Re: Guest Post - The Gays are the WORST! No, it's still straight white men.

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I have previously mentioned my dislike for the article NickS sends in (the guy is advocating acting like an asshole; exploiting white privilege is a subset of, but not equivalent to, acting like an asshole). Medium seems to mostly suck, from what I can tell.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:20 AM
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God, you're such a straight white man.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:21 AM
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I slipped the guy a twenty when I checked my privilege so he'd keep an eye on it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:26 AM
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Articles of the "here are some ostensibly acute observations regarding the shortcomings of a subculture in which I am a disaffected member; I have now, through the passing along of these observations, demonstrated that I am better than the other members of this benighted/cruel/overprivileged subculture" sort can grate a bit, can't they? Even in those cases in which the observations actually are acute, I mean.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:26 AM
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Exploiting privilege and then talking about it as if the benefits were the result of your skillful approach to managing life situations is acting like an asshole even if the original privilege exploitation wasn't that bad in itself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:27 AM
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it's a great time to be female in America.

Winning!


Posted by: Rand Paul | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:31 AM
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I'd argue also that the examples of white privilege [the how to be an asshole stuff] are examples of middle class privilege. At least here in the UK, when I see people acting like wanks in that manner -- which is common -- they are quite often women, and they are also sometimes not-white.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:31 AM
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5: is that a response to my comment?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:31 AM
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A great aspect of his remarks in 6 are that he uses them in part to question Hillary's suitability to be president.

Asked if Bill Clinton's past should be a consideration in a potential second presidential bid by his wife, Paul said he's "not saying that," but "sometimes it's hard to separate one from the other."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:33 AM
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sometimes it's hard to separate one from the other

Acetone works. And you can huff it when you're done with the separating.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:35 AM
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Spray 'em with a water hose.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 7:38 AM
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Shoutout to the white male judge who just slut-shamed a woman while terminating her rights. Luckily she wasn't there to hear it. One more to go and we should be done with this judge (and I know I should wait to complain, but too bad.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:03 AM
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I'd like a cookie.

I'd also sort of like it if the Internet hadn't made us all such dreary scolds, but that ship has long sailed.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:05 AM
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Wow, that Jezebel article is terrible. And it goes on and on! But yeah, turns out that some gay men are also asshole misogynists? Whoa, call the media!

Also, the idea that a woman wouldn't want to go dancing at a gay club because she can't have any of the men there? Is totally missing the point. She can dance with her friends and not have to worry about getting unwanted attention. If she has a problem getting served at the bar, she can have her friends get a drink for her. (Going to a gay club with a group of girlfriends and no actual gay friends is kind of obnoxious, I do think.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:05 AM
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Go ahead, do the Al Pacino thing. (I know nothing else about the movie, presumably they just decided that Pacino gives good rant.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:07 AM
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15: If you did do something like that we'd support you in e-mail.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:08 AM
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And it goes on and on!

Yes. I was completely dedicated to trying to read it until I saw how long it was.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:08 AM
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When they do that article in the new Vox thing it will have charts and context!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:09 AM
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That first article was unaccountably huge. More like "The Myth of the Fag Hagia Sophia"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:15 AM
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18: And comments full of GIFs!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:16 AM
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Huh, I read that first article earlier (though from here and thought it made some good points, somewhat ill served by the author's tendency to ramble and having the gay bar thing up front, which derails his own arguments a lot.

The main point I think the article was trying to make was not so much "gay men can be horrible towards women too", but rather that mainstream acceptance and depiction of male gay culture is shaping it in perverse ways, where the closer to the white male, sexist stereotype you get, the less threatening and more accepted you are.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:18 AM
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mainstream acceptance and depiction of male gay culture is shaping it in perverse ways, where the closer to the white male, sexist stereotype you get, the less threatening and more accepted you are.

Why didn't he write that? He could get that in a tweet if he made some small edits.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:20 AM
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Or maybe the internet has shortened my attention span too much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:24 AM
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Or maybe the internet has shortened my attention span too much.

Yes, blame the playground for the drooling adolescent's continued fascination with it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:32 AM
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At least I haven't lost my respect for the analogy ban.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:34 AM
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I have previously mentioned my dislike for the article NickS sends in (the guy is advocating acting like an asshole; exploiting white privilege is a subset of, but not equivalent to, acting like an asshole).

At least here in the UK, when I see people acting like wanks in that manner -- which is common -- they are quite often women, and they are also sometimes not-white.

I don't think the article tries to be very careful or precise in its analysis, but it is a solidly good rant. If that sort of behavior was generally recognized as behaving like an asshole then the rant would be unnecessary, but I don't know how much it is.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:35 AM
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At least I haven't lost my respect for the analogy ban.

No, but your appreciation of the synecdoche ban has reached a new low.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:41 AM
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I just don't get Charlie Kaufman.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:43 AM
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I really like him, but I'm not sure that I get him.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 8:51 AM
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8: Not exactly -- I mean, it's a thought I had that was caused by reading your comment, but if I understood your comment correctly it's not directly responsive, and I'm not dead sure that I did follow your comment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:03 AM
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||Say there's an incessant loud beeping noise coming from the house behind yours. The beeping has been going on all night since 9pm. Beep Beep Beep. Beep Beep Beep. You dont know who lives in the beeping house or why it is beeeping. The house has huge gates, bars on all windows, and you can't go to ring a doorbell -- but even if you could, it kind of seems like no one lives there and they have put bars and gates on everything. The house next door to the beeping house on one side was burned in a fire and on the other side the residents are also gone. The police have already come by and determined that there's nothing they can do other than try to ring a doorbell on the beeping house, which as previously mentioned is impossible.

Say the thoughts of someone -- definitely not someone who ever authored a personal Halfordismo manifesto -- are running towards throwing a Molotov cocktail into the beeping house, to get the fire department to come and maybe shut off the beeping. What are better alternatives?|>


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:13 AM
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30: okay, uh, comity? I was also confused.

