that distinction.

I do believe both that imaginative empathy is difficult and that the phrase "imaginative empathy fail" is too glib and that many political debates look very different depending on one's level of empirical knowledge. That isn't to say that knowing more is or should be a trump card, just that it will (should) change your perspective

And now I'm leaving the computer for a while.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 7:43 PM
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I suppose this should go in the Tyranny of Bosses thread, but it seems to be dead, so... this comment from CT, or at least the bit about the dental office, is worth drawing attention to:

This week I went to the dentist and noticed the receptionists were on the phone constantly. I found out their dental corporation had decided to take advantage of the down time between checking in patients by running some sort of call center through the front desk. Each receptionist was supposed to answer a certain number of calls per hour based on how many people she checked in at the desk - If she had 9 patients this hour she had to answer 12 calls, if she had only 6 patients check in the next hour she must answer 16 phone calls. The calls were related to some sort of cosmetic dental practice - caps and whitening, I think. They were scheduling people in for 'consultations' at another office. We were in the low-income dental clinic, the corporation had a high-end office across town. If they didn't make their quota they stayed on the phone during their lunch or after work, until they had logged their 80 to 100 phone calls for the day. It was incredibly irritating, they had no time to talk to me about scheduling follow-up care for my daughter, they just handed us a slip and said that was our next appointment and if we didn't like the date and time we could call the 800 number when we got home, they no longer had time to look at a calendar and let you pick a day or time for your next visit. A regular dentist couldn't get by with this, but this is the only authorized provider for kids on the low-income insurance plan, so they can do as they please.

That would certainly increase stress, I think. Ugh.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 8:24 PM
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Witt --

I have the impression that we have more ports/railheads/hospitals than we have desirable neighborhoods. Yes, I get that someone sane and stubborn has to turn up to the local governance meetings, but why do we not have non-globalized neighborhoods being well-self-governed and relatively cheap? Arguably, we *do*, e.g. 'everywhere in the Midwest that still has jobs', or even 'Portland and Seattle', although that's only because I'm old enough to remember them as the cheap flaky alternatives to the Bay Area.

Leaving Witt's comment; I can't really think it's unjust that it's hard for many people to live in desirable cities where their parents did. I don't think I'd like the world cities to be inhabited mostly by people who had inherited them. (It would be interesting to see if the world-city effect got weaker.)

Also, the way USians usually describe it, we aren't even asking for one house to be passed down -- we expect there to be two or three houses available for forty years for the aging parents and their kid's families to live in separately. Well, duh, we'll run out of those houses. If I can look after my parents well enough to live in their house when old, or offer them somewhere better, that might get me the house. (My parents are divorced, so there are actually two houses to imagine doing this for, but there are three children. Mr Scarborough's Family we aren't, fortunately.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 10:04 PM
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tl;dr

If we didn't let the devil take the hindmost, we wouldn't need to cram into the richest neighborhoods.

No matter *how* we sort out who gets to be in the top x%, the 100-x% deserve safe streets, clean air, representation and education, with which most groups of us can make pretty good places to be.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 10:30 PM
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There's lots of reasons why it might be hard to buy, independent of the super-rich driving up prices. In the past, in the UK, it was possible to get mortgages at very large multiples of income, and with no deposit. Post-'crisis' that's no longer possible. However, the combination of that, a large buy-to-let market, and the fact that a lot of people in the property market are _not_ new to the market, but instead have existing properties that have built up equity during the long property boom, mean that it's quite easy for property prices to be sustained at a level well above what the average first time buyer might be able to afford.

While it's true that there are in fact areas of London where we could afford to buy* a one-bed flat, what's less true is that those areas are also areas where it's at all practical to commute to where we work [either in terms of cost, or time].

For me personally, I don't really like to whinge to much about it. I'd be happy enough to continue to rent -- I have no emotional attachment to owning -- if we had the sort of rental market that exists elsewhere in Europe, i.e. one that provides for long term tenants. The UK private rental market isn't really like that, though. Ultimately, I suspect, short of large pay increases the only way to afford much of a life is to move completely away from the SE of England. I think that's the case for a lot of people.

* assuming somehow we could magically appear a deposit from out of thin air. I think friends who have parents who can help out in this area completely underestimate who valuable that is.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 7-12 11:40 PM
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You know the questions of what causes people to be anxious, and what this that or the other person is sympathetic or empathic towards, are completely independent.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:23 AM
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439

... a large buy-to-let market, ...

How does this work? Do the investors accept negative cash flow in the hope of future capital gains?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:02 AM
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438

No matter *how* we sort out who gets to be in the top x%, the 100-x% deserve safe streets ...

How are you going to provide safe streets without excluding the criminal class? (I assume you aren't talking about potholes).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:06 AM
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Why would they do that? They let at a rent which allows them a profit after paying the mortgage and maintenance.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:06 AM
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440

You know the questions of what causes people to be anxious, and what this that or the other person is sympathetic or empathic towards, are completely independent.

