Re: Friends, Enemies, Irishmen

1

I thought of James Baker, coming on my TV after 9/11 to complain about the Church Commission, of all things, and I thought about his years of loyal service to one ruling family

Two, actually. He has been as loyal to the Sauds as to the Bushes, if not more so...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:12 AM
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Things are getting weird, people. Time to get the unmarked gun and fake passport out of the wall safe.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:21 AM
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What!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:23 AM
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I never actually read it, but what about that authoritarian personality book that people kept on linking to and talking about a year or two ago? That probably addressed this sort of issue.

Also, Ogged!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:26 AM
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2: I've got a fake gun and an unmarked passport, if that works.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:27 AM
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I figured the lack of comments was due to everyone sitting in stunned silence.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:27 AM
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6 to 3, more or less.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:27 AM
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Ogged!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:28 AM
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6 I figured I'd just accidentally clicked on the some link to the archives in the sidebar.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:29 AM
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Anyone remember the book I'm talking about in 4?

Another thing that fits in here is the sort of conservative that talks smugly about how the US is a republic not a democracy, and gets all Federalist Papers about how the system is intended to resist mob rule. I would suggest calling these people oligarchs (no, that's wrong. An 'oligarch' is someone who's actually in power in an oligarchy. What do you call someone who thinks oligarchy is a good idea?).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:29 AM
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Flush out the hidden imam by ignoring him. Well played, but there are grated feces headed your way, Farrell.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:32 AM
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10: The Authoritarians by Robert Altemeyer, I think.

A supporter of oligarchy ought to be an oligarchist, no?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:33 AM
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12: by analogy with a monarchist, sure.

the sort of conservative that talks smugly about how the US is a republic not a democracy

Because the Senate never gets in the way of aggressive war, the Corruption levels are high, and it hasn't discovered Recycling yet.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:35 AM
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Who is this person and how did he get the keys to this place?

LB, I think you call them Oligarchs. That is, the term originated in Greek as a description of a faction in various poleis which was opposed to the democratic faction. Presumably it included a lot of people who would form part of an oligarchy, but there's no reason to suppose it didn't extend beyond that, or that some people who would have qualified to participate in the oligarchy might not have been democrats.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:37 AM
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Courtiers, the lot of them.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:40 AM
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One is torn between thinking through the taxonomy or just jumping to the part where we call them all Nazis.

Also, has Ogged always used two spaces after periods?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:43 AM
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I am so glad the world is ending. I could use a break.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:48 AM
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You call this cargo?


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:48 AM
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It's the end of the world as you know it, and you feel fine?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:48 AM
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The problem with this project, though, is that you're attempting to make a taxonomy of what are more personality types than political factions, so they're going to be frustratingly fluid. I mean, the Christianists aren't politically distinct from the totalitarian oligarchs, aren't distinct from the neo-Confederates, or however you break them down. They've been reliably politically lined up together for quite a while now. That coalition might split up at some point, but figuring out exactly where the breaklines are going to be ahead of time is not easy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:57 AM
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(And also, of course, to anyone who doesn't already agree with you, it just all sounds like namecalling.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:58 AM
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20, 21 -- He's proposing Science. Which need not have an immediately apparent point. If only the world wasn't ending . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:00 AM
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This isn't quite how I pictured the Resurrection.


Posted by: X.Trapnel | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:16 AM
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George Orwell's Politics and the English Language really should be required reading. Not just as one essay but with an entire unit about it and modern examples of what it's talking about. Same for statistics, but maybe even more important. But then, curriculum built to accommodate standardized tests, blah blah blah.

Also, Ogged‽


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:19 AM
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20: well, but you don't really need to do that, right? If you're talking about an aggregate behavioral profile then, sure, you can just kind of lump the neo-confederate christianist totalitarian oligarchs together and then acknowledge that at this point they're essentially capable of interbreeding freely (when sanctified by a wedded bond and/or they're in an airport bathroom).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:20 AM
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You could also imagine a top-down method of classifying individual personality (rather than something like the big five that we were complaining about the other day); you can take somebody's taxonomic signature as something like a coding for their actual lived personality. Would probably be about as good as anything else.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:21 AM
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This isn't the Resurrection. This is the Apocalypse.


"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. [a reference to front-page poster status]
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. [mistranscription of the Greek for "kidney" as "head", clearly]
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. [Three and a half years; creepily close to ogged's peak blogging years]


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:21 AM
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10. Adorno wrote a book titled Authoritarian Personality in 1950. It wasn't empirical.

21. Sure, one critique of Adorno's book: ...subjecting the American people to what amounted to collective psychotherapy--by treating them as inmates of an insane asylum

Is there a named personality type for tyrants who troll their own subjects commenters?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:22 AM
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There is nothing I agree with less than 24. Fuck that fucking idiotic and overrated essay. No politics does not depend on adopting George Orwell's idiosyncratic writing style.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:28 AM
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There is nothing I agree with less than 24.

Wow, this is where you finally hit bottom? I wasn't sure about the apocalypse thing until now...


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:32 AM
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Also, I don't think anyone but under 25s or lunatics actually believe in "democracy" in all spheres of life, but rather we all have different spheres in which different arrangements seem appropriate. I think the left-right split is pretty simple, and has been for about 200 years -- do you favor expanding the rights, wealth, and power of the poor, workers, and traditionally dispossessed, or do you favor bolstering the authority of the already powerful and locally dominant. That difference can play out in a zillion different ways in a zillion different local conditions but it seems like the basic split and the reason why we've kept the concept of a right and a left for so long.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:34 AM
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Everyone needs to read Jacques Ellul's Propaganda 1973, I guess.

There are very good reasons, or aspects of technique, to call oligarchs, monarchists, and plutocrats, even Stalinists...democrats. Even if it is a lie that all know is a lie. It is called pre-propaganda, preparing the ground for activist or instigation propaganda, the moment when the pitchforks come out. This could be analyzed according to the two intended audiences, the for example monarchists and actual democrats.

1) A James Baker will pretend to be a democrat. We can also pretend Baker is a democrat.

2) Actual democrats, if the ground is prepared, will get their pitchforks when Baker shows his true colors, reveals his monarchism. They will not burn shit down if we have been calling Baker monarchist for ages, reacting "Yeah, so? This is news?"

We need to have a disruption, doesn't matter if phony and manufactured, but an excuse to amp up political energy and action.

Reichstag fire and Krystalnacht (sp?) being two examples of how this is done. Propaganda is about action, creating activists who do stuff.

Ian Welsh is trying to create a New Ideology to inspire the Revolution. We need no new ideas, we need to use our tools. Ellul wrote a good book.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:35 AM
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Can someone who is closer to the holy secrets of the 12th Imam tell me what is up with the jihad in the first half of this post? Before the world ends?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:35 AM
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No politics does not depend on adopting George Orwell's idiosyncratic writing style.

All politics depends on adopting Orwell's idiosyncratic writing style?!? Well, poop.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:41 AM
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Just that Ogged would prefer Farrell to have been more responsive about returning his mail? Blogospheric capital does evaporate a bit after years of inactivity, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:41 AM
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28.1: Isn't Altemeyer's work partly an elaboration of Adorno's? (I haven't read it.)


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:42 AM
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"It" meaning The Authoritarians.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:43 AM
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37: nice act, got a name for it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:44 AM
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The problem of and for the Left, always already and forever, and the problem of politics...is how do we get the folks into the fucking streets with torches.

We got that, we got everything.

Education and enlightenment, daily propaganda has its purposes, but is only about making collective action possible. It does not deliver mobs.

Shocks and surprises create mobs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:45 AM
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well, but you don't really need to do that, right? If you're talking about an aggregate behavioral profile then, sure, you can just kind of lump the neo-confederate christianist totalitarian oligarchs together and then acknowledge that at this point they're essentially capable of interbreeding freely

I think that's right, but Ogged is looking for ways to split that lump. I'm thinking that it may not be practically splittable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:47 AM
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38: ...so then the son detains the mom under sealed indictment, and the dad restricts the daughter's reproductive rights...


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:50 AM
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40: breeds. They're breeds. Now, it could be that some of them they'll eventually get stuck on neoconfederate island and true speciation will happen, but that is not necessary to make a phenotypic differentiation.