My point essentially is that what he was exploiting -- if you're an asshole, people don't necessarily have the time or inclination to go nuclear on you immediately -- is sort of a much bigger social thing than something explicitly about race or gender, and linking it to those things isn't terribly meaningful, except (I guess?) as a hook to talk about fundamentally unrelated stuff you wanted to talk about anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:14 AM
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31: DUCK IT'S GONNA BLOW


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:15 AM
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Here you can look up the owner of any piece of real estate at the county website. It's possible there may be another contact address there if the place isn't owner occupied.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:16 AM
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31: Is there some kind of fast-track condemnation process you could get rolling?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:17 AM
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It seems according to the internet to be held by some personal trust, without an address or contact info.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:17 AM
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Then maybe post a Craigslist add for a $50 Ferrari, first come, first served.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:18 AM
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Does anyone have a large bulldozer or backhoe they could lend out?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:19 AM
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The police have already come by and determined that there's nothing they can do other than try to ring a doorbell on the beeping house, which as previously mentioned is impossible.

Wow.

37 is a nice, bold proposal.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:20 AM
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There's probably a dead guy inside.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:22 AM
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40: Having your house beep after you die, typical male privileged behavior.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:24 AM
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Buy a cell phone that can't be traced to you*, dial 911, and throw it over the gate.

*According to TV, this is something you can get a drug dealer to help you with.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:26 AM
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Wear gloves. Don't throw from your own property.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:27 AM
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Sometimes, it's just that someone baked cookies to congratulate their team on a job well-done, and you're not on that team but you wanted a cookie, and no one seemed to mind.

I tend to graze when people leave cookies or similar snacks around the office. I've never taken anything meant for specific teams, as far as I know, but I still feel guilty about it because it's junk food and I'm mooching - I think I've brought stuff in for other people a grand total of once. However, recently something happened that made me think I might as well enjoy snacks like that after all. Friday before last around 11 a.m. I walked by a kitchen in the office and saw a beautiful chocolate cake. Round, covered with gooey frosting, no slices taken from it yet, straight from a store with the lid loose but still on top of it. It wasn't even in the kitchen I usually use, so it was probably left by someone I don't know. Even I am not rude enough to disturb that. But two hours later it was still there and still untouched, so I said hell with it and took a small slice.

Good thing I did, too. I happened to walk by a third time an hour after that and it was three-quarters gone. Apparently everyone who uses that kitchen had all been wimps and just needed someone like me to break the ice. So be it, everyone's better off because I did.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:28 AM
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My ex pulled the kind of shit in the white privilege article all the time. She worked the pretty woman angle hard as well. I was never quite able to communicate to her why I found that obnoxious.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:28 AM
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You're like Gandhi, but without the part where he tried to fuck the British out of their sale tax revenue.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:29 AM
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46 to 44.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:29 AM
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And sale s/b salt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:29 AM
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My high school girlfriend's southeast Asian mother would do that shit all the time, too, her angle being a pretended failure to understand English and/or our country's quaint folkways like "waiting your turn".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:30 AM
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49 to 45.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:31 AM
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Who would know how to cut the power to someone's house? A career criminal or just any old electrician?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:32 AM
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Is it regular beeping, or does it sound kind of like a large bird?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:34 AM
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It's pretty easy to for any electrician to cut the power if they can get to the meter. Which, if you can't ring the doorbell, they can't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:35 AM
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It's bizarre -- like somewhere between an extremely loud alarm clock and that beeping noise that trucks make when they back up.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:35 AM
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I too have an ex who pulled this kind of entitled cut-the-line bullshit! We started dating in college, and he had a whole bragging routine about what percent of his semester grades (well over half) had been retroactively raised when he went to the instructor's office and basically badgered them into submission.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:35 AM
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the pretty woman angle

Pretty female privilege can seriously trump the white male version. Though I suppose it has rapidly diminishing returns over the long haul.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:43 AM
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Yes, but people don't start to resent white males they've been nice to if the white guy only wants to be friends.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:47 AM
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My high school girlfriend's southeast Asian mother would do that shit all the time, too . . .

That is obnoxious.

I still think there's a small but meaningful difference between that and the "entitlement and privilege" version -- between exploiting people's general politeness and tendency to be conflict averse vs "some people are more important than others and I'm one of those people." But, as a white man, I don't know that I'm the best person to tease out that distinction.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 9:53 AM
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But, as a white man, I don't know that I'm the best person to tease out that distinction.

I think it's really not a clean distinction. There are some contexts where you can ask for special treatment, and it really is pretty reasonable and not doing anyone else any harm -- anyone who asked for that kind of 'special treatment' really should get it, unless the person in control was just being petty about it. It's hard to say that asking for that kind of thing makes you an asshole.

On the other hand, being white/middle-class/depending-on-context-male-and-authoritative-or-female-and-attractive-or-female-and-non-threatening wildly ups your odds of getting a positive response when you ask for something you don't have a concrete right to. Doesn't mean that asking necessarily makes you an asshole, but it does mean that getting probably reflects your privilege.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:03 AM
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what he was exploiting -- if you're an asshole, people don't necessarily have the time or inclination to go nuclear on you immediately -- is sort of a much bigger social thing than something explicitly about race or gender, and linking it to those things isn't terribly meaningful, except (I guess?) as a hook to talk about fundamentally unrelated stuff you wanted to talk about anyhow

I don't think I understand this as a criticism of the article. Sure, people of all genders and races can be assholes. But the point here was that in a lot of situations, being a white male shields you from getting called on it for a lot longer.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:04 AM
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More of 59: Even more than that, there are contexts where what you're asking for is something you do have a right to, in some sense, but it's in the discretionary control of a decision maker. And even then, various kinds of privilege make it more likely you'll get whatever it is -- asking really doesn't make you an asshole, but getting easily without resistance reflects your privilege, and burbling on about how your interpersonal skills make your life easy and people should learn from your interpersonal skills makes you an asshole.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:10 AM
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Further to 60: It not only shields you from getting called on it, but I've seen people engage in total denial because of it -- they finally do get called on it, and their response is basically, "Nobody ever calls me on this, and the fact that you are just means YOU'RE RACIST!!"