Maybe not since some people seem to get anxious about other people's problems.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:07 AM
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443

Why would they do that? They let at a rent which allows them a profit after paying the mortgage and maintenance.

This assumes that rental and market prices allow this which is generally not the case in bubbles. If the rent can cover the landlord's expenses why can't the renter buy a similar place themself and cover their own expenses?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:13 AM
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||

Live coverage of European sport is pretty much the worst thing for my sleep patterns ever.

Also, let me be the first to say, he'll be a Scot if he loses, a Briton if he wins.

|>


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:21 AM
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If the rent can cover the landlord's expenses why can't the renter buy a similar place themself and cover their own expenses?

Because the renter is poor. During the bubble, people who could afford to do as you suggest did so. However, even at the height of the bubble no lender (in Britain) was offering much more than 5x the borrower's income, whereas even in cheap cities it was difficult to find any kind of property for less than 8 or 10x the income of the lowest paid. The lowest paid therefore had to rent at exorbitant rates, which were subsidised by the state in many instances, but still meant that they were unable to save, and therefore couldn't put together a lump sum which might enable them to buy.

That's capitalism, folks.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:23 AM
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he'll be a Scot if he loses, a Briton if he wins.

I thought he personally identified as a Scot anyway.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:34 AM
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Anyway, sod Murray, what about Marray?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:36 AM
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447

... The lowest paid therefore had to rent at exorbitant rates, which were subsidised by the state in many instances, ...

So in England the state will subsidize rent payments but not mortgage payments? I didn't know that. Is that just at the bottom end of the market or is someone like nattarGcM ttaM getting rent assistance?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:39 AM
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448. I think so, but of course the traditional Scottish chip on the shoulder is hard to shake off.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:44 AM
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I very much doubt whether nattarGcM qualifies for Housing Benefit. (See here for how it works.) He may well however be caught in the trap of having to pay a rent so high that he'll never afford to buy.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:44 AM
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Witt, I really liked NickS's distinction and think I may be able to explain it further, although perhaps I'll get it wrong.

In the case of being forced to quarter soldiers, you don't need any knowledge to imagine how it would feel. Imagining how it would feel is fairly called "empathy."

In the case of the state ID, you need information about some empirical, material facts that answer the question: how could this come to be? If you don't get how it is that people don't have state ID's, you don't need more empathy, you need those facts explained. It's a misapplication of the term. "Empathy" is imagining or understanding how some state feels, not understanding why that state is. You might think that middle class people ought to be able to just imagine all the material conditions of the lives of people very different from them, but even if you signed on to that, the failure to do so is not really a lack of empathy.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:46 AM
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My impression is that Murray is a BOAC generally. It seems to be par for the course with male tennis players. The only exceptions I can think of in the top flight were Becker and Borg.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:58 AM
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I don't think there's a very important distinction, actually. "Imaginative empathy" means doing the mental work to imagine how something would feel or what a certain set of circumstances would involve. This can range from the most basic level of being able to imagine the Other Fellow feeling pain or grief in the same way you would; to being able to work through some relatively simple chains of consequence originating from a factual premise like "what it would be like to have no money, no credit, and only intermittent access to electricity;" to being able, at the hardest level, to imagine a circumstance alien to your experience that would involve all kinds of minute variables ("what it would it be like to be forced to quarter soldiers," for example, for someone who has little direct experience of soldiers).

Those are points on a continuum, they're not different things. A person who can't manage to reach the first hurdle is genuinely lacking in empathy (or more probably only able to extend it to people they identify as part of their group, family, tribe, what have you); a person who can't manage the second may have the capability for empathy, but has basically announced that they're not willing to put the least amount of work into it. That's what I take Belle's criticism to stem from. And she's correct.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:08 AM
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I think I'm with Castock (a href="http://www.lyricsdepot.com/pulp/common-people.html">and Jarvis Cocker) on this. What pressed Belle's button at CT was the fact that she and all the front pagers there have in fact been round this with a bunch of leading internet libertarians a hundred times so they have no excuse to plead ignorance or idleness, but they still keep coming back with variations on "Not logical, Captain", until she needs to scream.

Somebody who has a degree of empathy can be led to understand the situation of someone whose life is entirely unlike theirs by having it explained to them. For example, I've watched the community at Slacktivist talk decent but insufficiently knowledgeable people round from profoundly reactionary views on choice or LGBT rights by feeding information into their empathy engines.