What I think he's going to get stuck on is taxonomy's need for a strict hierarchy (does it have a need for one? In my head, just now, it had a need for one); the way you're really going to be able to differentiate individuals is by relative levels of membership in different groups which may themselves not be terribly taxonomically close.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:50 AM
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It's a noble impulse to want to taxonomize politics as varying admixtures of different elemental ideologies, at the very least getting away from left vs. right, but I'm not sure such a method can ever reflect the messiness of all the emotions, impulses, alliances, and reflexes that make up political stances.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:51 AM
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I hate that fucking Orwell essay so much. Here's the introduction, which I just looked up:

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way
[WRONG], but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes [THIS SENTIMENT YOU'RE MOCKING IS CORRECT AND THE FACT THAT YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SOUND LIKE A WHINY ASS BITCH NOSTALGIC CONSERVATIVE MIGHT INDICATE THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SOUND LIKE A WHINY ASS BITCH NOSTALGIC CONSERVATIVE]. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes. [OF COURSE THAT'S WHAT LANGUAGE IS ASSHOLE]

The rest of the essay is just him cherry-picking bad writing and pretending that it's somehow politically significant.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:52 AM
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40. It is splittable and needs to be split, at least in the debates among the people who might become the opposition to it, because opposition requires understanding requires analysis. The interactions and interfaces between the various currents on the radical right also need to be understood better than they are.

Sure, the other side will dismiss any such effort and pretend to be offended. So what, they're professionally offended and you're not talking to them at this point anyway.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:56 AM
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xox 44.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:57 AM
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Blogospheric capital does evaporate a bit after years of inactivity, of course.

Lalalalalalalalalalalalala. I can't hear you.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:58 AM
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Here's a link to the Ellul Propaganda ...pdf scan, slow to load, but downloadable

1865, trans 1975 (effective copyright?), I don't know how illegal this is but it is 40 years old.

175 pages, but fairly dense. In the intro Ellul explains why empirical and experimental studies are fairly useless in explaining mass or national behavior.

I haven't got to the part where he explains how data, analysis, facts, information, taxonomies are used to keep intellectuals passive and quiescent.

Ellul is interesting. Fervent Christian Anarchist, fairly radical. A useful perspective. One wonders if Althusser and tel quel or whoever read him.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:59 AM
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LB in 10. I think you are referring to what you referred to in this post.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:59 AM
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48: 1965, sorry. A little dated, but Ellul appears to be very informed about Maoism, for instance.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:01 AM
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20, 25 &c: Three different things: personality types, ideological profiles, political systems. They may correspond roughly, but they're still different things.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:02 AM
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Halford is Geoff Pullum? How does Halford feel about Strunk & White?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:03 AM
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38: nice act, got a name for it?

Shouldn't that be "nice name, got an act for it"?

(Pwned a bit by J McQ in 41.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:07 AM
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From my notes on Ellul:

It seems to us that there are four great collective sociological presuppositions in the modern world- By this we mean not only the Western world, but all the world that shares a modem technology and as structured into nations, including the Communist world, though not yet the African or Asian worlds. These common presuppositions of bourgeois and proletarian are that man's aim in life is happiness, that man is naturally good, that history develops in endless progress, and that everything is matter.

In our society the two great fundamental myths On which all other myths rest are Science and History. And based on them are the collective myths that are mans principal orientations: the myth of Work, the myth of Happiness (which is not the same thing as the presupposition of happiness), the myth of the Nation, the myth of Youth, the myth of the Hero

Propaganda must be based on current beliefs and symbols to reach man and win him over. On the other hand, propaganda must also follow the general
direction of evolution, which includes the belief in progress. A normal, spontaneous evolution is more or less expected, even if man is completely unaware of It, and in order to succeed, propaganda must move in the direction of that evolution.

This is all the analysis you really need, because you really dare not move away from this list. You will fail if you do.

As y'all know, I don't care much about our enemies.

It is about building a weapon and pulling the trigger. The weapon won't care what it is pointed towards.

What, this sounds authoritarian and vanguardish? You think we got democracy? That isn't even one of the above presuppositions or myths.

"Democracy" is the excuse for centrish intellectuals to let the abject suffer. "No, we can't do that, it wouldn't be democratic."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:20 AM
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36: I haven't read the 2010 similarly titled book either. From the reviews, I figured that it was a contemporary application of the original, like the LiLo remake of Herbie the Love Bug.

43, 51: I figure most republicans are motivated by either Christianity, free market ideology, or wanting the US to engage in and win more wars. Maybe there are also elderly people who are just nostalgic or who believe that simpler happier times can be brought back by voting for a party that looks backwards.

I can't usefully think about personality types in any abstract way. It's fun with particular individuals, but that seems like something else to me.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:20 AM
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The Authoritarians was published as a weird-ass pdf/ebook over here. I think its a great work that deserves wider exposure. I still think in term's of its model when considering the problem of right wing nutjobs.

Or left-wing nutjobs, for that matter. The book makes the point that same Bircher-Teabaggers we have today would have been hard-core Stalinists if born in another place and time.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:23 AM
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I just want to say that an Unfogger who shall not be named here sent me a text reading only "Ogged came back!!!!!"

Ogged!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:32 AM
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The rest of the essay is just him cherry-picking bad writing and pretending that it's somehow politically significant.

But some of his example are politically significant. Take this parody, for example.

I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

This is a parody, but not a very gross one.

The style that he mocks is instantly recognizable and is used to diminish political solidarity -- it is the language that says, "the world is complicated, and unintended consequences are rife, so it is better to make decisions based on my complicated model rather than sentiment."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:39 AM
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And YOU were there and YOU were there and YOU and YOU and


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:41 AM
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51: right, they're analogous so... ohhhh. Ogged is so banned.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:41 AM
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"the world is complicated, and unintended consequences are rife, so it is better to make decisions based on my complicated model rather than sentiment."

Arguably, that's also the main take-away point of Ecclesiastes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:44 AM
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Standpipe? Meekins? Bob?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:44 AM
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I figure most republicans are motivated by either Christianity, free market ideology, or wanting the US to engage in and win more wars.

You forgot racism and similar xenophobia directed toward anyone different from the person in question's immediate neighbors (immigrants, city people, gays, whatever).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:44 AM
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ogged!

Anyhow, while I do tend to lump everyone on the right under the convenient heading of "fascists," I think there are useful differentiations to be made.

How would these map to personalities and how would this form a more rational taxonomy (was this all inspired by that funny DSM-V review?) is a more difficult question, of course, but one that I think could admit of some clever, Unfogged-worthy answers.

Obviously, you have major, acknowledged ideological strains -- Anarchism, Bourgeois Liberalism, Communism, Democratic Socialism, Eco-liberalism, Fascism, Neoliberalism, Monarchism, Oligarchism, Theocracy, etc. But surely we could add something along the lines of the biaxial Dungeons & Dragons taxonomy of basic intent/corruption levels -- Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil, etc. And perhaps some circle of radicalism-progressivism-liberalism-conservativism-reactionary.

So for instance, Pat Robertson would be a Lawful Evil Progressive Theocrat who tends to ally himself with Lawful Evil Conservative Neoliberals as convenient. Noam Chomsky would be a Lawful Good Progressive Anarchist who winds up supporting a lot of Lawful Neutral Progressive Democratic Socialist initiatives because they seem more plausible. Zizek is some kind of Chaotic Neutral Reactionary Communist mashed up with a bunch of Serbian-specific intellectual pretensions.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:46 AM
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61: Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of complicated technocratic model, but I still think Orwell is write to point out that a style of bureaucratic blandness is politically significant.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:48 AM
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64.last: He's Slovenian, racist! Although possibly you know that and just know more about his politics than I do, which is plausible.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:50 AM
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66: I think I did know that but forgot, and hasn't he said some wacky pro-Serbian stuff? Maybe I'm confused.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:57 AM
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65: But it's only significant IN THAT IT IS THE PRODUCT OF A BUREAUCRACY THAT WRITES THAT WAY FOR (OFTEN) VERY GOOD REASON. So either you want to eliminate bureaucracies, which need jargon and impersonal writing to function, in which case you are an asshole and an idiot, or you think that somehow waving your hands and going argle bargle good writing write like me argle argle whatever the purpose is for your writing argle argle bargle is politically significant, in which case you are an asshole and an idiot.

Not to mention that MOST of the piece is just complaining about people using common phrases, which is moronic because guess what dickface most of those common phrases are used for a reason and you use a whole bunch of them too.

The Ecclesiastes example is actually one of the better demonstrations of how crappy the essay is -- of course, he is super-unfairly comparing one of the great poetic works of all time to his imaginary rendering of it as terrible writing (nice subtle trick genius) but, also, he is using a piece of religious-political propaganda as the exemplar of how we should write to avoid religious-political propaganda. It's just straight up Wililiam Safire stupid language conservatism that uses the KJV bible for extra nostalgic points, and it's a bullshit essay. Although, to be fair, the use of the essay in internet discourse ("As George Orwell said, clear writing is blah blah blah") is far more annoying than the essay itself.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:59 AM
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Or anti-Serbian? Frankly, I tend to tune out most Zizek that I encounter.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:00 PM
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still think Orwell is write to point out that

In all fairness, I think he might be critical of this phrasing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:00 PM
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Why, I can remember the days when ogged used to participate in comment threads. If I recall correctly, I had an onion tied to my belt...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:03 PM
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Ogged!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:03 PM
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70: Writist. Which kind, I can't tell.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:04 PM
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Wishing, and hoping, and thinking, and praying,
Planning and dreaming, each night of his charms,
That won't get him into your threads...