Or, less rudely but still problematically, they think that because *they* can always get away with it, that their colleagues can too. So then they get angry at their colleagues for -- e.g. -- not budging to the front of the line to ensure they got checked in by the airline or something, and refuse to believe that if the (non-white-male) colleague HAD jumped the line, the results might have been seriously negative (more so than just not getting a seat on a flight).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:11 AM
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I'm going to disagree that white males are shielded from being called assholes more than other people. There are lots of white male assholes, but when they are assholes, people notice and are unafraid to call them assholes. If the white male asshole is your boss, you might not directly call him an asshole, you'd just tell other people that he's an asshole, but that doesn't have to do with his white male privilege, that has to do with wanting to keep your job.

White male privilege does exist, but I think it has more to do with people assuming you are generally up to socially acceptable behavior. The police don't harass you. Store clerks don't imply that they'd like you to leave. Strangers ask you for directions. And that is a real privilege. But I would say that my ex-in laws, who are not white, try to take advantage of most any situation in a way that would, by most objective standards, be called assholish. And they're not particularly likely to be called out on it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:22 AM
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Eh, I am going to disengage shortly because holding up the straight white male side of an internet argument doesn't seem fun, but the problem with the dude is that he is acting like an asshole by tying to see what he can get away with without getting called on it. The fact that he can probably get away with more than other people (I'm sure he can!) is subsidiary to his idea that it's a great idea for people to act that way. There will always be -- are always -- ways to get more than your due if you don't give a shit what other people think about it or you, whoever you are. Leveraging that is shitty, and that shittiness doesn't really have much to do with the fact that young black men are treated with suspicion far too often.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:24 AM
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I think there are two different levels of inquiry. First, will the asshole get away with assholish behavior -- will he be able to push people around? Second, will the asshole at least be called out on being an asshole by those people -- will the obnoxious behavior be recognized and coded, will the asshole's reputation be damaged?

But the second question relates back to the first. An asshole who is called out on assholish behavior, who is recognized as an asshole, will not be able to continue to push people around as effectively as an asshole who is not called out on assholish behavior.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:33 AM
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I think 59-62 are all great, and am tempted to say that I don't have much to add to them. But one other thought . . .

There will always be -- are always -- ways to get more than your due if you don't give a shit what other people think about it or you, whoever you are . . . that shittiness doesn't really have much to do with the fact that young black men are treated with suspicion far too often.

I think the additional factor is the degree to which people feel a sense of entitlement to their behavior. I would think the big advantage to being a white male is that you don't have to consciously think of yourself as "getting away with more than your due" or "not giving a shit what other people think about [you]."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:35 AM
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Strangers ask you for directions. And that is a real privilege.

Sure, it's a real blessing. Let me tell you where the Central Park Zoo is, European Tourist family (hint: follow the goddamned signs).


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:36 AM
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62 doesn't comport with my experience. I know a few white male assholes, but if called assholes, they don't allege racism. They probably just say "so what, I'm an asshole," or something like that.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:36 AM
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Right -- that there's a lot of behavior that we're talking about here as 'being an asshole', that the asshole in question is thinking of as harmlessly evading petty rules or norms in a way that doesn't do anyone any harm. That sort of thing is exactly what the original obnoxious article is about: the privileged guy sees harmless rule-evasion, and the response to the article identifies it as actual asshole behavior. But that guy probably also pulls off a certain amount of genuinely harmless rule-evasion, he just doesn't distinguish it from the moments when he really is being an asshole.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:39 AM
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69 to 66.

To 67: Actually, I rather like giving directions, to the point where I will break into an overheard asking-directions-interaction if the person asked isn't being successfully helpful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:40 AM
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70: Check your privilege!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:42 AM
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They probably just say "so what, I'm an asshole," or something like that.

Right. But it's the "so what" that is the problem.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:44 AM
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People do get furious when you call them on their asshole behaviour. They obviously expect that the sort of conflict aversion and lack of time that people have referred to above will let them get away with it, each and every time.

There will always be -- are always -- ways to get more than your due if you don't give a shit what other people think about it or you, whoever you are. Leveraging that is shitty...

This is also definitely right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:45 AM
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The right and just response to the 'so what' is to punch the fucker in the face. But that's not something that civilised people do. That's the thing that these wankers are relying on.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:46 AM
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O hai. Time zones/weird sleep schedule. Must catch up.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:46 AM
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Getting furious is, of course, a way to get you to stop calling them on it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:47 AM
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And I'm just as averse to punch fuckers in the face as the next one. So you just end up stewing and walking away in a fury. Although I'm not averse to calling people wankers to their face, which does slightly make things feel better.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:47 AM
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so what, I'm an asshole

I endorse 59-62.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:48 AM
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re: 76

That, too, yeah. I remember being in a queue for food in a pub with my old boss, who was a rough-speaking 'Northern' type. Some yuppie assholes pushed in in front of us in the queue. They were quite shocked when he called them on it. I think he was doing it partly because he wanted to look good in front of me and the other workmate who was there, but the reaction of the blokes was hilarious.

'Oh, sorry mate, didn't see ya theah!'

[when the guy had literally elbowed us out of the way]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:49 AM
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I am terrible with directions in general, but since I know my neighborhood pretty well from walking around, I am utterly tickled to be asked for directions to local shops, because it is the only time I've ever been able to tell people where the bookstore is.

I have a friend who just realized his younger brother is a privileged asshole. He'll cut lines, merge late when lanes end, etc. The most egregious story I heard was that rather than returning a rental car at the airport when he was running late for a flight, he just left it with the hazards on in a loading zone and called the rental company to tell them "where they could pick it up." My friend was horrified, but the brother shrugged it off - he had a flight to catch, he'd let them know where the car was, and it was their job to handle car returns. I can't imagine what chaos would have resulted if he weren't white and pulled a stunt like that.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:50 AM
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It's probably either being a white male or getting no sleep because of the beeping house, but I'm so sick of this bullshit. There are actually big real problems -- massive inequality, people sleeping in the streets, war, real crises -- and the incessant whining by semi-professional internet writers about how maybe some white guy may or may not engage with slightly more or less guilt than other nonwhite assholes, or maybe a few gay men are not treating their associated fag hags in precisely the manner said fag hags had led by 1990s movies to believe would be the case, is just such an enormous sinkhole of pointless bullshit. I know the alternative to identity politics in 1990s liberal arts colleges was teaming up woth a bunch of old men assholes like Harold Bloom who also sucked so I never am comfortable joining the anti-PC side but Jesus Christ enough with all of this time wasting endless sinkhole clusterfuck of "privilege" talk already, Internet, lets move on.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:51 AM
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I can't imagine what chaos would have resulted if he weren't white and pulled a stunt like that.