But sometimes it doesn't work, and you're left with the conclusion that their empathy engine is simply fubar.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:29 AM
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Sorry for the html fail above.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:30 AM
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454 --- sportsmen in general have a tendency to be utter wankers.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:31 AM
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458 So do Tory politicians.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:34 AM
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Just earlier this evening, I saw someone compare Polly Toynbee's book about being poor for lent with that song.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:38 AM
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"In the case of being forced to quarter soldiers, you don't need any knowledge to imagine how it would feel. Imagining how it would feel is fairly called "empathy."
In the case of the state ID, you need information about some empirical, material facts that answer the question: how could this come to be? If you don't get how it is that people don't have state ID's, you don't need more empathy, you need those facts explained."

these examples sound like some such a biased view of empathy, both cases could serve just as excuses to not feel empathy, one would feel so naturally inconvenienced by the soldiers quartering with them, so one knows how it would feel and empathizes without explanations, while one wouldn't feel the pain of a person without papers to get a job or access to housing, education, medical services and those facts should be explained in order to feel some empathy, it doesn't come naturally to the one, very the UMC thick-skinned selfish
nothing teaches empathy as personal experience, so if to put the un-empathetics into the situations how it would be to be homeless or hungry or abused, they would learn how to empathise pretty quickly, i guess, so hopefully the karma concept really works to teach the people at least empathy, whatever you sow you shall reap something, unable to feel just basic human empathy, that will get you some day one or other way


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:39 AM
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Polly Toynbee's WHAT!!???


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:44 AM
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453

In the case of being forced to quarter soldiers, you don't need any knowledge to imagine how it would feel. Imagining how it would feel is fairly called "empathy."

If something (like quartering soldiers) is totally outside the range of your previous life experience I think it is a bit glib to say you don't need any knowledge to imagine how it would feel. At least if you are expecting accuracy.

And there is the distinction between empathy and sympathy.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:46 AM
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456

But sometimes it doesn't work, and you're left with the conclusion that their empathy engine is simply fubar.

Alternatively they may not accept that what you are telling them is accurate. Or perhaps you are confusing empathy and sympathy.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:53 AM
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462: yeah that was my reaction, but apparently it is A Thing
(Hard Work - Life In Low Paid Britain.)

I had to resist the urge to go on a long ramble about the Toynbees as intellectual aristocracy & the rest of the British intellectual aristocracy --- the Haldanes, the Darwins, the Huxleys etc.

I never realised this, but the guy (Noel Annan) that wrote that essay about the intellectual aristocracy & intermarriage was in the Apostles at Cambridge with the Five, and signed a letter to the Times in support of the Homosexual Law Reform Society. HMM MAYBE THERE IS A THING HERE? Interesting if so, because you can see why he'd have a pretty instrumental view of marriage.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 6:55 AM
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Oh and apparently he described EM Forster as his guru. Well. Yeah.

(Also interesting if so in that Wikipedia has basically edited that out, except for a short line in the references section...)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 7:06 AM
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463: I think it is a bit glib

Maybe, although sometimes I wonder whether there are substantial individual differences in the ability to vividly project yourself into an unfamiliar situation. It would not be accurate in the sense that you'd anticipate every detail perfectly, but it's also true that no one experience of quartering soldiers can tell you with perfect accuracy what another would be like.

If I had to quarter soldiers, I imagine the experience would vary quite a bit based on the personalities of the people involved, but no matter what it would feel like an abridgment of my right to have the guests I chose in my own home. Worst case I might have people who were entitled, loud, alcohol-abusing, violent, and who differed from me dramatically in basic values. Best case I'd have people who understood the depth of the imposition and were respectful of my home.

Anyway, I didn't see the original context. I just think there is a useful distinction between "how does this feel" and "how does this come to be." I'm sure there are people who can perfectly well imagine the stresses of not having legal identification and not understand how it is possible to arrive at that point.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 7:13 AM
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"and not understand how it is possible to arrive at that point."
this part negates the first part so quickly, surely how one can imagine" possibility" of becoming an illegal immigrant, or becoming hungry, abused, homeless
one is so sheltered and safe in one's own god or something else given rights to own home, country, material well-being that others' struggling would induce just a thought "how it is possible to arrive at this point?!"


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 7:27 AM
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I'm sure there are people who can perfectly well imagine the stresses of not having legal identification and not understand how it is possible to arrive at that point.

like the egregious Auberon Waugh who, for some kind of stunt lived on unemployment benefit for a month (!), and then announced, "Well, they must all be on the fiddle; it's clearly impossible to live on that sort of money."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 8:20 AM
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Chris y and Castock are getting at what I was trying to say. It does feel like a continuum to me, one which requires a baseline willingness to listen and learn but doesn't break down easily into empirical/nonempirical.

On the other hand, some of my own "empathy fail" moments have happened *exactly because* I was ignorant. Despite all the many times my mother said "We're so lucky to have all this fresh food!" I didn't genuinely understand how crappy or nonexistent the produce in poor neighborhoods can be until I went in to those stores myself.

I still do think that it's more about training yourself to think and listen than about knowing a specific fact -- if only because, as Tia points out, even having had an experience yourself only means that you've had *one variety* of that experience, not the whole range.