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:06 PM
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I acknowledge the merit of all the criticisms of Orwell's essay, but I remain deeply convinced that if everyone just wrote more clearly, the world would be a happier, freer place.


IN THAT IT IS THE PRODUCT OF A BUREAUCRACY THAT WRITES THAT WAY FOR (OFTEN) VERY GOOD REASON.

I recognize that bullshit is necessary in all sorts of complicated contexts, but it can't be the case that we need so much bullshit, so much of the time.

If I had to guess, I'd say 60% of the bullshit in the world exists to cover up malefeasance. Another 20% exists because of bureaucratic inertia and habit. At best 20% of it exists because a certain amount of ambiguity and empty phrases are necessary to smooth over differences between people and keep everyone from hating everyone else.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:09 PM
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The rhetorical form of 75.last is not ideal for the argument 75.last is trying to make.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:11 PM
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If by "cover up malfeasance" we mean "make it look like we're actually working instead of looking at the internet"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:11 PM
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I don't really disagree with 75, but bad or impersonal writing is not at all the same thing as bullshit. You can have well written bullshit (Orwell's essay is an example!) and horribly written non-bullshit that comes from bureaucracies. I agree that there are some ways in which "bad" writing can be used to cover up bullshit, but there are also lots of ways in which good writing can be used to cover up bullshit -- one sees both a lot in lawyering.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:13 PM
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||
Noted on Facebook: Young professionals on vacation taking identical selfies at cliched tourist spots, then commenting on the identicalness when they are uploaded.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:15 PM
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76: It is hard to be the change one wants to see in the world.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:19 PM
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!


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:33 PM
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Bejaysus. 'Tis himself that's in it.
Wondering now, if that's "First", what's second?


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 12:52 PM
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Halford, you ignorant slut, was Orwell wrong about this part?

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
"While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement."
And if not, don't you think that might be just a teensy bit relevant to the OP?
Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:00 PM
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OGGED! PBUY!


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:03 PM
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82: right, what's on second.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:06 PM
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There, Orwell is again confusing making points about underlying politics with bullshit about good writing. If you want to say negative things about the Soviet Union and about how its methods were awful and how its ends don't justify the means, great, go for it. But that's a problem of substantive politics, not writing style (although of course Orwell again stacks the deck with a strawman of bad writing of his own creation). And let's not pretend that we don't all use language about political results when those are the results we like. "An important moment in the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties was when Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" and opposed southern segregationists." OMG unaccountable language and vague speech used to defend the indefensible!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:13 PM
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I agree that there are some ways in which "bad" writing can be used to cover up bullshit, but there are also lots of ways in which good writing can be used to cover up bullshit . . .

This is absolutely true.

I'm still inclined to defend the Orwell essay, but I should be working and I suspect it will just bore everyone, so I'm inclined to leave it for now.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:23 PM
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There, Orwell is again confusing making points about underlying politics with bullshit about good writing.

Lets use more specific terms here than "good writing." "Good writing" might just mean "writing that is aesthetically pleasing to me."

What we actually mean here is clear writing. There is writing intended to obfuscate, and there is writing that makes its point simply and directly. This is a fairly objective difference we can get some agreement on.

Orwell's point was not that the Soviet Union is terrible. This political claim is a premise in his argument about language. The Soviet Union is terrible. People who write about it directly would have to admit that it is terrible. Therefore, people who support the Soviets will use obfuscatory language.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:26 PM
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Plenty of people both defended the Soviet Union and were excellent, clear writers, even if you take the kind of style Orwell is talking about as the be all and end all of good style in English. From the top of my head:

IF Stone (at times)
Edmund Wilson (at times)
John Reed
EJ Hobsbawm
EP Thompson



Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:35 PM
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And for just one of many examples of "good writing"* intended to obfuscate, may I introduce you to one Antonin Scalia (who I am absolutely sure nods his fat neck in agreement over and over when reading that fucking Orwell essay).

*Oddly, McMegan is another example that comes quickly to mind. I hate that piece of shit, but she for the most part checks the box of "clear writing" under the Orwell criteria most of the time. Yet she is the ulitmate bullshitter.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:38 PM
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Therefore, people who support the Soviets will use obfuscatory language.

This conclusion is not in fact true, perhaps because the premise that immediately precedes it is not true.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:53 PM
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Not to pick a fight, but haven't we all read, and heard, and seen enough references to the Orwell essay? Do we have to drag it out every other tiff and whipstitch? Wouldn't everyone and everything everywhere benefit if we left the essay, and/or Orwell's whole oeuvre, unquoted and unreferenced for a decent fallow period?

See also earlier complaints of Flippanter Commenting Services LLC regarding the words "palimpsest" and "awesome."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:57 PM
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I like that one story he did about the pig and the spider, Animal Planet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 1:59 PM
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88, 89: Those are good examples. I'd add Bill Buckley. You could build an entire critical thinking textbook and only use his writing every time you needed an example of misleading rhetoric.

But all this means is that there are more and less artful ways to obfuscate. My point is that we need to stop focusing on writing that is artful or artless, and think about honest and dishonest writing.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:03 PM
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Actually, I'm teaching critical thinking next semester, and was considering both using "Politics and the English Language" and a healthy dose of examples from Buckley.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:04 PM
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If only we conducted our political discourse in Lojban.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:09 PM
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But all this means is that there are more and less artful ways to obfuscate. My point is that we need to stop focusing on writing that is artful or artless, and think about honest and dishonest writing.

Well, OK, I thinkI agree, but what I'm trying to say is that "honest and dishonest writing" is separable from, and not primarily a function of, having a "clear" writing style. It's about the truth or falsity of the substantive message the writer is trying to communicate, and whether or not the writer is trying to cover up a bad argument with bullshit (which can be easily done while having a "clear" writing style).

The problem (more accurately one problem, that piece of shit essay has so many problems) is that Orwell is confusing his idiosyncratic aesthetic preferences in English style with the substantive merit of the point a writer is trying to convey.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:12 PM
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Ogged!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:23 PM
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Orwell was a dinosaur!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:23 PM
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Birds are oggeds!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:24 PM
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90: You know, I'd agree with you about both Scalia and McMegan, but I think their clarity makes both of them much weaker polemicists. Scalia's opinions, where dishonest, seem to me to be obviously dishonest -- you can spot the moment where he starts lying. And pretty much the same for McMegan; her characteristic move is simply to invent facts that support her position, rather than to blow smoke. There's a reason she's a particular punching bag for the lefty blogosphere, and it's that her writing is clear enough to be easily attack.

I think that's part of Orwell's point -- foggy writing is harder to attack or refute. You can say terrible things clearly, but once they're said, you can disagree with them powerfully in a way that doesn't work as well against vaguer writing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:35 PM
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Yeah, kinda like if you invented a new way of speaking English that was so absurdly deintellectualized that it was impossible to communicate anything outside of the official discourse.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:37 PM
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I unsurprisingly totally disagree with 101. "Bad" writing is not easier to refute -- that's why (for example) corporations that want to make terrible arguments generally hire good and clear, not bad and murky, writers to do their legal and PR writing. "Good" writing is harder to refute because its (often) rhetorically more effective.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:40 PM
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103: That sounds like you agree with the main point of 101:

foggy writing is harder to attack or refute.

Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:41 PM
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Never mind, given the rest of your comment, you clearly meant the opposite of:

"Bad" writing is not easier to refute

Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:42 PM
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RIght, a misplaced "not" there. Sorry.

I think LB is thinking about the problem, which is a real one, of when you get a brief that's so badly and vaguely written it's hard to get a clear line even on how to attack it, because it's hard to figure out what the arguments are. That's a real problem, but it's also (reasonably) easily dealt with -- you just spend some time, figure out what the argument plausibly is, set that forth clearly, and then refute it decisively. It's a little annoying to have to take that first step, but, once done, the "bad" writing is incredibly ineffective.

"Good" writing that makes bullshit points is far harder to refute, though, which is why people are willing to pay a lot of money for it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:51 PM
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I'm downgrading my "Ogged!" to "Ogged" until he shows up in comments.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:51 PM
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In my experience doing some corporate policy writing, vague language is usually used to mask a failure to agree on exactly what is meant, or a failure to even think through what is meant by the person doing the writing.