The person I know who does that sort of thing regularly is arguably not white Mexican, like ogged.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:53 AM
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it's the "so what" that is the problem

I agree, that's what makes them assholes. I just don't think it's all that common for white male assholes to allege racism when being called assholes. If that happens, the asshole is probably also a Republican.

I actually liked the article Nick S. sent heebie. But I think it would be more accurate to append "because I'm not black," or "because I'm not black or hispanic," rather than "because I'm white," to the various statements in the self-help book. That's just based on my personal experience.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:56 AM
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Wait, so now Halford is concerned about inequality?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 10:58 AM
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merge late when lanes end

I recognize that this is neither done for this reason or perceived this way, but that's actually what everybody should do, for purposes of maximizing traffic flow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:00 AM
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77: I have on occasion found it extremely satisfying to blithely and out-loud assume positive intent when clearly there was no such intent.

It's harder for a person to bellow at you when you take the wind out of their sails by assuming they were trying to be considerate. (Plus, if they then continue on with the rude behavior they look doubly obnoxious.)

Of course, my UMC-white-lady privilege helps here.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:03 AM
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an enormous sinkhole of pointless bullshit

Coincidentally, the title of my memoirs, unless Dave Eggers sues me.

I think the Peggy McKintosh article quoted in the gay thing is this smart piece that inspires at least 50% of the people who read it to become unable, for the next 2-8 years, of uttering any phrase other than "CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE."

I liked being asked for directions in NYC unless it was to "ground zero."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:04 AM
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82: I really think "rich" and/or "professionally distinguished" is likely to correlate much more strongly. That has been my experience, anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:04 AM
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This article is a classic of privilege-talk obnoxiousness. Extra bonus points: connecting every publicized shooting of innocent black people to every time you see a white guy try to cut in line somewhere. IT'S ALL ONE SEAMLESS WEB OF RACISM.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:05 AM
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Luckily, in the places where I drive, it's all slow and congested enough that the perceived-asshole behavior isn't late-merging, it's driving up the shoulder to late merge. So it's genuine asshole behavior, not just perceived asshole behavior.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:07 AM
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I willingly collect parking tickets, but then I pay them. Am I a privileged asshole?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:09 AM
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90 to 85.

To 81, 89: I really do agree that, say, income inequality is a much bigger problem than small-scale entitled bullshit. But honestly, until you're spending every second of your day focused on global income inequality, there's no point in judging anything else as too picayune to worry about. People worry about this stuff with attention that they'd otherwise devote to the Grammys.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:10 AM
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85: Does it matter whether everyone does it early or late as long as it's a one-and-one merge where it's orderly? My friend was watching his brother fly past a quarter mile of traffic at a standstill in the lane that wasn't ending and nose in as the lane ended, and that was his brother's argument - everyone should do it his way because it was more efficient and it wasn't his fault that everybody else who merged at the sign announcing the closure was a sucker.

82: Maybe it's the business suit, then. I can't imagine doing that at a major airport.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:11 AM
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re: 90


My own favourite one I witness was:

Stuck in a queue of traffic about 500 metres from an accident [a truck had overturned on top of a car], all of the cars spread apart to make enough space up the white line in the middle of the road for a fire engine and ambulance to get down it to the accident. As the space opened up, two pricks, maybe 10 cars in front of me, did a U turn and started driving the wrong way up the white line, as they were clearly so important they couldn't way. They then got stuck half way up, blocking the route of the ambulance coming the other way.

The police car that turned up a few seconds later intervened, took a dim view of their asshole behaviour.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:11 AM
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91: Depends on the nature of the parking tickets, but yes, probably. Around here, you'd be most likely to get a parking ticket for not having moved your car to allow for street cleaning. And that means that the street didn't get cleaned properly, because you left your car there. Paying the ticket doesn't retroactively get the street swept.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:12 AM
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93: sure, of course it does. If everybody does it early, you're essentially making it so the lane ends that much earlier, and the capacity of the road pre-merge is that much lower.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:12 AM
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Street cleaning in Los Angeles is actually kind of a scam; it nominally happens -- and you will get ticketed -- weekly, but the actual street only gets cleaned monthly at most. It's essentially a tax on people who don't have off-street parking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:14 AM
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Ah. We get the sweeper trucks coming around pretty reliably every day the parking regulations make you move.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:16 AM
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95: But the street still does get swept, just not where my car was, theoretically. And the city needs money, and now I pay it to them. I'm probably helping out the city more than I'm harming it by keeping several feet of curb from being swept, theoretically.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:17 AM
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Street cleaning in NYC is weird. It's only an hour long and everyone double parks on the other side of the street until it's done (which is technically also illegal, but won't get you a ticket, at least in my old neighborhood).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:18 AM
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But honestly, until you're spending every second of your day focused on global income inequality, there's no point in judging anything else as too picayune to worry about.

Cough climate change cough end of civilization cough.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:19 AM
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99: I think you're imagining street cleaning vehicles as more mobile than they actually are. Nonetheless, depending on how expensive the tickets are, you may very well be right. Still, it's kind of a rich asshole thing to do to break the law just because you can afford to pay for it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:21 AM
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I'm probably helping out the city more than I'm harming it by keeping several feet of curb from being swept, theoretically.

I think if this were the case, they'd sell you an "Exempt from alternate side parking regulations" placard for your car. The city government doesn't sell these, because they have made the political determination that they'd genuinely rather be able to clean the streets.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:21 AM
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I recognize that this is neither done for this reason or perceived this way, but that's actually what everybody should do, for purposes of maximizing traffic flow.