(Unrelatedly, I completely endorse clew's 438.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:00 AM
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393: Social position is usually defined in relative terms

Right, but if, relative to the wealthiest people, the vast majority of other people have hardly anything, then you find yourself in the situation we're all seeing now. If I'm in the 2nd quintile, and I make $32K per year, and somebody in the 3rd quintile makes $36K per year, then yes, theoretically they are in a higher social position than me, but practically, their lifestyle can't be that much different from mine. And likewise, the lifestyle of someone in the top 1% can be so astronomically more rich than either of ours, that any slight difference in social position for the lower orders is going to be meaningless.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:07 AM
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432: anyone who thinks that inner city poor mostly African American neighborhoods are more hopeless now than in, say, 1990 didn't live in or near one in 1990

I'm dubious about this. By some measures, things have gotten better. But it's not like everyone just forgets about a murder when the year ends. Trauma like that is cumulative. Plus, you're not factoring in that the populations of poor neighborhoods have been significantly reduced due to the frenzy of mass incarceration that's occurred in the last 20-30 years.

My neighborhood is a lot better than it was 20 years ago in large part due to the influx of Mexican and Ecuadorian immigrants. Without them, things would be bleak. Maybe not Mad Max times, but definitely bleak.

Also, there are packs of wild dogs roaming the streets of Kansas City. Did they exist in 1990?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:14 AM
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Also, why does Facebook's advertising algorithm think that I should be a Substance Abuse Counselor? Is there a market for people in that job who are all "You know, you should probably lay off the heroin for awhile and just switch to weed and ecstasy"?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:17 AM
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472: The dogs most likely did not exist in 1990:

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/dogs-and-life-span-which-breeds-live-longest?page=2

No idea whether the packs existed, though.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:22 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:28 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:35 AM
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440: You know the questions of what causes people to be anxious, and what this that or the other person is sympathetic or empathic towards, are completely independent.

Sure, but the OP touched upon the question of the validity of societal anxiety, and furthermore, however individuals themselves interpret their anxiety, the re-channeling of general societal anxiety into loathsome political positions ([c]andidates would connect instantly with the voting public if they discussed how their policies would reduce anxiety per the OP) has notorious precedent.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:36 AM
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470: I still do think that it's more about training yourself to think and listen than about knowing a specific fact...

Yup. Authors have been fooling committees set up to judge "Best Book By a Man/Woman Suffering the Agonies of X" for years. Some people can accurately project their imagination into a novel situation and others can't, that's all.



Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:38 AM
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Obviously my comment last night was mixing three or four different thoughts, so let me see if I can unpack them a little bit.

What pressed Belle's button at CT was ... they have no excuse to plead ignorance or idleness, but they still keep coming back with variations on "Not logical, Captain", until she needs to scream.

I get this. I don't think Belle's phrase was inappropriate in the original context, I was just surprised to see Witt quoting it approvingly here because I thought it was clearly mildly-insulting snark of the sort that Belle is very good at. Which has it's place, but also isn't appropriate for all situations.

Trying to think about what makes it insulting it seems to imply that "imaginative empathy" is trivially simple (or, to expand that slightly, the "fail" construction generally implies either that the task is trivially simple (e.g., "chart fail") or that the task is complex but the failure is so egregious that anybody should be able to recognize it when they see it (perhaps, "racefail").) That might apply to the CT threads (which I still haven't caught up on) but I'm not sure it applies to the debate over ID cards.

Part of why I'm not sure it applies to the debate over ID cards is because there are a number of empirical questions that play into it. Personally I oppose requiring ID for somebody to vote but I really do feel like my position is based on my being a knee-jerk liberal. I'm happy to make the argument that such a law will do much more to disenfranchise people who can legally vote than it will to prevent fraud. But, while I believe that statement, I don't have proof of it, it just matches my intuitions about the world.

Beyond that I am willing to defend a certain amount of laziness in the world, and imaginative empathy takes effort. I think it's good to prod people to be more imaginative and more empathetic, but it is asking them to do work (sidebar: I'm solidly middle-class in both my upbringing and current life. I'm aware that this limits my perspective on the world, and it is something I try to work on. But, as I say, it takes effort.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:42 AM
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On the other hand, some of my own "empathy fail" moments have happened *exactly because* I was ignorant.

FWIW, I feel like some of my biggest "empathy fail" moments fall in the gap between, "I don't know how I'd deal with X" and "obviously lots of people do deal with X every day; there must be life-skills that make it more tolerable." The truth of the second statement depends a lot on the nature of X. There are some things that people live with every day which are simply miserable and just involve suffering (the thing which comes to mind at the moment is chronic tooth pain. Any sort of chronic pain is horrible, of course, but toothaches seem both particularly intrusive and something that many people suffer from) and some things are much easier to deal with when you have the experience of living with them (see, for example, Britta making the argument that living in poverty in China isn't necessarily terrible).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:48 AM
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I really do feel like my position is based on my being a knee-jerk liberal.