So, for instance, the policy:

The supplier is required to deliver new widgets, in good working order. The company will pay for the order onethe order is fulfilled.

is easier to get agreement on than

Widgets manufactured more than 30 days prior to delivery will not be counted towards the fulfillment of an order. Widgets that do not produce an output of at least 10 bleggs per minute at the time of delivery will not be counted towards the fulfullment of an order. ThisCompany will not disburse any payments for an order until that order is filled per the above.

The latter actually forces people to think about consequences, and the fact that you don't actually intend to withhold payment if one widget out of a million is broken.

The second version is still way too vague, because it doesn't outline the timing of the operational controls by which ThisCompany inspects the widgets.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:56 PM
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The kind of writing in 106 is sometimes described as "That's not right. That's not even wrong."


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:56 PM
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*once the order is fulfilled


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:56 PM
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But that kind of vagueness can be expressed in simple active sentences full of forceful words.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 2:57 PM
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Bad writing takes many forms, Dogberry and Curate's Egg being two categories that occur to me just now.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 3:10 PM
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24 George Orwell's Politics and the English Language really should be required reading.

I'm pretty sure I was required to read it three distinct times.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 3:25 PM
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It's not fair to rag on Orwell too much. He was an author who moonlighted as a politician, so of course his ideas are premised around authorial concerns!

In particular, Orwell makes good points about the way language is used to avoid saying bluntly what the actual implications of policy are, and maybe the idea that there's a political interest in a certain kind of bad language is correct. But there's also a bunch of weird prescriptivism which is very much of his time.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 3:29 PM
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Also if any Orwell should be required it should be "Why I Write", I think. Or maybe passages from "The Road To Wigan Pier".


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 3:32 PM
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It's sweet that ogged's return didn't in any way lead people to stick to the OP longer than they otherwise would.

Although maybe that's because 64 is so sound as an outline of how to proceed.

I guess the relevant question is: taking a Haidt-like set of moral foundations, do different blends map onto specific political systemic preferences? That is, does someone with the basic suite of conservative moral values* but (say) loyalty maxed out consistently end up supporting a form/flavor of government that's distinct from her otherwise similar fellow traveller who maxes out sanctity? It's easy enough to see that those people end up in different parts of the GOP coalition, but do they really want different governments?

Actually, you could probably argue that the US Gov't (in its Platonic form) is basically a Rorschach test at this point: bootlicking Tea Partiers and bleeding heart do-gooders are equally convinced that, properly run, our system as laid out by the Founders would align with their particular preferences.

*reviewing his work, I'm reminded that, in his scheme, conservatives have all the moral values, while liberals only care about a couple; fucking self-loathing liberal academics


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 3:46 PM
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unfoggy writing is harder


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 4:20 PM
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helpy-chalk is clearly right in 75, and Halford has just gone way over the top. Dude, who on earth are you talking to who thinks Orwell is so utterly perfect?

He wrote a good essay which made some strong points in a catchy way. He was wrong on some things, is outdated on others, but does that really matter? It's fundamentally a good thing to have people thinking about how liars and cheats manipulate language so it sounds like that's not what they're doing.

[something snarky about IP law omitted out of respect for the other stuff you've said over the years that I agreed with]


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 5:48 PM
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56:The book makes the point that same Bircher-Teabaggers we have today would have been hard-core Stalinists if born in another place and time.

As would most of us. The mark of a liberal, she who is attuned to the transcendental mystic Truths of Freedom! and Empathy, is that her beliefs are unaffected by history and material conditions. Sersly.

You know, we Communists and Fascists have no trouble telling ourselves and each other apart.

And yes we flip. Jacques Ellul started as a hard-core Marxist, and in the course of two weeks became a devout Christian and anarchist. It is called a conversion experience. Rationalist liberals can't understand such things, but commies and nazis can, we do share some ontologies.

But we want to kill each other anyway.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 5:55 PM
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Wondering now, if that's "First", what's second?

Freddie Mercury comeback.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 6:38 PM
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118 -- That Orwell essay is generally not assigned or invoked for the proposition of "sometimes language is manipulated to hide the truth" (and, if it were, it wouldn't be a particularly good essay for doing so). If that's all it was, it would be fine -- a standard, obvious gripe about a kind of bureuacracy-speak in a kind of annoyingly overblown, crusty style. OK.

But that's not what has created the reputation of the essay. Rather, it is assigned and invoked for a different proposition -- that "clear" writing with a "good" style is important not only because it's aesthetically pleasing, but because a clear writing style is politically and morally significant and is (purportedly) an antidote to all sorts of bad, oppressive politics and evil thought. It's an argument about the political and moral importance of the writing instructor (and, unsurprisingly, gets assigned by writing instructors for that reason). And that's just bullshit -- writing like George Orwell does not make you a better person, good politics does not depend on lots of other people writing so as to avoid the passive voice, and obfuscation is just as, if not more, effective under the veil of stylistically "clear' writing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 6:42 PM
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He was just trying to move the Overton Window on bureaucratic writing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 6:57 PM
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Obligatory Lingua Franca archive link.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:01 PM
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90, 101: I find myself baffled by the assertion that McMegan is a "good" or "clear" writer.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:04 PM
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Appropriately enough, I was unclear. I meant to write, "Is the work of a dead racist Brit that some contemporary racist Brits decided we should think is awesome, awesome?"

No, apparently I really was unclear, because both Nat St. Paul and LB (How do you still have a job? Ten years!) thought I was looking for a personality matrix, when I just brought up personalities to establish that there must be a diversity of views, and what are the names for the political expressions of these diverse views? Short answer: nobody gives a fuck.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:04 PM
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Wait, you wrote a post?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:13 PM
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Never read the posts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:15 PM
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121 -- yeah I agree. I don't like the way Politics And The English Language is used. I think it's a middling-to-poor essay (by Orwell's standards) made worse by the ways it's used, especially the complete dislocation from context.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:15 PM
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125: o-dog, you want straightforward political sciency breakdowns in terms of, say, oligarchy, plutocracy, monarchy and so on? Forms of socioeconomic, political structure? There's got to be a primer out there somewhere. I am not trained in political science myself.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:23 PM
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What is the OP suggesting, exactly? Is it that we should label people by what their political opinions would effectively support, as distinct from their stated opinions? The people I know who are, effectively, oligarch(ist)s, in that they support policies that let the very rich run things, are the ones who crow most loudly about personal liberties, which is to say they think of themselves as libertarians. Are they the ones who would be oligarchs in the OP's classification?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:27 PM
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118: Christopher Hitchens, via Ouija board, and the warloving fucker is still drunk.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:28 PM
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I thought an "oligarch" was properly one of the few who ruled (cf. monarch), and not one who supported a system of rule by the few.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:29 PM
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Maybe I mean plutocrats, really, although I'm not sure what the practical distinction is.

If one of my political opinions is that we should have more government support of basic research, and the eventual outcome (unintended and not part of my stated political preferences) is that it allows Sifu to build superintelligent robots that conquer us all, should I be classified as a robotist?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:29 PM
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125: Oh, never mind then.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:35 PM
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I'm going to continue to use my tripartite matrix anyway, just to amuse myself. Maybe I will add another axis at some point too, just to be more explicit.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:38 PM
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Oooh! How about a card game where you draw a card from each of the three or four political categories and then there's maybe some offset like an era of history, and you have to think of a person who is best described by them? Might have to fine-tune it a bit, because I want to be able to play it over Skype with Moby when he's at the tavern.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:46 PM
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135: I like your axis idea for politics, but I'd start from something like theism, equality, and something like capitalism.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:54 PM
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Libertarians are feudalists, not supporters of plutocracy.
124: Agreed. Contra LB somewhere above, her first line of defense isn't lying. It's her habit of obscuring her argument in a giant cloud of words.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:55 PM
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What is the OP suggesting, exactly?

Imagine that instead of "Republican" and "Democrat" you could classify people according to a more comprehensive list. Remember the dude in Idaho who was making pork-coated bullets, for killing Muslims? Perfect fit for the Bloc Identitaire. And we have no trouble calling them radical nativists when they're over there. And we could, or you should, or some political scientist really already should have, gone down the line and delineated the "hidden" or "deep" factions in the American coalitions.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 7:57 PM
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So maybe patterned after something like the political parties of Belgium?