I know this to be mathematically true, but I never understood why. If you merge early, you're basically just sending the bottleneck backwards, against the direction of traffic. Why should that affect anything? It lengthens the effective one-lane tunnel, but so what?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:21 AM
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Street sweeping is where Cambridge (MA) seems to get it right, and nobody else does. Instant towing if you're parked on a street-sweeping side of the road; there's a small fleet of tow trucks that travel with the sweepers. Pain in the ass if you leave your car in the wrong place (ticket + getting your car back/storage fees), but by God the street does get swept. In comparison, everywhere that just tickets seem like they're missing the point (or their point is ticket revenue, rather than a clean street).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:21 AM
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100: People I know (my parents) double-park and sit in the car. That is, I think, legal, because you can move if someone needs you to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:22 AM
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I don't block people's driveways or anything like that.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:22 AM
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104: I had the same question.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:23 AM
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96: The early merge tendency in P'burgh is strong enough that the traffic folks put up no less than 3 "Use both lanes to merge point" signs during some extended freeway construction. Otherwise people were doing the lane straddle and trying to freeze people out because apparently it was better that the congestion extend to all of the surface streets on the North Side than that someone get a few cars ahead of them by being in the lane that was ending. I was pleased that the rush hour contingent figured it out, but once or twice I was routinely merging and realized there was an unyielding vehicle within inches piloted by an angry gesturing guy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:25 AM
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104: "sending the bottleneck backwards" is how traffic jams form; if everybody does the zipper at the same point it's basically predictable. Unnecessary or unexpected merges lead to braking lead to congestion. Anyhow, why would a longer bottleneck not be worse? What if you closed the lane the entire length of the roadway, would that have any additional effect?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:27 AM
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I know this to be mathematically true, but I never understood why. If you merge early, you're basically just sending the bottleneck backwards, against the direction of traffic. Why should that affect anything?

Because the counterfactual, merging later, is a shorter bottleneck - isn't this obvious? It doesn't push the start of the bottleneck forward because it will still end when the lane reopens or whatever.

Think of it as maximizing roadspace usage.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:28 AM
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109: I think that the local tendency is strong that way because so many people use the "Right Turn Only" lane or "Exit Only" lanes to get past standing traffic in the through lane.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:29 AM
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My head is exploding from the effort of observing the analogy ban over on fb in the conversation that prompted me to pester Heebie with this article. And the thing is there is no analogy ban in real life, or on facebook, but one feels honor-bound to live by it.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:29 AM
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110 make sense. I don't think 111 does.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:29 AM
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Anyhow, why would a longer bottleneck not be worse?

Isn't it just the narrowing part that causes the back-up? When you pour water into a funnel, it doesn't matter how long the stem is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:30 AM
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115: then why shouldn't all roads be one lane?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:31 AM
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113: I read that and had absolutely nothing to say about it -- the whole thing seemed completely alien to my experience. But that's mostly because everyone gay I knew when I was younger was the same sort of socially inept nerd I was, and now everyone gay I know is mostly domestically coupled up; I've got no firsthand knowledge at all of gay-bar culture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:32 AM
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If the choke-point is one lane and there is no significant number of people exiting before the choke-point, why would two lanes going to the choke-point matter?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:32 AM
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if everybody does the zipper at the same point it's basically predictable. Unnecessary or unexpected merges lead to braking lead to congestion.

I guess so, but again, this is all pre-bottleneck congestion. As long as traffic is moving through the stem at the same speed and density, then why does it matter the particulars of how people are pissy in their traffic jam?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:33 AM
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Oh good, I feel better seeing 104 and 108. I understand that the bottleneck is the same in theory with either more or less length of the wider road, but in practice, when people merge early, there's less slowing down because there's more room to maneuver, but when it's a late merge, everyone slows down a lot more because the cars who need to move over have less room and will hit a wall or something if they don't move over a lane. Also,if someone doesn't let the merging traffic in early, it's not as big a mess as if it happens late. I'm not especially invested in this, though.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:35 AM
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115: then why shouldn't all roads be one lane?

Well, you'll have a traffic jam as soon as you're trying to overload the capacity of that one lane. But I don't think the traffic jam will get better or worse, according to how people queue up to get in that one lane.

If you have less than one lane's capacity in your highway, and you're merging from two lanes to one lane, you won't have any back-up at all. This is only an issue because you're putting too many cars on a single lane.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:35 AM
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121: well, right! You have to reduce the capacity of the road temporarily. So you will endeavor to minimize how long that reduced capacity lasts, right? So you make the merge as late as possible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:37 AM
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120: that is empirically untrue; merging with a smooth zipper at the last minute leads to faster overall speeds and higher overall road capacity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:37 AM
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I'm so confused. I don't see how 122 addresses anything. It just makes me want to restate 115.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:38 AM
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I agree with 124.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:39 AM
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I'm agnostic on 123.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:39 AM
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There can be jams with no physical blockage at all - one person braking at the wrong time, or excessive rubbernecking, can cascade backwards and create stop-and-go for a period of time. Early merging creates the same sort of thing - unnecessary slowness due to cramming everyone tighter earlier, laid on top of the necessary slowness of the lane closure.

There's a flaw with the water-funnel analogy I will try to elucidate.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:40 AM
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Here's what it must be: cars are going through a chokepoint at a frequency that is higher than the optimal capacity of the one-lane road. So they're not able to drive through the one-lane road as fast as possible.

But it's weird - we all have the experience that after the merge is over, you pick up speed again. It doesn't seem to be an ongoing traffic jam.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:41 AM
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122: But it isn't matter how long the clot is, only how much of the diameter of the artery is blocked by the clog.


Posted by: Opinionated Dick Cheney's red blood cell | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:43 AM
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Also, psychologically maybe it feels worse, because if the bottleneck creeps upstream, then the traffic jam looks twice as long?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:43 AM
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115 is false. If the stem of the funnel is shorter than several diameters, flow absolutely depends on length. Even in the case of a long stem, pr3essure difference between the ends absolutely depends on tube length. Poiseuille flow.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:43 AM
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When water emerges from the stem of a funnel, it does not speed up (any more than it was while going through the stem due to gravity); but traffic does. If you imagine a liquid that, unlike water, can move faster when not in a confined space, then lengthening the stem will increase how long it takes it all to flow through.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:43 AM
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There can be jams with no physical blockage at all - one person braking at the wrong time, or excessive rubbernecking, can cascade backwards and create stop-and-go for a period of time. Early merging creates the same sort of thing - unnecessary slowness due to cramming everyone tighter earlier, laid on top of the necessary slowness of the lane closure.