Well, yes, but a healthy hostility to government functionaries having the right to demand proof of identity has been integral to the idea of personal freedom in the Anglosphere since before Benjamin Franklin was born. It places you in the tradition of John Locke, Charles James Fox and the founding honchos of the US of A; which says nothing as to whether or not it's a good idea, but hardly makes it a marginal position.

Opponents of apartheid in South Africa regarded the Pass Laws as a singularly bad infringement of liberty, and (moving from the sublime to the ridiculous) when Tony Blair thought it wise to try to introduce voluntary ID cards in Britain, he had to go home with his tail between his legs because nobody would play.

The right to go about your business without presenting ID, including going to the polls, is your birthright, not some radical eccentricity. You need to hold onto it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 9:59 AM
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the founding honchos of the US of A made me laugh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:04 AM
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Phrase courtesy of the late HST, I think.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:10 AM
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Kittens are more important:

http://static-cdn1.ustream.tv/swf/live/viewer:64.swf?vrsl=c%3A234&cid=11327176&v3


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:15 AM
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Also: totally awesome pictures of Mars.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:19 AM
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I don't think we need a referendum on Belle's CT phrase, but 479's I don't think Belle's phrase was inappropriate in the original context, I was just surprised to see Witt quoting it approvingly here because I thought it was clearly mildly-insulting snark of the sort that Belle is very good at captures my sense of things as well.

But, eh. The point remains that failing to recognize that one's own experience is not the sole experience out there, that one's tribe, etc. is not the whole of the story, is just that: a failure. The imaginative exercise of putting oneself in the place of others is essential to [lots of things, but let's just say] policy-making. Reading fiction and autobiography helps; talking and listening to people unlike oneself helps.

And this from 470: I didn't genuinely understand how crappy or nonexistent the produce in poor neighborhoods can be until I went in to those stores myself

really helps. Go to a crappy grocery in a poor neighborhood. For that matter, go to a free tax clinic service in a poor neighborhood just before April 15th. It turns out that people don't have computers or internet service in the home, may or may not have the proper tax statements to file returns, have really complicated situations whereby a daughter was a dependent for the part of the year, then the mother was on welfare for part of the year, then this, then something else.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:20 AM
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That was long, and I did stop myself before carrying on further.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:21 AM
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The conversation has moved on, but recent experience has shown me that it is way harder to buy property in the UK than in the US. But it is also getting increasingly difficult to do buy-to-let, so that might help things!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:30 AM
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479.3: I am willing to defend a certain amount of laziness in the world, and imaginative empathy takes effort. I think it's good to prod people to be more imaginative and more empathetic, but it is asking them to do work

It is asking them to do work. I'm not be willing to defend as much laziness in the world when it's practiced by people in positions of power -- the opinion makers of the world, who influence economic and public policy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:32 AM
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488. If you're referring to the whole "chain" malarky, and the fact that people can pull out or change their offers/prices at will, I think that only applies to England and Wales, not Scotland.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:43 AM
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With respect to matters of place: the top 20%, or 10%, are poachers. If they like your stuff (your place), they'll just buy and pay their way into it and drive you out. Sucks to be you, and all that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:45 AM
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I'm not be willing to defend as much laziness in the world

I think the more conventional version of my defending laziness is, "you have to meet people where they are at." Which is good advice for obvious reasons, but I can certainly see how it doesn't always apply.

[For the counter-argument I think both of the classic line, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Similarly there is Harris Wofford's description of Chester Bowles (paraphrased) that he had a gift for persuasion which he would try to apply to people who were unconvinced, already convinced, or utterly irredeemable alike.

In other words -- you have to be able to recognize the difference between situations in which you are trying to convince somebody of something and those in which you just want to marginalize them and go on without them.]


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 10:47 AM
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I'm kind of with teo on some of this. If I felt the same level of despair that heebie says she does, I don't think I'd be able to bring children into this world.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 11:01 AM
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If I felt the same level of despair that heebie says she does, I don't think I'd be able to bring children into this world.

Yes. I do; I did; I wasn't.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 11:03 AM
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I'm not sure I follow 492: is it to say that yelling at people never convinced anyone of anything?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 11:16 AM
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you have to be able to recognize the difference between situations in which you are trying to convince somebody of something and those in which you just want to marginalize them and go on without them

I don't see how this applies in the context of this discussion, which is fundamentally about income and economic inequality. Obviously the haves aren't going to die off. Some say they must be convinced to care about the less well off by appealing to what's in it for them.