Flemish
Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams/CD&V (Christian Democratic and Flemish)
Groen (Green)
Libertair, Direct, Democratisch/LDD (Libertarian, Direct, Democratic)
Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie/N-VA (New Flemish Alliance)
Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten/Open Vld (Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats)
Socialistische Partij Anders/sp.a (Different Socialist Party)
Vlaams Belang/VB (Flemish Interest)

Francophone
Centre Démocrate Humaniste/CdH (Humanist Democratic Centre)
Ecolo
Fédéralistes Démocrates Francophones/FDF (Francophone Democratic Federalists)
Mouvement Réformateur/MR (Reformist Movement), including the Mouvement des Citoyens pour le Changement/MCC (Citizens' Movement for Change)
Parti Socialiste/PS (Socialist Party)

German
Christlich Soziale Partei/CSP (Christian Social Party)
Partei für Freiheit und Fortschritt/PFF (Party for Freedom and Progress) -- part of the MR
ProDG (Party of German-speaking Belgians)

Minor parties
Bilingual/Unitarian
Belgische Unie - Union Belge/BUB (Belgian Union)
Club républicain wallon pour l'Indépendance, la Dignité et la Liberté de la Wallonie
Comité voor een Andere Politiek - Comité pour une Autre Politique/CAP (Committee for Another Policy)
Front nouveau de Belgique/FNB (New Front of Belgium)
Internationaal Verzet - Résistance Internationale (International Resistance)
Internationale Arbeidersliga - Ligue Internationale des Travailleurs (International Workers' League)
Ligue communiste révolutionnaire - Socialistische Arbeiderspartij/LCR-SAP (Revolutionary Communist League)
Linkse Socialistische Partij - Parti Socialiste de Lutte/LSP-PSL (Left Socialist Party)
Rassemblement Wallonie-France
Parti Humaniste - Humanistische Party/PH-HP (Humanist Party)
Partij van de Arbeid van België - Parti du Travail de Belgique/PVDA-PTB (Workers' Party of Belgium)

Others
Kommunistische Partij/KP (Communist Party in Flanders)
Moslim Democratische Partij / MDP (Muslim Democratic Party)
Natuurwetpartij / NWP (Natural Law Party)
NEE (NO)
Nieuwe Christen-Democraten/NCD (New Christian Democrats)
Parti Communiste/PC (Communist Party in Wallonia)
Parti Populaire (Conservative liberal party in Brussels and Wallonia)
Rood! (Red!, socialist party)
Sociaal-Liberale Democraten/SoLiDe (Social-Liberal Democrats)
Veilig Blauw (Safe Blue)
Force Nationale - Walloon far right party


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:02 PM
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139: That example seems qualitatively different to me from your James Baker example, since here you're pointing at people who overtly express radical nativist opinions (whether or not they'd be happy with that label), whereas categorizing Baker as a monarchist seems like more of an extrapolation.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:08 PM
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Belgium is second to only Lebanon for government incoherence. There were nearly two years with no government in BE pretty recently.

I think that Europeans (OK, my dad, a few of his friends, and a few of my friends and colleagues in Northern Europe) already identify the tea party as a cognate party to European nativists. Popular in the countryside, especially among people who have recently lost out.

"neo-confederate" sounds a lot like regional nativist.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:14 PM
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142.1 Yes, it was that to which I was alluding


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:18 PM
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That example seems qualitatively different

I just wanted to give a straightforward example; the project would be mostly extrapolation.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:21 PM
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hooray, ogged! please buy my new book:
https://www.createspace.com/4496421

In a day or two it will be available on amazon, but it's perhaps a good idea to support this createspace company, which lets cranks like me publish books for almost free.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:37 PM
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The boss' niece? Did you write a book based in teo's life?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:41 PM
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If someone is shouting at strangers on a street, or during a session of Congress, and has the ability not to do so (that is, some level of self-control) and is not protesting Jim Crow laws, the intrusion of Britain onto their home front, or some actual cause which can be articulated, then I think we should just call that person an asshole. It doesn't really matter what's being said.

There are a lot of assholes that go to church, but I don't think anything's changed.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:42 PM
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Did teo run off with the boss' niece again? Crap, that gives away the ending.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:43 PM
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Examples of people who genuinely believe in things like plutocracy, oligarchy, and theocracy, all while thinking of themselves as "democrats," abound. It would be fun and informative if someone went down the line with various American constituencies and mapped them onto familiar categories.

Actually, hasn't the right done this already, and unjustly, by mapping all of the left onto "socialism"? I think it's only the left that's been shy about this sort of name-calling. There's no way that this could fail to degenerate into name-calling, either, because democracy is such a crucial aspect of American identity. There's just no way people could agree on such a taxonomy of beliefs, because no (sane) constituency in the US could ever tolerate being labeled as oligarchs, theocrats, communists, or anything else.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:58 PM
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The pop-psych version was published recently by Esquire, but surely we can do better.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 8:58 PM
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I was at my secondary office that blocks the good parts of the internet and then I went to the bar. That's when things happen?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:01 PM
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14 to 132, but the OED goes against 14, offering "oligarchic" or "oligarchist" (the latter only as a noun, but I'm sure they'd stretch a point).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 9:09 PM
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Did teo run off with the boss' niece again?

No, but it turns out my boss's boss also has an attractive niece who seems to like me, so there's that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 10:52 PM
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Jesus, it's nothing but bosses nieces all the way down.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:02 PM
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Does your boss's niece have a boss? With a niece?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:03 PM
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Actually that boss is technically no longer my boss, so 153 isn't strictly true.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:06 PM
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155: Last I heard she was employed, so probably.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:07 PM
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Anyway, I'm not going to try to pursue anything with the latest niece for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which is that she lives in Fairbanks.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-24-13 11:48 PM
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|>
Urgh, friend who posts lots of bullshit posted a thing about how Fukushima means the Pacific Ocean is dead and seafood is going to give me cancer. Is this more bullshit based on radiation maps that are actually ocean depth maps or is this somewhat non-hysterically true?
|>


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:15 AM
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Did your friend see this and assume it was related to Fukushima someow?VC


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:32 AM
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147: You can be both unable to control your ability to shout at people, i.e. mentally ill with a serious/severe and persistent mental illness, AND an asshole. Believe me, I meet them all the time.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:20 AM
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"Finally, according to Dr. Robert Emery at at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston says you'd need to eat 2.5 to 4 tons of tuna in a year to get a dose of cesium-137 that exceeds health limits. That's 14 to 22 pounds of tuna a day."

http://chriskresser.com/fukushima-seafood


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:47 AM
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From what I understand, we should all be worried sick about the state of the ocean and its fish, but not because of Fukushima.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:54 AM
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Ogged!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:57 AM
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I wonder how the Fukashima radiation compares to the scores of nuclear weapons that were blown up in the Pacific during the 1950s. Or the the hundreds of nuclear weapons blown up in Nevada, for that matter.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 4:39 AM
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That's different. American radiation is freedom-bearing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 4:50 AM
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Lots of freedom going around in those days. "The results of a more comprehensive study of the elements found in the teeth collected showed that children born after 1963 had levels of strontium 90 in their baby teeth that was 50 times higher than that found in children born before the advent of large-scale atomic testing."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 4:58 AM
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162: Well, obviously we can't trust Dr. Emery as much as we can trust anonymous cranks on the internet.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 5:18 AM
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I wonder how the Fukashima radiation compares to the scores of nuclear weapons that were blown up in the Pacific during the 1950s.

I wonder how it compares to the radiation you get from living in Denver.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 5:39 AM
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"Finally, according to Dr. Robert Emery at at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston says you'd need to eat 2.5 to 4 tons of tuna in a year to get a dose of cesium-137 that exceeds health limits. That's 14 to 22 pounds of tuna a day."

Sure, for a normal sized person. But Hollywood actors are at risk, just like they were with mercury poisoning.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 7:23 AM
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I went to a talk about BPA the other day. Holy crap depressing. Most of the research is done in Japan, because our lobbying industry so effectively shuts down federal funding for research into BPA in this country, I was told. ARGH.

Also, stop eating canned tomatoes and canned refried beans right this minute.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 7:47 AM
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What's wring with canned tomatoes? Are the cans lined with BPA leaching stuff? I like canned tomatoes.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 7:54 AM
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I tend toward overskepticism on things like BPA/plastics generally. There's so much exposure that I'd think any serious health risk would be blindingly obvious in the epidemiology. If the effects are so hard to find that there's real ambiguity, despite the pervasiveness of exposure, then I doubt they're significant (in the actually important sense, rather than the statistically detectible sense).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 7:58 AM
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I thought it was that the tomatoes themselves leach due to their acidity.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:00 AM
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Back at the beginning of internet for non-geeks, my brother forwarded me one of those virus warnings -- you know, if you've received this email, you may have this new really bad virus. You must delete all your email and then shut off your computer immediately. Shut down your microwave. And your refrigerator. Your toaster. Turn off all electric lights. Set thermostats to off. Shut down your water main. Don't use fire.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:05 AM
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(Obvsly, tv, radio, phones as well . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:08 AM
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The chemical industry is an extremely effective lobby when it comes to materials safety. They've effectively crippled research on lots of additives - flame retardants are a prime example. LB, I think you're underestimating the difficulty of epidemiology. "Huge" effects aren't what you'd think of as big, easily detected numbers out of small noise. For example, basically everyone everywhere has detectable levels of Teflon in their blood stream. Where's your no-exposure control? How can you guess a NOAEL (no observed adverse effect exposure limit) to look at what levels are harmful? You can't really use historic data about pre-Teflon, because so many other things have changed.You could look at workers in factories making Telfon-coated stuff and assume that health risk halves with dose, but that's a poor assumption. BPA has a lot of the same problems. It's virtually everywhere, everyone has some level of exposure, there's no good animal model or lab test to really determine exposure effects in a way that translates to humans, and the industry lobbies hard against government funding.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:11 AM
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I tend toward overskepticism on things like BPA/plastics generally. There's so much exposure that I'd think any serious health risk would be blindingly obvious in the epidemiology.