Sure. Probably your drive until the closure would be more pleasant. But I don't see why it would untangle any differently from the front of the traffic jam.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:44 AM
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There's a flaw with the water-funnel analogy I will try to elucidate.

I'm having trouble with this too: I believe Sifu's right, but I'm not successfully making the argument. But I think the a solution to figuring it out might be that traffic is compressible in a way that water isn't -- that cars per lane/mile is a function of speed, that goes up as the speed drops.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:46 AM
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Wow, this is traffic engineering 101, 109 describes a somewhat special case of the backing jam extending back on to surface streets where everything gets worse, but it is not that special.

Maybe on an idealized long stretch of limited access road it theoretically does not matter, except for the absolute advantage of a predictable, unmoving merge point (which admittedly only works if everyone is with the program). Non-merge point merges are inherently unstable.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:48 AM
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134. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:User_equilibrium_traffic_model.jpg


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:48 AM
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132: Right. The traffic hits the bottleneck and entering traffic past the capacity of the narrow road is stuck behind. The traffic the other side of the bottleneck is free to move as rapidly as the traffic was before it was pooling on the incoming side of the bottleneck. But I don't see why that will increase the time it takes to drive that stretch of the road is more of the driving is after the bottleneck than before.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:48 AM
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134: Following distance is a function of speed.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:49 AM
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136 is talking about traffic being traded-off between two different streets. That's completely different.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:50 AM
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Maybe on an idealized long stretch of limited access road it theoretically does not matter

Ok, well that is more satisfying to me. It's always phrased as if this is mathematically obvious, not as "the data reveals X,Y, and Z." If it is actually because these are real drivers with noise and reaction times, etc, then I believe whatever the data shows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:50 AM
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Exercise for the reader: Why do you wait for a while at the end of a line of traffic starting up from a light?

Apply to choke points. And anything that can even slightly increase the speed through the merge increases throughput. For instance, PREDICTABLY MERGING AT THE MERGE POINT!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:51 AM
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141.2: I've granted that point, but I still don't see where the placement of the narrowing matters that much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:52 AM
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When water emerges from the stem of a funnel, it does not speed up (any more than it was while going through the stem due to gravity); but traffic does. If you imagine a liquid that, unlike water, can move faster when not in a confined space, then lengthening the stem will increase how long it takes it all to flow through.

But traffic is in fact often able to resume 60 mph, once in the one-lane tunnel. This might be a difference, but it doesn't clarify it for me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:52 AM
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And now I've wasted all my prep time. Damn you all, off to teach.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:53 AM
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132 is false also. The stem of a funnel exerts drag on the fluid. When this drag is removed, assuming an unchanged pressure gradient, the water will indeed accelerate.

Both in terms of propagating pressure waves and flow dynamics, actual fluids are more interesting than traffic.

Merging late is better, but the magnitude of the effect on net flux is small compared to the morons who botch zipper merges. Botched merges introduce shocks, which create traffic jams. Where I live, putting on the blinker to merge causes drivers in the receiving lane to close car distance and avoid eye contact even if they're not texting. This disincentive mans that nobody uses turn indicators to merge. Combine that behavior with texting. Pop quiz: which driver is worse, unshaved pickup guy with rickety ass load piled high, or leopard print lady with sparkly iphone in expensive sedan?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:55 AM
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merging with a smooth zipper at the last minute leads to faster overall speeds and higher overall road capacity.

I think this assumes unrealistic levels of good behavior from drivers. If you're merging early and some dickhead refuses to let you in, you have more chances. If you're merging at the last second your options are...what? Fly off the road or smash into a wall?

The real question is, who is more likely to be a jerk to someone trying to merge: straight white guys, gay men who are mean to women in gay bars, or women who hang out in gay bars?

Privilege!


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:55 AM
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140: But the last part of the sentence in 135 is very important. I regard this discussion as a public education project. It is a shared understanding that we need to develop; apparently [citation needed] in some European countries this is much better understood.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:56 AM
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I wonder if drivers on a one-lane stretch resulting from the narrowing of a two-lane road will tolerate a closer following distance at a given speed for a while. That might make a difference between a short stretch of one-lane bottleneck and a longer stretch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:56 AM
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Here are my steps - I see it as fully logical.

1. Within bottleneck, traffic is slower.
2. Early merging does not alter front of bottleneck.
3. Early merging does push back of bottleneck further back.
4. 2 + 3 = Early merging makes bottleneck longer.
5. 1 + 4 = Longer bottleneck means traffic moves slowly for a longer period of time.

Now, it is true that if there is almost no traffic in general, 3 may not hold. In that case, it doesn't really matter how you merge. But that's not what we're talking about.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:57 AM
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142: it increased the holding capacity of the road, which keeps things from backing up past prior on-ramps (or other merge points), which causes it's own set of merge-induced congestion.

140: traffic congestion is a product of reaction times; without drivers reacting to the braking and merging of other drivers, you don't (to a first approximation) have congestion. (I mean, you would have some maximum capacity for the road. But it would be so much higher than it is now that it is not usefully thought of as the same problem.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:58 AM
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Oh, I see, you're disputing 1. That's not always the case, I suppose.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:59 AM
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I think this assumes unrealistic levels of good behavior from drivers.

It does not. It is an empirical finding from studies of actual traffic at actual merges


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:59 AM
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Okay, one last question. I think this will clarify things for me.

Case A: A perfect zipper-merge at the last minute, followed by a one-lane tunnel of 100 yards.

Case B: A perfect zipper-merge at the last minute, followed by a one-lane tunnel of a mile.

Is there an expectation that in Case B, the zipper merge will be forced backwards? Or will both of these cases take care of driver noise and perform well? Or...?