Okay. There are certainly narratives along those lines.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 11:36 AM
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490: The chain is a pain, but I meant that it is much much harder to qualify for a mortgage here than it is in the US, as far as I can tell. (Whether that's the case in Scotland, I don't know, so perhaps I should have limited my claim to England solely.) Or, in other words, what Ttam said way above....I could be wrong, but I suspect he'd be able to qualify to buy in the US.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 11:41 AM
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Obviously the haves aren't going to die off.

This is why it's proverbially necessary to hang the last aristocrat with the guts of the last prelate.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 11:52 AM
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I don't see how this applies in the context of this discussion,

I am tired and far too fond of the random under-explained aside.

The relevance to this conversation would be to suggest that, of course, Belle is probably doing a service by yelling at intentionally clueless libertarians.

The train of thought was more that once I remembered the phrase about meeting people where they are I immediately remembered a fried of mine who finds that idea exhausting because there are so many things urgently wrong in the world that it makes more sense to just yell about them when appropriate than to worry about bruising somebody's feelings.

(Note: (1) This is very much not my approach. (2) I can vouch that sometimes yelling can change somebody's opinion because there are definitely times when I've changed my opinion after being yelled at.)

As far as economic inequality goes . . . I don't know. I would agree with your position that laziness is particularly frustrating as an excuse made by people in positions of power or trust. I also think that it isn't shocking that, as has been said a couple time in this thread, that people's sense of how the world works for people outside of their personal "tribe" gets very fuzzy very quickly.

Do I want to defend that? The answer is really, "sometimes." There are times when I think it's inexcusable and times when I think that you can't blame people for being human and behaving the same way as (almost) everybody else.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 11:53 AM
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Okay, Nick. I'm not going to argue any further. I'll say, though, that what this means to me is that the 20% are excusing themselves.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 12:22 PM
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Two great ways to incent the 20% to excuse themselves from caring about the tribulations of the 80%: (1) announce that one does not give a fuck about the supposed problems of the 20%; (2) announce one hopes to take what the 20% have at the first opportunity one has the ability to do so.

I don't suffer from anxiety over (2). The sad fact is that millions do, and that politicians have been able to successfully play on this fear for centuries. It's so bad now, that significant elements of the 40% are afraid of being dispossessed by the 60%. A perfect situation for the 1%.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 12:41 PM
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501: I think honestly the historical record proves the opposite. Back when Communist revolution was still a live possiblity, things were much more egalitarian. The top x% (I'm not sure what x is) respond only to fear.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 12:59 PM
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significant elements of the 40% are afraid of being dispossessed by the 60%. A perfect situation for the 1%.

And for the 10%.* Let the rest fight over the crumbs. Unfortunately, I can't manage to engage in hand-holding for the 20% who think that people just don't understand how terrible it is for them.

Is "incent" a newish word?

* I've just recalled that David Brooks recently bought a $4 million home. I am forgetting the exact parameters for the 10 and the 1%.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:01 PM
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502. Francis Spufford said much the same in the CT seminar on Red Plenty. The existence of the Soviet Union acted like an anchor on the Overton window.

Which was really tough shit on the citizens of the USSR and its satellites, but a benefit to most of the rest of the world.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:06 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:07 PM
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Is "incent" a newish word?

I first encountered it 20 minutes ago. I assumed CC had coined it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:07 PM
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Whatever was wrong with incentivize? /snark

* I've just recalled that David Brooks recently bought a $4 million home.

I feel sick now.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:11 PM
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What you can get for £4M round our way. What does it get Brooks?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:15 PM
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Sorry. $4M.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:17 PM
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Since I now probably have the reputation of being a Mao apologist, perhaps reeducation camps for libertarians is the way to go. (I KID! I KID!) I knew a guy from a UMC/UC family in college who was a dyed in the wool neo-con libertarian, and his take on poverty was, "why don't they just try harder and pull themselves up by their bootstraps?" He did Teach for America (a not unproblematic program), assuming what black inner city kids needed was a smart white guy whipping them into shape. Apparently, actually being in that environment and dealing with that reality totally changed his perspective on urban poverty, and now he's more of a leftist. (The ability to turn Republicans into leftists is a plus of the program, although this personal growth comes on the backs of poor children, which is not great.)

Instilling "imaginative empathy" was for my parents the most important duty of parenting, and raising empathetic, kind, and moral children was valued far above any sort of mainstream success. The worst reprimands I received as a kid were for being snobby, inadvertently flaunting my privilege, or being insensitive to the plight of those around me. When I think back to myself as a kid, I can see how the ability to care about others really different from yourself and imagine yourself in their shoes is actually a trait that has to be cultivated and reinforced, over and over again, rather than an innate skill. For us to get that, it involves MC parents willing to parent against the grain in a serious way by actively treating their children as not special snowflakes not deserving better treatment than really poor kids.