From what was presented, it essentially is. They know that when college students switch to BPA-free water bottles for a few weeks, the amount of BPA in their urine plummets, and shoots right back up when they go back to their regular lifestyle. They know that it has staggering health consequences on the offspring of pregnant rodents who are given BPA. (Pregnancy/fertility/reproduction is the key area because it acts like estrogen.) They aren't allowed to do the studies that would conclusively show the same in people, for obvious reasons. That plus the intense lobbying efforts of the plastic co.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:15 AM
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On that Orwell essay then and now: Let's be clear ... When he wrote the essay the trend was euphemising horrible events and radical ideological differences.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:17 AM
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175: Ahh, goodtimes.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:23 AM
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From what was presented, it essentially is. They know that when college students switch to BPA-free water bottles for a few weeks, the amount of BPA in their urine plummets, and shoots right back up when they go back to their regular lifestyle. They know that it has staggering health consequences on the offspring of pregnant rodents who are given BPA.

But it's still not evident from the epidemiology, as described in 177. "BPA in water bottle correlates with BPA in urine" doesn't mean a disease association.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:25 AM
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I thought it was that the tomatoes themselves leach due to their acidity.

The tomatoes break down the liner, which has BPA in it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:25 AM
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hey know that when college students switch to BPA-free water bottles for a few weeks, the amount of BPA in their urine plummets, and shoots right back up when they go back to their regular lifestyle.

And blood pressure goes up briefly when you eat salty foods. As has now been discovered, that doesn't mean that salt is bad for you, as it's not associated with long-term blood pressure levels.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:29 AM
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This German paper's abstract seems to address worst-case fears. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21438738

ydnew, any pointers to "no good animal model," rodent endocrine system is really that different? There are some cancers where rodent models are terrible (breast cancer especially), but development?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:39 AM
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I sure hope that BPA paranoia doesn't turn out to be based in reality, because holy fuck is the lobbying about that stuff annoying, especially w/r/t kids stuff.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:39 AM
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183: Indeed, last week I ate a meatball hoagie right before giving blood, and had probably the highest BP reading of my life (I've given blood several times a year for almost 20 years, so I have a really good sense of my BP). The nurse (or whatever - she wasn't the phlebotomist) tsked and blamed the hoagie, and now I see that she was probably right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:43 AM
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185: do you mean lobbying or scaremongering? I don't really think of consumers as the subjects of lobbying.

Anyway, I'd think the BPA exposure of a pale diet would be minimal: no BPA in roadkill.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:45 AM
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Scaremongering, I guess. It's a big part of the "UMC ladies freak out about chemicals so all your toys have to be made out of wood by Scandinavian artisans and cost $500 and OMG I can't believe would use that cheap sippy cup" movement, which may be only locally significant.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:49 AM
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Ogged! Hooray!

[I have nothing of substance to say about the OP or anything in this thread. But anyway . . .]


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:51 AM
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187: tires don't have BPA in them?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:51 AM
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everyone has some level of exposure

Amish? Developing countries? I mean, this sounds like "We should be terribly worried because there's literally no way to prove this isn't a problem, so if it was we wouldn't know."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:51 AM
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It must be weird to live in Robert Halford's America. A sort of hyper-Scandinavian region where the hegemonic forces of oppression, which the common people all resent and fear, are health food stores, Wiccans, Burning Man participants, artisanal beekeepers, doulas, etc. The kind of place that many Republicans *think* they live in because they remember their beliefs being challenged at college once, or are told by Fox News that they live in.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:53 AM
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It must be weird to live in Robert Halford's America. A sort of hyper-Scandinavian region where the hegemonic forces of oppression, which the common people all resent and fear, are health food stores, Wiccans, Burning Man participants, artisanal beekeepers, doulas, etc. The kind of place that many Republicans *think* they live in because they remember their beliefs being challenged at college once, or are told by Fox News that they live in.California


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:55 AM
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192, 93 -- no, no, you're forgetting that these are all just standard rich person issues that white people run to when your educational and class status is such that it's no longer cool to conspicuously consume through your car or faux Tuscan colonnaded home. I'm sure you could find similar pockets in [searches memory] Fox Hills? Something in Pittsburgh with a Fox? Where the rich folks are? And LB just has to take the subway to Brooklyn, which admittedly is probably something she's never done.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:00 AM
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It sounds more like California circa 1975, when every Hollywood movie seemed to have characters going off to "EST" seminars, and montages of Hare Krishnas wandering around.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:00 AM
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194: It actually does seem kind of different -- the way you talk, the more-money-than-sense-crowd is exactly the same people as the hippies(understood more literally than hippie is usually used around here). I know rich people (some), and I know hippies (again, some), and while there's some hippie-flavored conspicuous consumption, the rich people are mostly not nearly as hippieish as yours seem to be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:07 AM
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196 is plausible, though my impression is that you could find a similar scene at the slope of the park.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:12 AM
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194: Fox Chapel.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:14 AM
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Right... I mean, the notion that "Wealthy" is synonymous with "Granola-munching water-birthing Prius lover" is not exactly borne out by voting patterns.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:14 AM
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Halford has a very strange idea of where the wealthy live in New York.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:22 AM
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But it's still not evident from the epidemiology, as described in 177. "BPA in water bottle correlates with BPA in urine" doesn't mean a disease association.

Oh, absolutely. But the annoyingness of UMC mommies doesn't affect whether or not there might be a scary connection (to address multiple previous comments).


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:24 AM
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This gets into those weird conversations about where "rich" starts. I'd have trouble affording Park Slope unless I'd bought several decades ago, and we're comfortably UMC. So it's not a cheap neighborhood. But you're right that it's not anywhere near peak wealth levels by NYC neighborhood standards.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:25 AM
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192 You forgot Boston sports fans and New Englanders in general.

200 Are you claiming that there are rich people living someplace on the way from Inwood to Brooklyn?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:27 AM
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I'm not saying that there's a direct correlation between wealth and these values, certainly not here. Just that it's one fairly common variant of rich person, tending towards white people who are also well educated. We have plenty of the other kind of conspicuously consuming rich too, I just don't encounter them as much.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:33 AM
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I mean, we have some of that here, without the wealth. I was at a fundraiser-in-the-park music thing last weekend, and there was a booth set up to fight fluoride. Fear of vaccines is alive and well. Etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:39 AM
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We have wealth, too, but there is nearly zero intersection if you're not in Austin.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:40 AM
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This week sucks. If it weren't for Ogged coming back, there would be no point at all.

Have to remember that any house project will take 3 times as long as you expect, even if you triple your estimate. Sigh.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:53 AM
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I always say, triple your triple. And I agree that this week blows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 9:58 AM
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If I don't limit exposure I can actually feel the BPA build up in my testicles. It's a dull ache.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:00 AM
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209 is insanity!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:02 AM
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Urple uses special BPA coated condoms.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:09 AM
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184/191: Too busy right now to find good cites, but I'll throw something out later this afternoon if you're interested. LB, groundwater contamination is one means of exposure. I seem to recall a study finding measurable quantities of Teflon in Inuits or some other remote population. The Teflon exposure situation is actually improving due to better engineering controls in manufacture. lw, my concern isn't as much difference in endocrine system as poor understanding of scalar/metabolism differences that drive actual exposure in tissue. If you wanted to see how much BPA is took to cause cancer in a mouse, you'd probably dose the mouse until you saw the same blood levels as humans (which would take more BPA because mice are metabolism machines), but it would be a really unusual step to quantitate levels in breast tissue for humans/mammary tissue in mice to be sure you were getting the same local effect. Also, you have to pick what parameter to match between mice and people - peak serum levels? 24 hour exposure? It's a really poor extrapolation any way you look at it, but it's pretty much the way studies are done. Running back to work now.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:13 AM
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It builds up in reproductive organs when you eat it.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:16 AM
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Urple eats special BPA-coated condoms.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:17 AM
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Chicken nuggets are like 50% reproductive organs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:19 AM
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You call them your chicken nuggets?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:19 AM
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I once saw a possibly disingenuous question raised about urine levels as a measure of exposure: if you're excreting it, what exactly does that tell us about effects of exposure on other parts of the body (bloodstream, fatty tissues, organs, etc.)? I know absolutely nothing about this technically and, because it is a major PITA to stop buying canned food, I just try to keep consumption as low as is reasonable. There was also a NYT article claiming that the obsessive focus on BPA means that bottles get made with bisphenol-C or whatever in the lining: we can't actually live in a completely nontoxic world, and it takes a long, long time and a lot of money to get all the alternatives tested for all the possible issues.