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 11:59 AM
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146: The well-tempered merge point society understands this and the merge zone is extended a bit back from point of no return as a result.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:00 PM
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Or even 1 and 2, I suppose. So yes, maybe more about reaction times and how it all shakes out.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:00 PM
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Literally posting from the classroom. Off to teach for realz.


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:00 PM
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149.1: I'm not sure I by that. Once people get past the merge point, they seem to revert to regular speed unless the bottleneck has some additional features besides just fewer lanes. Four lanes go to two lanes on the tunnels right by my house. Once traffic exits the tunnel, it goes right back to freeway speed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:01 PM
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157 before seeing 151.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:01 PM
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I just had a thought about driverless cars -- is anyone working on a car that warns other driverless cars in the immediate vicinity of its intentions ahead of time, by some kind of wireless? Like turn signals, but with precision? A car that could get across "I'm signalling because I need to get into the right lane for a turn in three blocks" or "I need to get over right now" or whatever?

That seems as if it could do good things for traffic flow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:02 PM
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Do these predictable, balletic merge points exist anywhere in the wild?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:03 PM
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But then (rrg) I guess if cars are able to speed up once all merging is complete, then why would that be affected by whether the merging is early or late? So the front of the effective bottleneck (the distance of slow traffic) still stays constant, and it's agreed that it pushes the back of the effective bottleneck backward, so it all falls into place again.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:05 PM
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I've certainly seen entirely horrible merge points (hello, Ft. Duquesne Bridge) and see how merge time could make a difference.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:05 PM
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It's slow, congested traffic, so I'm not touting it as a model, but NYC driving you get a pretty consistent last-minute zipper merge -- there's never an empty lane where people have merged early. Our assholes aren't merging late in real lanes, they're driving up the shoulder and trying to merge late from someplace they aren't allowed to be at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:06 PM
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159: you actually don't even need that; if you reduce or eliminate the reaction time to braking and/or signaling, or you include functionality to automatically make room for somebody trying to merge, that's pretty much enough to fix things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:07 PM
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In the idealized scenario road capacity leading to the merge has to be limited by that of the chokepoint, but under real conditions the utilization is going to fluctuate throughout the day. Minimizing the length of the congestion will help it clear quicker when traffic decreases, and vice versa.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:08 PM
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It doesn't seem to be an ongoing traffic jam.
Except, you know, behind you.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:08 PM
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165 cont'd: of course my personal theory is that will break other things because people won't know how to react to cars that don't operate within predictable reaction time parameters, but we'll have to see.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:08 PM
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165: That makes sense also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:08 PM
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160: Per 147.last I have seen that claim, but will look for some evidence. In my own experience related in 109, there was distinct learning by the rush hour crowd over the course of the first week or two which improved things; and it was noticeably worse during the backups after sporting events with its many unfamiliar drivers.

I do wonder if there is any data on max observed average 2->1 lane merge speed.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:09 PM
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167 should have continued 164, it making no sense as a continuation of 165.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:10 PM
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Stormcrow and Tweety have never been more right. I'm glad to see you've moved on to an actually important issue and public education project, as opposed to just more time in the check your privilege sinkhole.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:12 PM
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170: But 165 had more free capacity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:12 PM
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I'm afraid it's either going to take driverless cars or implanting a chip in the brains of all you recalcitrant motherfuckers.

Or maybe if we talk some more about the paramount importance of a predictable merge point with predictable merge behavior when traffic density saturates the road. Since blog comments are the best persuaders of all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:13 PM
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Never put anything smaller than your elbow into your privilege sinkhole.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:14 PM
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From the Wikipedia article on Late Merge:

The appropriate late merging behavior consists of the following code of conduct:
Continue as long as possible on the merging lane;
At about 300 meters before the bottleneck (marked with a traffic sign), adjust to the speed of the vehicles driving on the adjacent lane;
Vehicles driving on the adjacent lane deliberately make room for the merging vehicle;
At about 50 meters before the bottleneck, without braking or disturbance of the created space, the vehicle merges. Thus the merging vehicle and the vehicle behind it can continue their ride.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:16 PM
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Once a line has formed in the lane that's going to continue to exist, and I've joined it, then cars coming on have a choice of (a) getting in line behind me or (b) going along in the other lane, and making me wait, while someone up ahead lets them in. It's no mystery which I prefer. And once there's a line, coming on, you have the choice of simply getting in it, or continuing up towards the front to see if you can better your relative position. No mystery which is the more assholish. This is especially the case where the second lane isn't going to cease to exist -- as when there is an exit only freeway lane -- and you have all sorts of people going for an enhanced position rather than waiting in a line.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:18 PM
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http://www.dot.state.mn.us/zippermerge/


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:20 PM
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And I don't really care what the assholes who pass me while I'm standing in line hoping to cut into the line somewhere up ahead tell themselves about the principles of traffic efficiency.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:21 PM
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176: The last situation (exit only freeway lane) is a different situation. The former (which occurs in the classic merge when traffic is transitioning from smooth flow to inevitable congestion due to volume) is the self-righteous justification for you putting your selfish desires in front of the smooth, safe flow of trafic and should be strongly deprecated. YES SOMEBODY WILL WIN OUT OVER YOU IN THE SHORT TERM!! Bite me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:22 PM
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178: And I don't give a fuck about the asshole self-righteously stewing in the other lanes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:23 PM
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177: Just found a different version of that here.

"Benefits"
We have witnessed 3 primary safety and operational improvements whenever the Zipper System has been deployed.
These improvements were found regardless of whether the system had computerized detection with automated
warning signing or the motorist had to determine whether it was time to "use both lanes" because of a traffic backup.