I think there's an assumption that moral traits just develop through daily life when you're not thinking about it, but I really don't think that's a case. If you read the comment sections of mainstream newspapers even the very basics like, "though shalt not murder" doesn't seem apply to people who don't look like you.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:20 PM
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Grade II listed Hall

I'm not sure what that means, but I'm very reassured that somebody is keeping a list.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:21 PM
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If you read the comment sections of mainstream newspapers...

Don't ever do this. Just don't.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:24 PM
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To be fair, I've heard "incent" recently from policy wonks on the radio. I think it's just a new econo-ese speak term.

What does it get Brooks?

Seriously? The notice was in maybe the Washington Post recently. Here.

a century-old (exquisitely renovated) five bedroom, four-and-a-half bath house in Cleveland Park. It includes a two-car garage, iron and stone fence, generous-sized porch and balcony, and what appear to be vast spaces for entertaining.

Quite a bit of snark was had at my workplace over this. Along with some confusion: only 5 bedrooms? But with 4.5 baths, I assume each bedroom is actually a suite.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:27 PM
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Listed buildings are ones you're not allowed to pull down or significantly fuck up without an extremely convincing reason. Grade I is castles and palaces; grade II is stuff like that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:27 PM
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510: PGD is our resident Mao apologist.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:28 PM
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inadvertently flaunting my privilege

I always check my zipper before I leave the house.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:33 PM
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513. I love the idea of half a bath. Which half, do you think?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:34 PM
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517: The half that has only the shitter and a sink.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:35 PM
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Do they not have that in the UK? It's the part that you can't take a bath in.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:36 PM
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Right. Our realtors call that "Separate WC". A bathroom needs a bath, or at least a shower, in it to qualify.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:39 PM
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Would a room with a tub but no toilet count as half a bath?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:42 PM
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Would you rather pee in a tub of bathe from a toilet?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:44 PM
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or bathe from a toilet


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:44 PM
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I believe a sink could count as a full bath if you think about it in the right ways. Or a bucket.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:45 PM
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When I was about 4, I once washed my hair in the toilet with the handsoap from the sink. I also regularly played with my bath toys in there and never told my parents. I suppose things like this wouldn't happen nowadays what with helicopter parenting.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:49 PM
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521. This is generally written up as "Bathroom with separate WC". If you didn't have a separate WC, i.e. you only had an outhouse, the whole tone of advert would be different: very little detail, much emphasis on "scope for improvement, opportunity for development...".


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:50 PM
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My dad was raised without indoor plumbing from say 6 or 7 until he went to college. He's much less anxious that me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 1:52 PM
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Sometimes you see a "quarter bath" in real estate listings. This can mean a random working toilet in the basement (I've seen that more than once) or it may be an arithmetical artifact, e.g. if you have a half bath plus a 3/4 bath (toilet + sink + shower stall), then that's 1.25 baths.


Posted by: ursyne | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:00 PM
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They do that kind of arithmetic? Seems dishonest. Two baths is a very different thing from one bath and two half-baths.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:05 PM
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I love the implication that toilet/washing facilities are somehow fungible.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:06 PM
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This can mean a random working toilet in the basement

That's called a Pittsburgh toilet. It's found in nearly every house of the right era, even houses that look way to large and lavish to have belong to a worker.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:07 PM
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I wonder if that whole convention will dissipate as internet-based real estate advertising becomes the norm, and people aren't as worried about word-count? I guess from my perspective, I'd be willing to pay about $X for a toilet-and-sink in a relatively convenient location, in addition to a regular full bath, I might be willing to pay $2X or $3X for the addition of a shower stall. Of course, that assumes you've got a big enough water heater to make it worthwhile (or, better yet, on-demand water heating, although apparently that is still prohibitively expensive for retrofitting for most house values. Even with the tax/utility credits.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:11 PM
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A Toledo Toilet is a sturdy stool that you can use to get your junk high enough to pee in the kitchen sink without making a mess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:11 PM
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531: My grandparents' pre-war double-bungalow here in S. Mpls. had a Pittsburgh toilet. I can't imagine it was standard in their neighborhood, even though there was more heavy industry (e.g. Mpls Moline) around there in those days. Hmm.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:13 PM
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It would suck to buy a house listed as 2 bathrooms and discover you have 4 toilets and no shower.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:14 PM
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My grandpa had his own bathroom in the basement to clean up when he got home from working in the rail yard. Except his was an actual (roughly fitted) bathroom, not just a toilet plunked down in the middle with no walls.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:16 PM
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It was gone when I bought the house, but you can see the outline of a former Pittsburgh toilet on a wall in the basement.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:19 PM
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||

NMM to Ernest Borgnine, a long and productive life but still very sad news.

|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:19 PM
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A Toledo Toilet is a sturdy stool that you can use to get your junk high enough to pee in the kitchen sink without making a mess.