As far as the rich hippies, it's basically the group with the strongest fantasies about being perfectly healthy and beautiful forever, no?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:23 AM
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You call them your chicken nuggets?

They *are* mine, but I'm generally willing to share.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:29 AM
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207 and 208 get it exactly right about this week. Bleh.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:31 AM
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219 is the truth. So awful!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:32 AM
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The epidemiology on BPA and Teflon/Scotchgard is totally inconclusive, and the animal toxicity/endocrine data are based on megadoses. As ydnew points out, the only plausible negative effect of these things requires one of two things: 1. a non-linear dose-response curve, i.e. low doses are proportionally way worse than they should be, or 2. that continuous exposure to very low doses is far worse than single exposures to large doses. IMHO, only an endocrine/reproductive effect is likely to display those properties, not a cancer or toxicity effect.

Shorter: BPA is probably totally harmless to adults at normal exposure levels, but there's a small chance it effects developing children.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:33 AM
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if you're excreting it, what exactly does that tell us about effects of exposure on other parts of the body (bloodstream, fatty tissues, organs, etc.)?

Since one of the functions of the kidneys is to filter out the blood and send goop down and out, I'd imagine presence in the urine is at the very least unrepresentative of exposure levels elsewhere in the body.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:37 AM
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I know absolutely nothing about this technically and, because it is a major PITA to stop buying canned food

What foods do you normally buy canned? Tomatoes (I actually get these in tetra paks), beans perhaps? What else?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:44 AM
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1. a non-linear dose-response curve, i.e. low doses are proportionally way worse than they should be, or 2. that continuous exposure to very low doses is far worse than single exposures to large doses. IMHO, only an endocrine/reproductive effect is likely to display those properties, not a cancer or toxicity effect.

Yes, but BPA is an endocrine/reproductive effect. In the talk, she showed an upside-down parabolic dose-response curve.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:46 AM
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Heh. I doubt my social scene makes as much as Halford's does, but the pressures he describes are the same ones I see. My sister in up-and-coming Oakland gets it too.

We've switched to glass for storage, thank you.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:49 AM
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Canned Amy's soup, but since the BPA hysteria this has become infrequent. Otherwise beans and some tomatoes, but we have beans (of various kinds) all the time. I could learn to soak the fuckers, I suppose, but the one time I did it was a horribly stinky disaster and I've never been ready to try again. I should add that I'm not the household chef, but my sense is that the household chef is really pleased by the convenience of canned beans and occasional canned soup and would be annoyed to take it out of the cooking process.

Sorry about the many bad weeks! Do something cathartic, y'all, like vomiting, or heresy.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 10:55 AM
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223 Tuna and sardines in addition to the ones you mentioned.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:03 AM
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What's hilarious about Halford's 194 is that I really only know one person like that and she lives in... Fox Chapel. HOWEVER, she's originally from some less tony part of Pgh, and I get the sense she got this way from living 10 or 15 years in the NYC area*. Otherwise, my friends and acquaintances are, like LB's, either hippies** or rich people***, but pretty much no rich people with hippie consumption fears. I get the sense that, at least until very recently, new money in Pittsburgh has tried very much to blend in with the old money, in all of its post-Gilded Age dullness.

*I think Manhattan and then CT

**that is, the sort of people who prize wooden toys and natural fabrics; ethnically UMC probably, but incomes around $100k

***really hardly any of these; a client or two, some people who are older enough that they're now making serious cash, but were cash-constrained in their 30s


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:16 AM
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Oh hey, discussion of rich people reminds me: those of you who know me at the other place may recall that I got playoff tickets from a client, and I posted a picture with the project house in the background. Well, remember my ATM almost 2 years ago where I was concerned about the wife seeming to be frozen out of design discussions? That was the house! And it's almost done!

I'd imagine that, after all this time, the wife's feelings about the house probably have much more to do with cost and schedule, not whether she had a vote in the exterior design.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:19 AM
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223 and 227 for me. Canned pumpkin and condensed milk as well.

Oh, and in 228**, that's supposed to be "technically", not "ethnically". Although ethnically UMC is probably correct as well.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:21 AM
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We make a lot of beans in the slow cooker. It takes forethought, but little effort.

Night before: soak.
Morning: switch out water, set to cook all day.
Evening: Season and use in dishes.

The effort likely compares to cans, but it does take some thought the day before. Or, really, we just do this three, four times a week, trusting that we'll eat the beans soon enough.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:21 AM
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I don't see what the big deal with Fox Chapel is. You can live in Sharpsburg and you get to send your kids to the same fancy school district as the rich people in the $500,000 houses. Plus you won't have to spend all Saturday messing with your lawn.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:26 AM
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upside-down parabolic dose-response curve

Literally? So if you increase the dose, the effects get less? I'm having some trouble believing that. I can understand nonlinear dose-response, but what is the mechanism for negative slope in a dose-response curve? How can adding more make it less dangerous?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:28 AM
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I don't know quite how to phrase it, but that's got to mean something like the effect per microgram is parabolic with respect to the dose. So a 1 microgram dose would have an effect of 100[whatever measure of effect], 2 microgram would be 100+81, 3 would be 100+81+64... each additional microgram has a smaller additional effect (up to a dose of ten, where it starts curving up again), but the total effect is still monotonically upward sloping with dose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:34 AM
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So you do know how to express it. What else have you been hiding from us?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:36 AM
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I'm actually happy to work from dried beans for anything of quantity. The cans are handy to have for impromptu bean dip or tostadas or what have you. I doubt I use more than a can per month, but I always have some on hand.

Also: beans gone bad are the worst-smelling things I've ever dealt with, so I'm loath to make more than I'm sure to consume. Making a big batch in the vague assumption that I'll get to them is about as wise as storing eggs beneath the stove.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:41 AM
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223 Tuna and sardines in addition to the ones you mentioned.

Those were my additions as well.

231: don't you have to also cook the beans at full boil—at least some varieties—to remove HARMFUL TOXINS?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:42 AM
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If the dose-response curve is a logistic function or something similar, it's derivative (that is, the response increment per incremental dosage increase) would have a local maximum in the middle of its range.

This is like third-order speculation, a guess at the meaning of a summary of a talk that I dind't hear.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:43 AM
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234 and 238 are fine, but people usually graph the dose-response curve, not the first derivative of the dose-response curve.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:45 AM
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237. Don't kjnow about that, but go and try eating raw cassava.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:45 AM
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I believe this is the case at least with kidney beans.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:52 AM
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Mmm. Logistic beans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:54 AM
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This is neat: http://www.foodsubs.com/Tubers.html

I like tubers!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 11:56 AM
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The KFCs in Beijing in the early 2000s had taro root McNuggets. They were pretty good.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:07 PM
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but the total effect is still monotonically upward sloping with dose.

I'm in a little-knowledge-is-dangerous territory, but no, this is not what I meant.

From what I understand, it's possible to have a channel that opens in the middle of concentrations and is closed on the low-end and high-end concentrations. So that you get the biggest response with a medium amount of the drug, and it tends towards zero with more or less. (Note: I'm not claiming that this is the BPA mechanism. Just that there are mechanisms that produce non-monotonic dose responses, and that these are common in endocrinology.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:41 PM
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Specifically, the speaker described that this is a point of fake-controversey exploited by the plastics lobby. They point to the high-dose studies showing almost no effect, and then claim it's a monotonic dose-response, and therefore the whole thing is safe, when it's actually parabolic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:44 PM
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From what I understand, it's possible to have a channel that opens in the middle of concentrations and is closed on the low-end and high-end concentrations. So that you get the biggest response with a medium amount of the drug, and it tends towards zero with more or less. (Note: I'm not claiming that this is the BPA mechanism. Just that there are mechanisms that produce non-monotonic dose responses, and that these are common in endocrinology.)