1) By creating two full lanes of traffic, we reduce the difference in speeds between the two lanes. Therefore,
vehicles generally do not have a reason to switch lanes, and if they do decide to switch, then the traffic is
traveling approximately the same speed in both lanes making the maneuver is much easier and safer.
2) We reduce the overall length of the backup by up to 50% (40% is common). While this may not be important
in rural areas, it is critical in the metro area where the backups affect other interchanges. Therefore, we
reduce the congestion problem for the other interchanges.
3) When both lanes are moving slowly, then everyone is "equally" disadvantaged by the backup and while the
driver may not be happy, they have no reason to be mad at a fellow driver in the backup. Therefore, "Road
Rage" is reduced significantly.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:24 PM
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The thing is, a multi-lane roadway is specifically designed for there not to be a single line. It is designed for their to be multiple parallel lines. Then, when there is a merge, is is designed for those parallel lines to collapse into a single line at the merge. Inventing a lower capacity roadway than the one that's actually designed doesn't actually make people who don't abide by your invention into assholes. Even though, as previously noted, and as is vexing Stormcrow, huge majorities of people believe this to be the case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:24 PM
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I'm glad to see you've moved on to an actually important issue and public education project, as opposed to just more time in the check your privilege sinkhole.

146:2 was an attempt to drag the thread back into the privilege sinkhole, but it clearly failed.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:25 PM
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BTW, the Minnesota people do actually say that they it has not actually reduced the travel time which is why it is not listed in the benefits.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:25 PM
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There is probably interesting work to be done on why people find the traffic system operating as designed to be unfair, and how that derives from a mismatch between the interaction of cars on a roadway and the interactions of humans moving at human speed and scale. But that is not particularly relevant to what behavior in the current moment will minimize travel time and maximize travel efficiency for the rest of the road users.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:26 PM
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184: huh! That is interesting, although the second order traffic-speeding effects of reducing congestion at upstream merge points presumably are real and measurable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:28 PM
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Maybe this report on early vs late merges has all the details and data folks want? Authored by a civil engineer and his grad students, sponsored by VDOT. Summary table is p. 18. Late merges drop speed by 32 mph when traffic is congested, early by 16 mph, but late merges have shorter queue length and increased theoretical capacity. Conclusions on p. 56 also say that effects in real life depend heavily on the heavy truck traffic, because the acceleration characteristics differ greatly. That was way more interesting than I expected, but I'm not sure there is what I'd call strong evidence that a late merge is better.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:28 PM
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I think I've said before,, one of the things I like about traffic jams (when not infuriated) is looking at other people's hand motions as they talk on their phones in "private." I feel a twinge of voyeuristic guilt, but I keep looking. Middle-eastern hand gestures are the best.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:28 PM
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I'm not actually as exercised as my increasingly strident responses might indicate, but while we all stew about our fellow traffic jam drivers, the 1% are laughing their asses off.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:28 PM
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To be honest I almost never stew about fellow traffic jam drivers because I almost never drive. And when I do I often don't have the courage of my convictions a/f/a late merging because who wants to be that kind of asshole?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:30 PM
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181.3 The only rage one feels towards people legitimately ahead in line is when they let those freeloading assholes cut in front.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:30 PM
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189: I live on the right side of the bottlenecks, mostly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:32 PM
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I have this conversation with my wife maybe 3 times a month, usually when we're driving together and I'm late merging and am deemed to be some kind of unconscionable asshole.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:33 PM
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It is clear that the terrorists will continue to win this one (and actually it is the predictable "Zipper" itself that is the key, and yes, trucks mess up the rhythm).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:36 PM
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Now ask me why the other lane is always going faster!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:36 PM
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191: The dynamic that enrages you only exists because people don't late-merge. If they did, then traffic would slow at the same time in both lanes, the extinguishing lane and the surviving lane, and late-mergers wouldn't have an advantage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:38 PM
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196. Calm explanation does not help with the weaker sex, LB.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 12:46 PM
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I just want you people to reflect on the fact that you are lining up with Halford, and against the saintly Mrs. Halford, on this one.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 1:13 PM
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Or waiting until the last minute to line up, anyway.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 1:14 PM
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We have a Halford/Mrs. Halford breakdown, along predictable lines.

Last complaint about the white privilege judge because we're done with that now, but having to listen to Nia's name be grossly mispronounced for an hour until the only professional involved who's ever even met her was annoying enough, but having the judge chirp up that "I just call her [nickname that's the name of a different family member and not her preferred nickname anyway]" really bugged me extra. Mara's TPR trial had the same problem, but it only lasted 5 minutes or so.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 1:57 PM
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I'm a big proponent of late merging, but as @175 and @181 make clear, it requires essentially everyone involved to all agree that they will do late merges. If a significant fraction don't, it fails.

There is an interstate on-ramp (that goes from three lanes to one in about 100 yards) near me where regular commuters mostly know that late merging is better and so late merging usually works fairly smoothly. However, outside commuter hours there isn't a consensus and the on-ramp is a fought-over single lane.

Putting more "Zipper Merge" signs up might help, but that costs money so it's unlikely.

Bringing it back on-topic, I find that the people that try to force a single lane even when the consensus is to zipper merge are pretty well distributed by sex, race, age, etc. It's not all white guys.

Of course this is the Boston area and we are famously take-no-prisoners on the road.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 2:49 PM
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See, 181 makes it clear that there's no mathematical truth a la 153 in operation.

Further I would like to note that I've been teaching for three hours, and not one of you had the decency to answer 153. A simple scenario, folks.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 2:59 PM
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Pure reason has already won this thread with JP's concession in 184, heebie. Tweety and Halford just have not yet had the good grace to concede defeat.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 3:14 PM
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Well, that's a pleasing update.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 3:15 PM
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203: That was the Minnesota Dep't of Transportation's concession. I don't happen to believe the fuckers have the final answer on that particular point but in the interest of intellectual honesty passed on the information. I am still exploring any and all available data but actually had to perform job diligence this afternoon.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 4:25 PM
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Here you go, Heebie et al.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 5:23 PM
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Hm. Apparently my link is useless, actually. Buy the book, Heebie!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 5:26 PM
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Germany (Where they make the roads run on time!):

Zipper rule: When traffic is congested, normal right-of-way rules go out the window and the "zipper rule" (Rei├čverschluss) goes into effect. This means that cars feed one at a time alternating from each direction, regardless of who has the posted right-of-way. The zipper rule also applies when one lane ends and merges into another-- each vehicle in the through lane must allow one vehicle from the truncated lane to merge in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 5:45 PM
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Or read that 68-page study linked in 187. It looks pretty authoritative!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 5:49 PM
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209: I just finished skimming it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-27-14 6:02 PM
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