If you've got a stool in your sink, then you've made a mess.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:20 PM
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Don't you guys have garbage disposal units?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:24 PM
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If it's a sturdy stool, it could have other, horrible, urpley uses.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:29 PM
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481: and, opponents of apartheid explicitly based their campaign on this point, set up their HQ in wanky-liberal North London, relied hugely on it. Wanky liberals should make more of this.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:30 PM
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re: 451.last

Pretty much. We earn a comfortable income -- the wolf isn't immediately at the door. Certainly way above any benefit threshold. But saving, say, 20% of our income it'd still take _years_ to get a deposit together, and since our rent is about 40% of our income, and our commuting costs another 10-15%, that's not very realistic. Assuming things like eating, and paying other bills, and so on.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:32 PM
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In honor of Ernest Borgnine, everyone should see this movie. Well, in his honor, you should probably see The Dirty Dozen or Marty, but there are a hundred other reasons you should see The Devil's Rain.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:39 PM
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498: If that worked, by now we would be out of aristocrats and prelates, no? Near as I can tell, revolutions don't to shit for the proletariat 'tho the lumpens sometimes can make off with the golden bathroom fixtures.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 2:50 PM
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498: Probably needs updating to involve investment bankers and CEOs. But of course construed broadly enough, there's never a "last" anything.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:02 PM
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If you've got a stool in your sink, then it was a damned good party.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:04 PM
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||
Oh, oh! My friend wrote a book! I think you all should go out and buy it!
|>


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:05 PM
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I just checked Zillow on that house next door in DC. Sold in 2003 for 500, in 2007 for 619, and then in 2010 for 629. 2 br, 1ba, 4k sqft lot. Half mile walk to Metro. Pairs of lawyers in both 03 and 07. In London, I suppose it would be even more expensive.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:07 PM
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Nice book. A bit pricey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:08 PM
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550: Just to get you further in touch with your economic subjectivity, I'm sure.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:16 PM
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502

I think honestly the historical record proves the opposite. Back when Communist revolution was still a live possiblity, ...

Communist revolution was never a live possibility in the United States.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:46 PM
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510

... Apparently, actually being in that environment and dealing with that reality totally changed his perspective on urban poverty, and now he's more of a leftist. (The ability to turn Republicans into leftists is a plus of the program, although this personal growth comes on the backs of poor children, which is not great.)

Not everyone reacts to contact with poor blacks by becoming more liberal.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:48 PM
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543

Pretty much. We earn a comfortable income -- the wolf isn't immediately at the door. Certainly way above any benefit threshold. But saving, say, 20% of our income it'd still take _years_ to get a deposit together, and since our rent is about 40% of our income, and our commuting costs another 10-15%, that's not very realistic. Assuming things like eating, and paying other bills, and so on.

What would the sales price and deposit be in terms of your income? Is this after tax or before tax income?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 3:51 PM
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548: The book looks interesting; the Table of Contents tells me that it would probably be over my head. Bummer. I have no training in economics whatsoever. Maybe the Introduction would be okay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 4:07 PM
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Sale price? Of the place we rent now, about 6 or 7 times our combined pre-tax income. Deposit, about 20% of that, I suppose, so a little less than our combined pre-tax annual income.* Give or take. I'm a bit uncomfortable making it so specifically about me, as I'm not poor. But cities like London make it impossible for even people on solidly 'middle-class' [in terms of social status of the jobs involved, not in terms of historic consumption] incomes.

* there are lenders lending with slightly lower deposits than they were, so perhaps that's a mild over-estimate, I don't know for sure.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 4:09 PM
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557

Back when Communist revolution was still a live possiblity

I'm trying and failing to recall what I was reading recently that pointed out that the Soviet experiment wasn't the only form a Marxist system needed to take ...

Oh, it was the NYRB review of Zizek. I must say I don't know what to make of that guy. I feel apologetic about this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 4:11 PM
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558

557: He's a performance artist doing a longform "you people will read anything" conceit, right?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:07 PM
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559

558: I honestly have no idea. Apparently Kotsko does. I have to leave it with those who do know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:22 PM
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560

552: I tend to agree, although if it was going to happen, it was closest in 1934. A couple more major general strikes that year, and you would have a lot more scope for the kind of organizing that could have pushed it over the top. 100,000 people lined the route of the funeral procession for Henry Ness and John Belor. That's more than a fifth of the population! Clearly, there was some potential for something bigger.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:41 PM
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561

560: All of that was in Minneapolis, during the Teamster Truck Strike.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:42 PM
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562

Some of the organizing going on in Wisconsin and especially Ohio seems good. Florida is successfully fighting back against their Gov. Rick Scott's voter purge attempts. The voter suppression laws in any number of states are in the courts now and are not faring well.

It's slow. A great deal rests on the upcoming November elections, not just presidential, but so-called down ticket -- House and Senate, at both federal and state levels -- races. Please, everyone, vote, and vote for Democrats.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 8-12 5:52 PM
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