Neat, but I've never heard of it before.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:46 PM
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Electrical voltage works like that, but I've never heard of a chemical like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:48 PM
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But apparently it's real enough for the EPA to be looking at.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 12:52 PM
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246, 249: Does that mean that if you don't want to quit canned foods completely, it might be a good idea to eat more of them instead?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 1:37 PM
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You could turn the empties into lanterns. Just fill with water, freeze, use a hammer and nails to make holes in interesting patterns. When the ice melts, you've upcycled a can and can now get in on the Etsy gravy train.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 1:45 PM
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Quoting from the slide show, which the presenter graciously emailed to me:

Non-monotonic results for BPA in humans
• exposure during pregnancy and offspring size at birth (Philippat et al. 2012)
• sperm quality and urinary BPA (Meeker et al. 2010)
• human obesity and urinary BPA (Trasande et al. 2012)

I don't entirely remember what she said accompanying this slide, but there you have some of it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 1:55 PM
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The first article must be this. I'm still trying to figure out the BPA results can't be interpreted as "a little bit of BPA is good your baby."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 2:23 PM
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She also described a study (Braun et al. 2009, 2011) that linked increased BPA in pregnant women's urine with hyperactivity, aggression, and anxiety in the girl offspring at age 2 and 3. But not the boys. So that was another one done on humans.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 2:27 PM
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It's an interesting topic, and may well be a cause for concern. But there's no mention of non-monotonic results for BPA in humans in the Philippat paper
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22795704/

Here's their dosage resolution:


Concentrations of phenols and most phthalates measured in European birth cohorts are comparable to other studies in Europe and the US among pregnant women and children (Casas et al., 2011). Our review shows that levels of phthalates and phenols differ between cohorts with approximately two times higher levels of phthalate metabolites in the MoBa, Generation R, INMA and EDEN/Pélagie cohorts compared to the Duisburg cohort.

More variation between populations in fire retardant dosage.

Leaching depends on temparature as well as pH, so no more takeout food ever, everyone.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 2:29 PM
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Using glass rather than plastic for kids' formula, which gets warmed, makes perfect sense to me, similarly food storage for pregnant moms. I believe that the EPA should definitely have more say over packaging.

I'm just pushing back against magic dosages and no canned beans for adults, I would like to see data.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 2:34 PM
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I basically agree with that. If you're an adult who is not making babies or about to make babies or nursing the babies you just made, it's probably not that big a deal. OTOH, welcome to my life for the past five years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 2:44 PM
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Have to remember that any house project will take 3 times as long as you expect, even if you triple your estimate.

Also it turns out that the thing about three months being the average job search might not be as unrealistically gloomy as first it sounds.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 2:57 PM
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255: I think that's not the right paper. See 253. They do have a non-monotonic result for BPA in that. Or at least a suggestion of one. It doesn't look like a very strong finding to my eyes, but it's not my field, so I don't have a good basis of comparison.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:18 PM
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The finding is that babies in the middle tertile of urinary BPA concentration are born heavier (approx. 5 oz heavier), whereas those in the highest tertile of urinary BOA concentration are heavier by a lower amount (3.5 oz). The first result is statistically significant at the 95% level, whereas the second is not.

Also head size in the highest tertile is about 0.3 inches larger (statistically significant), but only 0.1 inches larger in the middlee tertile (not statistically significant).

I'm not seeing the danger here.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:36 PM
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The Trasande obesity study is weird. It's not really non-monotonic, rather, the lowest quartile of BPA concentration has about half the obesity rate of the other three, which are basically statistically equivalent. It's a finding that's almost entirely driven by white people; black and hispanic folks have a much lower (and not statistically significant) correlation between BPA and obesity.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:44 PM
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Why don't you quote numbers with error bars? This thing with quoting a precise number and then labeling it significant or not confuses me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:46 PM
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(% obese, 95% CI)

Quartile 1: (10.0, 7.6-12.5)
Quartile 2: (19.9, 15.0-24.7)
Quartile 3: (18.9, 14.8-23.0)
Quartile 4: (22.1, 17.0-27.2)


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:50 PM
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(change in weight, 95% CI) in grams

Tertile 1: reference = 0
Tertile 2: (169, 14-324)
Tertile 3: (85, -62-233)

(change in head circumference, 95% CI) in grams

Tertile 1: reference = 0
Tertile 2: (0.3, -0.3-0.9)
Tertile 3: (0.8, 0.2-1.3)


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:52 PM
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Whoops, the last should be in centimeters.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:54 PM
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OK, following up on 212 etc. Mice and rats are a pretty terrible model for humans for a bunch of reasons, but the basic idea is that they tend to give straightforward results which do not replicate in humans. We can cure cancer in mice in dozens of ways that didn't work out in people. As far as endocrine system, there are differences in terms of relative amounts and distribution of fat and muscle (remember that fat tends to collect lipophilic carcinogens). In terms of hormonal differences, mice are very good at reproducing very frequently with multiple offspring for most of their lifespan. Not really the same as people. Mice are also genetically pretty homogenous, which minimizes noise in results, but can also mean that results don't translate to more diverse populations.

To whether urine is a good way to measure anything, it depends what information you want. Some compounds circulate in blood, then clear via kidneys. These are the compounds it makes sense to measure in urine. Some compounds clear hepatically. Some end up in fatty tissue and aren't measurable in blood or urine. That's why serum or urine levels don't give enough information. If you wanted to know about a possible carcinogen that you wanted to connect to breast cancer, you'd really want tissue samples (ouch!). It might be that the compound of interest is low concentration in serum or urine (water), but collects in fatty tissue at a 200X higher level. This is also true if you want to treat a disease. Let's say you want to treat asthma. To have the best chance of success, it's smarter to use an inhaler than a pill because the inhaler gets the drug directly to lung and avoids first-pass metabolism, so you get a higher "dose" where it's needed regardless of whether levels in blood or urine are higher. There are ongoing clinical trials comparing IV chemo delivery to IP (directly into peritoneal cavity) for colon/pancreatic cancer for similar reasons.

For the non-monoisotonic dose response, it looks like the jury is still out. From a review of a meeting among several gov't agencies (Chemosphere 2013, vol 93, pp 847-856),

. . . there is a class of toxicants, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, for which there is evidence that they do not obey the principles of toxicology. Thus there are data showing effects at doses below apparent no effects levels in toxicity studies conducted according to current standard protocols.
What isn't clear to me is whether the low end effect is the same as the high end effect. Perhaps at low doses, you get cancer and at high doses, you get acute toxicity? That would make more sense than the same effect (cancer/cancer) with some safe intermediate dose. Tox studies normally look at acute effects, not low-dose long-term effects.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:58 PM
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I see. So it's all perfectly consistent with everything being monotonic in BPA concentration.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:58 PM
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267 to 263/4.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 3:59 PM
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The non-monotonicity in the Meeker study is also not statistically significant.

Moreover, it contains this disturbing line about testing urinary BPA levels.

"We found that repeated urine samples collected from the same man weeks to months apart from one another were weakly correlated (r = 0.18)."


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 4:09 PM
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interested folks can also buy it on amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/Shed-Rob-Dart/dp/1493578103/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382749716&sr=8-1&keywords=rob+dart


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 6:50 PM
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269: You can never enter the same stream twice.


Posted by: Opinionated Heraclitus | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 7:08 PM
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Much less cross it!


Posted by: Opinionated Egon | Link to this comment | 10-25-13 8:21 PM
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And it's now available on kindle for a dollar. Y'all are the first to know: http://www.amazon.com/Shed-ebook/dp/B00G5WGO48/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1382804556&sr=1-1


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-26-13 9:25 AM
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If I may return this to political territory, since this is the prevailing political thread:

Who is mahablog person? This seems an excellent post on Republicans/conservatives as grifters.

Indeed, there is a whole class of grifters on the Right whose incomes depend on keeping the crazy well fed.
There are also subcategories of specialized grifters such as the NRA/firearm industry and climate change denialists/petroleum industry.

I think I was chiefly struck by maha's reference/linkage to Rick Perlstein on The Long Con. The post is ostensibly on the extent to which establishment conservatism is no different from "movement conservatism", despite all the intra-party shouting currently going on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-26-13 12:44 PM
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Continuing on the political front, because I think this is important, Mike Tomasky on increased cuts to food stamps likely to be a live issue in upcoming budget wrangling.

the morality of this is so repulsively backward, the indecency so operatically and ostentatiously broadcast, I think it takes the gold going away.

(h/t DKos's Abbreviated Pundit Roundup)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-26-13 1:34 PM
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Macaroons, despite being the size of a double-stuffed Oreo, cost as much as a beer. For just one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-26-13 2:11 PM
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Ogged!
Labs!!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-31-13 4:52 PM
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